Saturday, December 24, 2011

Break On Through to the Other Side

My favorite running coach, Jim Bowles, told me once if he told me a thousand times: "Run THROUGH the finish line, not to it."

My husband's favorite golf coaches tell him: "Swing several inches PAST the ball, or your swing will decelerate at the ball."

Your instincts, oh you novice exercisers, and yes you too, seasoned movers and shakers, seem to be telling you to flop to your knees/your hands/your behind/your tried and true slouch, just as you are approaching the halfway point of your last repetition.

Please, don't slouch halfway.  See it through.  Finish what you started with all the great technique and oomph and breath and determination you can muster!

Shall I go on at length about the neuromuscular sequencing, motor learning, and proprioception benefits to a strong finish?  No, I shant.  Are you more likely to take it from me given my use of those five dollar words?  You probably shouldn't but I'm kind of hoping so....

Let's insert a slight re-framing.  A strong finish is good for your self esteem.  Do your very best, with a significant -- even uncomfortable but not painful -- effort, and you will feel better about your movement and more confident in your ability to repeat your fine performance in the future.  You will also feel confident transferring your stick-to-it-ive-ness to other demanding tasks.

Follow through.  Go beyond.  That's the spirit!

May blessings surround you at the holiday season and then some -- Be Well!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If you weren't already thinking about food....

It's the holidays. It's visits with friends and families. It can be wonderful... it can be taxing... it can cause toxicity, inflammation, and excessive weight gain!

Listen, food is a big part of nearly every cultural celebration this time of year.  OK, check that, ANY time of year.  We break bread together, we eat and talk, we do lunch, we get together for a drink... and that nourishment is emotional, physical, spiritual.  But does it really have to be over-the-top overindulgent?

I've been a personal trainer for 20 years now.  Every year at holiday time, one or several of my clients starts baking, or shopping, to distribute confections for gifts.  Thoughtful, yes.  And no. Baffling, it is. I have to admit, there were some instances in which I received some really decadent, rich, truffle-ly gift and thought there might be a sinister, passive-aggressive motive behind it.  Probably correct only half the time on that score, though. 

Over time I have come to take myself less seriously, and thus take less offense at these gestures.  But if you know someone who doesn't eat a lot of sugar/butter/cheese/chocolate/cream/sugar/shortening/sugar/flour/sugar for a reason, wouldn't it be more considerate to go the extra mile to present something delectable without all those ingredients?  The fresh fruit basket thing is AWESOME, really it is!  The cake or the cookie platter is going to go to waste.  Will I eat one or two servings?  Sure will, if it's there I'm going to taste it.  But eating more than one or two will make me feel sick.  See, it's not a guilt thing, vis-a-vis, "A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips."  Frankly, I exercise a lot, for a living and for a lifestyle, so I doubt the cookie will be camping out on my thighs. 

But people who eat sweet/rich stuff regularly don't feel sick from it.  People who don't?  It's going to mess up my digestion, make me grumpy, give me a headache, increase my sinus congestion, make my hormones act up, interrupt my sleep patterns. 

How about your friends with diabetes? Or arthritis? I hear more friends and acquaintances being diagnosed every day, it seems.  Even if they are on medication to control their symptoms, the rich/heavy/sweet stuff will exacerbate their conditions so they'll need more medication to feel alright.  Not to cure the condition, just to feel alright with the condition.  A considerate treat would herbal tea sampler? An organic nut tray? 

You get the idea.  The generosity is appreciated.  The indulgent taste is definitely flavorful.  But the lingering effects have room for improvement.  Does health take a holiday?  Sometimes.  But there's a price to be paid for it.  If the holidays put you in more of a "pay it forward" kind of mood, then make the choice of treats healthier.  You and your recipients will feel so much better inside and out, physically and emotionally and spiritually.

Be Well, and Happy Healthy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dear CEO of American Express:

I just sent this email to the CEO of American Express. If you have had a similarly ridiculous "customer service assistance" experience, please feel free to share with your friends. And encourage them to share with their friends. And so on, and so on, and so on....

Dear Mr. Kenneth Chenault, CEO, American Express:

I wasn't furious about Monday's attempted AmEx gift card transaction until after I called your toll-free assistance number. Now I hope to share my indignation about your "procedures," as the customer service representative put it, far and wide.

A couple of weeks ago, I was the happy recipient of an AmEx gift card. Yesterday, Cyber Monday, I decided to make an online purchase of a pair of athletic shoes. But the transaction would not process, even though the purchase price was well under the value of the card.

I called the merchant, as suggested on my screen. The merchant's rep stated my purchase was not processed because my gift card did not reflect a billing address for payment validation. She also mentioned that there would likely now be a hold on the gift card, in the purchase amount. She recommended I call AmEx to get the hold lifted, then call back to resume the ordering process.
Since there were only two pairs of the sale shoes left in my size, I called immediately.

The AmEx automated card balance system confirmed the diminished value of my card, reflecting the exact amount of my failed purchase.

The living AmEx customer service representative also confirmed the hold was in place, but would happily be lifted. The process would take 8 days.

He informed me that if I had registered my card prior to making an internet purchase, then a billing address would have been linked to the card and prevented the purchase hang-up.

I grasp the value of the process of registering and assigning ownership with a valid address to the gift card. However, there is nothing on the gift card packaging, and no mention in the enclosed Cardholder Agreement insert, regarding card registration. Nothing. Nowhere to be found. I re-read the documentation while I was parked on hold by the CSR, who was checking to see if the hold on
the card could be lifted any sooner. Writers are notoriously good readers, but still I wanted to make sure I didn't miss something in the fine print or the FAQ section. Especially in the internet purchases section.

CSR reported that the hold could not be processed any sooner than 8 days. If I had performed a retail POP transaction, the hold could be removed right away. But not for an internet purchase. So I asked him why there was no mention of registering the card on the literature accompanying the card? Why was I, in effect, being penalized for not following a procedure about which I was not
informed prior to the transaction?

The CSR said there was no further alternative. I asked to speak to a manager. He said he had spoken to a manager and nothing more could be done. I asked him if he had explained the situation to the manager in the exact same manner as I had.  He said the only procedure available had been followed.

I demanded to speak to a manager. He asked if I could wait on hold again for 2 minutes. I said yes. Twelve minutes later, still on hold, never speaking to a manager or the CSR again, I hung up. This, I assume, is exactly what the CSR hoped I would do.

I wonder, did your CSR follow the proper procedure for handling the request of an unsatisfied customer to the letter of the AmEx customer service representative procedure manual?

And how is it in the least bit sensible for a gift card holder to learn of a card registration procedure only AFTER a transaction has been refused by an online merchant? Only AFTER a hold has been applied to a card balance?

It is a disincentive to using an AmEx gift card for online purchases. Effectively, it is a restriction, and one which is not listed on the Cardholder Agreement.

And so I, the consumer, get to pay the price for your error of omission. The cost of my wasted time on the phone, and on hold, with your customer assistance staff (now, there's a misnomer). He had ample opportunity to make some good come of my phone call, and he chose to duck and hide. Exemplary customer service training.... The cost of 8 days waiting for the hold to be lifted from the gift card. The cost of my time in firing off this letter to you and the U.S. Consumer. The cost of my aggravation at tripping over your extremely sloppy online purchasing procedure - or better stated, your lack of a clearly communicated online purchasing procedure.

Communicate. Inform your customers. Train your staff. Incentivize online purchases.

How can you possibly afford to have a bumbling gift card program?

With AmEx it's been my experience that cardholders have to ask ahead if merchants accept it. Why is that?


Jane Ogle

Friday, November 11, 2011

It has been 9 calendar days since the Inaugural Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon & 1/2 Marathon race.  Yes, I could have written about it sooner but for some reason I paid attention to the instinct that said, "Sit, rest, let it ferment a little before you write much more about it." 

Sitting and resting was the order of the week following the race, just to give my tired and sore achilles tendon another healthy dose of non-vigorous function.  My brain and the rest of my musculature weren't too enchanted with all that rest.  I think I just did one Pilates routine all week and besides some stretching and the usual routine of demonstrating client exercises, that was really all.  My brain function and my sleep patterns are certainly much better in the presence of vigorous activity.

