Saturday, July 23, 2011

Women have all the answers because they aren't scared to ask the questions

Who says that you can't teach an old girl new tricks?


When I arrived at MFS  for my training Fadi asked, "How did your swim go yesterday, and how sore are you?" I told him that my swim went swimmingly. (I didn't confess that I was still trying to deal with the personal devastation from an article that I read that quoted Lance Armstrong in saying that he swims 3000 to 5000 yards a day. That totally minimized my swimming efforts.) I told him that I really wasn't sore from my previous leg workout so I had played the day before at my gym. I had lifted some weights and done some climbing before I  swam. . .

Fadi cast his eyes down like a dad was who ashamed of his daughter for staying out past curfew. He pulled me over to his whiteboard. Then he said, "You only do strength training here so you can get the most benefit of your efforts." He began drawing arrows on the board. "You have to give your muscles time to rest and rebuild."

I quietly stood there and thought that was what I had done. "I  did more. Shouldn't that be better?" I asked.

Fadi explained, "In order to grow muscles and strength you have to break the muscle down and give it time to heal. Think of your muscle this way. It  is like interlacing your fingers together and pulling them apart until you see gaps. That is what happens when you work out. You create gaps in the muscle fibers. You have to take  time in between workouts to give the muscle time to rebuild and fill in. During this time the gaps fill with bigger muscle cells. This forces the fat cells away from that area, and  go else where  in your body where energy is needed. You want the muscle cells to get bigger. You don't want them to break down again. You must  fill in the gaps with muscle cells to become more lean . That is why you have to take time between strength training workouts."

We are born with all the muscle cells we will ever have so we have to build them.  God has a sense of humor.  He created us so that we can make new fat cells and lots of them! They stretch ,poke and extend. Think of it as an deflated balloon. As we eat the wrong foods and continue to be inactive we fill our balloon or muscle fiber gaps with additional fat cells. These stay right there where they are not supposed to be. They can ruin a bathing suit or a midriff top in NASCAR speed. The idea is to force those fat cells away from the muscle by contracting and extending that muscle area. Then I have to wait for this transformation to take place so I can rebuild my muscle cells to take up the space. This builds leaner, stronger bodies!

Okay, I get it. Next time I am going to ask him why your muscle hurts after you work out. You know women aren't scared to ask questions. That is why we have all the answers! Go women!

Friday, July 22, 2011

MFS Academy: Meet Tracy Carswell


"Where's the driver?" a passerby screamed hysterically at Tracy Carswell. Tracy, dazed and wandering on foot north on 85 south answered, "I am the driver." "You survived that?" Tracy continued to walk, lost and aimlessly, along the road in his bloodstained, silk shirt. People began to stop and gather. They summoned rescue squads to the scene. As the paramedics arrived Tracy rebuffed them. He refused any of their services. He told the EMT's that he didn't need his blood pressure checked. They insisted that he might be in shock. He just wanted to be somewhere else.

It was June 4, 1994. Tracy was a successful mortgage originator. He was heading down I 85 S to close another mortgage deal. He had just passed the Jimmy Carter exit and was approaching the Pleasantdale exit when he heard a loud scape ricochet down the side of his car. "Grinnnnnd." As he attempted to figure what it was he thought at first that he had a tire blow out. Things were happening in immediacy. Then his car began to spiral. He quickly realized what was happening, but it was too late. An 18 wheeler had scraped its fuel tank down Tracy's car and over his head. Then Tracy's car was turning in front of the truck. Tracy knew that he had to get out. At some point he got out of his car and started to walk. He doesn't know how.

Tracy got home and within a few hours was back in the emergency room, unable to move. The shock had  begun to wear off. He was now feeling the assault his body had engaged earlier in the day. The doctor gave him pain meds and Tracy was then back at home for months. A guy that used to be outgoing and kind, slowly became a monster -- irritable, quick-tempered, and extremely difficult with which to live. He lost his job and dealt with the agony of physical impairment.

He was ready to regain his life, but then he was walloped with migraines that made him unable to begin the climb back to life. It took more time, but finally a medicine was prescribed to him that eased the pain, Lisinopril.

After months, the doctor told him he would have to have surgery on his back. If he would have the surgery, said his doctor, then he could repair his body over time and get back to being himself.

