Johanna Quass, world’s oldest gymnast

Johanna Quass is proof that an active life doesn’t stop at 50, 60, 70, or even 80. In 2012, when she was 86, Quass received an entry in The Guinness Book of Records as oldest gymnast in the world.

Quass started gymnastics at an early age and appeared in her first competition in 1934.  In 1954, Quaas was a member of the handball team that took the Eastern German Championship. Her career as a gymnast and coach stopped and started as Germany went through World War II and the split of East & West Germany.

When she was 56, Quaas again started with training in 1982 and won at the VII. Turn- und Sportfest der DDR in Leipzig. Joanna has a strict exercise regime that involves a combination of running and yoga. Over the years, she’s won 11 medals in senior gymnastic competitions. She currently practices gymnastics “just for fun.”

Check out this video of her bar and floor routine.



A Week’s Worth of Groceries

United States

United States

Photojournalist Peter Menzel traveled the world to document the eating habits of families in other countries. The author of Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, surveys 30 families from 24 countries and the food they eat during the course of one week. The book includes essays on how rising world affluence and trade, along with the spread of global food conglomerates, transform eating habits worldwide.

It’s interesting to compare what’s on US and Britain’s tables compared to some of the others. we have to keep in mind these are just “average” families. We don’t know of any special dietary needs or if there are young children or seniors in the family. And we don’t know what their financial situations might be. We do know there is a correlation between having little money and the propensity to buy processed foods because they are cheap and filling (i.e., starchy/fatty).

What are your thoughts?







Great Britain

Great Britain







Paleo, Zone or ?? Which ‘diet’ do you follow?

Image courtesy of Apolonia at

Image courtesy of Apolonia at

No doubt you’ve heard about the Paleo Diet. This diet advocates eating like a caveman (or cavewoman as the case may be). The Paleo Diet includes grass-produced meats, eggs, fish/seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and healthful oils such as olive, flaxseed, walnut, macademia, almond and coconut.

That’s straight from the website of The diet, devised by Dr. Loren Cordain, aims to mimic our Stone Age ancestors. Because our ancestors (theoretically) didn’t have access to grains, legumes, dairy or salt, these should not be eaten (neither should processed foods and refined sugar for obvious reasons).

Many athletes are turning to the paleo diet in the belief that it will help them improve their performance. I’m not one of them.

There’s also the Zone Diet. This is a diet that is 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates. Every meal should contain this proportion of nutrients. In this diet, there are favorable and unfavorable carbs and proteins. Now I don’t know about you, but I really don’t have time to calculate which percentage of my meal is 30-30-40.

Go to any bookstore and you’ll find a shelf full of books about diets – the aforementioned Paleo and Zone along with the Atkins and many more.

What do these diets have in common? They tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat, or when to eat what, or how much to each in which proportion.

I prefer to eat what I want, when I want. I believe that all “real” (i.e., unprocessed) food provides important nutrients for us. That leaves out the Paleo diet, which doesn’t allow for dairy. I have a glass of milk daily, am trying to incorporate more yogurt for the probiotic benefits, and love cheese.

It also leaves out the Zone diet because as an athlete who needs to feed her muscles, I need at least 70 grams of protein daily. I’m sure that’s more than the 30% the Zone diet advocates.

I found out there’s a name for the way of eating I prefer – agnostic. It’s how many pro athletes eat. According to, where I came across this term, there are 10 basic types of foods:


nuts and seeds
high-quality meats and fish
whole grains

refined grains
low-quality meats
fried foods

The one rule of agnostic healthy eating is this: Each week you must eat each of the two mandatory foods more often than any other food type; you must eat any of the recommended food types you choose to eat more often than any of the acceptable food types; and you must eat any of the acceptable food types you choose to eat less often than any of the mandatory or recommended food types.

While I still don’t like the use of “mandatory” and “acceptable,” isn’t this just basic common sense? Didn’t our mothers tell us to eat our fruits and vegetables? (and isn’t that what the USDA has been telling us lately?). And don’t we already know that fried foods are not going to give us the energy we need?

I think I have the working out aspect of my life down pretty well but I’m still trying to figure out the diet part, trying to figure out what really works for me and what doesn’t

What about you? Is there a ‘diet’ you follow? How is it working for you?


