Monthly Archives: September 2008

Personal Development, Not Quite A Book Review

I read a review of Steve Pavlina‘s book, Personal Development for Smart People, on the Life Coaches Blog. I think I’m waiting for my review copy (if I am?  It will be a delightful surprise one day at my door.  If I’m not?  I’ll have forgotten that I thought I requested a copy and likely get it somewhere.)  I love the explanation put forward by the Life Coaches.

Basically: no matter how or what we choose to as our path to personal development and change (such as when we decide to get fit and healthy), there are three major guiding principles that come into play: truth, love and power.

So when I made the decision 2 years ago to better my life by getting healthy, I came from a place of truth: I was 40+ pounds overweight, in pain, and unhappy.  I cared enough about myself to take action.  And I had the power (ability) to choose a path to get healthy.  In my case, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer.  (yeah, I guess that some economic power also existed to let me do this).

Next comes combining these principles:

power+truth=authority.   As I learned more about my own diet and exercise regime, I took control of my health and fitness from my trainer and became an authority in myself.

power+love=courage. The willingness to move away from my trainer’s shadow and act on my own.


An awareness of all three principles leads ultimately to Intelligence.

As they explain:

Essentially, you get a bag of tools to diagnose your personal growth. Whether considering a new job, finding a special someone or seeking a new spiritual path, you can always ask yourself if the change will bring you closer to truth, love and power or move you further from it.

It’s like the difference between teaching someone a technique in a martial art, versus getting them to build up their physical strength, endurance and agility. A technique only does what it’s good for, but a strong body is able to learn even more techniques faster and perform them stronger. Steve is essentially giving you the tools to strengthen your personal development muscles in this book.

Looking forward to reading this.

Dressing for the workout

I am finally acquiring some “real” workout gear.  First there was that fabulous Oiselle fitness bra, the one that feels like I’m not wearing anything, but I’m still supported.

Now is there a SkirtSport workout skirt. I ordered this one, and I honestly don’t rememeber why besides it was on sale.  Maybe also because it was the only black one available?  However, when I got it?  Heaven.  Workout bottoms that (once again) feel like not wearing anything.  I swear on a good day it’s like I’m walking around the gym perfectly supported and perfectly naked.  Without uncomfortable breezes or sticking to the vinyl cushions.

This skirt fits below the waist and (on me) is too short for me comfortably live around the town.  But in the gym, I’m finding it pure heaven.  It has a nice light built-in panty and most importantly, a pocket! I ordered this based on my wide waist measure to insure a proper fit.  Makes it fine.

Next time I’m looking for a workout skirt, I’ll probably take a gander at their Gym Girl skirt with built-in compression shorts.  We’ll see…

So what are you all wearing to workout these days?

From personal to Personal?

Lately something interesting has been happening when I visit the gym.  Once during almost every visit, somebody mistakes me for a Personal Trainer.  They ask me for help with doing an exercise correctly (I tell them I’m not a trainer and try to find one to help them out); a guy today even insisted that I must have certifications and wanted to know what they were.  (hello?  I was once certified to teach English in the state of Ohio.   But now?  not so much).

I’ve been weighing back and forth the positives and negatives of doing this: actually getting certified and working as a fitness professional.  Will have a talk with a friend about it later today.

The positives:

  • There are lots of women coming to the gym in the 40s through 60s hoping for a trainer who understand the mid-life hormonal and body changes.  A 20-something, even a woman, just can’t understand that.  I think we really have to had lived through it to understand.  So I could help a group of people I care about.
  • The money, I understand, isn’t fabulous when you’re first starting out; but it would give me more freedom to do the things I love in my free time. Will I find a passion for crafting returning? And it’s better than no money at all.
  • I already have a pretty good start on the work wardrobe.

The negatives:

  • Bye-bye to a lot of personal free time.
  • I’ve heard that it’s harder to work out when you spend so much time in a gym already.
  • Having to study and learn all the stuff I’d need to know.

What have I overlooked?  What’s hiding in the blind spot I don’t even see?  Monday I’m talking “the guy” about this.  Should have a clearer picture of what I need to do to know if I want to do it then.

Take the Lunge


(da-dum-dum).  Thank you, I’ll be playing by the treadmill all week!

(well didn’t that title sound a joke?)

The lunge is NOT one of my favorite exercises.  For a long time before and after my foot surgery, I could not do it.  When you cannot bend a foot, the lunge ain’t in your exercise repertoire.

But the lunge is one of important exercises to do especially if you don’t like it.  Yes, it works the legs and butt, but more important (and why don’t more people mention this?)  the lunge develop core strength and balance.

Like when an old(er) woman mis-steps on uneven pavement.  If she has a sense of balance and some core strength, chances are she can recover before she falls over, twisting from the unevenness, breaking a hip.  I dislike lunges, but I dislike the idea of being out of commission from a broken hip more.

