Skip to content

A New Year’s Resolution: Get Off of the Weekly Up-Down Weight Gain Rollercoaster


Holidays and weekends have the same thing in common: people enjoy both immenseley, yet despair at having eaten too much. And so goes the Weekly Up-Down Weight Gain Rollercoaster.


Why We Ride the Rollercoaster

So many of us take that ride due to our put-your-nose-to-the-grindstone culture. By working so hard during the week, we often deprive ourselves of sleep, fun activities and proper nutrition. When the weekend rolls around, we’re exhausted and feel we deserve to lie around, eat and sleep.

If we were all heavy laborers, that pattern might be necessary to regain weight we during the week and will need to power through another rigorous week. But most of us have sedentary jobs that leave us mentally tired, but physically untaxed. Therefore, weekend lounging creates caloric overloads.


The Aftermath of the Wild Ride

The Weekend Wild Ride leads to Monday Weight Gain Blues:

  • We feel depressed about our lack of discipline, which casts a pall over what would otherwise have been a really fun weekend.
  • We feel driven to lose the weight over the next five days.
  • Whatever workouts we manage to fit in become “have to” tasks of drudgery that drain the fun from what would otherwise be enjoyable de-stressing breaks.
  • We feel obligated to work extra hard to burn more calories, which increases our chance of injury.
  • By gaining and losing weight on a weekly basis, we create a metabolic whiplash Uncertain of what nutrients our bodies will get and in what quantity, they alternately encourage us to overeat and then starve ourselves.


How to Get Off the Rollercoaster

Before the concept of weekends and holidays, people typically lived each day the same. They worked and rested as needed, and either ate when hungry or at set meal times, depending on the culture.

That makes a strong case for eating and resting as though weekends didn’t exist. According to that concept, all of us would more or less eat the same amount of food every day while including some sort of daily movement.


Most Common Obstacle: Treats


A major reason we overeat on the weekends is because we’ve usually got more time to eat, and more often than during workdays, we choose items that fall into the category of treats, otherwise known as food we otherwise restrict.

Here are two easy means of overcoming the treat dilemma:

  1. Fit treats into your daily menu, which will boost your morale, make you feel satiated and decrease the likelihood you’ll overeat when offered treats on other occasions.
  2. If offered a delicious treat after you’ve already eaten your daily dose, take the offering home for the next day’s delight.


New Year’s Diets: Beware!

By now, the research is fairly clear: what you should eat and how much is dependent upon your particular body chemistry, body composition and activity level.

That means no general diet or nutrition plan will guarantee you success in maintaining or decreasing your weight.

A great solution is to create your own nutrition plan. Research a number of nutrition concepts that encourage eating normal food and healthy amounts, rather than relying on supplements. Then choose the aspects you like from each. The last step is to experiment with all of those different ideas and foods. Be patient! The effort will be worthwhile when you finally find the mix of foods and the style of eating that works best for your body. 


Final Reasons to Exit the Weekly Gain-Lose Fun House

Count down to the New Year!

  1. You’ll wake up on Monday mornings without a too-much-food hangover.


  1. You’ll have a smooth re-entry into the workweek.


  1. You won’t have to readjust/decrease your food intake.


  1. You won’t have to find more time for longer workouts.


  1. You won’t feel obligated to push yourself to un-fun limits during workouts.


  1. In short, you’ll feel great!


Happy working out in the New Year!


Plan your holiday fitness now!



The easiest way to make your holidays better is to workout daily. Doing so will decrease the stress of holiday planning and travel and of eating too much.

While those results are no secret, knowing how to plan ahead can be tricky. Fortunately there are many helpful online articles, including one by Cedric Bryant in U.S. News & World Report titled 8 Secrets to Staying Fit During the Holidays.

Here’s my list, some items of which are shared in the above article:


Plan one movement-oriented activity for every day

Make sure to put the activity on the calendar and your daily to-do list just as you would any other task. The activity can be as simple as walking to a favorite coffee shop with friends. When the activity is done, you’re happy from the endorphins circulating through your body, the fun you had with your friends and the satisfaction of checking the deed off of your list.


When you eat, enjoy yourself!

