washingtonpost.com
Ask the MisFits

Vicky Hallett and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Health Section
Tuesday, October 7, 2008 11:00 AM

He's a veteran reporter, digging up the latest fitness news. She's an irreverent columnist with a knack for getting people off the couch and into the gym. No exercise question is too odd or embarrassing for them to answer.

Vicky Hallett and Howard Schneider are the MisFits, The Post's fitness writers. They were online Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 11 a.m. to take your questions.

The transcript follows

Discussion Archive.

MisFits Archive.

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Howard Schneider: Hi all...If you have not seen it yet, check out today's column on shoulder and rotator cuff health...Hope it helps avoid some of the problems I am working through...The question counter is open...

Vicky Hallett: The real question is: Can Howard manage to get through this chat without the help of Douglas Engelbart's invention? I'm guessing no. Okay, on with the show.

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Courthouse, Va.: I feel like my boyfriend is hampering the healthy habits that I had before I met him. He doesn't like to exercise, outside of the occasional recreational game, so I don't get as much exercise as I did before I met him.

Normally I would run after work, but since I usually am with him after work, I don't have the time anymore. And I'm not a morning person, so I can't exercise before work.

He basically just wants to sit on the couch or go out with friends to drink. I'll ask him if he wants to go for a walk or run with me but he always turns me down and I don't want to feel like a nag or leave him alone at the house, so I just don't go. Also, he eats fast food at least a few times a week because it is cheap, but more often than not I get stuck eating it too because I am starving and we are out somewhere together.

It's gotten to the point where I am wondering if this is going to bother me forever. Do you have any tips on getting a mate moving or at least staying motivated to be healthy myself while in a relationship with a bump on a log? Or has anyone successfully been in this situation without breaking up?

Vicky Hallett: This treads into Hax territory, but I'll give it a shot.

It's great you want to spend time with your boyfriend, but it sounds like you're giving up all of your free time to be with him. You need to have time to yourself, too -- both for exercise and for your own sanity. Can't you tell him that three nights a week, you want to go for a run before you meet up? I'm guessing you're not jogging for more than an hour, so it's not going to feel like you're totally missing out on an evening with him. You'll just skip happy hour...

As for fast food, most of those places now offer healthier options -- salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, etc. So you should be able to swing those meals without going for a burger and fries every time.

And if it really is bothering you, talk to him about it. What kind of boyfriend would make you jeopardize your health to sit on the couch with him a few extra hours a week? If he really isn't understanding, then I would think seriously about a dumping.

But perhaps chatters have different perspectives?

Howard Schneider: I second Vicky on this one -- don't let him hold you back....Stick to your after work runs. Insist on choosing the restaurant every other time, and order the healthiest thing on the menu when he picks. Don't nag him to join you, but dont let him drag you into bad habits, either...

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Yoga for health/meditation: I have a parent with a chronic illness that is not completely debilitating, but it does cause excessive stress. However, this parent is pretty uptight and rigidly old-school, they think stuff like yoga and meditation is for hippies. I want to show both of my parents that this is not the case and that perhaps some light yoga or meditation now and then could help. How would you suggest I go about doing this? They both live about an hour from me and would not take time out to go to a studio with me. Thanks!

Vicky Hallett: The Mayo Clinic isn't for hippies, right? They recently put out a line of DVDs featuring Rodney Yee that might be just what your parent needs. It's called Mayo Clinic Wellness Solutions and the titles cover a range of topics (IBS, Diabetes, Menopause, High Blood Pressure, etc.).

http://bookstore.mayoclinic.com/

Maybe bring the right one with you the next time you come over and suggest you do it together?

Howard Schneider: Or have them check out the Department of Health and Human Services study on Physical Activity -- which singles out Tai Chi specifically as a way to relax, improve balance, etc.

