C is for…

I wish there was something or someone that I could blame it on. Genes surely play a role. My family happens to be active producers and consumers in the sport of BAKING and EATING. We all bake and we all eat what we bake.  My specialty happens to be cookies.

800px-1970's_easy_bake_oven_2013-09-17_19-40My baking experience began way back with a little green contraption called the Easy Bake Oven.  It was a little bitty faux appliance from which one could produce little bitty cakes from little bitty cake mix.  The heating element was a light bulb and I suppose it was fairly safe for its time. After one too many experiments with flour and sugar in the Easy Bake mama finally caved and let me bake my first batch of cookies, sugar cookies at around 7 or 8 years old. That was the moment that Cookie Monster Thorns was born.IMG_7177

For 40 years I don’t recall going a month without baking cookies or a week without eating them which is not necessarily a good thing for someone who: a)has struggled with weight issues most of her life and ; b)someone who was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2004.  Neither of these issues stopped me from my cookie baking or eating in fact rebelliousness and denial led me to do it more, until a series of events got me “scared straight”, sort of.

I still eat and bake cookies, just not like I used to my health was suffering and I was under orders to lose weight which I did.  However, I’m a realist and know my body.  Flat out cold turkey cookie quitting didn’t work.  Every time I tried it, it ended in some sort of cookie coma in which I’d end up begging God to let me live with the promise of never doing it again.  So I stopped doing it, going overboard that is.  If I want the cookie(s) I eat them and move on — no self-bashing, no belly aches and no promises to God to not do it again.  Don’t get me wrong, if I let cookies (and a few other things) go completely, I’d probably fit nicely on the BMI charts by now but I’m not there.  In the meantime I’ll eat as well as I can, workout and have a cookie as needed.

What about you? Are you a cookie monster?  What is that thing that you enjoy so much that you won’t refrain from it even if it doing so can improve your health and fitness?  I’d love to hear about it.  Let me know in the comments on Google+ or Twitter.

Until next time, see you in the kitchen, where I’ll be preparing a lovely salad with cookies for dessert :-).

2012-12-29 12.29.00 (1280x960)

Photos: Easy Bake Oven Wikimedia Commons user Rdmsf; all others MsThorns

Powered by Soul Spotlight: Lamont Doss

DossHulkThose with lesser stamina will be left in his dust gasping for air.  He doesn’t just take leisurely jaunts accross town, he can ride to another state with only his legs!  Introducing the Iron Man, Lamont Doss in his own words.

My name is Lamont and I’m transitioning my residence from San Antonio, TX to Charlotte, NC. I’m 38 years old and employed as a Network Engineer.

Tell us about your fitness routine including type, days per week, location, preferences etc.
Because of my work schedule, I only work out on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays. I have an alternating three day routine of Back/Chest, Legs, Shoulders/Arms. In the Spring and Summer months, I participate in a number of cycling events, so I’m trying to focus more on my legs during the off season.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?
This is an area where I really struggle. While I would love to verbosely describe my healthy eating habits, this is not my current reality. My nutrition plans are still a work in progress.

How long have you been active/following your nutrition plan/playing sports etc.?
I really got serious about having an active lifestyle about three years ago. I used to frequent the gym after work, and later, a colleague offered to teach me to play golf. From there, a couple of colleagues invited me to join them on a couple of 18 mile cycling rides, which grew into 25, 45, 60, then 100 mile events.

Do you have a success story/testimony relating to fitness, nutrition or your overall health?
Though my cholesterol levels are great, I still have issues with high blood pressure. That’s my next challenge, and necessary before I can claim success. In the interim, I can proudly say I’m physically stronger than I’ve ever been in life.

What motivates you to do what you do in terms of fitness and nutrition?
Stress, but mostly the release of it. Going through a divorce while taking on a new job was a bit of a load, so I used weightlifting as a way to purge frustration, stress, and anger. The redirection of bad energy helped me maintain my focus. Though I don’t have to deal with many of the aforementioned challenges anymore, I continue to find peace in my workout.

Do you have a personal motto/philosophy you’d wish to share?
Plan, achieve, and then excel.

