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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sweet Treat

I have a huge sweet tooth which can be quite a hindrance when trying to watch what you eat.

As evidenced by previous posts, I don't have a problem with artificial sweeteners, so often times my attempt to watch what I eat leads me to products sweetened with Splenda or something similar.  That said, here's a sweet treat that i'm loving at the moment.

Jell-O Sugar Free Snacks - Cinnamon Roll

I've tried most flavors of sugar free/fat free pudding and while they all taste good, none of them really satisfy that sweet craving...until I tried Cinnamon Roll.  It's very sweet (perhaps too sweet for some) and the cinnamon flavor really does the trick.

I say give it a try!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I taught my usual 9:30a class this morning.  When I walked in to the classroom there was already one man pedaling away, wearing full cycling gear.  I wasn't sure if he'd stay for class or leave when it started.

He stayed.  He was in great shape.  I was actually nervous that my class might not be challenging enough for him.  (Most of my students are indoor cyclists with a few outdoor cyclists mixed in, but few people like him.)

After class I got to chatting with him.  He complimented me on the class (phew!).  I learned that he was training for the Lake Placid Ironman and was obviously an avid triathlete.  I was impressed.

I told him about my upcoming events, Spin Odyssey in March (six hours of spinning) and my lofty goal of running a half marathon over the summer.  He was encouraging and told me that he'd only started doing tri's about four years ago.  Prior to that he was a runner and had done several marathons.  An injury in the NY marathon put him on the DL and his doctor told him to try swimming.

For me, swimming is the scariest part of a tri.  This guy told me that when he started he could barely swim a lap.  He said it takes about three months of thinking "I can't do this" and then all of a sudden it clicks and swimming becomes your exercise of choice.

He had never done a spinning class or rode outside.  After some rehab he took a spin class, after which he went home and signed up for his first Iron Man (he didn't even have a bike).

I think it takes a certain personality to do an Iron Man, and I definitely don't have that trait.  But his progress and motivation were inspiring and I'm looking forward to channeling him as I begin my training.

I am constantly impressed by what people are physically capable of.  Just thought i'd share.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


In high school substitutes were rarely treated like the full time teachers.  Students disrespected them and were sometimes outright rude to them.

I was never able to understand why someone would want to be a substitute.

Part of getting started in the Spinning world typically involves becoming a sub.  Usually the process of instructing starts with becoming a sub, then once you have "proved yourself" you can audition for a class of your own.

I'm happy to say that subbing a spinning class is NOTHING like subbing a class in school.

I'll admit though that i've showed up to a spinning class (as a student), seen that the regular instructor wasn't there and toyed with leaving.  Given this knowledge it's my personal mission to make those who stay happy with their decision.

Subbing is good practice.  However, it can be hard.  You're walking in to a group you don't know, with preferences you don't know, and often times, they're watching you with a critical eye.

Some suggestions (from experience) are to contact the instructor you are covering for to find out the class's likes and dislikes as well as how he/she usually runs the show.  Walk in armed with this knowledge and confident and you're sure to do well.

I'm subbing for a friend tonight, but having taken his class for over two years I know exactly what i'm walking in to, and love it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sneak in some extra veggies

I'm constantly trying to include more vegetables in my diet (without eating salad all the time).

One of my favorite ways to do this is by using frozen spinach.  I typically have atleast one bag of frozen spinach in the freezer and I add this to anything I make for dinner (when appropriate).

Try adding the frozen spinach to tomato sauce, stir frys, eggs, pasta (or another grain), etc..

Spinach has great health benefits with very few calories.  Give it a try!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Calorie Saving Tips - Mexican Food

If you're anything like me, eating out is part of your social life.  Watching what you eat shouldn't mean that you have to eat every meal at home, but you do have to be aware and exercise restraint.

Here are some tips for making better decisions when eating out at Mexican restaurants (where dishes can have tons of calories)

  • Skip the cheese (often times these dishes are so flavorful that you wouldn't even taste the cheese)
  • Get black beans instead of refried beans
  • Limit your use of sour cream and stick with a pico de gallo or salsa
  • Try to resist the chips and salsa, if need be, have a few and then ask them to take them away, or move them away from you at the table
  • Ask for fajitas to be cooked with less oil or no butter (i sometimes skip the tortillas and just eat the protein and veggies)
  • You might want to try subbing a salad for the rice
  • If you get a taco salad, avoid the deep fried "bowl"

The principles applied here are really basic calorie cutting concepts and can be applied in most situations.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Spin Odyssey 2010

Let me tell you a bit about an event we have here in CT...
Spin Odyssey

Spin Odyssey is a fundraising event consisting of Spinning, Zumba and Tennis.  Participants are able to sign up for various lengths of time in each of the abolve activities.  The maximum is six hours of spinning.  All donations go to breast cancer research.

