Summer Manifesto

So happy June is finally here.  Such a great feeling of possibility and sunny days ahead.  I decided to follow on Ali's wonderful post about creating a Summer Manifesto.  What a great idea!  I already have a 2012 Manifesto that I love dearly, but making one for Summer only, allows me to focus on small details and things I'd like to accomplish during my favorite season of the year.
Little House on the Suburbs also had a post on how to live seasonally in June and it definitely fired up my inspiration as well.

I didn't spend much time in the design, just wanted to get it out into the universe.  So go on, write it on a napkin, send yourself an email or write it on a post-it and stick it on your computer screen.  It'll be a reminder to live with intention this summer!

What are you looking forward to this summer? Please share!

Still here

I've been MIA from this space for a while now but I'm still here, I'm still actively trying to craft, to cook and move around and keep healthy.  I still have some Body By Design posts I have yet to publish (they will come) but I  thought I could give you a report of my experience:

The program consisted of three phases, the last one going on for three weeks.  We didn't finish the last phase but completed phases I & II.  I lost 10 lbs total and I also won the Biggest Looser competition at work!

I could focus on why we didn't complete the program or what made us ultimately stop but I will focus on the positive aspects of the experiment.  I believe if I do this, it'll be easier to build on those skills and habits we formed during those 9 weeks and  keep implementing them into our daily lives. 

#1  We shared something healthy and different  as a couple and made exercise a priority:   The fact that we were doing this together, made it more doable.  We had a commitment with each other and when the time to hit the gym came, (sometimes 9:30-9:45 pm...) we just went even if we were tired.  

#2 We started drinking a supplementary drink for workouts:  The program really emphasized the need to give our bodies enough fuel before and after our intense workouts. I wanted to find a protein shake which didn't contain any milk (trying to limit my milk intake to only cheese) and no sugar or anything artificial.  I was so happy to find VEGA products and decided to try their Whole Food Optimizer, which they recently replaced with VEGA ONE.  I must confess, it takes some time getting used to it, but just knowing that your body is getting all those benefits, (chlorella, spirulina, minerals, vitamins and only stevia as sweetener) made it easier to drink and ultimately we just loved how we felt more energy and stamina. 

#3 We started eating more frequently:  The program is designed to keep your metabolism active all day by eating small meals every 3 hrs.  This was hard at first because I had to plan and take all those meals to work.  But we did it!

#4 We ate homemade meals 100% of the time:  I had to include cooking into my daily routine.  No matter how much I wanted to just watch "24" all night or do anything else, I had to allocate the time to cook fresh meals everyday.

#5 We felt proud:  Everyone knew we were doing this and we felt SO PROUD about it.  People would say "wow I could never o that!" or, "that's so committed!"  and we just smiled and eventhough we weren't sure how we were making it happen, it was happening!

So that's my report on Body By Design.It felt good to write this down because as I mentioned, it would be more natural for me to focus on how I "only" lost 10 lbs or how we didn't finish the program or how on earth I would be able to do it again.  By writing the positive, I can see how those 5 points are so doable even if I'm not in the program.  I will follow through on my decision to take care of my health and be more active and those 5 points are 5 lessons that I am sure work, and make me feel good.

Thank you for accompanying me in this journey and I will keep you posted.  Keep looking uner the "Health and Wellbeing" category for upcoming posts on health.

Now back to regular programming....


Body By Design Day #62

On Saturday we did our last workout of Phase II.  Very tough as always and we were very tired afterwards.  Did some grocery shopping to get ready for the week and succeeded to buy all the ingredients for my first weekly menu ever! Whoo hoo!  I decided to follow a weekly menu to use the food we have more efficiently, plan ahead and therefore, eat better and more varied meals!

This week's menu included:
  • Cauliflower Soup
  • Carrot Cake
  • Quinoa & Black Beans
  • Stuffed Cabbage (trying to eat more cabagge.  I love it but don't know how to cook it!)
  • Minced broccoli, carrot & kidney bean salad (from Stephanie @ The New Healthy)
  • Cabbage, potato and Tempeh hash (looking forward to this one! yum!)
  • Chili Bean Burgers 
Very excited about the menu and eating the same things but in different ways.  We'll see how it goes!

We had dinner at Villa Antonio, an italian restaurant.  Our friend Kelly gave us a voucher for $50 and we had the most delicious dinner.  Don't even want to think about the calories...yikes! But the service was amazing and they had live music and the piano player played "How sweet it is" which is our wedding song :-)

Excellent food, ambiance and service!

We only ate half...I promise!

Body By Design Day #61

I was really good on Friday and went for a walk @ lunchtime and then to the gym after work!  Very proud.  Tired, but proud and ready for the weekend!!!

Lunchtime walk findings

Hello gym...again...


Body By Design Day #60

Thursday is Day #60 but to celebrate, I watched like 4 episodes of "24"....Arrrghghghg I have to go to the gym straight from work or else I just won't make it.  When I get home, my favorite spot in the house just looks so comfy all bathed in natural light and warmth, it's so hard to resist sitting there to read or watch something good.  Friday will be cardio day and I'll go for a walk at lunchtime!

Celebrating Simplicity

Saw this video today and totally inspired me.  Beauty, simplicity, balance...  Those are my wishes to you today.  Enjoy and Happy Friday!

My friend Maia from julia warr on Vimeo.


Body By Design Day #59

On Wednesday I did not cook anything to have for lunch so I went out and got some tofu and vegetables at the Asian Market.