Prior to all that sitting and resting there was a spectacle beyond all imagination!  About 20,000 excited, chilled runners made it to the start line on Saturday, November 5.  The energy was high and buzzing and wonderful!  Nerves were jangling, flash bulbs popping, folks hanging out the hotel windows cheering, what a party atmosphere!  The half marathon was like that from start to finish, densely packed runners having a terrific time, dancing to the music, high-fiving folks standing streetside to cheer us on, what a super fun scene!  I am definitely wearing a boa for next year's race.

Amazingly perky, goofy, wonderful co-coach of the morning marathon CREW, Carol Ann, made up a couple of cheering pom-poms on broomstick handles for the two of us to carry so our CREW-mates could find us before the start in our designated corral.  Her pom, with a little help from our friends, made it the entire length of the marathon.  My pom made it to about the 5 mile mark, when I handed it off to a couple of little boys and their dad to enjoy.  Turns out they were spotted several times along the marathon course cheering with it... scored with that handoff!

Each and every one of our half-marathon and marathon trainees who made it to the start line made it across the finish line on race day.  What a great day for them!  And a great day for us coaches, we were absolutely bursting with pride for their efforts.  As difficult as it was for me to watch my comrades peel off at Anderson Street to head south for the full marathon route (we were having so darn much fun together!) it was beyond thrilling to watch them charging toward the finish line a couple of hours later.

Once I finished the half, had a snack, took a hot shower, and iced my feet, I had to get on my bike and head back out on the course to cheer on my CREW-mates.  My achilles would not have been happy if I stood at the finish line waiting for them, and they were all quite used to me biking along with them on their training runs, so why not do it again?  And here's what I knew ahead of time:  The Truman Parkway section of the course, being miles 21 through 24, was going to suck.  Suck is too tame a word for it, but that's as far as I'll take it in writing.  Marathons are hard, we all know that.  But honestly, putting THE WALL together with a desolate stretch of highway with no cheering friends/residents and no shade was just the stupidest idea ever.  Really, ever.  Weather, you can't control.  Highway?  At Mile 21?  That you can fix.

So across the barren highway I rode in search of glycogen-depleted CREW runners.  A runner at that point in a marathon is either riding the edge, or up to their armpits, in a blood sugar crater.  Any shred of energy, any glimmer of a hopeful, happy face will help.  So I helped.  (HINT HINT You can help, too.  Anyone can.  Just be there :-)  I cheered for all the runners, but especially the CREW-mates.

Here are the things you curse when you hit THE WALL in an endurance event at mile number (---), maybe it's 10 or 15 or 18 or 22 -- you curse the landscaping in the park you just went through.  You curse the color of the bricks on the houses you can barely see through your wavering and/or tunneled vision.  You curse the friends and family you told about the race, who are all now expecting you to finish the darn thing when they haven't the slightest notion of how much it hurts to do!  You curse yourself, "Why did I think I could do this?  This is hell, why did I want to put myself through hell?" 

Then there's the friends who are with you, who have trained with you and encouraged you all along the way, and the writers in "Runners' World" who said you could do it, they get cursed too.  And the volunteers who keep yelling, "You're almost there!"  You try not to curse them out loud, but for heavens' sakes, you can't see the finish line nor cross it at that precise moment -- so you're not almost there -- and almost isn't really good enough dammit -- you want to BE DONE NOW -- and you're not!  You see, THE WALL is a nutty, not nice place.

This is what happens when we runners tap out the body's energy stores -- we lose our minds.  Energy blocks and gels and sports drinks are supposed to prevent this but most of us get a taste of it anyway.  Then we get a second wind, or a third or fourth wind, some little sliver of hope to cling to.  Maybe the music from one of the bands gets through the evil voices in our heads long enough to cheer us up.  Hearing the finish line crowd a mile or so back... that's very energizing. 

Some struggled mightily, some walked almost as much as they ran, some sailed through the finish line all smiles and pumping arms, but they all put one foot in front of the other for either 13.1 or 26.2 miles and accomplished something very few people ever even attempt.  All the people who came out cheering in Savannah that day, especially those of you who didn't know a single runner, thank you so much for being there and sharing your energy with us!  Next time, Gordonston, please make enough bloody mary's and mimosa's to go around.

Crossing the finish line is an incomparable, ecstatic experience when you have endured so much.  Once across the finish line you say, "That was so fantastic!"  You are just a few hundred meters away from where you lost your mind and your glycogen, and harbored the most heinous thoughts ever to have crossed your mind, but it's such a different perspective from the "done" side of the finish line.  Maybe you gather with your friends after the finish and start planning the next one!  It's extraordinary how quickly you can let go of all that misery.  It has been compared to planning your next pregnancy right after having given birth.

Random observations and intrigue from race:

Sign on W. Gwinette Street: "Rock It Kelley!" Passerby overheard: "Thanks but my name is Kenny!"

Sign on Price Street: "Got Toenails?"

Sign on Anderson Street, Mile 24.5: "F**k it, It's Almost Over."

Reactions overheard regarding the aforementioned pom-poms: "Is she the pacing team?" Coach Carol Ann's standard answer: "I'm the fun team!" Trainer Jane's answer: "I'm the goofy leader!" Also overheard: "What's the pom-pom mean?" Trainer Jane's answer: "It means pom-pom! Lighten up and have a little fun, will ya?"

Overheard: "What's that smell?" Trainer Jane's answer: Welcome to Savannah, The "hostess with occasional halitosis" city.

DJ on Tatnall and W. Liberty playing Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" -- OMG, lovin me some '90's new jack swing...

While on bike at mile 22 in search of CREWbies: "Can I buy your bike? -- pant -- Oh wait, darn it, -- pant -- I don't have my wallet...."

Jon's favorites: Sign pointing to ground, "you are here." Girl holding sign:  "Don't follow Sarah, she just farted."

Lee Ann's favorite: "Just peel off the layers and push through."

Ashley's favorites:  At the traffic circle in Daffin Park: "Go Total Stranger!" and not far from that one, "Something Inspirational."  One more around mile 25: "Worst. Parade. Ever."

James' favorite: "Wet Willies opens at 11. You better hurry up." But his personal favorite held by one of his friends, "Run like you're 29!"  James turned 30 on race day....

For some, a checkmark on the bucket list.  For the marathon monsters we CREW coaches created, the first but not the last.  Savannah sure can Rock 'n' Roll with the best of 'em.

Be Well, see you at the Bridge Run.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ready to Rock 'n' Roll, Savannah!

We are three weeks away from Savannah's inaugural Rock 'n' Roll marathon event! 

(Pet peeve alert:  Please take note, event planners everywhere, there is no such thing as a "1st Annual Insert-Your-Event-Name-Here."  Only after you've had the second one can we be certain that a trend has been established.  Cynical, yes, but true.)

I'll be doing the half-marathon this year due to that achilles tendon tear I suffered in August.  A couple of our full marathon trainees in the C.R.E.W. training program will be doing likewise.  Sorry to say a few others will not be able to race this year due to injuries, but with smart rehabilitation and progressive training they will certainly be racing again!  I am not only looking forward to seeing their faces in the cheering section at the November 5th race, but also expect to be running alongside them at the Bridge Run, the Tybee Race Festival, the Shamrock Shuffle, the Komen Race for the Cure, the Savannah Mile, and/or next year's Rock 'n' Roll :-)

Will I be jealous of the full marathoners as they go by?  You bet I will.  But also absolutely thrilled and electrified to be in their presence, empathizing completely with the effort and exhileration at meeting this astounding goal!  And the thrill of it all will seize the day, I know from experience. 

In April, 2000, after 12 weeks of training and just 3 weeks before the Sugarloaf, Maine Marathon I tore my quadricep during my last long training run.  No running for 3 months, but I was able to volunteer at the race as a bicycle safety marshall.  After a good cry at the pre-race pasta dinner, I joined a few hundred runners and a couple of bike marshalls for a very safe and breathtakingly beautiful ride/run down the mountainside.  Even saw a moose.  Probably would have been too tired to see it while running....

In September, 2006, while not training for anything in particular, I experienced an acute greater trochantric bursitis.  It was only 2 months without running that time.  Couldn't bike for a time, too, come to think of it.  Ooh, I was definitely Ms. Cranky-pants from lack of exercise with that injury!  Less than a year later I ran in the San Francisco half-marathon, and I can remember clear as day how elated I was to be running long distance again without pain.  Passing the Giants new ballfield in downtown San Francisco, amidst hundreds of cheering spectators including my husband, brothers, nephew and niece, I felt a surge of joy everytime I spotted a runner wearing a full marathon bib number.  From 3.1 miles to 26.2 and everywhere in between, there's something very special about each and every finish line, unique in its importance from one runner to the next.  I think I cried at the finish line for this one, happy tears for feeling so good.

