Saturday, December 1, 2012

The art of learning BODYPUMP

This morning was an exciting day at the gym. Not only did I have a decaf coffee from McDonald's spiked with a creamer (a rare order for me) but we added an 8 a.m. Spinning class at the gym and I debuted three new tracks during BODYPUMP.

The tracks weren't exactly new but new to us - they were from the 82 release, which we never launched because of problems with Les Mills autoship. I actually got 83 and taught it for a month before I got the earlier title.

And while I love BP 83, we have been working out to it for two months. Not only can the person get bored but the muscles can, too, and I knew it was time to switch it up. I decided it wasn't feasible to learn 82 in its entirety but I could get down a few tracks to keep things fresh.

Learning the releases can be a very individual process but for everyone, and it takes some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Eighty-two is my third release to teach, and I think I'm finally getting a process.

Listen to the music. And listen. And listen. I'm not a music-oriented person - at all. I can say that a song is my favorite and not be able to sing the words when I hear it on the radio. It's actually a running joke between Mark and me. For BODYPUMP, I start by listening to the whole release a couple times - on the way to work or on the occasional run. After that, I focus on the first two songs and add on as I learn the music.

Class time. In our release kits, instructors receive not just the CD of music but a DVD with the masterclass, which is taught by the Les Mills elite, and choreography notes. Once I feel like I know the rhythm of each song, I take the class. Sure, it's in my ever-inspiring unfinished basement but it's cool and child-free. Following along with the DVD is the first time I encounter the choreography, and I try to take note of new innovations and proper form.

Follow along. Taking the master class allows me to move to the music and when I listen to it afterward, I'm able to picture the moves. I begin to listen to the CD with the choreography notes so that I can mentally pair changes in the music to changes in the moves.

Practice, practice, practice. Once I think I know the music and the choreography, I begin to practice the tracks without the hep of the DVD. I might practice a track or two during commercial breaks or while Miles is eating breakfast. Heck, I've been known to listen to my iPhone in the bathroom at work and practice squats. No worries - I always choose the one less used and only do so when it's empty.

Script. BODYPUMP would be incredibly boring if the only thing the instructor said was "2-2" or "super slow." Using a (not so much) state-of-the art spreadsheet, I map out the choreography and cues for proper form. I try to add in some jokes or tie-ins with the lyrics to keep it light. While I'd love to keep things spontaneous, I end up stammering when a class isn't mapped out. It's super attractive. Almost as attractive as the way I practice my script - in the car. Yes, I talk to myself as I drive home.

And for the final step? Plan the perfect outfit for the launch. Just kidding. Sort of. The final step is to teach it. Again and again.

Now for a question: Would you go to a BODYPUMP class at noon on New Year's Day? I have an idea for a launch of 84 to celebrate the New Year, New You at the stroke of noon. Noon, though, is a bit odd for a class time so I'd love feedback.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Food Friday: Tale of two slow cookers

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, lived a girl with striking red hair and the desire to live healthy. She was busy, though - maybe even too busy but she always tried to do the best she could.

One day, she wanted to make fajitas with all the proper accoutrements for dinner - peppers, onions, guacamole, sour cream and beans. The day would be busy, she feared, and dinner would be rushed and uninspired. She threw her head wearily onto the counter in defeat.

Crash. Bang. Thump.

The girl looked down and saw a pair of blue eyes and a mischievous grin. Her toddler was playing in a cabinet where she stored cutting boards, ice cube trays and slow cookers. The trays had clattered to the floor and a tiny arm made his way to a shiny glass object.

"No! Not my slow cooker!" she gasped, swooping in to take the lid from the boy. Just as it almost struck the floor, she was struck with an idea. Her dinner woes could be solved by the slow cooker and his little friend, too.

In the big slow cooker, she layered a sliced bell pepper, red onion and 8 ounces of mushrooms. Chicken breast went on top followed by a seasoning mix of cumin, chili powder and salt. While the recipe suggested fresh lime juice, the girl found she was out. With new found motivation, she was undeterred and added a sprinkling of True Lime before splashing in some chicken broth. The shiny silver pot was turned on low for eight hours. With a bing, dinner was as good to go as she could do.

With visions of re"fried" black beans dancing in her head, she added dry beans, water, bay leaves, cumin and chipotle chili powder to the white slow cooker. It might have been the less impressive, small and non-digital, but the crock was going to hold the night's most prized dish.

She skipped off to work, proud of what she had accomplished. Little did she know that the clouds had rolled in, darkened and the universe was ready to rain on her parade.

Tiny little trolls invaded her kitchen and turned the dinner upside down. The vegetables she so hoped would be cooked but definable became a mush at the bottom of the crock. The seasoning mix became an unpleasant crust on the chicken. Tiny little bones started to appear in the meat. The beans were turned to low instead of high - an egregious error as they had been unsoaked.

When the girl returned, her red hair bouncing with excitement as she walked through the door, walked hurriedly to the kitchen. Fajitas and salads were ready to be made and the bellies of her men were grumbling with hunger.

She took lid off crock No. 1 and gasped. The fajitas were an ugly mess and almost looked inedible. She was not deterred, shredding the meat and mixing it with the vegetables for burritos instead. It's all the same with re"fried" black beans.


Her loss of breath was audible as the girl opened the second crock. The beans were a sunken mass swimming at the bottom of a murky pool of water. She poked them with a fork, hopeful but discovered the trolls had dashed her visions. The beans couldn't be stabbed with a fork much lass mashed for re"fried" beans.

Her dinner was not to be, she resolved, and threw up her hands.

And then those hands turned the small crock to high. Beans might not be for dinner but with another four hours on high, they can make for a delicious lunch the next day and breakfast the day after that.

