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#elf4health week 4 in review.

22 Dec

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This was the last week of #Elf4Health — which is sad!  This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had doing any sort of online challenge.  I met some cool new people and challenged myself a little bit along the way.

Here’s how this week went down:

Monday’s task was to meditate.  I am not a big meditator — but I tried a new-to-me spin instructor at my gym and he played a song where we were encouraged to close our eyes and relax.  I took some deep breaths and tried to tune everything out.  Not totally meditative, but about as close as I get.

Tuesday’s wall sit came after a body pump class — so my quads were shaaaaaky.  I hung in there for 2 minutes.

On Wednesday, I linked up with Samalee to share our respective areas of expertise.  I posted about how to become a spin instructor, and I published her post all about de-coding your cholesterol numbers.

On Thursday, our challenge was to eat at least 3 food groups at every meal.  Breakfast included: toast with butter (carbs + fat), 3 eggs (protein/dairy) and a bunch of veggies (kale, spinach, and red pepper).   photo 1 (5)

I picked up lunch at a local sandwich place — that checked off a few criteria: bread (carbs), mozzarella (dairy), prosciutto (meat/protein), tomato (vegetable), and a side of a banana (fruit).

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Dinner was consumed post yoga and spin — and although I had worked out hard, I wasn’t really all that hungry. I went with my old faithful — the Green Monster. (Spinach – vegetable,  Peanut Butter – Fat, Banana – Fruit).  Later a beer and some french fries were consumed at Villains Tavern.

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On Friday I jotted down 6 things I love about myself — 3 physical and 3 non-physical. Woot.


Saturday’s new fitness goals are three-fold:

(1) Do yoga 50 times in 2014. (More on this later)

(2) PR at the LA Marathon

(3) Actually foam roll.

My friend Angela and I at YogaHop last week.

My friend Angela and me at YogaHop last week.

Finally, on the last day of #Elf4Health I made a donation.   I dropped off the bags of clothes from last week’s closet clean-out at Goodwill.  I also made a couple of small monetary donations to charities that are important to my brother for part of his Christmas gift. (Direct quote: “Don’t get me anything for Christmas. Just donate to charity”…so we’ll see how this actually goes over).

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I had a great #Elf4Health and will look forward to participating in it next year!  I especially loved finding new blogs/tweeps/fitness freaks.

Elves — what was your favorite part of #Elf4Health?

I really enjoyed the variety of the tasks as well as reading everyone’s different ways they completed the challenges on social media.

guest post: know your numbers.

18 Dec

Hi everyone! As you may know, I am participating in the blog challenge #Elf4Health.  Today’s challenge is to “share your expertise” so I thought a guest post swap would work well for that.


Samalee Allen, who blogs over @ Life from the Center of the Pie, is sharing her expertise on my little corner of the web and it’s all about debunking cholesterol numbers (and I am guest posting for her about how to become a spin instructor)

Without further ado, here’s Samalee…

“Ms. Allen?”


“I have the results of your recent blood work. All is normal.”


“Yes. Have a nice day.”

”WAIT! I need to know what those numbers are.”

“Would you understand what those numbers meant, if I told you?”

“Yes! See, I’ve been working really hard for a long time and want to know if it paid off.”

“Your total Cholesterol is 177 and your TSH is 1.96.”


When you’ve struggled with with lousy, high cholesterol all of your adult life…

When 1/3 of your momma’s heart doesn’t work due to a major heart attack…

When the average weight for everyone on the maternal-side of your family is at 200+ lbs…

When you’re genetically predisposed to high cholesterol…

When your grandmother and bio-dad died of heart disease…

…you want to know your numbers!

Let’s Break Down the Numbers

know-your-numbers numbers

source: Google Images

Cholesterol is a fatty substance manufactured by our liver. Lipoproteins are fat and protein vehicles that transport Cholesterol. There are several kinds of vehicles, but we’ll keep to the 2 major types everybody talks about, LDL and HDL.

LDL (low-density Lipoprotein) – the wheelbarrow transporting cholesterol to the vessels and arteries.

