Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Most Effective Weight Loss Idea I Know Of

And you don't have to "Obey!" if you don't want to. Ha! Anyway, aside from the obvious (eat fewer calories than you use), the most effective tool I know of is
a pen and paper. If you just write down everything you eat and drink every day for a week or two, you'll most likely lose weight just from doing that. You'll immediately become much more conscious of exactly what you're eating and start to think about portion size without even trying. And if you want to make sure you're drinking enough water, just write down a mark on your paper every time you have a glass of water throughout the day. So simple and super effective!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Exercise Classes Part 2

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned the subject of exercise classes as a change-up in my regular routine. I'd been using heavier weights and higher intensity cardio for a few months and it left me feeling a little "overcooked" with a need to balance it all out a bit.
At this point, I've tried 4 different exercise classes--Pilates, high-intensity aerobics class, Zumba, and Les Mills Body Pump. Each of these classes hits a different fitness target, so it's a pretty good mix. Of course, the particular teacher of each of these classes would determine exactly how it's taught and that could make a huge difference, but I'll give you my take on my experience at my gym.

The Pilates class is such a pleasure. The emphasis here is on controlling, lengthening, and strengthening the body, much in the way that a ballet dancer would. It's got some similarities to yoga in that controlled, synchronized breathing is an important factor. The stretching is probably safer in Pilates than in some yoga classes I've attended because there seems to be a lot less emphasis on gymnastics and super-flexibility in Pilates. I love yoga, but I think Pilates leaves me feeling even better, and without as much soreness the next day.

The high-intensity aerobics class is actually called "Butts 'N' Guts". The teacher kicks so much ass--I have truly serious admiration for that woman. There wasn't much of a surprise here in terms of content, but I really didn't know my lungs and heart could go that kind of distance. It was awesome. I was surprised, though, that I really liked having someone push me to keep the intensity up for the whole hour (rather than slowing down the way I might if I was just by myself). I'm someone who hates being told what to do, but I'll definitely be back for more Butts 'N' Guts.

Zumba was also an amazing cardio experience with the added benefit of insane fun. It's a mixture of dancing and cardio--lots of emphasis on Salsa type stuff. I'm not AT ALL familiar with how to do this kind of dancing, so I looked REALLY BAD at it, but I had to notice that everybody else in the room was kind of bad too, except the teacher (who was fantastic), so I felt okay about it. In fact, I was SO BAD, that I was laughing out loud at myself the entire class, which added to the cardio effect and left me feeling intensely happy the rest of the day. This class would be wonderful for someone who needs to perk up their mood.

Les Mills was more interesting than actual fun, but I'll definitely do it again. It's based on traditional weight training exercises with barbells and dumbbells (very light) and high repetitions of each exercise. To do that many reps, you do need someone pushing you through it. This is a great class if you have been lifting too heavy (like I was) and find yourself a little overtrained--since you're doing the same movements you normally do in the weight room, you'll keep your muscles stimulated, but with the lighter weights, you'll be hitting different muscle fibers and heal up faster. Also, if you're not familiar with weight training and would like to learn lots of good exercises, this class teaches you the basic moves. You probably won't put on any serious muscle doing this type of work (like a bodybuilder would want), but it's terrific for overall fitness and general strength (like most people would want!). Also, you're doing the movements to the beat of music and the pace is fast, so this gives a good cardio benefit and increases the fun factor.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Agave Nectar = Not So Good, Maybe Very Bad

I just read this article by Dr. Joseph Mercola about agave nectar and felt that I MUST share it with all of you! I always felt that agave nectar seemed to be a little too good to be true and I've noticed that Dr. Andrew Weil (who's writings I always keep up-to-date on) has always had his reservations about it. Now I know why. It's just another super-refined, bad-for-you sweetener with fantastic marketing!

