Healthy Equations Pt. 2

Years ago, I tried the Body-for-Life ™ program. One of the components of this approach to diet and exercise is a “free day.” Basically, you eat healthily, within boundaries, six days per week and on the seventh, let loose. If I had read the fine print (figuratively speaking) and I wonder how many people do) I would have understood that Mr. Phillips was not suggesting a weekly binge.

I remember one particular Saturday when my little sister was visiting me. She didn’t say anything, but her bulging eyes should have clued me in that I was out of control.

Even then, I was a dedicated exerciser. I hit the gym or went running nearly every single day. That morning, we went to the donut shop and I had a couple treats that I hadn’t had since childhood. Next, we stopped at a gas station and I filled up with a 24 oz. sugar-laden, French vanilla cappuccino. When she suggested McDonald’s for lunch, I snagged more than my share of her fries, salving my conscience because I didn’t order anything of my own. That night, near Christmas, we joined a potluck thrown by my church. Since all week long I avoided sugar like the plague, and it was Saturday, my free day, I ate 10 or more cookies, tried every cake there, slurped down mint hot chocolate and went home miserably sick to my stomach.

But, I popped up the next day and went for a run. Case closed, Body-for-Life™ was working for me. Crazy.

Allowing yourself to completely lose control and mindfulness of your food intake is never good. But relaxing the Nazi-like, self-imposed standards is.

Which brings me to the 80/20 rule. Just like the 90/10 rule, this isn’t heavily researched and documented, but it is proven by the experience of myriad individuals.

Basically, the rule states that if you follow a clean diet regimen 80% of the time, the other 20%  is for relaxing and enjoying your favorite, less-than-healthy foods. 

Whether you are maintaining, or trying to lose weight, in fact, even if you are working to gain weight, this standard is safe and effective. Twenty-percent equals about 4 of your 21 weekly meals.

That’s a relief isn’t it? That’s doable, right?

So chill out a little, or get a grip. Which side of the equation do you land on? What action do you need to take? Remember, that this rule applies to an active individual. Like I said last week, 90% of your progress hinges on your diet, but you need that 10% (exercise) to reach 100% of your goals.

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Guest Post by: Aimee Swisher

I can’t think of a greater compliment than this cleverly written article by a Moms Who TRI mom. Meet Aimee Swisher:


Starting is always the hardest part.  OK, that’s a start, but this challenge is still hard.  I used to be able to do this almost second-hand, but my creativity muscles have atrophied over time and I’m extremely out of practice.  I’m a writing couch potato, in desperate need of a literary Gillian to kick my rear back into shape.

Gillian would tell me to start by moving – doing anything.  So it makes sense that I just write – write about what I know, and what I find interesting.

So, speaking of Gillian, this is interesting, (at least to me) – I recently started working out again with two new friends/trainers, Kristen and Abby.  They conduct work-out sessions for stay-at-home moms in Kristin’s backyard, while the trainees’ kids play alongside.  Every Monday and Wednesday for approximately an hour, we participate in a series of about exercises that have introduced me to muscles I never knew I had.  I’m amazed how easily I can be reduced to a heaving, sputtering, crimson-faced mass of hurt, yet at the end I feel so much better than when I started.

And yet, in spite of my temporary agony, I delight in seeing my kids run around and become red faced, just like me.  But they are not masses of hurt – their heaving and sputtering is part of the fun, and much easier to push through.  I envy that, and aspire to return to that state.  My wish is for my kids to maintain their ability to run and run and run, not with some fitness goal in mind, but because it’s simply part of the game that they want to keep playing.

Nothing pleases me more than when my kids say they don’t want to grow up.  You may think they have no idea how wise this is, but they do.  They know how great it is to be young.  Not just in age, but also in the ability to play, learn, discover  – all of it.  And maybe that’s a bigger part of my drive to get back in shape than I thought: it’s about my desire to recapture that experience of running hard, finding something in myself I never knew I had, and achieving that giddy that feeling of “Look mom – I did it!”

The more that I think about this, that is also the reason I’ve begun writing again.  As corny as this may sound, writing exercises my mind, heart, and soul; it makes me a stronger person.  Although the process is sometimes uncomfortable, exhausting, or even painful, I feel so much better now than when I started.  This is a game I want to keep playing.

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Healthy Equations

There are more numbers in fitness than you can shake your booty at.

There are calorie counts, reps and sets, intervals, days per week, scales and weight. It’s daunting, but may I introduce a few new equations?

