What is “Healthy?”

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Contributors, Fitness, Food and Drink, Smurf

ameat-in-form-of-a-question-mark-280x300When working with clients, one of the first things we do is set up goals. To be effective, a goal must be (among other things) specific and measurable. While a goal of “I want to get healthy,” might sound reasonable, what does that really mean? It gets even more complicated when you start talking about how to get there by asking, “Is a Paleo diet healthy?” or getting advice like, “You need to lift heavy to be healthy!” we throw this word around and accept it at face value, but how are we really defining “healthy?”

I hadn’t even noticed that I, myself, didn’t have a specific, measurable definition for it until I came across this proposed definition by commenter Mr J on a pretty mind-numbing pissing match about why legumes are horrible for you and, thus, not Paleo:

“The definition of healthy may boil down, in simplistic terms, to a psychological definition of happiness and a physiological output of longevity.”

I love this definition. Here’s why:

Health looks different for all of us. Too often, when people talk about “healthy,” they conflate that with “fastest fat/weight loss,” but there are plenty of folks who don’t need to paying a price on the happiness scale for fat loss, if the fat they carry is not enough to have a physiological impact on longevity. Some of the happiest, most long-lived cultures on the planet have grain- and plant-based diets and engage in regular endurance activity– they simply don’t, for the purpose of getting to happiness and longevity, need to be reducing carbs or upping protein and Olympic lifting to realize a body composition change– by this definition, what they are doing is “healthy.”

Then, there are others for whom the fat they carry or lack of endurance impacts their ability to play soccer with their kids or get through a full song at karaoke (happiness) and most definitely can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, etc. (longevity.) For them, getting on a program that gets them to a place of reasonable body fat ASAP does have the greatest impact on health, so a program really hyper-focused on body composition changes would, indeed, be “healthiest.”

I also love that this definition allows for the fact that there is no singular place of “healthy,” even for each of us as individuals as our bodies and interests change. As our life situations and bodies change, the way “healthy” looks for us also changes, so it’s worth tuning up your program every 5 years or so to be sure it’s still getting you to your healthiest place.

With this specific, measurable definition of health, we are armed with the measuring stick to determine for ourselves which eating programs and exercise programs are most “healthy,” and can put into place more specific goals to strive for (ones that speak to happiness and longevity).

If you need help setting up a program that can get you closer to your healthy, please get in touch with us at FitFight Training Center. We’d love to help!

We’d also love to hear how you define healthy… maybe you’ve got something more brilliant than the random internet commenter that inspired this post.



Free Yoga for a Cause in Glen Park

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Events, San Francisco FitLife, Smurf, Yoga/Pilates

One of my favorite “why didn’t I think of that!” local businesses, fitGLENfit (sister spot of fitBERNALfit), is offering a pretty cool promo in the coming weeks. In honor of Earth Day, they will be hosting five free yoga classes, and for each participant in the free classes, they will donate $15 to an environmental cause.

FitGLENFit is located in Glen Park at 666 Chenery Street, San Francisco, CA 94131. Oh, and after your yoga, go say hi to Mark and crew at Rockit Swirl for some epic frogurt! (2810 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131.)

Check out the class line-up, looks like some awesome stuff:

  • Daniel Gorelick’s Morning Hatha Yoga at 9:30am on Friday April 11th will be the first free offering with donations being made to CUESA.
  • Katie Caughman’s Gentle Flow Yoga on Sunday, April 13th at 9am is dedicated to the SF Bicycle Coalition.
  • On Monday, April 21st, Dr. Eve Bernstein’s Lunchtime Yoga at 12pm noon will be supporting Plant SF.
  • Wednesday, April 23, Crystal Higgins will raise funds for Slide Ranch with her 6:30pm Yin Flow Yoga class.
  • Hatha Yoga with Diana Meltsner at 9:00 am on Monday, April 28th supports The Reuse People.

FitBERNALFit and FitGLENFit offer fitness for you and fun for your dog– that’s right, you can arrange for Fido, Fluffernutter or Fitzgerald to go on a romp around the ‘hood while you get your sweat on in a local, family-owned and green business.


I Failed at Natural Birth

Posted 5 CommentsPosted in Smurf


Because, yes... Everything about this face says "FAIL!"
Because, yes… Everything about this face says “FAIL!”

I failed at having a natural birth.

