Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Practice what you (I mean, I) preach...

Do you remember our short series on vitamins? It wasn't that long ago...maybe a month. Well, this last week, I've noticed that in all of my classes, I am getting exhausted earlier than usual...and I am feeling like I can't lift my usual weight. Now, part of that could be that I've increased my number of classes each week....or, I could be ignoring my own advice. 

Does this look familiar?
When is the last time that I've consistently taken my vitamins, you ask? Yeah, about two months ago? What? What's wrong with me? It's either laziness or self-sabotage. I'm not even training for anything, but the least I could do for my body is the minimum that I know it requires to function optimally...i.e. eat my protein and veggies...and take those darn vitamins. 

Yes, it took Dr. Oz to yet again remind me why iron (and you can fill in the blank with your requirements) is so important to keeping me energized. A little calcium and magnesium would hurt those hard-worked muscles either, now that I'm thinking about it. Speaking of which, it's about bed time and I'm heading to the kitchen now to whip up some of our famous (well, within this house at least) cal-max detox tea. :) Why don't you join me?...It's too late to take iron tonight anyways.....dinner settled over an hour ago. :)

~ Samara

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are you cheating yourself?

As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I often use this line as motivation: “You’re only cheating yourself.” I usually then tell the short story about the personal background for this line: today, I’ll tell the story in more than just two sentences: 
I began swimming competitively at age 5 when I begged my mom to let me join my 3 sisters in the pool. Seventeen years later, I was finishing up my career as the team captain of the Army Swim Team. Throughout those 17 years, I had lots of different coaches (Army Brat), but I can pretty much guarantee they all used that line at least once: “You’re only cheating yourself”. Swim coaches, just like coaches of many other sports, give you a set and trust you to finish it completely while they are working with other teammates. Before we set off on a dreaded set of 100x50s (ok, that’s a rare training camp set, but it happens), coach would look us in the eyes and say, “Keep count, remember, you’re only cheating yourselves if you cut corners.” Well, to be honest, that never really meant anything to me at the time. I loved swimming and I loved competing, but I don’t like pain, so there was always a pain threshold that I just wouldn’t cross: if it started to get painful, I would slow down or maybe (don’t tell) not finish the last two 50s, I’m just saying.
It wasn’t until several years later, when I finally got mentally ready to lose weight and get fit, that I realized what the quote means. Now that I was no longer required to be at swim practice for 2 hours or conducting PT (physical training) for an hour each day, it was up to me to ensure that the time I put into working out is effective and efficient. Maybe this also has something to do with how time becomes more precious as we get older. Regardless, now that I’m actually doing squats and lunges so that I can have nice legs and butt, I really don’t want to cheat anymore. I have a goal and I’m going to put in the effort to reach that goal. 
So, I often tell my clients: “You came here, make it count” and of course, “Don’t cheat on this lunge, it’s your time, you’re only cheating yourself!” 
GI Joe giving it his all in the
Miami ING Marathon
I only wish I’d realized this during my swimming years...I often think I just might have been a better competitor! :)
When you head to the gym today, remind yourself that it’s your time, don’t waste it and don’t cheat yourself! Have a Fit day!
~ Samara

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Three White Stripes?

This is a funny (and all too reoccurring) story, tell me if you've heard it (or even better, lived it): You workout and shower before work. You're rushing around the bathroom to get ready so you can fly out the door. You have flashbacks of three white stripes of deodorant on your nice blouse from pulling it over your head. You look at your deodorant and say, "you can't outsmart me, I'll put you on AFTER I put my shirt on!" You put your shirt on and reach for your deodorant when you see your toothbrush. "Man, are my teeth fuzzy!" Grab it and brush away. Next is the  the makeup and , if you're lucky, your hair (yes, you know I'm talking to). Then, you grab your protein bar and run out the door. So, you know where this is going; but, if you're me, it's usually not until about noon that I realize I've forgotten it at all! GI JOE loves this (ok, he really doesn't, he just shakes his head in disappointment - because I really think he secretly LOVES those three white stripes! haha). Have any of you found yourselves in this situation? Well, unfortunately, other than stashing a spare deodorant with you at work, I still haven't solved how to remember to put it on....however...I did want to talk about antiperspirant today! :) So, here we are...
Yes, I'm a couponer...
no brand loyalties, but lots in stock!
Some of you have been with us the past week as we discuss fighting the growth of cancer cells in our bodies on a daily basis; if you just joined us here and here to catch up. You've probably heard before that aluminum in our antiperspirants is not exactly awesome for our bodies. I'm going to quote from Dr. Servan-Schreiber here on his hypothesis on this: "what most women do is they shave their armpits under the shower then they dry off, and when they're dry, they apply the antiperspirant. Now when they shave, they created little leaks in their skin which allows the aluminum to be picked up [by] the lymphatic system and brought to the breast gland where it might produce inflammation and perhaps contributes to the growth of an existing cancer. We don't think it can cause cancer, but it might contribute to the growth of an existing cancer. Now this is still a hypothesis and it is not proven." Well, even if it's not proven, it makes enough sense to at least give it a thought.

