Did you Hug a Vegetarian Today?

I looked on the calendar this morning and discovered it is Hug a Vegetarian Day.

IMG_2222The two vegetarians I know live too far, so I will send them a virtual hug via Facebook. If you are a vegetarian, I’m sending a big hug your way.

Sending a hug to all my followers~ >u<

Today I began to think. Could I be worthy of a hug today? Could I be a vegetarian? I like poultry, red meat and fish. Meat provides me with much of my protein intake. At times, I feel such empathy for the animals that provide my sustenance. When I pass a field and see grazing cows, I get a little sad. I think, are their grazing days numbered? Will they be going to the cow heaven in the sky soon? I was a vegetarian for about two months when I witnessed the slaughter of an animal and it was horrific. The memory haunted me for months. I was sixteen years old, and on vacation in my parents’ birthplace of Belize. My cousin (who lives in Belize) took us out to get some relaxing beach time at one of the Cayes off the mainland. We swam in the crystal clear Caribbean Sea, soaked up the sun, ate tons of rice and beans and lobster, and watched a pig get slaughtered. You know, the normal vacation things. We gathered in the yard of one of the locals (my cousin’s friend Cecilio.) In Cecilio’s yard were two large pens, each had a pig in them of mammoth portions, a black and white pig and a pink pig. Families began to gather for the “event” in his yard.  I took a peek in the pens, making the animals squeal nervously. Cecilio approached the pens with a huge butcher’s knife.  I realized that the pigs were not afraid of me, but they had noticed Cecilio coming at them full force and could sense what was about to happen next. The pink pig was to face his horrible fate. Cecilio jumped swiftly in the pen, and pushed the animal’s huge backside out and started to tie its front and hind legs. It was that moment the ear-piercing squealing began. My cousin explained that the pig’s neck was far too large in girth, so a quick death of slitting its throat was not possible. Cecilio had to locate the heart and pierce the knife in it based on his estimation. As he began to stab at the pig’s body, it began to convulse uncontrollably. What I will never forget is the squealing. It was bone-chilling. The sound penetrated deep into my heart and head. I can only describe the sound as a car engine that won’t start, as you turn the ignition over and over again. After several jabs, Cecilio finally located the heart, which thankfully led to the animal’s demise and put an end to this misery. The next day, we went to Cecilio’s house for chicarones (deep-fried pig skin.) I couldn’t eat it. I just couldn’t after witnessing the slaughter. The animal’s carcass lay out on a picnic table in the bright sunlight. Not a wasted scrap of meat. Bright red blood droplets dotted the green grass.

I returned to Canada and abstained from meat, but slowly and surely, meat made its way back into my diet, starting with fish, then poultry and eventually pork chops. The only reason that would make me a vegetarian is compassion for the animals that feed me, not really for health-related reasons.

However, that day is not today. I’m going to The Works tonight for a charbroiled burger.

Source

Are you a vegetarian? If not, do you think you could be?

Source for virtual hug visit: http://chibird.com/post/31438594994/sending-a-hug-to-all-my-followers-u

Merengue Meets Bicep Curl

I have to give credit to Zumba for helping me lose unwanted inches from my thighs, (thanks Beto Perez!) and to resistance training for helping me to tone my muscles. Is it possible to merge the two worlds of spicy Latin dance moves, and strengthening those muscles? After taking my first Zumba Tone class this week, I can confirm that the answer is yes. Zumba Tone combines traditional Zumba moves, with light hand weights (resistance sticks) for basic strength exercises. The first thing I loved about Zumba Tone was the resistance sticks.  They are approximately one to two pounds, but the neat feature is that they make musica! Take a listen:

I was having way too much fun with these. I appropriately named them “skinny maracas” and at times I felt as though I was a back-up dancer in a salsa band (minus the big hair and tight dress with a side split). Don’t let the lightness of the resistance sticks fool you. Initially, I scoffed at the lack of weight but after doing high repetitions of side merengue or salsa steps, while executing a military press or tricep extension, I began to feel fatigued. A full body circuit type of workout, the first portion included a warm up with traditional Zumba moves. Next, was a high intensity cardio portion, with the ultra fast and pulsating beat of the Merengue, upbeat tempo Salsa, and slow and controlled Reggeaton.