And I cried tears of pain at the end of 2008's Vermont City Marathon.  Note to all runners:  Do Not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, Absolutely Do Not Spend 5 Days On Your Feet Working A Trade Show In A Convention Center With Concrete Floors The Week Of Your Marathon Race.  Oh lord, that was a painful finish, what a spectacle.  A debacle, really.

Let's leave this section on a high note:  Tears of joy at the Maine Marathon in 2004 when I finished with a Boston Qualifier time!  Even though I had no intention of running with 40,000 people in Boston.  And here we are in Savannah about to host 23,000 runners, it's going to be nutsy-crazy-crowded.

Marathoning brings you face to face with your limits.  Sometimes your limits are not happy to see you.  Sometimes they are.  It is a magnificent boost to your self esteem to meet them with a smile and a tear, when you work that hard to rise to a challenge.  There's nothing quite like it.  

But marathoning could be a metaphor for any challenge you rise to conquer, couldn't it? 

And in these last few weeks before the race, a lot of us runners are praying to stay healthy and strong from now until the big day, so all our efforts will not have gone to waste.  I am here to assure you, people, that even if, heaven forbid, you get sick or injured between now and then, your efforts will not have been in vain because you have already climbed higher and pushed farther than you ever thought you possibly could -- and you can do it again and go all the way!  Even though getting sick or injured now would really suck.  No doubt.  But it's temporary -- what you've already accomplished is within you forever.  And if you want to badly enough, wisely enough, you'll reach new milestones.

Being a coach with Fleet Feet Sport's C.R.E.W. training program has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my running career.  To think of the pitfalls, the exasperation, the trials and errors I could have avoided in my marathon training years ago if I had access to a program like this... on this level, it's very gratifying to save these dozens of runners from making those same mistakes.   In addition, I have established Savannah connections with amazingly energetic, doggedly determined, and wholeheartedly caring people who share my passion for running -- COOL!

No boundaries between the personal and professional here.

Be Well!  See you at the start line on Bay Street on November 5th :-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cholesterol Lowering Options

You can take a statin medication.  Doctors have even begun prescribing them, and their patients (some of my clients included) have begun taking them, to prevent a rise in overall blood cholesterol levels where one does not currently exist.

I don't think this is such a great idea.  But I'm a fitness professional.  I believe in lifestyle change prior to trying prescription medications for chronic lifestyle related conditions.  With consistent healthy eating and healthy movement, most can keep their cholesterol in balance most of the time.  Not true for all, but certainly most.  The same could be said for high blood pressure, type II diabetes, back pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, and so on.  Is it easier to swallow a pill?  Sure it is.  It is not easier to live with the side effects of a pill, unless you keep blinders on and ignore the tangible and intangible effects you suffer.  So be it.

If you are willing to take better care of yourself inside and out, if you want to feel better AND have better blood lipid profiles AND enjoy the positive side effects of healthy eating and healthy movement, read on.  Here is a link to some research recently reported in the Washington Post about the benefits of adding cholesterol lowering foods to your diet:

Be Well!  It's kind of up to you...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Turning On The Jets

This is not about football.  Or hot tubs. 

Walking home from work at Strong Gym Savannah this week (ask me how much I love love LOVE walking to work!!), I was happily inspired by a couple of seemingly mundane occurences.

Picture, if you will, Trainer Jane strolling southbound on one of the prettiest streets in the United States: Bull Street, Savannah, GA.  (Get the street view on google maps, going south from 1321 Bull Street, the location of Strong Gym. Hint hint.)  It's a sunny day, close to 90 degrees, but not humid for a very refreshing change. 

Walking northbound on the opposite side of the street I see a young family.  Man, woman, teenage girl, all in casual clothes, and three boys in football uniforms, complete with pads and carrying their helmets.  (Oops, I lied, this is a little about football afterall.)  The boys range from roughly 8 to 14 years old.  They are laughing and talking on their way to Forsyth Park for football practice.  I smile broadly and watch them for about a block.  It's always terrific to me to see people walking from point A to point B.  Especially when it's more than 20 steps. 

Plenty of people walk around here because they can, there are sidewalks everywhere and the weather is pleasant 95 percent of the time.  They have the option to drive but choose to live on their feet instead of inside a box with wheels.  (I assume it is a choice.  If they walk because they have to it remains a very beneficial thing to do.)  It makes me smile that they have access to great recreation programs in walking distance.  It makes me smile to see families enjoying their activities together, sharing time and experiences.  It becomes apparent that I smile at the slightest thing, right?

Just as the northbound family across the street proceeds out of my peripheral vision, I see a young man approaching on my side of the street.  A boy, really, a block away from me.  He's about 11 or 12 years old, I guess.  He's walking briskly.  Then suddenly, he turns on the jets and starts sprinting toward and rapidly past me.  It didn't look as though he was being chased or he was late or he was chasing anyone himself, he just looked focused on sprinting as fast as he could.  And the first thing that popped into my head was, "What's he got to prove?" 

Is he showing off his sprint for one of the football-kids across the street?  Is he proving it to himself that he can launch that turbo charger on a dime and run faster than he felt like he did before?  Is he wondering how winded he gets from sprinting the length of a city block?  Is there a crowd cheering in his head for his performance as he crosses his imaginary finish line?

I must have looked like a grinning idiot to other folks on the street, but I just got so tickled for sprinter-boy.  It's so fun to have the ability to turn on the jets whenever you feel like it and go flashing around under your own power!  As you get older you have to work harder to maintain some percentage of that ability, but when you do the work the results feel almost as good as they did when you were a kid. 

I hope football-family and sprinter-boy continue to have the good fortune that allows them the joy of movement, as well as reaping the benefits of movement itself.  I also hope they inspire other parents and children by their examples.

Be Well!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ouchy. Yes, Trainers Get Injured Sometimes.

I would rather have, treat, and heal well from the injuries associated with my hyper-activity than face the chronic disease and pain which comes with a sedentary lifestyle.

Having said that, it stinks big-time that I can't run right now, smack in the middle of marathon training as one of the coaches of the C.R.E.W. program.  I could run, but then I would be risking a much more traumatic injury, an achilles tendon tear or rupture, which would likely keep me from walking, working, and running for quite some time.  Not worth the risk. 

My local library is helping keep me sane, as I catch up on my long neglected reading list.  Biking and pilates and lifting don't hurt, so meanwhile I can keep moving... but alas, it's just not the same.

I have had a slew of upper body, lower body, and back injuries in my career as a fitness professional.  Ever tell you about the time I busted my tailbone taking snowboarding lessons?  There's only so many times you can land on that same exact spot without breaking.  Over time, though, I have gotten much, much better at taking my own advice in terms of listening to my body and incorporating appropriate rest periods into my work and my play.  The support and treatment from some very open-minded, energetic, and talented doctors and health practitioners has been a tremendous benefit to healing and pacing myself.  Let me thank Dr. Paul Lewandowski, Dr. Tim Maggs, Dr. Todd Titus, Dr. Mark Hyman, Sheila Fridholm LMT, Carl Braun LMT, and Georgia Decker ANP for their guidance.

When joint specific pain occurs, get to a doctor or a physical therapist and get it diagnosed.  Period, end of story.  When muscle pain lasts longer than a couple of days following vigorous activity, apply the P.R.I.C.E. treatment:  Protection; Rest; Ice; Compression; and, Elevation.  (In the presence of arthritis in a joint, ice usually feels awful and you may want to forgo it.)  If P.R.I.C.E. doesn't work after a week or so, get to a doc or PT and get it diagnosed.  If the symptoms are more like nerve pain than muscle pain, get to a doc or PT and get it diagnosed.  How do you tell the difference between nerve pain and muscle pain?  Nerve pain is usually more sharp, and may include tingling or numbness.

There are various combinations of stretching, stabilizing, and strengthening that can help treat and prevent injury.  Athletic tape and kinesiotape can aid in keeping you moving and healing at the same time.  Massage therapy, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy can reduce muscle tension, tissue inflammation, and pain.  Then there's those good old over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications you know as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.  Yes, they work.  Should you rely on them long term?  Talk to your doctor about it.  I've read enough research about the liver and kidney problems associated with frequent, long term use of acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen that I would just as soon avoid them.  But, gratefully, I don't live in pain every waking moment of every day.

