July 9th, 2012

How I Lost My Personal Trainer

Long-time Libra Fitness client, Candy Beauchamp, shares her weight-loss journey and the role her Libra Fitness trainer played in helping her find herself again. We are so honored to have her as a client and friend and are grateful for her willingness to share her story in the hope that it will inspire others to take that first step towards being kind to themselves.

by Candy Beauchamp

I recently lost my personal trainer–and gained so much more in doing so.

I spent the last 30 years moving from overweight to super morbidly obese. I struggled with my weight for three decades, trying every diet known to man. I even started walking (half-heartedly).  I told myself I couldn’t help it, it was genetic, it wasn’t my fault… I wasn’t losing weight, so I’d give up and eat half of a pizza or a pint of ice cream. I was stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle.

A little over three years ago, things changed.  I met, connected with, and became a client of a personal trainer. Chris is the most amazing woman on the planet, a trainer brave enough to take on a morbidly obese client. Keep reading →

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March 9th, 2012

5 Simple Steps for Making Vegetable Stock from Scratch


by Chris Heidel

For whatever reason, I let the idea of making my own vegetable stock/broth intimidate me, so I continued to spend $2 or more for 32 ounces  of organic stock almost every time I shopped. Finally, I decided to give it a try when I saw a blog post suggesting that I simply freeze scraps from my CSA veggie box until I had enough to make the stock with. That seemed logical.

I was pretty picky about what I kept, so it took me about two weeks to fill a gallon-sized freezer bag. Finally, I took out my frozen scraps and made an incredible stock. I am almost embarrassed by how easy it was. Then I started reading more stock recipes and realized that I could save all kinds of scraps I had not considered AND that there were some “must haves” and some potential “pitfalls.” I summarized the best ideas from several blog posts here. I put links to all of the referenced blog posts below. Check out the links for some great tips.

5 Simple Steps for Making Vegetable Stock from Scratch:
Step 1. Whenever you prepare food, save your preferred scraps (see “Keep” and “Avoid” lists below). Store in a gallon freezer bag or storage container in your freezer, adding additional scraps as acquired. Keep reading →

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January 30th, 2012

Is Getting Fit a New Year’s Resolution? You Might Want to See a Chiropractor First

At Libra Fitness, we encourage our clients to consider chiropractic care when they experience joint or muscle pain that does not resolve on its own. In such cases, we work closely with the client’s Chiropractor to ensure that we modify the training program in order to help improve (or not aggravate) their condition. However, you may not want to wait until you have pain to see a Chiropractor. Libra Fitness works closely with local Chiropractor Diane Shigley, D.C. and welcomes her guest blog on this topic.

by Diane Shigley, D.C.

Nothing derails your best efforts to exercise and get fit faster than a painful injury. You’re motivated, taking action, and past the initial soreness and out-of-breath feeling. Maybe you’re starting to see results, doing more reps, lifting more weight, running faster and longer; you’re feeling good about yourself and your training. Then a painful injury stops you. Injuries can be sudden and involve large traumatic forces; you trip and fall while running; you drop a dumbbell on your foot. These injuries are obvious, accidental, and sometimes unpreventable.

Other types of injury are subtle, often occurring over time. They show up as pain in the neck, back, shoulders, hips, knees, or anywhere. Any joint, tendon, or muscle of the body can be affected. These are often a result of joint misalignment and muscle imbalance and can be screened by a good Chiropractor before you start your training regime. The Chiropractor can help correct these problems and alert you to the type of exercises that help you and which exercises to avoid. If you’re using a personal trainer, your Chiropractor can work with them and make suggestions about strengthening certain muscle groups (or what to avoid) to correct your condition. Your trainer can then modify your training program accordingly.

But what if you don’t have any pain or problems? Why should you see a Chiropractor before you start exercising? You could have joint misalignments and muscle imbalances that aren’t being stressed by your sedentary job and lifestyle so they don’t hurt. In fact, misalignments and imbalances are often caused or made worse by your inactive lifestyle. Then biomechanical loading of the joints and tendons through weights or resistance exercises and the repetitive movements of cardio training can stress the compromised joints and tendons and make other joints, muscles, and tendons compensate resulting in inflammation and pain.

Keep reading →

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August 27th, 2011

A Glass Half Full-A Gift in the Midst of Turmoil

by Chris Heidel

Update: Our daughter ultimately raised over $5000 for TSRHC and was one of the top 10 fundraisers! TSRHC is now taking insurance, but they will still never turn any child away due to inability to pay, and now they will be able to help even more kids.

We were shocked to discover-the day AFTER I opened my gym-that one of our daughter’s legs was an inch-and-a-half shorter than the other. She had been complaining of hip/leg pain for a few days, but she was 7 and tended toward drama, so we ignored her. Besides, we were busy getting everything finalized for the grand opening of the gym. When we finally took the time to LOOK at her legs, we were horrified. Several doctor visits, three weeks of bed rest, a wheel chair, prayers, and crossed fingers followed. Luckily, a referral to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC) in Dallas was also in the mix. That was March/April of 2009. At TSRHC, Maya was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes, a childhood hip disorder where the ball of the thighbone in the hip doesn’t get enough blood, causing the bone to deteriorate. Eventually, part of it collapsed, causing the leg length discrepancy. After a while, the blood supply returned, and she recovered. In December 2010, she required surgery, also at TSRHC. The hospital is simply amazing, providing top-notch, cutting-edge care for FREE to Texas resident children with orthopedic (and a few other) issues.

Keep reading →

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July 20th, 2011

Calories in, Calories out…True, to a Point

by Chris Heidel

It’s not erroneous to say, “In the end, it’s fewer calories in, more calories out for weight loss,” but it’s important to understand the science behind calories and how they work and how to make little tweaks in your regimen so that you can see the weight loss results you are looking for. I just read a great article on this topic on active.com (via Men’s Health). I also read a good article on SparkPeople specifically regarding alcohol calories. I HIGHLY encourage you to read both articles, but I will summarize the main points below:

1. 100 calories of veggies does not = 100 calories of cookies. LF Note: Don’t believe me? Ask Weight Watchers. They recently revamped their points allocation with PointsPlus.

2. Digestion burns calories. Your body requires 20 to 30 calories to burn 100 calories of protein, only 5 to 10 for carbs.

3. More fiber = fewer calories absorbed. Fiber fills you up AND helps block calorie absorption in the digestive tract. Bonus!

4. You don’t really burn that many calories exercising. WHAT? 60-70% of calories are used just to keep you alive. On top of that, just making an effort to move more may burn more calories than working out for 30 minutes.

5. Cut out sugar, but don’t just switch to food with sugar substitutes. The promise to your body of sugar calories without actually consuming them can lead to overeating. Your body gets ready for it, and then you never deliver. Now, you are REALLY hungry. Regular consumption of low-calorie sweeteners can increase your risk of obesity by 40%.

6. Alcohol is your weight loss enemy. The body sees it as a toxin and processes it first, opting to store available food calories as fat. Also, alcohol has 7 calories per gram with little nutritional value. Alcoholic drinks can have lots of sugar, lower your resolve to eat healthy, etc.

So now what? Well, to your current regimen, add the following: Keep reading →

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May 4th, 2011

Letting Go, Holding On

by Chris Heidel

Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding on to.” –Anonymous

The Challenge

In March, I challenged myself to give up something for Lent: my serious Facebook addiction. So, for 40 days, I managed to let it go. I continued updating my Libra Fitness Facebook page, and I snuck a peek at a few things over those 6 weeks, but for the most part, I went cold-turkey. The first week was really hard, but after that, it was merely annoying. Who knew Facebook had been my lifeline to the outside world? It was how I got my news, how I stayed up-to-date on my friends’ lives, how I planned my social life. So, I spent about 30 of the 40 days mostly being annoyed, resentful, and uninformed. It was not until after Lent that the power of what I had done hit me. Keep reading →

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March 16th, 2011

Compost: Plant Food and You

by Willie McIntosh

365/66 California Compost

My name is Willie, and I build compost bins. Compost is cheaper and healthier than many other fertilizing methods, and your plants will love it. Composting breaks down organic waste and turns it into nutrient rich dirt. Your compost pile can lower your garbage impact and nourish your garden efficiently and naturally.

Getting started composting is a very easy process, and anyone can do it.

First, you must stockpile some good compostable material. This can be almost any plant matter, as long as it’s not oily or waxy. You’ll want around 9-10 cubic feet of compost to start because you want enough room and enough nutrients for your colony of microorganisms to take up residence.

Next, you’ll need a compost bin; you can buy one or build it yourself. Using a bin keeps animals out and helps composting take up less space and work more efficiently. Also, harvesting can be a breeze with a good design.

Keep reading →

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February 23rd, 2011

The Spirituality of Food

by Chris Heidel
Cornucopia underway 5Consider your relationship with food. Could you call it spiritual; or do you find that it is either antagonistic and guilt-ridden, or ambivalent? What if you could harness the spiritual power of food? We come close by including food in various celebrations and traditions; but in our daily lives, most of us fail to avail ourselves of the myriad opportunities to connect intimately with food. Some may assume that such a connection implies adhering to some sort of restrictive diet, but that misses the point completely.

At church on Sunday, I was excited to learn that the congregation, led by our Social Action Committee is embarking on a one-month spiritual food journey in March. The programming is comprehensive and includes Sunday morning service and religious education elements, food and human/animal relationship movies, field trips to the community garden and a farmer’s market, shared meals, cooking classesfood bank service and other social action, and gardening opportunities for adults and children. At the end, the congregation will gather for a final meal to celebrate all that we have learned. The goal of the journey is not to get the congregation to eat “healthier” or in any particular way. Rather, the goal is to get us, in community, to think about our relationship with food and the personal, local, and global impact of this relationship, which will allow us to begin making more educated, conscious choices that feed us, the local community, and the world in body, mind, and spirit.

