Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It Wasn’t Meant to Be...

Back when I first started the whole running thing, I had joined a gym-Bally’s-when they were having a promotion in conjunction with The Discovery Channel as part of TDC’s National Body Challenge.  I signed up with a contract, then went month to month after the contract ended, then finally when we moved further away from the closest club than I was willing to drive, I just cancelled the membership.

A couple of weeks ago, I received postcard advertisements for a place called YouFit Health Club.  Apparently one had just been opened a couple of miles down the street from me (it took over the nearby 21 Fitness club) and they were offering a month-to-month membership for only $29 down and $10 per month.  Considering my month-to-month at Bally’s after my contract was over was $20 per month, I thought this was a great deal.  I checked out their web site and local reviews...everything looked good so I discussed with DH and finally went to the club on Sunday to check it out.

It was larger than the Bally’s I had used with a LOT more machines, both cardio and weights.  They also had a classroom that they had group classes in, plus balance balls, mats, etc just like my Bally’s had.  Overall it looked good, so I decided to go ahead and register.  And yesterday-two days later with no visits for workouts-I cancelled.  The next paragraph is taken almost word for word from my cancellation letter.

I was disappointed by several things with the registration process. First, I specifically asked if there was a contract since I wanted to do the month-to-month and was told no, it was just a simple month to month membership. When I received the email with my forms attached, the first page was a Membership Agreement which clearly states it is a “contract/note/agreement” (and when you look at it, it is clearly obvious just at a glance that it is a contract-no matter what they want to call it).  Second, while I was told there were annual club dues of $29.99 per year every September, I did not realize she meant I would be charged this September-barely over two months after joining (shouldn’t this be something I would be charged for on my anniversary next year?).  I have no problem paying an annual fee, but two months after I join (and just paid $29 to do so)?  Third, I was never informed that if I wanted to cancel in the future that there would be a $25.00 processing fee to do so, I found this out when I received the email with my “contract”.  Finally, when I was told the amount due at signup, I was told $51.94.  When I asked why when the introductory fee was $29 and it is $10/month, I was told members are charged first and last month up front.  I was not told this before I signed off on my registration, only when my card was about to be charged at the very end of the whole process.

I was not given an opportunity to read all of the things the “contract” said when signing up; I was told the highlights at each point I that I had to sign the electronic signature pad ($10 per month with a one-time $5 increase; Annual Dues; club policies regarding dress code and use of the facility, etc) and since I was told there was no contract, I was under the impression that those items were all I was agreeing to.  Um, apparently not.  You aren’t presented with actual paper forms to sign-they tell you the info and you sign the little credit card signature pad after each thing they tell you about, the way the person who signed me up presented it to me, she was saying “oh, you’re acknowledging it’s $10 per month with a one-time $5 increase after a year; this is saying you agree to abide by club policies like the dress code; this is permission to debit your monthly fee, etc”.  Nothing she said made it sound anything like I was signing a legal contract, she basically just said one or two things each time like they were no big deal and then said I’d get an email with my forms for my records.

Now maybe I’m just unbelievably naive.  Other than buying cars (where you sign so many forms you just lose track by the time you’re done), I’ve only ever signed one contract...the one at Bally’s, and they had paper forms and went over everything very carefully with me (and oh, by the way, Bally’s doesn’t charge for canceling, or at least they didn’t as of 2 years ago).  But from the totally nonchalant way the whole signup process went, I got absolutely no impression that I was agreeing to some official contract-until I received that email with it attached.  

And so I was ticked off...and it’s a good thing I read the email and its attachments in time to cancel within the first 3 days.  Though the people at the front desk tried to tell me I’d get my refund in 7-10 days.  Yeah, I don’t think so.  Spoke to the manager (who understandably tried to explain how their agreements worked, “how can I make this right”, the girl that helped you was new, etc etc etc) about the whole thing and she immediately refunded me.

While YouFit seems like a great, low-cost alternative and I was looking forward to being able to go the the gym and not have to wait for equipment or limit my time on any equipment, plus it is literally 5 minutes from the house...the whole registration process just rubbed me the wrong way and gave me a negative view of the club.  I know of others who are members and like it just fine, and maybe I would have liked it too---IF I had received all of the information up front.  To find all the other details out after I was already signed up (the email didn’t come until the next day)...not cool.

