Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Crunch weigh in

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Another challenge begins & of course I end up starting it higher then I would like. TOM is giving me fits & the colonix is keeping me in the bathroom far longer then I would like. It seems like the longer I stay on the product the more I'm in the bathroom & the less I want to eat. So if I'm not eating much ... why oh why isn't my weight coming down? I don't know!!!

The scale was laughing at me this morning because of the gain but that's ok ... I gave him the one figer salute & see ya on the flip side next week. He didn't look to scared  ... he should have been though.

This months motivation to lose the weight is Christmas & the desire to want to ring in the new year smaller then I entered the last year. Not to mention my mother may actually show up this year. I invited her ... haven't seen her in 6 years & maybe only talked with her 2 times each year. It's safe to say we aren't close ... she's burned a lot of bridges with me but I'm trying my best to lay those aside in the spirit of Christmas. Who knows what it will bring. I think at the last minute she just won't come because she is afraid of all the trouble I could potentially bring her way. I don't intend to cause trouble ... but when it comes to her & all the games she has played, it would be a miricle if I didn't dislike her more than I do now, if that's even possible.

Anyway, my mother has always tried to upstage me in any form or fashion ... my motivation is for once in my life upstage her ... outshine her ... of course my family says I always have just by my good nature but ya know, it sure would be nice to show the beauty on the ouside instead of always on the inside.

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Christmas Crunch
Theres still time to join in on the challenge ....

The challenge runs from the 30th of November until the 28th of December. I know ... final weigh in is a few days after Christmas. You do want to lose weight, don't you? Temptation is always around but we're going to prove that you don't have to fear the holidays because as long as you eat smart you can still lose. Portion control & moving your body is still the healthiest way to lose weight.

1. You must check in no less than once a week.
2. You must post your weight each Friday. Photo prefered but not required!
3. If you chose to drop out of the challenge you will not be eligible for the prize.
4. After the challenge starts you can join in the challenge but you won't be eligible for a prize.
5. You must be willing to send me your snail mail if you win the challenge so I can send you your prize.

Don't wait to long to decide. The Christmas Crunch starts November 30th. Come on ... what do you have to lose? Just weight!!
Wanna join? Click ThinChicks

Video of the Day

  <-- Click photo to sign up for the magazine.

You can only get this video if you subscribe to Prevention magazine for a year but WOW is it worth it if you love to walk indoors.

If you love Leslie Sansone walking videos then you won't for long cause this new walk video was surpases Leslies. It has fresh & fun walking moves that keep you interested in the workout. The music is upbeat & the instructor encourages you every step of the way. The video has 3 different walks or the option to combined all three into one nice brisk workout. The only thing you will need besides your body is a pair of walking shoes and a light set of weights. IMO ... you can go heavier then the 3 lb suggestion as the moves are fairly slow & there aren't many reps to each 1 min. set.

Why Strength Training is a Must for Everyone

Strength Becomes More Important with Age

Think you’re too old to start a strength training program? Well think again! Strength training is just what your body needs to fight the loss of muscle, bone mass and strength that comes with age.

Everyone, no matter how young or old, should be doing some kind of regular strength training. This could be at the gym, or at home using very little equipment. Resistance bands and balls, small hand weights, water and even your own body weight can be used as resistance when designing a strength training program.

So what’s the point? If you’ve never participated in a strength training program, why start now? Here are some very important reasons strength training makes a difference in your quality of life:

  • Improves your ability to do everyday activities: The stronger your muscles, the easier it is to get groceries out of the car, get a package off of the top cabinet shelf, push the lawnmower…..the list goes on and on!
  • Improves your balance and stability: The stronger and more resilient your muscles, the more balance is sturdier. This will help keep you safe in your daily activities and decreases the risk of falls or accidents.
  • Builds muscle strength: Adults lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade after age 20. Strength training will help prevent this muscle loss, and rebuild what you may have lost.
  • Decreases your risk of osteoporosis: Inactivity and aging can lead to a decrease in bone density, leading to brittleness. Studies have shown that consistent strength training can increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
  • Reduces blood pressure: Strength training can be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure by strengthening the heart, allowing it to beat more efficiently.
  • Increases calorie burn: Strength training increases the body's metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories throughout the day. This aids significantly in long term weight loss.
  • Reduces low back pain: Research has shown that strength training can increase low back strength and alleviate low back pain.
Time spent on strength training can literally help you turn back the clock and feel younger each day. Here are some principles to remember when putting together a program:
  • Start by strength training 2 days/week, building up to 3 days/week for more of a challenge. Make sure you have at least one day of rest in between each session.
  • Start with 2-3 exercises each for lower body and upper body and 1-2 core exercises (abs, lower back). Examples of exercises can be found in the Fitness Resource Center.
  • Start with one set of each exercise (12-15 repetitions- slow and steady), using light hand weights, resistance bands or your own body weight. As you progress, you can work up to 2 and then 3 sets.
  • As you add additional sets, rest 30 seconds to a minute in between each one.
  • Never hold your breath during the exercises. Always exhale when exerting force (on the hard part of the movement).
  • Always warm up before and stretch before and after each session.
  • Pay attention to proper form and technique, as they are very important for injury prevention and producing results.
  • When selecting a weight, it should be heavy enough that you feel the muscle working and the difficulty increasing as you get to the 15th repetition. The weight should be light enough that you can do 15 repetitions without pain or breaking proper form.
  • Strength training should never be painful! If you experience pain, stop the exercise immediately.
No matter what your age, you have a lot to gain from regular strength training. Just remember to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. It is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your independence for many years to come.

Remember to Reward Yourself

How to Pat Yourself on the Back

Everyone likes a pat on the back every once in a while. And there’s no better time to get one than when you’re out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself to improve, nervous about whether you can succeed.

Most people approach changing their health habits from a position of "pain". They constantly nag themselves, berate themselves and expect nothing but perfection, no matter how much progress is made. Tools of the trade are guilt, doubt, shame and self-flogging. Instead of celebrating the 24 pounds they’ve lost, they see the six they still haven’t lost. Sound familiar? To people used to beating themselves up, it may seem like the best way to get motivated. But consider this: if you attempted to motivate an employee like that, how long do you think they’d stick around? How successful would they be?

Let’s do it differently this time. Try to approach your goals from a position of "possibilities" instead. Find ways to use regular rewards to pat yourself on the back and give a word of encouragement. Instead of focusing on what you do wrong, try paying more attention to what you do right. While straight talk and brutal honesty are often good for getting your butt moving, for sustained motivation, the positive approach will keep you from burning out.

Rewards create a feeling of doing something you want to do, not just what you’re forcing yourself to do. Even the smallest of rewards can work wonders as you travel from milestone to milestone, pound to pound, and mile to mile.

