Monday, April 14, 2014

Recipes for a Nutritarian Diet

I have read many of Dr. Joel Fuhrman's books and articles over the past several years and am quite sold on the need to eat a nutrient dense diet.  However, actually eating the Nutritarian way is not necessarily that simple to just dive into (maybe for some, but not for most -- or more of us would be doing it, right?)  In his latest book, The End of Dieting, Dr. Fuhrman poses the question as to why so few people eat nutrient dense foods even when they can clearly see the need to do so.  I was thinking, "YES!  Dr. Fuhrman, tell us why this is!"  All I could think of was the incredibly addictive nature of unhealthy foods.  And guess what his answer was:
I quickly came to realize that science based information about nutrition alone wasn’t enough. many people fail to recognize their need to protect their precious health and lose weight? Why would they be unable and unwilling to change? Why would they want to remain unhealthy? Why would they want to reject unassailable, scientiļ¬c, and dramatically effective advice? I’ll tell you why. Because of the overwhelming twin powers of food preference and food addiction.
I like that he adds "food preference" in addition to food addiction. It's not only what our bodies crave, but also what our brains are patterned to want.  Dr. Fuhrman goes on to say:
Unhealthy eating styles and food addictions have both taken control of our brains, and this addiction to certain foods is often as deadly as many other addictions. 
You can read any of his books to see the support he has for why eating the Standard American Diet leads to so many of the common diseases (and often deadly diseases) of our day.  But I'd like to switch gears and come up with some strategies to help us desire more of these nutrient dense foods.
I'm not a huge fan of spending lots of time in the kitchen.  I do love baking, but I'm finding my favorite baked goods not to be all that nutritious or helpful to my body at this stage of life.  (Oh, how I wish that homemade bread were super nutrient dense though!)  So when it comes to soups, salads, etc.,  I'd rather not spend a lot of time in the kitchen making them.  Maybe that will change.  But so far, I'm lacking the excitement thereof.

I think, however, that if I found some really tasty nutrient dense recipes for each meal of the day, I'd be more inclined to make them and eat them.  Novel thought, isn't it?  :)  I have several cookbooks that I need to actually use.  I'm more of a window shopper when it comes to cookbooks and recipe blogs, but that needs to change.

I've found a few  blogs and websites that support a Nutritarian way of eating, so I'm going to start with finding at least one recipe a day to try until I find several that I love and think my family will also love.

For now, I'll share the links.  And if you try some, let me know which are your favorites and we'll continue together until we've found more healthy meals to replace the less healthier habits we've acquired or have become addictive to.
  • Raw Food Made Easy -- If you're not familiar with Jennifer Cornbleet, she is a raw food chef who creates her recipes with as few ingredients as possible so that it's accessible to more people.  I've met her in person and have taken her online raw food course (I also have a few of her books) and she doesn't eat an all raw diet.  She actually has recipes for cooked foods, as well.  But she recognizes the health benefits and delicious nature of raw foods and eats mostly raw foods from her plethora of recipes.  I want to try more of her garden wraps, which are the nutrient dense alternative to the traditional sandwich.  Jennifer has a variety of approaches to wraps, so I'll try some out and will be sure to post my favorites.  
  • Carrie On Vegan  -- Don't let the V word scare you. If you don't think you'll ever become a vegan or vegetarian, it doesn't mean you can't add some of these nutrient dense recipes to your meals.  Check this out -- Carrie actually cooks kale with her oatmeal!  That's something I've never thought to try, and I'm not so sure I'd like it with strawberries, but maybe I would -- or I could try apples and cinnamon instead (yes, that's one of my recipe trying habits -- changing things up before I even begin!) 
  • Healthy Girl's Kitchen -- Wendy posts some of Dr. Furhman's recipes as she explores them herself and also blogs about how to make eating this way more accessible.  I like this post with tips about making salads more desirable in the colder months.  Granted, our colder months are hopefully behind us, but you never know!  (And they will come back again; I'm sure you know that :) )
  • Fat Free Vegan Kitchen -- I've followed this recipe blog for awhile and have learned that it's not always fat-free, but it is pretty darn close.  Wendy doesn't add oil, but there may be naturally occurring fat (which our bodies do need).  These Hummus Crusted Cauliflower Steaks sound easy and yummy.  It's a blend of a cruciferous vegetable and some beans.  And I'd think that anything crunchy like that would taste like a comfort food.  Right up my alley!
  • Fat Free Vegan -- This is a recipe sharing site like  So you'll get a variety and can tweak them to be more nutrient dense or to meet your needs.  Even though potatoes are starchy and aren't packed with nutrients relative to their caloric content, I would include them occasionally and would like to try these Creamy Scalloped Potatoes for Easter dinner!
  • Straight Up Food -- Cathy creates recipes for a whole food diet.  This Southwest Stew looks really delicious and contains lots of beans and some mushrooms -- both which are on Dr. Fuhrman's list of nutrient packed foods or G-Bombs.
  • Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritarian Recipes -- I almost neglected Dr. Fuhrman's website!  He has over 1,000 recipes available in his Member Center that has a monthly fee.  But you can also find a dozen sample recipes that are offered to everyone.  I think I'll try the Mixed Greens and Strawberry Salad first.  I do like my salads to be sweet!  I think I'd make it with fresh strawberries instead of frozen though.  There I go again changing the recipe before I even begin!

