Fitness Feed

My #SoleStory: Ice, stim and good shoes

This is a promotional post for Vionic Shoes' #SoleStory campaign. I was provided a pair of Vionic sandals.

This is my post-aerobic life for the time being:

Ice and stim

I'm coming off a month of physical therapy for IT band inflammation and patellar tendinitis so I'm trying to ease back into aerobic activity (I kept doing the strength training the whole time because that didn't bother me). But me being me, I tend to push myself probably a mile too far, so I've been doing the post-walk "ice and stim" that I got every time at PT. Under that towel are the electrodes to my mini electrical stimulation device and my thigh and knee area zapping away.

As I ended my walk last week, there was a box waiting for me at the front door from Vionic, which contained the lovely Floriana flip-flop sandals. I immediately put them on, because SHOES!


(You really don't need to see any more of my goofy feet.) Just take a look at these in all their bejeweled glory. The toe post is fabric, so they're super comfortable, and the teal goes great with my uniform of jeans, jeans, and more jeans.

Sure, they may look like flip flops but they're much more. Vionic shoes are podiatrist-designed for orthotic support, so your feet are realigned in a natural position. I have super flat feet, so I need extra help in the arch department. I have a pair of custom orthotics, but I'm a flip-flop girl and orthotics just don't work with sandals. That's why I love Vionics. I have a couple other pair and they're great for post workout, or really anytime. 

My sports med doctor (and I'm guessing all orthopedists) are not fans of super-flat flip flops because of the lack of support. But I LOVE being barefoot or darn near it, so I really appreciate Vionic for the added support.

So that's my #SoleStory -- making exercise an important part of my life and making sure to take care of myself before, during and after.

Stupid Cousin IT

image from www.monsterbashnews.comJust quickly popping in to say that the highlight of my day was making a doctor's appointment. My IT band (at least I think it is) has been acting up the past month, so I'm FINALLY going to the sports med ortho about it. When I'm at the gym, everything is just dandy -- I'm pushing 110 pounds on the leg press, doing the hammy machine, riding the bike like a champ. 

Then I get home and the rest of the day is ow-ow-ow. I had been working out Monday through Friday but this ache has had me taking Tuesdays and Thursdays (my all-cardio days) off, which I don't like because the weather here has been divine and I'm stuck on my butt with ice packs.

Hopefully I'll get some physical therapy sessions so I can figure out what I might be doing wrong with my workouts and how to fix it. 

So I can get back to being awesome.

Motivation Monday: So far so good

My dietitian said this 2-week cleanse was not calorie restricted and I've been trying to focus on the food and not the calories. 


I have lost 2 pounds since Saturday. I also checked my Withings dashboard and lean mass is up while fat mass is down -- exactly what it's supposed to do.

Yesterday was the first day I simply wrote things in my food journal and didn't plug them into My Fitness Pal and overanalyze my macros. I did do that on Friday and Saturday just to see how my days added up and it was more of a Zone-like 40ish carbs, 30ish protein and 30ish fat. So that's all I needed to know to break free (at least for a little bit) from the online logging. It's all about breaking the diet mentality, which has been my M.O. since the age of 10. Ten!

I feel so untethered! And really, that's part of our game plan -- to make me less obsessive about constantly counting and take a bigger-picture approach to food and wellness.

I finally got over the "ick" factor of the pea protein -- I find that a couple teaspoons of fresh ginger helps as well as half a frozen banana. Most of the time I save my "real meal" for dinner so we can all eat together as a family instead of me making something for the guys while I suck on a smoothie. That's totally within the plan's parameters. 

I've been catching up on episodes of "The Great British Baking Show" on PBS, which is kinda hilarious since dairy, sugar and gluten are off limits right now. Perhaps I'm getting my fix that way. 

As for those cravings, they're pretty much gone, which I find astounding because I was seriously jonesing for some plain Greek yogurt the first day. Maybe it didn't help that the day before this 2-week cleanse I had it for pretty much every meal (gotta use it up!). 