This surgery seemed like the answer, but again almost too late. His body had grown weak. His attitude was counteractive. He didn't have strength or motivation. He had also added 80 pounds to his skeleton in the months of inactivity. The surgery on his back was a success. He began to move around. He played golf and made a goal to go waterskiing by the following summer vacation.

He felt like maybe he was beginning to wake from the ongoing nightmare. He went in for a physical and was told that his cholesterol and blood pressure were too high. The doctor told him that he would have to begin taking a series of medications to prolong his life. Lipotor being one to lower his cholesterol. He knew that this was a slow death sentence. He was still too young and had survived too much to start taking medications now. He knew that high cholesterol and blood pressure could be controlled with weight loss and exercise. He rebuffed the doctor's prescriptions and vowed that day to take charge of his health.

 He started by reducing his food intake and eliminating the foods that were bad for him. Then he had to learn what foods were actually good for him to eat. He added those to his diet. Slowly he tried adding walking. After a while he ran just a little distance. Just one step at a time. As he started feeling better he learned and tried more exercises and strength training.


Fast forward. Now he is my trainer at MFS Academy. He is agile and flexible. He is strong. He understands the fight against weight gain and medical issues. He is now 80 pounds lighter and his life has changed! He is a gentle giant that is motivating and encouraging. He listens. He wants to know what you want your body to accomplish for you. He supports you to get there. He has endured medical issues and weight issues.

 He is 50 years old and in the best shape of his life! He has dedicated himself to helping others find their way to healthier lives. He wants for you what he has found. He makes the process of getting stronger and leaner something to look forward to and enjoy. He is the new weight loss expert at MFS Academy. He specializes in tremendous weight loss in people over 40. He takes the guess work out of it for you. He has already wrestled weight gain and won.

His services are available at the studio privately or in a group. I know that they offer services even online. I will have to find out about those for a later blog. You don't have to do this alone anymore. Thanks, Tracy! See ya on Saturday morning!
                                                        See Tracy and Me "Hanging Out"



Tuesday, July 19, 2011


We have a BIG PROBLEM! The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports today that 30.4% of the residents in Georgia are overweight. This is an increase from 27.7% in 2009. A new program, the SHAPE Act will be seen in schools this year to help stop childhood obesity. This is long overdue. 

I teach school. One of my jobs is to make sure that students get out of cars safely in the morning.(It is amazing what you get to do with lots of education!) It saddens me when I see children who are so obese that they struggle to get out of the back seat. They are stiff like old people. There is a particular child who grieves me. I have watched him as he advanced through school and got larger each year. One morning he tried to get out of the car and his feet got tangled up in a Tupperware cake plate and he fell. His mom had a cake in the floorboard of their car! I have watched him get out in the mornings with donuts and carbonated drinks that he shoves back into the car. One day I got behind him as he tried to climb the stairs at school. I intentionally stayed behind him because his breathing was so labored that I wasn't sure that he was going to make it. This is beyond tragic.No 10 year old should become exerted to get up stairs. Instead they should be reprimanded by old teachers like myself for running up the stairs

We really need to rethink how we eat and spend our leisure time as adults. We are in charge of making decisions for our children. When we are sedentary we are modeling for our children a lifestyle that promotes catastrophic disease. No one wants their child to have a future that is limited in anyway. When we dream for our children we dream without boundaries. 

It is time for us to begin to dream that way for ourselves. We have got to begin to take those necessary steps to improve our own health. Our futures shouldn't be limited either. I just read a must read-life changing book, Younger Next Year by 71 year old former attorney, Chris Crowley and and wellness doctor Dr Harry Lodge. 


It points out why we are becoming such a sick nation. The writers suggest that since the beginning man was forced to scavenge for food. This simple, but necessary act made humans stronger and more resilient. It is true, "The fittest survive." Fast forward millions of years. 

We are in an age of being comfortable. We don't even get up to change the channel on the TV anymore! We have sofas that have multiple recliners. We spend complete days leashed to computers for our livelihood. We get food through drive in windows. We spend hours of family togetherness watching movies in the dark and not speaking. Then on special days we sit on those same sofas with multiple recliners and WATCH sports! 

 All of this sitting has sent a message to our brains, says the writers of Younger Next Year. This sitting tells our physical brain that we are done with living. This causes the decay and deterioration of our bodies to begin. The body actually begins the dying process when we engage in a sedentary lifestyle. We aren't living! 

