Seeing RED

Well, well, well look who’s back.  Just when it was so peaceful without Melissa, she plows through the 1000 step challenge and returns with a week of immunity, no less!  There is no question she is a force to be reckoned with and her return to the show makes everyone work a little harder.  We also saw Victoria return, as the remaining contestants got to vote one person back on, also with immunity this week.  Michael showed a very sensitive and sincere side as he spoke about why Victoria should return to the ranch.  It reminded me of what I liked about him the first week.   Melissa came back as red, and Victoria, blue as we saw the competition lose blue vs. black and return to individuals in their original colors.

The weigh ins were rather low and uneventful this week.  Weird how some weeks everyone pulls big numbers, yet this week there was not a single double-digit weigh in…things that make me go hmmmmmmmmmm?!?  In the end,  Sam (gulp, say it isn’t so!) and Stephanie were the two to fall below the yellow line.  I know yesterday was a day to practice flexibility, but seeing Sam go home would have asked me for too much flexibility.  Though I wasn’t happy to see her go, thankfully Stephanie was voted off instead of “my boy.”  His great integrity will serve him well because the chances of him pullling big numbers with the shape his is already in, are slim.  He looks fantastic and at least we get to see him for one more week.

On a different note, we had a fabulous time at Passover Seder last night, surrounded by some of the nicest, kindest more caring people in the world.  Thanks to the host and hostess with the most-est for including us in their intimate table of 37!   My vegan dinner consisted of a beautiful salad topped with raisins, just the way I love it, followed by a plate of grilled eggplant, portabella mushroom, red pepper, sliced potatoes, asparagus and tofu.  It was PERFECT as was the wine…

Kyle found an apartment and is ready to start his new life in Tampa.  Wow.  His ability to have a goal and plow through till he achieves it is so impressive. From college, to P90X, to running races, seeing the country, getting THE girl and now relocating WITH a job.  If you happen to be reading this, Kyle, I admire your follow-through!

So Monday we worked on less judgement and criticism, yesterday increasing our flexibility and today, Wednesday, goes like this:

Practice gratitude, feelings of self-pity and despair wash away.

This one requires NO work on my part.  I try to actually make time to practice gratitude most every day, usually at the end of a class…or two.  I learned first-hand, years ago, the magical powers of practicing gratitude.  The more one does it, the more grateful they become.  It’s so simple and so powerful.  Whether it’s writing in a gratitude journal, or finding one or two things to be grateful for, or, as I like to do, rattling off a mental laundry list of the MANY things I am grateful for, this practice has changed my brain, my heart and my attitude.  I hope you will take time to practice some gratitude today and every day.

Learn to Bend…

Well, it was bound to happen.  We have always (and all ways) encouraged our boys to follow their hearts.  To that end, my webmaster, Kyle, has landed a web development job in Tampa, where his heart already is.  He was lucky to have found work in his field, here in Southeast Florida, where he was able to sock away some savings to make this move possible.  I am guessing that somewhere in the next couple of weeks Mitch and I will get busy helping him move across the state.  I wish him luck today as he looks for his first apartment, post college.  Much like me when I was still single, he would love the space of living alone.  I hope he can make all his dreams come true.

This week we are looking at six simple “attitudes” that can lead to true life changes.  I, like some of you, had a tough time with yesterday’s simple sentence which was:  Pay compliments to others, a natural antidote against critical or judgemental thinking. I tried.  There were a couple of times I did catch myself about to express judgemental thoughts.  Awareness is the first step towards change, so I guess being aware was good enough!  I hope it was for you, too!  And yes, Carol, at least you found something good…and from my point of view, the one thing you did find, was a BIG ONE and one that you, no doubt, inherited!  Sometimes, I think that there are some people that are truly hard to find much good in.  Sad, but true!

And now for the Tuesday thought…

Be flexible.  It will undo rigid thoughts.

