Friday, January 29, 2010

Mood and Food - a difficult combination


Since the big move to Guantanamo Bay I have experienced a myriad of moods, all of which have greatly contributed to my failed nutrition plan. Some days were great, surrounded by friends... and food, others I felt sad and missed my friends so I used food as my comfort, other days I was just bored and thought I deserved to eat what I wanted, after all, I was stressed, tired and did a great workout.

There was always the promise I made to myself that once this happened or tomorrow or just this one time things will change again. It's not the first time and I am first to admit that often, my mood and current situation will affect my food intake; and all my efforts to live a healthy lifestyle are ignored. Thankfully, my exercise routine doesn't get set aside or things would get really ugly around here. I workout everyday and most time I workout out hard because I'm trying to burn off my mistakes.

My other challenge is the fact that here we have one place where we get our food and it isn't always what we want. Coming from the land of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and open-air markets, where I was totally spoiled; it has been challenging to realize that my options for fresh foods wont change from one day to the next.

So my plan is to make what we have work for me and my family. The grains are easy here. We have the brown rice, whole grain breads, pasta and cereal. Protein is not an issue either. Most of our fish is frozen (I know, hard to believe) but again, we make do with what we have in that department. Frozen berries have become the new staple in my freezer and of course citrus fruits, apples, bananas and papaya. Soon I'll have more mangos than I can eat because I have a very productive tree in my back yard-- I can't wait!! I prefer fresh fruit and vegetables, although I do keep a good stock of frozen just in case. There are quite a few in the fresh produce isle that I just haven't tried. I am going to use this challenging new home as an opportunity to come up with delicious vegetable dishes using what's available to me.

Today, for the first time, I am trying Blood Orange and they are very juice and sweet. I can't believe I didn't try them sooner.

We'll see what the future brings and what yummy new vegetables I get to try in my recipes.

Have you tried a new fruit, grain, or vegetable lately?

Stay well!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Change the fitness routine

(from the archives)

Wondering why your workouts aren't working for you anymore? It could be because you are in need of change. More than we realize, we become comfortable with our fitness routines. The day-to-day hum -drum, go to gym, participate in a class or jump on the treadmill and carry a conversation at the same time. But that's not why your paying gym fees, is it? When you find yourself looking forward to meeting Jane at the gym so you can catch up on the latest 'kidventure' then you are not working hard enough, unless of course you meet after a long, hard workout.

The #1 reason people become discouraged with their physical fitness program is due to a lack of visible results. No longer losing weight, not seeing a change, not even breaking a sweat. The best way to avoid getting bored at the gym is to change it up a bit. Here are some ideas:

1. Group Exercise: Personally, I prefer group exercise. It is the best way to stay motivated and it forces you to be accountable because the instructor and other participants get to know you and look forward to seeing you in class. Just keep in mind that we're not in the thong and leg warmer era--yikes! Yeah, people still wear those. Keep it simple and comfortable please.

2. Try a new activity...you know where I'm going with this. That's right! Try Spinning :-) Start by going to an orientation before you join the class. You want to have the time to learn how to set up your bike, how to use the controls and also the lingo and format of the class. Spinning is an excellent cardiovascular class in which you can burn up to 600 calories in a one hour class. But you have to start slowly and work your way up. Don't expect to take off on your first try, do expect to be sore the next day.

3. Weight training/Body sculpting: Lifting weights will not give you pects like a man. Unless you have an excess amount of testosterone, it is physically impossible. What you will get is a revved up metabolism, stronger muscles, lean body. More lean muscles=less fat. I can get into that.

4. Pilates: Another favorite of mine. Pilates focuses on your power house, your core. The result, stronger abs and back, lean muscle mass, improved flexibility and improved posture.

5. Want to stay in the same class?: Grab heavier weights, extra risers for the step or if you do floor aerobics, you can finish your workout with a muscle conditioning routine either in the free-weight room or with machines.

There are many reasons why people exercise and many more why they should. I exercise because I want to live a healthier, happier life, I want to be a good role model for my kids, I want to feel good about myself. Most important, I don't want high blood pressure and diabetes in my life, it's already in my family.

Why do you exercise? I want to know.

Today is the day to change it up a bit. Have an excellent workout, at the gym! Don't forget your water ;-)

Stay well!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A great workout and hundred pushups


I sat around yesterday doing homework, playing with the kids and with a strong desire to go sea glass hunting at the beach. That last one didn't pan out but I was really dragging and feeling lazy. My friend Amy called and invited me to join her at the gym. I thought about it for about 20 minutes.

