Monday, November 26, 2012

How to avoid those Christmas Cookies

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas cookies.  I love to eat them!  Oh, how I love to eat them.  But I hate that I can't control my eating once I eat them.  And I hate that I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning when I eat them.  And I hate that I gain weight when I eat them.  And I hate that my feet get achy at night and I can't go back to sleep when I eat them. I'm sure I could think of more.

So I must strategize to keep myself from eating them. As cute as those cookies are (not to mention yummy), they need to be part of someone else's holiday tradition, not mine.

Here are a few tips I've found for avoiding the Christmas cookies:

  • Out of sight, out of mind.  Hopefully they aren't even in your home, but if they are, keep them where you can't see them.  I know, I know.  You can find them if you want.  But if you don't see them, you are more likely to not think about eating them.  I don't crave what I don't think is there.  But if I open a cupboard and see some sugary treat, my brain starts thinking that's what I need.  It's funny that way.
  • Don't buy any cookie making ingredients.  I used to have to avoid going down two aisles at the grocery store -- the ice cream aisle (I can finally handle that now without any temptation) and the chocolate chip aisle  (still an issue from time to time).  I tend to tell myself myths in the chocolate chip aisle like "I'll make these for the classroom."  or "I need these for that pumpkin bread next month -- I'll just buy them now while they're on sale."  They never last until that later date and I end up either making cookies (and eating them myself) or just eating them out of the bag.  So the best thing is to win the battle in the store and you never have to fight it at home.  
  • Tell yourself a new lie.  You may think that you don't lie to yourself in the first place, so how could their be a new lie?  Well if you ever tell yourself that you'll just eat one or that the cookies won't do you any harm, those are lies, right?  Tell yourself a more helpful lie.  Tell yourself that the cookies are stale or that they have been sitting in your grandmother's freezer for months.  Tell yourself that they've fallen on the floor or that ants have been crawling all over them.  Do whatever it takes to help you resist.  I've tried these ploys.  They work!
  • Fill yourself up on something better!  There are so many yummy good-for-you foods that you can enjoy.  Eat those first!  Start associating Christmas joy with eating baked apples or pears with a bit of pumpkin pie spice on top.  Or just eat fresh raspberries or pomegranates plain.  There are so many fruits that can fill you up in body and spirit!  Oranges and tangerines are super tasty this time of year.  Read "Christmas Oranges" for a bit of perspective on how blessed we are to enjoy fresh fruits year round. 
  • Light a candle.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don't need to eat around the clock.  There are other things that fill my soul like lighting a candle and seeing that flame glow.  Lighting a fire in the woodstove is something I love to do, too.  But I know that not everyone has a fireplace or stove.  Candles are pretty easy to come by, though.  Hot baths are nice, too.
I think I'll go light a candle now.  I may just take a hot bath while I'm at it.  TTFN!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Great abs are made where?

Fill in the blank.  Great abs are made in the ____________.  You know the answer, right?  Not in the gym.  Not in the Pilates studio.  Not with your favorite abs workout (I think my favorite ab workout is the stability ball segment on Cathe's Pyramid Upper Body, if you are even the least bit curious -- skip to 4.30 into the video clip below).

But back to my question, the most common answer is "in the kitchen!"  Yes, those inches around your waist are due far more to what you eat than by what workout you do.  But let's not stop there!  The answer is also "in the car,"  "in the restaurant," "in the grocery store," and wherever else you eat or purchase the food you eat.  Your thoughts determine what you eat and you need to turn those thoughts around to get your body into shape.

Workouts are important and you won't have strong abdominal muscles without plenty of core work, but you also will never see those muscles if there is a layer (large or small) of fat covering them.

So as vital as exercise is, what you eat (or you DON'T eat) is even more essential. If I didn't have a stainless steel fridge, I'd make a magnet with that saying to remind me that "Great Abs are made right here!"   Perhaps I'll just have to use a little tape and make my own sign.  I surely need the reminder from time to time!

(I wrote about this in greater detail four years ago -- my time flies!  Click here to read that article).