But remember that eating until you’re stuffed isn’t really all that enjoyable. The fullness is uncomfortable and the guilt of eating too much is never worthwhile. Therefore, consider eating only one plate of food at each meal, which means taking only normal portions of food. If anything looks too tasty to pass up, put some aside for yourself to enjoy at another meal. If you’re the host, that’ll be easy. If you’re a guest, hosts are only too happy to let you take food home. You’ll get to look forward to eating something delicious, you’ll save food from being thrown out and you won’t suffer any food guilt.


Plan active outings you’ve always wanted to try, but don’t normally have time for

One of the beautiful things about the holidays are those treasured vacation days that allow you to do activities that take more time.

I’d heard about kayaking at Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing for years until I remembered the recommendation while planning for my holiday fun. I made an online reservation through the nearby outfitting company then followed the instructions about what to bring. The day proved amazing! I’m happy to say I now know what a raft of otters looks like.




Other ideas:

  • Take a trampoline class through a sports center like Sky High Sports.
  • Rent a bike through a company like Adventures by the Sea in Monterey and ride along the coast.
  • Go with friends to that pole dancing class you’ve always wanted to try. Someone recently recommended Entangle and Sway in San Francisco.
  • Plan a long hike to a beautiful location like Joshua Tree National Park that’s farther away than you can normally travel.


I’ll be offering a Turkey Burn Bootcamp at 9:30 a.m. on Fri., Nov. 23, at Bandley ($15 a person, 6 people minimum). If you’d like to join, email me at by Tues., Nov. 20.

If you’re not a member of my gym, however, invite some friends over or recruit some family members and hold your own Turkey Burn!Thanksgiving13-Workout



Happy working out during the holidays!



New Adventures for 2018

While the term “New Year’s resolution” seems positive in tone, the slogan is negative to the core. The promise to do better in the future implies people have somehow been bad, as in lazy, weak, distracted, or all three.

Forget that!

Instead, make a list of new adventures you can look forward to in the coming year, even if they might make you a little nervous to try.

To get you started, I’d like to pass on the many excellent suggestions I received from people in the last year that you might make your new year fun and challenging.



Mt. Umunham: a Yummy New Trail

This hike was great, thanks so much for the recommendation! Happy new year!

— From Natalie, a fellow fitness friend

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District just opened and excellent stretch of trail that leads to the top of Mt. Umunhum in Los Gatos, CA. At almost 3,500 feet elevation, the peak is one of the highest in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I recently hiked the shady trail from the Bald Mountain parking lot and would describe the 3.6 miles to the summit — over 7 miles roundtrip — suitable for beginning hikers on up through those with more experience. Besides a fantastic 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains, the summit has very nice bathroom and picnic facilities. The three parking lots along the route can get crowded, so consider hiking in the morning.



Nuts and Bolts Nutrition for the New Year

If you’re tired of nutrition books that are full of do’s and don’t and that include a lot of confusing and seemingly contradictory studies about what’s good for you and what isn’t, try Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (Fifth Edition).

Despite the title, you don’t have to be an athlete to love the common sense advice this registered dietician offers to help every person make great choices for his/her unique body type, movement needs and lifestyle.

She advocates eating as much “real” — unprocessed — food as possible, while offering loads of easy strategies to get around common problems, such as eating nighttime snacks that lead to weight gain.

Here are just a few of the topics she covers:

  • vegetarian/vegan vs. omnivore
  • whether there’s value to “organic” foods and sports drinks
  • how to plan for food choices under a variety of circumstances, whether you’re on vacation, have a busy work week or when you’re training for a sports event
  • when and what to eat before, during and after exercise
  • how to lose weight in a healthy way
  • comparative lists of actual food and drink brands and their nutritional value
  • why muscle cramps during exercise



Private Class Anywhere, Any Time

Workout apps are more motivating and effective than ever.

If you’re often strapped for time, or have to work out in small spaces such as hotel rooms or your living room, consider trying an app like Aaptiv, an audio program. Launch the app; choose a class (outdoor running, strength training, yoga, treadmill, elliptical, spin bike); put in your earbuds; and listen as a trainer guides you through a workout.