Nor do I wish to.  So I move as vigorously and as wisely as I can, with a liberal sprinkling of methodical, meditative activity.  Because human bodies, inside and out, operate at their best when they are in motion most of the time.  Not fidgeting or driving... but rather ambulating, pushing and pulling, dancing and reaching!   See you on the roads before long, hopefully you'll recognize me, I'll be the one running.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fit and Thin Are Not The Same

From all walks of life, from people of all ages, I hear the statement, the question, the judgement:  That people who are large, or fat, or stout, or "zaftig" -- whatever the heck -- are unhealthy, unfit, worse still, unworthy in some intrinsic or even moral way.

Can obesity be unhealthy?  Certainly, when obesity is associated with a lack of regular exercise.  But not always so please, don't assume it -- research conducted by Steven Blair at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics, by Glenn Gaesser  at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and David Levitsky at Cornell University demonstrates that fitness is attained regardless of weight.  I once hired a woman fitness instructor who was easily over 200 pounds to lead classes in my studio.  Boy, was she fit for the job... she was an energetic and engaging teacher, her choreography was fun and flowing, she was more flexible than I could ever dream of, as she had been a gymnast in high school.  And her classes were packed with people.  Yes, people of all sizes.

Inactivity is the problem.  Being overfat isn't a cause of disease if you are active.  Being "normal-weight" and inactive, or underfat and inactive, is just as hazardous to your health as being overfat and inactive.  "Oh, you're thin, you don't need to exercise." Rubbish.  Everyone needs to exercise, because it's vital to your overall health.

It'd be nice to see people who are comfortable in their own skin, regardless of how much skin they're in, and for people to be more comfortable with each other about it.  Yes, even on the beach at Tybee.  It'd be nice to hear people talking about quality in and quality out, feeling better from the inside out with healthy food choices, healthy activity, and a healthy outlook on life, whatever size they are.  Not hating their friends for being thinner than they are, as if thin = better person or thin = happiness.  Have you found yourself feeling sorry for someone who's big... and feels good about it?  Maybe it's not delusional to be big and happy.

That's my opinion, sorry if I'm getting preachy but hey, it's my blog and I'll preach if I want to --preach if I want to -- pre-e-e-e-eeach if I want to! :-D

On a lighter note, Red Hot Mama Sophie Tucker had her own reasons for being happy just the way she was... Enjoy:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Snappy Answers to Common Questions from Long Distance Runners

You will need the following toolkit:

A voice.
A straight pin or safety pin.
A handful of cotton swabs.
Adhesive bandages.
A bottle of hydrogen peroxide that is less than 10 years old.

Q: What do I do about this blister on my (insert part of foot rubbing raw on sneaker) ?

A: Get your toolkit. Swab the blister with HP. Swab the pin with HP. Stick the blister with the pin and drain the fluid. Swab the former blister with HP. Cover with adhesive bandage.

Q: What do I do about this bruise under my toenail ?

A: Toolkit :-) Swab under the top of the nail with HP. Swab the pin with HP. Slowly, carefully slide the pin under the nail, between the nail and the bed. Press down on your angry nail to drain the fluid out from under it. Swab under top edge of the nail again with HP. I know, EEEEWWWWWW. But what you have is in effect a blister under your toenail, and if you leave it alone without draining it, it will hurt a lot and it will eventually cause your nail to lift away from the nailbed and fall off. Which isn't fatal or even horribly painful, but it is extremely unattractive.

To prevent toenail bruising, wear thinner socks or larger shoes or shoes with a larger toebox to minimize toe friction. Also, take note as to whether you are digging or clawing your toes down during your stride. Wiggle them loose from time to time. They get tense when you're working hard on those miles, after all.

Q: What do I do about the bee sting I got in the car on my way home from the long run ?

A: Time to employ your voice tool.  Yell, "OW!" really loud, because I don't care who you are, bee stings hurt a real whole lot. Scrape the stinger out sideways ASAP. Smush the bee and put it out of its misery, it's dying without its stinger anyway. Since you were driving to Starbucks on the way home, pull in and use your voice again to ask the nice person at the counter for a couple of ice cubes (before or after you order your coffee, up to you) because you just got stung by a bee. This will distract him or her from commenting on what a sweaty, rancid-smelling mess you are after having run a dozen or so miles in the nearly-90 degree Savannah morning heat. See, LD runners have quite enough unattractiveness going, thank you. Put the ice on your rapidly swelling, just stung body part to provide a cooling analgesic effect and reduce the swelling. If you are allergic, forget everything in this paragraph after, "Scrape the stinger..." and get an epi-pen stuck in you ASAP.

Nope, I do not know when the bee got in.

Summer Training for Kids

This is reprinted from a reprinted blog (redundancy intended) by Mike Boyle, a phenomenal hockey coach, athletic trainer, and training facility owner in New England, who spends a lot of time sharing his expertise and perspective with personal trainers and athletic trainers alike. LOVE THIS GUY!  Here he is:

Question - I need to put together a summer plan for my 9 yr
old hockey team. Obviously I don’t want to look like a crazy
person, but it would be something that I think could be good
for my own kids as well. Is it too young?

My first reaction was to say “are you crazy”? Instead, slightly
tongue-in-cheek I developed the plan below.

Step 1- play another sport. Lacrosse is highly recommended as
it has similar skills to hockey although baseball is fine. This
does not mean another sport in addition to hockey. Summer is the
off season.

Step 2- Cancel all hockey camp registrations except 1 week.

Pick your favorite that has the largest number of y our friends
attending and go to that one. Ideally look for a camp that only
has you on the ice once a day. No need to get blisters. You won’t
get better in a week anyway.

Step 3- Cancel any summer hockey leagues you are scheduled for.

The best players in the world never play summer hockey and, they
never have. The only conceivable exception would be a weekly skill
session lasting one hour. Another exception would be “play”. If
ice is available and the kids can play, let them. Please remember
play means NO COACHES or COACHING.

Step 4- Reread steps 1-3. Acknowledge that the key problem in
youth sports is applying adult values to children’s activities.

Step 5- Go to the nearest bike shop. Get nice bikes for everyone
in the family

Step 6- Ride the bikes, not in a race. For fun. Maybe put a few
hockey cards in the spokes to make noise.

Step 7- Head to Walmart and buy fishing rods.

Step 8- Take the fishing rods to the nearest lake and fish.

Now That is an off-season plan for any nine year old.

Step 9- repeat steps 5-8 while continually rereading steps 1-3

Friday, June 17, 2011

C.R.E.W. is Going to Do 26.2!

26.2 miles, that is.  The Savannah Rock-N-Roll Marathon debuts this November 5th!

Hard to believe marathon training time is here again already.  I thought I was really enjoying my "just-for-the-fun-of-it" runs.  By staying on a regular schedule, and ensuring that schedule included a 10-ish mile run about once a week, I felt confident about being comfortable and less vulnerable to injury when training started again.  Usually I count back 12 to 15 weeks before the chosen race day and attack a three-day-a-week plan which rotates from a speedwork day, a tempo day, and a long (but not really easy pace) run day.  Running on consecutive days has never felt good to me, so I like the plan even though it demands a more intense effort than most marathon training plans.

You're looking at the calendar and you're saying to yourself, "Self? It's only June.  Why, that seems a lot longer than 12 to 15 weeks before November 5th!"  You are so right, dear reader!  Because I have joined the coaching team at C.R.E.W., a division of Fleet Feet Sports in Savannah, I am helping about 2 dozen people to train for the completion of their very first marathon.  Cool, yes?

First timers are going to benefit a great deal from having all this extra time, 23 weeks total, to get into the swing of this marathoning thing.  CA and Trainer Jane are together coaching the morning marathon group.  We meet Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6:00 a.m., and gather with the evening marathon group and the half marathon training groups for a long run on Saturday mornings at 6:30 a.m.  Is this going to put the kabosh on my Friday night singing career?  You betcha!  Unless I can get some of those happy hour gigs.  But what the heck, there's always Saturday night gigs... after a disco nap.

Sure enough, we are following the three-day-a-week plan I've used successfully for either three or four marathons now.  Yes, I am losing track.  I've followed so many different training plans, from 55 miles in 5-days-a-week to Galloway's run/walk method, and I believe I have generally suffered the least during training with this three day approach.

