Tag Archives: fitness

Life Support

15 Aug

20120815-233718.jpgI want to begin by thanking all of you for reading my last post. It’s nice to know that so many of you are interested in the mental and physical benefits of yoga…oh wait…no…you just popped in to see me get kicked to the curb in the comments. In that case, thank you for not making me an overnight Internet sensation, a trending topic, or suggesting that I might want to go out with your 50 year old son who lives in your basement, collects dolls, and is “such a catch.”

At moments as special as this I like to reflect on how lucky I am to have the friends and family I do. On Friday night my darling friend, the Secret Agent, hauled my sorry ass to the park to “walk it off.” Yes, a bottle of wine was looking far more appealing. Yes, I was second guessing and mood swinging and swearing. Yes, I was a bundle of mixed emotions that just wanted to crawl into bed and pull the sheets over my head…but I went. And it was exactly what I needed to be doing.

Secret Agent knew that I needed to vent and then just rub some dirt on it. She has the distinct advantage of knowing me since the 7th grade, so she knows how difficult I can be when cranky, but she also knew what I needed at that moment…a friend and a distraction.

I know you’ve been waiting to hear about the Sister Wives, and I couldn’t think of a better time to talk about them. What you have to understand is that we knew each other ages ago in a dystopian society known as high school. Some of us were friends, some of us were friendly, but through the miracle of social media and the uniting love of brunches that involve booze, we came together again nearly 20 years later in a community far more successful, moderately more hygienic, and far more fun than Bronson Alcott’s utopian adventures at Fruitlands.

As a unit, we fight crime, right wrongs, and singlehandedly keep vineyards and distilleries worldwide in business. Ok, those first two things are a slight exaggeration. We provide each other a great deal of love and support. This is most apparent in moments of crisis….like my birthday…you know, the baby thing. One Sister Wife was alerted to the crisis and mobilized the other two (we’re working on getting something akin to the Bat Signal going to facilitate this process). All three arrived at my apartment to be with me while I drank and cried and, in the end thanks to them, laughed.

The idea of the Sister Wives began as a perfectly rational discussion about the ideal of living together and sharing the responsibility of caring for the menfolk and children…but has since evolved into a more Edenic vision than ever before dreamed. We talk often of purchasing a compound – we have our hearts set on a recent listing for one with 22 small houses and a casino – and living happily as one extended family. I’m lucky here because, as the only single gal, my sisters bring 3 good lookin’ men with them as well as two awesome children.

We are selectively offering membership to others, ensuring harmonious living. My gusband will be joining us, provided there is a dance club and a stable of hot, young men. We were also lucky enough to stumble upon someone who readily volunteered to be our charismatic cult leader and is uniquely qualified to fill that role. I intend to be First Wife to that one.

The point of all this is (or at least what I’m forcing it to be to fit into the theme of this blog), that sometimes you need your friends to take care of you or remind you to take care of yourself when things look bleak. I know that as I’ve struggled with my weight loss, fitness goals, heartbreaks, and family health crises, whether I’ve succeeded or failed, crumbled or stood firm, I’ve come through all of it because of my incredible support system.

Pro Tip: Build yourself a support system…a soft place to fall (yeah, I think I just quoted Dr. Phil). Help and encouragement can be found in so many different people and places: a yoga class, friends, family, neighbors, a personal trainer, dietitian, or therapist. Your support system doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s – it just has to work for you. Trust me, I’m moving mine to a compound led by a man named Mingo.

Just Say Om

8 Aug


When I sit down to write these things I usually know what they’re about and where they’re going before I type the first word. Tonight I’m not as sure. I have a lot of things I want to tell you…about my twisted love life, my yoga classes, my Sister Wives and The Compound, but I’m not getting my usual laser focus going so I’m just going to wing it. My apologies if reading it feels like dropping acid.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons in 37 years, some of which I’m just now starting to implement in my daily life. Some are simple, like eating ice cream on a really hot day makes me sick, and some are more nuanced, like what I want and need in my life and that I have a right to make those things clear and ask for them.

