Group Ex Woes: Bullying the Newbie

In all my years of endorphin filled exercise, I never realized how much of a utopic cloud I was living in.

That was until…I changed gyms.

Being an avid group ex-er, I grew accustomed to seeing the same faces and having the same conversations repeatedly. It became like brushing my teeth…except way more sweaty fun and less sudsy.

Leaving my bubble and changing gyms wasn’t my choice. Moving was. I didn’t give the new gym atmosphere much thought until I took my first group exercise class.

Upon entering the room, I wasn’t greeted with the familiar faces I had always known (obviously). Instead I was greeted with what appeared to be Mean Girls: When Moms Take Over.

It wasn’t the way they were standing or that first “Hi, I’m new…and awkward, what’s your name?” engagement that immediately sent me into a negative headspin. It was actually the verbal bashing I received when approaching the contact kickboxing bags.

seoimages-280x280-century-xxl-wavemaster

Evidently, this band of bullying moms keep a very tight knit circle. They also claim their bags even though they all appear like every other manufactured bag known to man. Oh, I’m sorry that I didn’t notice rudely disrespectful was your name and it was printed on this exact bag.

The story is actually one that bears striking rememblance to children and their toys. They become terrirtorial and the moral of the story is they learn to share…even their most favorite toys…or public use kickboxing bags in this case.

The moms acted no different than a bunch of minors congregating around lockers chatting about the new girl who just moved here from a town that they can’t even pronounce.

I felt threatened and completely humiliated over something so minuscule. I know Mrs. Roosevelt always tells us that no one can make us feel inferior without our consent, but I’m sorry a bunch of jab happy moms were enough for me to surrender.

meangirls11

When the class finally began I felt like I was in a huge competition. I had taken kickboxing classes before but this one was different…I had to prove myself to these…bags.

I saw eyes on me the entire time. Yes, ladies, just because I’m new doesn’t mean I’m new to exercise. I didn’t let them know I was rattled. I also didn’t make eye contact or utter a word to them. I was trying to be as Switzerland as possible.

I still continue to go to this class because I truly enjoy the class and instructor. The moms are still mean.

I have noticed a group exercise bullying cult. Most of the people who take these classes usually love the instructor or the type of exercise or both. That’s why I go personally.

I am noticing a trend of people ganging up on newbies either by shunning them or verbally assaulting them in some way. Imagine if this were me like 5 years ago? I would have walked out crying.

I think it’s super important to maintain your ground when encountering people of this negative nature. And to think…these women were MOMS! What exactly are you setting your kids up for?

I usually don’t rant but I had to get this out because I’m not the only victim in these kinds of situations. No one has any right to bully you no matter what situation it may fall under.

Bullying isn’t just something that happens on the playground…it’s a very real problem that traverses many different age groups.

Have you ever been a victim of the group ex bully or band of bullies? I hope you never were the one doing the bullying!

Peace, love and no more bullying!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beat the Bulk: Add more cardio

There’s a new age wave of grunts and ferocious weight slams in the gym. They aren’t emanating from your typical sweaty, muscular guy. These sounds of hard and desired results are coming from a group of women (growing exponentially as we speak) who have also realized that they can have muscles too.

muscles

Many women are leaving behind decades old information from fitness professionals stating that cardio/aerobics is key and weight lifting creates a more masculine figure in exchange for more weights on their plates.

Every time I walk into the gym it fills my heart with joy that women are gradually abandoning the hour long, resultless workouts on the treadmill and opting to play with the big boys in the weights area.

If you know and follow me, my general style is weights, weights, weights and cardio thrown in 4 days per week. I’ll be honest…I’m NOT a cardio queen. I’m a lifting lover. Always have been, always will be.

free-weights

Over the past three months, I have attempted to up my weight lifting game in preparation for summer and a possible bikini competition. I researched what others who are in my same boat do to achieve that lean, sleek and toned feminine physique. I adapted my routines to include a little bit of everything, but mainly focusing on MORE weights than cardio.