To begin a food journey of your own or with a group, consider the following with regard to your food choices:

Keep reading →

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December 22nd, 2010

The Benefits of Hiring a Personal Trainer

Not everyone needs or wants a personal trainer.  For those who do, there are many potential benefits, but no trainer is one-size-fits-all. The right fit is important. At Libra Fitness, we cater to Austin, TX clients who want to build a supportive, encouraging relationship with a trainer in a non-threatening, quiet, and caring in-home environment. If this sounds like the type of personal training experience that would help you meet your goals, contact us! In this post, guest blogger Jillian Gile outlines the myriad benefits of hiring a personal trainer.

by Jillian Gile

Some of the most fit and visible people have personal trainers – celebrities obviously spring to mind. But you don’t need to be a red-carpet star in order to take advantage of the many benefits of a personal trainer. Gyms have trainers available for hire for a reason. Their purpose is to help and support you – so why not give an introductory package a try? Below are some great benefits if you do!

• Get started.

Your trainer can, and will, help you with this! When you start any exercise regimen, you’ll find disclaimers that say “check with your health professional before starting.” This means consulting with your doctor to make sure you don’t overdo it. But, trainers are health professionals, too, certified in the correct way to exercise. They can assist you so you achieve your goals with less risk of injury. Trainers are also a great resource for exercises and diet tips that work.

• Get started, part two.

A personal trainer can not only ensure that you don’t hurt yourself and motivate you to start your program, but if you are an absolute novice, there is no one better to show you how to use that strange piece of equipment. Becoming something of an expert yourself, by learning from the best, will motivate you to keep up your regimen.

Keep reading →

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July 2nd, 2010

The Boys of Summer

by Chris Heidel

So, I was all ready to write my pre-Tour de France summary, then I read Elliott McFadden’s post over at Austin on Two Wheels, and decided he had covered it all plus added some great inbedded links and video for extra info! Take a moment to read his article, especially if you are a novice Tour de France fan. Oh, and if you are wondering where I am for the next month, I’m watching my boys of summer on the big screen over at Versus. Head on over. I’ll show you the ropes.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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June 28th, 2010

Get More Bang for Your Buck: Interval Training

by Chris Heidel

Are you spending 60 minutes, 5 days per week exercising at a moderate pace on your favorite piece of gym equipment? If so, you could be wasting a lot of time and not getting the cardiovascular or weight loss results you are looking for. No matter what your fitness level, consider adding fitness interval training to your cardio plan to shorten your workouts and improve your results.

Fitness interval training combines periods of light to moderate-intensity cardio with high-intensity cardio for a workout that typically lasts 20 to 30 (but up to 60 or more) minutes, including warm-up and cool-down. By emphasizing all of the body’s energy systems, you are able to effectively burn both fat and carbohydrates, enhance total caloric burning at the cellular level, and increase your post-workout calorie burn.

Sample Fitness Interval Training Program

Note: If you are using a machine, use the “manual” setting, not the “interval” setting, and adjust the levels as your workout progresses according to the desired intensity. I also highly recommend using a heart rate monitor. As always, do not start any new fitness program without first getting clearance from your doctor. Keep reading →

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June 18th, 2010

Soccer: So Much More Than a Game

NTX Stars at the 2009 Homeless USA Cup in DC

by Chris Heidel

Typically, when an event captures the attention of the whole world, it tends to be one tragedy or another. Thankfully, we periodically have the opportunity to participate in global community via a sporting event: the Olympics, the Tour de France, and, currently, the World Cup. Is it possible that we can find a way to translate the goodwill and community we feel during these times into our everyday lives? Better yet, can we use that energy to empower those less fortunate than we are? That is precisely what the North Texas Stars street soccer team in Ft. Worth, Texas accomplishes every week, transforming the lives of the homeless through soccer while bridging the gap between a misunderstood and often ignored population and the rest of the community. Keep reading →

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June 8th, 2010

Every Breath You Take

Here lately, I’ve been seeing catchy billboards advertising Hotmail’s current “New Busy” ad campaign. “The New Busy Don’t Need a Desk to Get Things Done.” “The New Busy Make Pancakes Into Exotic Animal Shapes.” It’s a great campaign in that it really got my attention, so it’s taken me a couple of weeks to figure out why it bugs me so much. Keep reading →

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June 1st, 2010

How to Be a Fitter Parent

We all know that lack of time is the number one excuse people give for not working out. We also know that we must lead by example if we want our children to develop healthy exercise habits, especially in light of the alarming stats on childhood obesity. So what’s a busy parent to do? Serious ultra runner and mom, Marla Hernandez, shares her fit parenting story with Libra Fitness.

by Marla Hernandez

I am a single, working mom and an ultra runner (i.e., I often run distances much longer than a marathon). I know that sounds impossible, and people often ask me how I find the time to train. My reply is that I have to steal time to train. But truthfully, I make the time. When I am consistently working out and taking care of myself, I feel better. And, inadvertently, I am a better mom. Keep reading →

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May 18th, 2010

10 Tips for Injury-Free Running

Running is one of the most popular cardiovascular exercises. It’s relatively simple, requires very little equipment, and can be done almost anywhere. The downside is that running is also a high-impact activity that is more likely than other activities to lead to injury. So how do marathon runners avoid injury? This guest post was written by one of my best friends who also happens to be an ultra-marathon runner.

by Marla Hernandez

Here are my favorite tips for getting the most out of your running training and staying injury free.

#1 Cross train. Cross training will help you maintain your cardiovascular fitness, keep your entire body strong, and give your joints a break. I ride the bike, swim, and do the elliptical, as well as run. Keep reading →

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May 12th, 2010

Pilates (3 of 3): Libra Fitness’ Experience at JoyMoves Pilates Studio

This is the third of three posts in my Pilates series. Follow these links to view the first two posts:

Pilates (Part 1 of 3): Pilates Day May 1, 2010: It’s FREE!!
Pilates (Part 2 of 3): What is Pilates?

As part of my research for this series of posts, I decided to try the free introductory “JumpStart” class at JoyMoves Pilates Studio, one of Austin’s most well-respected studios and a three-time winner of the Best of CitySearch Award for Pilates. After my session, Steve Goldstein, JoyMoves Co-owner, graciously allowed me to interview him and provided invaluable information for this series.

JoyMoves is located in the Westlake Hills area of Austin, near Barton Creek Square Mall. The second-story studio is clean and beautiful with windows looking out into the trees. The class was about 45 minutes long. It was challenging, but very doable for a beginner like myself. My friend who came with me has several physical limitations, but the instructor (and JoyMoves co-owner), Shoshana Goldstein, quickly modified each move for her, as needed. My friend definitely felt sore afterward, but she was excited that she was able to keep up and feel strong throughout the class. Keep reading →

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May 4th, 2010

Pilates (Part 2 of 3): What is Pilates?

This is the second of three posts in my Pilates series. The first post let you know about the free Pilates classes available every year on Pilates Day (typically the first Saturday in May). This post outlines what Pilates is and how you can benefit from it as an exercise practice. The third post in the series will detail my own personal experience taking a Pilates class at JoyMoves Pilates Studio, one of Austin’s most well-respected boutique Pilates studios. Many thanks to Steve Goldstein of JoyMoves for allowing me to interview him for this series.

Pilates is a popular form of mind-body exercise based on the rehabilitation techniques of Joseph Pilates. Pilates utilizes various pieces of apparatus incorporating the use of springs, straps, and other tools, along with body weight, to allow the student to perform resistance exercises in a range of motion that most people would consider moderate stretching. Pilates is a safe, low-impact, mildly aerobic, whole-body exercise practice that is beneficial for almost anyone. Keep reading →

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April 28th, 2010

Pilates (Part 1 of 3): Pilates Day May 1, 2010-It’s FREE!!


Libra Fitness is excited to present the first post in a three-part series on Pilates. Pilates is a popular form of mind-body exercise based on the rehabilitation techniques of Joseph Pilates. Pilates utilizes various pieces of apparatus incorporating the use of springs, straps, and other tools along with body weight to allow the student to perform resistance exercises in a range of motion that most people would consider moderate stretching. Pilates is a safe, low-impact, mildly aerobic, whole-body exercise practice that is beneficial for almost anyone. Keep reading →

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April 7th, 2010

Social Riding: The Accidental Cyclist

A few weeks ago I was able to meet for coffee with Elliott McFadden, probably one of the most knowledgeable people in Austin when it comes to cycling infrastructure, bicycle commuting, etc. Elliott heads up Austin on Two Wheels, a local blog working to keep Austinites abreast of all issues bike-related in town. He is also the owner of Violet Crown Cycles, where he will hand build you a custom city bike for your transportation needs. Have you seen ‘em? They’re SWEET, but I digress.

Elliott and I spent the afternoon talking about his latest idea for a new cycling venture with partner Keith Byrd of Social Cycling ATX (another leader in the Austin cycling scene). The plan is to open a “new concept bike store in Austin dedicated to the simple pleasure of riding with friends, not competition or workouts.” The store would be a place for social cycling rides like those already put on by Social Cycling ATX to leave from while also offering a line of products, including bikes, to meet the needs of the social rider in Austin. Keep reading →

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March 30th, 2010

Bikram Yoga is So HOT!


