Monday, January 25, 2010

I give in… I’ve been Cooper-ized

Here it is Monday morning and I am sitting at my desk, my lunch is in the fridge: a salad with corn and bean salsas, chopped turkey, bell peppers, avocado and a bit of feta cheese. And I just finished a bowl of oatmeal with walnuts, blueberries, and raspberries.

I have been Cooperized. And I wasn’t the only one to leave Cooper Aerobics Center feeling inspired to make changes to my lifestyle. Since you heard from me all week, I thought it best to introduce you to a few of the other participants in Cooper Wellness.

Sorry about the wind noise. We wanted to be outside enjoying the nice weather. The extra noise was the price we paid for that.

Wish us luck as we continue to “square off the curve”.

Thanks for your encouragement!

Friday, January 22, 2010


The Cooper Wellness Team, or at least a few of us (we're missing Peter, Joe and Linda). That is John Harris, Phillip McLeod, me and Tony Bass just after a lecture.

Just finished a quick walk around the 1-mile jogging path on campus. Thought I should break away to give you a heads up about what's going on (and my feet are sore, haha)

We've got a packed day today at Cooper Aerobics Center. No slacking off for any of us.

  • Personal training

  • Wake-up and walk

  • Breakfast (can't wait to see what Kathy's done with eggs and oatmeal today)

  • Get Some Sleep lecture by Dr. Craig Schwimmer

  • Indoor cycling class

  • The Process of Change lecture by Dr. Kevin Gilliland

  • Lunch

  • Stress Management for Peak Performance lecture by Connie Tyne

  • Form roller stretch class

  • Vitamins and Supplements: What You Should Know lecture by Todd Whitthorne

  • Cardio workout

  • Cooking School with Chef Matt White

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Can you put that, and that, and this, and that on the side?

It is only 9:30 a.m., but I’ve accomplished a lot already or at least a lot for me. I started off with a few laps around the jogging path. Took my much-needed shower, and met the rest of the team to go out for breakfast.

This was the true test for me: eating out.

I love eating out. I am the person in the office always dragging everyone else out over lunch and the one in our group of friends that organizes dinner parties. Eating out is a social experience for me. I think of it as my way to bond with my loved ones. All for the low-price of only 1,000 calories a plate. YIKES!

Kathy and Cindy took us to Benedict’s, a local favorite for breakfast. Kathy had called ahead (something she said we should all start doing) to make sure the coffee came with skim milk, not cream, and that the fruit would be served family style on the table when we arrived; having fruit before the meal acts a stomach-filler for the rest of your meal.

Then she made us tell her what we would have ordered pre-Cooper Wellness. We all shamefully looked over the menu (some of us might have been drooling) and told her our options. Naturally, I went for the dish with hollandaise sauce poured all over it! And, she didn’t take that away. Luckily, I changed my mind just as I was ordering and got a Mexican omelet instead. Which, was much easier to health-ify. (Technical term, haha!)

She made sure we all knew that we had to be picky orderers to really get what was healthy for us. Here’s how she taught us to order our omelets, which I promise were still filling and delicious:
· Egg Beaters or egg whites
· Cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa on the side
· English muffin or wheat toast
· Tomato slices instead of potatoes

Ta da! Our meal was wonderful. I didn’t even finish half my plate because I was so full. The best part was that I didn’t feel guilty walking out of the restaurant.

Does anyone else worry about eating out? Or is that just me?

Erica's Wake-Up Call

The first couple of days have been great. I am working out every minute I am not in a lecture or writing to you all. Kathy Duran-Thal has been feeding me such decadent foods, that she swears are healthy for me. And I am really starting to focus on MY OWN health again.

But, it isn't easy.

Todd Whitthorne told me last week that the first 4-6 weeks of a new exercise and diet program are hardest to get through. Yesterday, Chad Krisher said that most people quit an exercise regimen after the third week.

The odds are stacked against me.

And, to be honest, all I wanted last night was a spoonful of Nutella. (Or a second helping of Kathy's dessert from Monday....) The last thing I was interested in was taking another lap around the walking path here at Cooper Aerobics Center.

What is even more daunting for me is that after my functional fitness test, I really learned how bad my health has become over the past three years.

(This is the part of the post I wish I could just shut my eyes and type through... But I think sharing it will help to hold me accountable.)

In June 2007, I moved to Dallas. I was 5'10", 135 lbs, and had a BMI of 19. I was physically active and hadn't suffered through the slowing of my metabolism yet. Given, I have never truly had good nutritional habits, so I wasn't ready for what was to come. (As a result, nutrition has been the most fascinating part of this experience so far for me.)

Somewhere between 2007 and today, I stopped exercising regularly. I became too busy to prepare my own meals. And today, January 21, 2010, I am 5'10". I weight 152 lbs. and my current BMI is 27. And that's not the end of it. I am constantly tired. I gnaw away at my fingernails, which probably means I am stressed. (I honestly don't know what about either?!) And, to top it all off my skin is constantly broken out.

