This Time I’m Really Going

About a month ago I posted a farewell blog here, stating that I was moving to a new location.  Well that didn’t work out so well, so I ended up coming back here for a couple more rants.  I meant posts.

Now that I have solved the problem of my business name, I am OFFICIALLY moving my blog to my new website.

I hope you will continue to follow me in my new home as I continue to post about my health and fitness journey as a 50-something.

My Paleo adventure will continue to be a key topic as well as fitness and lifestyle tips for people over 50 and anyone else who cares.  I’m also starting to research races for the upcoming season, so look for some posts about obstacle racing and much more.

Thank you again to all my readers – please join me as I move into my newer, bigger, better space at


Paleo for the People

Earlier this month US World & News Report released a listing of the “Best Diets Overall” for 2014.  Much to the chagrin of many enthusiasts, and contrary to its growing popularity, the Paleo Diet was ranked last.  According to the report, the Paleo diet is too restrictive for long term adherence and the nutritional value of eating like cavemen is being called into question.   The “experts” indicate that many other diets such as SlimFast, Nutri System and South Beach are all better choices than Paleo.  Also MediFast – a medically supervised liquid-only diet – ranked higher than Paleo on the list.

badge_wmI don’t know where to begin to critique these so-called experts.  I have personally tried Slim Fast, Nutri System and South Beach – all without success.  One might think it would be great to be on the Slim Fast diet, living primarily on chocolate shakes and candy bars.  But is it really good for you?  Doubtful.  And can you do it forever?  Come on.  I don’t care how much you love chocolate, sometimes you just want to eat an apple.  Nutri System food consisted of little packages of freeze dried, chemically flavored, processed stuff that becomes something sort of recognizable when mixed with boiling hot water.   Sustainable?  No way.  Healthy?  Unlikely.  Tasty?  What do you think?

On South Beach, I failed right from the start.  I was very excited about the possibility of losing “up to 15 lbs.” after the first 2 weeks.  Since I wanted to lose a total of 15 lbs., I convinced myself that I could do it in just 2 weeks.  Having followed the program to the letter, you can imagine my shock when the scale told me I had lost only 1 measly pound.  I guess the operative and legally safe phrase was “up to”.  So disappointing, especially after I felt that I had suffered quite a lot during that initial period.  I could not look at a broccoli filled omelet for months after that experience.  I knew so many people who had lost a lot of weight right from the start.  Why didn’t it work for me?  I have no idea, but I had zero interest in continuing on South Beach beyond day 14.  There really was no point.

In my experience during the last 3 1/2 months, the key difference between all the others and the Paleo Diet is that I am mostly unconcerned about losing weight.  Of course I am still hoping my last 5-7 lbs. will eventually drop off, but I am not obsessing over it.  What I have found is that I just feel so much better.  My energy level is off the charts.  Just ask my husband – I drive him crazy as I move about in perpetual motion first thing in the morning.  I have significantly more energy in the gym and can see how my strength has increased exponentially in such a short time.  And I sleep so well.  OK, maybe that’s because I’m a whirling dervish from 5:30AM till 10PM.  But I haven’t always had this quality of sleep – you know, the kind that leaves me refreshed the next morning and ready to start all over again.

Since my first day on Paleo, I simply have not felt overly hungry.  I pay close attention to my body and only eat as much as I think I need based on my hunger level.  Sometimes I’m fine with a small salad and a handful of nuts.  Sometimes I need a few more snacks or a steak.  I don’t worry too much about counting calories because I only eat until I feel satisfied – not “full” by my mother’s standards which would require unbuttoning my pants in order to consume another helping – but feeling like I have had enough.  As a result, I don’t feel bloated any more, and I don’t find myself saying with regret, ” Ugh, I feel sick.  I ate too much.”  It just doesn’t happen.

Another point about Paleo, which is very telling to me, is that I don’t ever think about when I will be able to “get off it”.  In the past, I have looked forward to the day when I would lose all my desired weight so I could get the hell off my diet.  Despite many lectures I heard at Weight Watchers about lifestyle change, I could never imagine myself sticking to such a restrictive diet – including pre-packaged Weight Watchers meals and desserts – forever.  I think they have figured out a logical concept with the point system.  But let’s be honest, the points are just another way of counting calories.  Well I don’t believe that all calories are created equal.  So if you use all your points on cookies and cakes, not only will you be famished, you will be under nourished and probably not lose as much weight as you’d hoped.  Weight loss can be a numbers game, but only if you are playing with the right game pieces.  Eating lots of sugary food is counter to weight loss.  Sorry, but this is a fact.