P.S. (The photo above is of my friend, Jocelyn, who lost over 80 pounds with Beachbody workouts and changing her eating.  Here's her success story.  We were fellow cast-members in the Slim Series Express workouts and she's now my upline Beachbody Coach.  She's still going strong!  )

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Destressing and avoiding the Distractions in life

When I was younger, I used to chuckle to myself at those who said they were "SO STRESSED!" or were "SO BUSY!"  I thought they were either over-reacting, wanted attention or weren't managing their lives very well. Little did I know that the older you get, the more that can pile on both time-wise and emotionally.  My dad used to tell me, "Renee, life will never be as easy for you as it is right now" and in many ways he was correct. There are ways to destress, though, and separate yourself from the distractions of life.

Recently, I've learned a few ways to identify my biggest sources of stress:

  • Thoughts during Exercise  When I wake up in the morning to start my workout -- whether it's sweaty heart-pounding cardio or serene yoga postures, as I begin, my mind is flooded with what is worrying me or causing me stress.  I used to think this was interruptive to my workouts and now I see it as an indication of what I need to either cut out of my life or work on.  Often the workout will leave me less stressed, but the issue is still there and even though more relaxed, I need to work on it or it will resurface the next day (or when I lie down to sleep -- Oops!  I just gave away the second one). 
  • Sleep Deprivation: If I'm overworked, sometimes my body responds by falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.  But other times, thoughts swirl around in my head for hours and I just CAN'T get to sleep (or I wake up in the middle of the night for hours tossing and turning).  Annoying to say the least!  When your body needs the sleep the most, it sometimes can't get it because of stress.  So what do you do?  Give your brain new messages.  Tell yourself all of the things that went well that day.  Think of all that you accomplished, even if it's as simple as laughing with a friend and bringing her joy.  Balance out the negative by recognizing all the positive that happens in your life.  Counting your blessings is another way to recognize the good.  
  • Declining Mood:  Maybe this sounds oversimplified, but if you're no longer enjoying your days, then something needs to go.  Not all of life can be rainbows and prancing ponies (I stole this phrase from my niece who once complained about all of us "glass half-full" types), but we should be happy or content at least most of the time.  If not, you need to identify if you are indeed over-scheduled, if you have friends or relatives who are draining you instead of supporting you.  Cut out what you can that causes you stress and your mood will elevate.  Not everything is on our control, but do what you can and you will see a difference.
  • Negative Media:  We all know it. The media isn't in the business to cheer us up or bring us joy. They may not even be there to entertain us.  Their bottom line is making money, which is often obtained by what will get our attention.  I'm sure there are plenty of artists and journalists out there fulfilling their life-long passions, but the decision-makers for news and information choose what will make them money or promote their ideas.  Often this leaves us overwhelmed with the imbalance of misery and contention paraded before our eyes.  Do what you can to avoid this cause of stress. Listen to your own music (may I suggest Sting?) instead of a radio, play your favorite DVD when you want to unwind instead of watching the news.  We play plenty of carefree sitcoms from the 60s in our home and absolutely love it.  
  • Personal Media:  Our ever so portable computers (laptops, iPads and smart phones) can also be a major distraction to the simplicity and joy in life. I learned at the middle school Back-to-School Night last week that it takes 7 minutes for our brains to focus back on what we were doing before we stop to read a text.  Sometimes texts are happy interruptions.  Other times they are adding to our To-Do List or mental stress and need to be paced.  I could write a whole post about this (and likely will), but just be aware of the complications a handy dandy notebook can be and try to not make it quite so available to yourself so you can keep your focus on your family and friends right in front of you and what you need to get done throughout the day.

    The older, wiser me now believes that stress is like pain -- it's a signal to our bodies that something is wrong.   Just as a painful burn tells your hand to stop touching the flame, the stress is trying to tell us that we need to make some changes so that we can be at ease once again.  Listen to your body and do what you need to do to help your body and mind enjoy life.

