Sunday, February 21, 2010

Join Team Beachbody in Fight Against Obesity - Opportunity Webinar

Do you want to lose weight, keep it off and help other to do the same?

Do you want to insure your financial freedom?

Then you should join Team Beachbody on a to fight obesity in this country.

Please join our webinar to learn more:

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Start Time: 8:00 PM Eastern Std Time
End Time: 9:00 PM Eastern Std Time
Dial-in Number: 1-219-509-8111 (East Coast)
Participant Access Code 902751

Note 1: The number of spots is limited - sign up today!
Note 2: You don't need to be a personal trainer or be in excellent shape to take advantage of this opportunity!
Note 3: You need to use your computer to see the presentation and your phone to hear and ask questions.

Clean Up Your Diet: Replace Mayo with Hummus!

If you are in process of re-examining and re-balancing your diet, you must be looking for the ways to remove foods that are not nutritious and replace them with better choices. At some point you realize that the traditional sandwich ingredient mayonnaise is not your friend. After carefully examining labels you probably decide that the calories in mayonnaise – 90 calories per 1 Tablespoon, all from fat - are not worth having! Armed with the new resolve fueled by the knowledge of what is good for your health and conducive to weight loss, you decided that Mayo is not something you want to spend your calories on! Saturated fat, sugar and other fillings are not something you want to put in your body! But you still want your natural turkey sandwich on whole grain bread! What can you use to substitute mayo?

To replace mayo I suggest using hummus!

Hummus is a middle-eastern dip loaded with goodness. I love making my own hummus because it is like a child play (you children may want to make it, if they are old enough to use a food processor) and prep time is really short. I use organic canned chick peas, tahini, fresh garlic and lemons. I go easy on salt, but otherwise I follow Tosca Reno's recipe:

2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or juice from two fresh lemons)
4 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Place chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic into food processor. Blend until smooth.
2. Add small amounts of water (while blending) if mixture is too thick.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional value per 1 Tablespoon: 35 calories (compare to 90 in Mayo!) , 15 calories from fat (compare to 90!!), 1 g protein, 4 g of carbs, 0.7 g of fiber, 0 g of sugar (yes!)
You can also use hummus as a snack - using celery or cherry tomatoes instead of chips! Enjoy the wholesome nutrition of hummus!

Bring it in the kitchen as well as on the mat!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Until last week I've never heard of the TED Prize, and was only marginally aware of "The Naked Chef" Jamie Oliver, the recent recipient of the prize. But since I saw the news and the interview with Jamie, I was greatly inspired by him. TED Prize is an annual award of $US 100,000 given to a speaker at the TED Conference. The recipient is asked to express their wish they hope will change the world. Jamie Oliver's message was near and dear to my heart. He said:

"My wish is for you to have a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, to inspire families to cook again and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity".

Ever since I started following the clean diet I've been bemoaning the difficulty of living in the world so full of bad foods. I made a transition from eating lunch out every day and ordering dinners in to cooking 95% of my food. I changed the way I prepare food and the way I shop for it. Nowadays I say that I am now married to my kitchen because whenever I am away from it I feel like I struggle to find food that is edible let alone "clean"!
Jamie also highlighted the problem with the quality of food:

"I'm a food lover. The problem that we have is a burger is not a burger, a pizza's not a pizza. Milk's not milk anymore, do you know what I mean? The big clean-up needs to happen."

But we are clearly far from this clean-up Jamie is calling for! In this country we are hooked on an unhealthy diet that is practically killing us! Whenever on the road, anywhere I turn (in an major airport or a large shopping mall) I find a burger joint or a fried chicken restaurant, not a falafel place. There are clearly many more people who prefer a burger to a baked falafel, and the market responds accordingly! Jamie reflect on this:

"You know, we don't have to pretend that burgers aren't indulgent. We love burgers! The chip is the most incredible, brilliant invention in the world. Eat your chips!" he told CNN on Wednesday night. "But not every day."

Another point that Jamie brought up that was kind of brewing in the back of my mind. Ever since I started examining food labels, shopping for groceries feels like a gotcha game, where I can never let my guard down in case the list of ingredients in the known product changes or the new product is labeled misleadingly!
In his interview Jamie echoed my feelings. He called America's current food-labeling system a "farce" and said that food labeling needs to be improved to accurately warn about unhealthy products! He proposed creation of a role for "food ambassadors" in supermarket to explain to customers how they can prepare local, fresh and seasonal foods, called on food companies to make education of customers central to their business model, and wanted make sure that each high school student can make 10 meals before graduating!

Jamie is starting a new ABC series where he promotes local, healthy food as a way to fight obesity in Huntington, West Virginia, which he called the unhealthiest community in the United States.

