Reviews

Christmas Abbott: BadAss Body Diet

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This past month has been pretty stressful for me – and I’m not going to sugar coat it. My eating has gone to shit. The little excuses I have made have added up and now are full blown standard operating procedure and it’s not good.  It’s being triggered by stress and emotional stuff going on but sliding back into old habits is not the path I want to revisit so it’s time to refocus. I am heading out on vacation next week. My long road trip will give me time to think about what’s going on and some much needed time away from what is triggering all of these feelings.  Not to go into detail – it’s related to professional career issues and I know it’s only a matter of time before I need to make some hard choices.

But, let’s talk about refocusing on health and wellness…

the BADASS Body Diet - Christmas Abbott I have mentioned before that I am a big fan and a long-distance friend of Christmas Abbott.  She has always been kind to me and has embarked on an amazing path of helping others in a big way. She recently sent me a copy of her book: The BADASS Body Diet. I haven’t gotten all the way through it but when I am back from vacation, I plan to start the diet and workout plan recommended.

I already am appreciating that she doesn’t write for a one size fits all body type. She identifies three types of dieters -—Modifiers, Gainers, and Maintainers—and the suggested approaches can be tailored depending on which one you resemble.  From the reviews I have read, many mention the suggested approach is simple and you aren’t left feeling super hungry.  Although I have heard that many times from many other fitness and wellness advocates, I trust Christmas. She comes from the same world I am used to – women who lift and aren’t afraid to be strong.

Some of the book is fluff and entertainment but, that’s all part of selling the approach to those who still believe thin is better than strong. Those that live and die by the number on the scale.  Just like any diet or approach recommended, one size does not fit all. My advice is to read the book –  ‘meet’ Christmas, learn her story and understand how she approaches diet and fitness. From there, you can tailor it or not – to meet your own health and wellness goals.

I’ll share my experience from time to time as I start to incorporate her advice in my own fitness and wellness approach…

 

Christmas Abbott - Badass Body DietBuy the BadAss Body Diet by Christmas Abbott directly from Amazon and let me know what you think!

 Christmas Abbott: The Badass Body Book (Amazon Affiliate Link) 

 

Revisiting [solidcore]

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A friend sent this article to me today: What Happens When You Follow Your Passion and it got me thinking more about how to do that… I’ve been struggling with finding a path to explore what I am passionate about. It’s frustrating for sure but as quotes say – sometimes the hardest part of any journey is right before a breakthrough…

Jury Duty Fun

Yesterday, I had a busy day. First, I had my turn at serving jury duty. After a few hours of sitting there and the selection process, I was dismissed as a juror for a criminal trial. I’ve never been in a court room, let alone seen how it all goes down. Just like on TV, it was pretty slow, stuffy, rigid and old fashioned. I couldn’t help but notice that everything in the court room was wood and rigid. Sitting there for an hour or so was not what I would consider comfortable.

During the selection process, the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney each took their turn asking generally benign questions. It’s so interesting to see how it all goes down and how people filter questions differently. But man it goes slow and seems to be very low tech.  Anyway, I was dismissed for whatever reason and now I can say”been there, done that’ (until the next time…)

solidcore - FairfaxRevisiting [solidcore]

Later in the evening, I met up with my dear friend Mastaneh and we drove to [SolidCore]. You may remember me sharing my experience doing a class last March, when we hit up the one in Ballston.

What is [solidcore]? 

Someone online described it as “Pilates on Steroids”. Ive never done Pilates, but I can tell you it was the kind of workout where I literally hated it while doing it but when it was over – i felt great and wanted to do it again to challenge myself to get the hang of it. You use a megaformer machine for the 50 minute class. It’s all slow, controlled movements focusing on core muscles. The classes are kept small so the instructor can give everyone the attention needed.  Depending on the movement, you would do a 4-6 count to ensure you are really working the muscle.

