Sunday, September 27, 2009

Drink Like Gisele and Zac

If Gisele Bundchen or Zac Efron jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too? Well, I sure hope not, but you should be a copycat when it comes to toting your water.

Not necessarily because you want to be like Gisele or Zac, though.

There are many good reasons to use an aluminum or stainless steel water bottle. Affordability, safety, ease of use, and environmental concerns, to name a few.

Most aluminum (check the liner) and all stainless steel bottles are BPA free. BPA, aka bisphenol A, has been known to leach from plastic (think water bottles) into foods and beverages. It is a building block of polycarbonate plastic (it's even found in some sippy cups and plastic containers) and can cause all sorts of health issues, including heart disease, cancer, early onset of puberty (as BPA is a synthetic sex hormone that mimics estrogen), and neurological disorders. The liquid filling plastic bottles absorbs enough BPA to register significant levels in the urine of the person drinking it.* When the bottles get hot, say in a car, the levels of BPA leaching is considerably higher. Any beverages that come in plastic should be avoided, not just water.

So basically, drinking from plastic bottles can pose some degree of health risk. This is easily avoidable by using just one aluminum or stainless steel bottle, over and over again, day after day. That's the investment, one bottle (about $20 - $30), and the time it takes to wash and fill it.

But what to put inside? Well, to put it frankly, tap water is held to tougher standards than bottled water. In fact, some bottled water is even just filtered tap water. Every bottle of water is supposed to say where they bottle it. Look, and you will see the name and location of the spring, OR you may see something like purified water. You know, filtered tap.

You may not even need to filter your water. Depending on where you live, your tap water may be better for you than most bottled water. Hopefully, your tap doesn't have added fluoride, but that's another story (though you can easily find out). To find out more about your tap water, click here. If you need to, you can easily filter your own water. C'mon. Even I'm doing it. You just need to attach a purification system to your faucet, and remember to check and change the filter as needed. Too much work? You can buy a pitcher with a filter. I know that Pur makes them. Easy, and a small price to pay for your health.

And purifying your tap water will save you money. Pur states that "the cost of water from a home filtration system is approximately 78% less per gallon than bottled water."

If not for your health, do this for the planet. The environmental impact plastic bottles have on the earth is huge. Even if we recycle plastic, remember that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make plastic water bottles each year. And while you may remember to recycle (good for you!), it's estimated that nearly 90% of those water bottles end up in landfills.

Lastly, think about this. How often do you look around, see half empty bottles of water, and call out around the house, "Whose water is this?" I bet that most of the time, that water ends up getting dumped into a plant (that's probably over watered)! If everyone in the family has their own reusable bottle, each with a different design, then this just won't happen. This saves money, water, and probably a few nerves.

The two most commonly used brands of reusable bottles are SIGG and Klean Kanteen.

SIGG bottles are made with aluminum and have non-toxic liners (older bottle liners, from 2007 and previous, had trace amounts in them, but that is no longer the case). SIGG says that the liners will not leach into your drinks, and after over 100 years of making bottles, I think it's safe to believe them. Klean Kanteens are stainless steel bottles that serve the same purpose, but without the need for a liner.

To wash your bottles, simply rinse with warm, soapy water, and allow to air dry with the top off. SIGG also sells a special cleaning brush that you can use for all aluminum or stainless steel bottles. While Klean Kanteens and other stainless steel bottles can go into the dishwasher, it may cause the outside of the paint to chip. Not a problem, just not so pretty. Also, the dishwasher can't really get deep into the bottle, so best to just hand wash them yourself.

My current bottle is a the Om bottle by SIGG for lululemon; it has the manifesto written across it. I like the positive statements, as they are a constant reminder throughout my day of where my focus should be. My son's had a couple different SIGGs, one with bugs on it, pirates on another, but he got his new favorite today. It's called Tiger King and looks martial arts inspired. We were going solely to get bottles for my boyfriend and his two beautiful daughters, but in the end we left with four bottles instead of three.

Have a healthy day.

*Findings from a study done by researcher at the School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, with 77 participants.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

She's Got Legs, She Knows How to Use Them

Legs can be incredibly sexy. Something about them attracts the eye, and holds it for some time. I love wearing heels, mostly because of the way they lengthen my legs and make them look more sculpted. Part of having a well-shaped leg is genetic, but even if you are blessed with nice legs, you can make them look better by doing a few simple exercises every other day. They will only take you a few minutes, but will make a major difference in how your legs look. Best of all, you can do these exercises just about anywhere.

