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How Fat Exactly Are You? - June 21, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Since starting this journey, learning exactly how much body weight I have stored as fat, has become an important aspect of my better health plan, to better understand exactly where I am, health-wise. Call it the scientist in me, I need to see concrete evidence in numbers of the damage I have done, and another way to mark my progress. I have read about scales that offer this element as part of a simple weigh-in, but when I actually bought one, it didn't work and I sent it back from whence it came.

Just now I came across something that is simple, versatile and best of all, FREE. The YMCA formula claims to be within 1-3% of accuracy, and for my purposes, that's close enough. I'm not ready to spend thousands of dollars on something that will only give me a small difference in percentage points for the sake of better accuracy. [Did I already say that the YMCA formula is free?]

Check this out and tell me you don't agree:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NUMD97 7/24/2012 11:15AM

    Doctors' judgments ALWAYS override simple online calculators. PLEASE, folks, remember that. This blog was meant to entertain and stimulate conversation. It was never meant to replace clinical judgment on the part of the medical community.

Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).

End of public service announcement.


Comment edited on: 7/24/2012 11:18:04 AM

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GINGERMACC 7/23/2012 3:27PM

    Ok, so I used the calculator on the link and the result was "Obese". I am now very confused because I had a doctor appointment in April and she was not concerned with my weight. Any thoughts on that? Thanks!

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NUMD97 7/23/2012 11:06AM

    I subscribe to various medical links online, when I want a fast up-to-date review. This crossed my desk today about waist circumference, BMI and risk stratification that I thought might be of interest for our discussion (apparently still ongoing):


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NUMD97 7/15/2012 9:01AM

    OK, it appears that the "jury is still out" as far as using waist circumference exclusively as a predictor of obesity. As I originally said, it's just one more tool in the armamentarium in our fight to slay the obesity monster.

Here's another interesting link from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition addressing just that issue:

And, of course, the conundrum of BMI alone on fit people that does not take into account muscle mass, but I found this discussion interesting as well on a blog called (of all things), "Obesity Panacea" emoticon put out by a clinical exercise physiologist and a doctoral student researching the relationship between sedentary time and chronic disease risk in children and youth:

[I hope I'm not being too obtuse here.]

Comment edited on: 7/15/2012 9:20:16 AM

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NUMD97 6/29/2012 7:05AM

    I agree with what you are saying, Catherine, that a 35-inch waist will not conform to the same body fat percentage on *all* body types, but it does seem to be the least common denominator in saying that on no one (or at least close to that), is a 35-inch waist going to be healthy. I think that was all the article was trying to bring out about that point.

Thanks for your input.

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BUTEAFULL 6/28/2012 2:34PM

    according to this calculation/site I'm in the okay range, so I'll take it

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LIVE2RUN4LIFE 6/27/2012 7:21PM

    Yes, greater than 35 is a problem. BUT having a waist that is less than 10 inches smaller than the hips (the classic proportion for an hour glass figure), does not make you fatter than that person with the hour glass figure. So a 28 inch waist (for example) could mean extra fat on one person and not on another.

If all you are doing is trying to determine if your weight is healthy, go with the 35 inch waist, but don't assume that it necessarily correlates to the same body fat % on all body types.

I'm probably not being clear here, but setting boundary above which most people are over fat and using waist size to calculate body fat % (where you don't know the person's proportions) are apples and oranges.

Comment edited on: 6/27/2012 7:25:00 PM

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NUMD97 6/27/2012 6:05PM

    "Wide waists" for a woman does not seem like merely a "normal size" issue, especially if the circumference is greater than 35 inches. This assumes one is measuring accurately.

I delved further [The following is taken from The National Heart Lung And Blood Institute (seems to be a division of the National Institute of Health]:

"Waist Circumference

Measuring waist circumference helps screen for possible health risks that come with overweight and obesity. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you're at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out."

Comment edited on: 1/8/2013 10:59:31 PM

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IFDEEVARUNS2 6/24/2012 7:30PM

    seems simplistic. Some of us just have wide waists.

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LIVE2RUN4LIFE 6/24/2012 7:13PM

    It gives me exactly the same % as my Tanita Body Fat scale.

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ILIKETOZUMBA 6/23/2012 8:58AM

    I must need a professional to measure me. It's telling me I'm "acceptable" but close to obese, and that's definitely not true. I'm experiencing amenorrhea, and my doctor just told me I need to GAIN weight because I don't have enough body fat. Interesting to try that formula anyway, though. Thanks for the link!

