Fitness Friday | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans


Posted by melissa on May 1, 2009

Now that the weather is getting nicer (ahem, unless you live in North Dakota), it’s that time of year when we can take the kids outside and engage in our favorite activities from our own childhoods! How many times have you caught yourself saying, “When I was a kid, we…” only to hear your little ones groan and complain they would rather play video games?? (Surely, I’m not the only one!) Last summer, the twins were old enough where we could have a family game of kickball and everyone (including myself) had a BLAST! Whether it’s going for a walk, a bike ride,  or coaching your child’s sports team, setting a good example can benefit both you AND your child -for a lifetime!

I wanted to share this article I came across:

For many children, biking to the playground and playing kickball in the backyard have given way to watching television, playing video games and spending hours online. But it’s never too late to get your kids off the couch. Use these simple tips to give your kids a lifelong appreciation for activities that strengthen their bodies.

Set a good example

If you want active kids, be active yourself. Go for a brisk walk, ride your bike or spend some time gardening. Kids ages 6 to 17 years old need at least an hour a day of such moderate activities. Three or more days a week should be more vigorous activities such as those that include running or jumping rope. Adults need at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activities.

Invite your family to play catch or to join you on a walk. Talk about physical activity as an opportunity to take care of your body, rather than a punishment or a chore. Praise, reward and encourage activity. Set goals and have everyone track their activities and progress.

“A parent’s active lifestyle is a powerful stimulus for a child,” says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation and co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. “You are a role model for your children; set a good example by making physical activity a priority in your life.”

Limit screen time

A surefire way to increase your children’s activity levels is to limit the number of hours they’re allowed to watch television each day. You might limit screen time — including television, video games and computer time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours a day. To make it easier, don’t put a television in your children’s bedrooms, and keep the computer in a family area. Also consider limiting other sedentary activities, such as text messaging or chatting on the phone.

If your children play video games, opt for those that require movement. Activity-oriented video games — such as dance video games and video games that use a player’s physical movements to control what happens on the screen — boost a child’s calorie-burning power. In a Mayo Clinic study, kids who traded sedentary screen time for active screen time more than doubled their energy expenditure.

Establish a routine

Set aside time each day for physical activity. Get up early with your children to walk the dog or take a walk together after dinner. Start small, gradually adding new activities to the routine as you — and your children — become more fit.

Let your children set the pace

For many kids, organized sports are a great way to stay fit. But team sports or dance classes aren’t the only options. If your child is artistically inclined, take a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks that your child can use to make a collage. If your child likes to climb, head for the nearest neighborhood jungle gym. If your child likes to read, walk or bike to the neighborhood library for a book. Or simply turn on your child’s favorite music and dance in the living room.

“Every child is wired differently,” Dr. Laskowski says. “We all have certain strengths and characteristics that influence our interests. The key is finding things that your children like to do.”

Promote activity, not exercise

To keep your kids interested in fitness, make it fun.

  • Get in the game. Play catch, get the whole family involved in a game of tag or have a jump-rope contest. Try classic movement games such as Simon says or red light, green light. If you don’t remember the rules, make up your own!
  • Try an activity party. For your child’s next birthday, schedule a bowling party, take the kids to a climbing wall or set up relay races in the backyard.
  • Put your kids in charge. Let each child take a turn choosing the activity of the day or week. Batting cages, bowling and neighborhood play areas all count. What matters is that you’re doing something active.
  • Give the gift of activity. Make gifts and rewards things like activity-related equipment, games or outings.

“Incorporating physical activity into your children’s lives does much more than promote a healthy weight,” Dr. Laskowski says. “It sets the foundation for a lifetime of fitness and good health.”

Source: Mayo Clinic.

Posted by april on April 24, 2009

Okay, folks, I know times are hard.  Seriously, I do.  If my electricity bill doesn’t come down soon, I may have to consider moving back in with my parents.  If so, you WILL see me go insane.

So, how many of us want to go to the gym but can’t afford that gym membership?  OR we would love to have a new work out DVD, but those we see on info-mercials are just too expensive??

Well, have no fear!  I have a few suggestions!

