The Fit Life, LLC

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

So I went for a run...

I was angry, so I went for a run. And things got better.
I was confused, so I went for a run. And things got better.
I was exhausted, so I went for a run. And things got better.
I was lost, unsure, empty, afraid. Certain that whatever was left of my sanity had snapped, had come untethered and floated away, to a place so high and remote that I would never see it again, and that even if I did, I wouldn't recognize it.
So I went for a run. And things got better.
I felt like things could not possibly get worse, so I went for a run. And things got better.
(Another time, I felt like things could not get much better. I went for a run. Things got much better.)
After enough miles, over enough runs and enough years, I realized: No matter what, no matter when, or where, or why, I can find my shoes and go for a run and things will get better.
And that realization? Just knowing that?
It made things better.

Mark Remy, Runners World

I woke up feeling out of sorts today. I thought, "I need to go for a run."
My heart was sad about the loss of a friend/client yesterday.
My body was tired from a few fitful night's of sleep...and disturbing dreams.
And my brain was reeling with the things that always plague it...I need more business to keep this career going. I need to contribute more financially to my family. Maybe I should go back to a full-time desk job. Maybe I'm not working to my potential?

"I really need to go for a run," I thought.

I was up before daylight to work with clients. When I returned home I thought, "I'm not myself. I really need
a release. I need to run."

But it's raining...and if I don't run, I have a few hours to sit with a cup of coffee...relax.

"No. You need this. You don't have to run hard or far, but you need to run."

So I put my running clothes on. I looked at the couch and the cozy blanket that called my name.

"Just get to the trail," I told myself. "Put yourself in the woods. At least do that much."

So I did. I ran the half mile to the woods. And then I kept going.

As I ran I grieved the loss of my friend. I thought about how unfair it was that her life was so short. She was only a few years older than me.

I thought about my business, and what I could do to make it better.

I ran harder. I shed my layers so I could feel the cool morning air hitting my skin. No Garmin, no music--not even a water bottle. Just me in the woods. I smiled at the few others on the trail. Even though they were strangers, I knew they were kindred spirits.

After I had run a few miles, I started thinking about what an amazing woman my friend was. No matter what horrible things happened in her life, she was filled with positive energy. And, oh my gosh, was she a fighter. And because of a transplant a few years back, she was able to meet and spend time with all of her grandchildren. She was an awesome mom who loved her kids so much. She knew that her life might be cut short, but she didn't let that stop her from living.

Then as I continued to run, the tears stopped.  I thought about what a lucky person I am. I'm 43 years old, and I have no health problems. I'm out here running. Sure, I've had some injuries this year, but both times I was back on that trail within a month. Running the runs she will never get to do.

I have a loving husband who supports me so much. Because of him, I've been able to choose this career. I have the choice to keep trying to make it work (or not, if that's my choice). And I live in a beautiful house that's a half mile from this trail. This trail that makes living in a a state--where I don't feel like I quite belong--home.

As I made it to my favorite part of the trail by the stream, I stopped thinking so much. I noticed how beautiful it was outside--the colorful leaves, the sound of the water in the stream, the fog--even the mud puddles. I kept running, feeling my spirit lift--knowing this was my higher power. My medicine.

When I left the woods, I allowed myself to walk the half mile home. Spent. Purged. But refreshed.

I woke up this morning feeling not like myself, so I went for a run.

It didn't bring back my friend. It didn't solve my problems. But it made me look at the world in a new light--at least until the next run.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Updated: Mud, Sweat, Obstacles and Beer: A review of "Mud" Runs

Updated for the 2014 season! I will continue to update this blog as we continue to do the races. Updates are in red

Obstacle races full of mud (with a free beer at the finish) are all the rage these days. And I have to admit, the spouse and I are addicts. We love the muddy obstacle races. It takes the boredom out of plain ol' pavement runs and adds the extra elements of navigating hilly trails--and of course, there's the mud. Who doesn't like to get a little dirty?? (Okay, a lot of people...but we do)!

Below is a review of the mud/obstacle races we've done. I've included the venue for each one (knowing that the same race in a different venue could be an entirely different adventure). I invite you to add reviews of any other races you've done in the comments. I will continue to add reviews as I run more races.

My hope is that people considering a mud race (or a new mud race) will check out this blog to help make their decision. (If you disagree with my review, feel free to add your two cents.)

I will list the races in no particular order, other than the longer ones are at the end. At the end, I have posted what I consider to be good mud race etiquette and training tips. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Muddy Buddy (Chicago, IL and Richmond, VA)
(I haven't done a Muddy Buddy in several years, so it may have changed a bit. If you've done one recently, please feel free to comment.)
The Muddy Buddy was my first exposure to the mud race. It was love at first sight! I've done the event twice in Richmond and twice in Chicago. I've competed in both the women's wave and the coed wave. The Muddy Buddy combines mountain biking, trail running and obstacles. The courses tend to be about 7 miles long. One teammate starts on foot, the other on bike. Both go about a mile (until you come to the first obstacle). The bike person leaves the bike, does the obstacle, and then starts out on foot for the next mile. The runner does the obstacle, picks up the bike and rides the next mile. You continue in this fashion until you both arrive at the final mud pit. You "swim" through the pit together and finish the race as a team.

Pros: Both the Richmond and Chicago venues are great--plenty of hilly trails, mud and water. The obstacles are fun. While it helps if you and your partner have similar fitness levels, you don't have to be the same pace--and it still works out. Both places had camping. One was held at a park with a campground. The other they allowed camping in a big field.

Cons: Cons were few...Some of the trails are single track which is fun for running/riding; however, you end up with bottlenecks because some folks are walking up the hills while bikes are trying to get through.The course can get really congested. Second (and honestly, I'm not sure how they could do this any differently), they break the race off into different waves: female/female, male/male, and coed. And within those waves, they separate you by age. So if you go with a group of friends, you could all be running at different times.

Warrior Dash (Logan, OH/Carrollton, OH/Butler, OH)
You can count on the Warrior Dash for a fun, dependable mud race. The courses are all 5k ish. If you want to run it by yourself, the obstacles are doable without teammates. Warrior Dashes typically provide plenty of hills, trails and mud (although the course for the recent Grand Rapids, MI Warrior Dash was fairly flat and mostly pavement). They are well-organized with an after race band, food and beverage.

Pros:Warrior Dashes are a great intro to the world of mud races. They are fun, well-organized, reasonably priced, and you can do it on your own. The obstacles are not hard enough that you need a teammate.

Cons: This is a popular race--so there tends to be bottlenecks on the course. If you are a strong runner (especially on hills) get to the front of your wave, so you don't get trapped behind people walking on the first hill (and if you plan to walk the first hill, please don't shove to the front of the wave). The "shower-off" areas tend to be gross. For example, they will have a fire hose spraying you in a muddy field. Or cold hoses to wash yourself down with--in a muddy area. So it's hard to get even somewhat clean.If they had changing tents at the last one--we couldn't find them. So we had to do the sly change using towels, out by the car.Watch for poison ivy on the course. Twice after Warrior Dashes I have ended up with poison ivy on my tushy!