Things with the Irishman have been a bit dicey for the last week. We had a stupid tiff and he’s been a little on the standoffish side since. I brought him to a party on Saturday night at the home of one of the Sister Wives and he really enjoyed himself but I think he also got his first glimpse of Independent Lisa. Independent Lisa doesn’t babysit or cling to you…she drinks, and mingles, and meets other people, and laughs a lot. Independent Lisa had a great time at said party. It could well be that Independent Lisa is not the Irishman’s type.

Here’s the thing about his type…I don’t know what it is. I realized that I have no idea what he’s attracted to as far as I’m concerned. Kids, I’m built like the prow of a ship…if the prow was attached to a short, padded body with a sizable aft, and I’m pretty ok with that. As it turns out, neither my fore nor my aft are of interest to good ol’ James Joyce. I like to think I have a big personality and a good, if bawdy, sense of humor…and yet those characteristics seem as incomprehensible to him as Finnegan’s Wake. So what gives?

So here’s where it gets weird – just as I start to spiral a bit and berate myself about my smooshy midsection and the fact that I haven’t been to the gym in 2 months, The Hebrew Hammer reappears. I cannot say at present time (because I don’t know yet…I’m not holding out on you) what has sparked this renewal of his suit, but he has resurfaced full of praise of my multitudinous virtues. He is aware of my current involvement and has nicknamed the Irishman “Judgy O’Judgerson” for his habit of mild yet repeated critique. I know I need to address the fact that neither of our towns have been miraculously relocated closer to each other…but not just yet…because I’m confused…and cranky…and thinking too much about what everyone else thinks and wants and thinks of me.

So I went to yoga. Twice this week. Yoga is amazing for this sort of confusion and angst. No, it doesn’t solve anything. You don’t shake yourself up like a Magic 8 Ball for an hour and suddenly receive the right answer to the dilemmas of daily life. Here’s what it does do: it forces you to focus on yourself. To practice effectively you have to quiet the mind and focus on your body..its movements, its limitations, its strengths AND NOT JUDGE THEM. It takes all my concentration to breathe and not fall over. It takes all my patience and kindness to laugh and smile when I DO fall over. I can’t think about the Irishman and the Jew or my belly or what comes next. I just have to stay in the moment and contort and lift my body and breathe.

I like my body when I’m in class…it can do cool things and if I keep at it it will become conditioned to do more cool things. Yoga is moving me toward my weight loss and fitness goals and helping me gain the focus to tackle my personal and professional ones. If you haven’t taken a yoga class, I encourage you to give it a try for both the mind and body benefits. For those of you who feel like you’re too hardcore – have you tried lifting your body weight recently? How flexible are your hips and hamstrings? Give it a shot – you’ll find it’s quite the workout. Most studios offer small beginner packages to take it for a test drive. My studio, Verona Yoga has 3 classes for $30 for new students and two Absolute Beginner classes a week.

As always, I invite any and all comments, but I’d love to know what you do to get out of your own head, find your focus, or feel more comfortable in your own skin. Off to bed for me! Namaste.

Let’s Do The Time Warp Workout Playlist

20 Feb

Despite a sinus infection and an annoyingly irritated eye, both of which have kept me out of the gym, it’s been a pretty good week at Chez Forsaken. I weighed in at Weight Watchers 2.2 lbs lighter and, as of this morning, my now compulsory Saturday treat from Hobcaw Cafe (a lovely, generous slice of red velvet cake) has not altered that in the slightest. Now that I’m feeling better I’m gearing up for a triumphant return to the gym and charging the ol’ iPod – The God Pod – which led me to think about the music that gets me moving.

I’m constantly cruising workout playlists online and in magazines to find some tunes that get my motor running and help me power through the tougher parts of my routine, but I must admit that my musical proclivities don’t usually match the suggested songs. Hi, my name is Lisa, and I’m in a musical time warp.

For as long as I can remember my tastes have run toward music produced prior to my birth and have really ceased to expand beyond the radio fodder of my college days circa late 1990s. Having worked at a software company with a lot of people 10 or more years younger than me, I’ve tried, as of late, to incorporate some new music into my library. As a result, my workout playlist looks like a massive American music retrospective. So, for those of you who don’t mind admitting early old fogey-dom and a desperate looking attempt to stay current, here are some favorites from my God Pod.