Since moving to CT 2.5 years ago I had heard all about Spin Odyssey, however, this is the first year I will be participating and i'm so excited.  I've also volunteered to be on the organization committe so that's exciting as well.

Here's the website, check it out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My mind works in strange ways

Clearly the thought of running a half marathon is on my mind.

Last night I had a dream that I was doing just that.  The weird part is that in the dream I was doing that with a rolly suitcase in tow.  Yup, one of those (smaller) suitcases on the wheels, like what the flight attendants use.  Random, right?

After mile six I decided I wanted to ditch the suitcase and tried to give it to my sister and parents (who were there to cheer me on) and they have me a hard time.  Bizarre!

The part of the dream that I did like was that after six miles I was looking and feeling great.  Clearly a dream!

Just had to share.

I had had my eye on doing the Philly half with a friend but turns out I have a wedding that weekend.  So, i'm keeping my eyes open for a new race during the late summer/early fall.  I'm thinking maybe the Fitness magazine half in NYC, but we'll see.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another Spin Ride

I'm currently in the midst of studying for my real estate exam (plus dealing with some other job related stuff), so I don't have a ton of time.  But, didn't want to go too long without a post so i'm sharing another spin ride.

This was one of my first rides and I haven't used this one for a while.  It's a little less diverse (in terms of genres) than most of my rides, but I always enjoyed it.

Because of You - Ne-Yo (4:28)
Warm up - I alternate between seated flat and a standing jog with slight resistance

Staying Alive - Wyclef (3:11)
Running flat (standing in hand position 2) adding resistance

Board Meeting - Timbaland (2:31)
Seated climb

Hungry Like the Wolf - can't remember the artist (3:26)
Standing climb

Body Rock - Moby ( 3:36)
Backing off resistance, heading down hill, fast to flat

Lady - Modjo (5:07)
Seated Climb

One Tribe - Black Eyed Peas (4:40)
Standing Climb

My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson (3:33)
Jumps (although this has now become my go-to song for sprints, so that might work better)

Get It Poppin' - can't remember the artist (3:33)
Quick flat, adding resistance as song progresses, left/right isolation

Izzo - Jay Z and Linkin Park (2:48)
Running with resistance (hand position 2)

Right Now - Van Halen (5:21)
Standing Climb (heavy)

MJB da MVP - Mary J. Blige (4:11)
Backing off resistance to seated flat/cooldown

Happy cycling!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm Impressed

I will admit that I am a big fan of tv.  I won't watch just anything but I do have my go-to shows that I really enjoy watching.  One of these shows is the Biggest Loser.  Yes, I find it hard to find two hours to sit down and watch but thanks to my DVR i'm able to cut it down to about an hour or so.

The holiday last week messed up my tv schedule so I finally got around to watching (most of) the Biggest Loser - Where Are They Now, last night.  Only a bit over a week late.

The only thing I have to say is WOW.  These people impressed me so much and kept me smiling (in between crying) throughout the episode.

Fitness and diet are obviously important to me, but i'm not obese and therefore even my worst day is nowhere near where these people came from.

One man completed the Kona Ironman.  Can you say holy cow?  His goal was to prove to people that you didn't have to be "thin" to do it.  The brother of a father/son team lost over 100 pounds.  Several contestants have become personal trainers.  It really just makes me smile.

When I see where they came from and what they overcame it really tells me that I can do more than I think I can.

So while I may end up changing my mind, i'm thinking now that there's a half marathon in my future.  This is coming from a girl who up until a few years ago couldn't even run a mile.  If they can do it, why can't I?  So, we'll see.  More to come on that once the weather gets warmer.

Aim for the moon, even if you miss, you'll be amongst the stars!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sharing a Spin Ride

I'm not one of those spinning instructors who hogs music or won't share ride ideas with other instructors.  I think we're a community and each instructor can make (or break) the class.

That said, I wanted to get in to the habit of sharing some of the rides i've used in the past.  I feel like there aren't a ton of website or blogs out there that provide this sort of information so perhaps doing so will get me some traffic.

This is the ride I used this past week...

Live Like Your Dying - Kris Allen - 3:30
Warm up

Disturbia - Rhianna - 3:59
Sprints - three 30 second bursts timed to the chorus

PYT - Michael Jackson - 3:59
Fast climb - can be done in or out of the saddle, legs are quick, run up that hill!