Have you heard of the 90/10 rule? This rule states that, when it comes to weight loss, 90% of the work is accomplished through diet and only 10% is achieved by exercise. There isn’t a lot of documented research on this principle, but plenty of experiential evidence. Think about it…

If you eat a Big Mac with cheese, about 700 calories, it will take approximately a 6-7 mile run to burn off those calories. A Big Mac occasionally is absolutely OK, but if you routinely eat a fast food, or unhealthy diet, you will need to practically live in the gym to achieve your weight loss goals.

Who wants to live in the gym anyway? There is so much life to live and time to spend with family and friends and enjoying hobbies. Is a fast food diet really worth the extra work it demands to lose weight? Additionally, no amount of exercise will convert French fries, soda or Snickers into quality, energy efficient nutrients for your body. Even if your tongue isn’t, your cells are crying out for fresh fruit, whole grains and veggies. I promise they will reward you if you feed them well.

So, we’ve established that 90% of weight loss is diet. What about the last 10%? Have you ever heard of skinny-fat? I know you’ve seen it. This is the “lucky” person with “skinny-genes” who has never attempted a pushup. Her arms dangle from her shirt sleeves like green beans. Or, it’s the successful Weight Watchers graduate who happily hit her target weight but wonders why she isn’t toned and can’t see her triceps.

The final 10% will bring out your biceps, sculpt your shoulders and whittle your middle. You’ll never see the lines and definition you desire with out a pushup, squat or jog. If you want 100% success you have to put the two together! The guaranteed success is worth the work!

Next week, I’ll explain the 80/20 rule!

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Lap Swimming Ettiquette for the Beginner

I love to swim, both competitively and just for the fun of it. When I started swimming I had to learn some of the basic rules when lap swimming. If you apply these, as I did, it will help you have an enjoyable time swimming.

The Rules of the Pool

1. Use good gym etiquette and shower before you enter the pool. This may sound a bit silly, but a simple rinse will take off a lot of sweat and gunk that your body loves to collect.
2. As with anything athletic, use good sports etiquette and wear appropriate swimming attire for working out. Seriously, no string bikinis in the lap swimming area.
3. Along with the suits, wear appropriate hair and eye protection. Pull your hair up into a cap or a pony tail. Wear goggles. It does not do you any good to lap swim if you cannot see where you are going.
4. Once on deck, take a moment and gather important information. See where the lap swimming lanes are. Determine the slow, medium and fast lanes. Check swimmer numbers.
5. Once you have gathered your information, select the lane that is the closest match to your swimming level. Do not try to be a ‘super swimmer’ and jump in the fast lane when you should be in the slow lane.
6. Enter the pool at the shallow end. Slide into the pool, do not dive or jump in. Also it is good lap swimming etiquette to ask them if you can join when the other swimmer(s) rest.
7. If your lane has only two swimmers, you and another person, split the lane. This means that you each take a side of the lane and stay there. If you are on the right side of the lane, you will swim up and back on the right side.
8. If your lane has more than two swimmers, you all will need to circle swim. This is done by following each other on the right side of the lane down and back.
9. When you are circle swimming and you feel like the person in front of you is going too slow, gently tap their toes/foot and back off until the end of the lane. This is the signal that you would like to pass them, called overtaking. Do not try to swim around, this is bad lap swimming etiquette and a bit dangerous.
10. When you have received an overtake signal, at the end of the lane, stop and step off to the corner so that the other swimmer(s) can pass you.
11. If you are sharing a lane, do not work on other strokes. Some strokes take up a lot of lane space and could harm the other swimmer. There is nothing like ramming heads while doing the backstroke..
12. If you need to stop and rest during your workout, step off to the side, so that you are not in the way of the other swimmers.

To sum it all up, use the golden rule and do unto other lap swimmers as you would have done to you. It makes sense to use lap swimming etiquette as it will enhance your workout and everyone else’s too.

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Why Bootcamp?

If you’re tuned into the fitness world at all, you are probably noticing a new trend in the gym.


What happened to the “fat-burning-zone”? What happened to strict sets: 3 sets of 15 repetitions? Why are there suddenly more empty treadmills? Are you missing something? Probably. It’s called “bootcamp.”


What is a bootcamp exactly? It’s an interval-style workout utilizing compound movements that strengthen your whole body and shoot your heart rate through the roof.


Because Moms Who TRI is about getting busy moms noticeable results in limited time, we conduct bootcamps in our twice-weekly workouts. And our bootcamps aren’t just for moms. They are so fast-paced and include such variety that even the most ADD child can have fun.

