Hi folks! What the heck?!…I can’t even remember the last post I wrote! With Winter and knee pain, I haven’t been excited about any new workouts or anything, so I have mostly been walking and keeping busy.

2015-05-06 19.44.38Since they say, 70% of health is in the kitchen and the other 30% is exercise, I have been trying to figure out what to do with the 70%. I have used a julienne peeler in the past to make zucchini noodles, often called “Zoodles”. They are totally healthy noodle-substitutes made from zucchini and you can either cook them in olive oil or eat them raw. But using that kitchen tool is sometimes difficult and dangerous – if you’re not careful, you may julienne your hand!

During one of my lunches where I often walk the Oak Brook mall for exercise, I stopped in Williams Sonoma to check out some kitchen stuff. On the way out I saw a kitchen gadget with golden light streaming from it! Was was this beautiful doohickey?!

2015-05-06 19.53.08It turned out to be the Paderno 4-Blade Spiralizer. Yes, they had a 3-blade version, but who wouldn’t want the choice of Angel Hair shredder, fine shredder, medium shredder AND “accordion slicer blades?!”  No, 3 blades would just not do.

But this thing’s base price is $49.99! That’s a little steep for a gadget that I will have to power with cranking the handle – hey, that’s exercise, right?!!!

So, time and again I walked by those doors, lustfully peeking in, hoping to get a glimpse of the item of my desire.

A month went by and finally I hit pay-dirt! I received an email from Williams-Sonoma for 20% off AND free shipping on any item. Woo-hoo! You don’t have to tell me more than once…I’m all about a good deal.

So, I ordered it and it was sitting on my porch when I got home from work this evening. Earlier, I received an email that said it had been delivered, so I stopped and bought some zucchini and a couple sweet potatoes. I’m fore-thinking like that. 😉

After cutting the grass, a dog walk and a bike ride, I unpacked the Spiralizer and washed all the pieces. I chose the medium shredder blade and cranked the handle as the noodles fell from the front in their curly frenzy. Call me strange, but those spiraly veggie noodles seemed to exude happiness to me!

2015-05-06 20.07.53After shredding the sweet potatoes separately, I microwaved some of them. They were delish! I shook on a little cinnamon and they tasted so good, just like that.

I grilled some chicken breasts as I stir-fried the zoodles (zucchini) in olive oil, minced garlic and some salt, pepper, pepper flakes and about 2 or so cups of mini heirloom tomatoes cut in half (thanks for the idea Cheri!).

2015-05-06 20.56.01All I have to say are three words: easy, fun and yum!

I highly recommend this kitchen gadget! The clean-up is easy too, because it all comes apart. Best $40 I’ve spent in a long time!

You need to get one too!

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Juicers vs. Smoothies – Who is Right?

Many people consider themselves die-hard Juicers and others swear by Smoothies…but which one is best for you?

Now, making a good Smoothie with my Vitamix was one of the things I looked forward to after a run or good workout at home. So, could juicing be as good as making smoothies?

I’ll be honest right here – heck, I don’t know! The “Smoothies” say they are better because they are blending ALL the fruits and vegetables together, fiber included, so nothing goes to waste. The “Juicers” swear by their juices because they feel you can get nearly all of the vitamins and minerals, concentrated, out of fruits and veggies and not feel bloated in the process.

For Christmas my Mom gave me a gift card for Amazon.com (thanks, Mom!!!) and I have wanted a Juicer for while. So, I did some research to find the best Juicer for around $100, cashed in my gift card and waited for it to arrive.

BrevilleWhat I ended up getting was a Breville Juice Fountain Compact. It’s “patented juicing system extracts more juice and transfers less than 1.8°F of heat to maximize nutrients, enzyme and vitamin yield in its natural form.” What?! I don’t know…but it was rated one of the best in its price range.

PlugSo, this baby is sleek, with all sorts of parts (which are actually easy to assemble) and high-end strainer and it looks like it should be in an office building remodeled in a factory loft (sweet!). I mean…honestly…have you ever seen a more beautiful plug?!

I looked up all sorts of juice recipes on Pinterest as well as Googling them. Next, I went to Costco and bought a 10 lb. bag of baby carrots, a whole pineapple, a dozen apples, some blueberries, celery, tomatoes…

I was all set!

Making a long story short… I have a few best bets with juicing. Now, I’m sure these are just my own preferences, but nonetheless… I have some strong feelings. First, many recipes call for celery. Celery is good on its own and good with peanut butter or in soup… but juiced, it is REALLY overpowering. Same goes for fresh ginger! Where they say “1 knuckle” or 1″ ginger – honestly, one small 1/4″ slice will be more than enough!

What do I love about juicing? Carrots make an AWESOME, sweet base for whatever else you juice with it. It is great even alone. Pineapple and regular apples are good too. I’m pretty sure it is because all of those have a lot of natural sugar in them.

If you are looking to make V8 yourself, forgetaboutit! I found out that tomatoes are mostly water (obs!), but what I didn’t expect was that it would separate terribly if you didn’t drink it in the first minute.

