Friday, June 7, 2013

I Got Tested (A Bod Pod Experience)

I've been working with a nutrition coach who specializes in athletes and the first thing he recommended doing was to get my body composition tested.  Previously, I've tracked body fat using both calipers and BIA (those bodyfat scales you can use at home) and they both suck.  Calipers require a high degree of skill to use and only measure subcutaneous fat.  Even with an experienced tester, the margin of error is around 5%.  BIA has a margin of error around 8% and is greatly influenced by hydration levels.  Depending on the machine you have, BIA also only measures your lower body fat (scales) or your upper body fat (handheld devices).  Not to mention that you aren't supposed to consume caffeine for a week prior to BIA testing.  Eff.  That. 

For example, I would wake up and get on my fancy bathroom scale and get a reading of 40%.  I'd then use my handheld Tanita device and get a reading of 30%.  Then I'd go to the gym and one of the trainers would measure me to be 22% and another would measure me at 32%. 

I always told myself that it didn't matter what the actual numbers were; the trend is what was important.  But it's hard to see a trend when the margin of error is greater than the change.  (Did I really lose 5% body fat or is that part of the +/-8%?)

So anyways, my coach advised me to get a Bod Pod measurement.  Bod Pods have a 1% margin of error, which is similar to underwater weighing and DEXA scans, but is cheaper and easier.  Plus, being repeatedly dunked in water or bombarded with radiation just isn't my thing.  Google told me that a local university had a Bod Pod, so I called and made an appointment for Jason and I for that same week. 

Photo from

I was told to wear tight fitting Lycra shorts and a sports bra for the testing and not to eat or exercise for 3-4 hours before the test.  They said that normal hydration was okay, but I had read elsewhere not to drink anything 2 hours prior to the test. 

We got to the testing lab, donned a stylin' swim cap, and got weighed.  Then we sat in the Bod Pod, a big egg-shaped chamber that looked like something out of a B-list Sci-Fi movie.  The tester (who was a grad student in the Human Performance Lab) ran two tests with us just sitting in the machine.  We sat there, perfectly still, for about a minute while the pressure was changed inside the machine.  It wasn't uncomfortable or anything, but my ears felt a little funny.  Then, he repeated the test with us breathing into a tube so he could account for our lung volume.  This part was a little tricky.  The machine required us to breathe at a certain pace and then huff at the end.  Jason took three tries.  I, however, am excellent at breathing and nailed it on the first shot. 

We got dressed and got a printout of our results.  All to the tune of $25, each.  It took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  

Now about the results...  it is what it is.  As I said, my body fat numbers have been all over the place each time I've been tested before, so I really didn't have a certain number in my head.  These results are really just a starting point for my journey with my new coach.  I'll test again in 3 months and all that will matter is that the number goes down. 

This link will give you all the science of how a Bod Pod works (pdf). 
This link will take you to a Bod Pod site locator. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Run for the Dream Race Recap

The Run for the Dream 8k was held in historic Williamsburg at the College of William & Mary to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and An Achievable Dream.  The Wounded Warrior Project is one of my favorite charities, and I was really excited to be running for such a great cause with our Crossfit team.

Before the start of the race, Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon, gave a very moving speech about the bombings.  He said that his young son was at the finish line when it happened and his son later told him that he didn't want him directing the race anymore.  When he asked why, the son said because he wanted to direct it.  Running spirit, yo!

Normally, I don't really get nervous about races, but I did have my doubts that I would be able to finish this one.  Five miles isn't all *that* long, but I hadn't done any longish runs since I tore my meniscus last summer.  Not to mention it was already 75 degrees an hour before the race started.  I told my fellow Crossfitter, Cory, that I would run with him since he was a little worried about the race, too.

That worked for about 2 miles. 

I lost Cory.

Actually, I think Cory decided he didn't want to run with me anymore and was hiding, but either way, he was next to me one minute and gone the next.  I looked for him for a minute, then kept running.  I caught up with Coach Heather and her husband, Chris, and ran with them for a bit.  Heather hurt her leg last month and still finished the race.  Meanwhile, Chris was prancercising.  

The single best part of the race was when I passed Team Wounded Wear at mile 4.  The team was a group of soldiers in full gear carrying a "fallen soldier" for the entire race.  They were so inspiring that runners were stopping to cheer for them.

I went in to the race without a set goal.  I mean, I hoped to finish in under an hour, but since I had planned to run with Cory, I wasn't trying to beat the Garmin.  Surprisingly, I finished in 58:35, and that included Cory's potty break at mile 1.  Less than a 12:00 min/mi pace in 80 degree weather... I'll take it. 

Shortly after I finished, Louis Lodovico, the oldest runner in the race came across the finish line.  He is 89 and finished in 5 miles in 1:03:34.  How amazing is that?  When I grow up, I want to be just like him!  

The race, itself, was great.  The volunteers were friendly and the course was full of locals cheering us on.  Lots of food and beer was available after the race.  The BBQ alone was worth the race fee.  The bling wasn't bad, either.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How I Lost Seventy-Some Pounds

At least three times a week, someone asks me, "How did you lose the weight?"

The problem is that I don't have an answer: at least an answer that most people want to hear.  I didn't count calories.  I didn't drink shakes.  I didn't take pills.  I didn't stop eating any food groups.  (Those stories are for a different post.)  

I eat food.  Only food.  Real food. 

Revolutionary, right? 

Some people call it the Eat Clean Diet.  Others call it the Whole Foods Diet.  I guess that's fine if you like to put a name on it.  But I just eat food.

At this point, you may be saying to yourself, "But I eat food.  Lots of food!  Why haven't I lost any weight?"  Well, I hate to break it to you, but you probably aren't eating real food.

