Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cardio Coach -- ever heard of it?

A few years ago (I guess in 2004 -- boy the years keep flying by, don't they?) I heard on the VF Forum about a new audio workout called Cardio Coach. I'd done a few audio yoga workouts before and enjoyed them. You have to know what you're doing with yoga to follow along well without a visual, but it's peaceful and personal. With cardio, I wasn't sure how it would work.

The concept is that there are many ways to get your cardio exercise in on your own -- running, walking, cycling, tread mill, elliptical, or any of the cardio machines at the health club or at home. But sometimes people get bored (or lazy) with exercising alone and may not push themselves to new heights. Cardio Coach does just that -- guides you along so you make the most of your time doing cardio.

My two favorite methods of cardio exercise at home are the step and the rebounder. I would run (did for years in college), but we live in the forest on narrow windy roads and it's just not safe to go running right out my door (not to mention the mountain lions seen several times next door :)). I usually use Cathe's step video workouts for stepping, but haven't really found any rebounding videos that I want to do over and over every week. (FitPrime G-Force and Cardiolates are the only rebounding dvds I've enjoyed, but I probably do them each once a month). I had been searching for more rebounding options since it's so much easier on my knees than stepping. I use the Reboundair rebounder by the way.

Sean O'Malley (THE cardio coach!) is an expert fitness trainer (can "expert" be an adjective?) who talks you through your cardio workout from before you begin, into the warm-up, steady state cardio, hills, sprints, and intervals throughout. One thing I like is that he always lets you know how many minutes you'll spend on each section. You don't have to wonder, "How much longer?" as you sprint like crazy. You know in advance, "Okay, I just have 2 minutes -- I can do this!" Finally Sean helps you cool down and stretch (and hear some words of motivation at the end). It's a pleasant balance of coaching and leaving you alone with the music for the most part to get your work done. Some talking, but not too much (and no hype -- it's all done in a nice mellow way). He calls Cardio Coach a "guided workout series." Perfect way to describe it. I've missed running or swimming laps over the years because I liked that tuning out with my thoughts while I did cardio. Cardio Coach allows me to do that without tuning out from challenging my body.

Right now, Sean has 7 volumes of Cardio CDs and one that includes weights as well -- the earlier ones are shorter, the most recent one is the longest. His 8th volume will be available for download sometime soon. He used to sell the downloads and/or a professionally produced & packaged CD. This is still available for the first 6 volumes. Now he just makes the CD-Rs for sale plus the MP3 downloads. This probably saves in production costs and allows him to make more great workouts for us. He just awarded some free downloads of volume 8 to a small group of people (first ones who e-mailed him about it). I was late to the party, but a friend from my VF check-in group (Vee) got one and gave a fun review. She loves it. Can't wait to try it myself.

I just barely downloaded Volume 7. I'll try it out tomorrow and will let you know how I like it. So far, I've only done the workouts with the CD playing in my stereo. I want to use my Sony MP3 player to see how that is. I think it will be even better with full volume capacity. I can't turn it up too loud in the morning on the stereo since most of my family are still sleeping. Somehow they sleep through the sound of my rebounder though -- thank heavens for that!

Sean also has a cardio/weights circuit audio program called Cardio Coach Pump! It sounds like it would be great to take to the weight room in the gym. (I may try it someday if I ever get tired of doing my strength work with Cathe and Debbie. With Cathe's STS coming soon, that will probably be awhile).

I'll set a little goal for myself to review each of my Cardio Coaches here in the next little while. I have volumes 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. (Does it drive you crazy that I wrote all five instead of just saying 3-7? It looks like more to me when I list each one :)). I would have bought 1 and 2 when I ordered most of these, but the others had better reviews -- now 1 and 2 have been revised and the reviews are great. I'll probably eventually get them too. I need to do them all again so I can remember which is which! They are similar, but each have their own time frame and schedule. Until then, you can check out the reviews on VF if you'd like. Here's the link for reviews on the first 6 volumes. 1 and 2 might be the older volumes and it looks like the volume 6 reviewed was another version with Candace. I'm not sure how that one was different. I remember hearing that there were 2 different versions, but I never ordered that one. Take it from me that the one with Sean is excellent though. :) I don't know if you love reading reviews as much as I do before I purchase (and sometimes even after), but here's a review page from the Cardio Coach website that has specific reviews for the first 7 volumes by Paige Waehner, a fitness reviewer at There are also links to multiple reviews by fitness magazines and big city newspapers on his home page. I know you'd rather read my reviews (*wink*) so I'll make that a goal for this and next week -- to do all the volumes I have and post about them. Should be fun!

Also, Sean's CD packaging is pretty spectacular. You get full information on the workout and guidelines on how to use it. Here's an example of the six-fold cardboard Volume 3's CD case:

Hopefully that will line up well! Don't you love the illustration of Sean? Pretty fun. I wish they'd post bigger like the one at the top so you could see all the detail in instructions. Maybe you can find a way to zoom in on it. Maybe I'll try later to add pixels to the photos or something. I've had that work in the past, but don't have time for it today. Check back later to see if you're interested. (Update, tried one thing and so far, no luck -- it gets bigger, but is very blurry. I guess you can just get the general idea, then buy your own to see the details :))

What else . . . (think, think, think). Oh, Sean has a spot on his website for sending comments . I wrote something to him a few weeks ago and heard back from him right away. He's e-mailed twice and is super personable and helpful. He truly takes his job as fitness coach to heart!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Great Abs are Made in the Kitchen?

This is a phrase I often see on Beachbody's forum. Maybe it's one of their phrases used often by Team Beachbody coaches or termed by one of their instructors. I'm not sure. "Great abs are made in the kitchen." I do know that it means you can do all the ab work/ core work in the world, but if you're eating poorly, you'll never have toned abs or a slim core. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "never." There are obviously teenagers, young people who's eating habits haven't caught up to them. But that isn't the case forever. And that's not who I'm talking about anyway. I'm talking about most people who don't naturally have abs like this:

As much as I love Cathe Friedrich, I've never sought after those six-pack abs like she and so many fitness experts have. I like this Fit Couture ad with just strong lean abs -- not necessarily all muscle-y. That's never really been my goal. But I would like to be as lean in my core as I am in my hands and feet. Marilu Henner calls it in her books "the animal you were meant to be" as she talks about watching a mountain lion or horse move -- they have these amazing strong bodies that move with agility and grace. They don't have excess fat slowing them down. They are the animals they were meant to be and we can be the same. Each of us has a different shape, but can be lean and strong within that shape. I have a small frame -- small bone structure. So even though I may look lean with clothes on, I still have a few more inches I'd like to lose in my abdominal area. Dr. Mehmet Oz talks about how the excess fat on our waists is a greater indicator than overall weight in our health risks. It's not just about how we look or how comfortable we feel in our clothes anymore.

So back to the kitchen statement. Is that where great abs are made? It could be. The point is that food affects your abdominal area more that sit-ups, Pilates, or stability ball exercises (as great as all of those are for your core muscles). I find that the decision with eating comes earlier than the kitchen. For me, great abs are made in the grocery store. If I can convince myself NOT to purchase certain foods at the store, I have a much easier time making smart choices in the kitchen. If my pantry and fridge are filled with foods that our "just for my kids" or that are to "have one hand for occasional treats," I'll quickly change those intentions for those foods once I'm home and will eat far more than my share. The best example of this are the Clif bar products. I've bought Luna Bars by the cases, intending to only have one every so often when I'm not eating raw or when I'm travelling or to have them for my daughters to take to high school for snacks or lunches. And I'll eat 3 in a day! What a waste of money and a disservice to my body. That soy protein isolate is not the healthiest choice - - especially in excess. I've had digestive problems to remind myself (yet do I remember?) The same is true for regular Clif Bars, Builder Bars, and Z Bars. If I have them around, I eat them. I've bought them for Christmas stockings and will eat the stash far weeks before Christmas arrives.

Thus I've had to control myself at the store so I don't have to deal with the temptation once I get home. I used to fight this with ice cream or chocolate chips. I'd have to avoid those aisles at the store because I knew I'd buy some and eat them when it was causing my body all sorts of problems. Now I've been away from those foods for so long that I can handle walking down the aisle if I need something else nearby. I'm not quite there with the Clif products yet, so I have to stay away and really work on it at the store. I think I've gotten past it with Kettle Chips (and Boulder Chips or any other yummy natural potato chips). I used to by those for "picnics" and the like, then would eat them on the way home from the store. Couldn't handle the temptation.