We gotta get moving Georgia! So what did you do today? Better yet what are you and your family going to do tomorrow? I am meeting my trainer tomorrow at 4:30 at My Fitness Solutions. Think I will get up early to go run before work just to be on the safe side! Life is good, Georgia! Let's start moving!

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Fitness Solutions:Official Day 5: I am BACK!!

I am back! I have been on vacation for the past two wonderful weeks! I have ridden horses in Colorado and swam in Florida. Now I am back! Back at the gym and back at work!

I really did well on my trip to Colorado. I even went to a gym and did some strength training. I ate lots of chicken and veges. This leg of my trip was with my family.

 Then came the immediate trip to Florida to see my two girlfriends. Any restraint where food was concerned ended when they promised they wouldn't tell if I tasted this piece of authentic Mexican fried ice cream. I fell for it. It is was more than delicious. I stuck my spoon in that piece of cake and fell right off my fitness wagon into the middle of the road. Kerplunk!

                                                This did me in! Knocked me right off the wagon!

Now I did attempt redemption the next morning by running. I am glad life gives do overs! I am doing over. Starting right now. Again.

I called My Fitness Solutions on Friday before I left Florida to schedule a workout. Rebecca was booked for the afternoons, and I had to go back to work. I was assigned to a new trainer who could meet me in the afternoons now that I am back at work. This is going to be difficult because when I am at work. I am usually tired when I get off, and I am making myself go to the gym tired or not. It happens with commitment.

My new trainer, is male and in tip top shape! He swears that he used to be out of shape and over weight. You would not believe it! His name is Tracy. He is from Dacula. I wasn't really sure about having a male trainer especially since I was coming back after 2 weeks off. How much was this going to hurt?

We started off by going in the forbidden room. I protested. I didn't want to go. I made excuses. But Fadi, the owner, thought that I should get measured and weighed. I tried to explain that I had been on vacation for two weeks, one of those weeks with my two girlfriends who would testify in a court of law that I didn't eat that fried ice cream cake! (Even though I have chocolate stains on my shirt! That is the kind of friends I have!)

We went in THE ROOM. Fadi did my measurements, I have only gone to MFS for 4 official visits.Fadi told me that I would see difference in 60 days which should be about the middle of September. The inches are beginning to melt away. Not to mention how much stronger I feel.  I was surprised to find out that in spite of my vacation, I have lost inches all over and weight! Yay! (Don't tell but I really missed working out!)

This is the way for Stella or Kim to get her groove back! It is so incredibly hard for a woman, who is my delicate age to make changes in her body. I actually thought it was somewhat impossible. Fadi, Rebecca and now Tracy keep encouraging me. I feel as though I have an entourage! All these people are helping me look after my health.

Today Fadi told me that I can invite 1 person a month to come work out with me one time for free! Who is coming with me? This is the way to do it and get results quickly! Why waste your time doing the other stuff that hasn't worked in the past and will not work now? Come on!

Oh, and Tracy. He is all muscles and encouragement!  He did push me. He did tell me to add more weight. He did tell me to hold my legs in the air until failure on an ab exercise, but he wasn't mean at all and didn't make me push too much weight. I am going back to train with him on Wednesday. Can't wait! I will take pictures.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Fitness Solutions: On Vacation

Life is about balance. All year I work really hard trying to be the missing link for students who are struggling to learn. My colleagues and I are dedicated to trying to give the students at our school, whose learning is charged to us, the best possible education. I have always loved working with the students who find school difficult.

But now it is July. . . It is summer. I have left the borders of Gwinnett County and headed first to the beautiful state of Colorado. I left my regular life behind and took off to have some fun! Believe it when I tell you teachers really like to have fun! When I left I also left behind my structure for fitness. I am on my own out here to choose my meals and my exercise.

It really hasn't been hard. I made a commitment to my health before I left. Making that commitment to my health doesn't change because of location. The best investment that I can make is my own health. Taking charge of my health allows me to be a better teacher, mom, wife, daughter, aunt and friend.

Being dedicated to my health makes life better. While out here in Colorado I have been able to do so many things without worrying about my health or fitness. I have walked miles to see ruins, swam in hot springs, climbed and gone on hikes. I did make some intentional decisions while I was out here.

