Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CRRRRRAVINGS

Hello lady friends!

We all know how it feels to get a craving for something "bad", usually at around "that time of the month" (sorry guys).

Well believe it or not there is a reason why this happens:
A) Your body is telling you it NEEDS vitamins and minerals that it's lacking in order to function properly.
 OR
B) You have a dietary or hormonal imbalance and your body THINKS it needs carbs or sugars for energy.

The easiest way for your body to get what it needs is by hinting at it with a familiar and easy to recognize food, so that you give it to it quickly (it's easier to crave a piece of chocolate than the taste of magnesium, read below).

Good news is that if you learn how to interpret these cravings and are able to make better choices, you will be much happier in the long run.

I found the list below a long time ago, and it has been extremely helpful in times of crisis.

Print it out and keep it handy, and try this next time you get hit by a craving:
Go over the list and find healthier substitutes that seem appealing, have those as a meal instead. Surprisingly, eating sauteed broccoli and chicken breast with ginger and garlic will take the edge off of that whole baguette or chocolate bar you've been dreaming of inhaling!

** As a side note, it seems to be pretty clear that eating a balanced diet of vegetables, some fresh fruit, lean protein and good fats like nuts and seeds will keep your system in balance. And hey, if you REALLY want that piece of chocolate eat it, and eat it with joy, it's not going to kill you.

Chocolate:
- Magnesium: raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits.

Sweets
- Chromium: broccoli, grapes, cheese, dried beans, calves liver, chicken.
- Carbon: fresh fruit.
- Phosphorus: chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, grains.
- Sulfur: cranberries, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage.
- Tryptophan: cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach.


Pre-Menstrual Cravings
- Zinc: red meats (especially organ meats), seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables.

Bread
- Nitrogen: high protein foods like fish, meat, nuts, beans.

Oily Snacks / Fatty Foods
- Calcium: mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame.

Salty Foods
- Chloride: raw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt.

Acid Foods
- Magnesium: raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits.

Coffee or Tea
- Phosphorous: chicken, beef liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes.
- Sulfur: egg yolks, red peppers, muscle protein, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables.
- NaCI (salt): sea salt, apple cider vinegar (on salad).
- Iron: meat, fish and poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries.

Alcohol / Recreational Drugs
- Protein: meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, nuts.
- Avenin: granola, oatmeal.
- Calcium: mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame.
- Glutamine: supplement glutamine powder for withdrawal, raw cabbage juice.
- Potassium: sun-dried black olives, potato peel broth, seaweed, bitter greens.

Tobacco
- Silicon: nuts, seeds. Avoid refined starches.

Chewing Ice
- Iron: meat, fish, poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries.

Burned Food
- Carbon: fresh fruit.

Soda and Carbonated Drinks
- Calcium: mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame.

Preference for Liquids Rather than Solids
- Water: plain or flavored water with lemon or lime, 8 to 10 glasses a day minimum.

Preference for Solids Rather than Liquids
- Water: you have been so dehydrated you've lost your thirst. Plain or flavored water with lemon or lime, 8 to 10 glasses a day minimum.

Cool Drinks
- Manganese: walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries.

General Overeating
- Silicon: nuts, seeds. Avoid refined starches.
- Tryptophan: cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach.
- Tyrosine: vitamin C supplements or orange, green and red fruits and vegetables.

Lack of Appetite
- Vitamin B1: nuts, seeds, beans, liver and other organ meat.
- Vitamin B3: tuna, halibut, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, seeds and legumes.
- Manganese: walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries.
- Chloride: raw goat milk, unrefined sea salt.

Hope this helps!
Paola

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WHO RUNS THE WORLD? GIRLS!




I love Beyonce! She is an amazing performer, a genuinely nice person, an incredibly dedicated artist, and she KILLED it at the Billboard awards.

I hope this inspires you as much as it does me.

Enjoy!



p.s: fast forward to the 3:00 minute mark for the show.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

THE (NOT SO) SECRET

Once you deicide to embark on a new journey or adopt healthy habits, you have to stay consistent.

At the start of something new, things always seem exciting: deciding to do it, planning it out, setting the goals... it's like having a new boyfriend! (or girlfriend, if any guys apart from my husband are reading this). The problem is we tend to set unrealistic deadlines for the "transformation" to be completed.

