On My Plate

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Whole Wheat Spagetti with fresh veggies and Shrimp

Turkey Shish Kabob on bed of spinach with side of sweet pepper and cucumber salad

Turkey on Sandwich Thin with Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa & Avacado
and side of cucmber

Baked Salmon topped with Peas and Brown Rice. Stuffed Pepper side
with Grilled mushroom & Asparagus

Roasted Pepper stuffed with turkey, lima beans, brown rice and chiplote sauce

Spicy Chicken naked Sandwich topped with Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa
Spinach & Avacado with side of grilled Asparagus & Carrot

Blackend Grilled Salmon, Qunioa Pilaf with side of pan grilled tomato and onions

Spinach & Sun dried tomatoes Omlete

Spicy Curry Salmon with Qunioa Pilaf

Ground Turkey, Roasted Pepper, Pinto Beans, Greek Yogurt & Lettuc Wrap with hot sauce on Whole Grain wheat tortiall wrap

Lemon Pepper Shrimp with Tomatoes, Qunioa and Spinach Salad with Garlic and Seasme Seeds

Pan grilled spicy shrimp with roasted peppers and tomatoes and greek yogurt

Udon noodles with Chicken, a slice of Orange and side of Sweet Pepper & cucumber salad

Qunioa Pilaf, fresh veggie salad, Turkey kabobs and baked sweet potato.

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There is no Silver Bullet

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One hour every day. 6 days a week for 12 weeks; a no non-sense butt kicking workout coupled with eating clean has paid off. The combo of the two – workout & eating clean is the only potion that can truly help you transform into a healthy and fit you. One minus the other is incomplete. When coupled the result is simply magical. You believe in magic? Well, there is no magic; there is no silver bullet that will help you lose weight and stay fit. If you believe in hardwork then the combo will get you there. It is a proven theory.

Me & my hubby just completed our 12 weeks of a seriously butt kicking workout called X-Series, offered here at our local Gym – Excel Body Fitness. I have lost 10 pounds and my body fat % has dropped down by 5. My hubby has lost 15 pounds and  his body fat % has dropped down by  7 – IN JUST 12 WEEKS.

Yes, beautiful bodies are not made in heaven. Hard work does pay off. There is a catch – and that is you need to strive for the pay off.

Then & Now

Then & Now

We are SPARTANS!!! AROO…XBF’s Team-Get Dirty

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We Spartans-Sal Dimino, Bob May & Nathan May, Aubrey Surgers, Christina Leshyn Kodesh, Vanessa Tamara, Maria Winans, Andreia Dimino, Kimberly Kolesar,
Pinku Manandhar,Steve Poythress & Marie Green

Excited & jittery not knowing what to expect, I lined up with my other XBF friends to run my first obstacles run – SPARTAN in Charlotte, NC. The whole crowd was charged in anticipation of the obstacles that we all had to endure. “AROO…Who am I ?” A fully dressed Spartan howled and the crowd roared back “I AM A SPARTAN”. Smoke from the fire cracker filled the air and cutting thru the fumes we started the Spartan.

Right before the take off

Do you have to be crazy to run a Spartan? NO! But this is one of the craziest runs I have done so far for sure. With a confidence boost from our trainer Carolee Auslander and the support from the XBF peeps, I signed for the Spartan. The videos posted on Spartan’s website were definitely intimidating; but I tried not to put much thought on it until the day we actually left Raleigh to Charlotte for the race. Then of course Marie, my friend and I kept saying “What did we get ourselves into?”  🙂 In the race, every obstacles we tackled, “Shit and What did we get ourselves into” simply  became an expression. After every obstacles the feeling of enduring, achieving and overcoming swelled us with pride. It was a great sense of accomplishment.

Yes, Shit! What did we get ourselves into? Right before we climbed that wall,
they sprayed soap all over.