It wasn't good.  At all. It felt so greasy and just not fresh.  I've noticed that since I'm eating home cooked meals 95% of the time, whenever I eat out, if it's not at least fresh, my stomach will reject it.  It was so bad that I couldn't have dinner and just had my VEGA shake before we went to the gym.

The asian market is really cool because they have fresh fish and all the Asian products I love but I'm not eating there again!

I went home and make a chickpeas and vegetable stew. There is such power in cooking your own meals.  You know exactly what's in it, you can customize it according to whatever you feel like eating and most of all, it will be fresh and it won't be overcooked when overcooking will decrease the amount of nutrients that will end up in your body.  Also, as I said in my manifesto at the beginning of the year:



Body By Design Day #58

On Tuesday I on the way to work I took this photo:

I love how the light just takes over everything.  It's a good reflection of my morning commute which is such a peaceful time of my day.  I never listen to radio and I just either pray, quiet my mind and thoughts or talk to my mom on the phone.  A year ago, my commute consisted of rushing out the door to catch the subway, pass out in the subway for 30 minutes, run to catch another train and again pass out for another 30 minutes until my phone alarm went off alerting my that I had reached my destination.  Total time: 1-1/2 hrs.  HUGE change.

I went for a walk but did not go to the gym at night today.


Body By Design Day #57

On Monday we were back at the gym.  Last week on Phase II of Body By Design and after this, is Phase III which will last three weeks and we'll be finished! 12 weeks my friends!

Today  I also went for a walk at lunchtime and found this little surprise (try to ignore how many lines there are in my hand..I know it's weird):

Have I mentioned how much I love lady bugs? They are just so adorable!! So tiny and colorful.

I met a friend for dinner and had a very delicious salad. 

I've been craving salad lately and I chopped up a bunch of lettuce and spinach to have ready in the fridge.  Had another salad for lunch that I made with chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, some cranberries ( I love a little sweet in my salad) with a homemade tahini dressing.  It was very good and satisfying.

Thanks for visiting!


Body By Design Day #56

On Sunday I focused on moving around furniture in my office. No gym today :-(


Body By Design Day #55

On Saturday we went to the gym and did our last Saturday workout of Phase II.  I've mentioned how tough it is.  Just long and hard but I get to work on my legs a LOT and I love how strong they're becoming!

I've been struggling lately with what to eat for breakfast.  I understand how important it is and know that if I skip it (which I never do), I'll be tired and hungry all day.  So I always try to have something.  A smoothie, an egg with a slice of bread, some oatmeal...  I want to try to develop a breakfast menu so that I don't have to think about it while I'm trying to rush out the door in the mornings.  I'll be working on that soon.

Thanks for visiting and I promise to post some photos and more interesting happenings around here.  Than you for your patience!


Body By Design Day #54

Friday finally arrived and again, I was feeling bored with the diet... This week was a tough one with all the events at work and the food involved.  Sorry for the lack of excitement lately.  Life's been...happening.


Body By Design Day #53

And the events continue.  Thursday I think I overdid it.  It was one of those days when I felt I didn't do anything right about diet of exercise.  I think we're only allowed to have a very limited amount of those days before you start to see the consequences on the scale.  I didn't watch my portions, I had a couple of very sweet mixed drinks, I didn't walk at lunch time and I didn't go to the gym at night.  Ouch!

Today's Friday and the plan is to eat small portions, go for my lunch time walk and go to the gym tonight.  I'll let you know how that goes by tomorrow :-)


Body By Design Day #52

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are going to be an exception.  There's a series of events at work (which include lunches and dinners) and I'm planning to enjoy them.  It'll all be over on Friday.  So I won't comment of what I'm eating (or drinking) :-)
I did go to the gym today and we did the Wednesday workout after a work dinner and having a divine Key Lime Pie :-)


Body By Design Day #51

I went back into my walking routine.  Seriously, it was like 70 degrees here yesterday.  So lovely!  This week is a bit crazy at work because we're having a series of  big events during the week.  I'm trying to keep my routines as much as I can to get a sense of sanity.   It also helps to feel I do have control at least over things like what I eat, how much I move and making it to the gym.  Even late at night.  This is proof of the time we got home from the gym last night... Tough.  But so worth it.

I had some of the beans with a bit of rice for lunch and when i got home, had some with a fried egg and avocado.  All in small portions!  Then something magical happened: I took a nap!  It may seem odd but I don't usually nap.  I had this strange idea that if I slept at any time other than at night, then I wouldn't be able to sleep later.  Well, I was reading a book after dinner (love having dinner @6pm) and I fell asleep.  For two hours! It felt so good!  And when I woke up at 8pm, the last thing I wanted was to go to the gym.  But then I thought of how I feel when I leave the gym: strong, accomplished, in control, vibrant.... so we went.

15-minute mile on the elliptical:

and 15-minute mile on the treadmill (the 2.0 mph happened during cool down):

Not impressive numbers I know (110 calories?? not fair!), but I went and after I took a shower, I had such a good night's sleep.  Good day.


Body By Design Day #50

Monday I was tired, very very tired.  I think the super intense workout and the fact that I only got about 6 hours of sleep had me craving my bed so badly all day!

I had to run some errands at lunch time so no walk today....that's three days without my walk, ouch.
But, we did go to the gym at night and completed the upper body workout.  Note to self: "Never, ever do strength training two days in a row.  You'll be so exhausted, will not enjoy it and be so cranky that you'll annoy the heck out of your husband".

We learned, to not skip that Saturday workout.  Even if we have to go really early or really late.  We gotta let the body rest and recover.

