Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Am I fit?

Occasionally I get people asking me how they will know if they are fit. Although we generally use our physical appearance as an indicator, that isn't always accurate. It is possible to be carrying 15 extra pounds and be fit. Actually, it is better for your cardiovascular system to be a little (and I stress a little) heavy and fit than it is to be thin and out of shape. I remember, during high school wrestling season, why it was that every match was so darn hard when I could do pushups, crunches, and mat drills until the cows came home. I could run and run (although I didn't like running then any more than I do now) but after 6 minutes on the mat I thought I was going to die. My coach said that being fit is not about not feeling tired but being able to push through the fatigue. How right he was. I remember the first time I did Body Step. I hated it. I hurt. But I kept at it and as my fitness improved, I found that it wasn't quite so bad. I actually began to enjoy the feelings associated with a good workout. Not so much the lactate build up that comes with anaerobic exercise (think how you feel during song #9 of any Body Attack class) but the post workout rush is fantastic.

One of the things I battle with as an instructor is class members who do just enough to get through. Not that just getting through isn't a worthy goal but after they know they can make it, some of them continue to just barely get through. My goal is for everybody to be pushing themselves every class as far as their body will allow and then pushing just a little bit more. Let me give you an example. The other night I went to my first spin class in quite awhile. I don't particularly like spin very much because you're not moving. The instructor (Kris Mowatt, at Performance Health and Fitness) had a climbing drill that about killed me. It was a 12 minute climb that started easy and got really mean. The last 6 minutes was entirely standing. After 11 minutes I wanted to cry. The room was hot (the ceiling fans are not in yet), I was dripping with sweat, and my quads were on fire. At 11.5 minutes I almost dialed the resistance back and sat down but I realized that this is what I was battling against. How can I expect my classes to push themselves to the limit if I am not willing to do the same thing? I stayed out of the saddle and finished the drill. The feeling of accomplishment was enough to make me want to go back for more. Each time I push myself a little harder, I am getting fitter.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Healthy or not?

Some people think thatyour BMI number rules and determines if you are healthy or not, and that if you have a high BMI number then you must not be healthy. Well all BMI stands for is Body Mass Index and it isn't the best way to measure one's health. For instance you could have a high number BMI, but be a very muscular person and super healthy. Remember muscle weights more than fat.

A better way to measure health is by how you feel. Are you on tons of medication for things that could be controlled by some weight loss? Do you have diseases that are curable with weight loss?

For instance. When I weighed between 215-220 I had asthma. I was on an asthma medication and had an inhaler for sudden symptoms. I also had severe back problems and usually took pain medications for those on a regular basis.

Since loosing 80 pounds I have been able to go off all my asthma medication, in fact I was declared to not have asthma anymore and not even need a perscription for the inhaler. I also don't need back medication anymore. All this due to weight loss, or so the doctor's say.

Now am I healthy? That's a good question that I've asked myself many times.
A couple days ago I was with a friend of mine in her office and she has one of those special scales that measure Body Fat. She is a personal trainer and we talked about weight and body fat, etc.

I stepped on her scale to see what it said for my body. According to the scale, I currently weigh 138.4 and my % of fat was .258, which means my percentage of lean weight is .742 or in simpler terms my pounds of fat are 35.70 and my lean pounds were 102.70

The healthy range for % of fat is 21-33% and since I'm a 25.8% of fat I fall in the healthy range. That was so comforting to know.

If I wanted to be at the bottom of the healthy range at a 21%, but still be healthy then I only need to loose 8.4 pounds. And that would make my weight 130

So all those charts on the internet that say I should be 120 are full of crap. For my height I should be 130 at the lowest. So glad I found this out. 8.4 pounds will be a lot easier to take off then 18.4 pounds and I'll feel tons better about it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Week 7 of 7 Final

Ok, here we are at the end of the contest. We can't declare a winner. Why?????

Because of one main reason. We don't have a scale to weigh on. Here's the story:

Jason always weighed in at Core fitness after his Body Step class on Monday mornings. I always weighed in at the Plasma center on Monday afternoons.

Last week a blood test I had taken came back as low protein so I was required to have a new blood draw. I did that and until the results come back, I am denied for 7-10 days, which ultimately means no getting weighed on their scale and no donating plasma for extra income.

Kinda bites big time (not the weighing in part, but the no donating part because there's no extra income)

Then since bad luck seemed to be all around last week. Jason and I both got fired from our fitness instructor positions at Core fitness last week, this was due to reasons we don't understand. This also means we can't teach classes ever again at that facility and we won't be weighing in on their scale.

