Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stace: "Do You Zumba?"

Zumba is one of the newest's fitness crazes to hit the scene, and folks, I thinks it's here to stay :)

Zumba is a dance-based, fitness class done to international rhythms (including salsa, merengue, reggaeton, soca, cumbia, and some hip hop). Ideally, class should be easy to follow, and the instructor should offer modifications (to make certain steps more difficult or easier) to suit your fitness level.

Each class has something different to offer, so it's important that you shop around for a teacher who has the type of energy and teaching style best suited for you. Find a good class, and working out should feel like a mini- party, every time ;)

Try a class somewhere, and let me know if you loved it!

If you're in the Westchester County (New York) area, shoot an email my way for information on the class I teach!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stace: "Take Care of Your Body, and it Will Take Care of You."

Oftentimes, I hear people complain that they "just don't have the time anymore," and that's understandable, to a certain extent. Between working a full-time job, cooking dinner, caring for children, working overtime, not getting enough sleep, etc., who has TIME to workout these days?! Who has time to sit down and eat a meal?

Here are some helpful tips to get you back on track, no matter what your schedule looks like:

1- Make YOU a priority.
It's difficult to put yourself first. Usually you can start thinking about yourself only after your kids are cared for, dogs are fed, tasks are completed, dinner is on the table, chores are checked off, etc. but in order to be a good mother, daughter, father, son, brother, sister, worker, friend, husband, wife, it's important to feel good about yourself. If you're working at your prime, you are able to give more to the people and things that are important in your life. Putting your health at the top of your "to do" list is so very important and beneficial, and believe it or not, adds to your productivity.

2- Find time.
"Stacy, you don't understand..."
Believe you me, I do. I have a full-time job that requires me to be in the city by 7am. I don't get home until after 5. After work, I have so many other projects in the works and teaching my dance/fitness classes, that I hardly feel like I have a second to myself. Amongst all the madness, I find myself CRAVING a workout (those endorphins are something, let me tell ya). Usually I go for one that requires lots of physical motion with minimal thinking lol (enter running and yoga, how I love thee). The trick is to find the workout regimen and time that works for you. Ask yourself:
a. Are you a morning person (ahem, no), a night owl, or more of an "after work" exerciser?
b. What days do you have some free time- on the weekends? Mondays and Thursdays? Designate certain days that you will devote to your physical fitness.
c. What kinds of exercise do you enjoy? Weight training, running, pilates, spinning? Write down the things you enjoy and designate the days you will perfrom these activities.

3- Be realistic with your time.
Every little bit counts. If you want to devote 5 days a week to working out, but realistically only have 3 available days, then make the best out of those days. You don't need to be in the gym 6x a week, twice a day, for 2 hours a pop, to see results. If anything, that's detrimental to your health (overtraining), a topic I will write about very soon!

4- Every decision counts.
For once, I'm going to say "don't look at the bigger picture." Instead, look at each decision for what it is. Each time you choose a healthy meal, each time you give your body adequate rest, each time you work out, you are making a positive decision that benefits your overall health. Each small step leads to may-jah progress ;)

5- Just DO IT.
Stop mulling over all the reasons and excuses as to why you can't do something, and use that time to figure out how you can get it done. Most importantly, GET IT DONE! Have an hour to spare? Go for a light jog, do a quick weight training workout, stretch, prepare a healthy meal, read up on new exercise methods, research different recipes and food options. The information is available to you, utilize it!

I'll add more later- gotta get back to work! Hope everyone is having a great Tuesday =)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kate: "(Unrealistic) Rules are made to be broken"