Our ball of energy instructor, Mylene, takes us through some serious sweating with traditional Zumba dance moves:

IMG_2141IMG_2146

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second portion of the class focused on the strength training. The resistance sticks did more than offer resistance alone, but helps with coordination with steps by keeping the rhythm, agility and balance. It was a challenge to do a standing leg extension to the sounds of the Tejano beat, all while doing an overhead military press or tricep extension. We also did some lunge and squat combinations, ballet squats, and waist twists with the sticks to add some work to the core and legs.

IMG_2152

Tricep extension with leg extension combo (and a wee spot of mambo.)

Look at those smiles!

IMG_2156

Bicep curl to side lunge combo

IMG_2166IMG_2167

IMG_2153

Zumba Tone is not a class to build muscle mass because the resistance sticks are not heavy enough, but if you’re looking to tone your muscles, burn serious calories, lose weight and have a lot of fun, then this is the class for you. I realized just how much I missed Zumba, and the great atmosphere, where I felt as though I was in a Latin club in Mexico with friends minus the Margaritas. The pulsating music makes you just want to dance and you don’t even realize that you are in the midst of a challenging workout. The most effective benefit of health and wellness from this class, which was unanimous amongst all the class participants was this, “it makes you feel happy!”

I really can’t argue there, as I mambo stepped my way home feeling energized and good.

To inquire more about membership rates, classes and personal training, be sure to visit http://www.womensfitnessclubs.com

I’m Not Narcissistic or a Creepy Photo Snapper. I’m a Blogger

Ahhhh, the life of a blogger. This post title sounds like it should be on someecards.com.  I have been “online journaling” for about two years and I think the most difficult part is getting the right photos to share on a post. When I first began blogging, I thought about not putting my image in my posts. Then I reconsidered. I feel people like putting a face to a blog. I compare it to when someone is always talking about their eccentric ex-boyfriend John or gorgeous, fashionista friend Jane, and then they show you a picture of these folks. Their rantings and musings about John and Jane are so much more intriguing. Why? They put a face to their stories. If you are blogging about the intimate details of your life or very personal, clandestine thoughts then you may want to keep your mug out of your posts. For example, if your blog was called, My Obsession with Kim Kardashian or My Obsession with Feet or My Life as a Gambling Addict, I could see why someone would want to remain completely anonymous under such circumstances. I, however, blog about trying to become healthier and fitter, so why not share my image in my posts?

6e5ae0e46b142b5b69ccb03a57d522fdf6                  Source: someecards.com (lol-ing)

Back to photos. I always find this a challenge. For some posts, I take the odd selfie. You may have read my musings on selfies before. I feel a tad awkward taking them. If I am doing a post say about, my sweaty gym session, I may want to add a picture with my perspiration-filled, sweaty face glowing face at the end of the post for effect. I always feel as though I have to quickly sneak the selfie in before anyone at the gym catches me. I fret that someone may think, look at that grown-a*# woman taking a gym selfie. Pitiful. Up until now I have managed to sneak the selfies in before anyone discovers me. Should someone discover me mid-selfie, I have even thought of what to say, which is this (tell me what you think.) “Oh, I blog. I have to take a photo of my sweaty face for the post I’m writing.” Convincing?

Note the selfie below. I snapped this one at the gym for a post I was working on. Notice not the upper lip ‘stache (I was planning on waxing after the gym) but do notice the  worrisome, please nobody walk in this studio now, please, please door don’t open yet, look in my eyes:

IMG_0818As for taking photos of others, I always ask permission instead of trying to sneak them, as that could be asking for trouble. For example, I am writing a post about a new class I tried at my gym. I wanted to get a shot of the instructor demonstrating an exercise, so I contacted the gym for permission about writing the piece, and I also asked the instructor if it was okay if I took her photo while she was teaching. Thankfully, it was a-okay on all fronts. If I were to sneak a photo during said class, and the instructor caught me, I would say (tell me what you think) “Oh, I blog. Can I take a photo of you lunging?” Even though I was already in the process of taking the photo. I’ll ask. Plain and simple.

My favourite type of photos consist of when I am out in nature and may see something beautiful. An Autumn tree with bright red and yellow leaves, a sunrise that looks as though it was painted by nature’s brush, or a babbling brook on a hiking trail.