Well, if you're like me, you've tried to make the switch to regular ol' deodorant. But when you exercise a lot (read: SWEAT) like us, you just NEED antiperspirant to not become European (no offense meant, I just grew up in Germany, so am familiar with this particular scent ;). - Return from flashback. - Until they come up with an antiperspirant that does not require aluminum...we're kind of stuck. So, what precaution can we take? Our skin is porous by nature, so whatever we put onto it is going to seep through (have you thought of that regarding all of your skin care products? but that's a topic for another day). But, remember the BALANCE we talked about last week. Making a small change to offset, or cut back on, the impact, can make a difference. So, next time you shave your armpits, maybe think about waiting a few hours to put on the antiperspirant. Hey, at least now you'll (read I will) have an EXCUSE why you didn't put it on until noon. ;)

Note: a link between aluminum in antiperspirant and increased breast cancer has NOT been proven. There are some good research studies showing the other side of the argument on the National Cancer Institute site. However, believe what you will and remember, find BALANCE in everything you do in find your Healthy Edge on life!

~ Samara

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two ways to put up the fight against cancer in your body this week

If you joined us yesterday, you know we're talking about ways to put up a good fight against cancer. Now, that might not be on the forefront of your mind, especially if there hasn't been a history of cancer in your family - And That's Great! But we can all take these small steps to living a more healthy lifestyle and, hey, if we fend off cancer in the meantime, then why the heck are we not doing them???!

Note: I'm not going to get all sciency on you, so if you want the research and background click here.

We talk a lot about BALANCE here (and even when we're not on here - we try to live and, yes talk about, BALANCE). In everything we do, we try to find a good BALANCE between what is good for us and what we can maintain in our lifestyle. So, here are two things that you should be able to incorporate in your (busy?) life to promote both a healthy and cancer-free lifestyle:

Eat your Veggies and Herbs!
1. Eat more veggies! Yep! You knew that was coming right? Haha! There's no mystery here; veggies can stimulate the immune system and rid our bodies of carcinogens. What are some effective anticancer veggies? Cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, GARLIC (yes, GI JOE**, you read that right!), onions, and leeks! And if you pair these veggies with delicious herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint, or basil, you simply compound the goodness!

2. Here comes another shocker: EXERCISE! (did you see that one coming too?) Regular exercise helps to eliminate carcinogens from our bodies and strengthens our immune system at the same time! Does anyone NOT want those two side effects?

Exercise Regularly
Okay, so we're probably not telling you anything you didn't already know. But it's good to be reminded why we do the things we do (ie. get up at 5am to run 3 miles before work and take the time to steam up a nice pot of broccoli to go with our...hamburger...I mean salmon! 

But that brings me back to my point on BALANCE! I would never tell you to cut that greasy hamburger completely out of your life (well, because I will honestly never cut it out of mine). But, I would recommend that you think about how often you have that hamburger and fries (oh, did I not mention the fries before?) and offset it with some veggies to fight off the ill-effects that burger and fries caused (Take a gander at Too Much of a good thing for notes on why you want to offset that burger and fries).

Today, try to think about balance in everything that you do and see if it changes your perspective. Let us know!

~ Samara

**Note 2: I've decided to refer to ME (my better half) as GI JOE from now on. He likes that name for Words with Friends (and it gets him a LOT of lady opponents) and I figured it's all in all a better nickname. :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Too much of a good thing?

My new boss suggested a great read this week. It's a transcript of David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, giving a lecture here in Houston at MD Anderson, a medical center with the mission to "eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation, and the world." His lecture included interesting results in anti-cancer research and I'm going to share a few with you over the next few days. If you are interested, you can read the transcript for yourself for all the details and research footnotes. He has also written a book on this, Anti Cancer: A new way of life, that is now on my reading list.

The basis of his lecture is that there is research that proves that not only do genetics factor into the risk of cancer, but increasingly so does our diet and lifestyle! Go figure!
Omega Essential Fatty Acids are, well, essential to our bodies!

The most interesting fact that I took from his lecture is the imbalance we have in our diet of Omega-6 and Omega-3s. We hear these thrown around all the time: "Make sure you get your Omegas!" Ok, great, but why? Well, these are essential fatty acids that our body needs, but cannot manufacture on it's own, so we have to get them from food. These days, so many of us do; we eat salmon and eggs, we take fish oil, we may even add flax seed to our yogurt or smoothies. But, what we need to also be aware of is the imbalance of Omega-6s over Omega-3s? What? Too much Omega-6 could be harmful to us? Well, research shows that when the ratio is out of whack (i.e. too much 6), the risk of cancer increases!

Look for eggs and dairy high in Omega-3
So, guess where the ratio is out of whack? In meats and dairy from grain fed animals, in eggs from grain fed chickens, vegetable oils (such as corn and sunflower) and the ever-dreaded trans fats. So, if you still were looking for a reason to switch to grass-fed beef and Omega-3 eggs/milk, here you could decrease your risk of cancer.

