Countdown to 48

It occurred to me the other day–I have about 5 weeks until I turn 48. Not so old really, but I am using it a motivational goal–to consistently eat better and exercise to enter that year as my healthiest yet.

So starting tomorrow I will be posting daily thoughts and actions on the blog as a “Countdown to 48″….join me by sharing your thoughts on the blog—keep me motivated/ hold me accountable to do this awesome thing: give myself the Gift of Health!


I actually started yesterday so I will count it toward my goals……

This week:

Tuesday/ Thursday / Saturday–minimum 30 mintes fast pace walking plus minimum 100 ab repetitions ( combination of 4 @25 rep each)…this should work out to about 100 minutes of exercise this week.


I took a pre-work nap and then got up and hit the treadmill:

30 minutes of active time  with a warm up at 3.5 mph/1% incline and then worked at 3.8-4.0 mph/ 0-1% incline.

1.94 miles / 216 caloric burn per machine

Podrunner “Easy Does it” at 139 bpm


Abs–with Bender Ball:

crunches with ball under / at base of spine–1 set 25 reps

reverse curls -squeeze ball between knees with ankles crossed–1 set 25 reps

“rope climbs” (Does anyone know the real name?)–lay on back, legs up/feet flat and reach up to outer edge of feet with opposite arm while squeezing ball between feet–1 set 25 reps

obliques–ball under side of ab and do oblique crunches–1 set 25 reps


I have to confess–my outer glutes are sore today!!  I also walked a lot at work last night and use  Reebok Easytones as a RN to keep my feet comfortable–double workout!


So–motivation and accountability are welcome. Feel free to offer advice, suggestions and thoughts!! I’ll try to get some pictures done so you can see the progress and results!! ~Janice


The Smart Choice Method-Guideline #1: Focus on health and feeling good

Ok, if you read the intro for this post you already know what I am talking about. For those who skipped that one–I was questioned about how I lost weight ie what diet plan I was using. The funny thing is I’m following my own plan and these Guidelines will expand on what I did to get healthy AND lose weight as a side effect.

Guideline #1: Focus on the Healthy reasons you want to lose weight and not the weight loss itself.

I think this is the biggest factor in maintaining the desire to keep eating healthy and increasing/being active. There are a million little ways to evaluate feeling better and making healthy progress than the ones you see on a scale.I’ve read a few articles that also reinforce this point. “Dieting” is usually seen as a short term goal and often for an event like a wedding or reunion where you are looking to impress someone else. When you change the focus of WHY you are looking to lose weight and be healthier (ie feeling better, lower blood pressure/ blood sugar/ cholesterol) you actually put more effort into attaining that goal rather than just looking to lose weight (an ambiguous social driven goal).

I had faced the possibility of having to take blood pressure and cholesterol medications last December and I persuaded my PA to give me an opportunity to work on it with diet and activity. Less than 6 months later I had taken my blood pressure from 140/80-90 to 100-110/60-70 and my cholesterol had dropped about 50 points–all through simple dietary changes and increasing my activity. I did not do anything drastic, I did not starve myself or exercise like crazy.

I cleaned up my diet and started walking. Its that simple. Before YOU make any changes talk to your doctor. Have them get some baseline labwork and maybe even an EKG. We all have different levels of health status so you should work from that point to improve your health.  Most doctors get very little training on nutrition and exercise so you may have to do some research on your own to improve your health but always get them on board for any monitoring you may need.

There are many “unseen” benefits of focusing on health–the “non scale victories” that make a bigger difference in your life rather than a half pound weight loss.

Non-scale Victories (NSV) include:

* your clothes fit more comfortably-waistbands are looser and you can breathe!

*you can walk farther without getting out of breath

*you have more energy naturally and can cut back on coffee just by drinking more water

*you get a healthy ‘glow’ to your skin (people will ask you if you changed makeup!)

*you can take the stairs–because its more activity to count

*you sleep better at night (and maybe even snore less)

*you actually look forward to being active and getting sweaty

*you make new friends who are also health conscious

These are just a few of the many ways being healthy makes you feel better than just losing weight. Oh–and most people who do lose weight–they usually gain it back and then some. Focus on healthy and the weight will come off naturally.

So– are you focusing on healthy living? Is it time for some simple changes? Check in tomorrow for the next Guideline…

Guideline #2: Get as natural as possible with your food (eat as close as you can to its natural state)

Make Smart Choices~~Janice

I exercised …but I didn’t like it

There are just times you know you are not going to have a great work out but you talk yourself into it anyways…..yesterday was one of those days!