Follow this sequence every other day (your legs need a day to recover in between workouts) to create beautifully sculpted legs. Always check with your doctor before starting this or any new exercise program.

Start with what I call the Bar Method warm-up. It's what you do at the start of each Bar Method class, and it really does a nice job of warming up the body. Stand in place, and do forty leg lifts. With hands on your hips, shoulders back and down, chest high, and chin floating comfortably, lift legs one at a time with bent knees, trying to get your knee higher than waist level (think marching).

Now that you are warm, stand with feet wider than hip width apart, hands on hips, and sit back into a squat. Keep your chest broad, and look straight ahead. If you are not sure how to squat, place a sturdy chair directly behind you, aligning your heels with the front of the chair. Allow your seat to lead as you move backward, as if you were going to sit in the chair. Tap the chair with your seat without relaxing into the chair and rise up by engaging your glutes and hamstrings (squeeze your glute muscles). A good tip is to put your weight in your heels when pushing up; it will help to engage the back of the legs and glutes. Do 30 repetitions.

After your last squat, return to standing and find a sturdy place to rest your hand (for balance). Keeping feet hip with apart, toes facing forward, do 10 calf raises. How? Roll up onto the balls of your feet and slowly release back down. After doing ten on both feet, lift the right foot, wrap it behind your left leg, and do ten single leg raises. Repeat on the opposite side. End with ten more calf raises, keeping both feet on the floor. I've been doing this for months, and I still find this calf work to be incredibly challenging.

After doing this for a couple of weeks, you can increase the workout by repeating the entire program a second time, including the warm-up. 

You may find that you are sore the next day, or even two days later. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). If you are notably sore, taking a daily thirty minute (minimum) walk should help; you can return to the exercises once the soreness is gone. 

A note about heels. While many people say that heels are bad for your feet, I beg to differ. Most of my heels are at least 3" high, so I did research to see what I could find. Dr. Maria Cerutto, an Italian urologist, did a study with 66 women who wore 2" heels on a regular basis. She found that the practice of balancing on heels both tone and strengthen women's pelvic muscles. This provides bladder support (which may help prevent incontinence), and increases sexual satisfaction. 

If you choose to rock out in higher heels, like I did last week at the U2 concert (4" heels for 9 hours) your feet might need a little TLC the next day. I tried an exercise that Kathryn Budig calls the "Post High Heel Yoga Stretch". Basically, you get onto your hands and knees (all fours), push your toes into the floor, and roll back up so that you are on tippy toes and your seat is resting on your heels, keeping your fingertips on the floor for balance. (Budig's explanation is much clearer, and her article is really wonderful - click here to read it). I did this exercise on and off throughout the day and felt relief during the pose and immediately after. I still found myself needing to return to the pose over the next few days, but I love doing it. Following this pose, I would reverse the stretch by kneeling on the floor with the tops of my feet meeting the floor and sitting on my heels.

I also really love wearing Yoga Toes. You don't have to do yoga to use them. Quite frankly, I don't even know why they are called Yoga Toes. They are actually for wearing while at rest. Basically, they look like the things you use to separate your toes when you polish them, but they are a bit bigger, and are used to stretch the muscles of the toes, increase circulation, and straighten bent toes. At first, they are tough to get on, and can feel uncomfortable, so just use them for a few minutes until you get used to them. The manufacturer suggested wetting them to make them easier to put on, though I haven't done that. I am wearing them right now, and let me tell you, they feel fantastic.

Give this exercise segment a try for a few weeks, and let me know what kind of difference you see.

Tiffany Palisi is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Lifestyle Fitness Coach, and Group Fitness Instructor. She has extensive training in Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness, and is a Johnny G certified Spinning Instructor. She trains women in their home, and offers Lifestyle Fitness Coaching in her home office (and by telephone). Palisi works exclusively with women. Visit her website at

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meeting My Goals

I have a goal. Yes, another goal. I am still working toward my 'most fit self' goal for my birthday this year, but after spending a few weeks in the yoga studio, I'm adding a new one.

I'm not exactly sure what it is.

