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To read my blogs for the Verde Valley Independent and IDEA Health and Fitness, go to:  - or SCROLL BELOW for the most recent seven years of my blogs. :-)

For my "Fit Life" columns for "The Villager" and the "Health Guide", contact Verde News/The Verde Independent (



October 2021

The “Why”

In September, I was asked to share my two cents about the topic of negotiation on a TV real estate program.

When I was reflecting on the issue, I realized that the success of our fitness- and wellness-related endeavors highly depends on our skills to negotiate… with ourselves.

Not all actions, resulting in an improved level of fitness, health, and wellbeing are always pleasant or enjoyable to all of us.

Some of us hate exercise. Some of us rely on unhealthy eating and carb loading to calm their nerves.

For some, seeing the long-term benefit of waking up early to train is as impossible as seeing well in a thick morning English fog.

Success of the negotiation with myself highly depends on my “why”.

Why do I do what I am or plan to do? Am I motivated intrinsically or extrinsically?

Studies show that extrinsic motivation does not result in as much success as the intrinsic one.

In other words: If I want to lose weight and tone up because my spouse tells me so, I might not stick long to my wishful plan. (It must especially true if an ex spouse tells you to lose weight and you do it for them. Very bad idea – never listen to an ex).

But if I want to lose the same weight and tone the same 51-year-old muscles up in a pursuit of an intrinsic motivation - because I want to stay healthy and spend my retirement savings on travel rather than doctors - I might succeed! Even if my plot includes harsh, alarm-accompanied early morning awakenings at 4AM and trotting out onto deserted trails, chances are on my side.

To succeed at anything, fitness or not, you must believe in the cause and in those involved in it, and you must own that belief. Over the lifetime of running businesses, people tell me that I am an excellent negotiator. And I believe I am. Because no matter if I negotiate with myself for the benefit of my own health (ex., Jezz, Magdalena, stop eating those Linds chocolates by a handful!), or if I negotiate a real estate deal for my Clients, or if I negotiate with my fitness Client to stick to their fitness program – I simply believe in the result and see a good chance at reaching our goal. Whatever that goal is.

FYI, I am quite fake and only look “gentle” and “all smiles”. Negotiation is my passion and has always excited me, so once you have me on your side, meaning that you trust me and I believe in you and in your goal, I would fight for you big time and feathers might fly.

Examples of intrinsic behavior (driven by internal rewards) include purpose, autonomy, sense of accomplishment and pride, love of the task, personal growth, physical health, self-acceptance, and contribution, independence, freedom, and enjoyment.

When it is hard to stick to a “good for you” goal, you might simply reflect on all those intrinsic factors to it, rather than look for a semi-valid justification to abandon your ideas. Remember, things which are worth it often come at a price. And you are worth it.


September 2021

Relative “Safety” of Being…

In August, I hiked the mountains of Utah. My plan was to hike the Valley of Fire and the area, then the Deer Mountain and , and Bryce Canyon trails.

Little did I know…

The third night of my smoothly progressing solo vaca, I suffered a bad concussion.

When I tell folks about it, some heads are nodding in disbelief. Sort of hinting that, well, with my “crazy” lifestyle, “crazy” things surely happen sooner (eyes rolling a bit upward so you can see the whites a notch).

If we look back in the 1970s behind the Iron Curtain for more evidence… My mother already told me back then that it was the best to stay put. She always felt that we were the safest back at home, not engaging in any physical activity/Phys Ed classes (which she exempted me from for all my schooling years to come), not enjoying the great outdoors. She was so against all of that. She simply knew that it was “not safe” to sweat, so I better did not run (from or to anything).

We, usually, live our lives as a reaction to our childhood – either a confirmation or a rejection of it.

As a reaction to my own early experience, once I successfully liberated myself from the conundrums of my negligible early years, I chose a life which has been quite opposite to staying put anywhere. I love the outdoors and to travel, meet new people, and love the “expect the unexpected” feelin’. (Which, I guess, makes me a great Realtor® and personal trainer, but I digress).

The hilarious thing is that my recent fall did not happen while I was running the trails.

It happened due to the orthostatic low blood pressure of mine. At night, I got up way too fast to the potty, fainted, hit my head, and woke up who knows how much later.

Alone. In my beautiful hotel room in Ivins rather than on any trail. Staring at the two crafty bathroom sinks from the spiraling perspective of the floor, not even able to reach for the phone. With a huge pain in my head and increasing swelling, and bruises all over the left side of my body.

