Monday, January 23, 2012

zumba shoes and stuff

OK so one of my favorite things I like to talk about on here is SHOES and what shoes to wear to Zumba class.

Largely because searches for "zumba shoes" are a huge part of what drives traffic to this site. for Zumba class:

My oh my how things have changed over the years!!

I remember, back in the day, when everyone was wearing Nike Musiques. Remember those? Back when Nike had that killer dance fitness clothing line?? Yeah, that clothing line rocked. They need to do that again. They had some sweet Nike Shox training shoes that were OK for Zumba class, too, if you liked fitness sneakers of the high-heeled variety.

I'm normally a Nike girl, I swear...
And then there were the dance sneakers, usually worn by instructors with a dance background, and incidentally, by their students. OMG these make me cringe just looking at them. How are you supposed to do squats in these?

But, you know, whatever. I'm not here to judge. Some people swear by them and really, it's all about finding what's right for you. Personally, I'm waiting for a pair of these babies...over there to the right...I'll be watching for you, FedEx man...

Too bad "finding what's right for you" can "cost an arm and a leg". Phew!

Nowadays there are almost as many great shoes for Zumba class as there are participants. In fact, Zumba Fitness itself has come out with a few different models that are worth checking out.

 Everyone's got their favorite. Brands are recognizing Zumba Fitness, and dance fitness in general, as a force they need to contend with or at least, if you don't like that metaphor, certainly a need that they'd be wise to meet. Zumba Fitness is hugely popular now (I seriously didn't have to actually say that, did I?) and brands're riding the Zumba train to the bank!

So, I'm thinking dance sneakers, and then I'm thinking brands riding the Zumba train, and lo and behold what did I find?? Bloch, the maker of many of those popular-with-the-dance-crowd dance sneakers, have come out with a line of dance fitness shoes! A line of "Zumba" shoes, if you will! Checkout the first couple of rows here!

Oooh, aaah.

They're not really for me--we can discuss my favorites another time if you want--but they might be for YOU.

So that was kind of an interesting find. Anyway...the point is, find what works for you.

The gotta-haves:

  1. Smooth sole that lets you turn and pivot and move side to side.
  2. Support where you need it
  3. Good fit--not too tight, not too loose.
The should-haves:
  1. Breathability--a leather-and-mesh upper is better than all leather. If not for your sake, then for the sake of anyone standing around when you take your shoes off.
  2. Thinner or wider soles, for stability, as opposed to thicker, platform-like, or narrow soles. 
And so help me, if any of you comes into my class wearing anything resembling these? I'm kicking you out of my class!

Monday, January 16, 2012

tough mudder

Tough. Mudder.

If you want to inspire instant respect for your badassery among your friends, you family, and random people you meet on the street, tell them you've done Tough Mudder. Finishing Tough Mudder earns more points than just trying it...but you gotta be pretty awesome just to try, so, you know, it's all relative. :D

Of course, I'm a little biased. I did TM--and finished--at Mt. Snow in VT last year, and the hubby and I are signed up to do it again this year.

It took me 5 hours. FIVE HOURS. Five hours! At a 10-mile distance, I traveled approximately 2 miles an hour up and down that @$$#0!& mountain. TWO MILES an HOUR. My granny walks faster than that. A 9-month-old crawls faster than that. But I guess that's fitting, considering that parts of the course were so incredibly steep, all you could do was crawl.

(I'm going for more of a zig-zag motion this year, as opposed to trying to tackle the slopes head-on. Shh, dont' tell anyone my super secret strategy.)

I saw grown men cry on this mountain. I saw men and women getting carried off the mountain on stretchers. On the log pile, getting ready for the obstacle wherein you hoist a log onto your shoulders, carry it up the mountain, and then turn around and carry it down (seriously, are we crazy?? Why the hell do we DO this??) I was picking out my log ("Please, God, let me find a smallish one...") and some guy not fifteen feet away from me got a log dropped on him that broke his wrist, right there next to me!! Holy crap! What the hell am I doing here???