Warrior Dash 2014 (Millfield, OH)
You know how they say television shows "Jump the Shark"? Well, I think the Warrior Dash has "Jumped the Shark." I believe it has become more about making money, and less about having a quality event. I was already a bit soured on Red Frog events because I was so disappointed in their very much touted Iron Warrior last year (see review below). But, I've always enjoyed their shorter Warrior Dash, so the hubby and I thought we would give it another go.

About three days before the event, we found out it wasn't being timed this year. I'm not saying they didn't mention that during sign-up. They may have. But if they did, we missed it. We would not have signed up if we had known it wasn't timed. I'm all for people going to one of these races just to have fun; however, we go to these races to see where we place in our age group. That's what makes it fun for us.

Apparently, not being time had folks so unmotivated, they didn't even run out of the starting gate--they walked! So if you actually wanted to get a good run in, it was near impossible because of all the walkers. And since it wasn't timed, the walkers did not bother to start at the back of the starting gate. 

I believe they were trying to modernize packet pick-up with modern technology like I-Pads; however, it made a colossal mess of pick-up--with lines at a standstill for a good hour. We missed our wave time--not that it mattered since nobody had timing chips. 

Even their competitive wave wasn't timed. They just took the top 25 finishers of each sex and offered them a free entry into the Warrior World Championship race. (Of course, they did not offer them airfare or lodging). And if their World Championship is anything like the Iron Warrior, I want no part of it. 

So as not to leave this review on a totally bad note: The course was still well-done with nice obstacles. And they did offer free, high quality photos.

So, after four or five years of doing a Warrior Dash, we will say goodbye to this race. 

Pretty Muddy (Mad River Mountain, Zanesfield, OH)
The Pretty Muddy is a fairly new, women-only mud race. It's a nice thought for women who may be intimidated when thinking about a mud race. The terrain was tough--it was on a small ski hill. So you had plenty of hills. The event is not timed--the idea being that it's just for women to have fun and bond. The obstacles were, in my opinion, kind of lame. Like they dumbed down typical mud race obstacles because it was just women (i.e. running through a plastic tunnel filled with beach balls and bubbles, a small tarp slide that they kept spraying soap on so you would actually slide on it).

The Pretty Muddy is a nice idea. And for some ladies, it's probably a great race. It wasn't for me. I want to be timed so I can see my improvement each year and judge how well I did. And I want obstacles that really challenge me. It's not one I will repeat. On the plus side, they had nice little private changing rooms set up! That's a first for the mud races I've done.

Pros: Bonding with other women. Private changing rooms, decent wash-off area. Tough Terrain. Well-organized. No lines at the obstacles.

Cons: Obstacles not challenging enough. Not timed. You have to be careful running on the slopes. There are often large holes. You could easily sprain an ankle (or worse) if you're not careful. You can't compete against the men!

Mudathlon (Cincinnati)

The Mudathlon is comparable to the Warrior Dash--with the Cinci location being a little less hilly. You can easily do this one without a team--the obstacles are doable on their own. It's pricey for a 5k mud race, but well-organized with a nice setting for before and after the race. The wash-off area was a moving stream--which was kind of nice. You could actually get fairly clean. It's a good starter mud race if you just want to see what it's all about. This is also one many people do just for fun (meaning they just walk it with a bunch of friends).

Pros: Fun. Nice obstacles. Great slide! For us, it's not far from home. Good for beginners or to do with a group of friends.

Cons: Expensive for a 5k mud race. Congested. If you are going for time, there are so many people doing it "just for fun" that it's just about impossible to get a good time. In fact, people actually think you are odd for running it. I heard comments like, "Geez...she's actually running it." Or, "Why are they running?" For this reason, we skipped this one this season. We even tried to solve this by signing up for the very first wave; however, they then added earlier waves, so our plan went down the drain.

Mud Ninja (South Salem, OH) The Mud Ninja is only offered in the one location, one weekend a year. But it's my FAVORITE of the 5k length mud races. If you've done the other 5k races, and you want to kick it up a notch, sign up for the Mud Ninja. The terrain is very tough--as are the obstacles. It's good to have a team for this one. There are some walls that are tough to get over without teammates. However, if you are doing it solo, people will help you with the obstacles. The obstacles and terrain are on par with the longer races like Tough Mudder and Spartan, but with a 5k length.

Pros: Many. Tough obstacles. Tough terrain. Helpful people on the course. Very few bottlenecks on the course (this past year there was one obstacle they were having trouble with. Apparently, it was closed down shortly after we went through. There was one bottleneck up a steep climb, but people were letting those who paid for a timed wave I didn't have to wait). That's another nice offering with this race--you can pay for a timing chip if you want to be timed or do it without being timed--your choice. The Pretty Muddy might want to consider this option.

Cons: There's just the one--and it's only one weekend a year. But I believe it's only in its second year, so it could grow. You may not want to start with this as your first mud race. Start with a Warrior Dash or Mudathlon.

Mudstash 5k & Mudstash 10k (Perfect North Slopes, Lawrenceburg, IN)

 This is another mud race that just has the one location; however, they do offer it a few times over the summer. One awesome thing they offer that the others do not is a night time Mudstash. You navigate the course wearing a headlamp--which adds a nice challenge. Both the 5k and 10k are great races. You are on a ski slope much of the time (especially for the 10k) so it's definitely hilly. When you are not on the slopes, you are in a fabulous woodsy area...navigating streams, natural stone tunnels. Nice obstacles. My favorites are the slide and the Tarzan rope across a stream.

Pros: They offer a night race. Great terrain--very challenging. Good obstacles. The best wash-off area of all the races I've done. They even have a heated indoor shower trailer. We didn't even use them because they outside hose area was so nice. The water was actually a comfortable temperature. Since it's at a ski area, you can utilize the lodge (and even its snack bar) before and after the race. Instead of offering you the standard t-shirt and free beer, they include a Perfect North gift card with the entry fee (you can upgrade for a higher amount). You can use it to buy a t-shirt if you want (or a beer). Since we ski there, we save left-over money for ski season. They actually offer very reasonably priced photos! Good photos. The downloads are around $4. Oh, and they use the snow makers to shoot out water during the race, which is fabulous if the run is on a hot day.

Cons: The only con I can think of is that attendance seemed to be down this year, so I hope this one doesn't disappear. As long as it continues, we will repeat this one each year. This year we did both the night time race and the 10K daytime race.

Savage Race:
I was signed up for the Savage Race, but unfortunately, suffered a concussion a few days
before it. So I went as an observer, but wasn't able to run it. So, my husband (who did run it) provided the following review:

The Savage race is a 5+ mile obstacle race with 25 obstacles. Many of the obstacles are fairly simple that most people can do with little to no training. The Savage race does have a few difficult obstacles that are a bit different from other obstacle races, which makes this race unique and fun. The Savage race is a good mix of easy and not so easy obstacles, making it a good choice for all types of athletes. I ran this particular race in Ohio at Mad River Mountain ski slopes. This wasn't the best venue for this type of race. The elevation change was excellent, but the ski hills were covered with high grasses, thorny bushes and had many hidden large rocks and holes, making running quite treacherous. If you like getting shocked, you'll love the tazed obstacle. Tazed delivered the most powerful shocks I've received at an obstacle race. 