I'll get back to you on my recipe exploration.  Let me know how you do, too!  Until then, here's Dr. Furhman talking about his new book on the Dr.Oz Show if you want to learn more about his approach to healthy eating:


Photo of Vegetables by Nociveglia Creative Commons

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cathe's Top Notch Spin DVDs

Pedal Power -- Cathe's latest spin workout

Cathe Friedrich has 3 spin dvds to date -- Cycle Max, Xtrain Ride, and Pedal Power.  All are 5 star advanced spin workouts!   If you have your own spin bike and can't get to a gym to spin, I highly recommend these.  I started spinning last year when I was preparing to go to Cathe's annual Road Trip in New Jersey.  I heard that there was a spin class on the schedule and decided to prepare for it.
I did a little research on what was important in a spin bike and found that a heavy weighted fly wheel is essential -- and the recommendation was to find one with at least a 40 pound flywheel.   I looked at several sold on Amazon, reading the reviews and getting recommendations from friends.  And I found that many fitness clubs used the Star Trac V Bike or Star Trac Spinners.  After looking around on Craiglist for about a week, I found a used Star Trac V Bike not far from my home for about 1/3 the price of a new one that had been used by a personal trainer (he had 3 for sale) with new pedals, seat, and grip bar.  I absolutely love it!

Cathe and her crew in Cycle Max -- many of the cast 
are my new friends from last summer's Road Trip!
Cathe & her Cycle Max crew after rehearsal

Cathe has all 3 of her spin workouts as the Deal of the Day on her website right now right here for under $40.  You can also purchase them individually from her website or at for $19.95 with free shipping.  You can use a 10% coupon code (VF10), but then the total falls below the free shipping minimum.  But if you're buying more than one dvd, try it out.  Same goes for , only that coupon code is 10off.  All 3 websites have video clips, which I love getting to see before purchasing a workout.

I love all 3, but if I were going to choose one to start with, I'd chose Ride from the Xtrain series.  The music is great, so have your spin bike where you can blast the stereo.  And prepare to sweat!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Facing Fears & Doubts through Yoga - (Learning to do Salamba Sirsasana 1)

I'm no Psychologist, but I've learned a few things about my doubts and fears while doing yoga.

First there's the obvious that yoga teaches you to slow down your breathing when it gets tight or constricted, which relaxes the body and helps you with whatever is restricting your breath in the first place.  I have done that in moments of great fear.   For example, several years ago, when I was up high in a ski lift, I realized how afraid I was of the height -- I was shaking like crazy and was gripping the rail like I was going to die -- heart beating fast and out of control.  I told myself that while I couldn't get down from the ski lift, but I could slow down my breath and relax my grip.  I made myself open my hands slightly so my body wouldn't be so tensed up.  And I made myself consciously breathe more slowly.  That eventually led to me relaxing in my thoughts and made me adjust to the height  -- amazing!  Relaxing the body in order to relax or change the thought patterns is one approach to conquering fears.