Here’s how to set up a good rewards system:

  • Choose some benchmarks and reward levels. You can also reward yourself for levels of consistency.
  • Make the reward meaningful to you. As a reward, a new pair of shoes may not hold as much motivation as a simple night alone with a book. Then again, it might.
  • Choose two or three options from the Reward Roster below or come up with a few reward options of your own. It doesn’t take much. Sometimes, the best rewards are those you can’t buy.
  • A lot of small rewards, used for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than relying solely on the bigger rewards that require more work and more time.
  • Don’t use food as a reward. Even good food. It’s just too much of a slippery slope. Don’t even mess with it.
  • Plan to celebrate. Figure out now how you’re going to celebrate reaching your health, fitness or nutrition goal. Involve other people, tell them about it. Create a celebration that you can anticipate and then keep it within sight all the time.
  • Be honest with yourself. Fudging the numbers mentally, or "borrowing" against the next reward hurts the cause of building a lifetime habit. Remember to keep your focus on building a habit, not just figuring out how to get the reward.


  • Compliment yourself. Write down what you would say to anyone else who accomplished what you did.
  • Create an actual plaque or trophy.
  • Give yourself badges of honor for different levels of accomplishment.
  • Take a vacation or weekend getaway.
  • Take a day off from any goal activities.
  • Put $1 in a jar every time you meet a goal. When it gets to $50, treat yourself.
  • Create a Trophy Scrapbook, where you keep mementos from your accomplishments.
  • See a movie.
  • Make a grab bag of little prizes. When you reach a significant goal, reach in and get your reward!
  • Go for a spa treatment or massage.
  • Buy yourself a gift certificate.
  • Take a limo ride.
  • Subscribe to a magazine you always wanted.
  • Go canoeing or do something outdoorsy.
  • Watch your favorite TV show.
  • Buy something for your hobby.
  • Read a funny book.
  • Celebrate "100% Days". If you reach 100% of your goals that day, choose two rewards.
  • Find some time to be by yourself.
  • Pay someone to do the yardwork or house cleaning this week.
  • Fly a kite.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cut Calories without Dieting

Cut Fat and Calories Without Deprivation -- By Nicole Nichols, Health Educator & Fitness InstructorThe word "diet" doesn’t always mean eating less to lose weight—although that’s what we commonly associate it with today. Someone "on a diet" is trying to eat less, or stop eating sweets to fit into a smaller pant size.

Diet has another meaning. It also describes the food that you normally consume—following a vegetarian diet, an American diet, or "My diet consists of meat and potatoes." Improving your normal diet by making gradual, but permanent changes is a healthier way to lose weight than by just restricting calories.

Low calorie and fad diets can have serious health implications—insufficient vitamin and nutritional intake, lethargy, slowed metabolism, hormonal effects, and even dehydration. Dieters commonly experience intense feelings of hunger and deprivation, which can lead to "cheating" or bingeing over time.

Here are a few tips to help you decrease your caloric intake without "dieting" or feeling deprived.

Don’t eyeball it
Studies show that people tend to underestimate how much they really eat every day. In doing so, we consume too many calories without realizing it. Research shows that keeping a log by recording exercise and food intake is one of the best predictors of successful weight loss.
  • A written record can point out your eating patterns (eating in front of the TV or in the car, eating the same breakfast every day), triggers (stress, sadness, boredom, time of day), and areas where nutritional changes can be made. You may find that you are eating less fruits than you thought or drinking too much soda, for example. Then you’ll know where you can implement healthy changes.
  • Reading food labels is key to healthy portion sizes. At a quick glance, a bottle of juice (or bag of chips, candy bar, or frozen entrée) may appear to contain 100 calories, but a closer look will reveal that the package includes two or more servings, which doubles the caloric content.
  • After familiarizing yourself with portion sizes, be sure to measure. Be exact if cooking at home, but when eating out, think about common objects. Two tablespoons of peanut butter, mayo, or dressing is about the size of a golf ball. A serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. A medium piece of fruit is similar to a baseball.
  • Having trouble stopping at one serving of pretzels or chips? Buy single-serving packages of your favorite foods for built-in portion control, or measure out single servings into baggies or containers.
Hold the fat It’s important to remember that not all fats are bad. Certain oils (olive, canola), and nuts are nutritious and healthy to eat. However, fat does have more than twice the calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein (9, 4, and 4, respectively). And generally, people consume too much and the wrong kinds of fats, which means excessive calories.
  • When cooking, limit the amount of oil you use by using a non-stick pan. You can also use spray-able oils (avoid substitutes and go for the real olive and canola oil sprays) to coat your pans with virtually zero calories. A MISTO sprayer, available in department stores, can evenly distribute 1/2 teaspoon of oil or salad dressing, compared to the 2-3 teaspoons that you would usually pour on for the same purpose—a savings of 100 calories.
  • Skimp on butters, dressings, and creams, using just enough for taste. Try a baked potato flavored with salsa rather than butter, and forgo the "secret sauce" on your favorite burger. Search for lite or reduced-fat versions of certain condiments, like dressings and sauces. One serving of lite mayo has less than half the calories (85) of regular mayo (200), but is almost identical taste and texture.
  • Blotting the fat from greasy foods like cheese pizza or burgers is also worth the effort. One could easily soak up a teaspoon of grease, 5 grams of fat, and 40 calories from two slices of pizza alone.
  • Add flavor to foods without excess calories and fat by using herbs, fresh or dried. An added bonus: studies show that spicy foods, flavored with red peppers or chili peppers, may boost metabolism and help you to stop eating sooner.
  • When cutting out high-fat and high-calorie foods, replace them with fruits and vegetables. These essentials are low in calories, but high in volume, fiber and nutrients, which can give a feeling of fullness. They make great snacks and are easy to pack. Stick to whole foods as much as possible. A potato is a better option than an order of fries, just as an apple is healthier than a slice of apple pie.
Drink water, not alcohol
Not only does alcohol contain 7 calories per gram, but it also lowers self-control when it comes to food. Limit your alcohol intake and your body will thank you. Save alcohol for a post-meal indulgence, rather than drinking it before or with food. Studies show that alcohol lowers inhibitions and control when it comes to eating, causing people to eat more than those who waited to drink after finishing a meal.

Drink water throughout the day, before, and during meals to help curb your appetite. Oftentimes, people think they are hungry when they are actually thirsty or dehydrated. Dehydration can slow metabolism, but the process of drinking water and warming it to body temperature involves energy and burns calories. Plus, being well hydrated gives body at least 10 minutes more energy for exercise, according to a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

To lose a healthy one pound of fat per week, all it takes is a 500-calorie deficit per day (which can be achieved by reducing calories, exercising more, or a combination of both). For a healthy lifestyle, not a diet, that is easy to stick with, try incorporating some or all of these easy strategies to reduce calories without giving up the pleasures of eating.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Video of the Day

Yoga Booty Ballet 2-Disc Set: Light & Easy / Latin FlavorThis package includes two workouts, each about 40 minutes and incorporating an intro with new age / yoga style "intention setting", dancey cardio (about 15-20 minutes), approximately 10-15 minutes of toning and a short yoga cooldown. The workouts are taught in an indoor classroom setting with live druming but what seems like recorded music.

The Light & Easy workout is more appropriate for beginners, with a slower pace, more traditional aerobics moves, and less overall intensity. It finishes with some pretty traditional ab work incorporating a squishy ball (comes with a coupon to get it through mail). The only thing I did not like about this workout is during the intention setting, when they usually have you put your hands in a "cria", the one for this particular workout was surprisingly strenuous--flapping your arms up and down for what seemed like forever. It was the most difficult part of the workout for me. I have shoulder problems & haven't been able to complete the whole set.