People look at me as though I have three heads when I say I have enjoyed every part of this process, from losing weight, to going to the gym to eating differently. There is often a negative connotation associated with transforming one’s eating habits/lifestyle. (Ok, who am I kidding, there is a negative connotation with transforming one’s eating habits/lifestyle). I never wanted to add pressure to what I was doing; it took me a long time to even admit that I was trying to harness my patterns and make sense of them. Trying to lasso an understanding as to why I was living a certain way was incredibly difficult and I feared that by doing so, I would commit myself to something for which I wasn’t ready.
I adopted a set of rules that I was certain I would abide by, all stemming from the same doubt of whether or not I could really do this. After the initial shock that I was in this to really become healthy, (shocker, I know), I vowed to myself that this would be a slow and steady progression that would not entail me succumbing to pressure from which an easy recovery would be scarce. I refused to invest in a scale, a decision that while at the time seemed another way I wouldn’t conform to the pressures of dieting, was an unwise one, one I wholly regret (as I still do not know my starting weight). I eventually overcame this as well, knowing it was a responsible action to have an accurate idea of where I was weight-wise.
The first couple of weeks were hard; between trying to incorporate healthier food items into my diet and holding my breath as I drove past McDonald’s, I decided to eradicate all that was once familiar and good to me and go totally cold turkey in terms of food. While limiting procrastination by jumping headfirst into an endeavor is sometimes a good idea, this was perhaps a foolish concept for I found not wanting certain foods was harder as opposed to steadily weaning myself off them. However, with this health expedition, I learned a slew of informative facts, one of them being, simply put, deprivation = death. Every now and again, if I’m in line at the grocery store and I have a craving for Twix, that chocolate bar is on that conveyor belt; if Carvel hasn’t seen me in a while (and by this, I mean a month or two), I’m in there like swimwear. I realized that it wasn’t about saying no, it was about when to say no.
One habit that I (almost subconsciously) formed was limiting my meals during the day. This only lasted for a short time however and soon I was eating three full meals (healthy portion control) with hale and hearty snacks during the afternoon. To replace physically reducing my food intake, I mentally kept track of everything I had eaten that day and sighed a huge sigh of relief when I knew that I had conquered yet another day of healthy eating! I found myself honestly looking forward to planning my day around healthy eating patterns.
I have maintained some of my rules; I have discarded others. I still assert that this has been and will continue to be a steady and slow progression. Affirming this fact enables me to not feel pressured but yet to realize that instant gratification is perhaps the most dangerous impediment in the struggle to stay fit (in all aspects of the word). I now have grown more comfortable with weighing myself, yet I have not given in to the common societal standards that dictate how young girls/women should look. I spend the extra 1.50 for a Twix bar knowing that this will be my last one for a while; relying on the just as good Green and Black’s bar sitting lonesome in my fridge.
I remember saying to myself, “Kate, if you’re going to do this, you’re going to do this the right way.” God knows, I haven’t yet died from trying.

Kate: "I’d like that savory not sweet please…"

I’ve never been a person with an extraordinary sweet tooth; the infamous sweet treats such as cookies and candy never really struck my fancy. However, picking was the name of the game for me. If I had entered a contest with the goal being how many appetizers can you eat before your main course, I would come out number one every time! As I started to construct a healthier living and eating pattern for myself, I realized that snacking was doing me no favors and that if I planned my eating habits more carefully, I was destined to forge a healthy relationship with my body* as well as maintain a favorite past time.
I was responsible for working the afternoon and evening shifts; this being a deadly combination when trying to figure out an eating schedule conducive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. My eating habits for the first year while employed, could possibly be considered abhorrent by many. I would ingest a late breakfast, usually consisting of a full-size bagel (sometimes two) with cream cheese and orange juice (totally the processed kind). I would then eat lunch an hour later, typically ordering out with chips on the side. After theses two huge meals, I was still not satisfied, however suffered through an eight hour shift forcing myself to wait until I arrived home to cook dinner; this was a catastrophic mistake! I was so ravenous by the time I got home that while dinner was cooking, I was snacking (and those items that I was putting into my mouth were far from health-conscious).
In addition to my many odd (yet lovable) idiosyncrasies, I am a creature of planning. I thrive on structure and organization; so when I utilized my talent and discovered there was a way to snack during the day without ruining everything I was working toward, I was elated!
During this whole journey, I have managed to add each step along the way, creating a very natural, calm and effective process. I now eat a wholesome breakfast in the morning, granola, oatmeal with a piece of fruit (very rarely eat bagels anymore, however if I am craving one, it will be a mini whole wheat with fruit or Dannon Light and Fit yogurt to supplement my carb intake). Lunch is perhaps less exciting,; (that’s ok, considering breakfast is my favorite meal anyway), tuna, pb&j/almond butter (natural pb from skippy, almond from maranatha), or Amy’s soups. I definitely love my salads and try to incorporate those into my diet as much as possible for either dinner or lunch. Snacking is still my weakness but I have found that with this new approach to what I put into my body, I am not as frequently hungry as I used to be and the urge to “pick” whether it be tootsie rolls (one candy that always makes my heart melt), or chips and dip is no longer as strong. I substitute these tempting food items with other articles that have become part of my life (and heart). I will have a yogurt and/or a banana during the late afternoon to satiate my hunger. I will drink loads of water (I told my coworker I should work from the bathroom) to fill me up and more importantly stay hydrated.
I will always love nibbling on tasty things, but I have developed a deeper understanding for what my body can feel like and the increased energy I have due to better snacking habits!

*I will try to refrain from using the term “losing weight,” because a healthy lifestyle is more about physical appearance. It is about the emotions and mental aspects of aspiring to develop and cement a responsible relationship with food as well as understanding and appreciating what you can do for your body and vice versa.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stace: "The Diet Religion...."

........where the almighty lean body is worshipped, fat is banished to the depths of hell, exercise is holy time, carbs are demons, and protein is an angel sent from Heaven. Amen.

The 10 Commandments:
1. Thou shall not eat after 7pm.
2. Thou shall stay away from carbs.
3. Thou shall count every fat gram consumed.
4. Thou shall not eat brownies/cookies/cake.
5. Thou shall feel extremely after consuming the above mentioned food items.
6. Thou shall exercise until you drop.
7. Thou shall step on a scale daily.
8. Thou shall covet the body of every lean person who walks by.
9. Thou shall buy every fitness product on the market.
10. Thou shall start your diet, for real this time, tomorrow.

