Valeo Training

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2008 ULTIMATE CYCLE CHALLENGE: An Indoor Team Cycling Event

Join me for an event that is sure to get your heart rate up, be inspiring and team-building and promote wellness! The Ultimate Cycle Challenge is a fundraising event I participated in last year and had an absolute blast. The fact that the net proceeds are donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation makes this a not-to-be-missed opportunity. Come ride with me this year!
*You do not need your own bike or previous cycling experience to participate.

An indoor cycling event full of non-stop motion, music and fun! Help raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation by getting a team together and riding an indoor bike (stationary spin bike or personal bike with back-wheel trainer) in segments for 12 hrs or 24 hrs. The UCC Committee, along with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, believe that in the battle with cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything. Funds raised through Ultimate Cycle Challenge will be donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to aid in the progress against cancer and to empower people with cancer to never give up hope.

Anyone interested in an event full of entertainment, exercise, friendships, fundraising, and promoting cancer awareness. Participants ages 8 and up are welcome and will include everyone from elite athletes to those who just want to make a difference. Regardless of who you are, everyone who comes is promised an unforgettable time! This event can be done just by yourself or up to 24-people breaking up the time in segments as a relay team for 12-hrs or 24-hrs.

I would like to get a TEAM VALEO 12-hour group together and, if you're interested, this is what I need from you:
1. Your name and/or name of friends interested.
2. $30 entry fee per person, payable to Ultimate Fitness and Health, to go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
3. I will create a schedule once I know how many people are interested and you can let me know the time-frame you would be willing to cycle (typically 1-hr to 3-hr segments - or whatever you'd prefer!).
The 12-hr ride will take place:
Saturday, February 16th, beginning at 8am and ending at 8pm.

Ultimate Fitness and Health
91 Douglas Ave, Ste 140
Holland, MI 49424

Contact me today and be a part of TEAM VALEO 2008!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Road Bike meets Dirt Bike = Cyclo-Cross.
Hills. Dirt.
Snow. Lactic Acid. Grass. Cold. Barriers. Fun!

On Saturday, I participated in a KissCross (Michigan's local CycloCross group) event and was the stoker on a tandum with captain Mike Clark, owner of Velo City Cycles (Thank goodness Mike did all the bike handling; I just had to close my eyes and pedal hard). :)

Cyclo-Cross is a autumn and winter sport and, according to MC,

"Cyclo-Cross is the fastest growing segment of competition nationally and right here in West Michigan - and it’s a great way to extend your season, stay in shape and have a blast. The races are short and furious, the venues are usually city parks or other local areas and the terrain ranges from single track to pavement to pretty much everything in between. Don’t wanna race? Come and watch then! ‘Cross is spectator-friendly to the nth degree and the vibe is nice and mellow. (Around here anyways). We count 19 races on the Michigan calendar alone, not to mention Chicago and rumours of races farther north."

[ check out for schedule and other cycling news! ]

Each Cyclo-Cross event is done in laps (this race was about 8-min per lap for a total of 3-9 laps), with each lap combining some sort of varying terrain, with multiple dismounts off your bike to climb up steep hills or jump over logs or other barriers. It's tough and crazy but the good 'ol atmosphere, campfires, soups, beer tents, and people made it one of the coolest winter sports I've seen and done!

Jumping the barriers.

Climbing the hill -'bout the time I lost feeling in my legs...lactic acid burn or numbness from the bitter cold?? Crazy Mike is wearing shorts. Whaaaaaat?!

Me and "Velo City Mike" - Finished! Whew.
"Boyfriend Mike" also raced (individually) and did awesome! I'm very proud of him. :)


Think about this for a moment…What if 2008 was the year that you took control of your body? The year that you threw your fat clothes away…the year that you were proud to put on a bathing suit…the year that your doctor congratulated you on your improved health...the year that your family and friends - and that special someone - showered you with compliments. It's possible. Even more possible than you think.The thing is that you need to direct your effort in an effective way. It all comes back to enjoying sensible nutrition and introducing new and challenging exercise into your routine.

My good friend and fellow Personal Trainer from my time in Florida, Taylor, sent this helpful list to her clients and I thought it was well worth sharing with you as well!

