Decisions, Decisions.

23 Oct

If you think about it, life is pretty simple. We either do something or we don’t do something. As the saying goes: “Making no choice is a choice” (William James, Psychologist). Why do we beat ourselves up over major and extremely minor life decisions (Should I drink the bottled water or the filtered tap water?).

Major decisions shouldn’t be impulsive, but they still boil down to do it or don’t do it (Take the job or don’t, move or stay, have children or be childless, should I have chemo for my cancer or try alternative therapies?) – Take a little time to gather facts, listen to your gut feeling, talk to your husband or wife to get their buy in, consider any other lives impacted, and just make a decision. But don’t waste time and drive yourself crazy with indecision. Just do it or don’t do it.

Regarding what kind of water to drink (bottled or filtered)…is it really worth any of your time to mull the decision over? Are you going to become dehydrated if you make the wrong decision? Will you be outcast by society? Will every police officer in the city come running to cuff you for the wrong decision? You have enough knowledge in your head from news reports, past experience and personal preference. Just order the bottled water or don’t order it. There’s always the filtered tap water.


Need to up your calorie burn?

16 Oct

It’s not done by longer cardio sessions. And you are already weight training (hopefully). You can apply this to both cardio and weight training: Make your exercise sessions harder.

What the heck do you mean, Kelly? Good question…let me tell you. Make your working session happen at a higher % of your VO2 max. Don’t know your VO2 max, or even what that is? It’s easy to be tested all over the country (locally, I recommend Baseline Fitness / – they can also test your body fat and resting metabolism, great numbers to know if you want to track your progress).

If you don’t know your VO2 max, then use your body’s cues to know how hard you are working. If you can carry on a long conversation with someone next to you, you are not working hard enough. On a scale of 1 – 10 (the perceived exertion scale), how do you feel? You will know if you are not working hard enough at a 5 or so. You are working hard at an 8 and above. Don’t use sweating as an indicator either – sweating is largely based on the number of sweat glands you have and has little to do with how hard you are working.

That’s easy to apply to cardio, right? So how do you apply it to weight training? Lift heavier, faster, superset, or mix some cardio in between sets. Doing 20 reps of a weight that’s too light does very little for you. Doing 8 reps of a weight that you couldn’t possible lift for a 9th rep will do you good and burn serious calories at the same time.

Why do I have to work harder when I work out? Most people want to get more out of their workout for a variety of reasons (better fitness, weight loss, to run a marathon, etc.) Working harder not only gives you the fitness edge, it creates an after-burn that can last many, many hours after exercise (14 hours is the latest amount I’ve seen based on a recent study). Do you want to work at an easy or moderate pace and burn only an hours worth of light jogging on a treadmill, or do you want to work hard for possibly less time and continue the burn for hours after your exercise session? Sounds like a no brainer to me. Play with some ways to increase how hard you work during your exercise sessions. Do cardio intervals and superset with heavy weights, etc.

If you need help with what to do with weights or cardio to increase the burn, I can help – check out my website for more info (

So, you think you want to do a mud race??? Part 2

11 Oct

I know, you’re thinking “What took you so long to post part 2?!?!” I’m thinking the same thing!

In the last post, we covered that mud races are for everyone, no matter what shape you are in…however, if you want to compete for a great time and complete all the obstacles or be the next Hobie Call, you would benefit from some kind of varied training (CrossFit, Bootcamp or hire a trainer) and learn to swim.

Building on those points:
3) Bring a change of clothes, a change of shoes, at least 1 towel and a trash bag or other bag you don’t care about to put your clothes in. You should wear clothing that you don’t care too much for because it will be brown, esp. if you wear white in the race. Some people dress in costumes – just be smart about what you wear. You don’t want something loose that will get hung up on an obstacle, something that might cause a freakish accident, shoes that are slippery and don’t allow for climbing walls with mud caked on them or something too hot (in one of the June races, a guy wore leather pants as part of his costume. That didn’t go over so well as he was near heat exhaustion from the pants and hot summer weather). My typical race outfit includes a dark sports bra and black shorts or pants (depending on the heat of the day). You will get wet, so check the weather and dress appropriately.

