Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Abs/Core Cheat Sheet: The 6 Moves Everyone Can (and Should) Do

Oops.  Ran out of time yesterday to finish this post. Abs.  Blah blah blah summer body blah blah. Whatever.

Summer bodies come and go, but a good posture is forever.  No, I'm not channeling your ballet instructor from years ago, I'm telling you how to avoid being a little old hunched over man/woman.

I think we all know why abs are important, but I want to reiterate what the article from last Tuesday's links said: Core Strength (not just your abs) is the key to fitness success, pain relief in back/neck/shoulders, etc., and will make you all around stronger and leaner.  Develop your core correctly (make sure you include lower back work, obliques, quads, and glutes) and you'll be one more step away from avoiding your back creeping up on you in your golden years.

Whether your new to core work or an old pro, here are my standbys that I almost always make my classes do:

1. Rope Pull:
  • Lie on your back, feet on the ground.
  • Imagine that someone tied a rope around your chest and tied it to a beam in the ceiling.
  • Grab the imaginary rope and "pull" yourself up the rope, hand over hand.
  • Your shoulders should be coming off the ground.
  • Tip: If your neck gets tired/starts to hurt, put one hands behind your head to support your neck.
  • Tip: Make sure your chin is lifted off your chest (think about having about the space of a tennis ball between your chin and your chest).
  • Beginners: 2 sets of 30 seconds with a 30 second break between sets
  • Intermediate: 4 sets of 30 seconds, 15 second break between sets
  • Advanced: 6 sets of 30 seconds, 10 second break between sets
  • Challenge move (try this after you can go a full minute pulling yourself up without a break): lift feet off the ground so your knees are bent, shins are facing the ceiling (90 degree angle between your body and your thighs, 90 degree angle at your knees).
  • Advanced challenge: legs straight up in the air.

2) Lower back lift:
  • Start lying on your back, put your hands to your sides on the floor to balance yourself, feet flat on the ground. 
  • Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up to the ceiling. Your body should be in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Tip: If you need more support, hold your lower back up, gently, with your hands.
  • Beginner: Hold for 30 seconds, lower and rest for 30 seconds.
  • Intermediate: Hold for 1 minute
  • Advanced: Hold for 30 seconds with one leg extended, foot off the ground.  Switch legs.  
  • Challenge move: Hold your hands up towards the ceiling, this will require balance and stability, keys to core training.
  • Bonus Move: Do single glute squeezes, touching the ground with your glutes, then squeezing your glutes, lifting your hips up. Try to do 20.

3) Bicycle and Modified Bicycle:
  • Still lying on the ground, hands behind your head, chin lifted off your chest.
  • Twist your core so one elbow moves towards the opposite knee.
  • The opposite leg should extend fully. Switch sides.
  • Beginner: 10 on either side
  • Intermediate: 20 on either side
  • Advanced: 40 on either side
  • Modified Bicycle/Challenge Move: Elbow to knee, opposite leg fully extends. The leg that is fully extended remains straight, lower it down to tap your heel on the ground, then back up. Switch sides.

4) Modified Sit-Up:
  • Instead of having your hands behind your head as you would with a normal sit up, put your arms straight out in front of you.
  • Count to two as you sit-up, then slide back down, to the count of 2.
  • Make sure you keep your chin off of your chest and sit up with your chest leading--it should feel like that same rope from the first exercise is around your chest and pulling you up towards the ceiling, then down.
  • This doesn't have to be a full sit up, just shoulder blades up off the ground.
  • Beginner: 20
  • Intermediate: 30
  • Advanced/Challenge move: Hold a light weight or a ball in your hands.  

5) Invisible Chair:
  • Sit up with your heels on the ground (your knees will be a little more than a 90 degree angle), back straight.
  • Hold your arms out in front of you.
  • You will likely feel this in your quads and your lower back.
  • Beginner: Hold this position for 30 seconds, rest, then another 30 seconds.
  • Intermediate: Lift feet off the ground and hold your knees for balance. Hold for 30 seconds, rest, then another 30 seconds holding.
  • Advanced: Lift feet off the ground and hold your hands out in front of you, not touching your knees.  2 sets of 30 seconds.
6) Plank and Walking Plank:
  • Start on your hands and knees, hands should be directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips.
  • Come onto your toes, into plank position. Your body should be in a straight line from the back for your neck to your heels. 
  • Hold this position without your stomach dropping (making dip in your back) or your butt rising (causing an arch in your back) for 30 seconds.
  • Beginner: If you can't do a full plank, you can start on your knees. Just make sure you keep that straight line from the back of your knees up to the base of your neck.
  • Intermediate/Advanced: Just hold it for longer! Other options include holding your plank while on your elbows/forearms instead of your hands.
  • Challenge Move: Walking Plank: Start in a full plank (on your hands), then shift 1 arm at a time down to a plank on your forearms/elbows.  Go back to your hands.  Continue for 30 seconds.
There ya have it. 6 moves that ANYONE can do.  Your challenge?  Do this routine (any level, mix it up if you need to!) 3 times before next Wednesday.  Questions, comments, concerns?  See me after class :-)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

R2R 10k: Hold Back, Stay Steady, Finish Strong

I have been a terrible blogger, but I'm going to make a better effort to stay on top of it. 

So!  This weekend, I ran the Run to Register 10k for the Marine Corps Marathon out in Quantico and had a fantastic time.

My good friend, who I've previously called WB for Work Buddy came into town to do the race with me. We stayed close to Quantico Friday night because the last thing we wanted to do was drive an hour+ from the city down to the base. 