Another thing I've recently learned in my yoga workshops is that I tend to send thoughts of doubts and fears to myself more often than I realized.  I tell myself that I'm too old to do something and that I can't when others are diving in and aren't afraid. There have been some poses introduced that I think will make me collapse on my head, flatten my face, and break my neck.  Who wants that?   I tell myself that my arms aren't strong enough, my torso is too long compared to my lower body, I'm too heavy,  or that I'm just not as young as I used to be (well, I think everyone can fall into THAT category!)  But then I'll look around the room and everyone else would be trying it.  Why am I so afraid?

In these instances, I've had to tell myself that perhaps my thoughts are incorrect.  I may be JUST the right age for doing that particular pose.  Or my body may be completely equipped to do it -- I just have to learn to "ride that bike." I tell myself to have trust in my teacher and listen to what he's telling me to do.

One day, Mark Stephens asked us to do Sirsana 1 pose, which is the headstand where you rest on your elbows.  I have been doing tri-pod headstands (Sirsana 2) for many, many years and an can stay up seemingly forever.  My body knows it, likes it, and is very comfortable there.  But the few times I've tried this yoga headstand that I've seen over and over in yoga videos and books, I thought my neck would break!  My neck felt very vulnerable and I didn't ever want to try it again.  I may have even read something online about someone saying it wasn't safe for the neck, etc.

All of these thoughts were swirling around in my head -- fearful thoughts for sure, as Mark was introducing his thoughts to my mind.  He told us this was a safer, more supportive headstand.  One could stay up in this headstand much longer because it created less stress in the neck.  Hmm, really?  Could I rid myself of the old thoughts and allow new ones to reside instead?  I pondered the possibility while others tried the pose.

I approached the wall and finally decided to give it one try. Just one.  I couldn't even kick up into that version of headstand.  But I had a friend help me.  And I could do it somewhat against the wall.  It wasn't easy and I didn't hold it for long.   I had a few questions and when Mark asked for ?s at the end, so I raised my hand.  What does he often have us do when we have a question?  Go up and show him our pose so he can see what we are experiencing. And was I to go up against the wall?  No.  He would be there to spot me on the mat in the middle of the room in front of the rest of the class.

I had a little fear of falling over or hurting my neck, but had seen him spot others in Dolphin handstand before, so I knew he would keep me safe.  But my legs had a hard time even getting up or staying up, despite my efforts.  My fears of breaking my neck may have been gone, but my doubts of my abilities to figure this out were HUGE.

But Mark told me it was just a matter of getting my body aligned and properly stacked.  He told the class that for some, it may take a year or more to get this pose, but he could see me able to do this pose in just weeks. WEEKS!, he emphasized.  My doubts were starting to melt.  Mark has over 20 years experience teaching.  He must know my abilities much better than I can see them.

I was determined to practice.  I practiced in class with 2 friends spotting me (still a bit of fear there) and one of my friends told me that my elbows were too far apart.   Another told me to lengthen my shoulders away from my elbows.  That made a huge difference in my alignment.  I went home and tried it this away against the wall.  I still couldn't kick up by myself, so I put a block beneath my feet to give me an edge.  Once I could do that, I was able to kick up without the block (within maybe a week's time).

One night at home, I found if I looked across the room (as I'm sure Mark suggested in class) instead of more toward the floor, my alignment improved to almost what it was in my tripod headstands.  Amazing!  It's so great to watch the body and mind connect like that.  After a few more days, I thought I might be able to do it in the middle of the room without the wall.  I was!  I did!

