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Archive for fitness

Friday Fitness… Starting Over… Again

exercise-womanI didn’t exercise when I was in Nashville.  No sidewalks were a hindrance to walking… and freezing weather was another. And the third factor was the numbness of grief.  I just didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

Except I was able to eat.  My portion sizes ballooned.  I indulged in pie therapy, ice cream therapy, Indian food therapy, and prescription chocolate covered almonds.  I felt despair and I ate.

So it should not have been a surprise when I went to the Doctor’s for a sinus infection and discovered that my BMI was up to 31.  That’s not a very healthy number.  Puts me at risk for all kinds of bad things… heart disease, strokes, diabetes….

Time to get serious.  Really serious.

So my doctor recommended a weight management program through our HMO and gave me a prescription for Contrave.

Contrave, a prescription weight management aid

Contrave, a prescription weight management aid

I was intrigued by Contrave because it is a combination of bupropion (aka Wellbutrin), an anti-depression drug and naltrexone, an anti-addiction drug.  Together they are supposed to work in the brain to reduce cravings and mindless munching.

In addition to taking the medication, I had to register for a support program on their website.  They are going to send me a bluetooth scale.  This scale will sync with a website so the support team will know exactly how much I weigh and how much I am losing… or not losing….  there will be motivational emails and diet suggestions based on that information.

Big Brother is monitoring my weight loss progress.  Well, it’s less personal than my husband’s help… so I’ll take it.

The HMO weight management program goes on an 8-week cycle and since I need to take a few weeks off in April and the first one was filled, I will start in mid-May.  It is an educational program with weekly classes and weigh-ins.  And after completion, they will check up on you at regular intervals for a year.

This will be the year I reclaim my healthy weight… and keep it.



Friday Fitness: Inching along

exercise-womanIt has been a quiet week here in Lemon Grove.  Hubby returned from his business trip on Sunday evening and I *thought* I was staying on track with my diet…. but… according to the scale, apparently, not so much.  When I weighed in yesterday, I had actually gained a lb from last week… but today’s weight is 1.5 lbs lighter.  Which makes the overall loss since starting the DietBet 5.1 lbs.

I have 10 days to lose 2 lbs for the final weigh-in.

I am pretty sure I can lose the 2 lbs by October 7th as long as I keep from drinking iced tea and lemonade — the slip-up I made when hubby returned was to drink sweetened drinks at meals again instead of water, and at 100 calories per glass, that adds up fast!

Exercise for the week has been steady: 2.5 miles each morning. My foot is feeling pretty good with Heel That Pain insoles and a slower pace. (I should get my custom orthotics in 2 weeks)  I follow my walks with 20-30 minutes on the exercise bike and am now adding in a second session on the exercise bike in the early evening as I wait for the Hubby to return home from work — which is usually an hour later than my stomach is ready for dinner.  This has stopped my 6pm snack habit and hopefully will become a healthier habit.

In 11 days we travel to the in-laws’ house in New York for the sister-in-law’s wedding and week of feasting. I just hope that I can keep from gaining back all the weight I’ve lost in September. And the plan is to do more walking than we usually do at Christmas because the weather will be much nicer and more conducive to walking than it is in December.

In the meantime, I must keep my eyes on my prize: 2 lbs to lose by October 7… so I can get my $30 back from Diet Bet.


Friday Fitness: Starting to see results!


It’s 10 days into the DietBet Challenge and I have lost 4.3 lbs!  Woo hoo!

I had a minor setback last Friday when I went to see the Podiatrist for nagging plantar fascitis and a heel spur.  His advice: stop walking and bike or swim instead.

Well, as an addicted walker, that was not what I wanted to hear at all.  I like walking.  I have a regular walking buddy who counts on me week-day mornings.  I enjoy getting out there in the fresh air each morning, surveying the domain, checking out the lawn projects and admiring my neighbors’ flowers.

Also, I don’t own a bike — never rode a bike as a kid, so I have no confidence in my ability to ride as an adult.  And we don’t have a community pool.  The Y, and neighboring gyms all require $$$ to join.

However, after some thought, I realized that I have seen improvement over the 3 months that I’ve been waiting to see the podiatrist and I have *walked* 2-3 miles each morning.  AND, I could look into getting an exercise bike.

