Karen was my last client for the day. We met at seven sharp, right after Steve.
Karen was an obese woman I trained twice a week. She was thirty years old, weighed 250 pounds, and was 5’ 2”. However, these numbers don’t say anything about her as a person. She was a painter who owned her own gallery in Manhattan. The serenity in her eyes and the way she smiled for no reason introduced her to me before she even told me her name.
She had been married for more than five years to someone who was in good shape. I knew this because her husband came to pick her up after our sessions. The conversation we had the first day we met left me pondering about life for days.
I asked the same question I asked every client before we began the program: What are your three main fitness goals?
Karen said she only had one goal: to enjoy the workouts.
I recall looking into her eyes as if she had not understood my question. I rephrased it, and this time I was more specific.
“I understand, Karen, and I will ensure that the exercises will be fun, but what I meant was, how many pounds do you want to lose?”
Again, she answered with a smile and said she didn’t care about the weight; she just wanted to feel good during and after the workouts. Furthermore, she said it didn’t matter if she didn’t lose any weight at all. Her peaceful eyes and joyful smile reinforced the truth of her words.
I could not believe this woman and how out of touch with reality she was. She was obese, for God’s sake! She could actually die of a heart attack at any moment, and my mind refused to believe that anyone could be at peace with a body like hers. It couldn’t be possible.
I insisted. I tried to force her to make a deal with me, and asked her to agree on losing one to two pounds per week.
Once more with the same serene, happy look on her face, she replied that I didn’t understand her. Patiently, she repeated that she was fine with her weight and that she enjoyed her work. She was a person who loved and was loved by her family and friends. Her life was a blessing, and she was grateful for what she had. There was nothing else to be added or removed to make her happier. The workouts with me were just to get her body moving while she had some fun.
I wasn’t amazed by her attitude, because I neither understood nor believed in what she was saying at the time. Nevertheless, after our encounter that day, I went home thinking about her, and I remembered a thought I’d had when I was a teenager, one that had returned many times throughout my life.
I would die young.
I believed I would not reach the age of thirty, despite being physically healthy.
Perhaps intuitively, I knew that my heart could fail at any time because of my lack of understanding of what life was really about: love and kindness.
I am convinced that Karen became my client for a reason—to teach me that to be healthy is to be loving. She trained with me for almost a year, and never lost any weight.
Karen was the healthiest client I ever had.
We know that the best way to lose weight is to eat less, especially of foods that are high in calories. Sugar is a well-known adversary of weight loss. But before depriving ourselves of healthy fats and sweets, it’s wise to try to understand the real reasons we eat more than necessary. I believe that wishful thinking and fear are subconsciously operating in our minds when it comes to our eating patterns. Food can become an addiction, often stemming from emotional triggers when we wish our lives to be different. Steven Pressfield, the famous writer, once wrote: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.”
The way I see it, having the courage to realize the unlived life within is essential to our physical and psychological health. Trusting this moment for what is—this is courage. Feeling grateful for what we have can empower us to follow our hearts, thus making each moment fulfilled and joyful. The happier we are within, the less preoccupied with food we become.
The perfection of this moment embraces us with unconditional love for our spiritual wealth, for who we truly are—there is nothing lacking.
KIND HEARTS...STRONG BODIES...PEACEFUL MINDS.... Fit for joy!
Much, much love!
Below you will find a sample of the diet that I was on for about two years before I competed with WBFF – World Beauty Fitness and Fashion. This dietary system, combined with weight lifting, can be of great help for losing weight, staying in shape, and building muscle and strength. But as I have mentioned throughout my book, Fit for Joy, this type of regiment mainly focuses on the physical body, which is only one aspect of our being. We are so much more than just our bodies! The approach to fitness that works the body in isolation from our mind and our spiritual heart is not what I do today, professionally or personally. My work at the moment is about integrating conventional physical fitness with spirituality.
These meal suggestions are only to illustrate what my personal journey was like. They are not approved meal-plan recommendations.
BREAKFAST Option One
8 oz cold water with a probiotic supplement
1 tablespoon matcha green tea + ½ lemon
1-2 whole eggs
BREAKFAST Option Two
1 salmon filet oven-roasted with coconut oil
BREAKFAST Option Three
Steel-cut oats, almond milk, berries
Any lean meat of your choice: white fish (sole, cod, flounder, or halibut), grass-fed red meat, tuna fish, wild salmon, chicken breast, turkey breast, sardines in water.
Eat with steamed veggies or a green salad.
Avoid sauces; instead use olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and avocado oil for salad dressing.
