Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A mantra is a word or phrase that is spoken or chanted over and over again, either mentally or aloud.  They can be hard to translate, but it is not absolutely necessary to understand exactly what they mean.

Word Games:  Mantras are words of power.  Their effectiveness lies in the vibration of the sound.  When they are vibrated correctly the sound strikes a certain frequency, which resonates within the subtle body, stimulating the psychic energy centers and releasing blockages in the energy flow.

The best known mantra is "Om."  This is said to be the primal sound, the sound which, going forth at the beginning of time, brought the whole universe into being.  Om is a "seed mantra," one from which other mantras are formed.  A much-loved mantra is "Om mani padme hum."  Approximately translated, this means "hail to the jewel in the lotus," the jewel being the divine spirit and enlightenment hidden within the lotus of our being.

Make Your Own Mantra:  In the East, mantras are chosen for a pupil by a teacher.  However, you can choose your own.  This can be very simple.  A single word such as "love" or "harmony" will suffice, or a phrase such as "peace to the world."  You can use the name of a spiritual master or even your own name.

There are also plenty of ancient mantras springing from various spiritual traditions.  If you have a specific religious belief, then try using part of a prayer, hymn, or saying as a mantra.

Monday, December 27, 2010


The religions of the East have long used meditation as a means to connect with a deep level of spiritual enlightenment.  Many of the techniques used in these traditions are highly practical and effective.

Koans:  One of the various ancient meditation schools, Zen Buddhism, uses koans.  A koan is a riddle that defies logic.

Probably the most famous koan is:  "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"  The Zen master chooses a koan for the pupil and tells him or her to go away and meditate on it with single-minded devotion.  This might take the pupil days, weeks, or even years.  When the conscious mind finally gives up the impossible task of solving the elusive conundrum, the anser suddenly arises intuitively from the higher consciousness.  This is an iimportant lesson in the process of understanding.

Mandalas:  Another ancient method, used particularly in Tibetan Buddhism, is the mandala.  This is a symbolic picture incorporating geometrical shapes, especially the square and the circle.  Typically, a mandala is divided into four outer sections representing the outer world and a round inner section symbolizing the self.  Through contemplating its elaborate imager, the meditator is led from his or her outer to the inner being, where balance and wholeness are found.

I actually enjoy coloring mandalas.  I have two sets of mandalas.  I small set of round cards that I sometimes take to work with him.  It is a great way to decompress during a 30 minute lunch.  The second set is larger and each one requires more time than 30 minutes.  My children also enjoy coloring them.

Eight-fold path:  A major tenet of eastern meditation is the Buddhist eight-fold path.  This embraces right thought, right action, right speech, and right understanding.  It is a philosopy of compassion, respecting all beings and harming none.  Meditation is viewed as the means of discovering our Buddha nature, which in non-Buddhist circles we might call the true light within.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


As I have mentioned in previous blogs; part of being healthy is taking time to take care of ourselves.  Meditation is a great way to destress and to get balanced.

In eastern monasteries, the monks and nuns spend much of their time carrying out menial tasks like raking the paths.  How do they meditate then?  In fact, any activity can be used to meditate by being "mindful."  For me, my most meditative state is when I play the piano.  There are other ways to find that focus and balance to get you centered again.


Meditation doesn't always mean sitting still with your eyes closed.  Whatever you are doing, whether it is eating, working on the computer; or washing the automobile, do it with your undivided attention.  This practice is called "mindfulness."  It sounds much easier than it is.  See how long you can hold your attention before your thoughts wander.  Mindfulness helps you to be fully present in every moment of the day, without regrets about the past or anxiety for the future.  It is a way of bringing meditation into every day chores.

Walking Meditation:

1)  walk slowly, keeping your body relaxed and your eyes open.  Turn your attention to the actions of your body rather than just your breath.
2)  Be fully conscious of every move you make.  Be aware of lifing one foot and putting it in front of the other, as well as your breathing.
3)  Feel how your arms are moving.  Being conscious of your body as it propels you forward, the blood flowing carrying oxygen to your muscles.
4)  Concentrate wholly on the present moment, performing every action with your whole attention.  You can try this out at intervals during the day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Children are naturally creative.  They play, dance, sing, and paint with no inhibitions, for the sheer joy of expressing themselves.  Creativity is an essential part of human behavior that we shouldn't dismiss.

ART CLASS - As we grow up, we learn to suppress this natural spontaneity.  We dismiss our imagination as childish fantasy.

Meditation puts you in touch once more with your inner child and renews your sense of the joy and wonder of life.  Many writers, artists, musicians, and people engaged in creative pursuits find inspiration through this means.  It enables them to tap into a spring that constantly flows with fresh thoughts and ideas.

Try exploring your creative potential by having a supply of paper and coloring pencils on your table when you meditate.  After a period of stillness, allow yourself to draw or color.  Don't worry about whether you have any artistic skill.  Just go with the flow, letting your imagination be free and fully expressive.

Once you learn to link with your inner child iin this way, you will find that you become more creative in all areas of your life.  Gardening, cooking, writing a letter to a friend, or writing a report become opportunities for self-expression.  You might surprise yourself with your hidden talents.