Another great thing I took from his article is that he realizes that we’re humans and we have to find what works for us. We’re not perfect and we are probably not going to be able to eat eggs high in Omega-3’s every chance we get or make sure our salad dressing from the restaurant is made from Extra Virgin Olive Oil. However, we can do our best to choose the best possible whole foods as often as we can to make a difference.

Of course, there are many more things we can do. Think of it as a balance. Just like offsetting your carbon footprint, make it your goal to offset or bring balance to your diet when you can. Come back tomorrow to see how we can find balance!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Les Mills Lonestar Event

This is BodyPump!

This weekend, Kel and I attended the Les Mills Lonestar Quarterly in Arlington, TX. It happens a few times a year in different parts of the country, but I have a feeling everything is BIGGER in Texas! The event was a great opportunity for Les Mills instructors, such as Kel and myself, to experience Master Classes in all of the Les Mills formats. If you are unfamiliar with Les Mills, they are the parent company for various amazing group fitness classes, such as BodyAttack and BodyPump, that Kel and I teach. Four times a year they provide us with incredible new choreography and music for our classes! This conference offered us a chance to experience the new choreography live and in the midst of hundreds of others of instructors; it was incredible!
Can you imagine yourself in a room with a few hundred people doing squats at the same time, all to the same beat? It was intense and so very motivating. Almost motivating enough to make me forget how sore my muscles are and that my skin is slightly sore to the touch after two straight days of exercise! haha!
Ready for Pump
Not only am I excited to get started in learning the new BodyPump choreography, but I cannot stop talking about one of the newest Les Mills formats: Sh’Bam! It is a cardio dance class for EVERYONE! Trust me. If I can do can you! Sh’Bam is 45 minutes of a wide mix of dance to both current and old school music favorites. I wish I had video of my leaps because I’m still dreaming about how ‘freeing’ they were. It’s hard to explain, but I walked away from that full of happiness AND knowing that I burned a ton of calories!
After our great intro the Sh’Bam, Kel and I are hoping to learn a lot more about it in the near future! We’ll keep you posted.
Have you been re-energized by something new at the gym? Or anywhere else for that matter? 

~ Samara

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Always Be Prepared

“BE PREPARED!” Is that the motto of the Boy Scouts or Swiss Army Knife? Either way, it’s a good motto. It worked out well for me last night as I was in the right place at the right time... and just so happened that I was prepared.
If any of you are near a local lululemon athletica store, you may know that they are extremely involved in the community. They have a philosophy to share their passion for fitness with the local community through providing free events on a regular basis. My local store has been providing great yoga and boot camp sessions through the month of August. This past Sunday, I enjoyed sweating through the great yoga class provided by D.E.F.I.N.E. body & mind. It was a wonderful mix of movement in yoga to tone your body! Painful, but awesome! :)
So, last night, I planned to enjoy sweating (as I drooled over the apparel) through the boot camp they offered in-store. I arrived at 6 to see the group circled up and I was welcomed with a smile by Nick, lululemon Highland Village’s community outreach chief. He looked at me and said, “well, our bootcamp instructors are no shows.” Nick knows that I teach at the gym across the street, so I offered to put an impromptu class together for the 20+ guests who’d come for the sweat session! Thankfully, I was prepared! I had a boot camp class saved on my iPhone and so asked Nick to take the group on a warm up run, while I modified the class list to work without any equipment! When the group came back ~ nice and sweaty from the short run in the Texas heat ~ we got straight to work and kept the sweat on for 45 minutes!
It felt awesome to be at the right place at the right time, with the right tools! The best part was all of the thank you’s from the grateful guests once we finished the workout! It’s such a great feeling to help energize others to get their sweat on!
So, while I went for one thing, I ended up having the great opportunity to share my passion with others! What a blessing! Have you ever happened to be at the right place at the right time....with the right tools? It’s a great feeling! 
As per lululemon’s motto, go out and do one thing today that scares you!
~ Samara

Things I'm Thankful for Today:
~ Encouragement to step outside my comfort zone
~ Making new friends
~ Rain
~ Karma (good, that is...haha)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Odwalla Bars to fuel your workout?

