Standing Cable Fly – A Great Alternative to the Pec Deck Machine


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The Pec Deck, also known as the Chest Fly Machine, is a popular piece of equipment that is used to work the chest muscles. Just about every time I enter the gym, I see someone using this machine So, why am I suggesting an alternative?


The Pec Deck can put you at risk for impingement syndrome, a painful condition of the shoulder. Improper use of this machine is common and can lead to an overstretching of the muscles in the front of your shoulders and a tightening around the muscles of the back of the shoulders. And that is a prescription for impingement.

Recovery from this condition can take a significant amount of time. So why put yourself at this risk? A great alternative to this exercise is the Standing Cable Fly.

Equipment: high-pulleys, cable cross-over set up on cable machines

Major Muscles Used: pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, coracobrachialis
When hands are fully pronated or crossed over, these muscles are also engaged: Pectoralis minor, seratus anterior, subscapularis, teres major








Position: attach two handles to the high-pulley cables on a cable cross-over station. Stand with feet staggered. Your shoulders should be depressed and retracted (down and back), abdominals contracted, elbows and knees slightly bent, wrists are in neutral and arms are outstretched/open.

Movement: with abdominals contracted, lean slightly at the hips, exhale and move arms (without changing the angle of the elbows) in one of the following positions:
– forward, hands come together similar to clapping, palms stay at mid-pronation (face outward)
– forward, shoulders internally rotate, thumbs touch and palms are fully pronated (face up)
Pause, inhale and slowly return to the original position.

Variations: (these variations allow for greater range of motion)
– Standing Bilateral Cable Cross-Over: handles come down and together and cross in front of your body
–  Lower Pec Cable Cross-Over – from a high pulley: leading with the elbows (not the hands), alternate arms and cross over diagonally from one side of the body to the other.
– Upper Pec Cable Cross-Over: from a low pulley: leading with the elbows (not the hands), alternate arms and crossover diagonally from one side of the body to the other.


Common Errors:
– using too much weight which can lead to a lack of control
– performing the exercise too quickly which can lead to excessive range of motion and injury
– using momentum instead of the chest muscles
– hiking of the shoulders
– rounding the back and pushing through the torso
– wrist breaking

Would you like more information on the Cable Fly exercise or its progression? Please leave a comment…

The Clean Plate Club


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Groucho Marx once famously said he wouldn’t want to join a club that would have him as a member.  In truth, there are a lot of clubs where you wouldn’t advertise your membership.  The Hair Club for Men.  Skull and Bones.  The Tony Stewart Fan Club.  The Young Republicans.

Today I’m wondering whether or not I should retain my membership in The Clean Plate Club.

Tracing its roots to World War I, the Clean Plate Club emerged at a time when food was scarce.  Children were encouraged to eat everything on their plate to better understand the value of food.  The Club made a comeback under Harry Truman in the late 1940’s.  Under Harry, the idea was for children to eat less so we could send more food to Europe.

If your household was like mine, you were born into Clean Plate Club membership.  It was not  a choice.  But there were dues to be paid.

Cleaning your plate meant eating foods you liked but also foods you didn’t like. Once you’ve completed the jarred baby food stage (“Let’s see if he’ll eat turnips!”), parents are not going to buy food that they don’t like.  Two of my favorite vegetables today–brussels sprouts and broccoli–never made it into my home growing up.  But we saw a lot of carrots, green beans, and butternut squash.

I didn’t have a big problem with carrots and green beans, but I hated butternut squash.  Cleaning a plate with any squash on it was next to impossible.  You could hold your nose.  You could combine it with something else on the plate, but then something you like becomes less likeable.  There was always ketchup, but, believe it or not, ketchup doesn’t make everything better.  Eventually I was able to negotiate my way into having just a bite of squash.

In more recent times, Clean Plate Club membership has been equated with our obesity problem.  In post-Depression America, kids were encouraged to clean their plates because there wasn’t much on the plate to begin with, and you wanted them to make it to their next meal without starving.