This one just opened in the Mosaic District in Fairfax and we brought along some extra pals.  Let’s just say that it was as hard as I remember and I was not the only one of that opinion. Even my boxing instructor, Alex, who joined us agreed.

When we were done, it was like a sweat festival. Not only was I drenched with sweat, my muscles were twitching for some time afterwards. I am definitely feeling the results of all that slow, deliberate core stuff today.    Amd after the class, the instructor told us how great we were, especially because we were beginners and it was because of how strong we all were.

Thoughts about [solidcore]

Location: 

I wish that [Solidcore] was closer and/or in Loudoun County. Right now they are focused on the immediate DC area. I’m sure the demographic is good there but Loudoun County is the richest county in the country so that should count for something.

Price:

I’m not usually one to balk at certain things cost wise. I believe that for me – my health and fitness is worth paying for if it works. I could pay 20 bucks a month at a regular gym but I know it’s not going to work long term for me. I need to workout with others and have an instructor lead the way.  I’m willing to pay a bit more for it because it works.  A lot of folks pay that low monthly membership at their gym but rarely go or go and do the same thing all the time – seeing little to any results. That is a waste of money no matter how cheap.

[solidcore] is pretty expensive even to me- up to $34/class although they are running specials. The classes are limited because everyone works on a reformer machine, so I get why they charge more but it still seems a bit more than I would be willing to pay on a regular basis.

Overall: 

The instructor was great and it was a great workout. Very different than the other stuff I do but different in a great way. I would definitely add a class or two into my regular overall monthly training if it were closer. It’s easy to see how strong, limber and flexible you can become by doing it regularly.

Be Kind

Stories of kindness and bravery are the stories we should be sharing and talking about more…

RIP: Nicholas Winton, Who Saved Hundreds Of Jewish Children From The Holocaust, Dies At 106

Dubbed the “British Schindler,” Winton helped 669 Jewish children avoid a grim fate by smuggling them out of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

Review: GoMacro MacroBars

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GoMacro MacroBarsMonths ago as I was browsing the health food aisle at Wegmans, I came across GoMacro MacroBars and figured I would give it a try. I ended up really liking it, so I headed to Wegmans to buy some more and they were SOLD OUT! Needless to say, I was bummed… but then they restocked and all was right in the world again. (A bit dramatic, but I really liked them!)

So a few weeks ago, GoMacro reached out to me and asked if I wanted to try their bars. Well – what do you think I said? Absolutely! I already love them and now I get to try other flavors that Wegmans didn’t carry. Win for me!

What I liked most about these bars is that they are made with quality ingredients and taste good.  I also like that their company is family owned and cause driven. While these bars aren’t 100% Paleo, they are close.  When I want something to satisfy my sweet tooth, with some protein and doesn’t totally derail my nutrition plan – these are a great choice.  Also, they are great if you are on the go and want a healthy snack.

According to the company, GoMacro believes in feeling good about what we eat. How it tastes, how it’s made and how it sustains the environment. Family-owned and based in a small rural community, our wholesome food maintains goodness on all levels.

MacroBars boast a variety of fl­avors, with different textures and ingredient combinations including nut-free and high-protein options. Our food is carefully crafted using the highest quality ingredients to provide protein, nutrients and slow-burning carbs for sustained energy throughout the day. The result is a satisfying treat perfect for everyone.

Small in size but big on impact, we are a big picture company. GoMacro.”

GoMacro MacroBarsGoMacro MacroBars come in 11 flavors. My personal favorite is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter but I am sure you all understand that. Because PEANUT BUTTER!

MacroBars are:

  • USDA organic
  • gluten-free
  • certified non-GMO
  • project verified vegan
  • certified kosher
  • certified macrobiotic
  • soy-free

You can head to Amazon and order them using this affiliate link: GoMacro Organic Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, 2.5 oz Bars (Pack of 15) or get to your nearest Wegmans or other grocery store! Once you have tried them, leave me a comment to let me know what you think!