Spartan was definitely a no-joke race for sure. With 15 obstacles – multiple wall climbing, walking through waist deep long stretches of swamps, crawling under barbed wire, carrying 60 pounds sand bags up and down a hill, tractor pulling,  jumping through fire,  crossing a river on a net hanging above it,  swimming across water with current; it was pretty challenging. To truly understand the hard part of it, you have to either have run one yourself or watched it. We, as a team endured through it all. Team Get Dirty truly got on their knees and got dirty 🙂

Courtesy of Erin S May – watch the Spartans of  Team Get Dirty – here

Three months ago I would not have even considered doing this race; and I would not have been able to do it the way I did it. There is no doubt in my mind that all the strength training, the kickboxing, the polymeric drills, the X-Series and everything else our trainers at XBF push us through every day made my body strong enough to combat the challenges. Carolee Auslander, Maria Winans, Vanessa Mese, Chris Newport, Kim Kolesar, Angie Fernandez, Dan Young, & Jessica Hebb; thank you all the XBF instructors for whipping us everyday, challenging us and pushing us to our limits. You guys are amazing. The hard work paid off and Team Get Dirty was placed 42nd out of 400 teams. The teams fasted Male was Bob May – he finished 18th out of 100 in his age group  and Fastest Female was Kimberly Kolesar, placed 2nd out of her age group and the rest of the team were all right behind. We finished the race with great team work. So folks, keep saying YES to all those push-ups, pull-up and the burpees in the class 🙂 They pay off 🙂

Loved the Barbed Wire Crawl. Felt like a winner at the end.

The hardest for me was the tractor pull

Fun all the way through

And then how can we forget our junior Spartan? XBF folks, Nathan May (Erin & Bob May’s) five-year old did a junior spartan. He made us all proud. Having the desire to do it, going there and getting all dirty and enduring it all was phenomenal. Active parents, active kids and active community – always a better place to live in. Congratulations to the proud parents.

Junior Spartan tackling his obstacle

The proud Spartans – Bob & Nathan

*photo courtesy Erin May & Nuvision Action Image

CLEAN 30. Do it to believe it. Dare yourself!!!

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Lemon pepper & ginger shrimp with garlic n sesame seed spinach salad; with side of quinoa. CLEAN!!!

CLEAN 30? What in the world is CLEAN 30? Simple. It means for 30 days you eat CLEAN. Eating CLEAN by no means mean starving yourself; a misconception I found among a few friends of mine, when I tried to explain to them that we were on a CLEAN 30 diet. Dieting does not translate to “green salad” only. We in CLEAN 30 got so mocked at that from some point I did not even make an effort to explain to the quizzical looks that questioned what it was all about. CLEAN in the eating world is a rhetoric word that has a deep connotation. It can be used several different ways to define eating habits. For some it might mean no meat; for some it might mean no wheat. However the CLEAN 30 that me and my hubby did during our X-Series session at Excel Body Fitness meant eating right. For 30 days eating Real, Wholesome, minimally processed foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds & lean meats. No refined grains, added sugars, and highly processed foods (e.g. white rice, white flour/pasta/bread, tortillas, cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream, frozen yoghurt, pies, sodas, pastries, potato chips etc). No artificial sweeteners,  no fried or trans fats and no alcohol. The whole idea behind this was that once you master the ‘art of eating right’ its up to you to make the decisions on the food you eat.  Food and eating clean is such a vast topic to discuss that a mere few sentences do not really say much about it. There is a billion dollar food industry and a billion dollar marketing on this topic; so you figure it out. But I will tell you this much that eating the right food does make a difference in how you look and feel. There is a big truth behind the saying that you are what you eat.

The pledged 30 days of eating CLEAN have been long over; but we have still been able to stick to it. In fact getting into the mode of eating CLEAN was not a difficult start for us as we were already eating CLEAN most of the time. During the clean 30 giving up white rice & white flour during parties and meet ups were somewhat difficult. It was more difficult explaining to people why we were not eating it than actually not eating it; as they did not understand how one day would make a difference? (and yes a day would not make a difference as long as you have been really good the rest of the time) And of course the Super Bowl without alcohol was a something my hubby was not very happy about. 🙂 Once we got past the clean 30, we realized that it had already turned into a habit. Habit of eating CLEAN. Does that mean we NEVER eat anything but CLEAN? Never is not true…seldom is true. But when we do; we know how much to 🙂 “What? So you are going to do this for the rest of your life? You must be crazy…” I have heard this way too many times. Clean 30 is just the first step; an eye opener on how the food you eat defines your waistline that you absolutely hate or absolutely adore; defines your overall health and your fitness. Do not waste your hour of workout by not watching what you are eating.

