Tuesday, May 3, 2016

5 Reasons I Love Camp Gladiator


It's been a while. As it turns out, being a first-year teacher is an all-consuming activity. Still yet, I'm having success with my weight loss! I will write more about that next time.

Today, I want to talk about Camp Gladiator. First, the disclosure: No one asked me to write this and I am not receiving any type of compensation for doing so.

On my 57th birthday we went to a favorite restaurant that I literally only visit twice a year and when we left, there were people outside doing a promo for Camp Gladiator. They didn't actually stop me, they stopped Sunshine. She's 17, she's athletic, she's gorgeous; it made sense. In the end, I became their customer in what could only be described as a moment of temporary and complete insanity.

Camp Gladiator, "CG," is a boot-camp style fitness program. It's a total body workout in a "camp" format that runs in 4 week sessions. Each workout is 60 minutes and you can go an unlimited number of times to any location. The locations are outdoors. You bring your own equipment, water, a mat and a pair of dumbells. They recommend 2 to 3 workouts a week with 30 minutes of "activity" on the off days. These are the basic facts.

Here are 5 reasons I love Camp Gladiator:

  1. The trainers are the best. They are carefully vetted in a multi-step process and they are superstars. They know their stuff and they are true professionals. My trainer, Brandy Babbs, is passionate, kind, encouraging and tough. 
  2. It truly is "go-at-your-own-pace." People will be cheering you on, folks will encourage you to work hard, sometimes you'll be part of a team, but your pace is your pace. Since I'm at least 20 years older and quite a bit heavier than most of the people in my workouts, this is very valuable for me. 
  3. Everyone is welcome, truly. There are beginners in every workout and there are CG enthusiasts who've been to over 200 workouts. It's an encouraging environment and judgment free.
  4. It's excuse free. It's everywhere, all the time, except Sundays. Where ever I am, whatever I'm doing, there is always a workout nearby at a time I can attend. It may not be my preferred time -- I go at 5:00 AM -- but it is a time I can attend and still "do my life."
  5. Finally, I love CG because of the modifications. I have terrible knees. I have had very little cartilage in my knees for over 20 years. I know what makes them worse and what makes them stronger. Because their trainers are pros (see reason #1), they are also expert at helping me make modifications so I still get a really good workout without further damaging my knees.  
Is it for everyone? No. I would not recommend it for elderly people or non-ambulatory persons. Otherwise, yes, if you are committed to fitness and really want to change your life. It's not for the "faint of heart" -- but that's a condition you can change. 

Give it a shot. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, get off the couch and do something! Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Yep, I'm still here. The world's slowest loser. In a weird spate of good news, however, I happened across my weight from last January and I weigh exactly what I did then. So at least I'm not going up.

I have a plan. I have a process. I have a support group. Now I have to get to it!

I am still fighting the good fight, with a little less enthusiasm than before. When the new year came and went, I made a conscious decision to stop flogging myself for everything I did not do last year and focus on the here and now.  What I have is right now. I know what helps me lose weight. Now I need to get back to doing it.  I am headed to the kitchen right now to create my favorite egg and vegetable breakfast and to the store after work to refill the produce drawer.

There is never a time that is the right time to give up on myself. My last blood work was all good, thanks to a healthy lifestyle in spite of obesity. Losing weight is the last thing I have to do in order to say I've done all I can to be healthy.  I will not give up.

That's it for today; simply a time of coming clean but also looking at the clean slate. Happy New Year, everyone.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Is it Time to Break Up?

If your playlist doesn't occasionally move you to tears, dump it like a bad boyfriend. Just break up. You need a playlist that will support and inspire you!

I'm so old that my first playlist was on a Sony Walkman, the cassette kind. That's right folks, I used to run to a mix tape. I'd run around Memorial Park in Houston singing, "Let it Be Me" at the top of my lungs. I didn't mind all those looks I got; I was inspired! I picture Phoebe when I imagine myself back then.

For the last couple of years, I've been exercising in front of the TV since I exercise at home. However, since I've gone back to running, I've realized that it just doesn't distract me enough. And it doesn't make me want to move my feet. When doing hard things, we need inspiration.

