HEALTHY coffee is my favorite way to start the day!

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Coffee11This morning after a late night at the Fleetwood Mac concert, which was such fun by the way, I really needed my morning coffee. My coffee is a necessity to give me a much needed boost of energy in the morning. It’s also warm, homey and comforting to me. It really is a hug in a mug! I have previously spoken of my love for coffee and it’s benefits but today I want to talk about the stuff that goes into your coffee and how important it is to keep those things healthy. Otherwise, you can add HUNDREDS of calories to your coffee, and it can easily go from a healthy start to your day to a caloric wasteland. Besides being high in calories, some of the things you can add to your coffee can be downright BAD for your health, full of chemicals that can’t even be pronounced. I wanted to use this opportunity to save you all the calories and chemicals, and show you what I use so that you can benefit from my experience and drink delicious, HEALTHY coffee.

My coffee area highlighted by my Nespresso espresso machine!

My coffee area highlighted by my Nespresso espresso machine!

1. Start with high quality coffee- If you can find organic coffee, by all means use that. I have an espresso machine that I’ve used for the last few years. I really enjoy espresso but I recognize that many people don’t like the intensity of it, so use whatever works for you. But for me the first step is to use really good coffee/espresso that doesn’t have any artificial flavors or additives in it (artificial flavors=chemicals). Nespresso sells high quality, sustainably raised coffee in their espresso cubes. You put the cube into the machine and it makes delicious espresso.

I use an aeroccino or as I call it, a milk frother.

I use an aeroccino or as I call it, a milk frother.

2. Add REAL cream- I don’t use artificial creamers in my coffee. I will only use half and half, but the cool thing is that I use a milk frother. I pour the half and half into the frother, press the button, and it whips the milk up into a foamy deliciousness that makes me feel like I’m getting my coffee from a professional barrista! Of course I only use organic half and half also. I use an organic hazelnut half and half and add a splash of that to the regular half and half and whip them together so I get a bit of sweetness into the cream.

I use Mexican hot chocolate bricks to impart sweetness into my coffee!

I use Mexican hot chocolate bricks to impart sweetness into my coffee!

Organic hazelnut half and half adds a bit of sweetness to the cream.

Organic hazelnut half and half adds a bit of sweetness to the cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. NO FAKE SUGARS- As I’ve said in previous posts, artificial sweeteners are bad for your health in MANY ways. They are full of chemicals and are NOT a component of a healthy lifestyle. In an effort to keep the calories down and impart sweetness to my coffee, I use a small splash of hazelnut half and half as I said above, and I also shave a small amount of Mexican hot chocolate into my coffee. I use a very small grater and shave no more than a half teaspoon of it into the coffee before adding the cream. I let the chocolate melt into the coffee, and then I add the cream and stir a few times to combine everything without adding too much air to take the fluffiness out of the foam.

Spices like cinnamon add tons of flavor to your coffee and are good for you too.

Spices like cinnamon add tons of flavor to your coffee and are good for you too.

4. Add different flavors to enhance your coffee- Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom can really jazz up your coffee, adding a lot of flavor without adding calories. I add organic cinnamon to my coffee whenever I make it. Cinnamon is a healthful spice and has been said to help prevent diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and blood sugar spikes. It also is very warm and flavorful, and really complements the flavor of coffee. It’s a must for me!

There it is, all done and waiting for me to drink it!

There it is, all done and waiting for me to drink it!

Well, that’s how I make a perfectly delicious and healthy cup of coffee. The idea is to add layers of flavor so that you get an amazing taste without adding a lot of chemicals or calories. Coffee can help enhance your memory and workouts, as well as preventing liver damage, helping to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, lessen our stress, and add antioxidants to our bodies. So I am perfectly justified in indulging in my morning cup of Joe, and I know it’s good for me too. Drinking coffee with healthy additions to it can help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

Kickbox your way to great health!

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Kickboxing is giving me killer guns!

Kickboxing is giving me killer guns!

Hello, my amazing readers! How are you today? I hope all is going well for you! I’ve been great lately, my energy and vitality are at an all time high despite the fact that I’m getting closer to fifty every day, though thankfully that’s still a few years away. I have been trying to determine why I feel so great lately and I think one important reason is my workout regimen. I mix it up with my workouts, so as to work different muscle groups and not get bored with my fitness routine, however I have especially enjoyed the kickboxing portion of my week. I’ve mentioned kickboxing in a previous post but so great is my love for it that I decided it deserved its own post. Therefore, today it’s all about the benefits of kickboxing and why you should choose it as an exercise option.

This is my current favorite- Kickboxing Cardio Power with Sensei Guillermo Gomez- love!!!