I checked out Craigslist and found a couple bikes for $100, then decided to check out… and found a new one for just shy of $100 that has a full warranty… so I ordered it.

from the Amazon website... this in no way represents what *I* look like on this bike...

from the Amazon website… this in no way represents what *I* look like on this bike…

It’s a Marcy Upright Mag Exercise Bicycle.  It took less than an hour to put together and is super quiet.  It lives in the living room right now in front of the TV and next to Miss Java’s favorite box.  She doesn’t seem to mind having me pedal way just inches from her face — it’s THAT quiet.

So, now the plan is to reduce my morning walks to no more than 2 miles, then bike for a half hour while watching the morning news.  I had originally planned to put the bike on the back porch and listen to the birds while biking… but it is SO boring an activity, that I really need to watch TV.  However, it is a good workout — and I find it works different muscles than walking, so that is also a plus.

fat woman cartoonOn the diet front, eating a salad for both lunch and dinner has helped tremendously — I don’t feel hungry, I’m getting my quotient of veggies and they have fewer calories than other foods.  Counting calories on MyFitnessPal has kept me honest.

I’ve also stopped eating large breakfasts.  No more huevos rancheros or even large bowls of yogurt. A 165 calorie breakfast shake has been doing the job for just over a week and it 1) keeps me full until lunch, and 2) has 2 servings of fruit or vegetables (if I throw in spinach or kale)

All these diet changes have been relatively easy because the Hubby has been out of town at conferences.  When he returns, it will be more of a challenge to resist the call of the tortilla chips and to continue eating salads (he HATES salads).

It’s an ongoing adventure!

Friday Fitness: Keeping the Faith


Tuesday was the start of the DietBet.  I had to submit a full-body shot of myself in “airport attire” (which I interpreted as leggings and a tank top) as well as a photo of the number on the scale. It was humbling, to say the least.

And after 4 days of eating more salads, counting calories with MyFitnessPal, and upping my exercise, my weight this morning is exactly the same as it was on Tuesday.


But I also know that since I have my period right now, I am heavier than usual and my weight will drop when it leaves.  However, I’m in the middle of the CHANGE and sometimes my periods last up to 2 weeks…. and sometimes I don’t have them for 3 months…

So, I just will continue doing what I’m doing:

  • Walking 3 miles most mornings, and longer when I can.
  • Practicing yoga 15-30 minutes a day to increase flexibility — I’m using videos.
  • Strength training at the gym twice a week and at home at least once a week.
  • Drinking 10 or more glasses of liquid a day, mostly water.


  • Eating fruits and/or vegetables with every meal.  Adding in salads for lunch and dinner.
  • Keeping within my recommended caloric limits and tracking via My Fitness Pal.
  • Going to be before 11pm.  I’d like to get to bed earlier, but that is hard to do.
  • Waking up at 6am so I can get that yoga and walk in before it gets too hot!

Even though the scale doesn’t show any change, I already notice a bit more definition in my shoulders from the weight training.  I’ll take whatever encouragement I can get!


Friday Fitness: Hit restart again


It’s been a sobering week for health and fitness.  I saw my regular physician last Friday with a list of concerns… and other than finding out that I don’t need a Pap smear for another 3 years due to revised guidelines, the news was not pretty.

I have a heel spur and plantar’s fascititis in my left foot (I had PF in my right foot last year).  The prescription: wear orthotics (already do), rigid night splint and gel heel cups.  Long term solution: lose at least 20lbs to reduce the stress on my feet and joints. If that doesn’t work, see a podiatrist for custom orthotics…

The spots on my face that I thought were just recurring hormonal breakouts on my chin are actually pre-cancerous spots of interest: pre-actinic keratosis.  The prescription: keep an eye on them; increase sun protection.


The heel spur is pretty easy to deal with — although I am not happy about the prospect of pain lasting for several months.

I knew I was 20 lbs overweight, but now I have more incentive to lose that extra baggage.

The spots of interest have got me worried. I am a diligent sunscreen user.  I wear hats and scarves and uv sleeves when I walk… and I wear spf 50 on all exposed skin as a matter of course — even when I don’t think I’m going outside. That has probably prevented a lot of spots of interest… but I can only speculate about why I have two on my chin…


My usual walking gear — SPF 50 hat with back veil from Columbia Sport (it’s vented for heat management), an SPF 50 scarf from Coolibar, SPF 50 Hi-Tec UV sleeves, and Banana Boat Baby Tear-Free Sting-Free SPF 50 Lotion (it’s got zinc and Titanium Dioxide and is really cheap at Walmart)

Skin cancer runs in my family — which is no surprise since I come from pale Irish stock.  I know it’s very treatable, if caught early.  My sister-in-law went through treatment last year; it wasn’t pleasant.  An uncle declined treatment… and ultimately died from complications… this is serious and scary stuff.