    Top Photo by loop_oh 

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    The Challenge with Eating Addictions

    I know everyone has said this at some point when it comes to dieting  -- if we didn't HAVE to eat, it would be so much easier.  I've never smoked, drank alcohol, or done drugs, but I know that those who have to break those addictions have a tough time.  Addictions have their name for a reason.  BUT those who stop smoking, drinking and doing drugs don't have to smoke, drink or have the drug once a day (or even 3 to 5), but no more. When we eat, we do just that.  We have to curtail our eating, but we have to keep eating.

    One of the strategies for eating healthier and breaking our food addictions is to not have any of the foods that can tempt us in the house.  This is helpful because sometimes just the sight of the food can make us think "Oh yeah, I want to eat that!"  But even if the addictive food isn't in the house, sometimes we still go ravaging through the kitchen thinking things like, "Where's the chocolate?  There's got to be some SOMEWHERE in this house!"

    But the more we go without the foods we are addicted to (sugar, refined flour), the less we miss it.  It truly is a physical addiction and the longer we are away from it, our bodies get cleansed and don't crave it.  The tricky part is when we make connections for needing that food with holidays, family occasions, events, emotions, etc.  It's a hard thing to shake, but it is possible.  And your brain does get healthier as your body gets healthier.  So eventually, you can control those thoughts and urges.  There is hope for those with food addictions.  Don't give up!

    P.S. (This photo is from my daughter's wedding reception this summer.  TONs of fruit, salad and several sandwiches were served.  Very yummy!)

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    My very own Pumpkin Smash a la Jamba Juice!

    I've attempted to make my own Pumpkin Smash many times since I first tasted it at Jamba Juice.  It's so incredibly yummy, but only available part of the year.   First I tried making it raw.  Didn't ever come up with anything resembling tasty.  Then I tried several recipes I found online.  They were okay, but never delish.  So I tweaked and I tweaked and I FINALLY came up with a winner.

    Jamba Juice-like Pumpkin Smash 

    1 c. pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)

    1 c. almond milk or your choice of milk (I use   unsweetened vanilla by Blue Diamond)

    3 c. vanilla soy creamy (Trader Joe's soy ice cream, you can use vanilla frozen yogurt, soy, coconut or ice cream)

    1 c. ice

    1 t. pumpkin pie spice

    1 t. cinnamon

    Blend like crazy in your Vitamix, BlendTec or other power blender.  Super yummy!

    (If you want it a bit healthier, you can sub frozen peaches for 1/2 of the soy creamy.  It's still yummy!)

     I love Pumpkin Smash smoothies, but my daughter Terra loves them even more.  Maybe it's because it matches her hair color or that she loves EVERYTHING pumpkin.  But it truly makes her as happy as she was on this rainy day.

    Monday, September 10, 2012


    Guess which band wagon I just hopped on?  Yes, it's Shakeology!

    I will admit to two things first though:

    1. I thought the name "Shakeology" was kind of hoakie when I first heard it.  To an English Major, it doesn't exactly roll off your tongue or seem like a legitimate word.  Maybe it's just that silent "e" next to the "o."  Seems strange to me.
    2. I didn't trust that Beachbody would actually use THE most nutritious ingredients to fill up their shakes.  I thought it would be some protein and a bunch of garbage like so many other fitness shakes.  But no! Beachbody delivered BIG time!  When I heard they had a Vegan option for Shakeology, I decided to give it a closer look.  After all, I do have a background with Beachbody and they treated me well.  (See previous posts on filming Slim Series Express with Beachbody if you want details -- 1, 2, 3 plus QVC and another infomercial).

    So I read the Vegan Chocolate label and it's made from whole foods -- whole plant foods!  That's it!  And some pretty nutritionally powerful ones, too!  You may have to take out some reading glasses, but take a look at the nutrition label yourself:

    (If you want to see this nutritional chart a little bigger and clearer click here).

    I'm drinking Shakeology daily right now to hopefully get off these stubborn #% pounds (that's a symbol protecting myself from revealing how many I need to lose -- I wasn't swearing, I promise!), but I'm also excited about the fact that I can add it to my diet after I lose the weight to get all these nutrients that I'm not going to grow or travel around the world (or at best, around the aisles of the health food store) to get individually. Exciting times!