I cooked two meals in record time thanks to having a menu and all the necessary items ready to go!  I made red beans with a super easy recipe that my friend Andrea gave me a while ago.  She's a great cook and one of her specialties are beans.  I really like her recipe because it's simple, relatively fast (if you remember to soak your beans) and nutritious (only way to make me eat three carrots).  Here's her recipe if you want to try it:

Andrea's Beans
1 lb of dry pinto beans soaked overnight
3 carrots
Salt, pepper & spices (I use cumin, cayenne pepper and a little liquid smoke)
About a cup of chopped onions
3 tomatoes, chopped
A bunch of cilantro, chopped
  •  Cook the beans with the carrots in a large pot with plenty of water (add a lot if you want a soup or less if you like the beans more loose) until the carrots are cooked through
  • Add the carrots and some water and beans to a blender or food processor and blend to a paste-like consistency and add this mixture to the beans
  • In a pan, add onions, tomatoes and lastly, the cilantro and simmer until it becomes saucy.  Add this to the beans when they're done and season with your favorite spices
  • Let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until you feel that all the flavors are nicely mixed together
  • Enjoy with rice or a nice avocado salad!
 Andrea's Beans in all their glory.  See all that cilantro....HEAVEN!!

 I also cooked some Tilapia using a Mediterranean recipe from Tessa Evans' blog here.  I want to introduce new ways of eating the same things we buy every time we do grocery shopping.  This recipe is fantastic over a bed of brown rice or even over a layer of mashed potatoes.  Yum!!

 Mediterranean Tilapia casserole
As this is a Mediterranean dish, and in the Mediterranean family is key, this dish serves 8 people. It is a wonderful dish to use if you have got 8 hungry mouths to feed, as it is beautifully rich in color and texture, and easily made and served with rice. Alternatively adjust the ingredient quantities to suit.

(Preparation time approx 30 minutes, cooking time approx 20 minutes)

* 8 tilapia fillets
* 5 tablespoons olive oil
* 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
* 4 onions, chopped
* 2 lb fresh ripe tomatoes, skins removed and chopped
* 2 tablespoons of sun dried tomato paste
* 2 small glasses of white wine
* 20 black olives, halved and stones removed
* Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to season
* Bunch of chopped fresh parsley
* Pre heat the oven to 350F (180c) and lightly grease a large oven proof dish.
* Dry the fillets on a piece of kitchen paper, and place into the dish, set aside.
* Heat the oil in a pan, and fry the garlic, onion and 3/4 of the parsley over a low heat for 5 minutes.
* Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine. Stir, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
* Gently simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
* Add the olives to the sauce, then pour over the fillets, coating each one well.
* Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.
* Serve on a bed of rice, and a sprinkling of parsley.

The fillets waiting for the magic sauce

Garlic, olives, peeled tomatoes and parsley

They're all getting to know each other here :-)

The final product ready to be devoured!


Body By Design Day #49

On Sunday we did go to the gym and proceeded to do the hardest workout since we started this program.  10 weight lifting exercises from Body By Design (most of them for legs, which I LOVE), three sets of crunches on the bench and three sets we wanted to do on the pectoral fly machine to strengthen those chest muscles :-)
Yikes... I know we'll feel it all on Monday....

We weighed ourselves like we do every week and I gained muscle mass but only lost .1 lbs.  That had me a bit discouraged.  My husband actually gained weight and muscle mass! At least one of us was a total winner!
After I had a fight with my body, arguing that I was making such a big effort so that it should deliver big results, I apologized and thanked God for letting me do this.  I am becoming so strong and I know everything I'm doing is beneficial to me health, independently of what the scale says.

We then went grocery shopping, with a menu and list in hand.  This is the first time we do this.  We usually go and buy the same things week after week.  With no menu in mind.  The result is lots of things don't make it into the pot and they get ruined sitting in the fridge.  This time, we bought less, but of much better quality (90% organic).  It felt like a prize or an indulgence to get all of these pesticide/hormone-free goodies!

When we got home, the hubby did his magic with the help of a kitchen knife and some containers:

Red & White onions, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, celery and 
red & yellow peppers!
Please ignore the two wine bottles in the back... :-)

I LOVE an organized fridge!  I made a lentil stew and cooked some rice to begin the week!


Body By Design Day #48

Saturday I volunteered at the Latin American Coalition.  They hosted another monthly workshop to help community members become US citizens.  I went with my friend M and we had a really good time.  There's something about doing work because you want to and not because you have to, that makes us feel good and in control.  I also made a friend at the workshop so it was a really good day.

The day was foggy and grey so I went home, took a really nice nap and read The 4 Hour Body for the rest of the afternoon.  This is what a perfect day looks like to me: Interacting and meeting people, resting, enjoying my home and learning/making something.  As you might've guessed, there was no cooking so we ordered some greek food.  Not stressing about this diet.  I'll go to the gym tomorrow :-)


Body By Design Day #47

Friday I took the day off from workouts.  I didn't go for a walk at lunchtime either.  Could it be I'm loosing motivation? I hope not.  I must confess I am getting a bit bored of the food.  So I went and had chicken with broccoli for lunch.  And I didn't eat the rice! Good girl!  and yes, I said I had chicken.  Something really strange has been making me crave chicken....  I almost never eat it and I NEVER buy it.  I've had a love/hate relationship with this bird.  Since I started Body By Design, my protein sources have been limited to fish, eggs and tofu.  I'm tired of eggs! And I don't even want to see a pack of tofu.... I think the chicken cravings come from being bored.  I'll think about how to address this during the weekend...

