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How Did I Miss This?

Thankfully NYMag’s Vulture is doing a recap of some of 2011’s best videos, otherwise I would have completely missed this amazingness created by Beyonce to help Michelle Obama’s obesity cause.

Seriously, this is probably one of the best tactics I have seen used to fight childhood obesity. Music, dancing, Beyonce? Slam dunk in my book.

Imagine me in my home office doing this right now.

December Challenge Kinda Falling Short

It can take quite a bit of willpower to go for the healthful food choices when everyone around you has plates filled with cookies and spinach artichoke dip. All the traveling we have done (or at least I have) in the last week didn’t really help much either.

That’s not to say healthy items aren’t at my disposal. A new survey released this week of 15 major airports finds that 83% of restaurants have at least one vegetarian item on the menu—low in fat, high in fiber and good for your heart. The survey by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine considers healthy meals to be those that are vegetarian, cholesterol-free and low in fat.

I think I was just tired and didn’t have the energy to make healthy choices or exercise.

This coming week’s trip to Charlotte, NC is via car, which means I can control the food intake, simply by packing healthy snacks for us. I don’t have to worry about fitting everything into my carry on (there is less and less room btw in those overhead compartments).

Anyway, we did the Biggest Loser: At Home Challenge DVD together this week. It was a slow start and again, Anna didn’t really transition really well. My favorite thing about the DVD was that we could choose not only the workout sections we wanted to do, but in what order.

There seemed to be a lot of repetition on certain joints (lots of squats, lunges and planks). I really liked the curtsy kicks from Cardio Phase One and the pushup with a turn from Strength Phase One. Of course, Bob’s sections had me begging for it to be over. I think the next time we do it I might want to start with Phase Two and end with Phase One workouts.

Since it was a little slower, I think I might send this one over to my mom for her to try out.

(FTC Disclosure: I received the DVD for free, but the opinion and review is my own.)

The Busy Season: Taking Control of Your To-Do List

Each December I am completely caught off guard by the mad dash to the finish line. I don’t know what it is about the Holidays that lull me into a false sense of calm. This year I am following the below outline to make it through without completely breaking down.

  • Write it all down. Put everything on one list. Determine which tasks are easy and which are more difficult.
  • Do some easy things. Spend 15 minutes doing the easy tasks. Focus on speed: make the quick phone calls, shoot off the brief emails. Cross as many tasks off the list as you can.
  • Turn to a bigger task. Turn off your phone, close all the open windows on your computer, and focus on one of the more challenging tasks. Do this for 35 minutes without distraction.
  • Take a break. After 35 minutes, take a 10-minute break. Then return to step two.

The closing of all the open windows is a challenge for me, as it is for any person completely tied to their email. Once I buckle down though to pump out those 2012 plans though I don’t think I will want ANYTHING else open.


Getting Fit as a Couple Week 2: Biggest Loser Calorie Knockout Review

We are headed into week 2 of “Get Fit as a Couple” and true to form the hubby has dropped four pounds and I have lost 1.5 pounds. It isn’t like I needed to lose a ton of weight or any weight at all. I just needed to firm up again, but it is amazing to watch the hubby lose weight just from starting to exercise more regularly and watch what he is eating.

This week I did get the opportunity to test out The Biggest Loser: Calorie Knockout (FTC Disclosure: I received the DVD for free, but the following opinion and review is my own.).

I am a huge fan of the Biggest Loser and Bob Harper. Every time I watched that show and see Bob having contestants doing something awesome I have to try it.  So, doing this video was sort of living the dream for me.

The workout is 55 minutes broken into a 5 minute warm up, 15 minutes of kickboxing inspired moves with Anna, 15 minutes of intervals featuring some yoga with Bob, 15 minutes of Tabata* with Dolvett and then a 5 minute cool down. Much like the previous DVDs, they the workout models are the current Biggest Loser contestants.

*Tabata is doing a workout for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds. This video has you do that 8 times.

I did the whole workout through and worked up a pretty decent sweat, which I was concerned about after Anna’s portion (first circuit). By the time I got to Bob’s (circuit #2) I was dripping and pretty breathless. All three sections don’t really point out who your modifiers are (Vinny and Antone) and the transitions from exercise to exercise go pretty quickly, with limited time to catch your breath or take a drink of water. Each section incorporates a set of weights, but does not tell you the recommended size–I used 5 lbs.

You can tell this was definitely Anna and Dolvett’s first at-home workout. They don’t really explain the moves or talk to the person at home. Dolvett was a little better than Anna at least explaining the moves when you start in the Tabata section, but both have a lot to learn in the art of fitness DVDs.

Circuit #1: Kickboxing with Anna

This circuit includes kickboxing and weight training. Anna transitions so quickly that she doesn’t even know herself what comes next. It was nice that she worked out with them the entire time, but that came at the expense of some other things. She also doesn’t correct the form of those around her or really explain how you at home are supposed to be set up. I am pretty sure she also had some bad form on one of the workouts. Aside from hearing her call Becky, Rebecca (totally caught me off guard), she is really quiet when talking to the contestants.