Big, tough-looking, muscle-bound guys were besieged by cramps and stuck on this mountain. Tiny girls in tinier shorts were frozen and chattering under emergency blankets on the mountain. And as I waited for my turn to run through the Electroshock Therapy,(yes, it is exactly what it sounds like--live wires dangling from a frame waiting to shock the poo out of you) five hours after I started, I thought to myself, "Get me off this freaking mountain. It is MOTHER'S DAY, I should be in BED getting breakfast brought in on a PLATTER and reading HOMEMADE CARDS that make me cry!! I am NEVER! Doing this AGAIN!"

But then...

I finished.

I crossed the finish line. I got my orange headband. I got my free beer. I got hosed off. I donated my never-gonna-come-clean-again muddy shoes. I finally started shaking from hypothermia, after my body was, apparently, in denial while I was on the mountain.

And I cried, because I couldn't believe what I'd just done. TM includes obstacles that seriously challenged me in physical ways, of course, but even more difficult for me were the mental challenges--I strongly dislike tight spaces, have a fear of drowning exacerbated by the fact that I'm not the most amazing swimmer, and I'm afraid of electrocution. Ahem, Electroshock Therapy, Boa Constrictor, Walk the Plank...I was tested.

And then I was hooked.

So how about you? Are you doing Tough Mudder, Diva Dash, Warrior Dash, Ruckus Boston, or any other obstacle runs, muddy or otherwise?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

lesson learned

OK. So. The lesson learned from the past week is: Have your cheat day. Enjoy it. Relish it. Revel in it. But then, for all that is good, get rid of the leftover junk food in time to get back into the slow-carb thing the next morning.

Do not--I repeat, DO NOT--assume that you will be able to leave the junk food there until next cheat day.

It will tempt you.

It will call to you.

It will seduce you.

Until, by the end of the week, you are a pile of quivering mess at the feet of the junk food, desperate for a second chance.

At least, if you're anything like me.

SO! Tomorrow marks another day!!

PS: I just joined a weight loss competion. Paid my money...and REALLY wanna win it back. I think a new wardrobe would be a nice reward, what do you think? Now excuse me, I gotta go study up on my technique...

Monday, January 09, 2012

There I am, courtesy of my very good friend Juliet (ahem name dropper!). She owns West on Jade Photography. Check out her website; she totally rocks as the best photographer I know. She's pretty much famous in the Zumba world, and is making quite the name for herself as a wedding photographer too.

Seriously, go check her website. I'll wait.

You back?


So, yes, this picture was taken at a master class with the very amazing and supertalented George Iu and Peter Wang, Zumba instructors from China. They're so good. omg. So good. The energy! The fun! The moves! I wanted to take them home with me and make them my very own personal Zumba instructors. People have live-in nannies, live-in housekeepers...I'll have live-in Zumba instructors. The kids won't mind all sharing a room together, they love each other...

I had taken a class with George and Peter at Zumba instructor convention once, and it was a lot of fun, but it didn't, like, blow me away or anything. But this class blew me awayyy. Like a hurricane. George and Peter rawked me like a hurricane. Hehehe.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

thoughts on my first cheat day

First cheat day since starting the slow-carb diet:

Strawberry-and-cream cheese-stuffed french toast with toast and sausage and coffee and orange juice
Roast beef and turkey and cheese sandwich on hoagie roll
Chocolate cake
Chocolate fudge
Cinnamon twist
Chocolate eclair
coffee coffee coffee
water water water
chicken, pineapple, and roasted red pepper pizza
Mountain Dew
one praline pecan

If the goal of cheat day is to eat so much that I never want to look at food again? Mission @!#$%^& accomplished.


Thursday, January 05, 2012

progress--my first week

Source: via briar on Pinterest
OK so, first week of slow-carbing it.

It wasn't completely bad.

Every day so, I've done well until that dreaded mid-afternoon slump. Every day, between 2 and 4, I'd get cravings while helping my kids with their after-school snacks and wouldn't you know it, I just happened to have  freshly-made baked goods standing by in the cookie jar.

At least they were whole wheat and full of flax seeds.

And every day I strayed a little less.