"This is a global problem. It is a catastrophe. It is sweeping the world. England is right behind you [America], as usual," he said. "We need a revolution."

I agree with Jamie that we need a revolution in food industry, and just as he, I believe that it will happen as a grass root movement. We, the consumers, need to vote with our feet and our valets so the healthy food becomes more affordable, organic methods of growing food the preferred ones. I've been refining my food choices one step at a time: trying to replace produce with locally farm grown or organic whenever possible and tasting the dramatic difference in taste, texture and smell of the healthier choices! I am already noticing that the local organic stores lower their prices on certain organic foods to the level that the difference in price between organic and inorganic is miniscule. More and more new organic (and delicious, I might add) labels appear on the shelves of supermarkets. All of this makes me think optimistically that we can express our preference and force a change. I agree with Jamie when he says that US must demand this clean up, this food revolution and need to lead other countries in that effort.

"If America does it I believe other people will follow," he said. "It's incredibly important."

It is important, indeed. After all, out health is at stake! Let's bring it in the kitchen and spread the word about healthy food!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lesson learned from overtraining

I was doing great for a while, doing a cardio workout in the morning, a walk in the afternoon and a resistance training in the evening 5-6 times a week. I was flying high and suddenly crashed. I felt tired, nauseous and had no appetite for my normal food, pretty down emotionally as well as physically. It was so sudden that it shocked me! As I tried to analyze the symptoms I realized that those were classic ones of overtraining!!! Dah, I said as I smacked myself on the forehead! How could I A): not realize it sooner? And B): not see it coming and prevent it?
It’s been almost 1.5 years since I last over trained. I take full responsibility for it. ChaLEAN extreme is 90 days long and allows no recovery week in between phases, the way P90X does, but ChaLEAN Extreme workouts are only 30 minutes long and you work out 5 times a week! I replaced CEX circuit training workouts with Slim Series workouts which are 1-1.5 hours long, added more cardio, so that made it so much harder, it probably would equal to P90X workout easily! So, no wonder I felt burned out by day 60!!!
I am very frustrated and a little embarrassed by this…Why am I writing about it? Because I want to let you learn from my mistakes. Because I want to emphasize that it is important to take a break when you are doing an intense workout like P90X! And because I know sometimes I sound so upbeat it may seem that I am always crazy about exercising and it is always easy for me! Well, here’s a prove that it is not always so!!!
It‘s been a week now since the overtraining symptoms occurred, and I am feeling fine and am back to my old routine. I am feeling strong again and not lost momentum and motivation, ate clean during my rest week by going down to 1400 calories to compensate for luck of exercise. I have not gained weight, nor did I lose any strength. My body needed rest and I listened to my body!
I am attaching the common symptoms of overtraining. If you experiencing some of them – please take a break and let your body recover. I hope my honest report will help you avoid overtraining!
Bring it!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Overtraining is a physical, behavioral and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes.
Physical exercise may be addictive. One theory is that this addiction is due to natural endorphins generated by the exercise.[1] Whether strictly due to this chemical by-product or not, some people can be said to become addicted to or fixated on psychological/physical effects of physical exercise and fitness. This may lead to overexercise, resulting in the "overtraining" syndrome.[2]
Improvements in strength and fitness occur only during the rest period following hard training (see supercompensation). This process takes at least 12 to 24 hours to complete. If sufficient rest is not available then complete regeneration cannot occur. If this imbalance between excess training and inadequate rest persists then the individual's performance will eventually plateau and decline. Mild overtraining may require several days of rest or reduced activity to fully restore an athlete's fitness. If prompt attention is not given to the developing state, and an athlete continues to train and accumulate fatigue, the condition may come to persist for many weeks or even months.[citation needed]
Overtraining occurs more readily if the individual is simultaneously exposed to other physical and psychological stressors, such as jet lag, ongoing illness, overwork, menstruation, poor nutrition etc. It is a particular problem for bodybuilders and other dieters who engage in intense exercise while limiting their food intake.
A number of possible mechanisms for overtraining have been proposed:
• Microtrauma to the muscles are created faster than the body can heal them.
• Amino acids are used up faster than they are supplied in the diet. This is sometimes called "protein deficiency".
• The body becomes calorie-deficient and the rate of break down of muscle tissue increases.
• Levels of cortisol (the "stress" hormone) are elevated for long periods of time.
• The body spends more time in a catabolic state than an anabolic state (perhaps as a result of elevated cortisol levels).
• Excessive strain to the nervous system during training.
Other symptoms
Overtraining may be accompanied by one or more organs concomitant symptoms:
• Lymphocytopenia[3]
• Persistent muscle soreness (Delayed onset muscle soreness)
• Persistent fatigue
• Elevated resting heart rate
• Reduced heart rate variability
• Increased susceptibility to infections
• Increased incidence of injuries
• Irritability
• Depression
• Breakdown
Damaging Effects of Overtraining
• Excessive weight loss
• Excessive loss of body fat
• Increased resting heart rate
• Decreased muscular strength
• Increased submaximal heart rate
• Inability to complete workouts
• Chronic muscle soreness
• Fatigue
• Increased incidence of injury
• Depressed immune system
• Chronic Masterbation
• Constipation or diarrhea
• Absence of menstruation
• Frequent minor infections/colds
• Insomnia
• Depression
• Loss of appetite
• Irritability
• Loss of motivation
• Loss of enthusiasm
• Loss of competitive drive
• Early onset of fatigue
• Decreased aerobic capacity
• Poor physical performance
• Inability to complete workouts
• Delayed recovery
Allowing more time for the body to recover:
• Taking a break from training to allow time for recovery.
• Reducing the volume and/or the intensity of the training.
• Suitable periodization of training.
• Splitting the training program so that different sets of muscles are worked on different days.
• Increase sleep time.
Changing diet:
• Ensuring that calorie intake at least matches expenditure.
• Ensuring total calories are from a suitable macronutrient ratio.
• Addressing vitamin deficiencies with nutritional supplements.
Spa treatmentscitation needed
• Deep-tissue or sports massage of the affected muscles.
• Self-massage or rub down of the affected muscles.
• Cryotherapy and thermotherapy.
• Temperature contrast therapy (contrast showers etc).

