July 25, 2008

Eight weeks

What were you doing eight weeks ago? Go look at a calendar to remind yourself if you've forgotten.

What are you doing eight weeks from now?

Eight weeks ago you could have started one of my exercise programs, and by today you would have already seen results. So why not start now? Eight weeks from now you'll be really glad you did.

Send me an email at thinkwellactwelllivewell@gmail.com and let me know you want to get started. It'll be the best $20 you've spent this month!

***I design a specific program for you, your abilities, your access to equipment/gym/home gym, keeping in mind your desired results.***

July 23, 2008

Right/wrong ways to exercise for a body's shape?

I picked up a book today at my library, "Escape Your Shape" by Edward J. Jackowski, Ph.D. His philosophy is that because all bodies are various shapes, all bodies need a specific/type of workout according to that shape.

I've only read the first 4 pages, and I already have an opinion (probably not the best way to start a book!). I have two questions for you before I continue:

1) Our bodies may be genetically inclined to store fat in certain areas, but are our bodies also genetically inclined to build muscle faster/better in certain areas as well?

2) Say there's a woman who is clearly heavier in her lower body than mid or upper body; do you keep her from strength training her lower body so she doesn't build up more muscle, making her lower body even bigger? (*Now, I know she's not going to bulk up like a body builder by doing 3 sets of squats 2-3 times/week, and I'm totally aware that more muscle = more calories burned. I'm curious as to what you all and Dr. Jackowski have to say about it.)

Please let me know your thoughts/answers to these questions! I'll post a summary of the book when I'm finished reading it.

July 21, 2008

Muscle-building Monday

Try this three times this week:

Dumbbell chest flies

Lie on your back on a bench (or a stack of 2-3 standard sized bed pillows if you don't have a bench), arms straight above you (perpendicular to your or towards the ceiling) with a slight bend in your elbows. Palms should be facing each other while holding your dumbbells.

Take two seconds to open your arms to your sides until your elbows are just about parallel to the floor, pause, and take two seconds to bring your arms back to the starting position.

Make sure you are using your pecs/chest muscles to do the lifting. Otherwise you may strengthen the muscle in your arms instead and see no results in your chest.

Do 3 sets of 12 reps, medium weights, rest for 60 seconds between sets.

One variation is to mix up your second counting. Take one second to open your arms and three seconds to return to starting position.

Happy lifting!

July 19, 2008

Positioning counts!

Here's the scenario: Two guys are attempting to build their chest muscles. They lift the exact same amount of weight, do the exact number of repetitions and sets. After a couple months, Guy A develops a really strong chest; very defined pecs. Guy B doesn't get a defined chest; instead his arms are chiseled. What happened?

Positioning, folks. Positioning counts. Where you put your hands on the barbell, what your back does (arches or stays put), where your shoulders are -- all of this counts in your lift. It's very likely Guy A concentrated on using his chest muscles to complete his lifts, keeping his shoulders down and not letting his lower or upper back arch. Guy B really only used his arms in his chest lifts, probably raised his shoulders when trying to lift heavy weights when they should have been stationary, and I'm guessing his back was moving too.

Concentrate on what body parts are supposed to move throughout your specific lift, and what body parts are intended to be stationary. You'll get the definition and build muscle where you originally wanted it, and not elsewhere. (That's a time consuming and big "oops" to fix.)

If you understand at this point, go ahead and stop reading. If not, here's another example. When you come up from doing a squat, you're supposed to "push through" your heels to stand; do not use the balls of your feet to stand. There is a difference.

When you use your heels, you get the burn in your glutes that you're supposed to feel. When you use your whole foot or the balls of your feet (if you haven't fallen over yet) you feel it in your calves and quads. You're not supposed to feel it there, but it'll strengthen those muscles instead of your glutes -- when your aim was to strengthen your glutes in the first place.

I just see too many people not concentrating on form or positioning, and they're wasting their time! (I do help them when I can.)

(Obviously there are some times when you can move your position to change the angle of muscle you're working, but I'm not referring to that right now; maybe later.)

July 18, 2008

Carpe the weight!