By the time the vegan daughter was growing up, the plates looked a lot different. Finishing all your Kraft macaroni and cheese or chicken tenders and french fries wasn’t hard to do.  In fast food America, you don’t even use plates!

As an adult trying to eat sensibly, it’s easy for me to slip into bad habits. When it comes to pasta or Chinese food, you can count on me to clean my plate twice.  Do you get extra credit for that?   It’s good that I don’t eat pizza alone, because I usually try to limit my intake by monitoring the people around me.

These days, it’s more politically correct to leave something on your plate rather than clean it.  Even if it’s only one bite.  At least it shows you were able to use some restraint.

We’ve also tried making the plate itself smaller.  Eat from a dessert plate rather than a dinner plate.  If you can’t put as much on the plate, you won’t eat as much. But then supper can turn into a buffet when you finish everything on your tiny plate and then head back for more.

It seems to me like we’ve taken Woodrow Wilson’s idea and dumped it on its head. If you put the right things on the plate, it’s probably okay to clean it. Or, if you’re at the point of fullness, you should push the plate away.  Or you could do what I do, and ask yourself, “What would Groucho do?”

Do you belong to the clean plate club?  Please leave a message…

Vegan Crock-Pot Lasagna


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I’m a sucker for a shiny penny.

A recent trip to my local supermarket left me stupefied as I stumbled upon brown rice lasagna noodles They were on sale for $1.99 a box; a manager’s special.

Manager’s special, I think we can surmise, is code for let’s get rid of this product ASAP!

My guess is that they were trying to unload their supply of this starchy carbohydrate because Spring has sprung in New England and space would be needed for a more appropriate seasonal product.

As you read this, keep two things in mind:
1) I don’t care for brown rice noodles (though I love brown rice).
2) I’m not easily swayed by much of anything, except when it comes to food and sales. Put them together and you may have my kryptonite.

With that glistening “carrot” of a manager’s special dangling in front of me, I’d snatched one box faster than you can say April (reference is to the giraffe, for any rock dwellers out there).

Once home, my intention was to make this dish as quick and as easy as possible. I had recently watched a Youtube clip of Emeril Lagasse making Crock-Pot lasagna on GMA. He made it look effortless and that appealed to me. Crock-Pot it was!

I needed to soak the cashews, used for the filling, overnight. Some suggest soaking as little as 2-4 hours but I prefer a longer bath time. That meant that I would have to wait until the following day to put this dish together. I didn’t see this as a setback but more of an opportunity. It gave me a chance to prepare the sauce and pesto a day ahead of time.

For the sauce, I used 2 cans of tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes (plum). That decision was based on two factors:
1) The amount of time I wanted to allot on the break down of the tomatoes, which is to say, not much.
2) A lack of fresh tomatoes. In New England, local farm fresh tomatoes don’t hit the shelves until August.
Whether you purchase canned or fresh, make an effort to get the best quality tomatoes. Some would suggest, in the canned version, that San Marzano fits that bill. You may have to experiment to find what you prefer.
Note: Below you will see a nutritional breakdown of this dish. You will notice a high sodium content. That is due to the canned tomatoes.

For the pesto lovers out there, you may want to double the amount indicated in this recipe. The pesto comes through in a subtle way which was my intention.

I wrote above that I am not a fan of brown rice noodles, but I bought them anyway. That’s what a radioactive element from the planet of Krypton will do to to a person! I have to admit, they were pretty darn good. I don’t know if I would have been able to tell that they were brown rice if I hadn’t purchased them myself.

I’ve made lasagna countless times and I have a completely different version posted here.  But, this was my first go-round in a Crock-Pot and I was pleased with the final product.

