ICELAND on the EDGE

4 07 2018

 

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The “Bucket List“.  An itinerary of things one may want to do, or places one may want to visit before one dies. Iceland was high on my bucket list for quit some time. Years ago, 2010 to be exact, while watching the Bachelorette, they were in Iceland and I said to my boyfriend who was not paying attention to the show  “We’re going to Iceland.”  He just said ok to placate me, but I meant it and knew if we could bike there he would go.   But for the same reason  people sometimes are triggered to create a bucket list, I suddenly had a medical mishap. This out of the blue heart defect thingy sidelined me for a little while. *See Fit,Fifty & WTF.  But if theres one thing a life threatening  illness or in my case open heart surgery does is makes you realize that time is not guaranteed to no one and you need to stop putting off what you can and want to do today.  So to celebrate the two year anniversary of my new aortic valve  I knew it was time to check it off the list and away we went to the land of fire.

While Iceland is a “hot” place to visit when you tell people that’s where you are vacationing they ask you “Is it cold?” Followed by “Where is Iceland?” and “Are you going to bike in Iceland?”   Now before you assume I surround myself with people of little geographical knowledge, know that 64% of American’s have never left the country.

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“Welcome to the land of the ice and snow.” (Repeat. But this time sing it like you’re Robert Plant.) So impressed with Icelands majestic terrain “The Immigrant Song” by the great Led Zeppelin was inspired to be written.  Iceland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean and the second largest island in Europe. It is also the most sparsely populated country in Europe. A quick 5 hour flight from Newark Airport and we were there.

 

Time constraints and busy season prices, we opted to take a chance and go in late March. This  is what is known as the beginning of their summer season.  Temperatures ranged in the high 50’s to mid 60’s.  Along with this choice of gambling on the changing of the seasons we did encounter the negatives that we had hoped we would somehow avoid. Our scheduled Volcano mountain bike ride ended up getting cancelled twice due to extremely high winds and bad weather. To give you an idea how windy it was when we were there the headlines of the newspaper read “Winds in Iceland cause flying trailers and trampolines.”  The beginning of summer is known for it’s  more severe glacial winds and this can cause the closing of sections of Ring Road also known as Rt.1. and if you can’t use this thoroughfare your trip plans get messed up!  The most popular attractions  are along the “The Golden Circle” section and our first two days we could only venture by car to sight see a certain radius along Ring Road because of road closures.  Finally, on the day prior to our departure our prayers were answered by the weather goddess.  Which meant we would finally get  to “The Edge”, the ride we pre-selected from the bike tour company  Icebike Adventure  . You can check out the many rides offered on Icebike Adventures web sight and make sure to follow them on Instagram.  Our guide Magne arrived at our hotel and we headed about 20 minutes outside Reyjakvik  towards the beautiful blue hued Bláfjöll volcanic mountain range.

Rain gear and trail shoes, not bike shoes as told from IceBike Adventures, who were awesome answering my questions via email prior to our trip, because although we would be riding we would be doing some walking on jagged terrain.  Armed with our fat tire bikes hiked on our shoulders, Magne said “Follow me” and he took off like a rabbit hopping thru a green patch of moss.  Obviously this bumpy moss covered terrain was a texture Magne was well accustomed to, however from the second I started our 1/4 mile trek threw this multi level green matted lava rock the Philly girl in me surfaced. “WTF”   You have this green sponge substance anchored over lava rock. Moss likes water so it looks pretty but you’re  trying to walk, see where you’re going so you don’t lose a limb  in-between a crevasse. I also am looking around for a martian to pop out  because it it so surreal and seriously looks like the set of a space movie.

