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September 2011

Get Fit Friday: Fight fire with fire

There comes a time in a girl's life when she has "the talk" with mom:

Hotflashes Me: "So I get all flaming hot for like a minute, then it goes away." 

Mom (and aunt, they're identical twins): "Yep, that's a hot flash." 

Me: "And you get all sweaty?" 

Mom & aunt: "Just ignore them."

Yay, hot flashes. At least I'm not dying.

Seriously, before it hit me that these little episodes are part of "growing up" (heh, heh), I didn't know what was going on. My first response is to exercise like mad, just to prove that I'm not having a heart attack. And when I do that, and I discover that the exercise makes me feel better, I come to the depressing realization that it's most probably perimenopause. (I'm definitely not a medical professional, so don't try that at home.)

I am 49, after all, prime time for this nonsense to begin.

So what do I do about the flame-ups? Simple -- just stay hot and sweaty. That way I'll never know when I'm having a flash. And apparently, moderate exercise can alleviate hot flashes. I decided some months ago that there were no excuses for working out outdoors. Hot? Too bad, go for a walk. And now I actually enjoy the buckets of sweat and the heat.

Makes me feel like I'm stronger than the swampiness.

And now for some Health Buzz!

Motivation Monday: 5 fab fitness must-haves

Looking for an inexpensive little gift for yourself to keep your exercise streak going? Here are a few cheap thrills that I absolutely love:

Oldnavyshirt Old Navy T-shirts: I used to be all about the giant workout T-shirts that looked like a tent and covered me down to my hips. Not flattering at all. After countless episodes of What Not to Wear, it finally sunk into my head that a more fitted T-shirt will make you look thinner. So I've been working out in Old Navy T-shirts. Lighter, slimmer fitting and usually crazy cheap when they're on clearance. I've even downsized from XXL to XL. And no, they don't cover my butt -- deal with it, spectators.

Iwatchz iPod Nano watch band: My fifth-generation iPod video has always been a bit too bulky strapped to my arm, and since I've been using my BodyMedia FIT, there just isn't room on my arm for it. So I gathered up a bunch of Toys R Us gift cards (we have a Toys R Us credit card that awards us with those) and got myself one of the new itty bitty Nanos, which is oh-so-easier to workout with. After clipping it to my waistband for awhile I sprung for one of those watch bands that turns the Nano into a very cool watch. I bought one on Amazon for $17 in a zippy orange. It's a great way to wear your Nano while working out.

Hanes socks Hanes Comfort-Toe Seam socks: I have gigantic feet. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating. My sneakers are a women's size 12. So most ordinary socks don't fit me, especially if they're low cut. But I was recently set a trio of new socks from Hanes (I'm a BzzAgent) and these are super stretchy, comfortable and, best of all, inexpensive. The seam across the toes is just about invisible, so there's no rubbing while you run or walk.  

Rs914_11_buds_chops-bud_navylightblue_s4chdz-132_web Skullcandy Chops ear buds: I have a problem with ear buds. The ones that you jam in your ears get really uncomfortable, plus I tend to lose those little rubber tips on the earpieces, which makes the ear buds unusable. While on vacation last month, I lost one of the rubber tips (again), so I headed over to Target and discovered these over-the-ear ear buds that don't have any tips to lose. So since they don't jam into your ears, they're way more comfortable for long periods of time, and the ear hooks are super comfy and infinitely adjustable. Also, they're less than $20 and come in lots of colors.

Suckitupcupcakebondiband Bondi Bands: Often I'll grab a bandanna from my huge collection that I've had for probably 20 years (they never wear out), and workout "pirate style," but when I want to make a statement, I'll grab my "Suck it Up, Cupcake" Bondi Band instead. What are Bondi Bands? They're awesome wide headbands that wick up sweat like nobody's business. I have a nice little collection of colors and designs, but the "cupcake" one is my fave. I also love that Bondi Band is a small company

La, la, la, la, la -- can't hear you


This is the physical manifestation of my food diary after dinner.

  • Where's that bowl of cantaloupe?
  • Where's the Greek yogurt?
  • Where's the 50-calorie light lemonade?
  • The cheese stick?

I was reminded of my food diary omissions with today's e-mail newsletter from

The caloric tally at day's end can be pretty sobering. Think about it — some brands of ice cream and granola contain nearly 300 calories per 1/2 cup, which means a mere tablespoon clocks in at 40 calories. Even something as innocent as cottage cheese or fruit salad can do damage if you habitually pop spoonfuls into your mouth. In fact, for many people, these little "appetizers" are a major cause of diet failure or the dreaded plateau.

See all those foods I listed? Pretty healthful, huh? But they're not calorie free. I keep getting stuck on the scale and it's not breakfast, lunch, dinner or even my afternoon snack that's the problem. It's the evening that is causing the scale to stall.

So, new hobby!

I downloaded the Geneen Roth book When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair: 50 Ways to Feel Thin, Gorgeous, and Happy (When You Feel Anything But) to my Kindle, and my gameplan is to grab that Kindle in the evenings when the urge strikes to forage in the kitchen.

It's not that I'm hungry -- I'm not. And I can't knit -- something to do with being left-handed. So I'll read. You can't eat if your hands are full with a book, right?

And here's this week's Health Buzz

This week's video from Diets in Review features registered dietitian Mary Hartley, RD, who I met at Fitbloggin' in Baltimore. (I also met Brandi Koskie from Diets in Review there, too.)