The Latin workout incorporates Latin music and a few familiar steps such as flamenco and mambo, and some totally original creations of Gillian & Teigh. I love the choreography in this workout, although it is a bit hard to follow at times and I know I look ridiculous doing it. True, there is not much instruction or technique, but I think the focus in this workout is not doing the steps exactly right but getting moving and having a good time. Even the dancers in the room are not all doing the exact same thing. I find I get really bogged down and frustrated in videos that focus too much on dance instruction and getting your hips moving exactly the right way and I don't get a good workout. Here I don't worry about it and just move.

What I like best:
I like that the choreography is different, fun, and not focused on being a perfect dancer. Although Teigh and Gillian can be corny at times, they are endearing and motivating. I enjoy the fact that they're focused more on being your best self than losing weight. I like that the workouts are short and include many different aspects - yoga, dance, toning - so I neverget bored.

What I do not like:
There is way too much taking it from the top. You learn one new thing and then have to take it from the top...over and over. You end up only doing the very end of the dance once. On some YBB lives, they even stop in the middle of the routine, so you never get to do the complete routine in its entirety. This just seems really poorly planned. I would prefer either breaking it up into sections ~5 mins each or just learning more steps before starting at the beginning again, and then doing it from the top twice at the very end once you've learned the whole thing. Also they always start on the same leg and there is really not a whole lot of effort towards getting the same balance on both legs.

Despite these problems, these are workouts I continue to look forward to again and again.

I purchased mine online at I think I paid >20 for both.

Christmas Challenge

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Christmas Crunch

The challenge runs from the 30th of November until the 28th of December. I know ... final weigh in is a few days after Christmas. You do want to lose weight, don't you? Temptation is always around but we're going to prove that you don't have to fear the holidays because as long as you eat smart you can still lose. Portion control & moving your body is still the healthiest way to lose weight.

1. You must check in no less than once a week.
2. You must post your weight each Friday. Photo prefered but not required!
3. If you chose to drop out of the challenge you will not be eligible for the prize.
4. After the challenge starts you can join in the challenge but you won't be eligible for a prize.
5. You must be willing to send me your snail mail if you win the challenge so I can send you your prize.

Don't wait to long to decide. The Christmas Crunch starts November 30th. Come on ... what do you have to lose? Just weight!!
Wanna join? Click ThinChicks

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Burn off Holiday Calories!

No Gym Time Required -- By Nicole Nichols, Personal Trainer

Ah, the holidays are officially here!

And as much as we look forward to them, and all that comes with them (the friends, the family, and of course, the food!) it’s hard to escape the stress that they also bring.

"Exercise routine? Heh. Healthy eating? Forget about it." Sound like you?

Between the cooking, cleaning, traveling, decorating, shopping, and entertaining, how can you fit in your normal exercise routine? Or even a shorter exercise routine?

Well, if you’re like most "normal" Americans, you’ve probably bitten off more than you can chew when it comes to responsibilities. So, here’s a list of common holiday activities and the number of calories they burn. Realistically, you can keep your caloric intake in check (by keeping portions small and making healthier recipe substitutions), and by adding up these common activities—like cooking and cleaning—you can still burn a hefty sum of calories without setting foot in the gym.

(Based on a 40-year-old 5’5", 140-pound woman. Men, and women weighing over 140 pounds will burn more calories during the same activities.)

  • Bathing dog (to look and smell pretty for guests!): 15 minutes = 56 calories
  • Sitting and wrapping gifts or making crafts (hello party favors): 30 minutes = 48
  • Bagging grass & leaves: 30 minutes = 127 calories
  • Light baking (of all your favorite treats): 1 hour = 159 calories
  • Tending bar for guests (not drinking it yourself!): 1 hour = 146 calories
  • Changing bed linens (for the out-of-towners): 15 minutes = 40 calories
  • Board games: 30 minutes = 48 calories
  • Loading & Unloading the car (suitcases, groceries, kids): 10 minutes = 32 calories
  • Carrying groceries: 5 minutes = 13 calories
  • Taking out Trash: 2 minutes = 5 calories
  • Carrying wood or lumber (Marshmallows not included): 5 minutes = 26 calories
  • General to Heavy house cleaning: 1 hour = 191 calories
  • Clearing dishes from the table: 5 minutes = 13 calories
  • Washing dishes by hand: 15 minutes = 37 calories
  • Driving to the in-laws: 20 minutes = 42 calories
  • Dusting: 15 minutes = 40 calories
  • Eating: 1 hour = 95 calories
  • Family Reunion (includes sitting, talking, eating…not fighting): 1 hour = 95 calories
  • Food preparation: 1 hour = 195 calories
  • Flag Football (fun for the whole family): 1 hour = 508 calories
  • Putting away groceries: 5 minutes = 13 calories
  • Quick nature hike after dinner: 15 minutes = 95 calories
  • Light jogging (to get away from scary relatives): 15 minutes = 127 calories
  • Mowing lawn (pushing power mower): 20 minutes = 95 calories
  • Mopping floors: 15 minutes = 56 calories
  • Power napping (after turkey makes you sleepy): 15 minutes = 14 calories
  • Playing cards: 30 minutes = 48 calories
  • Playing catch (baseball or football): 30 minutes = 79 calories
  • Raking lawn: 30 minutes = 137 calories
  • Grocery shopping (with cart): 30 minutes = 73 calories
  • Grocery shopping (with basket): 30 minutes = 79 calories
  • Watching TV (okay, watching football): 1 hour = 64 calories
  • Socializing while standing: 1 hour = 127 calories
So, if you’re finding it impossible to get to the gym, try something new this year…like NOT avoiding the extra holiday chores. Your partner and/or host will be happy, and so will you for keeping your waistline in check.

Happy Thanksgiving

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May you all have a very blessed day with your friends & family. If your shopping on Black Friday please be safe ... it can get really crazy!!! Luv ya all. Hugs, Emmi

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey Talk

Selecting, Cooking, and Storing this Thanksgiving Favorite -- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian
Is it your turn to host the annual Thanksgiving feast for the entire family? Tackling a turkey—without being traumatized—isn’t that tough. So let’s talk turkey.
With the bird flu scare, is it safe to eat turkey for Thanksgiving?
Eating properly cooked and handled poultry is safe. The United States government has banned imported poultry from countries affected by bird flu. European health officials report that cooking kills the virus and are assuring people that it is safe to eat poultry.
What size turkey should I buy?
You’ll need about one pound per person, or a pound and a half per person if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftovers.
When should I buy the turkey?  
While the quality and taste of frozen and fresh turkey are quite similar, the keeping time is not. A frozen turkey can be purchased months in advance, but a fresh bird should be bought only 1 to 2 days ahead. 
What kind of turkey should I buy?
Personal preference usually dictates this choice. There are basically two types of raw birds to choose from:
  1. A pre-basted bird contains ingredients such as vegetable oil, broth, and spices.
  2. An un-basted bird has had nothing added. 

USDA Grade A poultry has good shape, structure, and fat covering, and is free of pinfeathers and defects, such as cuts and bruises.  Grade A is the highest quality grade for poultry and is the most common grade found in stores. 