Just a few pencils and
scraps of paper are enough to help you
express your creativity.  Many of us grow
up believing that we are not creative - in
fact all of us have a creative aspect.

When you start to express
your creativity, just let your mind be free
to follow whatever path it chooses.  Don't
worry about making sense - you're just
exercising your creative muscles.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Meditation will not make your life plain sailing or remove all your
problems, but it will help you to deal with them.  Meditation can
help us to gain perspective and to make good decisions.

Practical Spirituality - Through meditation, you become more sensative and more able to empathize with others in their troubles.  This gives you a better understanding of how they think and feel, enabling you to be less judgmental and more tolerant.

When you have a problem, begin your meditation session by stating the difficulty clearly to yourself.  It may help to get things clear in your mind if you write them down.  Then go into your meditation in the usual way.  However, it is very important that you do not focus on the problem whil you are meditating, it will only become more firmly embedded in your mind.  Simply go within, seeking to find that still point of balance.

As you do this, insights may arise spontaneously.  Suddenly you might see a way out of the difficulty or realize how you can handle the situation better.  Even if this doesn't happen while you are actually meditating, don't be disappointed.  Often the answer will drop into your mind a day or two later; when you are relaxed and not thinking of anything in particular.  It might also come in a dream.

Meditation helps you to connect with your own source of wisdom and inner intuition, which contains all the answers you need to cope with life's challenges.

Meditation helps us
to become more understanding of other
people.  We can then use this knowledge
in a loving and beneficial way.

Problems and worries
always benefit from meditation.  Write the
problem down if this helps to clarify it
for you.  Meditation as normal, without
focusing on the problem.  Even if
you don't get an answer,
meditation will help you put
the problem in perspective.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


There are many aids you can use to make your mediation easier and more enjoyable.  While these cannot do the work for you, they can help to create the right atmosphere for calm, focused meditation.

Sacred Smells:  Incense has been valued for thousands of years for religious and spiritual ritual, cleansing, and bringing about altered states of consciousness.  You can buy incense or joss sticks from any New Age shop, as well as many mainstream outlets.  Incense also comes in small cones.  My favorite place to get incense is PartyLite.  It may be a little pricey, however, the quality of the product is one of the best that I have purchased.

Ambient Aromas:  Aromatherapy oils, too, are an excellent aid.  Frankincense, jasmine and sandalwood are particularly suitable, either individually or in combination, but you can make up your own blends and experiment.  I love lavendar and violet essential oils - I use these fragrances most every day for the house.  I keep a curio cabinet in my bedroom with some of my favorite oils.

Heavenly Sounds:  Good music, playing softly in the background is relaxing.  There are many New Age CDs and tapes designed specifically for use as meditation aids.  Some people find that classical music, especially Mozart, raises the mind to a more spiritual level.  I have very large collection of music and I choose the music  based on my current mood and needs.

Subconsious Way:  Subliminal tapes work by bypassing the conscious level of mind which often acts as a barrier to deeper mental levels.  They are programmed with instructions which are too quiet for the conscious mind to hear; but which are received and acted upon by the subconscious.  Subliminal video tapes are particularly powerful because they combine spoken suggestions with visual images.

Flowers on the Brain:  Flower essences are increasinly being used by meditators.  In addition to the popular Bach flower remedies, there are numerous other adequate ranges now available.  These operate on a subtle level, increasing spiritual awareness.

Keys to Remember:

ATMOSPHERE - Oils, incense sticks, and
flower essences can all be used to create
a perfectly relaxing and yet stimulating
atmosphere for meditation.

HELPING HANDS - Meditation aids can
 help you to focus, but they are not a
replacement for simple will power and
persistence.  You still have to do the work.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Finding the Point of Stillness

The key to successful meditation lies in performing a delicate balancing act.  Your body must be held still, but without tension.  You have to be relaxed, but not sleepy.  Your mind needs to be receptive, but alert.

Central station - You might wonderhow you can do all these apparently contradictory things at once.  In time it will happen of itw own accord if you just hold your mind fixed steady on one point of concentration.

This can be your breath.  It can be an object, a word, a picture, such as an icon, or an idea.  Whatever it is, the point of concentration is like an anchor in a stormy sea.  For a long while the waves -- the restless thoughts -- surge around you and threaten to carry you away.  But if you can hold onto the anchor long enough, the waves subside and the sea is calm.  When this happens you experience a sublte, but important shift to an altered state of consciousness.  There are no more interfering thoughts, just a gentle peace and an all-encompassing tranquillity.

You will have arrived at the still center, sometimes symbolized as a dot within a circle.  This is the place where you become at one with your inner being.

Calm in the Storm

As you persevere, the elusive moments of total peace will become easier to reach.  This peace will impact on the rest of your life.

Sacred Space

Meditation takes us to the sacred place within us.  This is the place where mystics journeyed to commune with spiritual powers.

Sea of Troubles

The way to the center of our being is strewn with turbulence.  It takes perseverance to endure the storm.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Overcoming Mental Resistance

The breathing meditation might sound very simple, but in fact it is very difficult to perform.  You will find that, as soon as you try to concentrate, all kinds of thoughts and images flood into your mind.