Doing my lunges NOW, I hope, is another move to prevent that broken hip later.  You can take all the calcium pills your little heart desires, but if you lack balance (and so many of you claim you do), that broken hip is standing on your horizon waiting for you.

Start simple.  Stand upright with your feet about shoulder width apart. Extend your right foot forward, (just a little more.. trust me) resting the heel on the floor.  Keep your weight back on the left leg for a second.  Then easily flatten the right foot and shift your weight so it’s distributed on both feet,  Lower yourself down, both legs trying for a 90 degree bend, making sure your right knee never extends beyond your right foot.

Now decide.  Push forward with left leg and straighten up over your right.  Or push with your right leg and move backward and up over your left.  You can “walk” a set of lunges forward.  I wouldn’t walk backward without somebody to watching out for me, because I’d likely walk into a weight machine, or worse, trip over someone.  And those are ugly bruises to have to explain.

You can add weights when it gets easy, balancing them on your shoulders.  Or use a medicine ball held out in front of you, then twist to one side when you’re down in the lunge.  TALK ABOUT CHALLENGING YOUR BALANCE!

You can shake this move up about 10 ways from Sunday, and not particularly like any one.  But eventually you’ll notice that you wobble less while doing them.  That the muscles in your inner thighs and pelvic floor and abdomen are stabilizing you.  You’re gaining that functional balance.

So grouse about it, but give it a go.  Remember when you’re working out to occasionally take the lunge.


I must deny the rumor that today’s HIIT was achieved by alternating walking on the treadmill and actually running. We all know that I don’t run.  Especially in 1 minute spurts at 6 MPH.


Not me.

Must have been my doppelganger.

Same doppelganger was later seen doing 7 chin-ups, then kickin her own butt during her strength training workout setting two personal bests.

Meanwhile, I did my normal, ordinary nothing-to-see-here-just-move-along workout.


Broadly Speaking

This one is for all the women in the gym.

Yesterday, about 2/3rds of the way through my workout – after doing presses and flies and dips and generally torturing my upper body – I took an opportunity to step back up to the bar and do some more chin-ups.

Another 4.5, which considering what I’d done in my workout did not disappoint me.  Well, disappointed just a little, because I really wanted to do that fifth one.

I watched in the mirror as I was doing them:

ALL they guys nearby stopped and stared.  Most of the women paused in their sets and watched with quiet broad grins on their faces. Afterward, a couple of the men encouraged me to keep on.  The woman across the weight stack from me kept her smile going through the rest of her set.

Today, interspersed throughout my workout, I’d drop and do 10 pushups.  I can’t do more at one time and I can’t do multiple sets real close, but I can do 10 pushups  three times intersperse in an hour workout.

One set, the guys (I’m judging them to be from 30s to mid 50s) whispered that I made them look easy.  The women nearby all looked, smiled and kept on working.

That’s one reason I’ll keep doing these things: for those women and their quiet smiles.

Soup: It’s What For Dinner!

Saturday I experimented with a new recipe: Kale, Sausage and Chickpea Soup. The recipe can be found at Epicurious, so I won’t be writing it here.  Instead, you get my notes.

Kale is supposed to be one of the healthiest greens you can eat, which was a major reason to try the recipe.  Also?  With winter coming, a great new soup recipe is always welcome.

I changed the chorizo in the soup to a low-fat Turkey Smoked Sausage, which I’m hoping lowered the fat grams, but the milder sausage flavor made we wanting more.  Where the recipe calls for 1 cup of sausage, next time I’ll double it.  (besides I like a real a chunky soup).

To replace the heat of the chorizo, I added pepper flakes.  The sprinkles of red among the green kale was pretty  and it allowed us to choose our heat level.  Definately a keeper idea for me.

I didn’t like the flavor of the chickpeas, so next time I’d substitute white beans or black beans.

I used Swanson’s Chicken broth (one box) and thought the flavor of the soup’s broth was spot on.

So as the days get shorter and the weather cools, I’ll be looking for other yummy dishes to try.  Anyone got a recommendation?

How’d I Do It?

So several people (especially Miss Julie at Chubby Mommy Running Club) asked for tips on how to get from that weak 1/2 pull-up to the full on thing.

I am NOT going to give you specifics of exercises.  When I started working on this challenge, MizFit suggested that I make friends with my gym’s assisted pull-up machine and I did.  Stumptuous has a whole article on Mistressing the Pull-up. These were my initial guides in preparing.  Oh yeah, and I could already do a push-up.

I am going to suggest that you be able to do 10 push ups before you really start working on the pull-up.  It’s a lot of the same muscles, and a great first brag.  Also, you don’t need ANY equipment to work on push-ups.

