Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Have a Problem

Hi. My name is Laura.

(Welcome Laura)

“I'm an addict. I didn't realize I had a problem. I do now and I am willing to admit it although I am not willing to go in for treatment.”

Well that is how the first meeting would go. I don't even know where I could get help. My friends and family will not support me. I can't find an EA meeting (Exercisers Anonymous) here on the Upper West Side of Manhattan or anywhere for that matter (and I did Google it). Not to mention my "RULES”. These are the set of strong personally held beliefs that I have (that we all have) that compel me to do the “things-I-Do”. (I believe my grandmother would have called them hang-ups.)

It was Saturday morning and I had no plan for exercise. For those of you who know me well, you know this is: A) very unlike me and: B) nearly sacrilegious. My world is a plan. The Husband plans for a living. I live by my calendar and I schedule most activities (at least diet & exercise wise, wait…ok there are dinners, golf, visits to the family vacations, ski weekends……..) for me to not know what I will be doing on Saturday morning left me feeling lost.

I woke up too late to run; besides I ran on Friday. I had no one to go play MMA with so I argued in my own head about taking the day off. I wandered into the kitchen discussing going for another run. “You can't do that you ran yesterday” I said [Editor’s note: it was out loud too]. Besides it’s so late that the park will be too crowded.

I wandered into the bedroom. I could go for a bike ride because “It’s kind of late and there is a race in the park” [Editor’s note: again, out loud and unprovoked]. It doesn't matter. I don't ride in the park.

Into the bathroom I think, “Yoga! I could do yoga at LuLu”. Too late, class is at 9 and it was way after that.

Back into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. What if I took a class at the JCC? I hate classes at the JCC. Let me look. I look. Of course the one class I could have taken has already started. It is Saturday at the JCC after all. Who do I blame for all of this anyway? If they were not closed for the damned holiday I would have been on schedule.

Monday: lift and swim. Tuesday: run Wednesday: ride Thursday: run Friday: lift & swim Saturday: ride and martial arts wherever I can fit it in.

But I digress.

I just need to burn some calories and the day is ticking away. (I am almost in a sheer panic at this point.) I finally decide to ride.

Of course now I have rituals. These series of rituals, I have put in place, allow me to get out the door with all my equipment. Without these rituals, I usually forget something, water, music...

I also make it a habit to check the pressure on my tires. In the process of checking my tires, which requires me to attach the air hose, I snap the valve stem off my tire giving me a back tire flat before I even left the apartment. Although I was pissed, it was fun watching two cats, The Dog and The Husband scatter in four different directions at the sound of the pop. Of course it was the back bike tire which now needs to be changed. Of course I have a plan for that an executed the “Flat Repair Plan” which was successful.

Dressed, ritualized and amped, I finally go.

I promise you, this was not the beautiful smooth ride that I wanted but knew it was coming. Three quarters through my ride, through a serious of gear shifts, my chain came off. Thankfully that is an easy enough fix. I finish my ride off with a trip to the dog park to catch up with The Husband and The Dog. 500 calories and one hour later, I feel satisfied and relieved that I was able to get in my calorie burn.

Exercise addiction is not something that comes up very often. More often than not the problem is lack of exercise. And although I poke fun at myself, my problem is not as serious as some others. You might know someone and not realize that they even have a problem.

There is a difference between someone training for an event i.e. triathlon, marathon, half marathon. (If you know someone training for an ultra-marathon that is a clear indication of an issue.) These are events where intense training is for a finite period of time with a very specific goal in mind. Once you hear your loved one is going for their second 18 mile run in a day, call a professional

The trouble comes when you notice that either you or someone you care about starts getting sick often. You wonder how that can be when they exercise twice a day six days a week. Therein lies the problem. Your body needs time to recover and let all the hard work you did in the gym or on the track set in. Rest is key to any fitness program and should be scheduled just like a work out (my day is Sunday).

Other warning signs that you or your significant other may have a problem:

·         Sleeping too much, sleeping too little

·         Irritability, depression

·         Prolonged recovery

·         Headaches

·         Increased injuries, soreness that won't go away

·         Chronic fatigue

On occasion, the over exerciser happens by accident. The first time exerciser starts to see results that they have never seen before and don't realize that back to back spin classes or three hours of martial arts or daily 15 mile runs is just too many. In this case a little education goes along way. But if you know someone who is experiencing any of the above symptoms you may want to engage some professional help.