How's that for a fairy tale ending?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ignorance is not bliss

I hate Facebook fights. Or debates. Or discussions. Whatever. I hate them all.

I've always been cautions and mindful about what I post because of my job and my workplace can/will monitor postings. It would be unfair, though, to use that as the only reason. I just don't think it's the place to be righteous or political, and it bothers me when people post things that they think are inherently right or wrong.

This morning, a Facebook "friend" (who is really just an acquaintance) posted about a 407-pound woman who was not allowed to fly home to New York City from Hungary and died as a result. In this person's eyes, the fault was not with the airline but everyone else - her doctors, her husband and herself. This person argued, in a somewhat long status update, among other things:
  • The woman's weight equaled more than eight 50-pound suitcases. Passengers with that much baggage get denied or charged very high penalties, so why should she be any different? 
  • The woman's husband was irresponsible and pathetic because he watched his wife become super obese and did not do anything about it. As the person said, she didn't get to be 400 pounds overnight.
  • Doctors allowed her to get overweight and should be sued, not the airline.
When I read this post, I was infuriated. The "her" in the post could have easily been my mom. In the person's eyes, I should have sued the doctors for her death. She should have been charged extra for nearly anything because of her weight. Above all, though, I could be responsible for my mother's death because I watched her steadily gain weight and die at 600 pounds.

And I'm not.

I did not stand quietly as my mother gained weight. I had countless arguments with her about her health and size, causing us not to speak for weeks on end. I refused to bring her things that she didn't need, even if it resulted in tantrums. If ever she showed even the tiniest ounce of interest in losing weight, I did all that I could to encourage it. I never went as far to call her doctors but the thought crossed my mind time and time again.

The doctors, though, would have told me the one thing I knew deep down: you can't make someone lose weight. You can yell at her. You can try to control her diet. You can give her a gym membership or buy her DVDs. You can set a good example. Unless she wants to hear you or follow the guidelines or use the tools, she will not lose weight. She will continue to tune you out, find ways to eat what she wants and use other health issues as excuses for not exercising.

This person was ignorant to all of that. It's much easier to point a finger, to shun, to live on a high horse of being "normal." It's much easier to say, "Why didn't you do anything? Why didn't someone do something?" and believe people indulged her and enabled this woman to the point of super obesity. It's much easier to believe that the "her" wasn't even a person, not even worthy of consideration or compassion.

I desperately itched to express that, to share my story in a comment, but I knew it would be the kind of Facebook discussion that I so despise. I don't need to be right. Or righteous. I know my story, and I know her truth. I don't need more.

Well, except to click unfriend.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lessons on the run

I had just spent 15 minutes on hold with the doctor's office to schedule my, ahem, annual appointment and the mid-afternoon lull was hitting. I knew the best thing for me would be to grab my bag, change and head out for a run but I didn't really feel like it.

I could run tomorrow, I reasoned. I ran yesterday, I reminded myself. I don't have to run four days a week.

And then my friend tweeted that she had worked out on her lunch break despite having a blister and forgetting her socks. Damn, if she didn't get me down to the bathroom and into my running clothes from a 1,000 miles away. I told myself that I could do "just" 3 miles and call it an afternoon.

What was supposed to be a leisurely, lazy 3-mile run ended up being more - it was farther, faster and chock full of lessons that I wasn't anticipating to learn.

1. I had planned an out-and-back course that would take me from downtown to a river trail that I used to frequent before we bought our house and moved to a different neighborhood. The beauty of an out-and-back is that if you run 1.5 miles out, you have to run 1.5 miles back. Of course, if you run 1.5 miles out, you have to run 1.5 miles back - even if you don't want to or, even worse, can't.

2. Eating pumpkin chili at 11:30 a.m. is not the best idea if you want to have an event-free run at 1:30 p.m.

3. It's always best to know where you are running, especially where the gas stations are where you are running. Even if it means tacking on a half-mile to your out and back.

4. Crosswalks are a blessing and a curse. If you are going at a good clip, the signal might interrupt your rhythm. If you want to keel over, it's a great chance to catch your breath. Of course, it's all in the timing.

5. Bargaining does wonderful things. "Stop at this crosswalk but you have to gun it the last half-mile and avoid stopping at all costs."

6. I could run faster than I think I can/do if I wasn't scared or more motivated. About a half-mile in, I noticed the legs and lungs seemed to be working in harmony, and I decided to throw in some intervals. I did a quarter-mile hard with a quarter-mile recovery ... until I had to make a pit stop, at which point I decided not to stress the body more than it was. Anyway, all four miles were under 9:00 and my average pace was 8:31.

7. Runching does help you go faster, especially when you have to tack on a mile and still get back to work in an hour.

8. I am not sure if this is a lesson but I decided that it would be really nice to find a running buddy who works downtown. I know having a running date would help keep me motivated throughout the winter, and he/she might push me to go faster. I'm not sure how to go about that. Do you think I could put up fliers or advertise on Craigslist?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving weekend, by the numbers


Times I was told that I was too skinny


Lollipops Miles attempted to consume during the Price Hill Thanksgiving day parade


Times my uncle roared in Miles' face and made him cry


Meals eaten out


Varieties of dessert eaten on Thanksgiving


Ounces of wine consumed


Miles ran, all solo courtesy of my kind husband and also including my longest post-marathon run of 6 miles


Dollars spent Black Friday shopping


Minutes Miles slept during our 3.5-hour car drive home


Approximate miles driven


Times kicked when trying to co-sleep with Miles on Wednesday night



Amount I was grateful to spend quality time with my family, most importantly my grandma. Even if she did beat me at Scrabble.

I hope everyone had a wonderful, grateful Thanksgiving!