Monday, August 27, 2012

Motivate Me Monday

To a clear mind.
To a passionate heart.
To the beautiful person looking back at you in the mirror.
To your incredible inner strength.
To new found determination.
To a sense of pride in yourself and all you've accomplished.
To the breathtaking world around you.
To love yourself every moment of everyday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Clean, Green, Juicing Machine

I think it's safe to say that everyone has heard the advise to EAT RIGHT at one time or another. Eating right typically translates to taking your diet more seriously by eating more fiber while limiting your saturated and hydrogenated fat intake. Don't pretend like you don't understand what that means, either... it means exactly what you think - eat more fruits and veggies and don't eat so much fried and fatty foods. Eating right can be really hard for most people though - especially when living in America: the land of fast food on every corner, overflowing schedules, media mind games, and the tendency to give in to our (often unhealthy) desires.

I'm no exception to these challenges that most people face. I like french fries... a lot, I like to eat a whole carnitas burrito in about 5 minutes or less, and I'd rather not bother with green leafy things that taste like what cows eat. On the other hand, I also like to feel great, look amazing and live a fulfilling life each and every day. 

Welcome to the land of JUICING!

Juicing (aka: extracting the juice out of fruits and veggies) is a great way to get all the nutrients from produce without actually eating them all day long. For someone like me who's on the go a lot and picky about the fruits and veggies I like to eat, juicing is AWESOME! Since I've recently purchased a juicer, started drinking more of my daily fruit and veggie intake, and been feeling fantastic because of it, I figured I'd share my experience thus far!

A week ago, today, I went to Target and bought a DASH Electric Juicer for $99. Before making my purchase, I'd been buying fresh made juices at LA Fitness and random spots around town for a few weeks and was really enjoying the feeling the juices gave me - I felt more full than I anticipated by drinking it, my body was more easily and rapidly discharging build up and my daily food intake (if you get my drift... I know boys like to think girls don't poop so I don't want to burst their bubble by saying it that bluntly), my skin was clearing up quickly, and I had more energy. After constantly spending $5-7 on one small juice drink, it seemed clear to me that spending a hundred bucks or so on a juicer of my own was the right choice. I did my research and found some things I was sure my juicer needed:

- A do not exceed price of $150 since it's my first one and it's just for me (for now).

- A more vertical design (versus a more horizontal design) so that gravity could play a roll in feeding the fruits and veggies into the blade/juicer mechanism of the machine and so it would take up less counter space.

- Not too many complicated parts and easy to disassemble and reassemble for fast and efficient cleaning.

- The ability to effectively juice both fruits AND veggies (not all juicers do this... most "specialize" in one or the other, it seems).

**My research also gave me the incredible tip of putting a plastic bag inside the pulp catch for extra easy cleaning**

So, I got my juicer that fit all my guidelines and found myself quite pleased! I went to the grocery store, loaded up on produce, and prepped for my new week and life as a juicer. There are tons of recipes out there for different ingredient combinations, but as usual, I just like everything all at once and didn't pay much attention to the fancy concoctions. My standard juice includes:

(1-2 whole - without the core since the seeds aren't good for you)

(1-2 whole - without the core since the seeds aren't good for you)

(1-2 whole - peeled)

(1-2 whole - peeled)

(2-3 large handfuls)

(1 large - ends cut off)

(3-4 large - tops cut off)

(3-4 stalks - ends cut off)

Before you even ask, YES, IT TASTES GREAT! My main trick is balancing the fruits and veggies (mainly citrus and greens) because the flavor is more complex and delicious. My favorite part about my standard juice is that it adds up to an entire day of the recommended servings of fruits and veggies. This means that all the fruits and veggies I actually eat, outside of my juice, are like extra credit! Needless to say, I feel like one CLEAN, GREEN, JUICING MACHINE!

This week, I'm revving it up even more to see just how much I can clean out my body and reboot my system, and I AM STOKED! I have my refrigerator stocked and my juice jug ready to accompany me through each and every busy day.

Join me and feel the joys of juicing, one sip at a time!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Do It, Review It - Stand Up Paddleboarding

I'm constantly looking for fun new ways to get outside, be active, and enjoy each and every loved one and day in my life. That, coupled with the realization that we're now knee deep in the month of August, made me hungry for an adventure.

This Saturday, my appetite for such an adventure was satisfied when my three amazing, active, and fun loving friends and I decided to get our day started early with a trip to the Newport Beach, CA to test out the water and try stand up paddleboarding (or, stand up paddling or SUPing as some prefer to abbreviate).

Tiffany, Connie, Emily & I enjoying a wonderful day on the water!