My daughter and her boyfriend wanted to go tot he gym after school and I said I would take them, even though I didn’t feel like going. Well it makes no sense to go to the gym and not do anything, right? SO I got dressed and hopped on the treadmill–the kicker? I left my ipod at home on the charger but I had the headphones …into the TV it was (I watched House). Not even 5 minutes into the walk my foot started to kill me–I have this issue with my ‘big toe joint’ on my left foot (it isn’t gout, or a fracture or anything we/I can figure out) and I toughed it out for 22 minutes and decided it was enough. I switched over to the recumbent bike for another 15 minutes (my daughter was done).

Am I glad I went? Yes. Would I do it again that way–I am really not sure. I do believe in pushing your body a bit but to exercise in pain? Yea I don’t think so– on those days I think I would stick to the bike and weights.

Thoughts? Do you exercise in pain or push yourself when you mentally are not in the mood for exercise?

What are your ‘talk yourself into it’  conversations like?

Trainer session and Express

Ok–so I am a little bit behind on posting since this actually happened on Friday (9/7/12) but…hey Life happens.

So I got there just a bit early for my trainer appointment so I hopped on a treadmill for 15 minutes to warm up and managed 1 mile/100 calories by walking at 4.1 mph after I warmed up at 3.6 for a minute or so.

Today was my “DYO” appointment. It stands for Design Your Own (workout) which is kinda a misnomer. While you do meet with the trainer to fine tune it based on your needs / condition, desired results and experience it was already a pre-planned action plan (ie on a laminated card you copied to your own).  I did like that the trainer asked in depth questions about what I really had time for and we worked out a plan to fit my time schedule: one upper body, one lower body and one “Express” if I came a third time to the gym (in a week). Warm up for 5-7 minutes before weights and then for 30-45 minutes after to deplete muscle reserves and burn  fat stores.  Although we did not go over what weight to start with we did set a plan for a little less weight and more reps to tone rather than ‘build’ muscle. Sounds good to me!

He also showed us 2 different kinds of elliptical machines-a traditional one and one that turns into a stair climber when you adjust the settings.

After the session I was on my own and opted to do the Planet Fitness 30 minutes express.  This time I had already written down the circuit and kept track to see where I was starting at and to track results.

Station 1-Leg press–1 set 25 reps @85 lbs (just a little too light)

Station3-Leg extension-1 set 20 reps–@ 50 lbs–>40 lbs (need to build right knee up)

Station5-Verticle Chest press-1 set 20 reps @ 20 lbs

Station7-Seated Row-1 set 25 reps @40lbs (next time @50)

Station9-Lateral Pull down-1 set 20 reps @ 50lbs (next time@ 60)

Station11-Shoulder Press–1 set10 reps at 40 (started off time and babying my left shoulder)

Station13-Bicep Curl (preacher curl) 1 set 12 reps @30 lbs

Station15-Tricep extension-1 set 20 reps @30 lbs

Station17-Ab curl-1 set 20 reps @60 lbs (next time @80)

Station19-Back extension-1 set 20 reps @80 lbs (next time @90)

In between stations I did the cardio portion with the ‘step’ and tried to varying how I stepped up and down (kinda boring). I finished today’s visit with another visit to the treadmill and did another 20 minutes at 4.2 mph for 1.5 miles and about 150 calories!


9/5/12– Cardio and Core

Today was definitely a sweaty day! There is just something satisfying about getting sweaty; knowing you are making enough energy within that it shows up on the outside!

I was on my own (unless you count the animals) since school started back up here today and the hubby was at work. What to do with myself? Aside from cleaning that is. Treadmill, bike, or video?

I chose the bike. I really do like our recumbent bike. It is very comfortable and sturdy. It is totally non-electric meaning you can’t cheat–if you don’t pedal it does not stay powered up and record your workout…I like feedback so I keep pedaling.

Today’s Stats:


Time–45 minutes

Program–started with the “interval 2” setting but decided to try the “plateau” one–definitely not ready for that one yet–RL escalates quickly to a level 7! Returned to interval 2 after about 5 minutes .

Music–Podrunner BPM 132 “Everybody  skips”

Avg speed-15.5-16.5 mph


Distance 12.0 miles

Caloric burn–190 cals

THR (training heart rate) range=112-138

AHR (average heart rate)  130s

RPE (rate percieved exertion)-5-6/10

Let me tell you I wanted to stop several times but you know what stopped me? Sweating!

Just the fact that there was a fine sheen of sweat on my arms and legs kept me going. Yea, I know its weird but you had to be there I guess.


I used a “Bender ball”.  It adds to your ROM (range of motion) and allows a crunch to include a back extension.  You can use a kids play ball but I’ve had this one for a while.