Yes we spend more time reading labels and driving to several different stores to pick the foods that we love. Is it worth it? Absolutely…we would do it over and over again. Does it take a long time to prepare CLEAN food? Not at all. It’s all about picking the right food and coming up the creative menus. Eating CLEAN does not have to be boring. In our home, it has just got more exciting. And the results? You got to see it to believe it. Stay tuned. Coming next – the journey into 12 weeks of X-Series at XBF with CLEAN 30 and the results.

Chiming in with Excel Body Fitness

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If I am to describe Excel Body Fitness (XBF) in one word, I would say “real”. This is the place where “real” people come to workout with “real” instructors and achieve “real” results. Hard to believe? Check it out yourself at Body by Excel. This is the place where passion and dedication of the instructors meet the commitment of the members. This is the place where commercialization of a gym ends and “the sense of belonging” to a BIG FAMILY of people like yourself, wanting to make a real difference in their lives begins. This is the place where “a hard to find one hour of your day” investment will help you get into shape with proven workout routines; pushing you to the limits.  Every seconds, every ounce of sweat helping you reach your goal; this place begs to differ from any other gym in the area. I have belonged to several other gyms before. I have taken group fitness classes where the instructor leads a class full of people and you are pretty much on your own. You get it right or you get it wrong. Coming around to check your posture and form and making it a personal session for you is rare to find. Here at XBF, even in a class full of people you feel you have a personal trainer. Sounds like a XBF commercial? Well, this is simply a member’s statement; or should I call it an understatement? What goes in this gym is a well planned, well laid out workout routines led by well-trained passionate instructors with only one goal; which is to make a difference in the way you eat, you feel and you look; to transform you and your well-being for a better you.

When we first went to XBF to checkout their place and talk to Carolee, my hubby was not so sure about signing up for the membership. Or should I be honest and say that he was intimidated after listening to Carolee briefing on the extensiveness of the workout routines 😉 I was sold even before we started. 🙂 Carolee Auslander is the co-founder of the XBF and the person who writes all the X-Series workout routines to whip us into shape. She is the person to talk to if you are serious about getting into shape. My hubby and I both became members of XBF on Jan of 2012 – and it’s only Feb now. With-in this short period of time, both of us have witnessed our body taking into shapes that we could only be hopeful for before. We are really excited with the results that we are seeing. There is no magic here though. There is LOT of HARD WORK; & eating CLEAN (which is a big thing in XBF; you hear everyone talk about eating CLEAN and yes…that will be my next blog). We have a wonderful nutritionist, Chris Newport; on site to help us out with any questions on nutrition that we might have. What more can one ask for? Every classes that XBF offers from X-Series classes to Kick-boxing to Spinning to Tread and Shred to ZUMBA and many more to list here; this place makes you want to go to the gym every day. Kick-boxing is one of my favorites here.  We punch on real bags with real gloves and get real workout. 🙂 From almost hating to going to the gym for the same workout routines every day, now I actually enjoy going to the gym.  I look forward to each mornings to earn my sweat – with new workout routines every day..in a fun-filled yet very challenging classes.. 🙂

*photo courtesy of XBF

WHERE was I? Hmm…

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It’s been quite a while since I last blogged and that was in August of 2011. Wow…really, that is a long time!

In Sept of 2011 I went to Omaha, NE to run a full marathon with my friends – Sushma and Karma. It was a family get away that was planned along with the run. It was a FUN trip. Enjoyed the run more than anything. I will have to admit that I was taken by surprise that the run in Omaha turned out to be one of the MOST enjoyable runs that I have run so far. That morning it was just cold enough. And the rest is all relativity. When you are with friends you can talk for ages the rest of the run becomes just leg strides and hearts that talk to each other even in silence. But boy were we loud? We were screaming “All the way from NC…all the way from FL…” and dancing along with the music on the way. What worse can happen than a stomach cramp in the middle of the run? I could not breathe. And that was not all…Nature had planned it all out for us. It was tampon time! Yup…now that says it all. Making all those pit stops which we had to…for obvious reason; we still managed to finish it in under 5 hours. Not something that a runner seeking for a PR would be proud of…but hey…that was my first marathon 🙂 and the most important thing of all is we had a blast in that run. When I think of it, I cannot help smiling all fun memories…Singing, joking, grunting and pushing each other we made it all the way through. All priceless!

I had felt good after the run; which obviously means that I did not push myself hard enough to finish it sooner. One should not FEEL GOOD after that long of a run :-). It should FEEL LIKE HELL; if you give all in 🙂

After the run that night we had a unforgetable girls hang out at Blue Sushi. Boy, was it fun!