By now it is clear that I am feeling a little bit defensive about the Paleo diet.  In the short time since I started it, I have transformed my relationship with food and become an advocate for the diet.  I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I have finally found something that works for me, that I can live with for the long haul.   I have converted a few people, but the most important was my husband.  During the first couple of weeks on Paleo, he fought me like I was trying to feed him hemlock with arsenic dressing.  But when he started to notice his round belly shrinking, he was sold.  I know this because after we took a fairly wide Paleo detour over the holidays, he asked me, “can we PLEASE go back on Paleo tomorrow?”  Best gift ever for me.

Paleo may be at the bottom of the diet list for the rest of the world, but it’s number one in my house.

A Few Words About Racing

If you live in a warm climate, you can pretty much race all year long.  And some of my crazy friends here in New England bundle up and race right through the winter.  I saw some photos of friends who ran in the New Year’s Day Hangover Classic 5K, which ended with an ocean plunge.  Nope.  I’m not doing that.  For me race season doesn’t begin until April, and I’m done by November.  I’ve begun to plan my race season, and I am so pleased that I have successfully recruited my sister, sister in law, niece and cousin to do a women’s only 5K obstacle race with me this summer.  Except for my niece, we are all over 50.  I am so proud of them and could not be more thrilled about bringing this awesome experience to other people, especially family.

If you’ve been thinking about trying adventure/obstacle racing, you don’t just have to trust my word about what it’s like.  I am turning today’s blog post over to Kristin Horowitz.  She is the CEO of All Out Events, based in southern California and has been doing this kind of racing since way before it was mainstream.  Here is her guest blog about her first adventure race.  Thank you Kristin!


I happen to be one of those all-rounder athletes. Maybe not elite, but I get by and can usually make it through whatever anyone throws at me.

But I hate competitions.13ecfbd

Maybe you’re like me.

Or, maybe you’re not really an all-rounder athlete, but you’d like to be.

Or, maybe you’re a damn good runner or biker or something, but the heart’s going out of those races . . .

That’s at the heart of why my company does what it does: we want you to love the outdoors, your sports, and the places we’ve been gifted with the ability to play in.

First off: you can do it. You can. If you can ride a bike, you can do it. If you can’t, well, learn! Don’t let that “can’t” get in the way of whatever it is you want to do in life.

Maybe you’ve never done a multi-sport, or maybe you’ve never done a real race. Certainly these things can be incredibly intimidating if you let them, but the fact is, it doesn’t have to be.

I did my first race/adventure race at the 2-4 Hour Adventure Sprint in May of 2010. I could mountain bike decently, I was suffering from plantar fasciitis and was worried about it being aggravating, and I am no stranger to a paddle . .  . so I decided to give it a try, asking a friend of mine who was in great shape and would be a great teammate to go along with me.

That day shall live in infamy. We took our time because it was a record-hot day and still came in respectably enough that it touched off my competitive edge (I haven’t repeated it only because my role in the race has gotten more integral) and it did something else: gave me a whole new perspective on myself.

People seem to do sports generally for two reasons: because it just FEELS good and because it shows them that they can smash barriers. Whichever one is your drive, adventure racing does it nicely, as all events can. As I finished the race, having done a course I’d never pre-run (despite my usually doing so), I had faith in the director’s ability to take care of me if something went wrong, I had a partner who I knew could tolerate anything, and in the end, I did it all on my own, no complaints, and found out what I really had in me.

Not only could I do it, I could do it reasonably fast. After being off from surgeries, hanging around world class athletes, and being heavier than I’d like, it showed me something important: that my  body was worthy. That I was an adventure athlete. That I shouldn’t define myself into a box by things I haven’t done or didn’t think I could do.

And I’d say that’s a damn good reason to race.

And…I’m back

Remember when I said I was moving my blog?  Well, scratch that.  I’m back.

It’s been an eventful couple of days for me.  The pubic announcement of my new business resulted in a terse note from a stranger in Europe who informed me that the name Vivafit was his, and I had to change my business name or face dire consequences.  In the meantime he has filed complaints with facebook and LinkedIn who also sent me terse notes about removing my pages due to these “violations”.  And since my new blog is attached to my website, it will also be shut down in the next day or so.

At a time when I should be working on finding new clients, I am scrambling to come up with a new business name.  Back to square one.  It is so disheartening to have to deal with this unpleasantness and inconvenience, especially right now.

