Monday, January 24, 2011

Love This Life

While on vacation in the Outer Banks this summer my girlfriends and I took an afternoon trip into Duck for a little extra relaxation sans children for mani-pedis while drinking fruity drinks and gazing out at the ocean.  The spa carried these cute t-shirts and tanks that said "You Rock" on the front.  I was in the first few months of this journey and was feeling particularly motivated (being at the beach with skinny friends will do that to you!) so I thought it might be a cool thing for me to wear when I worked out.  When I picked it up I found that on the back was the brand's (which is LovethisLife) "manifesto" and I knew I had to have it.  Here is what it said:

is about celebrating the moment
and that we're not guaranteed or owed another day
and how cool it is that what we hide
can actually be the fuel towards our glory
and that it's not so bad being proven wrong

is about welcoming the blind turn
and the possibility 
that there's no such thing as coincidence
and that empathy is incredibly sexy
and that it's never too late
to pick up a guitar or a paintbrush
or to make an amend or to make a new friend

could be about rekindling a past flame
or igniting a new one
or shapeshifting from a dreamer into a doer
or savouring the caress of a love long gone

means whatever it is you want it to mean 

is a celebration of you and your path

cuz it could go at any second

you rock.

I picked this out of my drawer today and put it on even though it's a little tight (please tell me these things run small!) because it's a great reminder to celebrate this journey - the ups and the downs.  It's a great reminder to keep on doing what I'm doing, and damnit - I DO ROCK!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Clay

I can't believe that the upstairs studio space at Clay opened over a month ago and this is the first time I've blogged about it!  If you thought I was in love (or infatuated?) with Clay Fitness before - just wait!

Can you believe this gorgeous space used to be Bel Rio?

See the yellow things hanging from the monkey bars (yes, monkey bars!)? Those are TRX Training Systems. They look innocent, but they are amazing (and torturous) little creatures. They can work every muscle in your body (and Hyam makes sure they do!). 

Somehow I neglected to get photos of the cycling room or the shower (seriously the shower is gorgeous - you gotta see it!) so I will do that some time in the next few weeks. could stop by and check it out yourself!

Run Amy Run

I received an e-mail from a friend a week ago entitled "Marathon".  At first I thought she'd sent it to the wrong person.  As I continued to read, however, I realized she was actually asking me to consider doing a marathon with her.  A marathon?  Who was she kidding?  A marathon is 26  miles!  I can barely handle the 3 I do now. No freaking way!

But 12 hours later I couldn't get the thought out of my head. A marathon. How amazing would that be?  Wait - what did I just say?  I have friends who are marathoners and I've always told them that as amazing as I think they are, I think they're equally as crazy.  My father-in-law is a marthoner.  He's 2 inches shorter than me and weighs at least 50 pounds less. Running comes naturally to him.  He's even built like a marathoner.  I, on the other hand, am built more like a sumo wrestler.

I have a long list of things I'd like to be able to say I did someday. Running a marathon has never been one of them.  Now, however, I can't get it out of my head.  I made the mistake of mentioning this to Hyam who, of course, thought it was a fabulous idea!  Before I knew it she had me committing to a training group for the Charlottesville Ten-Miler.  Wait, I'm running the Charlottesville Ten-Miler???

So I'm NOT committing to anything further than 10 miles yet, but that marathon is in the back of my mind pecking away at me.  26 miles.  That'd be all the way to Crozet and back! Wow, that's a long way. 

Friday, January 21, 2011


I've struggled a lot lately with trying to make everything that's important and/or necessary fit into a 24 hour time period.  This, of course, isn't something that is unique to me - we are all busy - but for the purposes of this blog I'm going to focus on myself. Sorry.

If you know me even a little bit you are aware that time management is not my strong suit. This makes balancing a schedule like mine difficult at times. I'm very involved in a lot of things, which can be tough for even a very organized person, but for me, well,  it can really suck.  Add to it that the Spicy Chicken is out of town 3 days a week and, you can imagine how far behind I'm usually running. I make it all work out in the end, but often at the expense of sleep, healthy eating and exercise.  Once again, this is probably how I got here in the first place and why I'm trying to make a change.  Change isn't always easy, though, and I am admittedly struggling with it right now.