Serves 6-8


2 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tsp oregano, dried
1 tsp thyme, dried
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
½ c nutritional yeast
4 + basil leaves

1 c basil, packed (about 25 oz)
2 tbsp pine nuts
¼ c nutritional yeast
½ lemon, juice from
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 tbsp water

2 c raw cashews
1 c nutritional yeast
1 lemon, juiced and a little zest
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup non-dairy milk (I use almond)
1 12oz pkg  brown rice lasagna noodles

Remove and crush tomatoes from can.
In a large pot combine all sauce ingredients (including the juice in the tomato cans) and simmer for one hour.  If sauce needs thickening, add 1-2 tbsp of tomato paste. Taste and add more basil if needed.  Set aside.
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Adjust water as needed. Set aside.
Cashew Cream:
Soak raw cashews overnight, this makes them softer and thus easier to blend (also helps in digestibility). Blend together the ingredients in order presented. I have a Vitamix, but I think a food processor would work fine.

Putting it all together:
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Some brown rice noodles are of the no boil category and do not need to be pre-cooked.
Spread a thin layer of sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the crock pot.
Divide cream and pesto into quarters.
Layer as follows: lasagna noodles (break them, if necessary, to fit the pot), cashew cream, pesto, sauce.
Repeat each layer until you have used the last of the cream and pesto.
Top off with one more layer of noodles and sauce.
Cook in Crock-Pot for 4 hours.

Nutrition breakdown:








What type of tomato do you think is best to use in a red sauce? Please leave a comment…

What’s in a Workout?


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To accompany my recent gym equipment posts (see categories side bar on the right under Exercises), I thought I would give you a peak into what one week of my training looks like along with the equipment that I implement into those workouts.

If you have been reading my blog, you may recall that about two years ago I experienced a shoulder injury. That injury led to the discovery of a congenital shoulder abnormality. My recovery has been slow but steady and I have made tremendous strides toward getting back to pre-injury condition.

With the inability to incorporate much weight work or running (a revolving on again-off again relationship) into my training, I made a decision last year to participate in a marathon-length walk to raise money for charity. It was a lot of fun but the training was arduous at times and could, on occasion, consume a big chunk of my day.

Toward the end of my training,  I was walking 3 to 4 days a week for a total average of 50+ miles and at least one of those days included a brisk six hour jaunt.
You didn’t think I would allow myself to go easy on my practice walks or participate in a leisurely like 26.2 mile stroll on marathon day did you? No chance, bubalas!

I will be participating in the marathon again this year (with the vegan husband!) and have redesigned my workouts to once again include the early stages of walking together with a “recovery” weight resistance regimen.


  • I recently switched gyms to accomplish my goals. The gym I chose to attend is open 24/7. I am an early riser and the ability to hit the gym between 3:00 – 4:00 am allows me to complete my planned workout and get on with my day.
  • All sets, unless otherwise stated, are done to failure. I do not count my reps!  I still need to limit the amount of weight I use; therefore, my rep count can be high.
  • I have not (yet) incorporated compound exercises into my training. Compound exercises can be a great time saver. Instead, I am focused on keeping it simple and making sure I maintain proper form.
  • I designed my weight resistance exercises in such a way as to go from one set to another without breaks. This allows me to finish my weight work within 30-45 minutes.
  • I plan my workouts ahead of time. I always have a Plan B, should the need arise, and I often switch up my exercises. For example some of the Ab work I did this week included twisting windmills, kettlebell figure 8’s and kettlebell swings – you won’t see those listed below.
  • You will notice that my workouts are performed both at the gym and at home. For several years, I have been fortunate to have been able to accumulate a variety of equipment for home use. This permits me to have a flexible training schedule and allows for different methods to work out.
  • Who would have thought that walking could be arduous? I certainly did not realize the pain and mental toughness that would accompany this form of exercise. In the USA, long distance walking hasn’t really taken off. More popular in the UK, I look forward to the day when the hubby and I can travel abroad and participate in a group excursion with The Long Distance Walker’s Association.
  • In order for anything to become habit-forming, there must be some sort of pay-off or enjoyment that is derived from it. Choose an exercise that gives you that pay-off!