My end results have been anything but lean. My diet for the most part is generally on point, however my thighs and upper body are looking quite hulky. I didn’t realize how much weight it looks like I’ve gained until friends, co-workers and gym members began to bluntly remind me of the elephant in the mirror (a.k.a. ME).

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.34.35 PM

Four months earlier

 

I’ve stayed the same weight plus about three pounds since January. For my petite frame, that might as well be like me wearing a fat suit. Most of this weight is the result of too many weights and not enough cardio.

Every winter I tend to fall more towards weights and less towards cardio. Winter puts me into a deep hibernation so any movement for me is considered an accomplishment. Weight training is much more convenient and less challenging to me than any kind of cardio.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.34.02 PM

the bulky hulky thighs

Mind you, I still grin and bear the cardio part during the winter. These last few months for instance my workout weeks have consisted of: 3 days HIIT or treadmill interval runs. However I have come to the conclusion that these workouts were not pushing my limits.

I highly advise anyone who is considering following the advice of so many talking heads and fitness fanatics to balance out your cardio and weights. What tends to work for me are 4 days of running or HIIT and two MAX three days of weight training. On those two or three days I do one day of lower weights/high rep exercises and one day of higher weights/lower rep exercises.

I have found that this ratio works for my body quite well. Following a 5 day per week weight lifting schedule in my opinion is the quickest route to sideline yourself from an injury or impede your muscle build.

Women are definitely made to lift heavy, don’t get me wrong, but NOT 5 days per week.

What’s your take on weights and cardio? Do you notice a difference when you do one and not the other? Is balance important to you?

Peace, love and happy mediums!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#MotivationalMondays- Bikini Body Blast

It’s March 24, which means while the forecast doesn’t indicate it’s actually spring, the calendar does. And after spring comes the most wonderful time of the year…SUMMER.

It’s about this time (or sooner) when all those New Year’s Resolutioners slack off and slip back into their old habits. It’s also the time when all you spring breakers fast or cleanse in order to try and attain your best body physique before heading towards the equator for some fun in the sun.

Obviously, weight loss must happen gradually in order to properly maintain. So while you may believe you’re beginning to see some cuts in your abs due to all your crash dieting and starvation, it’s all a figment of your beer goggled imagination.

The more appropriate approach to bikini season is to allow yourself a few months of proper nutrition and exercise for longer lasting results. Don’t act like you haven’t heard it before!

I’ve been really trying to focus on my nutrition lately…have you heard I’ve even given up bread for lent? That’s how you know it’s on…

I’ve also been tightening up my workouts. Not that I wasn’t beast mode before, but now I focus on a few muscle groups as opposed to several all in one day.

Here’s a good overview of some exercises to perform in less than 30 minutes at the gym to get that bikini bod:

904545-fcaa8022-2ee8-11e3-a486-7ab2348709d2

 

Oh…and hey there, giveaway…it’s been a while…sorry I’ve been MIA…here we go with the winners:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats ladies!

Peace, love and bikinis!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Motivational Mondays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

-Things To Try Thursdays- Protein Supplements Review

You know as much as I know that we all need protein. It’s essential for muscle building, proper energy and picking things up in the gym and putting them down. :)

Protein is readily available for your body to convert to energy and muscle in several forms. The most stigmatized and notorious that we all know of is probably animal products…any meats, poultry or fish usually tops the list.

While those are excellent, viable sources of gaining your daily protein, they sometimes can prove to have other negative effects on our bodies. (high blood pressure, cholesterol, weight gain, etc.) if consumed too frequently.

The word “protein” has become such a trite buzzword of many food companies that it has a tendency to lose it’s veracity at times. If you walk into any grocery/convenience store, you’ll notice PROTEIN is highlighted in huge caps all over most packaging. It makes it confusing and overwhelming to decide which choice is right for you.

A particularly popular protein sector I’d like to highlight involves protein as a supplement.

We now have proteins available in powder form, chip form, fro yo form, bar form, muffin form and shake form. Protein supplements are huge, trendy commodities nowadays.

With all of these over saturated protein items on the market these days it can be hard to decipher between which is the good vs. the not so good.