This is a thought that’s entered my mind in one way or another every day for the past 11 months when I look at my awesome, loveable, healthy and exuberant daughter.

Yesterday, I read this recent blog on Runner’s World as I do most birth stories, like a teenager watching a horror flick with one eye closed through parted fingers, waiting for the proverbial monster to jump out of the closet– The big ol’ ego blow of “birth was the most painful thing I ever experienced… but I am a victorious, self-actualized woman who, like millennia of women before me, powered through with only the help of Mother Nature and a warm perineal massage.” What I wasn’t expecting was to be moved to tears by actually, finally, reading a natural birth story that ended like mine.

Like the author, I didn’t have any deep spiritual need or Ricki Lake-level medical conspiracy theory driving my desire to have a natural birth. I don’t believe natural birth is necessarily any better for the baby than one with pain relief (though I do believe that things generally go smoother when you are up and moving around– gravity is your friend). Like the author, I just happened to be an athlete who likes setting physical goals and thinks the human body is a wonderful machine that can accomplish some pretty astounding things if you let it. I wanted a natural birth because I knew it was possible and thought it would be a neat thing to experience. Call me crazy, but I honestly thought it would be fun. I chalked my super easy pregnancy up to physical fitness and positive mental resolve; I didn’t imagine birth would be any different. And, like the author, I didn’t succeed.

So, despite not really “needing” to have a natural birth, why, a year later, is it still a near-constant source of regret for me?

It seems you only read three kinds of birth stories: “I had a natural birth and here are a bunch of photos taken through a Vaseline-smeared lens in the throes of ecstasy only a mother accomplishing her true female calling can experience,” “I had a precipitously dramatic birth experience and am just glad we all made it out OK” (seemingly the only subset of birth stories where “failed natural birth” is an acceptable plotline) or “I looked at birth like going to the medi-spa. Here’s an Insta of me in my Juicy velour sweats checking into the hospital and the Pinterest page of crafts I did while waiting for the baby to come out.”

In the interest of adding a fourth type of birth story to the conversation, I’m outing myself—I wanted a natural birth and failed for no other reason than that I changed my mind. The ladies on the Hypnosis for Childbirth board tried to let me off the hook by asserting that I must have had some posterior-presentation, extenuating circumstances, some dramatic and unusual thing that would make it “OK” that I changed my mind. I didn’t. (To be fair, the blogger I referenced above did have a posterior presentation.) For me, it was a simple act of logic: When I got to the hospital after 15+ hours to find I was only 3-something cm, I assessed my goals, did a quick cost-benefit analysis, took a look at where we were headed and made the conscious choice to get the epidural. Nobody pressured me into it; there was no “medical need.”

Backing up, I did HypnoBabies as birth prep. This means that I spent more than an hour a day for four-plus months getting programmed with thoughts like “Every birthing wave will feel like a warm, comfortable hug” and “I will have a fast, easy, comfortable birthing.” I am the perfect candidate for the system, because so much of the “programming” HypnoBabies does is things that I deeply accept as true. The body is made to do this. Every birthing sensation is serving a purpose and, as a “medical person,” I knew really specifically what those purposes were. My mom didn’t have a particularly dramatic birth with me or my brother, so I didn’t carry any deep-seeded “birth is horrible” baggage with me. I really think it’s a pretty amazing process. It should have been easy-peasy. I practiced religiously, defended my “bubble of peace” as much as I could and was active in online communities, reading about these wonderful birth experiences every other HypnoMom had.

So, imagine my surprise when the whole “warm, comfortable hug” thing proved to be a complete crock of shit, and I was left without any other coping skills but an incessant audio track that was reminding me of all the things I’d expected for my birth– “I will have a fast, easy comfortable birthing,” “I will be calm and present during my birthing…” When I did my birth visualization tracks, I pictured the day spent with Rob a lot like the Tough Mudder we did together when I was 20-something weeks pregnant, only with me “doing the obstacles” and him being the SAG wagon with the backpack full of SHOT Bloks.

What I shortly realized when we got to the hospital was that I was facing the proposition of needing to go deep inside myself, shutting off from everyone and only interacting with the soup-slurping, cot-hogging doula we found on the internet and had met all of twice. The exact opposite of being present and spending an important day with my husband becoming a family. I also realized that, while clearly the “fast” part wasn’t going to happen, I could still achieve “comfortable” and “easy” was in my grasp, too. In fact, every time the hypno-track would talk about comfort, ease and being present, it only served to remind me that those things were available to me right there at the end of the anesthesiologist’s catheter.

