Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh what do you do in the summer time? (Raw Lemonade Recipe)

Oh what do you do in the summertime
when all the world is green?
Do you fish in a stream or lazily dream
on the banks as the clouds go by?
Is that what you do? So do I.

Oh what do you do in the summertime
when all the world is green?
Do you swim in a pool to keep yourself cool
or swing in a tree up high?
Is that what you do? So do I.

Oh what do you do in the summertime
when all the world is green?
Do you march in parades or drink lemonades
or count all the stars in the sky?
Is that what you do? So do I.

I used to sing this song when I was little. I just love the memories it gives me of sunshine in the summer! I live in a cooler summer climate now, but we celebrate like no other when that sun comes out and brings the temperature up to even barely 80 degrees. Just love it!

I've been capturing that "Lazily dreaming" part this week. I have not been very productive at all! I was in L.A. last week with that infomercial filming and thought I'd just dig in this week with organizing and cleaning since my focus was away from that before the trip. But that hasn't been what I've been doing. I'm just enjoying the summer. It won't be here forever.

I've been writing quite a bit about my trip last week over on the Video Fitness (VF) Forum. I will post it here once I get some pictures to go with it. I thought I was so prepared for my trip by bringing 2 extra sets of batteries for my camera. I even emptied out my memory card (even though it only had maybe 5 pictures on it :)) before I left. I kept wondering what I'd forget. You know how every trip, you get there (or are on the way) and think "Oh, no! I forgot my razor!" (or pajamas, or underwear, or whatever -- these have all happened to me).

Once I ended up with no shoes on a trip to L.A. I did bring the pair on my feet, but we stopped off at a river on the way down and one of my shoes fell out of the car onto the river bed and we drove off without it. I rode all the way to L.A. without shoes and bought some at Target when we got there. The greatest part of that story was that we couldn't check to see if they were there on our way back because we drove back a different route. But a few weeks later when my husband traveled that same road, he stopped along the river, saw a spot where someone had built a fire and there was a collection of things someone had gathered along the shore. In the pile was my shoe! I got it back -- yay!

Anyway, this time I kept thinking "Did I forget this? Did I forget that?" and couldn't come up with anything. I was so well prepared. But the day we got to the studio, I took out my camera and it said, "No memory card" -- I'd left it in my computer!!!!! So I didn't get to take a single picture. But the other women did and they promised to send them to me. So far . . . nothing. But I haven't given up! I'll be sure to post about it all soon.

I should post a great raw recipe for lemonade while I'm here talking about summertime and lemonade. Here's a simple one I learned from Alissa Cohen:

Juice 4-5 apples
(Granny Smiths are great; others are fine too)
Add 1 big lemon into juicer

Drink up! It's super refreshing and wonderful.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Slim in 6 Infomercial Trip -- Preparations

I haven't been writing in here much this past week as my trip nears. I guess I've spent most of my computer time reading and answering e-mails pertaining the trip. I'm so excited. I leave tomorrow morning!

Here's what I know so far. My husband and I will fly into LAX in the morning, be driven in a limo to our hotel (a very nice one at that), I pick up a packet with the schedule for the time I'll be there. They've e-mailed schedules to me, but times weren't specified and events could change last minute. So this will be the full picture.

My husband is on his own while there -- he's fine with that (just glad they invited him too!) His brother lives down there and he actually is going to be able to meet up with business clients during our stay.

I have all of tomorrow "off" to rest and relax until we film. I plan to work out in their exercise room (which overlooks an indoor pool that overlooks the even bigger outdoor pool :)). I plan to spend time at the pool too. It's too cold here in the summers for outdoor pools so this will be a treat.

There's a huge mall across from the hotel and I may make my way over there too. I have a few good friends down there and am trying to work out meeting up with at least one of them. I did this last time with my former boss and it was really fun.

On Wednesday, a shuttle will pick us (8 of us) up and take us to a filming studio where we're to have our make-up and hair done in a natural way for a workout, but there will be make-up and hair stylists to complete our look. A wardrobe specialist will help us choose what to wear (we bring 4-6 choices and she's been shopping for us). We'll do a group chat with Debbie (that will be staged and filmed), followed by a Group Demo workout w/Debbie (that will look like a class, I imagine). There will be food available throughout the day and I imagine a catered lunch (that's what they did each day when we filmed the videos). We are shuttled back to our hotel at the end of the day and are free for dinner and the evening.

Thursday will be similar. Once we're at the studio, we'll film a setting where Julie Moran is talking in front and we're exercising in the back. Sounds simple, but it's scheduled to take all day too. At 5:00, we'll all go out to dinner with Debbie (and our guests are invited). We're free that evening (swimming and jacuzzi, I hope).

Another good night's rest in the hotel, then we fly home on Friday.

