9/13/07 Log

I’m lagging on my planned cardio this week (I’m short 60 minutes so far) even though I’ve hit all of my strength workouts. I won’t make any excuses–it’s my own fault for not managing my (bed) time better. This is clearly an area on which I need to improve during the next 12 weeks.

I have sketch group tonight, but if I sneak into the mini-gym at my old apartment complex I should be able to do that hour of make-up cardio right after work and be only 15 minutes late for the drawing session. I’ll be stinky and very likely giving off puffs of steam, unfortunately, but I can always sit by myself, eh?


I must discourage you all from doing the following sequence of workouts all within a 24-hour period: 60 minutes of Forza samurai sword drills, 45 minutes of shoulders and abs, and 45 minutes of chest and arms. My fasted chest/arms workout this morning was tougher than it should have been even though I used less weight in certain exercises than I did last week because my upper body was just plain tuckered out already from yesterday’s workouts. I probably won’t be able to lift my arms without wincing by tonight.

I am so glad I am down to lower body resistance work and cardio until Monday. My right calf DOMS from last Wednesday’s workout is 100% healed now after a week of rest and stretching, so I should be good to do the remaining workouts for this week and to start my full running schedule next week.

DH didn’t do his Yoga X this morning, but he’s working from the home office today and plans to get it in during his lunch break and right before his martial arts lesson tonight. He did get his Shoulders/Arms workout done last night, however, so he’s still on the P90X wagon. He has bowed out of joining me on the 2-miler in October; the guy is just not a fan of running.

I’ll have to visit the grocery store after my lunch walk to pick up some emergency protein and some veggies. I didn’t bring my lunch bag with me today and only have oatmeal, raisins, peanut butter, unsalted rice cakes, coffee, and corn tortillas here at work which, while certainly qualifying as food, is just a wee bit heavy on the carbohydrate side.

– Chest and Arms (45 min)
– Bike Sprints (30 min)
– Run (30 min)

Halloween Just Took Care Of Itself

I was somewhat appalled yet oddly amused to learn that one of the characters in the low-rent ping pong comedy Balls of Fury is named Maggie Wong.

Amazingly enough, this may solve my Halloween costume dilemma for this year. I had been worried about how I could scrounge up a costume without buying any fabric, notions, patterns, or clothing items, but it just so happens that I already have a red satin and gold brocade qipao gown from my wedding and a long black wig which has seen service for two Halloweens already. All I would need to obtain is red lipstick, some gold-tone gauntlets, a ping pong paddle, and a ball from under the couch (the joy of cat ownership!).

The only roadblock I can foresee is the 10 lbs of fat and 30 lbs of muscle I’d have to lose in order to look as twiggy as Ms. Maggie Q in this photo:

Maggie Q as Maggie Wong in Balls of Fury


Since I’m not willing to go anorexic just for a Halloween costume, I guess I’ll just have to settle for being a buffer, mutant knockoff.

9/12/07 Log

I was a bad girl and went to bed way too late last night–probably close to 1 AM–because I went into OCD mode while checking my personal finances in MS Money 2007 again. I was considering applying for the Amex Blue Cash card after reading about another personal finance blogger’s good experience with it, and was compelled to do a lot of online research on the rewards terms *and* make a spreadsheet to calculate how much cash back DH and I could earn using the card exclusively, in combination with our Discover Gas cards, and just the Discover Gas cards alone. In the end I did apply for the card, but still didn’t get to bed for another 30 minutes because I discovered that the wrong amount had been transferred from my personal checking account into our shared expenses account and had to do some emergency transfers and date changes on some upcoming automated payments to make sure I didn’t rack up an overdraft fee. And then I got distracted by my Money budget and cash flow charts….

I had to resort to coffee this morning to get me through my boring drive to work without yawning too much.