If you’re not sure how to go about strength training, consider using Fitbod, a recommendation from Linda, yet another fellow fitness friend. Besides offering workouts statistics, such as calories burned, the various formats focus on strength, muscle tone, bodybuilding, and olympic and powerlifting.

Now that she’s more experienced, Linda said she’s moved on to HeavySet, a workout tracker and log for bodybuilding and strength training.

Lastly, she’s also found Seconds Pro to be a first-rate interval timer for HIIT, Tabata and circuit training.

While checking out a variety of apps, I came upon an article titled There’s an App for That:  Fitness Apps and Behavior Change Theory that’s worth a read.



Aspens in mountain along trail outside of Flagstaff, AZ

Wheel Away from Work!

In a previous blog post (Discovery: The Difference Between a Fitness Workout and Fitness Adventure) I explained how I took a mountain biking clinic last summer to improve my skills for a 4-day mountain biking trip in September in Arizona. I’m happy to say the effort paid off in spades. I not only enjoyed myself tremendously while riding through gorgeous terrain in the company of great people, but I remained injury-free, and best of all, had a terrific adventure. I even made it through a 40-mile day, which I wouldn’t do again, but am happy to have survived.


I’d recommend the outfitter, AZT Expeditions. Our guide  took us to the trailhead, then set up camp — chairs, an outdoor kitchen, fire prep, etc. — when we arrived after a day of riding. While we were responsible for brining our own camping gear and food, our group organized well so that kitchen duty and daily camp pack-up went smoothly.

Now our group is considering a trip next year to Durango, CO. Woohoo!


Whatever you do in the coming year, be sure to keep those recommendations streaming my way!

Happy working out!



Discovery: The Difference Between a Fitness Workout and Fitness Adventure


My classmates and two coaches in the Ninja Mountain Bike Performance clinic, July 2017

For me, the difference between a vacation and an adventure is the former consists of experiences that rate a 1 – 4 out of 10 on what I call my Worry Meter. While I might try new food, go new places, see new things and meet new people, nothing about them physically or emotionally taxes me. That’s a marvelous thing if the goal is to relax.

But if I want to discover what I may be missing in life, I have to venture into what I find uncomfortable, sometimes extremely so. The payoff is that I almost always learn something new about myself and the world, lessons that often turn out to be life-changing.

I was reminded of that recently when I took a two-day Ride Like a Ninja mountain biking clinic in the Santa Cruz mountains through Ninja Mountain Bike Performance.

I’d been mountain biking for the last five years and had picked up the activity as most people do, by borrowing a bike and going out with friends and picking up tips here and there along the way. Two years ago I started riding with a group of people who seemed to have a much easier time with steep terrain. Whereas for me, though I continued to ride regularly, even trails I’d glibly ridden when I first started seemed to grow more threatening. Why?

That and I wanted to go on a 4-day, 100-mile mountain biking trip in Arizona in September with the same group of riders. The organizer, who I’d only ridden with on a few occasions, asked if I’d be up for intermediate-to-advanced terrain. I said I was certainly fit enough. He said while that was a plus, tough terrain requires skill. That separation of the two attributes — fitness and skill — gave me pause. I told him I’d like to sign up, but would check my skills by taking part in a clinic

When the day of the clinic arrived, I showed up at the designated location, the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos, CA. There I met the two coaches: Richard La China  has a long list of both mountain bike racing wins and coaching certifications, as did Randy Inglis, a former expert downhill rider. Both were very welcoming, as were the nine other men in my class, which decreased my nervousness somewhat.

The coaches first assessed our basic skills in a flat region of the forest: the ready position, braking, manipulating the bike from side-to-side and performing various cornering techniques. During the last, my Worry Meter rose from a 3 to a 4 because I couldn’t quite get the feel of what the coaches wanted.


Section of downhill at Forest of Nisene Marks

Then we went on a ride that involved a short technical segment involving rocks and roots down a somewhat steep slope. At the bottom, we practiced a short, steep transition of maybe five feet, first on a moderately steep section. When it came for the very steep transition, my worry meter shot up to 8, so I remained on the sideline to watch those who felt comfortable trying. As the day progressed, I discovered more an more bad habits I’d been using.

