Thursday, March 31, 2011


I never thought I would be a woman that has a personal trainer. 
When I joined my gym (the most amazing fitness center ever), I got two free sessions.  The first was a fitness assessment; the second was an introduction to the equipment and set up of a weight training routine.  The membership specialist randomly assigned me to a staff member when I joined.  I got Lisa.
Lisa has been great.  After our first two sessions she has sent me emails to encourage me, and is always friendly when I see her around.  But is Lisa worth $60 an hour?  I found out on Monday.
My weight loss has been slower lately.  I also have tried to start running some, but it hurt my knees a little bit and I was concerned, that as a non-runner, I didn’t know how to do it right.  Plus, my deepest confession is---I have not lifted weights in about a month.  The routine was boring, and I would rather do cardio.  After I won the New Year Challenge, I pretty much lost all interest in strength training.  (Terrible, I know!)
So I made an appointment with Lisa.  She gave me a laundry list of things to do:
1.        Exercise less.  Apparently my four hour workouts on the weekend aren’t helping me as much as I think they are.  Also, I was instructed to take 1 day off per week.  This may sound blissful, but as someone who is obsessed with the concern of losing momentum, this is not easy to hear.

2.       Eat a little more.  Lisa thinks I need to fuel up more to burn more.  My concerns with #1 are equally reflected here.  However, we did talk about how I need to spread out my calories better throughout the day.  I tend to eat small meals for breakfast and lunch and then gorge at dinner.  I don’t do this because I am famished, it is because I realize I haven’t eaten enough and need to take in more calories, but apparently I may be doing as much damage as just not eating enough.  I know that eating 5-6 small meals is better, but I struggle getting it together.  She encouraged me to try at least 4 meals.  I am going to give it some real effort.

3.       “Get off the damn elliptical.”  Yep, that’s a quote.  90-120 minutes daily has my muscles so trained that I am not challenging them and losing the opportunity to become fitter.  This is a going to be hard for me, because on my elliptical row, I am surrounded by my fan club, and I like it.  I am going to take her advice though. 

4.       Get new glass slippers.  My shoes have too many miles on them.  Not sure I have ever worn out a pair of sneakers before.  Especially in less than three months.  That goes on my to-do when funds are available list.

5.       Sleep more.  Well, we talked about that, but it just isn’t going to happen.  I know I don’t get enough, I know it affects my weight loss and fitness and I know more sleep improves overall health.  Well, make the days longer then, because I just can’t. 

6.       Restart my lifting schedule.  She gave me a whole new circuit of activities.  Since I have proven myself as someone who actually will come to the gym, they are a lot harder than before.  Like REALLY hard.  I am actually excited about kicking some ass.

7.       See her again, in 6 weeks.  We scheduled an appointment already!
It was great to have a fitness specialist talk about my challenges with me (Lisa has all sorts of letters behind her name—I am not certain of her exact qualifications, but I know she has credentials).  In many cases, I KNEW what she was telling me, but it still helps to hear it and have someone provide incentive, education and motivation.  If you can work it in your budget, I recommend working in a trainer, at least every few months to keep you on track with your goals!
Baptist East Milestone, or my trainer, Lisa did not request this review and have not compensated me in any way to talk about their services.  All opinions expressed in this blog are my own.  Should Baptist East Milestone or another fitness company want to send me product or coupons for services, I would be happy to share my honest thoughts about how a particular item or service worked for me, and would disclose such perks to readers.   I can be contacted at

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Princess Phenomenon

I heard this story on NPR yesterday about the princess phenomenon.  Although I love embracing my inner princess, balancing the message we send to children is so important.  What do you think? 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nobel Ambitions 3.28.11

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat.  Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Problem On Everyone's Plate

I had a wonderful time on my trip to Belize earlier this month.  As part of my job, I took a group of students to Belize, to study traditional medicine.  We met with a several herbal healers from the variety of ethnic groups in Belize.  In addition we had plenty of fun exploring some of the cultural and relaxation options that one would hope to experience during Spring Break.
My diet was horrible all week.  The food options were mostly fried food.  This was not my first visit to Belize and I knew before I arrived that local people do not have healthy diets.  And honestly, after a couple of days I gave up picking around my plate and just decided to eat.  I figured that I would put on a couple of pounds that would quickly be corrected when I returned home.  I did not get a lot of exercise.  Yes, I crawled up the side of a Mayan temple and swam around the Caribbean Sea one day, but mostly I drove the students around and was very sedentary.