Here are 10 great tips that will help prevent you from gaining weight over the holidays:

1. Limit your intake of calorie laden beverages. Eggnog, champagne, mochas, and hot chocolate all have one thing in common: they are packed with empty calories - avoid these beverages and load up on water instead.
2. Officially schedule exercise into your calendar. It's just too easy to let workouts slide this time of year - make a commitment to exercise and keep it.
3. Forego the goodie making. By keeping your home free from Holiday treats you will undoubtedly gain fewer pounds. However, if you simply have to make those Christmas cookies then chew gum during the baking process to prevent snacking.
4. Have fun being active. Winter is a great time to burn calories outdoors. Go skiing for a day or take the kids sledding. No snow in sight? No problem - take a brisk bike ride or power walk through the mall.
5. Use healthy ingredients. Your Holiday meal will taste even better when you seek out fresh, organic and low fat ingredients - and you'll feel better too.
6. Learn to compromise. Dying to have that peppermint mocha? Go ahead - but have it with nonfat milk and pass on the whipped cream.
7. Don't go hungry. The Holidays are a dangerous time for your metabolism. Focus on eating small balanced meals every few hours to keep your metabolism going strong.
8. Enjoy a sample. No one says you have to completely avoid the appetizers and desserts at your Holiday party - just enjoy in moderation.
9. Focus on family not food. Let's face it, this time of year is big on two things: family and food. Make an effort to place your focus primarily on your family.
10. Stick to your strategy. The best way to gain weight over the Holidays is to approach them without a plan. Using the above tips, write down the ways in which you plan to avoid weight gain this year - then periodically check up on yourself.

In this season of gift giving don't miss the opportunity to give yourself the gift that you really want - a leaner, stronger, healthier body and a lifestyle worth celebrating.

You deserve it.


Last week I had the opportunity to teach an Adaptive PE Class @ Hudsonville High School for my good friend and triathlon-training buddy, Elizabeth. I had such a blast with the kids - their energy and spirit absolutely made my day and we had so much fun rockin' out to the music and doing the Strength Training and Cardio Circuit I made for them. Here are some pics from our time together!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I was honored on Tuesday to be featured in a Health Profile Section in the Grand Rapids Press called Vital Signs. Yay!! :)

Health profile: Jessica Oosting
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Age: 26

Occupation: Owner of Valeo/Personal Training LLC, Trainer, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Biggest health challenge: Getting enough sleep to refresh and energize my body and mind. I'm a night owl with an early-morning, physically demanding career; not the best combination.

Exercise routine: I try to do three moderate or longer runs and one speed workout each week. I bike 50 to 70 miles a week and, during the sprint triathlon season, I add swimming a few miles each week. I do a focused strength training session two to three days a week.

Exercise tip: Spice it up. It's lack of change in our routines that causes lack of change in our bodies; plus, it's fun. Safely progress in intensity and find ways to venture beyond the typical. Swap the treadmill for a run on the trails, or hit the stairs at the beach, then take a swim in the water to cool off. Sneak in strength training throughout your day, do core work during commercial breaks on TV, push-ups off the counter after you brush your teeth, or add some cardio with a run to drop off a movie at the rental store.

Dieting history: I've always maintained a healthy weight. I credit that to good genes, a consistently active lifestyle and being nutrition-conscious. I eat according to how and when I need to fuel or repair my body. Fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins make up the bulk of what I eat, but I'm not adamant about avoiding the occasional junk food or treat. We eat for so many more reasons than physical hunger, so I make sure to fuel my body properly but allow leeway for the "just-because" foods.

Guilty pleasure foods: Brownies, cookies, pizza and, in the summer, ice cream

Favorite healthy foods: Dark greens (spinach, fieldgreens, asparagus), apples and natural peanut butter, anything on the grill

Breakfast today: A Juice Plus+ Complete protein shake with a banana

Daily doses: I take Juice Plus+, a whole-foods, fruit/vegetable supplement.

Healthy advice: Do the best with what you have. For most, this might mean shifting your health motivation from solely weight loss and to enjoying a breath of fresh, outdoor air, having the energy to play with your kids, being a force on the sports field, holding your head a bit higher than you used to, or simply moving and functioning better in everyday life. Have fun with the life God created you to live.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


"The news isn't that fruits and vegetables are good for you. It's that they are so good for you, they could save your life."
- David Bjerklie, TIME Magazine, October 20, 2003

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


This is one of the best articles I've read that reinforces the approach to weight loss I encourage (high-intensity circuit or threshold training combined with proper nutrient timing). This focus goes beyond the old paradigm that weight loss or gain is soley dependent on the number of calories in vs. calories out. The latest Nutrition and Exercise Science has been showing more and more that weight gain and weight loss IS ALL ABOUT ALTERING YOUR METABOLISM!