You can't force them to be open-minded, but you can find plenty of examples where western and eastern traditions are merging, or that traditioanl practices like yoga are being vetted and validated with clinical studies...Point out to them that while yoga has its roots in a religious tradition, there are plenty of studios in the U.S. that teach it without the chanting, etc....

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Washington DC, Van Ness: Hello! I'm slowly transitioning to becoming a morning worker-outer, and I'm loving it. The only problem I have is that I'm often confused as to what I should eat before I hit the gym. I go to Golds and attend 6:30 Body Pump classes, 6 a.m. Spinning or 7 a.m. yoga. Any tips for each class would be most appreciated.

Thanks!

Howard Schneider: The what-to-eat-and-when issue is a dilemma, but the easiest thing is to experiment with what works for you. The most imoprtant thing in the morning is to make sure you drink water or juice and get hydrated -- remember you have been without liquid for several hours. Your muscles will not be depleted of glycogen, but you will likely be a bit dehydrated...So be sure to drink. Whether you need to eat depends on how hard and long you work out, and how you feel exercising on an empty stomach.

Most people do not work out enough in one session to run out of fuel. Also, remember that even if you eat something before working out (and have a system that can tolerate it), it will take a couple of hours for that to digest and make a difference. Bottom line: If you feel you need a snack to take the hunger pangs away, figure out what you can eat that won't upset your stomach during the workout. If you feel like you are really dragging, then wake up early enough to have some cereal or fruit or otherwise carby 60 to 90 minutes ahead of time (which might be tough given the hour).

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Dupont Circle: I enjoy running and riding my bike for exercise and would like to participate in a triathlon next year. The problem is, I'm not a great swimmer. I'm interested in structured triathlon training programs that could improve my running/biking and give me a foundation for the swimming leg. Any ideas on local programs in DC that could train me for a triathlon? I know of Team in Training but any other ideas you could provide would be great. Thanks!!

Vicky Hallett: The DCJCC offers a triathlon class in eight-week sessions. I don't see it on the schedule now, but it's worth giving them a call. (It's even in Dupont. So convenient...)

And the new triathlete program run by the DC Tri Club is ridiculously popular. It filled in 35 minutes on February 1, when registration opened for the 2008 program. Check this site for details:

http://dctriclub.org/staticpages/index.php?page=ntp_overview

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Kettlebell City: After the article about kettlebell training a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to say that I was inspired to find a class here in LA, and once I got over the fried quads, it's been just great, a wonderful workout. Since you'd had a couple of naysayers pipe up, I wanted to give you another POV. Key is a good instructor, and mine is very strict on form and encourages not overdoing things.

washingtonpost.com: A Great Workout for Women Who Like To Throw Their Weights Around

Vicky Hallett: It's all about the instructor. Glad you found one who's so awesome! And while classes are great once you know what you're doing, for kettlebells I think it's best to go for one-on-one at first.

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sweatiest woman alive, D.C.: Okay, I'll probably win the grossest question award today, but here goes: What is the range of "normal" on the perspiration scale? I am mid-40s, female, work out 6 days a week, do lots of cardio and strength training and really try to mix up my workouts. But if I do an hour-long cycle, step, or dance class -- or spend time on the elliptical, treadmill, rowing machine, or outside on my bike -- I am drenched when done. My hair looks like I took a shower. I have to do a complete clothing change. I don't see other women who look this, um, soggy. Besides the fact that it's embarrassing, should I be concerned?

washingtonpost.com: Step it up people, I know you have grosser questions than this.

Vicky Hallett: Yeah, as bodily secretions go, this is nothing. We don't, uh, sweat the small stuff...

Anyway, you don't need to freak out about perspiration during exercise. Different people sweat different amounts. They wear different clothing. They're working out at different intensities. If you're wearing three layers while taking that step class, I'd recommend you strip down a bit. But other than that, just embrace the fact that you're working out hard enough to need that shower.

That said, for some people sweating gets in the way of their daily lives (when they're not at the gym). It's called hyperhidrosis, and if you're worried about that, see a dermatologist. Maybe check out this site, too: sweathelp.org.