So, for next week I need to control the cravings. Technically you're not supposed to snack on this plan, but Ferriss says that if you must snack, grab some carrots. So, I have some baby carrots in the fridge. And a ton of tea and coffee. And ice water with lemon. Those will the the things I aim to grab when I'm tempted. Not only will they satisfy my need to have something to do with my mouth and hands, but they'll hydrate me and help me feel less hungry. I need to hydrate more anyway.

Anyway, I'm down about two pounds so far. Not exactly breathtaking results, but not bad considering my slips into carbland.

I am very much looking forward to cheat day. I only have to get through tomorrow (with two classes of my own and a master class to go to, I think I'll be eating a lot of carrots) and Saturday's breakfast. Then the rest of Saturday is going to be a no-holds-barred cravings-fest. I've been daydreaming about what I'll eat that day. The daydreams are usually a good sign I need to drink some tea. :)

In case you're wondering, here's what I'm eating; I haven't posted any pictures yet because by the time I get finished preparing each meal, I'm so famished and drooling like one of Pavlov's dogs, I can't be bothered to grab a camera...

Breakfast: Eggs scrambled with either lentils or black beans, garlic, spinach, and other veggies like broccoli or zucchini, and topped with salsa. Coffee, black with cinnamon.

Lunch: Big salad with spinach, black beans, chicken breast, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, more broccoli or cauliflower, sprinkled with lemon juice. Ice water with lemon.

Dinner: Another big salad like lunch.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

hey, it's lunchtime!

Because I love you and I want you to eat well and be healthy and I don't want you to have to choke down on gross, disgusting food that you know you should eat but really would not even feed to your dog, here is one way to eat lentils that actually tastes good. I got this a long time ago--and have, in fact, posted this recipe on this blog once already--from my friend Michelle. I'm even stealing her picture. Thanks Michelle!

Red Lentil Soup

1 c split red lentils
3/4 c chopped onion
3 c water
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic
1 green chilies (remove seeds for milder heat)
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled & chopped or dried ground to taste
1 16 oz cans whole tomatoes w/juice
3 T veg oil
1 T ghee or unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
fresh coriander garnish
can replace 1 tablespoon olive oil w/ ghee if you have it

In sauce pan combine the lentils, water, tumeric, cumin, ground coriander, and chili powder. Heat to boil, reduce heat cook covered 30 minutes.
In blender combine garlic, onion, chili, and ginger; process until fine. In a skillet heat 1 tbsp olive oil or ghee in pan. Add mix from blender and cook 2 minutes. Make sure the lentils are cooked. Stir in garlic mixture, salt, chopped tomatoes, rest of olive oil, into the lentils. Llet simmer until thick (about 30 mins).

Makes 6 1-cup servings.


I like to think of life as one big adventure. Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Don't you think? I mean, everything you undertake: changing jobs, getting married, having kids--you're risking a lot, doing those things. What if your new job is worse than your old one? What if your spouse leaves you? What if your kids grow up and don't like you? What if, in all those things, something worse happens? Just living, itself, is a risk. Thinking of life that way makes it easier for me to try things that kind of scare me. Those things are just, you know, part of the adventure!

In 2011 it looked like this:

