November 2012


If you’ve been coming to Live Whole Be Free’s FREE Boot Camp at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, you know that each week you have “homework.” Only being able to train most of you once a week makes it more difficult for you to make progress quickly. Therefore, I’ve elected to give out homework each week, consisting of one exercise that you do every day to help you get the most out of our time together. It also helps keep you in the fitness mindset, while strengthening and improving certain muscle groups each week.

The homework isn’t overly difficult, in fact it’s set up so that no matter what your fitness level is, you are able to complete it. If you are just starting out, you will begin to build your foundation and if you’re in tip-top shape you will continue to work on your stabilization which is ALWAYS important, regardless of fitness level. It’s also not incredibly time-consuming. In fact, it takes less than 2 minutes a day, maximum. So let me ask you, have you been doing your homework? If the answer is no, why is that? Are you SO busy that you don’t have 1-2 minutes to spare each day? Probably not. And we’ve already covered that it’s something everyone can do regardless of fitness level, so…what gives? Truthfully, if your health and fitness is important to you, you will find the time to do these exercises. Those of you that employ my services for Personal Training know that you leave each session/week with 4-5 exercises that you are asked to complete daily and it’s really up to you to do them. You could lie to me and tell me that you’ve completed them when you have not, but what good would that do? You are coming to this boot camp or personally training with me to achieve a certain goal, so why sell yourself short?

With that, the featured exercise (or “homework”) for this week is the side plank. It’s similar to a regular low or high plank, except—you guessed it—you’re on your side. This is a full-body exercise (my favorite kind!) that also really targets your obliques (waistline).

side plank level 1 + 2

How to do a Side Plank:

  1. Start by laying on your right side, right hip on the ground, in a straight line.
  2. Place your right forearm on the ground perpendicular to the rest of your body so that your right elbow is underneath your right shoulder. If you prefer to do the side plank up on your hand, place your right hand flat on the ground in front of you, underneath your right shoulder.
  3. Cross your left leg (top leg) over your right leg (bottom leg), anchor the sides of your feet to the ground, and lift your hips off the ground. Your body should form a straight line, with your hips in between your shoulders and ankles (if you were to draw a straight line from your head to your toes).
  4. Contract your glutes (butt cheeks) and your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Do not “let go.”
  5. Raise your left arm straight up in the air and hold for as long as you can on this side (shooting for 30 seconds – 1 minute), then switch sides.
  6. Repeat 1-2 times on each side.
  7. To progress this exercise to Level 2 in the photo, raise your left (top) leg in the air. Keep glutes/abs contracted and hold. If you cannot hold the contraction, lower the leg and stay at Level 1.

If you attend LWBF Boot Camp, fill out the homework card you’ve been given with the amount of time you can hold each side plank. If you do not have a card, you can email/message me your times at the end of the week. Remember, for every day of homework you complete, you are awarded one point. Each time you attend boot camp, you are awarded one point. In one week, you can earn a maximum of 8 points. The person with the most points on December 31, 2012 will receive a FREE Nutritional Consultation by me!

Let me know if you have questions! See you at 5:30pm on Monday for Boot Camp!

Peace, love and dedication to fitness,


We try to stay away from too many “personal posts” at LWBF, but as you all know, I spent four long months training for yesterday’s Half Marathon in Miami Beach, Florida, so a recap of the race is definitely in order! A good combination of a new training program and some nutritional tweaks made an enormous difference in my race day performance, allowing me to shave 12 minutes off of last year’s time and 22 minutes off my first half marathon time 18 months ago! Saying I got a PR (Personal Record) is an understatement!

White Rock Centennial Half Marathon (5/2011)

Rock n’ Roll Miami Beach Half Marathon (12/2011)

Rock n’ Roll Miami Beach Half Marathon (11/2012)


All meals for the past week:
Sea salt on everything, drink more electrolyte water.

Days 4, 5, 6 prior to race:
4g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight.

Days 1, 2, 3 prior to race:
10g of carbs per kg of bodyweight.

7:30 pm the night before:
Dinner: Kale salad with avocado, raw vegetables, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, brown rice pasta with homemade vegetable tomato sauce, basil pesto bread, water, water, electrolyte water, coconut water w/superfood and more water. We rented a condo in South Beach this year instead of a hotel so that we would be able to make our own meals, having more control over what we put into our bodies pre-race. We’ve been able to have our smoothies for breakfast, and now we are able to have Claude and Sarah over for a carb-up, relaxing pre-race meal. Totally worth it!

