Eating Healthy Doesn’t Need to be Complicated or Expensive

Eating smart doesn’t need to be complicated.  People just make it so. There are options for every kind of eater—carnivore, vegan, lactose-intolerant, gluten-free. The list goes on and on. If you are like me, a vegan, it seems like the supermarket world, and even the restaurants, have finally adopted more vegetarian/vegan-friendly menus. This does help to make eating out or cooking at home easier. You can boil/grill/steam veggies, fish, or meat in about 10 minutes!  How complicated is that? The options are there.  Get creative. Personally, I am a big fan of taking fresh vegetables and putting them into a stir-fry with steamed brown rice. I buy the rice in the frozen food section of the supermarket and it saves me a good 40 minutes of cooking time because I just toss it into the microwave for about 5 minutes. Another uncomplicated recipe is for kale chips. You take some kale and wash it thoroughly, making sure to dry it fairly well. You break it into little chip-size pieces, put it on a cookie sheet, drizzle a very little oil and seasoning salt on top, and put it into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until the edges are brown (about 5-12 minutes).  These are delicious and really come in handy when you’re in the mood for something crunchy! You can have a lot of fun with these by flavoring to your liking – Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, lemon, chipotle pepper powder. The choice is yours!  Also, they are a healthy alternative to high-fat, high-calorie potato chips.

Eating smart doesn’t need to be expensive either. You need to look at the big picture. As obesity issues continue to grow (no pun intended) worldwide, you should delve into some of the possible causes of this epidemic. First of all, the economy is a major factor. As many struggle to make ends meet, you can’t blame them for cutting corners when it comes to diet. But, honestly, that might not be the wisest place to save your pennies. The fast-food market plays into this very subtly. They have “dollar menus” and “supersizing” and make it so easy for people to give in to the temptations.  We all make excuses.  “I hardly have time to eat lunch, let alone actually make a healthy alternative.”  Does this sound like you? Not to sound too preachy, but these are exactly that–mere excuses.  Without your health, you are nothing!  So, in my opinion, this is not a place to skimp financially, and there are so many ways to eat healthier by making smarter choices. For example, the popularity of the more expensive organic foods has gotten a bit out of control. In reality, not all of your diet needs to be organically based!  Also, if you are willing to compromise a bit, there are many simple adjustments you can make. Take beef, for instance. If you can’t handle the price tag of Filet Mignon, look for something more affordable. There are many other lesser-known steaks, such as Flatiron or Hanger, which are trendy and won’t break the bank. I like to buy fresh, seasonal fruit when the price is right and freeze them for a later date. They come in very handy when I make my fruit smoothies—yummy! In the middle of winter, I break out my frozen blueberries and strawberries and drink my smoothie as I pretend I’m on a Mediterranean island!

There are two very simple concepts to follow that will keep you on the straight and narrow as you navigate through the endless decisions regarding your diet and your health:

1)         Keep it simple and try to eat foods closest to their natural state to get the most nutritional benefits.

2)         Variety is the spice of life, so throw in some cayenne pepper and enjoy!

Just live HEALTHY! It’s satisfying and very rewarding!


Clothing Optional?

If you’re a morning gym person, mostly likely you gather your gym clothes the night before and have everything ready so that you can wake up, dress and hit the door. Or, you go to the gym after work and have that gym bag in your car so there’s no excuse and you can go directly from the office to the gym. In any case, how much of an effort do you put into choosing your outfit? Can what you wear change the way you work out? Do your clothes make a difference?

What about this: Does what someone else is wearing affect your workout? Do you get distracted by what another member is wearing? Does it matter if it is a woman or a man?  Does your gym have a dress code? Is there an unwritten gym attire protocol? Should there be?

Some gyms are nicknamed “meat markets” for a reason. These are the places where the short shorts, muscle shirts, make-up wearing clientele seem to flock. They are dressing to show off their “assets” to the other members. I get it! You want to feel good when you’re working out; you want to be comfortable, but are you trying to attract attention at the same time?

Comfort should be your priority and definitely plays a role in what you are wearing. You should dress according to the workout you’re planning on doing. So, if you’re planning on taking a yoga class, spandex probably isn’t your best choice. It’s pretty simple, really! I’m sure we’ve all seen at least one of these faux pas: someone’s thong sticking out of their shorts/pants, the person still stuck in 1970, or the too-short shorts (this is especially unsettling when it is a male member)! Nowadays, shorts come in every length possible, so you can easily find a pair that you won’t be embarrassed to wear, and won’t cause a distraction to other members. Then there’s the guy who wears loose shorts without the added protection of an undergarment. Yes, it’s happened! Or, the women who are nicely endowed, but don’t “keep their puppies on a leash,” as I like to say. For the most part, a sports bra is exactly that – a BRA! It’s used for UNDER another shirt. Also popular is denim/jeans, work shoes or boots, flip-flops, sandals, or even bare foot in the weight room! Under NO circumstance is any of this appropriate gym attire.  You can get away with wearing baseball caps, but unless you like to keep your head sweaty, I don’t see the point. And, unless you are a woman with medium to long hair, a bandana isn’t necessary either. These are generalizations and I’m sure there are some exceptions, but overall, try to stick with these helpful hints.

