Weekly Workout: Driveway Circuits

Last week I gave you a Spin Profile for the Weekly Workout.  This week I wanted to share a new tradition that’s happening in my house.  One of the benefits of being a fitness major is that I’m surrounded by people who share a love for activity.  Not sure many other degree programs would gather in the driveway and throw stuff around on a Saturday morning.  But we do.

After a warm-up to get the blood pumping faster and open up our foot/ankle, hip and t-spine joints, we completed the following workout:

Spend 5 minutes at each station, moving through the three moves as many times as you can.  Take less than a minute to move to the next station.


The Driveway Awaits

The Driveway Awaits


Station 1

  1. Lunge Matrix with Slam – 1 time through each side
  2. Leap Matrix – 3 times each side
  3. 10 split stance single arm presses – 10 each side.  choose weight

Station 2 

  1. Agility Ladder – lateral loco of choice – 3 times down and back
  2. Feet elevated on chair, lateral toe taps – 10 each side
  3. 5 KB swings – 25 pounds

Station 3

  1. 5 step ups each leg, holding weight – you choose weight
  2. 10 bent over rows each arm – you choose weight
  3. 15 box jumps

Station 4

  1. Quick out of sync arms on rope – 15 each arm
  2. Rope Jacks – 15
  3. 15 pushups

Station 5

  1. TRX Rows – 15
  2. Up and Down Hip Drivers – 10
  3. TRX Pistol Squats – 5 each leg

I’m out of town this weekend but can’t wait to continue this weekend tradition in February!


Success: Relinquishing the Battle

Hi y’all!  I’d like to introduce my friend and client Sharon, author of the first installment of my Success: Client Defined series, where I will post original writings and thoughts from my clients about their journey with me.  (You can read more of her spunky and honest thoughts on midlife, dating, life in Baton Rouge and football on her blog Midlife Moments).

Sharon and me before a race

I first started training with Jessica in person when we were both in Memphis TN. I hesitated a little because I wondered what this 20 something would know about a 50ish woman’s needs. I was afraid she’d be this drill sergeant personal trainer that would wear me out and not personalize my program. At the time, I had paid for a gym membership a year prior but couldn’t make myself go to the gym. I had been marathon running but had lost interest. The biggest motivation I had was that I had gained a good deal of weight, and I felt frumpy and old. I had lost interest in any kind of exercise, and I knew had to get re-energized.

We did the typical 30 minute weight-training sessions, and immediately I knew I would like her. She wanted to know about my life and my interests and my struggles with regular exercise. While I was working out, we would talk about diet, dating, overeating and my weekly issues surrounding getting to the gym. I got on track again, and I started to lose weight.

After awhile, we stopped the personal training, but we remained friends. I’d hook up with her running group every now and then, and we talked infrequently. When she moved to Austin, I hired her for her email program. I have to say I like this system even better than in-person training. At first she sent me an email every week with all of my workouts on it. Over time, it became evident that my needs changed too much, so we are now on a system where she sends my workouts every day or every other day. After every workout, I check in with her to tell her how it went.

I feel like I have a health advocate working with me. She “gets” emotional eating. She “gets” mood swings and distractions to exercise. And, although she gently pushes me to stay engaged in what I want to do with my program, she allows me space to take breaks and get disillusioned with the process.

I’ve been participating in Jessica’s email program for over a year now … maybe two. When I compare before I started with where I am today, these are the results I’ve seen:

  1. My weight has been maintained without a lot of fluctuation.

  2. I feel much better about my emotional eating. I still do it on occasion, but I don’t beat myself up over it as much because I have shared it with her. It just doesn’t seem to have as much power or attraction to me anymore.

  3. I have been more consistent with working out than ever. I used to get bored and take 3-4 week breaks a couple of times a year, but I haven’t done that since I started the email training. I may take a week but it’s usually a day or two before I’m back at it. The consistency helps.

  4. My workouts are shorter in duration but produce better results.

  5. I have variety in my workouts now. I think that’s why I don’t get bored. I also have a bank of workouts in my email folders in case I want to try something different.

  6. I finally feel in charge of my health and habits.

  7. In the last 3 months, I got off my anti-depressant medication due to my healthier, saner lifestyle.

  8. Most of all, I have a friend in my court. No matter what is going on, I can call Jessica and talk to her. She knows how to listen in a non-judgmental way. And she’s really, really smart.

My worries about this young girl not being able to coach me were unfounded. I’m so glad I let them slide. One of the best things I’ve ever done is hire Jessica for my coach. It’s about so much more than exercise.

For the future, I’m looking forward to Jessica building her flexible training empire. I envision her having a web presence and serving clients all over the country … maybe even the world. She will never lose that personal touch because that’s who she is, but I think she will discover efficiencies to help her create her own “space” in this market. I actually think that when you look up coach in the dictionary, you’ll find her picture. She’s that good.

Thank you Sharon, you’ve been a joy to work with!  