I was excited to finally be able to do this in class and with my first opportunity to do so, I couldn't do it.  I was about 90 minutes into the practice and I didn't have the strength to hold it without the wall. I also think I created some anxiety and instability by building it up so much.  But that was okay.  I'd get there.  And get there, I did!  Just a few days ago, I attempted the headstand on my mat without the wall nearby.  I did it.  I DID IT!  Fears gone.  Doubts gone. Too old?  No way.  I can do this now and I love it.  I'm excited to see what I will learn to do next -- not just for the sense of accomplishment, but for the ability to strengthen my body in new ways and to be able to re-pattern my thoughts.  Love it!

Class photo courtesy of Neeta Lind
Beach photo courtesy of Sweet Carolina Photography

Friday, February 28, 2014

What's the BEST way to eat?

Don't we all ask that question from time to time?  Maybe not everyone, of course, but those of us who are seeking to eat healthy.  As I wrote on my Healthy Eating tab above,

I know there's a lot of conflicting information out there about eating healthy and that can get frustrating. 
What you WON'T get from my blog is some definite THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO EAT! statements over and over.  I have a hard time listening to people preach that it's their way of eating or else.   I don't mind if people tell me what works best for them or a friend.  But I don't believe there's a one size fits all approach to eating.
That being said, I think some things are obvious. 1) Some foods are not good for our bodies, in fact they are downright destructive.  I used to have this belief that since our bodies are amazing creations, they are able to excrete anything that they don't need, so it's okay to eat some tasty treats that aren't good for us.    Yes and no.  Yes, it's okay in the sense that many people go years without any negative affects and our bodies can cleanse and heal. BUT some foods or chemicals in food are toxic to our bodies and can cause illness and damage.  2) Some foods are packed with micronutrients that can benefit our bodies in tremendous ways. 
I tend to look to Dr. Joel Furhman for his Nutrient Density approach.  Am I perfect with eating the Nutritarian way?  Not at all.  But I keep working in that direction and at certain times of my life, I've done really well with it (and have felt absolutely wonderful!)

So what IS the BEST way to eat?  Is it different from person to person?  Is it different at different phases of any one person's life?  I think the answer is yes to each of those.  Some people don't feel "right" if they haven't eaten meat in awhile.  I feel lousy for several hours (maybe even 24) when I do.  I feel great when I eat a TON of fruit.  Others would have digestive issues if they did.   There have been books written about differing blood types deeming what one body may need and another not.  I've never read those books, but I have heard the theories -- I guess that's possible, but there could be many reasons why we differ in our nutritional needs.  Nonetheless, there are foods that are toxic to all and foods that can benefit all.  But I doubt there's a one size fits all approach to optimal health.

I once read how a mother's milk changes not only from week to week as the baby grows, but also throughout each day.  What a baby needs in the morning is different from what he or she needs later in the day and the milk changes as a result.  Pretty cool, huh?  I'd love to understand my body well enough to know what it needs and when (and then have the control to feed it that and the ability to make it taste super yummy! :) )  I imagine that my body has different needs now in my late 40's than it did as a child, teen or young mother.

It's a path I'd like to explore for sure.

Photo courtesy of  Judit Klein 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Yoga Teacher Training -- the first 100 hours

Since January 11th, I've been engaged in a Yoga Teacher Training course with Mark Stephens.  I've been doing yoga for almost 15 years and even though I love so many other forms of exercise, yoga is the one that I'd volunteer to share with others or teach yoga for  P.E. at the school, classes at family reunions, Young Women Camp, church activities, or in big gatherings with friends.  I just love how yoga makes me feel and it brings me joy to share it with others.

I started exploring yoga teacher training options several years ago, but there weren't any programs near where I lived.  So I bought a book by Mark Stephens called Teaching Yoga.  I knew that I would need more than a book to feel completely qualified to teach, but this was a start.  Just before we moved to this area 3 years ago, I somehow discovered that Mark's yoga studio in Santa Cruz was not that far from my house -- just about 8 miles away!  I told my husband that one of my goals upon moving was to take Mark's teacher training course someday.  Months passed.  Years passed.  I'd look into it occasionally, but I didn't see how I'd find the time to make it work.  7 weekends of at least 12 hours in class.