Is a “Tom” better than a hen?
Age, not gender, is the determining factor of tenderness. All turkeys on the market are young, usually 4-6 months old. A hen generally weighs less than 16 pounds and a tom usually over 16 pounds.
How long will it take to defrost a turkey?
It is best to defrost your turkey in the refrigerator. The rule of thumb is to allow a minimum of 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey:
  •  8-12 pounds defrosts in 1 to 2 days
  • 12-16 pounds defrosts in 2 to 3 days
  • 16-20 pounds defrosts in 3 to 4 days
  • 20-24 pounds defrosts in 4 to 5 days
If you need to speed up the defrost time, it is safe to defrost the turkey in a large utility sink of cold water. Submerge the wrapped bird in cold water. If the wrapping is torn, place the bird in another plastic bag, close securely, and then place in water. Change the water every 30 minutes to make sure the water remains cold. With this method, allow 30 minutes of defrost time per pound.
Turkeys can be thawed in the microwave oven. Since microwaves vary in what they can accommodate, check with the manufacturer’s instructions for the size that will fit in your oven, the minutes per pound, and the power level to use when thawing.
To save time, is it safe to stuff the turkey in advance of cooking?
NO! It may seem like a good idea to save time, but harmful bacteria can multiply in the stuffing and cause food poisoning. Turkeys should be stuffed only at the last minute. Dry stuffing ingredients can be prepared the day before, tightly covered and left at room temperature. The perishable items (butter, margarine, mushrooms, oysters, broth, cooked celery and onions) can be mixed and refrigerated. The ingredients can then be combined just before stuffing and cooking.
How long should I roast the turkey?
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Roasting times vary, from roughly 15-18 minutes per pound for an un-stuffed bird, to 18-24 minutes per pound for a stuffed bird. 
Can the turkey be cooked overnight at a lower temperature?
NO! Because of the low temperature (250 degrees), the turkey and stuffing can take more than 4 hours to reach a high enough temperature to destroy bacteria.
Can the turkey be partially roasted one day, and complete the roasting the next day?
NO! Interrupted cooking enhances the possibility of bacterial growth.
Can you roast the turkey the day before?
YES! In fact, more and more people are taking this route. However, for safety reasons, the cooked bird MUST be de-boned before being refrigerated. The carved meat should be stored in shallow containers. The meat can then be reheated in the regular oven the next day for approximately 10 minutes per pound. To prevent the meat from drying out, add the leftover meat drippings, gravy, or turkey broth and cover with foil.
How can you tell when the turkey is done?
  • Using a meat thermometer is the most reliable method. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh muscle without touching the bone. This area heats most slowly. A whole turkey is done when the temperature reaches 180 to 185 degrees; stuffing temperature should reach 165 degrees. 
  • Another test is to press the fleshy part of the thigh with protected fingers. If the meat feels soft, or if the leg moves up and down easily and the hip joint gives readily or breaks, the turkey is done. 
  • Doneness can also be determined by inserting a long-tined fork into the thickest area of the inner thigh. If the juices run clear—not pink—the turkey is done. 
What should I do with the leftovers?
Once the turkey is removed from the oven, you have approximately 2 hours to serve it, eat it, and get the leftovers refrigerated or frozen. Leftovers can keep in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days, but use stuffing and gravy within 1-2 days. 

Video of the Day

Crunch - Candlelight YogaThis workout is visually stunning. Fuchsia mats have been spread around a wood floor in a room filled with vanilla candles. The candles are on the floor, up on stands, simply everywhere!

The curtains flow gently between brick walls and in the background you can see an opaque glass window. Sara is wearing a beautiful blue top while everyone in the room is also wearing colors of equal beauty. Imagine violet, lime green, lemon yellow, orange and powdery blue.

This workout reminds me of yoga in a temple. There is a spirituality about the entire workout that is different than the outdoor workouts or more strenuous vinyasa type workouts. This video tends to encourage you to relax more and look inward to encourage your inner beauty.

The purpose of this workout is to teach you to relax at will. Halfway through the workout, I was ready to just climb into bed and sleep blissfully until morning. The music and candlelight allows the tension to drain from your body as you breathe deeply.

The instructor has been doing yoga for a long time and she says learning to relax at will allows you to be in control of your energy. With Sara Ivanhoe giving you gentle instruction, you can stretch your way into tranquility. I loved her instruction, it was calming and you can see her inner beauty, calm and love for yoga.

Some of the poses include: cat pose, arch curl, side stretch, downward dog, sitting twists, tree pose, butterfly stretch. You won't have to worry about doing the Chaturanga or anything that is stressful, fast or complicated. These poses melt the body into sleep and must have been chosen to release tension and improve balance and flexibility.

You will need a sticky mat, a towel and a cushion. A strap can be used to help you move further into some of the poses.

A Gentle Yoga Routine for the evening before drifting off to sleep. A definite "must-have" yoga video for your collection.
As a bonus, there is an energizing workout too.

TC Challenge

Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Stand with your feet about 6 inches apart from each other toes pointed forward.

INHALE: Step forward with one leg and lower your body to 90 degrees at both knees. Don’t step out too far. There should be 2 to 2.5 feet between your feet at this point. Keep your weight on your heels and don’t allow your knees to cross the plane of your toes.

EXHALE: Push up and back to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat all reps on one leg, then switch to complete one set.

Special Instructions
Keep your back upright. The further you step, the more you work the glutes (buttocks) and hamstrings. The closer you step, the more you work the quadriceps muscles on the top of your thighs. Place your hand on a chair or wall or balance if necessary.

Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes
Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Stand with feet approximately six inches apart and lift one leg off the floor. Hold a tennis ball in the hand on the same side as the planted foot.

Bend at the hips and squat to a 90 degrees at the knees, making sure to keep your knees behind the plane of your toes. Try to keep your back as upright as possible. Focus on keeping your shoulders as high as possible. Touch the floor in front of you with the tennis ball and come back to the starting position. Repeat squat and touch at different points from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock (4 points), making sure to come back to the starting position before touching another point. Try doing 2 sets for each arm and leg combination.

Special Instructions
This is a very good balance exercise and works your core stabilizer muscles as well as your leg muscles.

Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Core
Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Begin this exercise by standing with your feet wider than shoulder width apart and your toes pointed forward.

INHALE: Slowly lower your body and remember to bend slightly at your hips. Keep your weight back on your heels and your back as upright as possible. Make sure your knees don’t cross the plane of your toes.

EXHALE: Straighten legs and come up to the starting position to complete one rep.

Special Instructions
Do not go past 90 degrees at the bend in your knees because this causes additional stress on your joints. If you feel pain in your knees, just go down to where you don't feel pain and come back up. If you have difficulty performing this exercise you can also use a chair or wall to help with balance and the movement until you build sufficient strength.

Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

TC Challenges for the Day

Exercise Animations

Starting Position
Lie on left side, legs straight, knees together, resting head on right hand or extended arm. Place right hand flat on the ground in front of you for balance.

EXHALE: Squeeze the right thigh to raise right leg until it forms a 45 degree angle with the ground. Hold for 2 seconds.

INHALE: Return to start.

Complete reps and switch sides.

Special Instructions
Keep foot flexed through entire movement, toes facing forward (not up).

