Monthly Archives: March 2010

Roasting vegetables

Since one of my dietary goals has been to eat more vegetables, I’ve experimented all winter with roasting them. Cutting every edible veggie into pieces – usually halves or quarters- gently rubbing with some olive oil, sprinkling with a little salt. I slide the veggies into a medium hot over (325-350F) and let them stay until they tender and browned.

I’ve discovered some favorites that I never would have expected:

  • cabbage becomes sweet and delicate when roasted
  • kale- goes from perfect to burned quite quickly- but it’s a tasty munch when grabbed in time.  Be sure to check kale after about 10 minutes.
  • any winter squash.  Butternut, hubbard, anything.
  • asparagus
  • brussel sprouts

As the weather get warmer, I’ll switch from roasting to grilling.  Not all of these veggies will be available during the summer months so I won’t really have to wonder how they translate.

Now what summer vegetables will be a surprise on the grill this summer?

Plans this week

Last week I wrote out all my exercise plans- but they didn’t work out in real life.  Took me a while to understand why: I started my plan on Sunday- when I actually flying across country and unable to get to the gym to do a workout.

So Sunday’s became Monday, Monday’s became Tuesday.. I was off on Wednesday and every fell apart from there.  I’m laying it on being really tired from FitBloggin’ last weekend.

So let’s try again:

Sunday: Upper body-just like last week.  I had plans to walk Jake with a friend, so I didn’t do the cardio I should have.  Then the walk fell apart.

Monday: Core and balance.  And 30 minutes of cardio.

Tuesday: Lower body strength.  And 30 minutes of cardio.

Wednesday: Lordy, I’ve got errands to run, etc.

Thursday: repeat Sunday.

Friday: repeat Tuesday or Wednesday.

Saturday: full on rest day.

I’ve had it with wondering why I’m not losing the weight I need to.  The cardio is important to add back into the mix (as much as I hate it).  So time to get sweaty on the cross track or treadmill or row machine…

I’ve picked up a bit of a head cold -so I may not be pushing it with full on intervals yet.  I’ll let the cold settle out, then add the intervals back in.  One of my friends, who has sick on and off for months, has started using a neti pot every day -at my urging.  She hasn’t gotten sick since then.  So I’ve got to remember to add that neti pot back in to my morning routine.

What’s your plans for getting fit and staying healthy this week?

JAMA Study on Middle Ages Women and Exercise

I’m not sure how this report is going to play in the major media, but I can guess.  “Middle Aged Women Must Exercise An Hour A Day Or Gain Weight“.  Something like that for sure.

I hate it.

Let me tell you what I learned from the  new JAMA article. The study followed over 34,000 women of roughly middle age for up to 15 years.  These women reported not going on a calorie restrictive or weight loss diet during the study.  Roughly every  3 years the women reported on their activity levels and body weight.

The women were initially grouped by their BMI into three groups: those with a healthy BMI under 25/ those with a BMI between 25 and 29.9/ and those with a BMI of 30 or higher.

At the end of the study, the women were broken into groups that exercised by the federal guidelines of half an hour, 5 times a week (150 minutes)/ women who exercised between 150 minutes and an hour every day/ and women who exercised an hour or more every day.  They then took their reported weight changes and analyzed the effect of exercise on weight gain.

The women in the study gained on average 5.5 pounds over the length of the study.

A closer analysis showed that those women who began and ended the study with a BMI under 25 who exercised more than an hour every day maintained their weight.  All other women gained weight during the study.

The study’s conclusion:

Among women consuming a usual diet, physical activity was associated with less weight gain only among women whose BMI was lower than 25. Women successful in maintaining normal weight and gaining fewer than 2.3 kg over 13 years averaged approximately 60 minutes a day of moderate-intensity activity throughout the study.

What does this mean for most of us? NOT what the headlines say it says, in my opinion.  Those headlines will have women believing that they must exercise over an hour a day -every day- in order to maintain their weight.  But note that this was only successful the small group of women who began the study with BMI under 25.