Interference:  Bodily sensations become magnified.  Your nose itches or you want to fidget.  Outside noises seem unnaturally loud and startling.  You might start drifting off to sleep, or else become bored and think you are wasting your time.  Often it is the hands that want to fidget first -- craving something to do.

Don't be discouraged by any of this.  Everyone experiences these difficulties in the early days of meditation.  The rational mind, which is used to being firmly in control of your thought processes, rebels when you set it aside and turn your attention in ward.  It behaves like a child that feels neglected and clamors for attention and entertainment.

So you can overcome the problem by treating it like a child.  Be gentle, but firm.  Refuse to give into its demands.  Acknowledge the thoughts and sensations that inevitably arise, but do not allow yourself to be drawn into them.  Simply view them as if from a distance, then refocus your attention.

It may be necessary to practice this technique time and time again, and there may well be occasions when you fell it is a hopeless task.  But persevere -- it will become easier with practice.

WORLD RESIDUE - all of su have pressures and worries about our everyday lives that can interfere with meditation.  Meditation helps make these worries less troubling.

STRANGE NEW WORLD - When we start to meditate, our inner world can seem unfamiliar territory.  With regular practice we become comfortable with ourselves.


The brain is an incredible organ, capable of thousands of calculations every second.  In essence, we write a book every day with our constant thinking, worrying, and planning.  Meditation puts us in touch with an equally amazing ability of our minds -- one far more rewarding than intelligence or wit.  With it we can get in touch with a spiritual level far beyond the experience of most people.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Take another deep breath and, as you let it out, feel that you are breathing out all tension and anxiety so that you become freer and lighter.  Enjoy these moments, when you can heal and nurture yourself.

INNER LESSONS:  Focusing on your breath can help to bring insights about the essential flux of all things, from the tides of the oceans to the seasons and the natural cycles of life and death.

It is often thought that, in order to meditate, you have to make your mind go blank.  This is almost impossible to achieve and, in fact, it is not necessary to try.  It is far easier and more effective to give your mind something on which to focus.  There are numberous techniques for doing this, some of which will be described later.  A very good exercise to start with involves the use of breath.


  1. Close your eyes and do the progressive relaxation exercise described in the previous post.  Then let the breath fall into its natural rhythm.
  2. Do not attempt to control it: merely observe.  Be conscious of the air entering and leaving your nostrils.  Note the rise and fall of your ribcage.
  3. Focus on nothings but the breath.  When other thoughts intrude, dismiss them gently without haste and return your attention to the breath.
  4. After a while you will notice that something strange happens.  You have the sensation that, rather than breathing, you are "being breathed."
Breathing Meditation

Mindfulness of breathing, as breathing meditation is sometimes known, is one of the oldest, simplest, and perhaps most effective forms of meditation.  It is meditation in its most essential form.  It guides us toward giving our minds totally to the act of listening.  Not to the sounds around us, but to the underlying meaning behind all existence.  In this open state, the meditator is receptive to enlightenment.

If you have difficulty with this process on your own you can pick up a YOGA CD that walks you through meditation.  After several sessions you will be able to do this on your own.

Monday, October 25, 2010


In order to meditate effectively you need to be relaxed.  Most people carry far more tention than they realize, both in the body and in the mind.  Until this is released, it is hard to enter into a condition of stillness.

Progressive relaxation exercise:

  1. Close your eyes.  Make sure your spine is erect.  Take a few deep breaths, drawing the breath deep down into your chest, feeling it expand.  Just focus entirely on your breathing, allow other thoughts to simply to come and then go.
  2. Now expand your ribcage, then your upper chest.  Hold the breath for a few seconds, then let it out gradually in reverse order, first from your upper chest, then the rigcage, and finally from your abdomen.  Again, keep focused on your breathing.
  3. Exhale until all the air is expelled.  Hold the outbreath for a few seconds, then breathe in as before.  Do this until you establish a comfortable, steady rhythm.  Focus on your breath as it touches your lips and then reaches deep into your chest.
  4. Now bring your attention to your feet.  Tense the muscles of your toes, then relax them.  As you do so, mentally command your toes to relax.  Do the same with your feet and legs.  Work your way up, tensing and releasing all the muscles in turn.
The relaxation procedure is very simple -- but most meditation students find that it takes a few weeks of practice to get it right.  You might need to go through it several times before you fell it has really worked.  Don't hurry over this.  Even if all you learn in your first few sessions is how to achieve a fully relaxed state, you will have learned a valuable lesson.

Friday, October 22, 2010

POSTURE - Sitting Comfortably?

The traditional posture for meditation in the East is the lotus posture.  However, it can be hard to maintain this position.  Meditation does not go well with cramp!  If you have issues with your knees like I do, it will be difficult at first to maintain that position.

Fortunately, you can meditate just as well sitting on a chair, as long as it is firm and upright.  Take care before you start that your spine is erect.  Your whole body should be comfortable:  poised but relaxed, your feet firmly on the floor, hands resting lightly on your knees or in your lap.

You do not need to wear any special clothing.  Once again, the first rule is comfort:  don't wear anything too tight.  The idea is to forget about the body so that the mind can be free.