I am forever looking for interesting activities to recommend to my clients to complement the work we do in the Libra Fitness gym. Helping people find activities that they enjoy can be challenging. So, this year, I am making it a point to explore some of the unique options available, but I don’t have time to try them all! So, I was excited to hear that my friend-and incredibly funny writer-Mary Jo Pehl had tried Bikram yoga. She was more than happy to write a piece for the Libra Fitness blog about it.

by Mary Jo Pehl

I am miserable: I am sweating, in great discomfort, and contorted beyond what I ever thought possible for myself, and what’s more, I’ve paid for the privilege. I love Bikram yoga.
Keep reading →

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March 18th, 2010

My Resolution Garden in Pictures

Growing your own vegetables sounds so romantic, so organic, so local, so terrifying! I’ve even done it successfully before, and I was terrified of trying again after ten years. In May 2009, my husband made me these great 4′ x 4′ square-foot gardening boxes for Mother’s Day. I summarily did absolutely nothing with them:

In January 2010, I happened to see my old friend Johnny Barnett at Wheatsville Co-op. When I found out he was working for Resolution Gardens, my interest was piqued. I had heard about the services they offered, but I hadn’t really looked into the details. Resolution Gardens will do as much or as little as you want them to from just getting you set up with planting boxes and starter plants and seeds to weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting once a week! They can even build a fence around your garden to keep your dog out. If you want to get all crazy, they’ll put in a fountain or a sculpture. Check out their services on their website, and check out their garden next time you are at Wheatsville.
Keep reading →

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March 8th, 2010

Which Came First – Commitment or Motivation?


In our Libra Fitness workshop Maximizing Wellness by Rearranging Your Toolbelt, Dr. Lynn Zipoy talks about commitment versus motivation. So often we wait for the motivation to come, but is that really the way to bring about significant change in our lives? Here, speaker and confidence coach, Donna L. Johnson, shares her thoughts on this topic. What gets you moving?

by Donna L. Johnson

We’re three months into 2010. Have you kept the goals and resolutions you so eagerly set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

Have you ever stopped to think why you can’t stay motivated to do the things that once excited you? Or maybe you didn’t have any motivation to begin with. Could that be the problem?

Motivation to do something is what gets you started. Commitment is what makes you follow through – long after the motivation is gone.
Keep reading →

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February 8th, 2010

Pageant With a Purpose

So many people, successful as they may be, have insecurities and self-doubts that originate, in part, from a lack of confidence or self-esteem that has haunted them since their youth. I am no exception. I see it in my clients on a daily basis, and many times it has manifested itself as a weight issue or a negative relationship with food. I believe that anything that we can do to help young people build the self confidence it takes to feel fabulous in the skin they are in can only be a good thing. That’s why I am so excited about the Miss Black Central Texas Pageant that takes place in Austin on Sunday, February 28, 2010.
Keep reading →

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February 2nd, 2010

Don’t Let Business Travel Derail Your Healthy Lifestyle

Several of my clients travel frequently on business. They struggle to stick with their exercise routines and eat well while on the road. However, the trick is not to try to do it all but to find small ways that work for you to incorporate as many healthy elements as you can while on your trip. When we choose to make a good decision during difficult moments, we know that are making progress.

This week, I blog about Honoring a Healthy Lifestyle When You Must Travel on Business for The Work at Home Woman. Keep reading →

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January 26th, 2010

Ethan Moore’s Food Story: A Sugar Monkey on My Back

Ethan Moore Picture

Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, crystalline fructose: whatever your favorite delivery system is, refined sugars are wreaking havoc on our health. Sugar addiction is real, and its effects have severe health consequences.

Writer Ethan Moore follows up on his review of “Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days” for Libra Fitness by telling us about his own food story, especially his current struggle with sugar consumption. Let us know if you identify with Ethan’s story by commenting below.

Check out Ethan’s blog: Ethan’s Essays: Reflections on Life (Often Through a Funhouse Mirror). (While Ethan’s articles cover a range of subjects, many humorous, his blog does have one series of health related articles. Ethan is in fact soliciting reader input for this series.) You can also follow Ethan on Facebook or contact him via ethan@vesperfire.com.


I am not diabetic, but I do have three components of the Metabolic Syndrome, which is a frequent precursor to type-2 diabetes. My father had similar issues and eventually did develop type-2 diabetes. I am clearly at very high risk for becoming diabetic myself. I have become determined not to let that happen. Keep reading →

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January 20th, 2010

Ethan Moore Reviews “Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days”

Ethan Moore Picture

On January 10, 2010, Libra Fitness hosted a showing of the movie “Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days.” Our goal in showing this film was to expose people to how much what we eat affects our health. Eating all raw foods (i.e., uncooked plant food not heated to higher than 116 °F) is probably not realistic for most people, but what if you doubled your raw food intake? What if you cut your sugar intake by a third? This movie makes you think about all of that. Ethan Moore attended the event and gives his impressions here. If you have not seen the movie, we highly recommend that you purchase a copy and host a showing for your friends and family or attend an upcoming showing in your area.

Ethan Moore is a writer, currently focusing on short essays and articles on a wide range of topics, frequently humorous.

He has also been, at times, an entrepreneur, a photographer, a programmer, a web designer, a scientist, and a teacher and tutor — but no matter what, he’s always a gentleman and a scholar.

Check out Ethan’s blog: Ethan’s Essays: Reflections on Life (Often Through a Funhouse Mirror). You can also follow him on Facebook or contact him via ethan@vesperfire.com.


I participated in Libra Fitness’s recent showing of “Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days”.

Trailer for Simply Raw

The simplest endorsement I can give is to tell you that after seeing it I immediately ordered a copy of the DVD as a gift for my father, who has type 2 diabetes.

Prior to seeing the movie, I saw Woody Harrelson and Anthony Robbins listed prominently in the credits for it, and I became a little dubious. I feared it would feature a lot of cheer-leading and artificially created drama. Fortunately this fear was unfounded. Woody Harrelson appears only briefly to discuss his own experiences with a raw food diet, and Anthony Robbins has just two tiny snippets concerning change and motivation. The two together probably only take up a single minute of the ninety-two minute movie. Presumably somebody felt they were needed to give the movie “star power”.

The real stars of the movie are the six people, all diabetic, who agree to go to a remote clinic in Arizona to eat only raw foods for thirty days. They are a diverse group, in age, race, origin, and personality. They are all motivated by the fear that diabetes will shorten their lives and by frustration with the regimen of treating diabetes with traditional medications and insulin injections.

A raw food diet is even more restrictive than vegan; it means nothing but unprocessed and uncooked plant foods. The subjects are fed this diet by specialist gourmet chefs at the clinic, who also teach them preparation methods for these foods. They are overseen constantly by medical personnel (and, obviously, film crews).

Some of them experience phenomenal gains very quickly, dropping all their medications and insulin within days. Others have less success at first. Most of them struggle through a period of detoxification as their body purges the remnants of their previous diet and adapts to the new one. You come to like these people enough to root for them and be disappointed by their failures. But I found these failures made the program more real. No one is pretending even for an instant that this is easy.

They follow two of the subjects briefly after they leave the clinic. I would like to have seen more of this, more of all of their struggles to maintain this diet out in the world. Perhaps the makers feared that showing some failing at this would undercut the message or bolster skeptical claims that this is impractical to implement. Certainly it is not easy, but the subjects they do follow show it is possible. We see one of them, a young man, invite his family to dinner, and the expressions on the faces of his older, overweight relatives as they look at the food he serves are comic. Tragedy appears too however, when one of his guests with kids says “Oh, those kids won’t eat food like that!” She had gotten them McDonalds instead. Thus the cycle is perpetuated.

Julie McAllisterThe movie was followed by a brief discussion of preparing raw foods by Julie McAllister of Healing Inside. She also demonstrated how remarkably easy making fruit and vegetable juices is with a good juicer.

(Both Libra Fitness and Healing Inside have additional books and resources on raw foods.)

I found the movie worthwhile. I suppose I could have learned more in the same amount of time by reading a book on raw foods, but I doubt a book could ever have the emotional appeal necessary to inspire such a radical dietary shift. This story could. The ultimate question after such a movie is, “Would you try a raw food diet?”

I find that I cannot answer that yet. The subject’s diets before-hand ranged from the horrific to the merely bad. I thus can’t help but wonder if a less radical shift might have achieved similar results eventually. What if they had been put on a diet full of organic fruits and vegetables, some cooked and some raw, along with modest amounts of organic complex grains and organic free-range meat and dairy? Would that have worked, or could their past excesses only be balanced out by moving to the other extreme? That question is beyond the purview of this movie, yet the movie immediately inspires it.

I am genetically disposed towards type 2 diabetes and want to avoid it. I have been slowly moving toward the broader diet I suggest above, but one necessary step has been very difficult. In next week’s blog entry, I will tell my food story, the story of my current struggle to contain my excessive sugar consumption. I hope and believe that these dietary changes should be enough for me to stave off type 2 diabetes. But if they aren’t, then the movie “Simply Raw” has shown me the next step to take.

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January 1st, 2010

What Shall I Wear?

Believe it or not, having workout gear that is functional and that you feel comfortable in is a critical component of helping you stick with your exercise routine, especially for women. Fellow momprenuer friend, Michelle Rodriguez with Well Styled, invited Karen Shopoff Roof of Balance Personal Fitness Training and myself to share our thoughts on the best fitness gear. Above all else, you need to be comfortable and confident in your workout attire. Be sure to read Michelle’s most recent blog post to get the full scoop! Feel free to leave a comment if you have additional tips to share with her readers.