I remember a friend making a comment several years ago about how it irritated her when people claimed they didn't have time to exercise because to her it was all about priorities.  She thought saying "Exercising is not a priority to me" was much more honest. I hated to admit it, but she was right.  If she, a mother of 3 (now 4!), who owned her own business, had a husband in medical school and was involved with everything from church to Junior League to the local actor's guild somehow found time to work out, there was really no reason I couldn't be doing the same thing.  I just had to make it a priority.  Of course then I'd have to give up a few hours of sitting on my ass... 

So I started this post thinking I'd whine about how hard it is to put my health and fitness first, but came out realizing that maybe it's really not that hard after all.  Just like anything else, it has to be a priority or it isn't going to happen.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Clean Eating

I'll be the first to admit that my attempt to change my diet during this journey would probably best be described as "half-assed".  I have really good days, but they are easily outnumbered by my not-so-good ones, and there have definitely been a few embarrassingly horrible ones recently.  

Knowing that I've been impeding my own success (I think they call it self-sabotage) one of my New Year's Resolutions was to cook more (or maybe in my case it should be start cooking!).  So yesterday, armed with past issues of Clean Eating (from this summer when I resolved to start eating healthier!) and a few recent Real Simple Magazines I set out to make a plan for healthier, cleaner eating.  Before long I had a pile full of great, healthy and not too difficult recipes in hand and was ready to head to the store.

I absolutely love Clean Eating Magazine. The photos are beautiful (I refuse to make a recipe that I don't have a picture of), the recipes are simple enough for someone like me (and are really explanatory), their Weekly Menu Plan section includes a shopping list, and, of course, they are healthy! Admittedly there are always a few items that I've never heard of or have no desire to ever try, but for the most part it totally jazzes me up about eating healthily. 

I'll be honest and say that when the Spicy Chicken is in town I do more requesting than  cooking, but the important part is that I'm eating well, right.  We started this morning with a modified version of Clean Eating's MacK Muffin from the September/October 2010, which is a healthy twist on the Egg McMuffin.  The recipe is below (we modified with asparagus because someone forgot to buy the spinach).  

white vinegar, as needed
1 large egg
olive oil cooking spray
1 cup spinach
1 whole-wheat English Muffin
1 tbsp. light cream cheese
1 slice tomato
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. hot sauce (i.e. Sriracha), optional

1.  Bring a large, deep saucepan with 5-6 cups of water to a boil.  Add about 1 tsp. vinegar for every cup of water. (Taste to make sure vinegar is barely noticeable).  Lower heat to a slow simmer.  Carefully crack egg into a teacup or large ladle.  Lower into water and pour egg out as gently as possible, careful not to break yolk. Cook until egg white is formed and set and yolk begins to thicken but is not hard (3-4 minutes). Remove egg with slotted spoon or strainer, set aside.
2.  Heat a medium non-stick pan over medium heat and mist with cooking spray.  Once pan is hot, add spinach and saute for 1-2 minutes, until slightly wilted.  Remove spinach from pan and set aside. (if using asparagus, saute the same way).
3.  Toast English muffin.  To assemble, spread 1/2 tbsp. cream cheese on each half of English muffin.  Place spinach on bottom half of English muffin, then add poached egg and tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with hot sauce, if desired, before topping with other half of English muffin. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pain Relief

It occurred to me this morning as I was frantically trying to make it out the door to the 6am class (making up for Wednesday), that something was missing from my morning routine.  

Recall that when I started this "journey to health" I was pretty out of shape.  Shin splints plagued me when I did almost any form of exercise, let alone running.  During the workouts sometimes the pain would be so intense that I couldn't complete an exercise.  Other times I'd simply grin and bear it because I knew I had to get it done. To minimize the pain I took 4 Advil every day before class, 4 around lunch time and 4 more before bed. I was taking 12 Advil a day almost on a daily basis!

