Relax Into Fitness

My attitude around fitness is very different than most personal trainers.  Maybe that’s why my abs are not showing, although that is partly due to the decade I recently spent in a cubicle before finally making the leap out of it.  I don’t believe in “No Pain, No Gain.”  I believe you can work up gradually to fitness, and actually I think for those of us that are not young, it’s kind of important to do that.  I also believe that you can love exercise, and if you do not resonate with Boot Camp style military torture workouts, you can do something fun.  For me, Zumba and dance type exercises are fun.  I love swimming and bike riding.  I have only recently become a proficient skier even though I’ve actually been skiing for quite a while.  Some of us take longer than others to learn certain sports, but eventually you can get it!  Maybe not enough to get to the Olympics, but enough to enjoy it.  I have actually enjoyed the skiing all along, but something finally clicked last year that now I feel at home in my skis, like they are just an extension of my feet.  That took a while!  I really am not an expert or fast at any of the sports I participate in, but I enjoy them, and it has resulted in good health and the enjoyment of having a body that can move through life in a fun way.  I actually am a little embarrassed because I’ll be going to meet some trainer friends and I imagine I will be the least fit.  My abs are not washboard by any means and I will be hiding them as best I can due to the very tiny bit of a competitive nature that usually doesn’t even come out in me.  In my biking group I have been trailing behind. I have not yet purchased the superhero outfit that my new friends have.  But it is bringing out the joy of riding a bike that I had in childhood that is amazing.  Swimming is like a meditation, and it also triggers happiness. There is a feeling in the water that is hard to describe, and after showering off and putting on dry clothes, there is a wonderful sensation that is something like the feeling of having been to a spa. Some people actually love the military boot camps, probably due to the feeling of accomplishment after. Once you develop a certain degree of ability in running, it also becomes something you enjoy and look forward to.  Let’s put “No Pain, No Gain” to rest and relax into fitness by trying something fun.


Show Me A Sign

Need help with an issue or a problem?  Need to know which way to go and can’t decide?  Ask the Universe for a sign.  I’m so excited it’s Hay House World Summit time (  Four weeks of woo woo speeches and interviews to motivate me and take me in new directions.  If you are reading this and the Summit has ended, Hay House Radio is full of these talks.  My personal favorites are Alan Cohen, Sonia Choquette, Doreen Virtue, and Wayne Dyer, plus I have studied with Deborah King, who is very far “out there” but amazing and she has probably the best meditation program you can find.

There’s a long story about the sign I asked for when I wanted to quit my job. One of my fitness mentors, Phil Kaplan, was talking about the Reticular Activating System and how when you start looking for something, you start seeing it.  He mentioned a Red Mustang.  I was mad because previously when I had heard him talk about this he said “orange Mustang” and I had seen one pretty regularly.  I live in New Hampshire, which is not muscle car country, with our long winters and salted roads.  I didn’t think I ever saw Red Mustangs.  But as he spoke, one went by.  I decided I would make that my sign.  One morning I saw three.  I decided if I saw five, that would be my sign to give my notice.  I grew more dissatisfied in my job, and knew it was getting time to make the move.  Finally I gave my notice without having seen the sign.  Yes, I even took a drive by the Ford dealer, I admit.  My family talked me into Thanksgiving in Maui, since my sister lives there, and I think Mom feels she may not be able to travel forever and wanted to get everyone together.  The day after Thanksgiving we went into Lahaina for a boat ride and meal.  Apparently the Mustang is a popular rental car there for some reason.  They were everywhere.  There were rainbows in the sky all day, and I counted twenty-six Red Mustangs.  I’m happy with my decision, needless to say.  And five would have been plenty.

Did I Mention I’m on Amazon? Hmm… That is probably not the right way to write the link…  I should learn to use “Pretty Link,”  You may have noticed, this is not a high-tech blog.  My kids started using a computer when they were little, but when I was little there were no PC’s. My brother was in the Computer Club in High School and the computer took up the whole room, and only his fellow nerds were there with him (please don’t tell him I said that, and he’s been laughing all the way to the bank his whole life as I followed my struggling non-profit careers as he and his wife traveled the world). I’m a little behind, and have a goal to try to figure out Pinterest and Instagram before the rest of the world is on to something else.

That’s why it’s actually pretty extraordinary that I published an e-book and it is available on Kindle.  If you spend the $3 and buy it I hope you will be kind and either leave a great review or don’t mention on Amazon if you think it’s a little bit low tech and poorly formatted.  I hope you will read it the way it’s intended which is just to hear what words come out, just like in this blog, and know that I only want other people to have an easier time getting fit and healthy.  I know that I am in the lucky minority in that I enjoy healthy food and also exercise.  So I am wishing you the best and if my little book does help you at all please drop me a note.  And if it doesn’t I hope you are also low tech and don’t know how to leave a comment….