By the way, if you need wardrobe help or if shopping completely intimidates you, Michelle can help you figure out what to buy, what to toss, and what you can reinvent. Check out her services on her website for more information.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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December 31st, 2009

To Resolve or Not to Resolve

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So, all week I’ve been avoiding writing what seems like a no-brainer post about New Year’s resolutions. Given that I work in the fitness industry, I should have been milking this marketing opportunity for all it’s worth for the last month. A friend called this week and said, “You must be gearing up for being swamped in January!” No, not really. There’s something about New Year’s resolutions that has always felt a little artificial. Although I always make them myself, something about them never quite feels right. I always feel a little guilty that I didn’t make the change sooner. I shouldn’t need a contrived holiday tradition in order to choose to make a change in my life. I almost feel obligated. “Everybody’s doing it.” So the idea of preying on other people’s guilt in order to get more clients just seems wrong.

Please don’t misunderstand. I would like, and need, more clients, but so far my clients have come to me in their own time, when they are really ready to make a change. There is a mental shift that happens for them when they have decided that the time is now, no more waiting to put themselves first. It has nothing to do with an arbitrary date on the calendar. It comes from within. It is a joy for me to honor that, and I am blessed to get to go along for the ride.

All of that being said, if getting in shape, eating better, or otherwise improving your overall wellness is one of your resolutions, I salute you and wish you my best. Just do me a favor. Do it for YOU and not just because it’s January 1st and you feel obligated or guilty. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself if you stumble along the way. If you need some help, I’m here. Just give me a call.

And…if you are determined to make resolutions but aren’t sure what you want to do, might I suggest checking out the January/February issue of the Wheatsville Breeze? I got my copy last night, and on the front page is a nice article by Niki Nash, Merchandising Manager, with some great resolution recommendations. This finally got me thinking about what my top 10 resolutions will be for this year. (See, I still feel compelled to make them). So here I go…

10. Break my Sonic and diet soda addiction. I hate to admit it, but between the tater tots and the soft drink happy hour, I’m hooked.
9. Go more local: shop more at Wheatsville and farmer’s markets, start my garden, etc.
8. Develop a solid marketing plan for my business.
7. Get certified as a Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant.
6. Stop coloring my hair. (This will so never happen, but I can dream).
5. Read more books.
4. Blog more.
3. Keep working on living my life one day at a time (i.e., be in the moment).
2. Eat more raw foods.
1. Take more naps.

There. It’s done. Let me know how you are approaching resolutions this year and feel free to share any other good articles or lists here.

Here’s to a rockin’ 2010! Cheers.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

Photo by: (A3R) angelrravelor (A3R).

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December 29th, 2009

A New Year, a Work at Home You?

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Working from home is such an amazing gift. There is so much more freedom and control over both your work and your personal life. I’ve been a “mompreneur” and “work at home woman” for over 5 years now. I started off slowly, working part time after the birth of my daughter for the laboratory that I gave my heart and soul to for all six of my full-time working (pre-kid) years. After about a year, I left that company to work mostly from home for another lab, but I still had to go into the office a few days per week. Then I started consulting on the side. Eventually, I left the part time gig and just ran my consulting business. Last year, I added my personal training business, Libra Fitness, to the mix, installing a gym in the back room of my house.

I love being my own boss. I love that I get up every morning and do something that matters to me. I love helping others find a path to a healthier lifestyle. As we approach the new year, I challenge you, if you have dreamed of working from home, to give it a shot. Start slowly at first. Along the way, you will need help! One of the best resources out there, by far, is Holly Hanna with The Work at Home Woman. Even if you are not a parent or a woman, you will find her resources and insight invaluable. Check out Holly’s website, sign up for her newsletter, read her blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for all sorts of good advice. Keep your eyes peeled, too, for guest blog posts by yours truly!

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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November 28th, 2009

So, Skinny Trainer, What Do You Know About Being Fat?

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I have been thin, OK, skinny, all of my life. Other than wanting to go out to eat to celebrate or the random craving now and then, I don’t have “issues” with food. If anything, I don’t think about food, and I have been known to regularly let my blood sugar get too low because I forget to eat. As a personal trainer, I feel confident in my abilities to help people learn to make exercise a part of their daily routine. I am proud to know that I can help people feel stronger and more confident, but when it comes to dealing with people’s eating habits, sometimes I feel stuck. Sure, I can suggest a food journal or ways to cut hidden calories. I can recommend that people eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed food, but at the end of the day I think, “Is that really getting to the root of the problem?”

So, when I heard about the book Obese From the Heart: A Fat Psychiatrist Discloses by Dr. Sara L. Stein, M.D., my interest was piqued. Hmmm . . . this seemed like a book I should read. So I did, in about two days.

What I loved about this book was its brutal honesty. Dr. Stein is a psychiatrist who works with bariatric (obese) patients, but she’s obese, too. How does that work? Why would someone want to get help with their weight problem from someone who obviously hasn’t quite figured it out themselves? I know why now: because she understands. She knows the struggle, the self-doubt, the fear, and everything else associated with food addiction. She gets it like no skinny person can.

The most humbling thing I realized in reading this book was that we are all really the same. We all turn to one tool (or vice) or another to soothe our anxiety or to try to get ourselves out of a funk or even a deep depression. We drink, we smoke, we do drugs, we exercise, we read, we watch TV, we stay up too late on the computer refreshing Facebook hoping that another friend is up late, or we eat. The underlying problems are the same. It’s just that the tools that we use to cope are different. Many of us are able to conquer our addictions, but the paradox of food, what makes food addiction so hard to manage, is that the over-eater can’t just give food up like cigarettes or alcohol or Facebook. They have to eat. So, the obese person must learn to deal with their food cravings while continuing to require calories to survive. What a nightmare. Stein lays it out in no uncertain terms: “So begins the brutal cycle of trying to control your addiction while still using.”

Sure, there are other factors that contribute to obesity: genetics, thyroid problems, culture, and chemical food additives in fast and processed foods designed to make foods taste irresistible. However, except for the rare few, there are deeper issues bubbling below the surface: depression, anxiety, anger, trauma, grief, suppressed emotions, multi-tasking, stress, exhaustion, boredom. Not only can a person become addicted to the substance that helps them deal with these problems, but they can get addicted to the problem itself. For example, a person can get addicted to the adrenaline rush that comes with productivity. Then, in response to their body’s signals to slow down, they may turn to food, alcohol, etc. to help them relax, creating another addiction. I clearly realized for the first time in reading this book that addictions come in layers and the repercussions, in turn, are complicated as well. In order to deal with any of it, you must treat the whole person and not just throw solutions at one part of the problem or the other. Dr. Stein doesn’t suggest that improved diet and exercise or bariatric surgery won’t help the obese person to lose weight, but she very clearly warns that failure is almost guaranteed if these approaches are seen as magic bullets.

I don’t have all the answers. Dr. Stein doesn’t either. I do know that my approach to helping my clients continue to make changes that improve their health will shift gears a little bit. Exercise is a good start. It helps the person feel like they are doing SOMETHING to deal with their problem, but they need more. A food journal or counting calories or boxing up half your lunch might work for those who are overweight simply because they are not paying attention, and I have those clients; but for the clients who struggle daily with what they eat, I need a different approach. Without playing dietitian or therapist, I will suggest. I will prod. I will offer ideas for small, realistic changes in eating like substituting fruit for processed sugar. I will encourage my clients to take time for themselves to relax and recharge. I will suggest that they get sunlight. I will recommend prayer, affirmation, meditation, gratitude. I will help my clients recognize negative thought patterns. I will honor my clients in the bodies they are in. I will encourage my clients to seek joy in everyday things. I will meditate on Namaste: “The divine in me honors the divine in you.” In so doing, I will remind my clients to honor the divine in themselves. When necessary, I will refer my clients to others who can help them better than I to deal with the underlying issues. I do a lot of this already. It’s in my nature. It is part of my mission. Now, I feel assured that it is the only way.

Maybe this is all just wishful thinking. Maybe the skinny trainer still doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Maybe. Dr. Stein calls obesity “the last unanswered prejudice. It is acceptable in society to ignore, demean, degrade, to be openly hostile toward, and to generally overlook obese individuals.” We allow ourselves to do this because we sometimes forget to see the obese as “individuals” at all. This is why looking at the whole person in trying to help makes so much more sense to me than a stupid food journal and calorie counting.

Thanks Dr. Stein for your insight and thanks to my clients who challenge me everyday to see a reflection of myself in them.

Namaste.

Update (01/12/2010): Just today I saw an interview with Dr. Stein on YouTube!

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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November 24th, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

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This holiday season, I promise to do it. I WILL slow down. I WILL let good enough be GOOD ENOUGH. I WILL keep it simple. I WILL enjoy the process. How will I do it? My plan is to take small moments to give thanks for all of the rituals and traditions that are supposed to make the holidays fun and not just a stress-filled month of blurry excess. Above all else, I will pray. I’m not sure to whom, yet, but I feel the need to let some higher power know that I am grateful. I want to share my gratitude with my family, but also with the universe. I’ll have to let you know how it’s going. I encourage you to do the same. Slow down, keep it simple, savor and be grateful for every bite. Let this be your time. Treat yourself well.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

Photo by APatterson

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September 25th, 2009

What Do Your Quads and Hams Have to Do with Your ACL?

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You want your hamstrings on the backs of your thighs to be about 70-80 % as strong as your quadriceps on the front of your thighs.  This helps to prevent hamstring injury (strain), tight hamstrings, as well as ACL injuries.  ACL injuries often result from a stronger quad pulling on the ACL and tearing it.  This is in part why women have many times more ACL tears than men.  Their ham/quad ratio tends to be 40-50 %.  Injuries typically occur in the eccentric phase of a leg activity when you are extending the leg in front of you and your hamstring is lengthened.