I can't wait!!!!! Time to finish putting away the groceries, then I'm dying some clothes (a new skirt and pair of shorts I bought and decided not to keep white) and I'll finish packing. TTFN!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lunch pails from long ago

I'm not sure why, but last night as I was falling asleep, I started thinking about my lunch pail I had when I was young. I know that many call them "lunchboxes" now, but I called mine a lunch pail. I was born in the mid-60's and went to school in the early 70's. I pretty much had a childhood like they pictured on "The Wonder Years." (I sure with they'd put that on dvd, by the way). Thinking about my lunch pail brings back a flood of memories to my childhood and elementary school experience.

I searched around the internet a bit this morning, looking for my Bedknobs and Broomsticks lunch pail. I found that one sold on e-bay just a week ago for $6.50 plus shipping. Others go for quadruple that price or more. This was a metal lunch pail and had bumps and indentations around the pictures. One of my favorite things to do was to touch the little bumps and feel the fish on the front or the soccer ball on the back. I loved how colorful it was. I loved to look at the pictures on every side.

What I didn't like was how the top metal piece didn't stay shut. Sometimes it would, but if I was running down the hill to the bus or doing anything not mellow or careful, the lid could pop open and my lunch would fall right out. I remember one morning heading out to the bus and my sandwich spilled, my apple bounced and rolled across the street (visions of bruising rolling through my head), and my thermos fell. Then the thermoses were lined with glass and we had to be careful not to let them crack. You'd always shake your thermos after it fell to listen for broken glass. Later they made them with just plastic. They probably didn't keep your drinks as cold, but at least you didn't have the risk of drinking glass. I remember that the cup part of my thermos broke and I had to bring it to school for awhile with just the screw lid on. I'd see other children pouring their drinks into their cups to drink it and I'd have to drink straight from the thermos. I wasn't embarrassed to do it or anything, but I did long for that cup again.

We soon found a remedy for this faulty latch. The bobby pin! All you had to do was slide a bobby pin into the hole of the little barrel that the latch went over and the latch couldn't move. I did love putting that bobby pin in. And I loved the feeling of opening that latch over and over. It just felt good. They later came out with a plastic latch that would kind of spring shut and stay shut. Yes, it worked, but it wasn't nearly as fun to play with or as easy to open. This is where my thoughts traveled to last night. I was thinking about the latch change and how technology always intervenes and changes what we once loved. Not that technology isn't good. It is. But it often takes away something that we liked and replaces it with something that works better (but isn't as lovable).

Take the record player, for example. I do love my CDs (and am getting used to the whole MP3 thing), but it was really fun to stack a bunch of records on top of that tall spindle that held the records up high and eventually released them one by one as each record finished. There was something soothing about that. I learned to love the Beatles this way. I'd stack a bunch of Beatles records up so they could all play in a row, then would flip them all over to hear the other sides. (And yes, I tried playing the "Sgt. Pepper" one backwards to hear them say "Paul is dead" -- it was muffled, but if you really used your imagination and turned the record at an even pace, you could make out something :)).

Back to the lunch pails, I've wondered why I didn't have a Brady Bunch lunch pail since I loved them so much. After all, my best friend, Cindy, had a Partridge Family one (and oh, how I loved to look at that -- it came on right after "The Brady Bunch" each week and I loved that show too).

I think I probably ended up with a Bedknobs and Broomsticks lunch pail because that's what they had at Sprouse Riese, which was the only dime store in town back then (hadn't changed much -- now they just have a Rite Aid -- no Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Target). We'd go to Sprouse Riese and if they had something, that was our option. If not, we didn't even think about it. If we shopped out of town, we might find something else, but that didn't happen often, especially when all of us were little. My parents only had one car, so we stayed home all day while dad was working. Anyway, I was fine with my lunch pail. And I loved looking around the lunch room to see what everyone else had.

I think the lunch pail I admired the most was one that a girl name Jenny used to bring in. She had a completely different style that was vinyl and oval. It was tall and had a long handle like a purse. It was covered in flowers and just looked so cute. I used to look at it all the time. I can still see her walking into the lunch room and feel the emotions of excitement I felt as I oohed and ahhed about it inside. Simple joys in life.

I'd love to hear about your lunch pails if any of you have any great lunch pail memories. I spent some time looking through e-bay and a few lunchbox websites, just remembering the various pictures I used to see every day in the cafeteria. I'll end with a few photos of the Brady Bunch lunch pail. Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Raw Recipe -- Rocky Road Ice Cream / Mousse

I promised (well, actually just said, but I feel like it was a commitment or promise) that I'd make my Raw Rocky Road ( I'd call it "Rawky Road" if I were like a lot of other raw foodists, but that just seems so corny to me :)) recipe yesterday and would post it here for you. Well, I ran out of raw cacao! So I didn't.