Now, doesn't that sound encouraging, "suffered the least?"  Even Trainer Jane finds marathon training arduous.  The race, on the other hand, is SO GREAT.  Few people have an easy time completing a marathon.  Rising to the challenge of the mythic marathon distance is compelling, and it's a rewarding accomplishment!  With a smart training program, it's attainable, but it's still a tremendous effort.  Training with a group is making the effort so much more enjoyable, and it's only week three!  This particular group of first-timers -- eager and anxious, hopeful to make a good showing and hungry for answers to their many questions -- I know this group is going to do Savannah proud.  Perhaps they will inspire their fellow Savannians to get moving and get healthier.  I look forward to each session a little more, and I love sharing my resources in such a positive way.

Wait until you see all the shapes and sizes and ages and styles represented in this group of runners!  Hint -- a photo post is upcoming.  I can't wait for you to see "what a marathoner looks like!"

It's not too late to join the C.R.E.W. half- or full-marathon training program.  Check out for more information.  Lovin' me some Rock-N-Roll training!

Be Well!

Friday, June 3, 2011

What Would a Smart Exerciser Do?

Every personal trainer, heck, probably every one in every industry and field of endeavor has a memorable encounter with a customer or client, a favorite question they've been asked.  I recently watched a Pecha Kucha Night presentation entitled, "My Worst Client Ever."  I honestly didn't think it was that bad... I mean, the guy got paid, so hopefully for him that really IS the worst ever.  But I'm not talking about the worst ever, I'm referring to a moment that gives you pause and makes you think.  Perhaps chuckle a little.

(If Pecha Kucha Night is a mystery to you, google it, get to one or get one started, it's truly a happening.)

Here's Trainer Jane's favorite question from the month of May 2011, which I have shared repeatedly with clients and friends:

Q:  "Do you think I'm smart enough to do this exercise routine?"

A:  "OF COURSE you're smart enough, everybody is smart enough to do this.  I'm not sure, however, that smarts have anything to do with whether or not you WILL do it."

So think it over.  You can't remember the exercises?  Maybe you receive a written explanation, a chart, a series of illustrations to show you.  Travelling frequently over the next several weeks and lacking gym access?  Here's your tubing of various resistance levels, your TRX suspension trainer, your door strap attachment, your packable water-filled weights, your portable Stick for myofascial release, your stretch strap, your DVD.  We practice with the new tools before you leave, and...

...there you have it.  All bases covered, you've got the goods, now get moving.  Keep with your planned frequency.  You're good enough, you're smart enough, and darn it, people like you.  (Thanks, Stuart Smalley.) 

Trainer Jane texts/calls/emails you: Q:  "How's it going?"  A:  Um, ok.  I haven't done anything since we got together.

Q:  So when shall we get together again?  A:  Do you think we should?

Well, let me see.  Have you progressed since last we met?  Nope.  Do you need positive reinforcement of the value of the exercises we have chose? Yep.  Do we need to work together to simplify or amplify or in some way make it more likely that you will take up these exercises on your own and benefit from your investment? Yep.  The chips are stacked high on the side of getting together.

Personal trainers exist because people know what to do but yet don't do it.  You need more than information.  It's the focus, the support, the guidance, the recognition of progressions and regressions and what to do about them, the accountability which makes a trainer valuable.  I can't tell you how many times I toss aside my training plan for a client's session after s/he walks in with COMPLETELY different issues and movement patterns than s/he carried around previously.  "We are going to work with the body you brought in with you today," I say. 

Even trainers use trainers, sometimes for new ideas to push beyond plateaus, or for specialized training in disciplines outside their usual expertise.

Q:  Alright, I can see you Wednesday.
A:  Now that's smart talking.  How's about 10 o'clock?


Be Well!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Anti-inflammatory foods

I received this article by email the other day, and I'm happy to say that most of what I stock in my kitchen and draw upon for meals is listed here.  So for those of you who ask me, "Well what do you eat?" -- just in case I didn't answer in full and complete sentences -- here's the answer.  (Please note, the links to Michael's other articles did not make it through the sharing process, apologies for that.)

One prominent exception, and if you suspect you have hormone imbalance issues then this is for you... I cut out most dairy.  I have a brick of raw/organic parmesan in the freezer which I grate and use very sparingly, and a brick of raw/organic cheddar in the fridge to satiate my husband's need for SOMETHING moist on the turkey burger.  Other than that, to minimize my exposure to the growth hormones and antibiotics routinely found in most dairy products, I skip it.  Soy yogurt is stocked up in the fridge, along with unsweetened organic soymilk.

Here's my anecdotal evidence to convince you that eating this way 80-90% of the time will reduce inflammation:  My IBS symptoms have mostly vanished (sorry if that's too much information), my abdominal bloat has mostly vanished, my allergy symptoms to pollen and dust and mold have mostly vanished (in Savannah!?!!), my PMS bloat has mostly vanished, and the bout of high blood pressure I encountered 7 years ago has mostly vanished. 

If I've ever given you a copy of Dr. Mark Hyman's Nutrigenomics/Friendly Foods list, then you have received scientific affirmation of my experience.  He has promoted these recommendations to thousands of patients and millions of readers around the globe.  And if you would like a copy, drop me an email.

Try it, then please tell me how it goes.  Be Well!! TRAINER JANE
My Top 55 Lean-Body Foods to Build Lean Muscle and Lose Body Fat
by Mike Geary - Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

In most of my Lean-Body Secrets Newsletters, I like to provide a healthy snack or meal recipe that not only is delicious and healthy, but also helps to get you closer to that hard-body appearance that everyone is looking for, while also more importantly, improving your health for life. In this article, I'd like to give you healthy food ideas in a different way. This time, I figured I'd just give you some ideas of what I stock my fridge and cabinets with.

Remember, if you don't have junk around the house, you're less likely to eat junk!  If all you have is healthy nutritious foods around the house, you're forced to make smart choices. Basically, it all starts with making smart choices and avoiding temptations when you make your grocery store trip. Now these are just some of my personal preferences, but perhaps they will give you some good ideas that you'll enjoy.
Some of these will be obvious healthy choices, such as fruits and veggies... however, others on this page I think will surprise you!

Alright, so let's start with the fridge. Each week, I try to make sure I'm loaded up with lots of varieties of fresh vegetables. During the growing season, I only get local produce, but obviously in winter, I have to resort to the produce at the grocery store. Most of the time, I make sure I have plenty of vegetables like onions, zucchini,  spinach, fresh mushrooms, red peppers, broccoli, etc. to use in my morning eggs.  I also like to chop up some lean chicken or turkey sausage (make sure to look for nitrate & nitrite free) or grass-fed bison sausage into the eggs, along with some swiss, jack, or goat cheeses (preferably raw grass-fed cheeses when I can find them). 

By the way I'm talking about whole eggs, NOT egg whites.  Always remember that the yolk is the most nutritious and nutrient dense part of the egg, so only eating egg whites is like throwing away the best part... and no, it's NOT bad for you because of the cholesterol... whole eggs actually raise your GOOD cholesterol.  Try to get free range organic eggs for the best quality. Here's an entire article I did on the topic of whole eggs vs egg whites.

Coconut milk is another staple in my fridge. I like to use it to mix in with smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt for a rich, creamy taste. Not only does coconut milk add a rich, creamy taste to lots of dishes, but it's also full of healthy saturated fats. Yes, you heard me right... I said healthy saturated fats!  ...Healthy saturated fats such as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), specifically an MCT called lauric acid, which is vitally important for your immune system.

If the idea of healthy saturated fats is foreign to you, check out my article about why saturated fat is not as bad as you think.