You have to make it a habit for it to work. It has to be part of your daily routine.  You need to respect the time and effort needed in order to see true, long lasting results.

Sometimes life gets in the way, other days you may get bored, and on occasion you may get frustrated and want to drop it, but just . keep . going.

Focus on the smaller victories, not on what you have yet to achieve.

Be kind to yourself and give it your best.

Make a promise with a realistic timeline, listen to your body and take a little break if  and when needed, but just get back on track and continue on your path.

Simply be your best, for yourself, and be proud.

Cheers!
Paola

Thursday, May 19, 2011

PRObiotics

Probiotics are live friendly organisms that live in our gastro-intestinal track (GI) and help keep the bacterial balance of the gut in check. They occur naturally in cultured milk products such as Kefir and Yoghurt, and can also be taken in supplement form.

Back in the days when I wasn't feeling that great, introducing large amounts of probiotics into my daily supplementation (while on the "CLEAN" program) helped clear out all the bad stuff that was making me feel and look ill.

We all have "good" and "bad" bacteria like yeast in our bodies, but when the leves of the bad guys increase things can get out of control. Yeast is a live organism which feeds on sugar, so if you are either consuming too many refined sugars and simple carbs (candy, bread, pasta, fruit...), or if your insulin leves are messed up due to hormonal imbalance (my case), the little bastards can take over your whole system and wreck havoc causing inflammation, acne, yeast infections, kidney infections and bloating amongst other terrible things.

I still take probiotics every single day and I increase the dosage if my digestion starts acting up.

I tend to rotate brands, here are a few of my favorites:

Jarro-Dophilus EPS:
- Has 5 billion organisms per capsule (the higher in the billions the better).
- Vegetarian.
- No need for refrigeration.

Udo's Choice Adult Blend Probiotics:
- 12 billion organisms per capsule (amazing).
- Must be kept refrigerated.

Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus
- Top of the line, 15 billion live organisms per 1/4 tsp (whoa!).
- Powder form, which is great for adding to your morning smoothy.
- Must be kept refrigerated.

You should be able to find these at Wholefoods, online or in your neighborhood health food store or pharmacy. Your body will thank you for it!

Cheers!
Paola

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Easy Dinner #1




When I first got married, I hadn't cooked for a while. Wanting to impress my new husband with a wonderful "manly" dinner, I bought the best rib eye steak I found, some veggies for salad and a bottle of Cabernet and invited a couple of friends over to enjoy my first meal.

Well... it took me about 3 hours to get this "simple" dinner together: The steak was undercooked, then I overcooked it and still managed to leave it cold in the center... It was a disaster we laughed off (not me), but I made it my goal from that day on to have a delicious dinner made from scratch on the table in around 30-40 minutes*

* Some times it takes a little longer, sometimes a little less, but who's really counting?

When you prepare a meal with good quality ingredients - preferably organic / local  / free range- you don't need much. With a little preparation and confidence in yourself, you can whip up some amazing, simple dishes that you and your family can enjoy.

I love Greek food and I love Buffalo meat. Buffalo is healthier than cow (make sure it's free range and grass fed) since it has a much lower fat content.

Here's an easy recipe I make often. I tend to "eye-ball" my ingredient quantities, so feel free to adjust  depending on your taste.

Greek Style Buffalo Meatballs:
(4 servings)

1 lb ground buffalo.
1 egg.
3 cloves of garlic - chopped.
1/2 tb dried oregano or 1 1/2tsp fresh oregano - chopped (almost ground).
1 1/2 tb mint - coarsely chopped.
1 1/2 tb parsley - coarsely chopped.
Juice of 1 large-ish lemon (divided into 2).
2 tsp lemon zest (from the 1 lemon).
1/4 tsp salt  (or more to taste).
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper (or more to taste).
Dash of cayenne pepper or a pinch chill flakes.

- Preheat oven to 350.
- Put all the ingredients in a bowl and roughly mix by hand (only use juice from one lemon half).
- Make 1" meatballs (don't pack them too tight) and place on a baking sheet or pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, drizzle the juice from the second lemon half on top and sprinkle with salt.
- Serve while they are still very hot.