4) Regarding shoes – tennis shoes will get mud caked on them and feel 10 pounds heavier on each foot. Alternatives to this are water shoes or vibrams if you can run in them (break either of those in slowly to avoid injury). Every race has a shoe donation area near the finish line. I think that is a great thing – they clean the shoes and donate them to people in need. If you don’t plan to use the shoes for future mud races, I would highly encourage you to donate them. If you are going to use them in future races, they can be run through the washer – let air dry. Be sure to hose off the extra mud before putting them in the washer.

5) Race nutrition – everyone knows these races feature free beer upon completion. Beer has actually shown to be a good recovery tool, but don’t overindulge. I’d prefer a banana, some water, maybe a recovery bar if I need more nutrition. Pre-race nutrition should be light – I’ve seen people throwing up on the side of the race course who admitted that they had too much to eat before the race – don’t be that guy! I eat like a triathlete – if my start time is close to when I wake, I do some kind of energy bar or gel if I don’t have time to digest the energy bar. If I have a later start time, I eat a light breakfast (for me, that’s homemade muesli. You also need to hydrate. There’s water stops on the course – usually only 1 stop for a 5k distance. I’m always pretty well hydrated and I still drink quite a bit. I begin to taper my intake as race time approached – both to avoid a stomach full of liquid and to avoid having to pee at an inappropriate time.

I feel a part 3 coming on…stay tuned.

I swear I will continue the last post, but first, this post:

6 Oct
I posted this on Facebook, but wanted to share with a wider audience:
Steve Jobs and why I am scared: That procedure Steve Jobs describes in the Stanford commencement speech (insert the endoscope into the esophagus, through the stomach and into the pancreas to get pancreatic cells) – I had that procedure. It’s called an ERCP.
I was 19 or 20 when it was done. At the time, I had bouts of acute pancreatitis for unknown reasons. Don’t know if they were checking for cancer, but they were trying to find the reason that a person so young would suffer with a disease that usually strikes long-term alcoholics.
Several similar procedures would also render docs clueless. My mom and I rationalized with the Gastro-specialist that the cause may be my diet – high in refined carbs, low in fat and protein. That’s what the diet fat was those days. “You’ll lose weight by eating low-fat, hidden sugar cereal, a plain baked potato or spaghetti with only marinara sauce!” Gosh, I wish I had known then what I know now about food.
Anyway, this is when I first started learning to cook. It took years of learning to cook, learning what may cause pancreatitis symptoms and so on. It was when I discovered a lifestyle of clean eating or whole-food eating. But by then, my gall bladder had started failing. The pancreas and the gall bladder work hand-in-hand in digestion, but you can live without a gall bladder (you need the pancreas). Don’t know if that was caused by diet also, but one would think that if diet cause the pancreatic problems, it could have caused the gall bladder to fail. Let me tell you, a bowl of Kashi cereal or rice would set off the typical gall bladder attack pain…forget the fats that “they” say causes that pain. Shocking, I know. That stuff is supposed to be good for you, right?
Now, I’m not one for surgery. I don’t believe anyone should have surgery unless it’s a life or death situation or every other possible avenue of treatment has failed. Other avenues were failing for me and it was beginning to look like a life or death situation. During one attack in which I was pretty sure I was dying, I went by squad to the ER. My blood pressure was 190 over something like 120. My pulse was also very high (if you don’t know already, I’m the walking dead when it comes to heart rate – it’s so low, it created a panic situation in the hospital when I was in for a stay prior to the gall bladder surgery). Yet, they couldn’t diagnose the problem that night.
It wasn’t until the latter hospital stay, mentioned above, that the problem was detected. Hallelujah! Don’t you hate it when you know you have a medical problem and medicine can’t prove it!? During the 45 minute consult with the surgeon, he emphasized how serious my pancreatic problem was. It would eventually stop working and I would die. The pancreas is a little bastard of an organ. I opted for the surgery. I continue a very clean, whole foods diet, currently eating mostly under the Paleo model (animal protein, nuts, other good fats, few vegetables and fruits for carbs and no non-veggie carbs). Again, what “they” say about the inability to eat fat after the removal of a gall bladder has not been true in my case.
Am I saying that Steve Jobs had cancer from his diet? Absolutely not. Nor am I saying that I would have had pancreatic cancer if things had continued on with the acute pancreatitis attacks. More than likely, I would have died from chronic pancreatitis. Hearing Steve talk about the procedure reminded me of this serious medical issue that I had and all the steps I took to overcome that issue. I guess that, like Steve, I’m a fighter and I don’t accept that fate I’ve been handed. I hope that you all have learned at least one lesson, if not many from Steve Jobs – live and enjoy life to it’s fullest, don’t accept pain and suffering – overcome it, and grow from what you have learned. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones, as I am, thankful to have good health.