Forza went well last night and this morning (I split the workout up) though, and I will still get in Shoulders/Abs and 30 minutes of cardio today. I should be able to do 3 or 4 of the shoulders/abs exercises at work with the stability ball and resistance tubing I have at my desk, leaving just half of the workout for the evening. Cardio will be my usual 15 minute walk and 30 minutes on a gym machine on the way home. If the gym isn’t too busy, I’ll do the remainder of my strength workout there, but if it’s mobbed as usual with stinky boys I’ll finish up at home with my Powerblocks and bench.

DH (who stayed up too late reading a Marvel Civil War comic book compilation and overslept) needs to do HIS P90X Shoulders/Arms workout tonight, however, so getting everything done at the gym might be a better idea to avoid any equipment sharing conflicts.

I have convinced at least 4 of my co-workers to join me at the UCF 2-miler in October, and I’m starting to look forward to the event. It’s great to have a REASON to run during my workouts again. I am going to shoot for improving on my best 2-mile run time from my Army PT tests–I think I need to beat 17:45, but I’ll check on that tonight.

Did anyone else catch The Biggest Loser last night? I usually don’t watch the show on a regular basis, but DH had it on, and both of us got caught up in spite of ourselves. I am secretly pulling for Jillian’s outcast Black team. Of the three trainers, I respond best to her drill sergeant beeyotch style the most. When I am doing something that is difficult psychologically and physically, I find that anger and a tough love attitude are much better motivation than hugs and sympathy which just make me feel like it’s okay to throw in the towel.

But maybe that’s just me.

Oh, and I am SOOOO in love with my protein fudgsicle recipe right now (had one as part of meal 2 already today, woowoo!) that I must post it again here in case anyone missed it the first time around.

– Maggie

– Shoulders/Abs (45-50 min)
– Walk (15 min)
– Cardio – Bike sprints (30 min)

Chocolate Protein Fudgsicles / Popsicles

I made the following popsicle recipe this weekend and tested it on my picky husband. He loved them and said that he couldn’t tell they were mostly protein. No additional sweeteners were needed since the protein powder and pudding mix were already sweetened.

I get 8 rocket-shaped fudgsicles out of this recipe, and eat 2 of them as a snack with 1/2 oz. of nuts or by themselves if I just need a protein boost.

– 1 box sugar-free instant Jello Pudding mix (French vanilla or chocolate)
– 2 cups 8th Continent Light Soy Milk Original Flavor (This brand is ~ 50 cal/cup. Use of other brand or skim milk may change stats slightly.) or 2 cups skim milk
– 2 scoops Dymatize Elite protein powder (Gourmet vanilla or Rich chocolate)
– 4 T. baking cocoa powder (Optional if you are already using chocolate pudding mix AND chocolate protein powder, or if you want a non-chocolate pop)

Mix the ingredients together in the following order: milk, protein powder, pudding mix, and finally cocoa. Blend according to the instructions on the pudding mix box. While the mixture is still fluid but thickened, pour into popsicle forms, ice cube trays, paper or paper cups. Freeze for several hours until solid.

Makes 4 servings.

Calories: 121
Carb: 11.3 g
Protein: 16 g
2.1 g
Fiber: 1 g

Review: Alli by the Numbers – Why it’s a load of crap

I’ve been seeing a lot of ads featuring the new FDA-approved weight loss aid alli (http://myalli.com) in the Sunday paper lately. I’ve also seen quite a few questions about it on various fitness, weight loss, and nutrition forums. It’s being sold over the counter without a prescription at Target, Wal-Mart, and every drugstore in the nation, it seems, and people are willing to risk the pretty significant (in my view at least) side effect of pooping their pants in order to gain an advantage in their weight loss efforts.

I decided to visit the pill’s information website this morning to see what nuggets of empirical fact I could find to help me calculate just how effective the pill was from a mathematical standpoint.

My conclusion?

The actual number of calories you are spared from absorbing by taking alli is so negligible that if you are exercising regularly (resistance training AND cardio for just 30-45 minutes/3-6x week) and eating a balanced, lower fat diet already, there is absolutely no need to waste your money on this drug. Let’s take a logical, objective view of their literature.