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The higher part of the Volcano still had some white stuff that had not melted so we got to ride through some sections that still had some snow. And as we encountered these little white patches Magne would traverse down like Alberto Tomba as did Kevin my boyfriend. Me, I instantly would hit the snow and instead of peddling through, fall over and find myself sliding down sideways.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And to all of the snow riding experts out there, here’s my million and one excuses.  I never rode a fat tire bike. This particular bike was way too big for me. No the seat wouldn’t

IMG_2998adjust lower and I never rode a bike in the snow!  As we descended down the “Edge” we did so along with the run off of the earlier rains and the melting snow.  The trails are deep and muddy.  Which is why you are riding a fat tire and not a 26″ or 27.5″ tire.  While the scenery was spectacular, and the ride epic, it did at times become frustrating for me. Since I was on a bike that was way too big I did not have the steering control, and therefore every time my front tire hit something the bike would ricochet back throwing me and my vajayjay forward on to the bike bar.  Which brought again lots of F-Bombs out of my mouth and left me with a bruise the color of the blue lagoon.

By the bottom of this 3 plus hour majestical ride the sun appeared, the sweat dripped and we were now clad in T-shirts, mud and big smiles.  The colors, terrain and the textures unlike anything I have ever seen or ridden before in my life. The beauty of Iceland is simply breathtaking, and to be able to take in this magical ride is something I certainly do not take for granted. It is days like this that reinforce why I have a bucket list. Why it is so important to me to do things, see things and experience things rather than have things. Good health is not guaranteed. And certainly something one should never take for granted.  We can do our best to live our healthiest, but as I found out sometimes the cards have been dealt prior to birth and we never know what is lying in our hands or genes. What I can tell you is that I will always continue to add to my bucket list and always strive to check things off no matter what challenges should come my way.

The world is big and I want to have a good look before it gets dark. ” John Muir

The white hummer awaited us at the bottom with cold drinks thanks to Magnes staff.  The day was perfect and thankfully we were not repacking our clean bike gear for the trip home. That would have really sucked. Iceland CHECK!

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*For the Road riders you can ride or book with a bike tour company to travel parts or even the whole “Golden Circle” also known as Ring Road. This would be for those riders who can withstand the extreme strong winds, various terrain of tarmac and gravel along with various weather related road conditions along and steep hills.

Accommodations: We had debated on whether to stay at one of the bigger Hotels chains however even in the off season the rates seemed rather high and I personally preferred a location within a close walking distance to the main area of downtown Reykjavik.  Airbnb apartments will often showed up in your search as hotel rooms on the large travel sights so make sure when you are booking that you realize that a lot of these so called apartments are actually turn key hotel like rooms that are over other buildings with no lobby. There were many of these type rooms being built all over this area. We opted for small new Hotel called  Hotel Klettur  and were very please with our choice for it’s location, free continental breakfast, that went beyond just cereal and muffins and for its comfortable bed and linens.  It was furnished basic Scandinavian style furniture or as we American would say “looks like Ikea.”  If you are looking for fancy, book elsewhere.  

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WORLDS WORST PERSONAL TRAINER

11 07 2018

No, I am not fat shaming my dog Marley. Last year at her check up I was told by her vet who by the way I personal train, that Marley needed to lose weight for health reasons. I thought for certain that at this years check up there would be a slight decrease. I was not prepared to see that the scale that read 80 lbs last year was now saying 83 lbs.   Of course I tossed out the standard excuses I hear from clients. Check her thyroid. She didn’t poop today. She’s in menopause. She’s getting her monthly thingy lol But I am her care giver, her scooper, her treat giver. Her saboteur. Well in all honesty there’s other saboteurs in the house when it comes to treats and table food. Well,I am ashamed. I have failed. So I will prolong this bitches life that officially starting today Marley is ……and I will call it what it is …..she’s on a “DIE”t. Oh the paw will smack our legs at the table, the slobber will disgustingly drool while anyone is eating anything that she thinks is ice cream and yes she will cry, ring her bell to go in and out the door to be rewarded with treats for going to the bathroom still at age 7 but this trainer will be strong.

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Smile for your “BEFORE” Pictures.