Love taking these:IMG_1188Let’s face it, we humans are visual creatures. We like imagery. We like to see things that are beautiful, inspiring, mesmerizing and vibrant. This is why I love reading all your blogs. Your photos. As well as your writing, your photos tell your story. Also…..in keeping with the theme, I’m on Instagram. Let me see your sweaty selfies, pets, cute bambinos, travels, Yoga salutations, zen gardens, workout sessions, delicious eats and general fun. I follow back! Wow me with your photos and I will try to with mine @ trextotigress

Now it’s your turn. Fill in the blank “Do you mind if I take a photo of you/your__________? Oh, it’s for my blog.”

The Silent Predator

On Wednesday the press confirmed that Rob Ford, the controversial mayor of Toronto, has a grapefruit-sized tumour growing in his stomach. He has an aggressive and rare form of cancer called malignant liposarcoma. This cancer rapidly grows in fatty tissue, nerves or muscle. Mr. Ford is undergoing a cycle of aggressive chemotherapy, as well as possible surgery if the tumour shrinks in size through his treatment plan.

Whatever emotions evoked because of this guy, rage, hate, disdain, disgust, or perhaps love and respect,  I think we can all stand on common ground in this opinion, he certainly does not lack in tenacity department. He was knocked down many times by his naysayers, be they right or wrong, but always managed to get back up, even returning to city hall to presume his job as boss of a huge, urban jungle, despite a stint in rehab.  I remember watching on the news, after his treatment in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, he was ushered back into to City Hall through a herd of reporters, a grin on his large, ruddy face. “Gotta get back to work!” he said.

I was lying in bed last night thinking about the C-word. One thing about the big C, this disease ain’t prejudice. No matter your age, race, social status, or how many bucks you’ve got in the bank, it can strike anyone at anytime. Growing up through the years, I never gave cancer much thought. In my youthful naiveté, I thought of this disease as something distant. It happened to other people, and could never affect me or my family.  In the early 90’s a relative of mine lost her brave battle with breast cancer. It was shocking for me and my first close encounter with cancer. Still, I never thought she would lose her battle. I always thought this was a set back, and she would return to her family from her hospital bed. She was a young, vibrant woman, not even forty yet, with a little girl and a loving husband. She was the only person I knew with cancer. That’s how cancer was back then, shocking and infrequent. With all the money donated to cancer research though lotteries and marathons, it seems to be increasing in cases. When I hear that someone was diagnosed with cancer these days, sadly it’s not shocking anymore because I’m hearing of more and more cases. My loved ones, my loved ones loved ones, past and present co-workers, cancer has affected us all. In many cases, this disease was like a thief in the night. Coming and destroying when the person least expected it, quiet and still. An insidious predator sneaking up on its prey without warning. When they felt the pain it was too late. The diseased cells had already done their worst. As in the mayor’s case, his type of cancer is rarely detected, because the tumour can be hidden deep in the tissue, fat, nerves or muscles and the person feels no pain. This is terrifying!

Twenty odd years ago, I knew one person with cancer, now I don’t have enough fingers to count the people I know who have been diagnosed and survived, who are fighting the disease or who have sadly lost their battle. The mayor is in for the fight of his life. All his past demons are pale in comparison, but if anyone can fight this predator head on, it’s him.

“My heart goes out to anyone who is facing similar health battles and to your families who are standing strong behind you. But friends, please, please, never give up. Be strong, stay positive and never give up.”

-  Rob Ford

Resource: www.globalnews.ca

Get in the Game!

This post was sponsored by The Fitness Games through their partnership with Fit Approach. I was not compensated monetarily, but was provided the Platinum Version of the application for review. As always, all opinions are my own.

imageAre you ready to be virtually motivated? Would you like to challenge someone to the ultimate test of strength and endurance globally or locally? Or how about challenging yourself for a personal best? Then, The Fitness Games are here! I was given the opportunity to try the unique new app, The Fitness Games and I found it more innovative and fun than any other fitness application I have ever used. The app is very user-friendly, (even for the technologically challenged like myself) as you add users to the app via their usernames, and challenge others in the categories of strength, cardio, cross training or full body workouts for time and/or weight lifted. You can also accept challenges from other users. At work while your opponent is completing the challenge during the day? Is your opponent in a different time zone or continent? No matter, the cool feature is that you can complete the challenge as your individual schedule allows, and results of wins and losses will be available once both users have completed the challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of workout options in all four categories.