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VHALKYRIE 6/22/2012 2:21PM

    I think having it measured so you have a start point is a good idea, and a motivator. I use a handheld bodyfat monitor, and while not super accurate, it gives me data that is good enough to spot trends. However, honestly, I think using a camera, mirror and taking pictures is probably the best low tech method around. It's very motivating, and you can see changes that you won't see with numbers alone.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 6/22/2012 1:53PM

    It's a conundrum.

On one hand, it's really body fat we're trying to drop.

Yet on the other hand MEASURING or even accurately ESTIMATING body fat can be hard.

Despite that I still think it's worth trying to estimate and track changes in it.

I've written two of my own blog posts about the subject...

About measuring and estimating % body fat

About trying to track changes in body composition

Some people use photos:

And some people just use a measuring tape.

In my case I suspect the formula overestimated my % body fat by quite a bit (28%). At this size and weight and similar physical condition DEXA put me at 19% in January 2010. (I'm wearing the same clothes as I did when that measurement was taken.) FWIW my average BIA number at the moment is 19.34.

The only explanation I have is that because I'm a kayaker I have an unusually developed core which means I might have muscles around my waist that they didn't anticipate.

Comment edited on: 6/22/2012 2:01:23 PM

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WATERMELLEN 6/22/2012 8:40AM

    Hmmm. If I put in my old weight of 230 pounds and my old waist measurement of 36" I score "fit".

I'm wondering about that . . .

At 142 pounds and 28" I'm "athletic" . . . that feels more accurate.

(Tripped across this blog from mutual friend PHEBESS's page: thanks for the link!)

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ELIZABETH-H 6/22/2012 5:28AM

    How useful, thank you

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OOLALA53 6/21/2012 7:33PM

    Personally, I think the emphasis on bodyfat can be as misleading as BMI, though for MOST people BMI is relatively accurate (excluding bodybuilders, as noted above, the very tall and the very short). It's a world wide measurement. Too many weight loss advocates aim at bodyfat that is too low, IMHO. In many countries where health is good, women are at 25% bodyfat which is high by our standards and not considered "fit".

Also, I don't know if I used this incorrectly but it underestimated my bodyfat. I have had underwater weighing and the new gold standard, DEXA, plus calipers done at various times in my life. I know what my weight was and how certain clothes fit and I know my bodyfat is at least 5% higher than this measure showed. But maybe I used it incorrectly? It didn't even ask my height! I think if I were several inches taller I could still have the same waist measurement and have much lower bodyfat.

I gave up on this weight and that bodyfat and committed to moderate eating over two years ago. Weight loss was not my first goal, but I I reached the high end of my BMI range a few months ago and am holding steady. I've definitely been thinner but lived in fear of food and eating situations and had to ice my knees almost every day. I'm much happier now!

But, as you say, this is acceptable. Besides, waist measurement is a better indicator for health purposes anyway.

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1CRAZYDOG 6/21/2012 6:16PM

    I found this helpful. Thank you!

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PHEBESS 6/21/2012 2:04PM

    Interesting - thank you for sharing.

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NUMD97 6/21/2012 1:56PM

    Thanks for stopping by, LILY_SPARK. Perhaps you'll come back and see this, as I can't leave a note on your page since it's marked private.

Thanks for your input. So that's one for the "no" column.

This is going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

All the best,


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LILY_SPARK 6/21/2012 1:53PM

    It's great that it's free but I've found the YMCA calculations run VERY low.

These are free, too, but you do have to have a smartphone:

If you have access to iPhone (don't know if droid has these apps), I run my measurements through FOUR calculators. I take the highest THREE, add and find the median. If I use all 4, it comes out lower. I don't want a false--"good." I want the truth.

I use these apps:



It takes a lot of measurements and a little maths to get accurate data but I'M WORTH IT. LIFE is WORTH it. You're worth it!

Comment edited on: 6/21/2012 1:54:42 PM

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KANSASROSE67 6/21/2012 11:56AM

    Thanks for sharing this! It made me wonder if my goal for weight loss has been set too low. According to BMI, I need to lose another 5-8 pounds to reach the upper middle of my normal range. According to the YMCA body fat tool, I'm at 19% body fat and in the "athletic" category!

Food for thought!!

PS. Just thinking about this some more, I imagine the reason I got such a low reading is because I have a small waist. So those of us who don't carrry our weight around our middles are going to have lower numbers.

