Posts Tagged With: health

Friday Fitness week 8 – My 8 Favorite Snacks!

If you’re like my husband, you don’t think about food until the late afternoon (weirdo) and when you do, it’s a gut filling meal. If you’re like me, you’d prefer to snack through out the day never being full and rarely being hungry. I’m not sure which is the healthier of the two, I suppose it’s preference or some sort of a balance. Either way, today we’re going to review some of my go-to snacks.

Some of these were my favorite before I cut out animal products, but although I don’t consume them now I still wanted to mention them in case you could benefit from a new idea!

1. Nut butter and Plants!

Everyone loves the good ol’ apples and peanut butter or the Ants-on-a-log from kindergarten (celery, Pb and raisins), but why leave out the rest of the garden? I love to blanch broccoli and cauliflower to dip or raw zucchini, carrots, and more! Have a sweet tooth? Try any berry (especially frozen blueberries) or my favorite, sliced bananas with nut-butter and freeze them!

(If you’re watching fat or calorie intake, mix normal peanut butter with Pb2)

2. Cottage cheese and Salsa Dip!

Exactly what it sounds like! Mix the two and use for a protein based salsa dip (rather than nacho cheese). Dip with raw veggies, whole grain crackers or eat with a spoon!

3. Popcorn with Nutritional Yeast!

Nutritional yeast is a hidden gem in the vegan world. Packed with B vitamins and other minerals, this beneficial bundle of flakes can be added to salads, soups, dips, or in this case, popcorn! I dry pop my own kernels then lightly dust with coconut oil and sprinkle with Himalayan salt and Nutritional yeast. Add a glass of wine and you’ve got dinner! (Guilty smile here)

4. Homemade Spinach Dip!

Forget the mayonnaise, creme cheese and other pointless calories… throw together some Greek yogurt, avocado and wilted spinach with your favorite seasonings and viola, dip!

5. Guacamole!

I know, I know… it’s fattening and high in calories blah blah blah but it’s one of those superfoods we spoke about in the last post! It’s packed full of all the good stuff that supports a healthy body along with a buttery texture that really satisfies the mouth hunger mentioned in Mindful Eating. If the nutrition facts still scare you, load it up with scrumptious fillers like puréed spinach, tomatoes, peppers, onions, jicama.. add whatever you love to bulk up the serving size.

6. Angelic Eggs! (verses deviled)

When I was fit-cray cray I avoided deviled eggs at all cost, yolk and mayonnaise, no way, not in this mouth! I missed the handy quick snack so traded in some of the traditional ingredients for healthier options. My go-to was Greek yogurt or cottage cheese but now without dairy, I use avocado, mustard and WATER! Yep, when you’re recipe is a little dry, no need to blob on more mayo, just add a splash of water and it’ll moisten it up enough for eating!

7. Frozen Yogurt Dots!

Super easy and tasty. Grab your favorite yogurt, Greek or full fat, flavored or not (I used plain then flavored with protein powder or honey). Put it on a plastic baggy then cut the tip off, squeeze dots onto a tray and freeze. Once frozen, scrape them off and enjoy!

8. Homemade popsicles!

I LOVE frozen treats so this dandy is one of my staples during the hot months. You have control of what goes inside so why not pack it full of nutritious ingredients?! I often mesh some sort of nut milk with vegan protein powder. To make it even more creamy, I’ll blend in a banana, nut butter, chia seeds or avocado. You the fruity type? Put some mango, yogurt and coconut together… craving mint chocolate chip? Add mint extract and cocao nibs! No matter what your taste buds are seeking, just throw your goodies in a blender, purée it until it’s smooth and then fill up the molds. By dessert time you’ll have a feel-good popsicle to savor!

So there you have it, 8 ideas to fill the snack space while keeping your health in mind.

I’m not going to go into any detail this week on the physical challenges of our Friday Fitness so I’ll leave it up to you to review the past weeks and keep it up!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fitness Friday week 5 – Get up, stand up!

