Whole Life Challenge

New Beginnings at a New Gym

The gym I’ve been a member of for nearly a year was closed over the weekend. Which was weird, because it’s never closed. And that’s the thing: it was closed…unless you are a Mr. Olympia competitor. If you were one of those giant, perhaps chemically-helped folks competing at the Olympia tournament here in Las Vegas over the weekend? You could go in my gym and lift weights and get your photo taken. Without paying the same membership fees I pay.

I get it. My gym is filled with these giant people at all times. It is a destination for people with big muscles (and I’m not talking about myself, even though you might think I am). They paint themselves as a gym for the heavy lifters and the glamorous. The gym has a nightclub feel to it, especially at night when the lights are turned down low and the last great supply of black lights from the early 1990’s are turned on.

But I’d like to be able to work out when I want to work out. So when I go to the gym and it is closed to me because I am not a Mr. Olympia athlete, well, you can imagine it was not all that pleasing. So I asked the manager to refund me for the days the gym would be closed. It seemed only right. Here is what he said:

“It’s only a couple of days a year. You’ll survive.”

Really? I try to respond to things with understanding and peace these days. In The Four Agreements (my new best book in life), one of the tenets is “Don’t take anything personally.” But this one made the hot ginger blood in me start to boil.

So I canceled my membership immediately, and I drove over to Lifetime Fitness and signed up. I used to be a member of a Lifetime club in Katy, and I loved it. To this day, I’ve never had a better experience with a gym or fitness club. It is much more expensive than what I was paying, but when you consider all the things you get that other gyms don’t provide, it is a no-brainer. Plus, it’s just a gorgeous facility. You actually want to go work out, because you feel as though you are in a resort.

And one of the things I’ve discovered about myself is this: the more skin I have in the game, the more likely I’m going to be to utilize something to its fullest. That’s the way things are with the Whole Life Challenge. Because I paid $50 to enter that contest, my brain constantly tells me that I have to make sure I get my money’s worth. Lifetime Fitness is significantly more expensive than my old gym, but paying all that money each money will make me use it more than I ever would at a cheap gym.

And there are so many classes at Lifetime, too, and they are all included. Squash. Yoga. Hot yoga. Crossfit. Spinning. In short, there’s a class for everything, and they’re all included with the price of the gym. I started with a hot yoga class yesterday, and it will be part of my new routine (which I’ll list below, for those who are interested).

In short, I’m thrilled to be at Lifetime. My twice-a-day gym visits are much more pleasing now, which means I’m much more likely to keep doing it, even after the Whole Life Challenge draws to a close.

Below is my new routine. Not listed are the 5-6 dog walks I take Belle on each day; those tend to total about 6 miles of walking. This seems like a lot, but it is so very perfect for me. Focusing on these multiple daily sessions has helped me change my way of thinking in a drastic manner, and I believe yoga is going to help me take that to the next level.


Morning: Weight training (squats, bench press, barbell row)
Afternoon: Running

Morning: 6 mile walk
Afternoon: Hot yoga

Morning: Weight training (squats, overhead press, deadlift)
Afternoon: Spinning
Evening: Hot yoga

Morning: 6 mile walk
Afternoon: Swimming for distance

Morning: Weight training (squats, bench press, row)
Evening: Hot yoga

Morning: Restorative yoga

Morning: Walking

Health, Whole Life Challenge

One Week Back With Fitbit

Yesterday, I posted stats from my Fitbit for my first week back with the device since purchasing it last week. They weren’t complete (as I still had a bit of walking to do last night), so I deleted the post and am doing it over again, right now.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 8.04.46 AM

There you have it. 111,239 steps, which is a new weekly record for me, and by a wide margin. I believe my previous weekly record was somewhere around 89,000 steps. It is an average of 15,891 steps per day; my previous average was just over 11,000.

Needless to say, the concentrated effort I have made to get off my ass and go for regular walks or runs throughout the day and night is paying off. I go for a walk nearly every hour, and sometimes twice an hour if I need to clear my head of destructive thoughts. In the early morning hours, as summer turns to fall here in Vegas, I’ll take Belle for a short walk and then go for a 2 mile run. The wind is slightly chilly, though not nearly as chilly as I would like.

During the daytime, when the sun feels like I’m living in the actual Sahara instead of just on Sahara, I’ll go for a 2-3 mile walk at a fast pace. By the time I get back to the house, I am pouring sweat and in need of a shower. But I also feel good, because I am repeatedly accomplishing something I have never accomplished in my life.

51.23 miles is an average of 7.31 miles per day. My next goal is to get that up to 8 miles per day.

And more importantly than the walking: Today marks one month with no alcohol for me. Not a drop. I’ll be writing a longer blog post on this in the coming days, about alcohol and my relationship with it and what it means to me to have gone a full month without drinking. But I’ve got a busy few days coming up, so that one is going to have to wait. I want to do it right.

I did an “unofficial” weigh-in this morning, just to see what results all the strenuous activity I’ve been undertaking have brought me. I’m 198 pounds. Looking back on my Fitbit log (I also have the Fitbit Aria scale), on August 20th, I weighed in at 216.7 pounds. 18 pounds down. 28 pounds to go to get to my ultimate goal. And the best part? I am doing it eating healthy, clean and natural foods for every single meal.

Health and nutrition have been a welcome distraction for me during this time, but I am going to make sure it’s something that is part of my daily life from here on out. I feel fantastic, better than I ever have. I have energy and I sleep well at night (except for the fact that I wake up at 3:36 every morning; don’t know what that’s about), and I’m working two jobs (about to be three) and still kicking ass every day.

