Friday, April 17, 2015

Health, Fitness, and Diet

Eating healthy is a challenge for most of us.  If we lived in a bubble with no outside influences, it might be easier if we're willing to do it.  But we don't live in a bubble.  We're influenced by commercials, billboards, emails, spouses, kids, co-workers....  Every day we are assaulted by choices and unless our will is strong, it's super easy to stray from our healthy diets.  

It's almost daily that I hear someone at work talking about wanting to lose weight.  They talk about fad diets, new cookbooks for blood types etc, etc.  I rarely hear them talk about working out.  But, interestingly, they should probably be thinking more about that than healthy eating...

Recently, our workplace dietitian referred to this article about staying slim in old age.  There are studies that now say exercise is more important than diet as we get older.  Eating great every day is not enough.  This is bad news for a lot of people, especially those in my parents' generation who do not "work out" per se.  Their idea of exercise is gardening.  While that's a good way to be active, it's not an activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it in your target heart rate zone for a long period of time.  Nor does it increase bone density.  

For those who refuse to work out or who cannot commit to it, diets and fad diets are often attractive.  I see this all the time and they drive me crazy.  Drink lemon water every morning.  Drink five glasses of green tea every day.  Eat only protein.  Drink all your food.  

Then there are the "it" food finds.  The most recent is coconut oil.  I never jumped on that bandwagon and I'm amazed who has.  When our nutritionist talked about it, I was appalled - and so happy I never bought it.  And what she said is common sense: saturated fats are solid.  Coconut oil is solid just like lard, butter, and shortening.  Personally, I just think of all that stuff reforming in my body and sticking to my arteries.  Ew!  Coconut oil is the worst oil on the market today.  It's 90% saturated fat!!!  (Lard, for reference, is 43% saturated fat.)  The oils with the least amount of saturated fat are canola, safflower, flaxseed, sunflower.  Cook with those.  Put coconut on your hair, nails....use it externally.

Another gripe of mine is the milk/dairy haters.  Sure, a lot of people are lactose intolerant but milk and dairy products are good for you.  They are natural.  Soy, almond, coconut milk....look at the ingredient list for those.  They have to add tons of nutrients to make them healthy.

There are no short-cuts to weight loss.  Eating healthy, making the right's a constant thing.  A diet that is not sustainable will result in only temporary results.  You have to commit to a lifetime of eating right.  That doesn't mean you can't have a bad meal....but that bad meal should be a rarity.  No one perfect and we have to enjoy life.  But don't buy into miracle diets or products.  Make smart decisions.

For me, the answer to staying healthy is cooking my own meals.  I have to eat what I buy so that means I'm not tempted to eat out.  By cooking my own food, I know what's in it.  I usually have a bad meal a week and that's a conscious decision on my part.  By being too strict, you can ostracize yourself from fun social events and occasions.  When my co-workers all pick an unhealthy place for an event, I can't say no - at least not every time.  

Oh, and work out!  Wake up early, stay up late, walk around outside at lunch...  Find what works and make it a habit.  It's not all bad and you'll feel so much better!

My health rant is now ended.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Michelle Dozois: Peak 10 Cardio Strength - Fat Blaster (Review)

The companion to Michelle's new CIB is a new Cardio Strength (CS) - Fat Blaster.  I was super excited to try it out and, as usual, Michelle does not disappoint.

The disc comes with some premixes for shorter workouts and a movement review.  I highly recommend watching this review as Michelle takes you through some of the more complicated moves you'll see later on.  One thing about Michelle's Peak 10 video evolution - the moves have definitely gotten more complex to keep them varied. 

You'll need light and heavy weights for this workout and Michelle alternates their usage.  You begin with the lights, then heavy, light, heavy, light.  (Like all other CSs.)

There is no warm-up, just like in the other CSs.  But for the first circuit, you have no "peak;" this cardio sequence ends with the climb instead.

And so this follows the format of the other CS: basecamp, ascent with weights, cardio with no weights, peak.  I think, for me, the ascents here are harder than previous CSs because the moves are more complex and use more muscles.  The climbs seem a bit easier as they're a bit more dance-y.  You'll hear no complaints from me but some may not like the dance-y-ness as much.

Michelle also has some new peaks for this workout, which is nice.  Particularly challenging is a reverse tuck jump.  Instead of bringing the knees up and forward while jumping, you pull them back and up, trying to lean back and touch your feet as you jump.  I can't go fast but it's fun and challenging.  

There's a nice, good cool down and stretch at the end.  

Michelle's style is evolving and, I think, gets better and better. The added complexity of some of the moves makes them harder to remember but they're fun to do once you get the hang of them.  I can almost do the other CSs and CIBs from memory....but these Fat Blasters are going to be harder to remember.  That may be a good thing.  For a clip, go here.

Bottom Line: This is a great addition to the Peak 10 line and fans of Michelle's will be pleased.  It's an advanced workout - but also super fun!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week Four: Peak 10 Challenge #3

Easter at my parents' house meant a long weekend of bad eating.  It was a good time and I have no regrets....but now it's time to get back to the routine of working out and healthy eating.  

