Archive for the ‘My Workouts’ category

Crunch That.

September 19th, 2011

Over the past few years, I’ve stopped doing the 10 minutes of abdominal work at the end of every bootcamp hour that I was taught to lead when I started years ago.  Here’s why:

crunches don’t get you much.

Core strength is important, of course. But you’ll strengthen your core anyway when you are doing other exercises with proper form!

(I think everybody loves crunches during bootcamp since that’s a time I’ll let them lie on their backs!)

I’m pasting in a portion of a discussion below, taken from a continuing education provider that has given me loads of great information.  The article points to several studies that
were published in the New York Times last monthIt’s worth a gander if you care about your core strength!

Are Crunches Worth the Effort?

When researches at Indiana State University began research on strength of core muscles vs athletic performance, the results were not what they expected. The thinking was that those with sturdy cores would perform better on physical performance tests. However, the results showed otherwise. But don’t give up on those core exercises yet.

While Indiana States results were not expected, other studies have shown novice runners do benefit from stronger cores. Those with better core strength were able to
reduce their 5K running time.

While studies vary across the spectrum on whether strong cores help with performance, what is known is if you train for your sport, the core strength will come. So what
does this mean for us? Avoid performing dozens of crunches. In fact, 6-8 good quality crunches a few times per week are best. Perform them correctly by maintaining the natural curve of the spine and lift only enough to feel the first bit of contraction. And remember, we all have a “6-pack,” but some of us need to reduce the body fat.


September 12th, 2011

A lot of people, at least with type one diabetes, say they don’t have a functioning pancreas.  That isn’t entirely true.  Our pancreas serves to produce several necessary things: insulin, of course, and digestive enzymes and various other hormones.  So for those of us with type one, it’s our beta cells that live in the land of those “Islets of Langorhans” that we’re missing.

It sounds almost like a place found at Disneyland, that Land of Langorhans.


At the cellular level, insulin grabs glucose and helps transport it into the cells.  If you’re like me, you learned this about thirteen thousand times in the four days you were in the hospital at your diagnosis: insulin is the key that unlocks the doors to your cells so that your body can use the food it eats.

Yup.  The key.   INSULIN IS THE KEY!

But then there is that other, much less discussed, function that insulin serves in our bodies.  Insulin doesn’t just help your body use glucose. 


It essentially helps your body store fat, too.  THAT one I only learned a couple of years ago.

THAT one I would have liked to have known a long time ago.

Insulin doesn’t do anything with the fats themselves, but it can serve to prevent the BREAKDOWN of your already-stored fat.


So it’s important to keep yourself on as little insulin (be it self-made or self-injected insulin) as possible.  One way to do that?  Why, remain as insulin-sensitive as possible!

How can you do that?  Two primary ways: (1) don’t need as much insulin to cover the food you eat (keep away from those big boluses to cover high-glucose spikes) and (2) EXERCISE to keep your cells happy and burning glucose as quickly as possible.

Exercise is awesome for more reasons that I can list in my “less than 500 words/blog” goal.  BUT, one of the reasons is that exercise helps to activate glucose transport… to me, in my life, that means that my insulin becomes SUPERCHARGED when I do cardiovascular exercise, or a weight training circuit that keeps my heart rate elevated.  (Love that supercharge!)  I simply don’t need as much insulin in my body.

If you exercise long enough to decrease the amount of glycogen stored in your liver, you ALSO get to replace that for the next day or so… my husband reminded me last week that I tend to go low the night after a half marathon.  (I’ll have to remember that next time.  I mean, I’ll have to remember that this Sunday because I have another half then!)  If I planned
better for it, it’d be like FREE EATING a little.

Hey, you’ve got to get it while you can.

(It’s also good to know that everything changes AFTER you’re done with a bout of exercise.  If you’ve had a lowered basal
rate, you may need to take a little bolus to cover a blood glucose climb.  Additionally, you need more insulin immediately after a strength workout to shift amino acids from protein into muscle cells where they can be used for muscle growth and repair.  It’s complicated, as you know.)

INSULIN ROCKS even if it’s complicated and challenging and makes those of us who have to manage our levels externally sometimes want to pull our hair out.

No matter what, I still like it.  Life really sucked when I didn’t have any insulin.  This way is MUCH BETTER.

Don’t you agree?

Have Some Schooltime Fun! (Yeah; I said it. Fun and School in the same sentence.)

August 24th, 2011

I know.  We’re all sad to see the end of summer.  It usually hits like a ton of bricks… WHAM all of a sudden there are spiders and orange webs in the grocery store and two foot long cardboard pencils in store windows.


