Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Women Run the Cities 5K 2014 (50th Bib!!!)

 
 
 
Women Run the Cities 5K (3.15 miles)
38:11
Average Pace 12:07/mile



In looking for some new and interesting races to run for 2014, one race kept popping up in discussions with my Minnesota friends as a must do - Women Run the Cities (or as I prefer to call it, Women Run the TWIN Cities, since it's St. Paul and Minneapolis that we're talking about here).

Seeing that this race offered a 10 mile option with a medal, I thought for sure this would be the race to get me back into half shape prior to Mankato in October.  But then, plantar's fasciitis struck, and I knew 10 miles was not likely going to happen.  Or if it did, it may result in some season ending injuries that I just couldn't afford to have, being an aerobics instructor and what not.

After lots of himming and hawing about how I really still wanted to do this race's 10 mile distance for the medal, I was told by a friend in my run club that even the 10K and 5K finishers got a medal in 2013.  Say what?!  Well, that sure made my decision easy! 

So, with less than 12 hours before registration price breaks kicked in over labor day weekend, I registered for this race.  As did two other friends. 

Whoop!  Away we go!!

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To make life easier for everyone, I offered go to packet pickup on the Friday prior to race day and nab our goodies.  Not having done any packet pickups for a "chain" type race since the Bacon Chase, I was a little worried about how packet pickup would go.  In fact, this is one of the reasons why I'm not a fan of the really big races.  The cattle call at packet pickup can be kind of a drag.

Not to be left out (or maybe dying to go, knowing how crazy the Bacon Chase packet pickup was), one of my race buddies tagged along. 

Despite my fears, when we got there, packet pickup wasn't too bad.  The line was a tad long, but things went pretty smoothly and without event.  Plus, the Shops at West End are pretty swanky, so that helped make the experience more enjoyable.

In 15 minutes or so we were in and out, and walked away with this cute shirt. 




Full length sleeve, wicking, half zip, embroidered logo AND a zippered pocket in the back?  Love!!!

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On to the real challenge of this race - wardrobing.

Being that this was a women's themed race, I did some thinking about what I wanted to wear the week or so leading up to the big day, but was coming up short.  I didn't want to do just a passé tutu or glitter skirt, but didn't want to go spend money on something new either.  That meant time to recycle something in my ever growing workout / costume inventory. 

Lacking inspiration, I did some discussing with my partners-in-crime for race day.  As soon as I heard one of them was shooting for Super Girl, I knew which way I had to go.

Yep, Wonder Woman.

I was super excited with that concept, because I thought it might also mean I could wear this creation from my sister's Etsy shop:


 
 


But then I saw the forecast for race day was sunny and a high of 82.  Typical Minnesota fall.  One day it's 40 and freezing cold winds, the next day... not.

Knowing that 70-80 degrees would be too hot for a hand crocheted hat, I decided to hold back on the accessory and just keep it simple with my Wonder Woman dress from MicksMakings.  I guess there's always next time, Wonder Woman hat.  (That being said, my sister's having a Halloween sale, so if you need something for your fall running costume go check out her shop.  There is tons of new stuff to peruse... plus get 20% off $20 or more, coupon code: SPOOKY ).

Accessories aside, even without the hat, we looked pretty good ... amIrite?!




Yeah, you may have noticed that I forgot my sunglasses for this race.  One of the bummers of fall races - the sun comes up after you're en route to the race, so you don't have a build in reminder to grab them.  Dang.

Oh, and if these girls look familiar, this might be why.

Anyhow!  Although Super Girl and I were running the 5K, our other race buddy was running the 10K.  That meant we had to arrive at the start line with plenty of time to spare for the 10K start - 8:00am.  (Despite the 5K scheduled to start at 8:30).

Knowing that parking in the vicinity of Minnehaha can be a total PITA, we opted to drive to a nearby light rail park and ride, and catch the train the rest of the way.  That worked out really well, actually!  I was quite pleased.

Since the train ride was flawless, we arrived at the race start around 7:30.  With lots of time to kill, we decided to putz around and took some selfies.





It was sometime during our putz fest that I heard a laughing yell and a "NATALIE?!?!"  Followed by a bear hug.  It was my family from the Waconia race recap, who informed me that my outfit definitely made me stand out in the crowd. 

Which is saying something, being that we were in quite the sea of people!!

Of course, more photos ensued.