The are great served with a big salad of lettuce, tomato and onion, and with Tzaziki that I put together while they are baking in the oven spooned on top.

Tzaziki (Greek Yogurt Sauce):
1 cup Greek strained yogurt (Faghe 0% is great).
3 garlic cloves - chopped into tiny bits.
1 small cucumber - peeled and seeded and cut into very small cubes.
1 tb mint - coarsely chopped.
1 tb parsley - coarsely chopped.
Juice from 1 lemon.
Pinch of salt.
A few grinds of black pepper.
2 tb GOOD cold pressed olive oil (emphasis on GOOD).

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork, drizzle with olive oil and serve. Each person can spoon as much as they want over the meatballs.

Cheers!
Paola

Monday, May 16, 2011

Le Glow

Eating clean foods, exercising, and simply having a healthy lifestyle are major contributors to making your skin glow. But with a little help from some amazing lotions, potions and cosmetics, you can magnify the effects.

Ah yes, washing your face, another simple yet easily overlooked healthy habit. Soap and water only don't cut it, you need to create a ritual you can stick to doing twice a day.

I tend to rotate products and try new things here and there, but I always end up coming back to my loyal favorites:




Best- Cleanser- Ever! I use the Advanced formula, but there are different options depending on your skin type. I use it at in the evening, it removes all types of makeup in a flash, smells great, and leaves your skin with a dewy sexy look. And best of all, it lasts forever (worth the investment).






Second-Best-Cleanser-Ever! I've been using this on and off since I was 13. It's so gentle and creamy, I use it in the morning, since there isn't much to remove from your face if you've washed it before bed (a MUST).






Toner is not mandatory, but if you do splash a bit of it on your face with your hands, and gently pat it in after cleansing it soothes your skin, and whatever you apply afterward will absorb better.







Using sunscreen DOES make a HUGE difference. After using this daily it for about a year now, my skin tone has evened out, and old dark spots have minimized. This is another great Ling product. I mix a small blob of this with my moisturizer...







The wholy grail of moisturizers. Simple and straight forward, it absorbs quickly and it leaves a dewy finish without any greasy feel. Mix a small blob with sun screen (SPF in the morning only, alone at night) and massage it in while the toner is still damp, until the cream it's completely absorbed, for the full dewy effect. Massage ladies, massage!

Cheers!
Paola

p.s All beauty products, vitamins and supplements, food brands, doctors, workouts, etc... I mention in the blog are my preference and posted by choice. I've tried and tested many things and only talk about things I use and love.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Breaking the Fast



It is proven that breakfast is one of -if not- the most important meals of the day. It breaks the fast your body has been in since your last meal (hence the name), it gives you the necessary energy to start the day, and it get's your metabolism warmed up.

My problem is that I've never been a breakfast person. As a child I remember my mother begging me to at least have a sip of milk, or a bite of something, which I would begrudgingly agree to, having to use all my might to swallow. I'm simply not hungry right out of bed. Good thing is that as I've gotten older, I've come to understand the importance of making this a habit. I now have a few options I rotate to get the necessary nutrients, without having to have a "full" breakfast.

At the top of my list are smoothies and shakes, which are easy to make, easy to ingest and if made with the right ingredients, can give you all the nutrients you need for a complete meal. I make mine with water and fruit for vitamins and carbs, plus a good whey powder for protein and amino acids, and sometimes add coconut milk or almond milk for texture, or Kefir for texture and probiotics, Below is a list of my favorite ingredients which you can find at Wholefoods, any supermarket, health food store or Amazon.com.

Milk:
- 365 Almond Milk (unsweetened) from wholefoods. Rich and creamy. I buy the one in the refrigerated section, but the tetra pack is equally as good.
- Pacific Organic Almond Milk (unsweetened). Lighter creamy texture.
- So Delicious Coconut Milk. The name says it all.

Kefir:
Kefir is a fermented milk product which contains more beneficial bacteria than yogurt, has no lactose so it's very easy to digest, and has a good amount of protein. It's been around for bout 2,000 years and It's pretty close to perfect. It's one of my favorite foods in the whole world. I was so obsessed with it when I discovered it, that I was making my own at home every day (I will post the instructions if you're interested, let me know).
- Redwood Hill Farms Cultured Goat Milk Kefir (Plain). I LOVE this stuff! yes, it's goat milk, yes, you should give it a try.
- Lifeway Organic Low Fat Kefir (Plain). Made from happy cows, creamy and delicious.

