Biggest Loser Is Back!

22 Sep

The Biggest Loser is back on TV and this time is “A battle of the ages.” Three teams divided by the ages of the contestants. Interesting way to divide the contestants. So far, the youngest team won the first weigh-in but the middle-aged team put up quite the fight.

There are two new trainers this season – Anna Kournikova and Dovett Somethin-or-other. I miss Jillian but I think Anna and Dovett can make it work. Anna might be a little too sweet to motivate the extra-stubborn, but gosh is she cute. *Cue ratings.* Dovett is tough, more so than Bob, but they showed his calm, life-coach side too. Perhaps he’s channeling Jillian? That’s it. He a tall, built, handsome, black-man version of Jillian. *Cue more ratings.*

Have you watched the premiere of Biggest Loser? Who’s your favorite contestant so far? (I haven’t picked yet – they’re all too whiney still.) What do you think about the show sans Jillian? What about the new trainers? Do you guys even care about the show like I do?

Super Cute ‘How To’

19 Sep

This was ‘Freshly Pressed’ today and it just caught my eye. I had no idea it was about running, but it’s very true – and a handy ‘how to’ guide!


Click the picture to learn how to say good morning to fellow runners!

Caffeine & White Willow Bark

15 Sep

First of all – I can’t believe it’s been over a week since my last post. It feels like it’s been a day. I’ve been super busy at work, class three nights a week, gym, family, friends, cleaning/chores/errands (or at least attempting)…where does the time go?!

Anyway, I’ve started taking caffeine and white willow bark about 30-40 minutes before my workouts. I read about this in Jillian Michaels’ book “Making the Cut” – the concentrated caffeine increases your adrenaline (and is more effective/streamlined because it’s not diluted or mixed with processors or sugars like coffee), which increases your stamina, heart rate and ultimately your metabolism. The white willow bark is ‘nature’s aspirin’ and works together with the caffeine.

Personally, I don’t notice an increase in adrenaline – I feel the same before and during my workout as I do without taking anything, but I do feel like my ‘after burn’ is having more effects. It seems that having the increased metabolism during and after my workout (coupled with doing weights first and cardio last) help burn more fat/calories even after I’ve left the gym. I’ve noticed that my ‘problem areas’ that haunt me to no end are showing a little bit of improvements.

Basically, I haven’t experienced any negative side effects from taking caffeine and white willow bark (which could include headaches, heart palpitations, etc.) but think I may be seeing some benefits – granted, these aren’t magic pills (you still have to eat right and exercise) but they help make your body help you. The two supplements cost about $14 at my local NutriShop, so they didn’t break the bank either.

Have you tried any supplements? What works/doesn’t work for you?

Colbert Tackles Fitness Health

7 Sep

I’m stealing away from work to post this link to a hilarious clip from the Colbert Report I saw last night.


Colbert Report: Cheating Death – Placebocisers and Vaxamalgam

Portion Sizes: Then and Now

31 Aug

My best friend sent me a link and a quick sentence that said, “I wish food was still this small.” I was shocked when I read the article.

In the past 20 years, a bagel has doubled in standard size and more than doubled in calories.

A standard soda has tripled in size and nearly tripled in calories.

A regular blueberry muffin has quintupled ( QUINTUPLED – 5 times bigger than it used to be!!) in size and has 2.5 times as many calories.

When did giant food become acceptable? When did the masses¬† decide that their meal sizes just weren’t cuttin’ it anymore?

It’s crazy to see the portion sizes compared side-by-side. I just keep hearing a news anchor’s voice saying, “Studies show that ___ is among the fattest cities,” “Childhood obesity increased by XX% in the last year,” “Diabetes is on the rise.”

Well no frickin’ wonder. If you QUINTUPLE a serving size (and don’t have proportionate increases in physical activity), it only makes sense that people will quintuple in size as well.

Read the whole article here: Delish: Portion Sizes Then and Now

And when you’re done reading and finish your Andre-The-Giant-sized blueberry muffin, read this post, followed by this and this post.

Consider this your Public Service Announcement for the day. You’re welcome.

Simple Swap: EVOO & Balsamic Vinegar

30 Aug

I may have gone to Italy to study cinema (see pretty much any post from July 2011), but some of the biggest lessons I took away were about wine and olive oil. I was taught all about them both in perhaps the world’s most revered places for these products – Chianti.

Because of this, and lack of alternatives, I came home with a newly developed taste for olive oil and vinegar as my salad dressing.

Italians love simplicity in their meals which is why you will never see salad dressing over there (let alone a variety of dressing choices). And no, they don’t use “Italian” dressing with little red and white bits of who-knows-what that settle at the bottom of the bottle. Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That’s it.

