Monthly Archives: October 2012

Self Defense For Runners and FIT1001: Intro to F.I.T. Monday

HND Self-Defense For Runners

One of the benefits of being a member of a running club like Run Tampa, is that you get invitations to cool events that no one else knows about.  (And, you get a secret decoder ring, but since it is a secret I can’t talk about it.)   One of the great offers we received was a Self-Defense For Runners class sponsored by one of our fellow male runners (Thanks Tori!).  We met in downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Park on Sunday.  The class was run by Caroline Portugal and several of her helpers, including another fitness expert and an ex-police officer.  Follow up research for this post reveals Caroline to be a fitness model, fashion designer and martial arts champ.  She exudes confidence and she teaches you in a way that is easy to understand.   She is powerful.  Basically, if I am fitkist, she is fitsmacked.

Pictures Courtesy of Caroline/HND

I learned a lot of information that is helpful to female runners during this level one self-defense program.  Runners are always on the streets getting those miles in after dark and before the sun comes up.  I am almost always running after dark, except for Saturdays.  It’s a passion and we shouldn’t let anyone take that right away.

First, we reviewed these tips about running safety in general:

  • Drive Your Run At The Time You Run – They recommend driving your route at the time of day you plan to run. The reason is the neighborhood/route is a lot different at 3PM than at 4AM.
  • Map Your Run – You should also map the run so you know where the nearest public location is just in case of an emergency.
  • Wear One Earbud – Bummer… Ke$ha does not sound as good with only one in but you have to be able to hear to stay alert. Dogs, cars, kidnappers are all out there so the stereo sound will have to wait for the gym.
  • Bring Your Phone – Yes, its one more thing to carry but not only does it serve as a lifeline to police and rescue you can also map your route using a GPS signal so anyone can find you using your last GPS location.
  • Tell Someone – Always tell someone where you are running, what time and what time you will be back. That way they can be alert if you show up late.
  • Don’t Talk To Strangers – Remember this one from when you were a kid?  It still holds up, if anyone asks you where you are going or where the nearest Starbucks is, assertively tell them you are meeting someone and you don’t have time to talk.  Walk/run away and head for that public place you mapped out earlier.

The class covered basic self-defense techniques you won’t be able to learn from a blog but check out the photos so you get an idea of what went on. The major moves covered were palm strikes, hammerfists, elbows, knees to the groin.  Fun!

The main takeaway from the physical portion was HOT! which helps you escape from an attacker who grabs you from behind.  Simply put, stomp on their foot with your heel, headbutt them, and hammerfist to the groin.  (HOT! = Heel, Ouch, Testicles).  If you have not done so, I recommend all women and teenage girls to take this class (or one in your local community).  Caroline makes a good point that you never know who may attack – it does not have to be a stranger – domestic violence happens to everyday people too.  HND was very professional and make you feel very comfortable – although I was embarrassed to do some of the moves.  Partly because Rob was watching and partly because I am still shy around the Run Tampa girls.  Plus, there were all sorts of gawking people in the park.   Yelling “HAAAA” in the open was a little nerve-racking for me.  There was an exercise where you practice your moves and this guy (Hi Mike!) chases you and grabs you and screams in your ear to get in his van.  I was actually scared but it was awesome because they want you to know what to expect if it happens.  If you are interested in the HND class visit their website or call them at 813-786-1089.  They can do group or private lessons as well.

I can now check self-defence level one off the “To Do” list thanks to Tori and Caroline!

Sorry for the picture quality – Rob was taking them from his phone.

F.I.T. Monday

First, I know what you are thinking but Melissa, it’s Tuesday… well another fun fact about me, I’m always late, sorry.  But, F.I.T. Monday is when I will be checking in with the world to recap my fitness and weight loss goals each week.  I encourage you to leave comments on your successes too or ask questions if you have any but I don’t know anything about Physics or animals fyi.

