Sunday, May 15, 2016

Read Between the Lines and Past the Headlines

The title of this post is a paraphrase of a recent statement by the nutrition and wellness doctor on whom I frequently rely, Dr. Mark Hyman.

It's been a busy few weeks in the headlines for eating well and exercising. For example, "The Biggest Loser" study. Good heavens. Where do I begin?

A "reality" show based upon this incredibly unrealistic pretense: People compete for a million dollar payday by removing themselves from their everyday lives for anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks, restricting their diets to a thousand calories a day, and exercising with trainers up do seven hours a day (complete with screaming and puking - I cannot envision ANY scenario in which screaming or puking is appropriate during exercise, not sorry to say). It is a bizarro world in which this is deemed a successful weight loss strategy.

So a six year follow up study of contestants from season 8 indicates, according to the headlines and some of the conclusions from physicians quoted in a New York Times article on the study, that obese people are doomed to failure because their metabolic rates are ingrained at a slow rate, and the rates get even slower when they lose weight.

Good heavens.

Good heavens. I'll say it again.

Restrict your calorie intake to 1,000 a day and see how you feel. Even if you're not obese. Go ahead. Starved, that's how you'll feel. Especially if it's a low fat diet. Metabolic rates will slow under starvation conditions, not news.

Now, go exercise seven hours a day after consuming perhaps one half of your basal metabolic need. If you're obese, that's more like one fourth of your basal metabolic need. Yep, that's seven hours A DAY. Every day. For three to five months. Exhausted. Beyond exhausted. Holy crap. But hey, you want to win that million.

Once you win the million and complete the publicity tour and go back to your normal life, with it's usual distractions, expectations and judgments, temptations and pressures, not to mention your emotional baggage... please try to continue maintaining your starvation plan and your insane exercise schedule.

The way you eat, the way you exercise, and the way you lose weight when do you lose weight matters when it comes to maintaining weight loss. Read between the lines: "The Biggest Loser" study found that "The Biggest Loser" method of weight loss is great for winning a contest, but crap for maintaining weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Color me surprised.


The New York Times wellness blog headline sums up a study of high intensity interval exercise in this manner: "One minute of all out exercise may equal 45 minutes of moderate exertion."

Know what all-out exercise means? It means you're getting pretty darn close to collapsing or - yes - puking. Your lungs or your legs or both feel like they are bursting into flame. If it doesn't fall into the category of feeling VERY VERY HARD then it doesn't rise to the level of high intensity.

Know what one minute means in the construction of the study protocol? Do a brisk warm-up, go all out for 20 seconds, exercise at a low boil for a minute or so, go all out for another 20 seconds, simmer again for a minute or so, go all out for another 20 seconds, simmer down and then cool down and then you're done. Well, you're done with your cardio. There's no resistance training in this study.

What does that equal in time spent exercising? About 10 or 12 minutes total. Pretty efficient compared to 45 minutes for us busy U.S. residents. What else does it equal? Similar benefits in VO2max improvement, calorie expenditure, insulin response, and cardio-vascular impacts like blood pressure improvements.

Will 10 minute cardio workouts prepare you for tolerating the foot-fall shock of running a marathon, or the butt-burning of cycling 62 miles, or for winning a 200 meter butterfly at a swim meet? Will 10 minute workouts achieve the moving meditation you crave when your life is filled with work, meetings, errands, commutes, disputes, and drama? All by themselves, probably not. You can incorporate shorter, high-intensity workouts into any training plan. But your training plan needs to be appropriate to your goals.

There is always a higher risk of injury associated with high intensity activity. Your training plan has to be appropriate to your risk tolerance and your health profile.


The Forbes headline says, "Why You Can't Exercise Your Way to Weight Loss."

If you've heard it once you've heard it a thousand times, you cannot exercise your way out of a lousy diet. Forbes just got the memo, I guess. Does that imply somehow that it's not worth it to exercise if you do want to lose weight? I am kind of hoping it implies that you should eat clean along with exercise to lose weight. And follow a training plan that enhances your metabolism, improves your quality of life, and is appropriate for your goals.

Questions, comments, and concerns are welcome.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Run and Register by April 11 for PR Challenge

Wow. I guess it's been pretty busy in Janeland for the last 25 months or so.