  • I Want You Back – Jackson 5
  • Animal – Neon Trees
  • Say Hey (I Love You) – Micheal Franti
  • Shambala – Three Dog Night
  • Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
  • Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and The Waves
  • Runaround – Blues Traveler
  • Valerie – Amy Winehouse
  • Hard to Handle – Black Crowes
  • Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum
  • American Girl – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
  • Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
  • Little Red Corvette – Prince
  • St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) – Jon Parr
  • Single Ladies – Beyonce

Does your playlist look a little schizo too? What are your workout faves?

This Just In – I Actually HAVE Been on a Diet My Entire Life

16 Feb

Well, it’s a rainy Thursday night and I’d ordinarily be at my knitting group but there were no parking spots and I still feel like crap. After sleeping in quite epically and taking part in a conference call that involved four people (myself included) talking over each other for an hour, I decided to head down to my parents’ house because they’re on vacation and their washer and dryer don’t require quarters.

While my clothes were spinning I paid a visit to a drawer in my mom’s desk that contains my full dossier from birth through college. I love looking at all the teacher comments, newspaper articles, playbills, etc. that make up my life during that 21 year period. As I thumbed through this retrospective, I found several things that I don’t remember seeing before but must have been there my whole life. First, I found a series of notes on prescription pads, starting with my first pediatrician in New York City when my age was still measured in months.

I had found the Holy Grail of fat kids…my first diet. Apparently, at 18 months I had gained 6 lbs. in 6 months and needed to trim down. While my actual weight wasn’t listed, my mother was advised to watch my intake and cut me back to skim milk. Similar, and more detailed notes from my New Jersey pediatrician indicated my current weight and height for the next several years with suggestions of increased activity, skim milk, and a 1000 calorie a day diet (around 7 years of age).

I’ve always joked that I’m forever on a diet, but I never realized I was being quite so literal! I’m not sure if this gives me any sort of clarity.¬† I know I’ve always liked to eat. I know my grandparents (on the Jewish side) showed love by feeding me. I know my Dad has always been on me about my weight. I know I need to lose weight now. Whether I attribute this lifelong battle to biology, environment, or lack of self control, it is a lifelong battle. The one thing I can say for sure in the face of this is that a lifetime battle requires a lifestyle change – not a diet. This just reaffirms that Weight Watchers is the right choice for me.

The other thing I found in this treasure trove that made me stop and think was a stockpile of teacher comments and grades from high school. The one that gave me the most pause was my “Fitness” report. It reads as follows:

12 minute run: 1.15 miles – Poor
Sit-Reach – 20 – Fair
Body Composition – 29% body fat – Poor
Sit-ups – 49 – Good
Push-ups – 35 – Excellent
Written Test – 15 out of 15

First, I WISH I could run 1.15 miles in 12 minutes now. I know plenty of people who are ok with a 15 minute mile. I also cannot do push-ups to save my life so it’s nice to know that I could at one point. I did a little research on normal body fat ranges and a healthy range for women under 40 is 21-33%. The American Council on Exercise puts the range for a teenage female ATHLETE at 14-20%, and the AVERAGE teenage female at 20-25%. At 17 we’re really edging out of teenage and into woman so I think it’s fairly fluid. I’m not saying that I wasn’t a little overweight at 17, but I certainly wasn’t obese. Not only did I rate a “Poor” (according to what standard I’m not sure), but based upon my stats, I got a nice B- added to my GPA.

High School is tough…especially if you don’t exemplify the ideal. I was tortured by certain peers for being fat and, frankly, I’m not that coordinated so sports and gym class were never my forte (though I do boast a Varsity letter in softball). Let me just say right here that I would be SHOCKED if the woman wielding the caliper during this body fat measuring session was in the 21-33% range herself. So as an already insecure and persecuted 17 year old, rather than being graded on my test score, participation, and even improvement, I was academically penalized for being out of shape.

