Workout Wednesday: 15 Minute Office Workout

You’ll have to wait a few more days on my New Hampshire recap because we were partially without electricity for a little while and I wasn’t able to download all of the photos (it’s a long story, but the good news is we have electricity again!). I’ll get the posts up soon though, I promise.

In honor of Workout Wednesday today, I’m sharing a quick and easy office workout. I’m so lucky now to work in a gym and be able to squeeze in a workout between clients on most days, but when I worked in an office I didn’t always have a ton of time to exercise. This is a workout I did on occasion when I needed to break up the monotony of the day or to work out some stress.

15-Minute Office Workout

All you need for this workout is a desk and a chair so you can even do it in a cubicle. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds with a 15 second break between each one. Repeat the circuit three times for a total of 15 minutes.

Workout tips:

  • Perform the incline push ups against your desk by standing on your tip toes and stepping back away from the desk until your body forms a straight line. Then perform the push up as you would on the ground.
  • Make sure that when you do your squats that your weight stays in your heels and that your knees do not go out past your toes.
  • For the tricep dips, use a stable chair (not a wheeled one) for safety’s sake. With your hands on the chair behind you and your feet on the floor, lower your hips toward the floor. Bend your knees to make this a little easier.
  • Alternate between legs for the lunges and get your back knee as far toward the ground as possible without touching. As with squats, make sure you front knee doesn’t go past your toes.
  • The plank step outs require you to be in a high plank position (on your hands and toes). Step one foot out and tap your toe on the ground before returning to the starting position and repeating with the other foot. 



New Family Additions

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that Joe and I had a weekend hiking getaway to New Hampshire. I’ll post about that tomorrow. First, I wanted to share our newest additions.


Meet Notsu and Brown Sugar, the guinea pigs we rescued from the MSPCA. We were told upon adoption that their brother Beanie would be fine since they originally came in a group of 15. I was skeptical, but figured they knew best.

Turns out, that was misinformation. I got a call on Thursday from the MSPCA offering to waive the adoption fee if I adopt Beanie too since guinea pigs bond for life and Beanie is now susceptible to depression.

Joe saw how upset the call made me (particularly since that had been a concern of mine from the get go) and how much I didn’t want to break up the family, so he agreed to adopting Beanie as well.

We made an appointment to pick him up later today since we were away all weekend. That meant last night’s play time was with just Notsu and Brown Sugar (who I’ve taken to calling “Sugars”). Special thank you to our friend Meghan for checking on the boys while we were gone.




They were pretty much all I could think about on our trip, so I don’t think I’ll be leaving them again anytime soon.

Aren’t they just the cutest? I’m so in love.


Three Thoughts for Friday

1. Doo-Doo Work Son!

“Want to get paid to poop?” is probably a for real craigslist ad, but not today. Today we poop for science at $40 a shot. Meet the crew of OpenBiome, helping to fill a gap in the world of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation and helping to win the war on Clostridium Difficile Colitis, or C. diff for short (you can now own that one friend who still plays words with friends). OpenBiome wants your poop so it can be used to make more effective treatments for C. diff and as long as they don’t smell anything funny, they pay you for your bowel charity. All they ask is that you show up four days out of the week for a period of sixy days. Every poop can treat 4-5 people.

As we’ve said before, the Fight takes many shapes. This one looks an awful lot like the bottom of a bottle of Prune Juice. Race you to the powder room.

2. Half-Mast branding or What’s in a name? We went to number two with number 1, why not stick around for awhile?

Introducing Cologuard! From the minds of Exact Sciences who know quite a bit about medicine and biology but just missed the boat on the exact science of branding. Cologuard is a quick, safe and easy at home colon cancer screening test named by someone who knows a lot about the mortality of 1/3 of all who are diagnosed but who did not know much about high school spirit. C! We got that C we got that C! Now can I get an A!