Where do I invest my time and energy, anyway? As a personal trainer, I work five (occasionally six) days a week at The Landings Club Oakridge Fitness Center on Skidaway Island, and also at CustomFit Center in downtown Savannah. At CustomFit I also wear the hat of running coach when I conduct my six-week Peak Running Challenge program.

Learn more about the PR Challenge and register for the next session here:

The benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle are my fuel, my breath, my everyday life. I enjoy sharing what I have learned and experienced in almost 30 years of fitness education, and I also enjoy learning what's new in exercise and nutrition sciences.

Someone I have believed in for the past dozen years or so is Dr. Mark Hyman. He has presented great research and very healthy recommendations under a number of different titles, such as "UltraPrevention," "UltraMetabolism," and now the latest, "Eat Fat/Get Thin." Whatever he chooses to call it, his nutrition and exercise recommendations are designed to help you clear toxicity from your system. We are all over-exposed to toxic air/soil/water/food/drugs. We are paying the price. And to the extent that we can control and reduce that toxic load we are carrying around, we should.

This week, after discussing these options for 5 or so years, one of my clients (let's call her Gwen) finally took on the challenge of an elimination diet. How do you know if your diet is contributing to your allergies? Arthritis and joint pain? Reflux or gut discomfort? Sleep disorders? Hormonal imbalance? For seven to ten days, you eliminate the foods which are most likely to trigger sensitivities, namely: Gluten (from wheat and other grains), corn, peanuts, dairy products, eggs, and soy products.

Gwen stopped taking her over the counter pain killers and her allergy medication and took the plunge. And after a week, her vertigo is gone. She can open and close her fingers without getting stuck from her arthritis. Achy achy achy mornings have subsided. And she lost five pounds, which she's been trying to do forever.

This is anecdotal evidence. But I've seen this happen first hand so many times...

Now what? Now after a week or so you can add ONE of those foods back to your system. If you experience no ill effects within a day or two, good. Consider it a non-trigger. And if you do feel cognitive/digestive/congestive/bloat symptoms, you have found a trigger and you need to avoid it to feel and be better. Introduce one of the foods back every 3 days and you'll find your triggers.

OR...  To experience whole new level of expert hands-on, informative and affirming clean nutrition support, get in touch with the wonderful Nancy Maia at CustomFit Center in downtown Savannah and enroll in CustomClean, the most innovative detox program, ever. This program will not only help you cleanse, but will teach you about your body and give you the tools to keep it clean. You won't drink concoctions, starve on lemon water, or see any number of other "methods" that are impossible to maintain long-term and can even be downright dangerous. She will individualize your program to make it perfect for you - no thanks, cookie-cutter approaches. CustomClean will leave you lean, clean, and feeling better than you imagined possible. Connect with CustomClean and Nancy via:

OR... you can stay home and invest in a program Dr. Hyman will start at the end of April. It costs more than a book or an article but you can enjoy a level of feedback and accountability that has a ton of value built in. I also never recommend supplements without having demonstrated deficiencies, and I am delighted to point out he offers a No-supplement version of this program. Check it out here:
Let me note, I don't get a kickback from CustomClean or Dr. Hyman.

That's a whole lot of program information. But it's not really TMI, is it? Be back to blogging soon - here's to more communication :-)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Hate Baking

I sent an email to the customer service department at Clif Bar last week.

Regarding Product Name: Clif Crunch Granola Bar
Flavor: Peanut Butter
Best By Code: 14DEC14 N2 11:49

Your Comment:
I don't know why, but you've changed the formula and made the Clif Crunch Bar sweeter. We don't want it sweeter. What we want is a fairly nutritious snack (compared to the rest of the Granola Bar category), not a sweet.

__ __ __

I hope they don't send me coupons for their products.

Sugar. Dried Cane Syrup. Juice Concentrate. Agave. Dextrose. Maltose. Stevia. Fructose. Honey. Sucralose. Aspertame.

Added sweeteners. So sick of 'em.