  • F = Fairness – I am going to be fair to myself.  Setting realistic goals is really hard for me because I am always trying to do too much (i.e. run half marathon)
  • I = Integrity – I am not going to lie to myself or you.  I am not going to have a blog that needs Zoloft or anything but we all know life is not a rose garden all the time.  If I do bad, I’ll tell you.  If I gain, I will tell you. If I miss a run, I’ll just whisper it so my coaches don’t scold me.
  • T = Teamwork – I am using the blog as a sounding board but I also consider you as part of the team.  The whole reason I started…I need to be accountable.  I will try to improve each week but I look forward to other bloggers, followers, commentors and coaches leaving their suggestions.

Since this is the first official week, this format may change.  Also, you may be wondering why there is an N/A by the weight.  My ultimate goal for now is to get that 24.9 BMI number.  In order to do that I have a lot of weight to go… think 9 bowling balls worth.  I am not going to post my weight on here.  Let’s be real people,  I am honest but not stupid.  But, I promise to be honest about the scale movement.

Weekly F.I.T. Monday Recap

CLASSES: 2 (3 Hours)

MILES: 10.43




 Any Questions? Comments? Suggestions?  Bring it.


Leave a comment

Filed under Diet and Nutrition, To Do

Halloween Temptations

So to me, Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year.  Spooky activities and fall festivals are popping up everywhere.  I am a sucker for a fall festival.  All the spices are coming out of the cabinet and pumpkin spice is sprinkled on everything.  My favorite of 2012 is the new Blue Diamond Almonds Pumpkin Spice flavor.  They are delightful and not overpowering like some other pumpkin spice flavors.  I have only found them at Walgreens locally but they are available on too.

I have no Halloween parties to attend so I am not looking for that $100 costume like previous years.  Check out my Halloween costume collage….  Hot pink and black can-can dancer has been my favorite so far.  Also, that vampire one is doctored but I needed it for the collage.

So for 2012, I am going as a budget witch.  Pictures will soon follow I am sure.  My goal is to keep it under $20.

Anyway, back to the Halloween treats…

The worst thing about Halloween and dieting is the all the candy! [Closely followed by finding a cute costume that fits and looks right for your body type.]  But, there is candy everywhere including my office and my house.  It just sits there and staring … calling out like that Pier One commercial “you like me, take me home, eat me.”  The worst part of avoiding these treats is having candy in the house prior to and after Halloween night.  I mean you have to pass it out right?  And, you cannot throw it away after because that would be wasteful and very wrong on so many levels.  But, it’s not really “fitkist” material so we have to deal with it.  First, knowledge of what you are eating is important!  Check out this Cooking Light article, with a comprehensive candy comparison.   It gives you individual portion nutrition information about the sugar, fat and calorie content in the most common candies.

This year the bowl is on the dining room table so Rob can monitor/eat it. That way I have to stare at it but I don’t want the candy inside to shrink so I avoid it.  I forget what my dining room looks like.  It’s for the cute trick-or-treaters damn it!  For my visiting ghouls plan to receive, Reeces’ Cups and Pieces, Lifesaver Gummies, M&Ms, Milk Duds, Health Bars, and rings!  Good stuff, kinda.

Also, I have learned that I must have grapes in the house 24 hours a day.  They are sweet, filled with anti-oxidants and they take a while to eat.  Perfect choice in place of M&Ms right?  A typical serving size of Peanut M&Ms is 18 candies which is about 220 calories.  18 red seedless grapes will run you about 72 calories by comparison.  Maybe it is not exactly the same but it’s doing the trick.  I often worry about the future of diabetes and pancreatic problems due to sugar in my foods, so this is a healthier way to get a sweet snack without candy.  But, sometimes you NEED chocolate, so lately I have been eating Z Bars by Clif.  They are chocolate, organic, contain whole grain (8g) and are 130 calories per bar.  They are allegedly for kids…I am a kid too, I have parents.

Yes, I added the moustache on the yellow one…couldn’t resist!

As for the after Halloween night candy in your house problem there are three relatively easy tips I can suggest:

  1. Give all the candy to the last trick or treater.  This kid is happy and you are done with it!
  2. Donate it to a shelter or food bank.  Many kids are homeless too and they would love to get their hands on a Snickers or two.
  3. Find a dental buy back program.  Here you trade your dentist candy for cash or toothbrushes, etc. and they send the candy to the troops.  Win-Win-Win!