So there's your story and I'm sticking to it.

Now someday if we decide to actually buy a scale for our home, then we will weigh in again and perhaps start a new contest. I happened to like only weighing in once a week somewhere other than my home.

I personally believe that if you have a scale in the house you will weigh in all the time which can be emotionally draining or lead to eating disorders, just from what I've read. I know personally when I had gained just 1 pound I would cry, now why I'd cry would baffle me greatly since seriously it was ONLY 1 POUND and could have been so much worse. Heck I used to be 80 pounds heavier so why would 1 pound bother me so???

So I have chosen in the past to not have a scale in the house which means we had to forfeit this contest.

Either way in these last 7 weeks, both Jason and I have been eating better overall and have tried some new exercise that we hadn't tried before thus leading to better heath in the end which was the goal at the start.

Check back often for health tips and perhaps a new contest someday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Week 6 of 7

We are almost there and this past week we actually both didn't do well. I made this Spiced Apple Banana Cream Cake over the weekend and we both ate more servings than anyone ever should, and we both gained a pound this past week. So sad, in fact, so sad that we both decided to weigh in again on Thursday just to see if life got any better for us by then. So we will have a week 6 1/2 update for you in a day or so.

Totals are

Michelle at 139 lbs. total loss of 5 pounds overall
Jason at 200 lbs. total loss of 1 pound overall

Also I have to add that Jason is just looking so hot these days and even though the scale is being extremely rude to him, it doesn't at all reflect how he looks. He has toned so much and I know that since he lifts super heavy weights that he is replacing muscle with fat. He has gone down a size to a 34 waist instead of a 36 so that says more than some stupid scale.

As for my weight, not sure why I gained this week. I did feel bloated and not super well. And I have had some stress, which I'm not sure if that reflects on the scale or not.

But anyway, it's back to the hard work and dedication to hopefully have our last week be very positive for both of us.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Week 5 of 7 in Weight Contest

Well it was a hard week full of treats and although it started out well, it ended bad.

Jason stayed the same weight as last week
Michelle gained a pound

So the weight totals are:

Jason is at 199 he has lost 2 pounds total
Michelle is at 138 I have lost 6 pounds total

Here we go again. Two weeks left.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Week 4 of 7 in Weight Contest

This week was a hard one, both Jason and I had treats. I felt like I dipped in a little too often.

Here are the results:

Jason stayed the same

Michelle lost 1 pound

Weight totals so far Jason weighs 199 and has total loss of 2 pounds
Michelle weighs 137 and has a total loss of 7 pounds

Here we go again for another week, wish us luck!!!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Week 3 of 7 in Weight Contest

Here we are at week 3 out of 7 weeks. This contest goes until the Monday before Dave Clark's wedding.

Week 3 results

Jason lost 2 pounds
Michelle lost 1 pound

Weight totals so far
Jason weighs 199 and has total loss of 2 pounds
Michelle weighs 138 and has a total loss of 6 pounds

So once again Michelle is the winner. Ohhhhhh I like the sound of that. I hear a bubble bath filling up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

When I win...

So, here's what I have decided will be my thing if I win the contest. I want one Saturday without any responsibilities. I want one day to do whatever I want. Maybe I'll go for a long bike ride or go for a hike, or go sailing, or just browse B&N for a new book.

So far Michelle is kicking my rear but I always come on strong at the end. I weighed myself last night after I taught Body Attack and was 199.5. That's the first time I have been under 200 pounds in about 15 years. Let's hope I can hold on to the loss. We'll see at the official weigh in on Monday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Week 2 of Weight Contest

We both weighed in today. I had a fabulous week and not sure how, but I'm excited to be ahead in the contest.

Jason weighed in at 201 (where he started so he lost a pound)
I weighed in at 139, so I lost 3 pounds this last week.

Total loss for both

Jason is the same

Michelle down by 5 pounds

Hoping this week continues wonderfully. I'm trying hard to exercise a little more each week and I'm eating super healthy, except for tonight at my Pampered Chef meeting, I did have a chocolate mint double stacked cookie thing that was awesome!! Basically I'm trying super hard to eat balanced calories throughout the day and have 5-6 meals a day. When I'm on the run I have either granola bars or dried fruit with me to get some type of calories in me every 3 hours.

Wish us both luck for another week.

Oh one more thing, I feel so great. I have so much more energy than ever before and I just feel awesome. Maybe totally healthy eating is the way to go.

Monday, September 8, 2008

1 week into the weight contest

Jason and I both weighed in and here are the results for Week 1

Jason gained a pound, and I lost 2 pounds.