Comment edited on: 6/21/2012 2:07:57 PM

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LISALGB 6/21/2012 11:06AM

    Oh, my!! I have a lot of work to do!! This is a very helpful tool. I had never really calculated the numbers before, it's a real eye opener as to where I am and where I need to be.
Thanks so much for posting this.

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CASEYTALK 6/21/2012 10:49AM

    I have a scale that claims to calculate percent body fat. It fluctuates by 4-5% from day to day and even though I've lost 50 pounds I appear to have lost only about 3% of body fat. If 50 pounds is 3% of my body (let alone body fat), I must have weighed 1,650 pounds! Needless to say, I have no faith in that number and don't pay attention to it.


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EGALITAIRE 6/21/2012 10:05AM

    Hmmmm - this formula shows at 24% body fat while the electronic calculator has me at 27.8%, so I guess that is close to +/-3% difference.

BMI is not a measure of body fat. In fact it is a quite imprecise measure as it doesn't take into account body composition (ie. % body fat). By BMI measures I was obese when I was a body builder at age 21 and had 10% body fat. If you are ST at all, % body fat is a much better representation of healthfulness.

Thanks for posting this, I also like data and will continue to check it against the fancy tools.

Stay Strong

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ALPHASENIOR 6/21/2012 9:43AM

    Thank you. I don't like being called obese, but it is what it is. Maybe more motivation.

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EMFRAPPIER 6/21/2012 8:40AM

    Thanks for posting this!!

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ROCKINMOM776 6/21/2012 8:35AM

    Awesome, thanks!

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NUMD97 6/21/2012 8:13AM

    Thanks for confirming that the freebie the YMCA provides matches your electronic gizmo, TAMPATINK67. That's exactly the kind of result I was hoping for!

Comment edited on: 6/21/2012 8:19:48 AM

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TAMPATINK67 6/21/2012 8:02AM

    Interesting... It matches my expensive electric tool! That's pretty cool!!!

Crazy thing is, it lists my category as "acceptable"... Not obese! I won't be out of the obese BMI category for another 10 lbs - but looking at percent body fat is another great metric and something I regularly track.

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NUMD97 6/21/2012 7:38AM

    Interesting question was asked: This is not the same as BMI calculations. According to what I just found on the web, this purportedly is a better index of internal fat than the BMI.

See the link below for more information about the study comparing BMI and waist circumference:

Comment edited on: 6/21/2012 7:39:02 AM

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CLRWILLIAMS25 6/21/2012 7:35AM

    Thanks for the calculator- definitely a great way to measure progress!

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KARL1266 6/21/2012 6:45AM

    Is this the same as BMI? If so, this will be a great tool to backup (or dispel) my scale as it gives me my BMI as well as weight. Thanks!

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BOSS61 6/21/2012 5:37AM

    Way cool and thanks!

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In A Realistic World - June 11, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Oftentimes we need some guidance about measures when we are forced to "guess-timate" what is a portion exactly. Most of us are not yet ready to lug around scales and measuring spoons in public places nor restaurants. So what's a body to do?

I stumbled across this tonight that might be of some help:

I knew some, others were new to me, and something I'll have to remember (my good eye not withstanding).

Let me know if it helps. I'm curious.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KYLAR_STERN 6/21/2012 9:45AM

    This is great. I do good estimating some thing, but haven't been able to figure out what a serving (2 tablespoons) of peanut butter would be. Since its so calorie dense, how much I put on toast makes a huge difference. Thanks!

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CANNIE50 6/18/2012 10:31PM

    I have teeny hands. I have a not so teeny appetite. Seeing this (helpful, thank you) reminder made me wish I had Shaq sized hands emoticon

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KANSASROSE67 6/16/2012 11:49PM

    Thanks for sharing these...some were new to me.


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NUMD97 6/16/2012 11:32PM

    I'm still finding some of these measures a tad suspect: Especially the thumb and index fingers for one tablespoon and one teaspoon respectively. So, I went back to do some more raw research (meaning that this is in no way scientific), and this is what I found (Personally, I liked some of the examples given. The research continues):


1 It turns out that the hand is a perfect measuring device: A closed fist is equal to one medium fruit or one cup of food. Remember this as you choose apples in the grocery store. Place your fist next to your plate of rice to help you determine if you are eating a healthy portion size.

2 Your entire thumb is equal to one ounce of cheese or meat. The next time you are faced with a cheese or deli tray at a party, simply extend your thumb and visualize how many ounces you are consuming.

3 Just your thumb tip (the tip down to the first joint), is equal to one tablespoon. A typical serving size of salad dressing is two tablespoons. Order your dressing on the side, then you can place your thumb against the dressing cup and measure how many thumb tips tall your serving is.