I had so much fun challenging my workout partners. Here I am completing a Body weight Madness Challenge. First opponent, myself:

Plank walkouts. First round and smiling:

IMG_2079Second round of plank walkouts. Ok, this feels like a challenge now. Here is my, “this is not easy face:”

IMG_2082

My results after workout is complete and the challenge is submitted for scoring:

imageChallenging another user to a Full body circuit for time and weight lifted:

image

 IMG_2110IMG_2104

 IMG_0811The Get Off My Back Challenge. Yesterday’s workout:

IMG_0807 IMG_2125

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s 2014 and this app is paving the way for a fun and interactive way to connect fitness lovers  worldwide, whether you are new to fitness, at the intermediate or advanced level. There is something for everyone, the weight-trainer, the cyclist, runner or lovers of Tabata/Insanity like circuits.  I am already looking forward to challenging more users this week. Try something new, break out of a plateau and…..

Let the Games Begin!

image

 https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Challenge+your+fitness+with+%23TheFitnessGames!+Check+out+%40TFGapp+and+let+the+games+begin!+http%3A%2F%2Fctt.ec%2Fgd5dj%2B+%40fitapproach+%23sweatpink&source=clicktotweet&related=clicktotweet

Healing Yoga for Real People with Real Problems

With all the heavy weight training I have been doing, Yoga has been necessary for me to include in my fitness program to give my body a good restorative stretch on days of active rest. When I feel like doing a quick Yoga session in the comfort of my home, I turn to the show Healing Yoga for Real People with Real Problems. I discovered this program on The One network and was pleased to discover mini webisodes on the network’s website, making it extra convenient. After all, I am a real person with real problems.

 

image                                       (Source)

The host of the show is Deborah Devine, a self-proclaimed ex-workaholic who left the hustle and bustle of the corporate world behind when health issues such as chronic fatigue, stress, back pain and weight gain began to plague her. Now Deborah is a full-time Yogi who has traveled the world to enlighten people of all ages on the benefits of healing Yoga through teaching this practice.

 

Deborah Devine demonstrates a movement on a show participant

Deborah Devine demonstrates a movement on a show participant

(source)

 Healing Yoga focuses not only on physical ailments such as back pain and shoulder tension, but achieving mental wellness. Some of her shows also focus on dealing with depression, anxiety and grief. Deborah’s instruction is easy to follow, as she demonstrates movements with gentle TLC on some of her show participants. What I love about the show is that her participants range in ages from young adult to seniors, showing that it is never too late to restore and balance the body back to health. I hope to encourage my dad to start watching her show and trying the movements.

Whether I’m feeling tightness in the back, soreness in my neck or a little sad, I can just unroll my mat, and let the soothing voice of Deborah Devine aid in my path to healing and wellness and feeling renewed again.

Here I practice stretching out the core from Healing Yoga.

Here I practice stretching out the core from Healing Yoga.

 

To see more of Healing Yoga mini webisodes, episode guides and Deborah Devine’s bio on the ONE network, click here.

What is your favorite type of Yoga?

Grown Folks Lunch Boxes

It is that time of year again, packing lunches and checking homework. Moms and dads, what are you packing for your own lunch to get you energized and focused for the latter part of your work day? I know you are constantly worrying about packing healthy eats for the kiddies, but be sure not to neglect your own lunch time nourishment. I am always on the search for health-conscious lunch options. I try to avoid buying my lunch at all cost, not only to save money, but to save my waistline.

Enter Proteinis by Maple Leaf Natural Selections:

These little power-packs come with grilled chicken breast strips and dried fruit on the side. (apple or cranberry) The chicken is lightly seasoned and moist.

