Fighting Back Against the Snack Attack

Since moving to San Francisco last year I’ve been working from home which is a blessing and a curse in equal amounts. Working in pajamas gets major bonus points but having constant access to my kitchen can be a real pain in the you know what. Actually it’s more of a pain in the zipping up my jeans department.

That being said it’s not like I’m not fully aware of what types of foods trigger “snack attack” moments in me. I don’t keep sweetened breakfast cereals in the house, ice cream, or candy. My issues with Wheat Thins alone might have enough angst to fill an entire novel so those are out too. When I make cookies and other high calorie baked goods for my blog I try one and then ship the rest off to my boyfriend’s office because keeping them around the house for extra sampling is how I got here in the first place. I also live next door to a Panera and it quite cruelly smells like cinnamon rolls 50% of the time. Jerks. But in the end my one true nemesis and downfall is cheese.

How do you quit cheese?! I simply can’t do it. But I have managed to curb my love a bit via individually packaged means. For instance, I’m a huge fan of Precious Pepper Jack Cheese Sticks and the reduced-fat Colby-Jack Sargento snacks. They even make Brie Bites these days which are absolutely fantastic. These all offer just enough of a cheese fix that I can eat one and stop dreaming about gigantic bowls of macaroni and cheese and the like.

Of course a girl can’t live on cheese snacks alone so I’ve also been trying to make or have on hand a lot of the following items to keep me honest in the all things edible department.

Avocado Toast
Every time I eat an avocado I feel a little sad about the fact that I didn’t even try an avocado until I was something like 20 years old. RIDICULOUS. I feel sad about all of the amazing avocado opportunities I missed in my “I’m a picky twit” phase. My favorite way to eat them is mashed and spread on whole wheat toast or an english muffin sprinkled with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a lot of spicy red pepper flakes. I sometimes also drizzle a tiny bit of extra-virgin olive oil but honestly that’s sort of overkill. Sometimes I also just eat all of the above in a bowl and skip the extra carbs too.

Banana “Ice Cream”
So ridiculously simple and so delicious. No heavy whipping cream, eggs, or sugar touch this dish but it tastes creamy and rich. Get the whole scoop (so to speak) on how to make this dead simple dish at The Kitchn.

Hard or Soft Boiled Eggs
When I tried to do the Paleo, Primal, and Four-Hour Body diets at various times I ended up hating eggs. I couldn’t stand eating them for breakfast and I wasn’t a big fan of having potato-less beef stew at 6:00 AM every morning so eggs always seemed like the only option. I’m way over that aversion now and will happily pop a couple of eggs into boiling water for a protein packed snack. PS: adding 1/2 a teaspoon of salt to the pot really does seem to help get those finicky organic egg shells off in less than 100 tiny slivers.

Quinoa
I’m in love with quinoa. I can’t cook it properly on the stove top though so if you have a similar problem with your quinoa coming out in a mushy mess I urge you to try cooking it in your rice cooker. I make great big batches and then just let it cook and steam until it is fluffy and lovely. Then I pack it away in the fridge and have a cup with roasted red peppers or edamame (really you can throw anything on there). This has been a go-to lunch for me recently and I can’t rave enough about the versatile nature of this grain. There’s also a great cookbook out now that has a ton of quinoa recipes to get your started on your own quinoa kick from morning to night.

Those are a few of my favorite snacks right now. I’d love to hear about any tips or tricks you have for keeping the cookie monster at bay!

Oh Hi, Slow Cooker!

Do you own a slow cooker aka crock-pot? Chances are that you do. Here’s a hint. It’s probably hidden in the back of a closet or cupboard somewhere, and if you don’t then they’re seriously easy to come by. I’ve even seen them for sale in Walgreens and CVS. You know for all those times when your to-do list reads: pick up some gum, a Mother’s Day card, and a slow cooker.

