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June 2014

Tunes for Tuesday: Chicken Fat, by Robert Preston

image from

I'm sure by now you've seen the Apple ad that plays up the fitness tracking features of its iPhone (Androids do it too, BTW). It uses a jaunty little song that immediately gave me flashbacks to summer camp. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, we'd get bused off to day camp in the relative wilderness of northern Illinois, where I would throw away my "hay fever" pill in the camp trash can every morning. One of the camps I went to (it was either Banner or Decoma) used to have us do the "Chicken Fat" song every day, and lemme tell you, this chubby kid did not look forward to doing pushups in the hot, humid midday. 

The full song is 6 minutes long and if you'd like to experience the full "Chicken," here it is with the University of Evansville doing the exercises.

On hold but not off plan

Hold button red

I put a couple of fitness apps on hold for my upcoming trip to Savannah for FitBloggin'. While I'm still doing my meal logging part of the Pact app, I put the gym visits and fruit/veggie logging on hold until I get back because Pact doesn't count hotel gyms. It does count Fitbit steps over 10,000 but I don't want to risk losing a chunk of money because I only got 9,000 steps. As for the produce, it's notoriously hard to load up on veg while on the road but I'm going to do my darndest. I just don't want to stress about it. 

I also put the Chris Powell Bod-e app on hold until I get back because I'll be away from my kitchen and making meals won't be happening. Still on board with carb cycling, which I'll do when I can.

That said, I'm not going off the rails.

I'm still planning on getting in daily activity, when and where I can (#wycwyc) and making healthy choices when it comes to mealtime.

The only food I'm bringing with me is a box of protein bars so I won't find myself making a bad food choice if I get stuck. I used to bring a lot more food with me -- instant oatmeal, protein powder, canned sardines, high-fiber crackers -- but the goal is not to make food "crazy making" at home or away.

I know people who enter "vacation mode," relax the rules, enter the Kingdom of the French Fry, and then bitch about all the vacation weight they've gained.

That's never been my plan and I want to keep my perfect record of either not gaining weight or losing weight while away.

Yoga Saturday: Tara Stiles' YouTube channel

I had turned on my DVD player to pop in a yoga DVD but instead ended up perusing the video features on my Sony Blu-Ray player (different makers feature different channels). It's one of those "smart" players that has Internet access, so it has the usual, like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, but it also has a bunch of other channels, including fitness ones.

I found the Yoga for Everyone by Tara Stiles channel, which actually is a collection of videos from her YouTube channel -- so, yay! Free yoga for everyone!

There are loads of videos on her channel. I did a couple of them -- Yoga to De-Stress: 

... and Yoga for a Stiff Neck and Back (hello!):

This is also a great reminder that as long as you have a laptop or a tablet, you can exercise pretty much anywhere. It's mostly a great reminder for me, because this time next week, I'll be in Savannah, knee-deep in blogger pals at FitBloggin' -- and I'm bringing my yoga mat but probably not my laptop so next week's Yoga Saturday will not be in real time -- or it might, who knows?

Why I love carb cycling

Food cycleThis week's jury duty kinda threw a monkey wrench into my plans (turns out I'm a stress eater!) but I really am liking the concept of carb cycling.

What do I like most about it? Uh, the carbs.

But that's what makes eating this way doable. There's no "waah, waah, I want a muffin." I know that there are a couple of higher carb days during the week and I can get my carb on then, while enjoying things like avocados and lean proteins on the lower carb days. Plus, whether you have a low carb day or a high carb day, you get to start the day with a smoothie. And once a week I can eat whatever I feel like, within reason. 

So there's no feeling of deprivation; no reason to be "on" or "off" anything.

But those two long days of jury duty made it a little hard to stay perfectly on track, although being walking distance to the cool two-story Publix made lunch time less garbage filled. But since I was on a jury, and we had someone's liberty in our hands, I felt myself wanting to shove tiny bunny pretzels in my face at night. That''s the stress eating, since I couldn't exactly vent about the trial to anyone. (I'm a good citizen.)

Now that I'm off jury duty (and staring at yet another mountain of laundry), it was back to the gym and back to my eating routine. 

I'm also gearing up to head to Savannah, Georgia, for this year's FitBloggin' conference. I haven't missed one yet, and this year is the fifth annual fitness blogger conference/reunion/hugfest. While I'm not at my goal weight, I am around 5 pounds lighter (and 2 inches smaller in the waist) than last year, so I did make some progress. 

I always make some grand pronouncement to myself that next year I'll shock the world and show up to FitBloggin' in a golden glow of goal weight glory but, alas, it ain't happening this year either. But the halo is a bit narrower.

As for the carb cycling, I'm going to try my darndest to keep cycling while I'm out of town. Salads and other produce can be tough to come by, especially in the land of the deep-fried everything.