Mercy - Duffy - 3:39
Seated climb, heading up that hill, adding resistance every minute or so (6/10, 7/10)

Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard - 4:53
Heavy climb, come out of the saddle, increase resistance over length of the song (8/10, 9/10)

Love Train - The O'Jays - 2:58
Oldie but goodie...recover

What a Feeling - Dominico and Peter Luts - 3:34
Fast climb - once again, in or out of the saddle, run up that hill (5/10, 6/10)

Say Hey - Michael Franti and Spearhead - 3:56
Can be done either as slow jumps (10 or 8 count) or as a seated climb keeping resistance from previous song and adding

Hush Hush - Pussycat Dolls - 4:12
Sprints - 3 30 second bursts at chorus (this song is ideal for sprints)

Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix) - Rob D - 7:26
Slow and Steady Climb - start in the saddle (5/10) add resistance and come out of the saddle, getting heavy quickly and spending atleast half the song heavy (8/10, 9/10)

Call on Me - Eric Prydz - 2:49
Short recovery from heavy climb right in to a 1:30 (or 1:45) sprint at low resistance.  Slow the pedals and recover after.

To me, spinning rides are constantly evolving.  I may revisit this ride in a few weeks and decide to swap out a few songs or change the ride itself.  Happy spinning!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Packaged Foods

I just saw that Women's Health has published a list of the top 125 packaged foods for women.

I wonder how some of my favorite picks did.

Unfortunately my crazy schedule has led me to rely (a bit too heavily) on frozen meals.  One of my favorites (that I learned about from another magazine) is the Pumpkin-Squash Ravioli from Healthy Choice.  I was happy to see that this made the Women's Health list as well.  It's delicious!

Another item that I just purchased was the Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake.  Happy to see that this too made their list.  I haven't tried it yet but was intrigued by the diverse ingredient list.

Quaker Simple Harvest made their list as well.  I think it's delicious but unfortunately the grocery stores near me stopped carrying it.  I'm a faithful oatmeal lover but find the tried and true original old fashioned to be my go-to.

I have a huge sweet tooth and am always looking for healthier dessert options.
The list includes Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frozen Yogurt (yum!).  Although not on the list, I am a HUGE fan of the Klondike No-Sugar Added Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Looking at a list like this does two things for me.  First it gives me ideas.  Second it makes me feel good when I see that foods I already choose have made their list.  Nothing like a little validation!

Want to see the list?  Here's the link.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Sorry I've been MIA.  My computer crashed last Tuesday and then I was away for the weekend.

Thankfully my computer has been fixed but it was a whirlwind of a week.

Go Yankees!

In keeping with the Friday Food Facts theme, here are some more calorie counts.

I love smoothies but am often shocked by how many calories they contain due to the sugar content.  Here are some counts from Smoothie King.

I used to get the Peanut Butter Power plus Strawberry which clocks in at a lovely 699 calories for 20 ounces.  I almost wish I didn't know.

Their smoothies fall in to five categories: stay healthy, trim down, get energy, build up, snack right and indulge.  I'll give the highest and the lowest for each. (based upon 20oz)

Stay Healthy
Blueberry Heaven - 325 calories
Cranberry Supreme - 554 calories
Trim Down
Slim-N-Trim Orange Vanilla - 215 calories
Passion Passport - 395 calories
Get Energy
Coffee Smoothie Mocha - 260 calories
Power Punch Plus - 500 calories
Build Up
Gladiator - 180 calories
The Hulk Strawberry - 1035 calories
Snack Right
Fruit Fusion - 355 calories
Grape Expectations II - 548 calories
Yogurt DLite - 333 calories
Peanut Power Grape - 749 calories

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Food Facts

This week i'll expose some (random) calorie counts.  (thanks to

Some of these are obviously not healthy while others are sneaky culprits by sounding somewhat healthy.

Cheesecake Factory

Fried Macaroni and Cheese...1,145 calories

Guacamole (made to order) (serses 2-4)...1,609 calories
Factory Appetizer Favorites (serves 2-4)...3,218 calories (even divided by 4 that's still 804 calories)

Main Courses

Barbecue Ranch Chicken Salad...959 calories (i'm guessing that doesn't include dressing)
Pasta Carbonata with chicken...2,291 calories (holy crap!)
Rigatoni with Marinara...1,211 calories

Think fish is the way to go?  Better make it grilled.
Wasabic Crusted Ahi Tuna...1,750 calories
Miso Salmon...1,673 calories
Grilled Salmon...713 calories  (really?)
Judging by the calorie counts on the grilled fish, you're likely getting way more than a normal serving.

