Today, I had my second lesson with Tabitha, my swimming instructor.  Last week, we spent the session on the different strokes.  This week, I wanted to concentrate on the prerequisites for the lifeguarding course.  My class starts on Sunday.  During the first class, I’ll have to swim 300 yards continuously, tread water for 2 minutes without using hands,and complete a timed event.  The timed event includes swimming 20 yards, diving down for a brick, retrieving it, then swimming on my back with the brick on my front back to the starting end of the pool.  The timed event ends with getting out of the pool without using the ladder or ramp.

I had never tried to dive for the brick before.  I was confident that I would be able to do this task, but knew that I needed some advice and practice.  Tabitha is great and I was able to watch her get the brick several times and she guided me through it.  After trying many times, I was able to get the brick on more than one occasion.

Toward the end of the lesson, we decided to have me try the timed event.  I was able to swim down, dive and retrieve the brick and get back to the start on my back in 1 minute, 37 seconds.  We have 1 minute, 40 seconds to complete the event.  I was thrilled that I was able to retrieve the brick on the first try after swimming 20 yards.

It dawned on me that the time probably includes getting out of the pool.  I’ve never got out of the pool without using the ladder or ramp.  We practiced in the deep and shallow ends today.  At the very end of the lesson, I was able to put it together and get out of the pool!  I was psyched!

I’m hoping for a bit more practice time on Friday.  I mostly don’t want to embarrass myself on Sunday when I’m in the formal class.  I’m confident that as long as I can complete the prerequisites, my instructor will be able to teach me the other lifeguarding skills needed to get certified.

I’m excited and can’t wait for our first class!


Tonight was the last scheduled Biggest Loser group workout.  We only had about 20 people in attendance.  It’s sad how we can start out with a group of 50+ and end up the series with less than half.

We had 3 regular trainers, a new trainer and Rich all there to motivate us and keep us going.  Fortunately or unfortunately, there was lots of people to yell at us and correct our form and help us maximize our workout.

This morning I took the water aerobics class.  This afternoon, neither kid napped.  So, I was pretty tired when I arrived for the 6PM workout.

For almost an hour, we did a series of 1 minute exercises.  Our breaks were usually long enough for one of the trainers to describe and demonstrate the next move.  The great thing about all of the exercises was that we didn’t need any special equipment.

Our drills included things like:

  • burpees
  • pushups
  • wall sits
  • triceps dips
  • knee lifts
  • jumping jack squats
  • squats
  • step ups
  • walking lunges
  • planks
  • side planks
  • oblique twists

There were many more, but it’s not possible to remember all of them at the moment.  I liked that we kind of had a few circuits.  We had a cardio set, a set that used the bleachers/steps, a set that used the mats, an active cool down and then some stretching.

The workout was well planned out.  I’m beat.


It was a beautiful day today.  We decided that we would head to the duck pond after Sally took her nap.  It was forecasted to be around 48 degrees by then.  Unfortunately, it was only 41 and it was super windy.

We headed to the North Chagrin Nature Center anyway.  Nick and Sally are both fascinated with maps of all kinds.


We started inside where Sally immediately posed on the frog.


Soon after, the puppet show began.  Both Nick and Sally are in a high imaginative stage.


Despite the cold air, I talked them into a walk around the pond.  I told them they could run if they were cold and we’d get done sooner.


It was super sunny and they both were interested in watching their shadows.


We also got to see a few ducks playing around.


It was nice for everyone to get some fresh air.  It’s also hard to believe that it’s still February.  It’s been a really crazy winter.


We enjoy making our own whole wheat tortillas at home.  We like to use the recipe at the 100 Days of Real Food website.  I like this recipe because it uses all whole wheat flour and only has 3 other ingredients (water, salt and oil).  We usually have all of the ingredients for them on hand.

Yesterday, we had decided on fajitas for dinner.  Homemade tortillas were in order.  Stephen ran to the store with Sally and Nick stayed home to help.  We mixed up the dough and left it on the mat to rest.  When it came time to roll the tortillas, Nick wanted to help.  I’ve let him use the rolling pin to “help” me before, but this time was different.  He rolled out all of the tortillas.  I helped him with the first couple and then he just went to it.  I was so excited for him.  It worked out well since I had to cook the tortillas and it was so much easier to have someone rolling out the dough.  The tortilla dough is easy to roll and both the thickness and shape are forgiving.  The only requirement is that they fit into whatever pan you are using to cook them.