No, my Fitness grade didn’t keep me out of Vassar. I got in Early Decision and I never took a Gym class again. My problem here is with the message where there was a real opportunity to do some good. Those stats are useful as an assessment tool – they should have been the basis for creating a workout plan and goals for the trimester. I would have rather seen those measurements taken at the beginning and then had the curriculum be based upon tools to live a healthy lifestyle. All this taught me was that my numbers were all wrong (with the exception of my ability to do push-ups, sit-ups and to pass a written test). Yes, she could have given me a D and it would have been far worse, but in terms of 29% body fat and the big ol’ POOR next to it – I was being told I was a fatty..not that I was a little above the ideal range and could drop down with some exercise and a healthy eating plan. There were no comments on this comment form, just the stats and a grade.

I think it’s a good lesson to Phys Ed teachers, but also to us who are trying to lose weight and get healthy – the numbers are not the whole story and we can’t let them deter us. I focused on the poor, I didn’t see it as a benchmark, I saw it as a failure…as something wrong with me. We have to stop being angry at ourselves about the number on the scale or the BMI and congratulate ourselves on what we’re doing about it. We’re choosing a healthy lifestyle, we’re caring for ourselves, and we’re succeeding…even if it’s a slow process.

What victories are you celebrating this week?

Guest Blogger Christine Amodio: Couch to 5K

20 Jun

In all my life, I have never been able to run. Let me give you a little background about myself. Growing up as a child I didn’t get much physical activity. I didn’t play sports for school or the town. In high school, I did one year of track and field (really just field) and then fencing. In college the physical activity I did was lifting beer cans and food from the table to my mouth. After college I decided to get my life in order while I was on unemployment from my first job. My weight had become out of control and I needed to fix it. I started going to the gym taking cardio and strength classes. With the combination of exercise and eating right, I lost 80 pounds. At this point in my life, I was in pretty good shape, yet still couldn’t run. Since then I’ve had some injuries that are caused by over working muscles, so I’ve had to cut my gym time in half. I need to make sure the time I spend at the gym counts.

I decided I wanted to be able to run. I’ve heard of people starting the Couch to 5K program, but never heard the results. My thoughts were my friends tried it and either didn’t finish it or decided to never mention it. I looked at the plan and thought, this is going to be tough, but I can do this.. The program doesn’t seem so scary being it says if a week is difficult work on that week’s run until it’s something you can do and feel comfortable moving on. I went into this knowing it would be difficult, but I would push myself and if I HAD to, I’d repeat a week. Well, four weeks in I got sick. I had to take a week and a half off from the gym. I decided to start with the week I was on, and see how it went. I was able to continue with that week, and then move on to the next. Then I had a tough week at work, with a lot of overtime and didn’t get to the gym. Instead of stressing that I didn’t get to run that week, I made it a priority to restart the week of the plan I couldn’t finish. I’ve repeated a few weeks, but for the most part it’s become a competition with myself that I want to move on and I want to do more. I’ve grown to like running instead of groaning about how much it sucks.

When I first started I would make sure I would be at the gym at a time when a lot of people weren’t around. I felt self conscious running. I felt that everyone in that gym were professional runners and would judge me for the way I ran and how I would do a mix of running and walking. After a week or two, and looking around at other people working out, I realized I had nothing to be afraid of. No one was watching me, they were involved in their own workout.

I have my last run of the program to complete. I’ve completed two of the week 9 runs, and have one remaining. Now my decision is if I want to redo the program starting from the first week to increase my speed (substitute the walk with a jog and the jog for a run), or if I want to work on being able to run for a longer amount of time. I’ll make that decision shortly.

My verdict is, if you want to get into running this program is spectacular for it. You just have to get over the mental hang ups that you can’t do it or you’ll look stupid. You can do it, and you won’t look stupid…and if you do no one is looking at you anyway ūüôā:).

Ask a Yogi

6 Jun

Jen OppenheimerYoga is an incredible addition to any fitness and wellness program. As a discipline, it combines the physical with the mental – both important components of weight loss and lifestyle change.¬† Joining The Forsaken for “Ask a Yogi” is Jen Oppenheimer.¬† Jen, E-RYT 200, is the Regional Programming Manager for New York Sports Clubs in Queens, Long Island and Brooklyn. Jen also facilitates Kids Yoga teacher trainings for Karma Kids Yoga. ¬†She has a passion for teaching yoga to “kids” of all ages – from 6 weeks to 106 years. ¬†She also teaches Spinning & Pilates.