Aside from the epidural, I did stick to my birth plan. I didn’t fall victim to the oft-threatened “cascade of interventions” (and, trust me, once you get the epi, they will WANT you to have that Pitocin.) We even stood firm in the face of an asshole OB who used “c-section” every other word when there was no indication we were headed that direction. There was a lot about that day to be proud of, so why is it still a constant source of disappointment? I hate that when I think of that day, it’s not the “happiest day of my life,” it’s a day I failed. It’s a day where I harbor regret.  I hate that every time a friend wants a natural birth, I find myself secretly hoping they don’t succeed so that I feel better about my birth experience. I guess this is the seedy underbelly of the natural birth movement. Maybe it’s not as “woman empowering” as we would believe. Or maybe we, as women, are just generally disappointed in our birth experiences as a whole and prone to comparison- Why is this? Surely people who have their gall bladders removed don’t have whole internet industries tied up in sharing and comparing their experiences.

Now, this post is in no way meant to discourage anyone who wants a natural birth, and if you are reading this because a friend or loved one wants a natural birth, please don’t be that dipshit who says, “*snarf* Lemme know how that works out for ya!” (Opinions on natural childbirth, apparently, are like assholes. Even people without vaginas have ‘em.) I operate really well on spite, so, trust me, I had a mental slideshow of all the people who said negative or disparaging things about my natural birth goals to draw from when things got tough. But, apparently, you can only shit your pants in agony to the smug face of an acquaintance you wouldn’t piss on to put a fire out for so many hours before that trick loses its charm. Fifteen hours proved to be about my limit.

And, let’s also be clear that I know I am absolutely lucky that I had a birth experience many women would be over the moon about, so my regret is served with a healthy slice of guilt and feeling, frankly, like a whiny brat. Healthy mom, healthy baby, very little intervention, etc. It really was an uneventful birth. Like myriad other women, it just wasn’t the birth I wanted, and that is a heavy proposition. Regret over my birth story doesn’t make me special, it makes me solidly average.

So, why post about it? Well, I hope that, by sharing my story, maybe some other mom like me will feel the same “not so alone”-ness I did when reading Lauren’s birth story and seeing a little bit of myself in it. My OB told me after my birth that only about 25% of the moms she sees who want a natural birth end up getting one. You figure 25% have an unavoidable medical intervention (c-section, induction, etc.), that leaves 50% of the women who want a natural birth not having one for no other reason than that they just don’t succeed. So this version of a birth story does seem statistically underrepresented—and, for my part, after being very active on the natural birth and hypnosis boards before the birth, I never really went back to tell my birth story out of shame and embarrassment, so I’m as guilty as anyone of contributing to the dearth of “failed natural birth” stories and perception that not succeeding is an anomaly.

And, selfishly, I hope by talking about it I can start to move past the negativity and actually celebrate my daughter’s birthday, not mourn my failiversary.


Fitness, Family and Firsts

Posted 7 CommentsPosted in Smurf, Yoga/Pilates
After her first yoga class, Emilia asks, "What the fresh hell was THAT happy horse-shoot?"
After her first yoga class, Emilia asks, “What the fresh hell was THAT happy horse-shoot?”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m participating in a program with Target in support of its C9 by Champion activewear line. (I’m wearing my C9 yoga pants as I type this- love that you can get them in various lengths for us leggy broads. Yay!) Today’s topic: Fitness and Family. Read on to find out how you can win a $25 Target gift card!

So, how has family influenced me to be fit and how do I share fitness with my family? Wow… This is a three-parter for me, I guess, so let’s welcome the ghosts of Smurf past, present and future.

I’ve mentioned before than my mom is the person I credit as my fitness role model. When I was younger, I actually thought she and Jane Fonda were close personal friends in real life. She also helped instill a sense of adventure in eating and cooking which I feel is imperative on the journey to health. (So often, people write me here on the blog and say, “I want to lose weight/be healthy, but I hate vegetables. What should I do?” The answer nobody wants to hear is, “Well, you need to find a way to learn to love ‘em!” Having an adventurous palate and “f*&k it, what’s the worst that could happen?” attitude in the kitchen is the way to do that. But, I digress…) My tendencies as a kid were more book-wormish, but she was that mom who would see us getting pale in the face and down in the mouth and lock us out of the house until sundown. Fast forward 40 years and my mom is running marathons (she recently completed the Tahoe Trifecta) and, really, putting me to shame. I can’t wait for me, her and Emilia to do a three-generation run!

