Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Wii Active II

I got Wii Active II as a gift this Christmas (I am not a paid spokesperson by anyone) and have used it for three days. Here is what I have found out so far.
This is a pretty detailed program of many types of workouts. After asking a couple of simple questions, it asks what kind of workout your prefer. I chose rigorous, of course. It gives the player the option of a few workout schedules, including the initial 21 day jumpstart. I started with this.
The package comes with a sensor for the arm and one for the leg, as well as a band with handles to attach. Directions for the sensors are self explanatory. Attaching the handles to the band is not so explanatory and I could not attach them in a secure way. I finally got frustrated and used another band.
The workout is safe and effective. It includes tutorials for everything and constant form cues. I am not sure if a person brand new to exercise would understand the cues. If you have tried this program as a new exerciser, please let me know so we can compare notes.
If you are new to exercise and need to see the tutorial, don't stop moving to watch. If anything, practice as you watch. Skip tutorials if you have already seen them. While the program is loading to the next topic, keep a constant movement, such as running, walking, or jumping. With the circuits being so short, you could use the extra time. Stopping and starting is generally not a good idea.
I also noticed that the leg sensor actually sees about half of my actual reps in a fast-moving circuit. Just be aware of this. It does not bother me as I could use the extra reps!
The game should also advise the player to do some other exercise forms. 20 minutes a day 4 days a week will not be as substantial as it would be in conjunction with a cardio plan or other activity.


Pros: Simple, short workouts, can be challenging,heart rate monitor, journal of progress, personalized workout, personalized calendar, easy to follow, easy to stick to.

Cons: circuits can be too short, sensor can miss reps, bands not useable.

Thumbs up! I'm going to stick to it and see what happens next.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Diastasis Recti: The Surgery and Recovery Part 2

The recovery at home seemed to take forever. For someone who can push through about anything, being in pain and restriction from movement was a lot to handle. I could not shower for three weeks. I sat up to sleep also for about three weeks. After that time, I thought I would eventually be able to stand up straight. That would not happen for about thirteen weeks. Because of my small size, the sutures for the mesh show through my skin. One is rather pronounced and irritates the nerves around it. That one may need to be removed.
I consider myself to be in recovery still, as things that seem simple are not. Everything is connected to the core, so everything has to be relearned as my body recuperates. Jumping was particularly difficult at first, and I still have trouble with exercises that are body weight on the upper body, like push ups and tricep dips. These exercises really pull on the stitches. The left side is recovering slower than the right and feels pulled and uncomfortable. I can feel where the mesh lays and all of the sutures around it.
After all of this, I am very glad that I got the surgery. My stomach muscles were not going to repair themselves, and this injury was greatly impacting my life. Though the recovery impacts my life, it is well worth it. I will eventually be able to do all of the things I enjoy, though maybe not to the full range of motion that I had when I was younger. At least I feel repaired and pulled together, and the problems associated with torn muscles and hernias are gone.
Because of the shock of recovery and the methods I have gone through for this recovery, I hope to come out with a new DVD or series to help others recover from surgeries or illnesses.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Diastasis Recti: The Surgery and Recovery Part 1

For all of you who have Diastasis Recti and you have come to the conclusion that it will not close through your efforts, or if you have a hernia in the diastasis and you know you will have to have surgery or live with it forever, I am writing a few articles for you. Please note that I am very honest. Some people do not want to know how it really is and would rather go in to the surgery without prior knowledge. Please know that I am not going to tiptoe around the situation.
The surgery was in June 2010. It is now almost December 2010, and I will say that the recovery is still underway, though I can do most activities that I enjoy, though everything is a process and nothing is easy. Here is how the surgery itself went for me:
Two weeks prior to surgery, I signed my life away and paid a "package" price to my plastic surgeon and the hospital. This took all day. They did blood work and I signed lots of paperwork about risks. My particular plastic surgeon works with a general surgeon on this surgery. The general surgeon removes the hernia and applies the mesh over the area to reduce risk of future herniations. On the day of the surgery, I arrived at 5 AM, and sat in an admitting room where they marked me up and took more blood. They started the IV and I fell asleep as they wheeled me down the hall.
Approximately five hours later, I woke up in the recovery room unable to take a full breath. I was terrified and shocked at first. The nurse was telling me to take a deep breath and I could not. I felt like I was hyperventalating. I could not move. I was taped to a corset-like hard shell that was holding me together. I was in terrible pain, even with lots of pain meds. I do not know how long I was in recovery. It took me a long time to relearn how to get air in to my lungs without expanding my torso, and this is how I would breathe for quite a while.
I stayed in the hospital for two nights. The first day and night, I mostly slept to escape the pain and frustration of breathing and moving. The second day, I had to get up and move more. Everything was difficult. My husband had to help me do everything, including moving my legs. I was on morphine for most of that time, until the headaches became excruciating. They moved me to another pain medicine then. The leaky drains were awkward and gross.
My husband drove me home, carefully, after the second night, and my adventure of recovering at home would begin.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Protect Your Daughters