First, do you have cable?  I have Cox Cable, and in the Pay Per View section there is this thing called the Free Zone.  If you scroll on down to Health and Wellness, you’ll see something called “Exercise TV”.  (I know I’ve heard other cable companies, like Comcast have the same sort of thing!)  There are 22 different types of work outs on Cox you can choose from in this section.   I see everything from the 30 Day Shred (You ARE Shredding, aren’t you??)  to things such as pilates and yoga.  Now, I haven’t previewed any of the work outs other than the Shred because honestly, I completely forgot they were out there, but believe me, now that I know that I have them I will be trying a few of them!  And if you have Cox, you really should be shredding with us!  Just sayin’.

Okay, so maybe your cable or satellite company does NOT have this option, and you still can’t afford to go to the gym or buy the newest DVD program on the market.  What about you, right?  Seriously??  Who said you need the gym or a DVD to work out?  It’s springtime, so get outside!  Go for a walk or a jog or a hike!  Do you have dogs?  They will love to take a walk or a hike with you!  Or maybe take the kids outside and play a game of tag with them!

So, don’t use “I don’t have the money to join a gym or buy this new DVD program” as an excuse to not get up and get moving!  Get up off those couches and shrink those derrieres!!  Did you know that just by being on your feet, you can burn up to 30% more calories than sitting?  So, you have NO excuses.  Get up and find something to do.  Whether it be a free work out program from you cable company, a walk with the dog, playing tag with the kids, or even a jog by yourself.  Just do it!

Posted by melissa on April 17, 2009

Did you know that exercise can reduce stress? Okay, I am sure we all HEAR that, but how many of us actually follow that advice? This is a subject that hits close to home with me, and I often find myself slacking on the exercise when I am stressed the most! And I KNOW I would feel better if I just got moving!

How does exercise lessen stress and anxiety?

*It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.

*It’s meditation in movement. While doing laps in the pool or shredding away, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s dilemmas and irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements. As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything that you do.

*It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. This can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Find an activity that you enjoy, and when life’s stresses are beginning to get you down, get your move on!

Source: Mayo Clinic.

Posted by melissa on April 10, 2009

Back in the fall of ‘08, I came across Christie on her blog, Baby Tea Leaves. She was hosting a “Hot for the Holidays” challenge and I decided to participate. Ever since then, I have watched her succeed in goal after goal! Christie is truly an inspiration! I asked Christie if she would be interested in sharing some of her wisdom with us, and luckily she said yes! Thanks Christie! You are going to rock your triathlon!

When I was asked to do a guest post for the Sisterhood, I jumped at the chance. Because after spending three years in a size 16 and quickly approaching an 18, and actually getting to a point where relatives stopped recognizing me, I’ve learned a lot over this past year about myself and about this little thing called a “weightloss struggle”. And it all started with this picture:

Ugh, that darned thing. But I have a hypothesis. I think that true weight loss success comes after someone hits their personal “rock bottom”. I believe this because that picture right there, that was it for me. Rock bottom. You’re lookin’ at it.

That’s me at a birthday party in February of ‘08. That’s my second baby and that picture was taken when he was about 3 months old and I was just starting to come out of a horrible postpartumness.

When I opened up this picture in my inbox one night, I cried. I got angry. I got frustrated. Because up until that point, I had been working out a few times a week and I was starting to feel pretty darned good. Oh yes, that picture knocked me down a few pegs. I wrote about it and I labeled it, “I feel like an angry fat person.” Sure my friends all tried to tell me that’s not how I actually look, that the camera lies. But we all know the truth. And the truth was, I have some pretty good friends.

I was at war with myself. I was at war with the clothing racks. I was at war with the mirror. When I looked at myself, I didn’t see the “fat” me, I saw the normal me. The softball player. The person who loved sports and cute clothes and cute shoes. It was only in pictures where I really saw “fat” me and in the dressing room, where I was waging another war. Because that’s where I would outright refuse to take the larger sizes in with me and I would insist on trying to stuff myself into the sizes I was accustomed to and I would sweat profusely from all the stuffing and inevitably I would break down and cry. In the dressing room. Oh yes, some of life’s finer moments.

It was only at rock bottom that the anger finally propelled me into actual change. After crying over this picture, without even thinking, I logged onto the internet and signed up for a 5k. I needed to do something drastic here. And I just threw it out there and asked my bloggy friends: “Who’s up for a Biggest Loser-blog edition?”

I was surprised when I actually got responses. Something wonderful was born and I learned my first lesson: that there’s safety in numbers. Because everything just works better when you have support.