10:00 pm
Bedtime. I’m so nervous I could throw up. I’m doing everything possible not to think about the race, it’s difficult.

Race Day! 2:44 amMiami Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon Medal 2012
Damn, not time to get up yet.

3:30 am
Nope, not yet.

4:15 am
Rise and shine! On the menu for breakfast #1: Gluten-free organic oatmeal with 1 Tabelspoon of raw honey (transported from Dallas) and a sliced banana. Rest and watch CSI Miami. (It’s all that’s on, I swear.)

5:10 am
Breakfast #2: Smoothie with peaches, banana, spinach, blueberries, coconut water, almond milk, water, superfood powder and maca powder.

6:00 am
1,000 mcg of B12 and we’re ready to leave the house! I feel like I have a disorder. “Babe, are you ready to go, it’s time to go are you ready to go we have to go we’re gonna be late we’re gonna be late.” Yes, it was all one sentence.

6:30 am
After a short 5 minute walk/jog to the start line from our condo in SoBe, we’ve checked our bags and are ready to go. But wait, I have to pee. And where’s Claude? We always meet up before the race! I’m sweating so much. I don’t think I should be sweating this much. What if my body is overheating?! Ugh, it was probably that 1.5 mile sprint to find a bathroom before the race. Dangit!

6:45 am
Start time! We’re at the front of Corral 2, ready to Rock n’ Roll (no pun intended).


The Race

Mile 1: I can’t believe I’m here, this is great. Gosh I hope I have a good race! (Praying)
Time: 7:25

Mile 2: I’m starting out fast, but not abnormally fast. I feel like this is a good mile 2 pace. I’m feeling good as we approach the Miami Beach Golf Course. It’s pretty.
Time: 7:37

Mile 3: Did I start out too fast? What if I did? Shit. Where the hell is Claude?! I’m about to hit the 5k mark. Oh man, I have people at home watching my time via text message. I hope they’re proud of me! I bet they’re not even awake yet! Crap my left hip flexor is really tight…
Time: 7:58

Mile 4: Ugh, the on-ramp to 195. Stupid hills. CLAUDE! Oh my gosh there you are! What? What is that you’re saying? Sorry, I can’t hear you and I can’t take my ear buds out because it ruins the suction. On we go! Slight cramping in the neck, means I’m using secondary muscles to breathe. Must get that straightened out.
Time: 7:51

Mile 5: Up and down the causeways. These aren’t as bad as I remember them. Maybe I’m being optimistic. Oh well, I feel good. I’m still running at a consistent pace and I’m burning by people on the uphills. Babies!
Time: 8:05

Mile 6: Man, my pace is on point! I found my rhythm and I’m doing great! Wait, we are still running in the opposite direction of the finish line?! Darnit. Time to take the GU out of my sports bra so that it dries off enough for me to open it at mile 7. Ball of my left foot hurts, hip flexor still tight. But feeling wonderful (it’s all relative).
Time: 8:09

Mile 7: Time for GU! I get 1/3 of the GU packet down with some water and pitch it to the side. I almost immediately regret throwing it away. I’m a little tired but this race is going by so quickly! Yay Miami!
Time: 7:34

Mile 7.5: Just puked a little. Ha. I probably shouldn’t post that.

Mile 8: Relay transition point. Bastards. Oh well, I feel like superwoman! I can’t believe I’ve kept up this pace! Or can I? Ah, who cares. Foot hurts, trying not to think about it. I occasionally press my finger into my hip flexor thinking it will help. It does not.
Time: 7:45

Mile 8.5: Oh thank heavens, a GU station! Yes, give me GU and water! I take another 1/3 of the packet, but this time I keep the extra in my sports bra as my “security GU.” I feel strong and man, this race is going by so fast!

Mile 9: Whoo hoo! 4 more miles! I can totally do this! Although this stretch of road is beautiful with these huge palm trees, I am not interested in looking at them. My foot is killing me, but I don’t care. I’d run right through a fracture right now I’m so determined.
Time 8:12 (that was a rough one apparently!)