From the Myalli.com website:

How alli capsules work

First, let’s talk about the capsule. alli prevents your body from absorbing about a quarter of the fat you eat. Fat is more calorie-dense than carbs or protein. Just one gram of fat has more than double the calories of the same amount of protein or carbs. So if you eat a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet and use alli capsules, you can make a real difference in your weight as you limit the total number of calories that enter your system.

Here they are saying that you should be eating a reduced-calorie, low fat diet while using the capsules. This means that you are going to be at a caloric deficit anyway, which for most women will be a diet between 1200-1500 calories per day. Low fat (let’s say this is less than 20% of your total calories coming from fat) on that number of calories is only 240-300 calories per day anyhow.

Furthermore, the above states that alli only prevents the absorption of one-quarter or 25% of the fat you consume, which would mean a daily calorie savings of only 60-75 calories!

Even if you are eating at maintenance level (~1800 calories/day for a sedentary woman), your normal fat intake would be just 360 calories per day on a low fat diet, and taking alli would only spare you 90 calories a day.

Does this seem like a good deal to you for how much the pill costs? You can BURN off 90 calories for free by walking for 15-20 minutes or cut out over 100 calories by simply having water or a diet soda or drink instead of a regular Coke, and all without the risk of alli’s “treatment effects.” (This seems to be the marketing department’s flowery euphemism for “crapping one’s pants”.)

Speaking of treatment effects…

Treatment effects are especially likely if you eat a meal with more than 15 grams of fat. On other weight loss programs, you may “save up” your fat allowances for the day and then splurge on a high-fat meal or dessert. alli is different.

If you don’t stay within your fat-gram target when you take alli capsules, you may experience treatment effects. So make sure to distribute your fat grams evenly across your meals for the day. That means you’ll limit yourself to an average of 15 grams of fat for each meal, depending on your own fat intake goal.

If you do have treatment effects, you may see them up to 48 hours after taking an alli capsule and eating a meal with too much high-fat food. You can help prevent future treatment effects by finding the cause and avoiding that food. Write it down in your journal, located in the alli starter pack.

The first few weeks with alli

In the first week or two of the alli program, be prepared for possible treatment effects.

Although many users will experience these effects, in most cases, the effects are mild and typically subside within a week or two, as you adjust to your new diet. Most users who experience some initial treatment effects find them manageable and stay with the program.

Reducing the likelihood of treatment effects

For best results, take alli capsules exactly as directed, and stick with a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet. You may have treatment effects again if you slip and allow your meal to include more than 15 grams of fat.

If you don’t experience any effects, don’t be concerned and think that the alli program is not working for you. It’s likely you’re doing a great job following the plan.

And remember, if you cannot commit to following a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet, you may experience treatment effects. So be sure you are ready for alli.

Okay then…so now you are also limited to meals with less than 15 grams of fat per serving, or you risk “treatment effects” for up to TWO DAYS afterwards. (Two days of carrying extra pants and baby wipes or wearing Depends–fun!)

Most people who would use this pill only eat 3 meals a day, so that would be a max of 45 g of fat per day or 405 calories worth of fat. Multiply that by 25% and you get a paltry calorie savings of 101.25 calories per day.

So in order to have a substantial effect on the number of calories a user takes in per day, the user would have to eat a lot more fat than is recommended by the pill’s instructions (which suggest no more than 42 g of fat per day, distributed so that no more than 15 g are taken in per feeding). And in doing so, the user pretty much guarantees that he/she will experience “treatment effects.”

I’m going to hazard a guess that the diet plan that the alli website generates for customers will look very similar to what you would see from Weight Watchers, Body for Life, the lower fat eDiets programs, or any low-fat diet out there: lean proteins, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low sugar.

There is NOTHING that this pill actually offers to someone who is already eating right and exercising besides inconvenience, a lot of extra laundry, and an empty wallet.