Today's news is not shocking, but warrants a review. I am referring to the new study showing that American girls are entering puberty earlier than ever, with a drastic increase in seven and eight year old girls. The experts claim the only proven problem is obesity. This is a problem, of course, but I would refer to the many girls growing breasts who are not overweight. My personal theory is that we are feeding girls products laced with growth hormones, and covering girls with products laced with parabens. I would encourage parents to check their products as follows:
1. milk: use milk that does not contain growth hormones, especially rBst.
2. meats and poultry: check that your provider does not use growth hormones (and while you are at it, check for arsenic in your chicken).
3. bath and lotion products: do not use any product on your child that includes a chemical ending in "paraben." Parabens imitate estrogen and do permeate the skin.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Didn't Mean to Say "I Told You So, BUT...."

Dr. Oz reports on his radio show this week that multiple sets are NOT necessary and may do NO more good than single set workouts! HOWEVER, this means that single set needs to fatigue the muscle. You're going to have to work a little harder, lift a little heavier, but hey, you only have to do it once and MOVE on. In fact, in strength training, shorter workouts are better because there is less risk of injury. Another way to shorten your workout time? I've been saying it for years, but now I hear it everywhere: stretching before your workout is a WASTE of time! In fact, loosening it up before working it out is counterintuitive to what you are trying to accomplish, so save the stretch. Do it when the muscle needs it, which is when it is fatigued and feels shortened.
On the diet front, what is my main rule? DO NOT starve yourself! Obesity, which is a medical journal, reports that women who fast or use diet pills will gain on average 8 pounds during that dieting time period! How is THAT working out for you?
What's the rule? Eat real food, be in control of what you eat, and move it!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

EAS and Muscle Milk: STOP NOW

This is what happens because of the FDA's lack of power over the health and wellness industry in this country. There are toxic levels of serious heavy metals (ie. arsenic, lead, and cadmium) in Muscle Milk and EAS Myoplex. Muscle Milk is actually marketed to pregnant women, which is even scarier. Stop all use of these products and see the complete list of dangerous health drinks (that have been found in this study) at . The more I think about it, the more I think we just need to stop using all prepackaged protein shakes and unregulated supplements and substances until better laws are passed. Just eat healthy, tested, washed (wash them again!) foods. It's insane that we live in a country that does not protect your health in the foods that we eat and the supplements we take!

Surgery: Check!

I had my diastasis recti and hernia repair done recently. I will be giving updates as my condition improves. Let me just say that this surgery is for people who struggle beyond physical therapy and work with a postnatal fitness specialist. The surgery is serious and invasive, and the recovery is really tough. More later!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Buy Me a Slendertone!

Watching the Slendertone commercials make me laugh; I have seen this type of toning device since I was a kid. But this one...are you ready for this?.... is different! Yes, according to the research of the American Council on Exercise, the Slendertone does actually help tone the buttocks area. The pros of this contraption are:
-minimal effort
-a little tonal musculature is denoted after as little as a month
the cons are:
-there is no cardio benefit. Toning has to go along with fat loss for most people, or the benefits can not be seen, only felt.
-if you can take 30 minutes out of your day to shock your muscles, you can take 30 minutes a day to do that with a cardio workout and get the benefit of both
-it's expensive

However, if you really just want to feel your muscles down there and you are so lazy that you really can not walk around the block, the Slendertone will actually tone your'll just have to search for them.

Healthcare Reform: The Reviews are Yet to Come

The arguing has lessened...for now, but the long term effects of this health care reform bill hopefully will be seen soon. The good news to all of us is that the term "preexisting condition" should no longer be a lame excuse of insurance companies to deny you and your family. Also, the "doughnut hole" for all the Medicaire folks is shrinking and will disappear in a few years. The waiting may seem endless, but breaking down the "brick wall" (as an attorney friend call it) of these monstrous insurance companies is a hard and long task.
From a personal standpoint, the time that it does take to break these ridiculous conditions and terms of insurance policies can not happen too soon. I am having to jump through major hoops and beg tons of doctors to attempt to have my insurance cover a major surgery that is important to my health. Sufferers of diastasis recti, I am fighting the fight. My doctors are folding under the insurance pressure, but I will continue knocking on doors and making appointments until some doctor is unafraid to write a simple letter that states the same thing that they don't mind telling me verbally: "you need this surgery, or you will have abdominal discomfort for the rest of your life."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yes, I would like my salad sanz feces, por favor.