 Pros: Fun obstacles (with the exception of tazed - that was just annoying) 

 Cons: $10 spectator fee, rough terrain at Mad River Mountain, seriously charged live wires

Last year I didn't get to do this race because I got a bonk on the head a few days before and ended up with a concussion. This year, I sprained my ankle (I may be a tad accident prone) two weeks before, but I was able to run it! Great race. They changed the course up this year with a whole new section across from the ski hill. Quality, challenging race. Well organized. I will admit I skipped the Tazed obstacle (and I'm not one to skip obstacles). I just worry with the past concussion that I'll do something bad to my brain. And I remember my husband telling me that the wires at this race were far more powerful than those at the Tough Mudder--and I thought those were bad enough. So I get a few wimp points for skipping the wires. Maybe next year when the concussion is a far away memory. 

Cons: I will point out a few cons to the race. You really have to watch your footing. There are many ruts/holes on the course. Train hills! They run you straight up the ski slopes several times. And finally, their pictures are very expensive. I believe a single electronic file was around $25.

Tough Mudder (Maysville, KY): Now we're into the endurance races--where you not only face some
tough obstacles and terrain, but you put in the distance as well. We did the Tough Mudder in Kentucky in October. You just never know what weather you'll have in the Midwest in October. We had temps in the lower 40s. And one of the first obstacles you go through is the ice water (large bins filled with ice and water. You swim under a barrier and then come out the other side). So needless to say, this was a cold race. That being said, it was still awesome. For me (and others will disagree) the two hardest parts of this race were the cold (we were in and out of water obstacles all day), and the live wires. I HATE the live wires. I would do this challenge again in a heart beat if it weren't for the live wires. Others I've talked to tell me they are no big deal.

The Tough Mudder is not timed (unless you are in an elite group). The idea is using teamwork to complete the race. So why is it okay for this race and not the Pretty Muddy? Because just getting through this race is a pretty decent accomplishment--not so much with the Pretty Muddy. The obstacles are tough and require teamwork. You need to be comfortable in water over your head. You need to be able to run 10+ hilly miles on trails. 

The Tough Mudder was tough. I was bruised and worn out the next day, which is what makes it a successful event for me. Even though I swore I would never do this race again (because of the ice water and live wires), we're actually pondering the Mansfield, OH race next year. 

Pros: Great terrain. Great obstacles. Very challenging. Course marshals all over and ready to help. Bathrooms on the course.

Cons: The bag check area was not organized. So as we finished the race cold and tired, we then had to stand in line for over a half an hour waiting to get our bag so we could dry off and change. That was our biggest complaint of the race. Pricey. And they charge for spectators and to park. 

Spartan (Indiana)
The Spartan has several different variations of their race--the Spartan Sprint, the Spartan Super, and the Spartan Beast. We participated in the Spartan Sprint which was 5.7 miles long. The Super and the Beast are longer. You can read about all of their events on the website.   

Terrain and challenge-wise, the Spartan is comparable to the Tough Mudder. You could get by without teammates, but having a team helps. One area where they differ: If you fail an obstacle or choose not to do one, you must do Burpees! I like this because it levels the playing field a bit. I'm always a little sore when somebody who skips obstacles finishes in front of me. If you're claustrophobic or something and need to skip an obstacle, that's fine; however, you should have to do something while others are completing the obstacle. Of course, it's not a perfect system. People still managed to skirt obstacles and Burpees. 

Next year, the hubby and I plan to complete the Spartan Trifecta--the Sprint, Super and Beast! (I'm even considering taking the Spartan Coach training to fulfill my personal training CEU's for next year. 

Pros: Great course. BURPEES! Reasonable cost. Great pictures. Many venues (at least for the Sprint...the others are harder to find one near you).   

Cons: Well, some might say the Burpees. I'm not really coming up with any cons right now. It was out in the middle of nowhere--with no hotels to be found. So we did have to drive in that morning. But the Spartan is a great race. 

We participated in the Spartan Sprint outside of Indianapolis again this year. Just two of us on the team this time--and somehow we managed to get separated. But still a quality, challenging race. In fact, this year I had to do more Burpees than last year! We are doing the Spartan Trifecta this year (Sprint, Super and Beast), so I will update the blog when the Super and Beast are complete. 

The Iron Warrior (Grand Rapids, MI)
I saved this one for last for a reason. And no, it was NOT a case of saving the best for last. It's actually the opposite. This was, by far, the worst adventure race we have done. And the real bummer is that we signed up months in advance, and looked forward to this race all summer. We trained hard! Maybe they nailed it in the other locations, but this one was a big thumbs down!

The Iron Warrior is put on by Red Frog--the same company that puts on the Warrior Dash. In fact, they had a Warrior Dash running at the same time. If you look on their website, the obstacles look really cool. And a few of them were. Many others on the website were non-existent at the race. 

The Iron Warrior was billed as the ultimate adventure race. 15.6 miles of pavement, sand, trails and obstacles. I would guess about 14 miles of the race was on flat pavement. And obstacles were sparse. When you did finally hit an obstacle, they would put two or three in a it would be obstacle, obstacle, obstacle, then three to four miles of running. It was honestly more like a half marathon with an obstacle thrown in here and there. 

Here's my souvenir from the race: 
A lovely stress fracture, toe joint sprain and a neuroma from running most of the race on pavement in old shoes (everybody knows you wear your old shoes to mud races). Plus, we trained all hilly trails. I actually ran on the side of the road (in the grass) anywhere I could to get some relief. I kept seeing the woods and the river throughout the course and kept thinking, "Why? Why? Why aren't you taking us through there instead of on this road??"

Pros: Hmmmmm....pretty scenery. It was fun to stay in Grand Rapids for the night, and see the dunes the next day.

Cons: See above.

Iron Warrior - Grand Rapids, MI - A. Big. Thumbs. Down.