Here is Part I of a III-point series I'd like to share with you. The article, called "The New Science of Weight Loss" is written by Lou Schuler and found in the fook "The New Science of Lifting" by Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove.

Part 1: Energy Balance Is The Key To Weight Control

If you want to understand energy balance in an instant, think of your body as a car that operates 24 hours a day, says Dan Benardot, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta. You would never expect your car to get you from one place to the next without systematic refueling, just as you know there's no point in putting more gas in the tank than it's designed to hold. But that's how many of us operate our bodies.

We try to run on empty for hours, then dump in more fuel than we can handle. Benardot's research shows how self-destructive this strategy is.

Let's say you really want to lose fat, and decide to jog first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. "The easiest way to get energy is to break down muscle mass," Benardot says. Your body can convert specific amino acids--the building blocks of muscle--to glucose, the sugar that powers human activity. "Someone running before eating may actually be breaking down the very tissue he's trying to improve. Sounds counterproductive to me."
Call it the "muscle loss" diet.

The second way is probably more typical of most of us. You can call this one the "fat gain" diet. You wait a long time between meals, and then, when you're ravenously hungry, you wipe out an entire buffet line. This guarantees that you'll get a larger surge of the hormone insulin than you ordinarily would. That means more fat storage. And you can probably combine the "muscle loss" and "fat gain" strategies and turn your body into a perfect muscle-burning, fat-storing machine. Hard exercise slows down appetite in the short term, but as you get used to it, your appetite matches your exertion level. So if you go out and run 10 miles on an empty stomach, then eat enough to fuel a 15-mile run, the net effect is that you've lost muscle on the run and gained fat from the postrun meal.

Energy balance, the focus of Benardot's research, is the answer to both of these dilemmas. The athletes in his studies get the best results when they stay within 300 to 500 calories of perfect energy balance throughout the day.

This means . . .
1. Eat as soon as you wake up in the morning.
2. Make sure you eat something before you exercise, no matter what time of day it is.
Not only does the food prevent your muscle tissue from becoming cardio chow, but it increases the number of calories you burn during and after exercise.
A 1992 study at Arnot-Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, New York, shows that exercise following a meal enhances metabolism.
3. Eat soon after exercising, when your body has depleted its energy stores. Act fast, or you'll start burning muscle for energy.
4. Eat a total of five to six small meals a day.

One of Benardot's studies showed that athletes who added three daily snacks to their three squares lost fat and gained muscle, on top of improving in all the other things that are important to athletes, such as power and endurance. Of course, you can't simply add a few hundred calories to your diet and lose weight, but you can redistribute your daily calories so you're eating more often but consuming less at individual meals.

However you do it, it's clear to Benardot that the worst strategy is cutting out tons of calories indiscriminately in hopes of sudden, dramatic weight loss. "If you're more subtle and try to lose a pound a week or 1 pound in 2 weeks, not only can you do it, but you'll be less likely to regain the weight," he says.

Friday, September 21, 2007


My friend, Amber recently posted this Japanese Treadmill Madness video on her gameshow entertainment or my new workout idea for you all?!?!! This is hilarious!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

SHOULD [ burdens ] vs. COULD [ blessings ]

Next time you are overwhelmed with the SHOULDs in life: [ BURDENS ]
I should eat that...
I should go for a walk...
I should get more sleep...

Change your shoulds to COULDs... [ BLESSINGS ]
I could eat that...
I could go for a walk...
I could get more sleep...

Nobody wants to do what they should. The options are out there. You don't HAVE to do anything. We all have choices, each with different consequences. Think of how good you feel when you choose to do something wonderfully strong and healthy for yourself. Too many 'shoulds' just produce guilt...and guilt does nothing for motivation or better health.

Negativity never serves.

Be good to yourself today and allow yourself the option to choose.

(thanks for the words of wisdom, Lee!!)