Save your money and just add in 10 minutes of cardio a day to get the same caloric deficit minus those wonderful “treatment effects,” because if you are banking on just taking this pill to help you lose 10 pounds without exercise or changing your current level of intake, it is still going to take you 346 days to get there:

  • 1 lb of fat = 3500 calories
  • 10 lbs of fat = 3500 x 10 = 35,000 calories
  • Maximum calorie savings from alli based on 45 g/fat per day = 101 calories
  • 35,000 / 101 = 346 days

Compare that to the usual 5-10 weeks (35-70 days) it would take an individual who was willing to put in 30 minutes a day, six days a week of combined resistance and cardio exercise while eating a reduced calorie. low fat diet similar to what is required by alli anyway, and make your own decision.

Bon appetit!

Pink Dumbbells 2007 Mega Challenge (9/17-12/31)

We are running another fitness and nutrition challenge at Pink Dumbbells that will run for 15 weeks from September 17 through December 31, 2007. Come on over and join us for some support, motivation, Q&A, internal mini-challenges, and accountability during the tough holiday season and end 2007 in the best shape of your life!

Everyone is welcome, no matter what your goals–weight loss, muscle gain, performance improvement, and even non-fitness goals. All you need are some goals and a plan to accomplish them. If you need assistance coming up with a plan, head on over to the plan design help forum and we’ll help you put one together based on your current fitness level, time constraints, and available equipment.

PDB 2007 Mega Challenge

9/10/07 Log

Well, this weekend was all right for food, but I found myself so crippled by the DOMS (possible pulled calf muscle) in my right leg that walking normally wasn’t even possible let alone doing any sort of cardio or yoga. I tried to get into downward dog pose to stretch out the calf muscle and simply could not bend my foot beyond the standing 90 degree angle. I’m hardcore, but I’m not stupid, so I let my calf rest and just plied it with a deep massager and stretched it using a yoga strap while reading two Regency novels by my favorite romance author Loretta Chase.

Chris and I had a cheat meal together at the local Kobe Japanese steak house for a friend’s birthday Saturday night. I was good and ordered the tofu dinner combo and took half of my food home. Alas, my stomach still gurgled for several hours afterwards due to all of the butter the chef used on everything, just like it does when I give in to stupid temptation and order pancakes at any greasy spoon or diner. I’m ordering the sushi next time.

I’m happy to report that my DH is STILL doing his P90X workouts, and lo and behold, I swear I can already see some changes in his upper body–a little less belly, a little more chest and arms. He did chest/back again today at home while I knocked out back/abs and cardio at the gym. I raised my weights in both the wide-grip pulldown and BB row this morning just because I knew he’d have the advantage of being a complete newbie to strength training and would get very rapid, dramatic results even while eating a bit sloppily. I’ve been working out too long now to get that sort of change, so my weapons are progressive increases in resistance and interval difficulty and stringent consistency in my workouts and meals.

I had to cut my cardio session short this morning, so I’ll be trucking it back to the gym after work tonight to get in my full elliptical time along with all of the other after-work gym mob. I don’t mind doing mindless cardio at night (especially if CSI is playing on one of the TV sets), but yeesh, there’s no getting near a bench or strength-training machine after 5 pm due to the huge crowd of dillydallying 16-30 year old guys in the gym.

– Back and Abs (45 min)
– Elliptical (15 min @ level 6-8)
– Walk (15 min)
– Elliptical (30 min @ level 7 — PM)

Some quotes to live by in your fitness journey

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now. ” – Zig Ziglar

“It’s not supposed to be easy. Disciplined people succeed; undisciplined people don’t…Nothing changes by doing what’s fun and EASY.” – Tom Venuto

“Regenerate your system through diet and exercise. Save the cookies!” – Panda Express fortune cookie

eDiets Article: 10 Things Every Fit Person Does

This fantastic article from Kelli Calabrese was posted on the eDiets site! There is a lot of good information and strategies in here for those of us who, lacking the naturally-thin ectomorph body type, actually need to WORK at achieving and maintaining physical fitness.

Which of these 10 things do YOU do? Which could you incorporate into your daily routine to set yourself up for success?


10 Things Every Fit Person Does

By Kelli Calabrese MS, CSCS
eDiets Contributor

Do you ever wonder what fit people do differently from those with excess fat? If you think they were born with the special gene to release fat, and you were born with unfavorable ones which promote the storage of fat, think again.