Bootcamps can be designed using no equipment at all, making them the most portable form of exercise. Even if you don’t have enough outdoor space to run, you can do your own personal bootcamp in about 6 square feet. Sometimes, athletes use kettlebells, TRX straps, fitness balls, dumbbells and jump ropes to add variety to their workouts.

An interval timer, or watch with a timer, is the only piece of equipment you need for a bootcamp. Choose a variety of exercises that involve your whole body and perform them for a designated amount of time, such as 45 seconds. Next, choose a shorter interval, like 15 seconds, for a rest period and then move directly into the next exercise on your list – again for the specified work interval.

There are numerous advantages to bootcamp workouts over traditional cardio and strength training plans. First, they accomplish both cardio and strength at once, allowing you to do more work in less time. Also, bootcamps allow you to know exactly how long your workout is going to take before you even get started.

Physiologically, bootcamps have a greater impact on your metabolism than other types of workouts. Using short rest periods that don’t allow you to fully catch your breath, forces your body to consume more oxygen and use more energy to recover after your workout. By keeping your work intervals moderate, you are able to push harder than if you must conserve energy for a workout expected to be an hour long.

Obviously, there are a lot of reasons to workout “bootcamp style.” But, perhaps the most convincing reason is that they are so much fun. There’s never a dull moment when the stimulation changes every 45 seconds. The workout is over before you know it. Only a pool of sweat, and your new, lean body will be proof of your effort!


Guilty Pleasures – The True Confessions of an Athletic Mom

I confess…. I am guilty. I love, love, love to workout and compete. I love to set a goal, push my body past where I have pushed it before; I like to sweat, to give it my all as I tackle a challenging workout or athletic pursuit. In this confession, I also feel the need to mention that I am a Mother. Many of you know that I am a Mother to two boys and wife to one amazing husband. I love them all dearly and devote my days and time to their growth and well-being. Of my loves comes my inner battle. Let me elaborate…..


This past Monday was a doozie of a day. It began with my kids being cranky and clingy and ended with full blown tantrums (the kids not me) and them trying to reattach the umbilical cord. (Alright, I know I am being a little melodramatic but you are getting my drift). By the time my husband arrived home, I was completely spent. I had not gotten my workout in for the day as I had planned and was sorely in need of one, partially physically but more mentally. Dinner was ready and on the table and the kids had already eaten. I paced the floor in my running clothes wavering between spending the evening with the family or taking an hour for myself to run. During my pace, I tried to override the voice in my head telling me that, “if I was really a good wife and Mother, then I would give up my needs for the benefit of my family”. I believe we can all identify with that little voice. It is the one that we work to override every day as we try to achieve a balance between family and fitness.


I am sure that most, if not all, Moms can identify with feeling “motherhood guilt”.  I know I sure can. After I became a mom, the idea snuck into my head that it was selfish to make the time to exercise. Suddenly there was always so much to do, so many new demands and responsibilities; getting in a workout while the baby was sleeping seemed selfish because there were so many other “more important” things to get done. I am here to tell you that while those feelings are normal, to fall prey to them is not the best choice. Remember, “putting the family first” does not mean that you should ignore your personal well-being. Feeling good physically and mentally undoubtedly makes us better at parenting; but in order to do that we need to mentally train ourselves to put aside that voice in our head.

One way to do that is through looking at our calendar and seeing what is there (and in some cases what is not). If there are many trips to the grocery store, doing laundry, and taking kids to camps, but no time to workout, then a change needs to be made. Once you can say “no” to something that is not a priority, you will feel much better when you use the free time to attend to something that is.

Thus, my guilty confession. This past Monday night I chose to take an hour out of my evening for a run rather then spend time with my family and we are all the better for it. I came home a rejuvenated mother and wife, ready to take on the tasks the evening had in store for me. I encourage all mothers to mentally train their inner voice, take time for themselves, and make fitness a priority.

Any thoughts or experience I would love to hear you stories.


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A Worthy Workout

Why do you workout? Who do you workout for? How many times has someone told you, “Do something good for yourself! You deserve it!” Or perhaps you’ve thought, “I want my kids to have a mom for all their growing up years. I want to set a good example for them.” So you lace up your Asics, or dive into the pool or heft another set of 15 lb. dumbbells over your head. All good reasons. Good enough.

Frankly, I only ever worked out for myself. There were plenty of times that I should have skipped a workout in someone else’s best interest, but usually I didn’t. God has slowly been bringing me around to see the rightful place of exercise in my life – in the life of a Christian.