 

 

Disclosure: Although GoMacro provided me with samples, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the brand or company. 

National Running Day 2015: Love the Run

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Stephanie Hoaglund - Running the Scope for Life 5K Washington DCAppreciate and Celebrate the Sport of Running!

National Running Day held annually on the first Wednesday in June, is a day when runners everywhere declare their passion for running.

Since 2009, the country’s foremost running organizations have worked together to celebrate the sport of running with thousands of runners.  It’s easy to join by planning a run, spreading the running bug to a friend, signing up for a race, or setting a new goal.

Like last year, Women’s Running, the world’s largest women-specific running magazine is offering a special offer to
National Running Day Women's Running Magazine Special celebrate National Running Day and foster your love of running: A 6 Month Subscription to Women’s Running for $5!

Since last year, I have received Women’s Running magazine and it has provided me with some good info and resources as I attempt to run more than I have in year’s past. Based on my experience, Women’s Running magazine focuses on info that motivates women with regards to training, travel and nutrition.

Running. Cheaper than TherapyHow to Start Running

Want to start running? Read this great resource on how to go from the couch to a half marathon: Couch to Half Marathon Training Plan! You can do it – Yes you can!

Need more reasons to start running? Here’s an infographic with the Top 10 Health Benefits of Running…

Benefits of Running

Disclosure: I am sharing this information in exchange for goods provided by Women’s Running. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the brand or company. 

Skulpt Aim: Changing How To Track Fitness

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Skulpt AIMAs I mentioned recently, I was sent a new device to try out called Skulpt Aim to test.

The Skulpt Aim uses a technology called electrical impedance myography or EIM. ‘Myography’ literally means “The description of muscles.” EIM measures two separate features of the tissue: its resistive properties and its capacitive properties

Skulpt Aim measures body fat percentage and Muscle Quality (MQ). One of the first questions I have been asked is what is Muscle Quality (MQ)?

According to their website:

MQ, or Muscle Quality, is a rating of your muscles’ fitness that was designed to be intuitive. Aim uses EIM technology to send a small current directly through your muscles. It uses 12 sensors and multiple frequencies to get very accurate readings. Since current flows differently in muscles based on their composition and muscle fiber size, Aim is able to evaluate the quality of each muscle.

Similar to the IQ scale, the average person has an MQ of 100. Higher MQ scores correlate with stronger, leaner, more defined and firm muscles.”

So in layman’s terms, the higher over 100 your score is, the stronger, leaner and more efficient your muscles are.  Higher numbers mean better fitness.

 

Skulpt Aim

Skulpt AIM When it arrived, I took it out of the box and found it pretty easy to set up. I put the device on the charger for a while before testing as recommended. To see how easy it was to use, I decided to have my boxing instructor Connor try it out. Without telling him much about it overall, I showed him the Skulpt website and let him figure it out.  It took him only a few minutes — and he began using it.

To get started, he watched some of the videos to learn how to properly measure using the device.  It’s different for males vs females.

How to get your Total Body MQ & Fat percentage

To measure your body’s MQ score and fat %, you’ll need to measure four areas: biceps, triceps, abs, and quads. There are videos available to help you learn where to properly place the device to get accurate readings.

Muscle Quality on Skulpt AIM

It took only a few minutes to measure and what’s cool is there is a Skulpt app available to help you track your stats so you can see progress as you continue to work towards reaching  your strength and fitness goals.

My instructor/tester, Connor, thought it was useful and cool. It gave him an idea of where he was at fitness wise – which for the most part, was right where he should be. There were a few areas that were not quite where he felt they needed to be and in his words “I have some work to do.”   