We got up early, headed over to base and walked out of the car into cool, crisp air.  The base was alive with a bunch of talkative runners, pacing around, warming up.  After a last minute bathroom break for me,we lined up under the familiar Marine Corps Marathon arches (my stomach dropped seeing them, remembering my anxiety at the marathon) and off we went. 

The course was a simple out and back, down a gently sloping (rises and falls, though nothing too steep).  Quantico really is beautiful, we were going down one road that stays along side a lake and a bunch of trees.  I felt amazing a few miles in, approaching the halfway (3.1), I felt amazing. 

I've noticed that I often times come out of the gate WAY too fast (aka, the Turkey Trot with my brother where I nearly puked all over everyone because I was trying to hold is 7:28 pace....HA).  This time, I stayed with my friend, stayed with the crowd, and as it opened up, I slowly let myself adjust to about an 8m/m pace.  That's a pretty decent and safe pace for a 5k for me, maybe even fine for 4-5 miles, but to stay with it for 6.2 was going to be a little challenging.  But it's amazing what checking your speed at the starting line can do.  Conserving energy, I was faster for longer.  I saw WB as I started back from the halfway and checked my watch.

I couldn't tell you now what it said, but I remember trying to do math for a couple of minutes, checking and rechecking to make sure I'd calculated it correctly.  I couldn't possibly be holding this time, this long...could I?

But I went with it, enjoying the scenary, feeling confident and breezy.  I turned the corner to come into the track and checked my watch.  In my bad calculations, I had hit 51 minutes and was about to turn possibly beat a 53, which, while I didn't "really" have a goal, I knew I wanted something below an hour and that it was possible I could pull out something under 55.  After rounding the bend in the track, I saw the official clock: 49:1something.  Two words went through my mind: HOLY SH*T and I booked it.  I'd already tried to put on the after burners coming down the hill onto the track but lost it somewhere in the middle.  Refiring was really difficult, but I crossed the line in what I swear was some blur of numbers around a 49:3something. 

Alas, my official time (which apparently was clock AND chip time...even though I started probably a solid minute after the clock time?) was 50.00.00.  A new 10K PR. Some smooth even numbers there, my friends.

I felt officially accomplished and spent the rest of the day, stuffing my face with Mexican food with WB (who also ran a solid race, crushing his PR by 15 minutes--major props to him!) and spending time with Chadd.

Here we are, WB and I, post race:

Best part of the race?  When we finished, we were handed a card with an access code on it for a guaranteed entry to the Marine Corps Marathon this year--the 35th.  I ran the 31st in 2006 with a 4:22:34...and am looking to crush the 4 hour mark this year, which is just a little over a 9 minute mile.  I'd be in line for a 3:45 if I held a solid 8:30.  We'll see how training goes!

I've got a weekend off, then the Cherry Blossom 10 mile!  If I can hold an 8:15 pace, I'll be thrilled, an 8:30, pretty happy, and anything lower, acceptable. 

A little shout out to all of you--thank you so much for the gchat messages/emails/facebook messages, etc. letting me know you read the blog and your congrats on my race--y'all are the best and you give me warm fuzzies. 

Coming up this afternoon: Abs/Core Arsenal--a few moves for beginners to experts to pay some special attention to your core!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tuesday Links...a bit late and Colorado--Why You Should Never Quit

Okay, here are the weekly links entirely too late for my taste or reputation as a good blogger.

Fun and Effective Group Youth Programming Strategies: For my friends out there with children.  I really think that fitness should start young.  I'm not really talking about starting 5 year olds with weight lifting, but every child should be playing sports, running around with their friends, and burning off excess energy with active play.  This article, from the perspective of the fitness professional, talks about strategies for keeping kids moving in a fun, game oriented way.

How I Went from New York Chic to Fitness Professional: Cute article on one woman's wardrobe change from corporate life to a fitness professional.  One day, my friends, one day!

Mileage Inflation: Sigh.  Not so long ago, running a marathon was a big deal.  Now, it seems like everyone does it....

Why Core Strength Workouts Work: LOVE this article.  You can just ask my participant, Manny (Thanks again!) who sent this in what I say in class...every...week. It's not just about your abs.  It's about your entire "pillar."  I call it your core and then break it down--your butt, your quads, your hams, your abs, your lower back, it's all your core and it's what keeps you upright, healthy, and aligned.  Trust me on this one (and the author of the article)...core training is amazing for you.  Make time for it!

In other news!  I am back from Colorado where I learned to snowboard.  This is a little story about what it means to have mind over matter.

I tried to snowboard about a year ago and ate it pretty hard (on my tailbone) and have been pretty gun shy about going back out there after that experience.  After a few false starts on getting out to the east coast slopes this year, we packed our bags and flew to Denver to see my brother.  We picked him up, rented our gear at an awesome place called Christy Rental (I guess they're everywhere in Colorado) and headed to Frisco.

This is the type of thing you see on the drive out there:

Now, you tell me why I shouldn't start packing my bags.

So anyway, we got out there and then next morning headed to Copper Mountain.  Will and Chadd dropped me off at the Ski/Board school and waved goodbye. I was a fit of nervousness.  The first half of the day aws extrodinarily frustrating.  I basically had an epic meltdown at lunch and cried.  Talk about losing my mind. Everyone says it takes three days to learn how to snowboard, or at least feel comfortable enough to get yourself up and down a mountain.  Let me tell you, I had originally felt a lot better after just one hour of a lesson on the East Coast than I did out there.

But when I got back from lunch, my snowboard instructor, Phil, said that he thought it would be a good idea to get me up on the mountain.  I'd probably have more luck up there.  I told him that I appreciated his faith in my ability, but there was no way that was going to go well, but I might as well go...otherwise I'd be stuck down there all day.

