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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And yet another Energy Bar (kind of) Review

Since all my reviews thus far have been positive, I feel like I need to also mention a product I didn't like.  But not wanting to bash anyone, I'm going to comment on two products here, both by the same brand.  One good, one not so much.

So first, the good...

These PowerBar Energy Gel Blasts were also a pleasant surprise.  I can remember eating Power Bars back in the day, with their taffy like consistency and their mediocre at best flavors.  Honestly, I haven't had anything "PowerBar" in years, and still can't comment on the bars.

These were part of the goodie bag at Spin Odyssey also.  My bike-neighbor ate hers during the ride and told me to give them a try as they were "really good".

I didn't try them until a few weeks after the event but she was right, I was pleasantly surprised.  They taste like candy.  I ate them on a day where I was scheduled to teach 4 classes (only 3 happened).  While they definitely tasted good, I can't say they did anything to improve my performance or my energy.  But then again, I'm not really sure how one would test something like that.  Even if i'm tired, I usually wake up the moment I get on the bike.  But if you're looking for something that tastes good and "claims" to give you energy, I'd give these a try.

What I didn't love however, was that they contain 24g of sugar in six pieces.

And now the product I didn't like.....drum roll please....

PowerBar Gel

This product was handed out during the first hour of our six hour ride.  Knowing I had a lot in front of me, I figured I'd give it a try.

I'm not a fan of orange-type flavored things to begin with, but there wasn't a choice of flavor.  I knew these things were popular.

I ripped open the top and took some in my mouth.  If you had seen my face you probably would have laughed.  Warm goo that tasted horrible and felt just plain old gross in my mouth.  I tried it one more time and then discarded the almost full packet.  Disgusting!

Maybe serious athletes can overlook the taste to reap the benefits, but I'm clearly not one of them.

Have you tried this product or something similar?  If so, what did you think?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ode to the Gym

I felt like it was time to say thank you to the gym.

Over the years, you have helped get me through some tough times.  Whether it was extreme job dissatisfaction, fights with friends/family, breakups, sadness or just a rough day, you were always there.  Your door was always open and even if I walked in feeling like crap, I always walked out feeling better.

You are my drug of choice, there is no mood booster like you.  It is truly amazing how you are always able to improve my mood.

When I moved to a new state, you kept me busy and prevented me from feeling like a loner.  You gave me a purpose and eventually led me to meet some wonderful people who are now my friends and a vital part of my life.  You made me feel like I had a home, even in a new area.

Without you, things would be very different.  So for you, my gym membership, I am grateful and appreciative.

Amen!  :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Another Energy Bar

Here's another product I tried thanks to my Spin Odyssey experience.
Lara Bars!  Have you had them?

OK, so I only tried one flavor, but I was so impressed with it that I wanted to share my experience.

I tried the Cherry Pie flavor and was blown away by just how flavorful it was.  With 200 calories and 5 grams of fiber it's a great afternoon snack or pick me up.

I've also heard that the Peanut Butter and Jelly flavor is great.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Energy Bar

Spin Odyssey had some AMAZING sponsors and as a result our goodie bags and snacks during the ride were impressive.  I really enjoyed being able to try products that I might not have bought on my own.

One that I loved was these Raw Rev 100 bars.  (OK, the picture isn't of the 100 version, but they're the same, just smaller.)

Given that they're pitched as an "organic live food bar" I'd probably never have purchased them.  However they were part of the goodie bag so I gave them a go.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I'd almost say i'm now addicted to these bars.  I've tried every flavor but the raspberry.  I was also surprised to enjoy the Spirulina flavor.  Again, not something I would have ever gone for on my own.

They're definitely different and probably not for everyone, but they're a good 100 calorie snack.  The consistency is moist, and the bars themselves are actually a little slippery, which is obviously due to some of the ingredients.

They are sweetened only with agave nectar and are certified organic.

If you haven't already, I'd say to give them a try, they impressed me and maybe they'll do the same for you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kudos to my sister!!

My sister ran the NYC Half Marathon yesterday in 1:41!! 

Congrats to her!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Obsessed with Exercise?

I just read a great article in Fitness magazine.  It was about, as you may have guessed, people who are obsessed with exercise, specifically cardio.

I will admit, I've referred to myself as obsessed with the gym, but the comment was really made in jest as I don't see the gym or working out getting in the way of my life.

The article talked about people who get addicted to the endorphins as well as the results.  It said how frequently these people were athletes when they were younger and were always pushed to do more/go faster/last longer.  However this isn't always the case.