If you are buying bagged salad or eating a salad at a restaurant, the hard and scary truth is that you may be eating (brace yourself) poop. Yes, the latest studies of WASHED bagged salad show that there is a high level of manure in those salads. Very few show e coli or other bacteria that will cause serious illness, but the fact that they contain POOP is still a little unnerving. WASH that salad!

Jillian Michael 30 Day Shred: A review

I was excited to try the 30 Day Shred, as many people I know say they are getting a good workout from it. I will say that I enjoyed Michaels's workout, though I don't agree with everything on the video.
I did level 3, which I don't recommend on the first try with this video, unless you happen to be a fitness professional. Here is what I like: It is a continuous transition from one activity to another, which for most of the workout, keeps the heartrate up and continues to challenge different body parts. She does challenge the abs and back quite a bit in just the cardio and strength section, which begs to ask: why have the minute of abs every few minutes? She stops and has the client lay down for that affect, she does this RIGHT AFTER major cardio work???? Any exercise teacher that passed the first day knows you do not have a student lie down at the highest point of cardiovascular work. It's like she elevates the heart rate to a peak, and that is when she has the client lie down. This is strange, awkward, and questionable. Why not do abs from a standing or from plank, as she tends to like? We could hit more parts with that ab minute without stopping the heart full force and going to a supine position. Of course, the mommy diastasis issue is never brought up, so the mommies trying this workout will be vastly devastated as their bellies grow rather than decline. And another issue: how long are we elevating the heart rate? Is it worthy of weight loss efforts? And another issue: Are we causing danger by dropping the heart rate immediately?
I love plyometrics, so I am excited that there is some plyo in this workout. This is the way to raise the heartrate quickly and really challenge the muscles in a way that nothing else can. However, I would not recommend her rock star jumps. She encourages landing softly, but this jump forces a hard landing. And she does a lot of them. One or two, and it's kinda fun. A lot, and you might have a blown knee or ankle in a minute.
I am no Jillian Michaels, and I am not on TV, but I wonder if results would be even more stellar if she followed regular guidelines of ACE or her certification brand. I wonder how her own review of her workout was, and how much time she took to review this.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jamie Oliver

If you aren't paying attention to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution reality series, it's time to pay attention. He is reading my mind. The food we feed kids in school is disgusting and irresponsible. We teach them to make good food choices in health class, and then send them to a school-run cafeteria full of junk food. My personal favorite that I see on my students' plates is chips with fake cheese, a bread stick, chocolate milk (or birthday cake flavored!), and chocolate ice cream. If we are what we eat, then our kids are saturated fat, high fructose corn syrup, and salt. The guidelines are a joke. We are basically setting the future up to be a nation of heart disease and diabetes. Not to mention lack of productivity! Have you ever had that after-birthday-party feeling? You have the hot dog, the chips, the soda, and the chocolate cake. How much do you get done after that party? How much are you inspired to do? Can you imagine doing that to a 5 year old every day? It's what we're doing to our kids and our future business and governmental leaders every day. It is in our education system, so this is our education: eat junk and treat your body like a garbage dump. And then, pass the taks test. Good luck, Johnny and Susie.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Consumer Reports

I love a couple of the articles in this month's Consumer Reports. First of all , it reminds us that we need to be wary of ingredient labels. We do NOT need anything added to our foods, especially sugars. People are starting to get wise to "high fructose corn syrup," which is just a way of saying "a darned lot of unnecessary sugar," so now they are listing things like "evaporated cane juice" instead of just saying "SUGAR." If something looks like unnecessary added sugar, it probably is, and the calories will probably tell you the same thing. Drinks do not need calories, and if they have calories, it's sugar. Sugar when it comes in food naturally, like in fruit, is not bad, but when it needs to be added, remember that it adds pounds to your body and cavities to your teeth.
The other thing that caught my eye this month is the amazing accessibility to ephedra, deemed illegal by the FDA. The ephedra accessible online says it is not the part of the plant deemed illegal, but the legal part of the ephedrine plant. Let me just warn you that ephedra is linked to heart palpitations, heart attacks, and strokes. Even if you do not suffer these extreme symptoms, extreme hyperactivity is likely, to the point of being socially unacceptable or causing irrational behaviors and decisions.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yogurt News

If you are a daily yogurt eater, you know that yogurt helps your digestive system, even if it doesn't have a celebrity endorsement and a special label. Any probiotic yogurt is good for digestion and helps the intestinal tract stay healthy. But, ladies , did you know it may reduce your risk of breast cancer? Yes, in fact, it may help with our production and maintanance of estrogen, the female hormone that affects breast and ovarian cancers. for the study details!
Eat on, ladies!

