Monthly Archives: June 2009

It’s not that simple.

The important part of losing fat -or to some the simpler but less descriptive losing weight- is to eat few calories than you burn.  About 300 calores/day is just right for most of us.

The hard part is determine how many calories you burn in a day to begin with.

Reading StrongLift this past month, they discussed how many calories do you need? and gave several formulas.  Using myself as the example I came up with:

Simple formula: body weight x18 kcal= 136×18=2448    Using my ideal weight: 120 x 18 = 2160. This does NOT include the fact I normally exercise about 1.5 hours/day.

Using the linked worksheet for the Cunningham Equation, I came up with a caloric expenditure of 3625.

Two formulas, one website, two vastly different results already.

Using the Energy Calculation formulas from Lori Incledon’s Strength Training for Women (pg. 60), I come up with a calculation of 2133. This is a more complicated formula but does take into consideration the fact I exercise and my age.

To lose weight at 1#/week I need to eat about 500 fewer calories/day than I expend.  Let’s agree the real number is somewhere around 2150.  That means I need to eat 1650.

For the past week I have been tracking my foods and exercise and eating about 1400 calories a day.  I have not lost weight.  Two hundred and 50 calories is not such an extreme deficient that I would dramatically stall my metabolism and hold onto weight.

So, once again, I’m confused as hell by all this.  I can-and probably should- eat a few more calories and be OK.  Note, that most evenings this past week I was full and trying to force more calories down.  NOT the best thing to do. Also note: the last couple months I have had very strong desires to stop at the grocery store on my way from the gym and buy candy bars, ice cream, cookies, etc.  I do believe my body is telling me I need more calories before my workouts to stave off these cravings afterward.

So maybe I try a couple weeks eating a few more calories earlier in the day -including some oatmeal before my workouts, and see how this goes.

July Workout Plan

Every month I focus my workout on one idea. It may be working on increased endurance or strength. June was my every-third month focus on unilateral exercises. If you haven’t spent a month doing exercises one side at a time, you might be surprised to find muscle imbalances you didn’t know exist. Or discover how much harder your core works pushing one dumb bell while holding the other stable.

For July -starting this week- I’m going back to work some of the exercise routines from NRLW. I’ve got things on my mind, and want to try a workout different than one I’d design for myself -and these are that. It also frees me from thinking about my workouts. I just pull out the sheet for the day and hit the gym.

Starting at level 2, interval training is built in to the routine. The major cardio force I need to push on myself to start burning this extra fat. I realized that last fall -when I cooking like gas – I was doing intervals 3x a week without fail. Even though I hate them. When I slowed down -OK complete stopped, arguing that I get enough cardio in my weight training – THAT’S when I gained weight.

Back to basics. Let’s see how this goes.


I’ve been spending a lot of time considering how to refocus this blog so I return to regular writing. Much of the reason for being quiet here is more a lack of topic inspiration than anything else.

Searching for something meaningful to write takes more energy than actually writing it. Funny how that works.

Anyway, much of this year I’ve complained about regaining some of the weight I lost 2 years ago. I’ve rededicated myself to losing the fat. And that will be part of the blogging again for the next few months.

I will blog my food – good and bad. Maybe in detail occasionally, most of the time, probably just the challenges of each day. Feel free to offer suggestions to get me to my goals.

I want to spend one day a week focusing on a resistance exercise. How to do it, how to regress and progress it. What each exercise does for the body, and why we should it. -like the plank vid I did a few months ago.

This will be the new focus. I think they always were the focus, but I lost it.

Welcome back, Deb…


Last Saturday evening I met up with a smallish group of people getting ready to head to BlogHer 09.  Since we were small, and mostly knew each other, it was more a chance to catch up on our lives and act as cheerleaders/advisers in the paths we were taking.

When it came to me, we all spent (yay!) about 45 minutes planning how I could work independantly to train individuals in the bay area.  I have been haunted by a phrase I pasted on my Vision Board for this year: Meet Your Mobile Trainer. The phrase struck home with other there and has become a way to focus myself.

Among the ideas was a “30 days to BlogHer” kick off bootcamp, which will have to held next week for the numbers to work.  In working to plan the camp, though, I really prefer to think of it as a “play camp” instead of a boot camp.  Something about bootcamps sound hard and militaristic and just not fun.  But wouldn’t people be willing to move more if they thought that exercising could be fun?  (if you read MizFit, you know that this one of her themes).

So I’m adding in elements like skipping and passing balls to each other.  I’d be tempted to try wheel barrow races but I fear for grown womens’ upper body strength -and their competitive natures.  Jumping rope and hop scotch are likely activities…

Find the play in the work feels right to me.  What do you think?

It’s Stumptuous!

Just found out that 2 months ago Stumptuous started sharing videos. I’ve spent some time this morning watching a number of these. They are -not surprisingly- wonderful.

I was awake way to early this morning, so I decided to do the dynamic warm up along with her. I was stiff and sore before I began, and feel so strong and limber how.