While genetics does play some role in where fat you store fat, recent studies show you have the ability to overcome genes and express the positive side of a gene. At any given time, a fat cell can swell or shrink, depending more on your lifestyle (eating and physical activity) than your genes.

Since the gene theory no longer holds the weight it was once thought to, where do the differences in attaining a fit body begin?

If you had the chance to spend 24 hours with a fit person, you would observe several key things that they do differently than the average sedentary one. Read on to understand — and ultimately incorporate — decisions fit people make regarding exercise, eating and recovery in order to live in a lean, healthy, strong and fit body.

1. Sleep well and wake up naturally. Many fit people arise without an alarm clock feeling energized, rested and hungry. They have set fitness goals and a plan to achieve them. People who are fit fall asleep easier, have more quality sleep and require less sleep than someone who is unfit. Lack of sleep is strongly associated with obesity. Sleeping helps the body repair, rebuild and recover.

2. Get prepared. Fit people pack their gym bags the night before, have clothes laid out for exercise, toiletries packed for a shower, clothes for work and an appointment in their planner for physical activity. They regard their workout appointments as highly as any other business or social commitment.

3. Exercise in the morning. Morning exercisers have the highest compliance rates and are more likely to stick to their program. As the day passes, they have a feeling of accomplishment and pride which is reflected in their food choices, behavior and stress management. Morning exercise is the best way to start your day and ultimately influence many other positive decisions throughout your day.

4. Plan meals. People who are fit and lean have set eating times, plan their meals around their workouts and know what they are going to eat and when. Initially it takes a little work to figure out healthy meals and snacks, but they do not leave eating to chance. Finding yourself headed to the buffet or driving through for fast food in a famished state is a formula for disaster.

5. Rebound from setbacks Fit people do not let one missed workout turn into two or three. They get right back to their next workout and use the added rest to work even harder. They also don’t let one slice of pizza or cake derail their efforts. They move on to the next healthy meal knowing they exercise, sleep and eat well so they can have the occasional indulgence or missed workout without it effecting them negatively.

6. Make lasting lifestyle and behavioral changes. Fit people have become fit over time, not over night. They empower themselves with information about fitness and eating, and adopt one new habit at a time until it’s no longer something they work on, but instead something that is part of their daily routine.

7. Separate the psychology of success from self-help snake oil. People who are fit do not fall prey to the quick magical “solutions” to health and wellness. They know living longer, stronger, leaner years is a lifelong process, and they reap the benefits daily. They know if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

8. Lose weight and keep it off. Fit people know dieting alone is not enough to achieve long-term fat loss. Exercise plays a large part in keeping pounds off. With regular exercise, they are likely to keep the weight off for life.

9. Use positive self talk. People who are fit use positive self-talk. They don’t beat themselves up with negative sayings such as “I am fat” or “I am lazy”. Instead, they say “I am strong,” “I am powerful,” “I nourish my body” and “I am thankful to be moving my body.”

10. Set and accomplish goals. Fit people have a realistic goal in mind when they train. For some, it’s being a certain size or having a particular waste measurement. For others, it’s competing in an event or fund raiser that is near to their heart, like walking for breast cancer or cycling for leukemia. When one goal is accomplished, another is set and there is a deliberate plan to achieve the result.

If you want to live in a lean, fit, strong, unstoppable body, you should choose one of the 10 components listed above and decide to tackle it. Once you have tackled one, move on to the next. Over time, the more of these habits you incorporate, the more living in a fit body will become an everyday reality, and you’ll love the reflection that stares back at you in the mirror.

Kelli Calabrese, MS, CSCS, 2004 Personal Trainer of the Year. Kelli is a 20-year fitness professional and the author of Feminine Firm & Fit, Building a Lean Strong Body in 12 Weeks. She is the editor of Personal Fitness Professional Magazine and on the board of advisors for Get America Fit Foundation. Kelli is a boot camp instructor, online trainer and is available for phone coaching.