Why did I think so hard, it should be a no-brainer? But I just felt it was one of those days I need to do nothing, maybe, I don't know.

I called her back and agreed to join her with the comment "I'm still sore from walking up the hill pushing the baby stroller so we'll have to take it easy." She agreed. Cool.

Well, this workout was anything but easy. We did a full body strength training class which took me back to my teaching days... um last month :-(. I really miss teaching strength training and hope to somehow come up with a class here. Anyway, Amy and I went through a complete routine, head to toe and 90 minutes later we were home. I felt fantastic. Best of all, I did not feel sore at all. My body was warm, stretched and energized.

I do feel a little sore today but it is a good sore feeling. I'm so glad I didn't let my lazy day get in the way of my workout.

On another note, I recently started the Hundred Push Up Challenge. My exhaustion test yielded 15 max push ups which put me on level 3. Last week I completed a total of 53 on Monday, 58 on Tuesday, and 60 on Friday. A total of 171 push ups--awesome!

Moving on to week two, this week. The numbers will be higher but I can't wait to challenge myself. You ought to give it a try, join me and share your progress. Have an amazing day today. Time to go sea-glass hunting!

Stay Well!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spinning anyone?

(from the archives)

My favorite treat of all times has always been Oreo cookies and milk but my life started spinning out of control when I was about 18 years old. As I stared at my "perfect" body in the mirror my mom lovingly said with a smile, "your body is structured just like mine....you will probably be like me after you have children." She then smiled and left the room. Let me set the tone for how I felt because I can't think of a better way to describe the moments shortly after she left. My mom, at the time, weighed close to 300 pounds, compared to my 105 pound body. As a teenager I was devastated and promised that would never happen. She said, "you don't have a choice, it's in your genes." No way, the only thing in my "Jeans" is my small body along with my medium frame, no more, no less.

I contemplated never getting married or having children just to avoid inheriting my mother's voluptuous body. She's a beautiful woman and I love her but she believed she was healthy at her weight and didn't really think her health status would ever change. Hispanic people love to eat and it is considered rude if you leave any food on your plate. She was in such denial. Instead of fussing about this issue I took a trip to the nearest recruiting office after watching a catchy United States Marine Corps commercial on TV and decided I wanted to look sharp, I wanted to be tough and what the heck, I wanted to travel the world too. I joined the Marines (a little drastic, I know) and became a Jarhead, a Leatherneck! OORAAH! SemperFi! Ok, I got that out of my system!

My time in the military was short by comparison. I spent four years in the service, traveled to a few states and while stationed in Hawaii I met my best friend, my husband, Mike the toolman. Except he wasn't a toolman at the time, instead he was a body builder. Guess where we met? At the gym. Could my life be any better. Falling in love in paradise and in Hawaii too!

Since 1989 we got married, had four babies, moved ten times within the continental United States and guess what...I've been able to avoid my mother's body. It hasn't been easy, however, to keep up with my husband's military career, the kids, and my body. I am as guilty as the next person of indulging in my favorite snack (Oreo cookies and milk) or any of the foods we're supposed to avoid. I am also guilty of sitting in my couch curled up with a blanket, the TV remote and a bag of chips and salsa right after the kids go off to school and I have the house and the remote to myself. That's a rare thing but it happens then I move on.

After paying for gym fees and not attending, buying gym clothes I never used and attempting every diet on the market only to gain the weight back and then some, I decided it was time for me to join the ranks of those who kept telling me "it's easy, just watch what you eat and exercise...blah blah blah," and I became a Group Fitness Instructor, Spinning instructor and Personal Trainer.

I am still working on reshaping my body since the last baby was born three years ago. Actually, I'm working on reshaping my body since the first baby was born, 19 years ago. I will always be working on my body. Keep in mind that our bodies are a work in progress, there's no such thing as "the perfect body" and I am pretty happy with myself every step of the way. My mom has since taken much of my advice and is at a healthier weight, no blood pressure meds and her type 2 diabetes is completely under control without meds...just exercise and proper nutrition.

I want to share my experiences and expertise with the moms of the world who feel trapped at home with the kids and the chores. I hope my stories, helpful ideas about body, mind and home health will help to open the doors to a community of the hardest working people on earth...Moms. I'll be spinning my way into your home and I hope you and your family will spin your way into better health!

Stay Well!