Just like at the Sisterhood here, I had weigh-ins each week and prizes. I set the goal for 12 weeks and the big finale was going to be me, running a 5k. I combined my running training with weight training and mapped out my food. I switched focus. I was no longer on a quest to lose weight because now I was on a quest to just finish a 5k, and not finish last!

And I quickly learned my second lesson: the joy of the mini-milestone. Instead of letting that huge chunk of weight loom over me like a dark cloud like it had for years, I started looking at my weightloss goals in 10 pound increments. I called them “decades”. When my starting weight was 175, my goal was just to get to “the new decade of numbers”: 169. Because the 160’s just sound so much better than the 170’s, don’t they? And 150’s sounds so much better than 160’s… Before I knew it, things were happening and it felt like it was all by accident! I kept reaching new decades and boy. It felt goooood.

And then I quickly learned a third lesson: the power of mindgames! I lost weight as a side-effect to the training I was doing. I was actually more obsessed with being able to finish the 5k and less obsessed with being fat. Missing a workout wasn’t an option because I had already paid for the 5k! And who wants to waste money????? That 5k was going to be there whether I was ready for it or not and I thought, I could be the fat chick running the race, or the “fit” chick. It was my choice. And when I crossed the finish line in June, it was a symbolic moment. I was 17 pounds lighter after all that work.

I held a couple more challenges at my blog and now I’m a total of 32 pounds lighter, and since last April (and just over a year since that awful picture), I have run 3 5Ks, 2 10Ks and last month I actually finished a half-marathon. I’m now training for a triathlon in July.

I look back at that picture and I’m just the slightest bit thankful. Because without it, I wonder, what would it have taken for me to finally get the real picture? When would I have finally stepped up?

I have 12 more pounds to lose to officially get into the best shape of my life. But even now, I’m where I was when I got married and that feels pretty good.

I don’t want to pimp out my lessons and my plans as the “right” ones, I only know that this is what worked for me. In the end, I just got sick of dreaming about the person I wanted to be. I just wanted to be her already. Because let’s face it. It’s not just for me. It’s for them.

Posted by melissa on April 3, 2009

Okay ladies and gentlemen (I can say that now! We have doubled our brothers!), we are gearing up around Shrinking Jeans for the big Shred challenge starting on Monday! Are you with us?

Let’s start with the basics.  What do you need to do this?

*Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD.

*Hand weights are optional. I am going to try my 5-lb weights.

*If you are going to be working out on a hard floor, you may want a mat.

*Women, support your girls. A good sports bra is always a plus!

*Comfy, breathable workout clothing.

*A good pair of athletic shoes.

We love that you don’t need anything fancy to do this workout!

How about some before photos? I know, we all hate taking pictures of ourselves, but seriously, seeing the results along the way will help motivate you! I will be taking mine before Monday, although I haven’t quite decided if I will share now or wait and show the before AND after photos when our 30 days are up! If you are super brave, share your photos on our Flickr group!

Now rest up, stay hydrated, and be ready to get your butt kicked with us on Monday!

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Posted by melissa on March 27, 2009

Seems like everywhere I click on the internet these days, I am hearing tidbits about Jillian’s 30 Day Shred. I actually broke down and ordered a copy the other day, as well as a copy to give away to a lucky person in the future. Here is a summary of the DVD:

Jillian Michaels, winning trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, helps you lose big – up to 20 pounds in 30 days! Her 30 Day Shred DVD includes three 20-minute circuit-training workouts that burn mega calories and build strong, lean muscle. Each level contains a 20-minute workout based on Jillian’s exclusive 3-2-1 Strength/Cardio/Ab training circuit: 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of ab work. There’s also a brief warm-up session and a cool down stretch. Follow Jillian’s program for 30 days and you will see amazing results!

Okay, Sisters, I want to know… Are you a shred-head? Have you tried it? If so, please leave a brief review down in the comments for us!

Posted by melissa on March 20, 2009

Remember a few weeks ago when we asked you to dig deep and leave some questions for TJ, the personal trainer and co-founder of For U Mothers? Today, I am going to share all of the questions and answers with you… I have to say I learned a lot!

Q:  Is it more beneficial to exercise in the morning or in the evening, or does it matter?

A:  Aahh…..the ongoing debate of when to exercise. There has been a lot of discussion on this topic (especially between me and my husband).