I have some more cacao coming from Amazon -- most likely this week. I'll just post the recipe now anyway and will take a picture to post of the actual goods when the cacao gets here. I could attempt it with my cacao nibs ground up, but whenever I've tried making fudge that way before, it didn't turn out very powdery -- it was more rubbery and gave way too strong of a chocolatey taste. So I'll just wait for the mailman to bring more.

Here's the recipe. If you freeze it, it's ice cream, if you refrigerate it, it's pudding. I'll just call it "ice cream" for now since that's my favorite way to eat it.

Raw Rocky Road Ice Cream

Meat or Insides of one Thai Baby Coconut (scooped out into a bowl)
1/4 c. dates (soaked in water, then drained)
1/4 c. cacao powder
1/4 c. almonds
2 T. agave nectar

Blend it all into a food processor until nuts are mostly blended smooth. You want some nuts blended into the cream and some left chunky for that rocky road feeling. Freeze until firm for super yummy ice cream that will last you a few days. Just refrigerate if you want to try it as mousse.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Raw Recipe -- Sweet Cauliflower Salad

I have quite the sweet tooth and tend to like my salads with fruit in them. I don't mind soups or sauces to have their savory vegetable flavors, but for fresh, I'm happy to overpower it with sweetness.

I never ate cauliflower growing up (that I remember -- if it was offered to me, I probably stuck it in a napkin & put it in my pocket). The first year I was married, I went to a cooking night at church and discovered this cauliflower salad. I've made it ever since. I haven't met anyone who loves it nearly as much as I do, but that doesn't bother me. It's my wonderful way to get some cauliflower into my body.

The sauce used to consist of mayonnaise with fresh lemon juice mixed in. Since eating raw, I decided to try 1/4 c. nuts in a blender with fresh lemon juice and it tastes just the same (if not better).

Here's the recipe:

1 head cauliflower
3-4 bananas
1/2 c. dates
1/4 c. nuts (I've tried walnuts, cashews, & macadamia nuts and they all work well)
Juice from 1 or 2 lemons (1 if you juice it, 2 if you squeeze by hand)

Cut the first 3 ingredients into bite-sized pieces (the dates even smaller so they can spread around the salad well). Place into a salad bowl. Blend nuts and lemon juice in the blender and mix into salad. You can eat it immediately, but it's even tastier when the juices have soaked in a bit in the refrigerator.

Let me know what you think of it. I'd love to hear if it ever becomes anyone else's favorite too!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Raw Cacao -- Pure Chocolate

I love Tilak's picture so much at the top of my last post, that I hate to write some more today and push it down the page. Oh well. Scroll down to see it (and to read about his yoga practice) if you haven't already).

I thought I'd write a little about raw cacao (chocolate in it's pure, raw form) -- not because I know a lot about it, but because I eat it pretty much daily and think it provides many health benefits. Not all raw foodists agree. Alissa Cohen said she tried it once and it gave her head such a buzz that she decided she'd rather use raw carob for her chocolate recipes instead. (I was going to say "chocolate fix" because that's what I'd call it, but I doubt she called it that, so I'll use more generic words :). But I did just see that she sells raw cacao on her website, so maybe she's changed her tune or is just providing it for others.

If you think I misspelled "cacao" and it's supposed to be "cocoa" or that they can be interchanged, you're wrong about the first one and partially correct about the second. Cacao is a the name of the plant in which all forms of chocolate are derived. The cacao pod is the fruit or berry of the Theobroma Cacao evergreen tree. The pods are removed and then roasted at a low heat and then turned into cacao nibs.

The cocoa most people buy at the store is the powder left after the nibs are ground into powder and the cocoa butter is separated out. Raw cacao powder is separated from the oil or cacao butter through a cold-pressing and cold-grounding process to preserve all the nutrients and enzymes. Sorry for that lengthy explanation, but I just thought I'd share that with you if you wanted to understand its origin.

Nutritional experts are telling us now that dark chocolate is healthy -- has essential anti-oxidants and all that. That's true, but raw cacao is the ultimate form for receiving those nutrients without getting all the other garbage that often accompanies chocolate products. Yes, they taste heavenly, but so do numerous raw chocolate recipes.

You can buy raw cacao in powder form, the actual beans or in little bits (chopped up beans) called nibs. I've also just learned that there's raw cacao butter available, which is the oil from the bean. I'm sure it's heavenly too, but also really expensive. For now, I'll stick with the nibs and powder.

The cacao nibs have the texture of little chocolate chips, but they are FAR less sweet. When I first ate one, I thought back to the times (yes, with an "s" -- I didn't learn from doing it once), I'd climb up into the top cupboard and take down that bar of unsweetened chocolate that my mom bought for baking. I was so excited to think that my mom had bought candy (she never bought what she called "junk") so this was indeed a treat. I'd take a bite and would just about spit it all over the kitchen. It was so bitter. Then I'd notice another bite mark on the other end. One of my brothers had made the same mistake. Probably children all over the land were expecting sweet and instead got bitter. This is how bitter the raw cacao is.