Here are some links if you would like more information:

http://www.chiroweb.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=45420

http://www.mrtrainer.com/nla27.html

http://weighttraining.about.com/od/physicaltherapy/a/hamstring.htm

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

Photo by: nmlind

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September 15th, 2009

This Sunday: Maximizing Wellness by Rearranging Your Toolbelt

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Every few months, Libra Fitness likes to provide opportunities for people to get together for free or at cost to learn about wellness issues. In July, a group went to see the movie Food, Inc. and then met afterwards for grass-fed burgers at Elevation Burger for a lively discussion.

This Sunday, Lynn Zipoy and Chris Heidel are excited to present the following workshop. We hope you can join us and will kindly share the news with anyone you think might be interested!

Maximizing Wellness by Rearranging Your Toolbelt

Sunday, September 20, 2009
3:00 – 5:00 PM
Libra Fitness Austin
2007 Pompton Drive
Austin, TX 78757
512-203-6038 Lynn
512-694-5870 Chris

Description:

In this interactive workshop, Lynn Zipoy, Ph.D., L.P.C., Professional Counselor and Chris Heidel, Certified Personal Trainer with Libra Fitness, will help you gain insight into the reasons why we cope the way we do with life’s demands. You will leave with a better understanding of how we can harness the power of our inner resources to relieve stress and enjoy life in a way that maximizes the wellness goals of healthy eating, fitness, and relaxation.

More about Dr. Zipoy: http://austin.feelgoodtown.com/listing/lynn_zipoy.html

More about Libra Fitness: http://librafitnessaustin.com/

You can RSVP by emailing Chris at chris@librafitnessaustin.com or by going to the invite on the Libra Fitness Facebook Page:

Facebook Invite: Maximizing Wellness by Rearranging Your Toolbelt

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

Photo by gotplaid?

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August 26th, 2009

Thank You, Senator Kennedy

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In addition to being a personal trainer, I have worked for over 10 years in the pharmaceutical research field, most of those years in Quality Assurance. My job is to make sure that laboratories and other companies working in pharmaceutical research are following FDA regulations and accurately reporting results. It’s not always pretty, but overall, drugs these days are much safer than they were before the 1970s. Prior to that time, there were no significant laws governing the quality of laboratory research. Mail fraud was about all anyone could be convicted of. In the 1970s, several cases of fraud in studies submitted to the FDA were uncovered that led to a series of hearings in the Senate, chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy (i.e., “The Kennedy Hearings”). These hearings resulted in the creation of the Good Laboratory Practice regulations. Laboratories conducting preclinical research are now required to follow these regulations and to also staff a Quality Assurance Unit. Hence, my field of expertise.

I appreciate these and other efforts by Senator Kennedy throughout his long career to do right by the American people. What an incredible legacy. Thanks, Teddy. I hope that our Congress will honor Senator Kennedy’s passing by truly working together in a bipartisan way to enact meaningful legislation that can help address the current health care crisis in this country. One can only hope.

Below is a favorite quote from Senator Kennedy that is often used in Good Laboratory Practice training sessions.

“Inaccurate science, sloppy science, fraudulent science—these are the greatest threats to the health and safety of the American people. Whether the science is wrong because of clerical error, or because of poor technique, or because of incompetence, or because of negligence, is less important than the fact that it is wrong. For if it is wrong, and if the FDA did not know it was wrong, then the protective regulatory barrier between a potentially dangerous drug and the patient is removed.” – Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), The Kennedy Hearings

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

Photo by: diggersf

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August 15th, 2009

What Do You Mean I Won’t Lose Weight if I Exercise?

banana_muffin_cake_241840_lWell, it depends. Everyone is talking about the “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” article in the most the recent issue of TIME Magazine.

Basically, they are right to a point. Many people tend to OVERestimate how many calories they burn during exercise and then UNDERestimate how many calories are in a Starbucks muffin. If you exercise without planning and eating regular, healthy meals, too, then you definitely have a high potential to have a net calorie increase, especially after a workout when you are hungry and will crave high-calorie foods. One important key is to eat a healthy high-carb snack about an hour to an hour-and-a-half before you workout and then take something with protein and carbs WITH YOU to eat immediately afterward. This can help curb any extreme hunger pangs that can sidetrack your weight loss goals.

This is actually a decent article because it doesn’t downplay the many benefits of exercise. I’ve seen other articles that say the same thing and then say you DON’T need to exercise at all. Uh, no. I think the take-away message is that we really do have to pay attention to what we eat if we want to lose weight. I believe that exercise, from gardening to triathlons, plays an important role in successful weight loss and maintenance, but calorie burning may not be exercise’s most critical advantage. Exercise can help you keep your motivation as you change the way you eat, will definitely help you look your toned best as you slim down, and will elevate your mood and help you feel good about taking good care of your heart and the rest of you. It’s all about finding the realistic balance the works for you and being TRULY self-aware.

08/18/2009

I wanted to update my blog post to include the stance of the American College of Sports Medicine (see below). I get what they say, and I do think some of what the TIME article says is misleading, but I still think the article has some merits, and when we think about the obesity epidemic in this country, I don’t want to dismiss the author’s points out of hand.

We really need to consider the role of weight loss in the context of our American culture. We live in a culture that is mired in such a vicious cycle of fast food, huge portions, and a lack of time to prepare healthy meals (and a lack of understanding regarding calories burned/consumed when exercising/eating) that I think there are many people who DO eat more calories than they burn when they are exercising. They barely have time to go to the gym, and they stop off at Sonic to grab a bite after their workout because they are starving. I THINK THIS HAPPENS! Am I crazy?

I don’t think it is the gym rats who are eating a boiled egg and an orange after their workout who have this problem. I tend to think it is the average person. The average person has an on-again, off-again relationship with exercise (though they may be “regulars” when they are in an exercise phase), typically with weight loss as the main goal. I think these are the people with whom that TIME article hits home.

Read the following, and let me know more about what YOU think.

Update from the American College of Sports Medicine

The Message Points: Exercise and Energy Balance

Exercise and Weight Management

  • There is strong evidence from the majority of the scientific literature that physical activity is an important component of an effective weight loss program.
  • Physical activity is one of the most important behavioral factors in weight maintenance and improving long-term weight loss outcomes. In fact, participation in an exercise program has proven to be the very best predictor of maintaining weight that was lost.
  • Effective weight loss and maintenance depend on a simple equation called energy balance: Calories expended through physical activity and normal lifestyle functions must exceed calories consumed.
  • It is a myth that exercise can actually prevent weight loss by leading exercisers to overeat. Research and common sense disprove this notion. Look around the gym or the jogging trail. If this were the case, wouldn’t those who regularly exercise be the fattest?

Other Benefits of Exercise

  • Exercise and physical activity have been proven to help prevent chronic conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression, obesity and diabetes.
  • Studies show that when students are more active (through physical education, classroom activity, play, etc.) they improve test scores and attendance and experience fewer discipline problems and sick days.

Policy and economic  implications

  • Physical activity and exercise are key components of workplace wellness programs, which have been shown to return $2.90 to $5.96 in cost savings for every dollar invested by the employer. Participants in workplace wellness programs have reduced absenteeism, error rates and health care costs; they feel more alert, have better rapport with co-workers, and enjoy their work more.
  • Physical activity and exercise must play a vital role in health system reform. Cost savings from healthy lifestyles can help fund broader coverage for the underserved.
  • Stimulus funds designated for electronic medical records should include fields to record each patient’s physical activity level. Exercise IS medicine and should be measured as a vital sign like blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
  • Reimbursement for services such as healthy lifestyle counseling or clinical exercise physiologists could go a long way toward improving health and reducing health care costs.
  • Physical activity needn’t involve expensive equipment, gym memberships or team athletics. Simple activities like walking, accumulated in 10-minute bouts, can have significant benefits.
  • Communities can do much to encourage physical activity by developing bike paths and walking trails, encouraging walkable neighborhoods, opening school facilities to after- school activities, and enacting other exercise-friendly policies.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

Photo by dafalias

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July 31st, 2009

Pleasure, Little Treasure

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Last night, I was honored to listen to Dr. Deborah Kern speak to my favorite group of women in Austin: the Business + Balance Austin ladies: a group of authentic, entrepreneurial moms. Dr. Kern focused her talk on embracing pleasure as a means of improving our health. What a novel concept. She passed around some plump, beautiful medjool dates and had us take a small bite, smell the date, let it sit in our mouths while we savored it and moaned with pleasure. Wow, it was soooo good. Nice.

As a personal trainer, people ask me constantly about different “diets” and “if they work.” I think we all know what we SHOULD do. We know to cut out processed sugars, to eat more fruits and vegetables, to not eat on the run, not to go to the grocery store hungry. We know WHAT to eat and a few other tricks, but we still seem to feel the need for our diet to be about deprivation (or our workout to be about pain, for that matter).

What if we all started to look at our diet as a celebration of the bounty of beautiful foods that are available to us here in this country? What if we really savored every morsel? What if we honored community supported agriculture (CSAs), the home garden, the farmer’s market, cooking with friends, sharing meals with others, and savoring our food with all five senses, with each bite. Maybe this is the key to weight loss and nutritional bliss. It’s probably not about counting calories or points. That can be good for awareness, but does it really get down to the heart of the matter? Really? Does eating only protein while depriving our bodies of the carbohydrates we desperately need to think and function at our best really honor our higher selves? I say no.

For the next week, try approaching your food choices in this way. Say to yourself: 1. Does this choice honor my best self? 2. Am I fully present and enjoying and savoring this meal (or even this margarita or piece of pie)? How does it look, smell, taste, feel, even sound? 3. Am I grateful for this food and the source from which it comes or the person or place that prepared it? Let me know how you do, and be sure not to let pleasure lapse into gluttony.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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July 20th, 2009

Diet Soda Dreams

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A fan of the Libra Fitness Facebook page recently asked, “What is your take on aspartame? Do you think it is as harmful as they say? I am trying to cut it out if my diet but it is hard!” Good question.

