life: super powers not included

Category — Fitness

On Exercise & A Change


I hope all of you mothers out there had a wonderful day yesterday filled with breakfast in bed, hours lounging around, and dishes already cleaned and put away in the kitchen. Welcome back to real life.

P.S. The toaster’s on fire.

So I’m sure plenty of you have heard of the idea of an exercise afterburn. Researchers weren’t even clear whether or not it existed, but I read an interesting article that says it does—sometimes.

The idea is that exercise doesn’t just burn calories while you’re doing it; even when you’re done, your body keeps burning calories. This study learned that men who did 45 minutes of hard-core exercise burned 190 extra calories hours after they stopped.

The reason for the afterburn? Intensity. Compared to other studies, which found the body doesn’t continue to burn calories post-exercise, this one instructed participants to work out harder.

Which could give you another reason to push yourself at the gym. Think of it this way: Bike a little harder and your body might cover that chocolate bar you’re going to eat after dinner.

Or, um, do it to add extra calories to the ones you burned. Yanno—whatever works for you.

(But seriously, you sometimes cheat, right? I’m not the only one who’s worked out and then scarfed a Twix bar five hours later…right?)

There’s one more thing I wanted to talk about. My schedule. See, these days I kind of look like this:

So from now on I’ll be posting here on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I contemplated this for a long time. The conversation went something like this:

ME: I need to allot more hours to working on this book.
Me: So?

ME: So I think I might post less on my I’m {not} Superhuman blog.

Me: Stares blankly.

ME: What?

Me: Nothing. It’s just… Nothing, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

ME: What will be fine? Is that a bad idea?

Me: Well, your readers are going to hate you.

ME: But it’ll give me more time to comment on their blogs.

Me: They’ll visit you on Monday and forget you exist by Wednesday.

ME: Really?

Me: C’mon, people like to read blogs daily or three times a day.

ME: I won’t do it then.

Me: They hate you anyway, so you might as well do it.

ME: They hate me already?

Me: Yeah, you’re typing this conversation on your blog right now. They know how you feel.

And that’s basically the gist of it. I might have edited out some blatant name-calling. Which leads me to this…

Please don’t leave me.* I love you all, and if you go I’ll have serious abandonment issues that will probably screw up all of my future relationships.

I will try to bribe you with this:

Cupcake with cherry

Pretty please, with a cherry on top?

And this:

Puppy with leash

You are free to yell at me in the comments. Or tell me whether you work harder at the gym when you know you’re going to indulge.

See you Wednesday, guys!

*If you really feel like you won’t remember, you could subscribe to the newsletter (that pretty white envelope in the top left corner of the page. Or you could subscribe to the RSS feed, which basically guarantees permanent friendship. Until you dump me by clicking “unsubscribe.” But we won’t think about that.

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May 9, 2011   28 Comments

Gym Attendance in Stages


I don’t want to go.

I should go.

Maybe just a short nap.

This is nice.

A little longer.

I need to get up.

I’m up. Time for the gym.

Was that my stomach? Maybe I should have a snack…


OK, I’m at the gym. Treadmill time.

But they’re all taken.

I should wait.

I want to go.

I should wait.

I’m going home.

Ahhh….this is better.

Tell me I’m not the only one who has done this before…

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May 6, 2011   25 Comments

Prevent Side Stitches While Running

First, a reminder: You still have time to win a cool poster and Not Superhuman square bumper sticker by commenting on this post. Depending on how many people enter, there’s a chance everyone who comments wins. So, yeah, get your tookus over there.

Girl runningphoto from we heart it

Next, I thought all of you runners would appreciate this … The New York Times ran a story about side stitches.

Before reading I knew three facts about side stitches:

1. They hurt.

2. Drinking more water and stretching it out does not work.

3. They hurt.

I always thought it had to do with breathing. (As in, you’re not doing it right, idiot.) But new studies are finding that it’s more about posture. (As in, you’re not doing it right, idiot.)

Apparently bad running form affects the nerves in the upper back and abdomen. Or, another theory goes, bad posture causes friction on a membrane that surrounds the abdomen.

If you’re getting stitches often, it might be time to learn better posture. (Runner’s World has a great article on the basics.)

Do you get side stitches often? And how much attention do you pay to your posture while running?