I know that I want to learn the sun salutations, and get so familiar with them that I can make them flow and do them at home in the morning. But my bigger, longer term goal, is to have the strength to do a solid headstand, and eventually work that into Vrischikasana, or Scorpion pose. No small feat for a beginning yoga student. Thus, my goal is tough to set.
In order to set a goal, we need to use the S.M.A.R.T. principles. 
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely

So, I know specifically what I want to do, and can measure what it is. Is it attainable and realistic? I believe it is, with many hours of practice and work to help me move towards those poses, but timely it is not. I cannot set a time goal because, with yoga, I believe that we follow our body and listen for it's readiness. 

While I do know that I will meet both the headstand, and later, Vrischikasana (!), I don't have any clue as to when that will be. I do, however, have a first step in getting there; increasing my time in the studio. This means taking a Saturday morning class at Prana whenever I can, and picking up available classes at the gym. Prana Yoga in Denville is nurturing and challenging, and the teachers are amazing. They work on prana (breathing), asanas (poses), and the spiritual aspect of the practice. 

The first time I saw one of my teacher's, Christy, gracefully move into a handstand, I knew I wanted to do it. Her body aligned perfectly, and I was in awe. In another class, we worked into a position from table, to something I thought the teacher called Scorpion. When I talked about having done it later on, I noticed that people were a little too impressed at my ability to do it. I looked it up online, to check and make sure I was calling it by the right name, and Boy, was I wrong! I don't know what the asana I did was called, and while it was lovely, it was no Scorpion. 

This is Scorpion. 
I guess this goal doesn't meet the S.M.A.R.T criteria. Still, it's on my To Do list. For sure.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Feet

When we think about fitness, it's rare that we think about feet. Perhaps we choose a good sneaker for support or comfort, but other than that, how often do we think about our feet in regards to exercise?
We plant our feet firmly before squatting, keep our feet aligned properly in pedals when spinning, and notice when our toes sometimes go numb on the elliptical. But our feet deserve much more attention than that.

Were it not for our feet, we couldn't walk, stand, kick, jump, run, dance. Until we are faced with bunions, hammertoes, or something similar, we sort of ignore our feet. 

I learned, early on, the importance of keeping my toes flexible. My mother began wearing toe stretcher's back in the 80s, in an attempt to keep her feet healthy. Basically, they stretch and align your toes and improve foot flexibility and appearance. Soon thereafter, I started wearing toe stretchers for 30 minutes before bed most nights. After a while, I got away from it, but returned to wearing them about six months ago. I personally like the brand YogaToes, but there are many great options on the market.

Feet, when taken care of, are a very sexy part of the body, and you owe it to yourself to keep them in top shape (both men and women should do this). I am lucky because W is constantly massaging my feet. Incredible! This gives me great motivation to keep them cared for. I get regular pedicures (weekly in summer, otherwise bimonthly), and make sure that my heels are as soft as possible. I always keep my toenails polished, simply because I like the look of red toes. Tomorrow, however, I will be experiencing something divine. 

A 90-minute, organic spa pedicure. Oh. My. God.

The pedicure includes a pressure point foot massage, and all the products used are organic and fragranced with essential oils. I look at this massage as part of my overall wellness program. Dr. Paul F. Brezinski, DPM (podiatrist) was quoted in an article by Eric Metcalf, as saying, "The health of your feet, despite their distance from your heart, can affect your overall health."

So really, it's silly not to get that organic spa pedicure. It's good for your health.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Free? Gym?

I cannot imagine my life without exercise, yet there are so many people who still don't see their life with exercise. Some of them come to me because they'd like to workout, but they just can't take the first step. 

Here's the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet -- or at least to dip a toe or two in -- with America On the Move week. America On the Move Foundation (AOM) is a national non-profit organization that works toward improving health and quality of life by promoting healthful eating and active living among individuals, families, communities and society. Locally, our YMCA (in Mountain Lakes) is celebrating this foundation and it's principles, by offering one free week at the gym. Did I say FREE? What could be more motivating?

Our Y, the Lakeland Hills YMCA, is kicking off the week on Saturday, September 19th at 1 p.m. They are offering beginner Zumba and Spin classes that day (outdoors, unless it's raining), and having a open swim later in the afternoon. Free babysitting, too. If you have kids aged 7 - 14, they can enter a Wii tournament while you try a class.  