I know that I am responsible for this error since I failed to search the USPTO to see if someone had already registered my trademark in the US.  I am pretty sure I did what most people do – I checked with the state and confirmed that no one had the business name.  And I searched google.  I did locate a few other businesses with the same name, but since they were so far out of my market area, I never dreamed it would be a problem.  Unfortunately I learned the hard way that a google search is not quite thorough enough.  An important and expensive lesson for me.  If you are thinking of starting a business, take note of this critical step!

So for the past 24 hours I’ve been frantically removing the word VivaFit from everywhere, including this blog (note new and wildly original name “Vivian’s Blog”).  I am preparing myself to toss the beautiful, brand new, still in the boxes, business cards, brochures and stationery that would have otherwise been distributed to everyone I know this week.  Maybe I can sleep in the logo-emblazoned shirts that would have served as my uniforms.  No point in throwing away perfectly good shirts.

Anyone who has ever started a business can surely relate to the feeling of grief and loss when it is gone, regardless of the circumstances.  And although I had only just begun to work on this new venture, it had already become a part of me.  For the past 4 months as I studied for my personal trainer’s certification, I created a vision for my second career.  I sent announcements to all my friends and former co-workers hoping they would help me to spread the news.  I know that the company name isn’t as important as the actual business, yet I feel incredibly sad.  I’ve also felt downright defeated and have considered giving up on the whole idea more than a few times.  But as I write this entry I can feel my energy and determination returning.


Why should I let a little setback rob me of something I have worked so hard to accomplish?  I’ve never been a quitter, and I am not going to start now.  The European guy can have his little trademark.  I’ll come up with a new name and it will be much cooler than VivaFit.  And it will serve me just as well if not better.

So, has anyone got any good suggestions?


Moving Day!

To all my readers:

I am pleased to announce that my new website has launched and my blog will be moving to a new location.  I hope you will continue to follow me as I write about health, fitness, and my continued adventures in eating Paleo.

I appreciate all the support and feedback I have received on this blog, and I encourage you to keep those cards and letters coming!

My new home is at:

I have just published my first post in this location, so please stop by and give it a read.

Happy New Year to all!


Starting in the Middle

Today is my birthday.  I am now 55 years old, decidedly middle-aged, and I am embarking on a brand new career.  A generation ago, this notion would have been laughable.  In fact exactly 100 years ago, the life expectancy for women was 55.  Had I been born 100 years earlier, I could expect to die sometime this year.  Instead, I am taking full advantage of the current life expectancy of 81 for women and the fact that I come from excellent genes, keeping the women in my family around well into their 90s.  I figure if I’m going to live for another 30 or 40 years, why not spend it doing something I really love.

This is something I have thought about for some time, and I have really struggled with what my retirement job might be.  All the books and blogs and articles I have read about second careers provide examples of people who paint, write poetry, teach fly fishing, or create amazing things out of ordinary household items then sell them for a big profit on  Sadly I possess no such talent, and I was at a loss as to how I would be spending my twilight years.  Sitting in a rocker on the porch every day is just not in the cards for me.  I have to DO something.

After months and months of indecision, it finally struck me.  There is one thing that I love to do and am pretty good at – exercise.  I have been a gym rat since my early 20’s and even when I was super busy, I always made some attempt at staying active and fit.  The gym has always been like “home” to me, and it is the place where all my troubles and woes are beaten to death, leaving me feeling lighter and stronger.  It’s like magic.  So at the end of last summer, I made the decision to become a Personal Fitness Trainer.  I began studying for my certification exam in September, and last week I took the test and passed.

My new adventure and second career officially begin here and now, leaving me at a bittersweet crossroads.  My corporate career is behind me, and the unknown world of entrepreneurship lies ahead.  I’ve never been so excited and energized.

My husband is a long time subscriber to Esquire magazine, which I often refer to as the “dirty old man’s fashion rag”.  Seriously, the average reader is about 50 years old, and their ongoing series of “Women We Love” features scantily clad models and actresses, young enough to be their youngest daughters.  That annoys and offends me, and every time one of those issues comes in with a pretty young thing on the cover, I make a mental note to write them a strongly worded letter and cancel the subscription.  Anyway, I digress.

Esquire also features a regular column called “What I’ve Learned”.  They ask a lot of famous people to share some of the big lessons they have learned in their lives, and they are presented in bullet point free form.  I always enjoy reading those columns, and their January issue is dedicated almost exclusively to this topic.  It is a good issue and worth reading, despite the raunchy photos of some random 20 year old actress.

Since I am at a major milestone in my life – both personally and professionally – and it is almost the New Year, I would like to share some of “What I’ve Learned” with you.