There's something about getting up in the morning and knowing I get to lift weights that day. I guess I can understand why a bunch of guys in the weight room smack talk each other and lift more than they should in front of a mirror (and I'm pretty sure they're not using the mirror to check on their form). It's invigorating and addicting knowing you can lift something someone else can't. And on top of that, you've got definition showing off muscle that allows you to lift something someone else can't.

I love it.

July 17, 2008

Moms + caffeine: Part II

After acknowledging the amount of caffeine people rely on to get through their day, I realized it's probably pretty rude to point it out without offering any suggestions of a replacement.

My personal feeling is people are drinking too much caffeine on a regular basis. I know going through withdraw is a crappy, crappy thing, but it's got to be done. And by all means, don't go cold-turkey . I'd start with eliminating 1-3 drinks daily, depending on how many you routinely take.

Start exercising! "But where do I fit that in?" Trust me, I know all about being the cook, the short-order cook, the maid, the chauffeur, the teacher, the seamstress, an engineer, the personal shopper, the assistant, the referee, the coach, yadda, yadda, yadda (did I mention I work from home too?). And yes, it's all done on around 7 hours of sleep a night (which is not always consecutive).

But guess what. If you want something to be part of your life, you have to make it fit. Like exercise. I make exercise fit into my life because it's a priority, so I have time for it. And after the first two weeks of exercising regularly, you will feel an increase in your energy and stamina.

My second suggestion would be to eat more protein throughout the day. I know carbs give you that quick boost, but people tend to overlook the protein. Simple carbs (your white breads, etc.) will give your blood sugar a quick lift, but then your level will go back down at a pretty quick rate. Eat some protein (with a complex carb if you have to) about every 3-4 hours throughout the day. Not a steak per say, but some nuts, a small piece of grilled chicken from last night's dinner, a protein bar, etc.

Drink water! I know water doesn't offer any nutritional value, but your body won't work well if it's not hydrated properly. And yes, I've heard the notion that caffeinated sodas can add to your daily water intake, but I personally don't think your body will work very well if that's all you drink.

I'll also go ahead and mention a good night's sleep. As a mom of three 5 years old and under, I know this is a luxury. But because I know it's a luxury, I plan to be able to sleep for longer than 7 hours. That way when I only get 6-7 hours of sleep but have been in bed for longer (attempting to get more sleep), I'm still rested when I wake up the following morning.

I'd love to hear of any other suggestions that you know of to help us moms stay energized without the caffeine!! (Especially for my own energy needs!) Tell me what you do to have energy throughout the day!

July 16, 2008

Moms + caffeine

I was perusing cnn.com and found an interesting article, "Caffeinated moms keep up to drink up."

My first reaction to the title was, I totally hear you. But then as I read, I discovered moms are drinking much more caffeine than I had originally thought -- and way more than I drink in a two week time period.

I'm not tooting my own horn here, thinking I'm so grand or healthy or hooray for me. Instead I'm wondering, if they have to ingest that much caffeine to make it through the day, isn't something off here? Shouldn't some part of the day be sacrificed to maintain some of their health (or a moment to catch their breath?)?

The article says, "Caffeine works by suppressing the neurotransmitters in your brain that would normally release nerve impulses that make you tired. This is one reason caffeine is addictive, experts say. People start to depend on the boost of energy it provides. But what effect is that having on your health? Research shows that caffeine can trigger migraines, heartburn, gastrointestinal problems and put women at an increased risk of miscarriage. Caffeine consumption also has an impact on your heart."

Crazy! I know we moms do what we have to do to make it through the day, and I'm not pointing fingers at anyone or saying any mom who drinks any amount of caffeine throughout the day is horrible. I'm only wondering, are we too busy to realize the damage we're doing to our own health?

July 14, 2008

Muscle-building Monday

Try it three times this week:

Counter top push-ups

Position yourself to do a push-up by standing at your counter-top (standard height) with your palms on the ridge of the counter, arms straight, feet/legs making a 45 degree angle with the floor. Push yourself up counting 2 seconds, and lower yourself back down to where your chest is less than an inch from the counter top, counting 2 seconds.

Complete 3 sets of 12 reps, resting for 60 seconds between sets.

*If this is too easy, perform regular push-ups on the floor either using bent knees to prop you up or resting on your toes (I hate to phrase it this way but woman-style or man-style.)