This is actual perfect for me, for today.  Today is an a-typical Tuesday for me.  No client to train this afternoon as she is out of the loop for the week.  No classes to teach tonight as Mitch and I attend our first Passover Seder (at least as adults).  In an effort to be flexible, though I was planning on doing some cardio at home,  I will definitely do some  yoga, instead… and will be eating my first vegan Passover dinner tonight.  As I move through my day,  I will give a lot of thought to the idea of flexibility (body and mind)  and try to bend a little bit more! That’s also why I also chose to catch up with some friends and family BEFORE blogging, today…today, instead of sticking to my plan, I threw it out the window and am going to bend with the day as it unfolds.  Already my thoughts feel less rigid.

Wishing you a flexible day, if not in logistics, certainly in thoughts.  See you after Biggest Loser!

Happy Passover

This morning I will be getting up and out (amidst the thunderstorms) to teach, train and then teach 2 more classes before heading home for an afternoon of prepping for our Passover dinner guests.  Most of the traditional Passover dishes, I don’t eat for a zillion and one reasons.  Though we have made a brisket, I have to leave it up to Mitch to taste before serving and Mitch’s dad will bring the chickens, his sister the mashed potatoes and a cousin is in charge of the sweets.  Hmmm…I will make a huge salad, some roasted root vegetables and some grilled asparagus and I might even share some with the guests 🙂   I need to save some room for tomorrow night!  A 2 night holiday is a recipe for disaster to the “diet”–especially when the days are Monday and Tuesday!  Not only is there a lot of eating, but a need to miss work (working out!) as well!

The thunder is driving the bigreddog out of his mind and he is breathing heavy on my arm as I type.  At 120ish pounds, no matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to hide under my keyboard ledge.  Poor thing.  At least he doesn’t have to get to work in the mess that this morning’s storm looks like it will be creating.

In still another article that I was reading about health, laughter and attitudes, I will be sharing some simple ideas this week from the Foundation for Good-Hearted Living, established by Steve Wilson, Founder and …get this…”Cheerman of the Board,” of the World Laughter Tour, Inc.  This Chicago based organization has trained over 5,000 “laugh leaders,” who spread cheer to the sick, dying and even “every day ordinary annoying” (or annoyed) people.  Wilson established 6 healthy habits to boost positive well-being.  He claims that people who practice these habits have stress, but they don’t get sick because they are stress resistant.  My guess is that besides not getting sick, these daily “habits,” when practiced week after week, change one’s soul from the inside, out!

I will leave you with Monday’s life-changing suggestion habit.

MONDAY:

Pay compliments to others, a natural antidote against critical or judgemental thinking.

I will be looking for opportunities to compliment others as I go about my day of work, preparing for and then observing the holiday with family and friends.   As we all know, sometimes its hardest to avoid judgement and criticism when we are with our family members.  That just means digging a little deeper to be the change we want to see in others.   Whatever you will be doing today, I hope you will try the same.  Be back tomorrow for more life-changing habits.  Thanks for checking in.  Happy Passover.

Breathe, Balance, Smile and Move–it’s Saturday!

Good morning.  Here is is the last Saturday in March.  Passover and Easter are right in front of us.  Time sure is flying.  I will be juggling my schedule around on Monday (though all classes are as usual) to prepare for family on Monday night.  Tuesday night I will be cancelling both classes at Tamarac Fitness Center in observance of the holiday.   Wednesday I’ll start kicking up the workouts to burn off the too many calories consumed 2 nights in a row!  Though I don’t eat the meat or the poultry or so many of the holiday indulgences, I will still be sure to eat more than enough!

Yesterday I posted a breathing technique, using a single nostril .  Today I will suggest that you can also try alternate nostril breathing.  Using your thumb and ring finger pinch off your right nostril as you deeply inhale through the left.  Then pinch the left, open the right and exhale it all out.  Keeping fingers the same, take your next deep breath in through the right side, and out through the left.  Keep alternating for 5-10 breath cycles.  This is said to restore balance and energy flow and help bring oxygen to both the right and left sides of the brain.  I need as many brain cells working as possible, so I am trying to do this once a day.  In fact, I just did!