Little Pink Dumbbells

Let’s talk about weights.  You may not expect me to take the side of the little pink dumbbells, but actually I think they are fine.  There are a couple of different camps that disagree with each other.  The Cross Fit ladies like to lift heavy stuff, while some of the Hollywood Elite say not to use more than three pounds, because they want the skinny arms.  Personally, I think the pink three-pounders are great to start with, and I encourage women to pick up 3, 5, and 8 lb dumbbells.  I feel like for many women that’s enough to maintain upper body muscle enough to be fit and healthy.  I was trained to have people tire the muscle between 8 and 12 reps, but I feel that if women want to go up to 15 or 20 reps, that’s fine.  I have no problem with women who are motivated to do more, but I think most women want a lean but feminine shape.  The reason I say this has to do with what I wrote about in my last few blogs.  I worked for the Forest Service in the 80’s, and did push ups, pull ups, and weights to try to keep up with the guys.  Then in the late 80’s, when I was pregnant, I had to wonder why the heck I was doing that.  It was just the culture at the time, and I had fallen into it somehow.  I want to be fit and healthy but I want to look like a girl as long as I can.  I recently ran across some older women showering at the YMCA, and it definitely renewed my determination to maintain muscle for life (because of what I saw, and not in a good way!), but a small amount of weight used consistently will do that.


Last week I got a little carried away with Forest Service stories from the past. There is actually a fitness component or two though along that line of thought.

After my hiking trail job, which was seasonal, I decided to go to Graduate School in California.  It was very inexpensive in those days.  I was able to get a Co-op position, too, which meant I could go to school in the winter, work during the field season, and have a full time position when I graduated.  What could be better.  I decided I really wanted to be a Forest Hydrologist.  Jimmy Carter was president at the time, and specialist positions were expanding, so that the watersheds would be protected from damage during timber harvesting. Enter Ronald Reagan.  He did not see this as important and was a fan of smaller government.  My job horizons narrowed suddenly.  I decided since the hydrology job was not available I would spend a summer on a fire crew.  I looked at it as a challenge.  I was offered a job for the summer on a tiny fire truck at a remote station at 8,000 feet on the east side of the Sierras, on the Kern River Ranger District.  The station was called Blackrock. To be eligible I had to be able to do 25 push-ups and 7 pull ups.  “No problem,”  I told them.  I headed for the gym to see how many I could do.   Yeah, you guessed it.  None.  So I lowered myself down.  By the time I arrived for the job, I was up to 4.  They let me stay.  I actually could do 25 push-ups by then, which surprised everyone.  I eventually did 7, twice, then did not continue to maintain it and cannot do it now.  I tried P90X3 last year and just stood on a chair, cheating during the pull ups.  I thought something might break if I did them and didn’t want to find out.

It was a beautiful summer.  I think we went to two small fires.  The next season I was offered a position on a Hot Shot crew and I turned it down.  I have no regrets about that, either.  And California, sorry about your drought….  Maybe if I was a Forest Hydrologist things would be better….

The Wild

Did you see this movie, with Reese Witherspoon playing Cheryl Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail?  I loved it.  What you may not know about me is that after college I went out to California to work for the Sequoia National Forest.  I worked out there for 8 years.  Besides that, I also got to do my Master’s research on a small island in Southeast Alaska with one other friend for three months, and I also worked on a Seabird study with a handful of guys from the Fish and Wildlife Service, where we went up and down the California coast studying bird colonies.  When I first arrived on the Hot Springs Ranger District, at age 21, I had a job surveying hiking trails.  One trail I hiked up as I approached the Redwood grove that the trail led to, suddenly I felt like I was being watched.  I stopped.  I felt something very strange.  I looked around and suddenly I realized that I was in the grove.  There were giant trees around me.  They were breathtaking.  I had literally not seen the forest for the trees, no, make that the trees for the forest, or whatever.  I will not forget that moment, where I felt the trees before I saw them.  One other story for today.  I was hiking above that area not long after.  A giant bird flew out of a tree above me.  I could see huge wing feathers, and white under the wings.  It was so large I felt like my heart stopped.  I was excited to tell the wildlife biologist when I got back to the office, but when he showed me the chart of large birds, I knew it was larger than a turkey vulture but didn’t look like a bald eagle.  I didn’t want to suggest the condor because I was a college girl from the East Coast, and since they supposedly weren’t in the area, I would have been laughed back to the East.  So I kept quiet and agreed it must have been an eagle.  A couple of years later some friends of mine were working in the area and saw a condor, and they had a camera.  Big discovery!  It turned out there was a nesting pair in an old redwood tree.  One day before I moved back to the east I saw them soaring over the valley.  Amazing.  What does this have to do with fitness?  I don’t know, but I wanted to write about it today.  Have a great week!