Muscles Worked: Outer thigh, Hips



Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Lie on the floor or a mat on your back, with knees bent. Grasp a lightweight dumbbell in two hands, palms facing out, arms extended straight into the air above your shoulders . Feet should be flat on the ground. Keep a space between your chin and chest (looking diagonal towards the ceiling)

EXHALE: Slowly curl head, shoulders, and upper body off the ground, reaching the dumbbell towards the ceiling. Try to reach higher than your feet.

INHALE: Slowly return to start to complete one rep.

Special Instructions
Use abdominals and hips (not your shoulders) to lift the weight. Keep abs contracted (pull navel towards spine) throughout entire movement.

Muscles Worked: Abs

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Sugar Free Pumpkin Custard
15 Minutes to Prepare and Cook


1 3/4 cup (1 small can) canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1 c. skim milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. Altern (walmart brand) no calorie sweetener

Put all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Beat with a wire whisk to mix. Put in microwave uncovered. Cook on high for 8-10 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave, checking pie half way thru. Pie is done when the outside edges start to pull away from the sides just a little, and knife inserted in middle doesn't quite come out clean. Take out of microwave and cover bowl with a plate for about 5 minutes to finish cooking center. Cut into 6 pieces like you would a pie. Use a spoon to dip up servings. Serve warm or cold. Makes 6 servings.
Tastes great with a Tbsp of cool whip free.

Number of Servings: 6

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 6
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 63.3
  • Total Fat: 1.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 71.0 mg
  • Sodium: 46.0 mg
  • Total Carbs: 12.0 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g

30 minutes Thanksgiving Workout

Seven exercises to work your whole body! -- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness InstructorThink you have no time to fit in fitness on this holiday? Think again! These seven exercises can be done almost anywhere, and you don't need any equipment at all—just a chair. By quickly progressing from one exercise to the next, you'll keep you heart rate up and speed through three full sets of each exercise in about 30 minutes flat.

If you don't have 30 minutes in the morning or evening, then keep this list of exercises with you. Steal a few minutes where you can—your body will still benefit, even if you split up your workout throughout the day.

30-Minute Thanksgiving Day Workout
Aim for 15 repetitions of each exercise, then move to the next exercise. Repeat the series two more times.

15 reps

Stand with your feet wider than shoulders, toes pointed forward.

Inhale and bend your knees to slowly lower your body as if sitting back into a chair. Keep your weight in your heels and your back as upright as possible. Make sure your knees don’t cross the plane of your toes.

Exhale and straighten legs back up to the starting position to complete one rep.

Forward Lunges

15 reps

Stand with your feet about 6 inches apart, toes pointed forward.

Inhale and step forward with one leg and lower your body to 90 degrees at both knees. Your weight on your heels and your knees should not cross the plane of your toes.

Exhale to push up to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat all reps on one leg, then switch to complete one set.

Calf Raises with Chair

15 reps

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, lightly holding on to a chair for balance.
Exhale and lift your heels to rise up onto balls of feet.
Inhale and slowly return to start position to complete one rep.

Triceps Dips with Bent Knees

15 reps

Sit tall on the edge of a sturdy chair or step and wrap your fingertips over the front edge. Place feet on the floor in front of you with knees bent. Lift hips and butt upward and slightly forward, balancing your weight evenly between your heels and your hands.

Inhale and bend elbows about 90 degrees to lower your body toward the floor.

Exhale and press up until elbows are straight, but not locked to complete one rep.

Modified Pushups

15 reps

Come down to hands and knees, with hands about shoulder-width apart and knees in line with hips. Keep your abdomen tight and your spine in a neutral position.

Inhale and bend your elbows and lower your body towards the floor.

Exhale and push up so that your arms are straight, making sure your elbows aren’t completely locked to complete one rep.


15 reps

Lie facedown, arms and legs outstretched, head in line with spine.

Exhale and lift left arm and right leg off floor. Inhale and lower.

Repeat on the opposite side to complete onerep.

Bicycle Crunches

15 reps

Lie on your back, hands behind ears, legs extended.

Exhale and crunch up, twisting your body so that your left elbow reaches towards your right knee.

Inhale as you transition and switch sides/legs.

Repeat on opposite side to complete one rep. 

Monday, November 19, 2007

Video of the Day

Denise Austin: Blast Away The Pounds - Indoor Walk (Full Frame)The package says; In Denise Austin's "Blast Away The Pounds: Indoor Walk," 3 Complete 1-Mile Programs, you will receive the health and weight-loss benefits of walking up to three miles outside - from your own living room! The program consists of three walking-based workouts with increased intensity, each focused on engaging both the lower and the upper body for maximum calorie burning while increasing your stamina and endurance. The Complete Walking Program: "Easy Walk" - Tailored for those unaccustomed to regular exercise, this 15-minute walk is also the perfect calorie-burning exercise for before or after dinner. Calorie Burning Equivalent: 1 Outdoor-Walking Mile. "Fat Blasting Interval Walk" - This 15-minute cardio walk gets the heart pumping, energy flowing and fat burning by alternating pace intensity and between lower-body and upper-body moves. It's the perfect metabolism-boosting workout. Calorie Burning Equivalent: 1 Outdoor-Walking Mile. "Power Walk And Tone" - This vigorous 15-minute routine combines power walking and sculpting techniques to firm and tone the major muscles, while blasting away pounds for a sleek and slender body. Calorie Burning Equivalent: 1 Outdoor-Walking Mile. "Stretch" - Designed to relax and tone all major muscles and joints, this 10-minute bonus stretch is the perfect way to jump-start and unwind your day.

Now ... what do I think? IMO this is a great beginner video but if your looking for a workout to really get your heart pumpin you either gonna want to choose another video or work really hard to get your heart rate up there. I do like that each mile is broken up so you can stop at any point int he workout, there's also a nice 10 min. stretch that you can opt for. As with most of my Denise Austin videos I HATE that she is a professional who can't keep with the beat. Aren't instructors supposed to be able to hear a beat? I know it's a pet peeve of mine but I can't stand this about her videos. Anyhoo ... the music seems a little low or her voice is over powering ... my daughter hates her "fake smile, says it's creepy". It doesn't bother me ... but I don't like that I have a hard time hearing the music, makes me wonder if they are working out with no music & then it was dubbed in. I guess this sounds like I don't like thisvdeo but actually it's not all bad. It's a nice EASY workout for those days where you know you need to workout but just don't want to. You can get this at

TC Challenge

Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Stand with feet six inches apart from each other, holding dumbbells at a 90 degree angle at the elbow, above your shoulders.

Step to the side with one leg and lower your body to 90 degrees at the far knee you stepped out with. Don’t step out too far. Keep your weight on your heels and don’t allow your knees to cross the plane of your toes. At the same time, lower the dumbbells down to the sides of the front foot, creating a flat back and keeping your core strong. Push off with the far foot and return to the starting position. Try doing 2 sets with 10-12 repetitions.

Special Instructions
Don’t let your knees go in or out during the movement – keep them facing forward. If they do, you should stop the exercise and build more leg strength before repeating exercise.

Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Shoulders

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Make it Through the Day...Guilt-Free -- By SparkPeople A gathering of close friends and family is one of the happiest times of year for all of us. Celebrations like Thanksgiving can distract us from our everyday worries…but they can distract us from our diets too. Here’s what you need to know so that the only thing you’re "adding on" this holiday is joy.

A Small Glimpse Into Reality

Counting Calories
The average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone, according to the Caloric Control Council. Surprisingly, most of these calories come from the all-day snacking in front of the TV while watching parades and sporting events.

The Truth about Fat
So what happens to all those extra calories? Caloric intake above your total daily energy expenditure (calories in > calories out) is converted into droplets, which are gobbled up by your fat cells. One pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories.

Luckily, following puberty, the body has developed all of its fat cells. Unfortunately, fat cells can never go away. Although they can shrink, you can never actually get rid of the cell itself.

How Many Pounds?
There’s good and bad news here. You’ve probably heard that the average person gains 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. However, a joint study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Medical University of South Carolina found that the average person’s weight gain is just over one pound. Sounds harmless, but…

The researchers found that the extra weight is stubborn—still present a year later on 85% of study participants. Gaining one extra pound each year can add up significantly, especially if it ends up sticking around forever, as the study suggests.

You’re Getting Very, Very…very…sleepy
Americans consume over 675 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving Day! Although turkey contains a natural sedative called Tryptophan, the chemical doesn’t have a large effect because it’s mixed with everything else you eat. That "food coma" you experience is actually the result of your body working overtime to digest all that food!

Make it Healthy This Year
We all have that friend or family member that can eat whatever they want and never gain a pound. But the rest of us, need some tips to help cut back on the bad stuff and enjoy the holiday without guilt.

Try Revamping some of your Traditional Recipes
  • Each American consumes nearly 40 pounds of sugar (63,750 calories!) throughout the course of one year. Replacing just one cup of sugar with a sugar substitute like Splenda brand in your pies and other baked goods will save over 750 calories.
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of enriched white flour in your baked goods. You’ll save 77 calories and a prevent a spike of insulin from affecting the body. If you don’t want to replace all of your flour, use just half whole wheat and half enriched.
  • Cook with skim milk instead of whole or 2% milk. Your potatoes will be just as creamy, and you’ll save up to 70 calories.
  • Replace eggs in cooking & baking with an egg substitue like Egg Beaters brand. You’ll save 60 calories and 238 mg of cholesterol. Or, just replace half.
  • Instead of using store-bought or your traditional homemade chip dip, try this out: Use regular mayonnaise for half of the recipe, and replace the other half with reduced fat sour cream. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise for 1,300 calories and 150 grams of fat less.
Feel the Burn! 
You can easily add a little more activity to your holiday routine to help "make up" for some of the extra calories you eat. Burn this many calories in just 10 minutes!
  • Walking at brisk pace = 54 calories
  • Heavy cleaning = 54 calories
  • Step-ups (using stairs) = 175 calories
  • Raking leaves = 40 calories
Build lean muscle and boost your metabolism even if you can’t make it to the gym by adding 10-15 reps of each of the following:
  • Squats—while you brush your teeth
  • Lunges—on each leg while you tie your shoes
  • Wall Push-Ups—before you walk out the door
  • Curls—with a can of soup or bottle of detergent
  • Plank hold—while reheating food. Hold for 30 seconds and work up to 3 minutes.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Now that you’re armed and ready, you can look forward to your time with friends, family, and food, without losing your diet momentum.

"If you know you are going to give in to temptations, making up for them with exercise and healthy choices elsewhere can keep you on track," says Coach Joe. "Be realistic on Thanksgiving and try to break even."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How to Throw a Healthy Dinner Party

A Meal That Pleases Your Body and Taste Buds -- By Zach Van Hart, Staff Writer

It’s Saturday night and the monthly dinner party is at your house. You want a meal that meets your friends’ taste standards, but you want it to be healthy too! Here’s a guideline for a SparkDiet dinner party menu. It comes complete with every food group, salad and dessert, while avoiding unhealthy party pitfalls and overeating.


Citrus and Black Bean Salad (Recipe)

Want to prepare a salad that’s not a salad? Tired of all that lettuce? The Citrus and Black Bean Salad is a perfect and healthy alternative. A mixture of orange, grapefruit, black beans, red onions, and avocado, this salad is very unique. It is a great source of fruit, packs an exotic taste and has less than 5 grams of fat per serving. Check out the full recipe above to see how it’s prepared and for more nutritional info.

Main Course

Sticky Chicken (Recipe)
     With: Green Beans Sauté – (Recipe) and
               Sweet Potato Custard – (Recipe)

This main course has it all – a meat dish that everyone will love, one of the healthiest veggies you can eat and a sweet side dish without the typical sugar and empty calories. The Sticky Chicken is spiced with many different ingredients that give the chicken its sticky texture. A key note: the chicken needs to cook for 5 hours, so start cooking early. Green beans are among the top vegetables you can eat because they include several essential vitamins while containing no fat or cholesterol. They will taste great sautéed. The Sweet Potato Custard also features bananas, giving it a very distinct taste, but still is a very healthy treat considering how the main ingredients bring key vitamins to the plate. Click the links above to find the exact recipes and ingredients.


Angel Food Cake with strawberries and light whipped topping – (Recipe)

We bet this will be one of your all-time favorite desserts. The Angel Food Cake is very healthy, but it will pop with flavor when you add strawberries to it. Even though whipped cream will give you a few calories, choosing a light variety will cut down on the heavy dosage. Besides, after serving a tasty and healthy meal that you and your dinner guests will love, you deserve a little treat!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

No more Portion Distortion

Knowing portion sizes is just as important as knowing how many portions to eat. The list below includes the number of portions that are recommended daily for most adults and children, and matches standard SINGLE portion sizes with an easy way to visualize its real size.

Fruits & Vegetables

A Single Serving Is About the Size of...
1 medium orange or apple Tennis ball
1/2 grapefruit Car headlight
1/4 cup dried fruit Large egg
1 cup green salad Adult fist
1/2 cup fruit or cooked vegetables Billiard ball
6 oz. of 100% vegetable or fruit juice Hockey puck
1 small potato Computer mouse
1 broccoli spear 2 small beanbags

Recommended Daily Servings of Vegetables:
Kids ages 6-12: 3-4 servings
Teen girls: 3-4 servings
Teen boys: 4-5 servings
Adults: 2-5 servings

Recommended Daily Servings of Fruits:
Kids ages 6-12: 2-3 servings
Teen girls: 2-3 servings
Teen boys: 3-4 servings
Adults: 2-5 servings

Forgotten check in

I'm such a loser ... in a good way though. =D

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket 

Yes, this is a loss for me ... a BIG loss in my book. It's a 2 pound loss from last week which puts me in 1st place in the D-I-E-T group for biggest percentage lost. I'm so shocked! I didn't workout much this past week for one reason or another ... I guess I didn't really eat that poorly either. I just wasn't hungry ... probably because I didn't exercise. I find when I don't exercise I don't want or feel like I need food. Anyway ... below is the chart Miss Sherry made for the D-I-E-T group ... it's the places that everyone came in. I'll be back with ThinChick results later.