This is my current favorite- Kickboxing Cardio Power with Sensei Guillermo Gomez- love!!!It’s a more advanced workout, definitely not for beginners!

Kickboxing is a form of exercise that developed from the separate disciplines of martial arts, boxing, and aerobics. Instead of a competitive sport, cardio kickboxing is a great workout that challenges body and mind. It’s a great calorie burner too, a 155 pound person burns on average 372 calories in a 30 minute workout, according to Harvard Medical school. If you’re heavier or workout for a longer period of time you’ll burn even more calories!

This is the first kickboxing workout I started with. It's a great beginning workout!

This is the first kickboxing workout I started with. It’s a great beginning workout!

Another advantage to kickboxing is that because of the extended period of time spent punching and kicking, it really tones your arms and legs (as seen in the picture of me above). In addition, because of the intense punching and kicking, not only does it tone your arms and legs, but it is great cardio and conditions your heart. Also, because you have to follow a series of moves, kickboxing can improve coordination. Balance can also improve because of the time spent on one leg doing kicks.

This is what the workout, Kickboxing Cardio Power, looks like onscreen.

This is what the workout, Kickboxing Cardio Power, looks like onscreen.

My favorite advantage to kickboxing is that the time spent kicking and punching help release stress, anger and frustration. I happen to love all the punching and have been known to “punch out” my frustration, only during the workout of course, with people in the process. I emerge a more peaceful and joyous person so that’s a good thing! It also can help with confidence because I feel like if I ever needed to defend myself, at least I know how to kick and punch now. Of course, it doesn’t take the place of a self-defense class so maybe that’s next for me.

This is another workout for those just beginning to kickbox.

This is another workout for those just beginning to kickbox.

Additionally, kickboxing provides variety to treadmill workouts or other aerobic activity, and variety is the key to avoiding workout burnout, which causes many to stop working out entirely. I also like the fact that you can take a class at a gym if that is how you like to workout, or if you’re like me and prefer the flexibility of working out at home, there are a great many excellent kickboxing workouts on DVD or On Demand on Comcast to chose from.

A more advanced Sensei Guillermo Gomez workout. Work up to this!

A more advanced Sensei Guillermo Gomez workout. Work up to this!

So that’s one of the secrets to my workout success. Give kickboxing a try. It will help you to have more defined legs and arms, will improve your heart health, increase coordination and balance, it helps to release stress, anger and frustration, and improves confidence. Best of all it burns TONS of calories, 372 burned during a 30 minute workout for 155 pound person. It’s also a workout you can do either at home or in the gym. I like having that choice. And there are many great kickboxing workouts from which to choose, so you can keep on trying them until you find one that works for you. One thing I really love about Sensei Gomez’ workouts is that at the end he guides us through 10 minutes of yoga, so not only do you get your kicking and punching, but in the end you get your stretch and your peace. What could be better?! I’ve shown you my favorites, if you’re a kickboxer, share your favorite workout with us! if you haven’t tried it before, what are you waiting for? Try it and let me know what you think. It will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

 

 

 

 

Just Do It!

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Can I admit something? Of course I can, it’s my blog! Anyway, I must admit that I don’t like to exercise. Is anyone out there with me on that? I’m sure there are many of us, which is one of the reasons why our nation ranks among the top countries for obesity in the world.
My exercise philosophy

My exercise philosophy

Even though I don’t like to exercise I have consistently worked out 5 days a week for 45-50 minutes at a time for the last 10 years, despite flare ups of my chronic fatigue syndrome, times when my children were sick, working 40 plus hours a week, cooking, cleaning, running errands, being exhausted, etc.  You get the picture. We are all busy living our lives and that is the primary excuse I hear for why people don’t exercise and I get it, I really do. I just don’t believe that is a legitimate excuse. If I can keep up my fitness schedule with my other responsibilities and the fact that I really don’t like to exercise, then anyone can, believe me.

Another excuse I hear is that people can’t afford to exercise. My exercise regimen consists of a 20 plus year old road bike, stationary bike of equal age, hand weights from Walmart, 10 fitness DVD’s and Comcast On Demand. Total cost- pennies per day over the past 8 years at the most.  Are you in? If so, then read on for my ten easy steps to fitness success!