Altun Ha.  It would have been a great workout had I
climbed it a dozen times instead of only once.

To my surprise, I posted a fairly decent loss when I returned.  I have tried to explain this to myself.  Perhaps I sweat it out in the 90s tropical heat?  Perhaps I ate less than I thought (I don’t think so!)?  Maybe the short jungle treks and stress of driving in a developing country burned more than I figured? When I left I was at the end of a two week plateau.  Maybe my body finally just decided to let go of some fat?  When I think about the plateau theory, I believe that this may be the answer.  I got a lot of sleep (at least eight hour a night) while I was gone, which had been seriously lacking for several weeks at home, often logging half that.  Sleep is essential to fat loss, according to recent studies.    And maybe my body just needed a break from my strenuous regimen?  Is that possible?  I think the next time I hit a plateau of any significant length; I may fight it with less intensity and rest.  Is this a good strategy, or is the evil villain just walking me into a trap?
I believe that real Princesses need to be socially aware, active and justice oriented.  We can’t just sit in our towers all day looking pretty.  Traveling to someplace like Belize (in the fashion I did, this was no resort holiday) makes the link between poverty and obesity incredibly obvious.   In many developing nations, like Belize, the fight with food is twofold.  On one hand they are fighting hunger, often associated with poverty.  On the other hand there is a fight against obesity, caused by the lack of healthy foods that are often too expensive and the abundance of cheap, high fat, sugary and starchy foods that are affordable.  It is not a difficult jump to link this problem to the aftermath of colonialism, where many people groups were pulled away from their land and traditional lifestyles, stripped of wealth (their land) and reassigned to labor jobs required to fulfill the needs of the colonial powers in mines, factories and service work.  When the connection to the land is lost, it creates a dependence on processed foods (conveniently packaged and profited by the colonizer).  Of course, the link between poverty and obesity is strong in developed countries as well, including the U.S.  

What can a Princess do? 1) Educate yourself and share information with others.  2) Get involved with organizations that work to fight hunger.  3) Be critical of the organizations you connect with.  Are they fighting hunger with mac-n-cheese?  Or are they working to bring healthy, whole foods to people in need and advocating to make food prices affordable for all people?  What education programs do they have to help individuals make healthy choices?  Our interventions must not cause additional problems, and need to address the systematic issues that plague those we are reaching out to.
A quick google search or two did not pull up organizations who made healthy eating a mission in their hunger initiatives.  Do you know of any?  I would love a link to check out.  As a matter of fact, I will donate up to $50 to the organization I deem most helpful for every unique visitor's suggestion ($1 per) left in my comment section over the next ten days.  So take a few minutes to explore the organizations out there and share them with me.  A future post will update readers on the search and donation. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Mornings

"Oh, that clock! Old killjoy. I hear you. "Come on, get up," you say, "Time to start another day." Even he orders me around. Well, there's one thing. They can't order me to stop dreaming." -Cinderella 

Of course, this image belongs to Disney!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tweeples in the Royal Kingdom

I have had a Twitter account for a while now.  You could find me @jessrandall, and you still can.  But I wouldn't bother.  For @jessrandall, Twitter is an input function only.  I have been following a handful of news organizations, celebrities and such just to get info like headlines, Hollywood gossip and concert dates. Twitter was okay for me.  It gave me something to do if I had down time waiting for a meeting and something to look at if I couldn't fall asleep at night.  I tweet from this account on a rare occasion, mostly because I  am afraid that they will deactivate my account if it doesn't occasionally show some activity.  Tweets are generally uninspired and impersonal.