I will not give in to puppy dog eyes and bad breath kisses. If I can look at my clients and tell them their knees hurt cause they’re overweight and to stop drinking alcohol if you want to lose weight then I can look at this fur ball and say NO TREATS FOR YOU! Recently I thought she wasn’t jumping up on my bed at night anymore cause she was getting old and sick. Laying on the floor to sleep. Nope not the case. She’s just fat! Not barrel chested. Not sick. Didn’t gain more muscle in the last year. She just got fatter.

fullsizeoutput_97This additional weight bogs her down and causes more stress on her heart, joints and ligaments and can lead to respiratory problems and even diabetes. Sound familiar? Yes these are all the same ailments that accompany weight gain in adults.I know I tell my clients this daily. So take a look at your pup. Is he or she gaining weight? Have you? Maybe its time for both of you to make a change and start a diet plan. I can tell you right now Marley’s has begun today!

 


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Not So YOUNG, a Little WILD and Valversary THREE.

12 04 2018

 

Each year as April 8th approaches I look forward to going to the hospital and taking tests.  My goal is to pass tests and  by pass the surgeon. And by that I do not mean not bypass surgery, I mean do not have a reason to see the surgeon.  By heart I have the day’s routine down. Quick Cat Scan and off to Ultra Sound. Let me give a shout out to Ben at Penn Medicine for the “extra touch” of music videos.  Seriously watching Coldplay and then turning my head to see the ultrasound monitor showing my valve open and closing to the beat of Adventure of a Lifetime was  paradise. Really was cool.

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Once my tests are complete, I sit in a room in my surgeons office.  And although I know I feel great and that I exercised and trained hard this year to make my heart my strongest muscle, I sit and stare at the door in hopes Dr. Bavaria does not walk in.  Seeing him in his blue blazer over his scrubs would mean something isn’t pumping right, or he’s about to tell me the words I fear to hear one day that  it’s getting close to valve replacement time.  Knowing that this day will come and my aortic valve will need to replaced again is what drives me to take care of myself.  I am determined to walk in and walk out upright.  (Tissue /bioprosthetic valves have an average lifespan of  10 to 20 years) 

But lucky for me, GOD the name I like to call my surgeon, did not enter the room. I passed my tests, hit the elevator button, hit Schuylkill Expressway  and of course hit the gym for a long sweaty heart-pumping workout.  Another year down and time to train again for the life I so appreciate.  Diet and Exercise… if a doctor could write it on a prescription pad it would be the most prescribed medicine. Because people love to medicate then prevent. Gym floor or hospital floor?  Why would anybody choose the later.  While I have learned that my genes and cells  have come preprogramed for me at birth and that although I might do my best to live a healthy life style, I can’t out run, out lift or out program what unfortunate I was dealt with. What I can do is to be  physically and mentally strong to deal with anything that should be thrown my way.   A healthy heart BEATS a sick one.   So I workout like my life depends on it, cause it does.

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THREE YEARS  AGO , 5 DAYS POST OPP PEDDLING FOR MY OWN HEART.

THIS YEAR I PEDDLED FOR LITTLE HEARTS AT THE PHILLY SPIN-IN

I couldn’t of thought of a better way to celebrate my 3 year Valversary than to be one of the instructors at the Philly Spin-In for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.   Words cannot begin to tell you how appreciative I was to be a part of this event to raise money, awareness and a cure for congenital heart defects. To hear the stories, see the signs, see all the teams spinning and feel the love for all the heart warriors is a day I’ll remember and one that makes me feel blessed. The fund will run till the end of April so please donate cause little hearts need to grow up to be big hearts. You can donate at: Philly Spin In

It’s been another heart full year.

Hope

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Hope’s Heart is Spinning at The PHILLY SPIN-IN