Friday, August 17, 2007


As some of you might know, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Montego Bay, Jamaica on a service trip last March to help at the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf (CCCD). This residential school houses about about 50 deaf students, each dependent on outside sponsorship. This giving of resources allows them to learn to communicate through sign language and even through some verbal speaking, have clothes, food, books, up-to-date education, hobbies that can lead to careers, and medical care to supply items like hearing aids. As a business and group, valeo / personal training (you guys!) have generously donated to my Swim for Shenicia event and helped raise over $2600 for Shenica Norman, an 11-yr old girl from CCCD who has a special place in my heart. I recently got a letter from her and wanted to pass on a huge THANK YOU to each of you for caring enough to provide her with opportunities she would've otherwise never had the chance to have.

The need for sponsors continues, and each month, I'd like to highlight a few children who are still in need of support.
This little guy is Michael Bailey - he is six years old and loves to ride his tricycle, draw and color. His favorite color is blue and his favorite toy is Nintendo. Michael is in 1st grade and is learning sign language very well. A simple donation of $25 dollars/month will help CCCD provide him with medical care, education, food and just an overall better quality of life. If any of you are interested in sponsoring Michael (each child needs at least 10 sponsors to be considered fully sponsored), please contact Laura White at and she will let you know the steps to take to make it happen. Your monthly donation can literally be life-changing for Michael!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


If you're someone who likes specific numbers and descriptions in answer to 'how much exercise should I be getting?' then this post is for you. While each person is different, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and American Heart Association (AHA) have recently released guidelines for physical activity frequency, intensity and type (think FIT!). These recommendations have been updated from the previous guidelines that came out in 1995. Here are some noteable points:

1. All healthy adults ages 18 to 65 years need moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 30 minutes on five days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 20 minutes on three days each week....and more is better.
*AEROBIC EXERCISE = "with oxygen" meaning your cells require O2 as fuel for energy production. This type of exercise makes the heart, lungs and blood vessels healthier and stronger. It is essential for body fat loss and disease management and prevention.
[ Some Ideas for Aerobic Exercise ]
Anything that gets the heart rate elevated and major muscles moving!
Walking, Jogging, Running, Dancing, Swimming, Hiking, Stair or Hill Climbing, Rollerblading, Bicycling, Ellipticals, Circuit-Style Training, Sport Games, etc.

*MODERATE INTENSITY = 50% - 60% of your max effort or Heart Rate Reserve (see your specific HRR Sheet given to you at your assessments).

*VIGOROUS INTENSITY= 60% - 85% of your max effort or Heart Rate Reserve (see your specific HRR Sheet given to you at your assessments).

2. Adults will benefit from performing activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for at least two days each week. It is recommended that 8-10 exercises using the major muscle groups be performed on two non-consecutive days. To maximize strength development, a resistance (weight) should be used for 8-12 repetitions of each exercise resulting in willful fatigue.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007


DID YOU KNOW...Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition?
Head over to your local Farmer's Market or produce aisle and you will find August is a season full of rich, vibrant and nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables help promote:

* Healthy Hearts
* Better Memory Function
* Vision Health
* Strong Teeth and Bones
* Healthy Weight Levels
* A Reduced Risk of Cancer and Other Chronic Disease

What's even more interesting, is that the COLOR of the fruit or vegetable represents different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals (plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventative properties) in that food...and the darker the color, the better. Your goal should be at least 5 to 9 fruits and vegetables every day - and the more variety of color ensures a variety of health-enhancing nutrients.
Want to boost the vibrancy of your food intake? Join me in the 5-Colors-A-Day Challenge to eat 5 DIFFERENT COLORS, 5 DAYS OF THE WEEK FOR 5 WEEKS. Email me ( with your interest and I will send you a color-coded spreadsheet with examples of fruits and vegetables that fall into each color category.
This could be the initiation of a lifestyle change you need in your life. Get the entire family involved! We live in a time when "children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined" (David Katz, M.D.) Post the spreadsheet on your fridge and have fun tracking each person's intake. This challenge will change the way you grocery shop, the way you prepare foods, the way you choose what to eat and, ultimately, your overall health.
Anyone who reads this blog and completes the 5-colors-a-day for at least 5 days-of-the-week for 5 consecutive weeks will be entered in a drawing to win a FREE 1 HOUR MASSAGE by a fabulous local massage therapist. CONTACT ME TODAY and start adding a little more color to your life!