Motivation Monday: My Problem with Fitspiration

Last week I wrote a post on setting goals, and another one about steps to take for enhancing your chances of success.  I’d like to turn Mondays into a regular motivational post, just to keep that fire lit.  When I searched “motivation” on Pinterest this morning, I was hoping for some inspiring quotes.  Instead, I was bombarded with images of (mostly) women’s half-naked bodies.

If you’ve been around Pinterest or in the fitness world for a while, you’re familiar with what I’m talking about.  The phenomenon actually has some terminology dedicated to it: fitspiration, thispiration, fitspo, thinspo.  (If you’re not familiar with this, search “motivation” on Pinterest).  There it all is.

First result for Google search: “fitness motivation women” Motivated?

Well, it all pisses me off (and not just me – here and there are some other viewpoints).

I personally am not motivated by these graphics (and if you are, more power to you!)  Instead I’m shamed into believing that I still haven’t reached that ideal body.  I’m not inspired to run another mile because after 20+ half marathons, I still don’t look like the body in the picture.  My focus shifts away from my health (physical, much less emotional and mental) and onto my appearance.

That is not motivation.

The photos normally don’t have a head attached to the body (objectifying the subject) – drawing the attention to very rounded and lifted glutes, flat abdominals and chiseled shoulders.  Hell, I’ve even seen super perky boobs as the focus and let me just tell you here, and you can quote me on this one: no amount of time in the gym can enhance your boobs!  

Just because you put the body in athletic wear and stamp a motivational quote over it doesn’t make it inspiring.

I asked some of my clients how they feel after seeing these images, and here are some responses:

I find most are not motivating and veer on thinspiration.  I think a lot of these graphics make women feel less than, and encourages disordered behavior.

They are not motivating to me, honestly.  Sometimes the words are motivating depending on the message.  There was a time I would have been obsessed with looking that way.

Here is what I hope motivates you:  Feeling good-mentally and physically.  Moving without pain.  Being outdoors.  Having confidence in yourself.  My stories of daily sweats.  An open road.  Exploring new trails.  Measurable progress in miles, speed, pushups or steps toward your goals.  Inspiring others.  (And I hope this post will spur some questions and thoughts in your mind about this industry, enough to get a conversation going with your fellow females).

And because of those hopes, here is my promise to you:  I promise to never post one of those graphics on a Motivation Monday blog.  Never post one of those graphics to a social media account.  When I do put photos up, they will be of me or a client celebrating an accomplishment or transformation.  And finally, I promise to never to hold you, my clients, my readers, my friends to that beauty/fitness ideal.

But I’m curious…do those photos motivate you?


Austin Bucket List

One of my goals for 2014 was to be a tourist in my own hometown.  If you’ve followed me since my Memphis days, you know this has always been important to me.  Explore. Do. Sightsee.  Learn.  Wherever you live, the history, culture and activities of your hometown are unique and you should soak them up!

My situation is perhaps a little more unique because I might be running out of time.  I moved to Austin a year and a half ago to start graduate school at UT.  I like this town a lot, and it has provided ample opportunities for me to learn and grow in my field.  But I know it is not my home.  I will not settle here.  I will not dig the roots of my fitness business here.  I know for sure I will be here through the end of school (May) and through the end of the lease on my house (early August) but after that I have no plans.  No plans to leave, no plans to stay.  I’ve got six months to make those plans but in case of the latter, I do have plans to DO a lot of things in and around Austin!

Here is a Bucket List my roommates and I have constructed for things we’d like to do before we leave:

  • First Thursday (SoCo)
  • Gospel Brunch – Stubb’s
  • Roller Derby
  • Top Golf
  • Peter Pan Mini Golf
  • In.Gredients Trivia Night
  • Greenbelt
  • Hamilton Pool
  • Float the River
  • Tower Tour
  • Two Stepping
  • Capitol Tour
  • National Park
  • Boat on the Lake
  • Bat Bridge
  • McKinney Falls
  • Chicken Shit Bingo
  • Hippie Hollow
  • Wimberley
  • Run the Cap 10k
  • Fredericksburg
  • Juan in a Million
  • Uchi
  • Freddie’s
  • Mozart’s
  • Enchanted Rock
  • Explore Downtown
  • Slam Poetry (Spiderhouse)

A pretty comprehensive list I’d say!  Some restaurants, some outdoor activities, some culture, some history.  The list is by no means complete so if you have a suggestion for something for me to do before I peace outta this town, let me know!


Write, Share and Update: More Tips for Effective Goals

Earlier this week I wrote a post about goal-setting (have you made any yet?!).  I wanted to take the time to expand on some ways to enhance the possibility of your goals turning into actions and into success (one effect of grad school is this need to explain via empirical evidence….).

A psychology professor (shoutout to my undergrad degree!), Dr. Gail Matthews, of the Dominican University of California studied goal setting strategies and outcomes.  Her study (of which 149 subjects completed) consisted of 5 groups of people

  • Group 1: Think about the goals they hoped to accomplish within 4 weeks
  • Group 2: Write down the goals they hoped to accomplish within 4 weeks
  • Group 3: Write down the goals and create an action commitment for each goal (again, within 4 weeks)
  • Group 4: Write down the goals, create action commitments and share these with a friend
  • Group 5: Write down the goals, create action commitments, share these with a friend and send a weekly update to said friend.