I guess I'm a healthfood junkfood junkie. But I'm recognizing that weakness and am handling it at the store before it even has a chance to get to my kitchen. I still have to make wise choices in the kitchen, but if I can make good decisions in the store when the package is closed, I won't have nearly as much to battle in the kitchen - - just a wide array of whole foods to eat and enjoy.

I'm also realizing post-40 that the more I bake, the more I weigh, regardless of how I exercise. So I have to limit my baking too. I love to bake. I love the warmth and the aromas. But I also love to fit in my jeans. If I weigh this in my mind before I turn on the oven, I do better than weighing that when the bread is coming out of the oven. Great abs are made in the early stages of eating - - in the store, in the planning, in every step of the way -- but the earlier, the better.

I love seeing how I've grown in my journey to better eating. I'm still not perfect with it and may never be. But I get stronger and better with my choices as time goes on. That's nice to see.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Get yourself a co-op group!

Several years ago, when my teenage daughters were toddlers, I was in need of time out with my husband, but didn't have much money for a babysitter. Some friends of mine formed a co-op babysitting group, which worked great. Three other couples joined with us to babysit once a month for everyone else's children. The plan was to bring your children to their home fed and dressed in pajamas at 6:30. We'd also bring a small blanket for each child. The children would play for an hour or more, then would lie down for movie on their blanket. Often the younger children would fall asleep -- the older ones would have fun watching the movie late together. The parents would come back by 10:00. This gave enough time for a nice date out on the town with free babysitting 3 times a month! Sometimes my husband and I would just drive somewhere and talk. It was nice to have some time together, but without the worry of finding a sitter or financial strain of paying one. And it was fun to get to know the other children better when it was their turn to come to our house. (The kids definitely enjoyed getting together as much as we did).

Time passed. We eventually move and were able to afford sitters from time to time. Then our girls were old enough to watch our younger ones. About 5 years ago, I found a new need -- help for projects that are too difficult to tackle alone or too time consuming to ever fit in. I was telling a good friend of mine about the babysitting co-op and mused about how nice it would be to form a work group of friends to take turns helping each other with huge projects. I left it at that, but her mind started to work.

A few days later, she called me and said, "Let's do it." Several of us had small children still at home during the day, so we figured if one person could watch all of the children one week, the others could get together and work. We'd rotated house to house for where the work was done and who would babysit. We started out with 6 women involved, but found that the one babysitting felt left out on all the fun -- not that watching the children wasn't fun, but being together with a bunch of friends is wonderful too. So we decided just to let the children join us. We'd just keep them occupied in a room or yard playing. The co-op work group was born!

You'd be amazed at all we've accomplished over the years. Three of us have been constant in the group while others have come and gone - - many left because they've moved and have formed their own work groups in their new towns. We get together every other Wednesday morning from 9:00 to noon. The only rules are that you can't worry about anyone seeing your house dirt or clutter and no one judges when they see what work is to be done. At times, we've taken detours on going to each other's homes and have helped out someone else in need -- whether it's someone in the midst of a move, has had something tragic happen in their lives and can't emotionally deal with the mess their left with. One of us usually just tells them we have a group of friends who love to do projects together and are willing to come in and help. Sometimes they let us do it and it's wonderful to see what we can accomplish is such a short time.

Today, my friends came to my house and helped me dig up some pampas grass (or as a gardening site says, is "a landscaping quick fix you'll live to regret.") It had just grown to monstrous proportions and was no longer pretty. We had two huge bundles of it and much of it had dried and looked just horrible. I knew I couldn't do it alone and wondered if we could even do it in a few hours together. What's wonderful about the work group is that everyone has different opinions, expertise, and hopes. What one person may deem impossible (me, thinking after seeing the HUGE pile of leaves, roots, dirt clods, etc. dug up that there was no way we could haul that back over and over with the wheel barrow to the back of the property) may seem totally doable to another ("No problem," said my friend, "I'll do the wheel barrow runs" as she made the pile somehow disappear). I can start a project thinking I know how to do part of it, but will run into a block, not knowing what to do next. When I have friends there to bounce off ideas and who may have had experience with this at their home, it's wonderful because it helps me know what to do next and gives me the motivation to continue -- not stop and go start something else.

Some of the projects we've done over the past few years have been:

Cleaning out & organizing cabinets, drawers, pantries, garages, CD & dvd collections, and books

Overhauling children's bedrooms & toy closets

Deep cleaning before relatives come to visit (such motivation!)

Washing all the windows in a house inside and out

Weeding (oh joy!), placing weed cloth, and planting bushes, flowers, and trees

Painting bedrooms, kitchens, cupboards, and even counter tops!

Sealing up grains for food storage in vacuum seal bags

Packing up friends when they move

Putting new shelf paper in all cupboards and drawers

Going through boxes from the attic from years back


Going through children's school work, papers, artwork, etc., and putting them into binders

Sewing & Mending (this is one I chose because I hate to sew, so they sewed for me!)

Taking old appliances to the scrap recycler (another one I chose because they have pick-ups and I don't)

Bringing in landscaping materials and spreading around the yard (again, no pick-up!)

Decorating Christmas trees

Taking down Christmas decorations

Wrapping Christmas gifts

Polishing woodwork

Chopping wood

Shoveling and preading gravel around a pond

Making crafts for gifts

Shopping (yes, believe it or not, one friend can't stand shopping, so we go pick out clothes for her -- another friend didn't know where to start in decorating her husband's new office, so we shopped for furniture and decorations -- very fun!)

We often have little celebrations together too. If it's someone's birthday, we'll often potluck after we finish and eat together (or just take off for lunch afterwards). At Christmas time, we each bring a small gift, some goods for brunch or lunch and do a little exchange at the end. Always fun.

I can't tell you how many times I've walk by a project that everyone's done for me and felt an overwhelming sense of joy, awe, and appreciation. It's so wonderful to see some monstrous, yet nagging and necessary task get done that I just couldn't do on my own. My friends have said the same over and over too.

Get yourself a group of friends to co-op with you. It's a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I just finished posting what has taken me well over a week to complete -- my last day on the Beachbody trip filming Slim Series Express. Since I began the past earlier and saved that draft, it posted as last Monday's post instead of today. I just wanted to let you know it's there in case you just look to the top to see what's new. Just scroll down under the Water post. The top pic is just like this one. See you there!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water

When I was in 1st grade, I wrote a poem (on that thin, tan, easy to tear with your eraser paper that had room at the top for a drawing) called "Water Water Water . . ." (written across the top from one end to the other with waves drawn underneath traveling across the paper). The poem was simple:

I love water
Water loves me
Water is really just a sea.

Now I love to write and would love to be have the talent for writing poetry. I remember a kid in my high school English class, who didn't necessarily get the greatest grades, but he was dubbed a poet. The teacher talked about his natural poetic abilities. I wished I could do what he did. I can recognize it in others, but can't drum it up in myself, as sad at that is. However, I do like this poem I wrote long ago. Perhaps I like it because my mom saved it? (and it's easy enough to memorize?) There are some truths in it though that I even understood as a child. I love water. My body loves water. Does water love me? I'm not so sure about that, but water really is just a sea and continues to become a sea, as well as become a part of me.

I've been thinking about water lately, that I only drink it when my body is crying out for it -- when I first wake up in the morning. I feel like a wilting plant when I stumble into the bathroom sink for that first drink. Once I get a full glass in my body, I feel alive. I stand straighter. I feel like I can begin my day. I also drink while I exercise. The more vigorous the workout, the more I drink, but I always drink at least one glass full -- maybe 2 or 3. And afterwards, I want another glass. I never think "I wish I could eat . . . " -- I'm always just plain thirsty.

Once I get some food in my body, I tend to forget about my need for water. Do I not need it as much because I'm nourishing my body in other ways? Or am I burying that ability for my body to communicate thirst when certain foods enter my body? I'm not sure. But some days, I cry out for water all day long and wonder what's going on. I wonder if my body always needs that much and I'm just not able to tell. Or I'm just not interpreting my body's messages correctly.

