Archive for June, 2010


I hesitate to post this, but really, my motivation is just to talk about something that I’ve grown to love, and not to sell.  But since I know the contents are pure in intent, I decided to go ahead and post.  That said …

I love training with a trainer.  I had a session this afternoon — the first one I’ve had since late September.  My complete enjoyment of training had, over time, been shuffled to the back of my mind.  It has been shuffled right back up front!

What do I like about it, you might ask?

  • I like being pushed.  I will often work out hard on my own, but with someone else, harder.  And more consistent.
  • Together with that — I like having a little extra accountability.  I am less likely to blow off a workout if I know that in a few days, someone’s going to ask, “So what did you do this week?”  Also, since you shouldn’t lift weights on the same muscles on consecutive days, blowing off a weight-lifting day can screw up the whole week.
  • I like the social aspect.  Normally, I train alone.  Talking is often better than listening to music (as long as the talking doesn’t supercede the exercising!)
  • Together with that — I like partner exercises.  Since I usually train alone, exercises that require two people get knocked off the list.
  • I like learning new exercises.  It’s easy to go to the gym and do the same things over and over, which not only gets boring but it stops showing results.

Put all that together, and I have one excellent hour.

My previous trainer asked me at one point why I was training.  He knew that I knew how to exercise, how to get stronger, how to lose weight.  Why was I still training?  Because I loved it.  I considered it a hobby.  An expensive hobby, no doubt, but a hobby none-the-less.  It’s going back on the priority list.

I’ll post soon more on how often to lift weights and how to make sure your exercise routine continues to show you results.


a hidden wealth of free stuff

Imagine the reaction to this proposal:

We’re going to build a building in town.  We’re going to fill it with all kinds of books — fiction, non-fiction, reference — periodicals, music, movies.  We’re going to put in some computers with internet access.  We’re going to have an activity schedule with things to do for people of all ages at different times during the week. [How much will it cost to get in?]  Nothing!  Anyone who lives in town can use it for free!

We already have this resource, and most of us never use it.  As I become more conscious about bringing more Stuff into my home and about where/how I’m spending money, I’m more drawn to the library.

I made a resolution not too long ago that, with few exceptions, I will not buy any more books for myself.  For the first time in who knows how long, I checked a book out of the library about a week ago.  (As an aside, the book, What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell, is highly worth your time.)

Everyone knows you can get books at the library.  My local library also has a significant selection of large print books and also audio books (which I have found to be better than music for commuting).

What else can you get at the library?

Music: the library here has cassettes (really?) and CDs

Movies: VHS and DVD

There are also a variety of social events: book discussion groups, kids crafts, magic shows, basic technology how-to classes, book bingo, even Wii time!  This is a partial listing of events for a suburban library in a state where public funding has been drastically cut in the last few years.  I imagine that larger towns/cities and/or libraries in places where the economic pain has been slightly less would have even more to offer.

Do you use your local library?

spreading the word: change

My path has been interesting — sometimes easy, sometimes difficult, but it is the only path I know.

It has brought me to a place where I have not only an ability but an obligation to reach out to people, to tell them my story, to let them know that they are not stuck, that change is possible.

This blog is a little piece of that, but I want to make it bigger.

If you have an audience who is looking to hear a great story from a personable speaker that will help them to take the first steps to making the positive changes that they want to make in their lives, look no further!

If you are in the Phoenix metro area, I will speak to your group for no charge.  If you are out of the area, I do request that transportation and accommodations be provided.

Please contact me: heather at secondchancefit dot com.  You can look at my website at the same URL for more information about me.

why are you eating?

Eating and food have become so socially ingrained in our culture that we often eat without really thinking about why.

We eat because we’re happy.

We eat because we’re depressed.

We eat because we’re bored.

We eat because the clock says we should.

We eat because there is food in front of us.

We eat because “other people are starving.”

We eat because “I always get a snack when I watch TV/get home from work/put the kids down to bed.”

We eat because external cues tell us that we’re hungry.  What about eating simply because we’re hungry?  Most of us can’t hear our bodies any more.  We don’t always know when we’re actually hungry or when we just think we’re hungry.  (Sometimes thirst masks as hunger as well.)

How different would your food habits look if you ate exclusively to sate hunger?  No food with TV or movies.  No food with socializing (though perhaps socializing with food).  No food out of habit, or on the clock, or because it’s in arm’s reach, or because our mother’s guilt-inducing voice is telling us we have to clean our plate.

You don’t have to clean your plate.  You don’t have to eat because it’s noon, or because there’s nothing else to do, or because there is a bowl of chips on the table in front of you.

Eating when you’re sad doesn’t make you less sad (nor make the problems go away).  Not eating when you’re happy doesn’t make you less happy.

What other non-hunger reasons make you eat?  Do you think changing those would make a difference in how you felt?  Do you think it would make a difference in your weight?  How can you make changes to let food be fuel for your body?

other people’s handiwork

I’ve renamed the Sunday links weekly feature.  “Other people’s handiwork” is a bit less dull.

It occurred to me recently … would a quick summary of the links be useful?  I’ll try it out here today.  Give me feedback.

As always, links all open in a new window.

Running 101: Take the First Step Today from — The first steps (haha) you need to turn yourself into a runner with sections on Inspriation, Nutrition, Injury Prevention, Gear, and Training.

Running: Getting Started from MizFitOnline — One woman’s advice, given through the lens of been-there-done-that, on how to love running.

Living Deliberately from MizFitOnline — A powerful letter that a woman wrote to her one-year-ago self.  (Change is possible!)