I decided to use beats per minute (BPM) to help me build my playlist. The easiest way I could find to do this was with an app. After admittedly minimal research, I chose Tempo Magic Pro.  I like it because not only does it analyze your BPMs, it can adjust them without ruining the song. You can actually y adjust them while they play! I have a lot of music on my iPod, so I don't tend to adjust the BPMs that much, I just look for songs that have the beat I need.  Using BPMs made it easier for me to add intervals to my playlist. When a faster song comes on, I match my footfalls to the beat. I push hard through that fast song knowing I can change tempo with the next one. It keeps me pressing forward. In case you also want to move beyond the mix tape, here are a couple of tips:

  • Your playlist should reflect you. 
  • Add your favorite songs first. 
  • Search your device for songs of a certain BPM. What you find might surprise you! I added "Timber" by Ke$ha because I just love the beat, 
  • Add inspiring songs. Don't underestimate sentimental value; I added Carrickfergus to my cool-down because it reminds me of a heart-warming time in England and a group of people dear to my heart. 
  • Add some just fun or silly songs or old songs
  • Order your list and see what's missing. I decided I wanted a longer warm up, so I front loaded a couple of slower songs. 
  • Try to start and end on an inspiring note.  
  • Shape your BPMs like a bell curve if you're building an interval mix.
It's your turn! Break up with that bad boyfriend playlist and get a fresh start. Shake it off. You know you've hit it when you're running along and you tears are running down your cheeks while you sing, " I am a woman on a mission. Nothing CAN stop me, I'm stronger than ever! I'm gonna see it through." 

Here's my current playlist. Be warned, some of the songs are a bit "colorful." If you will take a minute to share your  playlist with me, I'd love to pick up some new inspiration. On your mark, get set, go!

1. Fight Song - Rachel PLatten BPM 88
2. Proud - Heather Small - BPM 103
3. Let's Get it Started -The Black Eyed Peas - BPM 102
4. I Want Candy - Biggest Loser Workout Mix - BPM 144
5. On a Mission - Miss G - BPM 90
6. We are the Champions - Queen - BPM 63
7. You Gotta Be - Des'ree - BPM 94
8. Shake if Off - Taylor Swift - BPM 160
9. All About that Bass - Meghan Trainor BPM - 135
10. I Won't Give Up - Jason Mraz - BPM 91
11. Timber - Ke$ha - BPM 130
12. Everything is Awesome - Lego Movie - BPM 141
13. Good Girls - 5 Seconds of Summer - BPM 142
14. Beautiful - Christina Aguilera - BPM 75
15. Mountaintop - The City Harmonic - BPM 63
16. Carrickferghus - Loreena McKennit - BPM 60

Friday, July 3, 2015

You Are Worth It - Links for Inspiration

(Part 1 is here)

If you read my post from a few days back and are interested in trying some new things for yourself, thought I'd share some of what I'm looking at. Before I do, however, I want to tell you that my 2 secret weapons are unfortunately, not really available to share; they are my teen daughters, Pepper and Sunshine.

Pepper has been quite regularly sharing in my body weight strength training, including being the person to hold my feet for my curl-ups and being the person who convinced me that I can plank!  She has also cooked a ton of delicious and nourishing food this summer! Sunshine has been very encouraging of my running, in particular, and saved me this very night. She came in when I was in the toughest part of my run and so "Way to go, Mom. You have this." How I needed that!

I can't give them to you but please do find a couple secret weapons of your own! Meanwhile, here are some links to what I've been loving lately:

Food and Recipes:

Totes "Tortilla" Soup
Triple Almond Scones - oh. my. goodness. Just do it.
Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimchurri
Paleo On the Go Restaurant Tips - so helpful on the road
The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook ($3 on Kindle; not much of a gamble)
Eating Well Quick Mediterranean Recipes



Nerd Fitness Beginner Body Weight Workout
Kenda's Trail Runner's Strength Training Workout (also mostly bodyweight)
Navy PRT training information
Hotel Work Out - this has helped so much this summer. I do mine on the front lawn of the hotel. I'm that awesome.
The Strong Knees Workout

Help for Working out!

Fitbit (how I love thee). We've been in a relationship 6 years. Any fitness tracker, really.
Tempo Magic - makes it easy to build a playlist for your workout.
Simply Yoga
Fight Song by Rachel Platten - makes me WANT to run!
Shake it Off by Taylor Swift
All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor

General Helpful Information:

Beginner's Guide to Paleo 
Weight Watchers International
Fooducate's Scanner App - get your nutrition info into a tracker instantly
Calm is an app that helps you do just that

If you try any of these things out, let me know how they worked for you. Now put down that phone and put on your trainers!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

You are WORTH It.

I am back on the losing train again, Woo, WOOOOOOOO.

This is typical of my journey. Work hard, not get a lot of results, get discouraged, gain a couple of pounds, come back to it and bam! Something works.  I have not given up in about 10 years of this battle due in large part to the encouragement of those around me like my dear friends Gina, Anna, Colleen, Will, Christine and my indefatigable Weight Watchers leader, Carolyn.