Either way, I know my body needs and appreciates water. My body runs better when I drink it throughout the day.

I also wonder if we as prosperous Americans eat more than our bodies need. I've read in Yoga Journal that some approach eating with the need to not completely fill up, but just to become partially full, enough for energy and nourishment. Bryan Kest (yoga instructor from Santa Monica in one of my favorite yoga dvds ) wrote in one of his newsletters that "the single most important aspect of a healthy diet is NOT overeating." He has a 4 Step Program to dietary health and balance in which the first step is to only fill your stomach to 2/3 of its capacity, with the second step being to eliminate ALL between meal snacking. This is getting a little away from my thoughts about water, but when I read this from Bryan's Power Yoga newsletter a few years ago, it was a new thought to me. Dr. Fuhrman advocates no snacking in his Eat to Live plan too. I call myself a grazer and think I need to eat all day long. But I know that isn't the case. And I think other healthy habits may be key -- being active AND drinking plenty of water.

A few summers ago, I went on a Pioneer Handcart Reenactment Trek with about 100 teenagers. For 4 days, we pushed handcarts with our tents, clothing, cooking gear, and water up and down mountains. It was tough and wonderful at the same time. I learned some interesting things about the need for water and food while out there.

The first day of the trek, we had all eaten breakfast at home. We were also told to bring a sack lunch to eat just before we hit the trail. I was eating raw foods well at that time and made sure the man who organized and invited me to be a "ma" on the trek knew that I relied on my raw food diet for health and would need to bring my own. I packed up Ziploc bags by day and meal. I added a few fruits or dehydrated snacks in case I needed more. Everyone else ate simple meals of corn mush or oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, and some meat & potatoes kind of dinner each night. There was also a ration of snacks on the handcart for everyone to eat throughout the journey. We were told that the snacks were to last the whole trek and not to eat them all the first day or two. There were crackers, dried fruit, and something else that I can't remember, but do know I wasn't interested in eating.

Back to the first day, everyone had eaten a plentiful breakfast and a bountiful lunch. These were meals from home and no one scrimped on these meals. They knew it would change once we got on the trail. We started up the mountain and climbed for a few hours. Every time we stopped, all the kids ran to the snack box to see what they could eat. They were hungry. They needed some food to keep them going. They had plenty to eat earlier, but they needed more. They'd been working hard and needed more to continue. As the hours passed and dinner was near, they still wanted to grab from the snacks, reminding each other that it was supposed to last the whole 4 days (and realizing they were eating more than a day's share in just one afternoon). I also got into my ziploc bag. I ate some of their dried fruit. I was hungry too.

The next day everything changed though. After a simple dutch oven dinner, a good night's rest and very light breakfast, we were on the trail again, working hard. You'd think that while we were running on less food and were exerting more energy, we'd dip into the snack reserve even more. But that didn't happen. With less in our bodies and more physical work to do than we ever do at home, we weren't even hungry. Whenever we'd stop the handcarts, we'd run for the water. All we ever wanted was water. The snacks were never depleted as once suspected because we weren't ever hungry. Our bodies needed water and lots of it. We didn't care where the water came from either. The first day, most of us were strangers and we opened our own water bottles and drank in private. That all changed too. Whoever found his or her water first, took a few drinks, then offered it to the person nearby. We were passing around our water constantly. (I mentioned this in passing to the medic when filling up our water jugs one night and he said "You shouldn't be doing that -- you could get sick from sharing drinks" but he just didn't get it. The bonds we were making surpassed any concern for illness and the drive for water was far too strong to stop and think about another person's germs.

This was interesting for me to learn -- with less food in our working bodies, we wanted water, not more food. I wonder at home now if my kitchen wasn't fully stocked and ready to feed me and if I weren't snacking throughout the day, if I would actually be more in tune with my body and just want water until I was truly hungry again. I never want food when I'm exercising. Not that wanting food is a bad thing. I just think most of us think we need food far more than we actually do.

Dr. Fuhrman says that we rarely experience true hunger. I'll write about that some other day.

I'll also finish up my last day report on the Beachbody trip. I've written most of it, but it's taking longer than the others. I can't find some of the Video Fitness posts I'd written at the time, so I've been gathering info from e-mails, scattered VF posts and from memory. I should be able to finish that by the end of the week.

Back to water -- drink up! You probably need it more than you realize. I'll do the same and will let you know how my snacking goes. Even though grazing is a fun word, I think I need to be less like the cow and let my body run on less than a full tank. TTFN!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Filming Slim Series Express w/Debbie Siebers -- Last Day Details

This is my last post about my trip to film Slim Series Express with Debbie Siebers and Beachbody (aka "the trip of a lifetime" -- for a video fitness enthusiast, that is!) I'll probably post later on about my QVC trip with Debbie too, but I'll wait a bit so I can balance out my blog with other things too. I haven't talked nearly enough about food lately. Can't forget that! :) I have more recipes to share, topics to discuss, progress to tell about with my periodization fitness plan, etc. Not to mention family talk. I do have fun news to share about my children too.

Day 3 -- My first plan was to go right to the studio to see the other workouts (Cardio Core and 6 Minute Abs) filmed, then meet my friend (my former boss from 17 years ago) for lunch, but I saw on our filming day that we didn't actually start filming until about 11:00 even though we got there at 8:00. So I switched plans with my friend to meet for breakfast instead. That way I'd arrive at the studio just about the time they were starting to film.

My friend picked up Jocelyn and me from the hotel and took Jocelyn to the studios (and it was kind of sad to see Jocelyn talking with the main camera guy outside as we left -- I felt like I was missing out on the fun!) But I hadn't seen my friend in years and was truly glad for the time we had together. I later found out that Jocelyn got a quick tour of Andrea Ambandos' trailer and got to see what the producer sees. Fun!

We had a super scrumptious breakfast and visited for a few hours. After seeing how nice everyone at Beachbody was to Jocelyn's friend on our Infomercial day, I asked my friend if she'd like to see how they film an exercise video.

So she came back to the studio with me, I introduced people as I saw them and she stayed for over an hour while they filmed Cardio Core. We even took pictures together, along with everyone else. It was so much easier to be watching Monica and Kali exercise than it was to be under those hot lights. (But I'll admit it was hard to keep quiet during each take too:)) -- There was a doorway onto the set that I usually stood in to watch Debbie, Kali, and Monica. Most everyone else just watched them on the TV screen a few feet from the doorway (which was fun too because you could see how Andrea was cutting from one camera angle to another). But I figured I could see that when I get the video - -I wanted to see them live!

There was also a big opening where three of the cameras were - -that's where the cue cards and any other lights crew guys were. But most of us were on the left side by the doorway. I wanted to take a picture of it all going and could have attempted it w/o a flash, but if it had accidentally flashed, I could have been in BIG trouble because it would have interrupted the take and would have made a lights guy think a light had blown. So I just watched. (Jocelyn was more daring though and got a few pictures -- yay!)

At one point, Ronni (the make-up/hair woman pictured below) had an accident that she thought may have messed up a take. Her giant make-up bag was on a shelf of the rolling cart that held the TV we watched and it wasn't up up far enough on the shelf, so it came down crashing -- make up all over the place, etc. She felt awful, but no one filming seemed to notice the sound and they kept going.

Ronni had an assistant that day -- I can't remember her name, but she really stood out. She was probably 6 feet tall, had long (extensions), bright (dyed) red hair, dressed very vibrantly and had tatoos on her shoulders that looked like she had leopard skin. She was really nice and showed me how she'd glued little jewels all over her cell phone (my daughters would love it!) Someone mentioned that Ronni uses her every time when there's a bigger crew and I later saw Ronni's and someone else's names on the credit for some other Andrea Ambandos workout dvds when I got home - - I thought that must be her.

Jocelyn had told me that morning that Shaun T (no one called him Shaun T there, though -- just Shaun) from Hip Hop Abs was going to be on the set today. I hadn't heard much about him except this this was going to be a new series for Beachbody and that he looked a lot like Will Smith. I kept watching for someone who might be him as they filmed Cardio Core. At one point, 2 black men walked in and watched a bit. During a break on the set, Debbie walked over and hugged one of them. I wondered if that might be Shaun? He didn't really look like Will Smith in any way. He dressed more formal than for fitness. But he knew Debbie and I was curious.

