Zone 2 for 2022.

A new year brings new opportunities. I’m happy to move beyond 2021 and map out my next 12 months of health, wellness, work and fun. Looking back at 2021, I learned a lot and experienced plenty of high and lows, peaks and valleys.

A few of my peaks. Hiking the Grand Canyon from the South Rim to North Rim and then back with family, covering 46 miles and 13.6K vertical feet in record heat (114 F). An incredible feat, and experience. Another was running my first marathon. It was the 50th anniversary of the NYC Marathon and the return of the race after Covid-19 shut it down in 2020. I never thought I could run 26.2 miles but wanted to so I joined Team Determination, an American Cancer Society team, and followed a wise training plan and hit my goals; 1) Show up on race day healthy; and 2) finish the race healthy. Bam! I’m hooked.

Heading down South Kaibab to North Kaibab covering 23.50 miles on Day 1

Now for my valleys. They were tough and they came all at once. I broke my shoulder skiing in March when a snowboarder flattened me on Scotty’s Runs at Mammoth Mountain. Then in the weeks that followed I received a crazy blow in my work life that knocked me off my game for months. That was my breaking point. I was a mess with my confidence and mental health at an all time low. Not easy to share but my truth.

A friend recently asked how I managed to pull myself out of this dark place. It took time and I drew upon my support system. My friends and family were there for me, listening and supporting me patiently. Therapy helped me sort out my feelings, what was reality, what was not, and tools to find my way back to myself. Then there was exercise. The Grand Canyon and the Marathon were big in my mind, body and soul recovery. The effort of setting such clear fitness goals helped me focus on a positive experience daily and reign in runaway thoughts. The training revealed how much I enjoy, and benefit from, endurance fitness.

I discovered that endurance training is my thing going forward. This type of training is realistic and rewarding. I’m an endorphin junky so it is a nice surprise to realize how helpful consistent walking, hiking, or jogging is to my overall health.

This is the inspiration for kicking off my 2022 Zone 2, 30-day FitLife Challenge, #Z2FLC. I’m inviting you to exercise 5 days a week for a realistic amount of time – for you. That can be 20, 30, 45 minutes a day, consistently. Zone 2 is moving at pace that is conversational and over time has significant benefits to your overall endurance and wellbeing.

The big benefits of Zone 2 are the following;

  • It builds aerobic base and endurance which enhances ability to sustain sub threshold pace for longer periods.
  • It is the foundation to build threshold fitness.
  • Allows you to recover more quickly between higher intensity efforts
  • By sticking to lower heart rates, over time you will increase your pace at the same heart rate output. This is due to increased aerobic efficiency, and it sets off many positive training adaptations

So join me and focus on consistency over intensity. Start with a 20 min walk or bike ride each day. Once this becomes part of our routine we can increase the time or the effort. Let’s build something simple that we can do daily, and enjoy. Let’s build a personal system.

My first marathon, The TCS New York City Marathon November 7, 2022

“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

The FitLife Challenge

How We Roll!

The Fitlife Challenge

Please consult with your health professional before starting FLC or any new fitness/exercise routine. Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if it’s been awhile since you’ve exercised and you have health issues or concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Program Outline – Three Pillars

  1. Exercise: 5-6 days a week. The ultimate goal is 6 days a week of exercise for the rest of your life! Start with 5 days/week goal and build up to 6 days/week. Commit to 3-4 days of cardio, 2 days of strength.
    1. Time: Aim for 45 minutes per session. If you are just getting started with an exercise program and need to build an aerobic base, start with 30 minutes a day for the first 2 weeks and gradually add 5-15 minutes to get to 45 minutes.
    2. Cardio: Move with intention – fast power walking, then add a few minutes of jogging to your pace. Progress to more jogging than walking. If you are aerobically conditioned, add a few faster intervals to your practice to activate your anaerobic threshold.
    3. Strength: This is vital to long term health. If you are just getting started, begin with the basic daily strength challenge outlined below and focus on form not on number of repetitions. Start with 5-10 reps and build up weekly. If you are conditioned, incorporate 2 days of strength training, HIIT, bootcamp, or other weight bearing workouts to your schedule.
    4. Recovery: Your muscles, body, and pysche need a break to recover, rebuild and replenish. Be sure to add in 1-2 days of gentle yoga, meditation, walking, riding, or some restorative activity to your mix.
  2. 9 Healthy Habits (HH). These are lifestyle habits based on basic clean eating versus diet depravation. Follow them and you will see change. Cut corners and, well you know, your results won’t be as exciting in the end.
  3. Daily Strength. There are 3 basic yet very effective daily strength exercises you can do at home before work, school, or starting the day. These 3 exercises impact multiple parts of your body and result in healthier muscles, bones, and greater agility
    1. Mondays & Thursdays: Push-ups and/or Planks. Start with modified form on a chair or wall for pushups or on your knees for plank. Do 10 reps and add 5 weekly. Progress the form as you get stronger.
    2. Tuesdays & Fridays: 100 Squats
    3. Wednesdays & Saturdays: 100 Sit-ups