I had the opportunity to review a few products out there in the protein black hole and am happy to share my thoughts with you all. Also, stay tuned for a giveaway at the end! :)

Sidenote: I rated everything based on first taste (1-worst, 5 the best) and secondly nutrition.

My first dabbling was focused on protein bars. I received a few boxes of Kind bars and also some from a company called, Power Crunch.

photo-121

The kind bars were rated at a 3 for taste. I have had several kind bars before. I used to swear by them back in college. My tastebuds changed when I became vegetarian and now I shockingly think they are a little on the sweet side! I rated the kind bars at a 4 for nutrition. They seem well balanced with healthy fats, carbs and proteins. 1 bar has 7 grams of protein. All of the ingredients are pronounceable. I would say this could pass as a snack throughout the day, but definitely pair it with something else to make it a complete meal.

photo-120

As for Power Crunch, I rated these bars at a 2 for taste. I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners and these had a crunchy, desirable texture, but the aftertaste just wasn’t doing it for me. They contain sucralose and stevia, both of which I do not care for. Nutrition wise, these were a 3. They have a high protein content (14 g.) per bar, but contain too many unhealthy oils and thus are a little bit high in saturated fats.

photo-119

*I also received protein shakes from Power Crunch…these actually had a better taste than the bars when chilled in the fridge for a few hours. They have 20 g. of protein and 6 grams of fiber and are super low calorie so I would say they could pass for a small meal replacement if you wanted.

Next, I reviewed Vitatops. If you aren’t familiar, these are fiber/protein muffin tops which are absolutely delicious. They come to you thawed but you are advised to freeze them again for best taste. I used to eat these religiously a few years back and definitely remembered why. They are super fluffy once thawed and when you heat them they melt in your mouth. I rated these at a 5 for taste. As for nutrition, I rate them at a 4. These jam 8 grams of fiber and 4 g. of protein all into a tiny palm sized cake for only 100 calories! After trying one, I wasn’t hungry for quite a long time. My only concern is the extremely long list of ingredients and tons of preservatives.

photo-118

After the Vitatops, I reviewed IPS chips. Yes, protein chips!!! This was my most favorite until I had a reaction to the egg whites they are made with. So these chips are pretty cool because they contain 7 grams of protein per bag. The bags are perfect to throw into lunch bags as they aren’t the family sized ones you see at the grocery store. Huge plus! I tried four flavors: White Cheddar, BBQ, Sea salt/black pepper, Cinnamon Sugar. Honestly, I loved every single one. The taste was a 5 in my book. Nutrition I rate a 3, just because there isn’t enough fiber to balance out the carbohydrates.

photo-117

Next, I tried Xyience Protein Powder in Vanilla Ice Cream flavor. This actually has been serving as the base for my “proats” (protein oats) in the morning post workout. I rate it at a 4 for taste. Xyience contains tons of extra amino acids which is awesome for those who workout consistently as it helps with muscle repair. In one scoop, there’s 25 g. of protein and 5 g. of fiber! So as far as nutrition, I give it a 4. My only complaint is that it’s sweetened with sucralose, but it’s such a subtle taste that it blends well if you mix it with other ingredients.

photo-114

Last but not least, this is just the coolest! (no pun intended)…Protein yogurt!! I was most excited to try these and they did not disappoint. The yogurt was made by Proyo. The flavors of frozen yogurt come in vanilla bean, banana vanilla, blueberry pomegranate and dutch chocolate. You’ll be surprised to know the banana vanilla was my favorite! All you do is thaw these out for ten minutes. (They come packaged sort of like ice pops.) I paired these with one of my morning green juices and it was just fab! I rate this at a 5 for taste and a 5 for nutrition. The bonus is that it also contains probiotics too! Can’t beat some of the two best “P’s” (protein and probiotics) in the nutrition world! ;)

photo-113

Now for the super fun part…if you enter my giveaway below, I have a few prize packs going on…

1) Kind Bars ( PB Dark Choc + Protein/ Almond Walnut Macadamia + Protein)

photo-121

2) Power Crunch Bars  (wild berry creme/cookies and creme/pb creme/french vanilla creme)

photo-122

3) Power Crunch Bars (Gluten free: milk/dark chocolate)

photo-123

4) Power Crunch Shake (Vanilla Creme/Double Chocolate)

photo-119

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I want to send out a huge thanks to Laura at Girls Gone Sporty and all the representatives from these brands giving me the opportunity to try out your products! :)

Giveaway will end on Friday, March 7th at 12AM.