But something clicked last fall and I realized it was time to do it.  Part of it was a fear that this may not always be available to me.  One of Mark's teacher training courses last year was up in Oregon.  What if he traveled more and more and didn't offer it locally?  Or what if he moved?  Or what if the unknown? . . . When Michael Jackson died, somehow that taught me that not everything we plan on being available will always be available. All of those people who dreamed of going to a Michael Jackson concert and finally bought tickets, didn't get to go.  The opportunity wasn't a given.

So I talked to my husband, explained the time commitment and signed up.  It actually took me about a month to sign up because I was so scared to take that leap to do something that meant so much to me.  That may sound weird, but the excitement was hard to commit to.

Fast forward to now -- I'm 100 hours into the course.  I have learned far more than I imagined, yet with that, I now know how much I don't know.  We get to take In-Depth workshops with Mark for the next 3 months and then I will begin an apprenticeship, which sounds wonderful, too!

Santa Cruz Yoga Center

Just to give you a glimpse of some of the unexpected benefits I had from the start of Yoga Teacher Training, this was what I wrote on Facebook after the first weekend:

How do I love Yoga Teacher training? Let me count the ways!!
  1. I love learning about yoga for 6 hours a shot!
  2. I love practicing  yoga with such amazing instructors.
  3. Mark is a WEALTH of information!
  4. My body is getting stronger and more flexible faster than I thought possible.
  5. My mind is opened to so many new thoughts and philosophies that tie in so perfectly with what I already believe.
  6. I'm making new friends from such diverse backgrounds and places (one flew in from Greece for the course!)
  7. I'm doing something that slightly scares me every time I go, but I like that.  I need that.
  8. My children are having to learn to be a bit more independent without me here while I'm gone.
  9. I am learning anatomy and am actually retaining some of it.  I'll have to work on helping myself remember the terms, but I love seeing the connections to all the forms of exercise I've been doing for so many years.
  10. My husband rode his Vespa to come see me on my break -- so sweet to have a little date in the midst of it all.
  11. I am eating better because I want to nourish myself to be able to move like I need to, but I'm not overstuffing myself as I tend to do because I'm finding it doesn't serve my body well.
  12. I did traingle pose today for about 20 minutes or so while the class walked 360 degrees around me, evaluating my form and my body and I was somehow okay with that.  Pretty amazing!
  13. I finally made the connection in my brain of how to improve my triangle pose.  It's never made sense before when teachers have adjusted me in that pose.
  14. The yoga studio is in a very cool spot by a quaint french bakery in Santa Cruz where people flock to all day long.  It's fun to watch them gather and be so happy.
  15. I know that what I'm learning will benefit me for the rest of my life.

It doesn't get much better than that!

Monday, August 26, 2013

My first Cathe Road Trip!

Standing in the middle of Cathe's fitness room before our step class
See if you can find me in the pic of ALL of us below :)

(You can click on it to make it bigger)
(This photo was taken by Cyndi)

Ever since I started doing Cathe Friedrich's workouts (on video way back in the 1900's), I have heard about road trips to Cathe's health club in Glassboro, New Jersey.  I had no idea exactly where Glassboro was or what her gym was like, but I thought it sounded like fun to workout with Cathe in real life.  In the back of my brain somewhere, I realized that this was a stretch for me to ever be able to go.  For one thing, I had 5 children at the time under the age of 9.  But I also lived on the opposite coast, so it wasn't a hop, skip or a jump to get there!   As the years have passed and my now 6 children have grown somewhat, I've tried to figure out a way to go on the road trip, but never got close.

Meanwhile, I've been buying and doing her workouts as they come my way.   Cathe is just as much a part of my daily routine as kissing my husband goodbye or brushing my teeth.  I've smiled my way through her stellar step routines, "Hoooahh!"ed through punching and kicking combos, and have pushed myself through a plethora of plyos in her HiiT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training). Her weight workouts expand the realm of Gym Style workouts with barbells and free weights as well as functional fitness and metabolic training with firewalker bands, slide & glide discs, tubing, and (my favorite), the stability ball.  I'm sure I'd do her workout library a disservice by trying to lump them all into one paragraph.  If you'd like to come over some afternoon, I could show you my dvd collection and tell you the ins and outs of each and every workout.  Or just click on her name in the right column of my blog to what I've written about her workouts.  I can see I'm clearly behind on that.  I've done at least 60 of her workouts and only have 13 posts.  Oh well!