Nick is flouring the rolling pin.


He’s so focused!



Here he’s admiring his work.  He didn’t quite grasp the concept of turning the dough to keep it more round.


I’m sure we’ll be making these again soon with my new dough roller!  In addition to fajitas, we enjoy these with honey and bananas, jam and peanut butter, and just plain cheese.  The combinations are endless.


Today, we had our family photo taken at church.  The church is having a directory made.  I think the last one was about 5 years ago.  We haven’t been at the church that long, so this is our first experience.

We didn’t know we were doing a directory until one Sunday, a congregation member was taking appointments for photos.  I couldn’t schedule our appointment that day since I didn’t have my calendar with me.  A couple of days later, I emailed the contact person and scheduled us for 10:40AM.  That was the earliest time still available on Saturday.  I thought it would be ok since it was still a bit before lunch time.  The appointments were 10 minutes apart, so I figured that even if they were running a little behind, it was be ok with the kids.

It looks like the company makes a deal with the church that we’ll give you a free directory, $25 credit for each family toward photos and 20% off each order.  In exchange, you let us come into the church for 2-4 days to take photos and then sell them.

We arrived at 10:29AM today.  I was happy that we were a bit early.  I didn’t catch the photographer’s name, but he was very friendly.  The actual photo taking went fairly well.  Nick and Sally got a little bored toward the end.  The guy was having Nick lay in a weird position at the end and he didn’t like it and was a bit grumpy.  But, all in all, it was a good shoot.  There were a few of the whole family and a couple of Stephen and me, along with a couple of Nick and Sally.

After the photos were done, we waited in the lobby for a few of minutes and then Eric called us into another room.  Sally went to the play room and Nick wanted to come with us.

Eric started by showing us a few photos and having us pick out which photo we wanted in the directory.  It’s hard with the kids.  We loved Nick in one photo, Sally in another, Stephen in yet another.  You get the idea.  We picked our photo and then Eric started showing us some grouping and montages of photos.  Then, he asked us what kind of package we wanted.  It felt odd that he didn’t have a list of packages with prices.  We didn’t even know where to begin.  He wrote a few things down.  Then, he had a piece of paper with montage, 8×10, 2 5×7, etc.  He asked us what we thought.  I told him that I didn’t know if we were talking about $50 or $500 and that I didn’t have any concept of photo prices.  The package he had scribbled on the tablet was $880.  Ouch!  That’s more than we spent on our wedding package and I thought we splurged.

I was very uncomfortable with the pricing on the fly.  Why wasn’t there a price list, even if the price list was just for our church?  It was very odd to me.

We asked few questions and about a couple of idea packages like a 8×10, 5×7 and a page of wallets.  He told us that they didn’t do pages of anything.  Wallets had to be ordered in sets of 6 with 12 as the minimum.  If we got 12, we could order 2 different poses.  That sure sounded like pages to me.

The more we talked, the lower our prices became.  At one point, Stephen leaned over and whispered something in my ear.  Eric looked at Nick and said, “It’s not nice to whisper. You should remember that.”

I asked how long we had to decide on the photos and he said now.  In the next couple of minutes he  finish our order and then send them off.  The company keeps the images for 2 years, but we wouldn’t get any discount if we waited to order later.

In the end, we walked away.  We weren’t prepared for any high pressure sales tactics.  We were uncomfortable with the pricing and hadn’t discussed a budget for family photos.  The photos were good, but they weren’t great.

I hope the directory turns out well, and we’ll definitely be more prepared for our photo shoot next time around.  For now, we have a couple of friends that have offered to photograph us and that works just fine for us.  As soon as the weather gets a bit nicer out, we will go to a park and have photos taken so we can fill our walls with photos we love at a reasonable price.