Mud Race Tips and Etiquette
  • Wear old shoes and clothes. (Of course, this tip came back to haunt me in that last race). But during most adventure races you will be sloshing through streams and mud. 
  • Bring a comfy change of clothes, a clean towel...and maybe a big beach towel to change behind if there are no changing rooms. 
  • I think it's great that people do these races just to have a good time with friends; however, if that's your goal, please do not walk three + people across the trail--blocking the path for those who are trying to get a good time. Both goals are fine--just be courteous to everyone.
  • On the same token, if you plan to do the race "just for fun" or if you're with a huge group of people of varying paces, do not line up at the very front of the corral. Let the people going for time get to the front. Many of the races start on a big hill--which many folks tend to walk. The ones who want to run get caught behind the crowd.
  • If you get to an obstacle and fear strikes--that's okay! You are awesome for trying to conquer your fears. However, please step aside until you build up your courage. Do not let a huge line form behind you while you deal with your inner demons. 
  • Even if you are doing the race for time, if you see someone who genuinely needs help (especially if they are hurt), help them.
  • If you need to skip some obstacles for whatever reason (i.e. claustrophobia, back issues, etc.) that's fine. But don't brag about your time or compare it to those who did every single obstacle. And if you happen to place, but you skipped half the obstacles, fess up--and give the place to the next person.
  • If you make a mess on the porta-potty seat, wipe it off!
  •  Training tip: train hills and trails. The majority of these races are exactly that--hills and trails. The more you train on this terrain, the better you'll get. 
  • Training tip: Work on your upper body strength. Monkey bars, walls, rope climbs...all utilize upper body strength. One thing I love about obstacle races is that they involve the whole body. Train more than just your run.
  •  If bruising upsets you, these races probably aren't for you. You are going to have bruises (battle scars) and a few scrapes and cuts. Wear them as a badge of courage.
  • If you are running as a team, discuss your strategy ahead of time. Are we all staying together no matter what? Are we agreeing if some of you poop out, the rest of us can go ahead? Are we trying for a good time or just having fun? This will save hard feelings during and after the race.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kicking It Up a Notch: A 5k PR

Goal: 5k Personal Record (Previous record: 8:25 minute miles, with a time of 26:10). Of course, I would love to hit my New Year's Resolution of an under 8-minute mile, 5k, but realistically, I'm just not quite there. 

Weight: Last check (a few days ago) 121 lbs.
Body Fat: I assume I'm still in that 18% range
Breakfast: Green smoothie with some oatmeal blended in, and of course, coffee

It's been awhile since I tested my 5k pace (especially at a nice morning race--when I feel most energetic). So Mark (the spouse) and I looked online to see what we could find for this morning. We found one in Fairborn, Ohio called The 5k for Turkey Day. Benefits from the race provide those in need with a Thanksgiving meal. So that seemed like a nice thing to put our $25 registration fee toward.

Plus, a small race is nice to test your pace--no bottlenecks to slow you down!

I was really ramped up to test my pace. So much so I was actually nervous at the start. Two things had me worried: the course had some hills; and I have a bit of a cold (sinus stuff). So I was afraid my breathing would be off. (It was a little, but not too bad).

The race went pretty well. According to my gps I averaged 8:16 minute miles--which is a PR for me. I believe it had my time as 24:24--which is certainly a PR--however, the course was about a tenth and a half short--so I don't think I can count that as an official 5k race time. But it will be fun to try to beat it!

So I'm getting there--slowly chipping away at my time to reach that under 8-minute mile goal. It's September--I still have over three months to reach my goal! (And cooler weather is my best running time).

Another nice surprise (and why it is nice to run the small races sometimes), I was first overall female. That's a first for me! I've been first in my division a few times, but never first overall!

So I will consider the morning a win!

8:16 minute miles are now the time to beat in the next one!

Next weekend is the Iron Warrior--the 15.6 mile adventure race we've been training for. I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kicking it Up a Notch: Does Your Body Have a Speed Limit?

Weight: Don't know. I hadn't planned a challenge for today, so I didn't weigh-in this morning. And I NEVER weigh myself in the evening.
Body Fat: 18.45% (That's in the athletic range for a 43-year-old woman--so I'm good with that. I just want to keep toning/building strength).
Breakfast: Smoothie with hemp protein, chia seeds, kale, bananas, unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter and raw cocoa powder.
Lunch: Left-over concoction of corn, zucchini, peppers and onions
Snack: Spicy dill pickles with vegan cheese (okay, then I did splurge on two real cheese squares. The spicy pickles got the better of me).
Dinner: Cooking right now--rice and beans.
Challenge: 1.5 miles in under 12 minutes (continuing my goal of running a 5k in sub 8-minute miles)

I didn't actually set out to do a challenge today. But we missed our sprint workout on Monday, and I was feeling the need to challenge myself this evening (which is rare. I normally feel the need to challenge myself in the morning--not the evening).

So I shot an email to the spouse to see if he would meet me at the track. The goal (after meeting the one mile challenge) was to do 1.5 miles in under 8-minute miles. In other words, a mile and a half in under 12 minutes.

Accomplished! 1.5 miles in 11:24--a 7:36 minute pace! (The proof: This is, by far, the fastest I have ever run a mile and a half. I could tell by the vomit that was creeping up my throat during the last lap. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of this time. But I can also tell you: this was all I had in me. No way could I have kept it up for another mile and a half.  But I still have some time to meet my New Year's Resolution.

All this focus on pace has brought a question to mind--and I would love to hear some input from my other runner friends. Does your body have a speed limit (and it seems obvious that it does at some point)? And, how do you know when you've reached it?

I've gone from running 12-minute miles to closing in on 8-minute miles. When I hit my 8-minute goal, do I keep pushing? How fast is fast enough? How fast can my body go if I really push it?

Do you feel you have a speed limit? Have you hit it yet? Do you want to hit it? Do you want to know how fast your body is capable of going?

Tomorrow's challenge is not quite so physical, but a challenge for me nonetheless--my first weekly yoga class. My goal is to get through the class and enjoy it!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I have quite an adventure coming up.

I will be traveling to Kerala, India with my mother (a yoga instructor) to participate in a 10-day yoga retreat. I'm pretty excited about the opportunity--both to see India, and to see if I can find my inner Yogi. And I'm really interested in the Ayurvedic nutrition classes. But I'm a little nervous too...because I don't do yoga.

I've tried yoga on several occasions. And in theory, I know it's good for me.  But I have trouble getting through the classes because I'm just not a calm person. If my body isn't going (and it often is), my mind is going. They are never both at rest (even in sleep I have wild dreams and bouts of insomnia).  So starting everyday with two hours of yoga and meditation is a little intimidating to me (even if it is right on the Arabian Sea).

BUT, I have about five months to prepare. So I've decided I better start taking some yoga classes so I know what I'm doing! Luckily, I work at a Rec. Center and have access to plenty of yoga classes. So next week, I will start taking a yoga class once a week.

Yoga is out of my comfort zone, so it will be good for me. It's always good to get out of your comfort zone now and then. Plus, it's great strength training. And I'm guessing it will provide me with material for a few blog posts.

So I will keep you posted as this journey into yoga continues. And, of course, I will blog about India.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Kicking It Up a Notch: The Timed Mile

Weight: 125.8 (eek...but not surprising because I ate restaurant food all weekend. I thought I made really smart choices. It just goes to show it's hard to control your food intake when you don't make the food yourself)
Body fat: Still waiting on those darn calipers to arrive
Goal: One mile run in less than 8 minutes. 5 full, unassisted pull-ups, 2 sets monkey bars
Breakfast and Lunch: A green smoothie (kale, cucumber, pear, apple, avocado, water). Doing a bit of detox from the restaurant-filled weekend.