Fellow ZJ Ali Struyk and me
  •  I left all my favorite, fullest, most fun, most crazy, most energetic classes in search of classes that were a better fit for my family's schedule, that didn't take me so far away for so long. Now, instead of teaching in a gym where my classes were a convenient option for the members and where I didn't have to worry about marketing or whether I'd make any money...I'm teaching on my own, in my own town, building up a whole schedule of classes from nothing at a brand new location. No one knows I'm there yet, and if no one comes, I don't make money. People need to make an effort to get to my classes, because they aren't already going there for something else. It's freaking scary!
  • I took on a role that allows me to teach my routines for Zumba classes to other instructors. I've become comfortable--probably even overconfident--in teaching my own classes to students, but teaching to other instructors has me doubting myself and dry heaving before every single session and master class. I always get the same run of questions chasing itself around my head: "Who am I? Who am I to assume I have anything to teach other instructors? I can't even lose weight! What will they think when they see me??" I've never experienced such self doubt in my life--not even when I was 20 years old and a nurse was handing me a baby and expecting me to take her home and be her mother, when I'd never even changed a diaper before going into that hospital. So far, my experience as a Zumba Jammer has been both incredibly frustrating, in ways that brand-new programs often are, kind of like growing pains, and amazingly rewarding. (My experience as a mother, in case you are wondering, has been pretty non-stop amazing, even during the frustrating parts.)
  • Last August my husband and I left our kids with my sister for a week so we could go on a trip to Catadupa, Jamaica. This was no luxury resort vacation. We were up in the mountains in the relentless heat and humidity, working, building, teaching, and praying alongside the people of Catadupa and their close neighbors. I was so excited in the weeks coming up to the trip, but also nervous that we would come off as arrogant Americans, swooping in to save the day. I was so anxious about it, and so overwhelmed by the traveling and the insane bus ride through the narrow mountain roads that, by the time we got to the compound where we were staying, I had a huge migraine and I was starting to question our decision to come. But the week was so incredibly rewarding--it so far surpassed anything I'd hoped it would be--and I came away feeling like the people we'd been privileged to work alongside in Jamaica had become an extended family. Oh, and I learned a lot more about the team of volunteers from our church, too. Maybe more than I wanted to know?? ;) Just kidding, guys...  Anway, we're going again this year. I can't wait. I can't wait to see everyone and see the progress they've been making and how plans are going and how my VBS kids are doing... Oh...and I'm dying to try out that rope swing into the river again!

  •  Two words: TOUGH. MUDDER. 10 grueling, cruel, tortuous miles up and down (and up and down and UP AND FREAKING DOWN) Mt. Snow's ski slopes, through the mucky, muddy woods, and over snow and ice, all in the name of fun. Well, fun...and free beer. I earned my orange headband after 5 hours of sweating, freezing, swimming, climbing, and more. At one point I had to beg some caramel corn off a spectator (thank you, anonymous spectator!) because I was starting to see spots despite all the water and banana pit stops. At another point I had to find a place off the trail to pee in the woods. Waiting for my turn through Electroshock Therapy--and after that, the finish line!--I was thinking, "Never again. I did it once. I'm never doing this again." But then I got my orange headband and got in my car with my family and we were heading home..and not FIVE MINUTES into my relaxing drive--oh, it felt SO GOOD to sit--my hubby says, "I think I'm gonna get a team together for next year" and it was all over. I was hooked and we got home and signed up for Vermont 2012 and I've been hooked ever since.

2012 will be a lot more of the same. More Tough Mudder. More work as a Zumba Jammer. More marketing and working hard on building up my classes--finding new and innovative and effective ways to get people in the door and get them coming back for more. More Jamaica! And more adventures of other types, too. Here's a hint: I'm saving up for quad skates.

Hm, I just realized something re: my title--If I don't weigh/measure myself again before I post again, or I do but nothing changes, do I just title it with the same thing as last time? Nah...I'll just girl up and think of a title. Anway...

So for a little more detail on what I can eat and what my day looks like on the slow-carb diet and the other recommendations I'm using from the book, here's the schedule I'm aiming for. I'm not saying it's happened's the aim.

6:30 wake up, drink a bucket of ice water. OK, not a bucket, but when faced with the prospect of drinking 150mL of iced cold water directly upon waking, it feels like a bucket. Seriously. I haven't even peed yet. My feet have not even touched the floor. Speaking of feet...

6:35 or whenever the heck I'm supposed to be done with all that water, and provided I can put off running to the toilet long enough, work my little feeties with my Sole Training knowledge. Ahhhhh. Makes my feet so happy. Happy and not-dead-looking.

7:00 breakfast time! A mixture of whole eggs and egg whites, veggies, and (gag!!!) lentils. I hate lentils. Dear sweet goodness, I hate lentils. Does anyone really like these things? Oh my head. They're so gross. So they get buried in eggs. And salsa and broccoli and cauliflower. With a side of either coffee, black with cinnamon, or green tea. I love my Tazo® Zen Tea.

7:30 because Tim says take half an hour to eat your meals: Take a nap and try not to think about food until lunch time. OK OK, just kidding--it's not really that hard to not think about food because 3-ish eggs, and all those veggies and all those lentils make a girl pretty freaking full.