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Wisconsin: Thanks for your great columns and chats! I'm a 26-year-old woman and I honestly love to exercise. My problem is balancing my eating with my activity. Despite working out at least 90 minutes six days a week (mostly cardio and two days of weights) and biking to work, my BMI is a hair over 25 and I would like to lose 10 pounds.

I've tried Weight Watchers and counting calories, I've read Nancy Clark's book on sports nutrition, and I know that eating well and losing weight will improve the quality of my workouts, but my enthusiasm tends to wane after a few weeks. Do you have any tips for translating a passion for exercise into motivation for sticking with a healthy eating plan?

Howard Schneider: When you say your "enthusiasm wanes," does that mean that you do well for a while with your eating -- then blow it off and gorge for a while?? It seems like the exercise is a constant - which is good...The issue of motivation is a tough one. I think ultimately that has to come from you.

Keep in mind, 25 BMI is basically consider a normal weight -- so you are not facing a huge problem here. Maybe what you need to try is to smooth out the cycles a bit --- be a little less strict with yourself during the "good phases" and try to go a little less crazy during the bad ones...Also, track your workouts and see if you can bit by bit up the intensity a bit. You are 26 -- young enough to still be building bone mass and muscle a lot eaiser than those of us looking at 50. Take advantage of that...

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Arlington, Va.: For Courthouse - Could you take a lunchtime run/exercise class or take your running stuff with you to work and go for a run before you even leave for home, therefore not having to "leave" him at home.

Vicky Hallett: Another option to save your relationship and your cardio health.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hello. I am looking to plan a third date with a woman who isn't necessarily into working out or exercising in general as often as me (I am usually running several miles each day 5-6 days a week). However, she seems to be open to doing new things and I am trying to come up with an idea for some sort of very light physical activity for a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon.

I am thinking about something at a park or running trail in the DC area, but having difficulty coming up with a decent idea. Any thoughts?

Vicky Hallett: Everybody loves the Billy Goat Trail. And since that's hiking instead of running, you're less likely to intimidate her by heading out too fast. Or maybe walking to Roosevelt Island?

Any chatters have a more romantic trail to recommend?

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Bloomfield, Conn.: Is there such a thing as being born with defined abs? Is it possible that it's a genetic gift and that some people will never have them no matter how much cardio or core work they do?

Vicky Hallett: If infants were actually born with defined abs, it'd be hard to tell under that baby blubber. Which is exactly the problem many adults have. Core work is great, but if there's a layer of flab on top of those toned abs, you can't see 'em. So, right, some people are genetically luckily in that they don't gain weight easily or deposit it places other than their tummies. But just about anyone can have defined abs with enough hard work and a sensible diet.

Also, don't forget that defined abs are different from what you see on the covers of a lot of magazines. Those "fitness" models usually dehydrate themselves and do other horrible things to look extra cut. Does those physiques sell magazines? Yes. Should the readers actually want those physiques? Not so much.

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Olney, Md.: Howard,

Do you have any links to the rotator cuff exercises you mention in today's article?

washingtonpost.com: One Joint Shoulders a Heavy Load

Howard Schneider: Sure.... Here is a good article with a bunch of exercises described...No pictures, but the descriptions are decent and the rest of the info helpful...

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Miami, Fla.: I have recently begun to exercise again after a very long time -- mostly walking 2 miles a day in the park. Can you recommend any books etc.. where I can set up and start doing a free outdoors workout? Free is key here. Thanks!

Howard Schneider: If I remember correctly, Martina Navratilova's book Shape Yourself -- or something like that -- had a lot of good practical advice for home and outdoor workouts that involved little/no investment in equipment. Dont forget: working out with your own bodyweight is resistance training, so you can go a long way with just what you are carrying around. But you'll need to push yourself: The old calisthenic exercises we were taught in gym classes -- jumping jacks, pushups, etc., -- are very effective. As a start, trying doing some of those after your walk...Do you own a jump rope?