So how about making some of those puckerface school lemons into exercise lemonade?  Try out some schoolyard fun after you pick up your son or daughter some afternoon…or a walk over to a schoolyard on a weekend day for a little Family Fun Time!

Everybody grab a soccer ball and put it in between your knees.  (Little kids may fare better with a rubber ball instead.)  Keep the ball between your knees as you play tag!

Head to the high school track.  Bring a whistle you can hear for a good distance.  Your son or daughter gets to blow the whistle as you jog around the track (or field)—when they blow the whistle, you SPRINT until they blow it again.  Great way to fit in some awesome intervals!!  Make up fun and silly ways to walk or run for when it’s their turn to go around the track… you blow the whistle for them as they alternate between jogging and crazy walking!

If you’ve got a youngster learning to read: grab one of their books with at least two repeating words… or a poem.  Something that you can assign a different exercise to each word.  (Sam = jumping jacks; Green = flat on your stomach; Eggs = squats)  When the little one reads the word, you do the corresponding exercise.  You can each read for each other!

For the older ones, make it a competition.  Find an empty basketball court and set a kitchen timer for one minute.  See how many times you can run the width of the court (back and forth) in a minute.  Aim for 18 times in a minute.  While you rest, your kid tries to beat your number!  Try it a couple times and I’m sure you’ll both be sweaty messes.

Really, any time you are spending with your son or daughter and you put THEM in charge of something YOU do is a great time in their world.

We all just love to be in charge, don’t we?  Make exercise FUN for EVERYONE!!

HOW to get yourself moving

August 9th, 2011

Motivation is a key element of fitness—without motivation all the good intentions and smart ideas in the world will lie inert and be of no good to anyone.

I’m all about politely acknowledging the THEORY behind ideas and then moving quickly into MAKING THEM HAPPEN in real life.  (Always have been; just ask my sister!)

When it comes to weight loss, we can talk and write and read and shop until we’re blue in the face, but unless you actually EAT LESS you aren’t moving toward accomplishing your goals.

The same is, of course, true when it comes to exercise.  I read an interesting tidbit in my Runner’s
World magazine earlier this morning: someone asked the expert whether it was better to eat unhealthily and exercise (in this magazine, run) or whether it was better to eat pristinely and not exercise.  I thought the answer was pretty good: it’s the same thing as asking whether it’s better to shoot yourself in your right foot or in your left foot.  Either way, you’re shooting yourself in the foot!

Along those lines, I will say that I think sometimes people feel a need for more motivation and ideas when it comes to figuring out WHAT kind of exercise to do.

To answer this, I suggest a few ideas for HOW to get your exercise groove on.

1. Redefine Exercise.  Exercise can be any number of movements.  In fact, it can oftentimes be simply that: MOVEMENT.  Not everyone needs the same thing.  A contractor who tears down buildings with his bare hands a la Mike Holmes  may not need or want the same movement-oriented fitness as someone who sits at a desk twelve hours a day.  Perhaps the contractor needs more flexibility training than strength work—so for the contractor, maybe yoga would push him out of his comfort zone and into a new level of fitness.

2. Be Involved in What You Enjoy.  Anyone can go through the movements and turn
off their brains, but it takes a level of involvement to reach a healthy level of fitness.  Don’t try to multi-task your exercise if you are working on reaching a healthy level of fitness.  (No magazines on the bikes at the gym.  No cell phone conversations on a jog.)

If you want to get moving with other people, try a pickup basketball game, or a hilly hike, or even a game of tag with your kids and their friends.  (I also borrow my friends’ dog for some tag every now and again—talk about winding me! She can put me to SHAME!)

Above all, when you are engaged in repetitive motions particularly on a machine at the gym, STAY ENGAGED and keep your focus on what you’re doing while you are there.  If you let your mind wander, you risk losing focus and intensity and not getting the benefits from the moves you deserve.

3. If You Hate It, Find Something Else.  No one suggests that you have to hate what you do for exercise—in fact, it’s the exact opposite!  There are so many different activities that will help you move and be fit that it is a waste of time and energy to force yourself to do something you hate.  This isn’t scales on the piano or multiplication tables—it’s physical movement and activity.  Your body will respond to new things and become stronger as a result of new challenges.
Take a look at your local parks and rec offerings to see if there is a class you might enjoy.  Ever tried Tai Chi?  Karate?  Rock climbing? Golf? Ballroom dancing?  Hip hop?  (Just a sample from a nearby city’s bulletin!)

Have fun out there!

What Are YOU Training For?