So, off we went.  Amazingly, my first time off a ski lift, I didn't eat it.  I fell later, but I didn't totally crash.  The first...quarter of the way down the mountain, I was a falling disaster.  Then, with the help of my speakers on my iPhone, it all clicked.  Phil had said over and over again "stop thinking and just relax." Let me tell you, to someone who is used to teaching, who knows what things should feel like and how to explain them, this made zippo sense to me.  But one of my favorite songs came on and that was the end of that.  All of a sudden, I was crashing at Phil's feet, scrambling up, then slowly edging my way down, then crashing. 

The second day, I was elated to go back and even more so when I realized that it would be just me, Phil, and Chuck (a first time snowboarder and multi marathoner and Ironman).  It was like my dream day.  I had near private intruction, I was feeling pretty good being strapped into a board, and MAN was I loving the fresh powder.  Falling was more like...falling into fluffy.  I did have a load of trouble with the ski lift, mostly falling the second I tried to get off. They did have to stop the lift at least once for me, but I made it up Kokomo, down a little to get on to the Lumberjack lift and up we went.  At least twice down from there.  Chuck, my co lesson taker, got it a lot faster than I did. Thankfully, I had a wonderful instructor.  I really value when I meet someone who teaches well.  It reminds me that I need to be equally as dedicated to my clients and my participants.  Phil helped me start to get my toe side turn (which is a hell of a lot harder than my heel side) and while I was more apt to stay on my heel side and ride switch (less dominant foot forward) every other zig zag, I felt like at the end of the day, I was prepared to get back on that mountain the next day all by myself. And I did!  I made it down the run without falling once the last time on the second day.

Thanks, Phil!!

Let me tell you, though, Saturday morning, I'd strained my neck so badly that rolling over, I had to wrap a pillow around my head to stabilize my neck.  Chadd had to lift me out of bed.  Once I warmed up, I was still sore, but nothing I couldn't handle, thank you BodyPump training.

We spent a half day on the slopes on Saturday where I managed to fall off the lift chair at the end and get whacked in the back of the head with it (glad I had a helmet).  Will went down the mountain with me the last time and once we were done, I honestly felt like I was dragging my heels away from the slopes.

It took a lot of guts and a lot of humility to learn to snowboard.  No one looks good doing it their first trip.  4 year olds were flying by me while I was doing the "floating leaf" down the mountain.

All in all though, I would go back any day of the week and one day, I'll be going down bigger and better slopes.  Try something that scares you, you might wind up loving it, listening to Tim McGraw's "Telluride" and dreaming of moving to the Rockies.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Linkage!

Fun stuff today!  I came up with a system of collecting links through the week (a handy old school internet browser tool called "Bookmarks"....)

So we have a ton of links, which will hopefully give you all something to do while I'm gone until next Tuesday.  Again, just to rub it in, I'm going to Copper Mountain in Colorado.  I'll be TRYING NEW THINGS and learning to snowboard for real this time.  I already have plans to have an all day lesson this Thursday.  My bro assures me that it's basically the best place to learn ever.  If  I come back in a neck brace, we'll talk.

Here are your Tuesday links!

1) Mindfulness May Change Your Health: In keeping with my belief that Yoga is good for you, here's a little bit on mindfulness.  If you really take the new-age stuff out of it, being aware of your body (mindfulness) and being aware of how you eat (mindful eating) really make sense.  Common  sense at that.  Your body talks to you a lot more than you're aware of.

2) Marathoning + Grammar = I Win!:  It's just funny.  That's all you need to know.

3) Learn the Right Way to Tie Your Shoes: It's interesting how something so small can change the way your shoes fit. 

4) Today's Training Tip: Don't Worry, Be Happy:  While it applies to how runners often times stress over the thing that actually destresses them the most (...running), it's all about perspective. Read the article (it's quick!) and apply it to whatever it is that you love to do that stresses you out.  Then, re-enjoy!

5) The Runner's Pantry List: It's not just for runners.  When you're doing your spring cleaning and chucking whatever that weird sauce you thought might be good with asian noodles out of your pantry, refresh by checking through these basics.  Not to mention, it'll make cooking a LOT easier.  My staple foods?
- Tomatoes
- Lettuce
- Onions
- Apples
- Strawberries
- Bell Peppers
- Mushrooms
- Cheddar Cheese
- Diet Peach Snapple Tea (weakness)
- Fresh herbs on overload (I ALWAYS seem to need them...particularly thyme and parsley)
- Plus Pasta
- Chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
- Quinoa
- Sparkly water
- 0% Fayge Greek Yogurt
- Pirate's Booty Popcorn
- 100 Calorie packs of almost anything

6) Mark Bittman's 8 Rules For Healthy Eating: The first five of these rules, I said to myself "this summarizes my blog...oh wait, no this one does too."  The last three, while I agree with them, don't really apply to my life.  I try to get the right nutrients, I love beef, and energy bars? Who'd rather eat one of those?? Blech.  The first five, amen brother, amen.  Read the article, but in summary:
- Eat whatever you moderation
- Plants first (fill up on low cal, nutrient rich, fruit and veggies)
- Start shopping and start cooking: KNOW WHAT GOES INTO YOUR FOOD
- Buy and Make Extra: I am the queen of reheats and left overs.  Avoid office lunches.  Hidden calories galore.

7) Free Jillian Michaels Mini Workouts: I have a serious girl crush on Jillian.  And a trainer crush.  I recommend downloading and watching (and doing).

And that's it for me today--I'm saving some of my links for next week since I won't be collecting them throughout this one.  Stay active while I'm gone!
Also, do me a little favor and shoot my blog out to your friends, family, coworkers, gym buddies, whoever.  Or...follow me on Twitter.  It's good to know how many people out there are reading!