My most vivid crock-pot memory hails from my grandmother. She used to make a killer crock-pot beef stew that I absolutely loved. Mostly because it was full of potatoes, turnips, carrots and zero peas. My mother made her stew with peas and I was a great big twit and refused to eat them. I have no idea why I thought turnip was awesome and peas were the devil. I certainly don’t feel that way now. However, as part of my dinner time argument, I often pointed out that the family dog would literally eat around peas if any happened to be on a plate set down in front of him. Matlock would have been proud of my evidence gathering skills.

So what are you supposed to do with this big plugged-in pot once you get it home? Well, there are pretty much a million-and-one things you can cook. Some of them are fantastic ideas that will yield great tasting and healthy meals while others encourage you to make macaroni and cheese and (I kid you not) cheesecake in your new kitchen toy. Let’s not focus on those right now though. I’m here to inspire you to give your crockpot another look, not make you gain ten pounds.

Breakfast Ideas
These get-up and get-going dishes will be the perfect thing to wake-up to on mornings when you workout. Plus, imagine how good your home will smell when the alarm goes off and you have a steaming pot of oats, apples, or eggs just waiting for you in the kitchen.

Overnight Oatmeal with Apricots and Buttermilk
Effortless Crockpot Breakfast Burritos
Slow Cooker Baked Apples
Crockpot Whole Grain Breakfast Cereal
Peach and Coconut Quinoa

Dinner Ideas
Here’s where the real fun starts. Who wants to slave over a hot stove after you’ve gotten up early to run around outside with your fellow bootcampers and slogged your way through another day at the office? Even though I love to cook I still answer with a resounding, “Not me!” at least a few times each week. Fortunately, if you own a crock-pot you can toss a few simple ingredients in the bowl, set the controls, and arrive home to a drop-dead-delicious dinner with very minimal additional evening effort.

Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce
Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans
Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker
Homemade Crockpot Marinara Sauce

Of course, after looking at all of these recipes I’m seriously starving! If you’d like some helpful tips on choosing a crock-pot that will work best for you definitely consider checking out this post from SlowCookerFromScratch.com. It features a great round-up of reviews and frequently asked questions. These ladies and gentleman are serious about slow cooking and will have you hooked in no time at all.

Additional Blogs to Gather Recipes From:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
http://www.slowcookerfromscratch.com/
http://www.skinnytaste.com/2007/07/crock-pot-recipes.html [with Weight Watchers Points]
http://www.coconutandlime.com/search/label/slow%20cooker
http://www.theperfectpantry.com/slow-cooker-crockpot/

I also made a new Pinterest Board for you to follow if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s called “I Swear I’ll Use My Slow Cooker Someday.”

Finding Fitting Music to Get Fit With

Are you good at making mix tapes? If so let’s chat because I’m so tragically not. I never fully understood or put into practice all of the so-called fundamentals necessary for arranging (with High Fidelity level fanaticism) music into painstaking order with proper beats per minute perfectly balanced with obscure tracks and tongue in cheek references. Also, I’m dating myself by even referencing the word “tapes.” You can’t even call them mix CDs anymore. Honestly, when was the last time you bought an actual honest-to-goodness CD that wasn’t impulse shopped from the counter at Starbucks while you clutched a latte and stared at a Top Pot Doughnut with longing?

So, yes, when it comes to mix tapes, CDs or playlists I am utterly hopeless but wow do I love it when someone else makes a mix for me. To that end I love Spotify. Are you familiar with this service? There is a free version but for $10 a month you can get unlimited access to millions of songs without annoying ads. If you already have an extensive collection of music housed in iTunes you can still sync it with Spotify for everyday streamlined use. Best of all they have an excellent mobile app that allows you to access the service (and all of that music) with wireless or you can specify specific playlists to be downloaded for use in an offline mode. Plus you can easily create playlists that you can share with friends or keep private. It’s totally up to you.

You might be wondering why I’m bringing this up. Frankly it all ties back to running and my continued inability to improve at it. I call shenanigans on my inner monologue and I suspect I can run much further and longer than my very critical thoughts seem to insist. So in an effort to block out those very loud, “let’s stop moving now” impulses I started listening to my iPod again when working out outside on the weekends.