It’s been 4 weeks! You knew it was coming, another transformation photo! Even if you don’t think there’s a difference, I still encourage you to snap the pic. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see a change but over time it’s apparent. Pregnancy is the perfect example. I never wanted to take the growing belly selfies, but with a gentle push from friends I did and I’m so thankful! Looking back at those weekly shots in the post The Most Selfies I’ve Ever Taken, I now see the progressive changes that I wasn’t recognizing on my own.

If the reason you don’t want to take another photo is that you haven’t been putting forth much effort, then great, let this be a fire under you hiney to get back to it!

This week we’re going to talk about posture.

When your ankles, hips, shoulders, and head are lined up comfortably one above the other, your posture is correct. Your knees should not be locked, but slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder width apart.

I found this clever image that helps identify where you might be falling, or standing rather.

Why is posture so important? If you ask any chiropractor or physical therapist, they’d say “good posture means good health”. It allows your joints to work properly without unnecessary pressure where it doesn’t belong. It maintains muscular strength in the areas that decrease pressure on nerves. The list goes on including simply looking better… healthy and alive!

I’ve been amazed at the difference I’ve felt when focusing on my stance. I did it this past week and I’m actually sore from it! A good ache of course, soreness from contracting muscles to keep my spine straight, especially between my shoulder blades. After being pregnant and now a new mom, I found myself slouching as if I was still carrying pounds of baby in front of me.

It’s harder than it sounds to keep conscious of your posture. Most of you have probably corrected your posture while reading this and a good majority of you will forget about it before the end of this post.

This week I challenge you to be fully aware of your body, head to toe. When you’re cooking, working at a desk, holding your baby, standing in line at the store and even sleeping!

So how we’d do with last weeks challenge? No processed sugar was to be consumed and hopefully forgotten about… ha… ha… ha. I give myself a B+ considering effort, environment and temptations declined. The Sunday after I posted the challenge, we went to a “Candyland” birthday party. What’s funny, is nothing there was my favorite kind of sugar. It wasn’t like there was a Rice Krispie treat cake or chocolate covered nuts, however I still found myself being tempted by the flavors that were offered. I admit I nibbled here and there and regretted every bite that wasn’t worth it, which was all of them! Lesson learned.

Moving on.

This week is all about the food prep. No matter what diet you’re on or nutritional plan you follow, being prepared is always helpful. The number one thing I hear when this topic is brought up is time. It’s time consuming to get out the tubberware, chopping block and utensils to dice up your fruit and veggies. And who has spare minutes to cook up your protein and separate it all for the week? You do.

When you want something bad enough, you make it happen!

I personally enjoy it, I guess you could call it my kitchen therapy. I pour a glass of wine, pull my hair back and turn on my favorite music (or if I really want to nerd out, I’ll turn on a health documentary or cooking show). Then I lay out all of my ingredients and all of the storage containers and prep away! I intended on doing this and snapping all the pics from my own kitchen, but then I woke up and it was today, Friday. For the sake of all you that love visuals, me included, here are some beautiful examples I found.

If you’re not up for organizing full meals, start with just preparing a few containers of cleaned cut fruit and veggies. Something you can reach for in a hurry or in a “must snack now!” moment. If you open my fridge you’ll usually find celery sticks, sliced cucumber, other veggies and cleaned fruit ready to be eaten. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone into the fridge with major mind hungry (meaning in my head and not in my gut) ready to devour the first thing I saw. Due to convenience, I’d just grab a veggie bag with maybe some hummus, mashed avocado or bean dip.

What if you don’t eat all of your prepped veggies before they start to turn bad? Throw them in a skillet and you’ve got dinner with rice, roll them up in butterleaf and now you have lettuce wraps, toss them in a little oil and roast them at 400 until they’re crispy.. oh so good! My recent favorite trick is to throw them in a blender after being cooked (in anyway) with some seasoning and nut milk. Heat and eat like soup or dip with crackers. Yum!

