new chalkbowl

Here's my new chalkbowl, handmade pottery, a ridiculous value from the Goodwill. I broke my last one, which was the drainage dish for a plant pot.

I love a ceremonial chalk vessel. And Wheatie loves the possibility that can come with a giant bowl.

social bookmarking

I've finally gotten on the social bookmarking bandwagon. I've registered with StumbleUpon and Digg. I plan to use these mostly for fitness articles.

I also installed buttons on my blogs. So if you like an article you read here, new or not, I'd be all kinds of thrilled if you'd give it a Digg or Stumble, or whatever flavor of social bookmark you like. My most popular fitness posts are listed at right.

pics from the week

Some quick shots. Any thoughts on this one - B&W vs. color?

the coast in january

January leaves

girls don't want to mess up hair, make-up

Wish I'd bookmarked the article. It talked about how girls about high school age complain about working out during the school day because it messes up their hair and make-up. Now I'm not about to swing a cyberkosh about the objection. Good trainers listen to the problems and find solutions. And I can relate - there are days when I'm actually clean and pretty and would just as soon enjoy it for a while.

The thing is, I'm betting most of these girls only think of working out as activities that involve running around, jumping, that are mostly, if not all, cardio. It's an issue of education, not motivation. Come on, gym teachers, coaches! Let these girls know there are alternatives.

So here's the solution - a work out that causes only minimal disturbance to hairdos and doesn't necessarily make you sweat. There's no jumping or running around involved. Check it - go heavy and slow.

  • Deadlifts (load up that bar!)
  • Pull-ups (however you can - assisted if necessary. Or pulldowns, if no bar)
  • Chest press of your choice (standing - cable crossover, bench, or pec deck if you must)
That's it! Do one cycle on each - that is, instead of counting how many you do, do deadlifts until you feel your form will suffer if you do one more, then move to pull-ups; do them until you can't do another, then do the presses. How many you do this way doesn't matter as much as doing them right. Then start the whole thing over.

This is not a high-rep endeavor. The pace is relaxed. Go slow, be methodical, and wander around between exercises. Hell, touch up your make-up.

The key is, go heavy. It'll feel great. If you've got good form and effort, this will get you worked out admirably without getting you all mussed up. Afterward, you can go right back to class. Save the sweaty stuff for another day.

my guest post at Jen's Gym

It is my utter honor to be a guest blogger at Jen's Gym, one of my favorite blog stops. Jen (see photo) is a self-proclaimed CrossFit nut, a fabulously strong Amazon, an inspiring blogger, and a woman who can do muscle-ups on the rings.

Here's an excerpt. Read the full post here.

Sports was never my thing, and it can be tough to stumble into a fitness discipine. I had a few early inclinations. I picked up my father’s dumbbells when I was a kid, and carefully followed the exercise diagrams for building shoulders. I noticed people’s musculature and admired fit bodies. I called a gymnastics place and asked about the rings, but was told they didn’t teach girls the rings.

In elementary school, I was the only girl who could climb the knotted rope at the fire station, and I did the flexed-arm hang for longer than any girl in the county, they said. I did the hand-over-handle bars until I grew too tall.

I mention these things because there are kids out there like this right now, and maybe you can spot them and guide them to opportunity. I think adults take kids’ playing for granted, especially girls, and can overlook natural inclinations that could blossom with the right environment. So I pass on this tiny flag.

how to make sandbags

Scott Bird of the venerable Straight to the Bar has directions for making sandbags for $10. They're actually bags full of smaller sand-filled bags, which strikes me as a good idea for manipulating weight volume.

Gotta post this here so I don't lose track of it for my to-do list. Thanks, Scott!

To buy -

  • 8-10 heavy-duty freezer bags (the ‘snap lock’ ones are great if you can get them)
  • large hessian sack
  • large heavy-duty garden sack (to fit inside the hessian one)
  • roll of cloth tape
  • ball of twine
  • about 20kg(45lb) of sand (any kind with a fairly small grain)

Thanks also to Jason Casey of No Stinking Gym. Here's his article on sandbags, and he kindly gave me more helpful info, including the valuable tip of getting play sand from a home improvement store.

training with bag o' tire chains

When my husband brought home a bag of tire chains, I saw it had this great handle, and perfect weight, and just the right amount of cumbersomeness...Oh man! This is so much fun!

Went to the farm supply store then to find sandbags. They didn't have any (go figure). I just overheard my husband explaining to the 50-something guy working there that "my wife...working out with my tire chains..." And I would've gone over, but the guy was looking at him alarmed, like he was a true crazy person, so I just stayed out of it...

local gyms favored over chains

Seriously, anybody surprised? Consumer Reports just released the findings of its first-ever survey of health clubs. Tara Parker-Pope wraps it up in the NY Times article Local Gyms Outpace National Chains.

"Notably, national health club chains fared the poorest in the survey. The magazine found that private studios for yoga, dance or Pilates and gyms at local community centers, schools, work and nonprofit Jewish Community Centers and Y.M.C.A.’s received the best marks. National chains were often criticized for long wait times for machines, problems with contracts or fees, poorer cleanliness and less adequate locker rooms than other gyms."


The magazine recommends insisting on a trial membership before signing up and visiting the gym during the week, weekends and different times of day to gauge the conditions.

The full report on health clubs is available in the February 2008 issue of Consumer Reports. Portions of the story are available for free online.

Photo of studly Chip Conrad at his local gym Bodytribe Fitness in Sacramento.

how to eat

"EAT FOOD. Not too much. Mostly plants."
"Don't eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

That's the advice journalist and author Michael Pollan offers in his new book, In Defense of Food.

"That's it. That is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy," Pollan said in an interview with Steve Inskeep on NPR.