Diet Rant

Dieting makes me mad. Why?  Because crap in moderation still means you are eating crap.  Less of it, even.  While I applaud the support that weight loss groups give their members, the fact is they are still supporting them to eat poor quality food that is lacking in nutrition and often loaded with additives (don’t even get me started about additives, that’s a different rant).

While it’s true that we have a problem with a lack of access to real food in inner cities, that doesn’t explain why most of the people that you and I know are still buying and eating processed food from the middle of the grocery store, and swinging through drive through windows.  I live in a rural area, and grocery stores with real food are all over, and my son lives in Boston and I have found grocery stores available there, too.  They seem to be almost everywhere, right?

The way to health is to drink water, eat good quality 100% real food daily and move your body in a way that builds muscle and keeps your heart and lungs healthy.  Not by eating a low calorie diet of poor quality processed stuff (that’s the polite word).

Joining the Food Babe Army

I had an opportunity to review a book that has just come out, The Food Babe Way by Vani Hari ( .  I offered to review it, as I started following her after reading about the additive that she was responsible for having Subway take out of their bread.  It is an ingredient in yoga mats.  She also was responsible for me cutting way back on drinking Pumpkin Spice Latte’s at Starbucks.  They are delicious, but not really made of pumpkin….  I have been avoiding artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives for many years.  My son, Sam, used to react very badly to red and yellow food coloring when he was little.  In fact, I would get calls from school and have to pick him up.  He would be jumping off the furniture.  Once during a birthday party, he actually kicked a teacher.  He really liked the teacher, too.  It just caused a reaction in his nervous system.  Until then I had not been aware that “food coloring” is not actually made out of food.  Vani does a really great job of telling how she suffered as a teenager eating a typical american diet, and looking at her now you see a glowing picture of health.  I really appreciate that difference she is making by putting this out there.  I am ready to join the army.

Eat Like a Trainer

The New Year is here.  We have been bombarded with commercials for Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, and Carnation Instant Breakfast, to name a few.  I am not a fan of any of these.  In fact, they make me mad.  Why do people still think they can starve themselves to good health?  I used to encourage people to switch to artificial sweeteners in order to avoid sugar.  I no longer do that (hey, we’ve all made mistakes).  Your body needs lots of nutrient dense real foods to be healthy.  Most of us don’t eat nearly enough vegetables.  So what can you do?  Eat like a trainer.  Bring lots of healthy stuff with you.  That way, you’ll never be tempted to go on what Rich Roll refers to as the “Window Diet,”  where you buy something through a window and eat it.

Check out how Personal Trainers eat.  They bring a cooler.  It usually has a variety of containers of stuff like chicken, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.  Personally I bring a breakfast, usually something made with good farm eggs and preservative free sausage or bacon or veggies, or a blended shake from my nutribullet, and a large brightly colored salad with a protein (chicken, tuna or steak) and olive oil dressing, and a snack of fruit and nuts.  I bring different kinds of teas to drink, after coffee in the morning and water when thirsty. Basically, we bring healthy food with us and when we’re hungry, we eat.

Every Day Can Be New Years Day!

So far, everyone I’ve mentioned the word “Resolutions” to has told me they don’t make them.  I do, but I don’t limit them to New Years Day.  I like New Years as it helps me to crystallize what I am working toward.  Of course, I have the advantage that I actually enjoy exercise (thus the line of work…).

So let’s go over it again, why should we exercise?  One new reason (probably not new but newly being reported on maybe) is autophagy.   This means that when we exercise the junk is cleaned up out of our cells, making us healthier.  Muscles are basically “use it or lose it.”  The astronauts were found to lose muscle at an alarming rate until NASA figured out how they could exercise in space.  Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  It can improve your appearance and delay signs of aging.  It improves your strength and stamina, which gives you a better quality of life.

Basically, you will look better and feel better.

To motivate yourself, write down your personal reasons.  Do you want to play with your kids or your grand kids?  Or wear a bathing suit on a vacation?  Or walk to see the sights somewhere that you have wanted to visit?

Then, you just need to decide if you want to go to a gym or work out at home.  Start slow and work up gradually.  Consistency is key, and getting support makes a difference.  Put something that reminds you of your reasons for wanting to be fit somewhere that you can see it every day.  This will be an important step in moving toward fitness in 2015.