This weeks homework:

1. Every moment you consciously think of your posture, fix it! Did you already forget?

2. Make time for one session of treating yourself to stocking the fridge with prepared fresh food. You’re worth it!

3. Take the next transition photo. Deep breath, you can do it!

4. Remember that fun little workout we recorded on week one? Do it again and see if there’s any improvement in your numbers.

Set a timer for 1 minute and count how many pushups you can do. Then again for squats and burpees. Even if you do 4 and the rest for 30 seconds and do 4 more, just keep attempting for the entire 2 minutes. Write it down and store away with that glorious photo you just took.

Wrapping up our lifestyle changes so far:

1. Use the stairs every chance you get!

2. Stick to the single serving amount or less.

3. Play with pop-cycle sticks and actually use them!

4. Consume products that are closest to their original state!

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners found in most sugar free products.

6. Walk as much as you can at every opportunity!

7. Clean out your system of sugar, stick with fruit!

8. Pick 3 workouts a week and give it all you got!

9. Food Prep! Make it easier to make better choices.

10. Keep you posture in mind. Good posture, good health!

Categories: Edibles!, Fitness, Fitness Friday’s!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 reasons to ride a bike

1. For the health of it! Cardiovascular stimulation is a peice of the pie of fitness (did someone say pie? Mmmmm). Cycling just 20 miles a week reduces your risk of heart disease to less than half that of those who don’t exercise at all.

2. Breath of fresh air, ahhhh. So we don’t leave plastic bottles in the sun due to the cancer-causing toxins released, but what about the interior of your vehicle that bakes all day in the heat? We climb right into the chemical box and drive for hours.  Not to mention our poor environment and the fumes we inhale by simply starting the engine.  I vote to hit the trail and breathe the green.

3.Care to shed a few pounds?
Riding your bike for an hour burns anywhere from 400-700 calories an hour while sitting in your car or on the couch burns a whopping plate of boredom with a side of time to snack. I wonder how many calories you demolish by carrying your bike?

4. Sexy time! The Harvard University found that men over 50 years of age who cycle for at least three hours a week have a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than those who do little exercise. Keep it up! No pun intended.

5. Money hunny. According to research from the University of North Carolina, people who cycle for 30 minutes, five days a week take about half as many sick days as the lazy-o-man.

6. Light bulb! Illinois University found that a five percent increase in cardio fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests. That’s because cycling helps build new cells in the hippocampus (that funny named region of the brain responsible for memory). Say what?!

7. All the cool kids are doing it! Some of my most fond memories traveling abroad involve me, 2 wheels and happy people! 

Hayden, thanks for the unconditional support in my crazy lifestyle. You’re the type of person everyone wishes they had in their life. Champagne forts, bike rides, sushi love, stupid humor, the list goes on. You’re the best! Plus you always let me win shooting pool (side kiss wink face). So grateful you’re my boy… 

Next stop, Florida! 

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Happy as a cherry!

The cherry tree of Barbados produces a fruit that has the bragging rights of being extremly sweet, while containing heaps of nutrients with minimal calories. Malpighia emarginata is also known as Acerola, West Indian cherry and Wild crepe myrtle… yeh, I’ll stick with calling the Barbados Cherry.

Check this out, these little juicy delights pack in more vitamin C than an orange, sour cherry and blueberry combined! When measuring Vitamin C (based on weight), Oranges have 53 mg per 100 g. Barbados cherries sore with 1,678 mg! 

  

 I have the pleasure of staying with one of my longest known Bajan friends, Jason (you’ll meet him later). In his backyard is one of these hard to find Vitamin C power-house trees. Score! 

 Typically, we all just grab a few cherries within an arms stretch as we pass under, leaving the bottom fruitless and the mid to top overflowing. Wouldn’t you be tempted? Check out these gorgeous clusters of goodness! 