This is life. This is what I missed out on while I was addicted to Bronkaid for over five years. This is what I am rediscovering, and I am loving every moment of it.


IMG_4979That’s a pretty good day, I think. And it’s only 7 p.m., too – which means that after I walk the dog one more time, I’ll easily hit 10 miles and over 20,000 steps walked today.

UPDATE: I hit 20,000 steps. I didn’t hit 10 miles, but that’s okay. I’m exhausted. Today was a good day. Time to stretch and hit the hay.


Fitness, Whole Life Challenge

A Good Fitbit Day

Food, Health, Whole Life Challenge

Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips

Yams or sweet potatoes? I don’t know. I don’t care.

With the Whole Life Challenge officially starting tomorrow, I need snacks. Not right now. Tomorrow. And in the days that follow. Because, as we have already established, I have to be diligent about what I eat, or else I’ll end up at Arby’s with a piping-hot Big Montana.

(Yes, I know it’s no longer called the Big Montana. But that was the best name for a sandwich, ever, and it’s a whole lot cooler than just ordering a “large.” Seriously, Arby’s. That was a dumb thing, changing the Big Montana name.)

The malt vinegar was like $1.49 at Sprouts. And it has a British flag on it so you know it’s probably good.

I love chips. Potato chips, chips and salsa. Fish and chips. I love all kinds of chips, even when they are french fries. I love those weird Canadian flavor chips like All Dressed. I love chips. They were my go-to snack when I was on the road to getting as fat as possible, and I still love them. So I wanted a healthier alternative to potato chips, since I’m not eating potatoes or getting as fat as possible.

I decided to make baked sweet potato chips. And I decided to make them salt and vinegar, because it is a proven fact that salt and vinegar chips are the best kind of chips.

They kinda look like Pringles this way. Right? RIGHT?

So this is the recipe. It’s pretty easy. Get some sweet potatoes, some malt vinegar and some sea salt. Slice the potatoes thinly using a mandolin slicer, but remember not to cut your finger off. I say this because you probably will want that finger for something, eventually, so there is no point in cutting it off.

Throw all the slices in a bowl with some of the malt vinegar and olive oil, then spread them out on a cooking sheet lined with non-stick foil. Spray the foil down with cooking spray of some sort; I used olive oil. You can use whatever you want.

Throw them in the oven at 250 degrees for one hour. After an hour, pull them out and flip them over using a spatula. Put them back in the oven for an hour at 250, again.

And when that’s all done, pull those bad boys out and eat them and revel in the fact that you are eating delicious chips that will not also make you fat.



Whole Life Challenge

And the Whole Life Challenge Baseline Workout Results Are…

I woke up this morning, ready to rock and roll on my Whole Life Challenge baseline workout. I was excited. It felt a little like Christmas, because I knew today was the start of something awesome for my physical and mental health. I started eating correctly a few days ago, but today was the moment I would gauge my current fitness level with a test that could be repeated every so often to see how much progress I am making.

I took my before photos. This was not fun, as I had to take them shirtless and all of the hairs (on my head and on my chest and on my chin) were running in very different directions like a bunch of crazy little ginger people. But I took the photos, and now I’ll have another progress indicator to look back upon two months down the road.

No, I won’t be posting these photos on my blog. Not until after the contest, anyway.

Then I did the workout. I decided to opt against running 800m (1/2 mile) as I’d planned, because I wanted to be able to repeat this workout precisely every two weeks. My route was mapped out to end up back at my house; considering I’m moving out of this house on October 20, it didn’t make sense to try and repeat the same exact map. I’m only moving right around the corner, but it would still be a slightly different route due to my lack of wanting to avoid being shot by the people who will live here after I move out. They probably don’t want to wake up and find me doing air squats in their driveway. That might get weird.

So I decided to go with the 1000m rowing instead of of 800m walking, which meant I needed to head up to City Athletic Club’s Crossfit room. I stretched for a bit, and then I did the workout.

As a reminder, this is the workout:


Complete as many reps as possible (AMREP) in 11 minutes of:

800m Run (1/2 mile) (or 1,000m Row); followed by
75 Squats; followed by
50 Sit Ups; followed by
25 Push Ups; followed by
as many Burpees as possible in time remaining.

Count ALL reps completed in under 11 minutes (squats + sit ups + push ups + burpees) as your score.

1. If you complete all the squats (75) and 25 sit ups, your score would be 100.

2. If you complete all squats (75), sit ups (50), and push ups (25), plus 5 burpees, your score would be 155.

I honestly figured I would score below 100. I joked with my sisters that I would likely be scoring a 7, but that didn’t seem possible since the Whole Life Challenge scoring application won’t even let you put anything lower than a 20.


My fish oil (Barlean’s Omega Swirl) is delicious because it does not taste like liquid salmon. Buy it at Sprouts or Amazon

And then I did the workout, and I scored a 146. So I completed the 1000m row, 75 squats, 50 sit-ups and 21 pushups in 11 minutes. And yes, that’s far better than I figured I would do. For real. And the best part? I didn’t throw up on myself or anyone around me. I didn’t pass out. I did the workout, I laid on the floor and did some honest to goodness sweating, and then I came home and made a breakfast consisting of organic pork sausage and eggs. I took my fish oil. I feel great.

This is the start of a good day. I can feel it. My confidence is high, and that’s because I know I’m accomplishing many things. Physically, mentally, emotionally; I am in such a better place right now than I have been in a very long time, perhaps even five years. And though I know I have a long way to go before I reach my ultimate goals, I feel like I’m getting back to the core of who I actually am, and that is the best feeling I’ve had in a long, long time.