4 The tip of a finger is equal to one teaspoon. When deciding how much sweetener or cream to add to your coffee, looking at the tip of your index finger will guide you to not go overboard.

5 A cupped hand is equal to one to two ounces of pretzels or nuts. For many of us, estimating the potion sizes of snacks is one of the most difficult things to do. Simply fill your cupped hand (not overflowing) and measure out the perfect sized snack.

6 The palm of your hand is equal to three ounces of poultry, meat, or fish.

"Look at just the palm of your hand, not including your fingers. The next time your waiter places your dinner plate in front of you, you will be able to determine how many ounces of meat, fish, or poultry your meal contains by comparing the portion size to the palm of your hand. You may be surprised at how many palms your steak actually measures!"

"Read more: How to Calculate Food Portions Without a Scale |

Comment edited on: 6/16/2012 11:33:04 PM

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SCOOTERGIRLOZ 6/16/2012 3:49AM

    So glad I decided to browse through your older blogs. This is great! Thanks heaps.

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1CRAZYDOG 6/15/2012 8:59PM

    Wonderful information!!! Thank you.

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MISSB8604 6/15/2012 4:31PM

    Wow! Very cool, thanks a lot!

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JITZUROE 6/15/2012 4:14PM

The Tbsp and tsp measurements were HUGELY helpful for me. I NEVER knew that my hand was that useful!
Guess I have two new wonderful uses for my hands that do not require nails (since mine are still in the process of falling off. OW!).

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KYQUILTER3 6/12/2012 5:06PM

    I knew some of these, but it's nice to add to those. Thanks :D

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LISALGB 6/12/2012 1:52PM

    Very helpful, indeed!! And, it is completely portable and discreet!! Wonderful.

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PHEBESS 6/12/2012 10:29AM

    Very helpful - thank you!

(Although I do have big hands, LOL......)

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BOSS61 6/12/2012 4:58AM

    Now that indeed is quite worthwhile and thank you! Really!

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KATHRYNLP 6/11/2012 10:31PM

    This is very good.. and easy to remember. Would you mind if I aslo use it in my Blog tomorrow, so my other Sparkies can see it? Thanks for this, Nu... emoticon

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Resilience - What's That About? - June 3, 2012

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The other day I remarked to a friend about the fact that she and I, although on different career paths, shared something in common: The need, when circumstances demanded, to reinvent ourselves. I thought it required a lot of chutzpah to take on challenges where we "boldly went" probably where we had no right to go. She didn't think it was a question of chutzpah, but of persistence.

I considered this. What makes some toss in the towel in the face of adversity and others to push on, even against astronomical odds? I was invited to attend a lecture sponsored by the World Science Festival in NY the other night which explored a similar theme, under the title: "How We Bounce Back: The New Science Of Resilience". They showed several videos in the course of the discussion with a panel of individuals who are exploring just this theme in their own pursuit of answers to this question, and I found that I could clearly identify with one of the women especially. She was a Peruvian veterinarian who was forced to come to the US and move in with her mother, after a devastating divorce. Because of language barriers and the need to support young children, she did not have the means to go back to school and learn veterinary science all over again in a new country and in a new language. She's currently pursuing another avenue: To keep close to her roots and her love of animals, she is planning to open a dog grooming business. No mean feat, but I admire her ambition and her drive to succeed.

The lecture went on further to ask, "Can we teach resilience to patients and others with this need?" I honestly do not know. I just know that the people I do know who needed to change directions, and who succeeded in doing so, had to dig deep and then put themselves out there. It didn't always work, but there were more positive steps forward than backward.

Still pondering this theme of resilience, I remembered the story I had read not too long ago of Kathryn Stockett who wrote "The Help". She had received over 60 rejections from publishers to publish her novel, and last summer her book was developed into a movie. Where did she find it within her to continue after the first dozen or so rejections?

Similarly, I remembered Sally Jesse Raphael's story where she was fired about 23 times from radio jobs before she finally made an inroad and succeeded, and eventually went on to a successful daytime television show. In her case, I do recall she had a very supportive mother who instilled in her a belief in herself.