In the meantime, something desperately needs to be done with the music currently housed on my device. Yesterday, and I’m not making this up, the Bangles came on, followed by a Whitney Houston song (too soon!), and then Sunday Morning by No Doubt. Not to even mention that I hit skip about a dozen times when something even more annoying started to play. Then I’d get distracted and usually end up stopping.

So I’m hoping to use Spotify to find some good workout mixes that I can save for later use and that don’t make me roll my eyes whenever the next track starts.  So far I’ve identified these as being good possibilities to try out.

Work It Out! by Sony UK

2012 Running Music by Runner’s World

The Utlimate Running Playlist

Zone Out Music for a Morning Run

What are your favorite songs to work out to? Maybe together we can create a collaborate playlist for BootCampSF on Spotify? If you already have spotify you can access the playlist at this link or check it out below. I’ve added a few tracks to get us started and can’t wait to see what you like exercising to as well!

http://open.spotify.com/user/erinnichols/playlist/1vMHfYlR8h4LKQv2KqqJsR

A Note on iPod Use From BootCampSF: For most BCSF sessions, we prefer that you not use your headphones during class so that your instructors can keep you safe and ensure you hear all the directions. But if your class is doing a run day, just check in with your instructor to let them know that you’d like to jam out during your workout!

Getting Fit and Staying Motivated with Pinterest

Are you on Pinterest? In case you somehow managed to miss the major press this addictive site has been racking-up the basic premise of Pinterest is that it’s a visual way to collect, organize, and share your favorite online content. Each item that you add to your account is known as a “pin” and each of these pins can be easily organized into likeminded collections known as “boards.” I’ve been there since last March but it wasn’t until this past Christmas that it made the transition from occasional check-in to daily must-do. Want more info? Click here for an in-depth tutorial about getting started with Pinterest.

My pinning habits run the gamut from recipes to furnishing my imaginary beach house and even a board dedicated to all things Kate Middleton. It might sound like a silly waste of time initially but honestly until you’ve lost multiple hours of your day going down the Pinterest rabbit hole then you probably won’t understand the hype. I suggest you give it some time, connect to some of your friend’s accounts and see what shakes out. I’m willing to bet you’ll soon find yourself consulting the site the next time you need to make a grocery list, plan a dinner party, or buy a unique gift.

One of the key tenants of Pinterest is also that it serves as a source of inspiration for users. To that end BootCampSF has begun to curate their own boards on the site. If you’re a boot camper then I suspect that fitness and healthy living are important parts of your life, but finding information on these subjects can be time consuming. With Pinterest you can discover oodles of information in one place and easily pick and choose the items that interest you most for later consumption.

Of course, not all information is created equally online. While there are a lot of excellent tips posted on Pinterest you will also inevitably come across unhealthy and downright wacky images and ideas. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is and if an image makes you cringe move on to a better board.

In addition to the BootCampSF account (which is just getting started) you might also find some of the following boards and users great jumping off sources for healthy recipes, workout clothes, and even motivational quotes. Happy pinning!

If you’re already an avid pinned please let us know and leave a url to your profile and/or your own favorite fitness pinners in the comments on this post. We’d love to follow you and hear your recommendations!

7 Make Ahead Muffin Recipes to Kickstart Your Day

Whenever a new bootcamp session begins you’ll inevitably hear about the importance of eating something before you come to class. Classic responses to this never-ending conundrum include everything from a piece of toast to a banana. I tend to usually make an english muffin with peanut butter as that seems to be the right amount of food that can give me a little energy at 6:00 AM and not make me feel ill if we have to do sprints in the first 10 minutes.

But boy does it get boring! What I really like to do, if I can get my act together on Sunday evening, is bake a batch of muffins. Then I can just grab one on my way out the door and eat it as I walk to class. Of course, not all muffins are created equally. My absolute favorite muffin recipe is actually for bran muffins. Sounds good for you, right? Not so much though as the batter contains an entire stick of butter and a cup of sour cream. They’re really delicious but ingredients like that sort of defeat the purpose of getting out of bed to workout so it’s probably best to save those for a weekend treat.