Thanks for visiting!


Body By Design Day #46

Hmmm the traffic on this blog has increased dramatically in the last couple of weeks! So if you're reading me, thank you and again, please don't be shy and leave a comment once in a while!

75 degree weather, sun, breeze...beautiful day.  I went to Panera and had a wonderful salad and ate outside.

I don't know if you know but I don't habitually eat chicken (the reasons why, will be on another post).  But this week I've been craving it.  So much.  Maybe my body asking for more protein, I don't know.  But I wanted that Thai Chicken Salad.  And it was so good.

I also tried something different today.  I wore my Polar heart rate monitor all day.  I was curious to see how many calories I spend per day.  At the end of the day, it read that I had used more than 3,000 calories????  I did work out at the end of the day but 3,000 seemed like too much.  I did some research and found that the HR monitors are good for measuring training sessions but not for all day use :-(  Oh well, it was worth a try.

So I'm sticking to my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculation which says I should be using 1,649 calories.  If you're not familiar with BMR, it is basically a calculation of how many calories you burn (acording to weight, height and age) if you just laid in bed all day doing nothing. 

Starting tomorrow, I'll start to log in my meals into My Fitness Pal on my phone and see how I'm doing in respect to calories.  Want to know how many calories you burn per day? go here

Thanks for visiting!


Body By Design Day #45

I ran outside for the first time EVER.  The day was just perfect.  Nice and sunny 60 degrees and my co-worker J (who introduced me to Body By Design and I am eternally grateful for) inspired me to go jogging at lunch time.  Wow was it tough!  I can already run at the gym for 15 minutes without stopping but running outside is a whole other deal.  The wind, the terrain, the sun, all very enjoyable factors but they affect you capacity and I found catching for breath earlier than I thought.

At night we went to the gym and did the upper body workout.  We've been either increasing the weight or the reps and we usually do 4 sets of each exercise.  When I try to lift the dumbells I started with, I feel they're weightless!!! I feel am so strong!

I've been really slacking this week with the food :-(  I mean, I've been eating sensibly but haven't cooked in a couple of days.  So today's lunch was a case of sardines and a slice of bread...I know, nutritious but...sad lunch.  I think I'll treat myself to a yummy salad tomorrow.  It's supposed to be 75 degrees! whoo hoo!!!


Body By Design Day #44

I've been following the weight lifting part of the program with my husband but on the days we don't strength-train, I go by myself to do cardio.  Tuesday, he wanted to join so we went together. And I have to confess, we just started doing serious ab workouts.
The BBD (Body By Design) program, Phase II asks that you do ab workouts on the days you do cardio only.  I do them...sometimes but we decided to attack those muscles (which I haven't had the pleasure to meet...yet) and see what happens.  Stay tuned...


Body By Design Day #43

Monday was so tough to get back to work. But in the words of Four Hour Body author, Time Ferris: "The decent method you follow is better than the perfect method you quit".  We've completed more than half of the 12-week program!

Nothing eventful on Monday, except that we did realize that we're not intimidated by the "perfect" bodies at the gym anymore.

There's a section where they do free weights, dumbells, etc.  And the people that hang out there are always the same: overgrown muscles, weight-belt-wearing, and "I-grunt-when-I-lift" type of people.  We always looked at them and didn't dare to go to that area with our bodies in progress and our Body By Design book (which we carry everywhere to make sure we're doing the exercises correctly).  Well, on Monday we found ourselves there.  I had a barbell with tiny weights the size of a CD and we didn't care.  We actually felt we belonged.


Body By Design Day #42

Oh oh Sunday was total relax.  I read, watched movies, cooked and even took a nap!  The day was so cold and grey that I just didn't want to get out of the house to go to the gym.  So that's two workouts missed this week.  Not feeling bad about that at all.  And the lazy Sunday at home was sooo worth it!


Body By Design Day #41

On Saturday we went to the gym to do the feared "Phase Two, third day workout".  Ten exercises, most of them leg exercises. Four or five sets of ten each.  OUCH.  But we finished them.  Knowing we'd feel the pain the next day or even the day after.  Did not follow the program's schedule for meals but I've noticed that I just make much healthier choices out of conviction and not out of fear I'd get fat.  It was my mother in law's birthday and we were going to eat out.  Last minute, I decided to cook something simple (Roasted chicken, huge salad and curried quinoa).  This way, we'd be saving money and having 100% more control over what I eat and how much of it I eat.  This makes me proud.


Body By Design Day #40

Friday was a happy day.  I usually prepare the clothes I'm going to wear for work the night before.  So on Thursday night I got the jeans and sweater out of the bedroom (I hate turning on the light for my hubby while he's still sleeping).  And on Friday I realized the jeans I had taken were a pair that had been in my closet and not worn for about a year.  I had them there as a reminder that I had to get back in there as they are a size smaller than what I have been wearing.  Well I decided to try them on and: ta-da! they fit! they fit! they fit!!!  They were not loose and yes a bit snug, but I went from not being able to get them past my hips, to actually closing the zipper without loosing my breath!

Happy Day.  So I went to the gym that night.  Totally motivated :-)


Body By Design Day #39

Thursday was pretty uneventful.  Got my act together and put all that Valentine's Day candy out of my sight.  Someone brought in heart-shaped donuts and I just didn't want any.  I went for my lunch-time walk but took a break from the afternoon cardio to spend the evening reading at home.  Happy Day :-)

I am now starting to see that I could do this as a lifestyle and not a temporary thing.