For women women with a BMI over 25, exercise had no affect on weight gain. For most of us, we must concentrate harder on eating a balanced diet with sufficient lean proteins, plenty of vegetables, fruits, lower fat dairy.  We must limit the intake of process and manufactured foods.

That is, we must attend to our diet along with exercise in order to maintain our weight.

When looked at this way, it makes me ponder what it about the current American diet that so many women eating a “normal” diet still gain weight?  Why Americans and not necessarily those women in other countries?

I’m laying the major concern at the much-too-easy availability of processed foods and the ingredients contained in those foods.  We could discuss High Fructose Corn Syrup  and the dangers of raising all our feedstock animals on a diet of corn.  THAT discussion could be an entire weeks worth of posts. Instead, I’ll let other make that argument.  Read Michael Pollan if you haven’t already, or check out King Corn.

I am going to make a simple recommendation for any middle aged women who want to control their weight: limit your starchy carbs to 3-5 servings a day.

  • a serving is one slice of bread, 1/2 C of rice, one small baked potato (or 1/2 of a normal baked potato).
  • Consume those starchy carbs early in the day.  remember carbs are used for energy.  If you will be sitting on the couch watching TV all evening, then going to sleep, you don’t need that much energy.
  • Keep those carbs as unprocessed as possible.  WHOLE foods are the best.  Brown rice, slow-cook oatmeal, quinoa, dried beans.
  • Whole processed grains (like whole grain bread) are still processed.

In general eat as close to nature as possible.  Forgo processed foods or foods with a lot of ingredients in them.  Learn to bake your own bread.  Maybe learn to make your own pasta.  Limit the canned and packaged items you consume.

Planning Your Workout For Weight Loss

Most of my work at the is talking to women and men who have joined to lose weight.  Many of them think they can’t afford personal training, so they take advantage of 1-3 session specials to garner some tips on how to best try and work out on their own.

They never bring paper and pencil or take notes.  I’m not sure how they expect to remember what I say- if it were easy enough to pass along in 45 minutes we really wouldn’t need personal trainers.  But I thought I’d sit down and blog my condensed tips for those who wish to give it a try on their own.

1. Cardio -for you- will be key.

It burns more calories than sitting on your butt, and it’s usually safe if you’re working out alone.  (There are always those fools who don’t eat, do cardio for hours, then pass out on the treadmill.  Let’s not be one of those people.)

Push yourself to get your heart rate up to ~70% of your maximum.  (The simplest formula is: (220 minus your age) times point 7 equals your target heart rate.  You should be flushed, sweaty and slightly breathless if you’re working at this level.  Casually strolling on a flat treadmill won’t cut it.

2. Do Resistance Training Twice a Week.

To be safe, most of your workout should be machine based.  There is no way I can safely teach you to lift freeways in 10 minutes.  Work weight training should take you about 50 minutes to complete.


  • Control the weight.  You don’t want to be “throwing it” away from you.  You want a control press and return.
  • 12-15 reps in a set
  • 2-3 sets per body part
  • Work in a circuit style if possible.  Complete one set of an exercise then quickly move to the next one.  The only rest is the time it takes to adjust the machine to your settings.
  • Ideally alternate between one upper body exercise and a lower body exercise.

If you are extremely overweight stay off the floor.  It is not only safer for you to remain standing, you are burning more calories and working more muscles by standing.

You are not going to bulk up and have muscle pushing your fat out.  Muscle is denser than fat- as you build it, you should see yourself getting smaller but firmer.  Also, muscle burns more calories than fat- so building some muscle will help with your weightloss.

3. It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Don’t Eat Lean

Your diet should be made up of healthy foods in a proportion close to 30% protein, 20% fat and 50% carbohydrates.  Of th0se carbs, most of them should be fiberous vegetables (colorful vegetables -green, orange, red, yellow).  You may also have about 2 servings of fresh fruit and 2 servings of grain a day.

Make sure you eat enough- if you’re a woman with 20# or so lose, do not go below 1200 calories a day/ if you have more than 50# to lose, do not below 1600 calories.  A man’s lowest limit is 1600/2100.  These numbers may sound either very high or very low to you, but they are completely workable caloric limits if you stick to a vegetable-based instead of grain-based diet plan.