Blue diamond low sodium almondsOne thing I have been reaching for, perhaps a little too often, are the low-sodium almonds, although a couple handfuls a day doesn't seem to be derailing things. Hey, I've lost 2 pounds since Saturday so I must be doing something right! 

I can't really call them cravings anymore, but if I want to have something creamy as a snack, I reach for an avocado half, which I've been sprinkling with lime and a little salt. A few really good olives are also great if I want something salty, and the almonds for something crunchy.

Notice a theme here? They're all fats. Yep, fatty-fat-fat. But just one serving of one of those things seems to satiate me and keep me going for a few more hours. I add fat to my smoothie in the form of a tablespoon of either chia, flax or hemp seeds. I added 2 tablespoons to my first smoothie (because I was being greedy!) but the shake came out like fruity cement, so 1 tablespoon is all I need.

I haven't been eating a lot of fruit between meals because I add a half serving of frozen fruit and a frozen banana half to my two daily smoothies, which seems like plenty of fruit.

And those first couple days with My Fitness Pal showed something really cool, too -- I've been eating around 40 grams of fiber a day, which is fantastic.

But the biggest thrill of all? I'm now on day 3 of one Prevacid and I'm not having rebound heartburn. Over the past couple years I've been slowly working my way down from 40mg of prescription Nexium to my current 15mg of Prevacid and the goal is no PPI's. Meryl says it can be done and I believe her.

That, ultimately, is why I'm loving this plan. It's more about repairing my "overly interesting" digestive issues and weight loss will be a happy side effect of that. 

I'm basically on the same 2-week cleanse as the members of "Mission Makeover" were introduced to a couple weeks ago on the show. You can see more about it in the video below:

 I'm not a big fan of the words "cleanse" and "detox" -- this is more of an anti-inflammatory eating plan that reboots your digestion (and my dairy-and-sugar loving brain). In the past I've thought about doing something like this but stubbornly held on to my yogurt like a security blanket. I really thought I would be miserable but, to be completely honest, I feel great. My stomach has calmed down a lot and my energy level is increasing.

(No, I did not give up coffee. We made a compromise on that one -- I could have one mug of coffee a day if it was organic and I only added an unsweetened nut milk to it. I'm struggling a bit with the unsweetened nut milk -- great in smoothies, bleah in coffee -- but I'm slowly getting there.)

I've always been "almost there" with making the hard choices to get the scale moving but I've been so reluctant to cut certain things out of my diet, permanently or temporarily, to see any change. For most people, all they have to do is make a few tweaks or cut down on certain things and the weight just falls off. Not me. This time my mantra is "compliance." 

So now it's off to the gym! My neighborhood Planet Fitness just opened last week and there's nothing better than brand-new gym equipment. 

2-a-days and a bacon 5k

Something crazy has happened the past couple of days -- I’ve not only worked out once, I’ve worked out twice. And not because I felt like I had to -- I just wanted to.

I kicked off the week by declaring it Barre Week. I have a bunch of barre workout DVDs and I really wanted to give them a try. On Thursday, I finally got up early enough to do the Jazzercise Strength class, which I really liked. It’s not as dancy as regular Jazzercise and it incorporates hand weights pretty much throughout so it’s a nice strength-cardio combo. Truth be told, it was pretty easy, so when I got home I popped in one of the barre DVDs and did another 30 minutes. (More on the barre workouts next week.)

Friday morning I met with my trainer and since I’ve been doing barre workouts all week we stuck with an upper body workout. After my arms were sufficiently wobbly, I went home and discovered that the meteorologists were right -- it was gorgeous out!

I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a nice, long walk, so after breakfast I put my shoes back on and did 3 miles through the neighborhood.

I did those 2-a-days not because I felt like I had to “burn something off” -- instead I did it out of the sheer joy of activity.

Bacon race start line

Another activity I did for the sheer joy was last weekend’s Great American Bacon Race, which I did with the teenager. (Pro tip: bacon is a sure-fire way to get a teenager to workout with Mom).

It was definitely a “fun run,” with lots of costumes, kids, strollers, families and loud music.

Oh, and bacon.