Mile 10: What the hell?! I thought I was already on mile 10! I feel like I’ve been running FOREVER! This is the longest race ever! Ugh. Well, the faster I run the faster this is over!
Time: 7:51

Mile 11: Holy shit (excitement). I’m almost there. This is the LAST causeway. I’ve got goosebumps I’m so excited! All of this is about to be over! And I still feel good! Melissa stop, stop thinking and chill, it’s not over until you cross that finish line!
Time: 8:09 (lost focus for a bit)

Mile 11.3: I’d like to be done running now.

Mile 11.5: Okay, I’m happy again.

Mile 12: Um… OH MY GOD. Is that Claude?! I’ve never finished a race with Claude, he’s so fast! Maybe I can catch up to him! Use those long legs Melissa, use them! I tap Claude, smile and say “let’s go!” 🙂 Something comes over me and I take off. I remember this point of the race last year, I tried so hard to kick it into high gear, but I just couldn’t—I had nothing left, and everything was cramping. This time, I felt great! There was a lady ahead of me, she’d been ahead of me the entire race. I wonder if I can catch her? I’m going to try!
Time: 7:59

Mile 12.2: Holy shit… (excitement)

Mile 12.3: I’m about to DO this!

Mile 12.5: Caught the lady! See ya! I’m at my highest gear and loving it. Holy shit this is amazing. I love this!

Mile 12.8: Holy shit! (I think I might actually be saying this out loud at this point). I think I just actually flexed my bicep for the last photographer. I don’t care I’m SO happy!

Mile 13.0: Are you kidding me?! I mean ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Someone get a picture of this smile!
Time: 7:33

Mile 13.1: HOLY. SHIT. I’ve done it. Is this real? Did this really just happen? I just beat last year’s time by TWELVE minutes! And I’m still alive and my body feels strong! Well, that’s all relative but in this sense, yes, I’m in good shape injury-wise. My stomach, that’s another story (that you don’t want to hear) so I’ll leave that part out.

As I write this, it’s now 12 hours after start time and I feel relatively good, considering. In fact, I feel the best I’ve ever felt after a race like this. I did everything I could in the months, days, and even minutes leading up to the race. I took water and Gatorade at every station during the race to attempt to stay as hydrated as possible and afterwards, I drank the Gatorade and ate the GU (reluctantly, but I knew it was important), coconut water, water and ate the necessary food to refuel my body. I am still in shock that I was able to accomplish such an amazing time (considering I am not a long-distance runner)! I’m getting messages about the next race I’m running and I’ll be honest…this last four months has been totally worth it, but it’s taken a lot out of me mentally and physically. I think I’m going to bask in the glory of this accomplishment and wait a bit before signing up for the next one.

Melissa RNR Half Marathon Medal Miami 2012

To all of my friends, family and supporters out there, thank you. Your kind words and thoughts helped me more than you know. Words from class members and clients rang through my head as I was running, and the phrases that I use constantly, those were loud and clear as well. I absolutely practice what I preach. The announcer made a great point as he welcomed us to the 2nd Annual Latin Music Miami Beach Half Marathon.

“You’ve already done the hard part, now enjoy your victory lap.”

And I did.

Peace, love and hard work that pays off,



“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” – Stephen Grellet

I came across this quote while waiting to pick up take-out from my favorite neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant. The final line of the quote struck something so deep in my heart that I found myself tearing up then nudged my mom standing beside me and pointed to the framed quote. Once she finished reading she looked over at me and we both smiled and choked back unexpected tears.

Such a simple and beautiful statement about the choices we have in life. It reminded me that every day we are fortunate enough to live our lives and have the opportunity not only to impact ourselves and how we feel, but also those around us.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou

Helping those around you make healthier lifestyle choices, such as going for walks with a friend who might not have the motivation to do it on their own, or bringing fresh vegetables or fruit into the office instead of the usual baked goods or sweets are simple ways to show kindness and love for those around you.

With the coming holidays, there will be several opportunities to show kindness to your fellow human beings. You can make a positive difference by contributing nutritional dishes and snacks and taking the time to be active with friends and family.

“Let me not defer nor neglect it (kindness) for I shall not pass this way again.”