If you find you have trouble getting enough protein without getting too much fat, add one serving of a protein powder mix to your diet every day.  These usually run about 120 calories for 20-25 grams of protein with only 1-2 grm. of fat and carbs.  I usually use Ultimate Gold Whey.

That’s it.  A very basic plan for those who want or need to do it on their own.  Obviously if I were working with you, it would be much more detailed than this- but this plan should be successful for anyone looking to lose weight.

Any questions?

Motivation and Companionship- the missing ingredient

I don’t quite understand but for the last few weeks I have not had the “hit the gym and work out” mojo going for me.  I’ve lost both the overwhelming desire to work out and the sense of a day-to-day plan.  Of the two, I feel that the plan is the more important step in keeping myself motivated.

In the last year, I’ve completely lost my endurance.  Even with that knowledge, I try to press on doing the workouts I did before.  And failing.  I’ve stepped back and started to plan a routine that will take me WHERE I AM NOW and bring me back to where I was.  I’ve realized that I can do this- but I’m lonely in doing this.  I miss the social interaction of a trainer or friend to encourage me; keep on track; hold me back when I get impatient but encourage me to push harder on the things that are hard.

How do others DO this all the time?  How do you work out alone with goals and keep yourself motivated?

I’ve written a month long program to build some cardio and muscular endurance (see below).  I am going to try to stick to it for the month, practice patience, remind myself that it’s recommended for the normal person who workouts that they stay most of the time in neurological and muscular endurance.

You are welcome to comment or email or twitter me to ask how I’m keeping on track.


  • Cardio- 20 minute steady state
  • Strength- Upper body. Supersets of bench press/standing row/lat pulls- each superset made up of a stable and unstable segment.


  • Cardio- 20 minutes of interval training
  • Strength-Lower body.  Supersets of squats/step ups/lunges.  Each superset made of a stable and unstable segment


  • Cardio-a quick warm up.  Then 20 minutes of a variety of farmer’s walks.
  • Strength-Balance and core.  Plank, bridge, side plank, birddogs, clam shells, single leg deadlifts,

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: See Sunday

    Friday: See See Monday

    Saturday: See Tuesday.

    If you checked in earlier, this had lots of other activities on it – deadlifts and tgus and things that are good for me but not really appropriate for the level of training I’ve assigned to myself.  At least, not in the incarnations I was describing.

    Again, I was getting away from the plan and letting my ego interfere in the process.

    For the several months, I have to keep it simple and look for progress in my ability to go longer not heavier.

    Someone please remind of this – oh, several hundred times a day??

    Just a quickie..

    Just to quickie to say I’ve survived travelling to the east coast without incident.  My luggage even made it here too.

    The weather is gorgeous, the room is spacious.

    I’m amazed by the things I forgot to pack.  (let’s just say I will be very casual all weekend).

    Fit Bloggin in Baltimore

    Thursday morning- before the crack of dawn- I shall be flying east to attend the inaugural FitBloggin conference in Baltimore.

    I am honestly excited beyond belief to be finally meeting -or rarely, re-meeting and many times only first getting to know- a whole knew pack of bloggers. My life has grown and changed immeasurably by my time spent with bloggers- and I’m sure that this occasion will not be different.

    If you are going- please leave a comment and let me know. If you are not going- anything you’d like to share about the experience?

    I hope to find a bit of time to catch up on some blogging – including here. My life seems to be so external right now!

    How to do a Proper Push-up, part 3.

    The last couple weeks, I’ve been writing about how to do a proper pushup starting with instructions on how to do a plank– the great first step, and then how to do a wall push-back and progress that move downward until you reach the floor.

    Today- at last – the steps to get from a knee-push up to the dreaded but admired full pushup.

    Anyone having trouble with a full push up will decry their lack of upper body strength. We’ve been working on that with the push-backs. On the floor, however, I believe that the real problem is weak core and poor form on doing a push up. The difference in the percentage of your body weight you are pushing between knees push-ups and full body pushups is less than 10%. That means that if you can do 10 knee pushups you are strong enough to do at least one real pushup.