12 01 2018
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This is my cousin Scott. We are both members of the zipper club. A club neither of us chose to join but came with the Congenital Heart Defect membership we both received at birth. That’s the reality for many parents. One of every 120 children is born with congenital heart disease.Others are diagnosed with a heart condition during childhood, and some acquire heart disease as they grow. All told, there are millions of children living with some type of pediatric heart disease. That is why my heart is spinning and why I need your heart to spin too. 
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On Sunday March 11, 2018 I am so excited and proud to be one of the Spin instructors at this years Philly Spin-In for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — a fun, high-energy, indoor cycling party to help children with heart disease. It truly is a big workout to help little hearts.  Like my cousin Scott who was born with a congenital heart defect known as TGA-Transposition of the great arteries Scott spent his first 17 days of his life at CHOP. Turning 14 years old next month Scott is a normal healthy active boy with no restrictions.  His parents are thankful for the amazing doctors, nurses and the whole team of professionals at the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
I am Spinning for a cause that couldn’t get any closer to my very own heart.
I was born with a CHD, a Bicuspid Aortic Valve and found out at age 50 when an aneurysm developed. But no parent should ever have to hear the words “Your child has congenital heart disease.”  That is why the Philly Spin- In is raising support for the Cardiac Center to make tomorrow’s breakthroughs possible at Children’s Hospital.
Please join me, other cycle instructors and hundreds of people for this amazing event to benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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RIDE/DONATE or DONATE 
Be on my team Hopeheartstrong  by making a donation and signing up to ride at this link:
As a team we need to raise $1000. The more we raise the more bikes we will have at the event. 
Or please DONATE.  You can make a donation to the event
Details on the Philly Spin-In at: PHILLY SPIN – IN
Philly Spin-In
Corporate Sponsorship info is also available on-line and by contacting
Amanda Calabrese
Associate Director, Peer to Peer Fundraising
3401 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
267-426-6477 ● f 267-426-6530
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While I am passionate about Health and Fitness and am a preacher of heart health even more so now after my open heart surgery, anyone who knows me well knows I am a Spinning lover! ( I am sure people who take my classes have other adjectives to describe me)  However, having been an instructor for almost 20 years I credit spinning and so did my doctors to the reason I made it to age 50 with a CHD.  Spinning gave me a strong healthy heart, a genetic defect gave me a bad valve.  On Sunday March 11th at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia I plan on spinning my heart out because I physically can! Because I am grateful for those that provided me the medical advances, technology and skills that keep my heart pumping. I hope that events like the Philly Spin – In forge new discoveries in cardiac care, bolster training programs, advocate for children in underserved communities, and quickly respond to new opportunities that may — one day — cure all children with pediatric heart disease. Please donate.
Thank you from my heart ❤  Hope
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SIP AND SNIFF THIS

23 10 2017

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3500 calories = 1 pound of Fat. Burn 500 calories a day more than you consume, you will lose about a pound a week. Increase you caloric burn and eat fewer calories. Sounds simple enough. Sorta like second grade math right.  So how is it that if you are smarter than a second grader you are not being wise enough to stop wasting your money buying diet products, powders, shakes and oils to lose weight and get healthy from “Karen” aka also known as Lindsay’s mom from school.  Maybe it’s “chick at the office” who friended you on social media. She invests money monthly in a  Shake program and posts before and after pictures of people’s success stories that she doesn’t know. They  are sent to her by the company and she has to post them and people comment “great job.” But they weren’t her clients. She has to post a certain amount of posts promoting the shakes in order to have the privilege to sell this product.  That’s why she’s hogging your feed all the time.  My very favorite is the friend who is now a Health Coach/Life Coach but last time I  spoke to her she couldn’t figure out her own life but she has now she took an on-line class on life and printed out a degree.  I not sure if she got a degree in Psychology or became a sommelier because if she’s not selling lotions, potions or oils she’s posting about wine. ” Thank god it’s “wine o’clock”, “Tonight forecast is 99% WINE” “You know what rhymes with Friday…Wine”  and “I can’t wait till the kids go to bed so I can pour myself some dinner.”

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I see  posts in my feed for “oils” and how wonderful and healthy they are for me and my children and my kitchen sink.  I see they have no chemicals and how safe they are for the environment. Is that gas guzzling SUV you’re driving mom safe for the environment. Does oils make hair dye? Hair spray?  Do you like parties?  Well apparently   women reach an age where getting out of the house becomes so vital that anything that sounds like a party is an excuse to put on your mom jeans, feed and bath the kids a little early and high tale it out to an “Oils Sniff and Sip” or maybe your party was called “Wine, Oils & Chocolate Pairings” or I like the one that was called “Hangover Rescues with Oils.”