Powered by Soul thanks Lamont for sharing the challenges and the triumphs of his fitness life.  Hopefully this writer will be left in his dust in a road race this spring 🙂

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the Powered by Soul Spotlight, please let me know in the comments, contact me on Twitter or Google+.  Until next time see you at the gym.

Injury Report – Ridiculous

The latest injury news for the old broad is lumbar radiculopathy.  When I received the diagnosis I couldn’t help but think how close the word was to “ridiculous” and told the doctor as much.  This is a back problem, inflammation aggravating a nerve which manifested itself as a pain in the arse, hamstring and foot. This is not new and is something I’ve dealt with off and on for about 30 years.  In the past the condition has been treated by:

  • steroid injections which failed at relieving the back pain but ended up improving my asthma symptoms
  • chiropractic manipulation – which helped tremendously but required weekly visits that were not covered by insurance
  • major weight loss – which eliminated the chronic pain
The doctor didn’t ask me what I’d been doing but I told him about my exercise regimen which is what I assumed caused this latest flare-up.  To relieve the symptoms the doctor prescribed:
  • oral steroids (which are making me bats#$% crazy)
  • rest and, wait for it …
  • losing 10 pounds as my current level of exertion may be too much at my current weight

20131227_095017 (1)

Thus far I’ve taken the pills and stayed out of the gym, practiced yoga (the only exercise permissible) and have been contemplating how to address my diet in order to lose some more weight.  I’m not pleased but will do it, and will seek a nutritionist since I’m diabetic and  exercise five days a week.  In other words, I am actually complying with doctor’s orders 🙂

I hope that none of you are dealing with any injuries during this festive season.  If you are, I hope you’re on the mend, complying with the prescribed treatment(s) and enjoying your family and friends.  On the bright side, if you’re sidelined from the gym/road/court etc, that gives you more time to spend with the folks you love.

If you have a history of back problems, I’d loved to hear about your experiences and how you’ve overcome them.  Feel free to share in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or Google+.

Until next time see you somewhere, anywhere other than the doctor’s office 😉

Powered by Soul Spotlight: Kym McNair

Kym NcNair Jpegs-Kym NcNair Jpegs-0021She leaps tall buildings in a single bound, slays all foes and has the
ability to make you think you can do the same.  I continue to be inspired by her determination and work ethic and have been privileged to enjoy her sense of humor as well.  Known in certain circles as Wonder Woman, introducing Ms. Kym McNair in her own words.

Kym McNair, 46 years young, Trainer/Educator for a Domestic Violence Agency.Tell us about your fitness routine including type, days per week, location, preferences etc.For the past 3 years I’ve been weight training. I mix in some cardio, which I really can’t stand, but I know I have to do it.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?
I don’t have a particular nutrition plan, but I try my best to avoid grains, refined sugar, and dairy. You could call it Ancestral/Paleo light. I pretty much eat what I want. It just so happens that I don’t want to eat anything that’s not going to help me maintain some level of fitness. I have moments when I want something that’s probably not going to be good for my body. I’ll eat it and my body will remind me why I stopped eating it. Short-term satisfaction is sometimes just not worth it.

Do you have a success story/testimony relating to fitness, nutrition or your overall health?

Testimony: Gym time is Kym time, and for the time that I’m there, every and anything that’s been troubling or worrying me disappears. Or sometimes I find a solution to something that’s been challenging. I don’t have to worry about one upping anybody because it’s just me and the weights.I’ve learned that I’m braver than I ever thought I could be.I’ve also learned that age does not matter. I’m in better shape today than I was in my 20s, and I just need to continue to listen to my body.

Kym 2010Kym NcNair Jpegs-Kym NcNair Jpegs-0025What motivates you to do what you do in terms of fitness and nutrition?
My nieces are motivation. I want to be here for them as long as possible, but I also want to pass on a legacy of good health and fitness. I love to take them to the farmer’s market and hear their excitement over foods that most adults I know can’t identify. I love it when they want to play with my exercise bands or show me how they can squat or lift one of their dumbbells. They came home from school one day full of excitement over learning mountain climbers!