Sara Blakely, the CEO of Spanx, was recently installed onto Forbes' list of new billionaires. Her origins are truly mindblowing: She used to sell copy machines door to door for a stationery company before she decided to follow her passion with five thousand dollars in seed money to develop her prototype of footless pantyhose. Her father used to cheer her on by asking her daily, "What did you fail at today?" Her husband's story is similar: In an interview he noted that scoring a meager 900 on the SATs, he felt that he was not going to succeed in academia and found a niche where his passions and skills could develop. He, too, caught a moment in time where there was a need for a product that was not yet developed for the market, and developed a private jet rental service. No wonder they married. They share similar visions and the wherewithal to chase those dreams.

Here in SparkLand, I have seen a pattern of success that I think I'm just now beginning to understand better: The general weight loss plan is a simple one and not unique to the diet industry. Less calories in, more movement. But what I think is carrying us futher here is the strong sense of community and support found here. No other diet program that I am aware of incorporates this element. We succeed by supporting others and by continuing to write about our struggles and hopes in our blogs. And more often than not, our words resonate with others, even if we are truly writing selfishly for ourselves, primarily.

I believe that for the most part, we push further here than we have before, even when we "plateau". As a group, we are a resilient bunch, and even damaged by our own internal demons, are succeeding as we shed light on the dark corners of our souls. This requires a lot of time, patience, and, yes, resilience, I believe, to conquer. Many of us are older and the damage did not occur overnight, but over years, and even over decades. It will take a lot of time and a lot of fortitude to undo.

It would appear that having resilience is allowing us to move forward, in spite of ourselves.

Now if I could only bottle that, perhaps, I, too, might be on Forbes' list next year?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KATHRYNLP 6/11/2012 10:38PM

    LOved this very informative Blog, Nu. Resilience is the key component to our success. I just wish the elasticity of mine wasn't so time worn. emoticon emoticon

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CROWDGOESWILD 6/4/2012 10:19AM

    Yes, yes, yes!

I think that I've "stuck" with SP longer than I have any other plan because I feel attached to the community. I'm seeing others struggle, persevere, triumph, experience setbacks, and most of all-- feeling that I'm not alone in this lifestyle change is awesome. Watching others scale the mountain and conquer the plateaus has made me feel as though we can all do it-- together.

Hope you're feeling good about all of this today and pushing onward towards your goals! emoticon

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ECOAGE 6/4/2012 9:12AM

    Interesting concept --- I'll be thinking about "resilience" today.

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KATHRYNLP 6/4/2012 8:42AM

    I once owned a manufacturing business and insisted on my sales staff to pursue at least ten rejections per day; knowing that they'd be sure to get a few sales in the meantime. Essentially, the quip was, after a rejection, to say to the customer, "That's okay, you're only my seventh rejection, and I have to get at least ten before my boss is happy!" This way no one was bummed at the rejections, and we all had a good laugh at the end of the week at the 'biggest loser. It must of worked; as my company was very successful. I loved reading about all these other people who reinvented themselves in order to succeed. Thanks Nu. Hope you're enjoying each day as it comes, and getting lots of rejections too...
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LISALGB 6/3/2012 9:03PM

    Insightful blog! I have never had much resilience - I have always given up - until now, that is. I agree with you that here at SP we find the support and community to give us that resilience and persistence that we need to be conquerers. I know I find that I have a deeper desire to succeed knowing there are others out there who are just like me and are cheering me on or lifting me up as I need it.
Beautifully written - thank you for sharing. I will definately be thinking of this as I persist.

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Was Thinking Of Starting A Boot Camp Video And Then Coach Nicole's "28-Day Boot Camp" DVD Arrived -

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Serendipity is an amazing thing, no? I've been on SparkPeople going on four years now, and have been amply rewarded by this supportive community in so many ways. I was thinking that it was time to add new activities to the cardio routine, to keep boredom at bay, and was seriously considering starting a boot camp video as an alternative to get some variety in. SparkPeople must have been reading my mind, because I then received an invitation from their marketing division to review Coach Nicole's latest DVD. The stars aligned and I happily agreed.

Taking advantage of the long holiday weekend, I went up to Massachusetts to visit with my family and took the DVD with me to incorporate it into our activities. My sister was game, and we set aside time to do this. She went to the basement and brought up all her weights -- a sign of enthusiasm, I thought. We started simply with the warm up, and were pleased to find the timer unobtrusively located in the lower right hand corner counting down the minutes. When one begins to sweat, it's really nice to know we just might make it to the end of the segment, if we can just hang on a few minutes longer. Very nice feature! We segued into the cardio segment, but started to find ourselves falling behind. I was amazed that Coach Nicole could talk as the exercise pace increased and she didn't lose a beat, or her breath. I soon realized that to do this DVD justice, I was going to have to take it home and start anew. Alone.