 

I am a personal training aka ….. Therapist, Life Coach, the person people tend to vent to (we are like their hairdresser). I know what goes on at the party. Y’all are sitting around while Karen is peddling her oils telling you how you can lose weight by dabbing oil on your wrists  or dripping a drop in your sneakers before a run. You are drinking large goblets of  wine, eating and talking smack about the women who didn’t come to the party. They were smarter than a second grader and I know you really are too.

Now no one loses weight sniffing, drinking or dabbing oil on your wristlets before they workout. You lose weight by …….go up to the first line of this article.  Remember you are smarter than a second grader.  Wine is an alcoholic beverage. Some people think because it’s not “liquor”  it’s perfectly fine to have several glasses or a whole bottle.  Wine in moderation has been said to have some health benefits, but if you’re overweight, making your heart work extra hard for its age, clogging your arteries from a poor diet and lack of exercise , wine is not going to save you from heart disease or cardiac arrest.   And because wine is touted as beneficial to ones health, like dark chocolate women will tend to use this as an excuse to consume it.   Unfortunately  most women don’t drink wine in moderation. An average woman on a light drinking day, maybe while cooking dinner will drink an excess of 300 calories. That’s 2 glasses of wine or 1 large goblet.

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Now remember, you are smarter than a second grader.  Alcohol interferes with the brain and how it works. People make irrational decisions when drinking. They also make bad food choices often followed by  the  “I am so mad at myself for eating all that …” next day blues.    The long-term effects of drinking, here are a few:  fatty liver, high blood pressure, cirrhosis, problems with the pancreas and weak immune system and not to mention a list a cancers associated with excessive alcohol,  drinking doesn’t seem so whimsical.  People get caught up in the glitz and glamour of a glass of wine or a cocktail but alcohol is a drug killing 80,000 people a year. That’s not including drunk driving accidents. So just as alcohol and healthy seem odd in the same sentence, “Sip & Sniff” seems even more ridiculous.

As we drift into the final two months of the year you will be flooded with sales pitches, TV Ads and infomercials for all the diets and exercise plans that will be awaiting you and your New Years Resolution. If you are like most people you might be saying I’ll wait till the holiday’s are over to start. Why?  Scared to get on the scale? If the thought of stepping on a scale scares you now  imagine the fright January 1 of the new year or when you’re in your fifties and your metabolism really starts to slow, or when Bed Bath and Beyond doesn’t carry a scale that goes up to your poundage. Scary is being told you need to lose 50 pounds in order to have gastric bypass surgery which is needed in order for you to live another 5 years and you are only 53 years old.

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There is no tomorrow if you woke up today healthy. Thank your healthy stars and begin today.  There is no tomorrow if there is one second today you didn’t think about how you need to lose weight, how you shouldn’t have eaten something.  A scale usually tells us what most of us know already by the way our clothes fit.  It’s not going to bite you, it’s going to tell you how much you weigh. Naked or with your clothes on you can love it or hate it but it becomes a wake up call for most.  There’s a reason why you step on it at the doctors office…..because weight gain and weight loss in excess can signal a medical problem. I recommend to my clients stepping on the scale only once a week, Monday morning. Knowing this sometimes keeps them in check over the weekend so they don’t have a “weak“end. I have them text me a -1 (minus) or a +1 (plus) that’s it. I do sometimes get +2  and we talk about it when I see them.  But the client knows what happened. But Monday is the day to re-boot, re-start if need be.   No BS I tell them, just get back on track and not back on that scale till the following Monday.  Remember that fitness cannot be bought.  And a Registered Dietitian nutritionist is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements including: Earned a bachelor’s degree in this field. Make sure “Karen” has the proper degree before taking any health and nutritional advice. Would you let Karen operate on your heart? Would you let Karen give you her prescription heart meds. Well then don’t let her sell you anything that could affect you heart or your health.  With the increase of adults combining prescription and over-the-counter medications with supplements there has been a rise of serious side effects. You never want to take anything that can interact with your medication. Oils and natural supplements can reduce a drugs effectiveness as well as enhance it.  Be safe and be smart.