Now, to your questions!

Q: Is adding yoga to my daily routine (of not much else) going to help me lose weight, or just make me more flexible?

A: Yoga is a lot more than just flexibility. ¬†On a physical level it has the power to re-shape your whole body. In addition to gaining flexibility, additional benefits include increased strength and better posture. ¬†Better posture comes from you core and your abdominal muscles. ¬†Whether you opt for a vigorous power yoga practice, or a less intense style, holding yoga poses increases strength WHILE helping improve flexibility. ¬† ¬†There are many different styles of yoga and no perfect poses. ¬†If you’re just starting out try a few different styles, studios and classes. ¬†It’s not about the way the pose looks, but rather how it makes you feel.

Q:¬† How do I start? What type of yoga should I choose if I’ve never done it before?¬† Should I schedule private lessons before trying group instruction?

A: Yoga is for everybody and EVERY body. ¬†Is there a yoga studio close to where you live or work? ¬†I would recommend going in and checking it out. ¬†Most studios over a variety of classes for a variety of levels. ¬†The word “hatha” means breath. ¬†On the most basic level all yoga can be considered “hatha” yoga. ¬†Other styles include Vinyasa, which means flow, Iyengar, which focuses on more precise alignment of poses, or even Hot/Bikram yoga, which involves practicing in a heated room. ¬†By going into a studio and talking to someone there you can get a better sense of what styles are offered, what a typical class is like and whether there are classes offered at time convenient to your schedule. ¬†If there’s more than one local studio check them all out! ¬†Some studios are more spiritual than others and include chanting and meditation in their practices. ¬†Others solely offer one style like Bikram or Ashtanga Yoga (a more vigorous power yoga). ¬†Most studios offer some type of new student special. ¬†I would encourage you to try some classes, bring a friend even! ¬†See what you like. ¬†Notice how you feel after class. ¬†Also keep in mind not all instructors teach in the same way. ¬†Every yoga instructor has his or her own unique style of teaching that can vary from music selection, to class format and sequencing. ¬†Try to go into each class you take with no expectations – of yourself or the experience. ¬†Be sure to tell the instructor that you are new to yoga and advise of any injuries you may have.

Q: I have some yoga DVDs at home and it’s really hard for me to tell if I’m in the correct position because the instructor weighs about 3 1/2 pounds and I’m comfortably padded. Can you give me some pointers on how to figure this out or maybe what NOT to do?

A: One of the first things to remember is that there is no perfect pose.  Yoga poses look different in different bodies.  There are however a few basics to remember:
  • You want to stack your joints, bone over bone – shoulders over elbows, elbows over wrists, hips over knees and ankles. ¬†Don’t lock your joints, keep knees and elbows soft.
  • Keep your head and neck aligned with the spine
  • Yoga should not hurt. ¬†If you feel any pain stop what you are doing
  • If you have sensitive knees fold your mat over or use a folded towel or blanket under your knees
  • Close your eyes from time to time and notice how the pose feels. ¬†If it feels good and you’re breathing you’re probably doing it right.

I would recommend trying to take a few classes in a studio whenever possible to learn the basics.  Ask questions of the instructor when applicable.  This way, when you do practice at home you will have more confidence in what you are doing.

Q: What do you consider the most important benefits of yoga?

A: Overall?  Yoga makes you feel good.  In ancient India yoga was practiced to prepare the body for meditation.  Yoga, when practiced regularly, is a stress reliever.  Focus on the breath and movement of the body is not only calming but studies have shown it can help conquer moodiness and increase concentration.  On a physical level, yoga is great for improving flexibility, strength and balance.  Yoga also promotes a strong core which helps relieve lower back pain and improves posture.  Notice how you feel after a yoga class.

Q: How often do I need to practice to see results?