IMG_2069IMG_2070

I use them in wraps, as snacks with a hard-boiled egg and I especially love them in salads:

IMG_2072

What I love most about Proteinis is that they do not contain a lot of ingredients or additives. The ingredient list is nice and simple:

IMG_2088So remember moms, dads and all you grown folks, kids needs proper fuel for energy and concentration for their day, and so do we. You can’t prep for that huge board meeting, deal with those cantankerous clients or ask the boss for that deserving raise on an empty, under-nourished stomach now can you? Make sure your lunch box is also packed with goodness and ready to face the day ahead, however hectic.

This is not a sponsored post. It is just brought to you by my love for nutritious and convenient Proteinis.

10 Questions with the Dancing Runner

It’s a brand spanking new month. So why not start off with an inspirational story as some of us may be starting September with fresh goals. Perhaps one of those goals is to start running this fall.

I started following marathoner Chelsea Ross’ blog, The Dancing Runner, about one year ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Not only does she have boundless energy, she’s funny, upbeat, and a joy to follow. Chelsea initially started running to lose weight, and now it is one of her passions. She is a running coach and marathoner, as well as a certified spin instructor. I am pumped that Chelsea stopped in her tracks to answer a few questions about running, dancing, living and loving life!

1. How did your passion for running begin?

I have been running off and on since probably middle school. I was never really good at it or even liked it that much until I graduated college. Then a coworker of mine inspired me to get back into it. I used to work in TV news, in the newsroom behind the desk…working long hours and often overnight. Running became a huge stress reliever for me. I got laid off from news  and then found myself with a ton of free time. I started running more…then one day went to a social run at a running store in the area, Luke’s Locker. Some of the folks I ran with were training for half marathons. I had the free time so I figured…hey, let’s do this! I started training and soon got another amazing job working in tv but with more normal hours. It was awesome and gave me lots more time to train! I ran my first half marathon in the fall of 2009, my first full in 2010, and I haven’t looked back since. 

2. What was your first race?

Oh wow…it was probably a random 5K ages ago. I really don’t even remember my time. 

3. How did you train and prepare for your first marathon?

I trained for my first full marathon with Luke’s Locker…it’s a running store here in the Dallas, TX area that also has training programs. I would definitely recommend training for your first marathon with a running group. It will really hold you accountable and you will make lots of new (and lifelong) running friends! My first 26.2 was the Chicago Marathon. It was an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

4. What are your top 5 running essentials?

Running watch, Asics running shoes, handheld water bottle, sunscreen, bug spray. 

5. What are your suggestions to prevent running injuries?

Foam roll, yoga, strength training, compression socks. Cross train!! Do other things other than just run. It prevents not only injuries but just burnout in general.

6. How did get into spinning and then teaching spin?

 I’ve always loved spin class and have been doing it for years at my gym. I found it to also be a great compliment to running because it’s very low impact. One of the spin teachers and I are good friends and she really inspired me to get certified. I taught dance at the gym for about a year then decided to start teaching spin. I love creating spin playlists and love to encourage and challenge my students to really push the pace and work hard on the bike. It’s a very rewarding position to be a fitness instructor.

7. From many of your posts, I can see you have boundless energy. How do you transition with such ease from teaching a 6:00 am spin class to running afterwards? Please share your secrets for such energy.

COFFEE! Haha, there are some days when I don’t have boundless energy. Some days I have to really talk myself into getting a run in but it’s always worth it afterwards. I try to incorporate rest days into my routine and that always helps me to recharge.

8. Do you have any advice for those who want to start running, but are unsure how to begin the sport?

Just to be patient with yourself. It takes time to build your mileage, as well as your endurance. Join a running group and/or run with friends to keep you motivated. Also purchasing a running watch is a wonderful investment and it’s great to be able to see and track your data/mileage/pace and etc.

9. I understand you’re also a very spiritual person and your faith is vital to you. Does this help you to remain so positive?

I would say so. My faith is very important to me. I also try to keep prayer a constant in my life.

10. And finally, I really must know…..heels or running shoes?

Running shoes, hands down. Asics are the new Christian Louboutins. 

I know you “gotta run,” and you are one busy lady, Chelsea, so thanks for inspiring us this month with your fitness story.

For more exciting race recaps, running tips, Friday favorites in food and fashion, and her delicious Girl-on-the-go-Recipes and spin playlists, be sure to visit Chelsea’s blog.