So, you think you want to do a mud race??? Part 1

30 Sep

Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Original Mud Run, and so on and so on and so on. These races are popular! If you haven’t done one, chances are that your friends will sign you up for one. They happen year-round. Michigan and Indiana in November? Bundle up and prepare to possibly race in the snow. Arizona or Texas in July? Hope they let you race naked (where will you pin your number??? Ouch!) I have 4 of these under my belt this year and I get a lot of questions about preparing for these races. Here’s a comprehensive guide:

1) “I need to get in better shape before I try one.” No, you don’t. MOST of the people doing these races are weekend warriors at best. You’ll have your serious athletes sprinkled in too (caution, they may take the race seriously). Any race offering free beer and firemen to hose you off post-race is meant to be a fun race. Hint, they usually let you by-pass obstacles too.

2) However, if you want to perform better in the race and do every obstacle, join a bootcamp or, better yet, a CrossFit class. Box jumps, rope climbs, speed intervals (running, rowing, etc.), pull-ups, push-ups, sled pulls, weighted vest runs, and hurdles are all moves that will help you in the races.  If you can’t get to a bootcamp or CrossFit gym, any general physical fitness will do. Most races post the course in advance, so you can get a good idea of the specific obstacles to train for.
By the way, being able to swim a short distance will help you by-pass a lot of people. There’s usually some kind of water crossing in which people wade or pull themselves on a rope. Swimming is far more efficient (and faster) in getting from shoreline A to shoreline B.

A GREAT idea and an observation

27 Sep

I have a client who told me about something she’s started with the local school system and I think it’s a GREAT idea. (Pause for suspense) A recess walking club! Students and parents get together during recess and go for a walk. Simple, but a great way to encourage children to exercise, esp. by having their parents or their peers’ parents setting a good example by walking with them. I’ve read that by the mid-teens, the habits kids have tend to be life-long habits. And think of the other benefits of socialization, relationship building with teachers and other parents, etc.

Now, to switch to another topic – I teach bootcamp classes in a corporate environment and I’ve observed that many of my corporate bootcamp clients have bad posture (i.e., shoulders slumped forward, hunched backs, inability to stand up straight). This is unique to the older clients in the class. It reminds me that sitting at a desk 40+ hours a week is terrible for posture. Hunching forward to type, non-ergonomic workspaces, sitting for long periods of time…it shortens hamstrings and hip flexors, makes shoulders and necks tight, causes lower back pain and so on. My goal with that class is to help everyone with posture, not just the people who need it. The younger ones who are newer to the workforce stand straight and tall now, so the mission is to keep them that way. If you have a desk job, make it your mission to help yourself. Be an ambassador for your office to help co-workers. Learn ways to open your shoulders, hamstrings and other tight spots. Remind each other to get up and move around every hour or so, to sit up straight, to form a walking group at lunch (rather than recess like the kids). Some minimal changes will make a desk job less painful in the long run.

Finally, Someone please hold me accountable to make sure I blog at least once a week!

Milk…it doesn’t do a body good???

17 Sep

Mik is in the news these days as one of the latest “bad” foods. Several of the restrictive diets don’t allow milk. So, is milk, or dairy for that matter, really bad for you? Let me educate you first. (read the long article here:

– Our dairy foods have been highly processed and contain milk by-products in addition to the various other substances that have been added in after processing.
– Homogenization changes the chemical make-up of milk molecules which creates a damaged form of fats and molecules. Oxidized fat and cholesterol have been linked to hardening of the arteries and increases in LDL (the bad cholesterol).
– Raw milk and grass-fed, non-homogenized, lightly pasteurized milk is your best bet for healthy milk (and cheese and yogurt).

So, the answer to “Is milk/dairy really bad for you?” is not so simple. I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but my personal belief is that dairy is one of the best sources of calcium we have in foods (I’m a huge supporter of getting the vitamins and minerals you need from whole, natural foods)…just buy the grass-fed non-homogenized and lightly pasteurized or raw milk and dairy from your local dairy farmer.