Yesterday, my partner in crime and I had our weekly session with our trainer, Jen.  She’s been doing such a good job of challenging us both even though our fitness levels are different.  Thursday was no exception.

I only ended up with a 5 minute warm up on the elliptical before it was time to meet.  That was just fine.  Some days between the dishes, breakfast and getting the kids ready to get out the door, I feel like I ran a marathon before I ever get to the gym.  So, while a proper warm up is nice, I don’t ever really get to the gym cold.

Circuit #1

  • Straight Arm Lat. Pulldown 50lb x 20
  • Seated Lat. Pulldown 60lb x 20ea (wide and narrow grip)
  • Cable Tricep Pulldown (regular) 60lb x 15
  • 50lb x 12
  • 40lb x 10
  • 30lb x 8
  • 20lb x 6
  • Cable Tricep Pulldown (overhead) 50lb x 15
  • 40lb x 12
  • 30lb x 10
  • 20lb x 8
  • Jacknives w/ Ball x 15

My arms were jelly after this first circuit for the upper body.  I was definitely fatigued to failure on a couple of the exercises.  Sometimes, I forget to count the reps.  I just keep doing them until it’s really hard and then do my best to do  one or two more.

Circuit #2

  • Overhead Squat x/ Stick x 30
  • Curtsy Lunges x 20ea.
  • Sled Leg Press x 5 of 10 (feet hip width, plie, feet to left and right, feet on top)
  • Prone Leg Curl x 2 of 12
  • Punching Back Ext. 5lb x 6 punches x 10

My lunges are getting better.  I’m finding my balance has improved and my depth is greater as well.  This was my first time on the sled leg press.  I really liked it.  I definitely felt the stretching in my hammies and glutes. It was also my first time on the prone leg curl.  I loved the fact that I could actually lay on my front and do the exercise.  Keep in mind that I didn’t have weight on either machine, but I was still very happy with the activity.  I can’t wait to do them again.

At the end of the workout, we took about 5 minutes to stretch.  An hour still feels like a really long time to do strength training, but I am getting used to it.  I’ve really been enjoying these sessions.  Today, I can tell that I worked out, but nothing is killing me.  I woke up stiff, but felt much better after playing in the water with Sally.

 Posted by at 4:17 PM

With the start of the lifeguarding class just a couple of weeks away, I decided a few swim lessons were in order.  I want to get my strokes up to speed and practice the prerequisites so I don’t make a fool out of myself during the class.

My first lesson was yesterday.  My instructor’s name is Tabitha and she is AWESOME.  My first task was to swim a few yards of the freestyle stroke.  She told me that my stroke wasn’t bad.  Then, we discussed my stroke and she gave me some tips/suggestions/reminders.


  • breathe out of my nose
  • alternate sides for breathing
  • kick from the hip
  • bring my feet up more toward the surface of the water
  • make sure my elbows are getting out of the water

Even after just a few minutes of practice, my stroke was so much more smooth and efficient.  I’m excited to practice and get better at the stroke.

Next up was the breast stroke.  This segment was hilarious because I barely remembered the breast stroke.  I really need to work on this stroke.  My kick was so bad that I was going backwards while I demonstrated it!  After some trial and error, I was able to do the stroke a little bit, but I really need to work on it.

We touched briefly on the elementary backstroke, which I can do just fine and the backstroke, which I didn’t remember doing before.

All in all, I was super happy with the progress that I made in just 30 minutes.  I can’t wait for some pool time so I can practice before my next lesson.

Next week, we’re going to spend most of the time on lifeguarding skills.  I really want to nail all of the prerequisites.  Hopefully, we’ll have time to work on the strokes during that lesson as well.


Today was our 7th group workout for the Biggest Loser contest at the J.  It was a yoga class!  I have never taken a yoga class.  It’s been on my to do list for many years.  Today turned out to be a great day to try yoga.  There were about 30 people in the class and at least 10 were brand new.

Eileen was our instructor and she did a pretty good job of explaining things to the newbies.  I had the most trouble with poses that involved putting all of my weight on my left knee.  But, I was amazed at home many poses I could do.  I at least attempted everything and I think I could get good at some of the poses and stances with some practice.  I was already a bit worn out from swimming yesterday and today.  Also, I’m feeling my strokes in my neck and arms, so that made some of the yoga even more challenging.