It's actually not so bad when you first bite into it, but if you have deep grooves in your molars and a few get stuck, you can savor it more and realize just how bitter it is. Raw foodists say you get used to it over time and I probably have. I use it with fruit more than just by itself. My favorite way to eat it are to break off pieces of banana one by one and dip the end into a little bowl of cacao nibs. It's like getting a chocolate covered banana from Disneyland (I remember getting one of those there as a child -- I think it was frozen though). My other favorite is to take strawberries and do the same -- dip them into the nibs (not like a fondue dip because it isn't melted, but just poking the little nibs into the fruit). It's as good as those chocolate covered strawberries at a wedding reception.

I eat these sometimes just for snacking purposes, but also for medicinal purposes. The "Theobroma" in the real name of the cacao plant or fruit is Theobromine, which is in the same chemical compound family as Caffeine and Theophylline. We all know what caffeine is (and chocolate is often said to contain caffeine -- now we know that it's similar, but not exactly the same, but you may not be familiar with Thephylline. I grew up taking it for my asthma in the form of a pill called Theodur. I think they stopped prescribing it over the last decade or so, but when I gathered all this information in my little brain, I realized that raw cacao might be a pure way to help me with asthma, should I have any problems.

The paradox is that when I'm eating raw I don't have asthma. But sometimes I get away from raw eating and my asthma comes back. Stupid me because it comes back in devastating ways. When that has happened and my medication hasn't been enough to help me to breathe and make it through the night, I've come down to the kitchen, eaten a little bowl of cacao nibs w/bananas or strawberries and have found relief (and the ability to breathe and sleep again). So it's been an extremely helpful natural remedy for me.

I use the cacao powder far more often. I use it more for that chocolate fix I'd mentioned earlier. I love cheesecake and I do love chocolate. When I make raw fudge, I get a bit of both -- that cheesecake-y texture and that chocolate satisfaction -- as well as some vital nutrients. I don't miss regular chocolate or desire any other desserts when I have my raw fudge on hand. (Here's the link to the post with the raw fudge recipe). I also make raw pudding that doubles as rocky road ice cream when I freeze it. I don't think I've posted that recipe. I'll make it tomorrow and will post the pic and write up the recipe. TTFN!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tilak Pyle Yoga -- Altar of the Heart

"Don't get caught chasing the perfect pose, . . . perfect body. 
Relax into yourself enough to know that you're perfect already."

This is the statement that Tilak Pyle makes about 2/3 the way through his powerfully serene yoga practice, "Altar of the Heart." "Altar of the Heart" was voted by the Video Fitness community as their favorite yoga video. As much as I love Baron Baptiste, I'd have to agree. Tilak managed to self-produce a yoga dvd with every essential perfect touch. The scenery is gorgeous (Blue Ridge Mountain Mountains and the Lotus Shrine in Virginia), his voice is ever so soothing, and the music is beyond beautiful. The first time I did this dvd, my eyes actually filled with tears because the music was so moving. That's how good it is. This doesn't even touch the most important element -- the yoga postures and flow. Tilak found a way to blend relaxing and releasing moves, as well as strengthening ones to challenge and soothe the body at the same time -- all at a peaceful pace.

This practice is a little over an hour and is a pleasure to do. And if I don't have a full hour, I can stop at either of a few points where he does savasana 35 and 45 minutes into the practice. Here's a breakdown of the chaptering and poses (courtesy of Beth at VF):

opening meditation, 2:20
seated bends/twists, 5:10
standing warm-up and balance postures, 6:20
half sun salutes/lunge series, 5:45
warrior series, 5:06
side plank/kneeling pigeon, 2:45
pyramid/warrior 3/half moon, 3:22
pigeon series/child/chest stretch, 7:34
wide leg series/savasana, 4:02
reclined leg series, 5:50
seated hip openers, 5:34
headstand, 2:08
seated forward bends/savasana, 3:34
shoulderstand, 1:55
lying and seated twists, 4:08
savasana, 5:48
pranayama, 5:38

Tilak completed his yoga training with another favorite yogi of mine, Erich Schiffman. Their mellow styles are similar and they have the same approach of letting your body find the place in the pose where it wants to be. Erich always says, "Savor the way that this feels."

Tilak says similar thing, but my very favorite line is his non-competitive, self-accepting phrase I mentioned at the beginning. There's so much wisdom in that. As in much of yoga, it's symbolic of regular life -- not just the yoga practice.

"Don't get caught chasing the perfect pose" can also carry over into our daily living to not always trying to be perfect -- deciding that the way someone else has done something is the way that we need to be -- always chasing, never being satisfied.