CutieOne other drawback I found with juicing. What a waste of fruit and veggies! Sure, you get concentrated vitamins and enzymes, but I felt so guilty and like I was wasting money on produce as I threw all the pulp into the garbage can. I did save the tomato/celery pulp to put in the freezer, because I figured I could add it to pasta sauce. Although, if all the vitamins are taken out of it, is there any worth to that? Again… I don’t know!!! As my own rule, use carrots or other fruits as the base and add a little vegetables. “Cuties” are available in bulk at Costco, so that makes a great base too. Plus, they are cute! I love cuties! Ok, I may have gone a little overboard with them, but they are awesome.  😉

I do have to say that in my experiments, my son and I both liked carrot/pineapple/blueberry juice best. So, maybe I’m still looking for the right recipes. Following is one that I came up with that was really good!
Mike’s Favorite Juice:

  • 3 or 4 Carrots (or about 3 cups of baby carrots)
  • 2 Cara Oranges
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 Apple
  • 1/4″ chunk ginger

Now, getting on the Smoothie side, I have also had some really nasty tasting ones.. add too many greens and it will taste like @&&! This is a great smoothie recipe though!

Here are my final thoughts… there is a time for juicing and there is a time for smoothies… I will enjoy juices as a “snack drink” during the day and am glad that I got the machine. But honestly, the throwing out of the pulp and detailed cleaning of all the parts of the juicer is a pain in the butt! SmoothieI would invest in a Vitamix. I feel better and more full with a good smoothie. You use the whole fruit and vegetable, it is filling and looks great in a Hulk glass!

You decide what is right for you though.

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Getting Back on Track


(How my motivation felt over the holidays)

New year, time to get back in gear!

Anyone else overdo things over the holidays? Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Hanukkah, Birthday…? I can’t be the only one who overate or drank and didn’t work out as much as I would’ve liked this season.

So, how can we get back on track? It’s hard! But it is doable. I have a few “hacks” that I use to at least set things up so that it is much more difficult to fail. Some of the hacks I’ve posted about before, so I will link to those, others I’ve tried more recently.

FarmersFridge1. Make meals and snacks for the week on Sunday (or whatever day works for your schedule). Here are some ideas: Some Sugar Snap Peas and a lowfat Mozzarella cheese stick. Fat free pretzels and Dijon mustard, almond or peanut butter and an apple (see this previous post), carrots and hummus. Buy larger bags of  things and divide them into those small snack baggies and set up several for the week. I buy the individual portions of hummus or guacamole to add to snacks. As I talked about before here – mason jars are perfect for making and transporting many different salads, that include the dressing. Grab ‘n go is key!

15minWorkout2. Schedule gym/exercise days ahead of time or with a friend or personal trainer. Yes, when you schedule it (or pay for it) , you tend to follow through with it. Same thing with a friend or personal trainer – if you need to meet someone, it holds you more responsible to do so. If you don’t belong to a gym, try a workout video. You can search for free ones on YouTube or purchase one such as P90X3 or T25…or Jillian Michaels. Whatever appeals to you! I have previewed some here and here for you.

Smoothie3. Find something that will keep you motivated. The last couple of years I have gotten into making healthy smoothies. Here is my favorite smoothie recipe to date. I looked forward to them after a run, so it helped motivate me to run a bit more often. Last weekend I ordered a juicing machine – I received an Amazon gift card from my mom (thanks, Mom!) for Christmas and had been thinking of getting one for awhile. Post to come once I get it!

P4. Get yourself set up on Pinterest! OMG – an endless place to save as many healthy recipes, exercises, workouts… or even crafts! Or, if you aren’t into Apps, just do a Google search for whatever recipes or workouts appeal to you. Use key words like “healthy, quick recipes”. Add certain ingredients to the key words that you like, such as “quinoa”, “chicken” or “salad”.

FitbitFlex5. Buy a Fitbit. Track how many steps you take daily or have weekend or weekday challenges with friends or family. I have a whole blog post on them here. New ones are coming out right now.

TuesTrots6. Join a community of like-minded people. My community is my “workies!” Love those peeps! Our walking group at work began as “Wednesday Walks” and switched last year to a different day, becoming “Tuesday Trotts.” And heck, if going out after helps motivate you, set it up!

PepperFaces7. Buy some produce pre-cut or pre-packaged. Don’t be afraid..if it costs a little extra to help ensure you will eat healthier, just do it. I buy pre-chopped onions all the time now…no crying, no stinky fingers, no mess…and let’s face it, it’s just a pain in general to chop or dice an onion! If you don’t use them all, just throw what’s left over after making a meal in a freezer bag, put them into the freezer and add them right to the pan with heated oil the next time you cook something. I do something similar with red, yellow and orange bell peppers – I chop them all, use what I need in a recipe, put the rest into a freezer bag and use them for other recipes, omelets or in fajitas.

Pre-washed spinach or other greens are great too!

DianaAndMaria8. Pack a workout bag with all you need and always keep it in your car. That way there’s never any excuse! “I forgot my shoes” will never be a problem again. And as soon as you get home after you use them, immediately put new clothes into that bag and put it right in front of the door you will exit the house out of next.

spark9. Read or listen to books on health and motivation. One of my favorites was the book Spark (click on link to see post). I also loved Born to Run too! Jillian Michaels’ book was also very motivating.

2014-05-25 07.08.0010. Have fun and appreciate life! Choose an exercise you like, whether it be biking, running, body weight exercises or walking. Do what you enjoy and you will WANT to do it more.

Of course there are countless other hacks you can use to get back on track. Figure out what works for you. Post a comment below to share your hacks with others!

Happy New Year!

Your’s in fun fitness, Mike!

