Archive for November, 2010

Fuel Yourself: Minty goodness

Yummy!

I almost don’t want to tell you guys about this, because I love it so much and it’s a little hard to find, but in my post-Friday-run euphoria, I’m feeling magnanimous. Go to your local grocery store and buy Silk’s Mint Chocolate soymilk, which is offered only during the holiday season. Guys, it’s so good. 90 calories a cup (2 Points, if you’re counting), and it tastes like melted Thin Mints. I’ve heated mine up this morning, and I’m sipping it while I stretch.

Stash some in your fridge for the holidays, and when everyone else is drowning in eggnog, you’ve got a healthy and really tasty treat.

November 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

P90X-posed!

You may remember when my sister, Kelley, gave us her thoughts on the P90X home workout program. (The next installment of that post, by the way, will be put up as soon as I can armwrestle her into submission any day now.) I know a bunch of you have done or are doing the popular and challenging blend of cardio, strength-building and flexibility DVDs, so you might find this Los Angeles Times story interesting — particularly if you got your P90X from eBay.

Seems like some of the copies that have been sold were bootlegs, and the bootleggers got caught. While I’m pretty sure the Feds aren’t going to bust into your house and confiscate your less-than-legal copies, maybe it’s a good time to get back onto the program. You know, all the better to make a quick getaway…

November 18, 2010 at 10:47 pm Leave a comment

Poles, brooms, po-tay-to, po-tah-to

So while I was chillin’ in AC this weekend, one of the biggest events of the wizarding world was taking place in New York City: the Quidditch World Cup!

(If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, scroll down to the strippers. This won’t be long, I promise.)

The MetroMix photos make it look like a collegial good time. But a friend who was there as a spectator, and who is perhaps the most rabid Harry Potter fan I know,  left after 20 minutes. “I was uncomfortable,” she said. “You know how some kids are accidental dorks, and others lord their dorkiness over others? These kids were the latter.” For the rest of the day, I found it really hard not to picture The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy gallumping around with a broom wedged between his legs. I’m sorry. It’s haunted me all day, and now it will haunt you, too.

Worst. Snitch. Ever.

And then, because I am at heart an accidental dork who has moments of lording it over others, I got all excited for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, which comes out this week.

In other sports-that-rely-on-a-great-deal-of-thigh-strength news, apparently the American Pole Fitness Championships were also held in the Big Apple just weeks ago. (Totally not making this up.) There’s no nudity here, but please don’t watch this highlight video at work. Haul Buns should never be the cause of an HR inquiry. But when you’ve got a free moment, take a gander at the athleticism and strength necessary to perform some of these moves. Absolutely insane.

And that got me thinking about a pretty funny Conan O’Brien bit with a strip pole. Dare I hope I could find it on the Internets? Done.

His stripper name? Coco, of course.

 

 

 

November 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm Leave a comment

Everybody’s haulin’ for the weekend

After kind of an insane week at work, this weekend cannot arrive quickly enough. Good thing I’ve got great stuff on the agenda. First, a Dave Matthews Band concert tonight. I don’t care if you hate DMB. I loooooooooooove them, and their “Two Step” has gotten me through many a long run.

Then tomorrow, a morning workout to remind my tush that it’s not SUPPOSED to be cemented to a chair all day long.

Artist's rendering

Followed by my first-ever visit to Atlantic City to celebrate the 40th birthday of Deanna, one of the cool chicks who reads this blog. I’m going to bring my sneakers, and by God, I will use them. Maybe.

 

C'mon slots. Mama needs a new pair of...

Some interesting bits to tide you over until I’m back:

You’ll remember that I spotted Chilean miner Edison Pena during his ING New York City Marathon run last weekend. But I had no idea who the guys running alongside him were. Thanks, The New York Times, for filling me in.(And thanks to Melissa for sending me the story!)

Whatever you’re up to this weekend, make sure that your fitness exploits can’t easily be mistaken for a suicide attempt. Please?

Happy weekend, everyone!


November 12, 2010 at 10:34 pm 1 comment

Spinning Tunes

If the time change is making you groggy, this playlist may be the kick you need to get you out the door. My classes this week did a lot of sore-buns, in-the-saddle riding to these songs. Good work, everyone! It should be noted that The Fiancé went to France in the spring and downloaded the Edward Maya tune right after he got back—it was on the radio 24/7 there. Now that Maya’s got a hit in the U.S., as well, TF has deemed himself a talented arbiter of pop hits. I’ll let you know what he comes up with next.