When I got Digit, I decided I wanted to tweet my results, and I thought I may enjoy tweeting about my fitness journey as I work towards my Disney Princess Half Marathon goal.  So I created @princessjruns.  I started out following Biggest Loser contestants.  And then a few health and fitness people.  A trainer here or there.  Runners.  And people who want to be runners.  People who want to be skinny.   Then I followed a few nutrition freaks and physicians.  And suddenly I was part of this huge fitness community.  Oh, I follow a few Disney fanatics too.

I fell in love with Twitter. 

I am skeptical of using the word community and social media in the same sentence.  My whole career is based on creating community, in the real world.  Social media can often create roadblocks to that process. Community to me is fundamental to happiness--Biblical, spiritual and totally essential to humankind.  Relationships blossom in community and reflect Divine intentions.  It shouldn't be a word used loosely.

But that is what I have found in Twitter. A group of supportive people, dedicated to the same goals I have.  A community.  It is full of men and women who wish to share information, support and inspire one another.  And it doesn't matter that we don't know each other.  Sometimes I think that is actually better.  One person I follow once tweeted "Twitter makes me love people I don't know.  Facebook makes me hate people I do."

There are several benefits to joining the fitness community on Twitter (besides a sense of community, albeit virtual).
  • Motivation--listening to others stories helps me stay on track.  Plus when I need direct assistance I ask for it.  I may tweet:  "Help!  I can't get motivated to get to the gym."  In less that 5 minutes I get at least three responses that range from "Go girl! You can do it" to "Maybe an at home workout?  I like this one (link)."  Suddenly I have the strength to strap on my sneakers.                                               
  • Reality Check--Guess What?  Real fitness people struggle too.  I have witnessed, via tweets, trainers and fitness specialist totally mess up.  They gorge on brownies after a crappy day, they hit a wall during a workout and quit.  The have shitty days and sing Cee Lo lyrics.  If they can do it from time to time, I certainly can.  If they pick them self up and hop back on the wagon, I certainly can. There is something empowering knowing that even the fitest of the fit struggle in the same ways I do.
  • Knowledge IS Power--So much good info gets shared!  I have been directed to many articles about health, wellness, nutrition and fitness that I would have missed without my tweeps!  For example, did you know that if you hang on while on the treadmill or elliptical and leave your arms stationary, rather than swing them you burn as much as 40% less calories?  Wow.  What a waste of time!  I have tested it via Digit, my bodybugg.  It's true!
  • Birds Of A Feather--Hanging with people who are like minded, helps keep my brain in the right place.  If I am feeling down or frustrated about my goals, I can turn to my twitter account to refocus, in a matter of seconds.  Plus I can help others too.  I love to respond to people needing motivation or kudos for their success as much as I like to receive it.
So if you are a Twitter skeptic, I get it.  But if you are looking for a place to connect with others on a fitness journey, like losing weight, training for marathons, or keeping your diet healthy,  reconsider. Twitter might not be exactly what you think it is.  For me, it is living, breathing community of kick-ass people who radiate positivity into my world from theirs--wherever they are!

And if you jump in to the Twitter pool--follow me, friend! @princessjruns

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nobel Ambitions 3.14.11

"He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Evil Vacations

Last month, Charming and I took a vacation.  It was long overdue and incredibly needed.  However, as we approached the date of departure, I found myself very anxious and nervous.  I have worked so hard on my fitness goals and vacation provided multiple temptations to stray-both from a healthy diet, and away from my regular exercise program.  To make matters worse, I was headed to the lair of overindulgence:  a cruise ship.  Holy lounge chairs, calorie laden umbrella drinks and continuous buffets.

Villains...always trying to keep princesses from happiness.
Images are not mine, were borrowed from a random website
and characters belong to Disney.

I think often, people who struggle with fitness get in an all-or-nothing frame of mind.  I personally tend to have this problem, and for me it is motivated by fear of failure and fear of losing control.  This was causing my anxiety.  It is an issue (extreme thinking) that I am working on.