Side note: I may or may not have left a deodorant mark on someone's black V-neck run shirt.  Whoops.  At least she was cool with it, admitting she'd likely need the extra help on her run anyway.  HA!

After a few more photos, it was time.  All of the 10K and 10 mile runners went to line up, and Super Girl and I went to the porta-potty lines for one last hurrah.  There were plenty of potties, so that didn't take too long... and the timing was about right after we were done, so we went to line up for the 5K start.

While we waited in the corral, it became even more apparent how popular our super-duo was; we were getting a lot of complements for our costumes, and smiles.  And of course, I loved it.  That is why I dress up after all - to make things more fun for everyone else too!!

Eventually there were the standard pre-race announcements, with a few minor errors that were immediately corrected, and then the air horn.  We were off!!

Super Girl and I were glad even from the beginning that we decided to line up at a pretty aggressive start point for this race.  Even though we planned to run at a slower pace (Super Girl is just getting back into running post having a baby, and I decided to run easy with her on account of my foot issues), we were hardly being pushed from behind or being passed by anyone.  And the added bonus to that was that there was never really any congestion for us to push around.  That was certainly a first for me in a race of this size, and I loved it!

About a quarter of a mile out of the gate, we were impressed - the course was proving to be a beautiful out and back.  It started out with a slight downhill, and then was a slightly winding but mostly flat run along the river.  With it being early fall, and having a great canopy around us, we really enjoyed the fall colors on course.




I did notice within the first mile that things weren't going so great for me personally.  Unfortunately, due to arriving at the race so early and having no place to sit, standing around stagnant on my feet really irritated my bad left foot/heel/plantar's issue.  In fact, it had become apparent that I was already having issues pre-race when my 10K friend asked if I was limping - which at the time, I didn't think I was ... but apparently I was.  Fortunately, though, running at the slow pace allowed me to relax into the run, and somewhere around 0.75 to 1 mile my foot muscle felt like it had stretched out and was starting to feel better.

Aside from that and the fact that my Nike+ sensor almost fell off my shoe (which forced me to stop mid run to fix, and then sprint up to Super Girl in order to keep up with her), the race itself flowed uneventfully from mile 1 until about 2.75 or so.  Which says a lot at a race like this given the mix of runners and walkers, children through elderly, and beginners to experienced runners.  I was really impressed with how well things were organized and how smoothly things were going.  Plus, the out and back made it especially fun for Super Girl and I as runners started to double back on us.  We got lots of cheers and smiles for our outfits as people passed us, or as we passed them.

Eventually, the course started to wind down and we approached the final stretch.  That's when things got really fun.  At around the 2.75 mile mark or so, we happened upon a young girl who was running the 5K by herself.  She couldn't have been much more than 5-6 years old, and she was doing a fantastic job, but had petered out.  Super Girl and I cheered her on with a "Come on, you can do it!" and a "We can see the finish line already, you're almost there!", and that was it - she took off like a flash and thundered to the finish.

Which meant that duh, we had better do the same.  So with less than a quarter mile to go, despite a slight uphill battle, we opened up our gait and sprinted in. 

And that was it!  Super Girl at 38:10 and Wonder Woman at 38:11.  We had finished!  Oh, and we each got one of these, of course:




Even more super was our 10K friend - who was already in the finisher's area when we rolled in.  Apparently, she had placed 15th out of 89 in her age group, and received a Master's title.  WHOOP!  We were so thrilled for her!

Since we had finished with plenty of free time before we had to get back to the train station, the three of us roamed the post race party and enjoyed all sorts of freebies - even more than the standard post race water/banana/energy bar snacks.  I really liked the mini parfaits they were handing out at the granola booth, and Super Girl snagged a bunch of hot pink terry wristbands to take home to her two young daughters.  It was a fun time, and the scenery was beautiful:




Eventually we hit our limit and headed back to the car.  At which point, my imaginary limp pre-race had turned into a fairly noticeable, yet slight, limp.  I told my friends not to worry about it, and that I'd be fine after a few stretches.  It honestly wasn't that bad.

But apparently it was bad enough, because on Monday morning when I went to kiss my husband goodbye for work, he even said "Maybe you should take a break from running for awhile?"