Monday: Pure Cardio + yoga

Mondays with PC are always fun.  After taking Sunday off from working out, I needed this cardio.  I always have to skip a bit of one section and usually that ends of being the last - hardest - one.  This time, I skipped part of the third section so I could do all of the harder last section....for a challenge.  Lunge jumps are in the last section, just so you know what I mean by "hard."  At yoga we did tons of leg work so I'm expecting to hurt tomorrow.  Ow!  It was fun and I love the classes that have focused work like that but I expect pain later on.

Tuesday: Amy's Sports Sculpt + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop + weights

Today was my lighter cardio day so I chose to do McLean's hip hop dance workout again, since I enjoyed it so much on Friday.  Then, I did something new: Amy's Sports Sculpt.  It's mostly low-impact though she does have some jogging in the mix.  It was good, definitely not great, but different.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center.  Ugh.  It was crowded and hot.  

Wednesday:  McLean's HIIT - Bodyweight Circuits + yoga

For the last few Peak 10 Challenges, I've subbed McLean's HIIT workout for some of the Anytime Anywhere workouts, which wear on me after a while.  It was nice - but tough - to do this HIIT again.  I skipped the burpees, doing jacks and high knees instead.  At yoga we did some more back poses, some of which I skipped.  Then the instructor did an ab series that almost killed me.  Fun!

Thursday:  Michelle's Total Body Cardio + Strength + walk

Winding down the week, I needed a weighted workout.  I love this workout from Michelle - but it's tough.  I'm happy to say that elbow planks up to straight planks and back down again - this is getting so much easier for me!  Yay, progress!  At lunch, I walked at the rec since I needed more steps.  

Friday: Body Fit 360 Vol. 2 - Dance Conditioning

My light day - yay!  It was so nice to take it down a notch today.  I even made most of the jumping moves in this workout low-impact.  The stretch, though not as good as the original 360, felt really good.  A nice morning!  

Saturday:  Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn + Scott's Lower Body Power

Whenever I start the original CIB, I think, wow, this is easy!  But it sneaks up on you and soon I was dying.  This CIB is better proportioned, I think, because the ascents are 80% low-impact……not that that makes this workout any easier.  I struggled but got through it.  I wanted just a little more when I was done with that, so I did 15 minutes of Scott's leg workout - lots of squats and plies.  My workout ended with a 10 minute stretch and some abs.  So, an hour and 25 minutes - not bad!

Sunday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength - Fat Blaster + Amy's All Around Energy

I was feeling a little off this morning and working out did not sound appealing.  However, once I got into Michelle's new Fat Blaster video, I felt better.  This one is tough because some of the moves are complex and not easily remembered.  But I like it!  Look for my review soon!  I then did 15 minutes of Amy's mostly low-impact workout.  Following that, a stretch.  So, one hour and 20 minutes of work!

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1288
Tuesday - 1264
Wednesday - 1482
Thursday - 1259
Friday - 1282
Saturday - 1353
Sunday - BAD

We had pizza on Sunday and I ate way, way too much.  Thankfully, I knew about it ahead of time and ate well the rest of the weekend.  I was afraid to weigh….though I took my measurements and they look good!  Some improvements.  

Friday, April 10, 2015


I recently finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  As my norm, I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie.

Once again, I'm amazed at how much I enjoyed non-fiction.  My review from Goodreads is below..

After hearing several people rave about this book, I decided to read it, though this type of nonfiction does not usually intrigue me. 

Right from the start, Louis' story kept me riveted; I never wanted to put down the book. For someone to survive what he went nothing short of miraculous. One can't help but reflect upon a person's will to survive and Louis' will was stronger than anything I've ever seen. 

This book should be required reading, especially for the younger generation that did not grow up hearing their grandfathers speak of the war. We cannot forget the sacrifice, the war, the devastation of so many.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Michelle Dozois: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster (Review)

It's always so exciting to get new workouts from Michelle Dozois.  If you haven't noticed already, I love her - her style, her enthusiasm, her smile, her fitness level, her workouts....  Everything!  She inspires me to stay in shape and try new things.  I was so happy to get her new Fat Blaster CIB in the mail and can't wait to tell you about it.

This workout follows the breakdown of every Peak 10 CIB: warm-up, basecamp, ascent, climb, peak (do these four five times - five circuits of each, repeated twice for 10 minutes each), cool down.  It runs about 60 minutes and for that time, you will be sweating like crazy!

Michelle's warm-up is good with squats, light running, and stretches.  

The basecamps are very short periods to catch you breath after the peaks.  You usually do a low-impact move here. 

The ascents are for about 2 minutes and are low and high impact cardio designed to let you recover just a bit before hitting another climb.  

And the climbs - about 2-3 minutes - are tough - non-stop high impact cardio.  Michelle has gotten more and more innovative with some of her moves.  Included in this DVD is a "movement review" where she walks you through some of the more complicated sequences of the workout.  I watched it a few times before doing this workout.  