2014-08-28 16.27.02-1

Chelsea completes a marathon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Side of Skinny

If I were to tell you that someone I know has often faced weight discrimination, would you think this person is over-weight? Magazine covers are often graced with waif-like models. Ribs, bikini bridges and thigh gaps are desired body features. Well, today I would like to introduce you to *Nicole. An acquaintance of mine who is underweight, not by choice, but because of her genetics. Nicole has all of the above, a thigh gap and a bikini bridge, but that doesn’t mean she is free from social ridicule.  From her story, you will see that life can be hard the for thin, and people can be just as cruel. Life isn’t always rosier on the skinny side.

*Nicole’s Story:

Last month I was in Shopper’s Drug Mart with my daughter. We were buying her feminine products for her first menstrual cycle. It was an emotional time for both of us. My baby was growing up, and she was anxiety-ridden about the whole life change. We were nearing the checkout counter when I noticed two middle-aged women in same aisles. As I passed, I heard one mutter quietly, but not quiet enough, “someone get that girl a sandwich.” They both started to giggle, upon which, the other said, “do women that size even get periods?” I was with my daughter, so I took the high road and just ignored them. When I was in bed later that night I was overcome with emotion and I began to cry. I was just thinking such negative thoughts, questioning my ability to be a good single-parent, thinking about those cruel comments I overheard in the drugstore.  I also started to feel insecure about my body again.

Years ago, I had gone out night clubbing with some friends. We were pretty drunk, and as we ran across the street in the rain to catch a cab, I tripped over a sewer (one of those sewers with the bars.) A so-called “friend” yelled out, “hurry Nicole! Don’t slip through that sewer. You could probably fit!”  It was just so natural for her to tease me. We were also with a heavier girl that same night. Never did she mention her size. Around this same time, I became pregnant with my daughter. My body changed a little and my breasts and thighs became fuller.  My ex (my daughter’s father) often made comments that he liked my new booty, and bigger chest. After giving birth, my body returned back to skinny. I think I lost even more weight from eating less to care for a baby. When my boyfriend began to cheat on me, I turned a blind eye. I was at home, cleaning, cooking, changing diapers and feeling horrible about myself and he was out picking up girls. Don’t get me wrong, my child is my life and I couldn’t imagine life without her, but those few months after her birth were tough. I was often sad and lonely.  This was around the time J-Lo became famous and everyone was talking about how beautiful her curves are. I often spent the time looking at my body in the mirror and hating how I looked, wishing for fuller hips, and thighs. Just as a big girl may wish for skinny legs or a flat stomach, I was wishing to be bigger.  Maybe if I had a bigger booty, he would love me again.

It wasn’t always like this. In high school I was envied by many girls. They would all tell me how lucky I was to be skinny. I got a lot of compliments for my boyish frame. Some were jealous that I could eat anything I wanted and never get fat. It was true. I loved Big Macs with extra fires. I loved jumbo Oh-Henrys and bags of chips and I wouldn’t gain a pound. Everyone would ask me my secret to being so thin and not gaining weight. Did I purge in private? Did I take diet pills by the bottle? Did I do non-stop aerobics? Nope. I did none of those things. As a matter of fact, I hated exercise. I never exercised. I was just a natural string bean.

Presently, I’m still pretty skinny, but I have changed my thinking and lifestyle. I cannot eat whatever I want now, because any size I gain goes right to my stomach. Not just for me, but for my daughter. I have to be an example to her, so I love and accept who I am. My daughter is very curvy (sure didn’t get it from me!) Never do I want her to wish to be smaller or different. I tell her God made us who we are and we have to be thankful. I cook healthy foods for us and rarely do we go to fast food places, and I quit smoking.  Before I moved up North, I went to Zumba with Char (Tigress) and our mutual friend Desiree a few times. I loved it because I love to dance. Now me and my daughter go to Zumba two times per week at the local community centre in my new city. She loves it too and I want her to be active. Not a couch potato like me at her age. As for my love life. I’m single and skinny. Any man who is with me will love me for me, and that’s non-negotiable. I love myself and I love life.

Thanks for listening to my story.

Thanks to you Nicole for sharing your story. Skinny, large, short or tall, it’s never acceptable to comment negatively on the appearance of others, because you never know who will be crying tears on their pillow that night from another person’s words. Compassion and respect go along way.