Ugh.  I know what that means.  Time to get serious with treating this plantar's thing and buy the sexy sock.  I know someone in my Facebook feed that will be thrilled to hear that.  (Yes Patty - I'm looking at you).  But, God honest, my foot's really not that bad.  It just gets a little tight in the early AM when I first get out of bed, or sometimes after I've sat for a long time and get back up.  Please don't get nervous for me!!

Going back to the race - this is a well run event that features a beautiful course to enjoy the fall colors.  And, it has a reasonable registration fee and decent swag to boot.  Although I'm not a huge fan of exclusive (meaning women oriented) races, I would highly recommend this race to anyone who was considering it. 

And don't buy into the scuttle-butt that's been surfacing in the last few days.  Apparently several runners complained that the course measured long/short.  A tip to inexperienced runners: your GPS will never exactly register the advertised mileage when you cross a finish line.  Unless there's a discrepancy of a half mile or greater, just chalk it up to human error and move on.  Especially when a race is on a certified course.  Besides, who cares once you get that medal in hand?!  :-)

And that's the story of how race bib # 50 joined my collection.  Here's to another race soon!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Vessyl

Have you heard about this new cup that, when you pour something into it, it senses exactly what it is and tells you what it is and how many calories are in it?!

I'm not kidding, this actually exists.


 
 
 




It's called the Vessyl, and works basically like this...


Pour
 
 
 
 
Sense
 
 
 
 
 
Report
 


I am amazed and awed by this thing.  If someone wants to send me a sample to do a product review on ... I'm all for it.  (It appears to be available starting in 2015 for $99.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Losing the Last 10 Pounds

Like many of you out there, I'm looking to lose a little of the extra weight I've been carrying as of late. 





And while it may seem like common sense, this article had an interesting assortment of weight loss tips that I thought I would add my own two cents to. 

Let's do it!


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8 Tips to Help You Lose the Last 10 Pounds


(1) Eat More Fiber



OK, first off - eating more fiber does not mean you go out and buy those stupid Fiber One processed food garbage bars.  Or adding Metamucil to your morning orange juice.  Or switching from white to whole wheat bread (although I DO endorse that idea).  Eating more fiber means following my mantra... FRUITS AND VEGGIES, FRUITS AND VEGGIES!!!

If you remember what I talked about the time I went vegan for three days straight, when you shift your focus to a vegetable heavy diet (at least 1 serving at every meal - not counting fruit, which you should also add), you end up feeling really full.  All the time.  And for very few calories.

Sometimes just conquering that hunger hurdle is all you need to help you lose weight.  After all, when you're not hungry, you're less likely to snack or over indulge on other things.



(2) Cut Out Liquid Calories



Many people out there don't realize the calories they consume in a day, just by drinking.  Plus, they also don't realize that those calories do essentially nothing to help them feel full or stay full, not to mention the lack of nutritional benefit. 

For example, a relatively healthy person can almost double their daily caloric intake just by enjoying some "standard" daily beverages:

Breakfast
     - instant oatmeal (120 calories), banana (90 calories) = 210 calories
     - Caribou large vanilla northern lite latte with non-fat whip = 215 calories

Lunch
     - assorted salad with vinaigrette dressing and chicken = 350 calories
     - 20 ounces of regular cola = 250 calories

Dinner
     - beef and vegetable stir fry with rice = 500 calories
     - two 16 ounce, non-lite beers = 280 calories

Daily calories, food - 210 + 350 + 500 = 1060 (58% of daily intake)
Daily calories, drinks - 215 + 250 + 280 = 745 (42% of daily intake)

In the above example, just under half of the day's calories come from a skim latte, a bottle of cola and two regular beers.  Aside from the skim milk in the latte, these calories do nothing to help fill the stomach (as they are processed quickly by the body and then "dumped"), and the nutritional benefit of those beverages is almost nil.

Imagine if you swapped all those calories out for food... even if you weren't being healthy, 745 calories could get you a pretty awesome mid day snack AND an after dinner dessert.



(3) Hydrate

 


When I first started taking hot yoga, I remember reading a poster about hydrating that I found pretty interesting.  Although I cannot recall all the facts on it now, there was one fact on there about how many people initially mistake thirst for hunger that sticks in my brain even to today.

I'll keep my comments on this simple, and just post a fun fact:

"Clinical studies have shown that 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst because the thirst mechanism is so weak. By doing so, the body is led to think that it needs food when what it’s really asking for is water. Moreover, the fact that the symptoms of dehydration (i.e. feeling weak, dizzy and cranky) mimic those of hunger contribute to people’s confusion between the two signals."