This week the news reported that women over 45 looking to simply maintain their current weight, need to do a solid 60 minutes of moderate exercise daily.  I believe its at least 60 minutes!  For me, its more like 3 hours, but my body is probably quite used to too much exercise.  The news also reported that smiling not only lifts your spirits, but actually helps you live longer.

I am going to eat an energizing breakfast and then head out to TFC for an hour of at least moderate exercise…and with a smile on my face! Hope wherever you are, you’ll be doing something similar.

Have a fantastic Saturday filled with smiles, peaceandfitness.

Headaches? Try this Wisdom from a Yogi…

Breathing Therapy

The nose has a left and a right side; we use both to inhale and exhale.

Actually they are different; you would be able to feel the difference.
The right side represents the sun, left side represents the moon.

During a headache, try to close your right nose and use your left nose to breathe

In about 5 Mins, your headache will go…

If you feel tired, just reverse, close your left nose and breathe through your right nose.
After a while, you will feel your mind is refreshed.

Right side belongs to ‘hot’, so it gets heated up easily, left side belongs to ‘cold’.

Most females breathe with their left noses, so they get “cooled off” faster.

Most of the guys breathe with their right noses, they get worked up.

Do you notice the moment we wake up, which side breathes faster? Left or right? ?

If left is faster, you will feel tired.
So, close your left nose and use your right nose for breathing, you will get refreshed quickly.

This can be taught to kids, but it is more effective when practiced by adults.

My friend used to have bad headaches and was always visiting the doctor.

There was this period when he suffered headache literally every night, unable to study.

He took painkillers, did not work.

He decided to try out the breathing therapy here: closed his right nose and breathed through his left nose.

In less than a week, his headaches were gone! He continued the exercise for one month.

This alternative natural therapy without medication is something that he has experienced.

So, why not give it a try?

Thanks to my co-worker, Debbie, who sent me this in an email last week.  Sometimes the best cures are the simplest.  Who knows.  Can’t hurt to try!

Thank you, Mr. Einstein

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet”

Sounds like something some rebel from the PETA organization might say, right?  Or maybe someone like Paul McCartney or some other celebrity that goes around promoting vegetarianism.  Maybe one of the doctors like Ornish or Bernard.  Though they would clearly all agree, in this case it was the genius, Albert Einstein, who penned that quote.  I have never been one to argue with the teachings of Einstein.  Anyone who can figure out relationships between mass and energy or develop theories on relativity, surely has a lot more smarts than this girl!

Tonight is Vegan Feast Thursday and the theme is “Sandwich Smorgasbord.”  Though I will be making some home baked tofu sticks to put into a pita, as one sandwich option, it’s really important that people understand there are so many foods that are naturally vegan.  This is why I prefer to call it a plant-based diet, as it sounds less like a cult!  For example, I bought a gorgeous loaf of prairie bread at Whole Foods and with that I will be making pre-made peanut butter and jelly and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  I will also be making a mock tuna-salad that calls for chickpeas in place of the tuna.  I mash up the chickpeas and add some diced celery, red onion, dill pickle and add some “Veganaise” and poof, it looks just like tuna.  Though it doesn’t taste exactly the same, the dill pickles really make it seem like tuna and I, for one, don’t miss the fishy taste at all.  The “kids” like the faux cold-cuts made by Tofurky, so I’ll put some of that on the table, too.  Low in calories and really tasty on a sandwich, I generally stay away from them because they are processed.

I am not suggesting any of the above (except for the cold-cuts) are low in calories but the good news is, once you eliminate animal fat, nothing is that crazy fattening!  I will, however, also be making a huge salad and maybe even grill up some fresh veggies.  Either of those go well in a pita or wrap and are healthy and low in calories so that takes care of me.