Back to the fridge, some other staples:
Walnuts, pecans, almonds - delicious and great sources of healthy fats.  Try to get raw nuts if possible as the roasting process can oxidize some of the polyunsaturated fats in some types of nuts making those damaged fats slightly more inflammatory.  Overall, nuts are still healthy even if they are roasted, but raw nuts are optimal. 
Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and yogurt (grass-fed and organic if possible) - I like to mix cottage or ricotta cheese and yogurt together with chopped nuts and berries for a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon meal.
Chia seeds and/or hemp seeds - I add these highly nutritious seeds to yogurt, smoothies, or salads for a great nutty taste and loads of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins and minerals. Don't use pre-ground versions of these seeds as the omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable and prone to oxidation, creating high levels of free radicals if you use pre-ground seeds.  No grinding is necessary to properly digest these seeds. 
Whole eggs - one of natures richest sources of nutrients (and remember, they increase your GOOD cholesterol so stop fearing them).
Salsa - I try to get creative and try some of the exotic varieties of salsas.
Avocados - love a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients. Try adding them to wraps, salads, or sandwiches.
Butter - don't believe the naysayers; butter adds great flavor to anything and CAN be part of a healthy diet... just keep the quantity small because it is calorie dense... and NEVER use margarine, unless you want to assure yourself a heart attack.  Most important -- choose organic butter only, since pesticides and other harmful chemicals accumulate in the fat of the milk which is used for butter, so choosing organic helps avoid this problem.  Also, choose grass-fed (pastured) butter if you can find it as it will contain higher levels of healthful omega-3 fats and the fat-burning conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). 
Nut butters - Plain old peanut butter has gotten a little old for me, so I get creative and mix together almond butter with pecan butter, or even cashew butter with macadamia butter...delicious and unbeatable nutrition!  Using a variety of nut butters gives you a broader range of vitamins and minerals and other micronutrients, and gives you variety instead of boring old peanut butter all the time.
Leaf lettuce and spinach along with shredded carrots - for salads with dinner.
Home-made salad dressing - using balsamic vinegar, spices, extra virgin olive oil, and Udo's Choice oil blend. This is much better than store bought salad dressing which mostly use highly refined canola or soybean oil (canola and soybean oil are both very inflammatory in the body).  Here's an article showing why to NEVER use store-bought salad dressings.
Sprouted grain bread for occasional use -- My personal belief from years of nutrition research is that we're not really meant to consume the massive quantities of grains (not even whole grains) that we do in this day and age... a small amount may be okay, but our digestive systems are still primarily adapted to a hunter/gatherer type of diet with only a very small amount of grains, therefore I try to only have breads and other grain-based foods on cheat days.
Rice bran - If we're going to have some grain-based food, we might as well have the most nutrient dense part, and rice bran is one of those parts, since it includes the germ of brown rice too. Rice bran is loaded with vitamins and minerals but without the large amount of starch calories that rice has... and it actually adds a nice little nutty, crunchy taste to yogurt or smoothies, or can be added when baking to add nutrients and fiber to the recipe.

Some of the staples in the freezer:
Frozen berries - during the local growing season, I only get fresh berries, but during the other 10 months of the year, I always keep a supply of frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, etc. to add to high fiber cereal, oatmeal, cottage cheese, yogurt, or smoothies. I also get frozen goji berries sometimes for a little "exotic" variety. 
Frozen fish - I like to try a couple different kinds of fish each week. There are so many varieties out there, you never have to get bored. Just make sure to ALWAYS choose wild fish instead of farmed versions, as the omega-3 to omega-6 balance is MUCH healthier in wild fish.  Also, as this article shows, there are some possible other health issues with farmed fish.
Frozen chicken breasts - very convenient for a quick addition to wraps or chicken sandwiches for quick meals.
Grass-fed steaks, burgers, and ground beef:  Grass-fed meats have been shown to have as high as, or even higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than salmon (without the mercury).  Also, grass-fed meats have much higher levels of fat-burning and muscle-building conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) compared to typical grain-fed beef that you'll find at your grocery store.  I recently found an excellent on-line store where I buy all of my grass-fed meats now (they even deliver right to your door in a sealed cooler) -
Frozen buffalo, ostrich, venison, and other "exotic" lean meats - Yeah, I know...I'm weird, but I can tell you that these are some of the healthiest meats around, and if you're serious about a lean healthy body, these types of meats are much better for you than the mass produced, hormone-pumped beef, chicken, and pork that's sold at most grocery stores.
Frozen veggies - again, when the growing season is over and I can no longer get local fresh produce, frozen veggies are the best option, since they often have higher nutrient contents compared to the fresh produce that has been shipped thousands of miles, sitting around for weeks before making it to your dinner table.

Alright, now the staples in my cabinets:
Various antioxidant-rich teas - green, oolong, white, rooibos (red tea) are some of the healthiest.  One of my newest favorite teas is yerba mate, which is a south american tea that is loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients. I've found some delicious yerba mate mixes such as chocolate yerba mate, mint mate, raspberry mate, etc.
Oat bran and steel cut oats - higher fiber than those little packs of instant oats, which are typically loaded with sugar.  If I'm trying to reduce body fat and get extra lean, I make most of my breakfasts based on eggs and veggies and bison sausage, but if I'm on a muscle building phase, I increase carbohydrate intake and use more oat bran and oatmeal.
The only healthy oils I have in my cabinets are virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil. Macadamia oil may also be a reasonable choice as long as it's not "refined".  But other than that, all "vegetable oils" (which is usually soy and corn oil) are total junk and very inflammatory. Never use soy or corn oils!  Also, always avoid canola oil, as there is nothing healthy about canola oil, despite the deceptive marketing claims by the canola oil industry.
Cans of coconut milk (loaded with healthy saturated MCT fats) - to be transferred to a container in the fridge after opening.
Brown rice and other higher fiber rice - NEVER white rice
Tomato sauces - delicious, and as I'm sure you've heard a million times, they are a great source of lycopene. Just watch out for the brands that are loaded with nasty high fructose corn syrup.  You also want to make sure that the tomato sauce is made with olive oil instead of unhealthy soybean oil or canola oils. Also get tomato sauces in glass jars instead of cans, as canned tomatoes are notoriously high in the dangerous chemical, bisphenol-A (BPA) due to the acidic leaching of BPA from the can lining.
Stevia - a natural non-caloric sweetener, which is an excellent alternative to the nasty chemical-laden artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharine, and sucralose.
Raw honey - better than processed honey... higher quantities of beneficial nutrients and enzymes. Honey has even been proven in studies to improve glucose metabolism (your efficiency in processing carbohydrates).  I use a small teaspoon every morning in my teas.  Yes, I know that even honey is pure sugar, but at least it has some nutritional benefits... and let's be real, a teaspoon of healthier raw honey is only 5 grams of carbs... certainly nothing to worry about, and a better choice than refined sugar.
Organic REAL maple syrup - none of that high fructose corn syrup Aunt Jemima crap...only real maple syrup can be considered real food. The only time I really use this (because of the high sugar load) is added to my post-workout smoothies to sweeten things up and also elicit an insulin surge to push nutrients into your muscles to aid muscle recovery.
Organic unsweetened cocoa powder - I like to mix this into my smoothies for an extra jolt of antioxidants or make my own low-sugar hot cocoa by mixing cocoa powder into hot milk with stevia and a couple melted dark chocolate chunks (delicious!).
Cans of black or kidney beans - I like to add a couple scoops to my Mexican dishes for the fiber and high nutrition content. Also, beans are surprisingly one of the best sources of youth enhancing antioxidants!  Did you know that black beans and kidney beans have more antioxidants than's true!
Dark chocolate (as dark as possible - ideally more than 70-75% cocoa content) - This is one of my treats that satisfies my sweet tooth, plus provides loads of antioxidants at the same time. It's still calorie dense, so I keep it to just 1-2 small squares after a meal... but that is enough to do the trick, so I don't feel like I need to go out and get cake and ice cream to satisfy my dessert urges.

Lastly, another thing that's hard to go wrong with is a good variety of fresh fruits and berries. The staples such as bananas, apples, oranges, pears, peaches are good, but I like to also be a little more adventurous and include things like yellow (aka - mexican or champagne) mangoes, pomegranates, kumquats, papaya, star fruit, pineapples, and others. Also, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries (the highest fiber berry) and cherries are some of the most nutrient and antioxidant-dense fruits you can eat.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this special look into my favorite lean body meals and how I stock my cabinets and fridge. Your tastes are probably quite different than mine, but hopefully this gave you some good ideas you can use next time you're at the grocery store looking to stock up a healthy and delicious pile of groceries.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wow, it's been that long? Or rather, Cross Training 101

I knew it had been a while since I posted anything, but I'm honestly surprised to see it's been two months. Huh.

Well, even super-perky-hyperactive-always-lookin'-on-the-bright-side trainers hit a little speedbump now and then.  My muse went on hiatus... uh, like, my dog ate my homework... um, so, you know, the power went out and my alarm didn't go off....

And BAM, before you know it, it's almost marathon training time again.  Has it been fun running without training for anything in particular? You betcha!  But I have now joined the C.R.E.W. marathon coaching team over at Fleet Feet Sports/Savannah and I am very psyched about helping a whole bunch of great people finish their first marathon - or improve upon their previous efforts, as the case may be.  The Savannah Rock 'N' Roll Marathon is November 5th, and the C.R.E.W. programs for the half marathon and full marathon kick off on May 28th.

