Stuffed and Gone Bananas

Last night’s dinner was a lot of fun.  I ended up making way more food than necessary, but had to try some new recipes.  I made a tray of stuffed mushrooms following a video I saw on the net.  I sauteed some garlic, onions and peppers and fresh oregano along with the mushroom stems and a few of the mushroom caps that broke and then ran them through the food processor.  Added some breadcrumb and stuffed my shrooms.  Baked them on a high heat (about 500) for about 15 minutes and they were really tasty, relatively healthy and low in calories (I didn’t need nearly as much breadcrumbs as recipes I have tried in the past) and were yummy and void of any animal products.  Everyone was happy with them!

I also bought Diana’s Bananas in the freezer section of Publix.  They are a new item and happen to be by one get one free this week.  They are small bananas dipped in chocolate and frozen.  At 130 calories, the dark chocolate ones are 3 weight watchers points and vegan.  Bananas are great for us, especially those of us that workout and need to sometimes boost our potassium.  They are also a good source of vitamin C, fiber and manganese and a great source of vitamin B6.  And dark chocolate–well…that’s good for everything that ails us 🙂  If you close your eyes while you eat one, it honestly tastes more like ice cream than a banana and I am recommending these as a treat during these warm months to come.  They remind me of being a teenager and going to Disney World.  Remember Carole?  I still have pictures of us eating those things!

Oprah Winfrey is about to appear on the Today Show.  She is reaching out to EVERYONE to put a ban on distracted driving.  Since I have leaned heavily into just saying NO to my phone while I am driving, I have accumulated enough rollover minutes to probably last me all year.  I am spending more time with my top down and my radio up and I am loving it!  As most people who know me already know, I am not a phone girl.  As I drive without using it, I have become more and more aware of how distracted drivers are!  As I listen out of one ear, today is being declared NO PHONE ZONE day, encouraging us all to put those phones away while driving.  Did you know that about 1/4 of all accidents are  a direct result of driving while using a cell phone?  I think it’s an embarrassment to OUR society.

For your own health and safety as well as all those you impact while you drive, I hope you will join in on NO PHONE ZONE day, and then make it a habit.  You just might find some peace in tucking that phone away where it can’t “call” you.

Drive safely, but feel free to “go bananas”…Diana’s bananas, that is.

We are ALL Connected

“Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn!  You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into a giant oak!  Bury a sheep and nothing happens but decay”  — George Bernard Shaw

If we are what we eat, then no wonder I am feeling so alive!   After eating a meal rich in living foods like salad greens, vegetables and fruits, I feel full, happy and energized.   Additionally, my body and mind are completely in sync.  My food choices now make me happy and at the same time they are nourishing my body, which needs a lot of nourishing, due to my physically demanding work schedule.

Re-reading Diet for a New America, makes me think back to what I learned about nutrition as a child.  I remember going to visit Elsie the Cow at what I now realize was a dairy plant.  Speaking with others, they took very similar field trips.  Apparently, much of what we learned about the “basic four” food groups and the importance of protein and dairy in our diets, was in great part because the concept of those basic four food groups was brought to us by the National Dairy Council, the National Egg Board and the National Livestock and Meat Board.  In fact, the National Dairy Council is the foremost supplier of  “nutritional education” materials to classrooms in the United States.  Doesn’t mean the information is necessarily false, just possibly quite biased.  As a side note, though I NEVER liked cows milk, ( I DO like soy milk and I LOVE almond milk-thanks Rita!)  I did think Elsie was awfully cute and remember that field trip quite vividly.  Sad thing is most cows don’t really live the life of Elsie.

In fact, to this day, how much protein we actually need is quite controversial.  Athletes demand the most protein.  There are NBA basketball players, major league baseball players, triathletes, champion mixed martial artists and yes, even bodybuilders who preform at the top of their sports and all have a vegan diet in common.  Interested?  Google someone like Robert Cheeke and tell me, after looking at his pictures, if his muscles are lacking ANYTHING!  He gets all the protein he needs from a completely plant-based diet.  In fact, if we are eating a broad range of plants, grains and legumes (and no, you don’t need to combine foods at each meal) we can’t help but get enough protein.

To make one thing clear, I didn’t fall into my current plant-based diet out of concern for the animals.  Anyone that knows me, knows I am pretty anal about health and wellness.  I have no question that too little exercise and too much unhealthy eating is killing our people.  If pregnant women need to avoid mercury laden fish, why would it be healthy for non-pregnant people?  If strokes and heart attacks have been linked to too much animal fat,  and every single day nutritionists, dietitians and physicians are suggesting more foods with MUFAs, (mono unsaturated fatty acids) like nuts, olives, avocados and olive oil, I am on it!