My doctor is a young thing who probably just graduated last year and has been trained to speak in “plain English”… which is probably why after I left the office, I was confused by a lack of specific terminology.  I sent a message asking for clarification, but have yet to receive a reply.

So in the meantime, I am wearing gel heel cups in all my shoes.  They really help with the pain, although not being able to wear sandals in the summer is a sad thing.  I ordered a heel-gel sock thing from Amazon which, if it works, would let me wear sandals again… hope it arrives soon… and hope it works as the product description claims.

AND, I have added stick sunscreen to my regimen; it’s waxy and hopefully more sweatproof than the sport sunscreen I have been using.  I layer the stick (right now I am liking Badger unscented Face Stick in SPF 35) on top of my regular facial sunscreen (CeraVe SPF 50 Sunscreen for face) and after applying a thin layer of tinted BB cream (SPF 20-30, depending on the brand), I dust everything with Mineral Fusion SPF 30 Brush-On Sun Defense. I am wearing a hat more often, even when I’m not working or walking.

And I am trying to stay calm as I wait for more information. My brother-in-law, the doctor, suggested vit D supplements for both the heel spur and the skin condition.  He feels we are chronically deficient in vit D which leads to poor metabolism of calcium (creating “bone” spurs) and also makes us more vulnerable to certain kinds of cancers.  He prefers supplements over an hour of sun exposure per day during 10am and 2pm…. so I have added 1000 IU to my vitamin pile.

And we shall see.

Fitness Friday… bits and bobs…


It’s been an up and down week fitness-wise.

The downs: back to back grad nights Friday and Saturday…

If you are not aware of this modern custom of torture, here is a quick overview.  After a day of graduation celebrations, many high schools offer Grad Nights for their graduates.  These all-nighters usually start around midnight and end around 6:00am and include junk food, caffeinated drinks, music, dancing, and “entertainment”.

As a henna artist, I am an “entertainer” and even though grad nights are not my favorite events (for lots of reasons), I do them because they are big parties with guaranteed 3-4 hours of pay.

However, I do “pay” for them later…

In order to stay up all night, I drink Red Bull, Mountain Dew and Expresso drinks heavy on the expresso, chocolate and whipped cream.  I eat a ton of candy. And if the caring parent chaperones bring me bowls of ice cream, I accept gratefully.  And then when I get home at 7:00am, I crash and burn. No exercise (or movement of any sort) is done the next day… unless I have to get up to do another grad night… which I did last Friday and Saturday…. and then on Sunday, we decided to go for a big BBQ dinner at the newly re-opened Jones Brothers Mississippi BBQ down the street… it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Needless to say, I did not weigh myself this week.

The ups: I managed to get in at least 10,000 steps most days (except Saturday and Sunday). My walking partner (next door neighbor) and I meet most mornings for 3 miles of amiable chatting and gossip… it doesn’t feel like exercise at all! But those steps add up fast!

And I’ve started back up with my personal trainer at 180 Fitness. Preza Ford is a gentle man who manages to get me to do things I would never do on my own.

Fit Pods... instruments of balance and torture!

Fit Pods… instruments of balance and torture!

Look at those spiky little half-domes.  Would you step on those?  Well, at Preza’s invitation, I not only stepped on them, I did 3 sets of squats on them… and lunges, and then I did kettlebell swings… basic exercises that become a zillion times more challenging when you are trying not to lose your balance while standing on spiky half-domes.  And the next day, my abs hurt just as much as my quads… so I hightailed my way to Amazon and bought a pair…

I have yet to do 3 sets of squats on these puppies at home, but I did try doing dishes while balancing — and it made a basic chore into a full-body work-out.

The daily walks were easy to fit back into my schedule, but getting myself to do strength training at home is another story.  I was aiming for today… but then my car’s radiator blew out and I spent my spare time at the dealer and at the rental car place… fortunately, everything was covered under the warranty and the dealer even paid for my rental car so I could get to today’s gig.

Next free spot on the schedule: Sunday.  I plan to report to you next Friday how I did a full strength training session in addition to my daily 3 miles.

Harriette Thompson! My new heroine!  She finished the San Diego Rock-N-Roll Marathon last Sunday morning (the reason I had to find an alternate route home from one of my grad nights — roads were closed from 4:00am until 2:00pm). Now, just finishing is a big accomplishment in itself, but Harriette is a 91 year-old cancer survivor, who had her last treatment just weeks before the marathon. She finished in just over 7 hours!