After the filming began again, I thought, "You're only here once -- you might as well go introduce yourself to Debbie's friend." I was just curious how she knew him. Plus it was fun meeting people there. So I walked over and started talking to him. I told him who I was, that I was in the workouts from the day before, that I was a stay at home mom in the northern part of the state, married with 6 children, etc. He told me that he was Debbie's business partner and that his name is Kerry Gordy. I asked him about their business since Debbie had mentioned she had a fitness clothes line and he explained to me that her personal training and fitness videos are just the beginning of Debbie's business -- that gets her name out there and her reputation for knowing fitness. Then they go from there. She had co-written two cookbooks -- Energy Boost

and Nutritional Makeover. He talked about some digital fitness plans or something more technicologically advanced than just a website fitness monitor -- more like something you use your cell phone for ??? I can't remember. I wasn't following him on everything, but it was fun to meet him and share worlds since mine is so vastly different in my rural neck of the redwoods. Later, when I was out to dinner with Anna, Debbie and the rest of the cast, somehow Kerry came up and the fact that I was talking to him for awhile. And Anna said, "Do you know who Kerry Gordy is?" and I didn't. She said he's the son of Barry Gordy, who is the founder of Motown. Pretty cool! So here I was introducing myself to meet another friend and he'd grown up around people like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. I later found this article talking about when he and Debbie joined forces. Guess I didn't do my homework prior to the trip! :)

Back to finding Shaun, a little while later, I was walking through the area with sofas where you first walk into the studio and saw this big muscle-y guy. I thought, "Now that has to be Shaun!" So I asked the nearest Beachbody worker and they confirmed it was him. Now I didn't know anything about his new workouts and really had no interest in doing anything hip-hoppish. But I wanted to meet him if he was there. So I went over and started talking to him. I was immediately struck by his VIVACIOUSNESS! He is so full of life and laughter. When he talks, he laughs, he moves, he jams here and there. He's tons of fun. He laughs while he talks a lot. It's so infectious. I knew he'd be fun to work out with. I honestly wouldn't be drawn to the Hip Hop Abs workouts at all if I hadn't met Shaun. I can't even describe how much magnetism this guy has. I asked him if his workouts were doable for someone like me who hasn't been to a dance club since before hip hop even came out! And he said, "Sure!" and started telling me how he breaks it down so anyone can do it. He told me that before this project, he traveled around teaching other fitness instructors how to teach this kind of workout. He's even trained internationally (and talked about one country somewhere in the far east that treated him like a prince, waited on him, carried him, etc. -- as he laughed and laughed).

I hope it comes across in the workouts because he is SO MUCH FUN to be around.

It was really cute a little while after we talked, we were sitting around in the little lounge area of the studio and someone mentioned that I have 6 kids -- his mouth just dropped . . . and stayed dropped for a good few minutes. I just kept laughing and he shook his head like "no way" (or maybe "no one in their right mind would do that") -- I told him I was 42, then asked how old he was -- I think he said 24 or some unreal # like that for being so successful at what he does. I told him, "Oh, You're just a baby!" and he gave this big grin.

Later, Shaun and Heather (Carl Daikeler's assistant) were sitting on the sofa (shown in the bottom pic of Shaun's rehearsal below) watching his Hip Hop Abs workouts on the laptop (still in production at this point, so this was new for Shaun to see). I joined them and we watched for a bit. Looked like a ton of fun! Later I realized that I didn't have any pictures of Heather, so she and Shaun posed (of course in some crazy dancing position) for me. I later saw in one of Shaun's Hip Hop Abs workouts, that he had a move that he said was from his good friend Heather. Fun that they're close friends. Just a little trivia on Heather. She was in the test group for Slim in 6 and is in the infomercial seen at the end of many Slim Series dvds wearing a red polka dot bikini -- she's also trying on clothes in a store on that infomercial. AND her sister, Ashley, is in one of the Slim Series workouts -- I think it's Firm It Up.

Some of Shaun's cast members showed up and I got to meet a few of them too (mainly remember the Asian girl who is the modifier in all his workouts and the blonde one with lots of curly hair). They were all really nice. I got a few pictures of them rehearsing in the break room before they had to go film. There were huge Hip Hop Abs signs on the floor behind the set. The set guys said they were going to transform Debbie's set a bit to film this last Abs workout for Shaun. We left before it went up though.

I went back and watched some more of Monica and Kali's workout with Debbie. Their last one to film was 6 Minute Abs. They had to do it four or five times to get the timing just right -- Debbie had to finish her small stretch, words, and everything within that 6 minute frame. She had planned to wear this really cute top that was a bright purple color (I'm partial to purple, if you haven't already noticed). The pants had a purple band and red band at the waist line. It was really cute. But once she lied down to stretch and see how things were going to work, it started bugging her because the pant leg would come down a lot towards her knee and show her leg. It just didn't look as sharp as the pant leg staying put. She said that her own black pants didn't do that (which I thought was pretty amazing -- I thought all pants did that). So they let her change her pants to the black ones, but now her pants didn't tie in with the cast member's tops.I can't remember if it was Monica or Kali, but one of them was wearing red to match the red on her band, but since that was gone, they had them change so that there wasn't that red standing out -- (and both changed so their tops would still match in style). If you look at the top pic of Shaun's rehearsal, there are buckets of clothes and a wardrobe rack with hanging clothes. The rack has the clothes chosen for each workout with our names on them. The buckets are extras (that they had us try on when they made the wardrobe choices). This is what they went back to for changes in Monica's and Kali's tops. If you look at the first pic in this post, Debbie has her make-up and hair done with the bright purple top and the pants with the colors on the band. But in the workout pics right here, she has on plain black pants (but no ankle showing! :))

Debbie had told us on our rehearsal day (which was the day after her rehearsal with Kali and Monica) that her abs were REALLY sore from doing that workout 4 or 5 times in a row. They did the same thing on the filming day and you could tell in the facial expressions of Kali and Monica that it was TOUGH to do those final reps. I felt bad for Monica because she was in the same position as I had been with the stretch video -- she couldn't see what Debbie was doing. Only she had to keep up with rep speed precisely. So she turned her head to the right through most of her reps, which must have been a strain. But she kept up with Debbie!

After they were finished, we talked with the crew a bit and went outside and talked with Andrea (Ambandos, the producer of these and MANY other exercise videos throughout the past decade if you missed my other post about her. I took a picture of her in front of her trailer. She gave me her business card and told me it was really great working with me. I told her it was REALLY tempting to just move down to L.A. and work with her for. She told me, "That would be great!" Every once in awhile, I look at her business card and think, "Wouldn't that be fun."

Down the hall, we saw a catered lunch set up in the big room where we filmed the infomercial (and where we'd had our catered lunch the day before). We weren't going to eat in there this time, however. It was for the crew and the Hip Hop Abs people. We might have eaten with them if they'd taken longer to film, but since they ended earlier, our dinner plans with Debbie at the end of filming got bumped up to a late lunch and we all waved good-bye and headed out to the Daily Grill restaurant.

Shaun was walking around, kind of pouting (not really, but in a fun-loving way) because he wasn't going to eat with everyone else. He was dying from hunger because he didn't want to eat before showing those abs in his video. I guess they do close-ups on his abs so he can show which ab muscle certain moves are trying to target. I doubt I'd notice a difference in "before eating" abs and "after eating" on him though. He's pretty toned. I even asked him at one point if he lifted weights too (his arms are HUGE) and he said he didn't. He must do a lot of push-ups then. I also learned (if you want to know Shaun trivia) that he LOVES fast food and likes to eat a lot of it. I've seen since his videos have come out that he has a Fast Food Survival Guide on Beachbody's website. He must truly love the stuff.