Tips one and two can also help parents avoid all the candy their kids bring home from their night of trickery.  The point is: moderation is key but temptation may too much for some of us.  Just get rid of it!

What is your favorite Halloween/Fall treat and what do you do to moderate the candy-a-thon that is October?

Leave a comment

Filed under Diet and Nutrition

Making Strides

As we all know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The month is focused on raising money for research and life-saving programs like mammograms and other forms of early detection.

Not sure if you noticed or not but everyone is taking part.  Basically, anything they can paint pink and sell they will.  Many of the charities are worthy causes but some are not.  Look at some of the pink products before you buy them so you know where and how much money they are actually donating if you purchase.

I took part in the month by participating in the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event which was on Saturday, 10/20/12. This is a charity I can fully support.  They hosted a 3.2 mile walk called “Put On Your Pink Bra,” at the Shoppes of Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel, Florida.  This is their 20th birthday!  (Fun Fact:  This is also the 20th Anniversary of the “pink ribbon” which was introduced by Self Magazine back in 1992 to raise awareness.)

It is an empowering event where individuals walk in overly decorated pink bras and pretty much anything pink.  I saw a guy in a pink robe and several dogs were painted pink.  The symbol of the pink bra represents the very personal nature of breast cancer and that is why they chose it to be their symbol.  While I think we are bombarded during the month with information and requests for donations the fundraiser by the American Cancer Society was by far the most influential and inspirational for me. They are saving lives and truly making a difference in the fight to end breast cancer, thanks mostly to each and every one of people making donations. So thank you to all of those who did!  I ended up raising $565, which was well over my goal of $500.

Above is my pink creation.  But, even though there were hundreds of other participants I was still embarrassed to walk around with a bra on the outside of my clothes.  Sorry!  But, there were so many people there it became clear very quickly we were all in this bra-on-the-outside-day together.  I did see some girls wearing underwear outside their pants but I don’t remember signing up for that.  But seriously, check out the pictures below that show the awesome spirit.  There were men, women, children, dogs, mascots and even TV anchors all sporting pink bras.

If these guys can wear pink bras, so can I!

Rob didn’t wear a bra but he donated his shirt to my friend Shannon.  She brought her two kids, Hunter and Tanner who also trekked the 3.2 miles around the mall and new hospital.  Unfortunately, she did not have time to make a bra.  My friend Jen Straw was our team captain but we didn’t have time to get a picture with her.  Jen was a busy bee!

Shannon and I before the walk.

Tanner who is only 5 really made the day.  “Mom, today is best day of my life!”  Love it!

Anytime I can rock hot pink lipstick I do.

 Even the horse was into it!

According to the American Cancer Society, you can help reduce your breast cancer risk by maintaining a healthy weight throughout life, being physically active on a regular basis (at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week) and limiting alcohol intake to less than 1 drink each day for women (2 drinks for men).





Filed under Charity Walks

The Algebra of Diets

Not sure about anyone else, but I don’t love Algebra and I certainly don’t love diets.  But, the truth of the matter is that I happen to know a lot about both of them.  Sigh. I have tried every diet known to (wo)man but even when I have succeeded I have still failed.  I am still the same weight I have always been.  Yes, it waxes and wanes but it never seems to get me to the green part on my doctor’s (stupid) chart.  But… since I started this blog to get it together, I thought I would take a different approach to getting healthy and let the weight loss come as an added benefit.  Many health enthusiasts will agree that this plan of action will work.  Will it?  We shall see together I guess.

What I have learned in a nutshell…


A good (although debatable) measurement of your weight as it relates to your health is your Body Mass Index or BMI.  You can calculate these measurements through numerous calculators found over the Internet.  BMI uses your height and weight to calculate the amount of FAT in your body.  Yum.  Mine is not good I am definitely in the red on this (awesome) chart. 


My only saving grace is that I exercise quite a lot.  Let’s hope this will counteract the FAT in my body a little bit.  But, I also eat and drink too much.  But, now that I have this number I have it stuck to my computer monitor. 

Mini-Motivation: Every time it changes I will make a new one and keep that post-it and this body alive until it gets down to that 24.9.