August 5th, 2011

I read an article this afternoon and I thought the author brought up a really good point: How Much Is Enough?

Whether you are training for an event like a marathon or weightlifting competition or an ice skating performance or football tryouts, you need to be aware of WHY you are doing what you do with your physical training.

We aren’t all running 5ks, and we aren’t all going out for the soccer team.  Your workouts
should reflect WHAT your goals are
, and they should be related to getting you faster, stronger, or more agile.

Your goals should motivate you and keep you focused to work hard and improve your fitness.

It’s always good to think for a little bit about what you want and need out of your exercise routine.  (I hate the word “routine” because I think you need to keep a varied program going to keep your body challenged and your mind engaged.)

Do you want to be able to lift your grandson?  If that kid doesn’t weigh 300 pounds why do you want to be strong enough to lift a 300 pound barbell?

Do you want to be able to do your laundry without hurting your back?  If you aren’t doing body weight and spinal strength and stability exercises, you may be missing the boat.  If you are only doing dumbbell exercises with 3 pound weights, and your laundry weighs 15 pounds, how does that make sense?

Do you want to be able to win the local 10k Turkey Trot held every Thanksgiving? Do you want to qualify for the Olympic team?  Or do you simply want to be able to run the entire distance without having to stop and walk?

Each of these goals is PERSONAL to YOU and reflects who YOU are and WHAT YOU WANT to do in your life.  If your neighbor is bench pressing 135 pounds every night in his garage, you don’t need to automatically feel odd about “only” doing pushups.  It’s what will help you reach YOUR goals that you need to stay focused on!

It’s about what YOU need to stay healthy and avoid injury on your way to achieving the goals YOU want in your life, and what makes sense for YOU.

Go after those goals. They ARE within reach.

Pouting and Crying

August 2nd, 2011

If you saw yesterday’s blog you know I pretty much pouted my way through the San Francisco Marathon on Sunday.

I think that is pretty lame of me, and someone at the finish line (I thankfully did reach it on my own two feet) put me so squarely in my place it’s almost embarrassing.

The last mile was fortunately flat, and I knew where I was by that point because I knew roughly where the finish line was compared to the ball park.  So, when I got to the ball park I knew I could make it.  (I’ve walked it many times to attend SF Giants baseball games!)

And then, d’oh!, they had us run BEHIND the ball park instead of in front of it (adding maybe a half mile to what I expected).  AND we had to get up a 14 inch curb to do it.

(Let me tell you, it might as well have been a mountain by that point; 14 inches is super duper high after 25 miles.)

So here I am, trying at this point to pick up my pace so I can finish under five hours.  It doesn’t even matter to me anymore what happens, really; I want to get out and be done.

As I am what feels like sprinting but probably looks like just huffing to the finish line and I cross the line, I stop my watch and start looking for my husband, and collect my medal and heatsheet (this is my second one of those and wow do you feel cool when you get one of those!)  and I would
say I’m completely in a daze.

As I’m in this daze, I look to my left just briefly and everything I’ve been rolling around in my brain makes a clank.

I see a woman in tears. 


Who am I to pout when someone next to me just accomplished this HUGE thing that she has been working for for several months, maybe years, and maybe she was running it in someone’s honor or maybe she was just going after a goal of her own.  I have no idea what she gave up in order to cross that finish line.  I have no idea what she gained along her way. 

I only know that whatever it was she lost and gained was enough to make her cry when she earned that medal around her neck.

And that was enough to (at long last) shut me up. 

I’ve had a number of people applaud what I did on Sunday, which feels so strange.  I don’t see how keeping on going despite how much I was hating it was all that big of a deal that someone should pat me on the back!

But, I guess if it were easy, everyone would do it and it wouldn’t mean that much at all.

I feel like I should apologize to that lady for in some way minimizing something that was such an accomplishment for her; when I was thinking to myself that it didn’t matter I was wrong. 

I don’t like that I in a way felt this marathon was “no big deal.”

I guess we all have our paths and we all have rocks and surprise turns and unhappy detours along the way, and it definitely gets complicated when things like blood glucose levels or body weight or cholesterol levels feel like they aren’t on our side.  We certainly don’t all make it to each finish line with a smile on our faces.

But that shouldn’t stop us from setting goals and working hard and always keeping some sort of finish line in view. 

ESPECIALLY when we get a medal.

We each earn THIS one after 50 years with type one!

San Francisco Marathon 2011 Report

August 1st, 2011

Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”
– Victoria Holt

I completed the San Francisco Marathon yesterday; my fourth marathon so far.

Notice I said I “completed” the course, not that I “ran” the marathon.  It wasn’t a great day for me out there.