Any guesses as to which group turned their actions into goals more significantly than the others?  Group one completed 43% of their goals while groups 4 and 5 saw the most success (64 and 76% success).

My 2014 Goals

My 2014 Goals

I knew about writing them down but looks like I’ll have to be updating on progress every now and then, this should be fun!

I’d love to hear your goals for the year – and include that action plan!  What do you want to do in 2014?


Imitation Spaghetti

Spaghetti squash is gettin’ a whole lot of buzz these days, and for good reason!  I decided to see what all this fuss was about and created one of my very favorite recipes.  This squash is an excellent substitution for pasta for those of you trying out a sugar-free, low-carb or paleo style approach to eating.  Don’t expect an exact replica of the taste or texture, I find that the squash is a little sweeter, and less noodle-y but if you can get past that, this dish is pretty similar (even better…) to traditional spaghetti.

This squash compared to the same serving size (1 c) of whole wheat pasta has less calories (42/174), less carbs (10/37), less added sugar and less protein (1/7).  If you’re hung up on the fact that it has fewer grams of protein per cup, keep in mind that you can easily add meat or a protein source to your dish (like mine below!). The squash compared to the same serving size of whole wheat pasta has more Vitamin A and C, lutein and zeaxanthin (protect your eyes from aging!), potassium (to keep those muscles working well).

Cooking the Squash

The first thing I had to do after buying my experimental squash was look up how to cook it.  Of the microwave and oven options, I opted for the oven.  Too much time in the microwave freaks me out.  So

  • Preheat the oven to 425
  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise
  • Remove the pulp and seeds
  • Place on top of a pan covered with foil, open face down
  • Cook for 45 minutes
  • Use a fork to pull the spaghetti strands out of the shell

While the squash is cooking, I’ll usually start on the mix’ins.  For my first ever dish with this ingredient, I opted to make a meat sauce-like topping.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Ground Beef Topping for Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 package of grass fed/grass finished ground beef
  • 1 large can of organic diced tomatoes (italian seasoning optional)
  • 1 chopped organice red bell pepper
  • 1 handful chopped mushrooms (optional)
Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce

You can add any other vegetables or seasonings to the mix that you’d like.  I just use the diced tomatoes as my sauce and omit any jarred spaghetti sauce (usually have some hidden sugars, plus I’ve just learned to like the chunks – I know mama’s shocked!).

  1. Brown the meat, discard the fat
  2. Add the canned tomatoes
  3. Sautee the red peppers and mushrooms in coconut oil or Kerrygold butter
  4. Add veggies to tomato and meat mix
  5. Pour over the “noodles”
  6. Enjoy your spaghetti with meat sauce for days!

I’ll usually whip this up on a Sunday night and it’ll feed me through a school week.  I’ve even eaten it for breakfast after a morning workout!  If you try it, be sure to let me know what you think. I won’t be upset if you don’t think the squash imitates the pasta well enough 😉  happy eating y’all.




All Terrain Spin Workout

One of the many things I keep in my fitness toolbox is the ability to whip up a Spin (indoor cycling) workout with music in a jiffy.

Here’s one I’ve been using a lot recently.  It has some great variety of hill and speed intervals.  I’ve even included the best songs to use!  Use the instructions below for a great 45 minute cross training and cardio workout.  Enjoy 😉


Song Resistance (1-10) RPM Cues
Wake Me Up, Avicii   Bike set up
Wrecking Ball Re-Mix, Miley Cyrus Flat road 90 30 seconds Right foot/left foot/both feet. (x2)  Increase RPM by 10 for last 3 minutes
Play Hard, David Guetta ft Ne-Yo 4 to 5 70-80 8 count jumps from 1 to 2 to 3
Right Round, Pitch Perfect 5 80 (seated)           70 (standing) Verse seated.    Chorus standing jog
Do What U Want, Lady Gaga 6 75 (seated)  70 (standing) Verse Seated.  Chorus out of saddle climb
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark, Fallout Boy 5 to 6 Verse 80,        Sprint: 90, 100 and max Chorus sprints, increase RPMs for each round, all out on the last chorus
Animals, Martin Garrix same Start at 80, increase by 10 for each interval 30 seconds 80, 20 seconds 90, 10 seconds 100+  RPM  (x5)
Show Me The Money, Petey Pablo 6 to 7 60 to 70 Out of saddle climb, whole song
Hometown Glory Re-Mix, Adele 5 to 6 Start at 70 Increase by 10 RPM every 45 seconds until slow middle part.  Increase resistance one level and start over at 70 RPM
300 Violin Orchestra, Jorge Quintero start at 6 60+ Increase resistance by 1 every 45 seconds.  Keep RPM above 60 – standing climb when needed
Canon in D, Lullaby Piano Series 3 or less easy cool down