No, I wasn't addicted to Advil, I was simply doing what I had to do at the time to get through.  Those Advil were as essential to my workout as my shoes and sports bra (you know how I feel about a good sports bra!).  If I forgot them I could kiss a good workout good-bye.

Today, however, I didn't take any Advil.  Somewhere along the way I stopped needing the relief those four little pills gave me because I no longer had any pain.  Amazing what losing 20+ pounds can do for your body!

I went to a specialist quite a few years ago about my shin splints when having trouble with them even while swimming.  They took X-rays, did a bone scan and all that good stuff only to come back to me with what I already knew - I had shin splints.  I clearly remember asking the doctor, "I've gained a significant amount of weight in the past few years, do you think losing it would help?"  "No," he said, "You'll just have to live with them."  Now I know my shin splints are not solely caused by my weight, but what a great moment that would've been for him to tell me - a moderately overweight, young woman - to take charge of her health, but instead he told me to "live with it".  

Well doc, I'm not going to live with that or any of the other physical or emotional pain my weight has caused me in the past.  I'm going to continue to take charge of my journey and change all of the negative outcomes it could've caused me.  Just watch & see! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life is Like a BOSU

The other day a few friends and I were sarcastically expressing our "love" for the BOSU on Twitter.  I admitted that I have a love-hate relationship with this piece of equipment.  Love because it's so good for so many parts of my body.   Hate because, well, it can really suck.  (Not to mention that it's a known fact at Clay that it's not safe to stand next to me when proprioceptive abilities are called into play, which they are every second you're on the BOSU). 

If you haven't used a BOSU I challenge you to try it (most gyms have them). Essentially it's half a balance ball with a flat middle that can be used for a million different exercises and for every part of your body.  At Clay we use it for everything from push-ups (inverted with the round part facing the ground) to jump squats and lunges -  and everything in between.  What challenges me most, however, is balancing on it.  

I fall off every once and awhile (ok, quite frequently) but I always get back on.  It reminds me a little of life and this journey that I am on.  Last week, for instance, was a fabulous week.  The kids went back to school, work started flowing, and I was back on my regular schedule at Clay. I lost 3 pounds in a week and felt like I was balancing with ease! This week, however, was quite different.  It started off great - with a killer workout at Clay in the new studio.  I was pumped when I left there - certain my balance was completely in check.  However, a few hours later it all changed.  M got a migraine that afternoon, the Spicy Chicken was really late from work and at 6 I realized I'd forgotten to defrost the fish so our healthy dinner didn't pan out. Tuesday I got a call from the nurse again and found myself driving to the school at 2pm instead of taking my afternoon run with Scout. Due to M's illness I had to miss an important committee meeting at 5, which frustrated me enough to eat chocolate for dinner.  On Wednesday school was on a 2-hour delay so I missed Clay and that afternoon K came home with a fever (again no run). The Spicy Chicken was late, stressed and drinking wine that evening so I, of course, had to join him. Today is Thursday and I am sitting in the living room with K at my side as we are waiting to head to the doctor's office.

Obviously I didn't just stumble off this week - I threw myself to the ground. As a parent, this is what you do when something happens with your kids, but it's where many of us let things get out of control.  It's inevitable that life is going to get tough and we're going lose our balance at times. Sometimes we even fall off. The important part, however, is that we hop back on and keep trying.  It's not always easy - and sometimes it's embarrassing (like in the middle of class - or on a public blog!).  But one thing I learned from the BOSU is that sometimes the falling off isn't so bad because when you get back on you discover that you're getting stronger and you can do it!