I’m also motivated by myself and I know that may sound self-absorbed. But when I think about where I was just 3 years ago and the condition of my body compared to what I can do today,I’m motivated. I’m motivated by the weight I can lift or how my joints feel or how good I feel about how I now take care of my body. I’m motivated by the fact that moving my body makes the pain go away.

Do you have a personal motto/philosophy you’d wish to share?
This is the fitness mission statement I wrote back in 2011 when I first started weight training. This is a slightly modified version.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have the privilege and responsibility for caring, loving and cherishing my mind, body, soul and spirit. I’m willing to forgive myself for an unhealthy past and just be mindful of the present. Everyday I intend to take advantage of the opportunity to make space for love and healing and to celebrate the blessing that my body is.Powered by Soul thanks Kym for being in the spotlight this month and for continuing to be an inspiration and a blessing to those who know and love her.If you or someone you know would liked to be featured in the Powered by Soul Spotlight, let me know in the comments, on Twitter or on Google+.

Until next time, see you at the gym.

Photos: Kym McNair’s collection

Additional resources: Precision Nutrition

Powered By Soul Spotlight: Ant Pruitt

Ant-Pruitt-Aug2012Common interests (fitness and photography) is how the first Spotlight individual entered my orbit.  A good guy, a smart guy, a fit guy and an unabashed supporter of a certain college football team, introducing Ant Pruitt in his own words.


Ant(hony) Pruitt from Charlotte, North Carolina.  30 something, I think 36, I quit counting. I’m an IT Support Manager.

Talk about your fitness routine including type, days per week, location, preferences etc.

I workout a minimum of two days per week, but shoot for four either at the office fitness facility or Gold’s Gym. Heavy weeks and light weeks are mixed throughout the month with all muscle groups worked each week. A typical month may go something like: week 1 light, week 2 heavier, week 3 super heavy, week 4 light.  I also have some “musts” in the routine. “Upper body musts” = bench press, pull ups, bicep curls, lat pulls or rows. “Lower body musts” = Squats, dead lifts, calf raises. I also incorporate yoga once a week if possible.

Do you follow a particular nutrition plan?

It depends on how I feel and goals. Currently I’m on a higher protein diet with minimal carbs. If I’m dragging, I increase carbs. I also do periodic 48 hour fasts and fasts from particular foods, for example no beef all week or only fish all week. I fast to clear my mind and cleanse the GI tract.

How long have you been active/following your nutrition plan/playing sports etc.?

I’ve been exercising in some form 20+ years. My father used to FORCE ME to do push-ups every night as a kid. I’m also a former 3 -sport athlete. Only got conscious about higher protein since October 2012, but I used to just eat whatever and burn it. No less than 4000 calories a day.

Do you have a success story/testimony relating to fitness, nutrition or your overall health?

At my current age, I’m pushing more weight in the gym now than when I was in my “prime” in college almost 15 years ago. I can’t run as fast due to a replaced hip, but I’m just a hair above my “playing weight” by 10 lbs.

What motivates you to do what you do in terms of fitness and nutrition?

Endorphins. I don’t have a real reason to be stronger or more flexible, but I feel better mentally and emotionally by doing so. Plus I don’t want to look like my classmates. I’m always told I don’t look any different or I look better. I’m proud of that.

Do you have a personal motto/philosophy you’d wish to share?

Burn more than what you eat. Stop looking for people to always be your motivation. Help yourself. THEN others may help you.

Powered by Soul thanks Ant Pruitt for sharing his story with the readers.  To find out more about Ant be sure to check him out here.

Photos: Ant Pruitt

It’s Just Counting Right?

Screenshot_2013-11-29-17-01-15 (3)I count for a living. My fascination with numbers and statistics and such is lifelong and everything that I was able to learn and retain from my schooling many years ago I use in my daily life.  For those that count for a living, Lotus 123 and its successor that dwarfed it, Microsoft Excel, became the norm for the way we count things on the job.  Having mastered Excel at work, it became the tool for counting things at home, my budget, my collections and eventually my exercise.  I kept a fairly elaborate Excel spreadsheet with accompanying graphs for my exercise and weight data.  A couple of burglaries later I stopped recording in Excel and now just keep track of my exercise by calendar. Little did I know that this tracking I was doing had a name, the Quantified Self, there is even a movement with meet-ups and conferences.