No! But you do get a collection dish and and a prepaid envelope to send your sample to a lab and help increase the early diagnosis of a fatal disease that generally still requires something invasive for screening. This is a great step. But hundreds of thousands all across the country have stopped twirling their flags and just throw up a red one. What was wrong with RectaGuard? That sounds like a hockey goon with a bright future in the penalty box! I’ll take two.

3. The Athlete’s New Clothes

Athos thinks you need new work out clothes because Athos makes workout clothes unlike any you’ve ever seen. Ok, they make workout clothes that look an awful lot like everyone else’s workout clothes. The difference is where everyone else’s gear gets me judged because just putting a Superman S-shield on your shirt doesn’t make it true, Athos workout gear gets in on the fun of telling you what you’re doing wrong.

The clothes contain wireless sensors that can communicate with your iPhone and give real time feedback of what muscle groups you engage as you workout allowing you better control of form. If there’s any truth to the video on the website, then I can finally live my dream of acting out the Ivan Drago parts of the Rocky IV training montage (without the steroids). The video also mentions finding the ideal me. Who knew the ideal me had an iPhone? Let alone hundreds to spend on one outfit?

Athos. They’ve put Wii Fit in your pants.


Thursday Thoughts: Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women Recap

Instead of a vlog today, here are my Thursday Thoughts about my race from Monday, the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women.


As I mentioned on Sunday, it was strange for me to not run the BAA Half Marathon this year. Ever since making it my first half marathon in 2011, it has been an annual race. This year, I decided to skip it in favor of the inaugural South Shore Half Marathon on November 2.

Last year when I ran the BAA half, I ran the Tufts 10K the next day. It was a tough run, complete with some walk breaks, but I was super inspired. When Tufts Health Plan reached out to me this year and offered me a chance to take on the course again, I was ready for a comeback!

I had clients in the morning, so I drove home to change at around 10 then caught the bus downtown to get ready for the noon start. It was already buzzing in the vendor area when I arrived so I picked up my bib and shirt and spent some time milling around.

Some of my favorite brands were there including Sparkly Soul headbands, Core Power, Cabot cheese, Reebok, Luna, and tons more. I tried a few samples then realized I should probably stop eating so much before the race.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the start line. The race is very well organized and groups are called to the starting line based on pace. I went to the start between 9 and 10 minute miles.


The overcast sky was ideal for me because I’m not a fan of the sun beating down on me during my runs. It was also fairly cool, so I was wearing long sleeves and capris.

Like last year, I was inspired by all the other runners at the starting line and throughout the race. Women of every shape, size, and ability were all there, running together.

I mentioned this last year, but one of the things I love most about this race is that the course structure allows you to see the group far ahead of you as well as those runners behind you for most of the race. This makes for amazing motivation to keep pushing even when it’s tough.

My first few miles were fast (for me) at less than 9:30 per mile. Looking at my splits, mile 4 was the only time I averaged over 10 minutes, but I was able to pick it up again after that.

Unlike last year, my legs were fresh for the race and it paid off. A couple of times I thought about stopping (probably all that pre-race snacking I did), but I pushed toward the finish, hoping that I might be able to pull out a PR.

As I neared the finish I knew I wouldn’t set a 10K PR, but I knew I had set a Tufts course PR. I surged across the finish as fast as I could muster and was happy with the time.


I went through the post-race food tent, which was amazing, and then took some time to stretch out and celebrate my finish before heading to check my official time.


As it turns out, I was just a hair faster than I thought.


Still not a 10K PR (I missed that by 22 seconds), but a course PR by over 3 minutes!

Even though it wasn’t my fastest ever 10K, I’m a very different person than I was when I set the PR in 2011. At that time I was running 5 days a week and doing virtually no strength training. This time was achieved by running 2-3 days per week and doing lots of strength training. Frankly, I think that’s amazing and speaks volumes about the benefits of strength training.

The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women continues to be one of my favorite races in Boston and I’m determined to run it again next year in less than an hour!

Thanks to Tufts Health Plan for sponsoring my registration and allowing me to take on the course for a second year.


Choosing My Run Wisely: Columbus Day Weekend

For the first year in four, I did not run the BAA half marathon today.