Remember you are way smarter than a second grader.

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This Workout is Brought to You by the Letter PEE

10 10 2016
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Excuse me while I step inside this room and put on my super hero cape.

I know what your saying. Pee, like peed your pants? Yep, like a piddle in your yoga pants or a leak in your running tights. Some young girl who is reading this is saying “Ewe Gross who does that?”  Just like I would have when I was young and had a perm, wore leg warmers, was queen of step aerobics.  A grapevine over the bench certainly would never have caused me to panic but after child birth came a new meaning to the phrase I laughed so hard I peed my pants.

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SUI, Stress urinary Incontinence or better known as “I just peed.” is a real problem and no laughing matter. I train a lot of women so I hear this often and when they say it we both usually laugh.  “I don’t like to jump a lot cause I’ll pee” is often heard. Well ladies you are far from alone. 1 out of every 3 women who have vaginal births have the same problem and even women who have never experienced child birth can have a weak bladder or weak pelvic floor muscles. Also as you age this muscle can weaken. The pelvic floor muscles control the urethra which is the bladders opening and this muscle like all muscles needs to stay strong.

Look at me, I am typing a blog but I bet you can’t tell I am also strengthening my pelvic muscles. That’s right I’m doing my kegal exercises. I’m not a giant leaker. Why? Because when I was pregnant the older women I worked with talked about this peeing problem  so much and they told me to do kegal exercises all the time.  I got so paranoid that for nine months I walked, drove, ate, worked and even peed doing my kegal exercises. Pee a little in the toilet and stop and pee a little and stop. I still do this.  I could break someones neck with my va-jay- jay by the time I gave birth but daughter number one and two decided to be C-Sections and didn’t take the route of the birth canal therefore not stretching out the scenery along the way.  Occasionally though I will forget to empty my bladder and start teaching a spin class and hello tight pelvic muscles ….do your job cause I cannot jump off this bike and leave my class hanging.

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Throughout my 15 years as a personal trainer I have suggested to my lovely ladies of leakage to insert a tampon. The pressure of the tampon can add pressure and  support the uterus and stop urinary incontinence. Some makers of tampons have gotten smart and now market basically a tampon for SUI. I also know a lot of gals wear a panty liner. But they all say it’s annoying, moves and is gross. Especially with workout clothes. So when I saw an ad for Pee-Proof undies called Icon I thought let’s give this panties a wiz.

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Loaded up on my usual cups of coffee and lot’s of water I put on my big girl panties by Icon, tighten my ponytail and began my workout which consisted of some treadmill running, jump rope, lot’s of squats with jumps, weight lifting and abdominal exercises. Most of the time when one of my client’s say’s “I’ve got to run to the bathroom I leaked” it’s during abs. So I made sure to hit the abs hard. The Icon panties have a built in absorbent liner and it was not bulky nor cumbersome. You could not see the panties through my tights and I normally go commando in my workout pants so this was great. The Icon pantie comes in a thong, bikini style and a high waist and are  $30 a pair.  While that might sound pricey to you, but unlike a panty liner you wash them and wear them again.  Pantie liners  are $3-$8 a box and tampons even more. I tested the black bikini in a size medium.  I should have gone with the small.  I also should have, knowing I was going to put these through the workout test and I get major *SWASS  should have ordered the thong style. I may not be a major leaker but I am a major sweater and wick away underwear wouldn’t help.  You can go on their web sight and check out the styles and their sizes.   Now I do not look as sexy and gorgeous as the models above in my Icon panties which is why there is no picture of me leaping across your screen in my panties but I am giving you an honest review of this product as I often am asked to promote things and most often say no. The icon pantie was really nice. Felt great. Looked nice and being someone who has worn bike shorts, I really felt nothing in crotch area. SUI is a serious problem for women so I do recommend these  panties cause nothing makes you feel less sexy than grabbing those old granny panties in the back of the panty drawer, oh you have them,  and sticking a piece of paper with a glue strip in the crotch. It’s reminds me of the mouse traps in my basement and that my friends is ewe.