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi,

I just went for a 2.5 mile jog in the hilly neighborhoods around apartment. My knees were totally fine during the entire run, but now that I'm sitting down, my left knee is actually throbbing (ow ow ow). It will be totally fine later on -- this has happened before.

Should I ice it? See a doctor? What could be causing it?

Not running would make me really unhappy...

Howard Schneider: Ice for the immediate pain...For the longer term, does this only happen when you run hills? Does it happen when you run on relatively flat roads? Runner's knee occurs then the parts of the knee are slighly misaligned -- which can happen if you dont have the right shoes for your foot type, or if there is a weakness in the muscles of the lower body...You can experiment with the shoes -- get to a good specialty running store and have them check out your stride. You can do some strength training for your legs. If that doesn't help, get to the doc....

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Alexandria, Va.: This might be too "Haxian" but I think that the workout situation with the chatter is more of a symptom of the problem than the problem itself. If working out is that important to you, doesn't it concern you that you're always going to be working out alone? Working hard to eat healthy while your man eats junk food?

Vicky Hallett: We've addressed couples working out together here before -- you can definitely go solo for exercise and still be lovey dovey. But if you're always worried about his health, that can't be much fun.

Howard Schneider: You could turn that around: Who'd want to spend their life with a mate willing to sit on the couch alone?

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Cleveland Park, D.C.: Hello MisFits!

I am doing the WABA 50 States and 13 Colonies bike ride this weekend (i'm opting for 13 colonies), and I have been really bad and keeping up my fitness routine in recent weeks. Is this a big no-no before the ride, or is there something I can do in the upcoming days to ensure this race is not going to hurt (too much!)?

Thanks!

Vicky Hallett: I can't remember the last time I went on a bike ride before Bike DC, which was 17-miles, and it didn't hurt nearly as badly as I feared. Hopping on a bike and riding a few miles over the next few days might jog your muscle memory though.

If you were going for the 50 states, I'd be much more worried about you.

Don't know what the heck Cleveland Park is talking about? Check this out:

http://www.waba.org/events/50states.php

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for Silver Spring: How about starting with a game of frisbee golf?

Vicky Hallett: Oooh. Quirky and active.

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For girl not wanting to abandon boyfriend: I also struggled with this when I started dating my fiance. We met through soccer, so I thought he'd want to be a physically active as I am, but then quickly realized that he wasn't interested. I gained a good 15 pounds sitting around the house with him and going to the bars before I realized I needed to get myself moving. I understand the after work routine. It's what I did when I was single. Now I sneak out to the gym after dinner, so I'm not hungry, but we're normally not doing much other than watching TV. I miss a program, but I get my exercise in as well. He understands how important it is to me, and I understand how he likes to rest.

Vicky Hallett: Sounds like you're making it work. If your relationship can't withstand the strain of not getting to watch an episode of "Mad Men" together, you should worry...

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3rd date: Horseback riding, indoor rock climbing, ice skating, or something new for both of you, all of which would be fun, different and could inspire lots of laughs and possibly date No. 4.

Vicky Hallett: All fun ideas. I'd save ice skating until you can do it at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden though...

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EMERGENCY!!!: I am obsessed with my midsection: I look like I'm pregnant but I am incredibly thin everywhere else. I have always had an enormous pouch area. I'm considering getting smart lipo this friday. Please please please tell me if this will work. PS: Im not lazy, I eat VERY healthy (have for the past ten years) and exercise daily. This is a last resort for happiness, but $3,000 is a good portion of my savings.

Vicky Hallett: I'd say you need to chill out before you think about getting any kind of plastic surgery (smart or otherwise...). One of the major causes of belly fat: STRESS. It sounds like this obsession is probably only making your belly bigger.