This made me think of the Biggest Loser.  I feel like past contestants on this show fall in to one of two categories:  those who are now "obsessed" with exercise and those who completely fell off the wagon.  Maybe that's a bit black and white but for this post it makes a point.  Once you start working out and seeing the (amazing) results, how could you not want to continue this.  Ok, as I'm writing I'm realizing that perhaps this isn't necessarily true, but you get the idea.

The article asked a few key questions in order to determine if YOU are obsessed.
  1. Do you feel a constant obligation to work out?
  2. Do you feel guilty when you can't exercise?
  3. Compromise your safety to work out (for example running along at night because "you have to")?
  4. Exercise even when you're sick or fatigued?
  5. Do you find yourself constantly nursing an injury?
  6. Experience irregular or absent periods?
  7. Need more exercise to get the same benefits as before?
  8. Put exercise before family, friends or work?
  9. Hear family and friends expressing concerns about your exercising habits?
So how do you stack up?  Me?  I think I'm probably a YES to questions 1 and 2, but that's pretty much where it ends.  I will admit that in the past I have sacrificed elements of my social life to work out, but I'm working on managing that balance.

I think that as the list goes on, the questions get a bit more serious and are more indicative of a possible problem.  Do you agree?

Oh yeah, one crazy story from the article....a woman ran a marathon distance (26.2miles) then went and took a kickboxing class.  (CRAZY!)  She actually fainted after class, and experienced a heart arrhythmia.  Scary stuff!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Abs of Steel

I couldn't resist using Abs of Steel as the title of this post.  Do you remember that series of videos?  Or rather tapes, as that's what they were called at the time.

This post is really just about a couple of abs exercises that I try to work in to my abs routine.

Doing the same abdominal exercises time and time again is BORING!

And the winner is....PLANKS!

I used to take a few bootcamp classes and while I thought I was in decent shape I could never hold the plank for as long as the instructor wanted.  Obviously this was something I needed to work on.

I highly recommend working on the plank as well as the side plank.  For this post I'm going to focus on the standard plank.

What I like about the standard plank is that my increased strength is measurable.  Time yourself and work towards increasing that time every week. (this is the same aspect that I like about push-ups)
Form is key when doing planks so make sure that your abs are up and in, your belly button is being pulled towards your spine and your back is not arching.

Here are some basic instructions, courtesy of

Your Position

Start by lying face down on the ground or use an exercise mat. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest.
Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms
Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground.

Target Muscles
The Core - Abdominals, Hips, Back

Step By Step Instructions
Hold this position *focusing on tightening your abs* until you can no longer maintain a flat bridge. For beginners, start with 10 seconds
Return to start position

Remember to not let your hips and back sag. This exercise will only be effective if you work to maintain a flat line from your shoulders to your feet. You might want to start in front of a mirror to learn the technique.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spinning for Beginners

When I first started teaching, I really wanted to teach a beginner class.  I felt that the gyms should offer an "intro to spinning" class once a month, because as I know better than anyone, Spinning classes look intimidating.

I took my first spin class about 5 or 6 years ago and I was scared.  At that point my mother had been spinning for years and she encouraged me to try it.  So I agreed that I'd try it, but first, I needed to prepare.  I put myself on a training regimen where I'd ride the stationary bike every day, eventually working up to 45 minutes.  Once I got there I told myself I was ready for a spin class.

The day before my first class I called in and reserved a space in the 6:30 class.  Phew.  The next day, on my way to that class, I realized that I hadn't specified AM or PM and sure enough found out I was on the AM list.  Uh oh!  I had a mini freak out thinking that my well laid out plans of starting would be thrown off.  The staff assured me there was room, I hoped they were right.  I showed up at least 15 minutes early so that I'd have plenty of time to talk with the instructor and get the lay of the land.   The class was a success and the rest is so-called history.

The point of my story is that I was freaked out by Spin.  I had been a regular at the gym for years but Spinning intimidated me.

This morning I got a call from the Group Exercise Manager at one of my clubs asking me if I'd like to teach a beginner class next week.  Of course I said YES!!!

So now I'm off to plan out a nice introductory ride.  Any suggestions are welcome.  Were you scared your first time?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Calorie Contents - Chili's

I made plans to meet a friend for dinner.  Since we live in opposite directions, finding a common ground to meet is sometimes a challenge.  This time for the sake of convenience we decided to meet at a chain restaurant in a (somewhat) convenient town.

We're meeting at Chili's.  In anticipation of our dinner I decided to check out the nutrition facts.  Wow.  I'm saying wow not because i'm truly surprised but moreso because I know I have eaten some of those 1000+ calorie meals.  Lovely.