(4) Increase Cardio



This one is pretty obvious.  The more you work out, the more you burn.

However, it's not all about spending more time.  Think about other ways to maximize your burn.  Can you push harder?  Go faster?  Lift heavier?  Don't get too comfortable in your workout routine.  Push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, just past that border of what you know you can do into the area of what you're not sure you can do.  Adding just one more set or going just a little harder can make all the difference.



(5) Avoid Alcohol



This is how I really kicked my weight loss into high gear back when I was heavy.  As shown in point two above, liquid calories can really add up.



(6) Track Everything



I personally recommend this app for that, but anything to make you more aware of what you're eating (and how much of it) can really help you find your trouble areas in your diet.

Not to mention, as I discussed awhile ago, even finding one or two areas in your diet where you can eliminate a few excess calories can really add up to some substantial weight changes over the course of a week.



(7) Get Strong



Did you know that the more muscle you carry, the more calories you burn ... even just sitting around on your ass?!  If you aim to complete 2-3 strength based workouts each week, the long term benefit of carrying around all that muscle will start to add up.



(8) Revist Your Diet



AKA - the trouble spot that I'm working on right now.  Yep, saving the best for last.

Every once in awhile, it's good to do a check in to see where you're at.  While you may not always want to track all your calories (like suggested in point six above), there's no harm in picking a day at random to spot check your habits.  It may open your eyes to some bad habits that are starting to sneak back in like too large of portions, an extra serving when you don't really need it, or even excess snacking (my personal vice).  Catching those minor errors and correcting them before they become full fledged habits is MUCH easier than waiting until you've put 20 pounds back on and can't figure out how it happened.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why I Can

Well, it's the end of the gardening season in Minnesota.  And unfortunately, my garden didn't fair well in the tomato department this year... although I did manage to get one good round of tomatoes - enough to fill a few pints. 

Regardless, that didn't stop me from going to the local farmer's market and buying a few additional bushels to jar as well.  Yes, yes - rather late, I'll admit ... but we had a late crop this year, so I got lucky.




You might be wondering - why would I go through all that work to preserve tomatoes when I can purchase them at the store for like $0.49 a can?

Yeah, yeah - I know, it seems dumb.  But here's the thing.  When I jar my own tomatoes, I know EXACTLY what's in them.  And that's tomatoes.  Tomatoes and nothing else.  No weird preservatives, added salt, etc. 

Plus, I know the quality of the tomato as well.  I know it was picked in season at it's peak ripeness.  I know it was cleaned and handled properly.  And, I know where it came from and how it was grown. 

Of course, there's also the pride in knowing I made the food myself. 

But most importantly, there's this article...




PS - Think canning is hard?  It's not, honest! 

Think canning is risky?  Try reading this to ease your fear...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Something Fun To Do

Another fun article that ties to my fitness philosophy... enjoy.


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Whatever you do, don't call it exercise

Whether you think of your workouts as fun or work could make all the difference when it comes to losing weight

By Linda Melone, CSCS
 
Whether you think of your workouts as fun or, well, work (so, basically the opposite of something fun) could make all the difference when it comes to losing weight, finds a new study published in Marketing Letters: A Journal of Research in Marketing.

Researchers at Cornell University set out to see why some people lose weight when starting a new exercise routine and others don't. They studied two groups of adults who were attending a camp at Cornell; both groups were taken on the same walk, but one group was told the walk was something "fun" to do, while the other group was told the purpose of the walk was to "exercise." After the walk, both groups were served an all-you-can-eat lunch. The differences in what they ate were pretty striking: The "exercise" group ate 35% more chocolate pudding than the "fun" group (they didn't eat more salad or veggies, just more dessert).

The results aren't surprising when you think about it--how many times have you "rewarded" yourself for completing a tough workout with something indulgent? The researchers suspect it's that mindset shooting so many people in the weight loss foot, often leading to taking in just as many calories, if not more, than were burned off from the exercise. Framing exercise as fun, on the other hand, takes the focus off the effort required by the activity, researchers conclude.

So consider this your permission to trade the same old boring workout for something you actually enjoy (it really is OK to step off the treadmill).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

200th Post

In honor of my 200th blog entry, today I am reposting the reason why I started this blog... enjoy!

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It's no big surprise that I'm extremely active.