We drove over to the hotel and they told us we could freshen up if we wanted to first. Jocelyn and I were fine since we just played all morning. But Kali and Monica went up and changed. So did Debbie. They all looked a step up from the rest of us -- heels, cute tops, a bit more glitz. Monica and I just looked at each other like "oh well" and Anna said "I have to crawl on the floor with cue cards -- I have to dress like this" :). We had a really fun dinner. Anna had "Uncle Carl's" credit card and told us to feel free to order whatever we wanted. It was truly liberating because here I'd been watching what I'd been eating for those past few weeks, knowing I'd be filmed soon -- especially while down there. I could eat whatever I wanted. I toyed with the idea of ordering chicken pot pie (childhood favorite) but knew there would be dairy in it and didn't want to deal with those effects, so I ordered pasta. There were many appetizers that Debbie loved -- seafood that I had no desire to taste, but did try a few just to be a good sport.

Debbie told us about her social life, her workouts, a little of everything. We got to know Kali and Monica a bit better. And, of course, Anna is always a blast to talk to. She was fun throughout the whole trip. She'd tell stories about Beachbody -- about Tony and P90X or Chalene in Turbo Jam. It was really fun to hear all the fitness video trivia since it's been a big part of my life for over a decade. Anna is the kind of person that you feel like you've known your whole life the first time you talk to her. I could talk to her for hours and never need to stop.

It was also really great to get to know Jocelyn. I'm sure I would have had fun with Kali or Monica too, but Jocelyn and I really gelled well (is "gelled" a word? Sounds fine, looks strange!) She was in Kindergarten when I was a Senior in high school, but this many years later, it didn't seem like we had much of an age difference at all. I loved learning her mid-western ways and I think she had fun with me too. Jocelyn and I ended up sharing a room on our QVC trip, which was really fun -- like having a college roommate again. We e-mail all the time and hopefully will get to see each other again somehow.

After dinner, Debbie had to leave (her limo had arrived).She told us that it's hard to make friends like this and just have us go. We took pictures outside the restaurant then bid her farewell. I didn't know if we'd talk much again, although she said she'd see us on the Beachbody chat. I never was able to figure out how to get on the chat, but Debbie later e-mailed me and we've e-mailed off and on since. I also got to go to QVC with her and got a card from her at Christmas. It was fun to get to know her. I'd only hoped to get to talk to her for a few minutes if I were selected. It was fun to find out she was from a family of 8 children, that she had small-town roots, that she's close to my age, and that's she's as real in real life as on the screen in my family room for so many mornings.

The whole experience was more than I could have hoped for. I told my husband that it was just fun each day to be surrounded by people who loved their jobs and who loved life. They were all so friendly and wonderful.

That night, Jocelyn, Kali and I met at the hotel jacuzzi and just relaxed and relished in what we'd just experienced. Monica was out running (training for a marathon, I think), so she didn't come. But it was nice to just sit and talk, share what we'd done when we submitted our videos for the contest and to be amazed together that we had this opportunity.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Value of Yesterday

Yesterday had more value than I could have ever imagined for one family in particular. It proved to be the last day with their husband and father. After a wonderful sunny day yesterday, we found out late last night that a friend of ours died of a heart attack. He was in his early 40s like us, a good friend of my husband's, dedicated father of 4, had just returned from a bike ride, and suffered a heart attack. That's it. That was his last day.

Here I was wondering what May 8th would bring, if it could become a memorable one and it forever will be for that family. I'll remember it too. I imagine they've relived their last words and moments spent yesterday with him. I did the same with the last few conversations I've had with him, even though weeks and months before. Those are the moments to cherish. We don't realize how important these moments are until they are no longer available.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Value of Today

Last night, my youngest child came into our room around 3:00 a.m. He doesn't always do this, but when he does, it's crazy. We have a queen-size bed and my husband is tall, so there's not a lot of room for another person, even if he is little. Add on top of that his kicking feet aim right for my stomach, so it's pretty impossible to sleep well while he's there. After hoping it would all just go away and the slumbering will begin again, I finally got up and carried him back to bed. Thankfully, he didn't come back a little later. Still, I couldn't get back to sleep.

I thought of my 5:25 alarm setting, knowing that it was growing closer and closer. I thought a lot about what I needed to do first thing this morning (try to straighten out my oldest daughter's housing mess with college -- she got notice last night that the dorms were full and the date to apply was today :) -- I told her "welcome to the world of bureaucracy :)). I thought through what life would be like for her if she didn't get to live in the dorms -- how much farther she'd have to walk, how the students would mostly be older and not relating to her freshman experience. I thought of how she wouldn't be repeating my freshman year if she didn't live where I had. I tossed and turned and tried to turn the thoughts off. I thought of how she had AP and IBO tests all this week and didn't want to add to the stress during testing of housing problems.

Then my thoughts flipped to yesterday. What had I done yesterday? Was it a good day? As I thought it through, it seemed like a wash. I lived through the hours, but didn't feel like I was nearly as productive as I would have liked. I didn't even know what day it was -- was it May 8th? Were we past the 10th? Yes, it was late and I probably could have counted forward from Monday, which was my cousin's birthday, so I knew it was the 5th, but the point I realized is that I wasn't valuing my yesterday that much. And the more I thought about it, I wasn't sure if I had any plans to value my next day either. I was already anticipating some tiredness from sleeplessness. And if I took a nap, I'd be sure to attach some guilt for not getting something else done in that amount of time.

I understand the value of the present moment -- it's a common theme in yoga. It's a principle of Christianity -- life is a gift and we must cherish every moment in appreciation and enjoyment. But it's easy to let that all slide and just let days blend in with each other without distinction or a sense of value.

I remember when my children were little and none were in school. I craved something that would define our days. If I signed the girls up for gymnastics, at least Tuesday and Thursdays would have a distinction from Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I actually might be able to tell one day from the next.

I just read in a past National Geographic that a woman with extreme memory capacity can draw any memory from any day since she was 11 years old. She can tell you what people wore or said, what she did, what TV show she saw and what it was about in vivid detail. The detail for her is as real in these thoughts as when I smell a shampoo I haven't used in 15 years or hear a song I haven't heard in years and the smell or song takes me back to that precise time in my life. She says she can take today and flip back to every day like it every year back for 20 years like she's flipping through a Rolodex -- seeing everything that has happened. (Not to get too far off with her, but she says this is a curse as much as a blessing. She experiences the pain and stress of those days as well as the joys over and over again. I just wanted to add that part to complete her story). But her ability made me realize that every day does have it's moments, it's flavor, it's songs, and it's meaning. I need to make each day memorable, whether I ever remember it again or not.

I need to value each day whether I'm filming an exercise video or doing laundry. I actually do enjoy doing laundry, but I doubt I'll ever take pictures or post great details about it in my blog. Who knows? Maybe I will :).

But I do know that I'll live more consciously through today. I'll feel good about what I'm doing. I will look for the value and light in each experience. I will bring any light I can to others around me. I won't waste my moments. I'll figure out the name of the day (MAY 8th today!) and celebrate it like I've been looking forward to this day for a long time. That's what I do on Christmas day or my birthday -- why not today? I feel joy just thinking about it!

Then tonight if I'm awake for hours, if I flip back through my Rolodex of memories from today, I'll smile through them. I won't be wondering what I did or if it had enough worth. I'll know it did.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Filming Slim Series Express w/Debbie Siebers -- Second Day Details

I'm excited to share the details of the actual filming day! It was pretty exciting. I was really glad that we had one stretch workout because doing two cardio/sculpt workouts would have been especially draining. I thought many times of those who filmed the Slim Series (which were either an hour or 78 minutes long). It must have been tough, tough, TOUGH! So we had it easy comparatively. Here are the details recorded not long afterwards (in a few chunks):

Day 2 -- Last Wednesday (wow, a whole week ago), Jocelyn and I were out in front of the hotel at 7:45 with no make-up (well, I did put on a little under eye concealer and a touch of mascara- - I just didn't want to scare anyone that early in the morning) and clean hair. Andrea had told us just before we left from rehearsal that we should wear our hair like we would to work out and the stylist would touch it up from there. Then she told Debbie that they'd take care of everything for her.

I wasn't sure what to do because my hair is above my shoulders now and whatever I do to get it out of my face each morning at home isn't very pretty. I pull my bangs back with a pony tail holder or with a ton of clips (often as I go and they keep falling forward). In rehearsal the day before, I used a little claw to keep my bangs back, but I have a high square forehead and was hoping not to have that look for the shoot.

I've watched the other Slim Series and the short-haired people (Judy and the lovely Ashley, whom I found out is Heather's sister) just had a headband. Again, I was worried about my forehead with the headband slicking it all back.