At every water station, you were handed a cup of water and a cup containing two slices of bacon. I learned at the first water stop that I can’t really chew bacon and workout at any sort of intensity. I felt tiny pieces of bacon trying to work their way toward my windpipe, so I passed on the bacon breaks until the end of the race, where we were rewarded with more bacon. There's another Great American Bacon Race in Orlando next month, if you're interested.

Brooks ghost ombre

Another thing I did not expect -- hills and gravel. South Florida 5ks are usually flat and smooth as a pancake, but this race was at Vista View Park in Davie, which is actually an old landfill, hence the hill. So there was a lot of uphill on gravel action, and had I known that I would have worn some trail running shoes, but my sweet new Brooks ombre Ghosts held up great.

Sweat pink laces
I brought a few pair of Sweat Pink shoe laces to give out to runners, and they were a big hit with the little girls wearing pink tutus and piggie-ear headbands.

I smell bacon
Another pink selection was my Enell Hope sports bra. This was the first 5k I did wearing an Enell and I was surprised at how comfortable it was, especially given the heat of the morning. (Someday it’ll cool off for more than a day.) That's me, above, sporting my Enell Ambassador gear, sniffing out the bacon in the air at the crack of dawn, which was not at all weird.

I usually plug in the iPod for 5ks but since I went with the kid, we took the opportunity to chat the whole way, which was great. There aren’t too many times you have the entire morning with your teenager.

I wish I could have told you that I set a personal record or even what my time was, but I didn’t have a timing chip and I didn’t even keep track of the time. That wasn’t the intent and it felt great to just be in the moment with my kid, the other participants and the great day.

All this leads me to the point: I’ve taken the “work” out of working out.

Best trainer I've ever had

I don't have an extensive background working with personal trainers because EXPENSIVE! But I've worked with a few and the experience has run the gamut from chatty girlfriend to macho lunkhead.

I needed something in between and I found it with the trainer I'm working with now.

It's still expensive, so I've only committed to once a week for three months but so far my Friday morning sessions have been great. I do a little cardio warmup before meeting with her and then she puts me through my paces for 30 minutes. 

She's a big fan of compound moves, free weights, instability and not machines, which is great. She's a stickler for proper technique over speed, which makes any exercise more effective. 

Last Friday, I was introduced to the Roman chair. I had been trucking away on the back extension machine, but when I finally experienced REAL back extension work, I was amazed (and a little scared). I totally felt like I was going to fall on my head but my trainer assured me that I had leverage on my side. I like working out my back because the more I do it, the stronger my core gets and feels. 

She also showed me a great abs exercise that I now incorporate every time I strength train. It uses a stability ball and a dumbbell. I was trying to find a picture online but I couldn't so just imagine this setup:

Get on the proper size ball like this:

image from

Now, instead of just doing crunches like this, keep one arm behind your head and take your dumbbell (anywhere from 3 to 8 pounds) with the other hand and hold your arm straight out at your side, parallel to the floor. Then do your crunch and switch arms after one set of 15 (or however many you want). Having the dumbbell on only one side really makes your core work to stabilize and gets an extra boost to your workout. 

it certainly beats a bunch of ordinary crunches and is more effective, too.

OK, so that's the working out part -- I've had that nailed down for some time. I still feel like I don't have the food part nailed down but my trainer is helping with that, too, because she's not only a trainer, she's a registered dietitian, too. She's the one who told me to up my calories to 1,800 a day, and I've been doing that, but I have to admit I haven't weighed myself in weeks because I totally feel like it's going to be up instead of down. Funny thing is, my clothes aren't any tighter so I don't really have a reason to believe that -- I think it's all in my head and it's tough to undo DECADES AND DECADES of thinking one way. 

I'm a big fan of the site Coach Calorie, and it's a great resource for learning how to undo deprivation-based eating and eat up to a normal calorie deficit. I have the metabolic processes of a corpse so eating up to a fat-burning caloric deficit and getting my motor running is taking awhile. Here's an excerpt from one article:

"This is why it’s so important that you always try to eat as many calories as possible that still enables you to lose weight. Keep your calorie deficit small and you will maintain a healthy metabolism all through your weight loss program. A 15% deficit is about all you need to get things going."

