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.