Guest Post: Work it Out (+ Giveaway for Locals!)

UPDATE:  Congratulations to eleventh commenter Jessica for winning the session’s with Jen! Thanks to everyone for entering. Don’t forget – even if you didn’t win you can call Jen at 216-513-6989 for a free session and give her workouts a try.

(note: there were 20 comments but Allison asked not to be entered, so the winner was chosen randomly from the other 19 comments)


During the second half of my maternity leave I went to the gym every day. I got a break from MAD, I got to sweat out my stress and I got to do something for me. I love group classes so I sampled everything they offered. By the time I went back to work I was in great shape. Then life hit.

Adjusting to the 2 working parents of 2 kids schedule was brutal. My gym (despite repeated requests) never offered any classes after the kids bedtime which is the only time I can workout,  so I was curtailed to 2 weekend classes a week. I felt like crap.

Enter, Pauline (honestly, she’s my go-to person for knowing the best of what’s happening on Cleveland’s east side) who invited me to a group session with her trainer, Jen Arenschield.  I was hooked. I love that I was pushing myself to the max, using the heaviest weights possible and feeling strong. Jen is the perfect mix of ass-kicking trainer and someone you’d love to grab drinks with. I’ve been working out with her for about 4 months and can honestly say that I crave her workouts. I look forward to them every week. And last week when M came home with this I knew I was teaching her something about the importance of being strong:

Without further ado, here are Jen’s thoughts about the holidays and weight gain plus a suggested workout to avoid it:

Avoid Holiday Weight Gain!

At this busy time of the year, there simply is often not enough time in the day to work out.  There are plenty of days where I could use a lot more than 24 hours to get everything done.  With the holiday season upon us, extra time is a precious commodity that’s hard to come by.

However, it was recently stated in a major media article that the average person gains seven pounds during the holidays (between Halloween and New Years).  After some online research, it seems that the statistic is not entirely accurate.  In fact, most people gain on average about one pound.  Whew! What a relief!

Not so fast…the news is not all good.  Just think:  as we age, the average adult gains between 1-2 pounds.  It stands to reason that this holiday weight gain could very well be the reason for an overall weight gain as we get older.  Often, the weight  gained during the holidays is not lost. The average person is gaining 12 pounds a decade. If you gain a pound or so over the holidays, there it is.

Fat loss can be broken down to simple math: Your body must burn 3,600 calories in order to lose one pound of body fat.  With very hard work, a person could theoretically burn a pound of body fat in a week with four or more very intense workouts.  At the very least, maintaining a consistent, challenging fitness program, even during the busy holiday season, will allow you to enjoy all the holidays  have to offer without the guilt and weight gain that often follows.

Then, instead of being one of the many who flock to the gym to carry out their New Year’s Resolution (for three weeks) to undo the damage, you’ll be right on track to look and feel great for Spring.

Try this workout at home with your own body weight.  I have always recommended interval training as a superior form of fat loss over steady state cardio. Interval training is essentially periods of hard work alternated with easier periods of work using one or more cardio exercises.  This workout pairs two simple exercises to work your entire body.  Do not be fooled, this is not for the faint of heart. This workout will get your heart rate up and burn calories like crazy.

You will alternate repetitions of Squat Jumps and Running Push Ups.

Squat Jump:  With your hands behind your head, sit back and down into a squatting position.  Explosively jump vertically, keeping your chest up.  Try to land softly, immediately going into the next squat.  Do not pause at the bottom of the movement. Progress the exercise by increasing range of motion in your squat and intensity in your jump.

Running Pushup:  This is a Pushup/Mountain Climber combo.  Do one pushup and two reps of Mountain Climbers in alternating fashion.

Mountain Climbers:  In pushup position, brace your core and keep your body still.  Bring your right knee towards your right arm, then back to the starting position, with feet only touching the floor in the starting position.  Repeat with your left leg, that is one rep.  Alternate legs with each rep. Progress the exercise by increasing speed and intensity.