Anna (from Beachbody) picked us up in what she calls her "clown car" (a green VW Bug -- the new kind). It's always fun to be with Anna. She's super friendly and tells you all sorts of fun Beachbody stories. Talking with Anna is like talking with someone you've known all your life. She was dressed all cute in black and had her hair in piggy tails -- with a Blue Tooth on the ear. She looked all sleek and Star Trek-ish. :)

So we got to the studio and saw that our previous Wardrobe room was now Debbie's Dressing Room and the previous photo shoot room (that had a huge white backdrop pulled down across the floor like they have at the Picture People at the mall, but bigger) was now a gathering room with a sofa, coffee table, desk, and the wardrobe was set up in there. Nikolas was gone and Tiffany (who was quite the opposite of Nikolas -- he was from Sweden, all exotic-like and dramatic -- Tiffany wore jeans and a t-shirt, long curly hair pulled back in a pony tail, casual and sweet) was our wardrobe person. Our tops were hung up on a rack with our names on papers labeling which were who's. Debbie had the most. It was fun to see what the others were going to wear. We were all wearing black pants, but Kali got purple crop pants for the abs workout. Cute!

Jocelyn needed to find longer pants (she's 5'11") and they told her her pants were too short. I asked if I could find other pants too because I'd bought a Medium thinking they were fine, but the waist wasn't tight enough at times and it would pull down in the back a lot when I was doing the stretch video (good thing I wore them in rehearsal). So Jocelyn found some that worked for her, but they had this tie in the front, so they had to cut it and hide it any way they could. We soon discovered that Jocelyn had the same exact pants that I had (Target's Champion black boot cut), only in small, so PERFECT! I wore hers.

Debbie walked in looking lovely as could be and gave us hugs. She'd just had her make-up done. I was next.

I went in and met the new make-up/hair stylist. I told her that Debbie's hair looked great and she said that Debbie does her hair herself. I was impressed. I learned quickly that this stylist wasn't as cheerful as the one the day before. -- Someone told her that I had 6 kids and she looked shocked and said, "Do you have help?" -- I told her that my husband was home watching the kids while I was gone. And she said, "No, do YOU have help? I hope you have someone who cleans the house for you" and I told her that I didn't. She kept telling me that I needed to get some help and that it must be awful trying to do it all myself. I told her that I want my kids to learn to work and they do a lot to help out -- dishes, laundry, and vacuuming -- and she still persisted -- told me that I need more time for myself, time with my children, etc. It was pretty interesting. I'm sure having my own Alice would be nice, but we're doing just fine.

Then Jocelyn came in to talk (we all hung out at times when someone was getting make-up the day before) and the stylist told her to stand at the doorway -- that she got too claustrophobic. Then Jocelyn wanted to take a picture and the stylist said she couldn't have any flashes -- flashes gave her big headaches. (We didn't want to see how she would be if she had a headache) -- so that was interesting to watch unfold. But Jocelyn and I just grinned through it all and ended up really liking this stylist. We just saw that she wasn't afraid to say what was on her mind and that we had to be cautious around her. (You can see her covering her eyes in this pic just in case it flashed :))
I even felt like I should tell her what Monica is like -- she is really fun to be around, but has a really outgoing personality (like I don't :)). I didn't know how the stylist would respond and somehow felt this need (for whatever reason) to say something. So I said "Oh, wait until you meet Kali and Monica tomorrow" and told her a little about each of them. When I told her about Monica, she said "Well, I hope she's not like that in the morning -- I like people to be mellow in the morning -- I just can't handle too much in the morning" -- I just smiled. Like we didn't know.

The wonderful thing was that here I had these hair fears and she was able to alleviate them all. She asked how I wore my hair for workouts (I just pulled some back with a pony tail holder- - I know it looked awful) and I told her that I didn't have any ideas that would look good on camera. I told her my bangs would need to be out of my face, but I had this square forehead that I'd like to minimize. She responded, "You only can do so much with what you have to work with." I just nodded.

But then she started playing around with my hair and took clips and just pulled the front of my bangs back super tightly right under the rest of my hair that was hanging down. She used the straightener on the rest. And I loved it! I didn't have plastered back hair, my forehead was covered a bit, and I was super pleased! She did great with my make-up too. I was so happy with my make-up the night before that I was almost wanting to say, "Oh and make sure you use a bit of brown on my eyebrows because I loved how the lady did it last night" (but I knew to keep my mouth shut) and she did it just as well. It was wonderful!

(Off to make some pancakes -- be back later on!)


Day 2 1/4 -- Before I go on with our workouts, just wanted to say that Debbie was super pleased with this make-up artist's (her name is Ronni) work too. She told Anna later on that this was the only time her make-up hasn't felt like it was melting off with sweat -- it felt great the whole time. Anna said that Ronni is the one Andrea ALWAYS uses. So she knows her stuff (and must have done Chalene's and everyone else's make-up).

After we were made up, we went in and checked out the set. It matched the other Slim in 6 sets with the wooden floors and warm feeling. They gave us a "Cast Room" near the set for hanging out. Lara and a few others asked if we minded if they went in there to use their laptops or cell phones at times.

To the left of the cast room was a kitchen that had a counter full of food. A fresh fruit plate (I kept eating the strawberries and grapes -- figured it had the least chance of messing up my lipstick) and lots of other stuff -- I can't even remember what because I only remember eating the fruit. There were also cases of water bottles behind on the floor.

I wasn't sure how the water drinking would go -- if we'd get to drink a lot or not. You rarely see them drink water on Slim in 6 workouts. But Debbie does mention it.

We had our cameras handy for pics on the set and Anna told us that if we ever take pictures on the set, we have to yell "Flashing!" first because when the flash goes off, it looks just like when a light blows out. And if we don't yell "flashing," the camera guys will go around trying to find which light blew out. So we were mindful of that.

There were 4 camera guys (and other guys for lighting, climbing high shakey ladders). There was a door off the big set room that went outside where Andrea would walk in and out to her trailer (as big as a semi trailer -- seen w/Andrea posing in this pic). When she was out there, she could talk to us or Debbie and we could all hear her voice from above. Anna also wore headphones and could hear Andrea the whole time, directing which camera to switch to next.

There were a few televisions just off the set (near the Cast Room and the food) where everyone (but us) could see how we looked on the set and eventually how the take would look with the cameras switching back and forth. Everyone kept telling us that it looked really good.

I didn't really get to see what it looked like until the next day when Monica and Kali (pronounced Kaylee -- I kept saying it more like Cowli) were shooting.

One camera was to the left of me -- it came in closely from that side. There were 2 cameras straight on. One was for close-ups -- like when Debbie talks at the beginning or to zoom in on her (maybe us too?) -- the other (smaller) front camera was for wider shots. Then the camera on the right was up on this tall arm that would move all over the place. That was my favorite shot to watch because it did the spanning in from above and around. Always cool to see.

The camera guy pictured in green was behind the main front camera. He would dance along to the music the whole time. It was really fun to behold. I told him during a break that I loved that he danced while we filmed. He said he never really thought about it -- it would just happen and that some of the instructors/cast didn't like it -- it was distracting to them, but he never even realized he was doing it. I thought it was a lot of fun. The guy in tan was behind the close-up front camera and would sometimes jam along with him. Loved it. The guy in orange was behind the camera right by me and gave me comments from time to time on the breaks. I never even noticed the long-arm camera guy for a long time because he was so far removed from the actual camera. They were all super nice though. Everyone was.

Then there was a guy (not sure who he was) walking around with a regular video camera taking movies of everything. He said he was the "Behind the scenes" camera guy. Maybe they'll use that at the end of the videos or for part of the infomercial -- I'm not sure. But it was fun to see him go around and I talked to him (or his camera) a lot!

They told us to always watch the big camera in front when we were shooting. The only exception was at the very beginning when Debbie introduced us. We were supposed to look right into the camera on the side closest to us when she said our names. I remembered how stilted Lisa Kay and the others looked at the beginning of FIRM Body Sculpting System 2, and was determined not to look that frozen and awkward -- who knows if it worked.