". . . perfect body" -- boy do so many of us (including myself, for sure) compare bodies and think there is some model of perfection that we must obtain or we're not enough. I still think I'd look better with longer legs and I'm never going to have them. So what's the point of chasing after that? (*roll eyes*)

I've always wished my feet were longer. I think this stems from seeing Princess Diana in so many magazines with her long lean feet. When I was in college, I thought I could remedy this by simply buying longer shoes. So I bought a size up and tripped while walking into the testing center one day. I feel face forward, only catching myself by my wrists on the bottom of a metal-framed glass door. Both wrists were cut and bleeding. Not realizing how this might appear (at a testing center no less -- like I was suicidal over my finals or something), I went to the bathroom and tried to stop the bleeding with paper towels. When that didn't prove to be enough, I asked the desk clerk if she had any band-aids for my cut wrists. Did she ever give me a strange look! :) Anyway, it was a moment I'll remember and a silly one at that for thinking I needed bigger feet!

"Relax into yourself enough to know that you're perfect already." I've heard stuff like that at church or from my husband, but it didn't come from within or sink in, so I'm not sure I believed it. I was still looking to outward sources to give me that feeling. But while doing yoga in such a peaceful setting, it becomes very personal and his thoughts became my thoughts. I could *get* what he was saying as if it were coming from my heart. I'm not just using that word because of the title of his yoga practice. He truly spoke to me and I could see that I needed to quiet all those ill-conceived notions of perfection and just love who I am and marvel in my magnificent body.

Of course, the noises of the world are often louder than the voices in my heart, so I appreciate hearing this phrase every time I do this yoga practice. I continue to grow with it.

Edited to add: If you want to order this dvd, here's the link from Tilak's site.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Never a shy bone in my body

I'm sure I'll post this on the right side of my blog page, but I just wanted to introduce my older brother's blog that he just started a few days ago. It's called Rusted Ruminations. I'm guessing that "ruminations" means thoughts or something similar. (I just looked it up and it means "turning a matter over and over in your mind." Perfect title for how his mind works!)

If I haven't mentioned this before, I grew up in a family of 5 children. I'm the only girl. I wanted and hoped for a sister, but that wasn't the plan. Instead, I had my own room when they all shared one. I was the second oldest, but often felt like I was the oldest since I was the most outgoing and loudest. :) I didn't try to overshadow my older brother Rusty and I don't think he ever felt that way. He just smiled when I talked and talked and seemed to appreciate my ways. My younger 3 brothers seemed to hover around him like buzzing bees. They loved to watch his every move. He eventually got his own room (small narrow laundry room -- his bed was on a plank above the washer and dryer for a few years before my mom moved them out by the back door). When they got a chance to be in his room with him, they'd look around in awe at his organized display of what he loved and play silently at his side.

I love to write. I love to talk. Rusty doesn't talk nearly as much, but is a brilliant writer. I think it's more fascinating to hear what someone is thinking about when they don't talk. My school teachers must have agreed. I used to watch the shy kids at school from a young age and wished I could be like them. I'd raise my hand at every opportunity, knowing all the answers. My teachers weren't that anxious to call on me. They'd say things like, "We know you know the answer, Renee" and would scan the room for another hand. My hand would find ways to shoot higher, which didn't help a bit. I'd watch the teacher call on the quiet child and try to pry an answer from her. So as I began 3rd grade, I set a goal to be the quiet child in class.

I remember lying in bed the night before the first day of 3rd grade. "I'm going to be shy this year," I vowed. I could just see the teacher, saying "Renee?" and trying to get me to answer. That would be the best. The next day, I sat in my chair and ideas and answers flooded my head. Can I keep them to myself? I sat and remembered my goal for the year. But I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it. I had to share what was in my head. I had to let the teacher know that I knew. I wanted to participate in whatever discussion took place. I couldn't stop myself from talking!!!!!!!!!!

So I came to grips with my ways and was amused when I went to my oldest daughter had her Parent/Teacher Conferences. Year after year, her teachers would tell me how she was bright and a delight, but she loved to talk. My oldest son had the same problem (and I'm sure my youngest will when he starts Kindergarten this year). They even came up with a word for it with my oldest son -- they said he was "blurting." His brain went so fast and he wanted to share it with everyone. One teacher called him "Mert, the Blurt" because he couldn't even wait to raise his hand. I think I always raised my hand, but I'm sure I blurted out my thoughts before called upon (the hand was just a formality on my part :)). I'd sit there in the P/T Conferences and think "Yeah, I know what that was like" and would want to discuss my past with it, instead of talking about their struggles. I was able to maintain my thoughts, keeping a rein on them (oh, it's tough though) and let the Conference go on without my every thought flying out there. So I know there's hope for my kids.

Back to Rusty, just the opposite. You don't really know what he's thinking about unless he writes. And I wouldn't call him shy. He's not afraid of anything. He's not afraid to talk to anyone or even in public. He just chooses to not do it nearly as much as I do (and not as speedily). Sometimes I talk to people and have SO MANY details or experiences to share that I can't talk enough to keep up with the flow. But not Rusty. He takes his time and divies up his words to add to the conversation.