After missing the sign up for the distance medley, and then the 5K and 10K as well, I decided to take this year off from BAA races.

Don’t get me wrong, each BAA race I’ve done has been super well organized and a lot of fun, but after running the BAA half and Tufts 10K back to back last year, this year seems like a good time to slow down. Instead I chose the South Shore Half Marathon for my fall half, which is another two weeks away.

That said, I am running the Tufts 10K tomorrow, sponsored by Tufts Health Plan. The Tufts 10K for Women is especially meaningful for me now that I work at an all women’s gym. Last year I was inspired by all the women who came out for the race and I’m sure this year will be no different.


The race starts at noon in Boston Common, so I’ll be taking the train in from Chestnut Hill between work shifts. If you haven’t signed up yet and would like to run, you can sign up at the race!

I encourage everyone to join what is one of the most empowering races I’ve ever done.

Will you be at the Tufts 10K tomorrow?


We’re All Running Behind Over Here

Crazy week for Becki and Joe so just one post. Five Things…whatever day today is.

1. Research has shown that there up to 6 novel genetic variances that affect caffeine’s affect on a person. Happy Breast Cancer awareness month. What in the name of Susan G. Komen? Was there not enough money for the foundation of do Snickers really satisfy? 6 genetic variances that decide what I gulp my toast down with in the morning but this wasn’t quite penicilin where, in a pointless endeavour, science found something life changing. No. This was a study designed to tell that on a molecular level, some of us get jittery, some of us stay chill and approximately 99% of researchers involved were just coasting until a better job comes along. I could have told you this with 3 weeks $10 and a craigslist ad.

We got the Ebola, man! We’ve got Cancer and AIDS and myriad other forms of genetic failure and self-destruction but first on our list of things to do: why do we like coffee. To horribly re-contextualize and paraphrase Dave Chappelle, “I thought we liked it because it’s delicious.” But that’s pure conjecture until science steps in and declares something that we’ve been enjoying longer than powdered cocaine to be tasty.

2. Another study finds that we drink more on days that we work out. Who are we trying to impress and then failing to impress and then crawling to the bottom of a tumbler of scotch and shame to get away from because he’s all goo-goo over whatshisname and only wants to be friends and yeah let’s do shots because I’m my own me and you can’t tell me nothing and whatsh hish name! Hey johnny tight polo! Sup Billy Bicepshhh! Pop them collarsh! Teach ME how do dougie! Do I look pretty?

I am so taking my hangover to the gym tomorrow.

3. The FTC has decided that makers of caffeine infused undergarments stop advertising their products as being beneficial to weight loss. Hold up. FTC, you cannot just be all “Stop fronting about the coffee panties helping people lose weight. Deuces.” Who was making caffeine bloomers to begin with? Tired fetishists want to know! Oh, these guys. The undergarments are also infused with shea butter. Get out. I thought Shea Butter was still with Wu-Tang. Nice try guys. When asked to comment, people who work out and eat healthy were smug and superior on their to get totally wasted because today was Tabata day. Everyone knows by now that the only way to lose weight is by eating healthy and working out.

4. Except, new research leads scientists to believe that putting an ice pack on your fat may help you lose weight. Take that healthy eating exercisers! We’ve got our cheat code.

Researchers at Harvard looked at two types of fat, white and brown (aka, Moonwalker fat and Thriller/Jackson 5 fat, respectively). Brown fat is found mostly in babies and is burned off for heat. Genetic markers indicated that 30 minutes of exposure to cold temperatures could lead to a browning on the white fat into a beige fat which would increase the possibility of the body’s burning it naturally. This research may or may not have been conducted by scientists losing the fight over what color to paint the kitchen.

5. Just in time to spoil the weekend: The life expectancy calculator!

According to the long version I’ve got a 25% chance of seeing 41. According to the short version I’m good until 79. Averaging both together, I should probably waste less of the time I have to live on stupid distractions playing upon my sense of morbidity and get to the weekend. Take care.