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March 1, 2011   24 Comments

Why You Might Want to Eat Ginger

Cutting gingerphoto by cookthinker

I have some interesting news for you but first, I have to give one of my readers major credit for the funniest comment I’ve read all month.

If you’ve never watched How I Met Your Mother, feel free to skip this part as it will make absolutely no sense to you. Also, it won’t be funny. But if you do… holy crap did Maren make my day with this:

“It’s gunna be legend…wait for it!! and I hope you’re not lactose intolerant because the second half of that word is…DAIRY!!!”

Um, Maren, I almost love you as much as Barney Stinson.

Ahem. Sorry, just a little housekeeping.

So that interesting news… The New York Times reports that eating ginger might prevent muscles soreness. They forced a bunch of people to do super hard workouts that would leave them sore for days. (Yes, scientists are sadists. You didn’t know that?)

Well, for 11 days half of them ate ginger and the other half pointlessly swallowed a placebo pill. Guess what? The people who ate ginger had a 25 percent less pain 24-hours after exercise.

So all you marathoners and half marathoners and triathaloners and other “-thers” who do crazy things like run for too long can now add ginger to your pre-race snack. You might be able to avoid the post-race ice bath.

Not that I have anything against ice baths.

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January 20, 2011   20 Comments

Foot Stickers

Foot Stickers

I have two bananas left and some butterscotch sauce, but only the very bottom of a jar of peanut butter. As I mentioned yesterday, using the crumbly peanut butter makes for a lumpy “butterfinger” sauce. So here’s the deal:

You bring the peanut butter, I supply the rest. I’ll even make butterfinger bananas for you. Deal?


So, remember how I told you The Man got an iPad? Remember I said it’s like his second wife that he loves just a little bit more than his first wife and that he takes everywhere with him? Well, one day I stole it and was browsing it because, frankly, it’s awesome. And also I wanted to check out Project magazine, which is the first iPhone-only magazine.

(Side note: As a magazine writer I wanted to check out how they’re transferred to an electronic version. I thought Popular Science did a great job and then I saw Project. Holy interactive, Batman. That magazine is crazy cool and probably requires 2 gazillion employees to produce, including photographers and videographers and tech geniuses whose titles I can’t even name because I have no idea what kind of person is able to do things like make video appear within a pop-out to an article.)

Anyhow, I was browsing the magazine when I came across this:

Foot Stickers 2

It’s still in the concept stage, but that, dear readers, is a Dutch product designer’s answer to the barefoot running craze. The foot stickers aim to cover the most sensitive parts of the foot without changing a person’s gait. (No word at this stage how they’ll stick on or hold up to something like, say, trail running.)

Foot Stickers 3

What that means: You can run, hike, and do whatever else you want barefoot without getting cuts, scrapes or—if you live in a city—tetanus.* Some of the designs have some traction, so I imagine they’d be a good way to solve the sweaty-feet-on-slippery-yoga-mat problem.

As for the connection to Nike? As far as I can tell, the designer created these as an “independent graduation product” for Nike Europe, whatever that means. Bottom line: No, you cannot buy these**, but it’s cool to think where the barefoot trend may be headed.

You know I wouldn’t wear them (oh feet, how I love thee) but would any of you?

* On second thought, your chances of getting tetanus while wearing these in the city are equivalent to your chances of getting tetanus from jumping in the Hudson.

** But for fun, lets see how many skimmers*** are ready to purchase.

*** No offense, skimmers. Im busy, too. But you skim, you lose today.

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January 13, 2011   20 Comments

Fitness Book Giveaway


You guys, today you are so lucky.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I wrangled you an awesome prize.

(OK, that might be a lie. Our gift giver is nice and sweet and required no wrangling.)

Anyhow, remember when I reviewed Charlotte Hilton Andersen’s new book, The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything? And I quote:

Charlotte’s book is just as hilarious as her blog (and if you haven’t read that yet—go.) And anyone who can make a Princess Bride reference and successfully use the word wussitude in a book about working out has my seal of approval.