Debbie and Anna would "mark" the moves with us before we began each block. They'd just tell us one move after another to do just a few reps of (without the weights). Debbie changed a few moves since the rehearsal. There's a move where your tilted forward and do a triceps kick-back with one arm and a rear delt with the other. She decided to add a back leg lift while doing the rear delt. I really liked that addition because it added some more lower body work.

She also took out a move after the plie' squat compound move with bringing your arms from being right out in front of you rib cage up to a W -- before we were going to pulse it and do it faster. But she thought that was too fast. So we did fast standing chest flies instead, which I also liked better.

Also, in rehearsal, Andrea was saying that she'd rather we just used 3 lb. weights the whole way through instead of using 5 lb.s at the beginning. Debbie liked the challenge -- I told them that when I first tried it all the way through w/3s, it wasn't very challenging, but when I used 5s in the first section, I was challenged from the beginning, then pre-exausted for the 3 lb. work, which I liked. I never really knew if I should be keeping my mouth shut because I wasn't there to be a fitness consultant or anything, but I definitely had my opinions.

Like when we rehearsed the Stretch video, I asked if we'd be wearing shoes (hoping that we wouldn't -- it's so awkward for me to stretch with shoes on after doing so much yoga) and Debbie said she preferred shoes because it looks better on camera. She's probably right, especially when you're used to seeing the other videos in the series with shoes. I remember it looking odd when Cathe and her crew wore socks. But it sure feels better with bare feet.

We stood in our spots and they were checking the cameras to see how we looked. I had wished I could have worn the periwinkle because it is SO my color! When Anna said, "Jocelyn needs to switch sides with Renee because she's taller, but we can't have the blue against the blue background, so switch tops too" -- I was excited! Jocelyn knew I liked that color and was happy for me too. And that foam turquoise green looked great with her blonde hair. (I don't think I have any pictures of me in the periwinkle top though -- we took all the pictures before the switch!)

They gave us little marks or pieces of brown duct tape to know where we should be standing.

We finally started filming the warm-up to Cardio Sculpt somewhere between 10:30 or 11:00 (we got there probably at 7:50). I was curious about the timing because I'd been planning to meet my former boss (from when I lived down there) for lunch the next day and decided to try to meet her for breakfast instead so I could see the next day's shoot.

Someone asked if Debbie did Mirror Cuing. She'd talked about it in rehearsal -- how people wanted that and then I don't remember actually doing it or talking about it again. I'm positive in the filming that we went right when she said "right." -- I've cued that way when teaching yoga before and it's so confusing, but I'm sure once you get used to it, it's second nature. Maybe they didn't think we'd be used to it or it's not something Debbie is comfortable with, but no one ever mentioned it again.

I felt confident that I'd remember to smile and started off looking at the right camera for my introduction, smiled through the warm-up, watched the cue cards to make sure I knew what was coming next. It comes naturally for Debbie to talk throughout (which I love) but sometimes it causes to her to miss a cue or move on the cue cards. So when that happened, I was aware of "oh no, she missed that one."

When they cut the first time, Andrea said through her speaker (amongst other things) that I needed to smile more and that I looked like I was focusing too much or was concerned -- that I needed to look like I was enjoying the workout. That surprised me because I was so sure that I'd been smiling. Then Anna told me also that I need to make sure I was smiling and one of the camera men said the same. I knew they had to be right and realized I must have been minding those cue cards too much.

So I decided to not focus on the cue cards so much because I really just needed to follow Debbie and look at the camera. I think I was afraid at first of coming in late on cues because in rehearsal, Debbie was just cuing minimally for us and I missed several. But I found in the shoot, that Debbie was cuing a little earlier and I just had to listen to what she was saying. Anna was up front counting out each move so we wouldn't go over or under with reps, and Erika (I think I told you about her -- she's the adorable one who gave us a ride to the hotel after our rehearsal) would point to the next moves on the cue cards. The rest was up to Debbie to see and us to follow.

From that point on, I smiled away and Andrea said it looked great. We had to redo the first few blocks 4 or 5 times. Debbie didn't really care if the warm-up was exactly as planned -- as long as everything got warmed up. But Andrea said that you had to have 2 takes each block that were exactly the same. So if you skip one move or insert another in one good take, the next one has to match it. That way she has 2 takes that she can interchange for editing if someone messes up or something.

The only thing I was sad to leave out was that lower body move on the kickback and rear delt. On the first take, I wanted to tell Debbie that she'd forgotten the leg lift. But I guess I figured we'd have lots of takes and she'd see it the next time on the cue card. The next take was good and she didn't do the leg lift then either. I mentioned it and then it was too late because they liked both of those takes. So when the dvds come out, I'll have to remind you all of adding that move because it's a great balance move for the core and the glute.

On the second song, Andrea decided to change the music. Debbie had picked the music and Andrea said, "Debbie, I know you chose this, but we need to find another one" -- it was almost big band sounding and Andrea thought it was too much so. It was cute, but the one Andrea quickly found did fit the workout a lot better. Debbie even agreed. And it's no Turbo Jam music by any means. In fact I talked with Anna about music and I guess it's really expensive to have any known music with words. They have to buy the exact minutes that they're going to use and get approval by all those who have ownership in that song (sometimes she says it's as much as a dozen) and if one says "no," -- they can't use it. So I think that's why most workout music is more bland. It's just too expensive. Anna said that Chalene is very into her music, so they have a bigger budget for it. Chalene also has a bigger cast for that party feel. So Chalene brought some new ways to Beachbody. Unfortunately, they just can't afford to do that with all of their workouts. I ended up liking this music, but probably in the way that I like Rob Glick's Amazing Step Styles music -- you get to doing it a lot and it sticks with you.

Anna kept saying we were doing great because we got some blocks done in 2 or 3 takes. Every time we would break after a block, Ronni and Tiffany (the wardrobe girl, in this pic) would come out and blot our faces for sweat, add make-up, fix our hair, or fix our clothes. Tiffany had this tool belt with a lint roller, scissors, needle & thread -- whatever she might need. She lint rolled our pants all the time so they'd stay all black. It felt like this wonderful massage -- I kept thanking her! Tiffany also gave us water bottles as soon as we'd break. They had our initials on it with a straw (we each had a different colored straw). We were supposed to use the straw so it wouldn't spill on us or mess up our make-up.

The lights were so hot -- mostly when you stood in one spot -- it felt like they were sucking the life out of you once we were warmed up. I got to the point that I was drinking a full water bottle at each break. They brought a huge silver tube (think dryer hose only much bigger -- maybe 2 feet in diameter) down the hall and around the corner from the giant room we had our interviews in to bring in air conditioning. We'd just stand there and would let the cool air go up our legs and refresh us.

One time I squatted down to let the air get on my face and Ronni said "What are you doing? Your hair looked perfect and now I have to brush it again!" -- Guess I messed it up, but it felt great and we had something to laugh about afterwards.

When we got to the last few weight and band segments, we had to do those blocks several times. My triceps were fried with the triceps pulses. When we got to the band triceps work, I gave myself plenty of band and soon found out that it was way too much. I was going back and forth between "Should I just pretend that I have the right amount?" or "Should I just stop the move, adjust my step on the band and continue?" -- I went with something in between -- trying to move my feet and trying to deal with my arms flying up with no effort whatsoever. Afterwards, Anna just laughed because she noticed my flemsy band. Hopefully they won't show that one.

I had another time when the band was securely under one foot (maybe for biceps curls) but the other foot was barely standing on the band beneath my left big toe. I kept hoping the band would snap up to my face and kept trying to wriggle that foot. So funny!

I could never really see Jocelyn out of the corner of my eye. We both pretty much watched Debbie and then would talk in between. She said she was struggling with her contacts because they were moving on the jogging moves and her eyes were getting red and she was getting frustrated. But eventually, we did mostly strength moves, so she was fine.

They kept mentioning how I wasn't sweating as much as Debbie and Jocelyn. They had to dab my forehead after maybe block 3 or so, but that's it. Debbie and Jocelyn were sweating beneath their bra line too. I'd done that in rehearsal (and noticably so since I was wearing a black cotton-y top) but that morning, I'd decided to put deodorant at my bra line (had heard that obese people do that under all their folds) and it really paid off. I didn't sweat there at all! What they'd do to remedy it for Debbie and Jocelyn was put paper towels there at each break.