And she didn’t start long-distance walking until she was 76!

What an inspiration!

I don’t have any week-ends I can spare for real races in the near future.  It is my lot to work most week-ends… but I can do virtual races to give me that kick of motivation to push myself.

So I registered for the Full Medal Runs Birthday Month Marathon.  The rules are simple: complete 26.2 miles by the end of your birthday month… how it gets done is up to me: 1 mile a day for 26 days, 8 5k events, 4 10k events, 2 half marathons or the full monty in one day…. The fee benefits the “Make a Wish” Foundation (which after reading the Fault in Our Stars by John Green, I now feel compelled to help fund…)

birthdaymarathonMy birthday month is July… so there are a few weeks to figure out how to do this… right now I am thinking of 4 10ks or 2 10ks and a half marathon…. the only difficulty with virtual races is that the race volunteers with the cups of gatorade are also virtual… so there are a few logistical challenges to doing a half marathon on my own that will have to be figured out before I commit to that path…

More to come…

Trying out the Vitamin Shop Next Step

Among the goodies for review in the VoxBox I received from Influenster, was a Next Step Jaxx shaker and 3 shake mixes.

The Vitamin Shop Jaxx Shaker bottle and 3 Next Step Fit N' Full Shake mixes.

The Vitamin Shop Jaxx Shaker bottle and 3 Next Step Fit N’ Full Shake mixes.


The shakes are 140 calories and supposed to replace a meal.  The package touts that two of the key ingredients in the shake are fiber and Tonalin CLA, a dietary supplement that is supposed to reduce body fat.

Supplement Facts
Serving Size  1 PACKET
Servings Per Container   1
Amount Per
% Daily
Calories From Fat
Total Fat
5 Gm
Saturated Fat
1 Gm
0 Gm
35 Mg
260 Mg
260 Mg
Total Carbohydrate
13 Gm
Dietary Fiber
6 Gm
Soluble Fiber
5 Gm
Insoluble Fiber
1 Gm
1 Gm
Other Carbohydrate
5 Gm
14 Gm
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12
Pantothenic Acid

* Daily value not established

Other Ingredients:
Protein blend (whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, sodium caseinate), cocoa powder, gum arabic, sunflower oil, inulin (from chicory), maltodextrin, non fat milk, natural & artificial flavors, conjugated linoleic acid, vitamin mineral blend (sodium chloride, potassium citrate, calcium carbonate, sodium citrate, magnesium oxide,ascorbic acid, ferrous fumarate, sodium selenate, biotin, vitamin a palmitate, zinc oxide, coppe gluconate, d-calcium pantothenate, folic acid, pyridoxine hcl, riboflavin, thiaminehcl, sodium molybdate, cyanocobalamin, chromium chloride), xantham gum, cellulose fiber, stevia extract.

I tried all three of the shakes in my kit: Swiss Chocolate, French Vanilla and Fresh Berries. I mixed with cold water as directed.  The Jaxx shaker worked like a charm!  There were no lumpies in my shake. And I love the giant jack that does the magic — I will use the Jaxx shaker again and again!
The shakes were delicious and I am sure that if I had been able to stick to a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and then a sensible dinner, I would lose weight.  However, I am a hungry girl and 140 calories (no matter how yummy) just did not do it for me… I was STARVING within 2 hours… and that bag of tortilla chips beckoned like never before… all the good effects of the extra fiber and tonalin CLA were nullified in just a few salty moments…
Perhaps these would be a good to use as a snack… they definitely did not work as meal replacements for me.

Friday Fitness: Return, Regroup, Restart


We got back home yesterday morning at 8:00am. The red-eye.  I think I hate red-eye flights now.  A simple 5 hour flight to San Diego with a 3 hour time difference would have been fine, but a 4-1/2 hour flight overnight, landing in LAX at 5:00am and connecting at 6:30am was just more than my poor body could handle… and after we picked up the cats, I was good for nothing yesterday.

Today, I face the reality. Lots to unpack and re-organize… including me.  I gained 15lbs over the past 3 months — despite a half marathon, lots of snorkeling and a tree-climbing workshop.

Climbing a tree at the Lyon Arboretum

Climbing a tree at the Lyon Arboretum

Actually, it was the tree-climbing workshop that made me realize that I need a reboot.  Compared to all the other participants, I was the most portly and the weakest — only able to haul myself up 30 or so feet instead of up into the higher branches. So, although I had a blast at the workshop, it was also a wake-up call.