Snack - Best Options:
1 tablespoon spirulina shake with ½ oz. frozen organic berries and a teaspoon of coconut oil
Green juice (no fruit added)
Protein shake (whey protein)
Nuts (walnuts, macadamias, pecans, Brazil nuts)
Raw coconut flakes
Celery, cucumber, or carrots with almond butter
Kale chips or dried seaweed
Raw cheese (unpasteurized)
Sweet potato chips (homemade)
The same options as lunch
*Important – Avoid:
All sugar and sweets
Regular fruit, except for berries and green apples
Starchy carbs such as pasta, bread, rice, wheat wraps, white potatoes, etc.
Kombucha drinks or tea
All kinds of tea, but especially green tea (no sugar added)
Coffee (no sugar added)
Sleep 8 hours or more per night
Drink a gallon of water every day, as well as green tea
All vegetables and fruit should be organic
Adding lemon to your meals is great – it alkalizes the body
You can have a small piece of dark chocolate 85% cacao or higher, but not every day
Use stevia powder as the only sweetener
My six o’clock client was not a regular. A fellow female trainer had had to leave due to an emergency, and asked me to take her client that day. I filled in for her as a substitute trainer.
Steve was a fifty-seven-year-old businessman who seemed to be under a great deal of stress. I could tell this just by being around him for a few seconds. He gave me a serious, almost intimidating impression, and breathed heavily. We were introduced in a hurry by the other trainer as she ran out the door.
Steve looked at me with an expression of quiet impatience. He was in good shape and looked strong. His chest area was well developed, leading me to think he must have been lifting heavy weights for years. I could tell he was very proud of his chest.
Before I could ask him about his training routine, he gave me the workout for that day. His program had only four exercises: barbell bench press (155 lbs — 12 reps), incline chest press (50 lb dumbbells — 12 reps), floor push-ups (20 reps), and incline dumbbell flies (20 lbs — 12 reps). If you understand something about muscle-group training, you will notice that Steve’s workout had only chest exercises.
I looked at his program and said enthusiastically, “Great! Let’s do it!”
I set up the barbell and began the first workout on the list. I was ready to spot him if he needed it, standing close to the bench behind his head. As he ended each rep, I cheered him on by saying things like, “Great job, Steve. You’ve got it! Nice work! Keep the energy! You can do it! Wonderful! You are doing it right! Don’t give up! One more left! Nicely done!”
In truth, I was talking to myself. I needed to hear my own enthusiastic words, given the day I’d had. I noticed something unusual when I took a glanced quickly at Steve’s face to make sure he was okay. He was looking at me and smiling as he lifted the heavy weight. He’d finished lifting without saying a word, but he smiled. I didn’t exactly understand the reason for his happiness, but I was glad his serious and stress-filled expression was gone.
Considering he was a new client, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to begin a conversation about my early insights into fitness and kindness. Nonetheless, I asked him trivial questions, which he didn’t answer. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy interacting with others when I’m with them. I like separating things: There is a time to be fully alone, and a time to be fully with others. In a trainer/client relationship, there are moments to focus on the exercise, moving and breathing properly, and also moments when we can talk.
Steve’s behavior was making me feel incredibly awkward. Concerned but trying to stay cool, I followed him around with my cheerful chatter. His behavior didn’t change. The studio was quiet; there were only a few people working out with their trainers. No one seemed to notice how uncomfortable I was around Steve.
Once again in my life, I felt stuck. I didn’t want to stay there, but I couldn’t leave. I tried to stay calm and do my job well.
We went through the workouts. In the end, Steve was sweating, still with a smile on his face. Before we said goodbye, he asked for my name again, then mentioned that he liked my training style. He also inquired if I could train him from that day on. I politely explained to him that my schedule couldn’t fit another client.
In truth, if my heart had not begun to guide me toward fitness and spirituality, I would have accepted his offer.
Diana was next. We met at five in the evening.
She came in ten minutes early and hustled past me on her way to the locker room, saying, “It’s been another busy day. Give me the hardest, most beast-mode circuit you’ve got, Valeria.”
My energy was very low at this point. I really didn’t want to train another client, especially a high-energy person like Diana. She was thirty-four years old and exercised every day in the morning before she went to work. Her jogging sessions lasted an hour. She usually met me in the late afternoons for her weight training.
Today was an upper-body session. While she lay under a sixty-five-pound loaded barbell, doing twelve reps of military presses, I asked her, “What is the most important thing in life to you, Diana?”
She was so focused on her reps that I wasn’t sure she’d heard me. As usual, she was having a serious conversation with the barbell. We didn’t tend to talk much. Her workout mood had always been to get the job done as well as possible and then leave the studio.
A few seconds later, she put the bar back on the rack. The next exercise was ab work, and she knew it. We had the circuits programmed in advance. She moved briskly to the yoga mat on the floor to do a set of twenty reverse crunches.
Her breathing was heavy. The circuit was intense. She was never happy with anything light or easy. I was still waiting for an answer to my question as I kept track of the number of reps, but I didn’t ask it again.