Though I was nervous about the second day’s more challenging terrain at the Soquel Demo Forest in Los Gatos, CA, I showed up to the same enthusiastic coaches and clinic-mates. The day of riding progressed as the previous one had, in that we stopped frequently to talk about different terrain features, including log crossings. Though receiving consistent and supportive verbal cues from the coaches, my morale continued to slide. Proper cornering and braking still eluded me and I fell several times because I was looking down in front of the bike instead of farther down the trail. The only thing I did well was the final slog up a long, wide fire road back to the parking lot.

I enjoyed the coaches and their sense of humor and multitudinous insights. I appreciated having accomplished a trail I’d been too nervous to do on my own. I loved learning about the others in my group while swapping recommendations on where to ride. I really loved the breakfast, lunch and transportation to the trailhead provided by Cyclepath Outfitters.

But as I drove home, my morale sank to zero, an emotional state I’d never experienced before, especially in the fitness realm. It was then I had my first revelation: I was a rotten rider. How had I survived for so long without getting seriously hurt?

When I got home, I jotted down debriefing notes, then allowed myself to feel lousy. I consider that a necessary step if I want to gain any insight. Realizing you’re not as accomplished as you thought is sad!

The pity party over, I thought over the experience. That was when I had the second, and much bigger, revelation: My fitness level is high enough, and my core strong enough, that until now I’ve been able to muddle my way through tricky situations, which masked the fact my basic set of skills was not only tiny, but half of my techniques were wrong.

Big ouch.

Once the lightning bolt struck, however, what I had to do became clear: create a weekly program to methodically work on the skills I’d learned, starting from the basics. This week I went to a relatively flat park two blocks from my house and went around and around trees while monitoring my ready position, bike shift and braking. This weekend when I biked in Soquel Demo again, I already felt more in control of downhill segments as I consciously used cues I’d learned.

So much better than guessing what I should be doing or clinging on for dear life!

By sharing this experience, I hope to encourage you to safely adventure out into activities you either would like to try, but are nervous about, or that you’ve never really gotten comfortable with because you never had lessons.

Below are the steps I’ll encourage you to follow.

4 Steps to Fitness Discovery

  1. Adventure out! Trying is better than not trying.
  2. If you’re new to an activity, get a lesson! If you’ve been doing that activity for a long time, but have never had a lesson, sign up now.
  3. Follow your Worry Meter. If some part of the activity strikes you as a 5 or above, there’s still some aspect you’re not understanding. Keep asking questions until your WM rating goes down.
  4. Set up a regular daily/weekly schedule for practicing the skills you learn. If your system is effective, you should quickly begin to see your confidence rise and your WM rating go down.


Happy working out!

How Tired Should You Feel After a Workout?

Lesley, a fellow fitness friend, took my spin class recently and texted the following:
Hey! 🙂 class was great and felt like a good workout. This afternoon I’m feeling super zapped though. Do you have advice for how to have more energy for the rest of the day if you workout in the morning? Is it normal to be tired after?
The answer is yes, it’s normal to be tired after a hard workout.
The apparently paradoxical solution for being less tired after workouts is to be more regular in working out. When you develop that consistency, your heart and body get stronger and better able to handle intensity and endurance, or activity over time. The American Heart Association recommends 5 30-minute cardio workouts per week, 3 of which include intervals that increase the heart rate to vigorous.
If you begin such a regimen, you’ll be a little more tired for a few weeks. Typically getting enough sleep, or a little more sleep, will help deter any weariness due to the increased activity level. But after that, your body will get used to, and come to rely upon, that rush of endorphins. Instead of feeling tired after a workout, you’re more likely feel energized.
If you’re feeling completely zapped, however, it’s time to check a few workout considerations:
  1. Dehydration can cause prolonged lethargy. If you haven’t already, develop a daily water consumption habit. I recommend getting a water bottle you like, which allows you to know the volume of water you’re drinking. Then decide how many times a day to fill the bottle and drink the contents so you never have to guess how much water you’ve consumed. Choosing set times to drink really helps. For example, I automatically drink my water at breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you workout, consider adding 1 more water bottle per day to your routine.
  2. Even if you’re hydrated, being low on sodium, potassium, calcium and other electrolytes can cause pronounced lethargy along with other symptoms that can become life-threatening. I bought a can of dried electrolyte drink mix at the grocery store. If I know I’ll be working out for longer than an hour (i.e., a hike) or will sweat more than normal (hot yoga) I put a scoop of the mix into one of my water bottles.
  3. Allergies can also cause fatigue. Even though I might remain well hydrated, and sufficiently up on electrolytes, I might come home from mountain biking or hiking feeling zapped just due to the allergens I inhaled while outside.
  4. Lastly, a common source of undue fatigue after a workout may be due to insufficient sleep. Take a look at how much sleep you’re getting. Even a few days of suboptimal sleep — 6.5 hours when your optimal length of sleep  is 7.5 or 8 — can lead to increased cortisol levels and feeling constantly tired.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning some people do experience exercise intolerance, what Wikipedia describes as “a condition of inability or decreased ability to perform physical exercise at what would be considered to be the normally expected level or duration. It also includes experiences of unusually severe post-exercise pain, fatigue, cause, vomiting or other negative effects.” Typically such reactions are the result of one or several other disorders, so contacting a doctor to determine the underlying causes is necessary.