I’m sure we just scratched the tip of the iceberg during the class.  I’m sure there are many more poses and more terminology to come.  I’m not sure that I’ll be adding yoga to my repertoire soon, but at least the ice is broken and I think I could be comfortable walking into a class at the J.

I can definitely see the appeal.  But, the jury is still out on whether it will be for me.

 Posted by at 9:06 PM  Tagged with:

When I was little, my family went to the local Knights of Columbus swim park.  It had a lake for swimming and wasn’t too far from home.  We’d go up there after dinner many nights a week during the summer.

At some point, my sister and I took swim lessons.  I took all of the classes.  I was 11 when I took the last class before lifeguarding.  Lifeguarding wasn’t available until you were 15 years old.  Ever since I was not old enough for the class, I’ve wanted to have a lifeguard certification.  I thought about it in college where the class would have counted for my physical education requirement, but it just never happened.

Let’s fast forward to last week.  While at the JCC, I saw the flyer that a lifeguarding class would be offered starting at the beginning of March.  Since I know the pool manager fairly well, I expressed some interest and trepidation about taking the class.  He was very encouraging.  I’ve reviewed the list of pre-requisites and have a couple of weeks to practice and get up to speed.  It’s been years since I have done any serious swimming.

Today, I began my quest.  I swam 300 years before my water aerobics class.  That equates to 12 lengths or 6 laps.  I did stop and take a couple of breaks, but I am confident that I can do it continuously when necessary for the test.

The next task is to be able to tread water for 2 minutes.  After taking Adam’s class last week, I am sure this one is no problem.  We played  basketball in the deep end without touching the bottom.  It was a lot longer than 2 minutes.  So, I suspect that won’t be a problem.

There is also a timed event where you swim from one end of the pool to the other, dive and get a brick and swim on your back to the starting end.  I’m going to practice this, but I suspect I’ll pass.

The last requisite is to be 15 years old by the end of the class.  I have that one covered by more than 25 years!

I’ll have much more to say as I continue the process.  For now, I’m happy to have a goal that is swimming related.


Stephen works for a company that has a wellness program.  I think that 2012 is the 3rd year for the program.  Each year has been significantly different than the prior one.  I believe the company is still trying to figure out the best approach.  In my opinion, the overall goal is to motivate the employees (and spouses) to live healthier lives.  This reduces the cost of healthcare and should be a win win.

Part of the plan includes monetary incentives for participating in different parts of the program.  This year, we have something new call Virgin Health Miles.  In a nutshell, you can earn up to $300 for acquiring steps on their Go Zone pedometer.

So far, I can not figure out how the program is really supposed to work.  It doesn’t seem realistic to earn enough miles/steps to achieve the $300.  I haven’t found any information that gives sample workouts or plans to achieve the goal.  I’ve read that you don’t have to be a marathoner to reach the goal, but I’m not yet convinced.  Several places within the Virgin Health Miles website, I’ve read that you should have 5 days of 7,000 steps or more.  I believe that is doable each week.  However, you earn 60 points for 7,000 steps. Five days a week of that will getto about 15,000 points in a year, but 36,000 points is needed to get to $300.  There are tons of other things that earn points.  So far, most of them are busy work.  You get points for signing into the site, points for signing up, points for different challenges (that are undefined thus far) and points for entering activity.  There’s also a whole section for active minutes which doesn’t seem to apply to me.  You can get credit for active minutes if you are fast enough.  I have tons of endurance, but speed is not my forte.

Here are some examples:

  • water aerobics class – doesn’t count since we can’t wear the pedometer in the water
  • strength training – counts for a few steps, but doesn’t get much considering how tough of a workout it is
  • spinning – my toughest workout of the week, but I don’t spin fast enough for long enough for me to get many active minutes

So far, I think the program is geared toward runners or fast walkers.  It’s not geared for a variety of workouts or endurance events.

It’s good for me to play along since I can use any motivation that comes my way in terms of taking a few extra steps.  But, I also don’t like to play these kind of games when money is involved.