Here is a link for $10 off your Icon order: $10 DISCOUNT ICON.COM

*SWASS noun. A contraction of the words sweat and ass. A non gender-specific term used to describe the sweat found around a person’s ass.  Better known as “sweaty ass” and “swamp ass”

“IF I CAN MAKE AT LEAST ONE PERSON SMILE, LAUGH  OR PEE THEIR PANTS  A LITTLE THAN I DID MY JOB FOR THE DAY.” Hope Nagy Personal Trainer

 

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READY, SET & GOOD TO GO. 6 weeks post op of my open heart surgery.

30 05 2015

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Hope Nagy, mom. A women who feels on most days alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild her… we have the technology. We have the capability to build… I mean bill her daily. Hope Nagy will be that woman. Poorer than she was before… but better, stronger, and faster…

Now wait a second. Did Steve Austin pay for his six million dollar body, or was he on Obama Care? Yes, 6 weeks post op. Time to rejoice in the fact that I have met my deductible!

If your caught in a lie deny, deny, deny. People think I am so brave. But I can’t lie. I am far from brave and would like to think the following thing didn’t occur, but it did. Barely able to speak, not even 24 hours after my surgery I called my still sleeping boyfriend at 6am in the morning to ask “What time are you coming to the hospital?” ‘Come now.” and “Please bring a gun so I can kill myself.” He laughed at me and said “You told me before surgery that you wanted me to bring you coffee from Starbucks with a little cream and 3 Splenda’s.

Now weeks later I am able to drive to Starbucks and get my own coffee. On a daily basis I am asked “hey how ya feelin?” I’m from Philly so that’s not a typo. People comment on how well I look, how fast I am recovering, and tell me how “amazing” I am. “Oh yes, soooo amazing” I chuckle at this. Why? Because I’m far from amazing. Mostly because the day after my surgery I thought, “If this was a race I would take a DNF right now.” In fact I said very clearly to my parents as I laid in my hospital bed the day after surgery “I don’t think I can do this.” I even cried to my dad. “Daddy how could you do this so many times? You’re so out of shape. Your amazing.”

Truth be told I was bogged down with the fear of the unknown ahead of me, and my road to recovery. I wanted time to speed up, to flash forward weeks and be out of the scary woods. Gotta get to that six week mark because that’s when my surgeon told me I would be “Good to go.” Tell a fitness freak that they are “good to go” and we go, we hesitate a little, we go, we go slower then we did before and then we wonder? Did I really lose this much strength and endurance in just a few weeks? Did atrophy take over? Beast mode on? Hmmmmm I guess I will listen to the doctors and just ease on back down the road. Except Miss I WON A PUSH-UP contest, once in my early forties can’t even do a real push up.  I’ll call them sucky, non-regulated, partial push-ups, because I just can’t seem to drop low without my chest feeling like it’s going to rip open and spill my guts on the gym floor.

Push-Up Queen For The Day

Push Up QUEEN FOR THE DAY

(most push-ups in a minute after ODDMAN Duathalon won a XL Men’s Mountain Bike Shirt)

Weighing in 5 pounds heavier then my pre surgery weigh-in, at six weeks I am mushier and have less definition. But I have a brand new aortic valve and root, and that’s so much more important. So who cares. I lost my six pack, gained some unwanted body fat and now have something that resembles a vagina in the crease near my armpit. I am at the six week mark. I think I am “good to go.” I am free to pick up the big kid weights now. Free to run, teach spin “on” the bike, jump rope, dead lift, and test out my new heart pumping equipment. Now a days when someone comes up to me while I’m working out and uses their hands to motion take it easy, slow it down sister…..I am free to shout “I’ve got clearance. I’m ok.” “Sorry, I can’t hear you. My music. I’m in the zone.” Feels great to be back to training because my pants feel tight and I can’t breathe …. and a damaged valve is not to blame. lol I can’t afford new clothes, I have bills, bills, bills to pay. Cue Destiny’s Child…….