What does seem to take many people by surprise, though, is to hear about who I was just 3-4 years ago.

Then:




Now:



I've changed so much in the last few years that this actually happened: a group of old coworkers coordinated a goodbye happy hour for someone moving out of state.  Since I showed up a bit later than the rest of the group, I simply plopped down in an open seat and started listening in on the conversation.  I sat across from one of the girls who wasn't involved in the party planning and didn't know I was coming, someone I used to see every day at the office for years... she didn't realize it was me for almost 20 minutes, until someone finally said "Hey, Natalie..."  The look on her face when she realized who I was... it was priceless.  True story.

And whenever people see photos, or hear me talk about where I've been, and how far I've come, they ask me ... how?  Or, more frequently it's posed as a question I absolutely hate : "What's your secret".

And when I hear that question, I always internally want to scream:




Honestly, I think we all know the ultimate truth - keeping a healthy body weight isn't about magic coffee, or counting points, or the latest workout craze.  It's about eating healthy food and getting off your butt once in awhile.

But when you're the me of 3-4 years ago, pictured above in the green sweater vest and weighing 240 lbs, it seems so hard!  To think about totally quitting fast food, avoiding a glass (or bottle) of wine after a bad day at work, stopping at 1 or 2 slices of pizza instead of 4 or 5... or even worse, trying to haul your 240 lb carcass to the gym after the most exhausting day at the office... just thinking about those changes make you want to quit, and you haven't even started.

So, how did I do it?

Well, I suppose like most life changes, mine started with a huge push.

2009




In May of 2009, I joined the ranks of many Americans out there and became unemployed.  I was scared to death.  Not only did I have to figure out where my next paycheck would come from, I also had to face the fact that I was going to be stuck at home ... alone ... a lot. 

At 240 lbs, knowing that I was likely to spend my next few weeks, months, or years sitting at home depressed, bored and with nothing better to do than eat... I panicked.  I already knew I was too heavy, and I knew being lonely and depressed was only going to drive me to eat more than I already was.  Not to mention turning 30 years old was just around the corner for me, and my father developed type two diabetes in his late 30's after years of being overweight himself.

In attempt to calm my nerves, I cut a deal with myself.  I was no longer going to eat because something sounded good, or because I wanted it.  I was only going to eat when I was actually hungry.

At first, that seems like such an inconsequential decision.  I mean, of course if I want to eat, it's because I'm hungry... otherwise I wouldn't want to eat, right?  But it was amazing.  In the first few weeks after I made that agreement with myself, I started to realize that most times I was eating because I thought I wanted something.  Not because I was truly hungry.

For example: one of my biggest cravings every day was salty snacks (IE potato chips).  So for the next week, every time I wanted potato chips, I said to myself two things:

    (1) Am I hungry?

    (2) Am I REALLY hungry?  Because I can have a banana, or some baby carrots, or...

Like magic, after thinking about it for a few seconds, I wasn't so hungry.

And so began my life change.  By simply realizing the difference between a craving and true hunger, from May to October of 2009, I dropped around 10-15 lbs without any other lifestyle changes.  All I did was question why I wanted to eat what I thought I wanted to eat.

Then came the snow.  Because I do live in Minnesota, after all, and it was creeping into November.  So my husband suggested that since I had the time off (being unemployed), maybe I spend some time getting out of the house.  So off to Buck Hill I went.  Two to three days a week, in between turning the world upside down looking for jobs and attending unsuccessful job interviews, I headed to Buck Hill. 

Pretty soon, I was literally skiing my ass off, and everyone was starting to notice.

All winter long I kept up my "awareness" of what I was eating, and continued to ski.  And as the snow started to melt, my confidence started to go up as well.  Everyone was telling me how great I looked, and I realized... wow, this isn't so hard.  All I had to do was be a little more aware of what I eat and get off my butt and do something fun.

2010




With my small success in 2009, I started to think maybe this weight loss thing didn't have to be so hard.  If I made a few more small changes in addition to skiing and being aware of what I was eating, I could be even healthier. 

That's when I decided I wanted to run a 5K.  As the snow melted, I changed my time spent skiing into time spent running the local community center track.  As race day neared, I hoped I'd be ready.

At about 215 lbs, I ran my first ever race.  And I did run, the entire way!  So what if it was a finish time of over 36 minutes.  I did it.  I couldn't believe it.