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Let’s just talk…

I’m definitely not a very consistent blog writer. After all, I do this for fun and to hopefully inspire others. Not only are you getting one topic tonight… you are getting four! So, without a specific theme, let’s just talk about a few things on my mind…


I’m sitting at my kitchen table right now, with my leg elevated and an ice pack wrapped around my knee. I’m going for an MRI tomorrow after seeing an Ortho/Sports Med Doctor today, who took X-rays and said he thinks I have a “Medial Meniscus Tear.” (I didn’t even know I owned a meniscus!). But I tend to “push” things… maybe it’s to see how much I can handle and maybe it’s because I am sometimes not so smart. My right knee has been very stiff (uncharacteristically so) for the last couple of weeks after running and softball practice. Finally, Monday night, I was feeling pretty good – but still a little stiff in the knee. But I was tired of waiting to feel “100%”, so I went running…I was taking it very easy, mind you. As I got about a block away, I heard (even with my earbuds on) and felt a “snap!” Pain shot all around my knee and I hobbled home in disappointment at myself.

Today, after my early-morning ortho appointment, I went directly to work. I had to explain many times about why I was limping a bit (although, I tried to be really smooth around people, hoping they wouldn’t notice). I joked about maybe going for acupuncture and someone joked back about hypnosis…I was pretty much brushing it off.

Now, that’s ALWAYS been how I handle tough things, bad events and stressful situations…I joke about it. And that’s fine, because that’s what gets me through things. And maybe it’s also OK to joke now, but until a work friend, Steve, texted me, “Dude, that injury is not to be taken lightly.”, did it hit me… I may be lucky enough to walk away from this (no pun intended!) with just a small tear of a muscle or something, but I may need surgery and not be able to run for a long time, if not ever! On top of this, the first thing I asked the Ortho Dr. was if I’d be able to still play in the Ronald McDonald House Charity Softball games in a few weeks. He pretty much chuckled and said that probably isn’t the best idea.

So, until I find out what tomorrow’s MRI says, here’s what I say… When your body is telling you something, or being stiff and sore, or you feel uncommon pain, or are having difficulties doing things you were previously able to do… listen to your body! Now is not the time to prove something or push things!


I  realized that I really enjoy the camaraderie of being with my work people after hours in some sort of exercise or team. After blowing out my calf last year on the softball team (pattern?!), I was close-minded to even try it this year from the start. I was wrong…once I saw the people who were going to be involved (just like our “Tuesday Trots”), I was in! At this point, I guess I will only be on the bleachers, still cheering my teammates on, with a cup that looks like it’s a Diet Coke, but that most probably has Sangria in it. Go “Trees!”  😉
Lesson: get to know your co-workers on a laid-back level – it will make your days much better at work and may create friendships that you may not get otherwise.


I listened to an audio-book called “Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization”, by John J. Ratey, Richard Manning & David Perlmutter.

I have to admit, a tiny bit of this book read like I imagine a dental bridge procedure feels like. But that was just some of the science-based talk. The rest I really enjoyed!

Now, the opinions of the authors are by no means MY opinions. (That’s my disclaimer!) But, there were some solid take-aways from it.

The main topics that this book concentrated on were a necessity of “Food, Micro-Biology, Movement, Sleep, Mindfulness, Tribe & Biophyllia”

I’m not going to get into the minutia, so I will just give you the general take-aways:

Food – They said to eat no refined sugars in any form. Do not eat grain. Get your calories from real fats. No processed foods. Eat high Omega 3’s (eggs, salmon, nuts) – as much as you like. Veggies. Fruits are OK, but not in excess. Variety in food. Blah, blah, blah…easier said than done, Doc! In addition to the above, what I got from it was… Eat more fruits and veggies, just not too many fruits because they can be high in sugar. A variety of them is even better; and eat them in WHOLE form (not as supplements – because they say when you take the specific good stuff out of the veggies and fruits, it doesn’t work as well as when it is all together in it’s natural form.).

Tribe – (Others doing the same thing as us) – Get with your tribe more. We evolved as tribes from the early days. For protection AND for health. Being with, touching and hugging others also stimulates the chemical, Oxytocin within us. According to www.psychologytoday.com, “It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in pair bonding.” Sleeping together in tribes is actually healthier and more natural than sleeping alone. The book even mentions sleeping with a pet is better than not.

Move – Do full-body exercise – cross fit is best because the variety targets all body muscles. Doing it out in nature is best – sun, hills, natural obstacles. Do it with your tribe also gives you more engagement with your tribe.

And finally,


If you love someone – tell them. If you REALLY care for someone, you will not be “too busy” for them. Call them, text them, email them – any way is fine, just so they know you are thinking of them… don’t wait until it is too late!!! Last week, my cousin lost the battle with Cancer. I’m not going to go into it, but the main thing I learned from that was, time is the ONLY true currency you, yourself owns…if something is not worth your currency…don’t do it! However, if something IS worth your time, you sure damn well better do it! Because, you never know about tomorrow. So, go tell your loved ones right now how you feel or if you appreciate them – it goes so much further than you think!

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You can do whatever you want to do – if you just put enough effort, pain, love or time into it!

howl00004“Everybody be cool this is a robbery!”

“Any of you [Swear]-ing [Swear]s move and I’ll execute every [Swear]-ing last one of you!”