“This scrumptious food bar contains Odwalla’s mission of tempting your taste buds and nourishing your body.” That's what the package I wanted to test out how it can nourish my body...
You do NOT want to bonk
45 minutes into teaching BodyPump!
Before we left Miami, we had the privilege of being stocked up on Odwalla bars by Amanda from RunToTheFinish! I have found them to be a great way to fuel me before I teach my BodyPump and Spinning classes. If you begin your day with a tough and sweaty workout then you know how important it is to eat something beforehand. If you are like me, you wake up quickly and rush out the door to your class and don’t actually have time to feel hungry yet before class starts. But I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t eat before class, about mid-way through, I’m starving at best, and even worse, and more likely, light-headed and drained of energy! None of these are good when you’re the one leading the class! :( 
Grabbing Odwalla before class
But now I use these Odwalla bars to give me just the right amount of energy to lead me through a full class and the ride home! They have many different flavors and each provides it’s own specific benefits. My current favorites are Choco-walla and Chocolate Peanut Butter. The Choco-walla provides me with Vitamins A, C & E, as well as almonds (full of healthy Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids) and the Chocolate Peanut Butter is packed with 12g of protein (yes please, for keeping muscles strong)! At about 200 calories each, they will provide just enough energy to fuel you through your endeavor. If the protein ratio is important to you, stick with the Protein bars as the others range between just 2g and 5g, but otherwise, test a few out and see how they can fuel your body too!

You’ve probably seen the Odwalla fruit juice bottles in the fridge at your local grocer. But head to the energy bar aisle and pick yourself up a bar to see how these can energize you too! You can also check them out on their website to learn more about how they make their products and what they offer:

~ Samara

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bragg Liquid Aminos

A few weeks ago, I posted a quick breakfast recipe that I finished off with Bragg Liquid Aminos. I wanted to share with you the benefits of these. I actually picked it up a few years ago as an alternative to soy sauce, but then learned of the additional benefits.  
Bragg Liquid Aminos is a liquid protein concentrate that is derived from soybeans and contains both essential and non-essential Amino Acids. So, why do we need amino acids? Well, I never really enjoyed chemistry, so I won’t even try to get deep into this, but the bottom line is our body needs amino acids to function, especially to synthesize proteins and as an energy source. They also build cells and repair tissue...sounds like just what we’re looking for when we are trying to build muscle, right?  Well, there are 8 essential amino acids that we cannot produce on our own and thus need to find them somewhere else...enter Bragg! Bragg Liquid Aminos ensures we are getting 16 Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids in natural occurring amounts. 
This is specially important for people who are dieting and may not be consuming enough calories or getting the essential amino acids from food choices. So, try out some Bragg Liquid Aminos and see how it affects the way you feel and think daily!
Head over to for free samples from the Bragg line and to learn more about all of their producs. 
Bragg Liquid Aminos comes in several different sized pour bottles or a spray bottle. The spray bottle is nice to finish off any meals, especially salads, with a little flavoring, and, as mentioned before, as substitute for soy sauce or salt. Good to know: it’s gluten free, kosher, and contains no added MSG. You can find it at natural food markets and sometimes in your grocery store. Let me know if you’ve tried it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Doing what you love and loving what you do

I was blessed earlier this year to lose my job. Yup, you heard me right, I said blessed. I worked as a government contractor, and, if you’ve ever tried that before, you never quite know if you’ll have a job the next year. For the second time in my life, my company ended up losing the rebid on the work we were doing and so one day I went to work thinking we would be there the next day and when 4:45 came around, I learned that we’d lost and I packed up my stuff and left the building, never to return! Ahh, memories!  Thankfully, with Kel and ME’s encouragement, I’d started expanding my repertoire in 2010. I earned my Personal Trainer cert, then my BodyPump and Spin certs. I then followed up with enough yoga training to get me started in teaching yoga. I immediately started teaching these fitness classes, working it around my 8-5 job (whenever did 9-5 go away, I wonder?). So, when I got laid off in the spring, I just took every single sub class that I was offered. Coincidentally, I had submitted a bid as an independent contractor, to provide services to the gym on the military base teaching Spin and yoga, as well as providing personal training. Conveniently, I won the contract and had two months before we moved to build the program and provide classes to the military service members, their families, and the civilians who support them. 
So, even though I’d lost my income, I was able to at least replace some of it with this increased work. Then, my boss from my contracting job, fought hard to be able to rehire me as a part-time consultant where I can work from home and support the company on projects from time to time. Oh my goodness! Who doesn’t want to be able to work from home? This position now gives me the flexibility to increase my foothold in the fitness industry...just what I wanted.
This brings me to where I am today: working from home when called upon and teaching classes at the gym when I can. I’m working hard to increase my class load and I’ve also looked into various avenues to get more experience in the fitness industry. If any of these pan out, I will let you know, but for now, I’m excited that I’m getting out there and trying new things...that I would have never thought of trying before!

~ Samara

Friday, August 12, 2011

Magazine Crazy (part 2)

As Kel has mentioned previously in Magazine Crazy (now part 1), we love magazines. I have a bad hoarding trait, that I know was transmitted into me as part of my genes from my father. He loves to read and there are always little piles of medical magazines, journals and books surrounding his side of the bed. So, I have to work hard to keep myself from creating these same piles in my home. 