Connor will retest in a few weeks to track his progress as he puts in the necessary work…

Here are some recent articles about this revolutionary device:

My initial thoughts: For people who thrive when they have actual data at their fingertips while working towards their fitness goals, this device helps you see if your workouts really are making your body stronger, even if the scale isn’t budging!  And it’s easy to use and you can track it  — this is the kind of info that we never really had at our fingertips. Now you just need this device and a few minutes –and you get accurate readings to help you adjust your fitness programming or goals as necessary.

This is really the future of fitness – being able to track and evaluate how your fitness program is working at the touch of an app whenever you want to evaluate your progress. I love it.

 

Thanks to Skulpt Aim for sending me their device.  Even though I received it for Free, there was no expectation on their part to influence my review. My opinions here are my own. 

 

 

Protein Is The Key To Losing Weight

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I am about a week into following Dr Miller’s advice about adding more protein into my diet and here are some thoughts and findings so far…

Protein PowerRemember, he suggested I try to maintain 1600 calories per day and try to hit 140 grams of protein. That’s approximately 30% of my overall caloric intake of protein. A lot of people i have shared that with have gasped at that number. I am not going to lie and say it has been easy to do — it hasn’t and except for one day, I haven’t reached 140 grams daily.  For the first few days, I added in a whey protein shake which was delicious and high in protein but around day three, my eczema returned.  I didn’t think about it at the time, but I have issues with dairy and whey definitely is in the dairy family.  To prove that point even further, to celebrate HB’s birthday last night, I had some Gluten Free pizza and some ice cream. All night I was dealing with congestion issues and woke up feeling all stuffy and my hands showed signs of eczema again.  As much as I love ice cream and pizza, there are so many times, as I am lying in bed at night ‘suffering’ from the effects of eating dairy, when I think it’s just not worth it.

I opted for vegetarian protein powder option and bought one called MRM Veggie Protein.  I’ve been mixing up some almond milk, a scoop of the powder, some ice cubes and some water and have it for breakfast in the mornings.  I also started adding more chicken to my lunch salads and have been making sure that most of the other stuff I’m eating has a good amount of protein with it.

Have I seen a difference? I think I have –and a few friends have mentioned that i look leaner in my mid-section so all signs point to it moving the needle in the right direction.  I don’t own a scale, so I can’t tell if I have actually lost weight but whatever…

Along those same lines, I was recently sent a new product called Skulpt Aim to test.  Skulpt Aim measures body fat percentage and Muscle Quality (MQ).

Skulpt AIMSkulpt AIM uses electrical impedance myography (EIM). According to their website:

“When applied to the skin, a very weak electrical current is passed between the outer two electrodes. This current is high-frequency and alternating in nature. As the current moves through the skin, the subcutaneous fat, and the muscle, it loses a little bit of energy due to the resistance of the tissue and this change is then measured by the two inner electrodes. In addition, the muscle fibers briefly store and release the electrical charge (they are small capacitors) and this confers a short time delay on the measured voltage on the inner electrodes. Thus, EIM measures two separate features of the tissue: its resistive properties and its capacitive properties.”

I have it all set and ready to try. I just need to have some down time so I can properly give it a go and document the experience. I will definitely share my thoughts and findings on it. But upon initial look, it looks pretty darn cool…

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Start with the small things..

GWU Weight Management and Human Performance Lab

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GWU Exercise Lab I mentioned that last week I visited the GWU Weight Management and Human Performance Lab to check out the lab and get some tests done so I can really figure out what the key is that will help get me where I want to be.

Todd Miller who runs the lab and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise Science and was kind enough to offer me some testing so I can share my experiences with anyone interested in experiencing the lab.

Todd ran me through a series of tests and then we sat down, reviewed the results and discussed ways to get me where I want to be.

GWU Exercise Lab - DEXAFirst, he measured my height and weighed me and then had me stand on a the Body Composition – BIA machine that measured my weight, body fat etc using electromagnetic pressure contact, not unlike the scales and other machines readily available. Then we used the Dexa machine…

Body Composition – Dexa (or DXA) -The gold standard for body composition assessment. The DXA scan uses a low-dose x-ray (approximately 1/10th the radiation of a traditional chest x-ray) and provides information about bone mineral density, fat, and fat-free mass in to specific regions of the body with an accuracy of ±2%.