Aside from all the profanity, if anyone hasn’t seen Tarantino’s movie “Pulp Fiction”, above was one of the most memorable lines in the opening scenes of it. To add to that, the beginning of the movie is actually the end, and then Tarantino begins to fill in the stories between.

So, that’s what I’m going to do with this post – tell the ending first. In this case, that’s because the ending really doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is everything in between!

WinThis story ends with my feet being so sore that they feel black & blue a day later, and I still feel very tired! Yes, I won the bet, but just barely. My total steps (counted by Fitbit) ended up at 121,733 steps. That comes out to 58.22 miles walked in one week! And my friend-challenger, Jim, was right behind me with 110,447 steps!

Funnily enough, as I sit here right now, I only have 7,286 steps for the day – when over 12,000 steps was my MINIMUM day last week. I would have never got up to that… ever, if it wasn’t for the bet.

The way this bet began was my friend Jim, messaged me, saying he needed a little motivation. I’d like to say we bet on something healthy, like “winner gets a giant salad bought for him.” But we bet for what motivated us at the time… yes, I’m talking beers. (C’mon! What did you expect – guys don’t bet each other salads – it’s either beers or $$!)

I was a little leery at first, because the way it is, I already go walk outside at the mall during lunch twice a week and take my dog for a walk twice a day and then work in my cube on my computer all day. How could I even get any more steps anywhere in a day?! But I was up for motivating us both… so I agreed.

Jim began, knowing he was at a 20,000 loss of steps to me at the time (which is about 2 days worth of my “aimed-for” steps). But little did I know, that the step count is a “rolling week!” 2 days into it, I had a lot more steps than Jim, but the next day I looked at the total and I was down about 20,000 steps from where I had been – one of my “big step days” dropped off of the total! (The Fitbit week doesn’t zero-out at midnight, Sunday. I never noticed that!)

So, shoot! Now we’re almost even – early on in the week. I’ve got to step it up! (No pun intended.)

In the meantime, our mutual friend, Karen, was both cheering and taunting us both. I could tell she wanted in on this competition, because it looked like her steps started increasing too, when ours did. (Sorry, Karen! You get the next bet!). She also mentioned that Jim might be just a little competitive.

Many people may not know it, but I am VERY competitive too! That goes for anything from Whirleyball to bags & boards! So, “game on!”

Throughout the week, Jim and Karen and I had some messaging between us and Jim was catching up (and taunted me so!). Really, most of those days I tried increasing my steps wherever I could, but it wasn’t the main focus of my day. (Poor thinking #1!)  But it wasn’t until the weekend, when Jim and I both realized we had to turn it up! I also got some cheering on the Fitbit app by some other friends at work, which always helps!

2014-08-09 21.31.10-2

Yeah, I may have overdone it…

Come Sunday, it was REALLY close between Jim and I! I had gone to a work party the night before and got home really late, so I didn’t get out of bed until 11am. Darn! Half the day was almost gone and this was neck-and-neck! Stupid…stupid!

2014-08-10 14.03.39 HDRAll I wanted to do was just lay around, having ONE lazy Sunday… instead, I had lunch with my son and then went to the forest preserve to walk around the lake a couple of times – adding up to 2 miles. It is amazing how much nature you can enjoy walking around a lake. Check out a couple of the pics I show here.


Along the path around the lake

Along the path around the lake

After that, I took my dog for a walk and it began to drizzle. Once I took Chewie inside, I knew I needed to get more steps in – because every time I looked at the dreaded Fitbit app, Jim was right there with me in steps!!! I went for another 2 mile walk in the rain and then, I actually took off the soaking wet clothes and put on new ones and went running for another mile and a half. Then, I walked around part of my subdivision again! This was getting crazy! We are literally spending an ENTIRE day just for a bet!


When I got home, I messaged Jim and he said he had chills from overdoing it on the treadmill – and I felt the same way as well as feeling nauseous from all the walking and running. This was killing me. I tried to take a nap after popping some ibuprofen, but couldn’t sleep.

Right around then, I was done. Beat, sore, kind of aggravated for some reason. But, I figured whatever happens, will happen. I put in all I had for this and no matter what, it challenged me to take more steps than I ever had before in one week. I messaged Jim one last time and said I wasn’t going to look at either of our steps again until we get the final tally from the Fitbit email we receive every Monday, telling us our weekly stats and those of our friends. Plus, either way, I get to go have some beers with an old friend.

Of course, the email didn’t come until late afternoon!

Now, rewind to the beginning (the end?) of this post. What I realized is that competition with another (or others) gets you where you can’t usually get to by yourself. I realized it’s more fun to have friends that cheer and taunt you to push you. I also realized the most remarkable thing… what you put great effort, pain, love and time into, really does pay off. It paid off for me and it paid off for Jim. He got the motivation he needed and I got to push myself to a point I didn’t know I could get to.

This lesson can be used for anything in life… career, a relationship, a goal you want to achieve… as I said right above… “what you put great effort, pain, love and time into… really does pay off !”

And this week I plan on taking a step-vacation to let my feet heal and to wait for the next challenge. I thought Jim’s joke to Karen was great… she said she wants to challenge the winner to the next match. Jim replied that she’ll have to challenge the loser first! You got that right!

I am now back to taking Chewie for a FUN walk – not because I HAVE to, but because I see how happy it makes him, and I WANT to.

In my mind… we are ALL winners when we challenge, push and motivate each other!