He wrote a column in the high school newspaper that was always fun to read. I won't try to describe his clever style. And I'd better not build it up too much or he'll feel like he has a big shoe to fill. Just drop by his blog sometime and see how his brain works. It's amazing.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Slim Series

This post will come in waves. I haven't been as consistent with writing this summer with all the kids home. But I do want to keep writing and will do it in shorter spurts if that's what it takes.

I realized last night that I haven't written much detail about the Slim Series workout program. It's the follow-up program or more advanced program by Debbie Siebers that's similar to her Slim in 6 program, but much tougher. These workouts have consistently given me better results than any other workouts I've done.

I'll detail them for you so you can see what each has to offer. I remember when I first got the package, I'd look at the brochure and try to differentiate which workout was which, trying to figure out what was special about each. There are reviews on the Video Fitness website, in fact, I even wrote one of them. I actually wrote up VF reviews for all of the Slim Series workouts because I was so impressed, but the website was having problems with reviews getting lost at the time and all but Tear It Up got lost! I later saw that they were recommending to save them on a Word File, but I didn't, so they're gone forever. But I'll give some reviews now -- after doing them dozens of times and may eventually send them onto VF's review page too.

The Slim in 6 program consists of 3 progressive full body workouts -- Start It Up for beginners, Ramp It Up for the next level, and Burn It Up for advanced (plus 2 add-ons -- Slim & 6 pack for abs and Slim & Limber for stretching). Start It Up and Ramp It Up are both near about 45 minutes (SIU a bit shorter). Burn It Up is about an hour long. There was another workout, Keep It Up (high intermediate, but just 40 minutes long instead of an hour like Burn It Up). I often throw Burn It Up into my Slim Series rotation since it's similar in length and intensity. After doing this for 3 weeks though, I'm finding that I like the Slim Series better. The time clock is put to better use -- actually measuring out the time spent on each exercise or body part. In Burn It Up, the time clock groups several moves together and I can rarely look up and anticipate how many more reps or how long we'll spend on a lunge. Still, it has tough tough floor work at the end and I like to do it from time to time.

The Slim Series has 5 advanced workouts. Three are just under an hour (Tone It Up, Mix It Up, and Firm It Up). Two are 78 minutes long (Shape It Up and Tear It Up). All are total body workouts except for Firm It Up, which only works the lower body. Cool It Off is also an hour long, but is a complete stretch workout.

As much as I love Debbie and her tried and true stretches AND the fact that she holds the stretches for the recommended 30 seconds each to get a true stretch, I couldn't do Cool It Off for very long. It just didn't hold my interest. I love yoga and thought I'd love Cool It Off too. But I got antsy every time I did it. Each of the Slim Series has a "Music Off" option, so I tried it without the music, while adding my favorite yoga music or mellow music. I still couldn't do it. So I came to grips with the fact that I'd just do a long yoga dvd on my stretch day of a Slim Series rotation. I do love her Slim & Limber from the Slim in 6 series though. It's a perfect add-on stretch at about 15 minutes of nice long stretches (but not for too long :)).

Cool It Off is chaptered with the following stretches:

1) Introduction
2) Warm Up (3:45)
3) Standing Stretches (17:20)
4) Seated (on chair) Hip Stretch (3:20)
5) Core Stabilization (6:05)
6) Lying Prone Stretches and Lower Back Work (9:45)
7) Lying Supine Stretches (9:45)
8) Seated Stretches (9:00)
9) Standing Stretches (2:00)

I really haven't done it in years because I traded it away on the Ya-Ya Swap when I saw I wasn't using it much. I should give it another shot. I'm sure it's relaxing.

Out of the rest of the Slim Series workouts, my very favorite is Shape It Up. Before I did this one, I had a mental block that I couldn't handle a workout that was over an hour long. This one is 18 minutes over that, but somehow I broke past that barrier without any angst. In fact, this workout always flies for me. It's shorter in my mind than many hour-long workouts (even some 1/2 hour workouts :)).

Shape It Up is a total body light weight/high repetition workout with plenty of standing waist and core work throughout. The waist work, as Debbie calls it, is thrown in between weight segments and feels like a fun break. Don't let it kid you. It may feel like it's just there for a rest, but it really does stretch and work the core. There have been many times when I've done other workouts for awhile (yes, with traditional ab work or Pilates core work), then I'll do Shape It Up and will feel SO SORE in my core the next day. I know I've worked my core in a new, effective way.

Shape It Up is also chaptered perfectly so if you want to do a 45 minute lower body/core workout, you can hit "skip" on your remote every time the upper body work begins and it will take you directly to the next waist segment or lower body segment. The same is true if you want an upper/core workout -- just hit "skip" on the lower body segments. I do this the most often for a quick lower body workout. I prefer it to Firm It Up, actually, which has lots of great standing leg and floor leg work, but also has a lengthy pelvic floor segment that tends to drag for me. (I do know how to skip that though :)).