Good luck!

Peace, love and protein!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Things To Try Thursdays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Five Signs Your Workout Isn’t Working Out

As much as I would not like to admit it, I’m a fitness-endorphin filled fiend.

If I don’t squeeze in a sweaty, sore, killer (insert any other badass word here) workout in per day, anxiety sets in.

My mind is automatically consumed with a giant picture of me as an ice cream cone with a muffin top. It doesn’t matter if I have eaten clean or not. Those endorphins really have a tendency to mess with my head.

Since I have been attempting to train super hard for a bikini competition, I’ve failed to realize I am human and not a bionic woman, as I so wish I was.

This is NOT the first time. I’ve had two prior injuiries due to my stubborn regime. It still could not cease my satiation and uncurable addiction to the proverbial endorphin high.

MissPiggy

What I have realized is my endorphin high consists of tons of feeling drab, sore and whiny. If I’m not feeling sore, my brain automatically goes into low-self esteem mode. I feel off kilter and become obsessed with finding a way to quell my anxiety.

Endorphin highs should never consist of any of the above. They should always push you to your limit but never to the point of overexertion.

The past week has been quite a tumutultuous one. I have not been able to get a decent workout in, but since I literally work out nearly every day, I am trying to take a literal breather.

I know I’m not the only one out there who has a serious addiction to fitness, so I figured I’d share with you some warning signs you have crossed your very winded fitness finish line.

1. Constant muscle soreness. This is a huge sign. It’s alright to be sore after a workout, it’s definitely a good thing as it hints at improvement. However, if you are sore after every single workout to the point where you appear as a zombie, let me just say…BACK OFF.

Digital-clock-alarm

2. Smacking the snooze button. If you’re waking up feeling as though you haven’t had enough sleep, your body is telling you something. Typically, we need more sleep now than ever, especially when it involves physicaly activity. Aim for 8-10 hours.

3. General disdain before your workout. If you are dreading your workout before but appreciate the after affects, I’d say maybe switch up what you’re doing. By switch up, I mean REST. If you’re constantly hitting the gym like I am, you know how important variety is. Take the day off if you’re dragging your feet. The gym and endorphins will still welcome you with open arms tomorrow.

4. Injury. This is obvious. Injuries occur usually because of improper form or overuse. In my case, it’s always due to overuse. Pounding the pavement, all those plyo jump squats and PR’s on the chest press adds up. I know it’s hard to say, but rest is so super important during nursing an injury. Do not attempt to workout the other half of your body like I tried to either. It’ll just make you weaker and delay any progress you once had.

healthy-heart-lifting

5. Increased irritability. Along with muscle soreness and exhaustion comes general crabbiness. If you find yourself snippy, easily annoyed or increasingly sad you also may want to lay off the exercise.

I highly encourage rest WEEKS. I try to take about 5 days off in a row maybe twice or three times per year just to let my body recover. Just remember to keep your meals in check when doing so!

What’s your thoughts on exercise? Do you pay attention to how your body reacts to it? 

Peace, love and rest!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Diary: I wrote all my food down, now what?

Food journaling. It’s a pretty popular and completely effective way to manage your nutritional goals.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 5.20.35 PM

One day of semi-healthy eating. Everything is pretty balanced with the exception of the carbs.

I’m not a huge believer in planning. I have mentioned that before. I take a dash of this a dab of that and voila create a recipe. I have ten thousand instructional pamphlets on everything from iPhones to dating, but have I read and actually taken the advice of any of them? No.

I’m what I call an instantly gratified human. Blame it on my generation of blink of an eye technology.

I know most of you reading this can relate. You want results ten minutes ago, not ten days from now. (Did I mention I am opposed to online shopping, too? Yes, even if there’s free shipping!)