Make sure that the room is suitably lit: dim and restful, but not too dark.  The temperature should be pleasantly warm, but not overly hot.  All these preparations will help you to adopt the correct mental attitude -- and make it less likely that you will fall asleep.

When you first start to meditate, it can be hard to ignore outside noise.  You will be in a highly sensitive state in which loud noises are interruptions jar the nerves.  So make the family promise not to disturb you, disconnect the telephone, then shut the door.  You are now ready to begin your adventure of self-discovery.

Semi Lotus:  If you can't quite manage the lotus position, try sitting cross-legged on the floor.  If you don't have carpet or rugs down, sit on a thin pillow.

Back Traight:  If you use a chair for meditation, choose one with a straight back and spend a few moments before you meditate getting your spine upright.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Everyone can learn to meditate.  All it takes is patience and perseverance.  You don't have to be religious or into "far-out philosophies."  Before you start, you need to create the right conditions.

Meditation space:  Ideally, you should set aside a room which is kept only for meditation, where the spiritual energy you generate can build up and be held.  If, like most people, you cannot afford the luxury of a meditation room, choose somewhere -- perhaps a corner of your bedroom -- where you can sit and meditate without being disturbed.

This area should be simply furnished.  All you need is an upright chair (not an armchair) and a table.  Keep the room neat and tidy.  Open the window frequently to let in fresh air to cleanse it.  Decorate it with pictures you find uplifting and keep fresh flowers there.  This is your special place, your sanctuary.

Try to make time to meditate every day.  You don't need long:  10 or 15 minutes is enough to start with, increasing to half an hour or more as you become more experienced.  Quality is definitely better than quantity!  Early morning is generally considered the best time for meditation, while your mind is still fresh and before you become absorbed in the business of the day.  If you cannot manage this, the next best time is the evening.  But the most important thing is to choose the time that suits you and stick to it.  Good, regular practice acts to condition and train the mind.  You'll find that the more regularly and often you practice, the eaiser meditation becomes.

Basic Setup:  The physical requirements for meditation are few.  Use a straight-backed chair, not an armchair.

Flower Power:  Fresh flowers are a soothing refreshing presence in any room.  Use them in your sacred space to keep your mind engaged and focused.


Meditation brings benefits on all levels of our being.  Physically, it has been shown to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, banish insominia, and aid pain control.


Emotionally, meditation calms us down.  It helps us to rise above all the conflicting emotions, hopes, desires, anxieties, and fears that shape and sometimes distort our thinking.  Through regular practice, we learn how to enter a still space in the mind in which all these feelings are seen as transient and ultimately unimportant in the scheme of things.  From this perspective, we discover what really matters, where we are in life, and where we are going.

This innter tranquillity brings with it greater clarity of mind.  We cope better with stress and can work more effectively.  We become more tolerant and loving in our relationships with others.

But the most significant benefit of meditation is in our spiritual development.  Many people today are looking for something to believe in.  They sense that there is a spiritual dimension to life, but they are dissatisfied with traditional religions and dogmas.  Meditation leads us inward, to our deep center, where we touch the eternal spirit within.  Here, we find our own truth and discover an infinite source of wisdome and love.

REAL REWARDS:  In the stress and business of today's world, it is easy to start feeling out of control.  Meditation can help us to keep a proper perspective on life and to be able to cope with difficult every day experiences.

STILL WATERS:  Just as the sun reflects clearly off still waters, so the world is seen most clearly by a serene mind.  Stress distorts reality and makes things see much worse than they are.

NO MYSTERY:  Meditation is a journey -- so the sooner you start, the sooner you start enjoying its many rewards.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A key part of a healthy life style is meditation.  When we feel good from the inside it begins to radiate to the outside.

What is meditation?

Meditation means many things to many people.  For some it is simply a way of relaxing.  Others use it to bring about peace of mind.  Spiritual seekers see it as a vital tool for connecting to deeper levels of reality.

Meditation has been used in the East for thousands of years, wehre it forms a central part of spiritual practice and discipline.  The western world has been slower to appreciate its benefits.  However, mediation is now becoming accepted not merely as a weird New Age pasttime, but as a practical aid to inner growth and positive personal development.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not a passive activity.  It is not a matter of closing your eyes and going into a trance or drifting off into a daydream.  Rather, it is a means of actively focusing the mind on a single point of concentration.  When this focus is achieved, something wonderful happens.  The out mind, the "monkey mind" as Buddhists call it, which is always darting restlessly from one thought to another, slows down.  The meditator enters a state in which he or she is totally centered, and mind, body, and spirit are brought into harmony.

Meditation is a transforming process that can ultimately reach into every aspect of our lives.  It is the first step in a magical journey of self-discovery.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


A Conversation with George Vutetakis - by Renee Rudzewicz

San Diego resident George Vutekais was first exposed to the language of food as a young boy in his Greek grandmother Yia Yia's kitchen, where he experienced the importance of cultural cooking traditions through flavors, tastes and smells.  His passion for food continued as he traveled and studied in India, learning traditional food preparation methods.  After years of managing many kitchens, running a restaurant in Manhattan and cooking for hundreds of people in India and America, Vutekakis became head chef at Inn Season Cafe, in Royal Oak.  He left almost two decades later to pursue teaching and writing.  His cookbook, Vegetarian Traditions, is a collaboration of his culinary history with some of his most treasured recipes.