Fast forward two weeks to today.

The DVD is divided into two, primarily. One can choose the 28-day plan, which shows you at a glance on a calendar what type of exercise one can expect for a particular day; or one can choose the plan wherein you can select your own workout and do the segments in any order that you like.

The 28-Day Plan is a four-week plan that has "different combinations of workouts to keep the body guessing and prevent exercise boredom". Each total workout includes ten minutes to warm up and cool down. Day One starts with 22 minutes of exercise and over the course of the four weeks, builds up the time factor so that by the time you are on Day 28 you are working out a total of 60 minutes. Over the course of the four weeks, one, two, or three rest days (or if you prefer, cross training days) are built in, the number of rest days (or cross training days), depending on the week you are on.

The "Choose Your Own Workout" is broken down as follows:

emoticon Warm Up (6 minutes)
emoticon Cardio Burst (12 minutes)
emoticon Short Cardio Sculpt (12 minutes)
emoticon Tone and Burn (20 minutes)
emoticon Total Body Challenge (30 minutes)
emoticon Cool Down (4 minutes)

If you do the whole workout in this option, it covers a good 84 minutes. (Now you don't have to add it up yourself. emoticon )

In the Introduction section, Coach Nicole gives you "the lay of the land". You can exercise as little as 10, 20, or 30 minutes, depending on your time constraints, and the DVD will allow for that. There are three trainers showing you all the moves: The beginner (woman after my own heart! I loved watching her, as I am quite the novice), the intermediate, and the advanced: Coach Nicole herself. It is explained, that as you become more adept with the video, you can focus on the movements of the more advanced trainers. Coach Nicole notes that when moves are explained, it always starts with the beginner level.

I do have a comment though for this introductory section: Later on in the video, in the Cardio Burst section, Coach Nicole mentions the "grapevine" step, as the move that is coming up, and then later the "mambo". It might be worthwhile to show these steps at the beginning in the introduction section, as quite a few people have no idea what these steps entail. I happen to know the grapevine from my folk dancing days, but mambo was new to me, and it would have been more helpful if these steps were pulled out separately and shown at the beginning of this exercise segment or in the introduction segment, rather than have it run into the routine of the Cardio Burst section. I also found the drum beating in the background of the Introduction section somewhat distracting, but perhaps that's just me.

So for today, I picked up where my sister and I left off. I began with the six-minute warm up and loved watching the countdown clock to pace myself. We began with marching in place and the pace picked up from there. Even for a novice, this was a good pace, and I can see with practice, how the work on the DVD would grow easier as one gets accustomed to its rhythms. Coach Nicole calls the movements before she does them, so one knows where she's heading next. Her pace is good and relatively easy to follow.

I then followed Coach Nicole to the Cardio Burst workout. As already mentioned, the grapevine and mambo steps were introduced here. One more thing I noticed, when she signaled that you are to use your left arm, she used her right (and pointed to it), and vice versa. I realize that people get mixed up when seeing mirror images, but frankly, I found that somewhat confusing.

The video also has a nice Bonus Features section, showing you how to do seated abs exercises for when you are working at a desk. This was quite nifty. Coach Nicole goes over three simple exercises that can be done in a chair. Also part of the Bonus Feature is a section on education, instructing the individual in three simple tricks to burn more fat. The video also gives some sample recipes from the SparkPeople Cookbook.

I'm glad I took the time to do some sections of the video again. My first impression was it was too hard for a beginner. Now, seeing some of the same sections again for the second time, I see that there is hope. I can see incorporating some of these sections when I am pressed for time and can't go to the gym or if the day outside is inclement. It's a nice change up to my usual cardio routine. Overall, I think most of the folks on SP can utilize this video whatever exercise level they are, as it covers the gamut from beginner to those who are more advanced.

DISCLAIMER: I received Coach Nicole's "28-Day Boot Camp" DVD for free, and did not receive any money to write this review. SparkPeople is in partnership with Target to sell the DVDs. If you like, you can get a discounted coupon for $3.00 off at and you will also receive 250 SparkPoints as well.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VEHAMILTON1 3/12/2012 4:13PM


Thank you for sharing this with us.

After a long break from scheduled daily exercise, I am starting a new exercise regime too.

Persistence is the key for me. I need to find a routine that does not bore me.

Love, Vera

Comment edited on: 3/12/2012 4:14:03 PM

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JITZUROE 2/17/2012 7:21PM

    Great review and GREAT breakdown of it all! I wonder if I can eek my way through it. I can't do high impact stuff, but perhaps if I follow the beginner gal, I can swing it? I'd love to support Spark stuff if I could as well. This really is such a great site.