A lower risk of some cancers
Urinary tract health
Memory function
Healthy aging

A lower risk of some cancers
Vision health
Strong bones and teeth

A healthy heart
Cholesterol levels that are already healthy
A lower risk of some cancers

A healthy heart
Vision health
A healthy immune system
A lower risk of some cancers

A healthy heart
Memory function
A lower risk of some cancers
Urinary tract health


I recently became re-certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) and was reminded of the importance for everyone to know these important signs and steps to SAVE A LIFE! A notable change in the steps includes a much-easier-to-remember THIRTY CHEST COMPRESSIONS followed by TWO BREATHS, whether for an adult, child or infant.

Would you know what to do in an emergency? Click HERE to learn - you never know when you will need to use these techniques, so refreshing your memory regularly is important. Take action today and sign up for a class at your local American Red Cross - it's easy - and this investment in time and knowledge could literally make a life of difference.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Q. What's the verdict on stretching? Should I do it before I lift?

A. Stretching (increasing a muscle's flexibility or range of motion [ROM] around a joint) is one of the most debated topics in the fitness field. Many swear by it while others never involve it in their program. When facing flexibility issues, you must approach it with a PURPOSE. Is your inflexbility causing joint mobilization problems? Is your daily functioning inhibited by muscle tightness? Is the issue muscle tightness or really weakness in the opposing muscle groups? All of these questions must be considered when stretching.

There are different methods of stretching:

1. Static Stretching - "reach and hold for 15-30 sec"
2. Dynamic Stretching - "gentle movements to lengthen the muscle fibers and get the blood to the muscle" (this is not ballistic).
3. PNF Stretching - "contract the opposing muscle to relax the stretched muscle" (performed with a partner or professional trainer).

Here is what stretching is NOT:

1. It is NOT A WARM-UP....before you say "Whatever! I HAVE to stretch before my workout or I feel tight!" - let me clarify. Static Stretching is not a warm-up. The purpose of a warm-up is to raise the internal temperature of the body by gradually increasing the heart rate and getting blood to flow to the muscles. Static stretching does not do this. Dynamic stretching DOES. Perform slow, gentle movements - either a toned-down version of what you are about to do (i.e. progress from a walk --> jog --> run) or a full-body movement like a few rounds of the Chopper Protocol with a medicine ball (10 down-the-middle chops, 20 side-to-side rotations with foot pivot, 10 diagonal chops with foot pivot). Always involve this type of warm-up to get your muscles and nervous system activated and ready for your workout.

2. From a performance (not rehabilitation) stand-point, it does NOT PREVENT SORENESS or INJURY - in fact, excessive (important word) joint laxity can cause injury during high performance movement. While I do advice static stretching at the end of your workout (or after a sufficient dynamic warm-up), there is very little research that proves static stretching prevents injury or muscle soreness. Many times, excessive soreness is simply from microtears in the muscle fibers (due to overload) or a lack of a sufficient cool-down from the previous workout. It is essential (and safer for the heart!) to gradually relax the body after intense movement (i.e. progress from a run --> jog --> walk). This will get the blood to continue flowing and remove toxin build-up (lactic acid, etc) from the muscle cells. Abruptly stopping movement disturbs the electrical signals to the heart muscle (can lead to heart attacks!) and increases the chance of muscle stiffness and soreness the next day.

3. It does NOT INCREASE STRENGTH OR POWER OUTPUT - the latest research now indicates that static stretching prior to physical activity - especially activity that requires a lot of force or high performance - can actually decrease the strength and power available in the stretched muscle. Even more surprising is that strength and power were also shown to be reduced in the opposing non-stretched muscle. Why? The reason isn't exactly known, but (without going into specific physiology principles...) it may be related to changes in the mechanical properties of a muscle or a central nervous system protective mechanism.

To see this stretch-reflex principle in action:
Put your hand on your lap, palm down. Take your middle finger and pull it towards you, giving it a good stretch. Release and notice how it "snaps" down back to your lap. This is due to the stretch-reflex properties of muscles.
Now do the same thing, but hold your finger in the stretched position for 30-seconds. As you release, notice how much slower the finger comes down...the "snap" or power output is significantly decreased.
What does this all mean? If you desire increased performance and your movement requires lifting, sprinting or any not static stretch beforehand.

As a disclaimer...stretching does have its place if it has a PURPOSE. Many of these 'limit your stretching' beliefs are directed at the relationship between athletic performance and excessive stretching. For the general fitness population, it is important to maintain (or even increase) the flexibility of muscles around a joint.