Anna mentioned at one point that when Kathy Smith filmed Project You with them, she asked for another top when hers got sweaty. Anna told her they only had one top. Kathy was fine with that, but I guess was used to the way they did it in her other productions -- they had several of the same tops all ready to change if one would get wet with sweat. I loved hearing tid bits like this!

I should go work out before everyone is up. I decided to let the house warm up before I exercised today. I'll continue on with the Stretch video shoot when I'm back from our Thanksgiving trip. I'll also work on getting all the pictures up on a website after the weekend.


Hi everyone -- Sorry it's taken me MONTHS to get back to finishing my tale about my Beachbody trip, but I'm here (with only 10 minutes before I have to go pick up kids from school, but that's how I do things some times -- I have to do it while I'm thinking about it or I'll never get to it).

I think I left off right after we filmed the Cardio/Sculpt workout. That was the HUGEST relief to finally finish that workout, then we took a break for lunch. There was a buffet of snack foods nearby the set to eat from during the filming, but I only ate fruit partially for energy, but also to just have things that would give me more hydration (and not mess up my lipstick).

So we went into the huge room where we'd filmed the infomercial the day before and there were tables set up and lots of yummy food some restaurant had catered. Jocelyn was in for an adventure because her small-town mid-west life had never shown her cous-cous and more middle Eastern foods. I filled up my plate quickly and was one of the first to sit down thinking I'd probably be chatting with Jocelyn during lunch. But Debbie came and sat right next to me -- Anna came and sat on the other side -- Jocelyn, Erika (Anna's asst.) and many others. It was a lot of fun. It was fun the first time we ate sandwiches with Debbie the day before after rehearsal, but getting to sit and talk and ask anything I wanted was really fun. That's when I learned a lot about Debbie's family, her workout regime, and all that.

It was Anna's 41st birthday (she looks about 30), so they brought in a cake and we all sang. Of course I watched to see if Debbie would take any cake and she did. I didn't because I don't handle sugar well. But Debbie said that she's gotten to the point where she can eat a little if she wants, but never really wants much. She really didn't take more than a few bites.

After lunch, we went back in to film the stretch video. We knew we were in for the home stretch at this point because rehearsing the stretch one the day before was just pure pleasure. The lights wouldn't kill us, we wouldn't need water like we'd just ran a race -- we wouldn't mess up as much and wouldn't need as many takes. So we were excited.

We didn't really think anything like "Oh no, I just ate and shouldn't have because I have to look good on camera" -- we were just happy to have the break. The next day (more details on that later on) when the caterer came, everyone went in to eat and Shaun T didn't eat because he knew he had to show his abs for that Last Minute Abs filming and he was SO hungry! But I'm sure it didn't take them that long to film it and he was able to eat what was left later on -- but that kind of thought didn't cross my mind (and I had no abs to show).

Oh, I have to run to get the kids. Hope I can get back on and finish up here later.........


Guess I'll continue on with that Day 2 (boy can I fit a lot of details into one day, huh? But it's certainly one memorable day -- how many times in my life will I get to do that?)

Day 2 -- Stretch Video -- If I repeat anything I've said before, I apologize -- The first thing I remember is that we changed clothes. I got to wear this top in Berry (Medium btw) -- loved it! We wore the same black pants and silver shoes. Debbie wore black pants too and an aqua/black wave top. She had her microphone pack near her back, but talked about having to change that when we did the back-lying stretches. On that break, she switched the pack to her side away from the camera, then back to her back for the final sitting stretches.

The set guys (who were also the lights and camera guys) put out our mats on the floor and it was neat to see how they got it all lined up. They actually had lines that showed up on the floor all parallel on the TV screen to show if it was aligned properly or not. I saw that my mat was up a little bit from the floor (the tape was showing from the front) and I mentioned it to the camera guy. I instinctively went over to fix it and he said, "No, don't touch it -- I'll do it" and I remembered that they were professionals and I wasn't a mom responsible for doing everything. I was supposed to do my job and let them do theirs. So I kind of explained that to him (always have to talk) and went on my merry way.

There was another camera man there who was holding a portable (but big) camera, walking around filming everything. I kept talking to him, trying to find out what he was doing. Someone later said that they'd probably put together some on-the-set footage of us for a bonus feature or something. So that will be fun to see if they do.

I got a little nervous when I realized that I was on the left side behind Debbie facing the left because I wouldn't be able to see her at all when we were lying down. I'd have to rely completely on what she said. And I don't hear very well. I lost most of my hearing in my right ear about 7 years ago and it especially affects my ability to hear conversations very well without them speaking clearly or without me seeing their lips. Anyway, so that was a concern, but I figured I'd be fine.

On the first take, we did this stretch where you lift your leg for a bit, then let it fall to the ground and then lift it up one more time for a deeper stretch. On the second take, Debbie instructed us to do that on the first side, but on the second side, I didn't hear her say for us to lift that leg up again. They'd said before to follow her cues instead of reading the cards or doing what we'd done before -- always to follow her. So I didn't lift the leg again and couldn't tell if she did.

They cut at the end of the take and Andrea mentioned that I didn't lift my leg the second time. I said that Debbie didn't cue it and I just thought she'd forgotten. Debbie said that we were supposed to do it and that she did cue it. So I wondered if I just didn't hear it (which would have been odd because she was speaking loudly enough). Jocelyn told me afterwards that it wasn't cued, but she could see on her side what Debbie was doing and just followed along. Oh well.

So from that point, I really made sure I was listening and wondered if in doubt if I should turn my head back to look. But it was all fine from there. I really loved it. The music was soothing. The moves felt wonderful.

I did feel kind of silly though because at the beginning Debbie says to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. I'm so used to nose breathing from all the yoga that I do that it would have been more comfortable for me to just breathe through my nose. But I knew I should follow Debbie's instructions, so I did. It was deep breathing, so I really blew out my mouth each time.

About 1/3 or 1/2 way through, the camera guy on my side told me not to pucker so much when I breathe out and Anna told me that it looked like I was trying too hard. I asked her I looked like a fish and she laughed and said I did. So I tried to relax my lips after that. And hopefully it doesn't look too bad before that. But we all know that when you do a stretch video, you rarely look at the screen anyway. So maybe I'm safe with no one noticing.

The stretch workout was 30 minutes too, but we had longer takes and it was much easier to get it right than on the Cardio Sculpt one. It was really wonderful and soothing.

Oh, one funny thing I learned was how to keep my hair looking right while stretching. We did that neck stretch where you put your hand on the opposite side of your head to pull it over. And on the break, Ronni told me that I shouldn't pull my head so hard because it was messing up my hair -- I should just barely touch my head and barely pull so my hair would stay the same. I never would have thought of that.

Also, whenever there was a break, the wardrobe girl would come and get lint off of us from lying down -- it was amazing how fast it would collect. I wonder how much of it would really show up on the screen. Maybe little differences are noticeable though.

Afterwards, we all celebrated that we'd done it! Andrea told us many times that we did such a great job -- that she was so impressed with how quickly we did it -- that when she works with professional background exercisers, it doesn't move as smoothly. So that was fun to hear. Anna kept saying, "Didn't we pick the best?"

Anna gave us a ride back to our hotel (just several blocks down the same street) and Jocelyn and I planned to go out to eat a little while after relaxing in our rooms. As soon as I got in my room, I knew I just wanted to turn in for the night (it was probably 5:00 or 6:00). Within a 1/2 hour, she called and said the same. She was just too exhausted to do anything. So I took a hot bath, washed off all that make-up, realized I'd worn home (well to the hotel) their shoes and socks. And I still had on Jocelyn's pants. It was amazing how drained I was. The workout was a challenge to do over and over, but I really think it was the lights that drained us of our energy. We drank water bottles over and over and over on every break. Every time I'd finish a water bottle, they'd put my straw in a new one, ready to go. I probably went through a dozen of them.


Something funny to add here at the end -- when the dvds came out, I thought it quite ironic that here I battled mentally whether to just breathe in and out with my nose on the stretch workout as I was used to in yoga or to follow Debbie's instructions precisely. In the actual workout, the part where Debbie asked them to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth was edited out! So I could have avoided that whole fish face breathing that I was so uncomfortably doing and done just fine :). I'm sure no one else even thought about it though.