July 9, 2008

Recipe time

Salad Bar Pasta Salad (Weight Watchers)

Makes 6 servings


* 5 oz. whole wheat bow-tie pasta, cooked and drained
* 1 cup shredded carrots
* 1 cup chopped, seeded red or green bell pepper
* 1 cup bean sprouts
* 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
* 1/4 cup crumbled feta
* 1/4 cup sliced green olives
* 2 marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
* 2 Tbsp lemon juice
* 4 tsp olive oil
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
* Several dashes hot red pepper sauce


* Toss all the ingredients in a large salad bowl until well-blended.

* Serving size: 1 1/4 cups.

July 8, 2008

Site Highlight

I came across another fitness blog entitled Fit Bottomed Girls. I was intrigued by the name because of the song by Queen, "Fat Bottomed Girls" and I think it's a hilarious song since it's giving props to junk in the trunk. I love to sing it really loud.

Fit Bottomed Girls shows you how you can "keep a lid on the junk in the trunk" by providing information on healthy nutrition, exercise suggestions, and fitness related articles.

I've put a link for Fit Bottomed Girls in the "Sites for You" section of my blog in the right hand column (you may have to scroll down a bit depending on where you're reading this post). Go check them out and subscribe to their site!

July 7, 2008

Muscle-building Monday

Try it three times this week:

Overhead shoulder press

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, medium weights in hands, hands and weights at shoulder level (elbows bent), palms facing out. Extend your arms straight above your head (count 2 seconds up) and then lower to starting position (2 seconds down).

Complete 3 sets of 12 reps, resting for 60 seconds between sets.

Enjoy some toned shoulders!

July 6, 2008


How was your 4th of July? Mine was filled with plenty of outdoor activities and food. Lots of yummy food.

Keeping the balance of all that holidays offer with healthy living can be difficult. But with some careful advanced planning you can enjoy any holiday while sticking to your healthy living routine.

1). Plan your workouts that week to include the day before the holiday and either the day after the holiday or two days after the holiday. Don't stress about working out on the holiday. There's a very good chance that won't happen anyway. Enjoy your day off!

2). Hosting your own holiday party will ensure that you have plenty of healthy food & beverage choices.

3). If you're not hosting but instead attending a holiday party, offer to bring a dish and make it one of your healthy choices.

4). Assuming the host doesn't need any help or you don't want to offer it, eat a meal before attending so you're not hungry enough to eat everything served.

5). Attending a dinner party where #4 won't work? Watch your portion sizes during dinner and drink water during the meal. Eat very little or completely omit spreads and dips like butter, sour cream, gravies, white sauces (like Alfredo), etc. Load up on the veggies and trim the fat off meat.

6). When confronted with a buffet of desserts, pick your top two and decide if they're worth the calories. If they are, eat half of each one and discard the rest. If not, chose one, eat it slowly, and enjoy every bite. Then discard your dessert plate. Don't go back for more! If one dessert is served, again watch your portion size, and savor the yummy goodness. Drinking water after eating something sweet will help get the flavor out of your mouth and deter you from eating more.

In most cases of life planning ahead really does help you avoid pitfalls. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Don't dread the holiday celebrations this year and plan ahead to continue to live well!

July 2, 2008

Recipe time

Frozen Strawberry Layer Cake (Weight Watchers)


* 1 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 6 cups)
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp table salt
* 12 oz store bought angel food cake, cut into 1/4-inch slices
* 4 cup fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt


* To make strawberry sauce, combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a saucepan, stirring over medium heat until the sugar melts and the liquid comes to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes. Use the back of a wooden spoon to mash about half the berries against the side of the pan. Cool to room temperature and use immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 2 days.

* Spoon the frozen yogurt into a large bowl and mash it with the back of a wooden spoon until soft and spreadable.

* Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with one third of the cake slices, cutting any slices to fit the shape of the pan. Top with half the frozen yogurt, spreading it to the sides. Spread 2/3 cup strawberry sauce over the frozen yogurt, then top with half the remaining cake slices, again cutting any to fit. Spread the remainder of the frozen yogurt over the cake, top with 2/3 cup strawberry sauce, and finally seal the top with the remaining cake slices. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 6 hours or up to 3 days. Let the cake stand at room temperature 10 minutes before unmolding. Slice into 12 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.