Monday 10 Minutes Moves

How are you doing with the 10 minutes moves? I occasionally get an email -usually bemoaning planks- but for the most part I’m not sure if this is helpful to you or not.

Let me know.

So this week, I’m going to encourage you to head to outdoors for a breath of fresh air while we’re getting our bodies moving. Remember each move can be done for 1 minute throughout the day, or some of these can be done for 10 minutes straight.

Monday: Windmills.
Stand with your legs wide and your arms straight out to the side. Reach one arm trying to touch the opposite foot. Come back up. Alternate arms.

Tuesday: Standing High Knees. Standing tall, feet hip width apart, arms relaxed at your side. Bring your knee up, grab it with your hands and pull lightly toward toward your chest. Balance briefly on the support leg before returning foot to floor. Alternate legs.

Wednesday: Incline pushups.
If you’re outside try doing this using a deck railing; inside a counter edge or stable table top. Stand far enough away from the surface that the edge is just out of reach; take a push-up position using the edge of the surface. Drop into the edge keeping your feet on the ground. Feel the stretch through your calves and across the chest. Then push up to the incline position again.

Thursday:Dance. Find whatever music gets you moving and move.  Dance like nobody’s watching… cause they aren’t.

Friday: Prisoner Squats. Place your hands behind your head, keep your back firm and straight and do 10 squats.

Ten Minute Challenges wo 6/8/09

I’ve been a bit lax about posting those 10 minutes lately. Really, I’ve been organizing my life -which pulls me away from the computer. And organizing is it’s own kind of challenge that lasts way longer than 10 minutes.

Back to nitty-gritty.  Each of the challenges below can be done for 10 minutes one time, or down to 1 minute ten times throughout the day.  Whatever and wherever you find some time for moving.

We like to move it, move it:

Monday:  10 pushups.  Any variation you like: “real” pushups, “girl” pushups, counter pushups.  Even moving down from one to the other.  How many can you do in a minute?

Tuesday: Walking Lunges.  Take a wide step forward, balance yourself between both legs, and drop your down.  Both legs should -ideally- be bent at 90 degrees.

Wednesday: Run in Place.

Thursday: Chair dips.

Friday: Dance.  That’s right!  Dance!  Get those hips swaying and those arms waving and those legs stepping.  Choose a happy song to get us in the spirit for the weekend and just cut loose!  Foot Loose!

Veggies, veggies everywhere…

For this month, I’m working hard to lean up some.  When it comes to my workouts, that means fairly heavy weights and moderate reps with little rest.  Cardio?  Intervals 3xs a week.

For my diet?  I’m sticking to lean proteins, a couple pieces of fruit a day, and vegetables every time I eat.  And I’m only eating grains right after a weight training workout.  It’s not a difficult way to eat -I like it most of the time.  I’ve even found a way to get those veggies into my breakfast (and my late evening meal).  The secret?  A smoothie.

Yes.  It might sound strange, but it’s working amazingly well for me.

I begin preppin my “smoothie’ by cutting some summer squash, some cucumber, adding some edamame, and maybe some spinach.  I throw from fresh berries on top, add 1.5-2Cups of cold water and a scoop of protein powder.  Chocolate or vanilla both work well.

The entire mess is whizzed in my blender until it’s fairly smooth.

I’m amazed how this fills me up!  Hopefully by the end of the month, it will also show as a leaner me lets my muscles show through.

Functionally Stable Ankles

I have sprained my ankles about 10 times as an adult.  For a while I joked that they were so loose I could not sprain them anymore.  Add several years of an altered stride with my left foot due to a problem with my left big toe, and I have problems.

Medical and fitness experts are finally recognizing that repeated strains/sprains of ankles can impact the neurological and muscular fitness of the joint, affecting movement -especially balance- for the rest of a indivual’s life.  There is even a name for this: Functionally Unstable Ankles.

Can you stand and balance on one foot?  Can you close your eyes and balance?  Many individuals, when they try this, will have a relatively firm stance at the foot.  Their hips, their waist, their shoulders, their head will show some wobble and oscillation as they try to maintain their weight on one leg.  With practice at firming their core and becoming aware of aligning their body correctly, balance improves.

For me, I begin my remaining fairly firm from the waist up.  The core is strong, the shoulders level, the head level.  Look at my ankle, however, and the foot is rolling side-to-side and toe-to-heel like a rowboat in a hurricane.  The knees and hips follow the ankle in this oscillating action.

Does this sound familiar?

What can be done for those of us with FUA?

Jimmy Smith wrote a great article , The Ankle Paradox, at T-Nation.  Smith discusses that one ankle sprain can cause several problems:

The restriction we put on the ankle while it heals can cause weakness in the foot and front of the calf as these areas must take over for the damaged ankle.

Proprioception is damaged.  We have the most mechoreciptors in our feet and ankles.  When the ankle is damaged, these receptors can damaged also leading to a foot aware of its place. This “unawareness” is complicated by our wearing shoes -especially shoes with thick cushioned soles- all the time.