% lost

























gain 1.40%









































Friday, November 16, 2007

Kick your Metabolism into high gear!

The Do's and Don'ts of Efficient Fat-Burning -- By Dean Anderson, Fitness & Behavior ExpertIf you’re reading this, chances are pretty good that you don’t have a metabolism that lets you eat as much as you want without ever gaining an ounce. Maybe (like me) you’re even at the other extreme, where it seems like all you have to do is smell the foods you love to start packing on the pounds. Does this mean you’re doomed to a lifetime of munching on carrot sticks with fat-free dressing, while watching your hollow-legged friends enjoy their pasta Alfredo and chocolate cheesecake? Not at all.

There are lots of things you can do to turn your body into an efficient fat-burning machine, and they don't include depriving yourself of foods you love, resorting to unhealthy gimmicks, or taking expensive “fat-melting” supplements that fail to deliver what they promise. All you have to do is avoid a few common mistakes, and include some simple ways to boost your daily calorie burn.

Metabolism DON'TS
  • Don’t reduce your calorie intake too low. The fact that you gain weight easily is proof that your body likes to shift into fat-storage mode at the drop of a hat, and going too low on calories is one of the easiest ways to trigger that reaction (often referred to as starvation mode). Don’t fall for the mistaken idea that the less you eat, the more you’ll lose—that’s just not how your body works. Staying within your recommended calorie range will keep your internal furnace stoked so that you have more capacity to burn stored fat.

  • Don’t skip meals. Going too long between meals affects your body chemistry in ways that can make weight loss more difficult. Most people can manage their hunger and avoid cravings and overeating by spreading out their calories into four to five small, well-balanced meals or snacks during the day. Try not to go more than four to five hours without eating something.

  • Don’t short yourself on shut eye. More research is showing that chronic sleep deprivation plays a significant role in weight gain. Your body needs plenty of “downtime” for the internal housekeeping that keeps your metabolism in good working order. The occasional late night won’t hurt you, but consistently sleeping just one hour less than you need may slow down your weight loss considerably.
Metabolism DO'S
  • Build muscle! This is the most important action you can take to maintain a high metabolic rate while trying to lose weight. Strength training prevents you from losing a lot of muscle along with the fat you lose when dieting. If you don’t strength train regularly, up to 30% of the weight you lose could be muscle tissue. Considering that a pound of muscle burns about 3 times more calories per day than a pound of fat even when you’re sitting still (and up to 15-20 times more calories per minute when you're physically active), you can see the problems this can cause. If you lose 20 pounds of weight (and 30% of that weight loss is muscle—seven pounds), you’ll be slowing your metabolism and your fat burning capacity down by a significant amount. A simple strength training program twice a week can limit your muscle loss to almost zero, and keep your metabolism running high.

  • Stay as active as possible. The more you use your muscles, the more calories you will burn. Moderate exercise like walking can burn three to six times more calories per minute than sitting still, and high intensity exercise like interval training can burn more than 12 times as much. Likewise, the more you vary your daily activity and exercise, the more you keep your body on its fat-burning toes.

  • Don’t just sit there. If you’re watching TV or sitting at your desk, get up frequently to do a few exercises. Keep those resistance bands and dumbbells nearby at all times—you can fit a complete strength training workout into the commercial breaks of a one-hour TV show. Ditch your chair and sit on a stability ball (or a stationary bike) instead—even fidgeting can help!

  • Exercise in the morning or in frequent bouts. Both strength and cardio exercises boost metabolism by increasing your calorie burn even AFTER your session is done. You can get the most out of this perk by starting your day with a workout or by incorporating multiple exercise sessions into your day. Longer or intense workouts have a greater "after burn” but even a 15-minute walk will make a difference.

  • Try interval training. The harder you work, the more calories you will burn both during and after exercise—plus your fitness level will really improve. Studies show that exercising as intensely as you can, for at least 10 minutes per day, produces the best results. Interval training is an effective way to increase the intensity and duration of your workouts without running yourself into the ground or risking injury.

  • Include mental exercises. One of the most important (but least recognized) factors in keeping your metabolic fires well stoked is managing stress effectively. Chronic stress disrupts the hormones that regulate everything from appetite to fat storage, and can defeat even the best exercise and eating plans. The more effort you put into recognizing and handling stress, the better off you’ll be. Include some time in your schedule every day for relaxation exercises, yoga, journaling, and other stress management activities.
And Most Importantly…
Make exercise and healthy eating FUN! Experiment frequently with new exercises and recipes, or anything that keeps you interested and adds some spice to your program.  Well, don’t stop there. The more variety you can put in your diet and your exercise routine, the more stimulating it will be. That makes it easy to put your best efforts forward, and get a major metabolic return on your investment.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

DH is now Home

First things first ... THANK YOU so much to all of you who commented, left well wishes, prayers, & gave me calls. It really means the world to me to know that so many of you care.

Fingers crossed ... DH is now home & was given a diagnosis of myocarditis (imflamation of the heart). Below is the definition of what it is. It's pretty lengthy so you won't hurt my feelings if you don't read it. Anyway, DH is still hurting a bit in his chest but they gave him meds to help manage his pain. He is only to work & do activity as tolerable ... he's stubborn so this will take an act of God to get him to sit still. His 1sgt & commander are trying to get him convalesant leave or at least quarters. They know he isn't up to work but without it in writing DH will show up tomorrow morning bright & early. He just doesn't know how to sit back & relax. I'm not sure he has much of a choice though ... almost thought he was gonna have to stay an extra night. The doc came in, gave him the all ok speach & said release papers would be in soon. He got up to get dressed & when he sat back down he clung to his chest ... had to call the nurse in for more pain meds. He pretty much refused to stay ... I can understand though, I'm pretty fond of my own space too.

Below is just what Myocarditis is ...

Definition of Myocarditis

Myocarditis is an inflammatory condition involving the myocardium (heart muscle).

Description of Myocarditis

Myocarditis is characterized by a variety of symptoms ranging from fatigue, difficult breathing, and rapid heartbeat to sudden death from fatal arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).

Myocarditis may occur following a wide assortment of diseases, including bacterial and viral infections, immune system disorders, and the production of myocardial toxins by the body, as well as chemical and radiation exposure.

In the early 1900s, myocarditis was recognized as the cause of many cases of congestive heart failure, and a regimen of strictly enforced bedrest was prescribed as being the only treatment having beneficial effects. In spite of the multitude of advances in definition, diagnosis and treatment, this may still be the most effective treatment.

The introduction of endomyocardial biopsy (removal of small amounts of heart muscle for microscopic analysis) now allows a histological, rather than clinical diagnosis. Only 30 percent of the patients with clinical symptoms of myocarditis are shown to have unequivocal biopsy diagnosis - the reason for this discrepancy is controversial. Cardiac imaging, in the form of angiography or computerized tomography, seldom helps in making a definitive diagnosis of myocarditis.

Causes and Risk Factors of Myocarditis

Many organisms can infect and injure the heart. Type B, a virus among those that usually infect the gastrointestinal tract, is believed to be the most common offending agent. Many other viruses, such as those of polio, rubella and influenza, have been associated with myocarditis.

It is not clear why the same viruses cause myocarditis in some patients and different diseases - gastroenteritis, pneumonia, or hepatitis, for example - in others.