Rainy Saturday Motivation & LOST

Happy weekend, y’all! I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but we’re on our third rainy day in Boston, which is tough on the motivation. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve needed the rain, but getting it all at once isn’t ideal.

The good news is you don’t need nice weather to get in some exercise. If you’re participating in my October Plank Challenge, try for a 25 second plank (beginner) or 1:10 plank without or with leg raises (intermediate/advanced) today!

Since it isn’t nice enough weather to get out and explore the fall foliage (hopefully that happens tomorrow on my long run) today is a cleaning day in our house. We’re donating a bunch of clothes that we’ve wanted to get rid of for a while and that can hopefully find a useful home.

We’ve also started the first season of LOST because Joe has never seen it. I watched the first four seasons online one summer, then watched seasons 5 and 6 in real time. I’ve been pushing for us to watch it for a while now and Joe finally gave in. Who else is a LOST fan? I realized while watching the first four episodes last night that it’s the first TV show I’ve watched more than once in order and I’m already noticing so many little tidbits of information. I’ve certainly watched reruns of other shows before, but sporadically. This must be how Joe felt watching The West Wing, Sports Night, and Studio 60 with me, already knowing what was going to happen.

In between the cleaning, clothes donations, and binge watching LOST, my plan is to get in a quick upper body workout at home before meeting up with friends tonight: push ups, chest flyes, shoulder press, jumping pull ups, bent over rows, bicep curls, and skull crushers.

What is your plan for the day? How do you fit in exercise on lazy, rainy days?


Thursday Thoughts: You Are Not Alone

Joe’s post on Tuesday made me stop and think about what this blog stands for. I’ve always wanted to share issues related to total wellness, including fitness, nutrition, and mental health. Because of my shift in career from mental health to personal training, a lot of emphasis has been put on fitness and nutrition lately, but it’s time to come full circle.

Today’s Thursday Thoughts segment is meant to speak to both those struggling with mental health and those who aren’t. There’s a message there for everyone. You are not alone in whatever it is you are going through in your life. We all have ups and downs, some higher and lower than others, but no one needs to suffer silently.

Comments are open for this post, but please post wisely only sharing information you are comfortable being public. If you have links that might help those who are seeking help, please feel free to leave them in the comments. The phone number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline in the United States is 1-800-273-8255. Call if you or someone you know needs help.

You can also go to Psychology Today to find a therapist or search the free clinic finder to see if there is a clinic near you.


Workout Wednesday: October Plank Challenge

Happy October, everyone! As a personal trainer I have clients at all levels of fitness. With all of my clients, I stress the importance of a strong core. One of the best exercises to increase core strength and endurance is a plank and luckily there are lots of modifications to fit any fitness level.

For the month of October I am doing a plank challenge with some of my clients, urging them to improve their plank time for a low plank (on forearms) on the floor. Today I’m sharing the challenge with you!

October Plank Challenge!

For the beginner challenge, the goal is to work up to holding a plank for a minute and thirty seconds. This challenge is great for those who have been doing planks on an incline and have never been able to hold a plank on the floor for longer than 15-30 seconds. The beginner challenge starts slow and gradually builds up to the 1:30 plank on Halloween!

October plank challenge beginner

If you have no issue holding a plank for a minute and want to challenge yourself to push further, the intermediate/advanced challenge is for you! For intermediate level, start at a one minute plank and work up to holding your plank for 2:30 by the end of the month. If you’re advanced, add alternating leg raises to your planks.

October plank challenge intermediate


No matter your level, the most important part of the challenge is form. Make sure your belly button is pulled up and in toward your spine and that you can envision a straight line from your head to your toes, keeping your spine in alignment, and don’t forget to breathe!!!

Are you going to join my October plank challenge? 


What We Talk About When We Talk About Wellness: Mental Health

Today is Joe’s first post an official contributor to the blog. Bear with us while we figure out how to get that displayed as a more prominent byline so Becki can stop doing intros for each of his posts.