Carol Ann, another coach, and I were plotting our strategy and comparing notes the other day.  One of the topics we discussed was what type of cross training to recommend.  I got to thinking about cross training during my run this morning and so I shall share my thoughts with you.  (While running this morning I also thought about the words to the songs, Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benetar and Overjoyed by Stevie Wonder, among others.  Sparing you the sharing on those.)

Cross training for the runner, or for any other active individual, means a change up on several levels.  You want to spend a couple of sessions per week moving in a different direction from your usual activity.  Runners are almost always going in the sagittal plane, aka forward from a standing position.  So adding sessions which are dominated by lateral or rotational patterns would be cross training, like dance or tennis or swimming (especially breast stroke).  Repetitive bounding foot strikes make running high-impact, so low impact cycling or yoga or pilates activities would qualify. 

Also, most runners challenge and improve their aerobic energy system for greater endurance and cardio-respiratory fitness.  Great cross training choices to challenge the body's anaerobic energy system include weight lifting and boxing.  These improve your power, and your speed, depending on your training ability and progress.

What other cross training choices can you come up with?  Please share your ideas or questions.  Be Well! TRAINER JANE

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Resting Heart Rate Research

In the beginning of February, I launched an indoor cycling class at The Landings Club called “Heart Rate Ride.”  Training within certain heart rate boundaries can result in very specific health and fitness benefits.   So the cyclist, who is strongly advised to wear a chest-strap heart rate monitor in class, learns those boundaries which create a health-, or an endurance-, or a performance-related response.  Every rider also learns how to use their heart rate monitor to measure their own resting heart rate (RHR), and to incorporate the RHR to find their estimated target heart rate range using the newly revised Karvonen formula.  They can apply their target heart rate range to all their cardio-vascular exercise and activities, and manipulate their intensity levels to better reach their fitness goals.


Upon learning their RHR, most clients will come and ask me, “Is that good?”  And my honest answer, up until now, has been, “Well, it is all relative, I’ve never heard of a definite link between RHR and heart health.  But as your fitness improves and your heart grows stronger, your RHR usually decreases, and that, relatively speaking, is good.” 

Until now.  Research published in American Heart Journal lends some long awaited clarity to the question, “What’s a good resting heart rate?”   The study tracked over 21,000 middle-aged adults for an average of 12 years, which is a nice, long retrospective study period.  The results indicated that women with a RHR above 90 beats per minute were three times more likely to die of heart disease during the study than those with a rate below 60 beats a minute. Men with rates above 90 were twice as likely to die of heart disease.  The results were consistent when adjusted for age, gender, total cholesterol, physical activity (categorical), systolic blood pressure, body mass index, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (aka “good cholesterol”).

There’s a little more food for thought in here.  Women’s heart rates are typically higher than men’s, because our hearts usually aren’t as large and therefore have to beat more often to pump the blood around.  Look at those numbers in the paragraph above with that in mind.  Women might not have as far to climb to get over 90 beats per minute, and likely have to work harder to get the heart strong enough to drop below 60 beats per minute.  So, ladies and gentlemen, get with me here, we really need to get fit and keep those hearts strong to get that RHR number down.

Reference: Am Heart J. 2010 Jul;160(1):208. Laatikainen, Tiina

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fish, Fish Oil, Krill, Mercury, and More

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, nearly all Americans are deficient in heart-healthy omega-3 fats.  These aren’t the only type of omega fats which are important to your optimal health, but they are the ones you hear about the most. 

You also hear a lot about fish oil supplements, prescription medications made from fish oil, and high mercury levels found in many types of the fish we usually consume.

To help make your fish and fish oil decision making a little bit easier, I want to pass along this PDF format report I received this week.  One of the authors of the report, Jayson Hunter, also happens to be marketing a krill oil supplement product.  So you’ll find the last few pages are highly promotional for his product.

I am not endorsing the krill oil product.

But I do find much of the content of the report compelling, and I think you’ll find the chart on page 15 is particularly handy for choosing the low-mercury varieties of fish.

If you are not eating either “fatty” fish, walnuts, eggs, or grass fed meats at least once every day, then you are probably omega-3 deficient.  And if you can’t eat any one of those things every day – whether you are allergic or a vegetarian or you just plain don’t like them – then quality supplements could be a good idea.**

Great information on quality supplements from an independent testing laboratory can be found at

Here’s the link to get your own copy of the report.  It’s lengthy but worthwhile reading:

Now you say to yourself (after you’ve looked at the chart on page 15), “Self,” you say, “have I been eating so much contaminated fish that I might have mercury poisoning and not even know it?”

Well, that’s a perfectly reasonable question.  There are other ways to become overexposed to mercury, too.  So as a special bonus, I’m going to turn you on to a very comprehensive article from the aforementioned Dr. Hyman about mercury toxicity and how to recover from it. 

**Extra-extra-extra-special bonus tip from Trainer Jane:  Get advice from your doctor, AND your pharmacist, AND a good lab where you can get blood and urine analysis done to determine your own unique deficiencies or toxicities before you take any supplement beyond a basic multivitamin.  You may already be on a medication that can cause an adverse reaction when combined with a supplement, or have a condition that could be worsened by one.

Here in Savannah, Brighter Day Natural Foods on
Park Ave.
provides great resources for local labs which perform this type of testing.

The more you know about your own individual needs, the better you can personalize your optimal health plan.

Be Well!

Monday, January 31, 2011

$*&)%$)!! My Mom Emails Me

This weekend my mother sent me an email which she had received from a friend, who had received it from another friend.  It was entitled, "Dr. Oz On Eating Fruit."  Mother is cautious about the emails she sends me about fitness and nutrition, she gets a lot of these things from her friends.  But this one made a lot of sense to her and she thought I might find it very interesting.

Oh, I found it interesting, all right.  First, the way it was displayed on the page didn't have any of the hallmarks of a marketing email format one would expect of Dr. Oz, fabulous television personality and remarkably level-headed health advisor to millions. 

Second, it was full of misinformation.

After reading it all the way through, and then huffing-puffing-snorting a bit, I went to Dr. Oz's website to see if this attribution was correct.  Sure enough, there were no articles or discussions on his website which matched the content of this email.  Check out when you get a chance yourself, there's a great deal of quality content and Q & A there.

Then I spent some quality time on the phone with my mother, and dissected the email with her so she could learn more about what nutritional approaches are appropriate for her conditions. 

Check The Sources.  If you get an email that isn't from Dr. Oz, or Dr. Jones or Dr. Doolittle for that matter, but claims to be approved by that individual, double check that attribution.  For instance, when I forward information which I deem valuable from Dr. Mark Hyman, I usually include the direct link to his website so there's no confusion about the source.  Verify.

Here's some of the info my mother sent me... with my commentary IN ALL ITALIC CAPS.  Enjoy the lunacy.  BE WELL! TJ

"We all think eating fruit means just buying fruit, cutting it up and popping it into our mouths. It's not that easy. It's important to know how and when to eat fruit.

What's the correct way to eat fruit?


"Eating fruit like that plays a major role in detoxifying your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.


"Let's say you eat two slices of bread, then a slice of fruit. The slice of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it's prevented from doing so."  (ALL CARBOHYDRATES HERE.  THE SIMPLE PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATE IN THE BREAD WILL DIGEST PARTICULARLY FAST, AND SO WILL THE FRUIT.)

"In the meantime, the whole meal rots and ferments, and turns to acid. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach, and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil." (THE LAST TIME I CHECKED, YOUR STOMACH IS AND SHOULD BE AN ACID PIT. FOOD GETS CHURNED ABOUT AND BEGINS BREAKING DOWN THERE. FOOD DOESN'T "SPOIL" IN YOUR STOMACH IN THE PRESENCE OF FRUIT ACIDS, AS IF YOU LEFT IT ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER FOR A WEEK.)

"When you need to drink fruit juice drink only fresh fruit juice, NOT the concentrated juice from the cans. Don't drink juice that has been heated. Don't eat cooked fruit; you don't get the nutrients at all. You get only the taste. Cooking destroys all of the vitamins." (NOT ALL OF THEM, AND NOT COMPLETELY.  GIVEN A CHOICE BETWEEN NO FRUIT OR COOKED FRUIT, HAVE THE COOKED.)
 "Drinking Cold water after a meal = Cancer!"   (OMG, SERIOUSLY???)