Some have said that it is better to exercise later in the day after your body has been moving around all day. (But that’s no excuse for a proper warm up).

Others have said it’s better in the morning when you have more energy.

The truth is – it doesn’t really matter as far as caloric expenditure when you exercise. What matters is what time of day works in your schedule. The consistency of an exercise is what is going to get you the best results.

I can tell you right now – that if I waited until 5 o’clock to get a run in – most days it wouldn’t happen. I am a 6am”er”. For my husband – that’s the only time he can do it.

Q:  I’ve heard that it’s good to get 30 minutes of cardio a day. And I’ve also heard that it doesn’t matter if you break it up into 3-10 minute increments. Is that true? Do you really get the same benefits if it’s broken up?

When you mention warming up, what constitutes a sufficient warm up before working out?

A:  I say – YES (at least to some extent):

For weight loss purposes, calories out should exceed calories in. Simple math – don’t eat more calories in a day than you burn off. Therefore, moving through out the day in 10 minute intervals would be beneficial. I always tell clients to just move as much as possible and keep burning those calories.

For cardiovascular fitness, a beginner will benefit from short increments for a while. Once that person’s fitness level increases, she (or he) will need to push a little longer and a little harder to benefit.

I believe that every walk I give the dog counts!

Q:  My biggest problem area is my thighs…what can I do to slim them down? I’ve heard that the treadmill is a great place to just keep going to slim them down, is that true?

A:  I know you’ve heard this before – but you cannot pick a part of your body to loose fat. You just need to burn off those calories and eventually you should see results.

What’s great about the treadmill is that you can increase the speed for a while, then slow it down and increase the incline. Walking on an incline is great for those glutes!!!!

You can also add some simple squats and lunges to your routine to firm up the leg muscles. Keep the weight low and the reps high.

(Just make sure to check with your doctor if you have concerns about starting an exercise program!)

Q:  I, for one, would like some weightlifting advice! What are the best exercises/machines, in your opinion?

What’s more important, number of reps or increased weight?

What’s your favorite ab exercise?

A:  I am a cardio junkie and my new favorite machine is the rowing machine. I run a lot so I welcome the upper body work of the rower.

For weight machines, I really like the assisted pull up machine. It really gets those back muscles. I also like the cable machines to do lower body work.

As far as reps vs. weights – they are equally important. I alternate clients between high reps/light weights and low reps/heavy weights. I think it’s important to keep your muscles “confused” so that they cannot adapt to your routine.

I have to say my favorite ab exercise is the Plank. Center and side ones! It’s what keeps everthing sucked in. I am aim to get clients to hold it for 1 minute.

My second favorite one is the medicine ball twist. What you do it sit back (about half way down to the floor) hold a 4lb. medicine ball or light weight. Keeping your knees as still a possible – rotate your trunk right to left. Keep your abs tight, exhale and twist. This is a good core exercise.

If you have lower back problems, do the plan on your knees and do the twists with no weights.

Q:  I’d like your opinion on a couple of things:

1.  Walking -how much does the pace matter? somedays I walk w/the child care kids & we go pretty slow but usually go for an hour. do I get the same benefit w/that as a fast paced 10 minutes? or anything from the slow one?

2.  Wii-fit- do you have any opinion/recommendations on it?

A:  cientific research may disagree with me but I believe that the pace matters. I tell my mother all the time that shopping isn’t exercise! No matter how blocks you walk while going in an out stores.

To get the cardiovascular benefit you need raise your heart rate – ya know – sweat a little. The quicker you go – the further you’ll go – the more calories you’ll burn.

I think the wii fit is a great tool to get started. However, long term you will need to step it up a bit. It still a great way to rev up and burn some calories.

Q:  I’m looking for a beginner treadmill workout, about 30 min. long. Any suggestions. I used to have this great one out of a shape magazine then I lost it when I moved across the country!

A:  I can’t really publish a program for you but I can give you some pointers.

(I also need to stress that if new to exercise, please concsult with your doctor before starting an exercise program)

What you want to do is start off with at least a 5 warm up, then do one of two things:

Increase your speed for 1 minute (then recover at a slower pace for 2 mins) Or

Increase your incline for 1 minute (then recover at a lower incline for 2 mins)

You can mix it up and do a few speed intervals, then a few incline intervals.