On the floor, while doing a quick stretch—bending her knees close to her chest while keeping her legs together—she said, “The most important thing to me is to keep moving forward through the days. When I wake up in the morning, I have a to-do list in my mind. I just go through it naturally. It’s a clear, focused, and precise daily plan I accomplish by the end of the day.” She finished her answer by the assisted pull-up bar, after fifteen reps.
Diana had been moving fast for the last thirty minutes. She performed all her exercises with the same focus and precision as she checked off her to-do list.
“Do you like your job?” I asked.
She was so focused on her spider plank ab work that her favorite movie star would have gone unnoticed had they walked by us. Sitting on the mat, wiping her face, she said that she got her job done, made great money, and was proud of herself. She worked out hard in one of the best fitness clubs in New York, and could afford my high personal training fees. She laughed and added that she ate out all the time, traveled, went out with friends for drinks; serious relationships and love were too complicated to give attention to.
You know that feeling when there’s nothing you can say to someone because they’re too busy listening to their own thoughts? That’s how I felt.
After we finished the workout, I reflected on how Diana’s life was not that different from her to-do list. It was programmed. She’d been in a cycle of living according to rehearsed habits, and her life had turned into a running race with no finish line or winners, an existence driven by nonstop actions. There was no space left to even think about love.
Diana followed the exercise program and ate clean while training with me. She achieved the fit and athletic look she wanted in three months. Her body composition transformed, but I wish her life had, too.
It has been said (and I believe it to be true), there is strong evidence that the higher our level of self-esteem, the more likely we are to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.
With this in mind, let's be on the lookout for some basic mistakes that can make us age faster:
Not getting enough sleep
Avoiding (healthy) fats
Eating too many processed foods
Not consuming enough bone broth
Failing to minimize stress
Using the wrong beauty products
Having too much sugar in your diet
Not consuming enough biotin
Not taking a probiotic .... read more...
Source: Healthy Holistic Living
I eat homemade popcorn 2-3 times a week. I add grass-fed butter and Himalayan salt to it. It's a fun and delicious snack!
If you’re looking for healthy foods to snack on, try adding popcorn to your list. This “king of snack foods” packs more healthy antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables. Popcorn is a naturally high-fiber whole grain food that can be eaten without the guilt of many other snacks you’d enjoy while watching the latest basketball game on your wide screen. In addition, researchers have recently discovered that popcorn contains large quantities of polyphenols, antioxidants that can reverse damage done to the body by unstable molecules called free radicals. Ninety percent of these healthy polyphenols are found in the hull of the popcorn, so steer toward freshly-popped as opposed to processed. The results—unlike the popcorn—should be taken with a grain of salt. As with other foods high in antioxidants—such as red wine and chocolate—moderation is key. Avoid dousing the popcorn in salt or butter. And keep eating your fruits and vegetables. Unlike popcorn, they are also filled with important vitamins and minerals.
Popcorn Benefits Breakdown:
- Popcorn is a whole grain fiber and is roughage, meaning that it helps to keep you regulated.
- Popcorn has more iron than eggs, roast beef, codfish or milk. So, eating a few handfuls of popcorn can be just as good as drinking a glass of milk or having a roast beef sandwich, especially if you are trying to increase your protein intake.
- Popcorn provides your body with calcium, not as much as you’d get from milk. But still, since many of us are trying to increase our calcium intake, it’s good to know that popcorn has this important healthy item.
- Popcorn is high in vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, as well as, all of the B Complex vitamins. All of which the body needs since our bodies do not produce vitamins on their own, and we have to supply it with them.
- Popcorn provides protein. Since we all know that increasing our intake of protein is one way to help us build muscle, then knowing that eating popcorn can help us with that is a great thing.
- Popcorn is low in calories. One cup of unbuttered popcorn is only 25 to 55 calories per cup making it a dieter’s dream!
Source: Men's Fitness
The ripped diet is super simple but not easy to follow. You need to do it exactly like this or it won't work. But if you do it, you will lose as much fat as you want!
Here it goes:
RIPPED DIET PLAN
Probiotics in the morning before breakfast. (I recommend Garden of Life - 1 pill a day)
- 4-5 egg whites (boiled) with fibrous veggies (spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers...)
- 04 oz lean protein (chicken, white fish, white meat turkey) with 1-2 cups cooked fibrous vegetables of your choice
MEAL 3 - snack or dinner
Non-fat meal recipe:
- 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt - fat free
- 2 scoops Tera's Whey (chocolate is my favorite)
- 1 teaspoon spirulina
- 1 teaspoon matcha green tea
- Liquid stevia - from sweet drops
- 04 oz of fatty protein (lean cut beef, salmon, or lamb) with 1-2 cups cooked fibrous vegetables
P.S.: No alcohol, no sweets, no fruits, no extra oils can be added (if you cook with oil it needs to be coconut oil and very, very little), and no carbs (you can have 02 oz of boiled sweet potatoes on the days you workout legs or 04 oz of extra thick oats made with unsweetened almond milk).
