September, 2011 | The Cycle Project

Archive for September, 2011


Guilt-Free Cobbler

This recipe makes a perfect fall dessert. I used peaches, but feel free to substitute with apples or pears. Traditional cobblers and pies are filled with fat and sugar – this recipe is much lighter, but will satisfy your sweet tooth just as well.

Servings: 1

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 sweet, ripe peach (or apple or pear)
  • coconut cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of freshly ground cinnamon
  1. Wash, peel and pit the peach. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Pre-heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spray lightly with coconut cooking spray.
  3. Saute the peach pieces for about a minute, then add the agave nectar, salt and cinnamon. Continue to saute for another few minutes until it turns a deep golden color.
  4. Serve and enjoy immediately!

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 53 calories, .2g fat, 100mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 1.8g fiber, and 1g protein.


Find Farmers Markets Near You

The USDA has a fantastic search engine with more than 4,000 farmers markets. This site allows you to search anywhere in the country to find the farmers markets in your area. It also lets you search by specifics, such as products (e.g., baked goods, cheese and/or dairy products, fish and/or seafood, fresh fruit, nuts, plants, honeys, jams and preserves, soaps, etc.) and even by payment methods accepted. 


Find Farmers Markets



By Vonda Wright, M.D.


Whether you are a seasoned marathoner ramping up for your next race or just lacing up your running shoes for the first time, pain in the front of your lower legs, commonly known as “shin splints” can really slow you down.

“Shin splints” the pain you feel over the front of the lower leg with activity, more appropriately known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), is almost a rite of passage for recreational runners and accounts for 60 percent of all over use injuries.

The pain creeps up on you about three weeks into your period of increased training and feels like an ache that intensifies with pounding.  It can progress to sharp pain with each step. When you touch the front of your shin bone (tibia) and the muscle beside it (anterior tibialis) you will feel reproducibly tender.  Most of the pain will be localized over the lower one-third of your leg and will increase with resisted plantar flexion (like pushing against the gas pedal).


Why You Get Shin Splints

There are three reasons most of us develop MTSS at some point in our athletic careers. I call them the “Shin Splint Terrible Toos”:
1.   Too much medial foot pressure (ie: poor biomechanics):
with each heel strike onto the central part of your heel, too much pressure is transferred towards your arch and medial column of your forefoot.  If you are naturally “knock kneed” this is even worse.  All this leads to altered internal rotation of the tibia and overwork/pressure on the front of your leg and therefore pain.

2.   Too little lower leg strength (ie: you’re weak)

Runners pay too little attention to the strength of the muscles in their lower legs!  A weak posterior tibialis (the muscle responsible for supporting the medial column of your foot) leads to early fatigue and over pronation.  Anterior tibialis and gastroc weakness also contribute to early fatigue and worse mechanics.  Beginning runners with low initial fitness and strength levels are 3.6 times more likely to develop shin splints.

3.   Too much activity, too soon, with too much intensity

This is true for seasoned runners ramping up as well as newbies. Shin splints show up during the first three to10 weeks of a new training schedule.


How to Treat Shin Splints

Previous mistreated shin splints predicts future mistreated shin splints, so don’t ignore it.

1.   Cross-train:  runners who only run without a plan for total body conditioning are set-ups for injury.  You will be a better runner if you cross train on a spin bike or rowing machine and with total body cross training circuits.

2.   Get a foot pressure evaluation or running evaluation to make sure your are not overloading your foot’s medial side.  You may need an orthotic to correct your mechanics.

3.   Strengthen your lower leg in 4 directions using bands: dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, eversion, inversion. Do two sets of 10 in each direction with both feet daily during the initial recovery period and then several times a week as maintenance. (see pictures and video that accompany this blog)

4.   ICE massage:   Freeze Dixie cups of ice, peel back the paper and massage the front of our legs with the ice for 20 minutes several times a day.  This not only decreases the inflammation but stimulates blood flow to repair the injury.

5.   NSAIDS:  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are not for pain but actually act to decrease the explosion of inflammatory factors at your injury site…as a consequence the pain decreases.  It is not a pain masker…it is actually treating the problem.

6.   Return to sport: When your pain is gone with rest, there is no pain with pressing on the front of your leg and does it not return with light activity, begin walk/running again on soft surfaces.  Gradually increase your activity.

7.   Go to a sports doc:  If your pain is not responding to these steps in two weeks, your point tenderness is increasing, if you have known osteopenia, or you just need to know you are not hurting yourself


Finding Your Motivation

Motivation comes from having a goal. What is your goal? Why do you want to get into great shape?