And for me, that 15 percent deficit is really, really hard to wrap my head around. But I'm going to try. But I'm not going to pad my diet with garbage to get up to it. Instead I'm adding in more protein and healthy fats, and hopefully that'll raise my sluggish metabolism along with the strength training.

Like I say in my updated blog header "this is going to happen."

Gettin' off the bike and onto speed intervals


I've been feeling the need to shake up my fitness routine at the gym, mostly because it was feeling pretty lazy. I'd do 20 minutes on the recumbent bike before doing my weight routine three times a week with some sort of cardio on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I have discovered speed intervals on the treadmill and I love them!

("Speed" is relative.)

So now, instead of barely getting my heart rate above 86 on the bike, I'm now doing a couple minutes of brisk walking and a minute of jogging (like I said, I wouldn't call it "speed" but they'rI e both a heck of a lot speedier than the bike).

The Life Fitness treadmills at the gym have a Speed Interval button, so I can set the jog speed and the run speed and hit the button when I want to toggle down or up. Simple.

Forgive me if you're saying to yourself "duuuuhhh!" I never used any of those workout buttons on the treadmill. But I love this workout!

I started last week with 10 minutes to see how it felt. Way too easy.

So I upped it to 15 minutes -- still too easy.

Today I did 20 minutes and it still felt too easy, so I flipped the intervals. Instead of 2 minutes walking and 1 minute jogging, I did 2 minutes jogging and 1 minute walking. It still felt pretty easy so Wednesday I'm going to increase the jogging speed. 

The time FLIES by doing these intervals and I'm getting a much better workout than sitting on my butt on the bike. Plus there's still enough gas in the tank to do the strength training afterward.

A little TLC works wonders

I'm still keeping up with my three-times-weekly visits to the gym but in the past few weeks I've finally, FINALLY started paying attention to stretching afterwards, and I can really feel a difference.

Don't get me wrong, I still yell at my massage therapist when she attacks my glutes, but I am far, far less sore post workout. 

Meet my new best friend:

StretchTrainer-p04It's a Precor Stretch Trainer, and there are two of 'em at my Planet Fitness. I make sure to do all eight stretches after every workout and I'm seeing progress in my crazy-tight hips and hammies. I was so stiff when I first started using it I thought I'd never be able to do some of the moves but things have been loosening up.

I neglected stretching and workouts like yoga (which I do every Saturday) because in my diet-addled brain, they weren't "fat burning" so why bother. I now know better. I can work out harder now because I have a better range of motion and less soreness.

So between the Stretch Trainer and the weekly yoga, I'm making it easier to work out harder.

Get Fit Friday: What's in my gym bag?

Since I have officially become a gym rat, I thought I'd share my gym bag essentials. I used to run into the gym, workout and leave all sweaty. But I now do humanity a favor and clean up after I'm done.

So, what's in my gym bag?

In a word, a lot. I need a bag to hold my shoes, a change of clothes, towels, shower necessities and workout gear. I'm also a bit of a gym bag hoarder -- always on the lookout for the holy grail of bags. It has to be big enough and sturdy because those gym lockers are small and a lot of squishing goes on.

My latest "holy grail bag" is the Live Well 360 Luxx bag. It's big, good looking and really well made inside and out. That can be a problem for a lot of gym bags -- the companies make the outside sturdy but skimp on the bag's lining, and that's where all the stuffing goes on. It's pricey but I have a feeling it'll last for years and years.


live well 360 luxx bag
That's the Luxx bag, above.

What goes with me into the gym: I love that Camelbak Groove water bottle. It's super sturdy, holds a decent amount and there's a built-in water filter so I can refill it virtually anywhere (and it's purple!). I'm also not a fan of calloused hands, so I wear gloves. These are by Under Armour and they're not particularly well padded in the palm but they're ventilated and serve the purpose (and they're pink!). I also have my trusty iPod Nano loaded up with Rock My Run mixes and podcasts. My favorite earbuds right now are Sol Republic Relays, which sound great and stay in my ears comfortably. And the piece de resistance -- my pink Gatorade towel. First, it has my initials all over it, it's the perfect size for draping around my neck or on a machine (and it's pink!). 