This is a pretty interesting course through as much of San Francisco as I, someone who has lived within an hour of the city for the nearly 31 years, would care to see.  There are hills, there is the Haight, there is running through Golden Gate Park.

And then there is the Golden Gate Bridge.  (This one is the only event that will shut
traffic lanes of the bridge to runners; we were on the actual road!)

But, all of that said, I still didn’t have a great time out there yesterday.

I spent a long time trying to figure out what was wrong with me as I ran (and walked!)—as you may know, marathons are about 90% mental.  (The months of physical training turns out to be the easy part.)

The hills make it a challenging course: you start flat, hit a little hill, go flat again, bigger hill, down the hill, flat for a bit, up onto and over the bridge (hill!), turn around, go back onto and over the bridge in the other direction (still a hill!), flat again, up a big hill, come partway down that, go up another hill, down that one, up a long slow hill, stay up there for a while, hit a big downhill, go up a little hill, and slowly peter back down to finish where we started.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? 

My mental energy just wasn’t there yesterday, which in turn meant my physical energy wasn’t really there either.  For an event requiring focus and determination and a lot of self motivation, yesterday simply wasn’t my day.  There are a couple reasons for that; not to mention the fact that on Saturday I felt somewhat sick all day and was low at midnight (hadn’t been up to eating as much dinner as I thought) before getting up at 3am for the early SF start time.

So, I started the run at 6:10am and finished five hours later.  (My other times have been 4:30 or faster.)  I could have told you 20 minutes after starting my CGM on Saturday that my sensor would not be a friend to me on Sunday’s run, and it wasn’t: it kept telling me I was over 300 and I’d check and be slightly over 200.  I was low at midnight, so needed to make sure that didn’t happen again during the run.  I’ve always maintained it is easier for me to run high than run low, despite feeling my best out there between 90 and 160.

I ate some oatmeal at 4:00am and underbolused on purpose.  At 5:35am I was 264 but didn’t take a big correction as I was about to run and still had the oatmeal insulin on board.  Right before the start I was 222 and took just .05 units.

The gun went off, and we started.  I tried to start slowly (still need to work on that) and just enjoy the run.  There were so many people at the start I didn’t get a last glance at my husband, so that made me a bit sad to begin.  I had chosen purposefully slow music to keep my pace in check at the start.

At 7:30am I checked again and was 173.  Happy with that, I had some carbohydrates to keep me properly fueled for the bridge that I could see ahead of me.

At 8:10am, I took some insulin to help out with my 257 and ate again, per my usual.

Then at 8:50 I was 256.  Argh.  Let it go, corrected a smidge, and kept going.  An hour later, 282.  Clearly, this was not my event that day.

At 10:40 I ate again and took a little insulin to cover those carbs.  I could take more insulin as the finish line approached since I wouldn’t be running when the insulin peaked.

So why was I high the entire course?  My best guess is of course two different factors combined.  I think my 46 at midnight six hours earlier reared its glucagon head at some point during the course, although that should not have been a major deal.  The other thing I did was to lower my basal rate to only 25% of normal, like I normally do for hilly runs.

That would have been great, had I been running my normal speed.  But due to the few days before the run, I think I just didn’t have it to run my normal speed.

All in all, I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad it’s done.

My friend was at a water stop (why the ground is wet) and caught me actually SMILING as I ran!

And now I get to enjoy some weeks of zero or minimal running before I tackle my next run: the Giants race!  That one is a half marathon, thankfully, which should feel much easier since it’s, well, half the distance of yesterday’s course.

Love that.

Don’t Ignore Your Upper Body!

July 25th, 2011

I’m always talking about how to do a squat or a lunge or how to keep your core strong, not to mention discussing what it takes to get my legs to run, but don’t take my relative silence on the  upper body to mean it’s okay to ignore it!

Take my suggestions here with a grain of smart salt: if a certain move doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, don’t do it!

You may have been one of those people who adopted a new catch phrase for your upper body ‘round about 2008-09: Michelle Obama Arms. 

And you might recognize that a large part of Mrs. Obama’s sculpted arms is genetic, a large part of it is a result of her diet, and about 5-10% is related to her workouts.  (How do they look to you now, once you think about how well she must eat in the White House compared to how we eat when we feed ourselves?)

That said, we do owe it to ourselves to love our arms.  LOVE them.  Make them the best and strongest arms they can be.

Which does take some thought, and some knowledge.

Your upper body consists of five general muscle groups: back, chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps.