Behavior from What I Learned Today — A moderately long but fascinating summary of a 1963 psychotherapy textbook.  “Kelly developed personal construct theory, which assumes a person’s processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he anticipates events.” A great potential tool if you’re looking to make changes to your life.

Eating Healthfully — A Long-Term Vision from Zen Habits — Teaching yourself to eat well for the long haul (no quick fixes!).

Why are flame retardants required in furniture, anyway? from Slate Magazine — This piggybacks on Lisa’s post from Friday.  It explains in more depth flame retardants, why they’re in furniture, and what they do.  Eye-opening.

Turning off the TV for Health and Healthy Weights from A Weight Lifted — TV’s correlation to various aspects of food, eating, weight loss, and weight retention.

Paint-By-Number or Masterpiece? from Calorie Count — healthy eating vs. restrictive eating via vocabulary lists.

Five Surprising Salt Sources in Food from NPR — the overwhelming majority of Americans take in far too much salt, but most of it isn’t from the shaker.

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

Today’s recipe is from  It’s easy to make, it’s tasty, it’s cheap (even moreso if you start with dry chickpeas), and it’s healthy.  And it goes nicely with rice (as suggested in the recipe) or couscous.

Fragrant Chickpea Stew

When time is of the essence, this hearty stew makes a quick meal.  It has a complex, almost beefy flavor that develops when the onion and garlic are cooked until dark brown.  Accompany with steamed rice or whole-wheat flatbreads (chapatis).

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground (see Ingredient Note)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 red potato, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 19-ounce or 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes

Ingredient Note: Coriander seeds are tiny and yellowish brown; the are produced when cilantro is allowed to seed.  They smell slightly citric.  Their flavor does not resemble, in any way, that of cilantro.


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; cook cumin seeds for 10 seconds.  Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until dark brown, 5 to 8 minutes.  Add coriander; cook, stirring, for 20 seconds.  Stir in water, potato, chickpeas, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon cilantro.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the potato is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add tomato, increase heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro and serve.

guest post: flame retardants

Today marks Change Is Possible’s first guest post!  Today’s post is from Lisa.  Lisa is a 32 year-old music teacher, mother of two, and real housewife of NJ who strives to be nothing like the ones you see on TV.

“Wear snug-fitting; not flame-resistant.”

I confess that I was perplexed the first time I saw this on a tag for infant pajamas, back in early 2004.  Little did I know at the time that any cute fleece sleeper I’d previously dressed my daughter in was required by the CPSC to be flame-resistant – achieved by either coating the garment in chemicals or weaving flame-retardants into the fibers of the material.  This was when I first became aware of the fact that many things around us are doused in a variety of chemicals to ensure they don’t burn in the event of a fire.  It’s a good idea – but at what cost?

It’s hard to get away from these items – especially if you prefer to sleep on a bed (heck, even your carpet is full of flame-retardants), or sit on a couch.  By law, kids need to ride in carseats – and carseats are full of the  chemicals, too.  Unless you’re the greenest of the green, you probably have lights and a television in your home – also containing flame-retardants.  In seaching for “alternatives” I found a lovely shop locally that handcrafts natural mattresses and discovered that I could replace my king-size with a more natural alternative (made of cotton, latex and wool) for a mere $2500; alas, that was not in the cards financially.  As with so many products and choices nowadays, healthy living ain’t cheap.

The year my daughter turned two, an article was published in the New York Times entitled “Toxic Breast Milk?” which listed the various chemicals that are passed from mom to baby via human milk.  Swell.  Some of the most common of these chemicals are known as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers).

I later learned that any chemical exposure happens first in the womb, as the placenta is less of a “filter” than human milk; it’s actually similar to how alcohol consumption is a much bigger deal for a pregnant woman than a nursing mother.  Some damage has been done before the baby ever emerges on the outside, as they’ve inherited an ugly mix of environmental contaminants from mom.  Activist group MOMS (Make Our Milk Safe) reports: “Along with its antibodies, enzymes and general goodness, breast milk also contains dozens of compounds that have been linked to negative health effects,” listing specifically  Bisphenol A (BPA, a plastic component), PBDEs (used in flame retardants), perchlorate (used in rocket fuel), perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs, used in floor cleaners and non-stick pans), phthalates (used in plastics), polyvinyl chloride (PVC, commonly known as vinyl) and the heavy metals cadmium, lead and mercury as leading offenders.

The good news is that the levels babies take in by mouth are significantly less than what the average city-dweller breathes in, though that’s not really great news for those of us who, you know, breathe.

Since then, some states have gone so far as to ban PBDEs in furniture and electronics.  This is a good start — legislation is probably the only way we’re going to be able to get away from these types of ubiquitous chemicals.  Until then, the best I can do is to purchase 100% cotton clothing for my children (no polyester here; poly is petroleum based, probably one of the reasons it burns so quickly).

Perhaps the “children’s advocacy groups” who pushed for flame-retardant pajamas in the first place wonder how I sleep soundly knowing my babies aren’t wearing flame-retardant pajamas.  It’s simple: I follow the biological imperitave to keep babies close at night.  This would allow me to scoop them up in the event of a house fire, as we’d be right next to one another instead of them being alone in a burning room.  I minimize waking risks by not burning candles around my kids and as a rule, I don’t let the toddlers cook on an open flame!

In the meantime, I’ll try to minimize exposure to other all-too-common chemicals around my house and hope for the day when either science develops less caustic substances or the government prohibits manufacturing household items using toxic materials in the first place.

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