I have gotten up early every morning and walked somewhere to see the local sites. Then I have run back at a moderate pace. This was suggested by Fadi, at My Fitness Solutions to get my metabolism going each day.  I did find a gym and went to work out. I did all the things that my trainer, Rebecca told me I could do.  She is a stickler about strength training correctly! I had a pretty good workout, but it wasn't nearly as intense as when I workout with Rebecca.

Here is my trainer, Rebecca at My Fitness Solutions

When I was at the gym in Colorado, I missed having someone there. It is harder to workout and try to navigate strength training and weight loss without the help of a personal trainer. When I work out at My Fitness Solutions I know I am going  to workout for 1 hour. I will work out hard, but the workout is results driven. The guess work is taken out. There is no feeling of wasting my time or maybe trying some  exercise that will flatten my tummy that I read about in a magazine.

I have continued to try to make healthy food choices. This is stressed by the staff at My Fitness Solutions. I am still eating protein and vegetables. I am developing an aversion to starchy, sugar filled foods. It gets easier each day to not crave the fried foods or the chocolate.

Life is short, but life can be really good. Make the right choices for your own health every day, no matter where you are. If you struggle like me with these decisions get the help of a trainer at My Fitness Solutions. It makes life easier.

My niece has goats. They keep jumping the fence when I leave so we leashed them up and took them with us on my morning walk.
For now I am still on vacation. I am having a blast being active with my niece and nephew! Tomorrow we keep it going with an early morning 3 hour horse ride! Gotta keep moving.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Peachtree Road Race as a Touchstone for health

What is your touchstone? The Peachtree Road Race is one of mine. Everyone needs touchstones that come annually throughout the year. These traditions give you a chance to reflect on the past year, be thankful for today and set goals for the year ahead. Having touchstones lets you evaluate and - get a redo if you need to.

This time last year,  I was in tremendous knee pain. I followed the Peachtree Road Race with multiple visits to the orthopedists and 4 months in physical therapy. I really didn't know if I would be able to run distance again.

It started in April 2010, when I was running the Talledega Speedway half marathon.
"Skrink, pop." The bones scraped. The knee lunged away from my skeleton. I lurched forward, found my balance then gimped on the outside of my foot to try to somehow forcibliy align my knee with my body. I was on mile 7 on the Talledega Speedway running with 6 miles left to go. I went from an all out sprint to a stutter, to a walk, to a hobble.

Since I hate to miss a good time I followed this half marathon with another the following weekend. Then I just kept running until the Peachtree. After that point I was ready to give in and yell, "Uncle!" Then I ended up going to all the medical professionals to help me fix my knee.

Since then I have had to readjust what I thought was un-adjustable. When the physical therapist told me I would have to stop running everyday I looked at him as though he had just told me I wasn't American. I just couldn't take that news. I had been a runner for decades. There were weeks when I easily ran every day, well, just because I could.

He made a very poignant point with me. He had a paper clip. He started talking and bending that paper clip back and forth. I hate when it looks like people have evidence that they are right, and I am wrong. He said,"If you keep doing the same thing over and over, something has to give." Then of course, the paper clip broke and my chin hit the floor.

I took this news and stewed on it a few days. Then I decided that maybe he had some knowledge about what he was saying sense he was a professional and I was still limping. I quit running everyday and started cross training. I never run 2 days in a row now. I mix it up. I go out with friends and we  ride  bikes or swim. I started strength training at My Fitness Solutions, with Fadi and Rebecca. All of this has been so great for me!

I competed in my first triathlon and won my age division. (Old girls, but Stella still grooves!) I am new to the strength training, but I am learning so much, so quickly, that is good for my body. All those questions of going in a gym and not knowing what to do, how to use what equipment, or how to really eat well for my body are being answered. These questions are being answered quickly and with results! I am putting in the sweat and okay some pain, but I am seeing a leaner, stronger me!

Today I celebrated because I ran the Peachtree and had my best time in a while. I finished it in 1 hour and 5 minutes. That is right at 11 minute miles. That is okay for me. I am aiming to be strong, not fast. God blessed me with health and friends with which I was able to share the  experience again. The best investment I can make is in my own health. By investing in my own health I can be better for the other important people in my life for longer! I can be active with them and have fun!