Circuit #2: Intervals/Yoga with Bob

This is not Bob’s first rodeo. He takes the time to review the move, making sure you can see what is expected of you before jumping into the actual workout. He also physically adjusts people, which helps you see how your body is supposed to be. I loved the integration of yoga in unexpected ways. Moving from single leg squats to warrior 2! Come on! Bob also makes it a point to tell you how many exercises you do in each section and counts down for you so you are prepared to transition.

Circuit #3: Tabata with Dolvett

I didn’t know the term Tabata before I read the back of the DVD, if I hadn’t done that I still wouldn’t know because Dolvett doesn’t explain it at all. He just gets down to business. I loved that the workout has built in recovery sections and that he uses it to explain the next series of workouts. During the second exercise it took a while for the “exercise models” to do one of the variations, so much so that I almost forgot what to do there. I also think that a timer for the 20 second push it and 10 second recovery would have been an added bonus.

Warm Up/Cool Down with Dolvett

These were just average did their jobs, but nothing special (I mean how do you make those special anyway).

Overall, I got a really good workout and I would possibly reserve this for one of my “active recovery days.”


Freshman 15 a Total Myth

My freshman year I went to the gym every day, sometimes for 2 hours at a time. I lived on campus it was really easy to get there (parking wasn’t an issue) and it was the first time since volleyball season that I had a gym available to me always. I was in the best shape I had been in a long time.  I didn’t eat dinner at the sorority house, but made it at the dorm (limited options there but it worked).

I wasn’t a Two for Tuesdays Pokey Sticks gal (I had them once in all my four years) and my late night snack was typically apple and peanut butter.

So when I saw the recent study about the Freshman 15 being a media myth it made sense to me. Investigators found that women gained an average of 2.4 lbs during their freshman year. Also, about one in four reported actually losing weight.

The typical weight gain is over the course of the four years, women gain about 7 to 9 lbs. I can attest to that after moving off campus sophomore year I put on some weight. There was a beautiful kitchen where I could make things late at night when we got home from the bars.

I think it might be time to make it the “College 15,” which certainly isn’t as catchy, but sheds more light on the weight gain that is possible.


Getting Fit as a Couple

At the wedding both J’s parents and twin brother made mention of my athletic abilities and their family’s lack there of–hoping this match would mean the family line had a fighting chance.

Considering this and that nasty stat that married people tend to gain weight in their first year, I’ve made it my mission to keep us fit together.

An Australian study investigated the effects of a 16-week lifestyle-modification program for new couples that recently moved in together. The researchers found that couples who changed their behaviors as a team had better success than those going it alone. The couples lost weight, improved their diet, exercised more and reduced their cholesterol levels. 

J doesn’t like running with me, and has an aversion to spin classes for some reason. So I have been wracking my brain for other options.

This past weekend, I put the plan in motion. We went to a CrossFit class at South Arlington CrossFit. (A) It was super duper fun and a great workout and (B) it was something we could do together.

In a study on exercise, married couples participating in a program together had significantly higher attendance and a dramatically lower dropout rate than married individuals who participated alone.

So we are going to try out a few more of the free classes and then see where it goes, but I am excited to be doing it together.

Finally Answering the Feedback Question

One of the hallmarks of a millenial is that we don’t take feedback very well.  We roll our eyes, stare blankly at the person or just flat out don’t listen. And when someone asks how we would prefer to get feedback there is no response. Literally we can’t articulate what they want.

Over generalization? Yes, but think about it feedback or constructive criticism is judgement no matter the word choice. It is a threat to the way others see our value. Trying to answer that question may be easier if we think less about what is being said and more about how it is said.

Many managers see their success as a reflection of yours. This is great when you do something outstanding, but the same is felt when shortcomings are exposed. Anytime feedback is provided with the goal of getting someone to better meet a manager’s needs rather than being responsive to theirs, the outcomes will be less than desired. Managers are more likely to be reactive, insensitive and even hurtful.

Failing to hold the other person’s value makes it feel like an attack. The immediate response is then to defend, and not to absorb what you are hearing.

It makes more sense to think about offering feedback in an exploratory way–a honest inquiry and opportunity for learning for both people–with a careful eye to not be condescending.

Watch for things we do, and then comment “I noticed you did X, Y and Z to solve that problem and they worked really well”    Or, “I realize you are worrying about  X situation ,and I was thinking that if you tried  A, maybe it would work.”  In other words, confirm who we are when commenting specifically on good things, and don’t put suggestions in terms of something that we should do to correct a problem, but take the suggestion onto yourself (“I was thinking about”  instead of “you should do this”).  So when something is said, and it is in a couple of sentences, not a half hour lecture, you are more likely to absorb and learn!