My program really got kicked into high gear when I switch over to working the new trainer Adam.  I think at least 1/3 of each workout was dedicated to working my triceps, lats, chest, and core. Because having a strong core makes the pull-up easier.

OK.  Here’s what I really want to know about my achieving this goal.  Hopefully you can apply these ideas to ANY goal you have.

#1. State your goal using the words I WILL.

Forget 1. Do a pull-up or a. I’d like to do a pull-up or -try a pull-up. If you never psychologically commit to actually DOING it, you never will.

Zandria and I were emailing about goals a couple weeks ago.  She picked up on I WILL and wrote about better than I can.


It doesn’t matter what the date is, unless it’s unreasonably to close or too far away.  You don’t have to stick to the date (I accomplished my pull-up 5 weeks earlier).  But it’s another positive way to make yourself buy into the goal.


Like I said, my trainer “buying into” my goal was a major factor, but really all you need is someone to support you.  Blog buddies, gym buddies, friends, family.  Find one or more people who will push you when you need, cheer the small successes along the way, and kick your butt when you need it.


If you’re doing nothing to reach your goal, your not going to get there.  Weekly challenging myself to work with more weight kept me motivated.

Four and a half

I did FOUR AND HALF unassisted pull-ups today in my first official attempt.

There are 2 female trainers at our gym.  Hally (who held the camera for the video) was inspired to try chin-ups.  She did 2, but I think I’ve inspired her to do more upper body work.


Finding Me, part two

When we left our heroine, she was being FORCED to look at herself in a mirror and finding it pure torture. (she admits here that she cried while writing that.  Main reason to break this story up.  Tears + writing = messy keyboard.) She was a bit happier, but still feeling a bit numb inside.

She hinting at a secret about some carbs, too.

Remember that while I never thought much about the connection between my body and ME (yes, part of this might have to do with some abuse… but that has nothing to do with this story), the real problem began when I started changing my diet to lower my cholesterol.

I cut out a lot of the protein I used to eat, and I increased a lot of carbs.  Mainly wheat-based carbs. I also increased the cow’s milk until an allergy developed.

Now I have never been a big fan of wheat except for fresh-baked bread still warm from the oven.  THAT, however, was always an excuse to slather pieces with butter that sank into the tender center.. and gave me a chewy crust to enjoy. I do not particularly like pastas.  I can live without bread.  I like cake, but I’d rather have fruit pies and puddings.  I don’t like white potatoes, either, except as super skinny and crispy french fries or crispy-home fries.

Are we seeing some patterns here?  YES, I eat simple carbs as a vehicle for consuming fat, and I don’t like the basis of much of the modern American diet.  But eating more carbs (minus the fat) is the basis of cholesterol-lowering diets, and many of the weight-loss diets.  Forget the proteins and forget the fats.  They are bad.

As I made these changes to my diet, both my weight and my body disconnect increased.  I became numb and numb-er.  My joints were achy, my stamina low.

Enter changes every few months while trying to lose weight.

If you check through the archives for my Tales of the Scales stories, you’ll discover that I struggled all along the way with the diet.  NOT with the calories, but with figuring out exactly what to eat that gave me energy and left me feeling good.  And I always struggle with getting the fat down.

First I started cutting out the “white” foods: white flour, white potatoes, white sugar.. you know the drill.  Lost the weight and began feeling better.  Mood improved some, aches decreased some.

Last fall I moved to eating only whole grains: mainly brown rice and oatmeal, but occasionally polenta.  Sometimes even bulgher wheat.  I tried quinoa.. but it’s not my fave.  I added back more protein and some healthy fats.

And WOW, it was like someone removed a giant cloud from my brain!  My mood greatly improved, my energy level soared.  And much of the weight I was holding onto fell off.  I’m back down to the 120# weight I was before that cholesterol-lowering, “healthier” diet step began.

I have never tested positive for a food allergy, but I’m suspecting that there is something in many of these simpler carbs (especially wheat) that doesn’t agree with me. So I’m limiting my exposure to these.

Now dramatically reducing wheat from my diet has not turned me into a mirror-obsessed prima donna.  But now I can look at myself in a mirror to comb my hair, to check throughout an exercise.  To admire my necklace or my smile.

Where some people mentioned that we should not be judged by the appearance of our bodies, I believe that we should also acknowledge that we LIVE in our bodies.  My body lets me feel a breeze and hear a laugh.  It tells me when I’m strong, when I’m tired.  Trying to separate ME from my BODY means I’m failing to acknowledge a whole part of WHO I AM.

It’s late at night as I’m finishing this, and I’m certain I’m forgetting some key point. But I worked out today and I need some rest.  If there’s something you think I need to address, please hit me up in the comments.  After some zzzs I’m sure I’ll be able to address it.