When it comes to tracking health and fitness goals, it’s important to plan. This is why for years I had failed at reaching most of my goals. I would start writing everything down and then be like wait, what’s the point? I’m not losing any weight and this isn’t upping my IQ, so I quit.

What I failed to realize was that all of this nutritional magic happens over a period of time. Not in one week or even in my case one month.

As some of you may know, the one successful tool which helped me stay on track with my weight loss goals was meal planning.

Recently, I began taking up food journaling again… (it’s really just like riding a bike you know!) It’s been going fairly well, especially now that I store everything in one neat document on my google drive.

Source: tamaraduker.com

Source: tamaraduker.com

Okay, okay, so you write everything you eat and your physical activity down too, so what?

Well, the point of keeping a record of what you are eating is to benefit…YOU. If you just write it down and never look at it again, your doctor isn’t going to scold you and you won’t fail for the year. You’ll only fail yourself.

I’ve come up with a list of five principles to evaluate every few weeks or so to make sure you’re not food journaling for nothing.

1. Quality of meals. This is often overlooked. We are so accustomed to either not eating breakfast or grabbing a quick bite of something processed on our way out that we are failing to realize we aren’t receiving the most adequate nutrition.

I always tell clients to look for ratio of fats to carbs to proteins. Make sure the fats you are consuming are healthy fats (monounsaturated) and your carbs are coming from a clean source. (greens, whole grains) Proteins should be between 8-15 g. per meal. Oh and of course, fiber is a huge factor in balancing out the meal. If a meal has at least 3-8 grams, you’re good to go! If you aren’t sure of the exact numbers of meals you are eating, you can always use a nutritional tracker like my fitness pal to figure it out.

2. Timeliness of meals. I’m not usually crazy stringent about outlining standards for meal timing, but I believe it’s important to take note of. It’s most important to listen to your body instead of a clock or a 24/7 drive thru to let you know when you’re hungry. Food can impact your energy levels tremendously so if you’re having meals erratically, chances are you’re doing more damage than benefit to yourself.

I usually eat every 4 hours. If I’m super hungry I’ll throw in a small snack like an orange and some pistachios in between that time frame. I also do not eat very late at night because food doesn’t agree with me right before slumbering. Do what works best for you.

3. Physical Activity. I know this doesn’t fall under the meals category, but you should try to track this as well. It’ll help when you read over your eating habits at a later date. We all know exercise is essential, but it’s also not something you have to kill yourself over. Taking some shortcuts or even just a brisk walk outside counts. It’ll burn off some extra calories, too!

I usually work out in the morning before eating. It took me a while to make this change as I used to be a “burn the midnight oil” exerciser. It’s helped me tremendously with jumpstarting my day and also losing extra weight around my midsection. I don’t recommend this to those just embarking upon a healthier lifestyle.

4. Make sure the spot for breakfast is filled. Eat something within 2 hours of waking. Like I said previously, I will usually go sans breakfast until after my workout is complete in the morning. I used to be a breakfast skipper, which lead to massive binges throughout the day. I would strongly recommend beginning with something small and easily digestible like some fruit and healthy fats. You must have something to power the tank.

5. Snacks. This is America’s most favorite buzzword. It seems our eyes widen to that of an emoji’s when we are allowed snacks. Snacks shouldn’t be treated like splurge awards. This is something I must stress. If you are having snacks every day in between meals and they include processed foods (candy bars, granola, french fries, ice cream, chips, etc.) this could really be steering you wrong.

As you all know I’m a chocoholic. I MUST have chocolate every single day. What I do is make sure I have one snack all day. It’s usually between breakfast and lunch, sometimes on occasion I’ll have one after dinner. I make sure to just have a few handfuls of chocolate chips with fruit or a nut butter (boy am I predictable or what?) I don’t do this every time I feel hungry in between larger meals. Also, if you are eating well balanced meals, there will be no need for snacking. You will automatically feel satisfied.

So what’s your take on food journaling? Do you think it has benefits? What information do you look for when reviewing it?