I am looking forward to the year ahead as I anticipate the next Peachtree. I am working to get stronger! I am looking forward to working out with Fadi and Rebecca at My Fitness Solutions. In the next year, I should learn how to take care of my body and meet some physical goals that I didn't know how to meet without guidance and expertise. I have some additional triathlons and a marathon on the horizon. The goal is to be able to come back next year and be strong enough to enjoy the race again! Happy Fourth!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Food Plan: Imaginary dinner guest

So there was this girl and she went in a bar. Well, it wasn't really a bar. It was Macaroni Grill for my beautiful friend's 25th birthday! It wasn't really a girl, but a nice, older gal who is attempting to get in shape. It was fun to be out, but as soon as the waiter put the menu in front of me I thought okay here goes vacation day 1.

First, you get the vino menu. There was Sorrento Lemonades, Perfect Martinis, Savignon, and the popular drink of the night: Long Island Ice Tea. This was easy for me to get around. I am not a big drinker, and I had to drive myself home.

Then, they bring the bread. That bread really wanted to commune with me. It was the same size as my hand. I even considered putting a loaf in my bag, but I was dressed so I brought my little hand bag. Diet safe so far.

Now, the waiter brings THE MENU. I wasn't even hungry, but I came with a plan. No matter what I was not over eating so I put my plan in place. I pretended that I was sitting in between my trainer and the girl who was  on the front of this month's  Shape Magazine. I had decided early that I was going to eat what my imaginary dinner guests ate. (They didn't touch the bread.)  I looked over the menu. Really over it, like right past the pasta di mare, baked four cheese pasta, lasagna bolognese, and the mezzaluna pizza. I kept looking all the way  . . . to the warm spinach and shrimp salad.

The waiter brought it to me and it was beautiful! It really looked like a work of art. It looked so healthy and guilt-free! It was fresh and had boiled shrimp dribbled across the top. It was touched with just the right amount of olive oil and herbs. It was so tasty! I ate it, and I was full. (The Shape Magazine girl ordered the same thing. My trainer didn't eat, but went over in the corner and did crunches .)

I really enjoyed the company with my real life friends and my salad. Then the waiter brings the dessert menu and the coffee menu. He did. That took a lot of nerve don't you think? Did I want tiramisu or cheesecake? Then lots of coffees. Well, I looked and the Shape Magazine girl shook her head and said, "No thank you." I went with her. My trainer was now doing power jumps.

Day 1 vacation saved by my plan! Try taking them to dinner sometime. You make the healthy choices and leave guilt free. When you are in a restaurant you have to have a plan. When you are trying to eat healthy, you have to have a plan. If you don't, then you walk into a restaurant and you are too tempted by all those foods on the menu. Without an eating plan you find yourself hungry at 7:00 pm standing in front of the fridge or pantry thinking about what you want to eat. Then out of hunger, desperation, or maybe you are just exhausted from a busy day you reach for the first quick thing you can find. That  food item is probably not a good choice for you. That choice is not going to help you reach your goals.

Go ahead. Come up with a plan. We plan everything else in life don't we? I know where I will be on July 22nd at 11:00am. Why not a food plan? You don't have to invite imaginary friends with you everywhere, but it makes it more fun!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Taper: Peachtree Road Race

It is taper time. Tapering is the period before an event where an athlete just rests. We are born to move. Our natural inclination is to run and run hard. When we train for fitness we lace up, sweat and train hard every day. I have recently added strength training to swimming, biking, and running. All of this puts adequate stress on the body. Before an event an athlete lets the body regenerate and recover. Training regularly is stressful on the body and when you have an event, like the Peachtree Road Race, you want to be in "racing form." You want to show up rested and fed a bit of carbs, but not too much as to lose your fitness edge. It is almost ceremonial how an athlete knows how to prepare the body for an event and get in "racing form."

Racing form comes from horse racing. Before betting on a horse the gambler would check the form, or piece of paper that described how the horse was running. If the horse had competed well it was said that the horse was "on form."

I have another idea about how tapering works for horses and athletes. Athletes and horses get accustomed to working or stressing their bodies. Your body expects it. You become dependent on that burst of energy. Ask any committed athlete and they will tell you that when life catches them in a snare and they can't workout they miss it. If you take a race horse off of the track and he just grazes he begins to pine for a hard run on the track. He will hoof at the ground to let you know he is ready. He will take shorts gallops around the pasture. His body wants to run.

Runners are like this too. If you take us off the track or trail for a few days we also begin to miss it. We begin to process the energy and strength that we have bottled up to prepare to run. We want to run just like a race horse. Here is to happy tapering for the Peachtree Road Race!