    I have a website now (since I signed on with Beachbody as a coach -- to get a 25% discount on their products, mostly, and to help share it with others).  Check it out and if you want to order some retail price, do it through my Shakeology site.  Or if you're interested in getting a 10% discount by being a TeamBeachbody Member or a 25% discount (and later on, more) by being a Coach, go to my Beachbody Coaching site.  I'm still trying to find my way around there, but if you have any questions, let me know!

    Shakeology has a 30 day guarantee, too.  You can drink it for the full 30 days and ask for a refund if it didn't live up to your expectations.  It's like the Costco of nutritional shakes!  (I love that I can return anything at Costco -- less risk in life that way).

    Oh, and I guess I'm getting over the whole "e" next to the "o" thing.  If it helps me get through my afternoons without ravaging the kitchen, I'm fine with it!  And besides, it looks kind of cute with that leaf over the "o."

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Inching Your Way to Waking Up Earlier

    Do you wish you could wake up earlier without being tired?  Improving your diet will help.  So will going to sleep earlier.  But sometimes going to bed earlier doesn't help if you aren't tired and can't fall asleep.

    Inching toward your new wake-up time can help your body to adjust gradually. If you are planning to travel somewhere with an earlier time zone or just want to wake up earlier so you can fit in your workout before your day takes off, try setting your alarm just 15 minutes earlier.  It's not hard to do the math, but within 4 days, you'll be getting up an hour earlier without your body rebelling.  You'll also be able to fall asleep earlier because the shift will be gradual.

    Watching the Olympics until midnight this summer got my sleep schedule off a bit and I'm inching my way back before school starts again.  The thought of waking up 2 or even 3 hours earlier seems crazy, but with a gentle step-by-step approach, I'm sure I'll be fine.  It's worked well for me in the past and I'm happy to have this little trick up my sleeve!  TTFN!

    Inchworm photo by Glen Edelson Photography.  Olympic photo by JustinTime.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Perfectly Healthy Eating . . . Possible?

    If I could only make my vegetables look (and taste!) this good every day, I think I could base my diet on them, don't you?  I've started many healthy eating plans and do so well for so long, then somehow veer off a little.  It's quite frustrating.  I start to wonder -- can I ever stick to my eating plan perfectly?

    I heard a friend speak a few weeks ago about perfection.  She said that she can be perfect with her new goals just fine for a few days, even a week, maybe two!  But life's unplanned glitches somehow disrupt her plans and she finds herself back where she was before, where she is no longer perfectly aligned with her goals.  She said she stopped telling herself to do her best because she'd do her best for awhile, fall off, then go back to mediocre.  She decided to tell herself to "do her better" because she could keep up with that all of the time and wouldn't keep going back from trying to sustain perfection to slipping back into her old habits.

    I'm trying to sort this out with my eating because in my mind, I want to eat the most nutrient dense foods that I can.  But I don't always stick with that plan.  Switching away from "black & white thinking" isn't easy.  It's pretty common, actually.

    I often hear b&w thinkers say things like, "If I could just stop eating, then I could stick with that easier than trying to stick with my diet."  Yes, couldn't we all?  But we like our food and we NEED to eat.  We need to keep eating and to find the balance within that eating realm.

    I don't believe that eating everything in moderation is the answer.  Even toxic foods in moderation are toxic. Perhaps adopting the Line Upon Line precept (from Isaiah in the Old Testament)  -- learning and improving a little at at time, may be more helpful over all.  I know I'm all about results if I'm going to change my eating.  But I can get non-weight loss results from healthy eating changes, even if just gradual.  That can sustain me until the weight loss comes.

    Marilu Henner had a great mantra in her weight loss/healthy eating books -- "Progress, not perfection."  I kind of forgot about it until just this minute, but it's a great motto to remember as you work toward eating healthier. If you aren't perfect, just be happy with the progress you're making and continue forward.

    Top photo by musical photo man.  Bottom photo by vistavision.  

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Beauty Tips with Conditioner

    My favorite conditioner right now is the Kirkland brand from Costco.  It's super thick (could be watered down to save more $ if you'd like -- same with the shampoo) and keeps my hair really moist and feeling wonderful.

    I learned a few beauty tips with conditioner over the years that have become helpful for me.  