I still stand by that. Well, today, you can enter for a chance to find out just how great the book is. First, Charlotte was a good sport and answered some of my ridiculous questions…

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at the gym?
A better question would be what have I done that isn’t embarrassing? I humiliate myself so often that I’ve had to categorize them: wardrobe malfunctions (like the day I cut up a t-shirt in an attempt to be trendy and had it literally disintegrate on my body during the workout—thank heavens for sports bras!), equipment screw ups (I once tangled my feet up so badly in the TRX it took 2 personal trainers to unhang me from the ceiling) and, the worst of all, when my body betrays me (the time I accidentally “freaked” on my aerobics instructor or when I accidentally hit a male Gym Buddy’s crotch or how about the time I yelled a curse word right when the music stopped in the middle of a class or—I can’t believe I’m telling you this—my panty liner got detached from my pants during a really intense workout and came out of the leg of my pants in a little sticky clump on the gym floor… aaaaggghhh! ). Shall I keep going?

Would you rather run five miles next to someone with knock-you-out body odor or use a weight machine covered in someone else’s sweat?
Give me pools of other people’s bodily fluids any day! I have a very sensitive nose—drug store cologne has been known to literally make me barf (made for some bad dates in high school!)—but a surprisingly high tolerance for ick.

If you could create your own fitness class, what would it be? Give it a catchy name, too, like Body Pump or Zumba, please.
Easy: The Rapper Guy Girlfriend’s Workout. You know, from Sir Mix-a-lot’s feminist treatise, Baby Got Back. It would be a whole class designed to pump up your butt. Pole dancing, lunges, squats – whatever it takes to get someone to say about you “Oh. my. gosh. Becky, look at her butt! She must be one of those rapper guy’s girl friends”!

A brief interruption: Is that not the best group fitness class ever? Yes, yes it is.

Boil all of your fitness knowledge down into one 140-character tweet.
Here’s my tweet: My fitness secret: Everything works. Until it doesn’t. Learn to embrace change because it’s going to happen to you anyways!

And now, your chance to win the book. Just leave a comment here answering the following question:

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at the gym?

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December 15, 2010   55 Comments

My Kind of Fitness Book

Great Fitness Experiment

I’ve mentioned before that I like to read. If money weren’t an issue, I’d read a few books a week. (I tried that before. Needless to say, I now pace myself to avoid going broke before rent is due.)

That said, I’ve never been much of a fan of health and fitness books. The few I’ve read are snooze-fests full of info I already know. If I’m going to spend time with a nonfiction book, I want a few guarantees:

1. That there will be information I haven’t read in magazines, on blogs, or in news articles on the latest research.

2. That my eyes will not glaze over as the author outlines the difference between fat and carbs and resistance training and cardio and blah, blah, blah. Zzzzz…

3. That I don’t want to punch the author for being annoyingly perfect.

So when Charlotte asked me to read an advanced reader copy of her book, The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything, I was a little worried. I love Charlotte’s blog but I feared her book would take on the typical fitness book tone—boring.

The first thing you should know is that Charlotte’s book is just as hilarious as her blog (and if you haven’t read that yet—go.) And anyone who can make a Princess Bride reference and successfully use the word wussitude in a book about working out has my seal of approval.

The basics: Charlotte spent a year as a lab rat, testing out fitness fads (CrossFit, HIIT, kettlebells, and on and on) and diet plans (going primal then vegan). It’s an awesome overview of different workouts, each with a personal accounts that include smart points like this: the leg extension machine murders you knees. Amen.

But what I loved even more were Charlotte’s personal asides. She takes an honest look at her fight with compulsive overexercising, disordered eating, even an assault that instigated many of these behaviors. It’s at once informational and comical and, between laugh-out-loud jokes, really moving.

So I thought I’d leave it at that, but then I though: There’s a possibility that these guys might not know what I’m talking about when I say the book is conversational and funny in a way other fitness books aren’t. So here are two of my favorite gems, totally unrelated to the point of the book (I’ll leave that for you to read).

“Note to scientists: if [Victoria Beckham] gets any tinier, then she will most likely implode, and you will finally get to study a black hole up close.”

And maybe I appreciate this since I’m a total word nerd, but:

“If I were a real fitness professional, I’d make you wade through pages of randomly BOLDED and CAPITALIZED stuff with lots of extraneous punctuation!!! and hyperbolic promises (You WILL get the RIPPED BODY of your dreams in just 25.2 days by just changing your thought patterns!?!?! Oh, and maybe doing some crack.)