Take a minute to really uncover the reason that you want to lose the weight. Don’t say something vague like you want to‘Be thinner’ or ‘Look more attractive.’ Dig deeper – there is a very specific motivator in your life, you simply need to uncover it.

Here are some possible motivators…

  • I want to have more energy to keep up with the kids.
  • I want to improve my health through weight loss to extend and improve my life.
  • I want to lose 15 pounds before my vacation.
  • I want to restore my confidence to wear sleeveless shirts.
  • I want to regain my figure to impress and attract my significant other.

4 Ways To Burn More Fat

There is nothing quite as frustrating as seeing your results fizzle out.

This is a common place to end up, usually after a few months on the same exercise routine. In the beginning your body responds to your routine with lost pounds and gained muscle tone, then one day all results screech to a stop.

Why does this happen? And, more importantly, how can you prevent it?

Your muscles adapt quickly to any repetitive routine. Remember that the definition of ‘insanity’ is to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results. This holds true for your workouts.

When your results stop, it’s time to do something new.

  • The problem: Your muscles have adapted to your routine.
  • The Solution: It’s time to apply the concept of muscle confusion.

Muscle confusion is a way to keep your body guessing by changing your routine.

I have good news – the following 4 strategies are guaranteed to crank your workouts up to the next level and to deliver better results.

Strategy #1: Use a Drop Set

Drop sets are often used to fight off exercise plateaus. This technique is great for increasing muscle strength, endurance and for adding to the cardiovascular benefit of your workout – which results in more fat burn.

This is how to do a drop set: When you perform an exercise to exhaustion, don’t stop there. Drop the weight by 80% and do another set.

You could take it a step further by dropping the weight twice, making it a double drop. Or drop the weight three times for a descending drop set. Use this technique only once or twice per workout, on the final set of the exercise.

Strategy #2: Focus on Negatives

Each time that you do a weight lifting repetition you are using three types of strength.

  1. Positive strength: lifting the weight.
  2. Static strength: holding weight in a contracted position.
  3. Negative strength: lowering the weight.

Most people completely miss the benefit of the negative in each repetition by allowing the weight to drop quickly with little control. It is understood that the negative portion of each repetition is just as important as the positive portion, possibly more important.

Focus on the negative portion of each repetition by lowering the weight very slowly. Concentrate on the negative contraction, and make each repetition count.

If you are advanced, then use a training partner to assist you in moving heavier-than-normal weight into a contracted position, then lower it very slowly.

Another way to utilize negative repetitions on a machine is to lift the weight using two limbs but then lower it with just one. For example, use both legs to lift the weight on a leg extension machine, but then lower it back down slowly using only one leg.

Strategy #3: Use Active Rest

Every minute of your workout is an opportunity to increase intensity and to burn more fat. Don’t waste precious minutes with long rest periods.

While it is important to catch your breath if you feel winded, most of the time you would benefit more from an active rest. Do one of the following activities for 30 seconds between exercises and turn your regular workout into High Intensity Interval Training.

  • High Knees with Alternating Punches: Alternately bring each knee high to your chest in a quick jumping movement while alternating forward punches at shoulder level.
  • Burpees: Start in a sanding position and bend at the waist. Once your hands hit the floor, push your entire body back, extending your legs until they’re straight and you’re in the push-up position. Go down for a push-up, and when you push yourself up, jump slightly to bring your feet back near your hands. Finally, jump in the air with your arms fully extended over your head.
  • Side-to-Side Jumps on Bench: Stand on one side of an exercise bench. Place the foot closest up onto the bench, jump up and switch feet, then land on the opposite side of the bench.
  • Mountain Climbers: Place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground in a push-up position. Bring one knee to your chest and then back to the starting position, alternate each leg quickly.
  • Side-to-Side Ab Twists: With feet close together, jump and twist your legs left to right – holding your abs tight. Keep a bend in your knees and swing your upper arms with each twist.
  • Jump Lunges with Pop Squat: Start in a lunge position, lunge down then quickly jump up, switching your leg position in midair, land in an opposite leg lunge. Once you’ve done both legs, jump straight into a squat.
  • Medicine Ball Squat Jumps: With feet wider than shoulder-width apart hold a medicine ball at chest level. Squat down until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Explosively jump up, raising the medicine ball straight over your head.

Strategy #4: Modify the Exercise There are certain exercises that are considered ‘staples’ in the gym.

The squat. The lunge. The chest press. The shoulder press. The bicep curl. You get the idea…

While you shouldn’t throw these exercises out the window, find creative ways to modify the familiar motion in order to challenge your muscles. Try these exercise modifications:

  • Squat on a Bosu ball or balance board.
  • Place a weighted bar across your shoulders and do walking lunges.
  • Use an exercise ball for chest presses instead of the bench.
  • Do a full squat between each repetition of shoulder presses.
  • Do a shoulder press between each repetition of bicep curls.