Body By Design Day #38

Do you remember that cup full of candy I was so happy to show you for Valentines?
Let me remind you.  This one:

Well, Wednesday, I kept diggin into that cup of love demise.  I ate almost all of the chocolates (skipped the Sweet Tarts).  Then I went home and ate some tostitos.  I felt terrible.  I felt I had fallen of the wagon.  I felt like maybe this is too much, and I just won't be able to pull it off.  All of those thoughts crossing my mind while munching on Multigrain Tostitos (which are just like crack).  It was strength-training day and I wasn't feeling strong at all, but  I got ready and went to do it anyway.

On the way to the gym, my husband (who didn't know about the events of the day or what I was thinking), told me he had found a photo of me where I looked so fit.  "Me? fit?" "never", I said.  I don't remember feeling "fit" ever.  It goes to show how the image we have of ourselves is soooo different from what people see (which is probably closer to our real image).  Anyway, he said that he's always believed that I can do this and that after seeing that photo, there's no way I can say that I can't loose the weight and be fit.  Then I told him about my day, the chocolates, the tostitos and my sabotaging thoughts.  He looked at me like I was crazy!  "Whaaat?" he said, and then proceeded to tell me that if there's anyone he believes that can do it, it would be me.  That we had been doing this for a month and a half already and it just gets easier, not because any of it is easy, but because we are making it part of our lives.  Love this man.

Guys, a day when you eat that doughnut or that desert, or those chips, it's just another day in life.  The next day, the next moment,  you have another blank slate and YOU are in control.  Having those things occasionally does not mean you've lost control.  It means you are living.  You don't give into the doughnut, you ALLOW yourself to have it and enjoy it 100%.  Right now.  And then later, have fruit if you're craving something sweet.  I think this is the beginning of unlocking the secret to weight management.  It's not depriving yourself or having fear of being left alone in a room made of chocolate because you'll eat it all.  The secret is to be kind to yourself, to allow yourself to enjoy it because you know that YOU make the decisions.  And just as you decide to eat that chocolate today, YOU also decide to go for a walk, to eat some fruit or to drink more water.  You are in control.

By the way, this is the photo my husband was talking about.  It was taken on my birthday a few years ago.   I remember I was happy but definitely didn't feel fit.  What do you think?


Body By Design Day #37

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

I already knew what was coming on Valentine's Day: A delicious breakfast offered from one of our coworkers to the ladies in the company (which included heart-shaped-chocolate-covered donuts) and chocolate.  Lots of it and lots of different kinds...

I was mentally prepared to enjoy it all :-)  I mean, how could I not celebrate Love day?  And when I showed up at work and saw this:

How could I turn around and say "no thanks, I'll eat my green hemp pancake instead!".  I enjoyed everything you saw on that photo and even a couple of Kit Kats later in the day.  It felt good.  I have been so good with the Body By Design diet, even when I "cheated" was with fruit or overdoing the almonds or cashews.  I hadn't had chocolate in more than a month, much less biscuits...oh biscuits... I love the South...
So I considered all of this as a reward, allowing myself to enjoy, savor and be thankful for every bite.  Just that day though.

Of course I ran to the gym after work and tried to burn it all off.  Don't know if I succeeded, but I felt good.

Hope you had a nice Valentines, hope you indulged in something delicious and given with love!


Body By Design Day #36

We started Phase II of Body By Design on Monday.  I was very intimidated by the workout because of the intensity and because it would be longer.  We went last night even though we were kind of sleepy and finished the whole workout in 45 minutes!

People, it gets easier.  Even if the workouts intensify (which you need in order to see results).  By this time, you already know a thing or two about correct form, you are already familiar with a lot of the machines (even if you hate some of them... Hyperextensions...ugh) and you know a lot of the terms like curls, extensions, rows, etc.  We were going from exercise to exercise so fast and felt very accomplished (tired too) at the end.

We went straight to bed and this morning I felt I needed more sleep.  Probably from the intensity of the workout so I'm going to try to take a little nap on the days of the workout (Monday, Wednesday & Saturday) to see if it helps.

Can I just say how happy it makes me to get home and by able to read with daylight?  I LOVE IT!  Started reading "The Four Hour Body" by Tim Ferriss (he also wrote "The Four Hour Workweek").  The premise of the book is :

"An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman"



Body By Design Day #35

Sunday, oh Sunday, why are you so sweet but short? We slept in, went to the gym and ran on the treadmill for 10 minutes, walked another ten and did the elliptical for another 10.  I find that using different equipment keeps the workouts fun and it may trick my body into burning more fat (I made that up, but who knows).

We visited some friends, had a subway sandwich (because I wasn't prepared.... no cheese and definitely no mayo).  I did make oatmeal for breakfast and added the Vega protein to it...hmmm Not a good idea.  It turned out green, and not a nice green, a yucky-I-don't want-to-eat-this-green.  We ate it anyway after adding some blueberries to it.  I'm not even going to torture you with a picture of it!

We got home at a decent hour and I even had time to prepare some meals for the week, take my measurements now that I finished Phase I and read a little bit of Middlesex (which I've been reading for like, 2 months).

One of the things I prepared was salmon burgers.  I made these very often, but this time I decided to add spinach to them.  Yeap, they also turned out green, just like my oatmeal.  But they are so delicious!!  I thought I'd give you an idea of how I make them and you'll see how easy they are!

First, add some chunks of salmon and add to food processor.

 Add some minced garlic (I use a lot)

 add chopped onions


 a handful of spinach (don't add if you don't want your burgers to turn green)

and oatmeal, yes, oatmeal.  Who knew?