Tunes for Tuesday: All Possibilities, by Badly Drawn Boy

I have a huge fondness for British pop. I'd venture to say that nearly half my iPod is Brit pop. Here's one of my favorites, All Possiblities, from Badly Drawn Boy, which I like to play in the middle of a treadmill workout.

I like to mouth the lyrics while I workout -- "All possibilities are landing at my feet. There's nothing I can see but possibilities."


Motivation Monday: Don't be a fraud

"This week I'd like you to be as honest with your food diary as you are with your blog."

Earlier in my weekly visit with the Weight Shrink, I had mentioned that my husband walked in the kitchen one night last week right at the moment I was shoving a spoonful of honey in my mouth.

"What are you doing, mainlining syrup?" he asked.

Deer_headlights"No!" I answered. (Because I wasn't, it was honey.)

Total deer-in-headlights moment.

I was waiting for the water to boil while I made a cup of peppermint tea, and it was organic wildflower honey that was going into my tea and it was so good, and ...

Flash-forward to today: "So did that honey go in your food diary?" my Weight Shrink asked.

No, it didn't, I replied. It was, uh, incidental.

I had also told her about the two big kudos Shrinking Sisters had gotten this past week. The first was inclusion on the list 100 Women Bloggers You Should Be Reading, from Olivia Hayes of Ignite Social Media. Then we got an Editor's Choice in the Health/Fitness category from CBS Miami for its Most Valuable Blogger list. I told her that I appreciated the fact that the first list pointed out our blog's honesty. Not sugar-coating the weight-loss process is important (and who needs that extra sugar?).

So we circle back to the first quote of this post: "This week I'd like you to be as honest with your food diary as you are with your blog."

Oh, you mean the two spoonfuls of cottage cheese and the handful of Rice Chex and the cheese stick that I didn't bother writing down today because they weren't an official meal and just happened to fall into my piehole?

(OK, inputting them into Lose It right now ...)

So while I'm all about not being a fraud or a liar or a hypocrite or inauthentic to you, I need to put that into practice for myself as well.

Just because you don't write it down doesn't mean it didn't get eaten.

Calories: Add them up or count them down?

I have a problem with open-ended things.

Say, for example, you want to stick to a 1,500-1,600 calorie diet. You write things down as the day goes along, adding up the calories as you go. You get to dinner, write it down, add it up and -- poof! -- you're 100 calories over.

Happens to me all the time.

So I wondered: Am I doing it wrong?

I mentioned this to my Diet Shrink this week and asked her if perhaps I should turn the calorie count upside down and count the calories down instead of up.

Lose_it She has been using Lose It, the phone app that lets you keep track of calories and exercise. She mentioned that it works the "top down" way -- you start with your allotted calories and count down as the day goes on, getting to zero.

And who am I go argue with her? She is very close to losing 100 pounds, so her plan is obviously working.

Since I got my nifty Android phone from HTC at the BlogHer conference, I downloaded the free app and have been able to track my calorie countdown.

I'm still writing everything down in my Fitbook as well, because it's become a kind of weight-loss security blanket, and I don't have to worry about a dead phone battery.

And in tribute to counting down my calories, I bring you ...


Magic from jrk on Vimeo.

And check out this far more useful video!

It's this week's HealthBuzz from

Motivation Monday: Guinea Pig Gail tries something new

The folks at my local Vitamin Shoppe call it the "Dr. Oz syndrome." Every time the TV doc discusses some new herb, supplement or food that can help with weight loss, people come streaming into the store asking for it.

Hey, I'm just as guilty as the rest of them, but I stay away from products that can overstimulate since I don't want to risk the jitters or increased blood pressure.

Safslim So when asked if anyone was interested in trying an all-natural supplement that targets belly fat, I raised my hand. Naturally Savvy is a website devoted to natural, organic and green living, so I felt like they wouldn't send me anything shady.

What did they send me? It's a product called SafSlim -- high-linoleic safflower oil, flavored and whipped into a smoothie-like consistency. You use it twice a day before a meal. Either you take it straight off the tablespoon or you can stir it into yogurt. It comes in two flavors -- berry and tangerine -- and is sweetened with xylitol. Each tablespoon is 60 calories. I just figure it into my daily calories.

So why high-linoleic safflower oil? In an Ohio State University study, 55 overweight, diabetic, post-menopausal women taking high-linoleic safflower oil lost up to 9.4 percent of belly fat in 16 weeks without modifying diet or exercise. They also had an average of a 20.3 percent increase in adiponectin, a hormone that helps with insulin sensitivity and metabolism. Daily use of high linoleic acid from safflower oil is supposed to activate and increase adiponectin, regulate fasting blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, reduce CRP, and increase HDL.

So, yeah, that dreaded belly fat. Something I didn't really have until I turned 40 (that's what happens, kiddies). I'm still very much a pear shape, but there's more belly than there used to be and that's the dangerous kind of fat -- a topic that Dr. Oz likes to illustrate by dragging out slabs of pickled omentum. That's the metabolically active fat that gathers around your belly region and hangs out around your internal organs.

I'm as skeptical as they come, but I thoroughly checked out SafSlim's website and there's plenty of information and studies that makes me feel good about giving it a go.

I've been using SafSlim for the past three days, and I swear my midsection feels and looks flatter.

I'll be checking in midway through and at the end of 12 weeks to let y'all know how it's going and how I'm using the SafSlim (it's great in a smoothie, by the way).

SafSlim is sold at most GNC and Vitamin Shoppe stores and is also available at the SafSlim website and on QVC.

Note: I received the bottles of SafSlim for free to use during the 12-week program.