And so I’m back to my outdoor miles, my yoga DVD, free weights in my office and using the teeny tiny gym in my complex (2 treadmills, 1 elliptical, 1 stair machine, 1 recumbent bike and a couple of weight machines) plan instead.  Ah well, I’ve done it before, I’ll be doing it again.

Happy Training Everyone!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 2 mini-success; tip for staying on track; other random things

I am happy to report that week 2 finished with a 1-lb loss.  Not spectacular and amazing like week 1's 4 pound loss, but heck--after coming out of the gate with that 4, I'm not going to knock the 1...after all, that's still 5 pounds in 2 weeks.  Only one sorta-iffy eating day last week-several of us had a training class on Friday at work for a new program we're going to be using (not that anyone's interested, but it's going to be for paperless online on-boarding of new hires-can't wait, should be a HUGE timesaver for us), so our boss had us order in lunch, her treat.  The group decided on Italian and I found a spaghetti/salad combo to get.  The portion of pasta I got?  Heaping.  The portion of salad I got?  Teensy-weensy.  And I hadn't had any of my snacks yet-I keep healthy snacks in my desk drawer like carrots, grapes, pretzels and such-so I was really hungry.  Ate almost the whole thing.  But that was my only bad day, and I tried to adjust my dinner but still hit about 2000 calories for the day instead of my recommended range (which tops out in the 1800s).

One tip I use to stay on track is using the nutrition tracker on the Sparkpeople website to track every single thing I eat.  I know it may seem tiresome to have to enter everything, but it really does make a difference.  It's way too easy to just say, "eh, that's about X calories here, another X there, I'll be fine today" and not track, but then if you go back later and enter those same things on the tracker you suddenly see the OMG amount you REALLY ate.  Thankfully they have a mobile app so that makes it even easier for me to track even if I'm not near a computer.  Plus, you can makes groups of food, or copy meals from one day to for me, I often will have a breakfast of cinnamon swirl toast (sprayed with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter), yogurt and orange juice.  I can just copy that whole meal to another day and not have to enter each thing individually.  There's many good food trackers out there in cyberspace, many of them free (like Sparkpeople's), so whether you track online or use paper and pen, try tracking your food-it really can make a difference.

In other news, my work wardrobe has been getting kind of tired so this weekend was a shopping weekend for me (YAY!).  Got some great buys at Sears, plus two extra $10 award cards and 20,000 extra reward points-worth another $10-from their loyalty program from a promotion they were running=successful clothes shopping trip!  Oh, and did you know JCPenney has workout gear?  And in WOMEN'S sizes?  Yup, scored a running tank top on sale for $8.99.  And while the sizes I got this weekend weren't my ideal, I look forward to watching my new stuff get baggy on me by the fall ;-)

One last thing before I sign off for may (or may not) know that I have another blog all about Walt Disney World stuff called The Disney World Files.  I've got a giveaway going on over there for a cool Color Block Goofy Vinylmation figure...when you have a moment, head on over to check it out and get yourself entered.  The figure would make a neat addition to any Goofy medal display if you have one, or just a fun thing to decorate with, or even use to trade for other Vinylmations with friends or while you're at WDW.  I'd love it if you'd take a look and share with others!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thoughts on Spirit of the Marathon II-movie review

Went to see Spirit of the Marathon II tonight.  I had snagged a Fandango discount code for $7 off a movie ticket so I figured I'd use it for this (only spent $6.75 on my ticket).

I saw the first one several years ago and it has kind of became a tradition for me to watch it before each race that I do.  It brings out a lot of emotion in you, seeing the stories of the people they follow-their struggles and training and the race itself.  I was looking forward to another dose of that again tonight.

With the first one, they started it pre-marathon, meeting each of the people they were following and then watching their journey (well, not the whole journey of course...that would make for a very long movie LOL), then seeing everyone's highlights from the race itself, culminating in their finishes at the Chicago Marathon.