Diastasis Recti Part 4

So, after meeting with several surgeons, I see that I will be working with two surgeons; a general surgeon for the hernia, and a plastic surgeon for the diastasis recti repair. The disappointing news is that plastic surgery simply is not covered, even if it is a necessity. I don't get it, but I don't get the health care and insurance business on any level.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New informative sites

Go to if you are a new mother in need of a little advice...on anything, including the baby weight issue. ACE's new Get Fit site is designed with everyone in mind. All kinds of advice, information, and resources available. Have a great week. I have a plastic surgeon appointment this week and will give an update then.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Diastasis Recti Part 3

I saw a surgeon today. He found a hernia. I had no idea. No wonder it couldn't heal. My intestines are herniated through my navel. No wonder I was so uncomfortable. I was referred to a plastic surgeon, as they are the ones who fix this problem. I am inspired!

Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti

Diastasis Recti Part 2

I am very vocal about Diastasis Recti, which supposedly only affects 15% of women who have had children (I happen to think it's more like 90%). I would like to hear from other sufferers either here or on peertrainer, as there are hundreds of responses on that thread. Follow it at the link listed. I see a surgeon tomorrow, as I have tried my hardest to work on my own diastasis to no avail, and I am tired of feeling weak from it.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Madness in Cows

Another jaw dropping moment for me, as I read in the Consumer Reports Shop Smart Magazine today that cow are fed (don't eat while you read this) chicken LITTER as their meals in some places, and it is LEGAL. Yes, that means cows that we eat have been fed chicken POOP as their diet. There are many health complications related to ecoli and other bacteria found in poop that could lead to serious cow diseases that could enter our body, and yes, this is linked to the famed MAD COW disease. There is a wide movement to make this illegal (duh), so contact your senator about this problem to ensure that he or she will support common health standards here. McDonalds even agrees that this needs to stop, and you know that they cut corners wherever possible.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Things to Have around for 2010

Here are some of the basics to have in your kitchen for everyday use (starting today!):

1. olive oil (a dab will do ya in your dinner cooking)
2. smart balance light spread (instead of butter)
3. frozen vegetables (rainbow of colors, pop em in the mic for instant dinner veggies)
4. McCormick grinders (spices to grind over those yummy veggies to make them even yummier)
5. skinless chicken breast frozen
6. Uncle Ben's instant bagged rice in brown or wild (NOT other flavors; we're talking So Di Um!)
7. fresh whole grain bread from your local bakery
8. boar's head low sodium lunch meats
9. canned pumpkin (add to oats in the morning, muffin mixes, and even chili for a yum + a ton of vitamin A)
10. raw walnuts, almonds, or both
11. light yogurt (Yoplait is the tastiest)
12. fresh or frozen fruit (berries are great frozen this time of year, mic what you need)
13. Quaker one-minute oats. Quick, hearty, yummy breakfast. Make sure to top w pumpkin, nuts, truvia, cinnamon
14. Truvia or sweetener made from Stevia plant. Better choice for sweetener now available!
15. Kellogg's Fiber Plus bar. great flavors, lots of good stuff, low cal, fiber!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Other Carrie Harper

If you google "Carrie Harper," you may be surprised at what you will find. Most of the google posts are indeed about me and several news groups that I am a member of and that I write for. But, there is indeed a criminal with my name living in the same town as me (what are the odds?)! If you see a news article on criminal hearings, stealing money, and fake obituaries, please know that this is NOT me. I lead a pretty tame life of teaching and parenting, not stealing and lying.

New Year!

This is always the time of year that we try to find new ways to improve our health and fitness. Just remember not to shoot for the moon on the first day. Usually, that creates more problems than it solves. Instead, focus on short, attainable goals and reassess yourself once a month. Good, short, attainable goals could be:
1. I will exercise for 20 minutes a day 5 days a week.
2. I will eat 3 meals and 2 snacks every day.
3. I will carry water with me everywhere I go.
4. I will eat 90% healthy food and save that 10% for something really special.
5. I will pack my lunch 4 days a week.
6. I will focus on one muscle group each day of exercise.
7. I will ease into running by starting with walk-run intervals.
Starting with statements like "I will lose ten pounds this month" could be a losing and unfortunate battle, which does more emotional damage in the long run.
Feel free to tell me your new goals and let me know if I can help!

New Pre-Natal and Post-Natal Certification

Just wanted you to know that I am officially certified through ACE ( in Pre-Natal and Post-Natal Fitness. A goal for 2010 is to start a Mommy Fit Club here in Lake Jackson for moms of all shapes, sizes, and abilities.