On the one hand, aspartame is one of the most heavily researched chemicals ever. It has been declared safe (more than once) by the FDA. It was one of the first food additives approved by the FDA after Searle & others got into big trouble (i.e., falsifying research data, poor treatment of lab animals, etc.), and the Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) regulations had to be implemented back in the 1970s. (I know a little something about this. I have worked for years in quality assurance implementing GLP). Aspartame has also been on the market for over twenty-five years.

On the other hand, aspartame is a synthetic chemical, not found in nature. I have read many articles proclaiming the dangers of aspartame, but to be fair, not a lot of that is peer-reviewed, clinical research. So, this is an area where each individual person has to make some decisions based on all of the information available, their own experience, and what their bodies are telling them. The most compelling arguments, to me, raise concerns about how artificial sweeteners might “trick” the body’s natural insulin response by making your body think calories are coming (you just ate “sugar,” right?), but then no calories come. The claim is that this can lead to an increase in insulin production and food cravings. Another argument proposes that phenylalanine (a chemical in aspartame) can disrupt serotonin production and lead to cravings for sugary foods from which our bodies can create more serotonin. The bottom line is that we take a risk when we choose to put anything unnatural in our bodies. We have seen time and time again what happens to the human body when we mess with our food. Look at what processed foods, HFCS, and trans fats have done to the health of the average American.

Personally, I have found giving up diet soda to be nearly impossible. Switching to caffeine-free doesn’t seem to make it any easier . It makes me wonder if it’s the aspartame or just the habit that makes it so difficult. However, in the end, the sheer fact that it is so difficult worries me. So, I don’t buy two cases of diet soda every week any more, but I still crave a diet drink every day or two, and I HAVE to get my fix at the local convenience store. I figure one every couple of days is better than three or four per day, and I let it go. Everything in moderation? I hope that is good enough.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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July 17th, 2009

Oh, Forget It!

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We have all done it. In fact, I feel like I do it every time I go to the gym or elsewhere to work out. What is it? Forget something! I really don’t understand why. I mean, I need the same things every time. They should be in the bag, but there is always something (e.g., water bottle, towel, heart rate monitor). For some, this can be a barrier to exercise. You might just turn around and go home, but for me, I see it as a challenge to be overcome. Plus, I get “bonus points” for working out anyway.

I have worked out in socks, barefoot, or in slacks when I forgot my tennis shoes or workout clothes. I have asked the childcare workers or front desk at the gym to keep my stuff for me when I forgot my lock. I have washed my sports bra in the shower and worn it wet to work or worn no panties when I have forgotten my underwear. Seriously, I’ve done it all.

Today, a friend and I went down to Lady Bird Lake to run the trails, and the plan is usually to swim in Barton Springs afterwards. However, I forgot my swimsuit. I considered swimming in what I ran in, but for whatever reason I wore pants today. OK, I draw the line at swimming in pants. So, instead, we added drills and sprints to our work out, and it was great, and I’m gonna be really sore.

I keep telling myself that I am going to make a checklist and post it by the front door with everything I need for every kind of workout to make sure that I have what I need, but I never do. Maybe today is the day to make that list…or not.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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July 1st, 2009

Recipes #2 & #3-Dueling Hummus!

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Recipe #1 was also a bean dip for veggies. Here I go again with two hummus recipes. Why? Because dips are an easy way to up your veggie count without trying too hard while also getting some protein. Another tip, wash and cut up your veggies and mix together in advance.  See another blog post of mine for more tips on how to do that. Dole out the hummus into small individual serving size containers, too, and then all you have to do all week is grab and go!

Recipe #2 Curried Hummus

Ingredients

2     (15.5 oz) Cans Chick Peas (Garbonzo Beans), rinsed &  drained
2     Tbsp. Olive Oil
3     Garlic Cloves, Crushed
4     Tsp. Curry Powder (careful, add to taste)
6     Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice (careful, add to taste)
1/2 Cup Water
Salt (to taste)
Hot Sauce (to taste)

Makes 8 servings (~1/2 cup each)

Directions

Blend in a food processor until smooth. Drizzle with olive oil (if preferred) and serve with two servings of vegetables.  Add a small portion of healthy chips, pita chips, or crackers if you like.

Nutrition Facts (Dip only, approximate)

Calories: 168; Fat: 4.8 g; Protein: 5.6 g; Carbohydrates: 26.8 g; Dietary Fiber: 5.2 g

*This recipe was submitted by my friend Cat at my request. She’s not sure of the web source, and she’s modified it over time. Yum! Love her hummus.

Recipe #3 Zucchini Hummus

Ingredients

2        Chopped Zucchini or Yellow Squash (with or without skin)
2        (15.5 oz) Cans Chick Peas (Garbonzo Beans), rinsed &  drained
1/4+  Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (or use Santa Cruz brand in the bottle-like fresh squeezed)
1         Tsp. Crushed Garlic (i.e., 1 clove)
1/2     Tsp. Cumin
1/2     Tsp. Paprika
2         Tsp. Salt
1+       Tbsp. Water
1+       Tbsp. Olive Oil

Directions

Blend in a food processor until smooth. Drizzle with olive oil (if preferred) and serve with two servings of vegetables.  Add a small portion of healthy chips, pita chips, or crackers if you like.

Makes 8 servings (~1/2 cup each)

Nutrition Facts (Dip only, approximate)

Calories: 158; Fat: 5g; Protein: 5g; Carbohydrates: 25g; Dietary Fiber: 5g

*This recipe is modified from two recipes: one in Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People (2005) p. 73 and the other in Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook (1995) p. 124.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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June 26th, 2009

I’ve Got My Yellow Crush

lance-armstrong-boston-1500558-lI LOVE cycling, so much so that I even follow all my favorite guys on Twitter to get the inside scoop. I especially adore Le Tour de France. Just love it. The Tour starts next Saturday, July 4th, with complete coverage on Versus. With Lance back on the scene, the whole world will be watching again. Team Astana (Lance’s Team) just announced their final nine guys this week, led by Alberto Contador:

Alberto Contador @acontador
Lance Armstrong @lancearmstrong
Andreas Klöden
Levi Leipheimer @LeviLeipheimer
Dmitriy Muravyev
Sérgio Paulinho
Yaroslav Popovych
Gregory Rast
Haimar Zubeldia

I am interested to see how long Contador remains the team leader. I can’t help but think that Lance is out to prove himself again and won’t stop until he is wearing the prized yellow jersey–at the END of the race. Can he really stand to ride in the Tour, HIS “Tour,” as a support rider? We shall see. Either way, it should prove to be an interesting race, and the anticipation is making me want to dust off my old Bianchi and hit the road again. If you are thinking of doing the same, Map My Ride has a really fun Le Tour Challenge for you. Ride your bike on stage days, and enter your results for a chance to win some great prizes. I encourage you to follow the Tour and ride your bike or do something else active each day that there is a stage!

To find out more about riders and others in the cycling world who you can follow on Twitter, see Chris Spagnuolo’s informative blog on this topic over at Mashable. Here’s another, longer list put together by Carlton Reid over at Bike Biz!

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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June 23rd, 2009

The Way Things SHOULD Work

money_hundreds_franklin_238664_tnI find it ever frustrating how backwards we see things sometimes. I can deduct medical expenses on my taxes, but I can’t deduct the cost of my gym membership unless I meet very specific requirements. Last year when I was looking for life insurance, I was visited by a nurse who took blood and urine samples and wanted to know about my medical history but did not ask one question about my activity level or how well I eat. What gives? Today, I heard about a program that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is offering to those who carry their insurance. It’s called Blue Points. You earn points for any multitude of activities that you complete such as:

  • Taking the Health Risk Assessment
  • Setting up a meal or fitness plan
  • Asking a question of a registered/licensed nurse, life coach, trainer or dietitian
  • Enrolling in an online smoking cessation or weight loss program
  • Reading and rating a recipe or article

You then use the points to purchase rewards (up to $600 worth). What a novel concept! Paying people to make healthy choices! We could use more of this kind of thinking everywhere. Is Blue Cross doing this in part to lower their costs? Sure. Do I care? No. Because if this program motivates you to go for a walk or keep a food log that you would normally not do, then all I care about is that you are one step closer to adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Bravo, Blue Cross! Let me know if you know of other insurance or company programs providing the same incentives. If you have BCBS insurance, see if you can participate in the program in your state or with your company. Let me know what you find out!!!

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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June 17th, 2009

Don’t Forget to Bike for Fun!

mafergusonbrickwallI have found myself recommending cycling to my clients a lot this week. Maybe it’s because I am a Tour de France fanatic, and the July 4th start date is fast approaching. Then I read this article over on EcoVelo’s website reminding us to get out and just ride our bikes for fun and transportation.

I used to try to ride my road bike around town for general transportation, but I didn’t like it much. I was always afraid of not being able to get out of my clipless pedals in time or running into something because my head was always looking down. Then we got a couple of cruiser bikes at Bicycle Sport Shop, and that solved everything! I got an Electra Townie in pink pearl, and my husband got an Electra Amsterdam. I love my bike. It makes riding around town so much easier: only 3 speeds, hand brakes AND coaster brakes, I sit straight up looking forward, and it has “flat foot technology” so my feet touch the ground when I stop. Awesome. We ride to dinner or the toy store and plan to start getting in the habit of riding to the pool and church each week. It’s one more great way to add a little more exercise to your life.

If you happen to be looking for a sweet high-end custom ride, check out Violet Crown Cycles, Austin’s local handmade city bike builder.

Let me know when you are ready to ride!