And because I believe in CHOICE (with most all things) I will offer some regular old cold-cuts from the Publix deli.  I totally understand that what works for me, may not work for the next guy.  I am very grateful to my son Derek and my “adopted adult son,” Peter, for inspiring me to cook new things and try new things.  I can honestly say that since my “minor meltdown” almost 2 weeks ago, and since reading The Kind Diet, I have regained a peaceful easy feeling in my heart and soul.  I haven’t really counted calories and my weight is stable.  I am getting more than enough protein from the foods I eat, (I am positive we don’t need as much protein as we think and I would need more than many as weight lifting is part of my daily routine) more than enough calcium from soy milk and leafy greens and get my B vitamins from a product called nutritional yeast that I sprinkle on…most everything!  I have been eating incredibly satisfying and tasty meals void of ANY guilt.  My skin feels good.   My energy level is great and I have been sleeping really well.  Not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but I haven’t had a hot flash either and that might be the best bonus of all!

Thank you, Mr. Einstein.  Thank you Alicia Silverstone.  Thank you Derek and Peter.  Thank YOU for taking the time to read.  Some people choose a plant-based diet for their health.  Some for the sake of the animals.  Some just to be trendy.  I was never one to be focused on trendy, but I do think what will help the animals will also help me.  I call that a win-win.

Now it’s time to take my furriest friend out for his morning stroll.  Thursday is his day to decide where and how far…it’s my day to have a personal (dogonal?) trainer!  Another win-win.  Life IS good!

See ya, Texas

Last night on Biggest Loser we watched what happened while all the contestants spent a week back at home.  Of course a package arrives (a huge one) from BL and they learn that they will be riding a stationary bike for 26.2 miles.  This is a great challenge since the marathon bike ride was also their very first challenge 10 weeks ago.  The first time, teams split the mileage but this time they were to each ride the full distance.  There was a $10,000 carrot dangling for the first place winner of this challenge.   The difference in their fitness level was over the top, once again proving how incredibly awesome the human body is!  In the end “my boys” Sam and Koli pulled it out, coming in first and second place.

But along with the bikes came a box of donuts, each 100 calories.  Every contestant had the option of not eating any donuts but for each one they chose to eat, they could add 5 minutes to another contestant’s time.  This would prove quite interesting as a total of 32 cupcakes were eaten and 10 of them were for Sam who would then drop to last place 🙁  Too bad…I love Sam!  Cupcakes were eaten for Stephanie, Drea, Sunshine and Daris  but Koli, apparently not seen as a threat, had not a single cupcake eaten for him.  He easily took first place and the prize.  Way to go Koli.

After a kick-ass last chance workout, the real challenge always comes.  The weigh in proved rather successful for everyone, as they all lost weight at home.  This was not only good for the weigh in, but great for them to have learned that they can do it on their own.  Daris lost the least weight at home, only 4 pounds, but had a great time and even took a friend out on a real date, something he had only wished for just 10 weeks ago.  Several people pulled double digits, and of course two of those people were “my boys.”

But this week it was the under-dog black team would be victorious at the weigh in.   Andrea lost the least, 6 pounds, which wasn’t at all a small number, but they needed to average 7 pounds each to win.  Stephanie lost 9 pounds which allowed her to come in under 200 pounds!  Great job, Stephanie.  Beautiful (she looked so pretty at home!) Ashley kicked butt with a 10 pound weight loss and with only 2 pounds needed to win the weigh in,  Sam soared them over the top, taking off a ridiculous 14 pounds in week 10!!!  This was despite the fact his mom thought it was ok to cook bacon eggs, biscuits and gravy.  What rock is she living under?  I DON’T GET IT!  By the way, Sam, at his current weight of 264 looks incredibly hot!  I don’t think he has enough weight left to lose to win the whole competition, but I have seen others manage to get themselves thin enough to look like cancer patients, but win the quarter of a million so it remains to be seen.

The blue team is forced to send someone home and we say good-bye to Lance aka “Texas,” but it seemed like his time to go home.  He felt terribly guilty about leaving his wife Melissa back home on their Texas ranch, to fend for herself and the kids.  She has been his downfall since week one, but apparently they are a team and you can’t really fault that.  We’ll see how that works out.