Part of me was excited about tonight's workout challenge (I needed to prove I could do a mile at my 5k goal pace). But I was also feeling a bit like a Negative Nelly. ("It's weight is up...evenings are not my high energy time...I'm not going to be able to do this....then I'll be down on myself..."). Why do we beat ourselves up like this??

The run went well despite the fact that my friend, Tracy, and I were second-guessing ourselves right up to the start. As I entered the third lap, I new I had it. Here's the proof. I did a 7:28 minute mile! I'm very happy with this. It gives me new hope that I can meet my New Year's Resolution (sub 8-minute mile 5k).

Pull-ups and monkey bars: Check! I did five full, unassisted pull-ups (one up from my last try) and went through the monkey bar sets twice. (I was going for a third time, but had to stop):

Note to self: get some gloves for the Iron Warrior and monkey bar training sessions!

So, despite the little weight gain--good training day!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sign-up now!

Burpeethon 2013

Because Burpees make falling down and getting back up look cool!


I am so very pleased to announce the first annual (we hope) Burpeethon!

The idea of this event came through a Facebook discussion with two of my Rec. Center friends--Tracy Gearon and Kevin Crisler. There are tons of 5ks out there, but how many Burpeethons have you seen?

The 2013 Burpeethon will take place on October 5th at 10am outside the shuffleboard court at Kettering Recreation Center. The event will benefit Tina Mazzotta--a young lady who is facing a rare form of cervical cancer. Please take a minute to read a little about her here.

Some of you would probably like me to explain exactly what a Burpeethon is. First thing's first: what's a Burpee? If you type this question into you can see many demonstration. We are not requiring the push-up for our event, so here's a link to one video that provides a good example.

The Burpeethon will last exactly one half hour. Participants will see how many Burpees they can do in that time frame--resting as often as they need to. They will be responsible for keeping track of their Burpees. Since we are giving awards to the top three "Burpee-ers," volunteers will be circulating to make sure people are keeping it honest (and to prevent injuries if someone's form is way off).

Participants will seek sponsorships for their Burpees. Sponsors can just give a flat donation or sponsor per Burpee. All sponsorship money will go to Tina's No Worries Fund. You can download a sponsorship form here.

So what do you get out of all this? Well, you get a half an hour of some awesome exercise! You burn MAJOR calories. You will also get a cool t-shirt with the saying above (title). And, you will be helping a fantastic, young lady through a really difficult time. Oh, and we'll have some munchies afterward so you can re-fuel.

So, are you ready to sign-up? Here is a link to the registration form. You can fill it out and mail it in with a check. The address is on the registration form. Or, you can fill it out electronically, email it to, and then pay for your registration here. Just select "Burpeethon" in the drop-down menu. Pre-registration is $15. Registration the day of will be $20 (cash or check only). If you register prior to Sept. 20th, you are guaranteed a t-shirt (for later registrations it will be while supplies last).

Seriously...can you think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kicking It Up a Notch: The Half

Weight: 122
Body Fat: I ordered some calipers! I'll have this soon!
Breakfast: Pancakes made from rice flour, oats, flax meal, almond milk and blueberries
Goal: Complete a half marathon without humiliation.

If you'll recall from last week's blog, I was struggling through a horrible 10-mile run on the bike trail (paved) so that I would feel at least a little prepared for today's half marathon. Typically, I actually train for my half marathons. But this was kind of a last minute sign-up that I did just to force myself to build up my mileage for the Iron Warrior next month (the course is about 15.5 miles). Mileage in adventure races is a little different than running straight because you keep stopping to complete challenges. Plus the terrain is totally different (trails, stream beds, crazy hills, etc.). Still, I need to prepare myself mileage-wise.

So this morning was the half. After last week's dismal run, I was really dreading it. I was picturing a 3-hour half. In fact, I swore if I was over 2:45, I wouldn't even go over the mat, because I didn't want my time officially recorded anywhere.

I decided last week's strategy of forcing myself to run very slow did not work for me. I still walked the last two miles, and my quads were killing me. Plus, keeping that slow pace was filling me with some serious negativity that I hadn't felt running for awhile. So for today, I decided my strategy was to just run a pace that felt good--and when I crashed and burned--I crashed and burned. At least the first half would be pretty fast to make up for anything I had to walk.

It was rise and shine at 5am for this one. It was a 40-minute drive, and we had to pick up our race packet. As I mentally prepared, I just hoped that my week of very clean eating (cheese and wheat-free for a week now!) would help me out a lot.

The Race
Packets were picked up, and excess junk was dropped back off at the car. The only thing left to accomplish was getting through the porta-potty line in the three minutes we had left before race time.  Yeah, that didn't happen. They need at least twice the number of porta-potties at this race!!!! But it was chip timed--so who cares. When you gotta go, you gotta go! So Mark and I got to the start line about 7 minutes late. In fact, two minutes later, they picked up the timing mat--so many people did not get a start time.

I gave Mark my Garmin for this one. I didn't want the stress of keeping a certain pace. I just wanted to run the pace that felt good. It honestly felt kind of nice to be unencumbered by my big Garmin (those of you who know what a control freak I can be sometimes will realize that this was a big step for me).

Let me just say...I may ALWAYS start showing up late for chip-timed races! No crowds at the start that you have to break through--and you are passing people who are at a slower pace the whole way! It is a great ego boost! And then, when you see people heading back (before you hit the turn-around), in your head you think, "Yeah well....I started like seven minutes after you--you're not so hot!!!" (Hey, you can think petty things in your head. Nobody else can hear them)!

Onward...before this blog gets too long...

The only thing I had with me to track time today was my pedometer. And it does track "active minutes." So basically, I could tell how long I had been running by my active minutes. But it did not capture any walking minutes--like at water stops. So I could tell that for the first 8 miles I was keeping pretty steady 10-minute mile pace--which was fine by me. (Last weekend I was doing between a 12 and 13).

Around mile eight, fatigue was starting to kick in. But I still didn't walk. I was playing a little game in my head called, "The more you run, the quicker you'll be done with this sucker!" So other than a few small walk breaks (at one point I was going to load my Zombies Run! app. to keep me amused and motivated, but it wouldn't load).

I ended the half with a 2:18:06 time. Which, in all honesty, is only a few minutes off my personal best (that I trained for). So, not too shabby. I placed very average in my age group, but that's okay. Last week it took me longer than that to do ten miles.

So why did this week's run go soooooo much better than last week's? To me, it's a very simple answer--diet. I did last week's run after four days of restaurant food, more alcohol than usual, and birthday cake and ice cream (and then high school reunion cake). This week I ate very healthy and clean all week. I started each day with a Vitamix smoothie with tons of fruits and vegetables. I had no wheat and no dairy. I cut way back on wine (just had some on Friday after a very stressful vet appointment. Never try to shove two full-grown cats into a cat carrier by yourself. There will be blood loss--most likely yours).