K is asleep on the couch so I'm heading to the garage to use the jump rope I got for Christmas (love this thing!).  I probably only have a 30 minute window before she starts calling my name again, but if I don't climb back on the BOSU right now I know it will be even harder to do tomorrow.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Play That Funky Music

A few months ago a friend was in her last few weeks of training for a marathon when she sent out a plea on Facebook for a few new songs to run to. It got me thinking about my favorite workout songs and what was on everyone else's play list.  Since I've been running a lot more lately having a good playlist has become even more essential to me than ever so thought it'd be fun to share. 

My taste is music is all over the board so I'm warning you - this is not for everyone.  In this list you will see Miley Cyrus  (I'm a mom of 8 and 10 year old girls, after all)  and Van Halen (I was a teen in the 80's) mixed in with a little Linkin Park and Pearl Jam .  I will also admit that my musical selection is NOT real deep so don't expect anything groundbreaking here. 

Though I love all of these songs I'm getting kinda tired of everything on my play list these days, so tell me - what are you listening to?

  1. Right Now - Van Halen - I've been working out to this song for about 20 years. Did I just say 20 years?  
  2. Evanescence - Bring Me To Life - I like this one at the beginning to pump me up
  3. 7 Things - Miley Cyrus  - I warned you!
  4. Rearview Mirror - Pearl Jam - One of my favorite bands of all time.  I also usually include Glorified G and Better Man somewhere in my mix.
  5. Pump It - Black Eye Peas - Typical, I know, but how can you argue with lyrics like "shake it, shake it, shake girl - make sure you don't break it, girl"?
  6. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson -  Great for pushing myself up the big hill by my house (also a great roller skating song from my youth).  
  7. Breaking the Habit - Linkin Park  - I actually have this In The End, Numb and What I've Done scattered throughout my mix.  
  8. But Anyway - Blue Traveler - Nothing like a harmonica solo from an obese man to get you moving.  That said, I totally love Blues Traveler.
  9. Thunderstruck - AC/DC - Reminds me of my senior year of high school.  I was skinny back then. Also, love the strong, heavy beat that these old hard rock songs had. 
  10. Don't Stop Believin' - Journey - An 80's classic, but I admit the Glee version got me re-interested in this one
  11. The Distance - Cake - Usually have this one for when I'm struggling at the 1/2 way mark.
  12. Baby I'm a Star - Prince - A good Minnesota girl must have a little Prince in her mix
  13. Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes - This is on one of Hyam's mixes so when I hear it I hear her, too.  She pushes me in a good way.
  14. Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz - Lenny Kravitz is the definition of cool
  15. Brick House - The Commodores - Shake it down, shake it down now...
  16. Champion in Me - Three Doors Down - If you haven't heard this watch the video & listen.  I am totally inspired by Olympic athletes.
  17. Song 2 - Blur - Great for speed work/intervals
  18. Baby Got Back - Sir Mix A Lot - Love me some cheesy 90's hip-hop/rap
  19. Did You Ever Look So Nice - The Samples - A little slower but one of my all-time favorite bands so it rocks for me.
  20. This is Your Life - Switchfoot - Deep lyrics.

Monday, January 3, 2011

-25 + 5 = 20

I read a statistic a few weeks ago that Americans gain an average of 4-10 pounds over the holidays.  I woefully report that I did my part to keep these stats so high, as after I forced the Spicy Chicken onto the scale yesterday I stepped on it myself.  It took me over 6 months to lose 25 pounds and only a few weeks to gain 5 back.  Wow.

So I'm back at my halfway point which a few months ago was really exciting.  Now, however, it feels pretty pathetic. 

Today, however, is a new day and I was back at Clay this morning with a smile on my face.  I'm fairly certain I won't be able to get out of bed or wash my hair tomorrow, but I really don't care because it felt so good to be back on track.  It's amazing how just one workout can change everything.  I ate a healthy breakfast this morning (banana with peanut butter, half cup of OJ and two big glasses of water) - took the dog for a 3 mile walk this afternoon after completing an enormous amount of work and finished off the day with a healthy meal of baked chicken, steamed sugar snap peas, and a salad.  Where this sensibility was the last 4 weeks I don't know, but it feels great to have it back.