Did I have a couple of cookies at the baby shower I went to last weekend? Sure I did, Lydia is a kick-ass baker and there was no question about sampling her handiwork. Am I eating cookies every darn day? No. And I don't want cookies masquerading as granola bars, either. You can't exercise your way out of a crappy diet.

No, diet soda and diet crystal light and diet bottled green iced tea and diet whatever-the-heck is not a healthy choice if you're drinking it every single day.

"But Jane! Fruit has fructose!"

Yes, it does. In a gorgeous natural package full of fibers and vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and other snazzy biochemical compounds that are darn good for you. Eat a little bit of fat or protein at the same time as you eat that whole piece of fruit, and you won't have to worry much about your insulin levels springboarding.

So listen, I HATE baking but I'm making my own granola snack to pack in my lunch Monday through Friday. I found it on a food/nutrition app called Fooducate. When I scanned the barcode for Clif Crunch bars, up popped this recipe alternative. I baked, we tasted, we liked. They freeze well, by the way, so guess who is going to be making big batches at a time so she doesn't have to bake every dang week?

In a recent batch I accidentally doubled the amount of nuts. And I liked it better that way.

All credit to Lisa Cain, Ph.D. and blogger at, who posted the recipe to Fooducate.

Cereal Bar Recipe
(makes 12 to 24 depending on the size of your muffin tin) 

1/2 cup natural nut butter
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup whole nuts (choose your favorite - I used 50/50 organic raw peanuts and almonds)
1 ½ cup total of unsweetened dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, apricots, raisins, coconut, etc.)
1 cup rolled or steel cut oats
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, coarsely chop nuts and dried fruits. Mix nut butter and bananas until a paste forms. (This will make your arm tired.) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. (This will also make your arm tired.) Spoon into lightly greased muffin cups (1/2 full) and bake for 15 minutes. Can be stored in refrigerator for 5 days.

For one granola bite (12 in recipe) = 190 calories, 8.4 g fat, 26.7 g carbohydrates, 5.4 g protein, 3.1 g fiber, 52 mg sodium

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Just In Case There's Room For Improvement, Part Deux

I've had this conversation with a good buddy of mine a couple of times lately, and got to thinking it'd make for good posting.

Do you know what you are missing?

One of the things that really makes healthy habits stick with you is they way they help you feel. If you feel better, there's a greater likelihood that you'll keep doing whatever it is that's working.

If you feel like crap lately, because of an obvious injury or illness or general sense of malaise, and you remember feeling better... then you know there's room for improvement.

But wait, what about the person who has never really felt good? How will that person know that there's a better way to feel? What's the motivation for this person to try a different, healthier lifestyle, without having a sense of what he or she has been missing?

How about the person who believes they are doing all they can with activity and good eating and clean living, and who believes that however they feel is as good as it's going to get?

I hereby posit the theory that you can feel better. Wherever you are coming from.  There is no single perfect choice to make, no magic bullet which will work exactly the same way for everyone who tries it, but you can change something. And if that change helps you feel better, it's a good change to stick with.

Some people aren't active enough, or aren't finding the optimal balance of flexibility, stability, strength, and endurance to feel better. It's not hard to find someone to help you figure out which of those things you need more -- hint hint -- so get going and get stretching, stabilizing, strengthening, and/or enduring.

Some people are zipping along on the road to Burnout.  Coming down with colds and flu and recurring injuries, seemingly out of nowhere.  Low energy when they need it most, mood swings, foggy brained, these are very common signs among the overactive and/or undernourished.  A few of these people are just plain overactive.

And there's more than a few people who are doing really well with their activities and not quite so well with their food choices.

Maybe you have a crappy diet and you know it. You really can't exercise your way out of a crappy diet.

"Alright already," you say, "give me an example."

A friend joined her husband on a 10 day clean eating campaign. The motivation for hubby was to lose a bunch of weight and get healthier. The motivation for her was to encourage him to follow through with it. She didn't happen to need to lose weight.  In addition to learning a half dozen new ways to prepare quinoa (ooooohhh!!!) she found herself sleeping better. And we all know sleeping better is crucial to something like a million different health benefits.

I exaggerate sometimes. It's more like a thousand different health benefits. (And yes, he lost a bunch of weight -- 20 pounds at last count.)