Do 5 intervals, then cool down (walk slow and no incline) for about 5 mins.

Always pay attention to how you feel – on a scale of 1-10 (1 being totally relaxed and 10 being unbearable!) you should be around a 7 on the intervals.

This gives you a lot of flexibility to change up your program.

Q:  Is it true that it’s hard (or harder) for women to “bulk up”? I know a lot of people will avoid strength training because they’re afraid they’ll get too bulky.

Also, for those of us who like working out to DVD, what is your favorite work out DVD(s)?

A:  It’s really hard for us ladies to bulk up. You would have to heavy weights (more than 15 lb dumb bells) to see that start to happen. I am all for weights lifting for women. It’s great for bones, weight loss and looks. You’ll get a nice sculpted back doing weights.

As far as DVD’s – I love the Firm series (all of them) and Cathe Friedrich. I have also heard really good things about the P90X but haven’t tried those. My sister has been raving about them and she’s a tough cookie.

Q:  What am i doing wrong?? I’m at 136, been doing 1200-1500 calories per day and working out 3-5 times per week (mix of weight training and cardio). why am i not losing weight? I’m down only 2 pounds from my cheeseburger/tv diet.

A:  What type of cardio and for how long? You need to do at least 40 minutes of cardio 3-5x/week. You should be slightly out of breath (able to have short conversations while doing your cardio exercise) and have your target heart rate at about 65% (that would 220-your age x65%) – it’s just an estimate but it’s a good guideline to see how hard you are actually working.

There’s a great site I use called It keeps track of all calories taken in and expended (it asks for your exercise activities and calculates est. calories burned). I like it because it shows me where all my calories are (and I love to see how many extra calories I can have in a day because of my exercise!)

If you’ve been at it while and have hit a plateau – you may need to mix it up. Try something totally different like a boot camp class!

Let me know what exercise you are doing now –

Q:  I can’t help but think that my body has hit that proverbial “wall”. I’m a semi-distance runner (I’m back up to 7 miles), so I’m burning a crazy amount of calories per workout (between 4-6 days per week)…I’m also pretty conscientious about what I eat (and how much) but not to the point of tracking WW points or calories..and I haven’t seen the scale move (down, at least) in a couple of weeks. What are some “easy” things I can do to “shock” my body? Bring down the calories, weight train (what specifically), interval runs?

A:  You mentioned interval runs – MY FAVORITE!!!! I think that would be a great way to change it up. Sprint for 30 seconds, then walk for 90 seconds. Don’t worry about distance – do it for time. Add a short slow run after you’ve done the intervals for 15 minutes.

You should also try incorporating strength training into your routine. Muscles will rev your metabolism up a bit. Take a day or two week to just do weights – upper body, lower body, and abs (always!).

For weight training, I break it up:

Day 1: Biceps, Triceps, Legs, Abs
Day 2: Chest, Back, Legs, Abs

Keep the exercise very simple. Start with the weight on the light side and keep the repetitions high (3 sets of 15 per exercise).

Thank you so much, TJ, for answering all of our questions! We appreciate it so much!

And now, for the GIVEAWAY!!  For U Mothers is giving away a tee/tank with your mantra of choice to one lucky reader!! To enter, leave a comment below stating your FAVORITE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. The contest will end Thursday, March 26th, at 11:59 pm and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced the following day! Good luck!

Posted by melissa on March 6, 2009

I am super excited for today’s post! A few months back, I was lucky enough to run across TJ on all this loveliness that is the internet! TJ is an ACE certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor and has been involved in fitness for over 10 years!

Together with her partner Christy, she started “Run U Mother” boot camps – a women’s only boot camp program designed for women of all ages and fitness levels.  Her Run U Mother boot camp program is designed to increase strength, cardiovascular fitness level and overall well being.  To go along with their love of fitness, the girls have launched a new line of athletic clothing for moms with the Run U Mother logo (with other “”U Mothers” to follow).   In additional to personal training and running her clothing line, TJ is also a mother of 3 and is the Vice President of the PTO.

I just love their sayings on their clothing line… “Run U Mother” and “Pose U Mother”. So cute and sassy -and affordable!

TJ has agreed to have a Q&A session with all of us here at The Sisterhood. I know you all have fitness and exercise questions you are dying to ask (I sure do!)! Just leave them in a comment down below or email them to me, and we will have all the answers in an upcoming post!