A pile I still have to go through ~
Nope, I'm not perfect...yet! ;)
In part 1, Kel offered a great way to keep and organize magazine clips that you want so you can get rid of the stacks of magazines! Since then, I’ve found another solution that I am head over heels for: the Evernote App.  I downloaded it for my iPhone initially and then learned that I can also access anything I upload via my macbook through either logging into the webpage or downloading the App! I was super gungho about this App when I first learned of it and obsessively started going through my stacks of magazine clippings, taking photos, and uploading to Evernote. What I quickly learned, is that the free App only allows you to upload a certain amount of data per month. When ME saw my excitement for getting organized and the cleansing that this App was providing, he encouraged me to pay the annual fee ($5/mo or $45/yr) - he said it was worth keeping me sane - and probably his house PILE FREE! With the premium service, you can upload 1GB of data per month as well as more benefits. 

The features that I love the most are that I can upload photos and that I can tag files for easy searching later. 
A few of my notes in Evernote
I can take a snapshot of a full magazine page and then scroll around the page in the note to read every little article. I also use it to take pictures of my BodyPump choreography books so I can always have access to my chory for every release without having to lug all the books around! And being able to tag each article about leg exercises, for example, allows me to quickly search new exercises by body part, muscle, type of workout, etc! I’m sure that I’ve only scratched the surface of what this App can do, but I love it already!

I would recommending testing out the free version and seeing if that will work for you for awhile. If you like it, it might just be worth your while to upgrade!
~ Samara

Things I'm Thankful for Today:
~ New work projects I can do from home
~ Filling up the gas tank on my scooter for less than $5
~ New opportunities

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Healthy Breakfast in a (semi) Hurry

Ok, so, we all know breakfast in a HURRY can involve, well, to be honest, nothing - Bad Idea. Other, slightly better-for-us options could include:
  • protein shake
  • protein bar
  • smoothie
  • perhaps some whole lean protein, a piece of fruit, and a handful of nuts (nice quick option)
As I awoke this morning with just enough time to grab a Clif bar and run out the door to teach BodyPump, I left ME and Kel in the kitchen. Kel is always on the go and often eats breakfast at work, but ME was heading off to school and could have used a nice hearty, healthy breakfast! I felt guilty leaving him in the dust to fend for himself when, if I’d just gotten out of bed 10 minutes earlier, I could have given him a nice healthy send off - and Kelly too! (rewind the clock to 6 am when I heard my alarm go off and scrambled eggs with the lean turkey I already have browned sounded just SO HARD to put together!) 
When I returned from the gym, I whipped up an even faster breakfast so that next time I find myself lying in bed with this dilemma, I will choose to be a caring wife who chooses cooking breakfast for her husband over getting 6 more minutes of sleep! (now, don’t let me guilt you here, husbands are just as capable of cooking their own breakfasts, but sometimes, I like to pamper him...but to be fair, he often cooks me breakfast in bed. i.e. YESTERDAY! - now I feel even MORE guilt! ha!)
In about 5-6 minutes, here is what I threw together:
Eggs “Almost” Florentine
2 Eggs, fried over easy
2 Handfuls of raw baby spinach
2 oz. low sodium deli ham, sliced
Braggs Liquid Amino Acids
Cooking spray
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the spinach and stir occasionally until slightly wilted (If the spinach begins to stick to the pan, add some water or broth to the pan). Place wilted spinach on a plate and season lightly with the Liquid Amino Acids.  Spray the same skillet lightly with cooking spray. Add the ham and stir lightly, then push to the side to continue to heat through as you use the remainder of the pain to fry your eggs.
To plate: Add ham atop spinach, and place the eggs on top. Enjoy!

Yes, that's half-eaten! Don't judge!

Now, if you wanted some carbs for some nice energy, you could be cooking an easy pot of oatmeal at the same time as your Eggs! Again, I was too lazy for that today! ;)

~ Samara

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back to the Pavement...err..dirt!

Two things of note have occurred this week: ME and I signed up for our first triathlon in a few months and I ran for the first time since my last April!
Race selection first. ME has been itching to get back to, not so much. I’m not sure what’s been the deal, but I haven’t been the most excited about races recently. I think it’s a combination of having to compete in all of the races alone that ME and I had signed up for together last year when he deployed to Haiti for a few months. Then, we’d trained for the Miami ING marathon this January and two weeks before the race, I flared up with plantar fasciitis and was unable to race. Then, again, we signed up for the Nautica SoBE tri because ME wanted to and, yet again, the Army called and I got to compete by myself (although thankfully a great friend competed as well, so I wasn’t alone). So, I really do enjoy competing in triathlons and running races, but I was just burnt out a little bit. But, I’m feeling ready to get back on track and so ME and I signed up for the Houston Triathlon on 23 Sep. 
ME and I ready to go
With that decision, it’s now time to start focusing our training on swimming, biking, and running again! Yesterday, our friend Amanda at RunToTheFinish, posted a great note about how we all GET to run. So, when ME suited up for a run on the hottest (as of that time) day of the year to run out at Memorial Park, I took her motivation and threw on my skirt (why run in anything else?) and hopped on the back of the scooter and we explored Memorial Park. It only took us 30 minutes of running in the shade of wonderful trees and up unfamiliar hills (c’mon, we’ve been in Miami for 2 years!) to realize we were actually running on the mountain biking trail! But, we now know where all the runners are and we’ll hit them up next time we get the urge to venture out.
Trying to get motivated for the run.
Having not run, except the 10k in the tri, in about 8 months, I felt like a rookie, I couldn’t get my ipod to track my run, then couldn’t find a comfortable spot for my ipod to attach, and my headphones kept falling out and/or I was getting tangled in the cord! But, we managed to have a great run and enjoy the day and the scenery (and maybe even those nasty hills). I won’t say it felt great, but it felt decent and I won’t be so afraid of getting out there anymore for fear of the PF flaring up again.