I seasoned the mix with some Bragg's Liquid Aminos but you can add whatever you like 
(I'm thinking some chipotle would be yummy...)


 Shape the mixture into patties (not too thick and try to ignore the fluorescent green hehehe)

And cook them on medium heat with the lid on.  I cooked mine with some coconut oil.

 Enjoy them as you would a regular burger, or cut into small pieces and add to a green salad.  Yummmm!


Body By Design Day #34

Saturday! I woke up in a really good mood.  Went to the gym with my hubby to do our last workout of Phase I.  I must confess I'm a little intimidated by Phase II.  It involves more exercises each day, less repetitions of each exercise, but more sets of them..... Yikes!
We are already feeling so strong and energetic and the book says that this is only the foundation for what's to come.  More fat loss, muscle definition and overall toning.  Very exciting, intimidating, but exciting!

We spent most of the day changing things around the house and it felt so good to see the furniture moved around, seeing things in a different light and changing perspective.  I also skyped with mom (she's in New York), so that also made the day :-)

Followed the program really well today except for some pineapple I just couldn't resist!

It was the perfect treat!


Body By Design Day #33

Friday was a toughie.  I don't know if it's the anticipation of the weekend that makes me think of food... something good for my taste buds.... something different from what I've been eating for the past 5 weeks.  The weather didn't cooperate either.  We've been hit by freezing temperatures here in Charlotte and it just makes you wanna cuddle up on the sofa, hot chocolate in hand.

At some point during the day I was even upset.  "Why can't I eat what I want?", "why did I let it go this far?", "I want some cheese....".  I went for my mi-day walk but skipped the evening workout.  I was in rebel-mode.  I even had carbs after 3pm.  I didn't eat anything fattening, just didn't stick to the program.

I got some news that day about something I had been waiting for, for a long time.  But I didn't get to enjoy the rewards for my hard work and patience, someone else did.  That started the negative-thinking on Friday.  When I went to bed, I started thinking about the day and it came to me, that yes, there are so many things we have no control of.  Things not always happen the way we want or when we want them to.  But one of the things I do have control over, is my physical well being (at least to some extent).  I have control over making the time to workout, making the time to prepare the meals I'll eat the next day and I even have control over my thinking.  I decided to make the best out the weekend ahead.  Take control, workout, eat well and be positive.

I decided to keep taking care of myself and I started that Friday night.  I gave myself a good foot massage with my favorite creme , go to sleep and welcome the weekend with a new attitude.

 Every little step counts...


Body By Design Day #32

Thursday was another feel-good day.  I went for my walk at lunchtime and to celebrate the fact that sharing what I'm doing with everyone I know has made this so much easier than I thought, I told J, my coworker (who introduced me to Body By Design) that I had this blog.  She went ahead and read all the posts from the beginning and even told me that she found it so inspiring! So thank you J, for your encouragement and support.  And thank you to the readers of this blog for showing interest (I do see how many people visit everyday), because your interest pushes me to stay on track and constantly reminds me that people actually believe that I can do this.

I went to the gym after work and did 15 minutes on the elliptical watching my heart rate to stay in the fat burning zone.  Then I had the urge to run a little bit so I jumped on the treadmill and ran for 10 minutes and then walked for 5.  When I ran, I definitely went past my fat burning zone and into the conditioning zone.  I'm not sure if running actually helps me to loose fat but I'm starting to enjoy it and I do want to work on my endurance for a 5K that we're doing in March.  So I'm basically experimenting.  Is it better to do interval training (run/walk/run/walk), or just moderately paced cardio in order to loose weight?  There are different opinions on this but in the end, every-body is different and I'm trying to find out what works for me.

I wanted something warm for dinner and was so glad to find some vegetable soup my hubby had made so I warmed it up and added 3 egg whites to it.  So filling and delicious!

 Believe me, it tasted better thank it looks! :-)


Body By Design Day #31

Wednesday was a good day! The weather was a little discouraging at the time I had to go out for my walk.  I considered just not going and reading a magazine instead (surprising how we can come up with excuses in a second!).  Instead, I grabbed an umbrella in case it started raining and stepped out the door.

Five minutes later, the sun was out! I walked really fast to raise my heartbeat and then stayed at the same pace for about 30 minutes.  I did my workout and I got some sun shining on my face as a reward :-)

When I got home, I made an omelet with 5 egg whites, some tofu sausage (I know I shouldn't eat this so often...) and mushrooms.  I added some pepper and hot sauce and yum!

Last week I started watching "24" again on Netflix.  Oh boy.... I. Can't. Stop. Watching..... It's been my guilty pleasure lately.  I guess it's a better guilty pleasure than cheesecake or donuts right? Please say yes :-)

At 9:30pm we were out the door and going to the gym.  We were actually looking forward to the workouts since we've been feeling so good and so strong.  We increased the repetitions on most of the exercises and now I even lift the same weight as my husband in at least two!! haha!

Then it came the time to do the bench dips.  If you remember from this post, I have been able to increase the reps each week.  Week one I could only do one and today, on week 5, I did 12!!! 12!!! 12!!! Can you feel the excitement we're feeling around here? I hope so!

The reason for this blog and the following photo is this:

"Be transparent with your goals -- tell as many supportive people as you can. By putting your reputation on the line and staring in the face of certain embarrassment, you are much more accountable to see your goals through, for life." Chris Gethin - Body By Design

I asked my husband to take a picture of my bench dip #12.  Very unflattering picture indeed but what the heck, I've lost all shame and only care that I'm able to do this!  
Strong is the new thin!!


