Monday, March 24, 2008

The Beginning of Perfection!

The statement above was taken from Barack Obama’s brilliant speech where he explained the reality of our current social and political views on race. It made me think about how we, at Personal Best, strive to achieve perfection too. We strive for perfection for our bodies and our minds. We attend Mambo Mania classes, follow meal plans, take advantage of body treatments and therapy, all for the sake of being the best we can be. And still, no perfection.

On the other hand, we know that we are on the path toward perfection. Along the way, we inevitably come to the realization that we will never get there, at least not in this lifetime. Nevertheless, we keep forging ahead. We continue the journey because we are on the right path. We are headed toward positive, uplifting, realistic goals and ideals; for our bodies, our minds and our spirits.

I video taped our Mambo Mania class the other night, and while I watched the playback, I realized why we continue. I witnessed pure grace and abandonment as my students gyrated, danced Mambo and “sizzled away the pounds.” Everyone had their own unique swagger and style as they danced to cha cha, salsa, and Afro-Cuban rhythms. I saw joy, laughter, smiles, and claps. I watched how students encouraged and edified each other. Everyone had a blast. In the end, everyone walked out feeling better than when they walked in.

For some of us, an hour of Mambo Mania takes the edge off a stressful day, for others, it expends extra calories and burns unwanted fat. As I watched the video, I noticed how my students’ physics look stronger and leaner than ever before. They are healthier, happier and their body language; through those hot Latin moves, express pure fun and enjoyment.

Since our doors opened for business a few months ago, our mission has been to transform people’s lives into being their Personal Best. Now, because of my students’ loyal patronage, sheer determination and commitment, we are proudly witnessing that transformation before our very eyes.

I guess the most profound aspect of being at the “beginning of perfection” is the process itself. It’s the only thing that is perfect. We, are simply the byproduct of our approach.

Thank you and congratulations!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Into Your New Year's Resolution

Yes, it’s March!! What happened to your New Year’s Resolution to make exercise and proper nutrition a part of your everyday life?

Not so good, huh? I know. Me too. I was going to eat 6 small meals a day which included a well balanced diet of proteins, good carbs and essential fats. I was going to meditate every morning before the start of my busy day and connect with my spiritual guru and then every night, before going to bed, I was going to review and digest the happenings of the day. Then, I was going to express my gratitude for all the blessings in my life before “I’d lay me down to sleep.”

The reality is that I’ve followed my perfect diet only 2 or 3 days of the week, not everyday. Although I’ve been good about my morning meditation, even if I sit for only 15 minutes in quite solitude, the profoundness of my spiritual quest isn’t as deep as I’d like it to be. As I move into the rest of my day, I quickly forget the promises I’ve made to myself and God and let my ego get the best of me. At night, when I’m finished with my usual 13 hour day, I’m just too tired to count my blessings.

So, now what? It’s March. The first quarter 2008 is almost gone, how am I ever going to reach my ultimate goal of being my “Personal Best”? How can I be the best role model possible for my students?

By restating my intention and resolve to improve my nutritional, physical and spiritual approaches all over again, NOW! As soon as I finish eating my salsa and chips snack, (which is actually a healthy and low calorie snack) I’m going to prepare for tonight’s healthy and well balanced dinner of chicken salad and a fruit bowl with yogurt for a late night snack.

Tonight, before I go to bed, I’ll count my blessings. Tomorrow morning, I’ll allow myself to retreat into a deep meditation and align myself with pure and honorable principles which will guide me through the rest of my day. And, I’ll eat proper meals throughout the rest of the day, and of course exercise (which, by default, is an easy thing for me.)

Let’s just resolve to evolve into our “Personal Best.” I know you, too, had the best intentions when you began your new fitness and nutritional program at the beginning of the year. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t where you think you should be. Reset your goals right NOW. Let me alleviate your stress about not staying on track. The truth is, life happens and sometimes we’re derailed from our path. The key is to acknowledge the fact that you’re off track. Once you’ve done that, just get back on it. It’s OK. This is a process. There’s no magic wand that any of us can wave to completely change our behavioral patterns. We must cultivate a new behavior slowly, deliberately and attentively, until it solidifies as part of our being.

Here are a few tips to help you get back on track.

Success is just below the surface:

1. To kick start your fitness regimen; take a short 10 minute walk outside. Spring is upon us and now is the perfect time for outdoor activity- even if it’s just a short walk after tonight’s dinner.
2. Pamper yourself a little tonight. Take a hot bath, give yourself a mini facial, just a simple cleanse, mask and moisturizer. Then put your jammies on and stretch the back of your thighs by reaching for your toes- hold for 20 seconds, (make sure you bend your knees and pull in your tummy).
3. Before going to bed, think of a loved one, and if they’re by your side, go give them a kiss and tell them how much you love them today and forever.
4. Then go spend some quite time alone, reminisce about your day. Count your blessings and feel gratitude. Declare and affirm your intentions repeatedly in your mind.
5. Sleep clear headed and with a sense of knowing you have lived a successful day to its fullest. Anticipate a bright tomorrow.
6. In the morning, you’ll be ready for a NEW day. Begin with morning meditation, just sit quietly, don’t think, just breath. Connect the blissfulness of a good night’s sleep with the anticipation of a brand new day.
7. Eat a bowl of oatmeal. (I like putting raisons in mine!)
8. Make a statement out loud, a declaration, about your recommitment and goal to your fitness, nutritional and spiritual growth. Write it down and, sometime today, share it with someone you trust. Accountability is part of a successful plan.
9. Make a list of tasks that need to be done today. Prioritize, you will attend to the most important ones first and if you get to the next, and the next, etc., it will be great!
10. Take action!! If weight-loss is your goal, take out that outfit that’s drifted into the “black hole” of your closet, and collecting dust, waiting for one of your skinny days to finally see the light of day. I know it’s painful and even nauseating to suck in your gut in that far just to snap the waist band closed. But, do it anyway and wear it today.