“For bodily discipline is of some profit, but Godliness is profitable in all things because it hold promise for this life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

Don’t mistake him, Paul is admitting that bodily discipline is valuable. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and created in our Father’s image. It is right that we feed them well, work them hard and rest them completely. But what are we doing to exercise our spirit and deepen our relationship with God?

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

Romans 12:13

At Moms Who TRI, one of our girls brought our attention to a way that we can combine our two worthy goals – physical fitness and pursing godliness. We have decided to train for the Taylor Love Sprint Triathlon.

I’ve registered for races before because they looked fun, I thought I could win, everyone else was doing it, the t-shirt was cool and a myriad of other worthless reasons. But what could be more worthy than encouraging and helping to support financially, a little girl and a hurting family?

As your plan your summer fitness, while you’re running around the lake or finishing your laps at the pool, consider your fitness priorities. And considering, as Kristen mentioned last week, that you are setting an example for your children, how you can teach them what really matters.

Learn more about Taylor Love. 


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TRI With Us!

Since the Moms Who TRI mission is to train, race, and inspire, a group of women, who regularly attend boot camp, will be competing in the Tri for Love Sprint Triathlon. The triathlon is hosted by Tri Performance and will be held at the Herndon Community Center on September 16, 2012.

This race is being held to raise funds to support Taylor Love and to raise awareness and funds to help fight Neuroblastoma. Taylor is a local resident who in her short life of seven years, has battled 2 cancers, Neuroblastoma and chemo-induced leukemia, she has received a bone marrow transplant, fought through kidney failure and has undergone countless surgeries, procedures, pokes, tests and scans. Taylor continues to fight and persevere.

For many in Moms Who TRI this will be their first triathlon. They will follow the training plan below and will encourage one another, train together, and endure in order to reach the finish line and their goal. If you have any questions about this training plan, would like coaching for a triathlon, or are interested in joining us please feel free to contact me at


Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 OFF Swim- 500 yards 20 min bike Run 2 miles 500 yards 20 min bike 2 mi run
2 OFF Swim- 700 yards 30 min bike Run 2 miles Swim- 700 yards 30 min bike followed by 10 min run 2 mi run
3 OFF Swim- 850 yards 20 min bike Run 3 miles Swim- 850 yards 30 min bike 3 mi run
4 OFF Swim- 700 yards 30 min bike Run 2 mi Swim 900 yards 30 min bike followed by 10 min run Run 20 minutes
5 OFF Swim- 1000 yards 45 min bike Run 3 mi Swim 900 yards 30 min bike 3 mi run
6 OFF Swim- 1100 yards 50 min bike Run 3 mi Swim 900 45 min bike followed by 10 min run 3 mi run
7 OFF Swim- 1200 yards 50 min bike Run 3 mi Swim- 1100 yards 30 min bike 3 mi run
8 OFF Swim- 1000 yards 45 min bike Run 2 mi Swim- 800 yards 30 min bike followed by 10 min run 2 mi run
9 OFF Swim- 1200 yards 50 min bike Run 2 mi Swim- 875 yards 1 hour bike 3 mi run
10 OFF Swim- 1300 yards 50 min bike Run 3 mi Swim- 875 yards 30 min bike followed by 10 min run 3 mi run
11 OFF Swim- 1400 yards 1 hour bike Run 3 mi Swim- 875 yards 45 min bike 3 mi run
12 OFF Swim- 1300 yards 20 min bike 2 mi run Swim 800 yards 20 min bike Race


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Healthy Snacking

Truthfully, it’s National Blueberry Month, but bananas never go out of style, right? Kristen’s son Keenan will vouch for that! I’ve never seen someone put away so many bananas, but my father-in-law is a close second. I digress. 

Wouldn’t you like to find a banana bread recipe that you could eat the entire thing for less that 1000 calories? Now, I’m not suggesting you do that, but I am a fan of big portions, especially when something is good for me. I was ecstatic when I discovered this delicious little jewel from Cooking Light in my email box. Ask my mom, I’ve never liked making a recipe exactly according to specifications, so in order to be truthful with my above nutritional profile, I’m sharing the recipe with you using my substitutions. I know you’ll love it!


1 C all-purpose flour

1/2 C oatmeal

1/2 C Splenda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 small container (6 ounces) nonfat, sugar free yogurt (I used strawberry for fun)

3/4 C mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)

1/4 C water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 C egg whites

Cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, oatmeal and the next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk.
3. Combine yogurt, banana, water, vanilla, and egg whites in a blender and puree, add to dry ingredients and mix till fully moistened
4. Pour the batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with Greek yogurt (see a simple, homemade version at my personal blog Predatory Lies)

1/4 of the recipe is 200 calories

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