HDL (high-density Lipoprotein) – the Amtrak transporting cholesterol out of the body

An easy way to remember which is which:

LDL = “Lousy”-density Lipoprotein (eL-evating the risk for heart attack)

HDL = “Healthy”-density Lipoprotein (hauling-out the risk for heart attack)

The average healthy person should have an LDL of <200, even better to have <130. For those who have risk factors (genetics, heart disease, obesity, smoking, hypothyroidism, fatty diet and an inactive lifestyle), the good doctors desire to push the LDL numbers down below 100. This is really a hard feat without the help of meds, nutrition and fitness working together. The target HDL of an average healthy person is >60. If the HDL number is lower, this increases the risk for heart attack.

My Experience with the Numbers

My total Cholesterol has been over 260 since my early twenties when it was tested. I am genetically predisposed for high cholesterol, but helped to keep it high with my poor nutritional choices. And, at some point, my thyroid decided to stop functioning efficiently. The thyroid aids in ushering out the LDL. Mine wasn’t doing it’s job. So, three years ago I started taking Levothyroxine (Synthroid) to keep my thyroid active and hoping to bring both thyroid and LDL numbers down. Still, the numbers remained unhealthily high.

When the doctor decided to ward off the potential for a heart attack, he prescribed Atorvastatin (Lipitor) and I cried like a baby. I felt like a failure and a geriatric. I now refer to my meds as “vitamins.” Again, there was little change in the LDL numbers, even while being semi-active.

December 1, 2012, through prayer I felt like God was encouraging me to go on a partial fast eating only fruits, veggies, nuts and whole grains while avoiding animal proteins and sugar. Not easy for a couple of weeks. Then, on December 18, my husband suffered a heart attack…about the time of the arrival of my Forks Over Knives cookbook. I watched the documentary by the same name in the Critical Care Unit at Vanderbilt Hospital as Terry slept.

The church where we attend was focusing on a 40-Day Prayer Challenge. One of my prayer “seeds” is to receive healing from this lifelong battle with lousy, high LDL…even if God has me work for it!

Jan 2010: Total Cholesterol 336, LDL 250, TSH 11.45

Mar 2010: Total Cholesterol 313, LDL 225, TSH 6.18

May 2011: Total Cholesterol 339, LDL 256, TSH 3.47

Sep 2011: Total Cholesterol 250, LDL 173, TSH 6.12

Feb 2012: Total Cholesterol 207, LDL 130, TSH .92

Mar 2013: Total Cholesterol 177, LDL 98, TSH 1.96

So, what brought my numbers down?

I am convinced that without spiritual intervention, my numbers wouldn’t have changed so dramatically. I continue to pursue healthy, nutritional choices with plant-based foods on a daily basis and consuming meat only once-per-month. Consistently, my fitness includes 2-3 hours of cardio (including Zumba), each week, and recently adding light weight training. And, I still take my “vitamins.” It is my prayer to be taken off the cholesterol drug although my age (50 in June) and the odds are against it. I believe in God’s odds as my prayers are being answered and my numbers finally reflect a change!

Thanks, Samalee! Go check out her blog — Life from the Center of the Pie.

Let me know — what are YOU and “expert” at? 

#elf4health week 3 recap

16 Dec


Week #3 for #Elf4Health is in the bag!  This was probably my least successful week with the challenge.  I had my last law school final right in the middle of the week (Wednesday) and was in 10-hour-days at the library mode for the first part of the week.

Here’s a reminder of what the challenges were:

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Monday’s circuit workout was…lackluster.  But for good reason! I had a huge half-mary PR on Sunday (post to come…I promise) and was nursing a gnarly charley horse back to health.  I ran 2 miles in the morning with Back on My Feet, which actually made the charley horse feel better. That said, everything still felt a little creaky so I went with a “stretch” circuit.  I reached out on the Elf 4 Health Facebook group for ideas and went with this one…


Tuesday’s challenge was to “pay it forward” but my options were pretty minimal since I was spending the entire day trying to cram any semblance of understanding of trusts & wills concepts into my puny brain.  I did buy my friend Taylor an assortment of treats from Starbucks, but that didn’t count.

On Wednesday, I crushed Pay it Forward AND Healthy Snack.  Well, sort of.  I didn’t “pack” a healthy snack because I wasn’t at school long enough (I basically took my test and left).  But when I got home, I had some carrots and yogurt before teaching spin.