Following the kick off, you get to sample the facility for a whole week, which ends on September 27th. The Y offers both classes and a weight room, cardio, and swimming. Use that week to try a number of different classes. Spin one day, then try yoga, and Zumba the next. Or if you prefer, just take a few days to use the treadmills, or the elliptical machine. One free week at a gym is a great opportunity for newbies to see how it feels to be a gym member. And hey, if you're nervous to go alone, bring a friend. It's all free, all week. (I'd love to go with you. If you are interested, get in touch with me.)

America on the Move is a national event. For information on what's going on in your area, visit their web page by clicking here. For those in the Mountain Lakes, NJ area, call the YMCA for more details (973) 334-2820, or visit their web page by clicking here.

Oh, and tell 'em Bella sent you.

uoıʇdǝɔɹǝd ɟo ɹǝʇʇɐɯ ɐ sı sʇsıxǝ ʎןnɹʇ ʇɐɥʍ

˙uoıʇdǝɔɹǝd ʇnoqɐ ןןɐ s,ʇı ˙ʇı ǝƃuɐɥɔ oʇ ʎɐʍ ʇsǝısɐǝ ǝɥʇ sı ǝɟıן ʇɐ ʞooן noʎ ʎɐʍ ǝɥʇ ƃuıƃuɐɥɔ

I'd love to say that I have mastered my own ability to change my perspective on things. I haven't. Far from it. (Is it even possible to ever master such a task?) Instead, I am writing this in an attempt to tackle a belief that I am trying to change. Life is a series of lessons, and the minute you think you really 'get it', you are presented with another challenge.

Case in point: I was at a Vinyasa yoga class at the gym on Thursday. Now, I must first tell you that I am not a big believer in hiding my body, even the parts that I don't like. Doing that only allows them to grow bigger (because I'm not dealing with them) and really, I don't believe that they can actually be hidden. I think that, regardless of what we wear, people can see what our bodies generally look like. 

When I do yoga, I wear very fitted tops so that when I am in an inverted position, I don't have to worry about my shirt riding up. I've been taking yoga at a studio that, thank God, doesn't have mirrors. But this particular Vinyasa class was in the gym, in the group fitness room that's plastered with three mirrored walls. As I sat in Sukhasana (cross-legged), I was forced to sit looking at my reflection. Though my asana felt good, I noticed all of the parts of my body that I don't like to look at, taking me out of the joy of the pose. I remembered that all the people in my yoga classes have seen me like this, looking not-so-fabulous, and I began hating the outfit that I was so confident in moments before. I started to see myself as ʇɐɟ, and then mindfully chose to change my perception. I chose to see myself as a healthy woman who is working towards a leaner, stronger body.

It's not easy, to mindfully see and change how you see and what you see, and I cannot guarantee that the situation won't repeat itself for me the next time I am in front of a mirror. Likely, it will. But like any bad habit, breaking it takes time, and the choice to work through the process.

My perception of more personal things is a much greater struggle for me, but since I want to have a calmer, more relaxed response to button-pushing charges, working on my perception is important. Life's flow sometimes takes me to places of discomfort, and it's my work to sit with the discomfort and find it's root, rather than to transform it to a general misconception. Talking through my irrational thought process also helps to break it down and disassemble it.

When we work toward being healthier, all of our past experiences send us a message as to how successful we might be. If you've failed at eating well every time you've tried, chances are you are going to perceive yourself as being unable to do it, as a failure. If you change your perception though, everything can change. Say to yourself, "I know all the things that have caused me to fail in the past, so this time I will have a plan in place for how to deal with them." This will give you a better chance at succeeding.

Perception is a strange thing. It is usually based on past experiences that are not relevant to what is currently going on, and more often than not, our perception doesn't match reality. Being mindful of this is the first step.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hooray for Boobies!

Summer has ended and school is in session. Here on the East Coast, it's getting noticeably cooler and tank tops are giving way to sweaters. The stores are already stocking up on autumn decorations (think pumpkins and turkeys). I'm even focused on October, preparing for my son's 5th annual Halloween party.

October is one of my favorite months. It's still sort of warm outside, it's not dark too early, and it's a month before my birthday. Years ago, while I was writing for a newspaper, October became known as breast cancer awareness month for me. I interviewed celebs who represented Lee's Wear Jeans to Work Day to raise awareness, and others who headed up events like Take-A-Hike.

