Question of the Week(s)

GREAT new articles up on Gillian's blog - both dealing with issues I'm sure most of us are familiar with:  what to do about your training when you're feeling ill, and how the heck to get (or strengthen) your pull-up!

An Open Letter

Dear Mr. Bluetooth Ipod,

I am very happy that you enjoy your gadget.  It is very cool that you can attach your ipod to the beaded curtain near the tanning booths and wander around the free mat area, practicing your boxing movements.  Or that you can attach it to the metal posts of the squat rack while you do your squats (even tho they make my neck and back hurt just to watch).

But I would appreciate it greatly if you would resist the urge to sing along to the tunes.  Aside from the fact that your voice is less than stellar, I find it difficult to concentrate on my own workout when you keep blurting out random musical phrases.  It's quite frightening, to tell the truth.

The Shortie at the Squat Rack

ps - You  probably also didn't realize the ruckus you made when you dragged the plyo box across the floor (I know that you're a bad-ass, and needed the cable station so that you could don the vest, attach yourself and work your sparring moves).  It's a heavy box.  It is most likely larger than I am (or at least it feels that way whenever I pick it up to move it).   But dragging it is LOUD.  Particularly to those of us within spitting distance.

Reading is FUNdamental

Do you keep a training journal?  Paper?  Online?  Software program?

If so, what do you record in it?  Do you stick to mileage and time, reps and weight?  Or do you include your perceived effort, your mood, what you ate or how you slept?

Lastly, do you ever look back at what you wrote?

I keep both a paper and an online training journal.  One is merely a reflection of the other (although I record a few humorous thoughts in my notebook while I'm at the gym - ie, smelly man, water fountain parade, dude who won't stop singing, etc).  I look at previous workouts in order to figure out the weights to use  or the rep scheme, but that's about it.

Today I completely failed that very simple exercise in due dilligence.  Off the bat, I was doing my full body workout with too high a reps scheme (3 sets of 15 rather than the 10 I was supposed to be doing), and then I flubbed on the amount of assistance to set for the Gravitron.


Moral of the story is - use what you've got.  Namely - if you record your workouts in a journal, READ them. 

Food Find, January 22nd

Occasionally, I buy toys that are as good in practice as they were in the "I want, I want, I want it" stage. 

I love my spiral slicer.  Yes, it takes up valuable space in my kitchen.  Yes, the suction cups always seem to suction when I don't want them to (and never when I do).  And  yes, I have often times come close to slicing my own fingers (I'm notorious for that, so don't blame the slicer).  But when all is said and done, this is one toy I adore. 

I've used it a few times to make curly fries or onions - but what I generally use it for is to make "pasghetti".  That's what I call my raw zucchini sliced in long spaghetti threads :)  Check out the carrots in the above photo to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

With raw pasghetti, I can have a hearty "pasta" dinner without the late night stuffed belly - a win/win situation for me!  Last night's dinner was particularly glorious: pasghetti with turkey meatsauce (which was equally simple to prepare):

1 Jennie-O turkey burger patty
1 can of sodium free crushed tomato
1 zucchini (green squash)

Defrost turkey burger and crumble in hot skillet. Once the meat is browned, add tomato (however much you like) and season to taste. Cook through and plate over spiral cut zucchini.


Lemonade Stand

How do you deal with a bad workout?  Not one you don't like, but one that just doesn't feel right?

Last night, I hopped on the treadmill to get a quickie 2 miler in.  5 minutes into my run, I had to dial down the speed and walk it out - my legs were dead and my breath just wasn't there.  The worst part?  I wasn't even going very fast!  It was a mere 6.0 mph (a 10 minute mile).  It should have been easy.  But it wasn't.

I could have bagged the workout right then and there.  Sucked it up, licked my wounded pride, and go make dinner.  But I didn't.

Instead, I walked for a quarter of a mile and turned my easy 2 miler into a moderate interval workout.  800m runs alternated with 400m walk, going up in speed at each 800m interval.  In the end, I ran 2 miles, walked 1 mile and watched an entire episode of "Castle".

Lemons to Lemonade...

Rut Ro

Apparently, I was in a rut at the gym and I didn't even know it.  Last week I switched up my training program significantly - and in the process I started to use some of the machines at the gym.  Things like the Leg Press. Cable Lat Pull Down.  Cable Pec Fly.  And I had absolutely no recollection of how to use the darn things!  Forget about the fact that I was clueless as to how much weight I was capable of using - I couldn't figure out what to DO.  At all.  And I had to share them with people.  Eek. 

During the course of the past two years, I have gotten so comfortable with big dumbbells and my beloved squat rack and barbell - but the rest of the gym has been pretty much filler.  It's the space between the locker room and where I need to be.  And now, that filler IS where I need to be. 

Quite the eye-opener.

I even had to use an 8# dumbbell.  8#!

Thankfully, I still get to visit with my barbell.  My happy place :)  But I think it's good to step out into the unkown (or relatively forgotten) every once in a while.  Scary, but good. 

So if you see me at the gym with a blank look on my face, or even worse - that "deer caught in headlights" thing going on, point me in the right direction.  It may take me a while to figure this all out...

Question of the Week

The first installment of Gillian Mounsey's Question of the Week is up and running!  Check it out here.

Environmental Waste

I have a confession to make...

I am not green.  I am the antithesis of green.  I am a wasteful, resource gobbling demon.