Fruit:
Fresh when in season, or frozen, which adds a nice icy texture to the shakes.
-  Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries).
- Peaches.
- Mangoes.
- Bananas (in very small amounts).

Whey Proten:
Whey protein is the mixture of isolated proteins from milk. It has no lactose. 
- "Metabollic Reset" by Nature's way. Great vitamin a mineral content plus added fiber and sweetened with Stevia.
- Bluebonnet Whey Protein Isolate. Made from grass fed happy cow's milk. It's just straight up whey protein powder.

Here are two of my favorite recipes, which I made up, hence the silly names. I use the basics and tweak depending on my mood that day. You can adjust depending on the consistency and flavor intensity you prefer. The key is to not overdo it with the fruit, otherwise you end up consuming too many carbs and sugars.

These are single portions, just double up if you are making enough for two (my husband loves these as well).

Berry Blast
1 cup water
1/2 cup Kefir
1/2 cup berries
1 scoop whey protein powder
6 small ice cubes
Bit of Stevia
Put ingredients in this order in the blender and whiz until all the ice is crushed.

Almost Chai
1 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinammon (or 4 dashes from spice jar)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or 4 dashes from spice jar)
1/2 banana
1 scoop whey protein powder
6 small ice cubes
Bit of Stevia

Put ingredients in this order in the blender and whiz until all the ice is crushed.

Super easy to make, delicious and easy to cleanup. Enjoy!

Paola

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Before and (almost) After



Day 3 into "bootycamp". Sore and hungry, but feeling great! (I think it's a superhuman / girlpower / I-love-torture kinda thing).

I started this challenge because I have been working out RELIGIOUSLY for the past 9 months, but have been feeling a bit stuck lately.

I'm a visual person. I hate the number on the scale, I need to SEE the change. For progress I go by pictures, by how my clothes fit, and try to see if I'm getting more toned and defined. This can be tricky though, we look at ourselves daily and with a very critical eye, so small every-day changes can go by unnoticed.

On Monday I took some new progress pictures to record where I am now and what I look like. I compared these to my "before" pictures from last August and WOW! I can't believe the changes my body has made. To say the least this has been a great motivator, and made it more exciting to continue.

THE POINT OF THIS POST IS... whatever your goals may be, record a BEFORE by taking a picture or journaling your feelings or making a list of what you wish to accomplish, etc... and put it away. Don't look at it! a few steps into your journey photograph / write / list... what is going on at that moment and compare. This should serve as either encouragement, or as a tool to readjust your process.

Be tough and stick to your plans, but don't be mean to yourself. It's easy to lose track of progress if you don't make it a point to do so.

Cheers!
Paola

p.s: I will wait until I reach my next goal to post pics, for better comparison of what happens when you kick it up a notch.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"BootyCamp"



Some of you know who the amazing Tracy Anderson is. In case you may not, she is the creator of the Tracy Anderson Method (TAM), a training program that not only promises, it GUARANTEES that if you follow through and do the work, your butt (and your arms, belly, thighs) will shrink to it's teaniest-tiniest point.

Sounds too good to be true? well it's not. I am living proof that it works (even though my butt still needs some additional shrinkage).

I met Tracy two years ago, when she led a 2 week program at my local gym. I had no idea who she was, except for the fact that she gave Gwyneth Paltrow that amazing pair of gams for the Iron Man premier (yes, I googled her).

To say that it was hard / weird / f*%#ed up / crazy / painful... yet fun to complete this challenge is an understatement. To confirm that I lost 27" off my body and dropped 14lbs is amazing. I believe I am not alone when I say that the reason why I, along with twenty other crazy ladies went through with it, is because that first day, when Tracy walked in the room, she looked at each of us in the eye and PROMISED we would all change. And we believed her.

Talk about a life changing experience! Since then I have been a loyal follower. Last August I was fortunate enough to become a member in her TriBeca studio, here in NYC, and things have gotten better, tighter and smaller ever since.