I know that I am border line and could fall into the over exercise category quite easily. Thankfully, I have a wonderful support system.

Be inspired!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Go or No Go?

Hi. It's Laura.

Happy Tuesday!

I can say with all honestly I was less than thrilled to find it raining this morning. I usually love rainy days and we certainly did not get enough of them this summer. But faced with a 5 mile run, the rain was daunting

I sat on the edge of the sofa, with a cup of black coffee, debating whether to run or skip it. Normally, I would have just gone to the gym. We are members of the JCC, today they are not open due to Rosh Hashanah.

I was tired (been battling insomnia on and off for the last two weeks) and felt super draggy. I try not to think of the actual physical run of the park (ever) but more about how I will feel during the run. Once I started thinking about the crossover at 102nd St. and then Cat Hill, I find my motivation depleted. I did have the option of taking complimentary yoga class at Pure but I still am not feeling the motivation for yoga. I know people absolutely swear by it but I just have not been able to get into it. Maybe another time.

Once The Husband and The Dog returned from the morning dog exercise, I got the weather report from them: “not really raining just on and off spitting”. Ok, I'll go. I used to just look out the window to see if it was raining but our apt sits in an odd position and I cannot see if rain is actually coming down unless it is absolutely pouring.

I left the apt and stood under the awning of our building. Hmmm!? It is raining just a little harder than I had anticipated.

Go or No Go?

I walk 10 feet to the parking garage next door and stand there watching the rain.

Go or No Go?

I debate with myself. “If you were really dedicated to fitness you would go.” “Crazy people run in the rain.” “You ran a half marathon in the rain.” “That was different! That was a race.” “Don't you want to reach your goals? What's a little water?” “You're going to be wet from sweat anyway.” “My feet will get wet. I don't care about the rest of me but then they itch and burn.” “Stop being a baby a just go!”

I Go.

Walking to the park, the wind starts to pick up and starts slamming the drizzle right into my face. I am a half block from the park. I’m committed now. I try to get a signal on my Garmin. Usually I get the signal right when I get to the park, today nothing. Grrrrr. The drizzle is starting to collect on the brim of my hat and starts to drip in my face.

“Really?” “Am I doing this?” As I peak into the park, I see the loop is virtually empty.

Ok, I’ll go.

I have resigned myself to start my run without a GPS signal in the hopes that it will kick in once I start. I start the timer and go. By the time I hit mile 1.5 I still have no signal and I can't say that I am not disappointed. One reason I run is to burn calories, no signal, no calorie count (maybe). As it turns out after the download of the Garmin, no calories. Definitely no distance. Although I run this park at least twice weekly, I still like to track my miles.

Another reason I run, issues. Not only is running in the rain an issue in itself, I run to solve mine. I do not always know what the issue is when I start my run but I often discover it along the way. Today even though I was having issues getting to the park and with the weather, I didn't really think I had an issue until I started to run. Once I got going, I started to ponder about what kind of people run in the rain. Committed ones or are they just crazy? Why did I run in the rain this morning? I ultimately did go because if I waited the rain was supposed to get worse and as of this writing, it didn't it get better.

How to you know when to go and when not to go?

Every day we have to make the choice to exercise or not exercise. I will share with you that the American Heart Association and The American College of Sports medicine recommends 30 min of exercise MOST days of the week. What does most mean? If there are seven days in a week, more than three days is my best guess. This does not mean you have to run in the rain but it does mean that every day you should be doing some type of exercise. And that exercise is going to be determined by what YOU like. If you don't like it, you won't do it. I like to run. I know a lot of people that don't and would prefer to walk. If that is what you prefer, that is what you should do. Maybe you like to ride a bike, or take a yoga class (you won’t find me there) or any kind of class but DO something. Exercise is one of the single greatest gifts you can give yourself that does not cost anything. You can't buy fitness, it has to be earned.

The answer to Go or No Go?

Even though my feet itched and my clothes were drenched with sweat and rain and my technology was not working, had a good run and felt great when I got home.


Be inspired!



Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Hi. It's Laura.