Other questions? Let me know!

Happy working out!




Cook Island Vacation Workout


My husband and I got back from, Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands, a chain of islands halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.


As I was telling people about it, I was reminded once again of my intention to share my travel workouts to give you ideas about what you can do while on vacation.

To begin, I have three rules and three reasons for those rules.

3 Rules/Reasons of Vacation Workouts

Move Vigorously Once Every Day


When on vacation, I do as I normally do at home and choose one form of vigorous movement per day, even if I know I’ll be moving at a more moderate pace the rest of the day, such as sightseeing.


  1. My heart maintains its cardio fitness as it should.
  2. I can eat the wonderful food of the locale without worrying about calories.
  3. I minimize the effects of jet lag (Quick Tip: Fight Jet Lag With Exercise by Shawn Radcliffe, Men’s Health)


Choose a Fun Workout That Maximizes the Locale’s Attributes


Rather than workout in a gym, I choose options specific to the locales, whether running ancient staircases in a picturesque Tuscan village, learning to windsurf in Hawaii (as vigorous as it is beautiful!) or biking the path along Lake Michigan in Chicago.


Doing new activities is always fun, but moving as such in spectacular locations I’ve never seen before is beyond fantastic.


Be Respectful to Travel Companions

Whether you’re traveling with friends, a spouse and/or kids or a busload of people, choose movement options that won’t inconvenience your companions. Traveling can be stressful, so you don’t want to add to anyone’s anxiety by running late, getting lost or dragging people on excursions they don’t want to do.

It’s easy enough to set your alarm 30 minutes early so you can get your workout in before the day’s planned itinerary begins, or better yet, schedule yourself on guided activities where you’ll be safe and in the company of others who want to do a specific activity. You can always meet up with your travel companions later, at which point you’ll have a lot to tell them.


My Cook Island Travel Workouts

The list below gives a good example of the rules listed above. We were lucky enough to stay in a cottage on the beach that came equipped with 2 kayaks.


Equipment I brought:

  1. swimsuit and related gear: fins, snorkel, goggles
  2. workout clothes and running shoes
  3. a resistance tube (cheap, lightweight and you won’t cry if it gets lost)



  1. Friday: lap swimming before the flight (makes it easier to sit for the 9-hour flight)
  2. Saturday: kayaking, snorkeling, standup paddle boarding (a guided night tour where the paddles had LED lights and the 2 guides performed a fire dance on the beach)
  3. Sunday: running the beach for 30 min. followed by 20 minutes of resistance tube strength training outside on the deck of our cottage, complete with the friendly island dogs and roosters roaming around
  4. Monday: a rigorous cross-island guided hike over Indiana Jones-style mountain jungle terrain (dodging under vines, climbing over boulders, slogging through creeks)
  5. Tuesday: biking a good way around the 19-mile circumference of the island, making sure to stop and swim at all the great beaches
  6. Wednesday: running the beach for 30 min. followed by 20 minutes of resistance tube strength training
  7. Thursday: yoga class on a deck overlooking lush island terrain
  8. Friday: biking to a waterfall, the sweaty effort worth the feel of that cool, clear water


If you get a chance, leave a comment about one of your favorite vacation workouts.