Present-day, my husband and I are equally driven by our fitness pursuits. We did a Tough Mudder together when I was 20-something weeks pregnant. (To be fair, he did the true Mudder, I “just” ran alongside over 11 miles and 4000 or so feet elevation because I’m not sure fetuses cotton to electrocution.) We understand that making the time to stay fit isn’t a luxury; it’s core to who we are. Sure, we are experiencing some growing pains as we figure out how the new baby affects, mainly, my ability to keep up with fitness goals- after all, I can’t simply disconnect for multiple hours at a time, because I’m not just a parent, I’m also the milk truck- but we know that finding a solution is not optional.

As Emilia grows, both Rob and I look forward to sharing our love of a fit life with her. He can’t wait to teach her how to pound skulls and cause grievous bodily harm; I look forward to taking her on stroller runs in the near-term (her current mile PR is 10:42) and showing her the breadth of activities I’ve had a passion for over the years- running, cheer, dance, yoga, etc. It’s especially important to me that we share with her both the mental and physical benefits of being fit, since there’s a pretty good chance she’ll inherit at least a bit of our less-savory traits- From me, that means depression and anxiety and from Rob it’s an endearing dose of (not so) bottled rage.

On that note, I took her for her first yoga class yesterday. Sure, it was mostly singing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and making kissy boo-boo faces, but it was an utter fail. Ms. Emilia Toes was way more interested in checking out the pretty purple flowers outside the studio window than doing “Rolly-Polly Bug Pose,” and then she decided it was time to eat. I’d like to think it’s because she’d really hoped the class would involve more arm balances and inversions, but even if it’s just because she prefers flowers and lunch to yoga, that’s fine with me- I’m just happy she tried.

 Post in the comments about how your family has inspired you to be fit and/or how you share your fit lifestyle with friends and family, and I’ll select one commenter at random to receive a $25 Target gift card so you, too, can have a pair of yoga pants that cover your ankles (or don’t cover your toes, depending on your individual situation.)

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target.


Event: Girls on the Run 5K – May 11, 2013

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Contributors

I’m trying to decide if we’ll make this one Emilia’s first race! Regardless, Girls on the Run is a great organization that helps middle school girls achieve the goal of running a 5K.

Check out more about the race and organization here:

I’ll tweet if we decide to run it- we’ve got two days to decide and our stroller 5K is solid (if not on the slow side), it’s just a matter of whether we want to commit to getting out of the house on time.

Meet the Newest Member of the FitLife Family- What Inspires You to Stay Fit?

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Contributors

Wow, it looks like life got away from me again, and it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I hope I have a good enough excuse– While Rob’s been busy opening FitFight, I’ve been busy… GROWING PEOPLE! That’s right, we had a baby. Meet Emilia Rose, pictured here getting ready to head out on her first run with mom.

"Wait? Were going to run? And nobody's chasing us? And this is supposed to be fun?"
“Wait? Were going to run? And nobody’s chasing us? And this is supposed to be fun?”

Which leads me to the topic of the day: What inspires you to stay fit?

It’s a question that’s had many answers for me over the years. Of course, we all like to look and feel our best, so it goes without saying that general cosmetic goals always play a role to some degree. If I had to name just one, though, I’d say my number one driver is that I think the human body is just this amazing machine. I love to see what it can do and how far I can push it. Whether it’s mastering a crazy new pose back in my yoga days, or running conquering new race distances (I did an Olympic distance triathlon the day we found out about Emilia!), or upping my weights when strength training- forcing the body to adapt and seeing what it can do is just awesome to me. Not doing those things would feel like having the world’s best roller coaster in your backyard and never taking it for a spin.