I made up for the lack of “paying it forward” on Tuesday by stopping into Target to pick up an Easy Bake Oven. My roommate’s law firm was doing a toy drive for Para Los Niños, and when Jenn asked me if I wanted to contribute I said “of course.”  She read me some of the things kids had requested, and when she got to “Easy Bake Oven” I said “YES. GETTING THAT.”  I never had an Easy Bake Oven, but I love the classic-ness of the gift. (My brother and I did have a Creepy Crawler maker, though).


On Thursday, my “me time” consisted of getting my eyebrows done (FYI, threading hurts WAY MORE than waxing.  But you also don’t lose any skin, so there’s that).  I also got a manicure in the most obnoxious Christmas polish color I could find.


On Friday, I went on 3 miler with BOMF, went back to bed for a few hours (amazing), and then went to try and run my “fastest mile.” Unfortunately, USC’s track was closed so I stopped by LA State Historic Park since one lap around the dirt track is one mile.  I ran 6:34. It HURT. I thought I would run a little closer to 6:00, but the dirt track and not having music threw off my game. (And the fact it wasn’t broken up into even 400s made it harder to pace). Regardless, I completed the challenge!

I did Saturday’s Closet Clean out today — I completely cleaned out my entire closet and drawers and ended up with about a bag and a half of things to donate. My closet REALLY needed it — and now it is less of an eyesore.

My Sunday “meal planning” consisted of shopping at Trader Joe’s.  Since I’m not in school right now, my schedule is really flexible and it’s hard for me to set a strict schedule of what I’m eating when, but I picked up some easy-t0-make meals and produce to get me through the week!  Today I made eggs over-easy for brekkers, which was a delicious change from my usual go-to of scrambled eggs.

I can’t believe there’s only one week left! I’ve loved this challenge — and getting to know my new elf, Katrina Runs! Goal for this coming week: actually do the challenge on the assigned day.

ELVES: What has been your favorite day of the challenge so far? 

I felt most accomplished on the new workout, 100 burpees, and “eat the rainbow” days, but the Pay it Forward day was the most inspiring to me!

#elf4health week 2 recap

12 Dec

Hi everyone!  I have escaped from finals-land…My last one was yesterday and I am so happy to never have to think about Trusts & Wills again…or at least until the bar.  I celebrated by cleaning my room (it was a disaster), teaching spin class, and then grabbing a drink with a couple of my DTLA Running Club friends. I’m waaaaay behind on this, but I wanted to re-cap last week’s Elf 4 Health goings on:

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Monday’s challenge was to write a hand-written note.  I did mine a day early since it was my best friend Whitney’s birthday the Sunday before.

On Tuesday, I “ate the rainbow” — My breakfast included a delicious scramble with tomato, bell pepper, kale, arugula, red onion, and a side of blueberries.


For lunch, I used the same veggies and leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make a to-go salad.  I ate with a banana, blueberries, and my mom’s leftover cranberry relish. So good — and I love that my law school gave out free pieces of fresh fruit during finals!



On Wednesday the challenge was to go make-up free.  I do this every once in awhile (especially if I am wearing workout clothes to school) so it wasn’t too huge a challenge. BaqLsMUCEAA7HeE

I’ve also started using Dermalogica (thanks to the free samples I got a couple of months ago from #FitBlogLA).  I am a convert.  Every time I wash my face I feel like I’m getting a baby facial.

On Thursday, the challenge was to workout with a buddy.  This was perfect since my old friend Angela and I had planned to meet up to try YogaHop. (I want to post a full review once I’ve been to a few classes).  It was great catching up with Angela over our favorite way to hang out — sweating an insane amount and laughing a lot!

I had a final on Friday, but I posted a small “Operation Beautiful” style post-it in one of the restrooms in our library.  I meant to say “Smile.  Breathe.  You Got This”  but in my finals state I somehow spelled breathe “BREATE” which is not a word.  One  of my friends recognized my handwriting and told me later.  Cool.