Seriously guys, it’s totally worth a buy. It drops in January but you can preorder it on Amazon now.

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October 26, 2010   29 Comments

Health According to The Man, Episode #543

Recliner by railroadphoto by killerturnip

On why a recliner is necessary even when your wife is recliner-averse:

“I need a recliner to do sit-ups. Push it down, pull it up. Push it down, pull it up. By depriving me of a recliner, you’re depriving me of exercise.”

Call the authorities, it’s spousal abuse.

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October 6, 2010   11 Comments

A Waste of Money? Or Not.

Converse sneakersphoto by d. sharon pruitt

Early on in this whole broken-knees thing, I found out I have super flat feet. Imagine a penguin here. (Not that my feet look like that, but oh my gosh they’re so cute.)

The treatment, naturally, was to spend $500 on a pair of orthotic inserts for my sneakers and another pair for my dress shoes. I splurged on them because A. my knees really hurt, B. I would have tried anything for relief, and C. I had nothing better to do with my money.

Of course I’m kidding about C.

Anyhow, I really thought that having custom-made inserts and sneakers specifically designed for flat feet left me better off. And I still think that. My body mechanics are too screwed up to go au naturale.

Still, I recently read about a study in which researchers gave a bunch of Marines shoes designed for their specific arch height and another group general stability shoes. After 12 weeks, the number of injuries each group sustained didn’t differ—hinting that those $165 running shoes made specifically for high arches or low arches or tweener arches might not be worth the money. (Unless, of course, they look super cool as cool-looking shoes are the most important thing when training.)

Instead of arch support, the real importance, the researchers say, is in getting new shoes often enough. Which I guess is easier when you’re not forking over close to $200 for them.

That said, I’m going to be honest: I’ll still probably keep buying arch support sneakers. The 20 years I went el cheapo with running shoes left me shuffling around like Frankenstein. And though my knees still aren’t fixed (don’t even get me started on that), I do notice a positive difference when I’m not flat footing it.

What are your thoughts on sneakers that support your specific arch needs? And also: How much are you willing to spend on a good pair of running shoes?

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September 10, 2010   12 Comments

Thank You, Anna Paquin

Anna Paquin
photo from self

I’m glad you guys liked my story of how I stalked met The Man. You know, there’s a lot to be said for making the first move. I’m extremely shy and a total introvert, but I’m glad I put myself out there. Otherwise, who would be doing my grocery shopping and heavy lifting right now? (Dear The Man: That was a joke.) Seriously though, it works.

Also on that topic but kind of not, tomorrow is my four-year anniversary with The Man. (Incidentally, it’s also my mother’s birthday. We like to keep things easy in this family and group celebrations together.)

So, four years. I’m old. Don’t even remind me that it’s my 10-year high school reunion this year. Crap, now I feel even older.

Anyhow, tomorrow. Right, tomorrow there will be much celebration going on here on the blog. Consider yourself warned.

Now to what I really wanted to say when I opened this bright and clean document: Sometimes celebrities make me want to roll my eyes. Most of the time. But every so often an Anna Paquin comes along that makes it all right again.

I got the latest issue of Self in the mail this week and flipped to the interview with Anna Paquin. The girl’s adorable and really slim. And you know what? She’s not a liar. She told the magazine she eats lots of fruits and vegetables to keep her body in that shape. She also said she works her butt off (probably quite literally) to stay in shape.

Finally a celebrity admits they work hard to look that way. Unlike others—nudge, nudge Cameron Diaz—who claim to drink beers and eat burgers on a nightly basis. I guess I just have a good metabolism, they giggle. Here’s the thing: I have a good metabolism. Really good. But I still eat well and exercise. It’s not a good metabolism that turns regular humans into celebrity sticks. No, it’s lack of calories, lots of exercise. Maybe some illegal drugs, but you know—what happens in rehab stays in rehab. (And US Weekly.)

I’m so sick of reading articles where the celebrity orders a burger or pizza or stuffs her face in macaroni and cheese just for the interview. As if we didn’t know they saved up an entire week’s worth of calories for that very hour.

Needless to say, I appreciate Anna Paquin’s honesty. The end.

What are your thoughts on celebs’ supposed non-diets?

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June 23, 2010   26 Comments

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