My belief is that what is good for my body is also good for the animals and as a major bonus, it’s also good for the world at large.  That is why my body and my mind are in harmony.  I can enjoy every morsel of food (and I do!) with NO guilt.  I find I do a lot less calorie counting, too.  Don’t get me wrong, I will always be a counter.  It’s what I do.  I count repetitions, I count musical beats and I definitely count calories.  But when you are building a meal rich in living foods the calories add up much more slowly.  That means I can eat bigger portions, and I have a pretty big appetite so again, win/win/win.

So what’s on the vegan menu tonight?  Well, the theme is beer and appetizers.  Though some of the dinner guests are straightedge and won’t indulge in the beers, we still try to change up the theme every week.  Though I don’t love beer, I do enjoy a good amber beer every once in a while, especially in the warmer weather.  There will be nachos with melted “cheese,” hummus/guacamole/salsa, “no-pig” pigs in the blanket, (made with soy dogs and Pillsbury crescent rolls) potato skins with “sour cream” and “bacon” and buffalo style tofu tidbits (OK, these are homemade and really good but fattening so I only have a couple of them) and whatever else I think of to add, probably a chopped salad and of course some fresh fruit.  I will include a couple of non-vegan versions of the above foods, because as I always say, I am a big believer in choice.

I am not a pusher.  I believe everyone should exercise almost every day, but I can’t force you.  I believe that we should treat our bodies like temples.  We are what we eat.  I encourage you to add more vegetables, WHOLE grains, beans and fruits into your meals.  For the environment, for the animals but mostly for YOU.


Don’t Mess with Texas

The single best thing I can say about last night’s Biggest Loser is that it’s over and brings us closer to the make-over episode–NEXT WEEK!  I can’t wait to see how they look.  My dvr always cuts off in the middle of next week’s sneak peak, so I did get to see that Ashley changes her hair color radically, but not long enough to know if I like it or not.  I don’t know what they can do to Sam to make him look better.  Well, I am jumping ahead…we’ll see next week.

This week sent the remaining 7 to Texas help inspire residents to lose weight.  Apparently Texas is home to 5 cities that boast some of the most unfit people in the country.  Their job in Texas is to go on to radio stations and talk about their story where each station would pick 75 people to join the BL contestants in a 5K run/walk at the Cotton Bowl.  Daris has his own quest to beat his personal best for a 5K (which he has thus far only done on a treadmill) and he is the first to complete the race and achieves his goal in 21:02.  He then, goes back to join his team in completing the challenge.  We see a lot of tears from some of the Texans that are walking and we also learn that 100 people will win 90 day passes to 24 Hour Fitness.

Meanwhile, Jillian meets up with previous season contestant Abby.  Anyone who watched will remember Abby for having the single saddest life story I can imagine, losing her entire family in a car accident.  She turned her life around and found a purpose and enlists Jillian to speak to an audience of high school students about what’s going on with the obesity rate in Texas.  One girl stands up and tells the story of growing up in her overweight family.  Lots more tears are shed and Jillian does the best she can, in a very limited time, to try to encourage her.

I can’t even talk about the wrangling challenge.  I hated it.   I hated it for the contestants, but I hated it more for the calves.  Let’s just say that Sam helped Koli win this challenge.  They are quite a team and near impossible to beat at most anything.  I felt badly for Daris, who ran a close second, without anyone to help him.  Koli was given immunity, the greatest prize of all.  Michael was the only one who tried to use kindness with the calves.  I am sorry HE didn’t win this challenge.

Last chance workout was a killer.  Bob was merciless!  The sweat that was dripping off of Koli at one point, looked like a waterfall…really.  He must have thrown the weigh in (I would have) as he only lost 1 pound this week, but with immunity and just a couple of weeks left, why would he lose more?  Sam managed to lose another 6 pounds and is looking solid at 240.  It was Michael who blew everyone away with a 15 pound weight loss.  Karmatic reward for speaking so nicely to those calves, earlier 🙂  17 pounds more and he will have hit the 200 pound mark!  How crazy is THAT?

O’neal and Sunshine fell below the yellow line together.  Sunshine, beautifully exotic looking, is starting to get under my skin with all her crying at the weigh ins.  I know she is young and I know how badly she wants this, but I feel that she can’t be happy for the others and that bothers me.  Of course O’neal asked the others to send him home and keep Sunshine in the game.  They all obliged and we said goodbye to “Unc,” a really nice dad and seemingly all around good guy.   When we see him in the present time, he is down a total of 139 pounds and is off all his medication.  While his wife used to have to ties his shoes for him, he can now do it by himself.  Well, after the intensity of the workouts on the ranch for all these weeks,  I WOULD CERTAINLY HOPE SO!  It was nice to see his wife’s arms around him on the bike as the show ended.  Again, the best part is looking forward to next week!

I could go on and on about this show.  The good, the bad and the ugly of it.  The way it impacts each person individually and the way it impacts the masses.  Though I don’t love (or even like) all aspects of it, it continues to impact me (positively) each and every week.  It impacts me professionally and personally.  It continues to reinforce everything I believe about the human body and the human spirit.  It reconfirms that all things are possible.

Wishing you a day filled with possibilities.  Think positively.  Never underestimate what you are capable of.  Eat kindly.  Kindly to you and to the planet.  We are all connected.

Fitness Trends 2010

Having started in this wonderful industry just short of 30 years ago, I have seen LOTS of changes in how we exercise!  The first classes I ever taught, back in the early 80s, were called TEAM TIME.  This was before the word aerobics was even coined!  Team Time was an already choreographed, simple routine, produced by the people at Elaine Powers Figure Salons corporate offices.  Mass shipped to all their salons, and then learned by the instructors so they could then teach it to their class.  It was silly and fun and the song Let it Whip, will always remind me of those days.  At Cosmopolitan Lady, also and all female “spa” in Tamarac and also “pre” aerobics, we would put together our own music and our own routines and made up our own trendy class names.  That gorgeous spa brings back memories of my first pregnancy and how enormous I was!  Just a week after I gave birth to Derek that place closed it’s doors and the gym across the street, then known as Jack LaLanne’s took over all their members.  My mom would watch Derek when I taught there, and as I recall, we were a handful of instructors who now ALL taught what we officially called aerobics…and we all pretty much taught it the same way.  Combining grapevines with step touches was about all we knew how to do, and soon enough there was a certification for this and I was one of the first to get on board.

Then Reebok came along with the step.  Yoga started making it’s way into gyms.  Soon after research proved that even women should lift weights and body sculpting became big.  Suddenly we had choices.  In the 90s Billy Banks brought kickboxing to the fitness forefront t with his Tae-Bo classes and videos.  Core training also became a buzz and when Pilates became legal to learn and teach in the late 90s it made a huge impact on the fitness industry.  Though many thought it would be a passing phase, it made complete sense to me and I suspected (and hoped) it was more than a passing phase.  With both very pricey and very challenging training, it was the most challenging (and life changing) part of my fitness journey, so far.  It has also gone well beyond trendy and well over a decade later, is still one of the most popular forms of fitness all across the world.

In fact, American Fitness Magazine reports that Yoga and Pilates classes are on the rise, everywhere.  So are cycling classes, which have obviously also passed the trendy stages and moved into a much loved staple in the industry.  In Asia, both cycling and mind body classes like yoga and Pilates draw the most students.  Ditto, for Europe who also says that ethnic dance classes are in, but fancy choreographed aerobic classes are out.  The once overly popular step classes are no longer popular ANYWHERE.  Though I witness and understand the popularity of kickboxing, it is not mentioned in this article as “hot” in any of the 5 continents researched.  I am not sure why that is.

What is currently popular in California is, of course, classes with very trendy names.  “The skinny jeans workout,” the new “Indo-Row” and Zumba (as well as the above mentioned mind-body classes).  Though I know California usually sets the standards for what’s to come across the rest of the country, I am most liking the South American trend.  Janine Mongardini, a gym owner in Ecuador, says that the most popular classes are “fusion classes because they give strength, flexibility and cardiovascular work all in one short class.”  It just makes sense.

If you are local, I hope to see you tonight at 6 for a fusion class, because it gives strength, flexibility and cardiovascular work all in one short class.  Follow that with an hour of mind-body work and we right on the pulse of fitness 2010.   If you are a local who has never been to Tamarac Fitness Center, feel free to contact me via this site or call the gym directly at 954 726 1070.  You are welcome to come in as my guest for your first visit.  Memberships are NOT required, though they are very affordable.   If  you are visiting from out of town,  you can pay by the vist, the week, or the month.  Additionally, the gym is a Silver Sneakers participant, so if you have that benefit on your medicare plan, come on in for a morning class or just to work out on the equipment.

Wherever you are stay fit and definitely stay peaceful!

Like I Said Last Week, Every Day’s a Celebration

Please excuse my absence from blogging this morning.  It is Mitch’s birthday, and though he is off from work all day, I have 3 classes to teach and 3 clients to train before we can celebrate together, tonight.  I am going to spend my morning blogging time having coffee with him and watching him open his presents.  Hope he likes them!

Like I said, every day is a celebration.  Meet you back here tomorrow on Biggest Loser Tuesday!  Until then, be safe and have a great day.

A Numbers Game

Mitch went for his regular cardiologist appointment, yesterday morning.  Though his heart is PERFECT, he had consulted a highly recommended heart doc a few years ago, when he was approaching 50.  Ironically, (having nothing to do with the visit!) shortly after visiting with him, Mitch had an episode of atrial fibrillation, which some of you remember.  After a few months of living with an irregular heart rhythm, (not fun at all) his heart was successfully returned to it’s normal sinus rhythm, via a procedure called cardioversion, which is simply a shock delivered to the heart.  In just a few minutes, he was up and back to his usual self!

Back to yesterday’s appointment.  Dr. Garfield was very happy with the sound of his heart.  He was equally as happy with the fact that Mitch’s weight was the same as the last visit.  The reason I am blogging about this is because after an entire lifetime as a heart doctor, this man knows that our good health is dependent upon living at an ideal weight.   Most all the things that ail us, are a result of being overweight.  From diabetes, to heart attacks and strokes, just to name a few, we are much (MUCH) more likely to live a long, healthy life if we maintain a healthy weight.

But its not just our weight that we should be in touch with.  There are several important numbers that we need to know.  The simple truth is that most times if our weight is ideal, so will the rest of these numbers be.  THAT is why maintaining a healthy weight is paramount.  If you have even as little as 5- 10 p pounds to lose and your below numbers are elevated, as well, you WILL find that losing the  weight will probably drop all the other numbers into a healthy spot as well.

Waist circumference should be UNDER 35

BMI (Body Mass Index) should be no higher than 25

Blood pressure -optimal is less than 120/80

Total Cholesterol should be under 200

LDL “bad” Cholesterol should be under 100

Triglycerides should be under 150

While I was trying to put up a BMI calculator,  for some reason, it isn’t wanting to calculate on the site.  Simply google BMI calculator and you will quickly find tons of them.  Easy enough…Know YOUR numbers.  Being an ideal weight because it looks good is certainly important.  Hey, I get it.  So if you need to get there for vanity reasons, that’s fine, too.  Whatever the motivation, getting healthy is way more than a bonus.  Without our health…well, you know.

The Fountain of Youth

Regular exercise is definitely the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth.  Here are just 12 ways that aerobic exercise slow down the aging process.  Thanks to Peter G. Snell, PhD and Steven Blair, PED

1) By lowering the rates at which telomeres (those little chromosome endings) erode, which means overall body wear and tear happens at a reduced speed

2) Lowers blood pressure

3) Increases heart and lung capacity and heart pumping power

4) Makes skin look younger (because of improved circulation)

5) Reduces length of time you experience hot flashes

6) Cuts your odds of getting ill (some studies suggest that regular exercisers have higher levels of immune cells that can help fight off certain types of cancer)

7) Helps raise HDL (good) cholesterol and improve other heart disease factors

8) Normalizes fasting insulin levels, reducing risk of diabetes

9) Sharpens the mind (lifelong exercise maintains the size of the hippocampus, where memory resides

10) Improves moods and fends off depression in many

11) Helps control weight

12) Improves digestion

Just 72 minutes of aerobic exercise a week was all it took for a group of hypertensive women 45 and over to significantly improve their cardiovascular health.  Just 72 minutes!!!  This was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Almost 20 years ago I wrote an article about how I suspected, after watching my students for 10 years, that aerobic exercise just might be the fountain of youth.  Some of those students are still working out with me!!!  Now I am SURE it is that illusive fountain.

Biking, dancing, running, walking, boxing, skipping, kicking, rowing, swimming, skating and any other form of continuous movement…Just keep doing it!

Earth Day’s Birthday

Today marks the 40th birthday of Earth Day.  Environmental concerns have changed a lot over the 40 years. What started as an effort to clean up things we could taste, see and smell, we seem to now be faced with much larger issues like global warming and creating clean and healthy energy for our future.  I still believe each and every one of us can make a difference, each and every day.  Using refillable bottles, less paper, less energy and pledging daily to reduce, reuse and recyle are all within our control.  Needless to say Vegan Feast Thursday (VFT) will be a celebration of abundance from the Earth, tonight.  I am not 100% sure of how many of these things I will end up making tonight (depending on how well I do at the grocery store) but I am planning on a sandwich bar with: black bean burgers–vegetable subs or sliders with some mushrooms and zucchini–gardein  (a vegan item now available at even Publix)  “chicken” sandwiches and wraps with hummus/avocado/sprouts, etc.  I am hoping to find some nice grainy breads and rolls.  I will probably make a peanut butter banana bread which always help me “recyle” the end of the week’s bananas.  I do allow myself to indulge in something like a sandwich on a VFT, but portion control becomes the key!

I cannot stress enough how good I feel physically and mentally.  Last year when I tried an all plant based diet I put on some weight.  That was partially because I was in the throws of menopause and partially because I allowed a free for all on items like vegan pizza, bagels and pasta.  Then I tweaked my “diet” to allow eggs and dairy and fish back in.  Eating eggs for breakfast was a sure-fire way of getting more protein and less doughy carbs at least for one meal a day.  Combing my eating changes with following P90X for the summer, helped me drop 8 pounds.  After a while, however, the weight start creeping back on (not all of it) and my heart and head were not at all happy with the eggs and fish and dairy, so here I am again.  This time I refuse to let white carbs sabotage my eating!!!!  The weight is almost all off and I am definitely eating more calories than last summer.  Probably a good couple of hundred more. (I am sure if I needed to drop a few more pounds for a wedding or something, I could easily eliminate the graham crackers smeared with peanut butter and sprinkled with chocolate chips that I indulge in after dinner!)  It’s really hard to store fat, though, when everything that comes in is wholesome and hence comes back out pretty easily!  My energy level is great, I don’t think I have lost any muscle mass and most of all my body, heart and head are all in a very happy and PEACEFUL place.

Blaze and I are off to walk and clean up the streets of Ramblewood South again.  This is a great project for us to do together!

A million thanks for checking in.  Think green–eat greens.  Celebrate this wonderful home we call Earth!

Gray and Gray and Green All Over

I recently read an article in Men’s Journal about the football draft.  They said that The Samoans are an overlooked group, and a good bet.  Based on Sam and Koli’s journeys on this season’s Biggest Loser, I get it!  They are smart, determined and strong of body and mind.  I am so relieved to see Sam stick around for still another week.  Jillian keeps calling him skinny.  He looks fantastic and is probably too thin to win the whole season, but he’s not SKINNY.

The “who can eat the most calories” makes me uncomfortable, but most all the contestants made really great choices.  Darris is turning out to be the quiet soldier.  He is doing and looking great.  He managed to eat a proper amount of calories for the day from amidst that smorgasbord of food choices.  I was a little disappointed that Sam actually asked Koli to sabotage his own eating in an effort to try to keep Sam around another week.  Ironically, even though Koli quickly agreed and managed to consume over 4,000 calories to win the ONE AND ONLY VOTE at elimination, he still lost the most weight, 10 pounds, at the weigh in.

A trip to the beach and training with Gabby Reese was fun and obviously a creative way for them to do some product placement advertising  for their exercise clothes.  I don’t remember the brand, so I am not sure how well that product placement actually works.  I DID love that she worked them out with no equipment.  I am all for people learning how to do FREE effective workouts.  Gabrielle is not bad on the eyes, either.

O’Neal’s brother passed away during the show and though it was very sad, I would prefer not to watch all the personal stuff and the weekly crying.  I am sorry to say I have to fast forward through the drama.

The second challenge, in my opinion, was a missed opportunity for Biggest Loser to incorporate Earth Day into the show, but I guess they didn’t ask me.  I tend to think in themes.  The building, climbing and O’Neal falling and injuring his knee just made no real sense to me.  Why have to get hurt?  I HATE that.  Couldn’t they just have cleaned up gargbage and had to haul off the most pounds of recycling or something?!?!   I had thought Sam won the climbing challenge, but Carol, thank you—you are absolutely correct in reminding me that it was Daris, who won and got the one pound advantage!

In the end it was beautiful Sunshine and Victoria who fell below the line.  An easy vote for Koli, (he loves O’Neal and I don’t believe he would have sent his daughter home) he sends Victoria packing.  He always gives her a little lecture about stepping it up and working harder.  She was upset about his little speech.  I think he was right!

Next week Abby returns.  When in the world is the make-over episode?????

Happy Birthday to my webmaster and much more importantly, son, Kyle, who turns 23 today.  That boy has accomplished so much in the past couple of months, he should certainly be celebrating today!  Love you, KyleZipp.

Congrats to Christine who found out she became a grandma last night during class.  Welcome to the world, baby Gray.

Keep thinking green.  Think about eating green, (and greens) too!