   

 Well, since I have an abundunce of energy and plenty of time, I felt driven to gather from greater heights. All I needed was a ladder… perfect! 
 The rest of the photos explain themselves.  Just a chipper girl in her happy place, collecting miniature bundles of sweet, red, juice filled bubbles of health. Ok, that all seems a bit much after writing it, but you get the picture.  I love this!
   

 Hi fella (or misses) I’m diggin your shell, keep on keepin on my friend!  

  Note to self and other cherry pickers: Palms up!  The ripe ones fall into your hands (or plummet to the ground if you’re not ready).   

  

Natures snack is soon to be served! I ended up putting these lovely delights next to some plain greek yogurt topped with self love, raw pumpkin seeds and pure gratitude. Again with the cheesiness, but I’m just feelin it today!

  

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

9 Rounds of glorious sweaty smiles

I’d like to start this post out by acknowledging that although my opinion on nutrition and fitness changes as life presents new chapters, I still try to maintain a well rounded lifestyle.  If it be a new workout, a fresh cooking idea or some crazy cleanse, I generally tend to try anything just for the adventure of it.

For those of you that haven’t seen me through my stages of exploring health, here’s an extreme difference (and never shared before) variations in my fitness.
  

Putting the equally important side of “diet” aside, I’m going to focus on an energetic workout that has added a new element to my routine.

9Round is a specialized program dedicated to providing a unique, fun and challenging workout that guarantees results. It combines “old school boxing” and traditional kickboxing with interval cardiovascular and strength training. You’d think with only 9 rounds that you would get bored of the cylce, but day to day, I rarely did the same thing twice. New, fresh and heart pumping! 
  

Things I love about it:
1. It’s 30 minutes! You arrive, wrap your hands and start your workout. Since they have a bell controlling your rotation, you’re guaranteed 9 rounds of incredible challenges with 30 seconds between each set. Side note, the 30 seconds is not a resting period… Oh no… They call out a fun (ha, ha, ha) element of activity for you to sweat through. Examples: squat jumps, push ups, plank hold, sprints or my personal favorite plank jacks. What’s that? Hold a plank and jump your feet apart and together.
  
2. Class time? Nonsense. During opening hours, you show up when you want and start as soon as the next 3 min bell rings. 30 minutes later, you’re out the door! 
3. You have the option to go around as many times as your little body can endure. 9 rounds and you’re still a champ? Go again!
  
  
4. The beats! We all know music can enhance the mood and increase the vibe, so they let it rock… or hip hop, or old school R&B, funk or classic jams!

5.The coaches are what I consider to be motivational. They set the bar higher than you desire, then applaud you when you exceed it. Fierce, gentle and supportive are the words that come to mind when I think of my 9rounds family.

The top before/after shot is the owner of the 9 Rounds in Folsom, California. Victoria continuously encourages all of her members with an enthusiastic energy that is undeniable… and who wouldn’t want to workout harder for a coach with arms like that!?
  

Don’t live near Folsom? No need to fear, they’re everywhere! Check out the main website at www.9round.com   for other locations and more detail about this superstar program.
Dear Victoria and friends that I call my coaches, you’re unforgettable smiles and welcoming support has made an impression on my daily routine.  Although I’ll be away for some time, I will definitely incorporate your workouts within my fitness from abroad. Cheers to you and your life changing attitude!

Sincerely,
(Appropriately nicknamed)
Free Spirit 



 

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A ray of green light in Malaysia!

Hopefully it’s clear from my writing that I like to focus on the positive that surrounds my existence. From the vibrant people to exotic places, new food to priceless adventure, I hardly have anything to complain about.
So acknowledging that, please read the following post knowing that I mean it with love and great intention.