Crunches/ extensions–1 set 25 reps (the last 10 were hard!) (ball is behind your lower back)

Reverse curl –1 st 25 reps (ball goes between raised knees and you squeeze the ball while doing the curl)

“Toe reaches” 1 set 25 reps (legs raised and straight with ball between feet and squeezed while using opposite arm/hand to reach to outside of foot)

Needless to say, my abs are a little out of shape but once I get back into my routine….they won’t be!

SO–critique, comments, advice?

9/4/12 Cardio: Treadmill

Cardio today:

Treadmill–at the gym

Time: 30 minutes

Pace:  2 minute warm up at 3.5 mph then 23 minutes at 4.0 then 5 minutes at 4.2 mph

Incline: 1% continual

Podrunner: 139 BPM

Distance: 2.0 miles

Caloric burn: 205

Overall–I had a really good time! The Podrunner was motivating and a good pace!

I’m thinking I am ready to start doing running intervals since I am not at all winded and my HR is in the low 120 range (MY range for age is 116-138 for heart rate)

Comments? Thoughts?

Peanut Butter–the Smart Choice review

I love peanut butter!! It truly is one of my go to foods and comes with me to work and on vacations–really!

Why do I like peanut butter? Despite having some fat (about 72% in ratio to protein and carbs for a regular one) it is primarily healthy fat. It  has a decent amount of protein (about 4 grams/Tbs) as well as some important vitamins and minerals;Vitamin E, niacin & folic acid and magnesium. When pared with a whole grain bread it fills you up for a while which helps slow down the jump in glucose levels and keep you ‘steady’  until your next meal.

According to this Livestrong article “Peanut butter is rich in mono and poly-unsaturated fats, which are the “good,” cholesterol lowering fats. While these fats have heart-protective benefits, they also are what make peanut butter a high calorie food. So, as with most delicious foods, moderation is key. A general guideline is to try to limit yourself to 2 tbsp, which weighs in at about 180 calories.”

But the confusing thing is that there are so many “peanut butters” to choose from: regular, “Natural”, dehydrated (aka peanut flour), flavored, reduced fat….you get the idea. Well, I have tried a few and I am happy to share with you  what I have found.

OK– starting with the Basics

Skippy Natural

OK, maybe just a little bit basic. “Natural” in that there are no artificial ingredients, but more than just peanuts. It is pretty much your basic full fat, creamy peanut butter. “No need to stir”–generally but not always. Its a good basic, maybe just a little on the sweet side but very spreadable and does not rip your bread apart. Melts really easy on toasted breads.  This is great for use in baking since it blends and melts so nicely when combined with baking ingredients.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 2 Tbsp (32 g)
Servings Per Container 13
Amount Per Serving
Calories 190
Calories From Fat 140
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 3.5g 18%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 150mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0%
Iron 4%
Vitamin E 10%
Niacin 20%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Naturally More

OK–this is really a natural PB–you really do need to stir this one! I probably stirred this for about 5 minutes until it was fully combined.  You can really taste the peanut flavor! It was also like old fashioned peanut butter–it sticks to the roof of your mouth!  Although PB normally has good fats the addition of the flax seeds adds a bit more nutrition. I like flax seeds, just not whole ones. I think if they were ground I would’ve liked it better.  It did spread easy and melted nicely without the runny-ness of the Skippy  Natural.

Ingredients are a little more than just peanuts also: soy protein, flax seeds, evaporated cane sugar, salt and molasses.

Update: After I tried this I put it in the ‘fridge (optional) upside down…I really like it now!! Very creamy texture with the oil fully incorporated. I also figured out a way to deal with the whole flax seeds–use chia jam!

Next–Dehydrated, Reduced Fat and Powdered Peanut “Butter”

PB2 and PB2 Chocolate

This is probably the easiest to use for adding into recipes, smoothies, oatmeals. It is a dehydrated peanut butter, essentially a peanut flour. It has about 85% less fat than peanut butter so it is a great option for those looking to watch calories without loosing the option of having peanut butter. You can rehydrate it to use as a spread but I have just added it to things at this point. It does add the PB flavor to what it is added to without having the ‘gloppy-ness’ when you add it to a smoothie. It has become something I add to all my fridge oatmeals for added protein and taste.