A: How often you choose to practice is up to you.  With some forms of exercise, like weight training, it is recommended to rest your muscles and not work the same muscle groups on consecutive days.  Yoga is unique in that it can be practiced daily.  Only you know what your goals are and the specific results you are trying to achieve.  A consistent practice can help benefit your overall health and wellness Рboth mind and body.

Q: Are there any pre-natal yoga DVDs you’d recommend?

A: http://www.amazon.com/Prenatal-Yoga-Shiva-Rea-Dvd/dp/B002GE7L2I
Prenatal Yoga can be tricky because some women find yoga for the first time while pregnant. While it is never a bad time to start doing yoga, and the benefits of practicing throughout pregnancy numerous, I would recommend attending classes (at least a few) in conjunction with using a DVD. In an actual Prenatal Yoga class students have the benefit of sharing how they are feeling with the instructor. The instructor can then tailor the poses to the needs of the student. During pregnancy women may suffer from sciatica, leg cramping, lower back pain, pain in the pelvis or pubic bone and many possible other pregnancy related issues. Even if the mom-to-be can’t get to a class very often, a good instructor can provide the student with poses to address specific needs that can be practiced outside of the studio. A DVD like the one I recommend above is a good option for days when getting to class is a challenge. Also, having a basic knowledge of yoga poses prior to using a DVD is recommended to ensure proper alignment and safety.

Ask a Trainer: Christian Villanueva

2 Jun

Christian Villanueva, NASM CPTJoining us for our first “Ask a Trainer” post is Christian Villanueva. After being inspired by an old college friend, Christian decided to take a leap into the exercise and fitness field. Having limited knowledge about training, Christian’s interest and curiosity lead him to earn a certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. As a certified personal trainer, he has had the opportunity and pleasure to meet with an interesting and diverse group of individuals. He has also learned from other fitness professionals who have shared the same passion. It was also during this time that he realized that working out superceded the idea of just looking great. The important benefits soon became a reality for his clients and the experience(s) couldn’t be any more humbling and gratifying. Through his clients, he learned that people are stuck living a more sedentary lifestyle due to the popular culture of working in an office setting. As a motivated individual, his goal is to reverse that lifestyle and suggests people “to keep it moving”.¬† He continues to share his knowledge/experience and is excited to help more people he meets along the way.

Education: William Paterson Paterson University B.S. in Business Administration
Currently Studying: California University of Pennsylvania M.S. Exercise Science and Health Promotion (Performance Enhancement & Injury Prevention)
National Academy of Sports Medicine CPT since 2006
Currently Preparing for NASM-PES and NSCA-CSCS

Now on to your questions:

Q: I recently purchased a set of resistance bands but after yanking on them a few times, I’m not entirely sure of their effectiveness. Is there any point in using them or are they as ineffective as they feel?

A: Depends on the quality of the bands. Cheap resistance bands will lose the resistance over a period of time and some bands lose its resistance after one strong stretch. My suggestion is, “Perform Better” sell quality bands. Personally, I prefer the Slastix Bands which has a cloth like cover protecting the rubber tubing from wear, nicks and cuts, as well as from the tubing being over-stretched.

Q:¬† I don’t have a lot to spend on exercise equipment. What pieces of equipment are versatile and worth picking up?

A: Before even spending any money on equipment, household furniture such as “the chair” make an excellent tool for squatting up and down, stepping up and down for advanced individuals, and also being able to do triceps dips with the elbows tucked in at the side with the palms on the edge of the seat. Also, water bottles and canned foods can be used as dumbbells. The stairs at a nearby park, building, or even your house can also give you a great leg and cardiovascular workout. And if you’re really broke and the budget has been eaten by your mortgage and car payments, there’s nothing better than doing body weight movements. Your body can give you enough resistance as it is depending on the exercise you perform. Last but not least, you can purchase inexpensive dodge balls and fill it with sand to be used as a medicine ball. By Googling or YouTubing ¬†“medicine ball exercises”, another tool box of exercises is revealed that will help you achieve a challenging and more beneficial workout.

Q:¬† I’m a woman with more than 50 pounds to lose and haven’t worked out for awhile.¬† How long should my cardio sessions be and how many times a week should I do it?