The great part about adapting to the salad style of Italians is that 1. I save money on salad dressing because a little bit of oil goes a LONG way and 2. I’ve made a lifelong simple swap.

Extra virgin olive oil has 120 calories per every tablespoon (which is really all you need for a regular salad) and balsamic vinegar has about 5 calories for every teaspoon (so feel free to use a few teaspoons!).

Granted, olive oil has more calories than a serving size of American Italian dressing, but it has 100% less salt than “Italian” dressing and 100% less sugar (that means no salt and no sugar – at all!).

On top of that, Extra Virgin Olive Oil falls in the same category as avocados – the “good fats.” It’s also full of antioxidants and vitamins. But, it is still a fat and high-ish in calories so you do have to keep in mind that a little really does go a long way (you shouldn’t eat a whole avocado in one sitting and your lettuce shouldn’t be dripping with oil).

AANNNDD, by using oil and vinegar, you can customize your dressing’s taste. Maybe you’re an oil-only person, or vinegar only, or 2 parts oil 1 part vinegar – you adjust the taste to your liking!

One important thing to remember – use high-quality olive oil as your dressing/dip for bread. Don’t use the cheapest bottle at the supermarket – that’s for cooking (sauteing, using in your pasta water, etc.). It doesn’t taste very good as a dressing. Higher quality olive oil – from a local winery or specialty company – is less processed and leaves more of the natural flavor in the finished product.


Simple Swap: Skinny Girl Margaritas

29 Aug

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before but my bestie and I love us some margaritas. Unfortunately, the mix is generally loaded with sugar and the salt around the rim is not so great when trying to reduce weight/water retention.

Bethenny Frankel thought the same thing and created Skinnygirl Margaritas.

The bestie and I tried them last weekend during one of our nights in and they do a margarita justice! Only 100 calories per serving and it uses agave nectar instead of refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. They run about $15 for a 750 ml bottle. I should say that they are more on the strong/tart side – comparable to Margaritaville’s “Perfect Margarita” or their version of a 100 calorie margarita.

Visit Skinnygirl’s website here to see other skinny products and recipes.

Give it a try the next time you’re having a girls night in – your hips will thank you.

Plyometric Exercises Are Your Friend

28 Aug

I’ve been doing plyometric-based workouts for the past few days now and let me tell you, they’re amazing. You read about them in magazines, your trainer tells you all about them at the gym but you never listen. Well, you should.

Plyometrics are basically short bursts of energy using mainly your body weight – jumps, sprints, etc.

These simple moves help you burn so many calories (and fat!) in such short amounts of time – and the little to no added weight is perfect for toning and staying lean, rather than bulking up.

Below are the workouts I did the last two days (I did add weight in some moves, as well as incorporated non-plyometric moves) and some links to sites that have great information/suggestions for other plyometric moves.

WARNING: If you’re one of those people who goes to the gym in full hair and make-up, these are not for you. You will NOT look cute after doing these.


Day 1

Warm-up: Half mile on the treadmill (or anywhere else) at 5.0 mph (about 6 minutes)

Circuit 1:

Lateral box jumps with 10 lb weight, 20 reps (10 each side/leg). At the peak of each rep, do a front press with the weight and bring the weight back to your chest as you land.

Box jumps – 15 reps using a chair, curb, stepper height that’s comfortable for you (I used 4 stackers under the step at the gym).

Squat jumps with 10 lb weight – 15 reps

Rest and repeat circuit

Circuit 2:

Dips – 15 reps

Push-ups – 10 reps

Rest and repeat circuit

Ab Circuit: Do two circuits of your 3 favorite ab moves. I did V-ups, bicycle crunches and legs lifts.

Cardio: 5-minute warm up, 10 minutes of intervals, 5-minute cool down.

Sauna: 5-7 minutes just for good measure (you’re dripping sweat anyway, what’s a little more?)


Day 2

Warm-up: half mile jog

Circuit 1:

Lateral Box jumps with 10 lb weight – 20 reps but this time do an overhead press at the peak of each rep

Box jump with 10 lb weight – 10-15 reps at the same height as the day before (it’s harder with the weight…)

Skaters/Jump Lunges 12 reps (6 reps on each leg). Try with 8 lb dumbbells in each hand.

Rest and repeat circuit.

Circuit 2:

Dips – 15 reps

Inverted push-ups – 10 reps

Rest and repeat circuit

Circuit 3/Weights

Deadlifts – 15 reps with a comfortable weight (I used 50 lbs)

Static Squat with curl – go into squat position and hold, curl weights (8-10 lbs) 15 times. (Fun Fact: I have no idea if that’s what this is called or if it’s even a ‘legit’ move, but I did it and it burns.)

Rest and repeat circuit 2 more times.