What motivates you to get out and exercise or train? Is anything currently holding you back?

Beat the Heat and get out there and exercise...and don't forget to rehydrate!

~ Samara
Things I’m Thankful for Today:
~ Exercise for the fun of it
~ Crafty solutions for the satellite dish
~ New ideas to save $$
~ Multi-national style dinners that actually come together

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

D-Lightful Vitamin D

Yesterday, I’d mentioned how my Dad, Dr. B, has been a great example of supporting a healthy diet with vitamins and supplements. One that he has been consistently encouraging me to take is vitamin D. Being a psychiatrist and practicing in the sometimes grey state of Washington, he personally sees the difference that supplementing your diet with vitamin D can offer. 
You most likely know from all of those milk commercials that D will build strong bones and teeth! But, ensuring you have enough D in your diet can also support your immune system and breast health, colon and pancreas health. And, as Dr. B touts, check out this article on how vitamin D can also be a contributing factor to reduce the risk of depression and increase quality of life.
We always would prefer to get our vitamin D from natural food sources, such as eggs and fish. My second favorite way is SUN! But sometimes you’re busy and can’t even get that daily 20 mins in; and maybe fish and eggs or milk aren’t on your menu today. So a great way to ensure you do get enough is to add it to your supplement list. 
These are a few options we have in our pantry currently.
Of course, consult your physician before you add anything to your diet, as well as to determine what the appropriate level of vitamin D is for your specific needs.
~ Samara
Things I’m Thankful for Today:
~ Finding the desire to race and train again
~ Indirect motivation from your friends
~ More students in my morning BodyPump classes
~ Getting rewarded for procrastination, yet again! ;P

Monday, August 1, 2011

What do you have for dessert?

Just half of our supplement supply

So, I got your attention with tasty dessert. :) But that’s not what we chase our meals with (normally, that is...we do on refeed days!). Regularly, we chase our meals with vitamins and supplements. 
My Dad has always served as a good example of taking vitamins and staying current with the latest research on what our bodies need. My Mom would confirm that I’m not always the fastest learner, especially as she saw the box full of supplement bottles that they’d sent me while at West Point, come straight back home with me upon graduation. I’ve come a long way since then. I’m not perfect, I don’t always remember to take what I mean to, however, I try hard to take them as often as possible. The next few days, we’ll be discussing a few of the vitamins and supplements that we take and why we do.
Today’s is my current favorite: probiotics. I was slow to join the bandwagon on probiotics because I’ve always been, well, to be blunt, pretty regular. But, when you cleaned up your eating habits, you might have noticed that you could get a little backed up. Probiotics have been essential to getting me back to regular. ;) You’ve probably seen all the commercials about them, but if you’re like me, you weren’t really paying attention.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, sometimes good bacteria, that can help to regulate the digestive system. We take them regularly with every meal to assist with this. 
Here is what is stated on the bottle we’re using currently: “Acidophilus supports a favorable environment of nutrients, encouraging intestinal microflora balance, and promotes the healthy functioning of the intestinal and digestive systems.” You can encourage my microflora balance any day! You can find probiotics naturally occurring in some foods, you probably all know it’s in yogurt, thanks to Jamie Lee Curtis.

There are claims that probiotics have many benefits, so it is important to research them for yourself before you add them to your diet. And, as with anything you’d put in your body, take a look at the possible side effects and it’s always recommended that you consult your personal physician before changing your diet or supplements.
With that said, let us know how you take your probiotics; pill, yogurt, kefir, anything else?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Am I really hungry?