    I credit the first one to Marie Osmond.  My aunt had a book about Donny and Marie in the 70's and in one of Marie's chapters, she wrote that whenever she took a shower, she would comb out her hair while the conditioner was still in it.  Combing it while the conditioner was in was much easier than after because the conditioner makes your hair more slippery and the comb doesn't take out as much hair. No more tangles!

    The next conditioner tip is something I learned from Marilu Henner.  She was the first person who taught me the health benefits of cutting out dairy in her Total Health Makeover book.  She included money-saving beauty tips throughout her book and one of them was to use conditioner in the place of shaving cream when you shave your legs.  You don't need much and it really does give you a slippery surface without having to lather up.  

    Here are the ingredients for the Costco conditioner if you'd like to see them:

    Kirkland Signature Moisture Conditioner Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Stearalkonium Chloride, Propylene Glycol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Hydrastis Canadensis (Golden Seal) Extract, Algae Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Protein, Polyquaternium-37, Fragrance, Decyl Oleate, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

    Working Up to Loving Cardio

    If you hate cardio, you may not think it's possible to ever learn to enjoy it.  But it is.  You can work up to it (no fun to hear the word "work" in that sentence, huh?)

    I've always loved stretching.  That's probably the easiest form of exercise I can think of.  Not true for everybody, I've learned.  My husband, who is MUCH less flexible than I am doesn't enjoy it at all. I imagine he could work up to it, too, if he'd just take it slowly.  Hopefully, he will because it feels wonderful and has so many health benefits as you get older.

    I, on the other hand, have not enjoyed cardio for most of my life.  My best friend growing up was on the track team and loved running long distance and was super fast at sprints.  I got winded pretty easily and didn't enjoy it.  I'd try to like running, but never went very far without hating it and giving up.

    Then one day in college while I was giving running another try (I needed to lose weight!), I got lost running and it was getting dark.  I kept running instead of stopping to walk, as usual, and ended up running 6 miles.  I was amazed that I could do it!  I continued on for a few years after that, always looking forward to my run right after classes were over.

    Since then, I've found that I love cardio and look forward to the workouts IF I'm on top of doing at least three 40-60 minute cardio workouts a week.  If I fall under that (or especially if I stop doing my cardio all together), I end up back in drudge mode because I just don't have the stamina or strength for it.  

    So don't give up if you think you're just not a runner or a cardio junkie.  You can be if you want to be AND if you work at it.  Start with 20-30 minutes without stopping and yes, work your way up to longer sessions.  The energy you'll get and the fat loss that will follow are well worth the effort!

    (Photos courtesy of Lululemon  -- LOVE their fitness wear!)

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Time Off for Weekends?

    Some diets give a "day off" each week from the plan so the dieters don't feel too locked in.  I've never known if that was helpful or not.  It's nice for the brain to not feel trapped into something completely.  But if you are trying to get your body away from a food you are addicted to, once you get that food back into your body, it can make it harder to keep away from it again.

    I remember reading Alissa Cohen's book "Living on Live Food" for the first time (half reading material, half recipe book -- great raw recipes!)  She said that when she first looked into eating a raw food diet, she and her friend said, "Let's just eat raw during the week and we can eat cooked foods on the weekends."  She said that never worked for her because she needed a high commitment level to stick with the raw eating.  Once she let go of that on the weekend, it was difficult to get going again on Monday.

    I've found the same to be true for me with whatever healthy eating goal I have.  If I let go on the weekends or over the Thanksgiving holiday or Christmas weeks (yes, they turn into weeks!), then it's so tough to get my brain and body back in gear to be where it needs to be to commit again.

    Not only that, but let's do the math.  "The weekend" isn't a small portion of the week.  It may feel like it at first, but it's almost 1/3 of it!  That's like 2 steps forward, one step back.  And if you have a hard time getting back to your goal on Monday or Tuesday, it may even be closer to 1/2 off, 1/2 off.