I felt strong and energetic through most of the run today. It was rough toward the end, but I kept going.

So as much as I hate saying goodbye to cheese and wheat, I think it has to stay out of my life on a daily basis. I will allow it for special outings--and that will make it more enjoyable when I do have it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why I think Splenda (Sucralose) is Evil

Many, many people swear by Splenda. It is their magic sweetener that allows them to lose weight and still eat delicious, sweet treats. And I know many people--especially those following a low-carb diet--do not want to let it go.

So I would like to share my experiences with Splenda. Maybe it will change just one person's mind about using Splenda.

My first encounter with Splenda was several years ago--before Splenda was so popular. I was working at a women's gym in California. I was really poor. A sales rep. had dropped off a huge batch of free samples of sugar-free fruit tea. Since I could barely afford to feed myself, I appreciated anything free. So I was drinking two or three of these teas per day.

After about a week, I developed a red, itchy rash all over my body. I couldn't figure out what it was from (and I couldn't afford health insurance--so I didn't go to the doctor). When I started thinking about what new things had been introduced to my life in the last few weeks, I narrowed it down to the tea. I stopped drinking it immediately. Within about a week the itchy rash was gone.

After that, I avoided anything with Splenda in it.

Then a few years ago I was desperate to drop some weight. Exercise alone wasn't working. After taking a very critical look at my diet, I realized I had a carb problem! I decided to try the low-carb route. But I had an addiction I was having trouble kicking--Starbuck's Iced Mochas. And I was having them several times a week. Going cold turkey on my mochas was going to be tough. So I didn't.

Even though I knew I had issues with Splenda (and I knew that was the sweetener Starbuck's used), my craving for coffee and chocolate was incorrigible. And I had cut soooooo many other things out of my diet trying to be a low-carb and healthy. So I started getting their sugar-free iced mochas.

Guess what? No rash! I thought perhaps my sensitivity to Splenda was a thing of the past! Meanwhile, I was having some digestive issues. It happens to all of us now and then. I just chalked it up to a little stomach bug or maybe my body adjusting to the low-carb diet. But after about two weeks of having regular sugar-free iced mochas, my stomach was a mess. Everything I ate was going right through me. I was having stomach cramps constantly, and quite frankly, I was constantly gassy!

It finally hit me. Maybe it was the darn Splenda again! So I started "Googling" side effects of Splenda. Guess what I found? Numerous reports of people having intestinal issues, rashes, headaches and various other problems after consuming Splenda.

So you would think that this is where my story ends, right? Well, it should. But, Leos are stubborn. And my craving for those damn iced mochas still exists. For awhile, I was just allowing myself one regular (with sugar) mocha a week. But just a little while back, I was once again kind of desperate to shed a few pounds. So I was going to try the low-carb route again. Again, my craving for the iced mocha reared its ugly head. "Come on, J.J. If you have just one sugar-free, iced mocha you'll be fine. Just drink one to get rid of the craving."

Well..............................................................................I did. I know, I know. I'm suppose to be a nutritional/health role model. But we all have our weaknesses! But this time it didn't take a few weeks of Splenda build-up to start reacting. Within about two hours of drinking the mocha, the intestinal cramps started. But this time I had some more severe side effects. I felt a migraine coming on (I am a migraine sufferer, so I didn't attribute this to the mocha right away). And worse yet, I was at the house of one of my canine clients. The pup and I had just returned from a walk. Toward the end of the walk I started sweating profusely and my heart rate was up way too high. As I walked into their air conditioned house, I got very clammy and the room started to spin. I was so dizzy I had to sit down on their floor for a good twenty minutes before the horrible feeling started to subside.

At first I was really worried because I suffered a concussion a few months ago, and I was afraid my symptoms were coming back. But as I once again started to "Google" Splenda and its side effects, other people listed every single reaction I had had.

So, I think I have finally learned my lesson. (Plus, I just cut dairy out of my diet, so iced mochas are totally out now). I will just make my own iced mocha at home--with almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, and perhaps a little honey for sweetness.

I've taken so many steps to become a healthy person, I'm not going to let Splenda get the better of me. It is definitely not worth the health risk. I truly believe you are better off just splurging on real sugar occasionally, or sticking with all natural alternatives like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar (much lower glycemic index than cane sugar), date sugar or if you must, Stevia (which I've grown in my garden). You can actually order Stevia as the actual plant ground up to a powder (you'll know because it's kind of green instead of white like sugar).

Stay away from the artificial sweeteners. By using them, you are not doing your health any favors! (Don't take as long as I did to learn this lesson)!

Well..I'm a Pescavegalactotarian...

It seems like more and more often, I have conversations that go something like this:

Them: So, you're a vegetarian?
Me: Well no...mostly. We eat fish.
Them: But you and your husband don't eat dairy?
Me: That's correct. Well, I just gave up cheese. I decided I could have a little dairy on special occasions.
Them: So, you are not vegan...why don't you drink milk?
Me: Well no, we eat fish and eggs. But we drink almond milk, and I use coconut milk in my coffee. I just think dairy is really bad for us. Milk is good for baby calves--not humans--especially since we can't purchase raw milk here.
Them: Why don't you eat wheat? Do you have Celiac disease?
Me: I don't, but I think I'm wheat sensitive. I just feel--and look---better when I don't eat wheat. And even though I'm very active, carbs seem to cause weight gain. Of course, now and then--on special occasions I falter. I had cake and ice cream on my birthday.
Them: So what are you then?
Me: I don't know....human?

I wholeheartedly believe in healthy, clean eating. I do my best to eat the healthiest foods I can. But I sometimes I stress myself over labels. Am I a bad person or a bad role model because I can't commit to being a full-fledged vegan? Of course, some vegans I know have terrible diets--ingesting all the processed fake meats and pre-prepared vegan entrees. If I were going to go vegan all the way, it would have to be straight fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

And then there are those who believe (and I'm related to many of them) that a vegan diet can't possibly be healthy. "You need meat for protein!" "Milk! It does the body good!"

 Do I have to have a dietary label? Is it really necessary? Must I be vegetarian? Vegan? Paleo?

I try to eat healthy, whole (unprocessed) foods 98% of the time. But I'm not perfect. And I get cravings--and sometimes I eat things I regret afterward. Sometimes when I falter, it's worth feeling cruddy for a few hours.

At the grocery, we shop the perimeters and buy organic whenever possible. I haven't eaten beef in years. And I've never been a fan of pork (and I really don't think we should eat pigs. They are far too intelligent), but a few times (usually after a few drinks--also not healthy) I've snarfed down a piece of pepperoni pizza (whoops).  Did I feel bad? Yes. I felt incredibly guilty. Was it delicious? Yes. Was it worth it? I don't know.