And, as you all know, I’m a nutrition nut, so I really like endeavors that require a holistic overhaul of your lifestyle, from rest and recovery, to nutrition, to training. It may come as no surprise, then, that the human laboratory of pregnancy and childbirth was hugely interesting to me, but that’s a post for another day…

Now that Ms Silly Putty has come into our lives, kicking and screaming (literally- she’s got lungs and legs for DAYS, just like mom and dad), my inspiration to stay fit has taken on added importance. Both Rob and I are determined to raise her in an active environment, with the confidence to know that she’s in control of her body and mind. My mom has been a role model for fit living and healthy eating for me throughout my life, and I hope to pass the same ideals on to my child, and Rob’s life has been influenced by the discipline of martial arts, so he’s insistent that she get the mental discipline of the practice and confidence that comes with the ability to “beat the f*&k out of people.”

So, what gets you up and at ‘em on a day when you’d rather veg out? What’s your inspiration to stay fit?


Full disclosure: This topic was inspired by Target who is working with bloggers to promote their C9 by Champion athletic wear brand. I get contacted not un-often by marketers wanting me to post stuff, and I rarely (OK, never) do. But given that Target’s C9 by Champion brand makes up half my closet and nearly all of my fitness wardrobe and the topic was actually compelling to me, I figured I would give it a go. To see what other bloggers had to say on the topic, check out #C9atTarget on Twitter.

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target.


Join Levi Leipheimer for a Live Webcast- Monday, May 7

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Smurf, Triathlon

Hey cycling and tri folks– Join three-time Tour of California winner and Olympic Bronze Medalist, Levi Leipheimer, in a webcast Monday with CLIF Bar. He’ll chat about his accident and recovery, Tour of California and Olympic hopes. And, if he likes your question, you’ll get a limited-edition signed poster!

Where: CLIF Bar’s Ustream Page
Twitter hashtag: #AskTeamCLIFBar
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/clifbar
To watch: There’s no sign-up process to watch, the webcast is completely open to the public – just click the link above to tune in.
To chat: You can create a Ustream profile or log in via your Twitter account.

Don’t Let the Snot Fairy Knock You Off Path

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Fitness, Smurf
My magical health elixir-- 32 oz of double-strength green tea, one packet Emergen-C and one tablet Airborne.

We’re officially a week into the new year, and already a little wrench has been thrown into the works here at FitLifeSF HQ– Rob got sick right after the new year, with me following in his footsteps at the tail end of this week. What a bummer to hit the ground running (or biking, or swimming, or fighting, or lifting…) and then find yourself laid up on the couch watching Jerry Springer with a box of tissue and a stick of Vicks. But, as the bumpersticker says, Shit Happens.

Whenever I’m laid up and not able to keep to my regular routine, I find the following points valuable:

  • Remember that eating is really 80%, if not more, of the battle if your goals are physique and weight-related. You might not be able to go whole-hog on your workout, but you can make sure to not go whole-hog on your eating. Eat what you need to recover, but don’t use being sick as an excuse to go off your eating plan.
  • Rest assured that fitness doesn’t go away in a significant way in the period of time of your average cold.  In fact, if you have been working out consistently for several months or years,  you’ll probably benefit from the forced break. That’s not to say that those first workouts back from illness aren’t going to suck (more from your body still being run down than from a loss of fitness), but you’ll bounce back quickly once the illness is completely out of your system.
  • Just do what you can. You can head off even the small fitness losses you might experience in a one- or two-week layoff by just doing a portion of what you are used to. You might not feel up for a 5-mile run, but a brisk walk will get the blood moving and moderate exercise kicks the immune system into high gear to help fight off the nasties. Not up for a full P90X or Insanity circuit? Great time to work on your flexibility with some yoga. Don’t take an “all or nothing” approach– something is always better than nothing.
  • Use the time to get/stay excited about your sport– research upcoming races, pore over gear porn on the internet, spend some time on forums talking to others who share your interests, map out your goals for the year– I’ve mentioned several times my love of stickercharts for mapping goals, workouts and to reward myself for sticking to my nutrition plan. Stickercharts rule, and and an illness-related downtime is the best time to whip up an awesome one!

And, the most important thing to remember– in the grand scheme of your fit and healthy life, one week is nothing.


The 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym- Every one of them true!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Fitness, In the News, Smurf

I’m in awe of this article from Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal outlining 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym.  Read it off your iPad for a belly laugh while walking on the treadmill at 2 MPH and it’s quite possibly the best workout you’ll get all day!

Just make sure you get to his final rule before hopping off the ‘mill for a snack: “There is no secret. Exercise and lay off the fries. The end.”