Jim, I’m looking forward to seeing you for beers Thursday!




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Healthy-snacks you probably already have at home

Sometimes I just don’t have the motivation I need to get me to exercise, but today, talking at work, I was inspired by another’s enthusiasm! Yes, I’ve said it before – it is much easier to keep exercising if you have a community, friend or another person who gets into it as well.

So, this evening, I came home after work, took Chewie for a walk and went for a run myself. Just a small run, but I didn’t stop the whole 1-1/2 miles, which is fine by me, since I don’t run as much these days (maybe once a week now).

But this post is more about my POST-run. Yes, I did have a pre-run energy supplement, but after getting back I spotted an apple I had in my fruit bowl. Here’s a tip you probably already know, but always helps to be reminded…keep healthy snacks, like fruit and veggies, in plain eyesight. That makes it easier to grab, so you don’t make a poor choice instead.

What a "decadent" snack!  ;)

What a “decadent” snack! 😉

I saw the red apple and remembered seeing an “apple-sandwich” on some healthy recipe site. The thing I never tried was cutting the apple in perfectly round slices instead of wedging and coring it. I never did that before because I always thought the core was hard and nasty and filled with apple seeds. But strangely enough, when I sliced it in the round, I took the knife, flicked out maybe 4 halves of seeds and it was all apple. Then, I simply layered natural peanut butter (or almond butter if you have it), and to make it look more appealing, placed a cherry on top!

Minus the cherry for show, that’s only 2 ingredients: an apple and about 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, both of which I already had at home.

And I’m telling you… this was not only delish, but fun to eat in this new way. [Again…simple things make me happy.]  

My usual go-to after exercise, is a banana or apple. They are so easy to transport and come in their own package, so even if you don’t have time to prep, these are great.

Do you like my masculine cutting board?!

Do you like my masculine cutting board?!

Then, I realized I only used one cherry out of an entire bag and didn’t want them to go bad. So, I pulled out this new gizmo (which I thought was one of those stupid as-seen-on-TV gadgets that would sit in my cabinet, unused for the rest of my life. But I was wrong!).

This thing takes only 6 cherries at a time and pits them for you. (Or would that be de-pits them?). Anyway, it seems like a lot of work for a little bit, but in under 10 minutes I washed the cherries, pulled off the stems, pitted them with this crazy contraption and had that machine washed. Cherries2And I had 3+ snack bags full of cherries that I don’t have to spit those nasty pits into the garbage can. If you ask me, THAT is the hassle with cherries.

So, it does pay off taking a few minutes to prep healthy food so that you have a few snacks or meals at once, instead of just one.


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Can you walk? Well, track it with a Fitbit pedometer (plus more!)

FitbitFlexBelieve it or not, I have been wearing a few different models, but of one certain brand of pedometer, pretty much EVERY day for over two years now. It’s not just one of those lame, belt buckle-sized ones that have the cheap, LED display and is so heavy that it drops your workout shorts to your knees when you clip it on. No… I’m talking about my trusty old electronic Fitbit [www.fitbit.com/].

Before I get into some of the great features, I’ll answer a question… What is the main reason I love my Fitbit so much? Answer: Because it is small, easy and it is always there counting for me (and I am counting on IT for accuracy!).

Let’s be honest. Walking is probably the easiest exercise one can do. It’s almost not even exercise sometimes. Heck, if you can walk, you’re already doing it! [Duh, Mike!]

So, then the next step is to know how much of it you are doing. The generally “recommended” amount of walking per day is 10,000 steps. That equals about 5 miles. And if you primarily work on a computer at a desk, like I do, it is NOT as easy as it sounds to hit that number.

Sure, you can drink more water (like you should be doing anyway!), which will make you have to go to the bathroom more, which will give you more steps in the day, going to the bathroom so much. Sure, you can take that flight of stairs to the second or third floor, instead of the elevator (like you should be doing anyway!). That all helps, but you still will need to get a nice walk or two in on top of that.

I’m going to write the rest of this post as a set of questions you may be asking.

Fitbit1Why do I personally like the Fitbit better than any of the other step-trackers out there? Well, the higher-end Fitbits have an accelerometer and altimeter that count measurable metrics like steps, floors climbed, distance and calories burned.

Why is it important to have measurable metrics? Well, we know that what you can measure – you can change – in a positive way. Studies show that one of the most effective ways to help a person lose weight, is to keep a food log, as well as an exercise log.

What? The Fitbit site has a HUGE database of every kind of food one eats, where you have a personal dashboard that can keep track of everything you eat – right down to how much water you drink daily?! Wow! That alone is pretty impressive, even if you take the Fitbit itself out of the equation.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 8.44.57 PMOnce you get a Fitbit, go to the site and sign up for a free account. There is a dashboard there that will keep track of many things. Try tracking your food for a week – it will become addictive.

Are you feeling like you are having trouble sleeping? Shoot – this little baby tracks your sleep patterns and restlessness over night when you wear it! It also tracks sleep in your Fitbit dashboard.

In the morning, do you get startled with your cell phone jarring you awake with it’s alarm? [I do! Not sure why I have my alarm sound being a barking dog, but it scares the &#!# out of me!] Well, the Fitbit has a silent alarm function, that you can set to have it vibrate and wake you up a little more naturally (than rabid dog noises). I personally don’t use this function, because I NEED to be startled in order to get up – but I like the idea of the silent alarm for those of you “morning people” [I so dislike you!… Kidding!].