We talk a lot on here about healthy eating, but to be honest we didn’t always eat like this. When I was in college, I seemed to learn that I needed to eat everything put in front of me, because, when you’re in the Army, you never know when your next meal might be. It took me 9 years to re-learn that I didn’t really need to live like that anymore. When I got out of the Army, I took a look at myself and realized I needed to do some work to lose some weight and reshape myself and my life. With Kelly’s help as my Personal Trainer,  and my refocus on how to nourish my body and how to look at food, I was able to transform both my body and my life. I learned to be selective in what I eat and that I can gain just as much pleasure from eating smaller amounts of quality food than I thought I’d used to get from eating large quantities of anything around.
This came to mind this week, while we’re on vacation and visiting family. While traveling, we stopped at Texas Roadhouse for dinner. If you’ve been there, you know they bring out a large basket of hot, fresh rolls with delicious cinnamon butter out to your table when you are seated. We allowed ourselves to share a roll with our salads. Then our steaks and mixed vegetables arrived and we thoroughly enjoyed that. As we were winding down, I looked over at the plump rolls, piled up so innocently in that basket next to my plate. I really wanted to take one more roll, slather it in butter and have it to chase my steak. But I took a moment and looked at my plate, where there were a few more bites of tenderloin and about four more florets of broccoli and cauliflower. I asked myself, “Am I really hungry? If I am really still hungry, then I can have some more vegetables instead of bread” But, I really wasn’t hungry, I just wanted the feeling of that tasty bread and butter. After realizing this, I was able to find the discipline to not take the other roll.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation? Have you been able to find the will power to overcome your desires for more food even though you have eaten enough already? Have you thought about asking the server not to bring the bread to the table? Or to leave the rice off your order? 
For me, it took some time, more than a year, to be able to find the discipline to have snacks in the house without the need to eat them immediately. But, this is something that I work through daily; somedays I win the battle, somedays I don’t, but what’s important is that the next day I keep working towards my goals.

Eat something nutritious and healthy today! I'll join you in that!


Friday, July 8, 2011

More and more reasons to cook your own fresh food

I know I've been harping about this recently but 1. it's important 2. when I'm dieting for a competition I become quite the food elitist:)  3. an article I read this morning was so disturbing I can't wait to share it with you.   The article is called "Top 10 Scariest Food Additives" by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding from Men's Health online. They cite "Eat this, Not that" in their article.  Anyways, I'm going to paste a few of the "scariest food additives" right here and add a few personal thoughts!

Ingredient #2: Caramel Coloring
An artificial pigment created by heating sugars. Frequently, this process includes ammonia.

Why it’s scary: Caramel coloring shows up in everything from soft drinks and sauces to breads and pastries. When made from straight sugar, it's relatively benign. But when produced with ammonia it puts off 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to cancer in mice. The risk is strong enough that the California government, a bellwether for better food regulation, categorized 4-methylimidazole as “known to cause cancer” earlier this year. Unfortunately, companies aren't required to disclose whether their coloring is made with ammonia, so you'd be wise to avoid it as much as you can.

Where you'll find it: Colas and other soft drinks, La Choy soy sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix

What?? I always thought caramel coloring was harmless, I thought is was just sugar.  Man, I see this in everything!  Yet another reason to cut out the diet soda's! Here's another one:

Scary Ingredient #5: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives.

Why they're scary: The Department of Health and Human Services says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," yet the FDA allows it to be used anyway. BHT is considered less dangerous, but in animal research, it too has resulted in cancer. Oddly, the chemicals aren’t even always necessary; in most cases they can be replaced with vitamin E.

Where you'll find it: Goya lard, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Orbit gum

I was chewing a piece of Orbit Gum as I read this article.  Needless to say, after I finished choking on it, I spit it out...This next one is for the bagel monster, yeah, you know who you are, wink wink:

Scary Ingredient #8: Azodicarbonamide
A synthetic yellow-orange dough conditioner

Why it's scary: This chemical is used most frequently in the production of industrial foam plastic, and although the FDA has approved its use for food in the States, the United Kingdom has labeled it a potential cause of asthma. In a review of 47 studies on azodicarbonamide, the World Health Organization concluded that it probably does trigger asthmatic symptoms. The WHO concluded, “exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.” I’ll put it more concisely: Avoid it.

Where you'll find it: Dunkin’ Donuts bagels, McDonald’s burger buns
I'll save the rest for another get the point though.  When you buys stuff at the store, you are getting way more then you're barginning for! I can't stress it enough, when you go shopping, look at the ingrediants and don't purchase it if you don't know what an item is.  Also, be VERY weary of eating processed foods from fast food places, who knows what's in there and you can't easily see the ingrediant list! Have a great weekend and do something Healthy!! -Kelly

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Workout High

As Kelly mentioned yesterday, it’s been a long two weeks for ME and I. We packed up all last week and trekked across half the country to come back to Texas for the next few years! Yay! We are so excited to return to Texas, however, what a stressful and tiring two weeks we’ve had...and we still have! We’re still unpacking and getting settled and reorganized. I also started back up with working part time as well as starting BodyPump classes at a new gym last night. Whew! Needless to say, ME and I have been getting increasingly stressed, especially trying to keep track of the millions of keys we have, losing track of things as we’re moving things to and fro through the condo and cars and storage unit. We’ve been so exhausted from all of the moving (heavy lifting!!!) and boat cleaning (sore shoulders from scrubbing) that our daily workouts have fallen by the wayside. We thought, “No need to workout, we’re getting our workouts from all of this non-stop activity.”