So, when you’re packing your gym bag, try to remember that you are dressing for the workout and NOT for the rest of the members to look at you!

I’m sure I’ve hit a nerve with some of you or maybe you have your own story to share. Comments, as always, welcome!

Rock Out! Or Not?

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a  knotted oak.” William Congreve

Music is a very personal thing. A particular song can bring out every emotion known to man. It can touch you emotionally, mentally, spiritually and even physically. It can change your mood with one short melody. So, how does music affect your work outs? Does listening to music make you work out differently? Have you ever taken a spin class or any other class where the music is chosen by the instructor? Do you remember if the music played a role in the effort you put into the workout? Do you need heavy metal or a good rock song to pump iron? Can you run or walk on the treadmill while listening to “light” music? Have you ever tried it? Or do you assume that it won’t be inspirational enough? Would you care if AC/DC was playing during your Yoga class? Or, is it important for the music to “match” your particular workout?

Could you do your work out in complete silence, or is music a necessity? Adding music to any workout can really make a difference. It can mean the difference between an “okay” workout versus an “awesome” one. The energy that envelops your whole mind and body can go either way with that little bit of sound echoing in your ears. It could calm your stressed life in your Yoga class, or could jumpstart your tired body during your Boot Camp class.

The genre of music can play an important part. It may motivate you to push your body to the extreme. Most people would probably agree that trying to finish your last set of an exercise needs music with an upbeat tempo and possibly a heavier beat. A song with a fast tempo may help you finish the last few yards of your weekly run. But, what if the unmentionable happens and you forget to bring your iPod to the gym? Would you be happy listening to the music funneled through the facility’s sound system? Would you borrow a friend’s mp3 player or is that comparable to borrowing someone’s towel – just too personal? Would you feel like you were “missing” something without your own music playing in your headphones? During your next work out, appreciate how each song gets you a little closer to your fitness goal!

So, how do you decide what to listen to while you work out? As always, feel free to share your thoughts.

Never Say Never!

A few weeks ago I had a new woman attend one of my Power Yoga classes. For a first-timer, she stood fairly close to the front of the room and even brought her own mat. I was quite surprised when “Ann” told me that she had never taken any yoga class before. With that being said, she listened attentively and tried her hardest to follow along and do the modifications for beginners. She was a real champ! She had a smile on her face for the full hour even though I could tell her mind was so in the moment of the poses…

The following week I walked into class and who was standing front and center? Yes, Ann. I walked over to her and said I was glad she was back. She questioned whether or not I expected her to return. I told her I wasn’t surprised and that I never give up on anyone! I applaud anyone who tries something new. There are those who roll with the usual flow and those who challenge to do something new. It takes moments like these for me to remember why I love this job. When things get into a routine, it’s easy to lose focus. I forget what  kind of effect this type of job has on another person and sometimes the other person has no idea what kind of effect he/she has on ME! Ann probably has no idea how truly lucky I am to have met her and what an inspiration she is to every member of the class!

By the way, did I mention that Ann is 81 years young and the mother of eight children?

So, here are my questions for each of you to think about: At what age do you stop trying new things? Do you believe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Or, do you agree that age is just a number, and that you’re only as old as you act or feel? Would you have the courage at the age of 81 to try something new?

Each one of you is born with an empty spirit waiting to be filled. How do you nurture yours and keep it young and alive?

Take chances! Live life!

Comments welcome!

Please, Don’t Do That!

How many of you really wipe down the machines and benches after each use? This may be a sensitive topic for some, but it needs discussion! How is one to act at a gym facility? What’s proper protocol? What’s good etiquette?

One of the top complaints is the multi-talker, the person who has such an important life that it’s necessary to multitask the treadmill and the jaw. If a phone call is that important, should you be sharing it with the other members? It’s rude and distracting and, if it isn’t already, should be banned from your gym. What about the weight-dropper who feels the need to drop weights on the floor between sets? Typically this is usually followed by the grunter who adds a loud moan or grunt for special effect. This person also loudly grunts through a set of weight lifting. Again, usually for special effect.  Is it really necessary? Yes, sometimes it is, but it doesn’t need to be excessive. Some gyms have rules against this also, and rightly so. Following right behind them is the VIP who doesn’t put hand weights back and leaves them lying on the floor. This is usually the same person who leaves a ton of weight on a piece of equipment so that when you want to use it, you have to take off their weights first.   Moving on to oblivious who thinks that just because they are wearing headphones, they can sing at the top of their lungs and the rest of the gym can’t hear it! Every gym has the know-it-all who feels the need to tell you how you’re either doing an exercise wrong, or how you can do it better. There’s no way to put this next one gently, so smelly should say it all. Is there a reason this person doesn’t feel the need to wash gym clothes between workouts? Finally, there’s the model who needs to be completely made up and coiffed before she starts to sweat. I know, I know! We ALL know these people! 