Is that all the Fitbit does?

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 9.22.48 PMWhat?! No! As if all of the above wasn’t enough for you to run out and get a Fitbit today, there is yet another benefit – fun! Fitbit uses gamification to become part of social media and even gives you badges for accomplishments. Many other websites and apps can tie into your Fitbit, allowing you to easily connect with others. I even tied it into Walgreens for awhile and received extra Walgreens points for hitting certain step counts.

I have a few friends, Karen, Jim and Toni, who also have Fitbits and we regularly “compete” weekly for top scores! [Darn you Jim, Toni and Karen for walking/running so much and beating me most weeks!!!] See an image here of the weekly email Fitbit sends me (which taunts my very soul!). You can also set it to automatically post to Facebook or Google+ with certain info.

You can simply add people you know, who also have Fitbits, using the Fitbit website. You are able to taunt, cheer and send messages to each other through the website OR the app.

2014-06-25 20.37.47 Yeeeeeeeessssss… of course there’s also an app for your Fitbit! [It would be Snooze-City without an app for something, right?!]

So, now I’m going to kind of come full-circle and tell you how I even know about Fitbit – it was two (or is it three?!) years ago, when about 15 people in my department at work, decided to sign up and train for the Chicago Marathon. Woo-hoo!!! [Insert bells and whistles here!!!!]. Well, we also began an in-depth healthy-living goal plan system, which I helped propose along with my workmates, Kevin and Jen, (and, incidentally, also originally created this very blog for),  [Insert bells and whistles here again!!!!].

Well, 102 posts, 18,202 views, 261 subscribed (not counting unsubscribed) followers later and I am still posting!

As always, I digress… but getting back to the post… at that time, our aim was not to just support the 15 Marathoners-in-training, but to also provide some way to get 100% of our department into a more healthily-balanced lifestyle.

I can’t even stress how great of a person and supporter of the healthy-balanced lifestyle the VP of my department is and always has been. Diana graciously allowed – and challenged – us to try something no other department had ever done before. She supported our ideas and set us up for success with many things… and a Fitbit to every member of the department was one of those things. [Seriously… where besides McDonald’s, would people’s health be so cared after, that they are able to literally create a healthier lifestyle?!]

“Yeah, Mike, but I’m sick of having to charge my phone, computer and everything else EVERY DAY! How often do I have to charge the Fitbit?”

This is one of the best things… you pretty much can skate by for nearly two weeks without a charge! Even better – I never even think about it because my Fitbit App sends me an email as well as gives me a message right on my phone when my Fitbit is running low on battery life. What?! My Fitbit acts like my mama to tell me when I should charge it?! Sweet!!!

So, by now you know the benefits. Especially, that nearly ANYONE can do this… walk.

The Fitbit models I would be an advocate of is the Fitbit One – it is a small, clip-on version, which actually has a display of steps taken, calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, a clock, distance gone as well as being able to program it with your name or nickname. (Yes, sometimes it even says, “Smooches, Mikey!” when I hit my goals. And isn’t that all that we are all looking for? A little lovin’?)

The Fitbit Flex, shown earlier in this post on my wrist, is a pretty small wrist tracker, that I have been wearing lately. I didn’t love it at first, because it tracked nearly double my steps, being on my dominant hand. However, it is SOOOOOOOO much better now, because it now has a setting to be less sensitive to normal hand movements, so is totally accurate now. However, the Flex does not display anything besides some small, pin lights, that light up to tell you very generally where you are at in your daily goal. No step counter display or calories or anything. But you can view all that info on your phone app if you want to. And I’m OK with that right now.

The Fitbit Force is a larger wrist-band, and I hear has pretty much everything the Fitbit One has. In other words, it is the One and Flex combined. But it is larger than the Flex, and personally, I don’t like rings or larger wristbands weighing me down. But that’s just me!

FitbitFlexCheck out what works for you and count those steps. You’ll be amazed how much the Fitbit will motivate you to hit the daily goal of 10,000 steps! You can get it at Best Buy, your local running store or even on Amazon.

[As you can see in a the photo of the Fitbit One above, I began this post at 8:30 and it is now 10:50 – it takes me well over 2 hours to write even one post. So, please… post comments about any pedometers or anything you would like to talk about – I NEED feedback!]
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“Walk,” don’t run! The fate of the world is up to YOU!

Who isn’t looking for the easiest form of exercise on Earth, that can be done while listening to an exciting audio story in which you will get fully immersed in?!

Would any of you prefer to walk instead of run? Do you like apocalypse-types of books or movies? Do you want to star in one? Well, then this post is for you!

H43b2EQ3uGFWkTMZxmndLkqUQmwCkohmA5rVJqIyy4hs5gknCLpkPdnViB-bL8kyXIob=w300Yesterday, I was checking out a new fitness app that looked interesting in the App Store and I happened to come across a new game called “The Walk” by the same makers of the fun “Zombies, Run!” app I’ve talked about in a previous post. (Read about it here)

Once I saw it, I had to check it out right away. About 3 weeks ago I pulled my calf running (again!) and had been taking it easy, but this week I began running every couple of days again. I’m only up to 1-1/2 miles until I have to walk for a little. But, I don’t want to overdo it, since it was actually the “Zombies, Run!” app that pulled it this last time! I guess once I pulled it (last fall, during softball), its going to keep coming back to haunt me. I’m just not equipped for HIIT (Google it, or maybe I’ll do a future post on what HIIT is).