Peace, love and keep a food journal!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Does Cardio Kickboxing Really Burn More Calories?

“500 Calories per hour…Burn off your Big Macs!” and whatever other kinds of ploys they can acquire to pull the false workout veil over our eyes…

20120916061822-burn-500-calories-in-1-session

You’ve probably guessed I’m talking about a popular group exercise class…cardio kickboxing. Tae Bo pretty much put kickboxing on the map because before that all I can remember is a bunch of Muhammad Ali clips…which involved zero women doing the sport.

 

Kickboxing has become a wildly obsessive craze. I’d say it rates second when it comes to zumba these days. Every month at my gym I witness a bunch of women gather around the new group ex schedule patiently waiting to see if more suitable kickboxing class times have been added to the schedule…or even worse, if some are cancelled.

On my gym schedule, I would say kickboxing is offered five days per week. Yup, exactly the same frequency that zumba is. (Although I’m sure the zumba-ites could dance their way to the exercise director’s hearts and go for a solid seven days if they really wanted to…)

Credit: naplesmuythai.com

Credit: naplesmuythai.com

I’m not being a negative nancy when it comes to kickboxing…don’t get me wrong I love a great sweat with some badass Million Dollar Baby moves, but I think it’s being sensationalized a bit too often in gyms.

The main reason most of us go to the gym is to burn calories. (Not me, I’m one of the freaks who goes for the endorphins ;) )

One of the benefits of kickboxing is that it claims to BURN 500 CALORIES PER HOUR. And oh yes, huge caps are ALWAYS used to illustrate that specific point.

For years, I believed in the big 500, until I actually began to start wearing a heart rate monitor and studying nutrition, exercise and how the body exactly works with it’s burn fat to cardio ratio.

A key element everyone seems to forget when reading these overhyped claims at gyms is that results are not typical…and not for everyone. This has got to be my number one pet peeve when it comes to gyms and studio advertising.

Of course they are there to fill classes, get renewed memberships and slim you down all at once, so there’s a profit involved.

photo-107

Since every body is different…at the end of my kickboxing class it told me I only had burned 261 calories. Yes, 261. :(

I was shocked because it sure felt like I had burned 500 calories…maybe even more than that…but nope, I had barely burned a solid 300!

So why does this happen? 

On average, most exercise burns you see in magazines or in workout videos are customized based on a 5’9″ person who is around 150 pounds. Generally if you’re taller, carry around a bit of fat and aren’t in as good of cardiovascular shape, your heart rate will tend to climb when you workout.

So if ya’ll know me, I’m barely five feet and 122 pounds. I don’t meet any of that criteria. I also have a higher threshold for cardio than someone who has just started a cardio program or kickboxing. (I’m not out of breath until my BPM reach around 162.)

Because I’m in better shape it means it’ll take a lot more to burn more calories and get my heart rate up than someone who isn’t in as great of shape. You can’t always go on how you feel, sometimes you have to rely on science to measure your accuracy and efficacy.

Polar is a great, more affordable option!

Polar is a great, more affordable option!

I strongly recommend those of you who can afford it and who have just begun to workout to invest in a heart rate monitor. (Specifically one that has a chest strap to measure the beats more accurately.) It’ll help you refocus your energy and you’ll actually be able to know if you’re burning what the gyms are touting.

I think this is the only area of my healthy lifestyle that I actually count calories BTW.

So what is everyone’s take on gyms and touting certain calorie burns? Pay attention to it or go by your own standards?

Peace, love and the more you know!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Guest Post: Staying Committed To Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s at about this time every year we tend to doubt ourselves or lose interest in the goal we had been pursuing for the new year.

The key to reaching a goal is commitment, which doesn’t come easy if it’s boring or arduous on the road to reaching it.

Since I’m a health coach, most of my daily life involves goals, time management and most important of all…maintaining focus towards it all. Tasks are not completed without an end result or drive in my case, which is why I’m a huge fan of weekly/monthly goals rather than yearly ones.