What does healthy eating mean to you?

Healthy eating is a lifestyle choice, in which food is as important as exercise or sleep.  Eating healthy is a relationship that we form with food, and when we build a healthy relationship with the foods we eat, we will have a healthy lifestyle.  For example, shopping at our local farmers' market or maintaining our own garden allows us to become part of the process and partners in utilizing fresh ingredients pulled straight from the ground.  When we have a healthy balance of food, we maintain a balanced lifestyle, which begins when we treat the food we eat with respect.

Food is one of the most intimate things in our lives, because it is tied into our emotions.  My experience in studying and cooking with other cultures has enabled me to embrace the idea that food is a celebration, not just something we eat.

What do you believe is the key to living a healthy life?

Food.  Knowing your food.  Once you begin to know what you're eating (instead of the food we buy packaged at the store, with an overload of foreign ingredients), then you begin to take the next steps of regeneration.  The more we learn to appreciate the food we eat, the better we can maintain a healthy life.

What advice can you give about cooking?

As you prepare to cook, think about the ingredients you are using and the receipe you a duplicating, so that you have a relationship with the food you eat and are part of the process.  The hourney begins in the ground, where the ingredients are grown, and moves to our kitchens, where they are cooked and prepared.  I always shop local and buy organic, and I encourage others to do the same.

Why did you write "Vebetarian Traditions?"

For years, people asked me to write a cookbook, but there was never enough time.  After I left Inn Season Cafe, my main focus became creating a healthy cuisine cookbook with 100 percent vegan recipes that any person, carnivorous or not, could enjoy.  The history of the dishes and the traditional methods of preparation are included.

For more info on George Vutetakis, visit TheVegetarianGuy.com.

Renee Rudzewicz is a freelance writer in Metro Detroit.  Her work has appeared in Traverse magazine, Hour Detroit magazine and Corp! magazine.  Email Renee.Rudzewicz@gmail.com

Monday, June 14, 2010


I was moderately successful with my diet and exercise plan.

I used the stair master for 30 minutes this morning at 5:00 a.m.  According to the digital display I burned 170 calories; travelled 1.27 miles (equivalent to 60 floors).

I stuck to my diet for the most part.  I broke down at about 11:30 and ordered some fries and a voltage mountain dew from the roach coach.

I still consumed 3 bottles of water (each containing 16.9 fl oz) and 12.0 fl oz of cranraspberry juice.

The rest of my meal plan went is outlined last night.

Tuesday is a rest day.  I won't be going to the gym for any cardio.  Which is probably a good idea since I have not recovered from working in the garden.  My butt muscles and my thigh muscles are screaming at me :)

Tomorrow's Meal Plan:

Cranrasberry juice first thing in the morning

  • Blueberry Banana Smoothie
  • 20 raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup strawberries

  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 chopped pear over 2 cups spinach salad with 1 tbsp light raspberry vinaigrette
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 4 tbsp light ranch dressing
  • 2 cups spring mix salad with 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp olive oil and juice of lemon
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 small salmon (steamed, baked, or broiled) fillet

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Okay!  The visit from Dara and Jeremy resulted in the need to get back on track.  I don't know how much weight I gained while they were here; however, my clothes don't fit right :)

This week we begin again.

We are going to start with a 7-Day Cleanse and some cardio.

Monday's Cardio Plan:
  • 30 minutes on the stair stepper
Monday's Meal Plan:

1/2 cup of cranberry juice when I first wake up

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 20 raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup blue berries
  • 1/2 can salmon with celery, onion, 1 tsp olive oil, garlic & balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup steamed zucchini
  • 2 cups spring mix salad with 1 tbsp sesame seeds, 1 tsp olive oil and juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup sliced red pepper
  • 1 cup sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup beet greens
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 2 cups spring mix salad with 1 tbsp sesame seeds, 1 tsp olive oil and jice of 1 lemon
  • 1 piece roast/grilled chicken breast
This is a good way to jump start your metabolism and to clean out your digestive system.  Try it; you'll like it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Walk Yourself Thin

Setting a goal is one of the best ways to stay committed to exercise, especially now that summer is dwindling and your walking program may be lagging.   So, let's try training for a 10K.  Melissa is an old pro at this... if she has any thing to add that would be awesome!

This is my first week trying this new approach.  Week #1 will consist of the following:

Monday:  Walking, easy pace (everday stroll), 3 miles

Since I have a membership at Gold Gym I will be able to track the distance on the treadmill.

Tuesday:  Any low-intensity activity (like gardening, house cleaning or bike riding), for 30 consecutive minutes

Since we are still working on getting the Garden ready for planting and getting the yard ready for Easter I will be spending time after work in both of these areas.

Wednesday:  Walking, moderate pace (you have to catch your breath occasionally), 3 miles

Again I will be back at the gym.