    So what's the solution?  Do you still need a break from the restrictions of totally healthy eating all the time?  Then perhaps letting up just a little with allowing bigger portions or something sweet, but not refined sugar -- taking your "cheating" a few steps up from what it's been in the past AND just letting it be for one meal or one event -- not a WHOLE weekend, vacation, or holiday season.  And remember, if you're addicted to sugar like I am, if you let a little sugar back into your body, it will just cry for more.  So be cautious with your choices and you'll continue on your path to a healthy life.  TTFN!

    Sunday, July 29, 2012

    Better than Chewing Gum!

    Move over gum!  Make way for plum pits!  Really.  I'm serious.  Plums are one of my very favorite foods and I've found that leaving the plum pit in my mouth for awhile afterward is really great.  You're never really able to get all of the plum off of the pit, so it provides for another 20 or so minutes of flavor and teensy bits of chewing as you go.  Just be careful not to inhale too deeply so you don't choke on that pit.

    The very best plum in my opinion is the Santa Rosa Plum (pictured above).  Those teensy plums that grow on plum trees around town are also pretty wonderful.  I just saw some the other day while walking across a bridge that I first thought were cherries, but the insides were definitely plum-like.  Super yummy!  

    The Pluot (plum/apricot hybrid) is another huge favorite of mine.  They're sometimes known as Dinosaur Eggs, which my kids think is fun.  Pluot pits provide for tastiness after eating, too!

    Try it and let me know what you think.

    P.S. (Notice I didn't post any photos of plum pits?  They just aren't all that pretty :))

    Friday, July 27, 2012

    Working Out in the Morning

    I used to work out late at night after my kids went to bed -- long, long ago.  I didn't see it working in the morning with babies and little ones.  But then I read a book (Bob Greene's first book that he co-wrote with Oprah on fitness) and one of his steps was to exercise in the morning.  He advocated cardio more than strength training at that time (this was in 1996 right after I had my 4th child).  He said that when you do cardio, it raises your metabolism at that point and you burn calories at that rate until you go to bed and rest.  So if you work out at night, your heart rate and metabolism rise, but then it only lasts at that rate for an hour or so until you go to bed.  If you work out in the morning, you get the benefits of that higher metabolism all day long.

    I'm not sure how true that is, but I adopted it at that point and put up a baby gate on my bedroom doorway so my little ones couldn't come in while I exercised.   When my last 3 children were babies, I'd feed them first thing in the morning, then would go work out.  As they got older, I'd wake up before they did.  It's become the most peaceful part of my days.

    I've found over the years that if I don't work out first thing, interruptions come.  Whether it's the phone ringing or too many things going on that day, it's SO much harder to fit my workout in later on.

    I just bought a Smart Phone last week (I'll even show you a picture of it!)  I've known that it doesn't help me to turn on any TV news or to check my e-mail before I exercise because my brain will be full of those thoughts and I'm likely to get distracted away from my workout.  Even when I start my workout with those things in my brain, I don't focus as well and want to go do something else.

    I'm realizing now that I can't turn on my cell phone either.  Texts are one thing.  But now I have access to the internet on my phone and it has taken me twice to 5x as long to get some of my workouts in this week because I leave and do something else (thankfully not on the cardio workouts, but I did break up my strength training works a few times too many).

    So my new goal?  No technology before my workout is done.  NONE!  This should have been obvious from the start, but it can be so tempting.  I guess I'm a little too much like Kip!

    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Cardio and Weight Rotation

    It isn't anything fancy, but I've just begun another video fitness rotation that I thought you might like to try.  It's a 6 week rotation with 4 days of cardio and 4 days of weights.  I know that sounds like I have 8 days in my week, but 2 of the days have cardio/weight circuits.  Here's how it looks:

    Monday -- Cardio/Weight Circuit
    Tuesday -- All Cardio
    Wednesday -- Total Body Weights
    Thursday -- All Cardio
    Friday -- Lower Body Weights
    Saturday -- Cardio/Weight Circuit (going light on the lower body)
    Sunday -- Rest (or light yoga)

    I also tend to add in some yoga at the end of my workouts, too (or at the end of the day).  My goal for this rotation is to have each workout be at least 45 minutes long, but they're really more like an hour or more.  I just wanted to give myself some room for lighter workouts, especially as I start out (since I didn't exercise much earlier in the month with my oldest daughter getting married and some traveling afterward).