Tonight's movie again followed several people, but started off with scenes from the start of the race.  Then as it went on, you got to see scenes of each of them at different points in the race-the further into the movie it got, the further into the race the scenes from it showed.  I liked the stories (Julie Weiss had some pretty funny encounters with other runners during the race) and the footage of Rome itself was wonderful (it's on my bucket list for part of a Europe dream trip).

For me, the movie seemed to move a bit slower than the first one, and it also didn't get me as excited and emotional like the first one did.  With the first one, the excitement builds throughout and then peaks as each of the cast cross the finish line (I think too the musical score helped a lot with that, loved the score from the first one).  Tonight's sequel seemed more even-keeled and calmer.  I think a lot of that was due to them spreading out the scenes during the race throughout the movie instead of saving them all for the end.

Personally, I prefer the first one because it does build the excitement and lead you to that emotional finish.  Tonight's was a good movie with good stories, but for me was nothing more than that.  I may or may not buy it when it comes out on DVD or iTunes, but whether I do or not, I'll still be using the first movie as my pre-race inspiration.

I did stay through the credits, after which they had some additional footage of conversations with the interviewees, then there was a short documentary featurette about, a charity that works to get clean water to places that need it...which interested me enough to think about possibly joining their Team World Vision at some time in the future.

So, I'm glad I got to see it, but do I consider it a "keeper" (meaning I'd buy it when it comes out)?  Maybe, maybe not.  We'll see.

Have you seen Spirit of the Marathon II?  If so, what did you think?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Success! And the journey begins again...

Last Sunday I did my initial weigh-in to get myself started back on my weight loss plan.  Then on Monday I started off with just the nutrition portion to get myself back on track.  I logged all of my food as well as my water intake (I use Sparkpeople, fantastic free website with trackers for nutrition, exercise, water intake, measurements and so articles, forums and more).  Oh, and in addition to the initial weigh-in I also did all my measurements this time around.

I was really good all week with my eating.  The ranges I’m supposed to stay in are:

Calories: 1490-1840
Fat: 33-72g
Carbohydrates: 168-299g
Protein: 60-161g
Calcium: 100-150 %RDA
Sodium: 0-2300mg
Fiber (total dietary): 25-35g
Consume at least 8 cups of water per day

Just FYI, these are the recommended ranges for ME based on my current weight, goal weight and amount of time over which I plan on losing weight from the Sparkpeople website.  Just because that’s a range for me and my situation doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you should do.  If you want to know what your own ranges should be, I’d recommend registering on Sparkpeople, plugging in all your information and you can get your own customized plan.  For me, I’m hoping to lose 85 pounds by the end of the year, though that’s a pretty lofty goal and actually higher than I really should be aiming (but...but...but...I want to be tiny ASAP!  LOL).  If I can get to 65 I’ll be pretty happy with myself and that would have me averaging just over 2 pounds lost per week since there’s 30 weeks from when I started until the end of the year.
I'd love to get this Withings scale, if I could just get over the $149.95 cost!  But I'll take the weight it has showing on it :-)
Calories, fat, carbs and protein were good pretty much all week.  I’ve been under a few days on calcium and fiber...those are the hardest ones for me to hit my numbers.  The other thing that’s hard for me is the water.  Just trying to get to 6 cups a day makes me feel like I’m going to burst.  I think all week I might have had 2 days where I reached 8, all the rest were 6.  Not that I agree with the whole “8 cups a day” thing.  There’s plenty of evidence out there to show that it’s not necessary...and truly, if your urine is coming out a pale lemonade color, you’re hydrated just fine.  And this fall when my training starts to really ramp up while I train for the Disney Full Marathon in January, I’ll be getting plenty to drink with all the water and sports drinks.