Thursday:  OFF

I will probably spend my evening reading or sewing

Friday:  Low-intensity activity, 30 minutes

I love going to the gym and using the stair stepper.  My plan is to spend 30 minutes on the stair stepper (cure the flat butt that Jennifer says I have).

Saturday:  Walking, easy, 3 miles

back to the gym to use the treadmill

Sunday:  OFF

Let's have fun with this!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DETOX - STAGE 1 (1 - 4 days)


Traditionally, this would be just water - perhaps with a squeeze of fresh lemon to neutralize acidity and stimulate the bowels.  However, there are other liquids that have supplementary benefits:

  1. Freshly made fruit and vegatble juices can help cleanse and regenerate the entire system.
  2. Unsweetened herbal or spice teas such as ginger, dandelion, fennel or yarrow act as useful detoxifiers or circulator stimulants
  3. Broth is another option, made from clean, fresh organic vegetables simmered in water, the liquid strained and the vegetables discarded.
You will not faint or fade away from fasting.  You will feel more energetic, not less.  Some people, however, should not fast and everyone should check with their doctor before undertaking a detox programme that lasts longer than a week.

I make my juices the night before and chill them in the refrigerator overnite.  My favorite it apple and carrot juice.  I will be making this juice this evening for my detox tomorrow.


For the best general tonic for cleansing and boosting the immune system, juice together four carrots and two green apples. 

  1. Warm-Up (5-10 minutes)
  2. Aerobic exercise (15 minutes)
  3. 10-minute toners (10 minutes)
  4. Cool-down (5-10 minutes)
Warm-up Exercises:  There are several things that you can do to warm up.  It is important to warm up before exercising.  Warm-ups are good for preparing body and mind for exercises; warming synovial fluid between the joints; and preventing injury.

TIP:  Practice and perfect complicate moves slowly before doing them at speed

  1. Floor March - March for 5 minutes - to music if this helps
  2. Side Bends - Do 10-12 reaches on each side
  3. Body Twist - twist 5-10 times
  4. Shoulder and Head rolls - 4-5 times
  5. Plies - 10-12 times
  6. Dynamic stretch kicks
  7. Jogging on the spot

Aerobic exercise is good for using calories, fat-burning; firming legs and hips; improving overall fitness levels.  Start with 15 minutes and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes.

  1. Walking
  2. Running
  3. Rope Skipping

Cooling Down is important.  It allows your heart rate to recover gradually; returning muscles to pre-exercise state; preventing stiffness after exercise.
  1. Hamstring stretch
  2. Calf stretch
  3. Quad stretch
  4. all-over lean
  5. Swing out

The tummy toners are good for flattening stomach; strengthening abdominal muscles; improving posture.
  1. Torso twists
  2. Upper body circles
  3. Roll-ups
  4. Rope Climbing
  5. Scissors
  6. Crossed fists
  7. Double leg stretch

Giving your skin a thorough clean out helps to balance moisture, clean the pores and get rid of dead skin cells, paving the way for a smooth new skin surface.  External methods for cleansing the skin are exfoliating, which boost circulation, stimulate the elimination of toxins through the lymphatic system and speed skin cell renewal.  Alternatively, the 'inside-out' method involves boosting circulation and sweating from the inside by heating the body in a sauna or steam room or by undergoing hydrotherapy.

I really enjoy body scrubs.  I have made a rock salt detox scrub and use it about once a week.


Mix a handful of coarse rock salt flakes to a paste with two tablespoons of olive or seame oil.  Add one drop only of rose or lavender essential oil.

Let me know how STAGE 1 of your detox is going by commenting on this blog.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WEEK ONE DETOX (diet; exercise and skin care)

Not only do many of us overeat through habit, but our food has lost much of its nutritional value through processind and is packed full of fat, sugar and additives.  When we pour these and other toxins like alcohol and caffeine into our bodies, our metabolism prioritizes rendering them harmless or "detoxed".  This leaves less energy for the everyday processes of cleansing, healing and renewal.  Over time, the body cannot keep up the pace, strain on the overworked liver and kidneys shows and the body's performance slows down.

Although this detox diet could be adapted to last anywhere from one to four weeks, one week of detoxing should be sufficient to start your Lose Weight Look Great programme.  This detox diet is split into seven stages, so in a week-long detox each state will last one day (in a two-week regime each stage would last two days and so on).  It is important to follow the plan in the order given.  After the liquids-only stage you must come back to food slowly or you will overload the digestive system, undo all you have achieved and even feel quite unwell.


Stage 1     Liquids only
Stage 2     Liquid and fruit only
Stage 3     Add raw vegetables
Stage 4     Add cooked vegetables and brown rice
Stage 5     Add beans, lentils, nuts and seeds
Stage 6     Add grains and live yogurt
Stage 7     Add fish


  1. Warm-up (5-10 minutes)
  2. Aerobic exercise - walking and / or running and / or skipping for at least 15 minutes
  3. 10-minute tones (10 minutes)
  4. Cool-down (5-10 minutes)

Giving yours skin a thorough clean out helps to balance moisture, clean the pores and get rid of dead skin cells, paving the way for a smooth new skin surface.  External methods for cleansing the skin are exfoliating and skin brushing, which boost circulation, stimulate the elimination of toxins through the lymphatic system and speed skin cell renewal.  Alternatively, the 'inside-out' bethod involves boosing circulation and sweating from the inside by heating the body in a sauna or steam room or by undergoing hydrotherapy.