  1. Take My Picture — Filter (6:03)
  2. Firework — Katy Perry (3:47)
  3. Take It Off — Ke$ha (3:35)
  4. Hot Tottie — Usher (feat. Jay-Z) (4:59)
  5. Love and Wonder — DJ Earworm (5:50)
  6. Human — The Killers (4:05)
  7. This Is My Life — Edward Maya (3:49)
  8. Paper Planes — M.I.A. (3:23)
  9. Last Nite — The Strokes (3:13)
  10. Hallelujah — Justin Timberlake (feat. Charlie Sexton) (4:15)

November 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

Does this mean every instructor is going to start screaming at me?

The American College of Sports Medicine recently released its annual forecast of workout trends: Boot camps are big, Pilates is passé. Read more here.

In the piece, a Pilates studio owner says that money is a huge factor.

“Pilates is perceived as more expensive than bootcamp,”  Lara Hudson, owner of the Mercury Fitness Pilates studio in San Francisco, California, told Reuters. “In this tough economy people look for less expensive workouts.”

Do you think she’s right? How much does cost affect your workout routine?

November 10, 2010 at 7:59 pm Leave a comment

Soup S.O.S.

When the days get short and your hunger turns you into something out of a horror movie…

Weight Watchers‘ zero-Point soup is the way to go. I was super lazy and dumped a bunch of veggies in the slow cooker Monday night, then let it simmer while I slept. The morning brought yummy veggie goodness. I added tofu and had it for lunch.

Marty, a truly inspiring Weight Watchers leader in Massachusetts, once described the soup this way: “If you get off track, this stuff will pull you back on, fast.” And if you hate any part of it, substitute! Ditch the cabbage; try it with bean sprouts. Add proteins (which adds Points, but it’s good Points!). Make it without the tomatoes. Play around with it.

And if you try another awesome variation, let me know!

Garden Vegetable Soup
2/3 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
1-1/2 cups diced green cabbage
1/2 cup green beans
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup diced zucchini

1. In large saucepan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, saute the carrot, onion and garlic over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add broth, cabbage, beans, tomato paste, basil, oregano and salt; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until beans are tender.
3. Stir in zucchini and heat 3-4 minutes. Serve hot. Makes four 1-cup servings.

Per Serving: 42 calories; 0 g fat; 2 g fiber. If you’re counting, it’s zero Points.

November 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

Marathon Monday

Running a marathon can be an awesome, life-affirming experience.

Watching one is nearly as good.

For the past few years, Melissa — one of the cool chicks who reads this blog — and I have cheered ING New York City Marathon runners at mile 21 in the Bronx. We usually stand at a spot right before the course rounds a corner and spits the runners out toward the Madison Avenue Bridge.

We usually arrive around 1:30 p.m., when those who’ll finish in 4:20 or longer are cruising by. Invariably, some runners are still going strong and smiling as they pass. Some are grimacing and limping. The longer we’re out there, the slower the pace. By the time we leave around 4 p.m., most marathoners are walking. Some of them are leaning on friends or volunteers or each other. They’ve got five miles and change to go, and it’s getting dark and cold.

But they keep on going. And that is a fantastic thing to see.

Now before I get all Chariots of Fire on you, let’s recap some other cool ING New York Marathon weekend stuff:

Friday fiver: I took part in the NYRR 5, a five-miler held in Central Park on Friday at 8 a.m. I was surprised at how many marathoners did the race, too; if I have to cover 26.2 miles on a Sunday, you’d better believe my feet will do as little as possible in the days before. At the finish line, I saw Jared Fogle, of Subway fame, who was there to promote his own run in the marathon. In my post-run euphoria, I yelled, “Jared, you’re awesome!” He responded in kind. Say what you will, but anyone who runs and loves Subway is fine by me.

Faces in the crowd: Meliss dubbed me a “celebrity runner spotter” because I picked out buzzed-about marathoners, such as the aforementioned Jared (who was an easy get, as he was running surrounded by four or five dudes with SUBWAY on their shirts), and Today hosts Meredith Viera (who looked genuinely excited when we cheered her name) and Al Roker (who was in pretty rough shape when he passed us). And let us not forget Chilean miner Edison Pena, who was going strong despite knee issues when he ran past. All of them wound up finishing the race.

Gazelles: Before I headed up to the Bronx, I watched the elite runners do their thing on NBC. Edna Kiplicat took first place for the women, and Gebre Gebremariam broke the tape for the men. I tried to explain to The Fiancé why watching them do their thing moves me in a way that watching other pro athletes does not. “I don’t know how tough it is to play baseball or football, not really. But I know how hard it is to run, no matter who you are, and they make it look effortless and beautiful.”

Double duty: This chick, a documentary filmmaker, strapped a camera to her hat and filmed the entire race. WARNING: If you get motion sick easily, you may not want to watch.