Another client of mine decided to get serious about losing weight, so she stopped eating wheat products and cut back on snacking between meals. She has a family history of gluten allergy, but although she doesn't have that allergy, there are other components of wheat to which people can be sensitive. And she lost 14 pounds in a just couple of months.

Want to hear an example from my own life?  I've got a million of 'em. That's not an exaggeration. I've been that overactive person, for instance. The second or third time I trained for a marathon, I followed a training program that required 5 or 6 days a week of running. Weekdays runs of anywhere between 3 to 10 miles, with a long weekend run.  This was all on top of training with clients and teaching 10 or so classes a week. I could not eat enough, I could not sleep enough, I was cranky and tired and light headed and I never followed that regimen again.

Then there was the underactive phase. Due to a hip injury, I had to lay off any and all cardio and resistance training activity for a few weeks. It was several fierce mood swings and some serious listlessness before I realized that my lack of activity was making me feel extremely lousy.

And if you know me at all, you must have already heard my tale of woe about quitting dairy products. You haven't heard? Okay, well, I was feeling pretty good at the time, really. But I had read one article too many about toxic exposure to antibiotics and pesticides and so on from dairy products. Because whatever the cow consumes makes its way into you, the meat and dairy consumer. So I told myself, cheese-a-holic that I was, to just cut out the cheese and the yogurt for a week or so, to see if I felt any tangible benefit. And if I didn't, I could just climb right back aboard the cheese train.

But I felt several tangible benefits. Abdominal bloat, gone. (Before this, I swear, I never had a flat stomach in my life.) Weird digestion, gone. Allergic congestion (in Savannah!), gone. Slept better. Skin cleared. Dropped 5 pounds. All that, in a week.

Also found, eventually, that my PMS symptoms went away. No menopause symptoms yet either, but stay tuned. Especially if you like TMI -- too much information.

Do you know what you're missing? Wouldn't it be nice to feel better? Take just one step -- and let me know if it works.

Be Well!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

PR Challenge - Run For It!!

I have lifted this entire post from a CustomFit Center email about the upcoming edition of PR Challenge, beginning March 22.  It's accurate, it's enthusiastic, it's chock full of testimonials... so why do over what has been done so well??

If you were worried you missed the boat last December, no need....

the ultimate running program is BACK!

We know that there are many of you who were crushed to not be able to participate in the December session of our Peak Running Challenge ("PR" Challenge). That, coupled with the fact that it was SUCH a hit, we have decided to bring it back four times in 2014 so nobody will miss out! CustomFit's "PR" Challenge will make you faster, help you reach your potential AND, leave the competition wondering what happened.

6 weeks of intensive work, this program will leave you a more efficient, faster, and better runner. We promise. First, we'll use your Functional Movement Screen results to establish exercises to improve your overall movement. Then, we will give you some great speed drills, throw in some balance and agility for good measure, all to give you the building blocks for an incredible 2014 running season and beyond.

Our first 2014 session begins on Saturday, March 22nd so mark your calendar. Doesn't work in your schedule? No problem! The next session begins on May 17th (and there are TWO more scheduled to boot!). All 2014 sessions incorporate a "target" race that will fall at the end of the program, giving you a built-in race goal. No thought required - just sign up, strap on your shoes, show up, and get to it. 

Here is what others are saying about CustomFit's "PR" Challenge:

"Now on my runs, I'm always aware of my posture making sure my head is up and shoulder blades back. Also, I'm finding after a long run I'm feeling good and not as sore as I use to be. I have more confidence in myself during a run because it feels right. I plan on continuing with all my exercises daily so I can keep on improving my stability and mobility. I can now balance on one leg so much better than before. I now see which leg is weaker and work on that side a little more."

"I am much more conscious of my running form and find that I do have a better idea of the things I can do to help me run more efficiently. The stretches and the strength exercises are also helping me recover more easily."

"I think your program is great, and I have tried to incorporate drills and other ideas into the runs I have been able to make."

"What I am excited about is I was comfortable the whole way and felt the stability of my core helping me... Running is more fun now!"

"I have gotten ALOT out of this class."

"Thanks for a really helpful experience. I am running faster."