It's been awhile I know. I hope you all have enjoyed your summer but now it’s back to school.

I know some kids went back to school last Tuesday and some went back as late as Thursday which got me thinking...

Fitness & nutrition are like a road trip. In order to get where you want to go you need a plan.

I will get back to that analogy in a moment. Right now, back to school, because I think this is where we all get lost. Growing up I was allowed to eat anything I wanted. Fortunately for me, I was a pretty finicky eater. Two or three bites of something and I would feign a tummy ache and ask to be excused (desperately wanting to get back outside to play with my friends and yes, I had those). I was not forced to eat my vegetables and my mother never made sit at the dinner table until I cleaned my plate (I did have a babysitter that did that once, that would be a different blog though).

Little did my mother know she was doing the right thing in letting me eat until I was full. Not basing it on how much she thought I should eat or how much she wanted me to eat. Just on how much I wanted to eat. I have heard horror stories from friends whose parents forced them to sit until the whole meal was gone, sad.

In grade school or even high school, I don't ever remember learning about nutrition. Maybe they taught us that vegetables were good for you but seriously, I don't remember. I bet they still don't (I do not have children so I could be completely wrong, but just go with me here).

If we teach our children what a protein is, what a carbohydrate is, the positive affects they can have and the fuel they provide our bodies to function, we may not have such an obesity epidemic in our school grade children today. This could be one thing that we learn in school that might actual be useful throughout the rest of our lives (unlike algebra, on this point I know The Husband will disagree) [Editor’s Note: AAAARGH! She knows that drives me crazy. All planning starts with Algebra and she will use it later in this blog]

To the road trip!

In order to plan a road trip, we need to choose a destination. Once the destination is chosen, we need to figure out places to stay along the way, where and when we will refuel the car, how long it will take us to get there and then plan for any emergencies, accidents and the unforseen along the way. We plan for who will be traveling with us and why we are going to this particular place. Before we get into all that we need to find out if the car itself is in good enough condition to make the journey. [Editor’s Note: This is all Algebra]

In order to figure out where you want to go (lose weight, gain weight, get into better shape...), you have to figure out how to get there (diet, exercise).

So let's start with some basics. Just like calculating the gas mileage your car gets, you need to calculate how much mileage your body gets.

Let’s calculate how many calories do you need in a day to have your body carry out daily functions?

This is also known as Basal Metabolic Rate or Metabolic Rate

The formula for calculating you BMR:

Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year )

For example: 655+ (6.23X 120) + (12.7 x 63) - (6.8x 43) = 1786.3 calories/day or you can just plug your information into this calculator

Now you know where you are. You have chosen your destination so now we will figure out how to get there. If you are looking to lose weight, you need to drop 500 calories/day. You can do this by exercising (30 minutes of the treadmill is roughly 300 calories) or diet (one string cheese is 50 calories). If you are looking to gain weight logic says you should add 500 calories a day and if you like where you are and want to stay there consume no more or no less.

Dropping calories and adding exercise is only part of the how to get there. You have to actually read food labels and take note of what is an actual serving size. For example, the giant bag of M& M's says that it is 200 calories per serving, which does not mean the entire bag. It does mean there are multiple servings and it is in your best interest to figure out what that is based on the label. Read your labels carefully. Make sure you getting the serving size that it is you need. (High octane versus regular unleaded.)

The second part is the exercise. I can walk around the block 100 times a day seven days a week and never see any difference in my weight. Why?

In order to exercise safely and effectively you need to be at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. This is where you will see the most benefit.

How do you calculate your target heart rate(HR)? The simple formula is 220- your age. This will give you your maximum heart rate. So if you are a 43 year old woman, your maximum HR is 177 and you want your exercise HR to be between 106-141 (220-43= 177, 177*80%=141, 177*60%=106). You can also use this calculator.

If you wind up Googling Heart rate and target heart there are more complicated formulas that can give you a more accurate idea but thought it best to share the simplest one here. If you really want to know where you are, I strongly suggest you invest in a HR monitor.

Armed with this information, you know where you are, your destination and a general idea of how to get there and from here you can get started. We can deal with what kind of car (mode of exercise) and places to stay along the way (plateaus) and accidents (bad calories days and diet slips) as we continue our journey.

Be inspired!