In a way, I understand the label. If you are vegan, you are making a statement--you believe it is morally wrong to eat any animal product. You have a passion for animals. And I get that. In fact, I'm often jealous of it. I believe that someday, I will probably be a full-fledged vegan. But I'm just not there yet. The eggs I eat are from a small, local farm--where the chickens live a pretty nice life.   And fish...I just don't feel as much guilt or compassion for fish. Maybe I should. Who's to say their life is less valuable than a pig or cow's? We do stick to wild caught fish because they are better for you--and they are not farmed strictly for human consumption.

I have a friend who eats low-fat, raw vegan. And she passionately follows this diet. I am often in awe of her passion for it--and I start to think, "Why can't I be like that?" But you know what? I do pretty well. And I enjoy a warm meal. So I don't think that lifestyle is for me. But it does encourage me to add more raw fruits and vegetables to my diet.

Picking and choosing what foods we want to nourish our bodies with is a continuously evolving process. A process that is complicated by all the contradictory information we receive (i.e. eggs are good for you...eggs are bad for you).

Mark and I have settled into a pretty pure way of eating, that we feel nourishes our bodies and prepares us for the activities we enjoy (running, biking, hiking, adventure races, etc.). But we do not happen to fall within any of the dietary labels (as far as I know). We pick and choose what makes us feel good about our bodies and minds.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Kicking It Into Gear: Day One

If you follow my Fit Life facebook page, you know that yesterday (my birthday) I made some declarations. I have a tough adventure race coming up (The Iron Warrior). And I have a New Year's Resolution I haven't accomplished yet (a sub 8-minute mile 5k). So I decided as I enter this new year of life, I need to kick it into gear a little harder,reduce the body fat to the "athlete" range, and refine my diet a little more (cut the dairy and wheat, cut back on the coffee and wine). And since I've been such a bad blogger, I thought I'd blog about it (not daily, but periodically)

It's not so much a matter of being intimidated by the Iron Warrior. We've already done the Tough Mudder, Spartan, Mud Ninja and numerous other obstacle races. It's more that I want to do really well. I'd like to place in my age group. So I need to be able to keep a decent run pace, and have excellent upper body strength. And as for my running pace goal, I think it comes down to losing some more body fat. I think I'm as fast as I can be at this weight.

Day One
Weight: 124.2
Body Fat: I don't know. I will have to order or borrow some Calipurs
Goal: 10 miles, 50 push-ups (stopping every mile of my run and doing 5 push-ups)

Breakfast: Smoothie (made in my new Vitamix!!!) with mango, banana, chia seeds, flax seeds,t hemp protein and some unsweetened almond milk.
Snack: When we came home from our run we put some frozen mango and a little unsweetened almond milk in the Vitamix for mango ice cream. It was delicious. We've decided this will be our "ice cream" from now on.

Today reminded me of why I quit doing distance on pavement. I hate it. It's boring, and it makes my body hurt. (It doesn't help that 10 miles was a huge jump in mileage for me). I like to run trails. They occupy my mind and are easier on my body. Other than a 5k race on the pavement, I run pretty much exclusively on trails or doing sprint workouts on a track. So the pavement for 10 miles was painful. The only reason I chose to do pavement was because I have a half marathon next weekend on the pavement. (And the only reason I signed up for that was to force myself to build distance before the Iron Warrior with is 15+ miles). So I need to get myself through some long runs.

I purposely made myself run at a very slow pace (4 -5 minutes slower than my 5k pace), because I haven't been doing distance. But the slow run (along with my boredom) brought on a lot of negative thought while I was running. I had to keep pushing it out of my head.

It has also been a week of indulgences--far too much sugar, wheat, dairy and alcohol. And I feel that when I run. It makes my body feel slow and tired. So I'm hoping by the simple fact that I'll run next week's half after a week of very clean eating it will go far more smoothly. Another bonus to a toxic run like this, is that it makes me look forward to changing my diet/life around a bit. My body craves something better.

The five push-ups every mile were a breeze. I probably should have pushed that up to 8 or 10. I actually looked forward to the push-ups so I could quit running for a few seconds. 

So goal accomplished, but it was not pretty. But the first day of a new practice is always a little tough.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why I stopped using lotion

I have never been a fan of perfume. I find it over-bearing. But I have always loved lotions. They leave you smelling nice--and at least temporarily--make your skin feel soft. So why did I stop using them?

A few years ago I started having some hormone issues (as women in their 40's tend to have). One of the bio-identical hormone specialists I went to gave me a progesterone cream to use. It's not like I had never used a topical medication before. Believe me, I have had some wicked encounters with poison ivy and other allergies. But for some reason, I just thought of them as topical--treating the surface of my skin--not soaking into the skin. With the hormone cream it really hit me--this cream soaks through my skin and into my blood stream (so that the change in hormone levels shows up in blood work). In fact, warnings on the medication caution you to be careful not to get it on towels, furniture, kids, spouses and pets because they don't need progesterone.

If a hormone is soaking through your skin and into your blood stream, what else is? My guess would be all the bizarre chemicals in the lotions I've been piling on my skin every day.

Here's the list of ingredients in a bottle of lotion I found left in the house:

Look at all the ingredients! I realize it's a bit blurred, so I typed in the first several ingredient below. You get the idea. I don't know what these things are--and I don't want them soaking into my skin--and therefore my body.

water, cyclopentasiloxane, butylene glycol, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, stearic acid, isocetyl stearate, trimethylsiloxysilicate/dimethiconol crosspolymer, dimethicone, isopropyl palmitate, fragrance, glyceryl stearate SE... 

So you ask, "Do you just walk around with itchy, flaky, ugly dry skin all the time?"

I do not. But when it comes to skin care I have turned to Mother Nature for help. First, for prevention, I do dry skin brushing.

And as a moisturizing I use these:

The ingredients:

Coconut oil--coconut.
Grapeseed oil: grapeseed oil and vitamin E

If I want to treat myself to a little aromatherapy, I add a few drops of essential oil.

I have no fear of any of these ingredients soaking into my skin.

I even use the coconut oil on my face. My skin has never looked better, and it never causes a breakout. Plus, I've read that coconut oil has a natural SPF of 7. This is an extra value add for me because I am allergic to every sunscreen I have tried (plus, I worry about the chemicals in them too).

Our skin is the largest organ in our body. It constantly takes in and expels (sweat) toxins.

Shouldn't we worry about the toxins we put on our bodies just as much as the ones we put in our bodies?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kombucha At Last!

Finally, after a lot of patience--and one do-over--my Kombucha is ready! I will actually leave it at room temperature for a few days to increase fermentation before I refrigerate it. For a great energy drink, I added a few teaspoons of chia seeds to half the jars. Chia seeds are a natural energy booster.

Brewing Kombucha has been a learning experience. My first batch molded because I didn't keep it warm enough. The current batch has been sitting on a heating pad always set on low. It worked like a charm!

And, if anyone is interested, I have some very healthy SCOBY (the live culture used to grow Kombucha) if anyone (local) would like a piece to start their own Kombucha.

This batch was made from jasmine tea with organic sugar (the SCOBY feeds on the sugar). And now I am starting a new batch using coconut water (my thought is that natural fruit sugar will be healthier--even though the SCOBY consumes most of the sugar if you let it ferment long enough). This batch fermented for about a month before I was happy with the taste.