This year, I plan on dedicating the month to breast health. I will be looking at how nutrition and exercise play into breast health, as well as highlighting positive groups like Feel Your Boobies. Oh, and um, feeling my... well, you know.

Feel Your Boobies is a breast cancer non-profit organization whose mission it is to create an annual reminder campaign to get young women "feel their boobies". They believe that women who might be adverse to doing monthly checks, or even learning how (thinking that it will never happen to them) might see a FYB shirt on someone on a plane or in the mall, and just think, "What the heck!" and feel their breasts. 

The organization was founded in 2004 by Leigh Hurst, a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer at age 33. She discovered the lump, not through a self-breast exam, but just by 'feeling her boobies'. Noticing lumps or changes in the feel of your own breasts can very well save your life. 

I don't like to jump on bandwagons, but this one is just so wonderful that not only have I jumped, but I'm asking you to do it with me. Visit the FYB website, and click Create A bOObicon. Make it tasteful and fun. Or get bossy. Then post your photo on whatever social network you're into, or turn it into a t-shirt or postcard (available through their website, that then brings you to zazzle). Go ahead and be the reminder that might someday save a life.

I'd love to see your created boobicon. Please share it with me by emailing it to me at National Feel Your Boobies Week is October 9 - 16. 

Friday, September 11, 2009

Parfait Perfect

My son has it good. Everyday, I pick him up from school with a fresh yogurt parfait. He gets in, cleans his hands with a wet wipe, and indulges in luxury.

I don't make the parfaits. I could, but it would cost almost as much for me to make them fresh, and frankly, he loves the treat of having them from our favorite eatery, Heavenly Temptations. I always look to support family-owned local businesses, and theirs is the best that I've yet to find. They offer fresh baked goods, including pop overs, and sandwiches, homemade hummus, and a choice of fresh soups and beautiful salads. All of it is made right there in the kitchen, and is made with whole foods (not processed), so it's our favorite place to dine out. We've been going there since he was born, and I began introducing him to the parfaits this summer. They are prepared by the woman he lovingly refers to as "Miss Marion". The parfait is served in a clear cup, and is layered yogurt, strawberries, yogurt, strawberries. In a separate cup is a small serving of granola (to pour on top, if desired). 

I started eating them as soon as they were added to the menu. And as I started, it seemed that every magazine and publication was writing that an optimal breakfast (in terms of nutrition) is a yogurt parfait. The yogurt is a perfect ration of carbs, fat, and protein (energy in carbs, protein and fat to keep you fuller longer). The strawberries are packed with antioxidants, and the granola has more good carbs (oats, raisins) and adds crunch.

It's been reported that dieters (yes, I just used the 'd' word - argh!) who consumed three 6 oz. servings of yogurt a day lost 61% more body fat overall than those who didn't eat any. That's a big deal. Personally, I notice that on the days I begin with a parfait, I eat better all day. I feel full, my blood sugar is stable, and I am satisfied mentally because enjoyed my breakfast.

Yesterday, Miss Marion didn't make parfaits. I scrambled to pull together a healthy, comparable snack for my son: a cup of fresh cut pineapple, a Naked Juice (Blue Machine - a combo of blueberry, blackberry and banana (13 g fiber)), and a YoCrunch yogurt. When my son got in the car, he looked at me and asked disappointed, "No parfait?" While I did take that moment to give him a lesson in gratitude, I understood his feelings. Nothing beats a fresh parfait.

So today while I was getting my coffee, I noticed there were still no parfaits. Like my son, I asked, "No parfaits?" and was told that they were getting fruit and they'd probably be made by early afternoon. I ordered two in advance, for them to keep aside for me and my son, hoping they'd be available before school got out. 

After leaving my noon Vinyasa class, I received a message from long-distance runner and knitter extraordinaire, Anne, who works at Heavenly Temptations. She'd said that my parfaits were ready and waiting for me. Oh, happiness! 

Little Bear (my son) came marching to the car like the cool eight year old that he is, threw in his backpack, and grabbed a wet wipe. He looked at me with wonder, as if to ask without actually asking what his snack was. I proudly reached my arm to the back seat, lit up a grin, and handed him his fresh parfait. "Oh Mom," he sighed, heavily. "Thank you, Mom. These are soooo good." 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cheers to A Healthy Life - We Have A Winner!