Dr. Mercola's article also includes a cool chart that tells you approximately how much fructose is in common fruits, etc. Keep in mind that the fructose in actual fruit is going to be made less harmful because of the fact that it's bound up with fiber and other nutrients. Just another bit of evidence that real food in its whole, natural, unrefined state is where it's at (as far as your body's health is concerned, at least).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Exercise Classes

I've decided to give a complete change-up to my usual workout approach. The gym I go to (Gold's) has a huge variety of classes and, in the past, I've had a mostly...well...er...snobby attitude about a lot of these classes. It's hard to admit, but I trust you guys not to shame me for it. Well, even if you do, I'll have to get over it I guess. Previously, I was under the mistaken impression that most of these classes were for...well...er...wimps. Maybe not exactly wimps, but people who just didn't train as hard as I did. You know what I mean.

Well, as I said recently in answering a previous post's comments, if your body is talking to you and you don't listen, it will just talk louder, shout, then scream, and, finally, wipe the dirt with you. I'm glad to say that I didn't have to get to the dirt wiping point in the battle with my body, just maybe the shouting point. I've just been training a little too hard for the past few months and I need to balance it all out.

So I'll keep you posted about these new experiences!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Boris, Tony, Nonie, and me. Eggs make you crazy, but they won't kill you!

Forget about all that stuff you heard that eggs are bad for you and they'll kill you with cholesterol! Yay! The nutrition scientists have taken it back and now say that eggs are good for you. An egg a day is fine and gives you vitamins A, D, E, K, the highest quality protein, and that miraculous stuff we all keep hearing about, Omega 3. Especially eggs from organic free-range chickens. The fact that these chickens eat little bugs and things off the ground outside make their eggs a ton more nutritious as well as extra tasty.

So, a couple of days ago on Easter Sunday, Nonie (pictured above)--also known as the adorable Winona Nelson(the same Winona Nelson that does all those kick-butt character designs for video games)--came here with her really sweet boyfriend, our son, Tony Palumbo, to join us for dinner and she suggested we dye some eggs with food coloring. Actually, she and Tony did all the egg coloring, Boris and I just watched. But it was so fun and from now on, I'm going to color eggs every week. I'll just make a bunch of them and have instant high-quality, high-protein snack food waiting for me in the refrigerator. What a great plan!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I've been going crazy for avocados lately. I'm not sure exactly why, except for the fact that they taste fantastic and are extremely good for you. Yes, they're high in fat, (but it is very good fat that keeps your body sane and balanced), so you wouldn't want to overdo it and put on unwanted pounds. But, I find that if I keep my entire diet clean and consisting of whole foods, having fats that come from things like avocados and nuts don't cause a weight gain problem. I think one reason is that when you're not having lots of junky refined foods, your body is way better at communicating with itself and with you, so you end up eating only what and when you need to and not eating when you're not really hungry or in need of nutrients. Thinking about how smart my body actually is (as long as I'm willing to listen to it!) just makes me so happy. It's lots smarter than I am, for sure!

Anyway, back to avocados. They are anti-inflammatory to your system, contain lots of good vitamin E, B vitamins, and magnesium, and even help balance out your hormones. I like them a little on the firmer side of ripe, about like a perfect pear. You'll have to experiment and decide for yourself how ripe you like them.

When thinking of avocado recipes, most people think of guacamole first, so I'll tell you how I make it. I keep it VERY simple so that I can taste the rich avocado taste above anything else:

Place peeled avocado pieces from 2 avocados in a bowl. Sprinkle the juice of 1/2 a lemon or 1 whole lime over it, and give a few shakes of garlic powder or garlic salt. Chop it up a little with a pastry blender (or two knives). Don't attempt to blend it to a puree, just mash it up a little and leave lots of chunks of the avocado. It's ready!

Another way to enjoy avocados is to cut up 1/4 to 1/2 an avocado per person in a serving bowl and combine with chopped chunks of pink grapefruit. This is a bright and amazing flavor combination.

And, my favorite salad (which I have almost every day for lunch) is:
1/4 avocado, cut into chunks,
a handful of washed and chopped dandelion greens,
3 raw asparagus spears, chopped,
a medium-sized raw carrot, sliced
Combine all these in a bowl and give it a dash of apple cider vinegar. Mix it up and go for it.