After coconut water, I believe I will try a natural fruit juice--or maybe a mix of fruit juice and tea.

Kombucha has many health benefits: cancer prevention, body detoxification, joint health and strengthening the immune system to name a few.

Read this blog to learn more.

The Kombucha drink pictured in the blog is one I use to buy frequently from Eathfare. And while I love it, it runs over $3 a bottle. Now I can make my own for practically nothing. It just takes some patience!

Monday, March 4, 2013

10 “Weird” Things I Do for My Health

10 “Weird” Things I Do for My Health
(Well, many friends and family think they are weird. To me, they are just no-brainers)

1.       Dry Skin Brushing. Before I shower, I brush my skin with a natural bristled brush. It has many benefits to your health. To read about the benefits of dry skin brushing, you can read a previous blog I wrote:

2.       Oil Pulling. This is a new one I just started. You place about a teaspoon of organic, unrefined coconut oil in your mouth, and for five to twenty minutes you pull the oil through your teeth. Again, tremendous benefits to your health. Read more here:

3.       I take Bio-Identical Hormones. I’m amazed at how many people (including doctors) don’t know about Bio-Identical Hormones. I encourage everyone (male and female) to read about them. They can change your life. I take Progesterone and Testosterone because my levels are very low. The low levels cause fatigue, fuzzy headedness, headaches, insomnia and lack a libido to name just a few symptoms. I’m not menopausal yet, so my Estrogen levels are fine. But as I enter menopause, I will also use Bio-Identical Estrogen. The Progesterone is a naturally compounded oral medication. The Testosterone is a small pellet that’s inserted under the skin every few months (it varies depending on the person). The only downside, it that you can’t exercise for three days after the insertion. So I try to always schedule my appointments on Friday (so I can teach my classes). Here’s an explanation from the doctor I use:

4.        I use all natural deodorant. There are two big reasons I do this: First, I believe the aluminum in commercial antiperspirants are dangerous, and are absorbed into the skin. Second, sweating is one of the ways our body gets rid of toxins. It’s not natural to block one of the major sweat zones. I want to sweat out those toxins!

5.       The only thing I use on my skin is organic coconut oil (the same coconut oil I cook with and do the oiling pulling with). It goes back to the toxins in #4. Our skin is our biggest organ. It takes in toxins and it gets rid of toxins. I don’t want to absorb a bunch of chemicals into my skin (body) any more than I want to eat chemicals.

6.       I’m trying very hard to cut dairy out of my diet. Despite years of the United Dairy Council telling us “it does a body good,” I do not believe the human body is meant to digest cows’ milk. We are meant to drink our mother’s breast milk for the first year or so of life, after that milk is not a necessary part of our diet. I use unsweetened almond milk for recipes that call for milk, and I’ve switched to a coconut milk creamer. I haven’t managed to cut cheese out yet. I know I should, but I’m just not ready yet. A person can get plenty of calcium from leafy greens—and in fact—from what I’ve read the body absorbs calcium better when it’s not from an animal product. I believe by giving up dairy (and meat), I will have a better shot at avoiding the osteopenia/osteoporosis that runs in my family.

7.       As much as possible I eat whole, unprocessed foods. And I’m trying my best to eliminate processed carbohydrates (sugar, bread, cereal, pasta, white rice, instant/quick oats) out of my diet. Our bodies want whole, natural foods. And the more I cut out the bad stuff, the more my body rejects them when I eat them. I won’t claim to be perfect. Sometime a person just wants a bowl of pasta or a sandwich. But on a daily basis, I do the best I can. If I eat a sandwich I use sprouted, whole grain bread. If I eat pasta, I find the pasta with a lot of fiber.

8.       I’m vegetarian except for the occasional fish dish. I feel eating vegetarian (plus fish) is the right choice for me. I have more energy. My digestion is so much better than it was in my meat-eating days. And I have to say, anyone who has watched Food Inc., and still eats grocery store or fast food chicken, is far braver than I will ever be. If I was ever to go back to eating chicken, it would have to come from a farm I’ve visited, so I can see how the chickens live. And while I don’t preach vegetarianism to my friends (it’s a free world), I do totally believe we could eradicate heart disease (cholesterol problems) in this world, if people switched to a plant based diet. The only foods we eat that contain cholesterol are animal products. If we only dealt with the cholesterol that naturally occurs in our bodies, Lipitor would never be needed.

9.       I question and research any drug that is ever prescribed. If it is not absolutely necessary, I will not take it. I’m sure my doctor’s love me (not). But if there is a natural way of curing something—or a lifestyle changes that will help a health problem—that’s the route I’m going to take. I took harsh prescriptions for migraines for years. Finally, I’m off all of them. I now take 250mg of magnesium a day to prevent them. I still get a mild one each month, but they are nothing like they use to be (I believe hormone balance also plays a role in that). I’ll add to this one that if I hear of something natural with great health benefits, I’ll totally try it. I just started fermenting my own Kombucha because I’ve heard it has great health benefits. I switched out those energy gels runners use with Chia seeds soaked in water. They are a completely natural energy gel.  I’m also going to start “growing” my own kefir (but with either coconut water or almond milk rather than dairy milk) because the probiotics in it are supposed to be outstanding—much greater than the probiotics in yogurt. I also refuse to use anything but organic soil and my own organic compost in my garden. No chemical fertilizers or pesticides for me! I just want the veggies!

10.   Finally, I exercise a lot. My situation is a bit unique—I get paid to exercise—so that helps. I teach an average of ten fitness classes a week. Now granted, I don’t do everything in every class. If I did, I’d wear my body down too much—and wouldn’t have anything left for my own training. So I slack a bit when I teach boot camps and TRX (I do enough to get my own strength training in). But with classes like indoor cycling and kickboxing, I do the whole class with them. I also have my own running and cycling goals, so it’s important that I have enough time in my schedule to dedicate training to those sports. It’s hard work and sometimes I’m just plain tired, but it’s also what makes me feel alive. I love to sign up for races that scare me just a little bit (Tough Mudder, Mountain Century races) because I know I will train hard for them. It’s a huge high for me. I have trouble understanding people who have no passion for exercise or the outdoors. I’m not saying I expect everyone to love running or biking, but certainly there is something active you can have a passion for to keep your body healthy and strong (not skinny—healthy and strong).
And there you have it—ten things I have often been called “weird” for doing.  I could probably keep going, but that should do it for now. How about you? Are you weird?

About Me

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I am the owner of The Fit Life, LLC. The Fit Life, LLC offers fitness instruction and nutrition counseling in a holistic way. I focus on personal training using mainly your own body strength--very little equipment. I also hold a certification in holistic nutrition. Because nutrition counseling regulations are very strict in Ohio, I'm still working on what nutrition services I can provide to my clients; however, I'm happy to provide general nutrition information. I enjoy teaching TRX, Indoor Cycling, and Boot Camps.