"Can you believe this? For those who like to drink cold water, this applies to you. It's nice to have a cold drink after a meal, however, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you've just consumed, which slows digestion." (OK. POP QUIZ.  HOW HOT IS YOUR MOUTH? AVERAGE 98.6F DEGREES.  HOW HOT IS YOUR ESOPHAGUS?  AND YOUR STOMACH, THE AFOREMENTIONED ACID PIT? RIGHT, HOTTER.  SO HOW COLD IS THAT WATER GOING TO STAY AND FOR HOW LONG?  ANSWER: NOT LONG ENOUGH TO HARDEN ANY FATS IN YOUR STOMACH.)  "Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal." 

Update 2/20/11:  According to Ayurvedic medicine, drinking iced water during a meal slows the "digestive fire."  No mention of turning stomach contents to sludge or fat into cancer.  However, Ayurvedic does promote non-iced water during and after meals as a digestive aid, and suggests optimal meal composition as two thirds solids and one third liquid. 

Monday, January 24, 2011


I can’t even really believe that Jack LaLanne has passed away.  You know what they say, though, it isn’t a matter of if, it’s about when and how.

Ninety six years is a good ripe age, and he enjoyed a very high quality of life. 

I remember so clearly watching Jack LaLanne’s television show when I went to visit my grandmother’s house.  It’s not clear to me why we never watched in our own home, maybe I was in school or someone in the house who was older than I took charge of the boob-tube when his show was on.  Sometimes I’d exercise along with him and sometimes, ironically (though I was too young to know I was being ironic), I’d just lie on the floor and listen.

It would be overreaching to say he was an inspiration to me in my choice to lead an active lifestyle, or to pursue a career in fitness education.  But he was wonderfully handy to point to as living example of what one can accomplish with disciplined exercise and healthy eating.  It is no small feat for a man in his 80’s to swim across San Francisco Bay, towing several of his closest friends behind him in a row boat.

Jack didn’t drink coffee, but he did partake of red and white wine.  So, a toast to the memory and the mission of Jack LaLanne!  May his words, deeds, and spirit be inscribed in the book of life.

Here are a few of Jack’s words of wisdom:
  • Anything in life is possible and you can make it happen.
  • Your waistline is your lifeline.
  • Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.
  • Don’t exceed the feed limit.
  • The food you eat today is walking and talking tomorrow.
  • Ten seconds on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.
  • Better to wear out than rust out.
  • Do – don’t stew.
  • People don’t die of old age, they die of inactivity.
  • First we inspire them, then we perspire them.
  • You eat everyday, you sleep everyday, and your body was made to exercise everyday.
  • Work at living and you don’t have to die tomorrow.
  • I can’t die, it would ruin my image. [Whoops.-JO]
  • If man makes it, don’t eat it.
  • If it tastes good, spit it out.
  • What’s it doing for me?
  • Your health account is like your bank account: The more you put in, the more you can take out.
  • If one apple is good, you wouldn’t eat 100.
  • It’s not what you do some of the time that counts, it’s what you do all of the time that counts.
  • Make haste slowly.
  • Eat right and you can’t go wrong.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Magical Marathon

High fives at the finish!

Fair warning, this is a long post.

I planned on a winter marathon, and by golly I worked my plan and planned my work and ran that baby.  If you've not completed or competed in an endurance event before, it's hard to understand why one would put oneself through the arduous training, the black toenails, the mysterious aches and pains, the conscious eating... and the fear of doing something wrong along the way to foil the plan. 

Talking in the gym about the marathon training with a runner friend of mine, someone piped in, "Oh, I hear that marathon running is very bad for your heart and your knees."  Well, each of us has a different body and mine tolerates long distance running fairly well.  It's not for everyone.  I've read the research about the impact of marathoning on the body.  Proper long term training, proper nutrition, and adequate rest are essential to minimizing heart damage, orthopaedic damage, any injury.  As usual, safe progressions and good biomechanics are the keys to proper training.  It also helps if running feeds your soul, as it does mine.

Every minute of every day is a risk.  We wrap ourselves in a blanket of some kind of security and then, as my friend Ellie likes to say, we tip our horns down like a bull and just go.  The reward at the end, the sense of being able to do something you were not entirely convinced you could, is a great feeling.  To top that off, Disney World Marathon is a huge fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and it certainly feels good to make that contribution.

Once upon a time I was convinced I could never run a marathon.  Then again, I was at one time certain I would never run more than five miles.  Then I went to New York City to witness my friend Ellie (the aforementioned bull) run the marathon to mark her 40th birthday.  I was completely enthralled and ultimately the idea took root in my noggin that I could marathon, too.  Ellie is also a client (with asthma) who went from walking to running to marathoning in about 5 years of training -- you get the idea, she's a driven sort.

Disney World Marathon, January 9, 2011.  Orlando is not supposed to experience 40 degree temps, but it did.  I once swore never to run a marathon with more than 10,000 entrants, but I did.  My running buddies from New York and I were slated to run together, but we didn't (though we did fuel up together the night before :-).  I trained to be able to finish the marathon in 3 hours 50 minutes, but I didn't.  All of this made it an exceptional day... and it was a terrific experience in spite of all those shifted expectations!

Race day is a good day to let go of expectations.  Stay positive but go with your gut.  Sixteen weeks of plenty-difficult combinations of speed, tempo, and distance running workouts through Georgia heat and Georgia rain and Georgia snow (!) leaves you marathon-distance ready.  But every day is a new day, every race a new logistical experience.  Seventeen thousand runners need to be delivered to one start line a full hour and a half before the race begins so the roads on the course are not clogged with vehicles.  Disney did its level best to distract us all from how little fun there is to be had in that part.

An hour and a half of standing and shuffling in 40 degree temps and you can't feel your feet for the first four miles.  At least, that's what happened to me.  No feeling in feet = no keeping race pace.  Just one of those things.  When I saw how slow my time was for the first 5 miles compared to my race goal, I decided it to leave it be.  I was afraid of turning an ankle on those numb feet, and cranky about training all those weeks alone and then racing alone even while surrounded by 16,999 friends I hadn't met yet.  I couldn't make up that time and stay on pace the rest of the run and have any fun.

In letting it go, believe me, there was a lot of fun to be had!  It's Disney World, for crying out loud!  There was actually a young spectator on the course, around mile 11, announcing over and over, "this is the Magic Kingdom, the happiest place on earth, why aren't you all smiling?"  LOL!

Some people run with iPods and MP3 players.  Maybe because I'm a musician, I have songs in my head, and some very specific songs that help me keep my race pace. So I don't partake of the iPod.  But Disney has live musicians and musical accompaniment to Disney costumed characters and recordings blasting nearly every single mile along the way.  The volume control in my head can't compete with that.  And then there's the theme parks...enchanting, engaging, all those words Disney loves to use in its marketing messages.  Was I tickled pink when I ran through Cinderella's Castle?  You betcha.  Did I get a kick out of Lucille Ball's commentary on the street in Disney Hollywood?  Abso-tively-Posi-lutely.  The green Army guy from Toy Story was a raging riot -- who wants to race by and miss anything!??

For the first time in my marathoning history, which began in 1999, I didn't hit the wall.   I had the energy to sing along and "arm-dance" while I was running to "Whip It" at mile 9 and "Sweet Caroline" at mile 21.  Felt so good at the finish I started disco dancing, right after the high-five with Donald Duck.  Even with the frozen start, I was well fueled and well hydrated and thrilled to feel like I coasted through the 26.2, compared to previous marathons.  Though I shared hugs and thrills with pals Diane and Jerry among the roadside spectators at mile 21, I still couldn't find my friends in the throngs at the finish.  But my family found me dancing around at the finish line and it was amazing to share with them.  My dad was particularly overcome, because he always wanted to try to run a marathon and never did.  He's to blame, his are the legs I inherited.  Running with him when I was a kid allowed me to put off the chores at home with mom, but the thinking time and physical outlet for stress made me an addict.

Ever goal oriented am I, and I have the Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon in November to look forward to.  When you find a training scheme that works, you can't help but to do it again!  But for now I'm happy to rest and heal a little, get back on my bicycle without fear of screwing up some running schedule, and forgive myself for not making my goal of 3:50.  Color me Coral -- the nail polish shade that's covering my black toenails!