Night 1 on the ship would have been model.  I ate very little before embarking on the ship, indulged in a (that's one, singular) "Funship Special" cocktail and ate off the "Spa Carnival" menu, that provides very low calorie meal options in the dining room.  However the rest of the week did not  go exactly in a model fashion..  Spa Carnival food--well it kind of sucks.  So I found myself eating off the regular menu the rest of the week.  And the daily drink special--well they are kind of yummy.  So I didn't indulge in only one at time.

Dessert buffet aboard...beware!

But I have success to report as well.  For one, I did not snack between meals (except for those umbrella drinks, and then in semi-moderation, I swear).  I avoided buffets.  And, I worked out.  Every day on the ship, for 90 minutes just like I would at home.  I am proud of that, and I know that in the end, it all came out even, more or less.  I posted a modest loss on the scale upon return. 

This week I am out of the country.  I am in the sunny Caribbean enjoying a fantastic culture. Best of all,  I am doing it as part of of my job.  Have I mentioned that I am grateful to live a privileged life?  This week will be rough--fitness wise.  I will have less control over my food because the eateries will not offer lean options.  In addition I will be extremely limited on my exercise.  I will be staying in an area I would not feel safe walking alone in, especially early or late in the day when the schedule would allow.  And I doubt there is a gym anywhere near my destination.  I am going to have to be vigilant in portion sizing and be extremely careful about everything I put in my mouth.  However, I feel confident that if I do indulge in the local delicacies and do not do get in my daily burn, I will survive.  I will make adjustments, and refuse to use it as an opportunity to throw it all away.  This weeks it won't be all or nothing.  And I won't treat it as if it is, because really, nothing in life ever is.  At least this is what I am saying to coach myself and calm down as I pack my bags to depart.  And I have to keep thinking this way, all week--and when I return.

A future post will share the challenges I encounter while away.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nobel Ambitions 3.7.11

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.  ~Plato

Disney created the lovely image above, not me!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Princess Fan Club

My first step to prepare for the princess half-marathon is to slim down.  I have been dedicated to the gym now since December, and truly hard-core since the first of the year.  I am very privileged to belong to an extremely nice gym, probably the best in town.  It is large (plenty of equipment including a pool), clean (locker rooms not excluded), well maintained (the equipment always works, from TVs to treadmills) and the staff is great.  
I go to the gym early--I am there by 5:30 AM for 90 minutes of cardio during the weekdays.  The crowd is small, only a handful of dedicated people.  Everyone is a regular.  Most of the group is older than I am, usually by several years.  There are some interesting personalities, and they are sort of fun to observe as I chug along on the elliptical or treadmill.

One thing I did not expect to get with my monthly membership is a fan club.  That's right, a fan club.  There is a group cheering me on every morning.  Since about the second week of January, they have been greeting me with good morning smiles and words of encouragement.  I get thumbs up when they think I can't hear them over my headphones.  Sometimes they even whip me with their sweat towels, which I could live without.  However, every day I get a "you are doing great" or "you can do it" or something of the sorts.   One of the guys, David, even referred to the group as my fan club one day.  I think he is the club president, he rallies the crowd every once in a while. 

At first, I must admit, I was mildly offended.   I am not really comfortable being someones special project or novelty.  But they are so genuine and supportive; I know it comes from the right place.  It is very motivating, and I am sincerely grateful.  Sometimes I am embarrassed by the attention, but again, at it's core it is sincere and motivating.  And really, deep inside, I don't think I am offended/embarrassed by them.  I am ashamed of myself--for allowing my fitness to get so poor and becoming the sort of person that could be some one's special project.

More than once at 5:00 AM, I have rolled over, turned off my alarm and for a brief moment, considered skipping the gym.  But then I remembered-- I can't disappoint my fans.

PS:  I will be out of the country next week.  I have a couple of posts scheduled, so please stop in!