Seeing a story-based app that was made for walking… I was all over it! And right now you can get it for a crazy 99¢!!! Timing is everything!

So, today at lunch, I downloaded the app and went for a walk around the Oak Brook mall for a quick 20 minute walk. (Sweat much? Yes!)

Sporting my bluetooth earbuds, I started the “game” and began walking and listening. (No, you don’t have to do anything weird that strangers would see you and call you a freak!) You merely walk and it follows you with GPS tracking and even provides you with how many steps you took in an episode. I don’t know how accurate the tracker is – I rely more on my Fitbit One for accuracy. Actually, it said something about “sedentary time” and “travel time,” so, I think if you leave it on, it will follow your whole day somehow! (Whoa – don’t tell your wife! lol)

The story begins where some government (?) organization knows something bad is about to happen, and something even BIGGER and badder will follow, which may spell the end of the world as we know it. (I’m having heart palpitations just thinking about it!)

So far, after doing it at lunch and after work while walking my dog, all I know is that the tipping of events has just begun and it is MY job to make sure something in my possession gets to the right people to save the world. (Of course. this is not the first time the fate of the world has rested on my broad shoulders! But that’s another story…)

Now, they set up the game, talking about weird stuff like the wolf population exploding and a couple other things I wasn’t really listening to in the beginning, because I was busy trying to figure out the app itself… so, I’m sure that will come into play later. (Check out the manual or the tutorial in the app before you begin it, so you don’t miss anything like I did.)

I love books and I love walking & running, so this app is the best of both worlds for me! If you have similar interests, or just want something to motivate you to walk and get some easy exercise, this is for you too!

Right now, it is only 99¢ – this is the time to get it! At that price, you can get it and a Chocolate Dipped Cone at McDonald’s for under $2! What’a’deal!!! Go here to check it out.


pizzaOn a side note, for dinner, I made an awesome pizza on the grill tonight. Sprouted grain crust, red, yellow and orange peppers, onions, spinach, fresh mozzarella, garden-grown basil… it tastes AWESOME and has so many less calories than it would have had if I ordered it from a pizza joint. Try it – its easier than you think! (This was just a non-related side-bar.)



The-Walk-2Time to get back to the real focus of the post – get some new, fun, pep in your step with “The Walk” app! There are ineractive maps (like the one on the right), dialogue, an intense story…! Go here to get it now – that is if you’re not a sissy! 

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Find something and just try it

2014-05-25 06.26.49So many of us may be not doing any activity because we are waiting for the perfect exercise for our interest. Should I walk, bike, garden, lift weights, or what?!

This past Sunday was the Chicago, “Bike the Drive”, which was both a 15 mile and a 30 mile bicycle ride on Chicago’s most well-known street – the scenic and historic Lake Shore Drive.

I have never ridden very far on my bike before, but I often enjoy riding several miles for exercise. Plus, after a recurring pulled calf muscle injury from last year, I needed something active to do, instead of running. And as part of our ongoing support of healthy living in my department at work, some of us decided to sign up.

During the ride, they shut down Lake Shore Drive and some of us, who I work with, as well as MANY Chicagoans, happily participated.

2014-05-25 07.08.00Having a dog, I decided to wake up at 3:50am (Yes, I said am!!!) to take a shower and head there to begin by 6:30am, instead of doing the smart thing that some of my work friends did – they stayed at a hotel downtown. Never an easy thing to do that early on a weekend – especially on a holiday weekend like Memorial Day, when there’s nothing I’d rather do than sleep in for one morning.

However, this was one of the minor things on my “Bucket List” that I have wanted to do for years now. Plus, I wanted to be with, as well as support, my work-mates, who were raising money for the Ronald McDonald House Charity.

I have to say that the morning was probably the most perfect morning I EVER enjoyed. It was cool enough to have the lightest of jackets, yet warm and sunny enough to keep me warm once I began getting into the ride.

At first there was confusion… I didn’t know where to park, where to begin the ride, or anything else. But the traffic pattern pushed me to park in the Museum of Science and Industry parking lot. It was really cool, because I literally pushed my bike out of the garage, got on it, and rode right onto Lake Shore Drive, into the race. But since it wasn’t a true race, I rode to Columbus and began at the starting point.

2014-05-25 08.23.23Once I got going, I was thinking how cool it was, riding the exact same route that I took for four years, while attending Loyola University’s Lake Shore Campus. With the sun and temperature being perfect, as well as being immersed in Chicago’s skyline and lake front, I felt like I had never felt before.

Strangely enough, early on, I felt very emotional – I literally said in my head, “Thank you God, for letting me be healthy enough and lucky enough, to be able to experience something this amazing, when I know so many others will never have the benefit of.”

Yes, I had “a moment”, which hit me pretty hard.

I was tire-to-tire with such a diverse mix of riders… it made me both happy and humble. I felt really sad seeing happy couples, talking and riding, when I was always alone doing my 5K runs as well as this ride. I saw an older gentleman, who had a huge beard and looked like a member of ZZ-Topp, riding a bike. I saw someone on a unicycle! I saw young kids… seasoned racers… all types of people. I think it was a combination of a lot of things going on in my life, but I felt very blessed.