Now, one thing you should realize I hadn’t added the exercise component last week.  I wanted to get comfortable back in my good eating habits first.  So when I stepped on the scale yesterday (I weigh in once per week on Sundays), I was totally floored when it showed I had lost 4.2 pounds my first week!  I figured it would be about 1.5 or maybe even 2 if I was lucky so when I saw it was 4.2, I was totally shocked.  And of course, this makes me a bit leery about week 2 since usually that’s a lower week anyway as the body adjusts to the whole weight-loss thing.  BUT-even if this 2nd week isn’t quite as stellar, the first week should make up for it ;-)

So-success for week 1!  Yesterday I added back in strength training with an upper body free weights workout (oh my arms are hollering at me about that!) and tomorrow I go back to my miles...hopefully outside but with the yucky weather we’ve been having lately I’m not going to hold my breath.  I’m actually thinking about joining a gym again.  The 21 Fitness just 2 miles down the street has been changed to a YouFit Health Club and the cost is just $10/month (or I can do $20/month and be able to take a guest every visit if I want, plus discounts on drinks and stuff) there’s no contract.  I’m going to check it out this coming weekend and get DH’s input as well.  Since they just opened as YouFit, they’re running a special with only $29 down instead of their usual $49...and they’re supposed to have tons of machines so you don’t have to wait or limit your time. 

I do have a gym here in my complex, but there’s not much in it (two treadmills, one elliptical, one bike, and maybe 3 or 4 weight machines) and quite often there’s at least one cardio machine down when I go.  Plus the machines here don’t have anyplace for me to put anything, I have to wear my iPod instead of putting it in a holder on the machine (since none of them have one) and my towel, water bottle, etc just get dumped on the floor.  I know, first world problems, right?

All right, gotta go...I still have another 250 calories to consume today so it’s time for an evening snack!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: PowerBar’s Performance Energy Blends

As promised, here is my review of the PowerBar Performance Energy Blends.  I received some free samples of the product to try from BzzAgent, a social marketing site that promotes word-of-mouth advertising.  First I’ll give you what I posted as a review on their website:

When I first received the sample of PowerBar's Performance Energy Blends from BzzAgent, I was excited to try it as I was hoping it could be a good alternative to gels for fueling either a workout or long run.  After trying the product, I can say that it is a good fuel option for a short workout (under an hour), though as for using it on a long run for me it would not be ideal as it would not last long enough.  I would have to carry multiple packets with me to use on a long run which frankly I would not have room for in my pockets/belt.  The other thing that I wasn't too thrilled with was the consistency of the product.  It is thinner/more liquid-y than a gel would be and while the flavors were good, I was a bit nauseated by the consistency.  If you can handle something like that while doing strenuous activity, then this would be a good option for you...if not, do like I'll be doing and pass on it for a different option.

Now here’s some more:

The consistency was really what got to me on these.  See, when it comes to gels (like Gu or Hammer, etc), I was always fine with the consistency until about the last year when having 2 or more during a long mile outing was starting to kind of gross me out.  And so I started using Chomps instead.  The Chomps I can handle no problem, after all it’s kind of just like eating gummies.  The only issue with Chomps is them sticking to your teeth, which after a little bit that goes away.  

With the PowerBar Performance Energy Blends, I thought that even with the sort-of gel like consistency (or what I thought would be gel-like from the feel of the packets) I might be able to handle it fine since it was fruit.  Yeah, not so much.  The Blends were actually a thinner/more liquid consistency than the gels and although I did like the flavors I don’t think I could stomach downing those on a regular basis...especially not on a long mile outing.  Consistency aside, as a fuel source it worked fine, though it doesn’t last quite as long as a gel-at least not for me.  But then again, the Gu gels I use have 100 calories and the Blends had 80 so that is probably a part of it not lasting as long.

I had picked up a few extra packets and still have one left in the apple-mango-strawberry flavor if anyone is interested.  I also still have several “$1.50 off of 2 packets” coupons left if anyone would like.  The packet and coupons I have left will be first come, first served so if you’d like either the last packet or some coupons, either comment below or shoot me an email at thedisneyworldfiles at gmail dot com.

Have you tried PowerBar’s Performance Energy Blends?  What did you think?  What is your go-to fueling source?