Do Real Men Practice Yoga?

Peacock_poseDo you think yoga is for wimps? That “real men” don’t practice it?

I challenge any man to do what this yogi is doing. This is the Peacock Pose, an advanced posture in yoga. Can you imagine the stamina this pose must take? The core and upper body strength?

The next time you hear a man scoff at practicing yoga, find a picture of Peacock Pose and ask him to replicate it, holding the posture for at least 30 seconds.


When Do You Exercise?

Do you have a favorite time to exercise? Do you get up at the crack of dawn to run or do you pump iron at the end of the day to de-stress? Does the time of day make a difference in our results?

I’m a morning person so I like to get up early and do my run or get to my boot camp class. Night owls might want to work out in the evenings. Here are some advantages to both times.


  • It’s done. You don’t have to worry that something will come up at the end of the day to prevent you from getting to the gym. This is especially good if you’re a procrastinator or if you have a job that keeps you after hours frequently.
  • It gets the blood flowing after 6 or 8 hours of rest. When the blood gets flowing to the brain, you’re mentally sharper. This can’t hurt in your job performance.
  • You probably won’t have to wait (or wait long) for a piece of equipment. You know how packed the gym gets at 5 pm. Everyone had the same idea but you’ll beat them to the punch at 5 am.
  • You have more time to spend with your family and friends in the evening. You may be the only one up at 5 am to exercise, but everyone will be up at 5 pm to have dinner with.
  • Working out first thing in the morning will kick start your metabolism. Studies show that our body continues to burn calories for hours after we stop working out.


  • Your body is more awake. If you’re too tired from not enough sleep the night before, you could be less attentive to what you’re doing and hurt yourself.
  • You don’t have to rush off to work and can devote more time to your workout.
  • You can use the time to burn off any negativity from your job before you go home to your family.
  • You can make exercise family time. Stop by the house to pick up the kids for a few laps around the pool or a brisk walk in the park.
  • You can work off your dinner. If you eat early enough and if your gym is open late enough, you could go home to eat first. If you work an afternoon shift and your gym is open 24/7, that could work out well for you.
  • You’re likely to have a lot more choices for classes. The interest in a zumba class is going to be greater in the evening than at 5 in the morning.

You probably know what kind of person you are — morning bird or night owl – so you know what is your optimal time.

The next question is — will you follow get to the gym?

When do you like to work out and why?




Why You Should Add Plyometrics to Your Training

Plyometrics are exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power.

Plyos can be tough and tiring but don’t shy away from them. They’re a good way to increase:

  • your explosive power
  • your reactive strength
  • your speed
  • your agility

Plyometrics don’t have to be high-intensity; even low-level plyometrics can be beneficial. Low-level plyos could include

  • jumping jacks
  • skipping
  • ladder drills

Higher intensity ploymetics would include

  • burpees (we call them “thrust with jump”)
  • box jumps
  • vertical jumps
  • split squat jumps

If you’re a beginner, start out with lower-level plyos and take it easy. Start with low reps, then add to them.

3 Rut-breaking Strategies

Are you in a rut?

It’s easy to get into a habit of running the same neighborhood route, especially if we have very busy lives. Running the same route can put us on autopilot, which can be either good or bad.

Good, because we can zone out and meditate or go over our to-do lists in our heads. Bad because if we’re on autopilot, we’re not focusing, we’re not pushing ourselves.

Here are three ways you can break out of your routine, kick-start your training and challenge yourself. Bonus – the higher-intensity workout will burn some extra calories.


Head out to your local school track and alternate sprints and recovery laps.

How to do it – Run 800 meters (2 laps around a track), then follow it with an easy lap. Repeat the process two or three more times.


Swedish for “speed play,” this is similar to intervals except you don’t need to be on a track.

How to do it – Warm up in an easy run for about 5 minutes, then pick out a landmark to run full-speed toward – a tree, church, etc. After you’ve reached that point, slow down while you recover, then pick another landmark to run toward. Repeat.

Hill runs

Hills are great for improving your speed on a flat course as well as strengthening the larger leg muscles.

How to do it – Find a steep hill, then run up it. Jog down. Repeat 9 more times.