(I know -- it's like "Rainbow Brite goes to the gym.")

In my gymbag3 master lock speed dialI made a point of photographing my lock because I've had questions about it in the locker room. I bought it years ago at Home Depot and I love that I don't have to stash a key anywhere or memorize a bunch of numbers. It's the Master Lock 1500 iD Speed Dial. Instead of a numerical combination, you set up the lock with a series of directions. It also comes in a bunch of colors, so I can spot my big blue lock in the locker room.

In my gymbag2Before I get into the workout room, I make sure there's not a speck of makeup on my face. I'm not interested in looking fiiiine while working out, and not having mascara running down my sweaty face probably looks better than the alternative. So if there's any makeup to be removed, I keep a pack of towelettes in my bag. These are new ones by Biore and they're thorough yet gentle.

In my gymbag4
After the workout: Shower time! A couple of things that are key for me are a good-looking pair of flip flops and a beach towel. Sure, it makes you feel like you're going to the beach but the flip flops keep your feet from catching athlete's foot or MRSA (!) and the beach towel is big enough to use as a privacy shield when removing your workout clothes. I then roll up the stinky clothing in my Gatorade towel and stuff it in the bag, and if I forget other shoes, the flip flops go with everything. (I snagged those Havaianas for half price at TJ Maxx.)

In my gymbag5
In the shower: Here's where I think I should win some sort of multitasking Nobel Prize, so follow closely. First off, I tried using travel sizes of shampoo and conditioner but they're just too small and I was constantly replacing them so I settled on 8-ounce sizes of each. I do use travel sizes of shower gel because you don't need as much, especially when you're using a disposable facial washcloth (the dry ones, not the premoistened ones), which doubles as an everything washcloth. Here's what you do:

  1. Shampoo your hair, rinse and condition. Leave the conditioner in.
  2. Wash your face with the facial washcloth. With some of that cleanser left on the cloth, add just a little dab of shower gel to the cloth and wash the rest of yourself.
  3. Rinse everything.

I dunno -- I think it's ingenious. You can waste a lot of shower gel by just pouring it into your hand and you don't work up a good lather without some sort of puff or cloth.

I also use travel/sample sizes of mouthwash and I picked up a few of my fave at BlogHer Food last weekend. (Apparently food bloggers are more interested in food samples than mouthwash samples, and Colgate had a lot of extras.) I also have a tube of my new favorite toothpaste -- Crest's Be Adventurous, which is CHOCOLATE MINT. (I know!) Don't worry, it's not like brushing your teeth with chocolate frosting -- it's got a mild chocolate flavor with more of a mint base. But c'mon, chocolate toothpaste? It's also great for evenings when all you want to do is dive into a pint of chocolate ice cream. 

So that's what's in my gym bag -- what are your gym bag essentials?

Introducing ... Yoga Saturday! First up, 21-Day Fix Yoga Fix

Since I've been pushing my bedtime back to a more normal hour (more on that next week) I have found that I have more energy during the day. Even though I was getting 8 hours of sleep before, these 8 hours feel better. 

So today, even though I take weekends off for exercise, I just felt like exercising. (Really! I swear!)

I don't know if I have mentioned this, but I love watching infomercials (Really! I swear!), and today I happened upon the new informercial for Beachbody's 21-Day Fix workout program. I preordered it when I first heard about it because I love Beachbody's workouts (HASHTAG I AM NOT A COACH. I was but I am not MLM material so I quit). 

Anywhooo... Beachbody went the fake talkshow route with Montel Williams on this workout infomercial, which is a little cheesy but it featured some great success stories from people of all ages who did the program.

The set consists of cardio, strength, Pilates and yoga workouts and also includes an eating plan, a shaker container for smoothies and a set of colorful plastic containers for portion control. You don't have to go the coach/infomercial route if you buy it through Amazon (that's my affiliate link). 

I hadn't touched the stuff since I received it so I figured I'd give one of the workouts a try. I was going to do a cardio workout but I saw the yoga workout and did that instead, because STIFF!

