The Fit Life, LLC

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.

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.