According to the Wikipedia entry  the Quantified Self “… is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousalblood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical). Such self-monitoring and self-sensing, which combines wearable sensors (EEGECG, video, etc.) and wearable computing, is also known as lifelogging.” Guess I’ve been part of the movement as long as Excel has been around.  What’s different now is that a lot of the technology is wearable and  the data can be sent directly from the device on your body to the web where the analytics are done and reports generated by a click or touch. On the whole I think the movement is great.  Technology that will get folks moving and eating food that’s good for them is a win for everybody.  My results however of the technology-based quantified self have been mixed. 

The Rundown
Nike+ Running – I used the app on an iPhone 3g back in’ 09 I think.  I tested it on a run in my favorite park where getting a GPS signal is dicey, as such the app mileage fell well short of the actual per the trail measurements.  After another attempt at a different, more open park with a measured trail, the mileage was still short. Anything that cheats me out of my hard-earned mileage is a no-go.
Daily Burn – Back in 2010 I’d put on some pounds, my eating was pretty much out of control so I used this app to count calories and found it really helpful. I returned to it this year and found that it was a pay program which is a definite no for me.
Sleepbot – I’m a notoriously bad sleeper and wanted to try this out of curiosity.  This happened to be my favorite as it was the easiest to use and didn’t require any sign up.  You pretty much set an alarm, turn the app on as you’re going to sleep and check out the results when you wake up.  Only downside is that you have to put the phone in the bed with you.  
MyFitnessPal – I used this year because I felt I was eating too much and wanted to quantify just how much.  The app and the site are free, easy to use and the database of foods is huge.  The exercise component is great as well and allows you to add exercises that aren’t in the database, you do have to provide a calories burned number for any additions however.  MyFitnessPal does incorporate Fitbit so that would eliminate some manual entry. 
Wearable Devices:
Fitbit I have some friends who love them.  Having failed using simple stuff like a pedometer I passed on the clip-on models.  The wrist models are a bit more compelling, I just haven’t pressed play on this as yet.
Sportline  I borrowed the heart monitor watch (below) and liked its simplicity/ease of use, but sometimes had difficulty with the bars picking up my pulse.  I’m not sure if I was moving too much, hands were too sweaty or what.

20131021_082030 (960x1280)

The Quantified Me, The Quantified You
Maybe I’m stubborn, cheap or both but for now I’m going to stick with the technology I trust to log what I’m doing, my Ironman Watch and the calendar on my phone.  As new stuff comes along I’ll give it a whirl and maybe do a test-drive on a Fitbit, but if it requires anymore effort to use than the two items above then that piece of tech, whatever it is won’t make the cut. 

2012-02-13 001 2012-02-13 003

How about you? Do you quantify yourself, what technology do you use?  Your suggestions and experiences using any of the technology to do so are welcomed in the comments. 
Until next time, see you on the trail or the gym with nothing but a watch and a phone, and clothes of course.

photos: msthorns

You Have Permission

ATTENTION: All fitness fanatics, nutritionistas and swolemen, take a day off on me!

There’s plenty of experts out there that will tell you, drink plenty of water, fill up on veggies before you head to the Thanksgiving table and enjoy the fixins’ in moderation.  Since I’m not an expert, you won’t hear that from me.  Ye old broad says:

Chill, enjoy your family and friends, eat what you want, drink what you want and watch allllllll the games.  When that turkeyphan (tryptophan) kicks in go ahead and take yourself a nap.  Lord willing AND if you aren’t trampled by the Black Friday stampedes, you can back to your program Friday.

Enjoy your holiday, Gobble Gobble and see you on the trail, gym or somewhere workin’ that turkey and dressing off.

20131127_070414 (1167x1280)
photo: msthorns; artwork Jorge, Planet Fitness in Lawrenceville GA