Next year, in Staten Island…: So all of this ING New York Marathon fever has gotten to me, because I’m making plans to do it myself in 2011. If I complete four more New York Road Runners races before the end of the year, I’m guaranteed entry through their 9+1 program. (Very cool; tri-state area runners, check it out.) And yes, I’m still likely going to have problems with my feet next year. And yes, the last time I did New York I walk-ran the last few miles because of a tight IT band. But if the insanely inspiring athletes I saw in wheelchairs, on prosthetics, without sight and/or hearing can make the commitment, so can I.

Doesn’t hurt, of course, that Tiffany is now offering a line of ING New York Marathon commemorative items. You hear that, TF?

November 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm 2 comments

It doesn’t have to suck, people

Yeah, not so much.

On Tuesday, I tried out a new-to-me yoga studio in the Flatiron Distrcit of Manhattan. The place I’d been practicing, Laughing Lotus, was great. But my month-long card expired there, and I got a deal on a month of unlimited classes at this new joint, so I switched.

The minute I walked in, I wasn’t sure I liked the vibe of the place. It felt kind of corporate. Everyone was speaking in hushed tones. And a quick glance at the ladies clustered in the corner and sipping tea as they waited for the 7:15 vinyasa class gave me pause; they were near-carbon copies of each other, right down to their lean torsos, bored expressions, white tank tops and black Lululemon pants. I seriously thought there might have been a dress-code notice I’d missed. I only relaxed a little bit when some equally toned and joyless-looking individuals showed up. At least their shirts were different colors.

I know you’re supposed to leave all of your preconceived notions outside the door, but dude, these chicks freaked me out a little. As the class progressed, it became clear that many of them had quite lovely yoga practices. They could bend themselves into pretty little pretzels, seemingly with ease. But no one seemed excited about it.

The teacher was very good. The poses were challenging. I don’t know what was up; I don’t pretend to know what everyone else in the class was thinking or feeling, but it just didn’t seem like my classmates were having any kind of fun whatsoever. The only moment of levity I witnessed took place when I completely fell out of a side plank after grabbing my right big toe with my right hand and trying to extend both toward the ceiling. I landed on my mat and lamely said, “Well, that went well.” The chick to my left smiled.

It was a lot like the gym I worked out at in graduate school, a gorgeous facility populated by incredibly thin, incredibly fit women (and men). The women especially worked out with an intensity that was a little scary. I took a class at that gym a few weeks ago; the women were still thin, their faces still dead-set on wringing every last calorie out of their movements.

I much prefer the feel of places like Laughing Lotus, Feminine Fitness, and the New York Sports Club I teach at in Butler. There, you find people of all different body types and sizes who are trying to make something positive happen in their lives. They have varying degrees of success, but they show up and they try, and they usually have a good time.

I witnessed the same thing yesterday, when I volunteered at the New York City Marathon expo. My job was to greet people at the entrance and point them in the right direction. I talked with new runners and old runners, thin runners and fat runners, tall runners and short runners and in-between runners. Without fail, they were excited to be there and to be part of something so huge. I wished them a good run on Sunday, and they thanked me with huge grins — even the people who said they were freaked beyond belief.

I’ll keep going back to the new yoga place, at least for the month. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m not asking for much, but don’t you think there’s something to be said for enthusiasm?

After all, is there anyone who WON’T be pulling for Chilean miner Edison Pena at this Sunday’s marathon?

Vaya!

November 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm Leave a comment

Mama Yoga

I’ve had babies on the brain lately. Not because people who ask about my wedding plans find it perfectly polite to segue into a conversation about my reproductive viability, even though many do. But a couple of really important ladies in my life recently decided it’s time for them to be mommies, so I’ve found myself having conversations about birth plans and fertility drugs and the pros and cons of being pregnant in summer vs. winter, and vice versa. It’s surreal. It’s awesome.

It’s not for me, not just yet.

However, I just may be swayed — especially when people like my friend, Marin, make it look both so chic and fulfilling. (How many things can you say that about?) I’m not the only one who thinks so; when a Chicago television station produced a piece about  mom-and-baby yoga, Marin and her three-month-old daughter, Calli, were the natural stars. Marin is the hot mama in the white top sitting cross-legged while she talks with the reporter. Check out how zen Calli is! And then there are always the inspirational ladies at Run Like a Mother, some of whom finish — and dominate! — races just weeks before their due dates.

I will say this: When my time to procreate arrives, I will most certainly make myself a shirt like the one I saw a runner wear several years ago. It stuck with me, mainly because she was in front of me pretty much the whole course. The shirt’s back read: “Eight months pregnant and STILL kicking your ass.”

November 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm 1 comment

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