Can you pay my bills?
Can you pay my telephone bills?
Do you pay my automo’ bills?

But hey I’m doing great. Ok, most of the time. I’m working hard for the money and taking care of business and workin’ overtime. And then BAM I have a moment. Because the reality is it isn’t easy as fishin’ and I’m not a musician. The reality is Girlfriend, no one has waved a magic wand over you and made you 100 percent recovered. You had major surgery 6 weeks ago. So sometimes I get a little reminder that I am not superwoman. Could be one of my horrible headaches or just feeling light headed. These moments trigger a fear that what if something isn’t right. For example just last week at the Home Depot while in the garden center, my blood pressure dropped suddenly really low. Without any forewarning I became dizzy and felt like I was walking on a slanted floor like in the old V8 commercials. Thanks to Miracle Grow and it’s foam granules I landed safely. “Ma’am can we call 911 for you.” “No I’m fine. I’m not drunk. Just need to sit for a minute” and sounding like an old Jewish woman from New York I said “It’s just my preshsha medicine.” But actually I thought I was having a stroke. When I told my cardiologist this she looked at me in a sincere yet cute funny way and asked “Did you ever have a stroke? Me “no” “Your pressure dropped.” And viola just like that I was taken off ALL meds. She told me to hydrate even more now that I’m back to being a sweaty mess and she strapped a holter monitor on me for 24 hours to record my heart rhythms. Yes, I was allowed to exercise with the monitor on, and yes I couldn’t shower, and yes I smelled, and yes the results came back fine, and YES I am medicine free!

I have to wait 9 weeks for my 6 week post op check up since Dr. Bavaria is pretty busy mending broken valves. I did not see him on game day since I was already sedated, but I know he was there by the lovely scar he left on my chest. Much better looking than the scar I had him draw on me in his office. (See picture) By his reaction apparently no one had asked him to do this before and the only marker available was a dry erase one. I am excited about my post operative appointment at The Hospital of the  University of Pennsylvania because I can’t wait to hear these words from the mouth of the wizard of Aortic Valve surgery …… YOU ARE GOOD TO GO.

Pre-Op Scar Drawing

IMG_8040_2 Pre-Op Scar Drawing

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. They exude kindness, and an aura flows around them full of warmth, generosity and humility. I on the other hand am not one to wear my heart on the outside for all to see. I keep it guarded like most who have been hurt in their past. It is there though and pretty big. For I would do anything for a friend. Judge a woMAN not by the amount of friends they have on Facebook, judge them by how long they have maintained their friendships. My best friends have seen my heart along with my tears and my fears. They are the people who know the girl they met thirty plus years ago with the thick glasses, braces and Sergio Valente jeans was ACTING brave leading up to surgery but was a nervous mess on the inside. Like the cowardly lion I feared not having courage, strength and the power to face this scary circumstance ahead of me. I feared for my children mostly. My two daughter’s are my life.  And my life  suddenly became more valuable when I thought of not being in their lives. So humble me will tell you I am not amazing. I am far from fearless. And even though my heart was seen on the outside in an operating room for a several hours on April 8th, 2015 it was securely placed back into it’s hiding place with some new parts and some good old courage. Sorry great wizard your services were not needed here.

And like Epicurus, a Greek Philosopher, once said,

You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”

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To read the beginning of my journey of my Aortic Valve and Aortic Aneurysm surgery read FIT, FIFTY & WTF go to https://hopenagy.wordpress.com/  and scroll to April 7, 2015.

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Hope Nagy

Certified Personal Trainer

MotivateHopeStrength.com

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Proud to be an Ambassador for The Movement Foundations “DARE TO BARE

An organization whose purpose is to help women battling eating disorders, body image issues, lack of self worth and depression simply by accepting bodies of all shapes and sizes. http://www.movemeantfoundation.com/#home

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        MotivateHopeStrength.com                                      https://hopenagy.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/fit-fifty-w-t-f/








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