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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June 12th, 2009

Everyone Has a Food Story to Tell

Michelle L. McFadyenSome of us are lucky enough to just eat when we are hungry, but otherwise not think so much about food. Others have certain food triggers or outright eating disorders. As with anything, there is a spectrum. Journaling about your food history (or “Food Story”) and/or sharing it with others is a great way to get in touch with what issues you might have. Awareness is half the battle. Hopefully you are able on your own to monitor your triggers, but you may also find that you need additional support from a therapist, a doctor, group program, or a registered dietitian.

Last week, I had the honor of listening to Michelle L. McFadyen’s food story (while eating some of her fabulous kitchen fare–dates wrapped in bacon–WOW). Michelle helps organize and facilitate the Austin Bar Association’s “Fit Bar Challenge.” You can contact Michelle directly at mlmcfadyen@yahoo.com. I’d love to know what resonates with you, so please comment. If you’d like to share your own story at length as a guest blogger, send it to me at foodstory@librafitnessaustin.com. Enjoy…

Michelle L. McFadyen’s Food Story:

Today I was walking home from the grocery store, lost in my own little world, mentally categorizing the amazing dishes I would make with my newly purchased bounty. I would make sweet potato and spinach filo pies, oven roasted tomato and red pepper tart with eggplant crust, grilled zucchini risotto with homemade Parmesan sauce and organic snow bud iced tea. Oh! I am the queen of the kitchen!  I am an unstoppable savory dough goddess and wine pairing maestra! My head was filled with satisfying thoughts of the compliments I would receive from impressed friends once they were told of my Saturday culinary achievements. Oh, how inferior they will feel in my wake with their proletarian boxed mac and cheese dinners and their simpleton turkey subs.

I took mental stock of my pink Cook for the Cure mixing bowl set and my still shiny Cuisinart. How beautiful they would look sitting on my granite counter tops. And then there were the serving platters to consider lest they felt left out of the fun. My lighting system would be illuminating just so and the ceiling fan would be strategically set to spread aromas that not even the squirrels outside could ignore.

I was practically floating down the sidewalk, swinging my recyclable grocery bags when a rusted out 1973 Oldsmobile slowed down next to me and a 300 lb man leaned out of the window. “Hey Honey, how far you goin’?”

When I ignored him he drove around the block and tried again. “Hey! We wasn’t trying to be rude. This is a bad neighborhood, man. Two peoples was shot here last month. Maybe next time it’ll be a stuck up b**** like you.”

I wondered if this scumbag knew that I was packing a 20-oz. jar of baby artichoke hearts and wasn’t afraid to use it.

When I was little, if someone had Cocoa Pebbles for breakfast, then they had arrived. If their cabinets contained both Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles, then to my mind they probably had a summer house in Beverly Hills. Honestly, I can’t even remember what it was I was eating for breakfast but I know that the box advertised horribly unappetizing elements such as fiber and vitamin A. We lived in a tiny, itsy bitsy town, and I remember our food coming from the local grocery store but also from farmer’s stands on the side of the road and various church and fire station socials. I sincerely had no problem with what we ate and genuinely liked most of it but the thing that sticks out most in my mind is being unbelievably impressed when visiting a friend’s house and they had cabinets stocked to the brim with name brands and junk food. That was the highest social status my young brain could comprehend.

My best friend, Robin, had more food then her 3-person household could ever consume. Her family not only had kitchen cabinets that were too full to close, they also had something I had never even comprehended existed before, a second refrigerator. I attributed their transparent wealth to the fact that Robin was an only child and, our lack of a second refrigerator, like most things in my adolescent world, became the fault of my younger brother, Sean. A time was coming, though, when Sean would prove himself to be my most valuable ally in the quest for junk food stuffed cabinet domination.

When I was about 10 years old, we moved to a bigger town. My mother married my stepfather and suddenly we had a two story house complete with a game room, an extra bedroom, a giant kitchen with an island bar and a 2.5-car garage that housed, oh yes, the ever coveted second refrigerator. The second refrigerator moved in, and I anxiously peered into it.  I anticipated a bounty of ice cream bars and frozen pizzas just like Robin’s house.  I was shocked to find it full to the brim with little white packages of meat. I demanded that my mother explain this immediately. What the hell was going on here? “Oh, that,” my mother waved her hand casually. “That is the meat from the deer that Hunter shoots. It’s very good for you. Full of iron and protein and very lean and low in fat!” My mother had become a professional weight loss counselor.

There were times when it was enjoyable for me to revel in our superior health-conscious ways of eating. “Oh, we don’t keep Twinkies in the house,” I would inform one of my bewildered friends. “They are loaded with sugar and saturated fats. Do you want to die of a heart attack when you’re 40?” One desperate friend went so far as to actually eat a bottle of cupcake sprinkles, so dissatisfied was she with our selection of fresh fruits and veggies.

After that, I was generally the one to spend the night at my friend’s houses. My parents grumbled about always having to drive me to these slumber parties. “Why don’t you invite Sarah over here sometimes?” my mother would ask. “We could watch a movie and make that butter-free popcorn with the garlic salt that you like.” It was true, I did like the butter-free popcorn with the garlic salt but kids in small town Indiana were thinking outside of the box if they used mustard on their sandwich instead of mayonnaise, and I did not want to stick out any more then I already did. So when my mom offered these things, I just stared blankly at her. “We have homegrown tomatoes,” she offered. “They’re so good you can eat them like candy.” Right, cause that’s every kid’s dream.

Although I was able to find satisfying superiority in our food situation and secretly preferred it, my brother did not give up so easily. The first summer we were allowed to stay home by ourselves was a freedom we had never before experienced. I stayed home most of the time reading, but Sean, having more friends in the vicinity then I did was, was more frequently out and about doing whatever it is that young boys do when unsupervised. One of his favorite past times was shopping at garage sales and thoughtfully increasing his inventory of action figures and baseball cards.

One bright morning he left carting a small wagon containing his garage sale treasures and returned in the afternoon with a wagonful of the most amazing and unimaginable cargo, Little Debbies, Twix bars, boxes of Nerds, bags of potato chips and pork rinds and things I had never even heard of before. I don’t remember how I got him to share with me (probably blackmail), but what I do remember is that when a neighborhood mom came by later that night to reclaim her food there was no evidence to be found. A valuable lesson had been taught, “Eat it while you can because you never know when you’re going to get it again.”

In high school and college, food became for me less about the quality of what I was eating and more about its impact on my physical appearance. It is not an exaggeration to say that during these years I had a smoking hot bod. This was partly due to the eating habits that had been so carefully instilled in me and partly due to the fact that I had no money for edible extravagances.

When I was 21, I had my first real adult boyfriend. He came from a big Italian family in Chicago, and he was obsessed with things like pasta and cheese and meats of every kind. I had never seen a family like his before, and they intimidated me into silence. I was scared to open my mouth at the dinner table because everything I said seemed to be wrong. I was a vegetarian the first time I met Jack’s family. As we walked through the front door Jack loudly announced, “Michelle doesn’t eat meat.”

“What!?!”  His dad exclaimed. “Well, we’re having sausages tonight. What about sausages?”  “Uhm…that’s a meat.”
“OK, how about hot dogs?”
“…still a meat.”
“Salmon?”
“…still technically a meat.”
“Pork chops?”
“Pork chops are fine.”

My need to impress them coupled with my eat-it-while-you-can mentality and a college budget that guaranteed I would not have anything like pork chop waiting for me in the near future spelled disaster. I ate the pork chops. Then I ate sausages and cheese raviolis covered in cream sauce and hamburgers and huge plates of spaghetti with meat sauce and deep fried onion rings at ball games and two portions of cannoli at birthday parties. By the time I moved in with Jack, I was two sizes larger and growing. When his aunt gave us a deep fryer for Christmas I locked myself in the bathroom and cried.

I lived this way for three years, and then Jack and I split up and I moved to Austin, one of the healthiest cities in the country. In Austin, I noticed something amazing going on. Health food stores were on every corner. You couldn’t turn around with out falling over a farmers market. When I went to parties people served organic apple slices and vegetable platters and their guest were excited about it. One day, while in line at the grocery store, a woman next to me turned and said, “Have you tried the baby marinated onions? They’re sooo good. I eat them like candy.”

I noticed people talking extensively about their latest amazing salad find and where to go to get the first peaches of the season. I though, “Eureka! This is the arena I have been trained for!” These were people who could be enticed over to my home with the mention of fresh baby greens, and they only became more excited when I threw in homemade mango and soy smoothies. It was a kind of social acceptance I had always craved, and it came so naturally.

As my dinner parties grew in number and frequency so did my social-climbing kitchen arsenal.  I learned the five grocery stores and farmers markets where I could procure the best of the best. The ways you could grill a vegetable and simmer a sauce became more and more complex. Then came the serving accessories. Nothing makes a better meal then the perfect platting and centerpiece.

If that won’t get them over to my house then nothing will.

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May 27th, 2009

Time and Money-Saving Food Prep Tricks

everystockphoto_117538_tn1

I find that it doesn’t really matter which day you do the grocery shopping on as long as the NEXT day, you have a couple of hours to do some serious get-ready-for-the-week food prep.  It’s hard to do food prep on the same day you shop.  Consider that you probably did several of the following: went through your cookbooks, made the meal plan, cleaned the refrigerator, went to the grocery store, fought with your kids while there, brought the groceries home, and put them away.  Right?  Trust me, food prep needs to be on Day 2.

Here’s what you want to do on prep day:

1. Boil-if you need pasta, rice, or boiled eggs this week, set the water on the stove and get to it.

2. Bake-if you need baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, bread, muffins, etc. this week, pop that stuff in the oven now.