Nutrition Facts

PB2: Powdered Peanut Butter


Roasted peanuts, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Servings per container: 15
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 13

Value and % Daily Value*

  • Total fat 1.5 g 3%
  • Saturated fat 0 g 0%
  • Trans fat < 0.01 g
  • Cholesterol < 0.01 mg 0%
  • Sodium 94 mg 4%
  • Total carbohydrate 5 g 2%
  • Dietary fiber 2 g 8%
  • Sugars 1 g
  • Protein 5 g
  • Vitamin A < 1%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium <1%
  • Iron 0%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chocolate PB2


Roasted peanuts, cocoa powder, sugar, salt.
Serving size: 2 Tablespoons (12 grams)
Servings per container: 15
Calories: 45
Calories from fat: 10

Value and % Daily Value*

  • Total fat 1 g 1.5%
  • Saturated fat 0 g 0%
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium 70 mg 3%
  • Total carbohydrate 6 g 2%
  • Dietary fiber 1 g 4%
  • Sugars 3 g
  • Protein 4 g
  • Vitamin A <1%
  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Calcium <1%
  • Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Better’n Peanut Butter

I’ve had this one in both the dehydrated and the spread form. The spread form has a slightly gritty texture but you get used to it easily. It is not as ‘peanutty’ as I would like but it spreads well and melts nicely on toasted breads without being runny. It has less fat than the traditional so I can understand the difference in taste. Right now, I use this one almost every day. As you can see it it not really a true peanut butter based on the other ingredients.

  • 85% Less Fat
  • 40% Less Calories
  • No Cholesterol
  • No Preservatives
  • No Refined Sugars
  • Natural Soy Lecithin
  • Non GMO Peanuts
Regular Creamy
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (32.0 g)
Amount Per Serving

Calories from Fat

% Daily Value*
Total Fat


Total Carbohydrates




Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4% Iron 2%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Low Sodium

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp (32.0 g)
Amount Per Serving

Calories from Fat

% Daily Value*
Total Fat


Total Carbohydrates




Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 4% Iron 2%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Flavored Peanut Butters and Nut Butters
 Peanut Butter and Co
These are actually my daughters and I have tried them but they are generally too sweet for my taste. I have found as I have gotten older that I just don’t like (or tolerate) the high sweetness. That being said, the PB& Co has a variety of flavors: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, Maple, White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Honey and Spicy to name a few. They are nice for a change of pace but I see them as a treat more than a staple in my life. You can find all the nutrition data here, but these are an example. The Speculoos Cookie Butter is just that–ground up cookies and blended to be spreadable.

and who can forget Nutella? Nutella is a Hazel nut based spead with cocoa. It is very rich and I really do view this as a treat rather than something to eat daily. It is very thick and does spread nicely. Very chocoaltey taste, you really can’t taste the hazel nuts at all. Still, for once in a while…its pretty good.

I tried to copy the ingredients but it was blocked but the first one is ….sugar.

SO–what to do with all these choices?  Which is the best for you, what tastes best, what to buy? Alas, it really is highly personal and depends on your needs and dietary restrictions.  I would say to try a few and see what you like. I will continue to use my PB2 on a regular basis and probably vary the rest based on what I am using it for–baking or eating or adding it to a smoothie/oatmeal.

All the nutrition facts came directly from the individual sites. The images are my own.

Can you recommend any of these or can you suggest another brand or version?

8/30/12 PF 30 Minute Express

I have to be honest–I had no plan to exercise today. But, my daughter asked to go to the gym today and she kinda talked me into at least doing the treadmill. I decided I would do the bike and was on the way there when I decided to check out the Express workout room.

I stayed.

You can ideally start anywhere in the room but it is set up with 20 numbered stations that you follow around the room. I really liked that it was well thought out using the bigger leg muscles progressing into smaller arm/shoulder muscles then core. This alternates with a “step station” to keep your heart rate up and get in your cardio as well.

Will I do it again? Absolutely!

BTW– I also signed up for a “design your own” (DYO) workout with a trainer session.

8/27/12–Recumbent Bike

Ok– so this is actually from a few days ago but…

I was short on time but wanted to do something before I took a nap for work (I work 12 hour nights) and wanted to make the most of my efforts….


Time–20 minutes

Distance– 5.5 miles


Program– Interval 2 (short rest and longer work plateaus)

Resistance Level (RL) -3 for recovery and 5 for work

Avg speed–17.2-17.5 mph

Music– Podrunner @ 139 BPM “Easy does it”

BTW– my pedometer for work showed 3.7 miles for my shift as well !

Critique? Comments? Suggestions?

SportsArt C53r Recumbent Bike

I have to say I am very fortunate to have gotten this recumbent bike a few years ago. If you are considering a stationary bike this one is solid and very functional. SportsArt makes a good product!! This one is totally powered by you but I believe you can buy an adapter to keep the monitor lit if you need to pause during a ride. Part of why we purchased this one is because it is not powered by electric, so it is very quiet to use and you can use it anytime, regardless of if someone is sleeping.

One of the really nice things about it? It can hold 4 “identities” so each of us can recall our settings without the full start up process and we can also switch programs “mid-stride” if we decide to change paths.  The seat position and back are easily adjusted and the heart rate feature is just a hand grip away.

No, this is not a ‘paid advertisement’ just my appreciation for a great product. ~Janice