I still have that race bib hung up where I see it every morning.  "New Prague 5K, #2023, 2010". 

Feeling happy that I could do it, I decided to run a few more races.  From spring 2010 to the following fall, I ran a total of 5 races, all at a 5K distance.  My "training" was running a 5K distance on the track 2-3 times each week, with a race about once every 3-5 weeks.  I started that spring around 215 lbs and by the time I finally got a temp job that July, I was just about to clear the 200 lb mark.

2011




Although I continued to remain active, somewhere in spring 2011 I hit the dreaded plateau.  I was being mindful of what I ate, and I was working out, but my weight loss tapered off.  At around 200 lbs, I didn't want to stall out.

I really thought about what I was doing and tried to decide how to keep the good times rolling.  I realized that although I was being mindful of what I ate, I was not really eating totally healthy.  I shifted my emphasis away from asking "am I really hungry", and instead focused on ensuring I was eating my 5 a day (fruits and veggies).  I also made sure I was working out at least 3-4 days per week.

Slowly but surely I lost more weight.  By the time I decided to give up my temp job for a full time permanent position in another office, I was about 185.  It was funny to turn in my ID badge to my boss, because even she looked at it and said "wow, it doesn't even look like you, what a difference".

2012




At 185, I was feeling great!  I had trimmed my 5K pace from 36 minutes to about 30-31 minutes, and I was starting to have serious fun with it.  Introducing... (drum roll)... costumes!

However, as my running improved, my personal life declined.

I spent the next 6 months in a major disaster.  The job I decided to take as a replacement for my temp position was not a good fit.  It was consuming all my free time and I had no work/life balance.  At first I started missing a work out here or there.  Then it was at least once a week, or maybe twice.  My weight started to creep back up to 190.

I knew that if I wanted to keep my health (not to mention my sanity), I needed to find a new job.  I committed myself to keeping as healthy as possible, and dedicated any free time I could to finding something else for work. Which didn't take long, thank goodness!

Upon accepting my new position, I was finally free!  I honed my workout routine, which was now 4-5 days per week, and decided to train for my first duathalon and half marathon.

My weight dropped back down to 185, and then 180. 

People started coming to me on a regular basis asking about weight loss.  I really started to wonder why it was I was so successful and why others struggled.  A friend of mine put it best when she said "You realized staying healthy is hard.  You have to eat right, and bust your ass.  You're working your ass off.  But, you look happy doing it!"

She was right.  I was happy doing it.  After I completed my training and crossed the finish line for both my duathalon and half marathon, I decided to share my happiness with others and pursued getting my group fitness certification.

2013




Although I completed my group fitness training at the end of 2012, I was not yet actively teaching since there were no openings at my preferred gym.  So, to fill my time, I started to read more about nutrition, vegetarianism and veganism.  I've always admired the healthy aspects of leading a mostly vegan lifestyle, but debated if I could ever sacrifice cheese.  I am a good MN/WI girl at heart, after all!

I decided my new years resolution was to attempt a month of living dairy free, while keeping up my emphasis on fruits and veggies, and continuing to work out.  It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought, and although I did not stay totally dairy free after my "test" month, I now find myself eating much less cheese and dairy than I used to.

Just after I finished my dairy experiment, a position opened at the gym, and I began teaching group fitness.  Which more or less takes me to where I am today.  I absolutely love teaching group fitness.  I can't believe it's a job... I feel like I'm 6 years old again and getting paid to play a game of Simon Says.

Given that my muscles continue to grow and my waist continues to shrink, my focus has shifted away from the number on the scale.  I now focus on trying to achieve a lean body, and workout 5-6 days a week.  My fitness routine includes running, biking, group fitness/cardio classes, hot yoga, and even the occasional lap swim (much to my own surprise, since a bad swimming accident as a child pretty much kept me out of the deep end for many, many years).

I try to encourage those around me to be active.  I listen to what they have personal interests in, and then suggest physical activities that relate to that - because let's face it: if you don't enjoy it, you're not going to do it long term.

I (was) also a part of the Health & Wellness committee at work, and have developed a reputation for being the "health food nut" and "crazy bike commuter" of the office.  I truly work at leading a healthy lifestyle all day long.

And now, whenever someone comes to me and asks "what's your secret", I repeat the following mantra:

FRUITS AND VEGGIES, FRUITS AND VEGGIES... AND GET UP OFF YOUR BUTT!!

Cheers!