*As always, even though I received this product for free thanks to the BzzAgent program, all opinions stated above are mine and mine alone.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My 1st inspiration board attempt; Week 1 so far

I'm not the creative type.  I'm usually pretty bad at coming up with interesting ideas and I'm certainly not the crafty lady.  The craftiest I've gotten is with my cheering sign, just using markers, sparkle glue and extra sparkles with some letter stencils:
Me and my sparkly cheer sign before the 2011 Princess Half Marathon
So after putting up my last post (from guest post author Michelle Pino) about creating an inspiration board to meet your health goals, I was a little stumped on how to begin.  I knew the central image would be a Mickey medal as that is my goal-to finish the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon in January...which I'm going to achieve by losing weight, getting fit and training properly.

I've been down this road before-back in late 2008 I got really serious and got back on the Sparkpeople website that I had joined about a year prior (and just never really used) and really focused on losing weight.  Over the next year and few months between diet, exercise and then training for my first half marathon-the 2010 Disney Half Marathon-I wound up losing 45 pounds.  After that first race and several follow-up half marathons, I started to slack off a bit.  And then a bit more...and wound up almost all the way back where I started.  But when I was losing the weight, the things I needed to keep reminding myself of were to drink my water and do my strength training--two things I was very bad at keeping up.  And then once I kind of burned myself out after so many races in a short time period, I took a long (too long) break, after which it was really hard to get motivated again.

So I added pictures of water (my Brita pitcher and some bottled water that I just happened to have left over from my Sanibel trip) and some of my strength and flexibility training accessories (yoga mat, resistance bands, hand weights) to remind myself of their importance.  It's really hard for me to drink a lot of water.  Not just because I find the taste boring and plain-that's what Mio and Crystal Light are for-but also because I'm just not that thirsty.  My body seems to be able to stay hydrated on less water than the "recommended" eight 8-oz glasses a day and no matter how I space out my water consumption throughout the day, 64 ounces just makes me feel like I'm going to burst!  I can handle 48 ounces pretty well every day, so as long as I get to that point I'm happy (and yes, when I go to the bathroom it's always that nice pale lemonade color-if I get to that 64 ounce point it's just about clear...which is not necessarily a good thing).

As for the strength training, I just get bored doing it.  It's very repetitive and is nowhere near as engaging as heading outside to do miles where I can see all the interesting things going on around me.  I do want to get back into doing yoga.  I have a yoga DVD specifically for people who are heavier that I like to use and I always feel good and stretched out afterward.  I know the strength training and exercises to make me more flexible will help me in the long run (figuratively and literally LOL) so that's why I included that picture of some of my accessories.

I also like to have visual representations, being able to visualize what my weight loss will potentially look like is motivational for me.  I love looking at other people's before/after pictures because it inspires me to do the same for myself.  And so I used the virtual weight loss simulator at to make a before/after simulation to use on my board.  And yes, I'll be taking pictures to document my weight loss this time...another motivation for me personally as I know I'll push to stay on the wagon so I can have pics that show my progress.

The last picture I have on my board is of some food-a Chicken Caesar Salad specifically (you can find the recipe for the one in the picture here).  This is just to remind me to choose healthy things.  Now granted, a Chicken Caesar Salad could potentially be pretty bad for you depending on how much dressing and how the chicken is cooked, but for me the picture is a representation of healthy eating-not necessarily about the particular entree pictured.  Though just to mention it, I never put dressing on my me dressing is just yucky-and kind of defeats the purpose of my salad anyway.  Some people say the dressing is for flavor, but I put some cheese and bacon bits on my salads to achieve that (I'm really bad about getting enough protein and fat in my diet, I'm usually a HUGE carb addict-this is just one way to get some other nutrients in there).

Anyway, I added the "NO EXCUSES" since I'm awful about that (too tired, don't feel like it, I'll do it tomorrow instead, etc etc etc).  I'd like to figure out how to fill the empty parts of the background with color fill, but it doesn't seem to be working for me.  I still need to tweak it so it flows better and there's less white space...but, here's what I've got so far.  Let me know what you think:
Oh, and for those who are following along...I restarted my program this week with the nutrition part.  So far this week I've been doing good, staying within my calorie range and doing well with carbs/protein/fat and other nutrients.  My only issue is my calcium.  Most days I'm under, only reaching about 80% of the recommended amounts.  I'd rather get my nutrients from my food and not have to resort to taking a supplement so I'm trying to figure out how to do that.  First week weigh-in is on we go again!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Guest Post: Meet Your Health Goals with an Inspirational Board