Back and chest muscles support all motions of your arms as well as facilitate movement and stability of your spine as you move through your day.  Keep up your ab work and strengthen your lower back with moves like supermen and bird dogs, and always think about your posture!!

Your shoulder joint is the one joint in your body with the greatest range of motion and therefore can be injured if you don’t pay attention to your form! Keep your shoulders pulled back and down to combat the hunch and inward caving you experience from sitting at your desk or computer.  Always follow the Rule of Thumbs: be able to see your thumbs throughout any overhead moves to avoid nerve impingement and injury.

Biceps help you grasp and carry, and are those “flex” muscles.  Your biceps (“bi”= two) attach to your shoulder in two separate places and attach inside your elbow in one spot.  Doing hammer curls (thumbs up, palms face inward toward the midline of your body) and traditional bicep curls (palms face the ceiling as your hands move toward your shoulder) uses different portions of the muscle, so make sure you hit them both!

Your triceps (“tri” = three) extend your arm and have three separate attachment points along your upper arm but share a common tendon above your elbow.  To avoid that certain waddle, you want to use all three aspects of your triceps as you perform kickbacks, dips, overhead extensions, and triceps pushups.

Remember: muscle tissue does not know age—it knows use and it knows disuse.  USE IT or lose it!

Finding What You Enjoy

July 14th, 2011

I hear a lot of people tell me they hate to exercise, or they hate running, or they “can’t” run, or they used to exercise before their knees started to complain, or they aren’t coordinated enough to play sports, or any number of excuses.

It makes me sad, because I think exercise is fantastic and I think that all the excuses serve only to build a wall between “exercisers” and “non-exercisers” for no good reason.

When I meet someone and they learn I run marathons, some eventually come around to saying “I should run a marathon.”  My response to that never changes: “you have to WANT to do it; don’t even try if you don’t want it or you will be miserable every [literal and figurative] step of the way.”

And when someone says they don’t like to exercise, I think to myself that they just haven’t found an activity they enjoy.  Like the saying goes: “love your work and you’ll never work a day in your life;” so goes exercise.

Make it fun.

On the off chance that you might be inspired by some visuals, I took a gander through the Power Systems catalog that came in my mail today.  The catalog is designed for athletic trainers, gym owners, personal trainers and the home exerciser and they have more equipment and gadgets than you can even imagine.

Some look like a ton of fun.

Suction cup ski poles?! Love!!

Someday I'll get one of these slider things.

Some not so much.

I find yoga challenging enough without the weight balls, thank you.

Weighted Pants

Some look downright dangerous.

Be careful if you're prone to vertigo!

There isn't much to say here.

Some look like I should start saving up to purchase for bootcamp.

Power Jumper

I wonder if actors use these training for spy movies.

How FUN would this be?!

Each one shows someone exercising for a different purpose, and yet the goals are the same: improving their lives through exercise.

Which ones strike YOUR fancy?

Hanz and Franz vs. Harriet and Francine

July 11th, 2011

Do you remember these two guys from SNL in the early 90s?  They were SO FUN.  I just had a fun moment with my husband when I went to him and said “what were their names?” as I hunched forward, said “PUMP [clap] YOU UP!”  He said “Hanz and Franz” right away.

I guess we’ve been together a long time.

Anyway, I thought of these two and their stuffed sweatshirts as I thought about what to write about today.  I also thought about the roughly seven thousand and three conversations I have each year with women who say their husbands can lose weight just by thinking about it for an afternoon.

It begs the question: are men and women different when it comes to muscle mass?

The first and most obvious answer to that question is to say “yes” that men and women differ.  The various reasons for that number in the thousands; the critical differences when it comes to exercise are body size and composition.

When scientists look closer at muscle tissue itself, though, the differences between men and women do not exist! 

While men in general have more muscle MASS, the makeup and strength in muscle tissues of men and of women are equal. (Women’s values in muscle strength, pulmonary ventilation, and cardiac output are generally 60-75% of those values recorded in men due to the variances in body size, body composition, and levels of testosterone.)

So are there exercises that men should do and women shouldn’t do?  NOPE.

Are there “female” exercises and “male” exercises?  NOPE.

Is there a biological reason for “boy pushups” and “girl pushups”?  NOT ON MY WATCH.  EVER. (This is one of the very few things I will actually yell at you for saying during a workout.)

Seriously; your body isn’t as different from your brother or sister’s body as you may want to believe.  You can both train the same and both perform the same exercises and achieve most of the same results.  Sure, the improvements by the numbers will never be identical due to the basic differences above in size, composition, and testosterone, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go after what you want.

Male or female, muscle is muscle.  Use it or lose it.

I vote “USE IT!”