Thankfully there are oodles of make ahead muffin recipes that are composed of much more diet and exercise friendly components including a host of great replacements and additions to white flour and sugar. Perhaps one of the following will make it into your weekday rotation? Personally, I have my eye on the Spinach and Quinoa Muffins.

Primal Pumpkin Nut Muffins via my blog, ErinCooks.com

Whole Grain Almond Poppyseed Muffins via Amy of Nook and Pantry

Gluten-Free Mango Muffins via Marla at Family Fresh Cooking

Spinach and Quinoa Muffins via Lisa at Dandy Sugar

Almond Meal Banana Muffins via Gabrielle at Honest Fare

Beet and Oat Muffins via Sonia at The Healthy Foodie

Low Fat Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins via Gina at SkinnyTaste

Taking Our Talents to South Beach

You’re obvious familiar with your own boot camp home turf but do you ever wonder what takes place in other session’s outdoor spaces? I’m super nosy so I definitely do. Here’s a peek at the terrain we frequent at least 3 days a week in South Beach and some of the exercise that goes down while we’re there oh so early in the morning.

First things first. We all get to start our morning off with a lap around “the long track.” That tree and stone lined park may look petite and even picturesque but sometimes I feel like it’s some cruel optical illusion that just doesn’t end leading me to believe that objects that exist near AT&T Park are larger than we think.

Post run our next stop is a daily warm-up session of lunges, inchworms, push-ups, and squats. I like to read the engraved bricks along the wall while trying not to fall over doing my squats and push-ups.

The “Go Giants!” sentiments are entertaining and sometimes even heartfelt although I haven’t found one featuring an Erin yet. My mom’s name does make an appearance though, go figure…

Next we take a scenic run around the short track aka the little league ball park. I harbor serious feelings of loathing toward that ballpark as it’s where we do agility work which is a bit like an exhausting game of Mother-May-I featuring such fan favorites as sprinting, jump squats, and high skips. One day I really hope our instructor yells out, “bunny hop!” or “pirouette” just for fun.

The fencing around the park also doubles as a great place to practice your inner circus fantasy as that’s where we often do pull-ups, or in my case attempt to do a single pull-up. Also, on the last day of each 6-week session Brooks lets the group play dodge ball for half of class, but before you get excited take note that each time you get hit by the ball you’re going to have to bang out a number of push ups and squats. Pretty tricky, right?!

We also use quite a bit of more traditional equipment like kettle bells, medicine balls, and bands each day and working out outside with views like this make it possible to sometimes forget just how heavy a twenty-five pound weight can become after twenty minutes of a varied lifting circuit.

One of the two best uses of our outside space though, in my opinion, are utilizing the decorative wall for step-ups. If you can get out of bed the day after a session involving lots of this type of activity then you aren’t doing it right. It’s a good pain though. One that let’s you know you’re doing something very very right. The other is more of a beginners thing (to some extent) but I can’t do “real” push-ups yet so I really love completing them against the gigantic stone baseballs that line the sidewalk. When I’m having serious there-is-no-way-I-can-do-this thoughts I also like to pretend I’m strong enough to shove one of those granite monstrosities right into the ocean. Take that boot camp!

Any special spots in your workout areas that you feel particular fondness or disdain for? We’d love to hear about them!

Do You Fit?

Do you fit? For once the aforementioned phrase has nothing to do with an inner monologue that I’m having with my jeans or a bathing suit. The fit in question this week involves your sneakers which just happen to be the be-all-end-all of your bootcamp bag of tricks.

Right before we closed out our January winter session it became absolutely apparent that my own trusty shoes were on their last legs. You’d think “how to fix shin splints” becoming my top google search should have been enough of a red flag. Truth be told those old shoes probably should have been replaced way back in November but I put off the inevitable to the point that it essentially felt like I was trying to run barefoot. Not fun.