Back to the Road Trip, I finally went this year!  I can hardly believe it myself now that I'm back. Last summer, my friend Mandy, (who introduced me to Cathe's workouts), told me that she wanted me to go on the road trip with her next time.  I told her I'd do it.  I didn't know how it would work, but I decided to plan on it.  We didn't really have the money for it, but when January rolled around and it was time to sign up (they sell out in the first 5 minutes), we did have some money and my husband had just told me (long story), that I should take $1,000 and spend it on myself.  I knew JUST what to spend it on!

Yep, I'm happy!

So I signed up on that fateful day, was caught in the server crash and all the heartbreak that so many others experienced thinking they wouldn't get in (or actually NOT getting in), but after getting wait listed (I was 161 and only the first 105 got to go), I received an email a few hours later saying that I was actually in the first 105. The server had signed up many Cathletes two or three times, which made the wait list inaccurate.

High-5ing Cathe after doing a little Step with her on the set!

Then the fun began!  I bought my plane ticket and reserved a room at the hotel.  I soon found out about a private Facebook group for all Road Trippers and could ask ANY question I wanted to in preparation for the trip.  I learned more than anything, that this was one FUN bunch of women and I was privileged to go with them!

But enough of the preliminaries!  I'm sure you'd really just like to hear about the Road Trip!  Or better yet, see pictures!  Cathe has two photographers taking photos at the road trip  -- Steve (her photographer for videos and promos) and Cyndi (who is also a Cathlete.  You can find their photos here on Flickr.   I'll post some of mine, too!

Let's see, how should I do this?  Maybe I'll post about each day separately like I did when I went on my Beachbody trip to film with Debbie Siebers LONG ago.  In fact, I should put those posts on one of my tabs up above so you can read what it's like to be involved in the filming of an exercise video. Very fun!

Okay, I'll post a variety of photos for now and will write about each day of the Road Trip one by one later on. Stay tuned!

Al and Marlo from Xtrain
Friends from "our table"
This guy could JUMP! and I had to see if I could jump that high, too!
Me in the middle -- Cathe's usual Monday class AFTER the Road Trip

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rebounders -- Great Modifiers!

The older I get, the more I want to modify my cardio workouts here and there.

I have a knee issue on my right knee -- nothing major, but enough to know when certain twisting movements will be a problem.  I don't mind high impact exercises like plyo jumps, but some are not as stressful on my knee if I use my rebounder.  And sometimes, I just want variety from my usual workouts and my rebounder can provide that.

Here are some things I like to do - -

  • Take a cardio/weight circuit workout and make it all cardio by getting on the rebounder during each weight section.
  • Use the rebounder during HiiT (High impact interval training) workouts when my heart rate is getting up too high and I need more time to recover.  I just rebound through an interval and start up again with the floor or step work when I am ready.  
  • When my brain needs a break from a choreographically challenging workout, I get on the rebounder to just run with high knees, do jumping jacks, air jacks or tuck jumps so I don't have to think for a bit, but can still work hard.  I can go back to the step or kickboxing later when I'm ready or just finish out the workout on the rebounder.
  • Rebound for a quick warm-up and sweat before doing yoga.  It loosens up my body so I'm more flexible from the start.
  • Put on an old sitcom dvd (I have quite a few dvd sets from the 60's) and watch one or two while rebounding.  If I watch two, that's about a 45 minute cardio workout and I do some ab work and stretching afterward.
I have the Reboundair -- the basic one that doesn't fold on the trampoline frame, but the legs fold under so it can store flat under my bed or against the wall.  I've had it for probably 10 years now (paid under $200 -- they probably cost more now) and it's still in great shape.  My kids enjoy jumping on it from time to time, too!