Sound crazy? I guess when it's worded in this way it does, but think about it for a second: have you ever been on a diet, followed one (or all) of the "Commandments" above, but just couldn't stay on the bandwagon or keep the weight off? Welcome to the world of dieting. It sucks.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of leading a healthy lifestyle, but not so much of the fad diets that consist of deprivation and eventually lead to failure. I never quite knew how to express my views about dieting in words, but knew I never liked how I felt on them.

I recently read a book entitled "Intuitive Eating" by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. This book was incredibly enlightening, as it explains human phsycology as it relates to dieting, how our biological make-up prevents us from "successfully" carrying out restrictive diets, and finally, how to become an Intuitive Eater who learns how to seperate emotions from food, and make food choices based on biological hunger cues. I highly suggest this book to anyone who is on a diet, considering a diet, has an unhealthy relationship with food, or someone who just wants to learn more about human biology as it relates to dieting. If you read it, please let me know what you think!!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stacy: "Snacking"

Here's and "oldie but goodie" post from a blog I used to keep. I still feel like the information is relevent, and wanted to share it here:

Let's talk about something that many of us struggle with on a daily basis... Snacking!If you're anything like me, you may eat directly out of the cereal box instead of pouring it into a bowl, like the normal folks do. Or maybe you lick the spoon after making brownies (and the bowl?) Or maybe you take a small portion of food, eat it, and go back for seconds and thirds because the portion didn't fill you, but you end up overeating because you just had to go back for more. Welcome to my life :) We all have things we struggle with, but it's what we do after we realize what the problem in that matter. I'm vowing to be more mindful of my eating habits. I know breaking these habits isn't going to an easy task, so I need to find a way to hold myself accountable as I make the transition. Enter one of my many lists (they help me organize the ideas floating around in my head!):

1. Portion out meals before you eat them, as opposed to "picking" on things.
While you may feel as though you haven't eaten much since you merely "picked" on several dishes, you may have eaten a heck of a lot more than you think! Placing a healthy serving on a plate will eliminate the desire to keep eating. If you are still hungry after 20 minutes, feel free to grab a little more.

2. Don't eat out of the cereal box!
Or the potato chip bag... or the cookie jar... or the container holding those healthy vegan treats you baked... Whether the food you are consuming is considered "health food" or not, you still should not be consuming large quantities of anything. Measure out the amount of chips/cookies/cereal you intend on eating, and place it on a seperate plate. This way, you can still enjoy it without "over-enjoying" it, if you know what I mean ;) The culprit in my life is definitely Peanut Butter Puffins = love.

3. All the little bites, and tastes you take of food throughout the day count! You may be consuming more than you think your are.

4. There will be leftovers, and if there aren't, you can make more.
Sometimes, something is so delicious, that we can't help but want more. This is okay occasionally, but you don't need to eat tons in just one sitting! Save some for tomorrow. You're waistline may thank you for it!

5. Eat slower.
Enjoy your eating experience. Chew your food, recognize the different tastes and textures. The slower you eat, the more time you allow your body to realize it's full (which takes roughly around 20 minutes)!

6. Don't eat in front of the tv or computer.
When you're mind is on something else, you don't realize how much food you're consuming. Make it a point to sit down and enjoy your food. After all, you deserve it.

7. Eat sweets!
Did I just say that?! You should consume these in moderation, but when you do consume them, enjoy them! Don't eat a mediocre piece of chocolate cake...that's a waste of empty calories. You better get yourself the nummiest chocolate cake made, and savor it! Once you take all those diet restrictions off of yourself, and those "forbidden" foods are no longer banned from your diet, they lose their allure.

8. Say no to the bread and chips.
Of course, I'm referring to the bread and chips placed in front of you at restaurants. You will tend to overeat if something is placed in front of your face. These are food items that are easy to come by, so there's no need to eat them everytime you come across them. Just politely tell your waiter/waitress "no thanks," and enjoy your lunch instead :)

Hopefully these tips helped you!

Any questions?


Up next? "Why Diets Suck" ;)

Stacy: "Good (Green) Eats!"

Find yourself in times square, and looking for some healthy eats? Look no further than Green Symphony. Even the name sounds heavenly. It's very cozy (read "small") but gives you that "homey/there's no way I could be in the city right now" calm feeling. This gem nestled on West 43rd between 7th and 8th, packs a powerful punch. I have yet to taste something there that I didn't like. My faves are their organic brown rice, coated in vegetable curry, with a side of watercrest salad. It is everything I could ever wish for in a lunch :) Aside from that, they have a wide range of juices, vegan baked goods, healthy snacks, and the hot bar of all hot bars (hello grilled salmon, have we met?) Check it out, and let me know what you think!