So tell me, is your sister hooked on Coach Nicole now???


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CANNIE50 2/15/2012 11:32PM

    Nice review- I am glad you enjoyed it, I figured you would. Nice to finish a project, isn't it? I am giving you a emoticon emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 2/15/2012 8:04PM

    I like your review of the DVD.

I remember the grapevine step from High School PE (we had folk dancing!) but never heard of the mambo step, so I would have been lost!

Hope today was a good day. Not enough hrs. in the day today to get everything done, but that's alright. Tomorrow will go at it again.

Glad you were able to do the DVD with your sister. I think that's awesome.

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QUEENJEANINE11 2/14/2012 10:43AM

    Lucky you! I got one too! Great review!

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LISALGB 2/14/2012 8:55AM

    Great review. At first I thought it was too hard too, but as I went through the entire video I was more at ease.
Of course, now, I will have to start over completely since I have been sick. With all this congestion I simply can't exercise for any length of time without going into a coughing fit. But, that is fine - at least when I get started back, I'll know what to expect.

Have a great day!! And, Happy Valentine's Day!!

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SHFELKEY 2/14/2012 8:51AM

    Thanks for posting your very thorough review of the DVD!

Keep on Sparking! emoticon

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Fifty-Four Year Old Men Are Not Supposed To Die - January 14, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First, before I say anything else, I want to thank my "core" of Sparkers for their unwavering support. I very much appreciate the notes on my SP page, the comments on my feed, and the texts to my phone, especially over the last two weeks, as these sad events began to unfold. You all are very special people.

In the last several months, I have seen two men, young in years, felled by illness that came, for lack of a better word, like a thunderclap. One day they were fine, and then =BOOM!= out of the blue, the first 54-year old had a stroke, and then several months later the second 54-year old went into cardiac arrest. Watching these events unfold, barely a little more than two months apart, was stunning, again, for lack of a better word. What many of us have written to each other and discussed on the phone with each other, of late, is that life is incredibly short, and so unpredictable. And as Wife Number One e-mailed me, we are so not in control of these events, and that we cannot make ourselves crazy with the “wuddas, cuddas, and shuddas” of life. To a point, I do agree.

Wife Number Two, also a nurse, took a different stance, and her eulogy for a beloved husband reflected that. Being the person she is, and knowing her and the depth of her grief, she kept her remarks light, and riffed on an old movie, “Love Story”, and started her remarks with, “What can you say about a 54-year old man who died?” One thing I know for certain, and one she included in her speech is, they never lived with “what if” moments. They shared an amazing, yet simple love. Each conversation that they shared on the phone ended with an “I love you”, without exception, and I overheard many of those conversations, working elbow to elbow with her for two years. He also concluded the conversations the same way. It was their way of saying goodbye. Back at the house after the interment, she joked with me that she said that because she was sure she was going to die first. This was typical of her. After her first e-mail telling me of the horrific events that had transpired that first Tuesday back in December, I decided to take a trip down to Brooklyn the following Tuesday and check up on her. What I found was a woman completely in charge. She commandeered a situation that I can only begin to imagine. And as a result, I came to the conclusion that, either way this plays out, I knew one thing: She’s going to be all right.

These events have cascaded to other people I know. I got a call from my best friend today that I missed, and the message was, “What was the day I had chest pain? [I’m the keeper of the data and the chronology of events as she has a horrible memory for sequences.] I’m on my way to the doctor’s and I feel so stupid going when I feel OK.” We all wore her down, apparently, to get her to see the doctor, that albeit she was feeling better, her symptoms of the previous week were very bizarre for an otherwise normal, healthy 60-year old.

I got another call, earlier, from a former coworker who also was following the events of our mutual friends from the hospital where we had worked. She, too, remarked that she had had blood work done, as she had a history of diabetes in her family and was “concerned” that it was a point above normal. It struck me as interesting how we hear what we want to hear: She told me that her cholesterol was a steady, elevated, 290. That, interestingly enough, didn’t phase her. Her doctor had been telling her “for years” to begin medication, which she refused. I for sure thought she was on something with that high a value for cholesterol. And the final remark? “I really don’t want to be on medication, then, for life.” How does one begin to even answer that? Finally, I said, “Be glad that there are medications for those conditions.”