As many of you know, I'm basically starting back at square one after a lot of backsliding both in my eating and my training.  I was recently contacted by Michelle Pino, a Spa Manager in Verona, NY about creating a post for my readers to help find what inspires them.  I've never had someone do a guest post before, but after reading about her ideas, I thought this would be something many friends and readers would find helpful in their own journeys (especially those of you who are crafters).  I hope you find you own inspiration :-)  

Falling into a rut can make it even harder to reach your goals for better physical health. Fortunately, there is a simple method that can make it easier to maintain your focus even during times when the going gets rough. Creating a “fitspiration” board is one way to generate some excitement about the great things that your workout routine and diet are doing for your health. If you are looking for a fun way to meet your health goals, then here is what you need to do to get inspired.

1. Find Inspirational Images
To get started, you will need to begin searching for inspirational images. Try to begin without a specific idea in mind and let your feelings guide you to the right image. Pictures of athletes, favorite hobbies and nature scenes can all be great places to start. Additionally, consider adding song lyrics or quotes that make you feel inspired.

2. Identify Your Main Image
Once you have found your inspirational images, you will need to find one that can serve as an anchor for the rest of the piece. This main image should provide a general overview of the rest of your pictures. Once you have found your anchor image, place it in the center of your board so that it will be the main focus for your inspiration.

3. Develop a Central Theme
Using the main image, you can then begin to add more pictures to your board that focus on your main theme. This can be anything that inspires you from healthy recipes to vacation destinations. As you place your pieces, notice how they fit into the rest and let your inspiration guide you throughout the placement of each new piece.

4. Observe for a Week
After finishing your board, it is best to let it rest for a week. During this week, observe how it makes you feel. Does it catch your eye as you go about your routine? Is it the first thing you look at each morning? Does anything about the board need to be changed? By taking the time to assess your board, you will make sure that it has the greatest impact.

5. Make Adjustments
After your week of observation, it will be time to make any adjustments to the board that may be necessary. If an image does not resonate with you, then remove it and place another one on the board. Then, sit with the board for a few more days.

6. Hang in a Prominent Location
Now that you are certain that your board is perfect, you will be ready to place it in a prominent location. This can be in your bedroom, kitchen or the main entrance of your home. Wherever you put it, make sure to look at it daily to stay reminded of your goals.

For sticking to your health goals, an inspirational board can be the perfect way to keep your goals in mind. This easy-to-prepare board should include only the images that make you feel inspired. Once in place, you will have a constant reminder of the importance you place on staying healthy and fit.

1.) Yoga focuses the mind and body, teaching ourselves to find a spiritual balance.  I also love that yoga can be done anywhere, even the beach! Yoga is great for beginners and the more advanced athlete.  Source: Yoga
2.) Sneakers- An easy to way to stir up some motivation is to treat yourself to some new workout gear!  Choose fun colors that will make you excited to show them off at the gym!
3.) I’m new to golf, but I find it very relaxing.   I’ve been learning at the Turning Stone Golf Academy, which is a New York resort.  They’ve got great instructors, and several courses to practice on.  Source: Turning Stone Resort
4.) Love this Nike quote: so simple but so true! Source: Women's Gear
5.) Your body needs nutritious foods as fuel for when you exercise.  A great source of clean eating recipes is Clean and Delicious.  They have delicious recipes along with instructional videos including a clean chicken & veggie stir-fry recipe.  

Michelle has provided these tips in hopes to educate others on how to lead a more organized and less stressful life.  Michelle believes a more organized approach to tasks will result in more completed goals.  Her hobbies include crafting, catching up on her favorite TV shows and learning about healthy lifestyles.  Michelle is thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Carra and together share their ideas on “­­­­­­­­­Making it Happen”.

I've already started working on my own board.  With my new main goal (other than the weight loss of course) of the Disney Full Marathon in January 2014, my main central image will be a Mickey medal.  In a few days I'll be posting a picture of my board once it's done, I hope if you decide to make your own board that you'll put a link to it in the comments section to share with everyone.  I also welcome any feedback about having guest posts.