Seriously, I am super inflexible, except for the fact that I can forward fold and touch my palms to the ground LIKE A BOSS. Everything else is made of rebar.

The Yoga Fix workout is 30 minutes long, like most of the set's workouts. There's nothing fancy to the workout. It starts with sun salutations, or as I like to call them f*****g sun salutations. (I swear like a truck driver during yoga, which is why I've given up doing it with others.) I have a wonky wrist from a broken arm, an arthritic big toe and a military neck, so certain moves are more challenging than they should be.

Autumn Calabrese is the instructor in the set, and I really like her. She's not gimmicky, but instead she's encouraging, provides modifications, makes sure your form is good and does a lot of the workout herself along with you.

About 10 minutes in, I thought to myself "THIS. I need to do this every Saturday because I'll get better at it the more I do it."

So Yoga Saturday is born!

I previewed a couple of the other workouts in the set and like those as well so I may do the full program one day, but I am a freaking libertine when it comes to structured workout programs. I get a few days in and my eye starts to wander to other workouts. Next thing I know, I'm "cheating" on my workout.

I don't think I'll be able to squeeze in a Yoga Saturday next week because I'm a BlogHer Food volunteer, so I'll be in Miami from sunup to sundown. But after that, look for a yoga DVD review from me every Saturday. The next review will be the highly apropos Yoga for Inflexible People DVD series. I bought it awhile ago and never used it.

I am succeeding on my own terms

Sitting here, clearing out my inbox, watching basketball and arguing with myself about going to the gym.

I've been going to the gym like clockwork three times a week (I'm still the mayor of Planet Fitness!) and walking/jogging twice a week. 

All that work, plus a major tweak to my eating has produced great results in the past couple weeks. I had been stuck around 235 for months and months (and MONTHS).

As of Wednesday, I'm at 231.8, a number that I honestly can't remember being at AT ALL. I got married in 1992 at around 180ish and before I found out I was pregnant (late 1997) I was 235. Somewhere in those years I was this weight. 

image from
I made this graphic a couple years ago, when I wanted to smash another plateau.

I smashed that plateau, and I don't ever want to be back on it.

Every single thing in my closet fits me, save for a pair of jeans I bought when I was feeling emboldened. I tried them on yesterday and stuck a Post-It note on them with the number "225?" I'll revisit them then.

Oh, that major tweak to my eating? I've really cut back on starches. I'm trying to get the bulk of my carbs from plants, and I'm not missing the starches, because AVOCADOS! I love those nubby little suckers. I have a bag of chunks of Florida avocado in the freezer, ready to plop into a smoothie. I keep a few California avocados on the kitchen counter, ready to add a half into a big salad, as a snack with chopped tomatoes or as a side to my dinner. (I tried that egg baked into an avocado half but I don't really dig it.)

I can't really call what I'm doing Paleo, because I'm still using dairy products, like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and whey protein. I'm also eating some fruits that are a little higher in sugar than berries, like bananas in my smoothies, fresh pineapple and apples. 

I guess I'm on a Gail-eo plan.

But, yeesh! I feel so guilty if I skip an exercise day. That's what I'm working through right now in my head (and here). I'm tired and sore and I would like to be not tired and sore. 

I've gotten MUCH better in the sleep department. I've gotten 8 hours of sleep consistently since last weekend and since the teenager is on spring break next week I'm sure I'll keep that up. 

But there's still that lingering tiredness and soreness. I have been working really hard in the gym and I think I need to rethink the upper body stuff I'm doing because the way my head is screwed onto my shoulders (ie, badly), I already have extremely strong neck and shoulder muscles. Too strong, really, so I'm making an executive decision to move the upper body work down a bit to my mid and lower back and abs. I think that might ease the achiness. Evenings shouldn't have to end with an Aleve.

Yikes -- 4 o'clock already. Think I'll do "what I can when I can" and do one of the many workout DVDs on my "to review" list.

I used to get really nervous when I'd get my weight down to an "all-time low" but this time I don't feel that way. I'm more than a couple pounds under the plateau and I'll be damned if I gain that much weight to go back. No -- this plateau is DONE.