Something here in Malaysia that I’ve had a hard time adapting to is the eating habits. If you’ve been following my journey for awhile, you’ve seen my creative way to stay healthy by purchasing my own fresh food and choosing wisely with portion control if I indulge in local treats. The food here has a tempting aroma, the right price and a variety that lines the streets everywhere you go. The struggle I have, is the way it’s all prepared. Fresh greens and herbs? Yes! However it’s usually over cooked and covered in oil. Of course there’s fresh fish… deep fried. Rice noodles, egg noddles, flat noodles… accompanied with pork, chicken, fish paste, and more oil. Below is an example plate of fish, greens and grains. Doesn’t that sound like it should be full of nutrients, vitamins and goodies for your body? It was, until they prepared it. I also asked for a serving of “one person”.

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Here is a popular stand at the local night market. On a stick you can find a variety of tofu, vegetables, fish and other meats all prepared and ready to be cooked. When I say “cooked” I wish I was talking about grilled or steamed, but here is the deep fry station. You dip the stick in the oil and then finish it off with the sauce of your choice.

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Time to turn this post around and introduce you to the ray of sunshine I stumbled upon…
As I walked down to the local market to pick up some fruit, I was taken back by the green walls and white teeth of smiles. What’s this?! A wellness cafe not only serving up aloe, tea and vitamin dense shakes but happy people chatting about a healthy world. Take a look around!

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The gentleman sitting at the bar is a native here and is beyond familiar with the local lifestyle. Marcel, a new partner in the world of health, found this little green heaven just in time after being diagnosed as a diabetic.

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Ironically I just saw on a local news report that over 60% of Malaysians aged 18 and up, had a BMI over 25. (A BMI of more than 25 means the person is overweight). Following that they explained that although North America has a higher rate obesity, Malaysia has a higher rate of diabetes.

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Meet Brian. He has a contagious love for nutrition and extreme desire to open the minds of the local people to a new way of living… Healthy!

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His enthusiasm towards health and his passion for life was nothing short of positive motivation! As I enjoyed my smoothy, he pleasantly shared his story from beginning to present and the journey that lead him here.

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I don’t want to exaggerate numbers or dwell on percentages, I feel the point should be focused on necessary knowledge to create change. That my friends, is why I was so uplifted by this room full of kind hearts and energetic minds. Thank you Green Forest for the much needed and refreshing conversation. This also includes the scrumptious start this beautiful day!

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If you have any interest in contacting this ray of sunshine, please email me and I will connect you directly!

Categories: Edibles! | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Not just a Dolphin Tour

I like to focus on the present with a positive look forward, however just for a moment I’m going to step out the “travel blog” and tip toe through a bit of my past personal life. I feel this is necessary for you to grasp the emotional energy that surfaced during this part of my journey.

Please take note that some of the pictures and comments might “hit home” or “strike a cord” with some of you depending on your own experiences. I mean no harm… Just sharing what I view as a beautiful story.

Pamela is her name. The woman that carried me, delivered me, and raised me.
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I claim my mother to be one of my biggest fans. Most parents tell their children that “You can achieve anything you put your mind to”.
When my mom says this to me, she’s teary eyed and expresses it more like “I’m so amazed by you. You’re something special on earth and I love watching you accomplish your dreams. You’re going to impact so many people and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Yeh, I know… What do you say back to that? I feel like “Thank you” is an understatement for the unconditional love that she has supported me with all of these years (even the moments in which she claims aliens took her sweet girl and replaced her with a teenager).

Her story went like this:
Mom in the middle of 2008: “I have an abnormal mark on my breast”.
1st nurse practitioner gives Mammogram and exam: “Looks like you’re fine.”

6 months later

Mom: “I know my body. I don’t know what’s wrong, but something isn’t right.”
Nurse practitioner orders an ultra sound: “The ultra sound shows nothing to be concerned about”. During the test, the nurse tech mentioned that mom had dense breasts and that can make it difficult to read.
Mom: “Try again, look in a different spot”.

3 months later

Mom went back and asked for a different doctor. They sent her to a female surgeon.

New Doctor: “I haven’t seen your films, but nothing is jumping out at me. Breasts can change over time and this is normal.”

2 months and and many phone calls from my mother to the doctors…

Doctor: “For all patients who think they have cancer, following everything you’ve had done, the next step is a fine needle biopsy”.