GWU Exercise Lab - RMRAfter that test was complete, which took maybe five or so minutes, it was time to test my Resting Metabolic Rate – The resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of energy (calories) a body burns while at rest, which accounts for approximately 70% of the body’s daily energy expenditure. This is the amount of energy needed to perform vital body functions such as respiration and circulation.

results - GWU Weight Management LabAfter the testing was done, Todd and I talked through the results.  I gained some weight in the last year and half. It was as much as I had thought – so while that’s not great news per se, it wasn’t shocking and it confirmed my own sense of where I am. The good news… all the fitness I do – does make a difference whether I am at an optimal weight or body fat %.  I am fit — and the weight i gained, once I lose it – I should be in the ‘good’ categories all around.

  • Bone density is good.
  • My RMR is high. That means I burn a lot of calories just being.
  • I have a good amount of lean muscle mass.

I’m not going to discuss my actual numbers here – they are irrelevant to anyone but me. What I will share is that we talked about how much protein I need based on my lean muscle mass and what would be my optimal amount of calories to get me back to where I will feel most comfortable. The thing is my goal isn’t about being super lean. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin without being crazy about every little thing I eat or drink. I did that years ago – and it consumed my life. My goal is to be healthy and fit – not an Olympian or champion competitor. I am living this way so I am able to move, have fun, try new things and age without the fear of being immobile. That is what I discussed with Todd – he made some suggestions on what would be a reasonable caloric and protein intake per day to get me there.  As for exercise, I clearly don’t need help in that area. I am fit!

The one thing that caught me off guard is how much protein Todd suggested I eat per day: 146g  He based it on how much lean body mass I have. I am not sure how one goes about eating that much protein in a day but i have been trying without upping my overall suggested caloric intake. It’s been quite a challenge – the closest I have gotten is 96g.

I have also begun to track my fitness and food intake using fatsecret.com. Todd sent me an invite and he can monitor what I am eating from time to time to give me advice. Check it out –so far I am liking it.

One of things that has always confused me is why is it so hard? Todd explained that most of it is simple math – which is not hard but it is hard to put into place. Knowing that there is science and data behind what we discussed helped me leave the lab with a sense of an actual plan to get me back to where I will feel comfortable. Before that, i have just guessed at where I am and how much I need to eat. With Dr Miller’s suggestions, I feel confident about being able to do it.

Protein Intake – How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

I will keep you posted on my overall progress – the good and bad of it as we head into Spring and Summer.

 

Know When To Ask For Help

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Clean-eating_thumbI’m not going to sugar coat my struggle – I am really slipping with my overall nutrition and can’t seem to muster the motivation or inspiration to re-focus and get back on track. So, I figured i need some real help. I made an appointment with the director of the weight management and human performance lab at George Washington University for later this week. He is going to do some lab tests after a 4 hour fast and then we can take a look at how to get me to where I want to be. It can’t possibly be this hard to get on track.

My thinking is that fitness is not the issue for me.  I need help figuring out a nutritional approach and he can help me get there. I realized this weekend — I need help, plain and simple. When you need help – ask!

I will be sharing the experience with you so we can all learn from it…

scope it outDon’t forget that March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month! I am running the Scope it Out 5K Washington DC Presented by Chris4Life on Team Hoagie’s Heroes to celebrate my hubby’s 6+ years colon cancer free. Will you join us on Sunday March 22 or donate to the cause? Scope it Out 5K Washington DC Presented by Chris4Life 

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Brilliant way to highlight our country’s serious infrastructure problem: America’s crumbling infrastructure: It’s not a sexy problem, but it is a scary one.