On Saturday I did a little fridge-clean out, and on Sunday I took a break from studying for Trusts & Wills to make a little gratitude list.  Here’s the top 20:

  1. My awesome parents (and their health)
  2. My brother’s sense of humor
  3. My health (including not being injured –> being able to run!)
  4. Running
  5. Spinning + my gym
  6. The education I’ve experienced (Go Bears//Go LMU Lions?)
  7. All of my supportive friends (special s/o to Whitney and Jenn!)
  8. Blogging/fitness community
  9. Cross country/track (This had a pretty big impact on my life)
  10.  Starbucks (but seriously)
  11.   My law school posse
  12. Music
  13.  My aunts and uncles
  14. My good memory.  It may be freakish, but it has made tests as a whole a lot more bearable over the years.
  15.   Beer!!  (…specifically IPAs, duh).
  16.   The ability to afford food/shelther/so many other countless privileges
  17.  Beautiful LA weather
  18. Travel!!//study//living abroad
  19.   My iphone
  20.  Proximity to the ocean

I haven’t been as on-point with the #Elf4Health challenges this week due to finals — but I am here to play for the next week and a half!

What are 5 things you’re thankful for? 

#elf4health week 1 recap

2 Dec

I’m currently in the library studying for my Trusts & Wills and Criminal Procedure finals — but my hand is cramping up from writing flashcards so I thought I’d switch gears for a second and crank out this blog post.

Good news — I successfully finished Week 1 of #Elf4Health!

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It has been a lot of fun following along on Twitter and Instagram with everyone participating, as well as getting to know my elf, Nicole.

Here’s how the week went down:

For Meatless Monday, I had a busy day at school and was there for lunch and dinner.  While I was able to avoid meat pretty easily (burrito bowl FTW!) it made me more cognizant of the fact I need to get (back) in the cooking game.  Side-note: current favorite meatless meal? Still scrambled eggs + spinach.

On Tuesday, our task was to unsubscribe. I used a website called and got rid of a bunch of unwanted e-mails, but I have slowly noticed some of them start to creep back in…weird.

On Wednesday, we had to try a new workout. I ran with Homeboy in the morning and taught spin at night, but I also checked out a new workout (55 burpees, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, and push-ups are no joke). I also wrote about some new-to-me workout studios in LA I want to try here: Brand Spankin’ New Workouts.

On Thursday, after a little Turkey Trot action, I headed home to see my family. I’m not a huge caller (texting generation, duh), but I called my Uncle while I was driving home instead of the usual text or e-mail (and because it’s totally unsafe to text and drive). 


On Friday, I used the Ounces app (thanks, Cori!).  It was fun to be more conscious of how much water I was imbibing throughout the day, and I like the fact they include a push notification at noon to remind you of where you’re at.


On Saturday, aka “treat yourself” day, I first taught a little spin and logged some QT in the library, but then I headed out to dinner in DTLA with my parents and headed to the Kings game against the Calgary Flames with my Dad.  I was lucky to win tickets from the organization I volunteer with, Back on My Feet.  Definitely a treat!


The “treating” may have continued with a slice of pumpkin pie and a full mary registration (barely beat the Dec. 1 price increase)…


On Sunday, I woke up and immediately got my first 12 burpees done for the 100 Burpee Challenge.  I love living on the West Coast, but there’s no greater motivator than waking up to zillions of tweets of everyone doing #Elf4Health on the East coast already beasting.  I headed to the gym for Body Pump, spin, and then completed 38 more burpees before studying for a few hours.

After the library, I finished the second 50 (in blocks of 10) and then snapped this photo.  I spy a tiny tri…


(Tri-cep not -athlon…let’s not get carried away).

I’m excited for the next week of challenges…even if it is somewhat of a distraction from holographic wills and spendthrift trusts (yes those are things, yes you should be happy you chose a different profession).

Elves:  how did Week 1 go for you? Favorite challenge? 

turkey trot la.

30 Nov

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving!  I had a great couple of days spending time with my family and eating delicious food.

I kicked off Thanksgiving Day with the Turkey Trot in Downtown LA. I decided to run the 5k and the 10k back-to-back because it was a good deal ($50 to race 9 miles? DONE) and because I am crazy.

My roommate decided to do the 10k, and her mom and sister were walking the 5k, so they picked us up and we all carpooled together over to City Hall.

It was a gorgeous day to be out there. 1454857_10102651680477873_1300274210_n

The 5k started at 7:45.  I dropped a few cans of food I brought for the drive the Turkey Trot was doing for the LA Regional Food Bank.  I know this race was for-profit, but I like the fact they still made it about something bigger than itself.