These issues all address what’s happening on the gym floor, but what about taking it to the locker rooms. Uh-oh! Yes, we’re going there! Is it acceptable behavior for a completely naked man or woman to talk to you like you’re standing on a street corner? Is it appropriate for anyone, either male or female, to be completely naked in the locker room? Isn’t that why towels were created?

It shouldn’t be this complicated. You are all adults and should act thusly. Every member should feel rest assured that upon entering a gym, the next hour or so will be painless, no pun intended. It’s not too much to ask for your weights to be on the weight rack; for the person next to you to use deodorant and a washing machine; for you to be able to listen to your own iPod and not the person’s next to you; for your inner sanctum to be just that, a place to go to escape, rid yourself of tension and  anger, or just plain work out.  

These are probably the most talked about complaints from members. But, the list goes on and on.  Every gym member has a story to share. But hopefully, your eyes have been opened and the next time your phone rings while at the gym, you realize that not only should it be on silencer, but that this is not the time to answer the call. 

As always, feel free to comment or vent here!

What is THAT?

Ever wander into your gym facility and take note of something you haven’t seen before? You kinda walk by nonchalantly eyeing it up and down in case any other member may take note of your naivety.  Then you grab your gym buddy and whisper…What is THAT?

What is a Power Plate? a TRX? a BOSU? a Kettle Bell? TOYS! Yep, they are toys for you fitness gurus! You need as much variety as possible. There is a gizmo out there for everything and everybody. You know who you are! You’re the one up at 2am ordering a workout DVD or fitness equipment because it’s the “new” thing.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but not necessarily a good one either! Let’s face it. These gadgets/gizmos are money-makers. The fitness industry is BIG bucks! They have even gotten into the shoe business with sneakers that shape and tone your body.

Buyer Beware” are two of the most important words you need to remember! You’ve all seen the many warnings on such equipment advising you to check with your doctor before starting any fitness program. They may do that to cover their “assets,” but it is great advice. There aren’t many people out there who can go from being a couch potato to doing pull-ups in one workout session!

So, how do you decipher which is the real deal and which is just garbage? Hopefully, it’s safe to say that most gym facilities have done their homework and have only brought worthy “toys” or programs into the facility. How many gyms out there have weights that can shake? Think about it!

Everyone is looking for the quick fix and if this next new toy/DVD is gonna do it, then you’re gonna order it! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. There are thousands of workouts or pieces of equipment that you can buy for just 4 easy installments of $29.99 each! The general public needs to be very careful with these. Unless you are a seasoned fitness person, a trained athlete, or an instructor of sorts, you need to do your research before starting a new program. All of these, although they can be beneficial, also can be very damaging. This is why people pay good money to join a gym, take a class taught by a professional or go one-on-one with a Personal Trainer. They don’t have to worry about being hurt. These at-home programs don’t come with that kind of safety behind them. The assumption is that they were made with good intentions; however, the end-user needs to understand how to use them effectively and safely.

Have fun, but safety first! As always, comments are appreciated!

What’s With the Attitude?

Everything, actually! It’s all about the attitude…

Give me a little attitude and I’ll give you two ways to go with it — Positive or Negative. Your approach is definitely a key player in your workouts. Are you aware of this? Do you even take into consideration your mindset when you’re in the midst of  your workout? Do you give your thought process a second thought or do you just dismiss it? The brain is the most powerful “muscle” you have.  It should definitely be included when you are anticipating your fitness goals.

Did you ever psych yourself up for a workout? Did you ever psych yourself down for a workout? Yes, that is possible! If you start off with an attitude that you can’t do something, then more than likely, you can’t. You’ve heard Mr. Henry Ford’s saying “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”  That statement says it all! You’re on your last set of triceps extensions, and you have ten repetitions left. What is your thought here? Do you say, “I can’t do 10 more reps?” How about you try saying “I can do five more.”  With that, your body (and mind) just may get to the fifth rep and will muster up enough energy to finish off the last five. If not, then you have a goal set for your next workout. It may sound so simple, and it is. But it definitely takes practice, especially for those pessimists who choose to see the glass as half-empty.  It’s the subtlety of changing a negative statement into a positive one. 

This information can apply to every aspect of your life. Try reinforcing this kind of thinking at your work office, home, or even when you’re out and about. You can turn every negative situation/comment/attitude into a positive one merely by changing the thought. Choose your words wisely, whether they are verbal or in your head. Once you modify the way you think, you’re good to go. Keep that smile on your face!

As always, your comments are welcomed!