Thanks TJ!

Posted by melissa on February 20, 2009

I first heard about hot yoga while I was living in Grand Junction, CO and have always found the concept very interesting. I have never tried it myself, but hopefully I will find the courage to once I slim down a bit!

What is Hot Yoga?

Hot Yoga consists of performing a series of yoga poses in a heated room, ranging from 95 to 100+ degrees. The heated room will allow your body to become more flexible, and also encourages profuse sweating which will rid your body of toxins.

If you do decide to try Hot Yoga:

*Wear light clothing. You will sweat. A lot.

*Bring your OWN yoga mat and towel.

*It is advised not to eat before class.

*Be sure and drink lots of water before and after your class to keep from getting dehydrated.

*Do not try if you are pregnant. Hot Yoga will raise your core body temperature.

I want to know… Who has tried Hot Yoga? Do you find it more beneficial than traditional yoga? Fill us in!

Posted by melissa on February 13, 2009

I know, it’s the dead of winter and the last thing you want to do is venture into the cold to exercise. Exercise is so very important on many different levels. Let’s talk about the some of the benefits:

1. Your mood will improve! Have you ever been just in the absolute crappiest mood, yet forced yourself to exercise anyway? (I do this all the time!) The workout may be a struggle but you will feel so much better after you complete it. Exercise stimulates a variety of chemicals in the brain, which will leave you feeling happier. And of course, exercise makes you look and FEEL better!

2. Exercise will help combat chronic disease. Need to manage high-blood pressure? Ward off Type 2 diabetes? Osteoporosis? Get moving!

3. Exercise will help you drop the pounds! When you exercise, you burn calories. The more intensely you exercise, the more calories you burn — and the easier it is to keep your weight under control. Dedicated workouts are great, but activity you accumulate throughout the day helps you burn calories, too.

4. Exercise strengthens your heart and lungs. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. In fact, regular exercise helps your entire cardiovascular system — the circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels — work more efficiently. The more efficient your heart and lungs, the more energy you will have. Who doesn’t need more energy?!

5. You will sleep better. A good night’s sleep can improve your concentration, productivity and mood. And, you guessed it, exercise is sometimes the key to better sleep. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.

6. Better sex life! Of course, exercise can make you look and feel better which in return will make you more confident during sex. But did you know that the improved circulation in your body from regular exercise may actually make sex more satisfying? And listen up men! Regular exercise can help prevent erectile dysfunction, especially as you get older! Not to mention that sex itself is exercise! BONUS!

7. You might have FUN! Find something you enjoy and stick with it! Dancing, aerobics, spinning, tennis, soccer, swimming, running… you name it. As long as you enjoy it and it gets your heart pumping, it counts!

There you go, seven reasons to get that blood flowin’ and heart pumping!

Source: Mayo Clinic. 

Posted by crookedeyebrow on February 1, 2009

3 cups nonfat milk 2 cups pasteurized liquid egg whites, such as Egg Beaters 3 tablespoons honey 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 1-pound loaf sliced whole-wheat bread 1 cup chopped dried apples (3 ounces) 1/2 cup raisins 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1. Whisk milk, egg whites, honey, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. 2. Trim crusts off 8 bread slices and set aside. Cut the crusts and the remaining bread into 1-inch pieces. Toss with dried apples, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg in another large bowl. 3. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer the bread mixture to the pan. Lay the reserved crustless slices evenly on top, trimming to fit. Whisk the milk mixture one more time, then pour evenly over the bread. Press the bread down with the back of a wooden spoon, making sure it’s evenly moist. Cover with parchment paper, then foil, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. 4. Preheat oven to 350°F.

5. Bake the casserole, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed, set and lightly browned, about 20 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes; dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

180 calores, 1 g fat, 10 g protein, 4g fiber, 33 carbs

Posted by melissa on January 30, 2009

Take out your pencils girls and boys, it’s time for your Heart Healthy Workout Quiz. Write your answers in the comment section below. Keep your eyes on your own paper, no cheating, and lay your head down on your desk when you have finished. We will discuss the answers a little bit later. ;o)