  • I’ve been told that the music we consider our favorite is usually reminiscent of a time in our lives when we were happiest.  I guess that’s why I still love punk rock.  That’s when I met my husband.  It’s still my favorite workout music too.
  • You can’t go wrong with any dessert made with mint and dark chocolate.  Especially if you’re bringing it to my house.
  • Thinking back on my corporate career, I can barely recall the actual work I did, but I remember very clearly all the people who made it so much fun.  A lot of them are still my friends and will be forever.
  • Never show up to someone’s house empty handed.  Ever.
  • If you invest in good skin care products, people will always think you’re 10 years younger.
  • Having a role model is important for everyone.  When I was growing up, I swore I would never be like my mother.  Now that I am grown up, I see so much of her in me, and I am grateful for her strength, caring, and warmth.  By the way, she still does water aerobics three times a week.  She’s 83.
  • Always buy very good quality shoes and purses.  They are a sign of impeccable taste and will give you unbridled self-confidence.
  • If you can read a book while walking on the treadmill, you might as well be reading it while sitting on the couch.
  • Unless you have a very high fever or are vomiting, you are not sick.  Go to work.
  • Sometimes you have an experience that makes you feel like your life is over.  What you don’t know at the time is that a new, better life is waiting right around the corner.

Fitness Milestones

This morning I reached a fitness milestone that I have been working towards for a long time.  Today I did my first deck squats with only 1 mat instead of 2.  This is quite a big deal for me.  I have been working out at this gym for over 2 years, and when I look back, I know that I have made significant progress.  I have made peace with most of my former fitness nemeses:  the torturous burpees (still hate them but I can do them), the dreaded jump rope, the arduous power wheel crawl, and the brutal plate push.  But there are still a few moves that are challenging for me, and the deck squat is one of them.

For the uninitiated, a deck squat involves doing the following:

  • lie on your back on the floor or on a mat
  • bring your legs up and over your body with your feet aiming for the floor above your head
  • using momentum (and sometimes a medicine ball in your hands for counter balance), quickly roll forward and up into a standing position – and that is one deck squat.  Usually we do lots of them.  In a row.

People who have mastered this move can do it without a mat or a ball.  I am amazed and somewhat intimidated, especially by people who have been doing it for less time than I have.  Pisses me off, actually.

When I first joined the gym, I started off on a triple height mat (about 5″ high)  to make this exercise a little bit easier, and I used a heavy (maybe 10 lb.) medicine ball.  Even with all that assistance, I was completely unable to lift my butt off the mat for the first several weeks.  Eventually I got the hang of it, and after about a year I dropped down to 2 mats and used a 4 lb. ball.  I have been stuck at this level for a long time.  When I look around the room and see that I am the only one using 2 black mats while everyone else is using one thin blue mat, and most of them without a ball, I feel like a weakling, which also pisses me off.

Our workouts are different every day, so  the opportunity to practice the move somehow escaped me (or I escaped it) for quite some time.  A couple of weeks ago there it was on the board, and I did my deck squats with the usual 2 mats and 4 lb. medicine ball.  I try to be honest with myself about the level of challenge in my workouts, and I had to admit that it was kind of easy for me.  I made a mental note to try using only 1 mat next time.  And that time was today.

I used a 6 lb. medicine ball just to give me a little more help and confidence.  Down I went, and I surprised myself when I popped all the way up to standing position on the first try!  I was working with a partner who gave me a tip to get some additional momentum, and just like that, my 1 mat deck squats became a reality.  Yes I fell back on my butt a few times.  My moves were not the most beautiful or perfect, but I was getting up pretty consistently, and that was all I hoped for.  I was positively giddy.

I have read that our minds give up well before our bodies do, and I believe this to be true.  I’ve seen people with severe physical limitations doing things that inspire and motivate me.  A photo of a man with a prosthetic leg taking on the Tough Mudder challenge is what gave me the courage to sign up for that race.  If he can do it, why the hell couldn’t I?

What's your excuse?

What’s your excuse?

As I head into the final days of studying for my Personal Trainer certification exam, I believe that a positive attitude is going to help me to pass just as much as the hard work I am putting into learning the material.  It is also going to help me get my new business off the ground.  This is a pretty serious undertaking and more than a little bit risky, especially for someone my age with 2 kids in college.  Buoyed by my success in the gym this morning, I feel a little more confidence about facing these new challenges.  And I look forward to the wonderful feeling of satisfaction when I succeed.

My next gym challenge is the pull up – first moving off the medium width band to the thinnest band, and then unassisted.  Not sure how long it will take to get there, but I know that I will not give up until I can do it.