I've gone SUPing once before (last summer), when Tiffany and I bought and redeemed a LivingSocial deal for a one hour lesson at Stand Up Paddle Co in Laguna Beach, CA. The lesson was great and mostly taught us the valuable basics. Stand up paddleboarding is done in the water while you stand on what looks like a larger than usual surf board - you use a paddle like you would in a kayak, except this one just has a paddle on one end and a handle on the other. We learned how to get in and out of the ocean, along with how to start on our knees and work our way up to standing. It was a mellow day on the water, so learning to tackle the waves wasn't too challenging. Our instructor was a sun-kissed, very easy on the eyes, not from California kind of friendly surfer dude who was a nice addition to the "sorority big sis-little sis" chit chat and giggles while we paddled around. The thing I remember the most, though, was the feeling of absolute peace and quiet on the water. Even in our group of three, the water offered endless amounts of space and tranquility for "me time." I loved it!

This time, four of us (pictured above) met up in Newport Beach, CA to try out Adventures Boat Rentals and paddle around Newport Harbor. The weather was perfect - sunny with a slight breeze, and overall, the place was really great. The staff was friendly and helpful, the prices were incredibly affordable (we spent $20 per person for an hour and a half rental), it had pretty good accessibility, and getting in and out of the water on the docks wasn't as challenging as I worried it might be. Not only that, but exploring the boats' bedroom and passing by all the fellow paddlers, kayakers, boaters and beyond was very pleasant!

The four of us all transitioned swiftly from our knees to standing on our paddleboards and I felt at ease going from standing to sitting to laying down to standing again. I kept thinking I must have improved since this same level of movement last summer would've landed me straight in the water! We even spotted a group of SUP Yogis (aka: people who do Yoga on paddleboards in the water) and tried copying them... we didn't get far but it's the attempt that counts, right??

As far as the workout aspect of SUPing goes, it seemed to differ for everyone in our group. Between the four of us though, we seemed to have almost every body part accounted for in the soreness discussion that followed our session. I found the best core/abs move (for me) occurred with I made sharp turns on the paddleboard (by holding the paddle firmly in the water on one side to turn the board in that direction - I hope that wasn't a terrible description).

SUPing is super fun, can be done without breaking the bank, and provides a refreshing workout in the beautiful outdoors! With or without tons of company, it's a peaceful break from the fast paced world we're immersed in and it's well worth an hour of your time! Take a break, grab a paddle, and get moving!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Willpower Wednesday

I surprised myself today... more than once... and it felt good... really good!

My plan to tackle the 6:00 a.m. class at Pure Barre was shockingly successful. This plan was not a new one, but today was the first day I actually completed it.

My overwhelming hunger for Jack in the Box breakfast after my morning workout was obliterated when I turned the other direction at the stop light and chose Trader Joe's for greek yogurt and a banana instead.

My continued desire to munch all day was quenched by vegetable juices, water and iced tea before, during and after my meals.

My need for a nap became a need for speed after concentrating on the tasks at hand and getting up to stretch periodically.

Think I have more willpower than you?
Willpower is not something you have or you don't have and it's not something that we're each given in varying quantities. Willpower is like a muscle - you must exercise it if you intend it to work efficiently. Willpower is practicing self control for the betterment of you and only you. Willpower is not depriving yourself of your desires, it is improving your decisions based on long term and overall success. Willpower is saying NO to yourself sometimes and being your own bad guy. Willpower will make you change and it will make you uncomfortable.


After all.... you're the only one standing in the way.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Commit to a New Day

I feel like crap.
I let the heat and a busy schedule run me too far into the ground.
I am focused on taking care of myself and going to bed early.
I plan ahead for a busy day tomorrow (and the days that follow).
I put chicken breasts in the refrigerator the thaw.
I decide to wake up tomorrow, ready to take on the world.

I commit to a new day.
I go forward in a way that betters my overall well being and happiness.
I eat well.
I drink plenty of water.
I take my vitamins.
I wake up on time to start my day right.
I move to keep an active body and mind.
I follow my eating plan:

I remind myself to smile, be happy, and make the most out of every moment I have.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Grocery Store Goodness

After a wonderful short getaway weekend, I arrived home to a completely empty refrigerator, an exhausting realization that tomorrow is the beginning of a busy new week, and a desire to keep my fit life going strong. Needless to say, I grabbed my reusable grocery bags and took a nice walk down to the store. A full refrigerator of healthy options always helps me get energized to jump into a productive and refreshing week!

Healthy Shopping Tip

Follow the Frame
By following the "frame" of the grocery store, I mostly hit the fresh sections like produce, meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. I'm able to limit my temptation to buy processed junk food and I go in a quick and efficient circle around the store leading right to check out!

Fun Find
Finding this "new to me" pack of perfectly portion controlled chicken breasts put a huge smile on my face in the store. I've been a fan of Weight Watchers for some time now - mostly because their focus on portion control has helped me a lot. Their food products are pretty consistently tasty without being outrageously priced. These chicken breasts will be perfect to thaw in the refrigerator during the work day and quickly cook at night for a fast and healthy dinner. 

Prep for Success

When time permits, I love prepping snacks and meals right when I get home with full grocery bags. I find that my shopping momentum keeps me going and gets me enthusiastic to have healthy things on hand. Today, after my glorious chicken breast find, I spotted some delicious Snow Crab legs for only $7.99 a pound. Crab is something I've been getting more excited about and snagging at the store when the price and taste is right. Not only does the American Heart Association recommend eating fish or seafood twice a week, but crab is also low in calories and a good source of antioxidants, protein and natural sodium. I took my tasty Snow Crab meat and decided to make a little salad mix to eat with veggies, crackers, etc...