One thing I love about Shape It Up is Debbie uses the light weights for upper body work in ways that feel good to my body, yet work it. Amidst the upper and core work, Debbie throws in lunges and squats which get my heart rate up. I think that Debbie's found a way to get the Heart Rate up throughout a weight workout so that we're working our muscles and getting some cardio benefit. She also does some brief cardio moves (running in place, 1/2 jacks, and twist jumps). Sometimes I do the cardio on my rebounder, but most often, I just do it on the floor like she does. In a few of the Slim Series workouts, Debbie uses the resistance band, which is effective and tough, but I enjoy using the dumbbells more. This workout only uses the dumbbells.

Another thing I love about Shape It Up is the floor work.For the floor work, Debbie has a few terribly tough lying leg exercises that hit the muscles fast, but I'm always able to get through. My favorite is the one that she says is a move Physical Therapists use. You lie back onto your forearms and have your knees bent. You kick one foot into the air, then do a few variations of that move. I've had knee problems over the past 5 years and these workouts strengthen the muscles around my knee better than any others I've done. I told Debbie this the first day I met her -- that I always go to the Slim Series (particularly SIU) when my knee is bothering me. It helps my knee heal instead of aggravate it like other workouts. She seemed surprised to hear that.

Shape It Up is chaptered like this:

1) Introduction
2) Warm-up (5:23)
3) Lower body: squats, squat/front kick, dips, dip/front kick, deadlifts (5:45)
4) Standing core work: side reaches, side bends (2:37)
5) Chest/back/shoulders: standing chest work, bent-over rows, upright row (3:25)
6) Standing core work: waist twists, twists/punches, side bends (2:10)
7) Shoulders: arnold press, overhead press, reverse fly (2:40)
8) Lower body: leg abductions, squat/side kick, standing inner thigh work, plie squat/calf raise (8:52)
9) Standing core work: side crunches, oblique crunches (2:56)
10) Biceps/triceps: curls, kickbacks (3:53)
11) Standing core work: knee pulls, twists, uppercut punches (2:19)
12) Lower body: standing leg curls, floor exercise for quadriceps (9:44)
13) Chest/triceps (floor): chest fly, chest press, pullovers, tricep press (7:16)
14) Abs and lower body (floor): inner and outer thigh work, crunches (9:40)
15) Shoulders/biceps/triceps: front raise, reverse fly, concentration curls, tricep overhead extension (7:04)
16) Stretch (4:25)

Another favorite is Tone It Up. For me, Tone It Up is a mini-Shape It Up. It's a fun mix of upper and lower body toning. Lots of lunges, squats, and kicks to get that heart rate up (and work the lower body) as well as upper body weight work and a bit of cardio amidst it all. There are some compound moves in this workout that VFers compared to the old FIRM workouts when it first came out. The FIRM is known for 4 limbed movements, where you are step touching or walking in place, but are using weights for the upper body at the same time. This keeps the heart rate up (and makes it more fun). Debbie does this a few times in Tone It Up and I tend to add some steps to other upper body work just for the fun and challenge.

Like Shape It Up, the last 1/4 of the workout is done on the floor, which really breaks up the workout to make the time pass quickly. The outer thigh work just has 3 moves, but is SUPER TOUGH! Debbie laughs throughout it because it's tough for her too, which makes the time pass a bit easier as those muscles are BURNing!

I love any workout with chest flies. I'm not sure why, but they're my favorite. I usually do them on my step or on the coffee table (my weight bench) instead of the floor. It just seems to give me a better range of motion.

Here's how the workout is chaptered:
1) Introduction
2) Warm-up, part 1 (2:27)
3) Warm-up, part 2 (3:05)
4) Lower body: dip, squat, squat + leg lift, front kick + back kick (5:38)
5) Step touch + pull-backs, squat + row, alternating reverse fly, reverse fly, upright row, squat +
hammer curl (7:17)
6) Plie squat + chest crossover, plie squat + chest pullup, plie squat + standing chest fly, squat + tricep kickback (4:11)
7) Dip + front raise, lunge + bicep curl, static lunge + side raise, shoulder combo: front-side-rear
raise, rotator cuff, squat + W-press, squat (11:57)
8) Chest fly, chest press, tricep press, bridgework + tricep lying overhead ext, bridgework (7:22)
9) Inner thigh floor work (2:14)
10) Outer thigh floor work, pushups (7:21)
11) Abs (3:42)
12) Stretch (5:05)

Tear It Up has more cardio in it than the other Slim Series workouts. The cover says it's a Total Body Blast. It's a long one like Shape It Up -- 78 minute long. But it's a lot different. There's no floor work at the end -- all of the lower body work is done standing. I like to do this one in between Shape It Up and Tone It Up or either of those and Firm It Up because it doesn't work the lower body as hard as any of those (and prevents overtraining). It does have a ton of upper body work though. It's a full body circuit workout where you alternate weights and cardio, weights and cardio.