First two came back negative so they followed up with a third fine needle biopsy.

It’s now September of 2009

Me: “Mom, I trust you, but they did tests and said you’re clear. No more stress ok?”
Mom: “Not ok.”

Doctor calls to set up a PEM Scan (Positron Emission Mammography).

Test results showed cancer and encourages them to give her a PET scan and a Needle Biospy MRI.

After 2 mamagrams, 2 Ultra Sounds, 3 fine needle biopsies, a PEM scan, PET scan and an extreme amount of persistence…

Stage III Breast cancer.

Nov 23, 2009- Bi-lateral Masectomy with 22 Lymphnodes removed.
January 2010- 6 months of chemotherapy (she refused 6 weeks straight of Radiation treatment).

Obviously all that was described above included many long nights, dreadful hospital visits, tears, exhaustion, teamwork, support from friends, patience, courage and an uncountable amount of hugs.

The morning she woke up with a rainbow of hair on her pillow, she called me that day. “It’s time to take it off”. With a hesitant but courageous stride she walks into my shop and sits while I prepare the clippers. Leave it to us to have a little fun with it.

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The beauty underneath it all…
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Personally, I think she dominates the bandana look.
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Then we head in for her first treatment. Previously they inserted a device underneath her skin so that they would have a direct line site rather than peircing her arm or hand each time. This was the first time it was put to use and not the last time I held her hand through it… Literally, I didn’t miss a session.
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All hooked up.
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Moms sassy side kept my faith up…
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..and her attitude kept the treatment center smiling.  Really take a look at the nurses, that’s not fake.  They loved her!
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They kept the room super cold but always had a heated blanket for us.
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During her treatment she would often say “When (not if) I make it through this, I want to be on an island.  Just give me sun and warm sand next to pretty water.”
She had no idea, but during this entire process I was planning to make it happen. So after her first “clean” test (and first haircut) we jet set to the gorgeous island of Barbados. What a vibrant place to celebrate her 50th birthday of life!
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She’s happiest near water so I set up a submarine tour.
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Goofing off on the boat.
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Before and especially since her cancer she has developed a “bucket list”. A list which includes the day that made my trip to Panama City Beach such a memorable one.
BLUE DOLPHIN TOURS is owned and operated by extremely kind people. Ted and Karen have a warm-hearted nature that is present in all conversation and a welcoming spirit that invites you in. If you are ever in this area, I can only suggest to the best of my ability to check this out. It’s an unforgettable experience!

www.bluedolphintour.com .

I could write chapters about this excursion, but I’ll keep it to the point with some fun pictures.
On this day I got to watch my mom go from a  51 year old “survivor” to a “full of life” 12 year old!
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This was our guide, Russell. He was another great addition to the day, in fact, he made the “tour” feel like a day on a boat with friends. His knowledge of the water and everything in it was impressive and comforting. Thank you Russell!
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We got to make him blush.
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Off we go!
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Snorkeling along the way! Russell jumped right in and starting searching for cool stuff!
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I chose to stay in the boat to capture these moments and had no idea of the emotions that would play in my heart. To see her truly happy from within, absolutely made my heart smile.  At one point I had teared up with inexpressible joy. My mom was finally in the water with these amazing creatures, doing what she had always spoke about.
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Survey says?
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Winner!

Dear mom,
If I got to pick again… I’d still choose you.

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Mini jungle gym – part 2

A few of us from school decided to “study” at a park that was outside of the city. Look what I found! A playground with a new friend and a quick workout.

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This is Mads, a super friendly classmate from Denmark who clearly likes to workout. He claims Denmark is the home of the happiest people in the world…after hanging out with him… I believe it!
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Working the guts (abdominal).
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The goal: Start by hanging underneath, then transfer (anyway you can) to the top without ever touching the ground.
I dedicate this to all of my gymnasts and the countless times I made you do these!
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Dips
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