Other numbers to consider in this battle are Basal Metabolic Rate, daily caloric intake and daily caloric expenditures.   These numbers will calculate a target number to lose weight.  My target is 1200 calories, although this will be modified in the weeks leading to the half.  Your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR is the amount of calories you burn just lying around all day – does not include movement or food.  Your daily caloric intake is the amount of food and drinks you consume each day and your expenditure is the amount of additional energy you burn through daily movement, activities and exercise.  I love My Fitness Pal for calculating these numbers.  The site calculates everything for you and tracks all your food and activity and even your water intake.  I recommend to anyone looking to shed a few pounds and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  They also have an app that you can use on your smart phone to scan the bar code off a food product and it automatically enters the nutritional information into your tracker.  Technology is finally working for us. Every day you finish your entry it tells you what your expected weight will be in five weeks. 

Lastly, I am going to focus on nutrition.  This is the hardest for me.  100 = 100 right?  WRONG!  When it comes to calories and what I put in my face it becomes measure of quality of foods.  100 calories of French fires will not for feed my body like 100 calories of blueberries will.  My plan is to focus more on eating simple foods.  Foods that come straight from the earth like fruits and vegetables and those foods that are less processed.  The longer it takes to change the ingredients into the final product the more processed the food is.  My goal is to use my 1200 calories for good and not evil.

Some foods just make you fatter than others… To illustrate what I am talking about please check out this video and infographic from the “Healthy Times Blog.”  They reference a NEJM study following the eating habits of 120,000 adults.  It’s not only about how much you eat but also what you eat.  I know that this post does not include much Algebra but these things can be confusing and intimidating just like ninth grade math.  I hope you are not too disappointed.


Ps. I got my new kicks today and I am very excited to try them out tonight. Not only are they adorable, hopefully, they will be equally fun to run in.

What is your “evil” food and how do you try to limit it in your life?


1 Comment

Filed under Diet and Nutrition

Getting New Kicks

So, I am training for the Lady Speed Stick Half Marathon in St. Petersburg, Florida on November 18, 2012.  This is my first race of any distance beyond the adorable 3.1.  Adding a “1” in front of that number is scary to me.  Some people think I am crazy and some people think it’s worthless if you are not going to try to win, but to me it’s an important goal.  My running plans were kicked off course earlier in the year so instead of getting better and skinnier I got slower and chubbier.  WHAT?  I thought if you worked hard you got to see the results… Well, I have learned the hard way that more than the actual work there is a mental aspect to setting and keeping any goal.

I am running this race to prove to myself (and really no one else) that I can do it.  If I come in last I won’t care, well maybe a little, but overall the finish and that medal are my goal.  Although, truthfully I am not looking forward to the end of race picture though.  I always look like a giant, pink rat or an equally creepy, sweaty animal.

But, anyway this first post is about my meeting with my running idol and blog star Mary.  I “met” her through her super sweet twin sister at my previous job.  I miss her everyday at work now.  Mary’s blog is very informative and inspiring.  She makes you want to be a healthier person.  Sit next to her for a few minutes and you instantly burn 6 calories and get better skin.  Well, maybe that’s an exageration but she rocks either way.   She met me at a local running store Fit2Run in Tampa and we picked out some new shoes.  She had me get on a treadmill and run in the middle of the store to see my running stride and how my feet hit the treadmill (over-pronate – roll in or supinate – roll out).  Turns out I am an excessive over-pronator so I needed a stability shoe.  Also, one foot is bigger than the other – so pretty much all-around great news!   In the end, I could choose between either the Asics Gel-Kayano 18 or the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12.  Turns out I have been running in the right shoes since I already happen to sport a pair of Asics Gel-Kayano 18s.  Go me.  But, since the Brooks offers a larger toe box I decided to get a pair of those.  Last night I pulled the trigger on these right here:

Oh look they match the blog too! Sweet, no?

I will let you know how they work out as I am going to try and integrate them into my training ASAP, so I can use them for the race if possible.  If not I have the Asics to fall back on.  But, I really don’t want to fall.

What shoes do you use for your workouts or runs?  I love a good review!

Leave a comment

Filed under Running For My Life