Happy working out!



Add Excellent Mental Health to Your Fitness Goals for 2017


IMG_0820.jpgI don’t know about you, but this past election cycle was so negative in every respect, even my excessive positivity was sorely challenged.

Striving for a heavy-duty strategy for protecting my mental health and retaining a sense of humor, I hit upon the answer:

Go surfing.

While that might sound like a glib solution, it’s not in the least, especially considering I grew up in Illinois and therefore always considered the ocean a fine thing so long as the water was Hawaii-style warm, the day was hot and the waves were small enough to play in, but not enough to kill me.

Even after living in California for almost two decades, I was still one of those people who stood with tourists atop the cliff, watching the surfers below. I’d marvel at their skill, and when they got churned by a wave, was grateful it wasn’t me.

Then about seven years ago, a friend asked if I wanted to take a surfing lesson in Santa Cruz. Always interested in trying a new movement challenge, and too chicken to look chicken, I said, “Sure.” Yet I didn’t sleep well the night due to images of an overcast sky and huge waves curling over me.

Fortunately, the lesson went very well. The day was bright and sunny, the weather was so warm I sweated beneath my wetsuit and I managed to ride a wave, the feel like that of having a motorboat on the back of my board. I not only survived, but had fun. The challenge complete, I assumed I’d never surf again.

A year later, the same friend asked if I wanted to go again. Though still nervous about the idea, I remembered the motorboat feeling and agreed.

The second outing, however, wasn’t as pleasant. The weather was cold, the sky overcast, the waves bigger and the break a lot more crowded. I got separated from the instructor and had no idea how to get back to shore without getting mowed over by a surfer who would suddenly appear, yelling at me to get out of the way.

I managed to ride in, belly down on my board. But by then I was shaking badly from the cold air and water and I felt dispirited by such a nerve-wracking experience.

Another five surf-free years passed until last year when a woman in one of my classes asked me to take a class with her and the instructor she’d been taking lessons from for about a year.

I’d always felt disappointed in my last experience, so I again agreed, and again I couldn’t sleep the night before and again the sky was overcast, the water was cold, and the two-foot waves looked huge. But this time I asked very particular questions about how to safely get into the surf and how to avoid having them crash over my head. Though I only got up a few times, I had more skills to keep myself safe and so felt more in control than I had before.

I felt so much better, I started asking the advice of others who regularly surfed, especially two surfer chicks who were kind enough to not only trade me a used wetsuit for a loaf of banana bread, but also asked me to go surfing with them. Being with people who were compassionate to a newbie allowed me to build the infrastructure to start surfing once a week. I bought a big boat of a surfboard (see photo above); figured out how to get it into my car; discovered where I could surf on a regular basis without hurting myself; routinely perused the website that lists surf conditions for those locations; and learned the etiquette of how to ride waves when others were around.

Which brings me back to using this new endeavor to maintain good mental health.

One day last fall when politics had grown particularly ugly and I had the feeling humanity was at death’s door, I drove down to my normal surfing spot in Capitola. I pulled on my wetsuit and booties, and holding my board on my head, trudged down the stairs to the beach. I paddled out into the waves and got tossed and tossed and tossed again. But somewhere in there, I caught a wave and motored along, yelling all the way. I paddled back out and sat on the board and looked at everyone else floating nearby, watching for the next wave to catch. The sun was out and the great ocean was spread before me. That was the moment I regained perspective on life.

By embracing an activity that still scares me silly until I actually get out on the water, and by digging into and overcoming the obstacles to performing an activity so far from my land-bound upbringing, I found a healthy, active, beautiful means of focusing on the good in life.

So with a hearty thank you to all of the friends who helped me discover a means of retaining sanity via surfing, I wish you the same luck in finding an engrossing, sometimes scary, often thrilling activity that promotes your both your mental and physical health while fostering hope for the future.

Happy New Year!