Be Inspired

Look fear in the face

Workout

  • Saturday: Cycle Scene 1 hour
  • Monday: 1 mile walk
  • Tuesday: Boxing 1hour

Cycle Scene: An Indoor Cycling Experience

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Cycle Scene _Ashburn Last weekend, I went to the grand opening of Cycle Scene in Ashburn. Cycle Scene is an indoor cycling studio with spice. I say that because it’s not just sitting on a bike and riding.

It’s an experience — there are specialized lights, including a disco ball, a great sound system, and motivational inspirations all over the walls. Depending on the instructor, the experience can be night and day each time you attend too. There are some that strive to boost you up, make you feel empowered and ready to conquer the world. There are others that are more traditional biking enthusiasts who take more laid back approach to your class experience.

Cycle Scene - Ashburn VA I have to admit, i am normally not a huge fan of the stationary exercise experience. Treadmills, stair climbers, bicycles all equal boring to me. I find that they lack the excitement to keep me wanting to keep doing it but this seems to be a bit different.  Having been to three classes so far, the instructor is the key. With good music and the right instructor to push and motivate me, it actually captures me. It also forces me to get a bit more inside of my head since I don’t need to worry so much about perfect coordination like in Boxing and CrossFit.  It’s very mental and it allows me to practice meditation to push through the challenging peaks.

Cycle Scene - AshburnCycle Scene is very boutique like – with towels and water offered freely and showers with all the amenities included. They have added touches as well -at the end of the ride, they offer eucalyptus infused wet towels to cool off, which was a much needed and appreciated touch because I was a sweating and overheated for sure. They also wipe down the bikes for you after your ride so you don’t need to worry about that.

I also like that you can do punch cards, which I did. It’s a way to add this into my overall fitness routine without having to have a bunch of different expensive memberships to different places. A huge part of being fit is to to continually vary what I ask my body to do and this way I can stave off burnout and boredom.

 

Solidcore: Pilates on Steroids

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I know I’ve been a bit behind in posting new updates for everyone. Real in person life has gotten busy – which is not necessarily a bad thing!

The next few posts will give you an idea of what I have been up to…

SolidCore in Ballston Saturday and Sunday, I did two a day workouts. Not because of any larger reason. I was given opportunities to step outside my comfort zone and try some new workouts.

Saturday

After my early boxing session, I tried [Solidcore] in Ballston.

What is it you ask?  Someone online described it as “Pilates on Steroids”. Ive never done Pilates, but I can tell you it was the kind of workout where I literally hated it while doing it but when it was over – i felt great and wanted to do it again to challenge myself to get the hang of it. You use a megaformer machine for the 50 minute class. It’s all slow, controlled movements focusing on core muscles. The classes are kept small so the instructor can give everyone the attention needed.  Depending on the movement, you would do a 4-6 count to ensure you are really working the muscle. Have you ever tried to go down in an lunge slowly to a 4-6 count on one of these machines? Talk about using core strength!

Megaformer at SolidcoreI’m in pretty good shape, and this was probably one of the hardest workouts I have done. I wanted to stop ten minutes into it. If you aren’t already in shape – this may not be the workout for you. They suggest that if you cant hold a solid plank for 1 minute or more, it will be too challenging.  I do not disagree with their suggestion. Almost from the start, I was sweating buckets even with no cardio and my muscles were twitching and I was shaking. As much as I didn’t like it – I loved it and that feeling. It meant that I was really challenging my body. Call me a glutton for punishment!

After SolidcoreMy friend, Mastaneh, who set up the class for us and who I was mad at the entire time (Just kidding!), felt the same way afterwards — we left with a love/hate feeling. A few days later, I am still feeling the burn. Not the “oh my gosh, i can’t sit down” type but the “that really works” type of soreness.

I would definitely go again if there were one closer to where I live. For now, It may have reignited my motivation to do yoga again and try a Pilates class.

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[Solidcore] Create the Strongest Version of Yourself

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