You might wonder why I’m suggesting you wear that tight outfit. I know it might literally be a pain to do this and I agree you will be uncomfortable for a while. (Oh, make sure you take a good look at yourself in the mirror before walking outside. I don’t want you to look ridiculous, be reasonable with your choice.) But, that discomfort is ok. Pain has been defined as an unpleasant sensation felt when one is seriously stuck, injured or sick. It is a gauge that monitors where we are at the moment. When the pain gets bad enough and you can’t stand the feeling any longer, you will take the proper measures to move towards relief and pleasure. Continue to declare you newly renewed intentions and goals and continue to move in the direction of pure and good natured pleasure. If you go off course, get back on the track. See you at the end of the road!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Choosing the Right Sports Bra: Are You Supported?

As a fitness instructor, women often come to me with questions about health and exercise, as well as body image and self-confidence. All of these issues are interrelated. I have found that one of the most personal issues that my students want to know about, but don’t like to ask, is how to keep their breasts firm even when committed to a tough regimen of daily exercise.

This is an issue I know a lot about since I personally workout by myself or with my Mambo Mania classes an average of 5 hours a day. Breast tissue that is inadequately protected during such rigorous activities will allow the breast to “bounce.” Even with slight movement, breast tissue stretches, leading to unwanted sagging and stretch marks. High-impact aerobics, horseback riding and other “bouncy” activities leave the breasts most susceptible to damage. The solution is to keep the breasts well-protected and supported during exercise using a sports bra, as well as to maintain a nutritious and well-balanced diet.

Many women ask me why this happens. After all, isn’t the female body designed to run around? While it is, with age we find that the breasts inevitably begin to sag. There are multiple reasons for this—including genetics, breast feeding, drastic weight change, posture, health problems, and of course, gravity and age. Ptosis, which is the medical term for sagging, is more specifically caused by the deterioration of the glandular tissues collagen and elastin that maintain firmness, as well as the gradual stretching of connective tissue between the breast and the muscles. Note that sagging is not necessarily related to how large the breasts are. Breasts are composed of both heavy and light tissues, and it is the balance of the two that creates the ultimate shape.

Exercising without proper support will accelerate the whole sagging process as well, and this is why I always recommend the use of a proper sports bra. How do you know if your current bra fits the bill? Consider these questions:

1. Do your breasts feel completely secure during your entire workout?
2. Is each breast supported in a separate cup?
3. Does the bra dry easily even through a rigorous and sweaty exercise routine?

If you were unable to answer “yes” to all of these questions, it’s time to invest in a new bra (or two!). In fact, it’s always a good idea to carry an extra bra in your exercise bag to change into after your workout.

Going shopping for a new sports bra should be a fun activity. But as important as style and personal taste is, make sure that ultimately you choose a bra that has these necessary qualities:

  • Always try on a sports bra the first time you buy. Stretch, reach, jump around and run in place to simulate a workout environment. Above all, the sports bra should provide a comfortable fit, even when you take a deep breath.

  • Preferably, choose a bra that supports your breasts completely from underneath, not with shoulder straps. (Also take care that straps don’t cut into your shoulders; otherwise you will be very uncomfortable by the end of your workout!)

  • Each breast should be housed in a separate, molded cup. This is to prevent the breasts from bumping into each other during exercise, causing tissue damage or even bruises. (If you're smaller-breasted this is less of an issue.)

  • Sweat produced during a vigorous workout can lead to chafing. For this reason, be certain to purchase a sports bra that will dry easily and not become saturated with moisture.

  • Buy T-Back bras so that the straps don’t show through. It’s also a good idea to try on the bra with your workout outfit just to be sure the colors don’t show!

Once you’ve got a comfortable number of sports bras in your closet, it’s time to get out and use them! You should also throw out your old bras promptly as the elastic breaks down and the bra loses its ability to support. Remember, the investment in proper equipment is an investment in your health.

One last point: I would be remiss if I didn’t stress the importance of a balanced diet. Like all cells in our body, glandular tissue in the breast requires proper nourishment to continue to produce healthy cells. Though many women overlook this fact, eating well is one of the most significant things we can do to maintain a youthful appearance, including maintaining the firmness of our bodies. Check out my Metabolic Cure for a nutritional plan to get healthy.