Healthy Life Contest - And the winner is...
Angie Hakanson

Thanks to all of you who sent in your entries. They were so varied and wonderful; I loved reading them all. 

The winning entry by Angie Hakanson was chosen because it touches on both exercise and nutrition, and the desire and ability to celebrate life. Not only is it physical, but it is spiritual. It encompasses everything that it means to live a healthy life, in my opinion. The runner-up entry by Green Diva Jenifer O'Neill was a close second, and the list provides readers with a great outline for good health. In addition, I've posted a few notable ones I thought you should read. I love Mimi Kirk's entry for her commitment to raw living (and, by the way, she is stunning at 71 - google her; she looks about 40); and Laura Farago's for her ability to meet cancer head-on, beat it, and make a conscious choice to be as healthy as possible. And last but not least, is a great quote by Francine Marcello, one that encompasses the true purpose for maintaining good health. Thanks to all who submitted entries. They were wonderful to read.

The winner will receive our Lotus Blossom Inspiration t-shirt, and the first runner up will receive a Nomad Adventure Journal (courtesy of Nomad Adventure Journals).

Angie Hakanson, Carlsbad, CA:
To be fit means I will be able to touch my toes when I am 90 years old. It means the healthy food I eat is translated to pure energy and my body will reward me with glowing skin and bountiful energy. Being fit means I am the parent creating memories while playing lacrosse with my son in the park. It is the peace I feel when I practice yoga and the runner’s high I receive while running on the beach with my best friend. Being fit is not so much about physical results for me but more about where I want to be as I get older. I only have this one body and I cannot exchange it for a new one if this one breaks down. When I focus on those goals, staying fit is not a chore but something I look forward to every time I make the commitment to do it. It is the best gift I could give myself and my family.

Jenifer O'Neill, 48 – Wife and mother  of James 8 and Benjamin 2.5, Boonton Township, NJ
(She listed what makes a healthy life to her. We reformatted it for this blog.) I get some kind of exercise every day, but at least three times a week.  Strenuous is best, but I’ll take anything – a bike ride, stroller walk, a hike. I practice yoga, even if for 10-15 minutes at home on the mat, but better in a group class, and best if it’s Power Yoga. I get outside every day. I work in a garden. I take my vitamins, tonics and nourishing herbs – like Nettles and Oatstraw. I get a good night’s sleep.  I get a nap if I need it. I limit my sugar intake. I eat whole grainscomplex carbohydrates, good quality protein like organic and/or grass-fed meats or organic legumes, fruits and vegetables (organic when possible).  I drink enough water. Exfoliate – face and body once a week.  I take care of my family. I spend time with my children.  I get time alone. I get time alone with my husband.  I spend time with or talk to my friends. I take in some kind of culture – music, art, theatre. I see my chiropractor regularly. I see my health care practitioners regularly. I get a massage. I laugh. I cook. I work.


Mimi Kirk, California:
I'll be 71 in sept. I feel healthy being a raw vegan and not taking animals lives in order to feed myself. Raw and living food allows me to tread lightly on the planet. I believe in giving and receiving love, being kind and caring and this all makes me feel healthy and happy. I love being an inspiration to people and especially women showing younger women that you can feel and look good at any age. I've just been crowned by PETA as the "sexiest vegetarian over 50" so at 71 I'm proud of this honor. I'm very active and feel like 20 yrs old. I'm very positive about life. We need to love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves...