  1. Regular physical activity is an important step toward a healthy heart. What other steps can you take to reduce your risk of heart attack?
    1. stop smoking
    2. reduce high blood pressure
    3. maintain proper blood cholesterol levels
  2. If running marathons is not your idea of regular exercise, you can work up a heart-healthy sweat in your everyday life in a lot of ways. What are some of them?
    1. sitting in a sauna
    2. walking
    3. vigorous vacuuming
    4. mowing lawn with push mower
    5. gardening
    6. baking brownies
    7. raking leaves
    8. dancing
  3. Children are more physically fit today than they were a generation ago.
  4. What is the most common excuse for not engaging in physical activity?
  5. Besides being an important way to get ready for bathing suit season, regular physical activity can also benefit your health and well-being by improving which of the following?:
    1. blood cholesterol
    2. high blood pressure
    3. energy level
    4. sleeping patterns
    5. weight
  6. A heart-healthy schedule should involve at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
  7. A complete physical fitness program should involve activities that promote endurance, strength and flexibility.

8. What should you do first before starting a vigorous exercise program if you’re middle-aged or older, have been sedentary, are overweight or have a serious medical condition?

9. What form of physical activity has the lowest dropout rate?

Posted by melissa on January 23, 2009

If you are anything like me, then you try running for a few minutes, huff and puff, can’t catch your breath, and slow to a walk. That’s my story. I have big dreams of being a runner, if only I could run longer than three minutes at a time!

Have you heard of the Couch-to-5K program? Thousands of new runners have followed this 9-week program, going from couch potato to running three miles by the end! It is based on the premise that you must ease into your running gradually, and the schedule does just that. You perform three workouts a week for nine weeks. You will alternate timed segments of walking with jogging, and will gradually add more jogging the farther into it you get! View the schedule here! And (thanks Mark!) you can download the podcasts here! They are also available on iTunes if you search podcasts and running!

I figure there is no better motivation than someone who has actually tried it herself, so without further ado, I introduce my favorite Couch-2-5K graduate -my friend Megan!!

What made you decide to try running? Why this program?

There were a few different things that inspired me to try running. First off, the summer of 2007, (I started C25K in January of 2008) my dad, husband, & sister all did a 5K over the 4th of July in my hometown. I used my little ones as an excuse for not doing it myself, but the reality was, I was so out of shape that I though the ambulance might have to pick my up if I attempted it (joking…kind of).

Also, in the summer of 2007, my cousin & good friend Melissa (your very own over here at Shrinking Jeans!) took the plunge and committed herself to doing a 1/2 marathon in Steamboat Springs raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She ended up fracturing her arm and moving during the training process but she still DID IT. She did have to walk the majority, but does that really matter? 13.1 miles is still 13.1 miles. Looking back, I know that she helped me realize that I would have to just do it. I may not be the fastest, and I may have to walk it, but I should definitely just get off the damn couch and give it a try.

I spent the rest of that summer fat (220 pounds) & miserable. In October after my baby turned 2, I knew I could no longer use her as an excuse. Something had to change, my joints ached when I got up in the morning and I had no energy to play with my kids–I was only 27 years old! I shouldn’t feel that way! I was so sick of myself being miserable that I started doing Weight Watchers (something I had some success with after baby #2) and doing Turbo Jam DVDs that a good friend lent to me. The same friend had lost 50 pounds doing them and had since begun running. She definitely provided me with some inspiration!

By January I had lost about 30 pounds and I felt so much better. That is when I decided to try running. I talked to my friend about how she had done it and she recommended C25K. After a little research and joining a C25K group on I decided to give it a shot. I immediately loved it. It felt so empowering to be able to RUN. Even if it was only for 60 seconds at a time. I downloaded the podcasts onto my mp3 player (they are free) and the instruction provided me with great motivation and feedback (the music could be better though).

I would love to say I whipped through the program in no time, but the reality is, I had to repeat a few weeks. In July of 2008, I ran that 4th of July 5K with my family 50 pounds lighter than the summer before. My time was 33 minutes some odd seconds. I definitely wasn’t the fastest, not even close. I even had to stop and walk once (I wasn’t used to those dang hills!) I did it though! Running for 30 minutes is something I NEVER thought I would be able to do. It may sound silly, but being able to accomplish this has given my more confidence in every aspect of my life.

What was your favorite part? Least?