Needless to say new sneakers needed to be obtained stat. In the past I’d gone to an athletic store and been fitted properly for shoes but not for a few years. Instead, I’d simply been buying the same brand and style over and over again. Which you’d think would be OK but from year to year and season to season those shoes do change sometimes subtly but often times drastically. Since I’m still pretty new (and fairly clueless) to the bay area off to Yelp I went to find a store that could tell me what I needed to buy.

In the end I decided to try out Fleet Feet Sports as the reviews were stellar and it sort of resembled the small store atmosphere of the establishment that I used to shop for shoes in back east. I went on a Saturday afternoon, which I really wouldn’t recommend because it was definitely crowded, but the throng of shoe seekers were cleared out quickly by the team of knowledgable sales people.

I can’t remember the name of the individual who helped me but he was extremely kind, really listened attentively when I explained what activities I would be using my shoes for, and knew cool facts about each model I tried on. Even though the store was busy he never seemed rushed and was extremely patient about the entire process.

One of the strangest things, at least to me, about being fitted for sneakers is that it’s the ONLY time in my life when I will wear whatever I’m given and will not complain about the color or style. I simply want the shoe to feel lovely. I overheard several customers around me nixing numerous shoes because they weren’t quite cool enough and I was honestly a bit shocked. Sure, there were several pairs of shoes that I tried which were really gorgeous (lilac and pink respectively) but the sneaker that ended up making me feel like the Cinderella of bootcamp was the Saucony Triumph 9 in silver, gray, and citron.

They may look like they fell out of Punky Brewster’s closet but man do they feel awesome and I was so excited to wear them this morning. I was also absolutely shocked that I didn’t experience even the slightest twinge of pain while working out today. My entire shoe wearing life is a sea of bandaids followed by a haze of pinched toes and blisters so the fact that this shoe made me forget I had it on is nothing short of a miracle. Thank you Fleet Feet Shoes!

So where do you get your sneakers? Do you swear by another store or sales person? And would you wear a shoe you found unattractive if it fit like a glove or would you hold out for the sexier pair? Let me know in the comments!

5 “Eat This – Not That” Ideas for Thanksgiving

1600 Calories? Let's Rethink This...

1600 Calories? Let's Rethink This...

I stumbled across this very scary infographic tonight that illustrates how much we tend to eat at Thanksgiving dinner and how long you will need to workout in the gym to burn off the calories. I generally like to live in ignorant bliss about such things but being told that the typical diner on Thanksgiving will eat more than 1600 calories is a bit sobering.  Although, historically my boyfriend and his brother have competed to make the most absurdly packed platter of food and then proceeded to lick the plate clean so really I shouldn’t be surprised.

I love pie, mashed potatoes, and turkey as much as the next girl but perhaps we might want to consider switching out a few of those classic dinner dishes with a slightly more healthy alternative?

A heaping bowl of cranberry sauce is a must-have for most people. I grew up eating the crazy stuff that comes out of a can and then graduated to making my own, but most homemade recipes call for at least a cup of sugar to balance out the tartness of the ruby red berries. This recipe for Raw Cranberry Sauce from Elena’s Pantry uses a blend of fresh orange, lemon, and dates to naturally sweeten the dish. Very intriguing!

I’m the very bad (or good depending upon how you look at it) guest who brings the super addictive cheese laden artichoke dip to all the holiday parties. But I think I may have to try this Edamame Guacamole and see if miss all of that feta and parmesan or not.

One of my favorite thanksgiving dishes is sweet potato casserole. It might as well be dessert though, what with all of the mini-marshmallows and brown sugar piled onto the poor vegetables. But I really love sweet potatoes. They’re an absolute must for me on holidays. Perhaps a roasted version with savory mushrooms and a sprinkling of pretty parsley would be a better option though?