This is Fighting For Wellness. It’s awesome. It’s got a logo and everything. Tons of pics, lots of posts, a couple of recipes. This blog is like a blog that’s all that and a bag of unsalted pita chips and your friends brought the roast endive hummus with those little chia seeds in it.

So what is wellness? Well… uh, see wellness is… it’s like that thing, where you try something and you do it good, like if you do good on your homework and you get an A+. That’s some, baller, epic wellness. So wellness is really…. oh, screw it, Marc? I’ll take the physical challenge.

And that’s it. For the most part, you get yourself something ‘thletic to wear,a neoprene bottle, if those are still cool this week, sip some filtered water and get to work sweating up some wellness. Get out, get active, get physical, and we’ll send you a certificate that says you have the glow, and the wellness is yours. Except if you look up to the logo you may notice it’s comprised of three things:

– First, a woman running, so wellness is sexism.
– Second, I think that’s that thing from Aqua Teen Hunger Force and those phallic shapes are probably just bananas. Probably.
– Third, wellness is an x-ray of an unfortunate person who after an awful industrial accident now has three gears lodged in his head and will be forever holding you up at an airport checkpoint. Carry those things with you and be forever Well. Feel free to randomly capitalize that “W” too.

Wellness is defined a few different ways but we’ll take this one: wellness is good overall health, components including mental, physical and social health. Sometimes spiritual health and that soul may be a little James Brown, it may be a little Jesus of Nazareth, it may also include other prominent figures of your faith with whom I am not familiar.

So what are we fighting for? We’re fighting for you and we’re fighting for each other. And while fighting lends itself easily to the physical and that’s easily defined, this is also very much about the mental, the social and the spiritual, things which are not always as apparent as the body. Let’s look at mental wellness. The problem there is that the struggle against depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, cutting or any one of too many issues harder than ten more push-ups, is that they don’t get the same attention. Fat is physical. It isn’t easy but it is obvious. Mental health is what the news talks about 3 days after a school shooting. There is no primetime show, sponsored by Subway that follows a manic depressive around for a few weeks and ends with a big cocktail dress/tuxedo reveal, celebrating how much (more socially acceptable, better, aesthetically pleasing, more likely to get hired, thinner, yes I hate Biggest Loser and we’ll get to that later) healthier they look. It doesn’t work like that. You don’t look like an anxiety disorder. You can’t Halloween shop for a schizo-affective costume when anyone looks the part. They don’t make mental health gear with space age, depression wicking fabric.

Cutting has a physical component as do anorexia and bulimia but those are symptoms and there are, sadly, trade secrets and internet forums on how best to go about hiding these things. The real pain is inside and it’s as frightening as hell to think about telling someone about it. Why would a person want to admit to taking razor to flesh for a sense of control? When you don’t feel normal to begin with you don’t expect everyone to greet these things warmly. The last thing you can take is for someone whose love and trust you need to fade as they lose sight of a person for their affliction. Mental illness makes people feel differently than what they were told the world wants and the world never did anyone any favors for being different. Too many people feel they are worth too little and asking for help, admitting to being different doesn’t feel like the right first step even when it is. You can’t hug through depression or smile away anxiety. The fight for physical wellness is great because it has that component of personal control and just that feeling of whatever it is that you’re trying to better being in your hands is worth everything. But fighting for someone struggling through an internal hell brought on by a trauma or their own biochemistry doesn’t take muscle and sweat. It takes patience.

I’ve never run a marathon, I’ve barely eked out 3.1 straight miles but I don’t hesitate to say that the endurance required to live with an invisible issue is ten times greater. And thank you for coping. The rest of us are trying to get there, we’ve got prejudices and outmoded thinking to burn off but we will get there. It’s nearly impossible to know what another person is going through but it’s worth the world to navigate it with them even when you don’t understand what the issue is. No pity involved, just being a person.

Everyone’s wellness is going to be little different. If you’ve got that little extra bit of fight in you, keep someone else in mind. And if your days are bringing too many fights and not enough wins, just ask. Don’t take a definition of what your life is supposed to be from some blog. Define that for yourself.

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