To their credit, they do have a Guiltless Grill section and these choices are by far the way to go.  The most caloric option on this menu clocks in at 610 calories.

Guiltless Grill
Asian Salad - 360 calories
Caribbean Salad - 450 calories
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Veggies - 610 calories
Santa Fe Chicken Wrap with Veggies - 610 calories
There are two other GG options which both clock in under 550 calories. 

Guilt-ful Grill (that's my name for it) - where to start?
Boneless buffalo wings with Blue Cheese - 1200 calories
Texas Cheese Fries with Jalapeno Ranch - 1930 calories
Yes, those are both appetizers so one person likely wouldn't eat the whole thing, but still.  Now on to the entrees...
Large Asian Salad with Salmon - 1120 calories
Large Caribbean Salad with Shrimp - 920 calories
Pulled Pork Tacos with Flour Tortillas - 920 calories
Oldtimer burger (the best of the worst) - 1260 calories

Fajitas aren't bad if you just get the meat and veggies.  The condiments and tortillas add 610 calories to any meal.  So the 360 calorie chicken fajitas become 970 calories once all is said and done.

Margarita Grilled Chicken - 380 calories (and not on the Guiltless menu)

I think you get the idea here. 

Buyer (or eater) beware!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spin Odyssey Follow Up

Well, the much anticipated Spin Odyssey 2010 has come and gone.

There is only one word to describe the experience...AMAZING!  Very.  And oh yeah, as of yesterday afternoon we had raised over $380,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you live in the Norwalk, CT area, I would definitely encourage you to consider participating next year.  Email me for details.

Here are some pictures.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spin Ride!

I'm in FL visiting my grandparents right now, so I don't have all of my spinning stuff with me, but I do have my ipod and wanted to share my latest ride.

I need to work on new names for my rides.

This one is called November 10 - 3 (very descriptive, right?)
This ride is about 50 minutes including the cooldown.

I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho) - Pitbull
Warm up, transition between seated and standing flats

Keep Hope Alive - The Crystal Method
Climb, this is a 6+ minute song, so a mix of seated and standing, ending heavy

Hazy Shade of Winter - the Bangles
Downhill, fast flat, keep the pace slightly uncomfortable

People Everyday - Arrested Development
Seated climb, heading back up our hill

Whatcha Say - Jason Derulo
Seated in to standing climb, keeping the hill at moderate

Enter Sandman - Metallica
Seated/standing mix climb, heavy hill

How Low - Ludacris
Short recovery in to 6 count jumps for two minutes

Hey Soul Sister - Train
Fast flat, once again making sure to feel uncomfortable, breathing should be slightly labored

One - U2 & Mary J. Blige
Climb, start seated add resistance quickly, transition to standing heavy for the second half

Pleasure Love (Cosmack Remix) - DeFunk
Downhill, quick pace with 20 second bursts

Freedom 90 - George Michael
Final climb, starting moderate and ending heavy, varying standing, seated and slow/heavy jumps

Under Pressure - Queen
Spin those legs out on the flat

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


If you've followed this blog you can guess that I have a few stomach issues.

That said, one of my most frequent symptoms is nausea.  I rarely get sick, I just feel nauseous, which is not a very pleasant feeling.

Every time I complain to a (female) friend about my nausea, they assume I could be pregnant.  Not!  Can't a girl just have a bad stomach in her late 20's/early 30's without being with child? 

So I'm soliciting remedies and suggestions.  I usually go towards peppermint.  I always have peppermint gum on me and recently purchased peppermint tea.  I've also heard that ginger is soothing to the stomach but I don't think I like ginger.  Or rather, I know I don't like the pickled ginger that comes with sushi. :)

What it really comes down to is that I need to be on medication, but while I'm in between doctors i'm looking for homeopathic remedies.  Any suggestions?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Change is Good

I told you the last layout change wouldn't be the last.  After a couple of weeks with the old layout on my widescreen I decided I didn't like it.

So here's the next iteration.  Happy reading!

T - 6 Days Until 6 Hours of Spinning

I've spoken before about Spin Odyssey, a spin-a-thon to benefit breast cancer research, that I will be participating in.

Well now it's hard for me to believe that it's less than one week away!

I figured I'd plug it one last time and see if any of my readers were feeling generous.  I know times are tight but if you can spare $1, $5 or really anything, here's the link to my donation page.

I'm really excited to be involved in such an inspiring event.  The training ride I participated in on Valentine's day was inspiring with only about 30 people, so I can't wait to feel the energy at the actual event.  I definitely plan on bringing my camera and I'll share pictures ASAP.

Let's find a cure!