Stuffing is yet another side dish that I can wax poetically about for paragraphs. Sure, there are vegetables in there but I have pretty vivid memories of helping my grandmother toast and cut loaves and loaves of bread into bite sized pieces back in the day. After all of these early bootcamp mornings I don’t really want to overdo it completely. So I might be persuaded to exchange my stuffing for a few scoops of this dazzlingly colored Red Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Cranberries, and Pecans.

Confession time: I don’t even like pumpkin pie. There I said it. So this low-calorie Frozen Pumpkin Mousse kills two birds with one stone.

In reality, we will all probably eat and drink a little too much next Thursday, but I hope the above ideas inspire your cooking a bit and if you do have three slices of pie and half the turkey don’t worry — the new session of bootcamp starts the following Monday.

The Hills Are Alive With the Sounds of Sneakers

Approximately 96 factors need to be at their ultimate level for me to be able to run for exercise. For instance, my shoes need to be tied just so, socks a certain fabric, it can’t be too hot or too cold, I need my iPod, my workout clothing can’t be too big or too small etc… Yes, I do in fact realize this is a fantastic array of excuses, but I’m not one of those people who thinks running is fun. For me running is right up there with going to the dentist, shopping at the mall on Christmas Eve, and public speaking. But I don’t want it to be.

In the past I’ve given the running thing an honest go. My boyfriend tried to get me into it. He even bought me this insanely cute Nano a few years ago and had it engraved with my nickname and a very “ra ra” sentiment. I ran and walked and ran and walked and huffed and puffed and somehow managed to be able to run 2 miles without stopping once in awhile (when all of the above criteria were met, of course) but then it would get cold and dark and finally it would snow (this being Boston and all) and I’d hibernate and half heartedly drag myself to the gym to read trashy novels on the elliptical here and there. Then when spring came I had to inevitably start the awful process over again. Run, walk, repeat.

So when I signed up for BootCamp and saw the box inquiring if I could run a mile I suffered some sort of delusion of grandeur and said yes. Then I proceeded to frantically run on the treadmill at the gym to make sure I could. But running on the treadmill is nothing at all like running outside and it is lightyears away from running in Potrero Hill.

Wikipedia opens it’s article on the area by saying “it’s a hilly neighborhood.” To which I can only respond, “Are you kidding me?!” I’m pretty sure most of this part of the city has a steeper incline than the mom and pop “ski slope” in my hometown. Not to mention that I had dinner at a friend’s home in Potrero recently and had to take off my heels before I even got out of the cab so I could get to her front door.

If you’re from this area and grew up running these small, let’s face it, mountains, then you probably don’t think anything of bounding up and down these streets like an elegant gazelle. I, on the other hand, dread our Tuesday running focused BootCamp sessions. This is the day that gets in my head like no other.

Right from the get go I start out behind everyone. I’m slow. Super slow and have seriously questionable stamina on straightaways so as soon as my legs come in contact with any degree of incline my brain pretty much screams STOP. I drag myself as quickly as possible up and then down to our usual first meeting point where there just happens to be a railing perfect for doing many many sets of horizontal pull-ups interspersed with a run up a small hill that I’d much rather tackle with snow boots and a sled.

If you’re very lucky you won’t have to run up the picturesque staircase (that never ends) and happens to also be strategically nestled in-between a number of sleepy homes across from the makeshift concrete gym. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle of BootCamp. I usually have just enough time to think some very dark thoughts about how much I hate Tuesdays and then we’re off again.

Sometimes we’re supposed to run up and down Wisconsin Street, a very long hill that that meanders and tricks you into thinking you’ve made it to the top only to realize that there are at least two more blocks to go.  Other times we have the distinct pleasure of pushing our fellow boot campers up another steep hill backwards, sometimes we might carry a medicine ball up a hill, and other times you may just be asked to do walking lunges for a very VERY long time. And just when you think this crazy outing will never end Brooks sends us all over to the Potrero Hill Playground.