But, since we were still in Hawaii with a car, we spent the next 2 weeks sight-seeing and eating all kinds of good things.

But now the sabbatical is over.  We are home and it’s time to get back on track.

Which means:

  • a regular schedule of exercise.  When we didn’t have a car in Honolulu, it was easy to walk 5-6 miles per day, but since we did have a car the last month, my walking dropped to a mere 1-2 miles per day.  Now that we’re home, I need to get back into my morning walks and add in strength training.
  • less food. Portions in Honolulu were large… and always delicious.  And being the good girl that I am, I usually finished my plate.  Back home, it’s time to downsize those portions, eat at home more often and watch my calories again.  Hello My Fitness Pal!
  • better/more sleep. Our bed in Honolulu was less than ideal and our upstairs neighbors were very early risers, which meant that we, too, dragged ourselves up at 6:00am… but it was hard to get to be before 10:30pm… so I had 3 months of chronic under-sleeping.  Now that we are at home, the bed is much more comfortable and with no galloping neighbors upstairs, we can sleep in until 7:30am…

I started off today with a good 2 mile walk — then had to stop because of heat fatigue.  I’m not used to 90F temperatures, especially not in the morning! Santa Ana conditions are not ideal for outdoor activities (except swimming in cold water!).

And I joined the Prevention 28 Day Challenge to help keep me focused.

Easing back into a diet will take some planning.  Today was a good food day, and with all the fresh fruit and vegetables I got from the health foods store, I feel confident about food this week-end. (Except for that box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts that somehow got opened… all the others are ear-marked as gifts for specific people so they *should* be safe…)

Looking forward to feeling strong and energized again!


Friday Fitness: February Wrap-up


It has been a whole month since I weighed myself.  We don’t have a scale here.  And it feels both odd and liberating.  I just have to go by how things feel and fit.

And I can report that there seems to be little change. Which is a victory, considering how much  Kona coffee ice cream, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, kahlua pork plate lunches and coconut pudding I’ve been putting away.  I never eat that kind of stuff back home… but here it’s new and exciting and… irresistible…

Nommy plate lunch! This one has Chicken Katsu, mixed Asian veggies, rice, macaroni salad and kimchee!

Nommy plate lunch! This one has Chicken Katsu, mixed Asian veggies, rice, macaroni salad and kimchee!

So it’s good to know that despite an increased calorie intake, I am staying about the same size.  Everything still fits.

And the reason for that is increased amount of walking.  According to Bitbit, my fitbit ONE, last week I logged 40 miles. That’s just walking with hubby to his work each morning, going shopping, and running errands.  When you don’t have a car, it’s easy to rack up those walking miles!

And I’ve also started doing a simple upper body routine with an 8lb dumbbell and I hang (and then unhang) laundry 3 times per week.

And while I don’t feel stronger — I still get winded walking uphill to the house, I know that I am getting stronger. And that helps make the sore feet and shoulders worth it.


Friday Fitness… kicked in the patoot!


This was a great week for exercise!

I started walking 3 times a week with my neighbor on the next block over and we chat and do about 3 miles — and then I do another half mile before heading in to get ready for work.  It really makes the time go faster to have a walking friend!

And yesterday, I did another virtual race — this time for Full Medal Runs — the Giving Hands 10k to benefit victims in the Philippines of Tyfoon Haiyan and Tyfoon Yolanda.  I went to Lake Murray Park which has a nicely paved 10k route (with porta-pots for each mile marker!) and did the race in 1:53 — which considering I had 2 pitstops and a quick chat with a neighbor, is not a bad pace at all!

Warming up for the Giving Hands Virtual 10k

Warming up for the Giving Hands Virtual 10k

And normally, that would have been good enough for the day.  But no, I had also scheduled to meet with my new trainer, Preza Ford of 180 Fitness in Spring Valley (just over the hill from Lemon Grove). My challenge to him was to create a strength training routine that I can take with me that doesn’t involve extraneous or heavy equipment.  And his challenge to me:
resistance band exercises, push-ups and modified calisthenics!

WOW!  I was never pushed beyond my capabilities, but I definitely did more than I thought I was capable of!  But a few muscle groups are currently complaining … Preza’s coaching style is relaxed and friendly, but definitely not one to let me slide. And I appreciate that. My butt does not (right now)…