2014 session dates are as follows:

March 22 - April 29 (Target race: Azalea Run 5K/10K May 3)
May 17 - June 24 (Target race: Home Run 5K June 28)
Sept 13 - Oct 21 (Target race: Rock 'n' Roll full/half marathon Nov 8)
Nov 15 - Dec 23 (Target race: Bethesda 5K or Ledesma Rails to Trails 5K/10K/25K/50K)

Mark your calendar, TAKE the challenge, and begin your best running, ever. If you are serious about being serious about your running, click HERE for more details. Space is limited so don't get left out! 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Snow Day in Savannah

A snow day in Savannah, Georgia doesn't have to include snow. The threat of snow is sufficient to shut the city down, more or less. The neighborhood coffee shops opened, I noticed, but there was little activity outside of sipping hot beverages out there today. We didn't get snow, but there were plenty of icy surfaces and dang it all, I needed my gloves and earmuffs.

Savannah is not equipped for snow or ice. There's no salt, no sand, no spreaders for the roads or sidewalks or parking lots. All the utility lines are strung up on pretty poles, and are now festooned with little icicles. The plants and trees and spanish moss all look sort of anemic in their icy coats.

Since I was not about to drive to work on unsalted-sandless-ice-slick roads, I stayed home most of the day. What does a trainer do when she's forced to take a day off? Trains. I had time to workout without having to pay attention to the time! To me, that's fun. Most weekdays I squeeze workouts in before or between or after appointments and various responsibilities. Today I put the clock facedown and did the work I wanted until I wanted to be done, a fine indulgence.

Then I treated myself and my sweetums to a walk to lunch at Betty Bombers. Another indulgence. Lunchboxes from home, consumed in quiet contemplation or amidst a pile of paperwork, are the order of the workday in Janeland.

I started and finished the next book on my reading pile, The Dirt on Jane, by local author Jane Fishman. Wonderful read.

I collected quotable quotes from the runners who were enrolled in my 6 week Peak Running Challenge course, which just wrapped up this week. To a person, every one who entered their goals on the intake form at the start of the program found a roundabout way to avoid stating, "I want to run faster." Don't want to appear unrealistic or be disappointed or seem cocky. Whatever. On day one, we sat together at Custom Fit Center and said it out loud, together, "I want to run faster."

Next post I'll reveal those quotes from those hard working, faster runners. Like a snow day in Savannah without snow, we had a running program with no extra running. Confusing, but productive :-)

I really hope the rest of this Southern winter yields more moderate temperatures and less threatening conditions. This one pair of earmuffs and one pair of gloves are all I have left of the vast winter wardrobe I needed up North, and they'll have to last forever.

By the way, what did you indulge in today?

Be Well!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This is Your Brain on Food

This is not a review of any of the recently published literature regarding the effects of processed food on your brain.

I have food on my mind again, is all.

Since I quit eating dairy products a few years ago, I keep a container of unsweetened soymilk in the house. You know, for those special occasions. Lightening coffee, making omelets, mixing smoothies. Why unsweetened? I never used sweetened cow milk for any of those purposes, so why add sugar now?

Anyway, the local supermarket was out of my usual brand this Sunday. Let's refer to it as Brand A. So I grabbed Brand B of organic unsweetened soymilk. Then I read the label.

"But wait," you're saying. "It's soymilk so it's supposed to be good for you so why read the label?" I don't trust food producers anymore, although I can't point to a single event or trauma to cause my skepticism. My trust eroded over time.

Back to Brand B. The ingredients are: Organic soymilk (filtered water, whole organic soybeans), carrageenan, sea salt, natural flavor.

Brand B is using salt, some kind of flavoring agent, and a thickener derived from edible seaweed to make soymilk more... I don't know what. More of what soymilk should be? I'm looking for organic unsweetened, so OF COURSE I MIND if you salt, thicken, and flavor-enhance it... for crying out loud.

Next day, I stop in to Brighter Day natural food store to see if they have Brand A on the shelf. They do. The ingredients: Filtered water, whole organic soybeans. Three cheers for Brand A!

There is a food industry, and a flavoring industry, wrecking our (even our organic unsweetened) food.  Read the labels. Insist on accurate labeling. And choose the simple stuff.

Be Well!