So the weight totals are: Jason 202 Michelle 142

The challenge will remain for 6 more weeks!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Weight Contest

Tonight Jason and I entered into a weight contest. I've never done this before and the challenge is something I'm looking foward to.

Basically it's this:

We both decided that we have around 10 pounds each we could loose. For my height, according to several charts on several websites I checked out, they all say I could be as much as 25 pounds less to still be in healthy range. Well I don't agree that I need to loose 25 pounds, but I definately agree that I could loose 10. I'm not happy with my current weight of 144 so I'm on a mission to eat better and get fitter.

Jason also decided that he has a good 10 pounds to loose.

We both understand it's not about the number, but we also both realize that lately we have been dipping into the treats a little too often and not using all healthy habits.

For these reasons and more we are in a contest. For the next 7 weeks (from now until he goes to his brother's wedding in Utah)we will both cut way down on the treats, not eat out and up our exercise. We will use these healthier habits to see if we can loose at least 10 pounds in 7 weeks.

Whoever looses the most by our goal date of October 20th, the Monday before the wedding will win the item of their choice. My item is silly. For me, if I win, I want Jason to clean the tub, super clean, fill it with wonderful bubble bath stuff, I will then get a long quiet bubble bath and afterwards get a pedicure done by him complete with him painting my toenails.

Jason has not picked his item of choice yet. Stay tuned to find out what he picks, but it won't really matter since I'm going to win!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Body Attack

Tonight we are launching a whole new set of songs for Body Attack ( ). We get new music from the company every three months. This gives us an opportunity to introduce new things to the members of our gym. Launches are always fun and there is a ton of energy in the room. I have found that group exercise is the most effective way for me to get and stay in shape. It is rare to find the individual that has the self discipline needed to stick to an exercise program by themselves. That is one reason that so many marathon runners and trialthletes have training partners. If you are trying to do it by yourself, it is too easy to keep hitting the snooze button, too easy to tell yourself that you will get that run in after work, etc... Being in a group setting encourages you to not only show up to work out but you will also get motivated to work harder by the other participants and the instructor.

I love teaching the three classes I have. I look forward to them. I still have weight to lose - my goal is 185. I weighed myself last Friday and tipped the scales at 203. Much better than the 240 that I used to be but not quite where I need to be yet.

Having said that, I think it is also important to keep in mind that I will probably never have that finely chiseled abs I did in high school or the sharp jawline I had before I had children. Even so, it is more important to gauge your health by how you feel rather than what the scale says. It is probably a better idea to use your blood work as an indicator of general health (i.e. cholesterol - particularly LDLs, and triglycerides) rather than the scale. A while back I read an article that said that it is better to be overwieght and in shape than it is to look great but not able to make it up the stairs. Personally, I would like to look great and be in shape but if that is not going to be possible, at least I will be in shape.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What do I eat in a normal day?

People come up to me all the time after I'm teaching a class and ask:

What do you eat for meals? They want examples.

Here are a few of my normal days. I do want to loose a little bit more, but I'm not crazy about it so I haven't done anything drastic. I have however been the same weight of 138-142 for 2 years and would like to be more like 132-135 but that again is just a number and I need to remember that it is all about how you feel in your pants, not the number on the scale.

Here are some examples: ( have seperated it to No time breakfasts, 5-10 min. breakfasts, and full out have an hour to prepare breakfasts)


No Time: A power bar, or a granola bar, or an apple with the middle cut out and peanut butter stuck inside the middle, or a piece of toast toasted with peanut butter and jam.

5-10 minute breakfasts: a bowl of oatmeal. My favorite is a new kind that has some cranberry bits in it or apple cinnamon. Or a quick scrambled egg or a protein drink.

lots of time to prepare breakfast: I would make an omelette for sure. Usually a 1 or 2 egg omelette with some cheese on the inside and sometimes chopped up ham or fake bacon bits. And of coarse spices.

If I have a day that I seriously don't care about the calories breakfast: Then it's definately bacon and/or sausage and blueberry pancakes. Or my all time favorite waffles. And I also love this recipe called Ham and Cheese Omelette Roll. It's a Pampered Chef recipe that I always make for company.

Snacks are usually a granola bar of some type, piece of fruit, yogart, cheese and crackers, handful of dried fruit or nuts, or something very tiny.

Lunches are similar to snacks. I would prefer wraps daily of some type since I love chicken, tomoatoes and fresh spinach wrapped up in a wheat or spinach tortilla with a little ranch dressing. Or a Salad with lots of tomatoes and Vidalla Onion dressing.