Monday, March 15, 2010

6 Mile Monday

I took myself out for a beautiful 6 mile run up to the National Zoo, across to the Cathedral, down Wisconsin to Georgetown, then back to Dupont. 

It's the first day (aside from Sunday) of real DST.  I cannot stand the whole losing an hour of sleep and how I kept waking up through the night, worrying about if I was going to wake up at the right hour.   Come Sunday night though, I had one amazing night of sleep... I fell asleep to Chadd playing Mass Effect...for whatever reason, the soundtrack to that game literally puts me to sleep in about 30 seconds.  I have been mid-sentence and passed out.  This song specifically must hit me just right.  Chadd's actually been known to turn this on so I'll fall asleep.  So I slept well last night and woke up energetic (...ha.) or with enough energy to get through my day.

Tonight, I got home from work, encouraged by the (sort of) sun and a recent exploration of to go out for a six mile run.  The route looked like this:

And MAN did it feel good. (Even the massive hills). 

You know that one thing you really like to do where you don't actually have any idea how long it takes?  How you can look up and all of a sudden it's over?  That was my run tonight.  There are nights, yes, where man, it's brutal, but the nights when there's a good run (always outside, always more than 4 miles) when all of a sudden, it's time to finish up--those are the best.  It was gently misting, keeping most people inside, so it was basically a bunch of runners outside with a few straggling commuters.

For me, a long run is the equivalent of a hot bath and a a massage.  It's a total mind eraser.  It is definitely one of my favorite things about being a runner--finding that one thing that unlocks who you are.  I won't ever be an olympic marathoner, but that's okay...because that's the nice thing about being a runner--you don't have to be "good" because "good" is relative.  EVERYONE can work on improving their PR's

I encourage you to figure out what it is that gives you the same feeling (though the endrophin high is usually something reserved for runners) , but what is it that is your escape?  Cooking?  Walking?  Writing?  Art?  Take a little time this week for yourself to enjoy that with your extra hour of daylight!

Best part of my night?  Not feeling guilty about inhaling my dinner.

How to Beat the Common Cold

If you're at all like me, you're probably feeling one of two things this time of year: joy at the steadily increasing temperatures...and swollen sinuses.

You name it and I'm probably allergic to it...and it's probably always within a 3 ft. radius of me.  The beautiful Washington, DC Cherry Blossoms are actually harbingers of evil to me and my outdoor running.  That Cherry Blossom 10 Miler I've been so excited about?  Yeah, I'm bringing my inhaler and doing a double snort of afrin before I walk outside. 

Nothing like nature to ruin a good outside run.

So last Wednesday, late evening, I started to get those tale tell signs of an on-coming cold.  I am the disinfectant queen.  Anyone who was sick at my office (which was everyone) was asked to stay at the door of my cube while I rinsed off with my massive bottle of disinfectant.  I guess everyone has their breaking point because Wednesday, after living for 2 weeks around the infected, I started to get a scratchy throat.  Then the nasal swelling...

Thursday was tough cookies.  I had an important meeting that morning, then afterwords, it was like being hit in the head with a frying pan.  But, as of Saturday afternoon, I was feeling right as rain.  I have the secret to beating the common cold and/or allergies.

1) Buy a neti pot.  You can find one for like 10 bucks at CVS.  I know it looks weird, but trust me on this one.  Using a nasal cleanser (that isn't a drug) is amazingly helpful.  You get rid of the junk in your sinuses, keep the from getting dried out, and generally reduce swelling.  Apparently the Chicago Tribune did an article on their healing power:

I try to avoid nasal sprays because I know people who have lost a good part of their sense of smell because of them.  Avoid!  My doctor gave me some other oral medication (which I only use during serious allergy season) so I didn't have to use a spray...however...

2) Get the Afrin, don't use it longer than 4 days.  Afrin is ridiculous.  It's like snorting draino.  Then all of a sudden, boom you can breathe.  I have no idea what causes it or why, but it happens.  The only problem is that it's highly addictive.  Not like shoot it into my veins addicting, but wow I can't breathe without it addicting.  4 days is my max.  I use it 2x a day, one spray each side, right after the neti pot.

3) Sudafed in the morning.  While when I'm sick I can sleep through anything, I never want to take the chance, so I avoid sudafed at night, but in the morning, it goes a long way to keeping things dry.

And bingo.

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the tri workshop on Sunday.  Our car is...well, broken.  The shop won't have it back to us until tomorrow, likely, so getting to Fairfax wasn't an option.

As a heads up, we'll still have Tuesday links tomorrow and likely another post that afternoon about my project with NYC J, but then I'll be on my way to CO to see my brother and spend time trying not to kill myself on the slopes of Copper Mountain!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Live Blogging: Confessions of a Reality Show Loser

I'm sitting down after a day of feeling kinda cruddy (I might be getting sick) and what do I find on tv?

Confessions of a Reality Show Loser

It's the Discovery health special on the guy from Season 3 Biggest Loser who lost over 200 pounds, won the show, then came home and gained almost all of it back.  From 407 to like 179, back to 386.

I wish I had been watching the show (BL) back then because I feel like as I've watched the show, they've added more and more emotional therapy to the whole approach.  Jillian is especially talented at pinpointing someone's emotional issues--or maybe she's fed the lines, if you want to be one of those people who is skeptical of the show.  Regardless, I feel like BL began to go "it's more than weightloss, it's a lifestyle change."