Blake Daniels, a guest blogger, shares his incites into keeping the spark alive amongst your Health/Fitness related New Year’s resolutions:

Sticking to Your Resolution
Committing to a healthier lifestyle that includes positive changes to one’s dietary and exercise habits improves one’s physique, energy level and mood. This is especially important for those of us with children because extra energy is needed to keep up with their activities. There was a point about a year ago where I couldn’t even run with my boys for more than five minutes before I had to sit down and take a breather. After that I made a personal decision to make my health a priority. Establishing long-term habits for good health may be difficult to begin, but the results are amazing and can drastically turn the clock back on the aging process. Here are a few tips I have come up with to help you stick to your goals of leading a healthy and fit lifestyle.

7101289101_5a41763fec

Exchange the Car for a Bike or Walking Shoes

If you use your car for nearly 100% of your transportation needs, it may be time to change the driving versus biking or walking ratio. Keeping the car parked is a great way for you and your family to get fit and save money in the process. If you live within a mile or so of a shopping center or park that you frequent, you and your family can in most cases quite easily take to the streets on bikes or on foot; the same goes for those who live fairly close to their jobs. The key to implementing this tip appropriately is to walk or bike more than you ride; for instance, one can ride 20% and walk or bike 80% of the time. The 20% driving time can be used strategically during bad weather or requirements for longer distance travel. I realize this can be difficult if you live far outside of town but every time you’re driving somewhere. Take a moment and think if it is practical to walk or bike it and if it is take the plunge.

Financially Commit

One way to truly get someone’s attention no matter what the circumstance is to dip into their wallet. If you honestly want to make these changes in your life prove it by committing financially to it. One thing I recommend is a longer gym membership. Instead of opting for a month-to-month plan buy a 6 month plan. This way you not only are saving money but you also are going to be committing enough money to where you’re going to make sure you get some sort of return. Along with a gym membership there are various monthly food subscriptions you can enroll in. Shari’s Berries has a monthly fruit basket, which features some wonderful items and healthy snacks. My brother-in-law just started a 6-month plan and he loves it so far. Each month when that arrives it not only reminds him of this commitment he made mentally but also of the one he made financially to start eating better.

7424746272_f5658eef4d

Start a Backyard Garden

Starting a backyard garden is educational and fun for the entire family, It is also a way to get exercise and improve one’s diet at the same time. Anyone who has built vegetable garden beds, tilled soil or weeded a garden knows what great exercise gardening can be. Also, the garden grown vegetables are sometimes much tastier and nutrient rich than their store bought counterparts if the gardener knows how to properly feed and care for the garden. My grandpa started a garden after he retired and tended to it until he physically couldn’t anymore and it was great for him physically and mentally. Also who doesn’t love receiving fresh vegetables as a gift.

3547985420_d1dfbee9e7

Create Consistent Sleeping Patterns

Getting into a routine of any sort takes time but once you have done it for a while it begins to feel like second nature. Healthy sleeping patterns are so important and many people neglect this practice. You should pick out a time you want to be asleep at every night and turn off all technology an hour before that time. This way your body and mind has time to wind down before you actually try to sleep. I realize with kids and work it is impossible to be asleep at the same time every night. However if you try to set a schedule eventually your body is going to take the hint and start to adapt. Creating healthy sleeping patterns will lead you to wake up feeling much more alert and focused which will give you the drive to accomplish what you need to during the day.
Getting in shape and eating right can seem so difficult at times but it really is not. If you honestly want to do it and you put forth the effort you will see results. Just take it one day at a time and remember what you are working towards. Life can be so busy sometimes and being tired and sluggish does not make it any easier. Take the plunge and get yourself active and energized you will not be sorry!

How are your monthly goals/resolutions coming along? 

Peace, love and commitment!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pasta Fazool Soup

“…When you’re here, you’re family…”

images (1)

Barf. Gag. I’ll pass on the “authentic” italian food.

I know there’s a ton of you out there who favor the endless soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden, but I’m sorry, I do not.

If I must eat there, it’s usually by force. I order several green teas to mask my hatred of the frozen and extremely bland cuisine…and it doesn’t take me long to respond to “would you like to see a dessert menu?”…Sorry, NO!