In October I took a break from long runs. On Oct 1st we drove to Florida to do a 86 miles MS: PGA Tour Cycle to the shore ride. I love riding bicycle and the experience of riding it on the coast from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach was simply beyond words to express. I was immensly happy.

In November I was supposed to run a rock n roll full marathon in Savannah, Georgia. But my run and my son’s soccer final game coincided on the same day. I could not break his heart and go for my run as he wanted me to be there for his game. We did not go to Georgia…it rained all night..his game was cancelled the next day…and I was mad all day. I guess things happen for a reason…may be it was not meant for me to be in Georgia that day 🙂

In November I had my ear surgery so from mid November to end of December I did not run at all. With all the training runs before the Sept Marathon and all the runs after that I thought I would get to where I want to be at; but I had reached a plateau. I was stuck at 110; with my midsection still to lose. I had to try something different. I made a new year resolution for 2012 – that I would do P90X. But then as the Alchemist says: …”when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it…” in the mid of December my hubby handed me a flyer that would change my whole world of workout. It was like a prayer being answered. It was the flyer for Excel Body Fitness. And it said “Excel in Fitness. Excel in Life”. What followed then has been nothing but the very best for me & my family. Stay tuned…I have lots to share in the blogs to come.

My Unleashed Run

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The past weekend I decided to go on my long run – unleashed.  My motivation to get up at 5 on a Sunday morning when everyone else in the house was sound asleep was basically zero. I wanted to sleep in. I wanted it to rain hard with thunderstorm so I could justify my sleeping in. But it did not rain and my alarm kept buzzing off after every 5 mins of my snoozing it. At 5:30 I was finally out of the bed. With my fuel belt I was out of the house at 6 in the morning. I did not pick up the car keys. I wanted to run without keeping track of my mileage so I changed my garmin to show me just the time of my run. I had to put in 20 miles for my training run. It was a cool morning. Still dark. I wanted to go back to my bed. Instead I kept running through the neighborhoods and the roads, around the lake and the trees and again the main streets. I wanted to get lost in the unknown neighborhood. I wanted to run to solve the street puzzle. I wanted to run to explore. Suddenly the whole running of the morning began to present itself like a game to me. I dared myself to go on a steep slope and I dared myself to go into the unknown roundabouts of an unknown neighborhood. I dared myself to run through the quiet greenways and I dared myself to sprint. I dared myself to run slow – very slow (sometimes running slow is a challenge…believe me…it is). I dared myself to run past another runner and I dared myself to speed down a slope.

When I was an hour and half into my run, it started pouring. I prayed there would be no thunder and lightning as I fear them. Yes I do and I am not shy to admit it. I was so happy that it rained. I ran in the rain. It was pouring hard and fast on me and cooling me off. It took me back to my childhood days when we used to play in the rain – no worries – just play. I had such an immense feeling of freedom running in that rain that people would have questioned my sanity if they had seen my wide grin and happiness on my face while my feet just kept taking me further. I went to a store, re-fueled my bottle and bought a banana. After one banana and some Gatorade I was on the road again. I had been running for 3 hrs 20 mins. I calculated  that I should be done in the next half hour or so. I was tempted to see how many miles I had logged in. If I told you that I did not, I would be lying. So here it is…yes I checkout how many miles I had logged in so far and I was past my 16 miles…16.55. I could not believe. I wow(ed) myself. All those dare games I played, the free mind I had, not having to run back to make 20 miles, the fun I had running in the rain, my unleashed run – they all were responsible to take me to all those miles without me realizing it.

I wanted to explore another street, another neighborhood, so off I went. I kept running. I crossed many other runners on the way. We smiled, we waved. I felt I could run forever. After about half an hour I checked the mileage on my garmin. I had finished 20 miles at exactly 1 min left to 4 hrs. I know it’s not the timing that people can brag about; but for me, it was my longest run that I had ever ran. I did not know what it felt like to run 20 miles and even that 3.59 hrs that I finished in felt heavenly to me. I called my hubby and started walking off, waiting for my ride. In 10 mins my family was there to pick me up. They had brought coconut water for me and we drove back home to my ice bath. It was one of the best and most enjoyable runs I have had done.

*photo provided by:Microsoft clip art

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