I had a long conversation with my internist about my weight loss journey a couple of months ago. He said that, with my family history of extreme obesity and terminal diabetes, the cards were stacked against me. He also said that I must not give up my efforts. Even if I am maintaining my weight or losing at my typical glacial pace, I am still staving off the health problems that will inevitably come if I begin gaining weight. He pointed out that though I am yet significantly overweight, all my insides are healthy. My cholesterol reading is in the normal range, but could be a lower number; otherwise, I'm in great shape. I exercise more than most "normal weight" people. I have no known health risks outside obesity. He credits that health to my having waged this weight loss battle almost continuously since 2005. Hearing this, I made a decision then and there that I will fight with renewed vigor.

When school got out, I determined to use my time flexibility to build in more exercise and research eating styles that might support me. Clearly it is not just a numbers game for me. Once again, I was drawn to a modified paleo approach to eating. (Here's a good synopsis of it if you're interested). I also set up a spreadsheet to track my intentionality in this quest to "level up my life."  It's not pretty but it's functional and here if you'd like to see it.

These two changes--additional exercise and modified paleo eating--  have made a difference for me! Since our last day of school, June 8th, I have lost 7.4 pounds. It was apparently enough to  push me down a size; my pants, loose at the end of school,  were literally falling off me at at last weekend's ball tournament. What's more, I feel more toned and am so much stronger. I have a fitter frame, suddenly, and I can feel it on the inside! I have not had a weight this low since 2010, and I will soon blow those "lows" right off the charts.  Next time I will post a few awesome resources for you.

This was a lot of personal detail and I have said it all to underline one thing: We must never give up on ourselves. I am worth it; You are worth it. If people around you aren't saying that to you, call me up. I will say it.  (1-512-983-1390) You have time to spend on your health. (Yes, you do.) You have a right to surround yourself with support. You can make choices that are better for you. Small changes can really add up and you can make those changes because you are worth it. 

Here it is again: You are worth it. You are more than a number on a scale. You deserve a life worth living. You deserve a healthy future. You matter.

Please let me hear from you and how you are waging your battle for greater healthfulness. We are stronger together.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Friday Tips, Tricks and Inspiration

Happy summer Friday! I hope your long summer days have been filled with fun! Now that I've adjusted to school being out, I am buckling down to focus on (all of our) health and fitness.

Tips - Get in Your Potassium

Even healthy eaters can have a deficiency. Recently I was suffering from night-time leg cramps and thought potassium might be the culprit.  Just in time, Fooducate posted this article on the topic:  Potassium: You're Not Getting Enough.

The article lists several good sources for potassium -- and yes, it includes more than bananas. In fact, several foods offer twice as much potassium as bananas. Check it out.

Top Tricks for Restaurant Dining

This week delivered some shocking  news on how quickly restaurant calories add up from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

But you certainly can be successful eating out. Your best bets? Check out these restaurant tricks:

Ordering Tricks

  • Start with a brothy --not cream -- soup, eaten slowly. Research shows this single action can greatly reduce the number of calories you consume in your meal.
  • Avoid anything with these words: breaded, fried, cream sauce, creamy, buttery, buttered or gravy.
  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
  • Have your meats and seafood broiled or grilled and,
  • Let your server know you are watching your waistline.
  • Share an entree with a friend; you can always order an extra salad or soup.
  • Order a to-go box WITH your entree and put half your meal in the box; you'll never miss it.

Cocktails, Anyone?

  • If you won't enjoy your outing without alcohol,by all means have a drink! But take a minute to Google the company's nutritional info and know the cost in sugars and calories before you order.
  • Easier: order wine or beer instead of a cocktail.
  • Order a bottle of sparkling water with wine and dilute it 50/50. It is still delicious(!) and you get twice the beverage for the same calories. 

Mealtime tricks:

  • Push the breadbasket to the far end of the table. 
  • Eat slowly, beginning with all the vegetables on your plate. 
  • Try your baked potato plain! They are surprisingly flavorful
  • Dress your salad sparingly at first and only add more dressing as needed. 2 tablespoons of dressing is a serving.
  • Drink a full glass (or two) of plain water with your meal.  
  • If it's a special occasion and you want dessert, split it with a friend or better still, the whole table. 
  • Finally the best eating out tip of all: If it isn't delicious, don't eat it! 

Inspiration from an Unlikely Source: Fast Food!  