Dinners are anything that I'm fixing for everyone, just in very small amounts. If they are having something I really shouldn't eat or don't desire, then I will just have my normal lunch thing or resort to a granola bar.

Always with all these meals or snacks I have either a class of water or two, Or a glass of milk. Skim milk is great. About once every day I mix in my protein stuff with my milk to get added protein. I rarely drink juice unless it's a smoothie that I make or buy. I love the brand Naked juice. Great for you in lots of varieties and also Bolthouse juice is good too. I also really love V-8

So there you have it, a typical day.

Yes I do have sweets. I love things with bad calories. I just eat really small amounts. For instance. If I buy an Almond Joy candy bar, I will eat half. Or like last night we had chocolate cake for my son's birthday. I had a sliver of it, and no ice cream. But then today when it was snack time I had a very tiny bowl of the cookies and cream ice cream. About a half cup and I'm loving it.

I know if I cut out the sweets altogether I'd loose that last 10 pounds my body hangs on to, but I see it this way, if I do that I might loose it one day and binge out on an entire package of Oreos.

I like food, but...

I have realized that I really can't practically fit more exercise into my life. Well, I probably could but I need to get at least a few hours of sleep at night. So, I have had to ask myself what I else I can do to lose more weight. Obviously it would be to modify my diet. That is a hard one. I like to eat. I love pie, pizza, cookies, you know, all the "bad" stuff. I have never been a big fan of veggies until fairly recently. I still can't stand cooked spinich, brussel sprouts, beets, or turnips amoung a few others but I have learned to really enjoy broccoli and asperagus. The key for me has been to learn that there are more ways to cook vegetables than to simply steam them and put salt and butter on them (nothing like taking a good-for-you food and making it a not-so-good-for-you food). Learning to use the spices in my cupboard has gone a long way to making greens taste good. As I have written in our cooking blog, I love asian food. Real asian food is stuffed with vegetables that are stir-fried or steamed in the presence of different flavors. Steamed broccoli with a splash of teriaki sauce is very good for example. Eating more vegetables not only helps me to lose weight but I get more fiber and vitamins and minerals than I would eating a hamburger and fries (which I still enjoy occasionally).

Another trick I am finding that helps is to cut out fat where I don't need it. For example, we switched to skim milk a number of years ago. Also, we try to purchase reduced fat products (sour cream, yogurt, miracle whip, etc...) instead of their full flavored siblings. Every little bit helps.

The hardest thing for me is controlling my portion size. Michelle is very good about taking just enough but I like my food. I am slowly learning that there will be more food later on and that I don't need to stuff myself just in case. Of course that might change in the next year or two as the number of teenage boys in my house swells. There are no short cuts to good health. Desire and discipline are the keys.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sweat and calories

I was talking to someone at the gym awhile ago about maximizing our time in the gym. The conversation got around to taking a spin class. I've taken spin a few times and never really enjoyed it. Although I love riding my bike, I have a tough time just spinning in place. I enjoy the exercise but I always over heat. That has always been one of the problems I have had since high school. My face turns beet red and I look like I am about to pop. I feel fine - just hot. Putting these two thoughts together, I realized that one of the reasons I didn't enjoy spin was that the room was too hot. While talking to a couple of the spin instructors about the need for fans in the room, they mentioned that they had tried that but that the class complained. They wanted it hot. Apparently, they felt that if there wasn't a lake of sweat on the floor at the end of class, they weren't getting a good workout. That is simply false. A lot of sweat simply means that your body is overly hot. You will be able to work harder and therefore burn more calories if you are cooler. That's why most runners prefer to run outside when the temperature is in the 60's and 70's. Just remember that the correlation between the amount of sweat you produce and your caloric expenditure is not direct.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Never Miss Breakfast

A lesson I learned in my first year of my weight loss journey is to never miss breakfast no matter what.

I hear so many people say things like:

I wake up late so I don't have time for breakfast
I don't like to eat breakfast foods
I eat a big lunch
and so many others

If you want to loose weight and keep it off for a long time or forever you must make it a habit of eating breakfast. Doesn't have to be big, in fact doesn't need to be much at all. Most people eat way too much at all meals anyway, but you need to eat something within a half hour of waking up.

The main reason is: Your body has fasted all night long and needs nutrients to start the day and needs these to start your metabolism.

Every diet book, weight loss book, self help book on good health habits, nutritionists and so on says to eat breakfast. They are right.

I didn't believe it either, in fact I used to get up on Saturdays to go garage sailing and never have as much as a drink of water and by 10a.m. to noon I'd have something finally.