You got this! Be kind to yourself. No judging or self shame when you miss a day. Each day is a new day. Let’s do it, grab a partner, and let’s have fun doing it.

FLC Healthy Habit 9

Avoid unnecessarily adding fat to food

Do not overthink this one. If you add less fat to foods, you will eat fewer calories and hence lose more weight. Fat is necessary in our diet and most of us eat adequate amounts of fat through cheese, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and dairy products.

Remember healthy fats help with satiety and most foods that contain fat also contain protein and additional vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, B12, and more. Some of the healthiest fats include olive oil, peanut oil and canola oil. Nuts and seeds are a good fat source as well. The fats found in fish such as salmon, tuna, and makerel are also considered healthy. Vegetable oil fats are second best.

Animal fats, coconut oil and palm kernel oil are not as healthy. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils found in products like margarine and many processed foods are the worst. Hydrogenated fats go through a heating process that has been shown to negatively impact cholesterol levels and overall health. The body just doesn’t know how to process these fats versus naturally occurring fats. Spinning(R) 8-week weight loss program

How to do it:

  1. Stick to the healthy fats such as olive oil or canola oil for cooking and baking.
  2. If having a salad, add olive oil and vinegar versus ranch dressing.
  3. Avoid margarine and “tub” spreads.
  4. Avoid frozen foods, breaded foods and french fries. Most have been pre-fried before they were frozen.
  5. Pick peanut or almond butter for toast versus cream cheese or butter.
  6. Pick hummus or salsa for vegetables versus creamy dips
  7. Avoid deep fried foods

AvocaDOPE people!


FLC Healthy Habit 8

Avoid Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Fats

This is a big one. Check the labels and avoid foods that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils/fat (also know as Trans fats) in the ingredients. These are the bad fats. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fat — also called trans-fatty acids — both raises your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

Researchers from Wake Forest University discovered eating trans fats increased the amount of fat around the belly. “Diets rich in trans fat cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight even when the total dietary calories are controlled.” Trans fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. They contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Here is an important statistic, even small amounts of trans fats can harm health: for every 2% of calories from trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%.

Granted, trans fats are found in small amounts in meat or dairy but they are primarily formed through an industrial heating process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature. As a result foods made with it are less likely to spoil and have a longer shelf life. Good for shelf life, not good for you.

I’m not bashing fat. We need some fat in our diet. It’s a major source of energy and helps you absorb some vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, muscle movement and more. But some fats are good and some fats are bad in the long run. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Bad ones include industrial-made trans fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fat). Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.

Make it your goal to avoid hydrogenated fats entirely but if you insist on eating hydrogenated fat containing foods, the suggested safe limit is 2 grams per day. If you see the words hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or interesterified fat (a new and unhealthy type of fat that food chemists have learned that if you put fully hydrogenated fats through a few more processes, they become less solid and product friendly — often found in wraps and burrito shells), pick something else.

How to do it?

  • Pick farm to table. Choose foods in their original purest form. Fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy, cheese, fish, organic meats, and whole grain foods do not contain hydrogenated fats.
  • Avoid deep-fried foods.
  • Avoid “breaded” foods.
  • Avoid margarine and tub spreads.
  • Read the labels of all the food items you buy and avoid buying anything with the words “hydrogentated”, “trans-fatty acids”, “partially hydrogenated fats”, and “shortening” (yes crisco) listed in the ingredient category.
  • Prepare your own food from original ingredient
  • Limit convenient foods
  • Limit eating out. Most store and restaurant breads contain hydrogenated fats. Most eating establishments use bread products containing hydrogenated fats and cook with shortening or margarine. Good to know what your favorite eateries use to cook with and avoid fast food.

Go natural. I like to eat food in its simple, natural, organic form. If I buy prepared or packaged food I want to be able to recognize and understand what each ingredients is versus a chemistry assignment.