So, we all rode to Sheradon Road and turned around. I got back to the starting line after 16 miles (which is a lot harder than you think!) and tossed around the idea of going another 15 miles to do 30 miles. But, since my pinched nerve made my right arm and hand full of pain and then go totally numb, as well as wanting to be able to see my work-mates, who began earlier than me and actually completed 30 miles, I went to the park, to hopefully meet them and hear some of the concert they have after these events.

2014-05-25 08.56.20I waited about 1/2 hour for my work-friend, Joanne, and luckily got to take the selfie with her, posted here.

Unfortunately, I never was able to hook up with other friends, Doug and Joanne, who also did 30 miles, before I rode back to the parking garage.

It all seemed to go by very quickly. The fun part is that they have bananas, apples, and other re-fueling snacks for free after you finish. Plus, I even got a free bike water bottle from one of the ride sponsors.

Sure… it was REALLY rough getting up at 3:50am for this, but it was one of those experiences that I wouldn’t have done anything different (aside from going another 15 miles and staying overnight locally!).

I had “a moment”, accomplished something on my bucket list and got to see some friends. Next year, I plan on doing it again and would probably stay overnight (like the smart people).

So, what I’m trying to say, is find something that is a little out of your comfort zone. Something that will make it worth exercising, and just try it. It may be running, biking, golf or even extreme gardening! Just try it.

TuesTrotsAlong those lines, I also want to bring up another activity I enjoy more than anything during my week… it is what we are calling “Tuesday Trots” this year. (Although, last year it was on Wednesday, so “Wednesday Walks” was much catchier a phrase and flowed so much better.)

A regular group of us in my work department walk around our beautiful Hamburger U campus, for a total of 3 miles. It honestly, is my FAVORITE time of the week! Yes, we MAY talk a little bit about work, but mostly it is us being silly and getting a little exercise in. I’m a big believer that we all perform better when we build personal relationships with our work-mates. And this is the perfect forum for that! I’ve made even better friends with both peers and leadership within our department. I highly suggest you become part of that or even begin your own “walking club!” Huge thanks in my life, to Colleen, Luis, Rosita, Cheri, Kelsey,Diana, Matt, Debbie, Doug, John, Neal, and anyone else I forgot to mention. You literally make my week!

So much fun that it makes exercise not seem like exercise!

Again… find something and just try it!


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Work Out Anywhere, Anytime

Many of us travel. Okay, maybe I, personally, don’t travel so much, but I know many of YOU travel. Whether it be for work or just for fun. And yes, even if we are on vacation, sometimes we “get a bee in our bonnet” to at least do a quick workout while out of town.

But what if you are staying at a motel with no workout room or just want to get a quick 2-minute pump-up before going out for cocktails?

Well, this post will help you find quick exercises, that you can do anywhere, with no equipment.

batman-original-workoutFirst of all, my FAVORITE site right now is at neilarey.com. This site has no less than  100 FREE workouts. It is everything I like… fitness, free, unlimited themes (workouts to become superheroes, Bruce Lee or even just improve planks) and actual 30 day workout schedules. Did I mention everything is free?! Of course I was drawn right to the Batman workouts! 😉

The cool thing is that all the workouts are using drawn graphics to show what the exercise is, with the name of the exercise below it. Also, on most, there are 3 levels in case you want to take it easy or work out like a madman.

I think once Neila Rey drew each body-weight exercise graphic, he or she was able to combine them in different workouts, so that you can work mostly arms, legs, core, whole-body… Neila usually has a new one for the main character of a current movie. A recent one is for Captain America. But I’m telling you… you can find anything from Game of Thrones house workouts (stronger arms for pulling arrows in bows) to the best workout to get strong enough to fight off “Walkers” (Walking Dead).

10-reasons-to-get-fit-introI think that is my favorite thing about this site – that Neila groups them according to categories by modern pop media themes.

Holy moly – I just clicked on a link that said “running” and there are even more workouts and running basics and programs “from walking to running in 30 days”… unbelievable! [Now, I’m going to be spending another 2 hours on this awesome site.]

Feel free to donate some money to keep their great site free.

There are fitness tips, how to eat healthier, even recipes! I have looked at this site many times, but never saw all the info that was on there until now. BIG thank you to Neila Rey! XOXO! [Whether or not you are a girl or guy – I still don’t know, since I didn’t see an “About Me” page]


Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 8.31.13 PMThe second thing I want to mention in this blog is the “Quick 4 Minute Workout – Tabata” iPhone App (Google it or I can have a post on it in the future). It touts that you can get a great workout in just 4 minutes! I love one of the reviews, that said, “I don’t want to spend any more than four minutes doing anything, so this is a good approach to exercise. Unfortunately I am still actively sweating long after the 4 minutes is up.” [Love that!]

I’m leery to say that maybe this is a good thing for some of us lazier people, but instead I will say that “It might be good for those of us with busy schedules, who don’t typically enjoy working out on a regular basis.” [Sound politically correct enough?!] This App is free, so it can’t hurt downloading and trying it. There is also a 7 minute workout, in case you have an extra 3 minutes to spare.

I always say that SOME exercise is ALWAYS better than none – even just 4 minutes! So grab this App.

wonder-woman-workoutAnd honestly, don’t forget to visit the Neila Rey site. Simply awesome. I’m going to leave you with one for the ladies from there…



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