Ab Circuit: two sets of 25 crunches on the stability ball holding a 10 lb disc.

Cardio: Easy run at 6.0 mph, 1.0 incline for one mile (about 10 minutes), 2 minute walking cool down.

Sauna: Same reason as the day before.

Here are some sites that you may want to check out:

Women’s Health – Plyometrics: Jump on it!

Self Magazine – Plyometrics workout: Burn more calories in less time

Body Building – Workout of the Week

Just So You Know I’m Not Completely Full of It…

25 Aug

I did go to the gym the other night after I posted about all the horrible things I did to myself over the weekend and the following is what I’m dubbing “The Repentance Workout.”

Warm-up: Half mile jog at 5.0 mph no incline (about 6 minutes)

Legs & Hips (where I gain all of my weight and therefore focus on):

Quad extensions – 3 sets of 12, 50 lbs

Deadlifts – 3 sets of 15, 50 lbs

Squats – 3 sets of 12, 85 lbs

Lunge & Bicep Curl – 1 set of 12 (each leg) with 12 lb weights (curl at top of each lunge – total of 24 reps)

Walking lunges – Once back and forth across the gym with 12 lb weights

Hip Abduction – 3 sets of 12, 60 lbs

Arms (by this time I was pretty tired and knew I still had to do cardio, so I kept it short):

Push-up – 1 set of 10

Cardio (told you arms were quick!):

Jog at 5.0 mph at no incline for 5 min – up speed to 8.0 for 45 sec, back down to 5.0 or 6.0. Alternate speed of intervals for 1.5 miles.

Walk at a pace of 4.0 at an incline of 7.0 for remaining half-mile. Decrease incline to zero and speed to 3.5 for 5 minute cool down.

Then do 10 wide incline push-ups using the hand rail of the treadmill and 10 close-grip (tricep) push-ups (because they’re easier than regular floor push-ups and you feel guilty about not doing more arms earlier).

Then go home, go to bed and sleep 45 min past your alarm the next morning because your body hates you for a whole new set of reasons.

Feeling Gross

23 Aug

I don’t have any health tips today. I just feel like writing. And I happen to be feeling gross. So I’m going to write about just that – feeling disgusting.

First of all, I’m not writing about how ‘fat’ I feel just to hear people tell me the contrary. That’s (one of) the most annoying things women do – fish for compliments. Ick. But ladies, there is not a single one of you that has never felt fat. Defining ‘fat’ is an entirely different conversation, one that will be left for someone – anyone – but me to weigh in on. So for the sake of this post, ‘fat’ means ‘bigger than my/your personal status quo.’ Fair enough? I suppose I could say I feel BTMPSQ but I’m not going to.

I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and indulged in not only margaritas but french fries galore.¬† I also sat a lot (it’s a long drive to and from Las Vegas and sitting by a pool is one of my favorite past times). And instead of hitting the gym hard last night to make up for my gluttonous behavior this weekend, I attended a wine mixer with a new(er) friend with the hopes of making even more new friends and potential professional contacts. But here’s where I really did a terrible thing…

After the mixer (that did NOT have heavy hors d’oeuvres like promised) I realized I hadn’t eaten since 12:45 that afternoon. A couple cubes of cheese and some extremely thin apple slices are not dinner (nor are they heavy hors d’oeuvres…). So when I got home, I mindlessly gnoshed on pita chips and hummus in front of the TV (terrible, terrible idea and a habit I’ve GOT to break) followed by not one but two large Trader Joe chocolate chip cookies. Two. TWO!

Why? Because I felt like it. Absolutely no other reason than that. When I finished the second (good Lord why was there even a first??) cookie, I promptly went to bed.

So many things are wrong with that. SO MANY. I went too long without eating, slowing down my metabolism. I then had nothing but salt and sugar for a late-night dinner and after that, I went to sleep – further slowing my metabolism.

I also just realized that my last few posts have been themed the exact opposite of what this blog had started out as. Healthy: Party of One? My giant ass.

My body hates me right now and I don’t blame it. I can feel and see it’s tantrum. “Oh yea, you want fries with that? Have some love handles too!”

I’ve made a good faith effort to get back on track today – low-fat yogurt for breakfast, raw almonds and dried cranberries for mid-morning and afternoon snack, and a mixed greens salad with oil and vinegar for lunch. Dinner will be a Lean Cuisine (yes, a lot of salt but portion and calorie controlled nonetheless…that, and I desperately need to go grocery shopping).

Tonight I will repent even further at the gym. Cardio! Weights! Plyometrics! Sauna! Blood! Sweat! Tears! No muscle will go un-worked! No sweat gland will be dry!

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry Body! Please forgive me! I will never(ish) treat you this way again.