This colorful and cheerful place serves at the backdrop for the final few minutes of class which are generally spent doing things that make my nonexistent abs hurt and holding plank on very shaky arms. Then it’s over and I can hardly believe we’ve only been galavanting about the neighborhood for an hour.

My walk back home takes around 20 minutes. This means that I have plenty of time to forget all about how much I hate those hills and how great I feel. The meditative hike to my apartment does unfortunately also remind me that I inadvertently left that cute iPod in my jacket pocket and washed it a few weeks ago. It still plays but only holds about 20 minutes of charge thus making it, now and forever, impossible for all of the so-called “must have” criteria I described above from ever happening again. Yet, I still somehow managed to make it through class without extra accessories. Hmm… maybe that means I’m getting better at this Tuesday hill thing?

Don’t Worry. No One Makes You Do the Bent Arm Hang

When last we met I was fretting about my first foray into outdoor exercise, but like anything you’re dreading the day still arrives whether you want it to or not. So one Monday morning in July I woke up to the annoying iPhone alarm at 6:00 AM, dragged my anxious self out of bed, forced some toast down my throat and walked over to the class meeting point. I’m pretty sure this was the one and only time I ever arrived early. Right in the nick of time is really more my style these days.

The South Beach BootCamp location has a lot of pretty scenery including wide expansive views of the bay, some stunning sunrises, and the ever present behemoth that is AT&T Park. I’m a Red Sox fan but that stadium is gorgeous so Go Giants! Anyway, as I waited for the rest of the class to arrive I silently took stock of everyone and soon realized that I was definitely going to be the most out-of-shape character in the group by far. This did little for my morale and I was still pretty much shaking in my sneakers by the time we took off for our warm-up lap.

This short run, which I came in dead last on, (go me!) was followed by a series of lunges and something called an inch worm. This is when I seriously balked. I could not believe that I was about to touch a sidewalk in San Francisco with my bare hands. If you have any kind of sense what-so-ever please please please buy yourself a pair of gloves and wear them to your first class. Some people wear weightlifting gloves, but those are fingerless and I don’t like touching gross stuff so I wear an old pair of Burton liner gloves that get washed every day.

So after I crawled around on the sidewalk for a bit while having a mini germaphobe freakout in my head we then completed several sets of lunges interspersed with push-ups. Needless to say my push-ups were done on the wall. I think I probably completed 3. At this point we were broken into two groups: returners and beginners. The returning people were sent off to do a set of exercises that, at the time, pretty much made my jaw drop in disbelief and involved yellow medicine balls, something called a super-cat, and a lot of running, while the new people in the group got to do a fitness review of sorts.

This activity will definitely take you back to junior high and the notorious President’s Physical Fitness Test, and if you were not the kid who held the school record in sit-ups for 60 seconds or who excelled at the bent-arm hang then oh you’re not going to like this. Thankfully no one makes you do the shuttle run but you do get timed doing sit-ups, push-ups, and a mile and a half run. I have it written down so here’s a benchmark for you. It took me 21.24 to run 1.5 miles. It’s OK. Feel free to laugh. As you can imagine I came in last again, and that run (honestly I had to walk quite a bit of it) pretty much did me in for the day. But that was it. Class was over. One hour of strange new things and I had survived.

Then something happened. Even though I had to touch the filthy sidewalk, do sit-ups in public, and run around a park 6 1/2 times I didn’t feel scared or grumpy anymore. In fact, I felt pretty proud of myself. Yay endorphins! And honestly, that really is why I’m still going to BootCamp 4 months later. Sometimes there are workouts you feel great and confident pretty much the entire time through and that feels awesome, but sometimes I spend 60 minutes hating everything we do. But there is always some moment even after the so-called “bad days” (usually when I’m home and in the shower) that the amazing feeling returns and I can’t believe I’ve improved, I go to class regularly, and that some of those jeans I packed almost fit again.

Oh but wait. It’s not all happy endings around here just yet. This isn’t Dawson’s Creek people. I’ll fill you in on what it’s like to participate in the “running day” when you usually only run if someone is chasing you next week.