Good news for fast food lovers: Amy's Kitchen is opening a quick-serve restaurant  Amy's is well known amongst vegetarians, gluten-free eaters, and healthy eaters nation-wide. Their organic, vegetarian frozen meals have been around for over 25 years and were the standard-bearer for a heathy, organic, non-GMO  frozen food. Amy's Kitchen's labels read like recipes; to wit, the ingredient label onn their famous black bean burritos: Ingredients: (Vegan) Organic wheat & whole wheat flour, filtered water, organic black and kidney beans, organic onions, organic potatoes, organic broccoli, organic corn, organic bell peppers, expeller pressed high oleic safflower and/sunflower oil, organic tomato puree, organic sweet rice flour, spices, sea salt, organic garlic, cilantro, organic tapioca starch, organic green chiles, organic jalapeƱo peppers. Contains wheat. 

Amy's Kitchen was a dream come true for vegan eaters, those avoiding gluten, and other folks just trying to eat with awareness. Now there are other contenders in this specialty frozen food market but Amy's Kitchen has found a new way to make waves with a quick-serve restaurant.   Fooducate reports that the restaurant will serve fresh cooked, affordable, high quality foods and will feature a drive-through. This outlet, an antithesis of fast food (healthy, local, and vegetarian), will open this year in northern California, near the companies headquarters.

I am pulling for the success of this venture and hoping it leads to a chain!. Busy parents and professionals could use a fast food restaurant with a whole foods, healthy eating mindset! Yay Amy's!

Those are your Tips, Tricks and Inspiration for this week. Next time look out for "Nerd Fitness," an android game that is encouraging exercise and some great news from the FDA.  Cheers!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fit Friday: Tips, Tricks and Inspiration

Thank you, Smart Phone. I am finally able to get back to my health-reading habit since my smart phone allows me to squeeze that activity into the nooks and crannies of time available in my 3-Ballplayer-Mom lifestyle! Which leads to our Friday Tips, Tricks and Inspiration.

Tips: Choose a Plan You Can Stick With and GET SUPPORT

I'm not one to get into flame wars so in complete honesty, the part of this editorial  ("Why Protein Isn't Bad for You") that goes after Dr. Ornish wasn't personally interesting to me. However, this thought provoking op-ed piece reminded me once again of the importance of a balanced, moderate approach to eating and the importance of in-the-flesh, ongoing support in your weight loss efforts. It never hurts to be reminded!

The salient points are these:
  • Choose a moderate and healthy eating plan that you can continue over a long period or -- ideally -- forever. 
  • Protein is a necessary part of our diet. Avoid processed meats; really folks, these should be for occasional treats or actual emergencies
  • Any eating plan is more successful with regular -- think weekly -- ongoing support
  • Online support has simply not been proven successful as a sole means of support; in the high tech age, it turns out we all still need people "in the flesh."

Tricks: Gastric Bypass Surgery is Not a Panacea for Instant Happiness

In fact, it's a proven successful method of weight loss that comes at a high price. For many people, it's life saving. Yet it's not easy nor instant, and the changes that come with it are hard for some people to handle. I hope you will take a minute to read this first-person account of weight-bias with a few words on the side effects of gastric bypass.

Who Knew? Getting Off Our Butts is Saving our Lives! Friday Inspiration.

I do write about this frequently but that's because there is an explosion of research on the topic. This recent study looks at the effects of sedentary behavior as related to our mortality. Straight from the researcher's pens' is this conclusion: 
" . . . long periods of sedentary time was positively associated with an increased risk for dying (from all-causes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases) and increasing the risk for certain forms of cancer . . ., cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Our meta-analysis found that the largest association was with type 2 diabetes (91% increased risk)."

That's pretty hard to ignore. One of my loved ones died of complications of diabetes after a tough battle of many years that saw her losing both her legs, Death by diabetes is slow and painful.

The study authors go on to suggest that 30 minutes/day of physical activity is critical to longevity and health. They also mention other recent studies that suggest even that amount of activity will not necessarily counteract the negative effects of long periods of sitting. This has been much in the news lately, resulting in recommendations that we never sit longer than 20 minutes at a stretch. This is a very challenging goal to meet; I know because I try to keep it. 

It would be instructive to just notice how long your stretches of sitting are currently. If you have a Fitbit or Jawbone or similar device, it's easy to do: Just look at your data. If you do not have an activity monitor, it would be easy enough to keep a notepad on your desk or near your sofa. Try wearing at least a basic pedometer and increase your steps every day, paying particular attention to long periods of sitting.

It's easy enough to do:  I am going to focus on getting up during commercials when I watch TV in the evening which is when almost all my sitting takes place.  I am also going to make sure I get a minimum of 10,000/steps every day (even when ill!) which will help me accomplish the previous goal.

What will inspire you this week?