Progression:  Exercises can be progressed in range of motion, speed and intensity.  You can also progress your work/recovery times.  A good rule of thumb to start is:
Beginner: 10 seconds work, 20 seconds recovery
Intermediate: 15 seconds work, 15 seconds recover
Advanced: 20 seconds work, 10 seconds recovery

You don’t need a lot of time, an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment to get a great workout.  The right exercises and a healthy dose of motivation are all you need to burn calories and enjoy the holidays guilt-free.  About 30 minutes is all it takes to keep you on track throughout the holiday season while saving time, frustration and stress.

Jen is awesome and when I asked if I could promote her on my blog she offered up a generous giveaway to my readers.  Plus ALL potential clients can always do the first workout  free. If you live anywhere on Cleveland’s east side, come have Jen kick your butt and see if it’s the fitness solution for you. Call her at 216-513-6989 or send her at Tweet @JenArenschield

Giveaway – Your Choice:
–  Two individual training sessions with certified personal trainer, Jen  Arenschield ($90 value) or
–  Two weeks of small-group training with certified personal trainer, Jen Arenschield (six total sessions, $90 value).
Location is in Solon, Ohio.
Individual training to be scheduled at both the trainer/client’s convenience, group session times are as follows:
M/W/F:  5:45am or 9:30am
Tues/Thurs:  8:00-9:00pm
Saturday:  9:30am

Want to win? Just leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. For an extra entry follow @JenArenschield and tweet about the contest (come back and leave me a comment with a link to your tweet).  Giveaway ends at midnight EST on December 5, 2010. Please don’t enter if you can’t make it to Solon for your workouts!

(Disclosure: I am hosting this giveaway on my blog simply because I love my workouts with Jen. I got nothing in return for this post).

Disney On Ice: Toy Story 3 in Cleveland + Discount Code

Last year we took M to a Disney on Ice show and she loved it. As in she’s STILL talking about it 12 months later. So when I heard that this year’s Disney on Ice show is Toy Story 3 I knew we would have to go. Toy Story 3 was the first movie we took her to see in a theater, so the combination makes for the perfect Christmas present. And just in case you want to take your own litte Buzz or Jessie here’s the information and a discount code for tickets:

Disney On Ice presents Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 will be at the Quicken Loans Arena from JAN. 7-17, 2011

Disney on Ice Toy Story 3 invites you to catch all the heroic action at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland when Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie and the Toy Story gang escape from the rambunctious Sunnyside Daycare.

DISCOUNT: Flat $11 discount on ALL performances
RESTRICTIONS: Not valid on Front Row or VIP seats; no double discounts; limit 4 per order
CLICK here to purchase tickets and see showtimes

Disclosure: I was given 4 tickets to Disney On Ice presents Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 by Feld Entertainment, Inc.

If the Shoe Fits

I have at least a half dozen pairs of shoes in my closest that never get worn. I swoon over gorgeous pumps just like any other woman and have a few killer pairs. Killer does not just describe the looks; I say that because wearing heels kills my feet. I even bought a pair of You by Crocs thinking they would be more tolerable. But even that squishy Crocs foam is no match for 3 ½ inch heels. I can only wear them for a few hours. 

For several years my go-to shoes have been my beloved Danskos clogs. They are the most comfortable shoes I own and are what are on my feet most often in the colder months (warm weather = flip flops). But, while Danskos are awesome on your feet they are pretty ugly. So awhile ago I tried out a pair of their heels. But they aren’t the same as the clogs and I ended up selling those on Ebay. 

Enter my foray into ballet flats. A few months ago I finally broke down and bought a pair of simple black ballet flats. And I do love them. But they are boring and kind of old-lady looking. And there are so many cute pairs I see on the toes of my co-workers. Jewels! Bows! Flowers! All these cute embellishments! To remedy my boring shoe situation I’ve been scouting the shoe racks in search of some more fun and youthful flats. 