Michelle has also come up with some new "peaks" for these workouts.  This is one high-impact crazy move designed to get your heart rate up as high as possible - and is only done for about 30 seconds.  My favorite new move is a side jump to a one legged jump.  It takes some balance but is new and different.  

I love the cool downs for all the Peak 10 videos.  Very nice!

Michelle has put together a really fun workout here.  It's one that will have little to no dread factor for me, and that's a big deal.  There's no stupid hard floorwork and for the few floor moves, there's a modifier shown.  There's also a more low-impact modification shown, too.  Michelle has designed this workout for anyone.  Her choreography has gotten a bit more complicated as these Peak 10 workouts evolve, but it's all in good fun and easily picked up after a few run-throughs.

For a clip of this workout, go here.

Bottom Line: If you want fun cardio - not bootcamp or military style - this is for you.  It takes coordination and a high fitness level but is fun and effective.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week Three: Peak 10 Challenge #3

Two weeks into this challenge, I'm feeling great.  If I could lose the last five pounds of my thyroid weight, I'd feel even better!  Ha!  At least that keeps me motivated!

Monday: Pure Cardio + yoga

My Monday morning ritual of Pure Cardio is tough.  This morning, my knees were a bit achy, as they were on Sunday. That's a bit troubling but not too alarming.  I've been asking a lot of them lately!  I got through my workout and then managed yoga at lunch.  The instructor had us doing interesting moves, including standing on our hands.  Keeping my head upside down isn't the most fun, but I guess it's beneficial if all the yogis do it.  

Tuesday:  Dozois' Tip Top Shape

I needed a break today.  Thankfully, Dozois' cardio and strength workout got me going without killing me.  Ha!  I like the weights in this workout and the alternating cardio is high impact but not crazy.  Only one workout today.

Wednesday:  Anytime Anywhere No Excuse Workout + yoga

When I woke up this morning, more tired than ever, I could not fathom getting through this AA workout.  Somehow - I have no idea how - I got through it.  It was as hard as always but I like that push-ups become easier the more I get into a Peak 10 Challenge.  I added on some of my own cardio to make this a 50-minute workout.  At yoga, the instructor did a lot of back exercises and I had to stop at back bends.  My lower back has been good for a week now and I did not want to aggravate it.  But it was a fun class!

Thursday:  Ilyse's Easy to Follow Dance Moves + Amy's Kickboxing Skills and Drills + weights

I was so happy to have a lighter day today.  I needed it.  Ilyse's dance workout is a lot of fun and mostly low-impact.  Amy's kickboxing is good and a bit more athletic than Ilyse's workout, so a good compliment.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center.  It was nice to get away from the computer for a bit.

Friday:  Peak 10 Cardio Strength + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop

We were off today for Good Friday.  That was good, considering I knew a workout on Sunday just would not happen.  So I did my CS today - the original CS.  It's always so much harder than expect.  I was sweating like crazy in no time and, despite the weight sections, my heart rate never slowed down.  To cool down, I did 15 minutes of McLean's dance workout.  It was a good change from Ilyse's dances, though I love her.  McLean had some different and fun moves.  A stretch completed my workout so I got in an hour and 20 minutes.  Not bad!

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn - Fat Blaster

Look for a review of this new workout from Michelle soon.  It's so much fun!  I did this one while we were away at my parents'.  It's always hard to fit in a workout but I made time today. 

Sunday: rest

Calorie Counts:

Monday - 1280
Tuesday -1322
Wednesday - 1296
Thursday - 1295
Friday - bad
Saturday - bad
Sunday - Easter - bad

With the holiday, my eating was not good this week.  I was pretty good during the week but being out of town screwed up the diet over the long weekend.  I'd lost 0.8 pounds when I weighed on Friday morning....but I probably gained that back and more over the weekend.  Oh, well.  Sometimes you just gotta live.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lonesome Dove

My father-in-law quoted Lonesome Dove at my wedding.  My husband required my viewing of the miniseries before our marriage.  To say that this novel is part of our family's cultural compass is an understatement.  

Even though my husband and his family are from Tennessee, they were clearly all meant to be Texans.  They understand the minds of Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call better than any Texans I know.  My husband is, in fact, very much like Call: hardworking independent people who want to be left alone to do what they want when they want.

I was happy when my book group chose to read this classic by Larry McMurtry (it was not my suggestion) and was very surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

My review on Goodreads:

I never thought I'd read a Western but I couldn't be happier that I did! McMurtry has a gift for bringing unique and odd characters to lovable life. His descriptions of life in Texas and on the Plains is incredibly tangible. You live and breathe every dust storm, river, and blizzard with the cowboys as they make their way north. 

Having seen the mini-series before having read the book, I knew my favorite character would be Gus. McMurtry gives him the best lines of the book, which I'll forever call Gus-isms. Call is endearingly hard and quiet. July, Newt, Lorie, Clara, Deets, Blue Duck - these are all unforgettable characters. 

I'm so glad I read this book. Every Texan - every American - should read it!