I don’t even want to think about what these years of inactivity and poor eating habits have done to my arteries, especially after seeing Dr. Kimball’s slides yesterday of overweight and obese person’s heart, kidney, lungs, etc. It was scary!

This is my wake-up call. Yesterday, Dr. Cooper showed us what a healthy BMI range was for individuals of various ages. For me to be over 25 is considered overweight.

I am on a slippery slope.

Now, you all know that I am getting married in June. What better time to set my goal for improving my health?

I wish that all of you could be eating the food, attending the lectures and, yes, even sweating your way through Zumba with me. What I am learning is truly eye-opening. Stay tuned! And thanks for the positive encouragement thus far. Keep it coming!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

(Brilliantly) Simple Susie

We've heard a lot of information throughout the program so far. The staff keeps describing the process as drinking water from a fire hydrant, and I can not think of a better way to phrase it.

What has been the easiest for me to repeat -- over and over again -- are the tips from Susie Kania, a Cooper associate for nearly 20 years. Today, she took resistance bands and taught us to work our back, chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, quads, hamstrings, hips and thighs -- all with a piece of modified elastic mind you! It was the perfect traveling or office workout because of its simplicity. (Not to mention that you can fit the resistance band she gave us in your pocket!)

Another valuable lesson she gave was on walking efficiently. I'll let her explain more here:

Wednesday's Wellness Line-up

Phew! First breather all day. Here is the schedule for today's Wellness team:
  • Breakfast (another wonderful meal)
    21st Century Medicine lecture by Dr. Kenneth Cooper
  • Power Walk
  • Resistance Bands: Exercising Your Options by Susie Kania
  • Cooking Class: Deliciously Healthy, Delightfully Simple-Meals in Minutes by Kathy Duran-Thal (this class was SO FUN!)
  • Coronary Calcium Scores and Wellness CT at the Cooper Clinic by Dr. Thomas Kimball
  • Tai Chi taught by Michael Proctor
  • Personal Exercise Time
  • Pilates
  • Dinner
Also, I had a chance to pull Dr. Kenneth Cooper aside this morning to recap his 21st Century Medicine presentation. Here's what he had to share with all of you:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Your foot's soulmate

Tonight Dr. Allan Sherman taught us the importance of picking the appropriate shoes for your workout.

Dr. Sherman embodies the Cooper philosophies. He began coming to Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas back in 1976. And since, has run more than 50 marathons and even a handful of ultra-marathons. His active lifestyle has clearly kept him healthy, sharp and in shape. And, most importantly to Dr. Sherman, it has helped him minimize his risk of heart disease, a condition that runs in his family. Really fascinating guy, especially for someone who works with feet all day.

He started off by teaching us the basics of how the foot moves and what impact that has on our joints. From there he took it a step further (pun intended) and taught us how OUR walking/running affected our joints. Then, like a human rolodex, he spouted off the best shoe option for each of us based on our stance, how the heel hits the ground, etc.

Dr. Sherman also taught us how to buy the right shoe, in case he isn’t around to make recommendations:

  • Start by finding a shoe store that you can trust.
    Somewhere with real experts that understand the in’s and out’s of feet. What I found really impressive was that he didn’t just give Dallas examples! He offered reputable stores in Houston and Atlanta too!

  • Bring in your old shoes and your favorite work-out socks.
    Just seeing your worn-out shoes will help the sales person address what your movement is. How you hit the ground, how you lean, and so on.

  • Get sized.
    Dr. Sherman told us that your foot size, much like your weight or hair color, can change year-by-year. Make sure to always get the latest measurement. He also recommends leaving 3/8” between your toe and the front of the shoe.

  • Learn your arch type.
    This is where the experts can help. Let them watch you stand and walk to access whether you have a high arch, normal arch or flat foot.

  • Identify what function your shoe must serve.
    Learning about how you walk and carry your weight can help an expert identify the amount of stability and/or cushion your perfect shoe will require.

Here is a quick video of my personal assessment.

(Also, Dr. Sherman recommends Nike Free for Zumba classes!)

A Mexican Meal with 550 Calories?

Earlier, Kathy Duran-Thal took us through her lecture “Guide for Optimal Nutrition.”

Personally, nutrition is the toughest aspect of health for me to maintain. For as long as I can remember I have been an over-eater, but up until just a few years ago, I was blessed with a fast-paced metabolism that burned all my calories off as quickly as I put them on.

Eating out is even trickier for me. I adore the first plates at many restaurants, especially at Mexican joints here in Dallas. Put some chips and queso in front of me and I am a goner. Well, Kathy taught us that it only takes 20 chips to consume 500 calories. Yes. You read that right! 500 calories with just 20 chips!