The likelihood of repeated sprains increases.  (a-hem… ):

Continual ankle sprain is the single most overlooked issue I see. For one, it’s viewed as something that came and went like it never happened. I often hear comments like, “I sprained my ankle a few months ago, but it’s fine now.”  Well, if you keep hitting your head into a wall, I bet it’s going to do something to your noggin.

Every time you sprain your ankle, numerous dysfunctional patterns may occur. After a single ankle sprain, 70 to 80% of patients will suffer at least one subsequent sprain.(8) This is termed chronic ankle instability, which is characterized by frequent ankle sprains, and the feeling of “giving way.”  The majority of ankle sprains will present in this way. Contributing to ankle instability will be peroneal weakness, proprioceptive deficits, and anatomical laxity.(9)

Here’s where Smith’s work gets interesting.  He believes that these repeats sprains end up with us damaging the “firing” mechanism for our glutes max.  As the glutes fail to work -or work hard, we end up not only with weak ankles, but weak and painful lower backs.  What starts at the foot, moves all the way up our bodies.

Is there hope for those of us with chronically unstable ankles?  Fortunately, yes there is.  I have been working on a program similar to the one Smith recommends and it seems to help.

My program:

1. I roll the entire bottom of foot every day whenever I remember using a golf ball.  As Smith explains:

Rolling a tennis ball or golf ball along the base of your foot on a daily basis will break up the fascia and enable improved function of everything from the ankle to the low back to the neck. Have a go at this test: Perform an old-school hamstring stretch by bending over and trying to touch your toes. Pay attention to how tight your hamstrings feel. Now, roll a tennis ball under each foot for 60 seconds. Bend over and try to stretch again; you should notice a greater stretch2. This simple test validates the theory of fascial trains.

2. I foam roll the heck out of my back, butt, hips, and legs.  Again, I should do it every day, but I do it when I remember.

3.  Go barefoot whenever I can.  I rarely remember to take my shoes off while doing exercises in the gym -and they frown on barefootedness in the weight area.

4. Do some exercises to work my glutes and the front of calf.  Specifically I do clam-shells, bird dogs, and cobras for the glutes and back.  For the front of the calf, stretchy band exercises (pulling the foot toward the shin, pointing away, rolling foot in and out) help a lot.

5. Force production.  This one might get you looks in the gym, but damn it works.  It’s a perfect exercise to pair with your step ups.  Step up onto a platform or bench.  Then step off, landing on your one foot.  Stick the landing and try to hold it for 3-10 seconds.  Do about 10 reps/foot.  About the 7th time I do this, I feel my foot burning but I also swear I feel the reciptors re-awaking.

6. Walk on sand.  With summer quickly approaching this is great option to resensitive the reciptors in the feet.

7. Vary/wear specific shoes.  I have a pair of MBTs that give me a slightly unstable walking condition.  Wearing these for a full day always has me waking up with pain in my weakest leg.  The muscles up through my lower back complain.  So I limit my time in these to about 4 hours.  The next day I switch to a pair of Nike Frees.  These shoes have a very thin sole that lets me sense the world under my feet.  Combining the two seems to be helping with some restoration of my proprioception.

8. Unilateral workouts.  I make sure to concentrate on unilateral exercises (using one side at a time) at least every 3 months.  This lets me test and work on specific muscle weaknesses that occur.

9. Limited controlled unstability work.  I do not want to “train” myself to wobble and be unbalanced.  So while I’m working on repairing years of damage, I limit my actual ankle balance work to perhaps once a week doing one-legged foot pushes. I still do lunges and step ups twice a week -making sure that all the steps above have been done before.  These keep the hips, obliques, abdominals all still aware of working together for stability and balance.

10. Walk on my toes.

If you have ever had an ankle sprain and current notice a lack of balance, plantar fascaitis, and/or lower back pain try these steps to improve things.  And let me know how it goes.


Peanut Sauce

I have to admit that Peanut Sauce is one of my summertime go-to sauces.  My modus-operandi for summer suppers is to quickly throw some meat and veggies on the grill and serve them.  It’s great, but the repetitive nature makes it really boring after a while.  So sauces are necessary to add some pizzazz.

Thai Peanut Sauce is fast to make, last a couple weeks in the fridge, and can be used on meats, veggies, whole wheat pasta.  Anything you’d desire for a quick change of pace summer meal.

Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce.
This is adapted from Barbara Tropp’s The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking.

3-5 cloves of garlic (Tropp uses 10… but I found that then I couldn’t taste anything except the garlic. Not the sauce I was going for…). I actually prefer to use roasted garlic, but that means planning ahead.

1/2C Soy Sauce
1/2C all natural peanut butter (it has no transfats… so it’s healthier).
5 TBS. Sugar
1-2 TBS Thai Kitchen Red chili sauce (depending on your tolerance for heat)
1 TBS. vegetable oil
1 TBS. lime juice

Mince the garlic in your food processor or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients, and puree for 1 minute (is you are using a blender, pulse the blend for about 10 second intervals).

Let the flavors blend for atleast 2 hours.