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The state of the nation ...on diet

I am working towards my goal of bringing my body fat down to around 18%. Currently my BMI - Body mass index- is around 23%, which is normal for my height and weight, but not ideal. For that reason I want to get it lower than that. This week I had a regular check-up with my doctor. I am diligent about my appointments and has been seeing the same doctor for the last 12 years. This time I decided to ask her for a referral to a nutritionist. She looked up from her screen somewhat puzzled (she was typing all the things about me non-stop) and asked "A nutritionist? What for?" I explained that I want to lose some more weight and would like to do so in the healthiest manner possible, hence wanted to consult an expert. She resumed typing while explaining that the only nutritionists or dietitians she knew were dealing with diabetes, and they would not take my insurance unless I had it.

Well, I have to tell you that my doctor is not some ancient quack. She is quite progressive, holistic in her approach and even uses acupuncture as one of the methods of treating her patients. So if she does not have anyone to recommend, that makes me scratch my head and puzzle "What's wrong with this picture?"

The modern medicine is focused on treating diseases, and pays just a basic token to prevention. The huge gap in understanding of how to lose and maintain a healthy weight is filled with various pseudo-experts peddling fad deprivation diets, "magic" lose-weight-quick pills, useless at their best, harmful at heir worst, questionable colon cleansing and other shady practices. It seems that you can get medical attention for your nutrition only when you are morbidly obese and in need of stomach stapling, or when your endocrine system gives out, or something drastic like that.

Until 2007 I was one of the confused masses trying to follow this or that advice and growing progressively frustrated. I knew that I needed to eat fresh fruit, lean protein and whole grain, exercise and drink water; I followed that advice, but the pounds piled regardless. Not until I started Beachbody programs did I understand how important it is not just what you eat, but how much and when. The change happened gradually and took a lot of research and trial and error on my part.But I was not at sea anymore, I had some tools to bring me ashore. Now that I am ready to take my nutrition to the next level, it looks like I will have to search for an expert on my own and pay out of my own pocket. I don't mind the latter part, I was just hoping that at least my physician whom I trusted all these years would be able to help me find the right specialist, but apparently that is not to be. Trial and error is the way to go in the area of diet. What else is new?

I don't want to appear entirely cranky and a complainer. I am really grateful for this "problem" - having to improve on my healthy diet because I want to - not because I must - is not a bad lot, after all. But it would be so much better for the country if we truly made the knowledge of how to eat healthy..well...common! This should be really something that a doctor handed to you before you developed weight related issues, such as blood pressure, diabetes, hear disease and even cancer. I think this is going to happen, and I hope it will happen soon enough. The change is urgently needed, in this dieter's opinion.
Bring it!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Learning the lesson

I looked at my finished workouts in WOWY and could not believe my eyes - my weeks for the last two months were filled 'wall-to-wall' with two, sometimes three workouts a day, except for rest days! For example, Turbo Jam Cardio party in the morning, fast walk during lunch time and Chalene Extreme Push 1/2/3 in the evening? WOW! And to think that only in October I was struggling with my motivation and lack of energy! I am not terribly methodical or scientific, but I learned to extract a lesson from everything, especially if the lesson is a positive one, so I asked myself a question: what made a difference?
As I am writing this, I admit to myself, that just like everything about fitness, there is not ever just one factor, but several.

1. My on-line friends

What helped me to pull myself out of the energy slump was posting on Beachbody forums. I posted every day about my frustration and lack of energy or motivation, or wondered what produced a sudden spur of energy, and shared my struggles with other brave souls; I got feedback and support and returned the favor. I saw that my difficulties were not unique. By learning how my forum buddies dealt with theirs I was able to overcome mine. Day by day, by writing what's on my mind , I was creating and sharing my online public journal, and that helped me think creatively and climb out of my 'blah' state.

2. Food journal

Keeping my food journal kept me aware of what I put into my body, and helped me stay within the reasonable calories intake and quality of food. It is helpful that I love to cook and know that I need to have variety in my food ( another 'lesson learned' from a previous year) for my own sake and for the sake of my family. Preparing food is my hobby and is somewhat of a meditative thing for me now.

3. My NYC Beachbody friends

Myself and 3 other Beachbody coaches started monthly group workouts and post-workout lunch and chat. More and more people I meet through these meeting are becoming my friends and we stay in touch via e-mails, Facebook and phone conversations. These are the people of different walks of life, different ages, fitness levels, different professional and cultural background. But one thing unites them though - their refusal to accept status quo as far as their health and fitness is concerned. On a day when everything looks bleak, it means a lot to me see my friend have a breakthrough with his or her fitness, nutrition or coaching. This immediately picks me up and inspires me to try harder and allows me to see my present problems for what they are - obstacles that can be overcame.

4. Stress management

Talking to my friends, observing others and journaling my progress made me realize that my worst obstacle was stress. When I am under stress, I can't sleep, therefore I don't have energy to workout, start missing workouts - my frustration snowballs from there. This realization gave me a huge incentive for dealing with stress on daily basis. Knowing that a lot of stress is self-created, I analyzed what my major sources of stress are and worked out attitudes and strategies of avoiding or reducing it. This comes at a price - I had to cut down on amount of TV I watch, for example, but in the end the price is so worth it!

5. The ability to 'pay it forward'.

As I wrote to one of you in the e-mail 'this (meaning Beachbody) is too good of a thing to keep to just myself'. Even when I was in my not-so-happy state I started several challenges on the forum to keep myself and other accountable for eating clean and pushing play . It made me feel responsible for more than myself, forced to step up to a leadership role and through that become a stronger and more confident person. It really worked!

In one of my forum posts I wrote 'Where there is will, there is the way. Fitness is not straightforward, and 'life happens' - all the time! - but we in Beachbody are lucky to be so empowered by many tools (ways) to build our fitness from ground up and have so much support to keep our commitment strong! This is really is a unique and powerful thing to have in one's life!
Bring it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Is exercise good for stress relief?

Recently someone asked me - is it possible to work out too much in a day? The person was a self-described recovering emotional eater, and recently discovered that if she worked out when she was stressed instead of eating, it helped her relive stress.

I think it is a great question, and I was happy to share my thoughts on it.
Exercise definitely relives stress, at least temporarily. Exercise promotes generation of endorphins, which are responsible for a sense of well-being. Plus an intense workout takes your mind off the things that bother you, so there is a meditative effect as well...

But there is a danger in swapping doing one thing to excess for another, as in this case from eating too much to exercising too much! While exercise releases some stress, but it should not be the only way we deal with stress because there is a limit to how much a person can exercise! Over-training has multiple symptoms, none of which a pleasant, and systematic over-training can leads to injuries! I know runners that should not be running because of serious injuries, who cannot stop because it is the only way they relax! They need to run to stay sane! This is extreme, but not as rare as one might think.

The source of stress is in our minds, how we react to outside world, so the best way to handle stress is to train our brains to react to stress better.

Books and books are written about this subject, and depending on how much you read already already and what things you tried I could suggest some. I am currently finding a lot of great answers in Eckhart Tolle's "The power of NOW". But it may not be everybody's cup of tea...

I know, it seems like a lot of work on top of what we already trying to do in our busy lives: work, family, kids activities, exercise and now making our own clean food... Now we have to deal with stress in some new fashion? Yeah...I straggle to incorporate some form of stress management into my routine, but I am totally aware that most of my "falling of the wagon" episodes are due to stress. But I think I am getting better at it. Building physical strength and building character go hand in hand, so to speak, so I am bringing with both!

Hope you are too!