I was a little shocked when our lunch was fajitas. It is no wonder Kathy is the gem of Cooper Wellness. This meal was fantastic. So good that I was afraid to ask afterward how many calories it was. To which Kathy gave a chuckle and said: “Just about 550.”

I’ll let Kathy explain more here:

The Zumba Team Starts Off Strong

That’s right. The Zumba team. We are the three participants that braved Donna’s class last night and also the three that met at 7 a.m. for a fast-paced walk through campus.

Already had a great breakfast with Kathy Duran-Thal. I’ll make sure to post pictures later tonight when I get more time.

And, with that, I will give you today’s schedule:
· Early morning exercise class at Cooper Fitness Center
· Wake up and Walk session with Valerie Ponce, an avid runner and Cooper Wellness associate· Breakfast lesson with Kathy Duran-Thal (watch for a subsequent post from Kathy on the Whole Grain Council’s stamp of good and excellent grains later)
· Guidelines for Optimal Nutrition by the one and only Kathy Duran-Thal
· Heart Rate Monitor Demonstration by Susie Kania
· Walking for Health and Fitness with Susie Kania
· The Fitness Connection by Chad Krisher, Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer
· Lunch
· Understanding Your Blood Profile by Dr. Riva Rahl
· My first Cooper Personal Training session!!!
· Designing Your Personal Fitness Plan by Susie Kania
· Yoga
· Dinner
· Feet Don’t Fail Me Now lecture and walking assessment with Dr. Allan Sherman

More to come. Did you enjoy that Zumba video last night?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Starting off Strong

Day one: check!

It started off great. Really! There are six other participants this week. Surprisingly, only two of us were rookies to Cooper Wellness. The other four had gone through the program at least once and one couple from Virginia has been coming once a year for 16 years! We’ve got a diverse group with one participant coming all the way from Ecuador and another just a few miles down the road in Coppell, Texas.

Prescription for a healthy life.
Drawing from her experience as a mother, Dr. Riva Rahl simplified the lecture into the ABCs of healthy living:

In lock-step with all Cooper philosophies, her entire presentation was deeply rooted in scientific studies that led her to each recommendation. One unknown risk really stood out to me during her presentation, I have asked her to guest blog later this week to share the secret with you!

4-Course Dinner with just 800 Calories
Three words describe this meal: delicious, filling and healthy. Tomorrow we’ll have Kathy Duran-Thal, our in-house food miracle worker share the recipes.
Check out some pictures I snapped on my iPhone in the latest Cooper Facebook album.

As promised: ZUMBA
Coming in at just over 5 feet, Donna Fisher may be petite, but she packs a serious punch! She had me and the other two men brave enough to take her class sweating, laughing and missing every other step in her routine.

Taking my home to work

Some people have a problem bringing their work home, for me it is just the opposite this week.

It is day one of Cooper Wellness and my suitcase is jam packed with tennis shoes, at least a dozen mix-matched socks and every piece of workout attire I own.

Here is the schedule for the day:

  • Campus tour
  • “Prescription for a healthy life” by Dr. Riva Rahl
  • Dinner at the Cookery (the on-campus chef-supervised test kitchen)
  • Introduction to Zumba
    I am not at all coordinated. I won’t even pretend to be. Knowing that please be kind when you see the video later. :)

Lucky for me, I won’t be traveling back and forth between my house and work all week. The kind folks at the Cooper Guest Lodge have agreed to host me (and all the other participants, of course) for the week.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my room today.

  • The tall bed is incredibly plush (just what I need after a Monday)
  • The shower is immaculate and stocked with Aveda products (much better than the mystery bottles I’ve seen at other places!)
  • Each room comes with an iHome, ready to the latest pop music hit that will get me revved up each morning
  • There was a gift basket full of healthy snacks, including a low-calorie cookie waiting for me
  • Each morning, the room is restocked with Starbucks coffee (they even put a Starbucks cup in the room, for that extra touch!)
  • And, I get to avoid all the traffic in Dallas! It will be even sweeter when they've got me waking up at 6 a.m. to work out!

...Talk about living in the lap of luxury!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Erica's Week of Wellness

First, let me introduce myself. I am Erica Snyder, public relations manager at Cooper Aerobics. I am just over a month into my career here and am currently mentally preparing myself to be "Cooper-ized".

Starting Monday, January 18, I will be blogging, tweeting and Facebooking my way through Cooper Wellness, a six-day healthy retreat hosted by our on-campus experts.

Things you should know about me before we start this journey together:
  • I am a paid employee of Cooper Aerobics
  • For the past few years, I have let my own health fall through the cracks
  • This is going to be the real thing. I will tell you how hard it is, how hungry I am, and—hopefully by the end of it—how thankful I was to experience it all.
  • And, I am getting married in five months exactly (AHH!)

Now that is all out of the way, let's get to the program. I took a moment this afternoon to talk with Todd Whitthorne, the executive director of Cooper Wellness. He assured me I would learn from, enjoy being part of and even make friends through Cooper Wellness.