At first, this wasn't one I wanted to do all that often. The floor cardio became boring at times (or had too much impact when my knee was bothering me). If the workout were an hour long, I probably could have handled it, but the 78 minutes was long when I wasn't loving it. I later found that I could use my rebounder for most of the cardio segments and I love it this way. The only cardio moves I do on the floor are the burpees (blast from the past in P.E.) and kickboxing kicks (always love those).

Since there are so many upper body moves (both with dumbbells and the resistance band), when I'm pressed for time, I'll skip the resistance band section near the end to save 10 minutes. For a workout close to an hour long, sometimes I even skip the last lower body segment too.

The only thing I find lacking in this workout is a lot of chest work. There are plenty of dead lifts, though, and the last time I did this workout, I did a bunch of chest flies and chest presses during the final dead lift series.

Here's the complete breakdown of the workout:

1) Introduction
2) Warm-up (5:20)
3) Upper body: upright row, bent-over row, standing chest press, rotator cuff, W-press, reverse fly, bicep curls, tricep overhead extension (9:31)
4) Cardio: knee pull, uppercut and front punch, side lunge with toe touch, knee pull in low lunge
position, jog, jack (4:09)
5) Lower body: squat, squat + knee up, lunge, dead lift, plie squat, calf raise (7:56)
6) Cardio: front kick + back kick, side kicks, plyo squats, jog, jack (4:10)
7) Upper body (8:22) and lower body (8:11)
front raise + pull back, chest pull-up, side raise, bicep curl, hammer curl, wide bicep curl, reverse
fly, tricep kickback
squat, ski squat, low end squat, dead lift, one-legged dead lift, plie squat, calf raise
8) Cardio: burpees, fast run, jog, jack (3:10)
9) Upper body with tubing: one-arm row, bicep curl, overhead press, side raise, tricep overhead
extension (9:42)
10)Lower body: squat + side kick, dip, deadlift, plie squat + calf raise (6:41)
11) Abs (4:30)
12) Stretch (6:30)

Mix It Up is one that I probably have done the least. I like it, but don't love it as much as the others and often do Burn It Up in its place or Shape It Up twice that week. This workout uses the resistance band (RB) and dumbbells. I used to feel far more comfortable using weights instead of the band. It took me awhile to be able to figure out what length I'd need right away to make it effective (or not too tough) without having to rewind or skip back. I also didn't like if the band would rub against my arm or leg while I was doing a move. But I've gotten better at it and enjoy the challenge. You don't have to use the band though. You can do the same move with the dumbbells and get a good workout too.

It's one minute shorter than the other ones that are just under an hour (57 minutes long).

1) Introduction
2) Warm-up (5:17)
3) Back, biceps, legs -- lat pulls, alternating lunges/hammer curls, bent-over rows, crossover lunges/bicep curls, double rows (RB), squats/bicep curls (RB), jogging, half jacks(7:39)
4) Shoulders, legs -- shoulder presses, pliés, pliés/front raises, rear delt raises, reverse lunges/side kicks, arnold press, pliés/lateral raises, rear delt raises, squats/side leg lifts,
alternating shoulder press (RB), jogging, half jacks (11:52)
5) "Midsection series" -- punches, reaches, uppercut punch, crossover punch, upward reaches, side crunches, crossover reaches, side bends, downward reaches, chair pose, plié pose, side stretch (6:37)
6) Chest, triceps, legs -- standing chest flies, one-arm french press (RB), c-sweeps (for chest),
supine french press, pelvic tilts, push-ups, kneeling tricep kickbacks, bent-leg lifts (table work), chest press, rotating chest press, rib cage pullovers, tricep press (15:46)
7) Abs -- reverse crunches, alternating oblique crunches, standard crunches, double crunches (3:02)
8) Stretch (6:48)

Firm It Up is a tough lower body workout that somehow is advanced without any weights in the entire workout. Ankle weights are optional. I guess I do put the ankle weights on. But she doesn't use any weights for squats and lunges and it's still quite a challenge.

1) Introduction
2) Warm-up (4:08)
3) Squats, quad exercise, squat/knee up, ski squats, one-legged squats, squat/abduct, side kicks, side kick/step-out squat, plyo squats (16:14)
4) Standing inner thigh, side kicks, leg abduction/standing crunch (9:57)
5) Inner thigh floor work: frog, open and close, criss-cross (4:06)
6) Bridge work -- pelvic tilts (9:55)
7) Abs, including some bonus outer thigh work (7:58)
8) Stretch (6:19)

I'm going to do Firm It Up and Mix It Up one more time this week and I'll add more details with more fresh in my mind.