1. Integrate fitness into your daily life and find something you like to do- Since I am not one of those crazy exercise people I’ve tried many different forms of exercise over the years, from aerobics to Pilates to running and all forms in between. When I began cycling I realized how much I loved the feeling of wind in my hair,sun on my face and the sheer speed at which I could travel and I was hooked! That is my favorite form of exercise and I am faithful to it because I enjoy it so much. In bad weather I use my stationary bike so I can bike all year long. On my stationary bike I can also integrate weight training by utilizing hand weights while cycling, and I add more weight to them so I don’t plateau. Therefore I get both cardio and weight bearing at the same time. But the key here is to find an exercise you like and stick to it. Even if it’s not formal exercise, if it gets you outside and moving that’s great! Like gardening for example. Pulling weeds and hauling around a wheelbarrow full of mulch can be a great workout! Also if your children are young and you can’t leave them for long periods of time play basketball or tag with them, or if they’re really young, push them in a stroller for 30 minutes. Anything active is good!

Me and my babies out for a walk this past spring.

Me and my babies out for a walk this past spring.

2. Start with walking- your dog or yourself- Of course before beginning any new fitness activities make sure to run that by your doctor to make sure it aligns with your wellness goals. The easiest way to begin is by walking. It’s an activity that needs very little coordination and anyone at most fitness levels can tolerate it. Get a pedometer, set a goal for yourself, and stick to it! If you have a dog, walk him or her, and they will benefit too. If you have young children, push them in a stroller, and if you have a friend who is interested in getting to a better level of fitness, walk with him/her. A friend can really help motivate you to continue even when you don’t feel like it.

3. My Fitness Pal or other apps to log your success- I utilize an app called My Fitness Pal and it logs all your exercise as well as your food, calories, and nutritional information. It keeps track of what you enter and shows graphs of your nutrition and exercise, as well as your weight and other measurements. I’ve used this app for 3 years religiously and am able to see my progress, which is very motivating for me.

Justdoit3

4. Habit forming- Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days for something to become a habit, so make sure to continue your chosen form of exercise consistently for at least 66 days and it will become a habit.

5. Motivated by the healthy changes- One thing that is motivating for me is to see the changes that have taken place in my body as a result of my workouts. I have better muscle tone, more energy, my skin glows, my weight stays consistent, and I don’t have to buy new clothes! This helps me to continue when I’m not in the mood for a workout.

6. First thing in the morning or first thing when you get home from work- I alluded to this in an earlier post but I put on my workout clothes as soon as I get up in the morning and exercise as soon as I drink my coffee, and have a half banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter for breakfast. When I was teaching I exercised as soon as I got home from work. In fact, my next door neighbor commented that she’d see me pull into my garage after work and then within 10 minutes she’d see me ride out of the garage on my bike. That way I was more likely not to skip my workout by getting distracted by other things. I would exercise three times a week after work and each weekend day so that I’d get my five a week in. Now that I work from home I workout all week days and take off the weekends. I’ve read about recovery days but I do my recovering on the weekends.

7. Non-negotiable- this one is probably the most important for me. I don’t put off working out or avoid it because in the end it is something I MUST do and nothing will stop me from doing it. Of course, there have been days when I can’t work out, if I’m very sick or something of that urgent nature, but other than that I will exercise. NO EXCEPTIONS!

True dat!

True dat!

8. Variety is the spice of life- and working out- as I said I love to bike but I get bored doing the same thing all the time so in the past 2 years I’ve incorporated kick boxing and body sculpting into my week. Usually I bike twice, kick box twice and do body sculpting once for my five a week workouts.  That way I am strengthening different body parts, and combining cardio with strength training as well for an all around strong and healthy body. So switch up your workouts if you’re getting bored and that should help you to find your workouts fun and exciting again.

9. TV can be an exercisers best friend, not foe- Television plays an important role in my workouts. When I’m biking indoors I use that time to catch up on some of my favorite one hour shows that I’ve recorded, and when I forward through commercials it’s a perfect 45-50 minute workout for me. Also, as I said I use Comcast On Demand for their many fitness workouts. My favorites are kickboxing with Sensei Guillermo Gomez (he’s very good looking!), and Core Builders and Interval Training with Kathy Syphers. They are super workouts. I also have Physique 57 and yoga DVDs that I use occasionally to change things up.

My reward- a healthy, fit body and the energy to keep up with my daughters!

My reward- a healthy, fit body at 48, and the energy to keep up with my daughters!

10. Reward yourself-My reward is to see how healthy and good I look, but for some people extrinsic rewards are very important, so set some goals for yourself, say working out three times a week for thirty minutes.  If you meet your goals then reward yourself with whatever is a treat for you, like a piece of chocolate, extra glass of wine, or a pedicure. Whatever works for you to keep you motivated, just don’t make it something big that will cost too much money or derail you from your fitness goals!

I hope this helps you to achieve the healthy body you desire as it has for me. I wish you happy and healthy workouts!

V

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