Drink a gallon of water a day.
Adding lemon to your meals helps - you can also add soy sauce for taste.
Sleep 7-8 hours.
You need to work out twice a day.
Workout 1 (in the morning; preferably on an empty stomach)
- 45 minutes or 1 hour of low impact cardio: walk on the treadmill - full incline - speed of 2.5 - max 3.0 (DO NOT HOLD ON TO ANYTHING - free hands!)
Workout 2 (late afternoon or night)
- Strength strength training: you won't be able to lift as heavily, but it can still be intense. Several reps for every exercise - 1-2 hours training.
Do this and you will have a ripped body in the making!
Contact me if you need help or have questions! :)
"Fit - Healthy - Vibrant"
Get the movement started!
Yogurt can give you flat abs? Yes!
In a recent study, people who ate 18 ounces of yogurt a day, in conjunction with cutting their total calories, lost 22 percent more weight and 81 percent more belly fat than dieters who didn't. They also retained one-third more calorie-torching lean muscle mass, which can help you maintain weight loss. Fat around your waist produces the hormone cortisol, which tells your body to accumulate even more belly fat. When you eat yogurt, the calcium signals your fat cells to pump out less cortisol, making it easier for you to drop pounds, while the amino acids help burn fat.
I eat three tablespoons of Greek yogurt for lunch every day (as a snack too!). Well, this is not just plain yogurt. See my recipe below.
This meal gives me extra energy and keeps me full for a long time. It's loaded with high-quality protein and antioxidants. I am amazed at how good it makes me feel and "look," haha. Make sure not to add sugar or fruit.
YOGURT GREEN-POWER RECIPE FOR FLAT ABS
- 3-4 tablespoons Greek yogurt - plain or zero (I use zero)
- 2 scoops Tera's Whey (Chocolate)
- 1 teaspoon spirulina
- 1 teaspoon matcha green tea
- Liquid stevia - from sweet drops (as much as you like)
Optional: 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
Mix all ingredients well and enjoy!
Lean body guaranteed!
"Fit – Healthy - Vibrant - Get the movement started!"
A recent study showed that peanuts and peanut butter eaten in the morning have an effect on blood sugar throughout the day in women who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes. Not only did consuming 1.5 ounces of peanuts or peanut butter at breakfast help to decrease blood sugar spikes early in the day, effects were also seen hours later when participants showed more even blood sugar control following a high carbohydrate lunch in the absence of peanuts or peanut butter.
Also, peanuts are a good source of magnesium.
Magnesium has been shown to play a role in risk reduction for diabetes due to its positive effects on the release and effectiveness of insulin in the body. Peanuts contain 12% of the daily value for magnesium, making them a “good source” according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In one study, individuals fed peanuts on a daily basis for three weeks, not only had a higher intake of magnesium, but blood magnesium also improved to above recommended levels.
One study showed that low magnesium intake is linked with an increased risk of diabetes. And in another study low magnesium intake was also linked to high type 2 diabetes incidence.
Magnesium also plays a role in metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and insulin resistance in people of all ages. Studies show an association between magnesium deficiency and insulin resistance in children, as well as inflammation and metabolic syndrome in middle age and older adults.
This is a GREAT excuse to eat peanuts and peanut butter EVERYDAY! I am totally using this one. Especially because I am allergic to almonds !!! :(
"Fit – Healthy - Vibrant - Get the movement started!"
In a study of 67 metabolic syndrome patients, those who drank a beverage containing chia seeds for two months experienced weight loss as well as a reduction of triglycerides and blood glucose levels.
It's thought that the combination of fiber and protein in chia seeds, along with the gel-like texture it takes on when combined with liquid, contributes to feelings of fullness and satiety.
Among people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with chia seeds for 12 weeks resulted in reduced systolic blood pressure and significant decreases in A1C, a measure of a person's average levels of blood glucose.
Fibrinogen, a natural clotting agent that when lowered improves blood flow, was also decreased, as was an inflammatory marker called hs-CRP, which went down by 40 percent. What else is healthy about chia seeds?
Chia seeds contain about 10 grams of fiber in just two tablespoons. Mounting research suggests a high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of a number of chronic diseases.
This includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Most people need upwards of 32 grams of fiber a day, but most Americans get nowhere near this amount.
Just two tablespoons of chia seeds provide 18 percent of the daily recommended value for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus, 24 percent of magnesium, and about 50 percent for manganese. These minerals are important for bone health and as reported by SF Gate:9
These nutrients help you prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism and a part of DNA synthesis.
Source: Dr. Mercola