Linda's Fudge Cake (which happens to be delicious)...1,369 calories
Original Cheesecake...707 calories
Low Carb Original Cheesecake...570 calories
Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake...1,326 calories
Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake...939 calories

Don't even get me started on the sodium counts.

Information is POWER!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Best Gym Tool Ever!

The foam roller!

I had seen these at the gym but for years never knew what exactly they were used for.

When my last gym shut down we were allowed to take some of the extra equipment, these were the FIRST to go, which clued me in to their value.

These are the ideal tool for stretching out after a hard workout.  The pressure exerted by the roller gives all the benefits of traditional streching plus helping to break down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue.

This article gives a detailed explanation of how and why it works as well as photographs of different stretches that can be done with the roller.

A couple months ago I suffered what felt to me like a serious achilles injury.  Thankfully it wasn't torn, but it was very painful.  I was told to roll out my calves frequently, going from just below the knee to just above the achilles.  Crossing one leg over the other I was able to put additional pressure on my muscles. I won't lie, it hurt, but in a good way.

Like any stretching, results aren't immediate, but over time it really helped.  Whenever I feel my achilles acting up it's typically because i've neglected the stretches.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

80's Spinning

I'm currently working on a new Spinning ride with only 80's music.

I've polled a few friends on their favorite songs and may add a couple in.  Right now it's just a work in progress but here's the playlist so far.

Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
What You Need - INXS
Come on Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
Shout - Tears for Fears
Talking in Your Sleep - the Romantics
Take On Me - a-Ha
I Ran - Flock of Seagulls
Heat of the Moment
You Shook Me All Night Long

What I realized is that EVERY one of these songs has a male singer.  I'm thinking I should probably diversify.

What do you think?

Monday, October 19, 2009


Do you take a multivitamin?

If you do, do you feel differently if you forget to take it?

I subscribe to the Nutrition Action Healthletter, a monthly publication that touches on a variety of health related topics.  The June 2008 issue had an excellent article on multivitamins and what to look for based upon age and gender.

The most valuable part of the article to me was a concise list of the best vitamins for pre-menopausal women.  This list made choosing a new multi EASY.

Here are their top picks.
  • Centrum (originally contained 500 mg folic acid, needs 400 mg to be a top pick)
  • CVS Daily Multiple Plus Minerals
  • CVS Naturalized Spectravite
  • CVS Spectravite Advanced Formula
  • GNC Solo Day
  • Kirkland SIgnature Daily Multi
  • Nature Made Multi Complete
  • Nature's Bounty ABC Plus
This is just a sampling of the list.  Unfortunately I only saved the list, not the article so I can't tell you what the parameters were for a vitamin to be recommended.

I take the CVS Naturalized Spectravite.  No complaints.  Often times vitamins leave a foul taste in my mouth, but I have had no problems with this variety.  I take the vitamin at night, after dinner and before bed.  I also take a calcium plus D pill at the same time.

I've been reading a bunch about taking an Omega 3/6 Fishoil supplement in addition and will post on that another time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Light Banana Bread Recipe

One thing I love to do is bake.  I don't do it very frequently though because having baked goods in the house is DANGEROUS for me.  I have little to no will power in the face of fresh baked goodies.

An overripe banana had taken up residence on my counter and besides making banana bread, I didn't know what else to do with it.   This recipe was given to me by a friend.  I modified it slightly but either way it's a "lighter" version of a great treat.

Banana Bread
1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup unbleached white flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar (I used a bit under 1/2 cup splenda and a bit under 1/2 cup sugar)
1 cup mashed banana (I used my one very ripe banana and another semi-ripe banana that i picked up today)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
In a mixing bowl beat together egg whites, sugar and banana.  Add oil and mix well.
Add dry ingredients and mix.  Fold in raisins.
Coat a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Transfer batter to pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.


When life gives you lemons...

I've been out of work for about five months now...ouch!  And honestly, without the gym, i'm not sure what I would have done to occupy my time.  My daily gym workout was my only semblance of normalcy in the months after the layoffs.

So given the newly found free time I had, it was the perfect time to try something new, right?  So I did it.  After years of talking about it, I went and got certified as a Spinning instructor in August.  The certification class wasn't too bad.  However, the job hunting and auditioning have been tough.  But this is something I want and i'm working hard for it.  I've been reminded that I'm strong willed and capable and when I want something, I go after it.  It's refreshing to work hard and see results.

While this doesn't make much of a dent financially, it has done wonders for me mentally.  My confidence is back and I'm really excited to see what doors open next.  Will keep you posted.

My moral...go outside your comfort zone.  If you've wanted to do something for a while, just do it.  Yes, it may be hard/scary/painful etc., but doing it will make you stronger mentally and will be so worth it.