Is there a Publix nearby? :)



'A goal without a plan is just a wish'

Goal without a plan
I love that quote and I heard it again today at the gym while listening to an old SparkPeople podcast (please bring those back, SparkPeople!).

It was written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of the wonderful little book "The Little Prince," one of my childhood favorites.

While I've decided to "freestyle it" in regards to not paying anyone to follow a weight-loss program, I had been foundering a bit, in search of some sort of structure to my eating, because {insert inspiring quote here}. Without any set plan, my weight jumped up a couple of pounds and I wanted to nip that sucker in the bud.

So I went in search of something that met my needs:

  • Carbs? Check.
  • Smoothies? CHeck. (Smoothies are my jaaaaaammm!)
  • A choice of meals? Check.
  • Not excluding entire food groups? Check.
  • The option to hit a drive-thru for a meal if you absolutely have to? Check.
  • A really cool, motivating phone app so you can have all the plan's tools with you all the time? Check.

Bode screenshotI had written about Chris and Heidi Powell's Bod-e Challenge plan last year for Examiner and tried the shake mix, which was really good and had good ingredients (ie, no junk). (Chris and Heidi are the dynamic duo behind ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" show.) So I revisited the site and ordered more product. (Yes, it is a network marketing-based company and no, I'm not looking to get you all in my "stream" or whatever they call it. But if you are interested, have at it!) I simply ordered the products from the website -- no pressure and a pretty decent price for two bags of smoothie mix and some cleanse drink concentrate.

(That's a screenshot at right of the phone app, which is available for iPhone and Android.)

I started on Friday and I'm already down 2 pounds. I eat every three or four hours, I get phone notifications for meal times, I can switch up the meals and snacks on the fly, and it just feels very do-able. For the first few weeks, there are two high-carb days, four low-carb days (I'd call 'em lower carb) and one free day, which is called a guilt-free day. But really, all of these days feel guilt free (I'm REALLY not a fan of assigning guilt to eating). 

Later on, more high-carb days are added into the week but I'm cool with the way things are right now. If I get a craving for something like fruit or oatmeal, I know it's coming in a couple of days. And if I get a pizza craving, I know I can add it in (within reason of course) on my guilt-free day.

Sounds like a plan.

Yoga Saturday: BeFit Yoga 10-Minute Daily Yoga Fix, with Rainbeau Mars

Befit yoga"Eventually you'll be able to rest your head into your feet."

This made me laugh.

I know cynicism and yoga don't really go together but it just doesn't feel like that sentence will ever be true for me. I heard Rainbeau Mars say that in the Ra'Yoka PM Yoga practice of "BeFit Yoga 10-Minute Daily Yoga Fix" (Lionsgate, $16.99).

I did my best but seriously there's still about a foot and a half between my head and my feet.

There were other times when I would glance up to the TV in awe -- seriously, you can do that? Rainbeau Mars is very, very flexible, so there may be a little "yoga envy" going on.

Still and all, I like this DVD for the variety -- there are 5 separate 10-minute practices:


  • ra'yoKa AM Yoga: Morning series of fluid and focused yoga poses.
  • ra'yoKa PM Yoga: Martial arts-inspired yoga moves that reshape the butt, legs, abs and arms.
  • Tantalizing Tummy: Ab-focused yoga.
  • Bootylicious Buns & Lean Legs: Movements that slim and shape the legs, hips, thighs and butt while improving balance.
  • Yoga Lean & Relax: Gentle, detoxifying poses to open your hips, massage your organs, and lengthen muscles.


I did the PM Yoga and the Lean & Relax. I didn't expect the kicks and arm movements in the PM practice but I really liked it for working out the stressors of the day.

The Lean & Relax is mostly seated and gets very pretzel twisty, which is super tough for me, since I'm not very bendy. But Rainbeau reminds you that it's not a competition so I stretched as best I could, and as I'm learning, the more I stretch, the better the next stretch is.

Whose summer vacation is it anyway?

I keep having to remind myself that I'M not the one on summer break -- it's my kid.

Tough to do when you work from home -- OK, at least for me. Who doesn't want to spend the day in their jammies playing video games and binge watching Netflix?

So I gave myself a reality check a few days ago. He's the one on summer break, you're not.

Not on break from exercising, eating right or getting stuff done.

I'm taking him to the gym with me three times a week (that's one of the perks of having a Planet Fitness Black Card membership) and we're exploring new machines at the gym. Today it was the assisted pullup machine. I did three sets of 8 at about a zillion pounds of "help." But hey, at least I figured it out.

We're making room for occasional "field trips" -- today we're going to see "22 Jump Street" -- but I need to stay on point.

This summer is all about making progress.

Gettin' off the bike and onto speed intervals


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

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

("Speed" is relative.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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