Points to remember:

1. Keep your stretching functional - stretch to the point that is equivalent to the range of motion (ROM) required in activities of daily living. Your tight hip flexors that are pulling your pelvis forward and creating low back pain does concern me and is a reason to stretch.....your inability to do the splits is not! ;)

2. Keep your stretching multi-directional - think opposing muscle groups and all three planes of motion (front/back, side/side and with rotation). Example - never stretch the hamstrings (back of thigh) without also stretching the opposing quadriceps (front of leg).

3. You should feel the stretch in the 'belly' of the muscle, not the tendons or attachments. If you are static stretching, hold for a sufficient time-frame (15-30 sec) and keep your breaths relaxed.
4. Save your static stretching for the END of your workout, after a sufficient gradual cool-down.

5. Remember that strength training is a very effective way to increase ROM. The "pull" you feel as you lower a weight stretches the muscle (through gentle, dynamic movement) before you contract that muscle to lift the weight. Resistance bands are also optimal for getting a good dynamic stretch.

Valeo H2O Bottles...with a twist of lime!

...good for all ages!! :)

Valeo water bottles are still available for $10. For an extra flair to keep you gulping, try adding a few slices of lime to your water for some refreshing summer hydration. Ahhhh! So good.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Q. Do you think the average person should weigh themselves often (or even own a scale)? I guess I personally think that if you are living healthfully you shouldn't worry too much about weight, but I also know weight is an indicator of health...

A. Many of you know I’m not a huge advocate of scales – or at least of not allowing your hard work and self-esteem to be determined by the number looking back at you. If you find yourself becoming obsessed with whether that number has gone up or down, I say - throw the scale away! If you do choose to weigh yourself, do so no more than 1x/week and do it on the same day of the week and time of day each weigh-in. Why? Because your body can fluctuate greatly in one day – water weight gain or loss, the food sitting in our stomach, etc. all play a role and do not necessarily reflect actual fat tissue gain or loss. Weighing yourself can serve as a good reference point, and it can be used as a marker of progress. However, I am more concerned with what that number on the scale is representing – are those fat pounds or muscle poundsbecause the health consequences of each are vastly different.

For example, Person A could step on the scale and be 150 lbs. After his body composition assessments, I find that he is 30% body fat. This means that of the 150 lbs popping up on the scale, 45 lbs are fat and 105 lbs are bones, organs, water, healthy lean muscle, etc (“everything else”).

However, Person B could also be 150 lbs, but let’s say…18% body fat. This means that of the 150 lbs popping up on the scale, 27 lbs are fat and 123 lbs are bones, organs, water, and healthy lean muscle…MUCH DIFFERENT!!!

Excess body fat (not necessarily excess weight!) is directly correlated with increased health issues: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, increased strain on the heart and other organs, altered brain chemicals, heart attacks, strokes and even cancer. And remember (you may have to sit down for this one): You can be ‘ideal’ or even underweight and still overfat - and therefore at risk for these same health problems.

Why is weight so focused on then? In general, most people do not have access to Body Compostion assessments, so they don’t know what percentage is body fat verses lean muscle tissue. It is assumed that if your weight goes down, so does your amount of body fat. This is what we IDEALLY would like to happen...but remember, your body can only physiologically lose 1-2 lbs of fat a week (perhaps more if you are excessively overweight). If you are losing more than this (think extreme diets, etc) – you are losing precious muscle tissue. This ruins your metabolism and is not healthy.

Fat and muscle are two different tissues and are not interchangable (you cannot turn fat into muscle and muscle does not turn into fat). Your goal should be decreasing body fat and increasing muscle tissue. The way to prevent muscle loss (or even gain some muscle) while losing weight is to eat properly and STRENGTH TRAIN! It takes a focused and consistent strength-training regimen to see these changes happen, but the benefits are well-worth it. You may not see the numbers on the scale go down as much as you would like, but the percentage of fat vs. muscle will be positively altered.

You can have a smaller, tighter, stronger physique – and still weigh the same! Imagine a 1 lb ROCK (representing muscle) and a 1 lb PILLOW (representing fat)…put them on a scale, and they are both one pound. Appearance-wise, however, the rock is much more solid, dense, tighter and smaller than the big fluffy pillow.