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Hill running and knee pain: It could be the hills, particularly the DOWN hills, if they are steep. It's a lot of impact on your knees to stop yourself with each step as you're running downhill, on top of the impact of running generally. I would try switching to a flatter course, or one with gentler hills.

Howard Schneider: That....and check your shoes....

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Boston: Hi Misfits,

I used to do body sculpting classes for my weight training, but I now have a wrist injury which means no lifting weights for a while. What are some ways I can do strength training for my upper body without using arm weights? Would doing bicep curls and other arm exercises without weights be beneficial at all? Thanks for your help!

Howard Schneider: I had a similar discussion with folks recently in regard to dealing with my rotator cuff -- what to do with the upper body in the meantime. The wrist is a tough one, but I think there are some chest fly machines that allow you to rest your elbows on a pad to squeeze in or push back, as opposed to grabbing with the hand. I have also seen deltoid machines that rest on the arm. Back extention machines don't require the wrist - so if you have not been doing back exercises, maybe now is a time to start. My therapist also gave me some band exercises to do that are very low intensity but at least give the chest something to do while the shoulder gets stronger...Any suggestions from the field??

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Washington, D.C.: Good Morning. I recently ran a 5K race. No complaints running that day. However, after the race, I experienced pain in my quads. I would like avoid this side effect in the future. In addition to running more consistently, what are ways that I can strengthen my quads? Thanks.

Howard Schneider: Congrats on finishing the race...If you plan to continue running events with regularity, it would be wise to train for them. If for 5ks, if you run three miles, consistently, a couple of times a week, you will have trained your muscles for that distance, and will be able to run it without waking up soar.

If you want to work on lower body strength beyond that, you'll want to construct a whole routine -- not just for the quads...It is not a good idea to train one muscle to the exclusion of others that oppose/support it (in this case the hamstrings and glutes)...If you are more comfortable with weight machines, consider the leg press and the leg raise/curl machines...If you like bodyweigyht or dumbbell exercises, consider squats, deadlifts and lunges...And dont forget the calves.....If you dont like any of that, add some hill or stair runs to your jogging...

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Weems, Va.: Re: Sweating. Our local Y keeps their fitness center about 5 degrees too warm, mostly because the client base is heavily older retired folks. When I used to run outdoors in the winter we always went by the rule of thumb that if you were comfortable when you started you had too many layers on. I've always thought that should apply to gyms as well, but it never does, so I always bring a spare tee shirt to put on after I do my aerobic stuff. Easier for guys of course.

Vicky Hallett: Thanks Weems.

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Rockville, Md.: First of all, you guys are awesome! Thank you for all the great advice!

I found out recently that I have lyme disease -- I was pretty shocked since I don't ever remember getting a tick bite. Over the last couple months I've been really tired and my energy level just seemed to drop -- my doctor has attributed the fact that I wasn't more sick by the time I was diagnosed to the fact that I kept working out through it all (mostly cardio and strength training) about 4 days a week.

I am now on antibiotics -- I'll feel fine for a couple days and then terribly crappy for a couple days (it's like a cycle). On the bad days I don't work out and all I want is comfort food! I try to work out on the good days but I'm worried that I'm going to end up gaining a ton of weight because of the inconsistency. Do you guys have any diet suggestions for someone like me (whose energy level is drastically different from day to day) and also are there any workout ideas or tips to get me up and moving on my bad days?? I really appreciate any feedback you can give me!

Vicky Hallett: Well, speaking of all of those benefits of yoga, gentle classes might be just what you need on those yucky days. It should boost your energy, and help tame your diet -- after leaving a yoga studio, don't you just want tofu and bean sprouts?

As for comfort food cravings, I find soups can often fit the bill without a ton of calories. Although you do have to watch your salt intake...

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Bethesda, Md.: I've noticed that I weigh more when I weigh-in after a workout (I weigh-in before and after just to see what it says). Also, if my trainer takes measurements after a workout, I'm bigger. Why is that?