Body By Design Day #30

Day #30!!!
I can't believe it's been 30 days already! I think I'm closer and closer to making exercising and eating well and frequently a habit.

My coworker was so curious to see how much I'd lost so we went to get weighed.  I have lost 10 pounds so far!  That's 10lbs in 4.5 weeks! This is a good day for me.  Not only the numbers are decreasing but I'm also getting stronger and even feel a difference in the way I carry myself.  I feel more in control of my movements.  I'm feeling so good and confident that this is here to stay in my life, that I even signed up for a 5K! Yes, I'll be doing a 5K in March.  It's a walk/run event but I'm going to attempt to run all the way.  I feel I can do it.

Had a quinoa salad today for two of my meals.  I just cooked the quinoa in the rice cooker, let it cool and added diced cucumber, tomatoes, onions and I made a dressing with vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil, cumin, a bit of curry powder and a little bit of molasses.  Good stuff!!


Body By Design Day #29

Monday was a tough one.  Since we got home so late after the superbowl, we had to get up early to prepare lunches and snacks... We underslept.  So when it came the time to go to the gym for the Monday workout at 9:30 pm, we were exhausted.
We made it! Monday's the easiest workout but we felt it lasted forever.  We were tired but pushed through it and were even able to increase the weight since last week.  We drank a Vega shake before the workout and water with apple cider vinegar afterwards.  I've been using apple cider vinegar for about a year and I love it.  It has great benefits such as regulating sugar and cholesterol.  it is also an antifungal and antibacterial.  Since I started working out, I searched for a good sports drink to get some energy, electrolytes and help my muscles to recover.  I found that 2 tbsp of the vinegar with some raw honey in a glass of water (you can even add a pinch of sea or Himalayan salt) is the natural and chemical-free version of gatorade! 

It was a looong day but again, we went to the gym and did the workout.  Feeling really proud!


Body By Design Day #28

Super Bowl Sunday.  I was a little afraid of this day, that's why we went to the UNCC campus for a brisk, 40 minute walk before going to watch the game.  The food, snacks, drinks....too much temptation.  We were invited to a friend's house to watch the big game.  I am so happy to report that we snacked on fruit and yes, some chips (some of the fruit dipped in a bit of chocolate).  But we didn't even touch any of the other delicacies.  Fruit is not even part of the Body By Design program but if I'm gonna cheat with something, I'd rather it be fruit and not a hot dog.  I'd say it was a very successful weekend!


Body By Design Day #27

On Saturday we went to the gym to do our Body By Design Workout.  We are being able to increase either the weight or the repetitions on almost all the exercises!  We're getting stronger every day.

After the gym, I knew we had to run some errands, so I packed our VEGA shakes and three hours later I thanked the heavens for being prepared because we were starving!  we didn't have to run and eat junk food but had the shake and waited until we got home to have our meal.

I made a stew of tofu cubes with spinach, diced tomatoes, onions and mushrooms.  I added oregano, basil, a bit of cumin and Bragg's Liquid Aminos.  Boiled some potatoes and we had a simple, yet nutritious and tasty meal!


Body By Design Day #26

Friday oh Friday!  I went to the gym today in the afternoon (aside from my mid-day walk) and I: RAN.  Yes, I ran for 15 minutes straight.  I know it doesn't sound like much to most people but let me tell you, I couldn't run for more than 5 minutes without taking a break.  I felt so empowered, so, so, so good!  I did feel a bit of pain at some point but I remember my friend D's words: "just keep going, the pain will go away".  And it did.  And I ran.  And I couldn't do this before.

I went to the supermarket and bought more sardines.  These were actually really good! I had them with a salad of different lettuce varieties, tomatoes, a little avocado and onions.  I made a dressing with apple cider vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper, minced garlic, molasses and some olive oil and then sprinkled some dried cranberries and feta cheese on top.  It was soooo good!  Note: Neither cranberries, nor cheese are part of the meal plan (and I hadn't tasted any cheese in weeks!) but, what the heck, it was friday and I was feeling so good I decided to reward myself.


Body By Design Day #25

Thursday was one of those "I could totally do this" days.  I had cooked the night before, had my meals ready, went for my mid-day walk and went for a walk to the University of North Carolina campus when I got home.
I love living so close to this school.  Being around an institution of learning brings lots of energy and a sense of progress to the neighborhood.  I love watching the students walk to class in the mornings and evenings and we walk around the campus regularly.

I felt so energized during my walk that even started thinking about what I wanted to study when I go back to school which is on my list for sure.  It's interesting how when you start taking care of yourself, everything else just falls into place.  Plans are made and executed and opportunities and ideas arise.  I'm getting used to this.


Body By Design Day #24

Today I wasn't feeling the motivation at all.  I felt tired, a bit sleep deprived and just not in a good mood.  Thank God I had a date with some of my girlfriends to go pottery painting.  We had been to Dish it Out here in Charlotte and wanted to try a new place closer to my house.  We went to Our Paintin' Place in the Northlake Area.  Although they had less items to choose from, I loved that the use of their studio space (which is very nice and comfortable) is included in the price of the item!  I started painting a 6x6 tile and since I couldn't finish it, I can go back as many times I want until I'm happy with it and it can be fired. 

I was not prepared at all food-wise to go to pottery painting right after work so by the time I got there I was STARVING!  Not. good. at. all.
I ended up @ Panera having a panini....not that bad but definitely not nutritious...