    So far I've been using Cathe Friedrich's workouts.  I have almost all of them and seem to reach for them the most.  She has lots of pre-mixes on her dvds and on Monday I did a circuit pre-mix from Step, Pump, and Jump that was tougher than I realized it would be!  But I did it!  On Tuesday my room had too much laundry in it to be able to do a step workout, so I did her Cardio Core Circuit, which is a HiiT (or High intensity, interval Training) workout.  If you're familiar with Shaun T's Insanity, Cathe's HiiTs are similar and super tough.

    Yesterday I did a timesaver pre-mix from Muscle Max (the original is over 70 minutes long -- the timesaver is just 56 minutes).  (Scroll down a bit to my post on Cathe's Hardcore Series -- I went into a little more detail on Muscle Max).  It's a heavy weight workout and even though I prefer doing high rep / low weight, muscle endurance workouts, I feel like I need the heavy weight work right now.  I can get the endurance work on a circuit day.

    Today I did IMAX 2, which I think is my very favorite interval workout.  I'm not nearly as strong on the intervals right now as I usually am, but I'll get back if I keep working at it.

    Tomorrow, I'm thinking I'll do Legs & Glutes.  Or maybe I should do Bu##s and Guts (we don't say that B word in our house :)).  I've never actually done B&G and I need to try it out.  I tend to reach for my favorites and forget to try some others at times.  I also love Gym Style Legs, but I think I'll save that for another week.

    On Saturday, I'm not sure --  probably Cardio & Weights.   I'd like to do Terminator again, but I need to get a bit stronger before I can do that one again.  It's brutal!  I've been setting out 3 or 4 dvds each night this week to choose from the next morning.  Usually I can commit to a workout the night before or even at the beginning of the week.  But I seem to be a bit more wishy washy this week.  At least I'm working out!

    My eating is spot on, too.  I'm back to eating raw and can tell I'm detoxing a bit.  I'm requiring more sleep, which is unusual for me.  But I'm listening to my body and I am finally losing weight.  Yay for that!  

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    Sean is Gone

    I know, I know.  I haven't written in forever.  Not only that, but this is just a few posts after saying I had a New Year's resolution to write more often this year.  Oh well!  I think that was before my oldest daughter got engaged.  My brain has been wedding-bound ever since!

    I do have a few bits of news now just as an update.

    First, Sean O'Malley, died on March 25th.  His sister announced the sad news on his Facebook page that day and the warm words and tributes have been coming in ever since.  I never met him, but I love his Cardio Coach cds.  He's the only one who can get me to run on the treadmill and not hate it.  Thanks Sean. I also always love hearing him talk at the end when I'm stretching.  He motivates me to move and take care of myself.

    Second, ahhh, it doesn't seem fitting to add something after writing about Sean.  I'll give you a link to another bloggers tribute instead. Here's another.  And you can also read my first post about Sean's Cardio Coach workouts if you missed it long ago.  TTFN!

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Cathe's Hardcore Series

    Cathe came out with the Hardcore Series in 2005.  I think it was an answer to Tony Horton's P90X.  She developed her own workout system that had Gym Style workouts to really focus on the muscles divided over 3 days plus separate workouts for low impact step (Low Max), high impact interval step (IMAX3), kickboxing (Kick Max), core workouts (Core Max), a total body muscle workout (Muscle Max), stretch workouts (Stretch Max), and a high step circuit workout (High Step Challenge). 

    I remember being SO EXCITED for this series because it came after two other dvd sets that I just loved (the Intensity Series and the Body Blast Series).  I was in Hawaii with my grandma when they were shipped and had to read reviews on the Video Fitness Forum to see what they were like.  Slowly the reports came in about top notch workouts, as before, but the hitch was the music.  It just wasn't that good.  So if you're picky about music, this might not be the set for you, but if you like faint techno music or don't mind adding your own or dealing with the music not being a big part of the workouts, this series has some gems.  