Myocarditis can occur as a rare complication of bacterial infections, including diphtheria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and tetanus. Other infectious organisms, such as rickettsiae and parasites, may also cause inflammation in the heart muscle.

In Central and South America, myocarditis is often due to Chagas disease, an infectious illness that is transmitted by insects.

Symptoms of Myocarditis

Symptoms of myocarditis vary widely.

In adults, they can sometimes mimic those of a heart attack - mild to severe pain in the center of the chest, which may radiate to the neck, shoulders, and upper arms. In severe cases, symptoms include breathlessness, rapid pulse, and heart arrhythmias.

In infants, symptoms may also include bluish skin, heart murmurs, and a poor appetite.

Myocarditis may be suspected whenever chest pain or arrhythmia symptoms suggestive of congestive heart failure occur during the course of an infectious illness, especially a viral one. It should also be suspected when such symptoms occur in the absence of an obvious diagnosis.

Myocarditis may start as a flu-like illness that lingers longer than the usual several days. If significant muscle damage and weakening of the heart's chambers occur, symptoms of heart failure may develop. A month or two later, the symptoms of flu (weakness and malaise) merge with symptoms of heart failure (fatigue during physical activity and shortness of breath).

If the illness is persistent and progressive, symptoms become disabling enough for the person to consult a physician. By this time, however, the infecting organism usually cannot be detected or cultured from the heart or other places in the body. By the time the patient seeks medical help, all traces of the infecting organism or disease process that may have triggered the condition may be undetectable.

Diagnosis of Myocarditis

Diagnosis may require blood tests, a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram or radionuclide angiocardiogram, and, in rare cases, biopsy of a tissue sample from the heart muscle.

Treatment of Myocarditis

Mild, viral-related myocarditis in adults cures itself with little or no direct treatment. Similarly, mild cases caused by other types of infection often require only taking antibiotics or other drugs to treat the underlying disease.

More severe myocarditis may cause marked heart arrhythmias and heart failure if inflammation sufficiently damages the heart muscle or myocardium.

In such cases, medications to stabilize heart function may be necessary. These may include vasodilators, digitalis, diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and other drugs. In certain severe types of myocarditis, steroids may be prescribed.

Sometimes even after myocarditis is resolved, the heart muscle remains permanently damaged. If a heart block or marked slowing of the heart rate occurs, a pacemaker may be required. In advanced, severe cases, cardiac transplantation may be the only alternative.

During the acute phase of myocarditis, patient are advised to rest and gradually return to a more active lifestyle once evidence disappears of ongoing inflammation and heart injury.

Many cases of myocarditis cause minimal heart damage. Heart function fully recovers in these mild cases. Occasionally, severe cases of myocarditis also clear up spontaneously and leave little permanent damage. More typically, however, severe inflammation produces chronic, progressive, and irreversible heart damage.

TC Challenge

Exercise Animations
Starting Position
Lie on bench with feet flat on floor. Hold one dumbbell with both hands, palms against the underside of the upper set of plates/weight, thumbs and forefingers encircling the handle.

INHALE: Lower the weight behind your head, slightly bending elbows.

EXHALE: Return to starting position, arms extended but not locked to complete one rep.

Special Instructions
If your lower back comes up from the bench at all during the movement, then raise your legs (bent) into the air to keep the back flat throughout the entire movement.

Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Lats

8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Gym

  A Checklist for Fitness Facilities -- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer

When you’re eager to try a new restaurant, you might ask your friends for recommendations, read a good review, or check out the menu before you spend your money and time there. If you enjoy your first meal, you’ll return again and again, but if your experience is less than great, that first visit will also be your last.

Finding the right gym is a lot like finding new restaurant. A good gym will fit your own unique personality, and motivate you to come back and exercise on a regular basis. Unlike a restaurant however, joining a gym is a large financial commitment, so it’s even more important that you research your options before signing on the dotted line.

When considering a particular gym, set up a tour and bring a list of questions you want answered. Try to set up this tour during the time you usually exercise. More often than not, the staff will give you a free day pass so you can try out the equipment, classes, and other amenities firsthand.

Other than a free workout, there are several key criteria to consider before you fork over the dough or sign a long-term contract. Keep these questions in mind as you begin your search.

1. Location, Location, Location
If you choose a gym on the other side of town, will you really make it there consistently to work out? Often, a gym located somewhere between your home and office (or school) is best. On days when you’re crunched for time, having a gym close by will make things easier on your hectic schedule. After all, a good workout is supposed to lower your stress level, not increase it.

2. Hours
Is the gym open when you’ll use it most? While some gyms are open 24 hours a day, others are closed on weekends. Whether you workout early in the morning or late at night, make sure the hours fit your schedule, or you’ll be paying for something you can’t access.

3. Members
Everyone responds differently to those around them, and you should keep this in mind before you choose a gym. You should feel relaxed in your exercise environment, not embarrassed or intimidated. Some gyms are co-ed, while some are same-sex only. Others attract individuals of certain age groups. Will you be comfortable exercising around the current members? On your tour, does the gym seem overly crowded?

4. Staff
The staff members of the gym should be supportive and courteous, ready to answer questions or spot you on a machine if needed. They are there to help you make the most of your workouts. Before selecting a gym, ask about the certifications of the staff members. Are they qualified to guide you through your fitness routine? If you need a trainer, what are their rates?

5. Cleanliness
This may or may not be obvious on your first trip to the gym, so keep your eyes peeled. Make sure that towels are available to wipe off the equipment after each use. Also, look to see if staff members enforce this standard of hygiene. Peek into the locker rooms and showers, especially if you’ll be using these often. Look at the toilets, sinks, and showers themselves to see that they’re properly maintained.

6. Equipment
Take a good look around. Are there enough of the "popular" machines to go around, or do members have to wait in line to use them? Find out if there is a sign-up sheet or a time limit on cardio equipment. If you run on a treadmill for an hour, then a 30-minute time limit won’t really suit you.

Make sure that there are a wide variety of machines, but don’t be intimidated by new ones. Notice whether or not instructions and pictures are posted on the machines, or if staff is available to help you. Be cautious of out-of-order machines; this might be indicative of a poorly maintained gym.

7. Classes
Ask to see the schedule of fitness classes offered at the gym. Make sure that the classes you WANT to take are offered at the times you can attend, and find out if you need to show up early to reserve a spot. High-energy classes like spinning might interest you, or a calming yoga class might be more up your alley. If group classes are the staple of your exercise program, find out if the gym charges extra for classes before you join. Decide whether or not these fees are affordable before you join, or you might be paying for a membership that you don’t really use.

8. Fees
Cost is probably the deciding factor when choosing a gym. Many gyms have a sign-up fee, but these are often waived during certain promotions. Take a look at the payment schedule. Do you pay each month, or do you have to commit yourself to an entire year as a member? Can you cancel without penalty? And ultimately, does a gym fit into your budget?

When it comes down to joining a fitness center, you may feel like you’re signing your life away—if you aren’t informed and prepared. Be picky! Shop around, talk to friends, and take the tours until you find a place that meets all (or most) of your expectations at a reasonable price. After all, finding the right gym can be the key to a healthy lifestyle!