The show recaps his weight loss journey the first time around, his rise to fame (Milk ads, first class air fare, etc.) and then catches up with him almost back at 400 lbs.  His wife is in tears, almost pleading with him not to get on the scale.  Honestly, my first thought?  Enabler.  She comes in and tells him that she's gained 4 pounds that week and it sounds like she's bragging, then she says "well, if I gained that, you must have gained 10 pounds."

I want to take a moment here to say that the last thing you do to someone on a weight loss journey, from 5 to 200 pounds, no matter what that number, is be negative.  Just...don't.  Do us all a favor and don't.  Positivity sheds pounds (proven) while stress and negativity can keep them packed on (true.  proven.)

He says he realized that he didn't know what to do after the show, that suddenly cameras weren't on him and he wasn't accountable to the tv show or the big scale.  Biggest problem for this biggest loser?  He didn't do it for the right reason.  It also seems like once he gotten done, he'd so invested himself in weight loss for winning versus weight loss for health that afterwards, he didn't have a purpose (beyond spending his winnings check almost over night and selling his deli because he was busy with his 15 minutes of fame).

Then his wife starts.  "You don't want to be bitter about oh I lost all this weight, I was a celebrity and now they don't care about me, but that's really what happened."  No, honey.  Your husband lost the weight without learning the lesson and now he wants to blame everyone else but himself.  Right now, who has been blamed?
- The wife
- The mom
- The new job
- The show

Missing from the list?  Him.

So what's he do?  Go on Oprah.

And Larry King.

He says that he doesn't know how to maintain nutrition afterwards.  I duno, buy a book?  He literally says "I don't want to have steamed veggies and a chicken breast.  It has to taste good."  Oh holy moly.  There are only about a billion cookbooks that give you low calorie, low fat, amazingly delicious recipes.  I don't think I've had a plain chicken breast and steamed veggies...ever. 

More than halfway through the show, he is just now saying (or the show has been edited to say) that he's wondering if he tied the whole thing to fame and when the world moved on, he was angry.  News flash:  there was a Biggest Loser season 1 and 2 before you and there have been 6 more after you.  You aren't Oprah.

Then after all the hating on the biggest loser and how they don't stay in touch...there's the news that that isn't exactly true.  They called and invited him to come to a thanksgiving special.  But he doesn't know if he wants to go because then he won't be putting biggest loser in the past...okay.  So which is it?

I guess what I'm getting at through this whole thing is that we make weight loss very emotional, and it is, but its time for us all to buck up, shut up, and tackle it instead of whining about it. 

I will say that he's lost 30 pounds in 2 months as of about 50 minutes into the show and he's decided to go back to the Biggest Loser for their special.  Of course, now his wife is on and on about how the show is being mean for putting him on the special. IT WAS HIS CHOICE. Can't we just own up to this? They're quibbling over 25 pounds. HE PUT IT ALLLL BACK ON. She says the show starts out.  And his wife goes "YOU ONLY GAINED 75% OF IT BACK" Cry me a river. 

For all my bitching, I have to say that I always do feel happy for this guy...who maybe never should have been on the show.  Maybe he had to learn it on his own.  He's down 40 pounds now, and to be honest, I think if he feels more accomplished about it this time because he did it and it wasn't a miracle of the show, he'll find that he can maintain it.  Biggest Loser does showcase nearly impossible weight loss for the generic public.  As I've said a trillion times.  It happens 2 pounds a week, at max, safely.  Yes, men do lose a lot that first week and when you're making drastic changes, you will sometimes have a big number week...but that in no way means that 12 pounds a week, or 5 or 8 or whatever, is common or sustainable.  Weight loss isn't an over the night, in a month, sometimes, even in a year, type of thing.  It's commitment to yourself and to health.


Frozen Food Review (3)

A few days late, but nevertheless, a third frozen food review for you on my quest to find something beyond a lean cuisine pizza.

Kashi Pesto Pasta Primavera

The Skinny:
Calories: 290
Fat: 11g
Carbs: 37g
Protein: 11g

Surprisingly fresh.  It really did taste like I'd just cooked it myself--the peas in the pasta were crunchy instead of mushy.  I was very very pleased with how flavorful the meal was.  Pesto was salty without being processed, the veggies were crisp, and the pasta had life instead of being, well, again mush.

Presentation (1-10): 9.  Top of the charts, but something green over brown pasta is never stunning to look at.  The veggies were different colors though (they retained their color) and the food had texture.  I wasn't going...eww when I opened the package.
Taste (1-60): 53 Not quite as good as the Amy's tamale, which was a tough act to follow.  The pasta was great, but I needed more variety.  The food tasted fresh and clean, though, so a 55 is almost unfair.
Satiety (1-15): 8.5 Needed just a few more bites...then again, that's why it's 290 calories and not 310.
Nutritional Balance (1-15): 13, same as the tamale.  Less food, less calories.  I liked the protein appearance and I expected a high carb count there for the pasta.

Total (out of 100): 83.5

Would I buy it again? Yup.  It's steep ($4.75), but it's fresh, and a nice pasta option (especially over the Lean Cuisine ravioli). Just make sure to bring extra fruit and veggies, it'll leave you hungry.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eating Locally - Buffalo and Greens

I'm sorry I've been terrible about eating locally.  I've been able to get to the market frequently, but the challenge has had to sit on the side lines since a) $30 is a lot for 1 dinner and b) I'm tired on Sunday nights.  We've been doing Thai takeout (mmmm veggie curry = low calorie delicious), or this Sunday, Chadd was the man of the year and made me a beautiful Chilean sea bass filet with tomatoes, olives, potatoes and broccoli after my crazy intense training over the weekend.  He went so far as to pick a low calorie recipe.  Love that wonderful man of mine.