    Today I did Muscle Max and it hits every muscle group with either the barbell, dumbbells or the stretch band (or all 3).  It's about 70 minutes long, but there are a few pre-mixes that are shorter.  There's a Timesaver that is 56 minutes long (probably just cuts out a few sets), Upper Body Only that's 42 minutes, Push/Pull Upper Body at 33 minutes and Lower Body Only that's 23 minutes.   This workout is light on the time spent with the lower body, but believe me, it's not light on the lower body work!  Cathe works you hard with low ends and pulses with heavy weights.  You'll feel it later on throughout the day.  I'm sure I'll feel it more tomorrow!    
    I'll review some of these workouts individually later on, but here's a sneak peak at Muscle Max.  My favorite of Cathe's background exercisers is Rhonda Davis and she's in this one.  She moved away from New Jersey to Georgia a few years before this was filmed (2001 actually), but flew back to be in a few of the workouts (I think this one and Low Max -- I'll have to check on that).  You can see her on the cover of Muscle Max in the periwinkle top on the left. In the workout, she's in the back on the right.  I just love how she always smiles and wears dangle earrings.  She's also taller than the other women and usually has an extra riser in step workouts (which this isn't, but I just thought I'd add that anyway :)).  TTFN!

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Running again!

    I did it!  I put on my new running shoes and ran on my treadmill for over 30 minutes, 35 to be precise!  I couldn't have done it without Sean O'Malley (my Cardio Coach).  I did most of Cardio Coach #3, and just loved it.  And yes! I figured out how to use iTunes yesterday (with a little help from my son).  I downloaded all of my Cardio Coach cds onto my iPod and I'm ready to be a runner again!  (Sorry for all the exclamation points, but I am excited!)

    I have to show you my new running shoes, too.  I have a high arch and my foot rolls to the outside a bit (so I wear down the outer side of my shoes first).  It ends up putting a lot of pressure on the outside of the balls of my feet, which hurts, plus it puts undue pressure on my knees.  I decided to buy a pair of good neutral (to slight underpronator) running shoes that could help my feet and found that Brooks looked the best.  But I didn't really want to spend $100.  With a little research, I found, which has current running shoes at full price, but also previous models at discount prices.

    So I found these Brooks Glycerin 8 (last year's model) running shoes (normally $130) for about $45 with free overnight shipping (and free return shipping -- Can you believe it?)  The price listed is $53.88, but I found an online coupon code for another 15% off.  And they fit perfectly so I don't even have to send them back and try another size.   They feel amazing!  The whole time I was running, I was excited to feel that my foot was landing perfectly balanced.  Happy Running!

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Is it too late for a New Year's Resolution?

    January's not quite over, so I'm going to add a resolution.  I know many people don't like New Year's Resolutions anymore, but it's just a goal by another name.  (Just like the people who say, "This isn't a 'diet,' it's an 'eating plan'" -- it's all the same if you're making a switch.  What you eat is your diet!)

    Anyway, I want to write more (and I know I've been saying that I haven't been writing enough in my blog for a few years now), but I'm feeling the need even moreso now, especially with my fitness videos.  I want to share more about my workouts because it's such a joy (and a health benefit) in my life and I want to help others find the gems I have if they are looking for workouts to do at home.  So many of my friends say that they can't work out at home, but the video fitness market is HUGE, so I'm sure there are still many out there who do. 

    I may plow through my favorite Cathe workouts first since that's what I'm doing right now, but don't hold me to it.  I may change my mind mid-stream.  I've been known to do that.

    I'm also seeing if I can renew my love for running.  I used to run 5-6 miles a day, but stopped when I moved to L.A. and didn't want to breathe the smog so intently.  I have a treadmill now though (and clean air if I want to venture outside) and I'm getting the nudge inside to start running again.  My favorite way to do it is with my Cardio Coach cds.  I need to download them onto my iPod.  That would be another good resolution for the year -- learning how to download from iTunes.  My son has only showed me 3 or 4 times and for some reason, it never makes sense.  And I'm not a computer dummy -- I've solved so many virus problems, changed hard-drives, reformatted the computer, etc.  The time has come to add "downloading songs to my iPod" to my list of computer achievements.  I will shout from the mountain tops when I can do it!