3. Mix-if you make your own trail mix, etc. put that together.

4. Snacks-make a bunch of individual servings of any snacks you can (dips, yogurt, applesauce, trail mix, etc.), especially for kids’ lunches.  If you haven’t already, invest in a TON of food small food containers.  IKEA has some CHEAP sets with some great sized little containers in them.  Write your last name on them in Sharpie in the hopes that they come back to you from school, work, etc.

5. Veggies-you buy them and they rot in your fridge. What a waste of money.  If you do nothing else on prep day, wash and cut up your veggies.  They can be used for dipping, salads, etc. all week and when they start to go south, throw them in a stir fry, broil them, or add them to a sauce.  You can mix hard veggies such as carrots, celery, bell peppers, radishes, fennel, beets together.  Keep softer veggies or veggies with seeds separate.  After cutting, dry in a clean kitchen towel to absorb as much water as possible (or use a salad spinner), mix the veggies together, and then place in small individual serving size containers.  Sound familiar?  Trust me, psychologically, you are more likely to eat them if they are in individual containers.

A little work up front ensures that you are more likely to eat the healthy food you purchased at the store, less likely to eat out, and able to make dinner and lunches more quickly all week.  All of this saves you time and money, and it’s good for your health.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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May 12th, 2009

There is No Magic Bullet

bullet_dummies_copper_261949_l Alas, the FDA has had to pull yet another diet product from the market due to one death and several reports of other problems, mostly related to liver damage.  The most recent victim?  Hydroxycut.  Not all products are affected.  See the details here.  In fairness, here is Hydroxycut’s position.

Millions of people purchase products like Hydroxycut.  Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that just because supplements are available over-the-counter does not make them inherently safe.  Supplements are not required to go through the rigorous testing and approval process required for pharmaceutical drugs, yet think about the adverse events you hear about all the time related to drugs that HAVE been tested.

For years (in another career), I have worked in quality assurance with laboratories and other businesses doing pharmaceutical research regulated by the FDA.  Based on what I have seen, I won’t take even an approved drug until it has been on the market for five years, if I can help it.  Even after extensive clinical trials, we just don’t know what a drug will do once it is thrown into the complex soup that is the general population.  So, I am even more cautious with the untested supplements I take.  I only take supplements from reputable manufacturers for deficiencies, etc. for which I have an actual laboratory test result and completely under the supervision of my doctor.  Still, I don’t like taking pills as they all have risks of potential side effects.  In fact, currently, I am working on figuring out which foods are highest in the vitamins, minerals, etc. that I am deficient in, so that I can eat more of those foods and eventually get off the pills.

As a personal trainer, it is against my personal ethics and outside my scope of practice to recommend supplementation to my clients.  When it comes to getting fit and losing weight, the safest approach is always a healthy diet coupled with adequate exercise.  It’s not easy or glamorous, but it works.  Take home point–be as cautious (if not more so) when taking supplements as you would be with pharmaceutical drugs.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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May 9th, 2009

We All Need a Little Motivation Sometimes!

shorttxt_wcI’ll admit it.  I have not been as regular with my workouts lately as I would like.  Frankly, my routine got all fouled up when I put a  gym in my home!  I used to stop by the gym when I took my daughter to or from school, and it was perfect.  The gym was halfway, so I just kept my bag packed and ready to go.  Now that the gym is in my home, it’s just too easy to put my workouts off.  I’ve been looking for a little motivation.  For the next eight weeks, I will be taking The Woman Challenge.  Checkout the website for more info and to track your progress.

Now, this challenge is just what you need if you are like me and trying to find the inspiration to get moving again.  Your goal for eight weeks is to get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise per week.  That’s 30 minutes, 5 days per week.  Feel free to modify this goal up or down based on your fitness level, etc.  My goal will be to get back into my 6-day a week habit.  Recently, I have probably been hitting 3 days per week.  I’ll do more than 30 minutes most days, but I like the idea of this challenge for the sake of reestablishing the HABIT which I believe can be the biggest challenge associated with getting and staying fit: getting into a routine that works for you.

I encourage any women out there to take the challenge with me!  We start on Mother’s Day.  Fitting!  Track my progress by following me on Twitter: @LibraFitnessAus.  If you want, once you sign up you can join the Libra Fitness Team (or send me your screen name and I’ll add you).  I’ll be sending out emails, etc. to team members.  It’ll be fun!!!  Also, the web page allows you to change your start date.

Disclaimer: It is always wise to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.  If you choose to participate in The Woman Challenge or join the Libra Fitness Team, you are responsible and liable for your own training program (i.e., it does not make you a client of Libra Fitness).

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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May 8th, 2009

Bike to Work & Eat FREE!

bike

There is A LOT of cool stuff happening with Bike Month here in Austin, but I think the COOLEST thing happens on Friday, May 15th. Friday is Bike to Work Day AND thanks to the good folks at The Austin Cycling Association, you can stop off for FREE breakfast at any of the following locations:

Time: 7am – 9am
• Wheatsville Co-op (3101 Guadalupe)
• Freewheeling Bicycles (24th and San Gabriel)
• Orange Bike Project on the UTCampus
• The Peddler & Texas Culinary Academy (119 E. North Loop Blvd.)
• ACA(Shoal Creek Blvd at Far West right of way)
• Bike Texas (1902 E. 6th)
• Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop (4th and Nueces)
• Whole Foods (6th and Lamar)
• City Hall Plaza
• One Texas Center 505 Barton Springs Rd.
• Bicycle Sport Shop (517 S. Lamar)

Plan your route well!!

Need more Bike Month info??

Austin Cycling Association
Wheatsville Food Co-op
(Click upper right corner to get to May’s issue of the Breeze FULL of great Bike Month info!)
Austin on Two Wheels
Looking for the sweetest bike-to-work ride in town?  Check out Violet Crown Cycles

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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March 11th, 2009

Just Do It!

2451510714_a9774bd1ed_mEveryone remembers the old Nike “Just Do It” ads.  They never meant much to me until I started training for my first triathlon.  Training for the Danskin Triathlon here in Austin was the only real exercise I had ever done up to that point (unless you count dance lessons when I was a kid).  It took me weeks to get into shape, to not be left behind on every bike ride.  I complained about the pain, the exhaustion.  Then one day, I didn’t care anymore.  I just went out and did what I needed to do.  That’s when I really started to enjoy myself.

“Just Do It!” is, to this day, a personal mantra.  People ask all the time, “Where do you find the time to work out?” or they want to know why they aren’t seeing the results they want.  When you really train hard for something or start to truly challenge yourself, you reach this point where you “Just Do It.”  Something along the way clicks.  Suddenly, you get up and go for a run when you really don’t want to, or you swim an extra 5 laps because you missed a workout the day before, or you work out at the gym in your loafers because you forgot your gym shoes.  I can’t explain what makes this paradigm shift happen.  I just know that it does.  Sure, sometimes you get out of your routine, and when that happens, it’s tough to get motivated and find that magic space again, almost like you never worked out a day in your life.  That’s when you really have to “Just Do It,” and know that it will all come back to you.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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March 4th, 2009

Recipe #1-Lime ‘n’ Honey Black Bean Dip

57925008_7e7ef4dda4_mOK, so we all know that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Right?  So if you are struggling to get your “Five-a-Day,” take notice.  That’s old school.  The new CDC recommendations are five to nine servings per day!  So what’s a serving size?  That’s anywhere from 1/4 to 1 cup depending on what you are eating.  In general, though, 1/2 a cup is a serving.

So what now?  Geez.  Do not despair!  The following dip is a great way to down two servings of fruits or vegetables without even thinking about it.

Ingredients

1      Can Black Beans (rinsed)
1/3  Cup Salsa (mild-peach salsa makes it sweeter)
1/4  Cup Lite Coconut Milk (canned) or Light Sour Cream
2      Tbsp. Lime Juice
1       Tbsp. Honey
1       Tsp. Cumin
1/2   Tsp. Chili Powder
1 /2  Tsp. Garlic

Blend in a food processor until creamy.  Add more coconut milk or lime juice to taste or to thin.  Serve with two servings of fruits or vegetables.  Add a small portion of healthy chips or crackers if you like.

Makes 7 servings (~1/2 cup each)

Nutrition Facts (Dip only, approximate)

Calories: 120; Fat: 1g; Protein: 6g; Carbohydrates: 26g; Dietary Fiber: 6g

*This recipe is modified from a recipe in Kiwi Magazine (September/October 2008, page 59).

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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March 2nd, 2009

Why Libra Fitness?

libra-fitness-logo-cmyk-for-shirts-03-09-20093

Wow.   My first blog post.  Finally.  This has been a long journey to get to this point, and I am so excited to be here, realizing a dream come true.  I plan to post a couple of times a week about healthy eating and exercise, of course, but also about the other components of balanced living.  Check back often to see what I’m up to.

So…what’s with the name?  Why “Libra Fitness”?  I considered several names before starting my business, but I wanted something that captured all of what I was hoping to create for my clients.  I wanted the name to reflect that my company would provide more than personal training services.  After all, people can get that anywhere.  My company was going to be about making meaningful, long-lasting relationships with my clients.  It was going to be about helping people find a way to make permanent changes that transformed their lives.  So, “Chris’ Gym” just wasn’t going to cut it.  Eventually, I settled on Libra Fitness.

People assume that I must be a Libra, but I’m not.  My mom is a Libra, though, and that appealed to me when searching for a name.  Libras are sincere, expressive, sociable, and easy-going.  Ultimately, Libras are well-balanced.  Libra Fitness is all about leading a well-balanced lifestyle.  I am actually a Capricorn.  As such, my destiny in life is to share what I have with others.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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