The one thing that irks me about Olive Garden and other Italian chains like it is that it claims it’s authentic, but in actuality it’s just some mass produced recipe that existed in the back of Monsanto’s minds at some point in time.

No, this post isn’t another tirade about GMOs and how I’m going to burn all my bras or something until something is done about it…although that would make for some excellent photography, wouldn’t it?

I just simply would like to state my utter disdain for Olive Garden and others within the same category.

Olive Garden is under attack because half of my heritage hails from the good ole boot-shaped country of Italy…well, Sicily to be more specific.

That being said, the bar for my italian food is set higher than that new airplane that can travel to space and back…so basically, you lose no matter how authentic you claim to be.

I decided to take a stab at making some homemade soup myself. It’s actually an authentic recipe with simple, pronounceable ingredients. On most Italian menus you’ll find it spelled out like this: “pasta e fagioli” but in Sicily slang it’s Pasta Fazool. So gangsta, right?

photo-100

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bag of brown rice pasta
  • 1 can tomato sauce (not a flavored one…just plain)
  • 4 diced cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 diced yellow onion
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • few tbsp. of olive oil to coat pan
  • pecorino romano grated cheese
  • 2 tbsp. basil leaves + more for topping (fresh basil preferably)
  • 1 cup water
  • sugar to taste

photo-101

Instructions:

1. Heat up olive oil in pan on low with onions and garlic. Add in a little bit of basil, but not all.

2. Once that seems cooking, pour in one can of tomato sauce. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. Stir.

3. Add some water to cut the tart taste of the tomato sauce. Add in as much sugar as you’d like if you want a sweeter sauce. Add in can of beans. (Also, add in some of the liquid within the can of beans to give the soup some extra flavor.)

4. While that’s cooking, heat water for your pasta.

5. Pour pasta in. Stir the sauce pot while you check on your pasta.

6. Add in some more basil if desired.

7. Once pasta is almost done cooking, strain and add into sauce pot with everything else. You don’t want to overcook the pasta so make sure you don’t cook it aldente before adding it into the sauce.

8. Stir everything together.

9. Pour into bowls and serve with fresh basil and some grated cheese.

*This soup freezes particularly well.

*Keep a watchful eye during all stages of cooking. It’s very easy to burn the ingredients and the smell of burnt tomato sauce isn’t the most pleasant. (or easiest to scrub out!)

*You can also add in kidney beans or whatever kinds of beans you like. My standard is usually cannellini because that’s how I have always made this recipe.

*This is a fusion of my best friend Nicole and my Grandmother’s recipes! :)

What’s your take on authentic food? Are you a picky restaurant eater like I am? 

Peace, love and homemade!

~C.C.D.

 

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

-Things To Try Thursdays- Vegan Cuts Review

Here a V, there a V, everywhere a V-V…

We’ve all seen them. The “V”‘s on your produce, canned goods and boxed foods.

No, they aren’t a secretive stamp of feminism but actually a guide for vegetarians and vegans.

Any kind of “V” on food indicates it’s usually vegan friendly. If you aren’t familiar with what vegans are…they do not consume any kind of animal products. (no dairy/no eggs/no meat)

My diet consists of 60-75% veganism, so I am no stranger to the “V” labels or foods which are vegan approved.

That being said, I was introduced to this awesome delivery service through Laura at Girls Gone Sporty, which caters to vegans specifically.

It’s called Vegan Cuts…it’s a monthly subscription service that has vegan/cruelty free beauty products or snack boxes as choices.

I was sent the snack box and obviously tore open everything possible immediately in true ravenous fashion. I saved just enough to make a youtube video for you all to see my personal unveiling of everything.

(Keep in mind each of these products change every month so you’ll get a fresh taste of tons of different vegan brands!)

photo-72

photo-73

Unpictured were the Hint Mints & Mahima Best Berries Antioxidant…honestly there wasn’t a product in my box that I didn’t like!

What’s been your experience with veganism or vegetarianism? Would you be open to subscribing to a monthly box?

Peace, love and go vegan!

~C.C.D.

Posted in Things To Try Thursdays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment