Half Way Thru–and Almost All the Way Thru At the Same Time

Good morning and happy Monday.  Hard to believe the year is half over!!! How did you do with goals and resolutions that you made back in January?  We can look at tomorrow as the point of re-evaluation and making new goals, etc.  I am continuing with my summer fitness goal of swimming 1000 laps (I am up to 350) and running 6-7 miles a week.  And then there is the ab challenge..

Deutsch: Logo der US-amerikanischen Fernsehser...
 Criminal Minds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am all about setting goals and pretty good at keeping them.  I intend on finishing the ab challenge which up until yesterday, I had been right on point with.  This weekend I sort of hit a wall and my body said NO NO NO.  So I listened and spent the day on the couch watching TV and napping.  No ab challenge for me.   Instead I watched a lot of Criminal Minds episodes (hey, when life gives you lemons you definitely make lemonade aka Criminal Minds all day!) and re-watched the special on PBS, Happy.  It was just as good, if not better, the second time around.  Wow, in Denmark education is payed for thru college for every citizen and health care is free forever.  What fabulous concepts…I love my country but why do both those SO IMPORTANT things have to cost a fortune??  I don’t get it… If you do, please feel free to help me understand.

I am committed to finishing the ab challenge by Wednesday, so I am only off a day or two.  Since I taught already this morning, I did do some crunches and sit-ups, so today I am going to add those into the grand total and leisurely break the rest of the workout into very small, manageable segments.  Tomorrow is a long work day for me, so I may (or may not) pass on the final day, and if I pass, I will complete the challenge on Wednesday.  While I honestly thought it was NOT the best of challenges, I feel good that I was able to do each and every rep (except the one day I did NOT do plank).  Next time, however, I will think twice before committing to something that I don’t see huge value in.  I will, however, continue to do sit-ups more regularly.

2013-01-27 DC Record Fair
 Record Fair (Photo credit: Chris DiGiamo)

Congrats to Peter who successfully organized and followed through on his first record swap, yesterday.  Mitch and I definitely planned to check it out, until I ended up on the couch.  Glad to read it went well and the next one is already being planned.  It’s such an awesome concept to swap things instead of discarding them.  Remember, when you throw things out, unfortunately, they don’t magically disappear.  The more we discard, the bigger those garbage dumps get….And everyone loves music!

Happy birthday (this past Saturday) to Carole in Cali and Ted in NY, and today, to Jeff, right here in South Florida.  Many, many more to all of you.  Much love….


Ciderella, Ciderella….

Good day and welcome to Vegan (Feast) Thursday and day 26 of the ab challenge (which is getting a little out of hand, but hey, it’s already day 26).  If you have made it this far, you probably can make it all the way.

You may wonder why this trainer would say “PROBABLY,” as opposed to something like “quitting is NOT an option.”  I am not a big believer in quitting things, but sometimes, when something is NOT working for you, even if it’s working for a lot of others, you have to know when it’s time to walk away and try something different.  This goes for fitness, but it also goes for all aspects of life.  It’s OK to try something and say “THIS IS JUST NOT MY THING.”  Just make sure you have a plan to find what IS your thing.

I really enjoy getting out on the streets and running.  Heat doesn’t bother me and I would MUCH rather run outside than on a treadmill.  As a matter of fact, I won’t run on a treadmill, period.  Because of my work schedule, running for endurance just doesn’t make sense, so instead, I put out of goal of about 6 or 7 miles a week, and I do short runs as many days as I need to accumulate my miles.  It seems to be working really well for me and took me years to figure out.  We are always work in progress.

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRKahqSTuxnqhv5d-Sa00Vq5SQ-S2kP9gMtKrLdXnIK66PER81vWhat better day than VFT to mention my awesome nephew Aaron’s business and share a link to some great recipes (and educational material as well).  Aaron has taken two incredibly important fields, agriculture and children’s education and “married” them by bringing the farm and the corn fields to kids, as well as the kids, to them!  His site recently shared some recipes to make with the kids and of course I recommend using almond or soy milk in place of any cow’s milk, where milk is an ingredient.   Check out the recipes, find books and more at this link:


With the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables this time of year, every day is Vegan Feast day around this house.  From the mangoes falling off of everyone’s trees, to the cherries which are at their lowest price of the season thus far and all the other gorgeous fruits and veggies, I have been making all kinds of salads and veggie combos.  I wish I had been making the eggplant/zucchini/onions and tomatoes “stew” back in the nights of the real feasts when we all gathered round the table on Thursday nights.  Can’t wait till we have the opportunity to recreate that.

Enjoy your Thursday.  Get in some peace, some fitness and definitely find your happy!

How To Raise the Gross National Happiness Index. Starting NOW

I apologize in advance for a very long entry….

Happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago I recorded a PBS show called Happy.  The documentary has been around for a couple of years, and I was happy to finally see what it was all about.   In fact, this film was all about what makes us happy (and what doesn’t).  Several award winning film makers teamed up to bring us this eye (and heart) opening film that takes us from the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the villages of Okinawa. HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion.


I wasn’t at all surprised to hear some of the statistics shared.  I have always been a big but into the fact that money and things don’t make us happy.  It was pointed out, however, that those that feel as I do, have never lived under a bridge.  I get it.  In fact, the happiness quotient goes up enormously between an income of zero dollars per year, to an income of $50,000 per year.  After that, however, there is no difference in people’s true happiness.  Sure, money buys trips and fancy homes, cars, clothing, jewelry, etc.,  But across the board, the people that are able to purchase those items were no happier in their souls, than the people who were simply able to pay their bills, not go hungry and have a roof over their heads.


The things that actually did make people happy, weren’t THINGS at all.  Being part of a community, helping others, being with family and friends, growing food to share…these were the things, across the board, from country to country, that raised people’s happiness level.  On statement that really impacted me, was about how COOPERATION makes us happy, while COMPETITION does not.  Interesting.  I love to cooperate, but I also love a good competition…except for the part where someone loses, which makes me feel terrible!  This was EXACTLY the point.  An very touching example was shared:  a young, mentally and physically challenged girls was participating in a race.  As she neared the finish line, and was being cheered in by her coach, she stopped, turned around, and put out a hand to wait for the next one to get close to the finish line.  In turn, that person did the same thing and in the end 6 of these kids came happily running through the finish line, together, teaching their coach a lesson he would never forget, and instead chose to share with the world!




I am happy to learn many big companies are trying to do just that.  Toyota is one of those companies who has now limited the amount of overtime people are allowed to work.  I found this timely, based on a conversation I had with a loved one earlier in the day.  We talked about how their should be laws to protect EVERYONE from too much work!  This didn’t just dawn on the executives at Toyota.  It was the result of too much HAROSHI.  Haroshi is a word I just learned yesterday and it actually means sudden death from too much work.  One of the families who fell victim to haroshi was featured in the film.  Apparently, when building itself back up after the war, Japan went a little too far, literally working themselves to death, to keep up with the society they have built for themselves.  Here in the states, we may not have a name for it, but it happens to much and should be against the law!


The nearby country of Bhutan has decided to do something about this and instead of working on raising the Gross National Product, they are working on raising their Gross National Happiness Index.  Wow.  What a concept.  I love it!


English: "Gross National Happiness is mor...
English: “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product” by Jigme Singye Wangchuck, king of Bhutan. Slogan on a wall in Thimphu’s School of Traditional Arts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I propose we all take the lead from Bhutan and do what we must to make ourselves happy.  As documented in this film, making purchases of things beyond what we need, only provides immediate gratification and not long term happiness.  In fact, when we purchase too much and end up with bills we cannot afford, it is definitely a recipe for stress, which leads to unhappiness.   When we purchase items to show them to the world we are competing and we have learned that type of competition isn’t doing anything for our happiness factor.


I loved the way the director, Roko Belic, shared with us changes that he has made in his own life after making this film.  While many feel making a big move for work is ok, Belic made a big move to be closer to his friends.  He also mentioned his love of surfing finds him spending much more time doing that.  The happiest people are those that engage in physical activity, eat healthfully and get enough sleep as well as all I mentioned earlier.


The special concluded with people learning meditations that lead to brain change.  Meditating on being compassionate and cooperative physically changes our brains, not just our souls.


Again, I apologize for a long read, this morning–and typos which I, believe it or not do NOT go back to check on.  I feel so strongly that we can control our own happiness, but it might take steps and I hope today we all take a step in that direction.  If we can do nothing else today to move towards a higher state of happiness, perhaps we can do a good deed for someone else, and spend a few minutes in meditation.  Go back to the basic questions and just let answers happen…those questions are “Who am I?  What do I want?  What is my purpose? and What makes me happy.”  From my own experience, and that of a bazillion others that meditate,  just asking the questions daily and sitting in silence, the answers will come.  Kind of like the commercial for almond milk that you might have seen, if you never try, how can you know??




Weekend Wrap Up

Q.  What’s the NUMBER ONE question vegans are asked?

A. “Where do you get your protein from?”

I believe, after about 5 or so years of getting my nutrition from foods other than animals, that I get enough of most all my nutrients, pretty easily.  The past few weeks, I have been revisiting some bean salads that I make on Sunday and have for most of the week.  There truly is NO recipe for this.  Since I always keep canned beans in the house, I just open a few different kinds, rinse them well and throw them in a big bowl with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I generally use a combination of northern beans, garbanzos, black beans and whatever else I might have handy.  I usually add some diced red onions and a little salt and pepper. Yesterday, I added some diced hot and sweet peppers out of a jar.  It can be eaten right away, but gets better as it sits in the fridge.  It can be eaten alone or thrown on top of a garden salad.  While just 1/2 cup of beans are a nice bang of protein (about 8 grams) the even better part is that same half cup gives you about 8 grams of fiber!!  Where else can you find that much fiber in small serving?  It helps keep your digestive system healthy, and definitely helps keep you full, a big bonus if you are looking to lose some weight.  Since canned beans are so inexpensive you can whip up a salad like this for about 5 bucks and it will make enough for many servings!  If I happen to have a ripe mango, I like to dice it up and throw it on top of this salad for some sweetness.  Be creative and let me know what you come up with.

If you are still in the ab challenge….100/150/58/90seconds  and tomorrow we rest.  PHEW!

I will be at the gym for my 2 regularly scheduled classes and will be subbing for Ellen at 10.  She will be back to work tomorrow.  What a beautiful job her family did memorializing Ellen’s dad.  I will keep in mind the quote that the oldest grandchild, Justin, opened and closed his speech with and pass it on to you:


Happiness is…..

Happiness (Photo credit: Rickydavid)

“I consider it a simple truth that this body of ours is meant for a happy life.  A happy mind is a healthy mind, and a healthy mind is good for the body.”


More wisdom for the Dalia Lama…the quote for this weekend.


Happiness is really everything.  It’s all any of us want for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our animals, for the universe at large.  Happiness isn’t something we are born with, and it’s definitely not something someone else can give us.  We make our own happiness with each choice, each decision, even with each thought we allow (or don’t allow) ourselves to focus on.  Of course sad things happen and it’s appropriate to feel sorrow over them, but I think that doesn’t preclude happiness, honestly.  Sorrow is situational, but a grateful heart will still sing.  At least this is my view.


Line art drawing of push up.
 push up. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am celebrating summer and all Mother Nature gifts us at this time.  As part of that celebration, I broke the ab challenge down into sets of 10 this morning.  10 sit ups, 10 crunches, 10 leg raises, and did circuits until each group was done.  Since it was 95/140/55 and 85 seconds in plank, I was obviously left with some crunches after the other exercises were done, so I just finished those off as I find them so easy compared to the sit ups.  I did push-ups instead of holding plank today.  I did 3 sets of 10 and called day 22 of the challenge complete.  Hey, it’s Sunday!  Treat yourself to choices that make YOU happy.

As the Dalia Lama says…Happy mind = healthy mind = good for the body!



Welcome to YOUR Summer.

Stanley Cup & BOSS Summer Fun

Summer Fun
Summer Fun (Photo credit: Nicholaus Haskins)


Summer Essentials: Sprinkler Karate
(Photo credit: Lotus Carroll)


Summer Fun
Summer Fun (Photo credit: amelungc)


summer love
summer love (Photo credit: recompose)

Enjoy the first day of summer and all the one’s to follow.  It’s so easy to find peaceandfitness at every turn.  Long days, carefree attitudes.  Enjoy it all.







Don’t Believe Everything you Read (or SEE on the TEEVEE!)

Dr. Öz at ServiceNation 2008
Dr. Öz  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So Dr. Oz is up on the hill, supposedly helping to sort through the swamp of marketers claiming their supplements are the miracle solutions to weight loss.  Oh, Dr. Oz.  I (and many others) think he, himself, might be the biggest part of the problem.  Way, way back in the day, I looked forward to the doctor’s appearances on the Oprah show.  Once a week, he had a lot of valuable info to share.  Even when his show began, it has some valuable information and I still found him credible.  Over the years, I quickly began to get impatient with his show as it became mostly a show about miracle weight loss supplements and foods.  He contradicts himself so much, often within the very same hour, certainly from day to day.  It makes me crazy when he says things like “yes, today I am giving you permission to eat _____________.”  (fill in the blank with fat, sugar, caffeine, etc.)  And don’t even get me started on his demonstrations and animations.  They confuse the life out of me, even when I totally understand what he is trying to show.  It’s a crying shame, because he often has some super interesting people on like Deepak Chopra, Dr. Furhman and Dr. Ornish.  My guess is, those people, if they have an ounce of integrity, won’t be making future appearances on the show.  If you still enjoy watching (and trust me, I dvr the new episodes to skim through and look for my favorite guests) please be aware of the products he is pushing as they relate to the advertising sponsors.  (Notice how he tells us regular fiber isn’t good enough and how we have to take Metamucil …etc.)  So watch if you like, but be smart and BEWARE!

Another show I have grown detached from, that I once loved, is Extreme Makeover Weight Loss with Chris Powell.  I had NO clue, when I blogged a few weeks ago, and mentioned that I felt Heidi was going to be a bigger part of the show, that she was going to be his co-trainer aka co-host.  She is sweet and in awesome shape, but it totally changed the dynamics of the show, at least for me.  Now, it’s like the “Chris and Heidi Hour.”  I don’t need to watch them working out in their garage.  That’s not why I tune in.  Additionally, 2 weeks ago when the guy had a goal of 100 pounds in 90 days and he was shy by ONE pound, Chris’ reaction made me want to jump through the tv and ring his neck.  He looked sadly at the young man and asked, “Dude…what happened?”  WHAT HAPPENED????? HE LOST 99 POUNDS in 90 DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That should be totally applauded!!!  I also dislike how “cookie cutter” like the format of this show is.  It’s just a fill in the blank situation in the editing room.  No creativity at all.  GIVE ME BACK MY BIGGEST LOSER!!!!!

Well, thanks for letting me rant.  I try not to do it very often, but this upbeat, peace loving, fitness chick has her moments just like the rest of us!!!  And I don’t like to see people being misled or mistreated.  As for my gripe with the Dr. Oz show, it clearly doesn’t boost ratings to just remind people that healthy nutrition, watching calorie intake and daily exercise are the only real safe way to achieve and maintain goal body weight, but it’s the truth and a reputable cardiologist like Dr. Oz, should not be telling people fairy tales.  It’s just wrong.  And Chris Powell, shame on you for making someone feel they failed when they took off over 1 pound a day for a solid 90 days in a row.

“With great power, comes great responsibility” (from Spiderman)….These people need to use their power in a much more positive way………..

I’ll be at the gym for my regular 11:30 class today, 9:30 tomorrow and for both of my classes as well as to sub Ellen’s class on Monday morning.   The service for Ellen’s dad is this Sunday at the Star of David at noon.  She will be back to teach the rest of her classes after Monday.

If you are doing the ab challenge, today is a rest day. Enjoy it…and have a happy Friday one and all!



Thankful Thursday aka Day 19

Howie and Nicholas
Howie and Nicholas (Photo credit: Marji Beach)


“Along with love, compassion is the face of altruism.  It is a feeling from deep in the heart that you cannot bear others’ suffering without acting to relieve it.”


I am so happy that I chose to eliminate all animal products some years ago.  While I hadn’t eaten beef or chicken for decades, I decided to opt out of all animal products about 5 years ago (lost track).  Honestly, it started as a 21 day cleanse and an effort to lose a few pounds I gained during the menopausal years.  After 21 days, I don’t think I lost an ounce, but I felt happier and felt much less conflicted about my food choices, and knew that this was a lifestyle I could really embrace.


There is a joke that goes “How do you know if someone is a vegan?”  Which is answered with “Don’t worry, they will tell you.”  I try hard not to be an IN YOUR FACE vegan, like some of my favorite people are–because that’s just not my style.  I do, however, love the commercial for almond milk, where the guys says something about not understanding how you can know you don’t like it, if you have never tried it.  And then of course when the guy tries it, he likes it.


My point is, you may never know how good you can feel, if you don’t at least try something, and today, that something just might be a meal or two free of any animal products.  At the least, you will be creating a huge positive effect on your environment because as I always say, what’s good for us, is good for the animals and for our Mother Earth as well.

PS Ab challenge, day 19…85/120/50 and 75 seconds in plank.  I completed it in sets of 25 sit ups, 25 crunches, 25 leg raises, then repeated a second set.  By the third round I had already completed leg raises and just alternated between sit ups and crunches until I completed them all, then flipped over and held plank before stretching in cobra….Tomorrow, we rest!