 Lean Cuisine.  Not real food.

100 Calorie Snack Packs.  Not real food.

Lemon flavored water.  Not real food.

Honestly, if it has an "ingredients" list on the back, it's probably not food. 

But how does eating real food make you lose weight?   What's the difference between eating 2000 calories of processed food and eating 2000 calories of real food?  A calorie is a calorie, right?  

Not really. 

Now, there's a whole slew of science that goes on in the body when you eat anything.  I could put my degree to good use and go into all the chemistry that goes on, but that's kind of beyond the scope of this post.  I do, however, recommend reading The Eat Clean Diet, The French Don't Diet, or Practical Paleo, as all three have great sections about the physiological effects of eating processed foods.  Or, you can always visit PubMed and read some studies if you're into that sort of thing.  (No worries; I won't judge your inner nerdiness). 

But what about the Twinkie Diet?  That proves you can eat processed foods and still lose weight, right? 

See, that's the terrible thing with science.  You get one "study" that goes viral and decades of other research goes right out the window.  ABC News has a pretty decent critique of the study in layman's terms that is worth the read.  Basically, weight loss doesn't always equate with improved health.  Plus, a low-calorie junk food diet is hard to maintain over the long run.

"The impact of an unhealthy diet is felt in years, not weeks."

So, what do you actually eat? 

Everything.  A typical breakfast is uncured bacon, pastured eggs, and my favorite pumpkin pancakes made with real maple syrup.  Lunch is often a grass-fed burger with a baked sweet potato (topped with real pastured butter) and a green smoothie.  Dinner may be fish or a steak with roasted beats, broccoli, and squash.  My favorite snack is dark chocolate with crystallized ginger or homemade custard made with raw milk.

Really, though, these are just a few examples.  There's very little I can't eat.  Instead of potato chips, I fry sweet potato slices in coconut oil.  Instead of boxed cake mix, I make one from scratch with eggs, butter, and almond flour.  It really doesn't take any more time to bake from whole ingredients.

I am never hungry and I am never deprived.  I still eat ice cream, burgers, pizza, and chocolate.  I don't count calories; yet, I've still managed to lose weight.  Not only have I lost over 70 lbs, I've kept it off for two years.  And the great thing is, everyone can eat real food.  It doesn't matter if you're vegan, low-carb, paleo, vegetarian, etc.  All you have to do is stop eating the fake processed foods (ie. vegan hot-dogs and low-carb bread) and eat real food instead. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day Murph

Happy Memorial Day!  This weekend, gyms across the country will be doing Murph, in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy seal killed in action in 2005.  Please take a few minutes to watch this video of Lt. Murphy posthumously being awarded the Medal of Honor. 

The story is that this is the workout that Lt. Murphy did almost every day when deployed to Afghanistan.  Oh, except he was also wearing a weighted vest.  Thankfully, we only have to do this WOD once a year (weighted vest optional).  Now, the Crossfit website says to partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed (such as doing 10 rounds of 10, 20, and 30), but our Coach Heather is a big meanie-head and made us finish each exercise before moving on to the next.  Strangely, a feel like more of a badass not breaking up the WOD, so maybe Heather knows what she's doing afterall.  ;-)

I finished in 55:00 minutes using black and blue bands for the pull-ups.  The worst part was definitely the push-ups.  All of our WODs this week have been very shoulder heavy and my stamina just wasn't there.  Jes kept cheering me on and telling me to do just 5 at a time.  After I finished, I did the final lap with Cory and Vanessa.  I'm so proud that they didn't stop.  #beastmode

Everyone totally rocked it!  So much that this was the best we could do for our "goofy" picture. 

Photos courtesy of Heather at Profound Crossfit

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

I've mentioned these pancakes before, but I thought it was time to actually share my recipe. 

paleo pumpkin pancakes zomg nom

So I know that there a hundreds of paleo pancake recipes out there, but I really like this one because it doesn't use any flour at all.  Coconut and almond flour is super expensive, yo! 

Now, the key to this recipe is the quality of ingredients.  I use both pastured eggs and pastured butter and real Grade B maple syrup.  Fresh pumpkin is awesome, but canned pumpkin works, too.

This recipe is adapted this recipe from Practically Paleo, but I played with the spices since the original recipe was a bit too bland for me.  The ginger gives it a nice kick while keeping it kid-friendly. 

The brands I use are linked in the recipe, and no, I'm not an Amazon affiliate.

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes  
(Makes 2 servings / 8 small pancakes)

4 eggs
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp melted butter 

Mix all ingredients together until completely blended.  Heat pan or griddle to 300 degrees.  Pour approximately 1/4 c of batter for each pancake and let cook until firm. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


My Inner Fit Chick is now on Facebook.  This works out great because a lot of stuff I want to share doesn't really need its own blog post.  So, feel free to join us!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Super Smoothie

I've been drinking green smoothies for years, but I finally found the PERFECT recipe.  I've branched out and now I use a spinach/kale/chard mix (usually Earthbound Organics Power Greens).  I used to use fresh fruit, but frozen fruit tends to be cheaper and easier to work with.  No more rinsing and slicing.  I also don't need to add ice when I use frozen, so one less ingredient.  I've also started adding coconut oil, because, well, coconut oil is just full of awesome.  Just a bit of local, raw honey provides some sweetness.  Oh, and did I mention that raw honey is a superfood?  A scoop of green powder rounds it out.  It really only takes a minute to throw the ingredients in a blender and the kids absolutely love it. 

 The brands I use are linked in the recipe, and no, I'm not an Amazon affiliate.  

Super Smoothie (Makes 2 Servings)
4 cups leafy greens
1 cup frozen berries
1 banana
1 tsp honey
1 cup water