BUT.  Last weekend, I did manage to stop by the market after class.  I picked up two buffalo steaks--one for Chadd (a ribeye) and one tiny one for me (a petite filet).  The guy told me that because buffalo has less fat, that I should cook it for a shorter time, but I should season it just like a steak.  Total was about $16

I also picked up a big basket of mixed greens, which came with the suggestion to heat some olive oil with garlic, dump the greens in, cover and steam for about 3 minutes on the stove.  I mixed in a little goat cheese afterwards and now that I think about it, I definitely should have added some pine nuts which are floating around in my spice cabinet.  Greens = $5

I melted some butter (1 tbsp) and cooked Chadd's steak first on high heat to seal in the juices, I let it cook for about a minute and a half on each side, then I tossed my steak in and probably did four minutes total--2 on each side.

The result?

Greens with goat cheese: 190
Buffalo steak (1/4 pound): 165 (holy lean mean!)
Total: 355

I recommend the buffalo--find it at your local farmer's market if you're lucky enough!  DC folks, Cibola Farms is our local supplier at Dupont's Farmers Market.

DAC Date!

Hi Everyone!

I forgot to mention that I'm hitting up a triathlon info seminar in Fairfax on Suday afternoon at 5, details here:

If you're interested in hanging out/learning more about a triathlon/making fun of how crazy I've gotten...please join me!  Let me know if you can make it!

Tuesday Links

Tuesday Linkage!

I've got a bunch for everyone this week, so here we go...

1) McDonald's Signs Weight Watchers Deal:  I literally cannot even talk about this one without doing a headdesk.  One of the items they mention as being a part of the new Weight Watchers is chicken mcnuggets.  I'm not even kidding you. This where, personally, I think we're failing to see the point of health.  It really ISN'T about weight loss, it's about changing your eating habits and recognizing that if you have McDonald's one day, you're probably going to want to stick to something you know, not frozen then deep fried the next.  Just because it has x number of points doesn't mean it's a good idea.

2) Dannon Settles False Advertising Lawsuit: I don't really take 100% stock in a lot of the healthy benefits claims of packaged foods anyway, but I do think that the questions in the article are good ones to keep in mind when you feel enchanted by the claims of food at the store.

3) FDA Warns Companies on Food Claims: Lots of articles this week on food and consumerism.  Must be something in the air.  This article actually makes me a little defensive of food companies.  Here's an excerpt:

The FDA also chastised companies for implying that consumption of their products can help treat disease, akin to taking a drug. For example, the FDA said POM Wonderful, of Los Angeles, implies on its Web site that its popular pomegranate drinks can help reduce blood pressure, clogged arteries and the progress of prostate cancer.

Look, I'm not saying that POM is going to cure your blood pressure or that you'll avoid that triple bypass next month, but I do believe that if you put good things into your body, you'll likely see an improvement.  Example: if I feed my cat food with corn in it (cats can't digest corn), he's sick...and we all suffer. If I feed him high quality food (no corn or additives), his coat is shiny, we avoid hairballs, and I don't buy out Febreez supplies at Target.  I don't think that anyone expect someone to pop the top off of a POM juice bottle, down it, and find that they're suddenly healthier.  But I would bet that there are some benefits to laying off the coke and trying some antioxidant fruit juice instead.  Just sayin.  Are we really that dumb/health dumb?  It's not magic, it's science...and common sense.

4) Student Lunch Contest: This is a wonderful article with the results of the student lunch contest.  This blog set out the challenge to create a healthy and delicious snack for students at the cost of $5.  The results are inspiring and will definitely find their way into my lunch.

5) Humans Found to Have Sixth Taste: Fat:  Well well well. Unami, now fat!  We're certainly up a few from when I was in elementary school and tested my taste buds with lemon juice, salt water, sugar water, and cranberry juice.  Interesting study on the sensitivity of people to the actual chemical make up of fat.  We actually "taste" it's chemical makeup, not just its texture.  People who can taste fat acutely are less likely to eat it.  Who knew.

6) How Much Caffeine Is In that?: A good list of common beverages/foods that have caffeine in them.  If you count those sorts of things....admittedly, I don't.  I do keep my caffeine consumption to about 2-3 drinks a day, max.  Just out of habit, never something I plan.

7) Pizza Pronto: I'm trying this sometime this week.  Looks delicious. Review to come!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Frozen Food Review (2)

Wow, am I behind.  I feel like I have a billion posts that I need to's what will be coming this week (if I don't get a chance today to write much)

1) Review of another Amy's frozen meal product (this one is awesome.)
2) My project with J (NYC) for med school
3) An overview of my weekend getting BodyPump certified (holy moly, I can't fully extend my arms right now)

I've also got another guest blogger/interview with a professional coming up soon--probably next Monday, so stay tuned and look for that!

Might as well get something off the checklist first--Let's talk about my frozen food quest.

Amy's Black Bean Tamale Verde
The Skinny:
Cal: 330
Fat: 10g
Carbs: 55g
Protein: 7g

Amazing.  This was hearty, authentic to the taste of salsa verde, and not at all watery.  It was definitely a complex taste (not just corn meal and black beans).  I really enjoyed every bite of the whole thing.  It comes with one large tamale with a mixed vegetable (mostly corn and black beans) filling, a green sauce over it and Mexican rice on the side.  Delicious beyond belief.  I will most certainly buy it again ($4.50).  One of my coworkers actually said "Is that the Amy's tamale?  Man that thing is the best."  So it has a reputation!