I've decided to join my TAM friend Laura Stroud on a bootcamp challenge...or how I like to call it: "bootYcamp" (get it?).

Laura will be following the "Tracy Anderson 30-day Method" by the book. She has already completed this once before with great succes, and it's ready to give it another go. She has inspired me so much with her commitment and amazing results, that I will be doing my own version by doing my workouts at the studio, with the addition of this time following the diet (I HATE diets!).

I will keep you posted with development worth documenting, and will post a before and after picture when I'm done.

Cheers!
Paola

p.s: Tracy also has new program called "metamorphosis", it looks amazing! I suggest doing the book first as a kickstart, it will shock your body and prepare it for moving on to the new stuff.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Salads are Cool!"



Salads can be a perfect, complete meal, if you make them right.

Surprisingly, most of us end to go about constructing a salad the wrong way, especially when ordering at a restaurant or a salad bar. Croutons and bacon bits with creamy ranch dressing sure taste good, but a good salad they DO NOT make.

Narrow it down to leafy greens, some cooked veggies, a good lean protein and a few nuts, add a splash of a clean simple dressing (olive oil and lemon with a dash of mustard and a few anchovies being my personal fave), and you're on the money!

Here is a great short video from the wonderful Jaime Oliver, explaining how to build a perfect salad.




A few tips:
- Just because it's salad, doesn't mean you should eat a bucket of it! Stay within the serving sizes I've described in my previous post. After all, the roughage takes up a lot of space in your stomach.
- Keep the dressing to a coule of tablespoons, and dress your salad just before serving.
- Try to eat at least one salad a day. If it's cold or you're simply not in the mood, try a warm salad instead (switch the leafy greens for warm cooked veggies with a small handfull of leafy greens + the other components).

If you're in a pinch, or want a surefire way to have all your nutrients in one bang, give a good salad a try.

Cheers!
Paola

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Do or Do Not... There Is No Try".



When we hit our thirties the "uphill battle" with our body begins. If we come to terms with this fact, we have better chances of preventing the bloodshed, or if we're already in it, wining the fight.

In my darkest moments I was full of self doubt. I had tried so many doctors, natural remedies, diets, workouts... and nothing worked! At one point I decided to accept that "this is what happens when your 30". I was going to let things run their course and hope for the best. I (almost) gave up TONS of times, but I kept pushing.

We're going against mother nature here, you have to respect her and understand her and in turn she will reciprocate. Once you get the basics down and follow through it all gets easier. It is a journey, there will be ups and downs, but as long as you set realistic goals, are true to yourself, and hold yourself accountable, it will become normal and maybe even fun.

You WILL get results, whatever you decide to try. There's only one catch... YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK.

Paola

Monday, May 2, 2011

YOU GOTTA WALK BEFORE YOU RUN...

Simple statement. Very true.

Several friends that have been following my blog (thanks!) have made the same observation: they feel that adopting a healthier lifestyle means making a lot of (too many) changes to your daily habits all at once. While this is somewhat true, you can choose to do things one step at a time.

A few years ago, when I realized I had to make some changes myself, I tried to do everything together: I started working out regularly, overhauled my diet, eliminated all "bad" habits like smoking and drinking, tried to go to bed early, etc... Let me tell you, it did not work out. Those who know me well know that when I get into something , I dive in head first. I'm pretty intense and take things VERY seriously and try to understand the in's and out's, the how's and why's. I nearly drove myself (and my dear husband) crazy!

It wasn't until I decided that I would try one or  two things at a time that things started to improve. First item on my list: to drink more water. I've written about this before, how as simple as it seems it is one of the habits most easily overlooked.  I figured if I drank one full glass every hour, I would meet the "8 glass" requirement for the day, and I did.

Once I got that down, I chose to cut out coffee.. somewhere in between I started working out... shortly after I picked up taking a daily vitamin every day... then I learned that gluten isn't that great and I cut that out... simple things, one by one.

We tend to be either too loose, or too tough on ourselves, often demanding too much or not enough. Be kind to yourself, understand that you've lived your life a certain way for MANY years, and you cannot try to change everything overnight. Commit to improving yourself, your health and your quality of life, and everything will fall into place.

Cheers!