Howard Schneider: What measurements are being taken? During exercise blood is directed into the muscle and away from internal organs -- you literally are "pumped up" but the effect is temporary...Re the weight you may be drinking more water than you are sweating out....

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Post-Jogging Stroller: Hi MisFits!

My 3 year old is getting too big for the jogging stroller. I'm not too sad because I hate it so! But now I'm not sure how to run. He seems too little to start running next to me (maybe for a few blocks). Relying on sitters would mean I would work out much, much less. What have other readers done?

Thanks!

Howard Schneider: One for the crowd....Any ideas? Mom/dad running groups? Wait for the spouse/partner and run him/her take the kid for a while? Any neighbors who want to alternate running/childwatching dates?

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Washington, D.C.: Does anyone have any inside information about the Marine Corps Marathon? I'm running it for the first time this year, and I'm trying to organize my cheering party and meet-up locations, but the Web site isn't helpful. Is there any where online I can find this information now, or do I have to wait until the week before the race? Any extra information will help!

Thanks!

Vicky Hallett: We're going to toss this one out to folks who've run it before. What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

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Vienna, Va.: Get off the couch and into a gym? There is absolutely no reason that anyone should pay monthly fees for expensive gym club memberships. Buy some good sneakers, put on an old t-shirt and shorts, and go walking. Every day. Then, when you feel ready, start jogging. If you can't do that because of health concerns, buy a video of a cardio you can do, and do it at home. Much cheaper, and probably more effective.

Paying expensive gym memberships is for suckers.

Vicky Hallett: It's true you don't need a gym to stay in shape -- although I'd add some resistance training to the cardio routine you describe. But there's no denying that some people prefer the variety of choices, the encouraging atmosphere and the assistance of professionals you can get at a gym.

I guess what I'm saying is, "Don't call me a sucker."

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Annapolis, Md.: Good Morning! I skipped the cold weather to run this afternoon. I've been running since April and can run for 35 minutes (over 3 miles). Sunday, I ran for 30 minutes to pick up my bike and biked 20 minutes home. My legs have that wonderful ache that I don't get normally. My question is that while I will run every other day or so I can't motivate myself to do anything else regularly. I want to lose 30 more pounds in no particular hurry. Are there set workouts somewhere I can do from home to start a routine? I have a nautilus machine, treadmill, jump rope and elliptical at home. Please tell me what to do with this stuff on the days I do or don't run. Thanks!

Howard Schneider: With that much equipment hanging around the house, you should be set...The elliptical will provide some good cross training, or at least a way to warm up before you hit the Nautilus. If you go to the nautilus Web site you'll find plenty of recommended exercises for the particular machine you own...I'd start there. And use the treadmill as a backup for rainy days...

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Alexandria, Va.: Just a suggestion for the food before working out dilemma, what works for me is a scoop (or 2) of peanut butter and lots of water. My husband and I took a bootcamp class a few years ago, when he began to get dizzy. The instructor suggested a scoop of pb, and that's what I've been doing ever since. I also make sure to fill up my water bottle and try and finish it before getting to the gym so I at least have 1 full glass of water in me before I start working out. So far so good.

Howard Schneider: Eating advice from the field....Any excuse for peanut butter is good for me...

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Stress fracture?: I just ran my first marathon on Sunday. Went great, except for the monsoon-like conditions. In any event, a nagging, dull pain in my heel is now much more pronounced, becoming a sharper pain whenever I walk or bear weight on it. The pain has been around for about a month, and I'm wondering if it isn't a stress fracture. My achilles hurts a bit when I'm walking, too, so is there something else other than a stress fracture that it could be?

I'm having a hard time discerning if it hurts more now because my whole body is one giant pain, or if it really is worse. I'm icing and resting (after a week off I plan to start swimming for a while), but is there anything else I should be doing?

Howard Schneider: I think it is time to get it checked out...Pain linger for that long deserves attention...Surprised you ran on it...Bruises in the heel are common and painful, but it could be a fracture as well -- and if so you'll want to know about it sooner rather than later...

