challenge 3

Peggy, Week 12: The Secrets of a Great Spin Class

peggy avagliano

After the school bus picked up the kids at 6:30 a.m., Peter and I headed to the gym for a 7 a.m. Spin class. If you’ve never experience Spinning, or indoor cycling, here are a few basics from the session we attended:

  • There are about two dozen spin cycles in a small room with many fans.
  • While the music plays, the instructor talks you through an imaginary trip up and down a mountain. He tells you when to increase resistance, when to stand up out of the saddle, and when to decrease resistance.
  • Each song corresponds with a “set” or series of movements and resistance-levels designed to achieve a goal, such as climbing a hill.

Peter and I were sweating before the warm-up was over, so we knew it would be a challenging workout.

With my first glance around the room, I saw some things which were expected. Gym rats, all of whom were size 5 or smaller, took the seats at the front of the class. Women outnumbered men, 3:1. Everyone else in the room was going faster than we were.

But halfway through the class, I realized we were all getting a workout. Spin may be done as a group activity, but it is really about achieving your individual best. The instructor may tell you to dial up the resistance ¾ of a notch, but if you can only handle ½ notch, do ½ a notch. Doing as much as you can do, is all that matters.

We finished our class, and we were both proud of simply cycling to the end.

And then, an amazing thing happened. The other members of the class came over to us and offered encouragement. One of the other men in the class told Peter to make sure he came back, because they need more guys in the session. Others warned us not to be discouraged if we felt like we could not move in the morning. “That’s normal,” they said. The instructor, Erik, checked in with us and told us to come back soon.

Peter’s response was, ”Maybe, Sunday.” Or was it really, “some day”?

Have you ever taken a Spin class before? What did you think of it? Post a comment and let me know.

How Much Protein Should You Eat for Exercising?

Chicken Chimichurri Wraps and Cilantro Mint Sauce (same picture)

When you think of what an athlete or bodybuilder eats, what foods usually come to mind? Chicken breasts? Egg whites? Tuna? These foods are all packed with protein and many athletes and bodybuilders eat them because they need the extra protein to build and repair body tissue after intense workouts.

Knowing this, people who exercise a few times a week assume they too should eat extra protein so they buy jugs of protein powders, cartons of egg whites, and boxes of protein bars. But do they really need all that protein? Probably not. In fact, most of us get plenty of protein from our regular diet. Consider that one cup of milk has 8 grams of protein, a chicken breast has about 30 grams, and a cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt has 18-20 grams.

The average woman needs about 46 grams of protein a day and men need about 56 grams (according to the CDC). If a woman eats a chicken breast and a cup of Greek yogurt, she has met her needs for the day in just two foods! Since many foods contain protein, you can see how easy it is to get far more protein than the body needs.

If you work out at an intense pace for more than a half hour a day, your body may need a little extra protein but you probably already get that additional protein in your diet. So there’s no need to make buy special protein-enhanced foods. And if your diet does lack protein, go for whole food sources instead of highly processed protein shakes and bars. A cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt has more protein and fewer calories than most protein bars.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Tiffany, Week 12: Everyone Has More Steps Than Me!


We’ve quickly learned that Jack was the family member with all the bragging rights when it comes to number of steps taken per day. That child has two speeds: fast and asleep. If he’s not sleeping he’s constantly moving. He is the most active child I’ve ever seen.

Andy is a close second. Because of his job, he’s constantly on the go all day, 5 days a week. Anna is neck and neck with Jack and Andy because she loves dancing and riding her bike.

Me, I really have to work at getting my 10,000 steps in a day. I’m behind a desk 40 hours a week so it really has to be deliberate for me. I park as far away as I can in the morning when getting into work, I walk during my 15-minute breaks and occasionally climb the stairs. Then I work out at lunchtime and two to three times a week I work with my personal trainer at Gold’s Gym.

When this challenge came up I was so excited because I love to work out. It truly is my passion. This is kind of gross but I love it…the more I sweat the more I push myself harder. It’s hard to believe that as much as I love to work out I’m so overweight. I am the self-proclaimed “fattest fit girl in America.” I have a blog outside of this blog (that has sadly been neglected, HA!) and the title is “Tales of a Skinny Girl Trapped Inside a Fat Body.” Blogging about fitness and working out has been so therapeutic for me and this challenge, thankfully, is getting me closer to my goals.

Do you ever feel like a fit person in a fat body? Post a comment and tell me!

Challenge Yourself: Exercise at Home

modified superman

Peggy and Tiffany have been sharing their progress as they work out at their new gyms. But even if you don’t belong to a health club or can’t afford a trainer, there’s no reason you can’t get fit on your own, in the comfort of your living room.

Check out our slideshow, “Get Fit on a Budget: Easy At-Home Exercises.” Developed by fitness expert Gregory Florez, the routine only requires three inexpensive pieces of equipment. And best of all, you’ll lose weight and gain strength in four to six weeks if you do the moves three days a week.

What are your favorite at-home exercises? Tell me in the comments below.

Challenge Yourself: Go for No-Guilt Desserts

Slices of mango in a clear jar

Yesterday Peggy shared her favorite treats that satisfy her sweet tooth without destroying her diet. For even more suggestions, check out our slideshow, “Low-Calorie Dessert Ideas”–and feel free to indulge!