When it comes to beauty it is natural to concentrate on your face, but you should not neglect the rest of your body, especially if you want to be bikini fit!  Caring for your skin is an important part of any beauty routine.  Your skin needs attention all year round, not ust in summer when you emerge from thick layers of winter clothing and start thinking about wearing skimpier outfits.  There are plenty of tips and techniques for you to improve your overall appearance.  As always, diet, exercise and lifestyle play a large part.

Over the next few weeks we will discuss:

  1. Improving your skin
  2. Home treatments
  3. moisturizing
  4. beauty-loving lifestyle
  5. combating cellulite

As well as feeding your skin by eating foods rich in nutrients, total skin care involves using appropriate body and face cleansers, exfoliating regularly to gently slough off dead skin cells and using moisturizers after bathing that contain both hydrating ingredients and antioxidants.


The build-up of body fat usually occurs in adulthood when we are naturally less active than we were as children and when eating tends to be the focus of social occasions.  In women, the excess body fat is commonly stores around the thighs and hips, giving rise to the pear-shaped figure.  Another typical area where fat accumulates in women is the back of the arms.  (This is a trait that my sisters and I all have in common.)

Forget fad diets, fancy equipment, potions, pills and creams.  There are really only two sensible ways to change your body shape - eat less and exercise more.


Aerobic exercise involves using your large muscle groups for 20 minutes or longer, which raises your metabolic rate.  An increased metabolic rate burns calories faster and so speeds up weight loss.  Do such exercise regularly and you will become leaner, with less calories being stored as body fat.  In addition, you will build up muscle mass - even more so if you do weight training and toning.  Since muslces need lots of fuel (in the form of calories) to function, your resting metabolic rate will be raised, too.  The result is that you will look leaner, stronger, shapelier and fitter.


Metabolism is the continual process in the body of breaking down food, burning calories and creating fuel for the energy our bodies need to function.  Metabolic rate refers to the speed at which this happens, and is dependent on factors such as heredity, age, gender, amount of exercise regularly undertaken and muscle-to-body fat ratio.  For example, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate.


These exercises aim to stretch and tone rather than build up bulky muscles.  They aim to firm up specific body areas, although you will not necessarily reduce body fat in these areas.  Just as you cannot dictate where fat accumulates in the body, you cannot dictate where it will come off.  Fat gets stored all over the body and the fat that went on last will most probably come off first.  To shape your figure, you need to attack the fat through a combination of sensible eating and increased aerobic and muscle-strenthening activity.

Last night I finally began my official fat-burning workouts.  Victor and I have gym memberships at Gold's Gym in Oxnard.  Since I haven't worked out in a long time I started off slow.  I set my goal for 15 minutes on the stair stepper. 

I know - it can make your butt bigger.  According to my sister Jennifer, I have a flat butt.  Victor says she is mistaken.  I think Victor would know.  :)

Any way, I ended up staying on the stair stepper for 26.5 minutes.  I had moved at an average of 30 steps per minute which is equivalent to 50 floors and a little over 1 mile.  That's pretty good for my first day back at the gym.

Every morning I also walk for 15 minutes around the office building.

A typical exercise session includes:

  1. 5-10 minutes of warming up
  2. 10-20 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercises
  3. 30 minutes of aerobic activity (which you can build up to if you are not used to exercising)
  4. 5-10 minutes of cooling down and stretching out exercises
This is a little over an hour.  If you are serious about getting back into shape you should set aside an hour and a half of time each day to exercise.  It doesn't all have to be done at one time.  I break mine up throughout the day.  I also have established some healthy practices:

  1. I park further away from the building than necessary and walk briskly to the office (I also do this when I go shopping).
  2. I take the stairs to the second floor of the office building to use the restroom; rather than walking down the hall from the office.
  3. I get up from my desk every hour to stretch and walk out the kinks from sitting at the computer.
Start a little at a time and you will begin to see some changes. 

Monday, March 8, 2010


Although we commonly talk about 'losing weight', strictly speaking it is actually fat loss that concerns us more.  Fad/crash diets may result in a quick loss of weight, but this is usually due simply to loss of fluid, not stored body fat.  The effect is temporary and body shape, which is more important and more noticeable - especially where bikinis are concerned - is not affected.  In addition, weight loss quickly thanks to an unhealthy diet is unlikely to remain lost.  Successful weight loss requires a permanent change of eating habits.

A Pound of Flesh

To lose weight you need to burn stored calories or reduce calorie intake.  Since 500 g (1lb) of body fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, you need to burn calories through physical activity and/or reduce the number of calories you eat for a total of 3,500 in order to lose 500g (1lb) of fat.

Do You Need to Lose Weight?