Presentation (1-10): 10.  Well laid out, colorful, I wanted to eat it frozen, if that says anything.
Taste (1-60): 55.  I always leave room for improvement (this was a tiny tiny bit too sweet for me) but it was awesome.
Satiety (1-15): 10.  I wanted more, for sure, at the end.  But it's hard to say if that was because I hadn't enough to eat throughout the day or if there wasn't enough food.  I think it was probably the former.
Nutritional Balance (1-15): 13.  Pretty good balance, especially for 330 calories--a lot of flavor and a good, solid meal.

Total Score (out of 100):

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Correction: Registered Dietician

Back from my first appointment with my REGISTERED DIETICIAN. 

Remember This Post about the difference between an R.D. and a nutritionist?  Review!  I've been calling my awesome R.D. a nutritionist, which is incorrect, so disregard all that nutritionist talk :-)

Anyway, about the appointment:

She is awesome!  This appointment was a get to know you session--we talked about my basics--my weight, my goal weight, my heaviest weight (oh man) and my lowest weight (Chadd gets the award for causing that one when he broke up with me...5 years ago?) and what I considered my ideal weight (my goal weight...minus 5 pounds would be like *ideal* though probably hard to maintain).

1) A glass of wine a day is fine.  Two is not.  Noted, though I probably average that out, but it's a good target to keep in mind.
2) Until we meet again (in three weeks, post Colorado trip), I need to keep an "emotional" diary in conjunction with my food diary.  I'll be targeting how I feel--am I full?  am I hungry?  am I bored/tired/sad/happy? when I eat.  This, I'm sure, will be a HUGE wake up call.  I haven't really been tracking those patterns, and it will be interesting to see how those line up to my eating habits.
3) She said that my original body fat percentage measurement (remember that disasterous night?) is likely very inaccurate and gave me direction on how to make an appointment to use the BodPod.  This, guys, is literally one of the most exciting things to happen to me.  I have been DYING to find one of these.  Do yourself a favor and get a giggle out of the video at the bottom of this page:  Seriously, watch it and tell me you don't crack up.  Houston, we have lift off.  Blast me into space.

I'm so psyched, can't wait to see what she has to say in 3 weeks!

Tomorrow--post about how I'm helping my NYC best friend, J, work on a project for med school!

Recipes and Nutritionists

Update on the recipe for the grilled chicken and salsa recipe in the Tuesday links--

Very good, I was missing the rosemary, but other than that, it turned out well. I needed to add salt, which is no surprise, but with a side of rice, it was a great meal. Just don't be like me and start making the recipe without reading the whole thing through (I'm terrible at doing that). I could have been doing two things at once, but instead I wound up doing one process (the marinating) only to find out I could have been roasting my tomatoes at the same time. Alas. Glad I had the Biggest Loser to keep me company while I cooked. The only beef I had with the whole thing was that it didn't reheat well. Though I've been having that issue with chicken lately. When I reheat it, the whole thing is tough and chewy and tastes...weird. Maybe I'm cooking it too much? Suggestions?

I was going to go for a run tonight, but our weather up here is drizzly and cold and I have my first appointment with my nutritionist at 7:45 tonight. I had to stay a tiny bit later at work than I expected, so by the time I got home, I was going to be cutting it close for running, showering, and walking down to GW. It's okay though. I was going to sleep in tomorrow, but instead I'm meeting up with my morning gym buddy to hit the weights, then my evening gym buddy after work to get in a run....oh, and Friday-Sunday I'll be working out intermittently through the days for my Les Mills Body Pump training!

Here are the concerns I plan to raise to my nutritionist:
1) If I am working out almost once a day, if not more than once a day, what staples do I need to have in my diet? What's the balance of nutrition that I need?
2) What kind of things should I add into my diet as I increase my endurance training for the 10 Miler and the Half Marathon (and eventually, the marathon)?
3) If I'm logging my calories very accurately every day (measuring food, etc.) and my body bugg is 90% accurate, then why am I not losing 2 pounds a week? Am I eating too much? Too little?
4) What kind of supplements should I be taking?

Here are my bets on what she'll say:
- I need to eat more
- I need to drink less wine (and/or prosecco)
- I need to cut the diet coke (currently at 1-2 cans a day)
- I need to eat more protein and find more calcium
- Iron is a must add to my supplements (which are currently at 0)

Update when I get home!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Frozen Food Review (1)

Every night I make dinner with enough for leftovers.  Everything is made fresh and is packed before I get up to go to work.

Haaaahaha.  Yeah right.

There are days, many days, it seems, when I have to be able to throw stuff into a lunch box, most specifically, a frozen meal.  I've been a long time supporter of Lean Cuisine since I've always preferred that taste, but I thought it might be a good idea to branch out.  I purchased a few lean cuisines and an assortment of Amy's and Kashi frozen meals.  Over the next week, you'll see a variety of frozen meal reviews.  Today's review...

Amy's Indian Mattar Tofu
The Skinny:
Calories: 260
Fat: 8g
Carbs: 40g
Protein: 12g

First off, I should say that I like Indian food quite a bit, so this wasn't some new adventurous food for me.  I heard about a place in L.A. that serves moving octapus...that is new adventurous food for me.  If you've never had Indian food, please don't start here.  As far as frozen food goes, it was pretty good. The rice was moist without being mushy, the two Indian foods were a good combo of a type of curry without being too spicy--though I take points away for not being spicy enough.  The tofu was kind of chewy, the way a thick fried egg can be--or maybe the egg in a dry omelet.  I like my tofu a bit different (not sure how, just eggs).

I'll also mention that I don't like eating frozen entrĂ©es with meat in them. It's a weird thing.  I also avoid Asian food with meat, aside from the occasional chicken.  I avoid it in frozen food because it's almost always chewy and kind of...watery while I avoid the Asian entrĂ©es with meat because I can't see if I'm about to chow down on a piece of fat with the sauce.