My favorite? Gosh! I love the way running makes me feel physically & mentally. It is such an easy thing to do- put one foot in front of the other and ENDURE. There is no complicated movements that a clumsy person like me can flub up. C25K makes it so easy. In 9 weeks it takes you from running 60 second intervals to running a full 30 minutes straight. Believe me. ANYONE CAN DO IT. I’m just not sure that I have ever encountered a better way for a beginner to build their stamina that this program.

Least favorite thing–Definitely the music on the podcasts. It is like bad elevator music or something. Once I got to the weeks that I would run for extended periods, I just listened to my own music & kept track of the time on my own.

Would you recommend this program for me and the other members of Shrinking Jeans who aspire to run?

There is no doubt about it. I DARE YOU. If you just DO IT, I think you will really fall in love with running and the way it makes you feel. Believe me, I was anti-exercise just 1 1/2 short years ago, I should know;-)

What are your running goals for the future?

I would love to do a longer distance like a 10K or a 1/2 marathon the summer of 2009. Other than that, I would also like to improve my speed a bit for the 5K distance.

Thanks Megan! You are such an inspiration!

Posted by melissa on January 16, 2009

Continuing with our heart-healthy challenge, today we are going to learn about our target heart rates. Yet ANOTHER number, I know. You thought (hoped) you were done with math in high school and college, right?

What is the “target heart rate?” Simply put, it’s the desired range of heart rate reached during aerobic exercise that allows you to get the most out of your workout.

It is important to pace yourself and not tire too quickly, especially if you have been inactive. For maximum physical benefit, you want to be withing 50-85% of your maximum heart rate.

Sometimes it is just NOT convenient or possible to monitor your heart rate. In this case, you may want to use the “conversational pace.” If you can talk and walk at the same time, you are NOT working too hard. If you can sing and maintain your level of effort, you are probably not working hard ENOUGH. And if you are out of breath and have trouble talking, you are probably working TOO hard.

Back to monitoring your heart rate. You can do it manually on one of your pulse points while looking at a watch, wear a heart rate monitor, or if you are using cardio equipment, many come equipped with a sensor on it already.

Take a look at this table:

Age Target HR Zone
50–85 %
Average Maximum Heart Rate

100 %

20 years 100–170 beats per minute 200 beats per minute
25 years 98–166 beats per minute 195 beats per minute
30 years 95–162 beats per minute 190 beats per minute
35 years 93–157 beats per minute 185 beats per minute
40 years 90–153 beats per minute 180 beats per minute
45 years 88–149 beats per minute 175 beats per minute
50 years 85–145 beats per minute 170 beats per minute
55 years 83–140 beats per minute 165 beats per minute
60 years 80–136 beats per minute 160 beats per minute
65 years 78–132 beats per minute 155 beats per minute
70 years 75–128 beats per minute 150 beats per minute

Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. The figures above are averages, so use them as general guidelines.

Like I said already, it is important to pace yourself. When you first begin exercising, aim for the lower range or your target heart rate. Start working yourself up over the next few weeks. After several months of regular exercise, aim to stay around that 85% range.

**Once again, we are not doctors here at Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. We are stating opinions and passing on researched information. Always consult your physician before starting an exercise program, particularly if you have high blood pressure or any other pre-existing condition, or if you’ve been sedentary for a long time.**

Posted by melissa on January 9, 2009

Did you know that what you eat and when you eat can affect the way you feel when you exercise? Exercising is hard enough as it is, I want to make sure I do whatever I can to make it a more enjoyable experience.

If you eat too much before your workout, it can make you feel tired or actually upset your stomach. This is because your muscles and your digestive system have to compete with each other for your energy resources. And if you don’t eat enough before your workout, this causes low blood sugar levels that can make you feel faint and tired.

If you want to get the most from your workout:

*Eat a healthy breakfast. If you plan to exercise within an hour after breakfast, eat a smaller meal or have a sports drink.

*Time your meals based on their size. Have your large meals three to four hours before you exercise. You can have small meals two to three hours before exercising.

*Do not skip meals. It can cause low blood sugar which will make you feel lightheaded. If you have no time before you workout and your choice is nothing or candy, eat the candy because it will improve your performance. Your best bet, however, is a banana or yogurt…

*Eat after you workout. You need to eat a meal that is high in protein and carbohydrates after you workout, preferably within two hours. It will replace your glycogen stores. Women especially need to eat after resistance training.

So, there you have it. If you are struggling with your workout, take a look at what you are eating before and afterwards. Your performance depends a lot on your food intake!