 Last night, I finally returned to the gym to team teach BodyPump with my boss, at my new gym, Quality Life Fitness. I was exhausted before even arriving at the gym and was  concerned that I’d be too tired to give my all as an instructor. But, once the music started, I got Pumped up (pun intended) and even lifted heavier weights than planned (even though my legs were already sore from that heavy lifting I mentioned earlier!)
When I left the gym, I felt mind was clear, I felt energized and relaxed, and relaxed and happy! I got home to find ME had just returned from the gym as well. I told him that Pump was just what I needed to relieve some stress and he quickly agreed! So, why is this?
...Endorphins! We finally got those hormones streaming through our body to give us the little pick-me-up that we’d been missing over the last weeks! Awesome! We’re pretty happy people in general, but even happy people can get down in the dumps when you’re continually tired and stressed! That’s when it’s even more important to get out and exercise to kick start those endorphins and get us back on track!
How do you combat stress? What is your go-to workout to get your endorphins fired up to get your mind and energy back to a healthy place?
Things I’m thankful for:
~A BFF who shares her home with us
~Team Teaching
~Motivated class full of BodyPumpers

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How do you stay on track in the Kitchen?

                                What’s in your Fridge?  

We all have techniques for keeping junk food out of our bodies, what’s your technique?  I personally have to keep junk out of my house.  I normally only keep exactly what’s on my eating plan for the next couple of days in my fridge, because I know, when it’s pre contest time and I’m working out so much, I turn into an eating machine and I’ll eat anything that crosses my path! Ha, not really but, it’s just better, for me, to keep temptations out of the house.

However, that all changed this weekend.  Samara and her husband have come to stay with me for a few months between Army assignments, so we spent all weekend unloading boxes and getting them settled.  But it seemed that the more boxes we unloaded, the more grocery bags Samara unloaded!  Samara’s technique for keeping junk food out of her and her hubby’s body is to STOCK the fridge full of fresh, organic yummy food, that way they’ll never have an excuse to get hungry and eat something they’ll regret later.  I just had to take a picture of the fridge because I’ve never seen MY fridge so full of food!  It makes me smile!  I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot! 

So, while my technique of keeping only the bare essentials in the house is effective, their technique of making sure there is plenty of good stuff is also working out well (plus Sam has been cooking for me, yum yum!) 

Yet a third technique (one that DOES NOT work for ME) is JB’s way.  JB accepts treats, baked goods, left over pizza, etc, but he freezes it all until a “cheat day” or “refeed” day.  It works well for him bc he’ll never defrost something he’s not supposed too. I, on the other hand find it way too easy to defrost that piece of pound cake in the freezer, microwaves are magical!

So, how do you all stock your fridge/pantry?  Can you keep a good balance of treats and clean foods or do you end up going to extremes like me?  Please leave me some comments, I’d love to hear how you manage your sundries and produce.  

P.S. yes that’s cool whip, we had fresh strawberries over the weekend, come on, a girl needs a treat every now and then!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Procrastination - can you get away with it?

                          You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin
My friend Amanda over at honored me by asking me to do a guest blog about why I love competing in fitness shows......2 weeks ago!  I'm sure I'll put it off a few more days.  Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about writing a post for her awesome blog and I'm always excited to write about fitness......sigh.  So why have I been procrastinating?? My official excuse (which actually holds a lot of truth) is that it's tough to put all the reasons why I LOVE competing in Fitness, Figure, Bodybuilding type competitions in one short post, I could talk all day about the plethora of reasons I get up on that stage...but more on that later.  The fact is, I have plenty of idea's for the post, I can knock it out in about 45 minutes if I put my mind too it and use spell check:)  But the real reason is, I'm just a professional procrastinator! It's my MO!
       Procrastination works well for me.  I wait till the last minute and then I'm under the gun so I work quickly and efficiently.  However, there are some area's in my life where procrastination does NOT work, and believe me, I've tried my procrastination techniques everywhere!  I have found that saving money and getting in shape are the main two places I just can't procrastinate.  Here are a few examples:

When I was in the army, I knew 6 MONTHS ahead of time when a physical fitness test was coming up (2 min push up, 2 min sit up, 2 mile run)  did I start training ahead of time?  did I work on my 2 mile time with sprint workouts?? HA! No, I would wait until THE WEEK BEFORE and decide to try to do 500 sit ups a day to catch up on all the training I had skipped out on.....and go figure, it never worked. 

I have waited until the last minute to diet/train for fitness shows. Why? I don't know, I certainly knew I had a show coming up! They post the dates about a year out and you have to register far in advance. So why (on more then one occasion) have I found myself on the treadmill for 3 hours a day the week before a show trying to make up for all my procrastinating?  FYI, this is NOT the way to get the best results in ANY type of competition!

The bottom line is, getting in shape, losing weight, gaining muscle, flexibility, strength and overall strength all take time. A Long time!  So please don't put your health off one more day!  Don't wait till tomorrow to start that new diet plan, walking regime, weight plan, marathon prep, etc.  Procrastination and health don't work, take it from someone who tried a few times to mix the two!  I'd love to hear your stories about procrastination and how it worked out! Leave me some comments!  -Kelly