ONE WEEK’S WORKOUT: a snapshot from a month ago



Weight Assisted Machine Pullups – wide grip
Bench Press
Weight Assisted Machine Pullups – standard
Decline Bench Press
Weight Assisted Machine Chin Ups – standard
Incline Bench Press

Lat Pull Down Machine (standing)
Single-Arm Cable Chest Press
Lat Pull Down Machine (standing)
Single-Arm Cable Chest Press
Lat Pull Down Machine (sitting)
Single-Arm Cable Chest Press

Chest Press Machine
MTS Lat Machine
Row Machine
Cable Face Pull

ABDOMINALS –Repeat each 3x’s
Captain’s Chair – straight leg raises
Abdominal Crunch Machine
Rotating Torso Ab Machine
V-crunch Ab Machine
Abdominal Bench – crunches
Ab Coaster Machine (lower and lateral ab work)
Back Extension Machine

8 miles walking at brisk speed (finished within 2 hours)




LOWER BODY – Repeat 3x’s
Leg Sled
Abduction Machine
Adduction Machine
Calf Machine

Stairmaster – ½ hour
Run – ½ hour

SHOULDER/BICEPS/TRICEPS and AB’S (at home) – repeat each 2x’s
Internally Rotated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Bicep Dumbbell Curl – alternating standard and lateral
Triceps Dumbbell Kickback
Plank – hold for as long as possible
Y raise – dumbbell
Reverse Dumbbell Curl
Underhand–Grip Triceps Press Down (with a band attached to door)
Plank (hold for as long as possible, then add alternating knee touches  to floor)
Diagonal Dumbbell Raise
Concentration Dumbbell Curl
Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Side Plank – each side for as long as possible
Bent Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raise
21’s – dumbbell
Lying Triceps Extension – dumbbell
Side Plank with reach under to push up
Circles – clockwise and counterclockwise /small circles to failure and then large circles to failure
Hammer Curl – dumbbell
Dips (supinated hands on edge of chair)
Mountain Climbers with Val Slides



12 mile walk at brisk speed (finished within 3 hours)

Captain’s Chair – straight leg raises
Abdominal Crunch Machine
Rotating Torso Ab Machine
V-crunch Ab Machine
Abdominal Bench – crunches
Ab Coaster Machine (lower and lateral ab work)
Back Extension Machine

PART 1 – with elastic tubing attached to top of door:
High Row – hands pronated
Wide Lat Pull Down
Dumbbell Chest Press on stability ball
High Row – hands supinated
Narrow Lat Pull Down
Alternating Dumbbell Chest Press on stability ball
High Row (neutral grip) – palms facing towards one another
Incline Chest Press on stability ball

PART 2 – Repeat 3x’s
Alternating Single Arm Chest Press with tubing
Kettlebell Bent Over Row

PART 3 – with tubing attached to door at mid-torso area/repeat 3x’s
Low Row
Horizontal High Row
External  Rotation – for rotator cuff




LOWER BODY –(gym) Repeat 3x’s
Leg Sled
Adduction Machine
Abduction Machine
Calf Machine

CARDIO: (gym)
Stairmaster – ½ hour
Elliptical – ½ hour

Squat with medicine ball
Stability Ball Ab Crunches
Abduction with loop band
Adduction with loop band
Glute with loop band
Russian Twist with medicine ball
Squat with kettlebell
Foam Roller Reverse Crunch
Bulgarian Split Squat
Wood Chopper–band attached to door
Lunges with dumbbell
Side Lunge-with val slide
Negative Sit-up
Bridges–plate weighted on torso

Stand on one leg – eyes closed/as long as possible
Stand on one leg – Bosu – flat side up/as long as possible



Run – 1 hour
Walk – 1 hour

Pull-Ups – wide grip
Push-Ups – standard
Chin–Ups – close grip
Push-Ups – diamond
Pull-Ups – neutral
Push-Ups – wide
Chin-Ups – standard
Push-Up Plus
Pull-Ups – crossover
Push-Up – decline
Chin-Up – negative
Push-Up – with bosu



Leg Sled
Glute Machine
Abduction  Machine
Adduction Machine
Calf Machine

Captain’s Chair- bent knee crunches
Abdominal Machine
Oblique Machine
Back Extension Machine

CARDIO – brisk walk for 45 minutes


Want information regarding any of the exercises listed above?  Please leave a comment…