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Washington, DC: I've been exercising my entire life, and generally go to the gym or run about 4-5 days a week. For the last week or week and a half, things have been crazy at work, so I haven't had the time to go to the gym during the day when I usually go, and am staying at work late and am exhausted when I get home, so don't go to workout then. I do walk to and from work, about a mile each way.

My question is whether I'm setting myself up to lose a lot of fitness if I can't make it to the gym for this short period, or whether, grand scheme, I won't lose that much endurance or strength over this break from the gym. Getting back to the gym when this stressful time at work cools down will definitely happen; in fact, I'm looking forward to it happening!! Thanks.

Vicky Hallett: I guess it depends on how long this "short" period is. Plenty of folks take time off because they're sick or injured or just swamped like you, and get back to normal in no time. But don't let the period get too long. Once you get out of the routine and you're not used to it anymore, it can be much harder to drag yourself back to the gym. Especially in winter, when it's colder and darker...At least try to make the most of your weekends until you can really dive in again.

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First races ever!: Hi, fitness gurus! I've decided to sign up for a half-marathon in mid-February in Hyannis, Mass. (close to me), and will also run in a 10K on Thanksgiving day in Detroit (where the family is). I am not a beginning athlete, since I work out about 5 times a week, but I'm trying to gear up now on my running instead of "slacking" on the elliptical (which I do for an hour at a higher resistance with hills). Here are my two questions... first, the half marathon is about a month past the 12-week novice training program that I'm doing. Which weeks should I double up on to lengthen the training period? And secondly, obviously both of these runs are in COLD weather. How should I layer my running gear?

Howard Schneider: Starting backwards, obviously February in Massachussetts is going to require some flexibility, and some experimentation in the meantime to see what works for you in different conditions. Some ideas:

1)Are you willing to run in the rain? If so, get a good waterproof hat/beanine, and a good waterproof windbreaker..

2)NO cotton -- particularly next to the skin. You'll freeze. Good properly fitting technical fabric. Your body is going to generate plenty of heat -- you want to keep it close to you and stay dry...

3)Use chapstick, etc. to protect exposed skin. Probably start with gloves but be ready to shed them.

4)Instead of a long sleeve top, consider the removable sleeves in case it is warmer than expected and you start to get hot...

As far as the training goes, I'd double up in week 8 or 9, when you have added a bunch to your distance but are still building...Dont mess with the very beginning, when you are building stamina, or the very end, when you are conserving fuel and resting...

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CubiclelaND:"doesn't it concern you that you're always going to be working out alone?"

I actually prefer to work out alone. Someone just needs to say it--You don't have to be joined at the hip 24/7. It's a recipe for disaster and resentment anyway.

Howard Schneider: Could not agree more...Eleanor and I do plenty together but have plenty of personal space as well...

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RE: Defined abs: And don't confuse "defined" abs with strong abs. The muscles that give you the 6-pack look are the rectus abdominum muscles, which are the most superficial, but also the thinnest. The deeper transversus abdominus muscle is what gives you core support and core strenth. Pilates works the deep abdominal muscles that support the spine and improve your posture.

Howard Schneider: And the role of body fat as well....Those genetically disposed to shed fat may look far more fit than they are....

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Jogging w/3 yo: Most health clubs have childcare available. Possibly worth the membership rate to keep your exercise program going and cheaper than sitters.

Vicky Hallett: If you're working out regularly, it's not a bad idea...

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Alexandria, VA: I know you talk about the importance of shoes and such, and I'm with you there, what about socks? When I purchased my running shoes they tried selling me fancy running socks and considering I was dropping more than I cared to for sneakers, $10 for 1 or 2 pairs of socks wasn't in my vision. However, I've been getting some hard core calluses, mainly on my big toe, to the point that it hurts to touch. Any suggestions? Do I have to bite the bullet and buy a bunch of those "running socks"?