Next week we have a couple of interesting things happening.  We will get to see how a surprise guest was inspired by the show and also see all the eliminated contestants come back.  Apparently one will get to stay!  Is it almost make-over week yet???  I can hardly wait.

It is amazing what a difference 10 weeks can make.  To see how these contestants came on and see them again now is just mind-blowing.  We have a little more than 10 weeks till summer.  Imagine what YOU can do with your body between now and then?

The Answer to Health Care Reform…

When I accidentally stumbled upon a job as a fitness instructor almost 30 years ago, I really thought it was an opportunity to work at a fun yet mindless job.  Jumping up and down, counting to 8,  wearing some cute little “uniform” –it all seemed like  such a refreshing (yet rather shallow) choice after working in mid-town Manhattan as a writer and being told I could advance my career more rapidly  if I dressed more professionally (skirts and high heels).  Over the first decade as a fitness instructor, something clicked in my brain as my once toxin filled, underweight and weak body began transforming into something stronger and definitely healthier.

Along with the physical and mental transformation, came a bit of obsession over “diet and exercise.”  I started to read and watch everything I could get my hands on and for some years still questioned if this was a shallow service I was providing.  Couldn’t there be more important things I could be doing with my time and my life?  Was helping someone learn to do a grapevine or even a jumping jack really of any great importance?  Somewhere in my heart I knew I was on to something but  I sometimes wondered if it were Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons and I against the world.

Then in 1990 the Surgeon General would come out with the message that would validate my work.

“Warning: Inactivity May be Hazardous to Your Health.”

Ah-ha!  I was helping to save lives!  Now I had the ammunition I needed to forge more deeply into my career.  Research would reveal the importance of strength training and I was all over that!  After the tragic events of September 11th, I had a day of question, but then realized the importance of sharing what I knew about stress reduction through stretching/Pilates/yoga and breath work.

Last night I went to bed reading this week’s edition of Newsweek Magazine. A picture of the first lady, Michelle Obama with the title FEED YOUR CHILDREN WELL–My Fight Against Childhood Obesity appears on the cover.  Several well written articles all address the importance of moving and making healthy food choices.  While I have spent the past 3 decades learning, step by step, the CRITICAL importance of “diet and exercise,” the world around us has been threatening to supersize all of us!  How incredibly frustrating!!!!

Did you know that in 1950 a soda at McDonalds weighed just 7 ounces, yet in 2002 that same “size” soda weighed 21 ounces?  And who in the world really NEEDS a 44 ounce Super Big Gulp like the one sold at 7-Eleven?  While science and medicine have been unravelling the secret to good health, technology has been sabotaging it!  While exercise used to be built into the day (walking to school, riding a bike, playing outdoors with friends) kids now spend up to 50 hours a week in front of the TV, computer or playing video games!

Even as the now multibillion-dollar diet industry tries to get the message out, obesity actually endangers our health-care budget!  While the first lady takes on her Let’s Move Mission to fight childhood obesity, we must take control of our own and our families health.  THIS is the health care reform we really need!

So I admit it, I am a little overly obsessed with “diet and exercise.”  Perhaps this is why I am such a great big fan of the Biggest Loser.  Here, on national TV, we can witness near death individuals get a second chance at life!  What could be LESS shallow than that!

Whatever you do today,  think about moving more and making healthier food choices.  Remember, you can b*tch and  moan all you want about what is going on in Washington, but in reality reform begins with YOU.

Spring has Sprung.

Hope you had a great weekend.  Mitch and I totally celebrated spring.  We attended the Coral Springs Art Fair, the Parkland Farmer’s Market,  The Great American Meatout in Tamarac, (which was educational and yummy!  we sampled some great food such as vegetable dumplings, an incredible dish made from chick peas and a lot of Indian spices and  cake from THE vegan gourmet restaurant, Sublime, as well as some other tasty vegan treats) we saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D and began planting our spring annuals.  All in all, spring was definitely in the air!

Thanks to beliefnet.com for the following slide show…happy spring to one and all…if spring fever hasn’t hit you yet, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Slideshow: 24 Ways to Welcome Spring

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