7:55 get the kids on the bus and exercise: Either strength (kettlebell swings, side and prone planks, myotatic crunches) or cardio (Zumba class, of course, or willPower & grace, the other format I now teach.) or flexibility...or a cold walk outside in the cold with just a tee shirt and the cold. More on that later.

8:00 to 11:00 business stuff--marketing, choreography, blah blah blahhh...

12:00 lunchtime! Chicken breast, black beans, pile of veggies, and hot peppers. :9 yummm

12:30 to 5:00 play with kids, clean the house (haha!) talk to friends, blah blah blahhh...

5:00 ish... Dinner! More chicken, more *gack*lentils, more veg veg veg.

8:00 lie on couch with ice back on neck and shoulders for 30 cold shivery terrible minutes.

9:30 go to bed and dream of all the wonderful lentils I will eat tomorrow.

So! The cold stuff: drinking ice cold water, taking walks in the cold with no coat, resting on an ice pace--all these things are meant to capitalize on the body's thermic response to cold, or something like that. Don't ask me the science. Read the book, or google it online. I just know that the body burns way more fat and calories with this cold treatment than it does without it. There's other ways to cold-therepize yourself, too--ice baths (no thanks, I like my heart beating at its normal, non-arrested beat) and ice-cold showers...but I'm starting with this. I'll tell you how it goes.

I hate the cold.

OK that's it for now...upcoming topics include things I can't wait to do in 2012 that will probably be easier if I am a few pounds lighter and how am i supposed to lose weight when losing weight seems to be a full time job and i already have so much other shizz going on. Fun stuff!! ;) <3

Monday, January 02, 2012


OK everyone, first and foremost: HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2012 bring you blessings beyond measure. May you never have to wait in long grocery lines, always get the last copy of your favorite movie at Redbox, and never smell like onions in public.

How's everyone doing? What did you do for the holidays? Did you go away? Did you stay in? Did you play in snow? Did you stretch out on a sandy beach?

We stayed in, and while there has been no measureable snow, there was a tiny, magical moment on Christmas morning when the kids were all getting up to open their presents and we looked outside to see that it was snowing perfect little flakes. It was just enough to set the right Christmas mood after a December that had been almost entirely 50 degrees until then. Nice, nice. Now, I don't want to see another flake until next winter. I'm such a scrooge. ;)

So, I mentioned resolutions in my last post and that's what I want to talk about today. Mine is, once again, to get healthy and lose some serious weight. But I'm gonna break that down a bit.

  1. I'm reading this book, 4 Hour Body, by Tim Ferriss. I'm trying to adopt the slow-carb diet he presents in the book. So far it's been kind of OK. If you follow Jackie Warner's advice in This is Why You're Fat, (Yes, I've been reading an unusual number of diet books lately. These two, plus YOU on a Diet by Dr. Oz, are my favorites) you've heard her say you should ADD the good stuff before taking away the bad stuff and so, according to her, it's been a GREAT couple of days!! :) I ate well at every meal but mid-afternoons found me snacking on my own homemade treats...the ones that are supposed to be for the kids' lunches. Fortunately I made them with whole-wheat flour and chock-full of ground flax so at least things, um, moving along. Right?
  2. You'll see some changes here, mostly for my own benefit. For one thing, the title of each post will contain my current weight and current waist size--not exactly easy stuff for me to put out there so blatantly but I do it for two reasons: 1) The first time I lost weight--before gaining it all back, which I will NOT be doing this time--I wanted to be able to go back and see my progress. This should make that easier. and 2) Accountability. If I'm going to post my shizz right up there for you to see so easily, I want it to trend in the right direction. So I'd better do what it takes. Right? Right. 
  3. I'm taking pictures of my meals and posting them to a private flickr page. I'll post more about that soon, as soon as I work it out. I don't want the pictures available to the whole world, just cuz pictures of veggies and lentils aren't that exciting...but I do want YOU to be able to see them so you can kick my butt if I start posting pictures of, say, gigantic pieces of red velvet cake floating in a river of chocolate sauce. 
So, that's what I'm doing. I'll post more details on 4HB and the slow-carb diet soon, in case you're interested. And I think I have some fun stories to tell about my adventures in Zumba and whatnot. :)