If you’d like a sure-fire way to break through your fitness plateau and to melt away unwanted fat, then contact me for a fitness consultation.


Salmon and Broccoli Scramble

Salmon, broccoli and egg whites combine for the perfect protein-packed breakfast. Add a side of avocado for healthy fats and a serving of fruit for a delicious start to your day.

Servings: 2

Here’s what you need…

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 5 egg whites
  • 8oz grilled or smoked salmon, separated into small pieces
  • dash of salt and pepper

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 225 calories, 7g fat, 557mg sodium, 6.5g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, and 33g protein.


How Healthy Is Your County?

How healthy is your county? Check out the County Health Rankings, created and maintained by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The website ranks the health of nearly every county in the nation by looking at a variety of measures that affect health (i.e., the rate of people dying before age 75, high school graduation rates, access to healthier foods, air pollution levels, income and rates of smoking, obesity and teen births), then compares and contrasts this information to that of other counties. Following are a few County Health

Ranking highlights:

  • People are nearly twice as likely to be in fair or poor health in the unhealthiest counties
  • Unhealthy counties have significantly lower high school graduation rates
  • Unhealthy counties have more than twice as many children in poverty
  • Unhealthy counties have many fewer grocery stores or farmers markets
  • Unhealthy counties have much higher rates of unemployment

Getting Disturbed

You have to get disturbed and create an emotion with your current shape before you’ll take the action needed to transform your body. How do you get disturbed? Try these:

  • Go shopping for a swim suit (the size you will be in your “after” picture)
  • Try on all of your “skinny” clothes & keep them out where you will see them as a reminder
  • Look at old pictures from when you were in better shape (Keep these out too)
  • Go to the doctor for a physical
The key here is to have these little motivational reminders all around you.  That way when you see the skinny jeans you’re going to fit in to, or the swim suit you will wear to the beach you will mentally stay focused and on track.

Transforming From Your “Before” Photo To Your “After”

Have you ever seen a really impressive “before” and “after” photo on a weight loss product?

Well, there’s something that the diet industry doesn’t want you to know. There is more involved than just the diet product, and it’s the same across the board. Its also Mental.

Look into the eyes of any person in their “before” picture and you’ll see that they are deeply disturbed. The body they have is no longer in sync with the body they are able to accept.

They changed from the body that they wanted/had, to someone disturbed with who they have become.

Now look into their eyes in the “after” picture – see the sweet satisfaction? They now live in the body that they decided they could and wanted to accept. What an amazing feeling that is.

Why are you still living life in your “before” body?

Sure, you have obstacles that get in your way – your schedule, your job, your kids, the weather, your knee injury from college…but ultimately you have the body that you have CHOSEN to accept.

I’m going to repeat that so it will really sink in.

You have the body that you have CHOSEN to accept.

Transform from “Before” to “After”
You may not realize it, but you already posses everything you need to transform your body, and it all starts with taking responsibility for the body that you have today.

You are in your current shape because, until this moment, you’ve been OK with it.

Oh I know you aren’t thrilled with it, and you even talk about losing weight and getting fit – but you haven’t changed you’re expections…until now!

Here’s how to transform your body in 3 steps:

Step One: Feel Disturbed
It has been said that emotion creates motion. This is essential when it comes to personal transformation. Just like those folks in the “before” pictures, to transform your body you must first decide that you CAN’T live another day in the body you currently have.

Get your emotions stirred up. Make a list of all the reasons that you’re ready to lose weight and get fit. Get disturbed.

Step Two: Decide What You Want
Without clarity you’ll never get where you want to go. Now that you’re disturbed with the body you have, decide what the body you can accept looks like.
Think in concrete and specific terms. Just like the captions under ‘before” and “after” pictures – “Shannon lost 50 lbs,” “Matt lost 8 inches from his waist,” “Catherine went from a size 20 to a size 4.”

Get a clear picture in your mind of what you’ll look like in your “after” picture and decide what the caption will read and by when you will make that caption a reality.  Once you have yourdetailed goals (Email me for assistance in creating these), put reminders everywhere so you will see them and keep motivated.  On the fridge, bathroom mirror, on your desk, etc…

You must have long term goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures.”

Step Three: Take Action
The time spent between your inspiration (now) and taking action determines whether you will succeed or fail. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck between inspiration and action – there is always something that you can do immediately.

Write down your goals right now.  Create your emotion filled “why”.  Take action by emailing or calling me now to set up a fitness consultation.

I am here to take you from your “before” picture to your “after” picture. What will your “after” caption read?