What have I found? I’ve found that I just can’t wear the cute embellished shoes like these. I just can’t help it, but when there is anything on the vamp of the shoe I see this when I look down: 

Even a simple, flat flower has me wanting to kick the shoes right off for fear of looking like a fool. Shoes like these which look darling on others and cute in the box end up looking like clown shoes when they are on my feet. 

I can’t be the only one. Does anyone else have this ridiculous fear of embellished shoes? And, more importantly, give me some suggestions for cute flats!

Shopping Daze

Usually by this time of the year I’m just about done with shopping. You see, I would rather walk on hot coals than go to any sort of shopping center between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I hate crowds, I hate the forced cheerfulness, I hate the glut of it all. Two days ago I made a quick run into Trader Joe’s and came out in a bitter mood. The place was jam packed and I know it’s just a sign of things to come.

But this year, due to the fact that my maternity-leave pay got screwed up things are kind of tight for another few weeks and this means there has been no shopping. And, I don’t really know what to get the kids which is making it no fun.

We’re a “one big gift, 2 medium gifts + stocking stuffers” kind of family but this year I really have any ideas of where to start. For MAD, well, he’ll be 8 months at Christmas so he doesn’t really need anything. Plus we still have all the toys from M’s babyhood and the last thing we need is more plastic crap in this house. I’m at a total loss. I want him to get something special, being his first Christmas and all, but I’m stumped.

As for M she already has so. much. stuff. 2 years ago she got her doll house, last year it was the trampoline. And honestly there just isn’t room for any more physically big gifts. My mom is taking her (and I!) to the Nutcracker in December so that may count as her big gift/memory from this year. Of course we’ll get her a special nutcracker to commemorate the occasion. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting her a Leapster or some other gaming device but….gah…she’s only 4. I’m not sure I want to go down the path of video games just yet.

I have a feeling this will be a pretty low-key year. New books, a couple of puzzles, maybe some new clothes and a DVD or 2 (all purchased online, natch) . I’m already feeling kind of bah humbug about it all because I’m not done.

What about you? Are you excited for the holidays? Done shopping? Haven’t even thought past next week? Do you live for Black Friday? And if you have any great gift ideas for an 8 month old and 4 year old, please pass them my way.

One Week in Cleveland

Cleveland get crapped on a lot. Especially about our weather. And while it can be cold and grey, it can also be spectacular, if fickle. Here is one November week in Cleveland:

Snowmen on Saturday

Leaf piles on Wednesday

Beach time on Friday

Thank You

To my grandpa who served in the Navy. He saw action in both the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II and received the Purple Heart.

(that’s grandpa on the left)

To my father who served as an Air Force pilot in Vietnam. He flew c-123s in Operation Ranch Hand and received the Purple Heart.

To my husband Mark and my cousin Jeff – both who served in the US Army during Operation Desert Storm.

To Dan, to Patty, to Alex, to Craig and to Ellery.

To everyone who has served in war or peacetime. To the families who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you.

Who Are The Weirdos in Your Neighborhood?

We live on a pretty short street.  It’s quiet and there are several elderly people here who have been in their homes for 30 or more years. It’s a nice little suburban setting with people walking their dogs, kids learning to ride their bikes and weirdos mowing lawns barefoot.

Wait, let be back up. When we moved in the woman across the street who is about my mother’s age, came over quite a bit to chat with us as we were playing outside. One of the first things she mentioned was Bob*, the neighborhood odd-job man. “He’s a little odd.” she said “but he’s harmless”. If I remember correctly she said he grew up on the street and was just a normal kid. He went to college and came back a “little off” as she said. Having lived here now almost 3 years I’m going to guess that Bob had some kind of mental episode while at college because the dude is not right. And he creeps me out.