The dish wasn't memorable, but it wasn't bad either.  While it was expensive ($4.50), I'd buy it again for the sheer reason that it was 260 calories, not dry or watery, and it filled me up.

Presentation (1-5): 3, distinct sections of the plate and they made Indian food look better than my homemade Indian food.
Taste: (1-60): 45.  Not great, not terrible, but I never thought "what am I eating?" it definitely was Indian food.
Satiety: (1-15): 10  This was hard to give--I had it with grapes and a 100 calorie pack of cookies, but I'm going to go with a 10. 
Nutritional Balance (1-15): 13.  I was totally pleased with the fact that it was 260 and filling, and had a variety of tastes--unlike Lean Cuisine ravioli.

Tuesday Links

Well Happy Tuesday.  This week is already moving right along, especially considering that today is my Wednesday since I'm taking Friday off work for the fitness conference.

Here are your Tuesday links:

(quick note--the first three articles are from the association that does the gold standard personal training certification--NASM and their health fitness professional network site (HFPN), so they're directed to wards the trainer audience)

1) Stretching Yoga into the OPT Model: FYI, OPT is a training reference for a type of program that is used for most clients.  This article gives a more technical view into why Yoga might be a good addition to any training routine.  After my yoga class this morning, I was certainly aware of where I have an imbalance--I'm not talking lack of balance, but where I'm weaker/stronger and where I'm compensating.

2) Group Fitness Breakdown: Following the post I did on appropriate behavior in a group fitness class, here's an article talking a little about different classes and what they entail.  It's not a comprehensive list, but it's a good reference for learning more about Cross Fit and the various types of Yoga.

3) Anatomy of an Exercise: Cable Row: Oh man one of my favorites.  I love my back and it has a lot to do with a ton of these puppies--or the upright row done with weights.  Biggest two tips?  Keep your shoulders down and squeeze your shoulder blades together.  The shoulders down keeps your neck from straining (if your neck is straining, take the weight down) and the shoulder blades squeezing together works your entire back.

4) Spa (Weight Loss) Secrets: The first paragraph of this article is EXACTLY why I'm going to start seeing a nutritionist (tomorrow, in fact!). Do I really need 1500 calories?  If not, how should I structure my caloric breakdown between different nutrients? The one thing I disagree with in this article is that chocolate torte.  Worst recipe ever.  I promise.

5) Grilled Chicken with Roasted Tomato and Oregano Salsa: I am very excited about making this tonight, especially at 312 calories a serving, this is perfect with a serving of rice.  Review to come!

6) Angel Food Cake: Alright, I know this says Chocolate glazed, blah blah blah, but I'm not having 300+ calories for 1 inch of cake.  I am going to make this tonight, sans glaze.  I think I'll likely wind up having this with strawberries before bed at night.  Again, review to come-just trying to make up for my lack of recipe posting!

7) America's Worst French Fries: Don't worry--you can still have them!  In fact, the golden arches make a surprise showing here in the category of "best" fries in America. Man, I am craving some of those right now...must eat grapes...

8) What the World's Healthiest People Eat: As a foodie and fitness person, I love this article big time.  Also, turmeric, one of my new favorite spices gets a little shout out.  I'm not saying that any of us should adopt wholly any of these diets, but we should be a lot more willing to do what they do--they take their time, they are gentle with their food and allow it to have flavor on its own with the use of calorie free spices.  Step outside your normal cooking path and try a little something new!

And that's all for right now.  Post coming this afternoon with a frozen food review.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Beginning of March...and on to May

And another month rolls around! 

Well, I have mixed news.  The first and only bit, really, is that I haven't really gained or lost weight in the month of February.  I suppose the good news in all of that is that with my birthday, a massive snowstorm, staying up late to pick up Chadd and entirely too much snacking, I haven't I've found the right method of maintaining.  6 pounds from now, I'll have an idea of how to maintain that weight.  That's the hardest part, in my opinion.

Of course, the bad news is that I am no closer to my goal than I was a month ago.  Thankfully March is a very active month for me and my pact buddy and I are back on track, too, so we're all set to give a one-two punch to March and get that much closer to our goal.

My March looks as follows:
Weekend 1: Les Mills Training (Friday-Sunday)
Weekend 2: Snowboarding (Saturday)
Weekend 3: Colorado! (Wednesday-Monday)
Weekend 4: 10K Run to Register
Weekend 5: Easter (Chadd's mom comes to visit, likely)
Weekend 6: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler
Weekend 7: Open
Weekend 8: Open
Weekend 9: Run Amuck 5k
Weekend 10: Visit J in NYC
Weekend 11: Historic Half Marathon

Which brings us to the middle of May.  No kidding.  Like poof there go March and April!

My goal is to get through 3 pounds before I go to see my bro in Colorado.  That gives me roughly 2 weeks at a pace I'm comfortable meeting, especially since I'll be meeting with my nutritionist on Wednesday for the first time!  Cross you fingers and wish me luck.  I'm SO close.

On another note--the 7 day work til exhaustion workout didn't make it 7 days. I strongly suggest clearing your date book because any other gym date literally kills this.  I managed to teach it into my class (which I'm sure my class was less than thrilled about), but post boxing, I couldn't lift my arms, much less a weight.  Tuesday, teaching no-tap killed me, and then I had a sore wrist for whatever reason for 2 days. So, basically, be careful what you under take.  I do recommend trying the work to exhaustion workout 1x a week just to give yourself an extra uumph somewhere in your weekly workout!

Make March a healthy month--hopefully one filled with sunshine and warm weather too!