A: Since the fitness level varies among individuals,¬†a woman with more than 50 pounds to lose and haven’t worked out for awhile can go for a walk¬†on a¬†treadmill for¬†10 minutes on an incline to avoid impact on joints but still increase the heart rate. Also in this situation, the person has the option to increase or decrease walking speed as well as increase or decrase the treadmill’s incline. In time, she can increase the number of days and length of time until she plateaus. She can start doing 1 day a week¬†doing 10 minutes and progress from there while supplementing with other workout regimens such as strength training and stretching.¬† As she progresses, she can increase the amount of¬†cardio days, increase length of the workout, or even both to train the body burn more calories leading to weight loss.

Q: I want to do some strength conditioning but don’t know how to start. What do you recommend as an entry-level routine?

A: Every time you strength train, never neglect the major muscle groups. These muscle groups are your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest muscles, back muscles, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. In a weekly basis, pick an exercise that would strength train each muscle group. It would be sufficient to train them 1-2 twice a week all in one training session with recovery days in between. You can change the pace by training one muscle group after another without rest or you can train each muscle group separately for 2-3 sets until you can move on to the next muscle group.

Q:  The muscle weighing more than fat thing. Seriously? Is that just something to make us feel better or is it actually not BS? 

A: Does a ton of bricks weigh more than a ton of feathers? A pound is a pound is a pound. The only difference that we need to know is volume. Muscle is compact and tightly intertwined taking less space in the body, while fat is loose and takes up more space.

Q: Is the new rush on ‚Äúcolon cleanse‚ÄĚ and acacia products just another fad, or does it help?¬†

A: ¬†While¬†certain people stand 100% behind it and others think it’s bogus, the two opposing views only represent “it worked for me” vs.¬†“it didn’t work for me”. Obviously, the population who stand behind it¬†represent the¬†claim that says¬†it “worked for them” and vice versa.¬†There are many factors to consider such as lifestyle, environment, and diet. But the¬†reason for the¬†inception of these ideas or¬†fads is that we¬†hope¬†we can¬†accomplish the goal of¬†being nutritionally balanced¬†to attain healthy physical and mental state. Once we figure out what¬†our¬†body is lacking then those nutrients will work together to replenish, repair¬†and finally the body recovers. Therefore if we can¬†improve¬†on our unhealthy diets and¬†find that right balance, we wouldn’t have to turn to certain extremes¬†to compensate for the bad habits (excessive drinking,¬†processed food, cigarettes, etc.)¬†we’ve¬†participated in.¬†Call it a fad or call it helpful, but it’s neither. Knowing the amount and types of nutrition such as antioxidants, increased fiber, sufficient macro and micronutrients are what’s going to¬†maintain your body’s capability¬†to combat free radicals, increase metabolism, maintain¬†healthy organs,¬†be physically strong, and having beautiful skin.


1 Jun

For the past several weeks I’ve had 2 lumps in my armpit. With visions of Terms of Endearment in my head I went to see my doctor about 3 weeks ago. She determined they were clogged sweat glands and nothing to worry about but she gave me something topical to apply each night. I did so religiously but in the past few days the pain from Darryl and Darryl taking residence under my arm has intensified, preventing me from moving well while working out and sometimes from sleeping.

To add insult to injury, my company changed insurers and now my medical practice, where I’ve been a patient since I outgrew my pediatrician, is out of network. Unable to deal with the discomfort anymore I went to a doc-in-a-box after work tonight. The doctor was actually great – funny yet professional. Long story short, the glands are infected, I can’t wear anything with sleeves,or wear deodorant.¬† Worse yet, until the lumps decrease in size I can’t shave or work out.¬† Added bonus? It’s Shark Week.

I will get better, hopefully sooner rather than later but it’s a detour at a time when I’m building new healthy habits.¬† I’m being benched just when I’m hitting my stride.¬† Remember when I said that my body pisses me off sometimes? Perfect example right here. There’s really only one course of action available…or at least one smart course of action. I have to take my antibiotics, face the horror of going to work sleeveless, watch my food intake really carefully, and try to do small exercises that won’t make things worse.¬† I think gentle yoga is going to have to be my friend this week.¬† I have to set reasonable expectations for myself until I heal and get past Shark Week. If I can get through this week without gaining weight it’ll be the best realistic outcome.