What I'm referring to, specifically, is my use of Ziploc baggies.  I love them. Last night's flank steak dinner leftovers were carefully measured into individual portions, baggied, and then placed within a larger freezer safe bag.  They then joined the pre-measured and double-bagged chicken breast on the shelf in the refridgerator.  This evening, whatever I don't think I'll consume within the next few days will be relegated to the freezer.

Ah, the baggie.  They come in a myriad of sizes, even ones with a real zipper, in the shape of a cube!  If you've got a storage need, food or otherwise, I bet you that there is a baggie for it.  Seriously.  I'll put money on it.

But when it comes to food - well, let's just say the baggie rules supreme.  Don't get me wrong, I've got a tupperware (gladware, etc) cabinet that is so overfilled you need a hardhat to protect  your noggin when you dare to open the door.  But I can never reach the container I need (I'm a pipsqueak), and if I can find the one I want you'd better believe that the top is nowhere to be found.  Probably hanging out with my missing socks behind the gym, sneaking a siggy and wasting their youth.

I've got bento boxes.  Boxes with built in ice packs, sectioned off to hold a full meal. 

But I always come back to my baggies.

I can see what is in them.  I can fit 7 days worth of meals on one fridge drawer.  My lunch bucket (cooler) actually closes without me breaking a sweat.

Of course, there is the occasional mishap.  Sometimes the zip top doesn't entirely close and I wind up with oatmeal scattered across the bottom of my cooler like fertilizer.  But generally, I can get to work without a hitch.

And, not to pat myself on the back - I do reuse any baggies that held dry goods (bread, oats, powders, etc).  So, I'm not such a terrible person, right?


There you have it.  I am not a perfect, green, organic, saver of nature.  Whew.  Feels good to get that off my chest!

How about you?  If you're a brown-bagger, how do you transport your meals from home?


If you've got a burning fitness question, swing by Gillian's blog.  She's fielding questions - submit your question via email, and she'll be answering one weekly on her blog, every Friday.

From her website:
The primary reason that I have started this blog is to interact with the community. As a health and fitness professional, I take great pride in sharing with you my knowledge and experience. My wish is that each of you will pass this knowledge on in a meaningful way and help someone else.  Beginning this week, I will be answering one question a week on my blog. I will choose the questions that appeal to the broadest audience to answer in this public forum. I encourage you to ask questions about injuries, programming, specific skills, health, performance or even a specific challenge that you may be facing with a client. It is my hope that these questions and answers will begin a dialogue that we can all learn from.  If you have a question, please send an email to me at and specify “Question of the Week” in the subject line. Your identity will be kept confidential.  Please stay tuned for the first “Question of the Week” that I will be answering this Friday (1/15/10).
You are also welcome to ask me questions, as long as you don't mind smart-alec answers having no basis in science, reality or good manners ;)

Up, Up, and Away....

I think my niece is trying to show me up :)

It's never too early to work on your pull-ups :)

Speaking of which - a while back I was perusing the internet and came across Operation Pull Your Own Weight, an organization devoted to ending childhood obesity through natural means within one decade or less.  How?  By making it their mission to help 95% of all school aged children learn to perfom traditional pull-ups before they graduate.  They believe that once that has been accomplished, childhood obesity will be all but erased.

Check out their website, and see what they have to say about the power of the pull-up. 

And with that, I'm off to work on my own!

Heels over Head

If you've ever wondered how to either teach a handstand, or achieve one yourself, check out Gillian Mounsey's site for her recently released instructional video.

Just scroll down to the bottom of the page to the videos that are exclusive to her website, and you'll see it there!  Check back often, as she's planning to continue to post a series of instructional vids addressing the gymnastics skills that she's (in)famous for.

Also, if you're in the New York Tri State area, she'll be teaching a one day Fundamentals of Gymnastics workshop in Fairfield, CT on March 13, 2010 at CrossFit Performance.

See Gillian's Seminar page for more information and details on how you can register.

Shake that Money Maker

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. 

Two pictures are worth even more...

But it's the actual commercial, as well as the parady video that's gone viral over the internet that is truly priceless.

Behold the future of exercise:'ll have to google the dirty version for yourselves ;)

Changing the Channel

What a difference a year makes!  It's been just over a year since I left my big-nationwide-chain health club and joined my current gym.  This morning, as I walked back to my office after my workout, I passed ye old health club.  It was packed.  Every single piece of cardio equipment that I could see through the streetside windows was occupied. 

Now, rewind to my earlier workout - the gym was also pretty packed.  In fact, I had to wait to use the assisted chin/dip station once I was done with my squats, lunges and bench.  Biggest differences were that the treadmills, steppers and recumbant bikes were mostly empty, and I was one of perhaps 3 women training during the typical lunchtime rush.

A friend asked me why I thought there were so few women at my gym - my response, while a bit tongue in cheek is most likely accurate: because there are no personal televisions at each cardio machine.

I totally understand, too.  Unless it's an intense interval workout, I can't stand to do "cardio" unless I'm in front of the boob tube.  At home, my Tivo is my best friend while I'm on the treadmill.  I can read while on a bike or a stepper, but give me television if I'm running indoors or slaving away on the elliptical :)  But as much as I enjoyed the personal TVs at my old gym, I had to leave.  It was virtually impossible to get a decent lifting workout.  And in the long run, that was more important to me than keeping up with daytime television. 

Which leaves me wondering how I (we) can get more women under a barbell, rather than devoting all their energy on "burning calories" or the next biggest new-age studio workout (ps, I love yoga, but I hate when yoga studios advertise how many calories you're burning.  Oy.).

Any suggestions?