Happy Holiday Choices,

Holly Alexander

Fifteen weeks ago, I started training for the Miami Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon. It’s hard to believe that the day I’ve trained so hard for is almost here! I started training for this race very early. In fact, I was concerned I was starting a bit too early, but was just too excited to wait any longer. This being my third rodeo, I was anxious to start working on implementing the changes I made after trainings 1 & 2. To recap: In my first half, I was probably running 1-2 times per week and maxed at 11 miles. Considering I am not a distance runner and I have a laundry list of injuries, finishing 13  miles that day (a year and a half ago) was a sheer miracle by my standards. Looking back, my time was nothing to write home about, but that didn’t concern me. I was just happy to finish! For my second race, I trained a bit differently. I ran 2-3 times per week, and maxed at 12 miles. I hated every bit of those long runs, but had a goal time I wanted to crush. Come race day, I beat my goal time by 2 minutes, crushing last year’s race time by more than 9 minutes. So I’m on a roll, right? I mean, I must have this training all figured out! Unfortunately, this is not the case. After both races, I got incredibly sick. The first time with exercise-associated hyponatremia, the second time with severe dehydration. Both of these instances caused incredible cramping and abdominal pain that I just can’t put into words, (nor would you want me to try), both times lasting a full 8 hours. Something has got to change.

So this time, I have a new goal(s). First—have a good, strong race and feel amazing the whole way through. Second—not get sick after the race! I looked up several running plans, this time settling on Nike Running’s Race Coach Programs. I downloaded all three Half Marathon Training Programs: Level 1: Finish a Race, Level 2: Set a New PR (Personal Record) and Level 3: Lead From the Front. After reviewing all three plans, I decided I would base my training programs off of a combination of Levels 1 & 2, taking my teaching schedule into account (11 classes/week). I printed out blank calendars from August through November, and wrote down the low and high ends of the mileage for each week. I figured I would at a minimum follow Level 1’s program, and if I could, I would try to get as close as possible to Level 2.

As it turns out, I was able to stick almost perfectly to the Level 2 program, which means I maxed at 35 miles weekly and a 14 mile long run. That is the furthest I’ve ever run! Don’t get me wrong, it was not easy. There were SEVERAL weeks where I just really, truly did not want to go and could have justified not doing that long run. Knowing that I could get away with maxing at 11 miles and still have a good race made it difficult to keep on pushing. But, if training were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it! I ran in the rain and the cold (if you know me you know I despise cold weather), replaying the same phrases in my head that I tell my clients and group exercise classes —

“When you’re tired—this is where the training starts.”

That was key for me this training. My training STARTED at 11 miles because know I can do 11 miles. I needed to push myself PAST those boundaries. I wavered back and forth about whether or not I was

going to hit that 14-miler. But when it came down to the day to do it, I realized I had not worked this hard to give up now! So I did it. I felt great during the run, but ended up in an ice bath and very sick shortly after. I was devastated. The reason I have been training so hard was to avoid this sickness! What was I doing wrong?! After much research and with the help of my Doctor, we’ve so far concluded that it’s tied to my chronic thirst. I tend to avoid sodium but it is also an essential electrolyte. After realizing just how little sodium my diet actually contains, I think we may have found the answer!

RNR Miami Half Marathon

I eat an incredibly clean diet, but this lack of sodium proves just how important proper nutrition is. I’ve spent the last week and half consciously consuming increased amounts of sodium, with great pleasure I might add. I can finally eat salted pistachios without guilt! I hope this makes a difference come race day, but no matter what, I’m going into it knowing that I’ve done everything possible to prepare myself for this race, and that’s a fantastic feeling! I trained hard, I trained smart, I ate right, I rested well and got the proper care for my body when needed. Now fifteen weeks of training all comes down to one. single. race. Or does it?

In all honesty, I accomplished things in this training that I never thought I could. I ran 3-6 times per week with a schedule some can’t fathom having to deal with. I ran 12 miles several times, I ran 13 miles and I ran 14 miles. I got sick, I got better, I got smarter. Whatever happens on Sunday, November 18th, it’s okay—because I feel like a winner already! (But I wouldn’t mind if y’all sent me some good runner vibes from about 5:45am CST to 7:45am CST)!

Here’s to a strong, happy, fabulous race! Cheers! (I’ll drink to that…after the race of course!)

Peace, love and lots of electrolytes,