By the time I got home I did not want to go to the gym but sit on my sofa and watch "How I Met Your Mother".  My husband wasn't feeling up for it either but I'm so proud we still went.  It wasn't our best day but I am proud to say that I did 10 Bench Dips.   I don't remember if I've mentioned this but this is a summary of my experience with Bench Dips:
  • Week 1: Able to do ONE only 
  • Week 2: Able to do FOUR
  • Week 3: Able to do SIX
  • Week 4: Able to do TEN!!!!
Ten very well done dips my friends.  Moral of the story: No matter how "bad" your day is going, there's still room for good things to come your way.  You just gotta push through it!


Body By Design Day #23

I went out on my mid-day walk and found this:

How pretty right? Maybe a sign that the weather will stay beautiful?  I hope! I saw it as a reward for having the discipline to go out everyday for my walk.  It's been almost a month since I started and it feels awesome.  I've even inspired some of my coworkers to do the same so I have company and great conversations every once in a while.  I've been walking through sunshine, through rain, through cold weather and warm weather.  I just put on the sneakers and go!


Body By Design Day #22

Monday... no amount of sleep would've been enough for our muscles to recover from Sunday's hike.  Wow.  I felt muscles I didn't know I had.  What's interesting is that in the midst of this pain, I feel strong, stronger than ever.  I was a bit unprepared this morning and just made a smoothie with hemp protein, banana, raspberries and oats (soaked in water overnight).  It was very filling but the fruits are definitely not in the program.  Didn't do very well on my meals because I was just so busy I didn't realize it was time to eat so I only had my lunch which was Quinoa Salad from yesterday with cubed tofu.

The Monday workout is the easiest one but it was tough for us.  We were still very sore from the hike on Sunday but we pushed through it.  And so we begin our fourth week in the program.  I have not weighed myself, but I do feel better in my clothes and my husband 's seeing very big improvements in his muscle definition.  We keep each other motivated and seeing how the body responds so well also helps!


Body By Design Day #21

Sunday oh Sunday! I knew I wasn't going to do any of the daily workouts because I'd be doing enough exercise hiking on Crowder's Mountain, I just didn't know that's I'd be doing 5 days worth of workout on that day... That was really INTENSE!.  We hiked going up the mountain in about an hour and a half.  The hike was fun, meaning it was really interactive, a little bit of just walking, a little bit of going up hill, a little bit of climbing on really cool rocks and a lot of wonderful views.  See for yourself:

We were supposed to meet our friends at the beginning of the hike but were about 45 minutes late of course...  We finally caught up with our friends at the top of the mountain...

You could see the city of Charlotte from there.

According to my hubby, until you climbed up to this rock, you cannot say you got to the top of the mountain.  I thought about joining him but then he said "the trick is to jump up here and know when to stop before you keep going... going down the precipice, that is"... Um, "no thanks" I said.  I just enjoyed the views, the fresh air and the liberating feeling of being alone with nature all around you.

We then proceeded to hike back down, taking another trail which I'm glad we didn't take going up because it was 25% stairs...  This took us about 2 hours!  I had never walked for so long in my life, but I did have fun and my body hurt, specially my legs.

We hiked for 7.3 miles in total.  Now you understand why I said it was 5 days worth of exercise!

We're definitely going back!  The challenge is to keep going until we're in such great shape that nothing hurts when we finish :-)


Body By Design Day #20

Saturday I volunteered at the Latin American Coalition to help the community with their naturalization documents. It felt so good to to help out and also meet really smart and kind people. I felt like I was doing something also for my own well being. Not necessarily exercise but something that gave me a boost in confidence and it made my day.

One of my friends makes the most delicious cupcakes ever and she made a batch last week.  She sent me two and I enjoyed every last bit of them.  The were really small so I don't think it made a big difference.

I didn't do any of my workouts but at night we went out on a party bus!  We danced all night and I only had about half a drink.  We had a delicious vegetable soup that my hubby whipped up and made sure we were really full so that we wouldn't be tempted with any chips.  We did really well and I'm sure we burned plenty of calories.  I liked the idea of doing something active and fun on the weekends instead of the regular walking/elliptical/bike workouts.

Party Bus painted with the Colombian flag :-)

The party bus experience was AWESOME! We drove around Charlotte, dancing, laughing and waving to strangers looking at our very loud bus!


Body By Design Day #19

I think my body knows the weekend has come because it craves for things that are not part of the program! On Friday, I did have some coffee and a little creamer and it tasted so good. I decided to give into those cravings with moderation. Half a cup of coffee, maybe a Hershey kiss and wait a bit, drink some water and then see if I'm still craving for it.  Couldn't go for any of my workouts on Friday. Not a very successful day overall...


Body By Design Day #18

Thursday I walked two miles at lunch time! I try to walk to talk to coworkers or make copies as much as I can. In the morning, since I had run out of peanut butter, I had a sweet potato with some spicy bean paste from Trader Joe's.  I really liked the potato in the morning, nice to have something sweet and filling.  Also, instead of having a little snack at 10 am, I divided my lunch into two and had half at 10 and the other half at lunch time.  That way I keep myself satisfied long enough to keep my energy and when I'm hungry, it's already time for the next meal!

I ordered the Vega Mango Smoothie to supplement snacks and tried it today.  It only has 11 grams of protein so it doesn't qualify as a meal replacement but it tastes really good and I will use it whenever I feel hungry.  It's only 100 calories per serving!

I decided to go to the gym for my evening workout to kind of mix things up.  I used the elliptical for 30 mins and it felt really great.

 Daily January self-portrait, later in the day at the gym and my workout playlist!