Laura Farago, Stockton, CA:
What makes me feel healthy is actively doing what's right for my body each day, which includes eating right and exercising where I am working up a good sweat with my heart rate up for at least a half hour a day! Yes I do think wellness is attained through good nutrition and exercise and have attached a list of health tips I've found beneficial to obtain optimal health!  
Here is my story: At only 21, I was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer, in my femur bone, after graduating from UCSD back in 2000. At the time, I was not seriously doing everything I could in the area of prevention. I stared exercising some and eating better, but the damage was done and the tumor board suggested I start daily chemotherapy and radiation right away. Due to the aggressive side effects, exercising and eating were no longer possible for me, so I had to be hospitalized and live on the oncology floor as they injected me with poisons with other sick people much older than I was. I had always been aware that fruits and vegetables were good food choices; however, I just never seemed to get enough of them in my diet simply because I hated the way they tasted. I even attempted juicing because a nutritionist had suggested that I juice for better health. Juicing on a regular basis did not last long for me. To be honest, I found juicing was expensive, messy and time consuming! When a friend and doctor introduced me to Juice Plus+ and told me it was 17 fruits and vegetables in a capsule or chewable form, I started my research and investigation, as did my friends and family members. Shortly after, we all added Juice Plus+ to our diets right away. I realized that cancer, and all diseases for that matter, are influenced by diet; I was determined not to let my medical problem repeat itself. I began reading medical literature on the connection between diet and health. My family and I consumed volumes about nutrition and subscribed to every nutritional journal we could find. I learned that my life essentially depended upon eating the right foods and taking the right supplements, so that is what I did.

Francine Marcello, Boonton, NJ
"Your life is an occasion, so rise to it." 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The 90 Day Fitness Effect - Let's See...

I am always up for a good challenge. When I am at the gym, I workout harder when people are around. I try to lift heavier, climb steeper, spin faster. However, when I have a weight or size goal, I sometimes find it too daunting to think about, and I unconsciously sabotage myself. Last year, my goal to fit into a Halloween costume wasn't realized, mostly due to a broken nutrition plan. It was solid, I just broke it. I think I felt overwhelmed at the prospect of actually achieving it.

My real goal, truth be told, is to fit back into my clothes from four years ago. They are a size smaller, which means a handful of inches must go. I love my body for what it is - healthy, functional - but I miss it's former, tighter shape. I miss feeling my lean arms and legs muscles pop, and I am not thrilled with the way my jeans currently cut into my waist. I answer only to myself, so it's easy for me to feel defeated when the inches don't go, and the scale stays put. 

When presented with a physical challenge, I most always rise to meet it. Though I am not a runner, I have trained for 5k races (not much for most, I know, but that's a big run for me) and run them. Completing the race was the challenge, as was beating my own personal record.

This weekend at a party, my friend (and happily acquired family!) Amie mentioned that last year, she and her family had a contest to see who could change their body the most over an eight-week period. They even took 'Before' photos. Granted, she is gorgeous (and tiny at nine months pregnant, with a killer bod (legs to die for) and sky high heels), and I cannot imagine she'd ever have anything to change, but her story was so motivating. W and I are both trying to get in the best shape of our lives by our fortieths, and now I'm making it more of a competition. But I'm not competing with him, per se. I am competing with my former self-defeating beliefs.

When my friend Laura mentioned the 90 Day Fitness Effect (challenge) last week, I thought about it. You do two things in 90 days, and if you commit to it you get two months of free protein shakes, or a specified supplement. While I don't necessarily need two free months of anything, I love a challenge, and it is sort of nice to be rewarded with a healthy prize. I've waited until today to start the challenge, because one of the two things that must be done, is to exercise at least five days a week. I knew that I couldn't commit to it until after Labor Day weekend. So today, I begin.

The other of the two things is to take a supplement called Juice Plus+  every day. It's two capsules (one fruit, one veggie) that contains 17 fruits and vegetables and fiber. (Check it out on the popular television show, The Drs., by clicking here.) I took this years ago, and was reintroduced to it by Laura. I went to the website and saw some of my favorite docs touting it's benefits, including Dr. William Sears (pediatric guru), and I was back on it.  

Here's the catch. I plan on working out every day, but now I know that it's a requirement for me to do so, and I really have to plan. If I can't get to the gym, or to a yoga class, I still have to work out. I'm thinking a 30-minute program with a warm-up, bicep curls (I have dumbbells at home), bellydance shoulder moves, push-ups, and some squats will be my emergency at-home work out.

For the next three months, I will be taking Zumba, yoga and spinning classes, lifting and doing cardio. I will be taking my supplements, and visualizing myself lean and strong. I'll be drinking tons of water. And each week, I will let you know about any mental or physical challenges that arise. Equally, I will share my great workouts, tips I discover, and good feelings that I have here with you, once a week. (And, of course, my progress.) This challenge will end five before my birthday. How auspicious. I am excited to have something so healthy to focus on. 

Let's see what kind of body I can create for myself.

(I welcome your ideas, motivating stories, and tips. Email them to, or post them here.)