That being said, there are a lot of good things to focus on.¬† Starting this blog has meant a great deal to me. Eric had far more faith in me than I had in myself, but I just told him this morning that more important than the attention it gets, the blog is important because it represents a real change for me. So many times in the past I’ve come up with ideas that seem like real winners but I’ve never had the balls to actually follow through. It’s much like my own weight loss struggles…I just gave up because I was so convinced I’d fail.¬† So, thank you for your support and I promise I won’t give up on me if you don’t give up on you. We can be slow and steady together, face our setbacks head on and keep on moving no matter how long this takes.

I’ve been passing on your questions to not only a trainer but also a yoga instructor so we have two “Ask The Expert” posts to look forward to.¬† If you have any other questions or just want to let me know how you’re doing, leave a comment below.¬† Hang in there guys – I will too.



The Starting Line

26 May

I’m a big girl and I’ve almost always been one.¬† The last time I was “ideal weight” was in high school and I was still getting being made fun of for being fat.¬† For years I’ve struggled with my weight, jumped in and out of fitness regimens and always found myself back at the same damn starting line.

I recently decided, terrified into action by my younger brother’s impending nuptials, during which I will be wearing a sleeveless dress, that I needed to drop some weight and start working out again. The more I thought about it the more I realized how much better I felt and slept when I was exercising. Starting back up seemed like the best idea I’d had since breaking up with my ex-boyfriend.¬† I turned to some women’s fitness magazines to help me get going, establish a routine, and set realistic expectations for the kind of exercise I should be doing.

NOT the best idea I ever had.¬† Women’s fitness magazines are for fit women…or women who need to lose 10 lbs to get into a bikini.¬† The last time my ass was in a bikini I was a toddler and being chubby in a bikini was cute. Fitness magazines assume I can jump onto a treadmill and break into a full-on run…and sustain it….for 30 minutes….or do intervals….and not die.¬† Fitness magazines don’t ask whether my knees and ankles are shot from my little-known sumo wrestling career.¬† It doesn’t even seem to occur to them that I might have more than 20 lbs. to lose and that the closest I’ve gotten to exercise equipment in a while was to hang a bra from the handles of my stationary bike to dry.

A few weeks ago I stated,via my status update on Facebook, “Someone needs to create a magazine called “Workouts for Fat Chicks.” Every fitness magazine assumes I’m already in marathon shape but I don’t run unless someone is chasing me.”¬† The response from my friends, even the svelte ones, was overwhelming. So it got me thinking…I’M a fat chick…I write for a living…and hey, I know people who know stuff.

I spent a number of years working in gyms. I’ve worked with trainers who had contests to see who could make their client puke first….but I’ve also worked with trainers who are consummate professionals, love what they do, care for their clients, and truly work to make their clients’ programs match with their current fitness level, goals, and abilities and continuously push them farther and farther from the starting line. If there’s one thing I can tell you from my own experience, the trainer who makes you puke or works you out so hard during the first session that you need a team of oxen to get you out of a chair the next day is not doing you any favors.¬† The truth is that they’re probably pushing you OUT of the gym unless you’re into sado-masochism in which case – hey! whatever blows your skirt up! Who am I to judge?

So, for all of us who have been forsaken, whether you’ve got a ton of weight to lose, little or no weight to lose but need to get back in shape, or just look at the moves on a fitness video and say “You want me to put what where?!?”, this blog is my attempt to facilitate useful, realistic fitness and diet information.¬† I’m not a trainer or a nutritionist. I can only tell you what works for me and doesn’t as I’m stumbling through this and hope to hear the same from you.¬† I’m going to lean on the people I know who have the expertise, credentials, and experience to give you professional advice.

I hope you’ll join me in this experiment and chime in and tell me about your experiences. I think our goals can all be achieved when we’ve got the right tools. So let’s stop listening to people who are telling us to use a sledgehammer to put a nail into the wall to hang a picture and get the show on the road at the speed that feels right for us.

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