The amount of body fat you carry may be more significant than your weight alone.  The body mass index (BMI) assesses whether you hold too much body fat in relation to your height.  It is calculated as follows:

BMI = weight in kilograms / height in meters squared


BMI = (weight in pounds x 700) / height in inches squared

For women, a BMI between 19 and 24 is normal, while the range for men is between 20 and 25.  A BMI between 24/25 and 30 is considered overweight.  Anyone with a BMI above 30 is considered obese.

Visible Results of Fat Loss:
  1. Smoother Skin
  2. Change in body shape
  3. Feeling of being less heavy

Friday, March 5, 2010


The downside of the time and labour saving inventions that have been designed to make our lives easier is that they encourage us to be less active.  In addition, the choice of foods now available means we tend to overeat or eat the wrong things.  The end result is that our bodies are often in poorer shape than they should be.  If this applies to you and you are worrying about how you will look on holiday in your bikini, there are three main areas on which you need to focus - losing weight, shaping your figure and beautifying your body.

Over the next several weeks we will start changing our habits and begin to lose weight; shape up and beautify our skin and hair.  If you follow the simple steps outlined each day you will see results in about 4 weeks.  If you have a lot of weight to lose it will take longer to reach your ultimate goal, however, you will see results quickly as your progress.

We will begin with a Detox Diet which will help to cleanse the body by resting it from certain foods and allowing it to process what is already in your system.

We will learn how to look at our current eating habits and change them so that we can lose weight in a healthy way.  We will take a look at the best foods to eat for our skin and hair and how and what we eat will keep our energy levels high.

We will learn about shaping up and doing some exercise.  Dieting alone does not make us fit or give us toned muscles.  To look and feel fit we need to combine a healthy diet with fat-burning aerobic exercise and some toning or resistance exercise to build and tone muscle.  The more workout you can manage in a week, the quicker you will improve your body shape.

Beautiful hair and skin add to the already amazing package of a slimmer and more fit body. 

There are many beauty treatments we can undertake to look great in a bikini.  All are best in conjunction with a healthy eating plan.  Good health on the inside really shines through on the outside in the form of a better complexion, glossy hair and a healthy glow.  If you feel good you will look good, and have no qualms at all about wearing a bikini in public.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


If you didn't figure it out while you were taking the test this is where you should be when all is said and done:

1.  Eat breakfast every day
2.  Eat 5 or more portions of fruit, vegetables or salad a day
3.  Cut high-fat foods to once a week or less
4.  Snack foods should be fresh fruit
5.  Water and herbal tea should be preferred over other beverages
6.  Consume at least one calcium-rich dairy food, such as milk, chees or yogurt each day
7.  Should exercise at least 3-4 times a week
8.  Should practice sun safety by covering up - especially in the hottest part of the day
9.  Wear dark glasses to block out harmful rays
10.  Exfoliate every week

Stay tuned to how we are going to get there.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Complete the questionnaire below to assess how much you need to change in your life to get to your final goal of being fit and looking great.

1.  Do you eat breakfast?
  • (a)  Never
  • (b)  Only at weekends
  • (c)  Every day
2.  How many portions of fruit, vegetables and salads to you eat each day?
  • (a) One or two
  • (b) Three or four
  • (c) Five or more
3.  Do you eat high-fat foods (like sausages, pies, burgers, chips, cheese and butter)?
  • (a) More than once a day
  • (b) Most days
  • (c) Once a week or less
4.  Which of these is your favorite snack?
  • (a) A chocolate bar
  • (b) A cake or biscuits
  • (c) Fresh fruit
5.  Given the choice, would you prefer to drink?
  • (a) A can of fizzy drink such as a cola
  • (b) Tea or coffee
  • (c) water or herbal tea
6.  Do you have a calcium rich dairy food, such as milk, cheese, or yogurt?
  • (a) Now and then
  • (b) Several times a week
  • (c) At least once a day
7.  How often do you exercise?
  • (a) Never
  • (b) Once a week
  • (c) Most days
8.  How much time do you spend sitting in the sun?
  • (a) I love sun bathing on holiday and my skin tans easily
  • (b) Quite a lot when the weather's good, but I always use a sun screen
  • (c) I cover up, especially in the hottest part of the day
9.  When do you wear sunglasses?
  • (a) I've got a whole range of fashion sunglasses for every occasion
  • (b) I always wear them in the summer
  • (c) I wear dark glasses that block out the harmful rays, even in the winter
10.  How often do you exfoliate?
  • (a) Hardly ever
  • (b) Every day
  • (c) Every week

Friday, February 26, 2010


In sunny California we are beginning to experience warmer days and have begun to shed the warm sweaters and jackets.  We have spent most of the winter covered up under layers of clothes and have forgotten how our flesh and muscles look.  It can be shocking when we realize that we have to take our clothes off in the hot weather!

It's time to do something about it.  Do you want to look awesome in the cute cotton t-shirts and jeans that you stored away at the back of your closet?  Do you want your skin to look radiant and fresh?  Did you pull out that cute Sunday dress and realized that it doesn't quite fit like it did last spring?

Well, I have news for you.  You can get back into shape; have beautiful skin and have fun while getting there.

I have already lost 15 lbs since Christmas and am still working on getting into shape and looking great!  I want to show you how I am doing it.  So, here we go!