If you are on the run there are literally hundreds of power bars, granola bars, breakfast bars of all types you can choose from so you can grab and go. Or have a glass of milk. If you don't like milk, then a small glass of juice. If you don't like juice then a cracker dang it. Or have a piece of that cold pizza you saved from the night before. Something to start your body out with calories. Something to take that multi vitamin with. (not having one of those either, that's a whole different blog subject)

Have some bars of some type in every bag you carry, every compartment of your car and desk at work.

If you plan on missing a meal, don't. You should be eating something in calorie form every 3-4 hours to keep this metabolism going for weight loss. (that's a whole other blog subject as well)

For instance, you have an early morning at work, you woke up late. Grab your bar or small fruit, a drink of water or other form of liquid, get dressed and leave. On your way to work eat your breakfast. Or have it eaten before you dress, it only takes 2-3 minutes tops. Then about 3 hours into your work day if you don't have a break, then take a minute to eat another bar of some sort. Granola bars are awesome, usually 90 calories or a small handful of cashews, almonds or other small snack (there are so many snacks to choose from) I prefer bars since they are individually wrapped, easy to travel, say the calorie content right on them and easy to hide in a pocket to break off pieces to eat when you are on the go. If you have more time then a yogurt is great, or small fruit like banana, apple, berries, etc. Maybe a co-worker brought some zucchini bread into work. Great, just have a piece of it, don't over do and eat half the loaf. Small meals bring great results for weight loss, but don't ever forget to start with breakfast within a few minutes of waking up.

When I started eating breakfast every single day no matter what, my weight loss continued. I had been at a plateau for a while and then I tried the breakfast thing, I started loosing at least a pound a week and I just felt better all the time. Your body will thank you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Some of my lessons learned

This blog was inspired by my brother Adam. He has a blog that he is using to chronicle his weight loss journey and I thought that this would be a fun way to talk about weight loss, fitness, and just general health.

When Scott was born, 6 years ago, Michelle and I were both much heavier than we should have been. Although our general health was good, it would have been just a matter of time before the obesity caught up with us. Type II diabetes runs in my family and I knew that if I didn't get my weight under control, the odds of having diabetes was extremely high. I also got tired of not being able to tie my shoes without having to hold my breath. Now, six years later, I am 40 pounds lighter and in much better shape. I still have about 15 pounds to lose before I am satisfied. I have learned several important lessons along the way. First, diets don't work. I know more people than I can count who have gone on the Atkins diet or the Southbeach diet or whatever diet and lost weight only to gain it all back. The problem with diets is that they only treat symptoms. The key to healthy weight loss is to change your lifestyle. I am not very good controlling what I eat but I am getting much better at controlling the portions I eat. Understanding myself has been the first step to change. I know that I love chocolate. Rather than cut it out from my diet altogether in a herculean effort to be thin immediately, I have learned to limit the amount I eat. Nevertheless, there are still quite a few changes I need to make regarding my eating habits. I'm working on them slowly. The second thing I have learned is that exercise is paramount. The best way to keep on an exercise program is to do something you love. Although running on a treadmill is an excellent way to burn a lot of calories quickly, it is incredibly boring. I really like to ride my bike. Last year I invested in a very nice bike and it has paid me back 10 fold. I also like group exercise classes. I liked them so much that three and a half years ago, I became an instructor. Now I have a reason to show up at the gym and to work hard.

Weight control and fitness are lifelong pursuits that require desire and self discipline. One of the things I tell my classes is that they should be having fun. I know I do.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fit for Life

I love teaching fitness. It has been a journey I've only had the opportunity to participate in for
3 1/2 years. My challenge is eating right. I was eating right for about a year and then fell into some bad eating habits again, like chips, donuts and ice cream. I don't eat much of them, but shouldn't be intaking them at all. While I am pretty fit and am able to teach 2 fitness classes in a day (something I never thought I could do), I still have so far to go with personal fitness. My new goal is to participate and finish in a mini triatholon within the next year with my husband. He has been in two, and I want to be able to be with him in the next one. This goal of finishing a sprint triatholon, I believe will help me be super fit. To achieve this I will need to do training in 3 areas: Swimming, biking and running. Swimming is hard for me. While I can do it, I don't like it. Biking will be a challenge because I don't have a bike that would survive training or a race, I need a new bike and that costs money, so I'll have to save on the side for that. Running is something I don't enjoy either. I have a lot of work to do. This blog will serve the main purpose of journaling my journey of fitness and my husband's journey to fitness, training and eating better for overall health.