There was a slight delay — but beyond that, it was a great race.  I used bag check (possibly for the first time ever at a race) because I had to change chips out for the second race.

I moseyed to the start and ran into my friend Kevin from my running group and his little brother.  I also knew Katherine and her boyfriend were there but didn’t see them before the race got going — and I had checked my phone at bag check…social media fail.

The course was challenging — we started at 1st and Spring and had a hilly first mile.  The second mile was gentle downhill all along Spring street, out to 8th or 9th. We turned around and came back the last mile, which was gradual uphill.

My goal was to try and race the 5k and to hang on for the 10k and run it as a shake-out run.  I was happy to see some familiar faces out on the course (I saw Katherine in Mile 3!) and to run through DTLA.  My splits were as follows (I think they reflect the difficulty of the course)

Mile 1 – 7:00

Mile 2 – 6:45

Mile 3 – 7:00

Finish: 20:48  (My Garmin had the race distance at JUST over 3 miles). I was super happy with the speedy time.  I finished 2nd in my age group (25-29), 8th woman overall.


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I had maybe 20 minutes to change my timing chip, re-hydrate, and to approach the starting line again.  For the 10k, I wanted to just run controlled.  My goal was to hit 8 minute miles and to enjoy it.  I wanted to run strong but I knew my legs were tired (I’d worked out pretty hard on Wednesday).

Surprisingly, I felt better and stronger than I realized.

Mile 1 – 7:54

Mile 2 – 7:09

Mile 3 – 7:32

Mile 4 – 7:53

Mile 5 – 7:26

Mile 6 – 7:37

0.16 – 2:26

I was surprised I was keeping everything under 8, even on the hilly first and fourth miles, but I’ll take it. My Garmin had my finish at 47:57.  I was 6th in my age group, 89th woman overall.

I immediately put on my compression sleeves and headed to meet up with my roommate’s sister and mom to cheer on Jenn as she finished.  She was smiling and happy every time I saw her on the course. She broke 65 minutes which is definitely a strong time on a challenging course!


I really had a great time at this event.  It was well-managed, the course was fun, and I liked that they gave out trucker hats as opposed to the usual cotton T I wear only to bed.  I also loved running in my ‘hood (I love DTLA and want everyone to love it as much as I do), getting to run with some of my running club peeps, getting to share the experience with Jenn, and this epic Christmas tree in Grand Park:


9 + miles, one trucker hat, and 3 medals later = GET AT ME PUMPKIN PIE

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Did you Turkey Trot? Where/When/details please!

brand spankin’ new workouts.

27 Nov

For those of you following along with #Elf4Health, today’s challenge is to do a new workout. Wednesdays are sort of  workout-filled to begin with me for me — I was at Back on My Feet this morning and will be teaching spin tonight, but I still plan to try this workout Cori @ Olive to Run posted earlier this week. Already dreading those burpees…rounds-of-workout-moves

I thought I’d share some of my favorite workouts you can do at home without much equipment.  I tried this one from Tina @ Carrots n Cake awhile ago and liked how it incorporated some cross-fit type elements with running.  Those burpees killed me at the end!


I am a big fan of the Seven Minute workout (and I love the 7 Minute Workout app for the iPhone).

12well_physed-superJumboFinally, Karena and Katrina over at Tone It Up are constantly posting creative, fun, and challenging workouts. This one is great if you’re looking to specifically target your back.


While my “something new” for today is a little on the DIY-side, there’s a bunch of cool, boutique style workouts in the LA I can’t wait to try as well.

Numero uno on that list? YogAqua. Yoga. On a stand-up paddleboard.   I need to try this, ASAP. Any takers?


I like yoga, but I struggle with the whole zen, woo-woo aspect of some studios.  Enter: YogaHop.  Yoga, set to hip-hop music? I can get behind this.


I’m spin-obsessed and have checked off most of the LA boutique studios, but I have never made it to Cycle House — and I used to live about a block from it!


Elves — what new workout are you trying today?

Has anyone ever tried YogAqua, Yoga Hop, or Cycle House? Thoughts?

Favorite “off the beaten path” exercise?