So, what’s the bottom line in all this? As I stated in the earlier blog, the best we can do for our health, is to optimize it, so these catastrophic events do not occur. We cannot avoid it all, of course, but perhaps, as we often read, a person can be saved, because s/he was in the best possible physical shape. And that, dear Sparkers, is the saving grace: That’s all we can do to rescue us from something that could be totally catastrophic.

The second thing is, to remember what and who are important: The relationships we nurture -- spouse, significant other, parent, sibling, child, friend -- these are the people that enhance our world and make it all worthwhile. Have you told someone you love lately how much they mean to you? If you haven’t said it in a while, consider doing so. It will make the world of difference for both of you.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JITZUROE 1/19/2012 9:13PM

    I completely agree in your comment to your friend, “Be glad that there are medications for those conditions.” It blows my mind how people I love act like they would rather not be inconvenienced with one extra pill or just 15 minutes of walking.
I am well aware of how much my husband does for me daily, and I tell him often that I love him tremendously, since loving him just doesn't cover it. He used to laugh, but now I think he gets it.
He has high cholesterol and tried to give me some cr*p excuse of, 'well my dad is on lipitor, so I might as well just start taking it now'. My reply was that he had better start eating better and moving his body FIRST for a few months and then get re-tested. When he said he didn't want to do those things, I swiftly told him that if he did not take care of his body, that I would stop all of this nonsense of fighting for a cure for my issues - cold turkey. He agreed to make an effort, and I can see it.

I am so sorry for this tough season in your life. Your friends really are blessed to have you there for them!


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1CRAZYDOG 1/16/2012 4:01PM

    So many life altering events! You know, for me, I'm not exactly a fan of meds, either -- WHEN they're not necessary. But if it's a choice between living a better life with meds and no meds, I'll take the meds. BUT I also want to do my utmost to see if i can get OFF them too.

Too many people just take their health for granted. Sad. Life just isn't something to treat that way.

Spoken from the heart. Thank you!

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LISALGB 1/16/2012 10:05AM

    Nu, I am so sorry that you have had to go through such sad events. However, it seems that you have gleaned so much from it. My husband and I kiss each other good-bye each morning and hello each evening and always before bed. We never end a phone conversation with anything other than "I love you." The same goes for my son, my parents and my brother. I hug, alot!!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts - my prayers are with you.

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JENNSWIMS 1/16/2012 9:31AM

    Take nothing for granted. Live each day like your last. Dance like no one is watching. Tell people you love that you love them. Or my personal favorite: No one lays on their deathbed wishing they had worked more.

There is a reason that we say these things. To remind us that life is fleeting and that we need to respect it and value it.

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JULIA1154 1/15/2012 10:48PM

  I, too, know that life is precious and fleeting. My family ends our conversations with a heartfelt variation of "I love you" and we try to demonstrate it, as well.

My heart goes out to you and your friends who've had such sudden, terrible losses.

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CANNIE50 1/15/2012 5:12PM

    I, too, believe in telling people I love, that I love them. I am also fond of telling them what it is, in particular, that I love about them. Your friends are fortunate that you are so accessible, and supportive. I am grateful for my relative good health, and, while giving it excess food it does not need or benefit from, continues to be a struggle, I do many things out of gratitude for my body. I was given a second chance, in my 30's, after a catastrophic event, and I have never viewed life in quite the same way. Thank you for yet another reminder, to be aware, and thankful, and to take action while we still have the option. emoticon

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MIQUEY73 1/15/2012 5:03PM

    Your friends are lucky to have you in their life. emoticon

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MUPPETB 1/15/2012 1:49PM

    Wow! You certainly are a pillar of support for many friends.
Life is very short and I agree that it seems most of us need to re-evaluate what and who is important and make the most of each day. Thanks!

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TEACHEROF4TH 1/15/2012 10:31AM

    Eloquent words my friend. Thank you for sharing from your heart.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KATHRYNLP 1/15/2012 9:56AM

    Words worth pondering and absorbing... thanks again Nu. emoticon

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SAHARASUE 1/15/2012 7:20AM

    emoticon Well said Nu. emoticon

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ILOVEROSES 1/15/2012 6:31AM


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STRIVER57 1/15/2012 5:07AM


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TAMPATINK67 1/15/2012 1:08AM


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KANSASROSE67 1/15/2012 12:39AM

    I lost my mom very suddenly and much too young. It was a terrible, but valuable, lesson in the fact that you just never know. Since then, I try to practice that knowledge in my life and relationships.

Now my dad and I always say "I love you" when we hang up the phone, every time. We both know why.

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ELISOS 1/14/2012 11:58PM


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