Vicky Hallett: Not all of this stuff is just about making you spend more money. Cotton socks can definitely cause calluses. But you can get cheaper versions of the wicking ones meant for running. I think DSW might even have them.

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PX90 Land: So, I've been slogging through an hour plus each day of this PX90 program (Tony something's infomercial program), which really is all about hard work, so no gimmicks. I don't have time to keep it up though -- even yoga night is an hour and a half. He has a 10-minute-a-day "stacked" program as well. That probably IS a gimmick, but it sounds better for me. Do you have any experience with this shorter version, and do you think something so much shorter could be as good?

Howard Schneider: No and...no...Ten minutes is better than nothing, but even the advocates of short hard core intervals end up with half an hour or so, including warmups and cool downs...And those "ten minute" videos end up being along the lines of ten minutes for the legs, ten minutes for the arms, ten minutes for the back -- in other words it is an hour workout carved into ten minute chunks....But if you have access to the program, give it a try and report back...

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50 Stater: As someone who just completed the Seagull Century last weekend, I'd strongly recommend s/he start slow. You can always go faster later if you energy level is good. But to answer the question there is something s/he can do. This afternoon and/or Thursday afternoon go out for a short 5-6 mile ride. This will loosen the cycling specific muscles so you won't be as sore the day of the ride. Enjoy it and see you there!

Vicky Hallett: You know what they say about slow and steady.

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For the heavy sweater:: It sounded to me like the poster who sweats a lot was worried about how other people would perceive her. First, she's probably getting a MUCH better workout than anyone else, so nice work! Second, I always wear a bandana over my head when I workout, it covers the wet hair, soaks up some of the moisture, and looks completely natural in a gym setting. Third, there are lots of moisture-wicking clothing options that can reduce the appearance of sweat.

Vicky Hallett: Exactly. Those people who aren't sweating? What are they even doing at the gym??

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the "haxian" question: I'm a girl that works out 5 or 6 days a week. My boyfriend, who is naturally slender (and at one time an excellent athlete), is a full time student and doesn't have as much time to work out. I love veggies, he loves meat. I love cheese, he hates it. You get the picture. But working out is important to me, and I go in the morning or after work and see him in the evenings. Being apart for 1.5 hours isn't a big deal, and it will allow you guys to have separate interests! And keep yourself healthy and looking good... and it might motivate him to start later on!

Vicky Hallett: How could he not love cheese? That might be a deal breaker for me, but I'm sure he's a wonderful guy.

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Arlington, Va.: I just had (March 2008) surgery to repair my right shoulder from torn tendons and only have the front muscle remaining. I am in continual discomfort and doing my stretching exercises with the elastic bands. What can I do to ease the pain (and more severe at night time while trying to sleep).

Howard Schneider: That's a doc question if ever there was one...I did not do the cortisone shot because I wanted to give the therapy time to work first, and was not at the point of losing sleep...If this is keeping you awake, ask your doctor about that possibility. There are issues to consider -- repeated cortisone shots have been associated with tendon weakness, for example, which may be of concern in your case...Any luck with the over the counters like Alleve?

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re: boyfriend: I don't see the big deal here. She likes to work out and he's not into it. Isn't the bigger issue that she can't seem able to leave him alone for an hour a night to get a run in? Couples have different interests -- it's important that they do. Just go for your run and let him watch tv. I understand it's probably early in the relationship when you want to spend every waking minute together, but you'll realize later that it's just not that big a problem.

Vicky Hallett: Well said.

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Rainy days and treadmills...: for bikes?

I've been looking to get a bike trainer - not stationary - during the winter. My major concern is the noise generated - especially since I live in an apartment.

Any ideas?

Howard Schneider: That is it for now....Thanks for joining in and remember Halloween is just around the corner -- my favorite holiday...time to get ready for lots of Reese cups, so I will be saving up for that....

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