Crab Salad

Chop & Combine:
Crab meat
Dill Pickles

Mix In:
Pineapple Salsa (if available)
Lime Juice
Creole Seasoning

Top With:

Happy Shopping!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

[TPBE] The Results

A month and a half ago I made a commitment to trade in my normal exercise routine for classes at Pure Barre Pasadena. I went from a steady routine of weight training, fitness classes and cardio exercise about 4 times per week to consistently attending 2-4 classes at Pure Barre Pasadena each week. What began as a hopeful attempt to improve my physical appearance turned out to be a transformation unlike anything I imagined possible.

I, personally, am pretty speechless about how much change I saw in such little time... especially since I was already in pretty good shape, I didn't change my eating habits and I mayyyybe did 2 additional "cardio only" sessions each week (Example: 20 min on elliptical outside of class), IF it was a good week. My entire concept of body types is changing, I'm finally abandoning unhealthy notions of weight control and I'm understanding what's ACTUALLY WORKING more than ever before.

The Stats
Check out [TPBE] The Starting Line for pictures of where I began!
Starting Weight: 134.5 lbs
Ending Weight: 132.1 lbs (2.4 pounds lost)
This transformation wasn't about weight loss to me but I was impressed that my weight did drop a bit. More than anything, it was about seeing how my body physically changed and responded to this style of exercise. Pure Barre taught me so much about what ACTUALLY counts when getting in shape - see "Top Lessons Learned" below for more!

Starting Bust: 35"
Ending Bust: 33" (2 inches lost)
This measurement change is one of the most interesting to me - technically, my "girls" are smaller, but because my whole upper body is more toned, the "girls" are perkier than ever and getting lots of compliments! So, ladies, maybe it's not all about size and it has more to do with shape, tone and overall appearance!

Starting Waist: 27"
Ending Waist: 26" (1 inch lost)
A smaller waist has translated into more feminine curves which I LOVE! I've never really had problems with this measurement/area but the more toned and lean, the better!

Starting "Right Below the Bellybutton": 30.5"
Ending "Right Below the Bellybutton": 29" (1.5 inches lost)
THANK YOU PURE BARRE FOR BEING THE FIRST WORKOUT THAT HAS EVERRRRRRR ADDRESSED & CHANGED THIS AREA!!!! I cannot stress enough how incredible this measurement change is for me - this is my trouble zone/insecure spot/whatever you want to call the part of my body that I've always struggled with and I'm FINALLLY feeling better about it for the first time in my LIFE!

Starting Hips:  39"
Ending Hips: 38" (1 inch lost)
Smaller hips and my butt still looks great?! Wow, I quite literally thought that was impossible. When I started working out, people would tell me, "don't lose your curves!" - Pure Barre taught me that I don't have to lose it, I can IMPROVE IT!

Starting Thighs: 23" (each thigh)
Ending Thighs: 22" (1 inch lost per thigh)
Again with the WOW... for the first time ever, I am confident in shorts or a mini skirt. For the first time ever, I look down at my legs when I'm sitting and I don't think I look fat. For the first time ever, I LOVE MY LEGS!! 

Starting Biceps: 10" (each bicep)
Ending Biceps: 10"
No change here but the difference in definition and toning is completely visible. I've been getting the MOST compliments on my arms since I started TPBE and I'm pretty sure my fat is being steadily replaced with muscle - I LIKE I LIKE!



Top Lessons Learned
  • It's actually not about weight loss - for me, at least. Pure Barre helped me WAKE UP to the reality that there can be a huge difference between losing pounds and actually changing your appearance and shape. At a certain point, I weighed less than I do now, but I wasn't in love with how I looked; my body responded to cutting calories and losing pounds by leaving me hungry, uneven and perpetually frustrated and critical. Now, instead of focusing on the scale, I'm focused on my inner core strength, my flexibility, my body measurements, my proportionality and my personal confidence level - and I'm LOVING IT! I finally understand and know that I'd rather lose inches than pounds, any day.
  • It's actually not about the movement, it's about contracting and working the muscles. Pure Barre helped me UNDERSTAND that working out is supposed to be challenging, it doesn't need to be large scale and upbeat, and you have to actually focus on contracting and using your muscles if you want results. The most impossible moves were totally do-able after I properly began tightening my core... my moves became more fluid and effective when I learned to keep my hips tucked in and my posture straight... I was able to increase my reps and performance after being taught to concentrate on contracting my muscles to make the movements. 
  • It's actually not boring to consistently do the "same thing." By attending classes taught by different instructors and concentrating on increasing my personal performance, it felt like a NEW and FUN challenge every time I went. In addition to supportive and motivational instructors, great music and concentrated breathing kept me going and entertained the whole way through!


Are you ready to meet me at the barre?