With valeo / personal training, I’m into making ROCKS!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lakeshore Miracle Run for Rachael :)

Rachael and my nephew, Myles :)
Runnin' for Rachael!!

This morning I got to do one of the coolest races I've ever heard of. The Lakeshore Miracle Run is described as one of the toughest 10K races in Michigan - 6.2 miles of pavement, trails, waterfront beach and dunes. I decided last night to take part in it because all proceeds to go the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. My cousin's 14-yr daughter, Rachael, has been diagnosed with lymphoma and has been undergoing treatment at DeVos Children's Hospital these last couple weeks. Rachael is an absolutely beautiful, fun and faith-filled girl - and her strength and spirit through these rough times have been remarkable and inspiring.

Kelly, Sarah and I decided to make it a 'fun run' and let all the serious racers pass us by. Though the course was extrememly challenging, it was incredible!! Give me woods and water, and I am set :) - the beauty was breathtaking!!! Rain showers and heavy winds drenched us at the start, but subsided for awhile. The greyness of the morning made the woods and trails feel haunted and it was so cool winding up and down the dirt paths, dodging green leaves and branches and literally jumping over and ducking under fallen logs. It was so fun!!

The wooded trail brought us out to the Dunes overlooking Lake Michigan and the once-packed dirt turned into loose beach ground. Yee-ouch! We ran along the shore as we were pelted by flying sand - and opted to stay close to the water so we could get better footing (though soaked hiking shoes from the waves didn't really help!). The most challenging part of the race was the 1/4 mile run (ok...walk!) STRAIGHT UP the Bowl - Holland's infamous sand dune area. The site was amazing and though we felt like we were about to pass out - we all made it! :)

What goes up must come down, and we leaped and soared down the soft sand of the dune - it was a riot! We looped back through the woods and finished back on the road for the end of the race. We had a ton of fun and it was even better knowing it was for such a great cause - WE LOVE YOU, RACH!!!

PS - here's how you can help! :)


Last Sunday I ventured out bright and early for the Grand Haven Festival of Races. The triathlon consisted of three distances: Sprint, Olympic and Half-Ironman (one of only a few in the country)....I did the Sprint :) 500m swim, 12.4 mile bikeand 3.1 mile run...(people often respond w/ an "oh, that's not so bad" whenever I tell them the distances....I say that comment can only be reserved for those who've actually done them all strung together!) ;)

One of the best parts of the day was doing it with two of my friends, Elizabeth, who did the Sprint with me and Kelly, who rocked it out by doing the Olympic distance. This summer, we started a lil' women's triathlon club - Triple Threat: the Velo/Valeo Vixens (V3 for short):) and have about 13 women involved to train and race together.

One of the best, but challenging, parts of living in west Michigan are the unpredictable and ever-changing conditions....and that morning was no exception! Strong rip tides, 4 ft waves and 20-mph wind gusts met us at the beach -- and they still made us swim. Ask me how I felt about that later... :) Though my knees were shaking and stomach turning with nerves, we made the best of it and actually had a blast. The "swim" (which actually turned into a "water-run/wave-jump/get pounded by whitecaps and try to not get pulled under" adventure) was nicely cut in half...which meant that we had to run the rest of the way to the pier through loose sand and barefeet! After finally reaching the boardwalk, I strapped on my Chaco sandels and ran the 1/2 mile transition to the YMCA, where we jumped on our bikes and took off on the Grand Haven roads. Despite some pretty steep hills, the bike went well and seperated the pack a bit more. The run was beautiful, winding along the boardwalk, water and parks - but I have to say the finish line was a glorious site! I was pumped to find out that I finished 4th among 103 women overall and 1st in my age group! Elizabeth and Kelly also topped their age groups...I think we represented the V3 Vixens well! Yea!

We had some fabulous photographers and cheerleaders throughout the race (THANKS Lee, Carmen and Marlene!!!) - whose cheers were more encouraging than you'll ever know! Turn up your speakers and enjoy this little picture video to give you a glimpse of the morning! :)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

"When instituting change make small changes in many areas rather than massive change in one area." -- Vern Gambetta

Friday, July 6, 2007


My sister, Tara, recently posted this on her blog. It encouraged me to matter what stage of life we're in, all of us can relate in some way to how much impact the presence - or absence - of even one piece of the pie makes. As much as physical health should be a focus in our lives, true wellness depends on each piece's presence.