He does indeed do odd-jobs for many of the older folks on our street. He mows lawns, walks dogs, rakes leaves. But he does all of this barefoot and early in the morning. Every Thursday all summer long at 7:45 AM we’d hear the mower start up next door and sure enough he’d be out there, rain or shine, mowing their lawn. Ever see someone mow grass barefoot in a thunderstorm? Weird.

He wears the same thing just about everyday – cut off jean shorts, a ball cap and an old ratty t-shirt. Buddy Holly glasses. No shoes. A bright yellow rain slicker if needed. I would guess that he’s in his mid-fourties or early fifties. He moves between the close-set yards quickly and quietly, often cruising up a driveway on his bike. It never fails to startle me to see him walk by my kitchen window that faces our neighbor’s driveway.

I always thought Bob lived in a slightly unkept house a few doors down as he seemed to come and go from their property a lot. Then, this summer, our new babysitter who has lived in the house catty-corner behind us her whole life, revealed to me that he lives in her neighbor’s garage! He lives in his van right behind us! Turns out that the house behind us is vacant – has been for over 5 years (and here we thought it was old people who were snowbirds). The house is now owned by the son of the previous owners and he allows Bob to live in the garage during the summers in exchange for keeping up the house and property. I had heard music coming from that garage in the evenings many times and had always just assumed someone used it as a workshop. Silly me.

Now is the time of the year that Bob disappears for the winter and I have to say I am relieved. He seems harmless. He’s very kind and we even had him mow our lawn once while on vacation. I’ve never heard anything but good things about him. But he still gives me the creeps. And I’m never totally comfortable with M playing alone outside when I know he could pop up just over the fence anytime. Call me over-protective if you want, but the dude is weird.

So, who are the weirdos in your neighborhood? The people that you meet /when you’re walking down the street/ the people that you meet each day?

*You know his name is not Bob, right?

UPDATED: In case you were wondering, today (11/11) he started at 7:41 and is wearing a winter parka and an ear-flap hat with his jorts.

Running Man

Back in May we took a few-weeks old MAD and M and headed to downtown Cleveland to cheer on one of my college friends who was running the Cleveland Marathon. We caught him around mile 17 on the lake shore and erupted into cheers and shook our cow bells and waved our signs. Then we loaded back into the car and drove to the finish line where we cheered for him again.  Tom is a fast runner so we were in place to see the first athletes cross the finish line right around the 2:30 mark. Tom ended up in 38th place out of nearly 12,000 finishers. Not bad for someone who smoked and drank with the best of them back in college.  On the drive home Mark said he wanted to run the same race for his 40th birthday.

I didn’t think much of his comment until later in the summer when he downloaded the Couch to 5k app to his iPhone and started going out a few evenings a week to complete the run/walk training. Every other night without fail he went out after the kids went to bed and in just a few weeks he was running the entire 3.1 miles. I was surprised and impressed by his dedication because I figured it would fizzle out after a few weeks, like most exercise programs. But he caught the running bug and on a Thursday in in August I saw a flyer for a 5k race that weekend and (jokingly) said he should enter.  He did and had a PR of 25 minutes.

Of course he did have the cutest cheering section of all the runners.

With a 5k under his belt he loaded the Bridge to 10k app on his phone and started increasing his runs. This time he had registered for a 10k race just 5 weeks away and had a goal to train towards. Needless to say he was up to 6.2 miles in no time and finished with an impressive 55 minute time.

Before this race M asked if she could cross the finish line with her daddy and I might have teared up a bit when he took her hand for the last few meters of the race. She has so much fun cheering for him and she was so proud to cross the finish line with him.

As soon as that race was over he was back at his every-other-night training. Leaving for 2-hour runs at 8:30 PM, running in the dark and eventually pushing himself to complete over 13 miles.  Of course the search for a half-marathon began and in 2 weeks he’ll be running that race and we’ll be on the sidelines shaking our cowbells, waving our signs and cheering him on.

Over the last 5 months I’ve become a “running widow” and I couldn’t be any more proud.