    And I believe if you practice planks and wall push-backs, you can be strong enough to do ONE regular push up within a month of starting. It’s all been in laying that foundation.

    • Start on the ground on your hands and knees.  Walk your hands forward until your body makes a straight line from the knees to your head.  Your hands are slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Your core is engaged. Fingers are pointing forward. Feet together.  (do not let your heels fall out).
    • Lower your upper body down to the floor in a straight line. Feel the tension in your upper back.
    • Push your body back up to the start position maintaining that straight line. Do not let your hips either sink below that line or pike above it. If it does, your core is not properly engaged.
    • Continue until you can do 10 or more of these.

    Moving UP to the regular push up.

    Begin as if you will be assuming a plank position, but maintain your weight on your hands instead of your elbows.  (see?  easier already than a plank).

    • Engage your core, and press back through your heels. This last point?  Very important.  It makes sure the whole body is tight and moving as one. Otherwise, you are putting a lot more demand on your upper body to move your hips and legs.
    • Lower your body down in a straight line until your chest is just above the ground. Inhale as you lower down.
    • Hold this position for one count.
    • Exhale and quickly push yourself back up to the starting position.  Instead of thinking about moving your body up- try to press the floor away from your shoulders.

    I find doing regular pushups easier than doing too many “knee” pushups.  At the point that you find you can do 1 or 2 regular ones, begin with these – and drop to your knees to complete a set.  Next time, try just one more push up before dropping to your knees.

    Do not be surprised if you notice that the third or fourth time you do a set of pushups in a workout that you can suddenly do more than you could in the first set.  Your muscles get all “shocked” and prepared for the movement and your CNS starts programming the “connection” to make it more efficient.  At the end of a workout, you may be banging out 2 or 3 more standard pushups than you were at the beginning.

    Now it’s just a matter of repetition.  Within another month, you should be doing a completely set of standard pushups.  Come on.  YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!

    Kekich Credo # 40

    I’ve read through the entire Kekich Credo after seeing it quoted and referred to on a number of blogs. The story of a paraplegic who went on to become a very sucessful businessman-and the ideas that compelled him there- are the things that movies are made of.

    Kekich Credo #40
    No Dream is too big. It takes almost the same amount of time and energy to manage tiny projects or businesses as it does to manage massive ones… and the massive ones carry with them proportional rewards.

    Michael Pollan’s Food Rule #11

    Just a note for clarification: I just started a new job as a Personal Trainer at 24 Hour Fitness (Oakland- High Street.  If you live nearby, stop in and say “hey”).  So while I do have a plan for this blog – certain topics, regularly on certain days- until I get my feet under me and recover my sleep, things may be a bit slow (again).

    I am trying to write and pre-publish a number of posts (such as the push-ups) but- well we’ll see.  Wish me luck- and pray that switching to a smart phone ends up making this so much easier.

    On to today’s topic:

    I’m wildly enchanted with Michael Pollan’s newest book: FOOD RULES-An Eater’s Manual.  It’s all those instinctive  thoughts about eating that tend to niggle at you from the back of your head put into words.  Simple. Logical. Clean.  And-an important thing given Pollan’s other books: it’s short.

    Take for example Rule #11: Avoid Foods You See Advertised On TV.

    Now this rule falls under Pollan’s general BIG rule to eat food – not “edible foodlike substances”.   Since advertising is an expensive proposition, it makes sense that most of those using advertising will be manufacturers of these “edible foodlike substances”.

    It’s one of the ways you can identify “the enemy”.

    Double Bacon Avocado Cheeseburgers do not grow on trees or on the ground.  They -or some similar iteration- are heavily advertised.

    There are exceptions to these rules of course.  Almond growers, walnut growers, Florida orange growers, etc. have banded together as units to promote their products.  Often these commercials are to get you to choose their foods over a similar one – have almonds for their health benefits instead of peanuts; eat a Florida orange instead of a chilean peach.  Even if this message is not directly stated, it’s there.

    Aside from similar groups promoting the health benefits of a particular- and always healthy food- if you see a food product advertised on the television, use that criteria to cross it off your menu.

    Now how many everyday foods would be leaving behind?