I never made it to the fridge for the ice that night, because of the horrible dizziness. I stayed put and applied what I knew about concussions: more rest! Instead of running 118-degree F trails, I didn’t move much the next 24 hours. I needed to change the hotel, which I did, but otherwise, I acted cautious. For the remaining of the trip, I scaled down to hike a few miles rather than run 20-23 of them, ate super well, drunk tons of water, and slept 10 hours at a time.

Experiencing the above in the relative and supposed “safety” of the resort room was not any “safer” than whacking myself on some random trail.

I completed the trip as planned at a turtle pace, and got a CT scan confirming that it was a concussion and that “time shall heal”. Which it has done. A month later, I’m only experiencing some sporadic dizziness at waking up now, and I am fully back in the swing of both hiking and work.

All of that being said – and experienced – what is better and “safer”? To stay put or to go for it?

I vote to “go for it”! And I bet that the years of my hard work on the general fitness of mine just contributed to me surviving this random fall relatively unharmed! I’d rather die enjoying myself than staying put. 😊

September 2021

The Terrible Catch-22 of “Kitchen Mama”

 Over the summer months, somehow, my can opener broke. Without my help. You know, one of those moments when you want to open a can of organic chicken soup, and you realize that the opener gave up on you. I believe that its life span ended because of the kitchen-based operations of my visiting daughter, but I digress. No questions asked!

As you know, I am in a perpetual pursuit of a happy and better life. I decided that investing in a brand new, hands-free, electric can opener, amply named “Kitchen Mama”, would clearly make my life happier, better, and more fulfilled.

Man, what could go wrong with spending a moment on, clicking “BUY NOW” and receiving a neat package of instantaneous reward a few days later?

The day came. I opened the front door. My front door mat reads “We Hope You Brought Wine”, but the little package contained the “Kitchen Mama”. I was excited beyond comprehension! The flyer inside reassuringly said: “Solve ALL your can opening problems with just a push of a button. YES, YOU CAN!”.

Wow, exactly what I needed, I thought!

Couple of days forward, I was ready to try this baby on a can of no-salt-added organic pinto beans.

I closely followed the instruction manual by placing the device on the lid and pressing the big red button. The can started spinning around the opener and at the end, “Kitchen Mama” got the lid out of its place with help of a tiny magnet. No more of those dirty can lids sunken in my canned food fare! My life was getting truly better! YES, I COULD! They were right!

Opening my beans resulted in a surge of self-pride, which only single and recently liberated females like myself understand: no man muscle in the whole household, yet I still could open that can! Without even getting married again. Magic.

But then, it hit me. I blame the delivery dude who failed to bring wine. Whatever it was, it hit me. I realized that using the superior opener device is not conductive to my future wellbeing at all.

See, if I had any issues with my wrist and was to use it temporarily – fine! But the last time I suffered from the Collins fracture and had my hand in a bright magenta cast was 15 years ago. And I rebounded quick, thanks to my fitness and willingness to mobilize the hand muscles as soon as I dropped the magenta cast. So, truly, by using “Kitchen Mama”, I was not contributing to the health of my hand muscles, joints, tendons, and the dexterity and fine motor skills. I was just contributing to getting lazy!

It was as “good” as circling around the grocery store parking lot in a pursuit of getting that “closest to the entrance” spot, while my mobility and walking capability are just fine. By sitting in the car those few minutes longer and hunting for the “convenient” parking spot, we get a bit stressed and annoyed and the BP might go a bit up. In fact, parking spots which are far from the entrance should be the coveted ones. They would force us to walk further, push that cart further, then walk back to the store to return the cart… Little, natural motions which accumulate over the day and keep us mobile and healthy.

“Facilitating” our life in every way possible is counterproductive to the healthy lifestyle. So, let’s watch out for those tiny “traps” which seem to be God-sent to us, but truly, they do not result in anything good for our bodies.

In the end, I still might use my “Kitchen Mama” for some cans...but now open a few more bottles of wine a week by hand!

August 2021

Too Much Forward?

On the social “niceness” scale of unbearable lightness of being, reaching out/leaning forward/lending a hearing ear/crying shoulder score high. On the physical scale, leaning forward brings on the back pain, kyphosis, and neck strain. Isn’t it the cry of your body to bend forward less?

Is it beneficial for you to reach out/bend forward/give in too often to accommodate the others? Likely, not. It might seem beneficial to your interlocutor, but it is not good for you.

Being nice, pleasing & forward oriented towards the others is one of the presumed social standards. If you start building a “protective bubble” around yourself, you might be perceived as less social, friendly, or less family oriented. Awkward. Strange. Straightforwardly asocial. NOT NORMAL!!!... Which is one of the worst… because if I am “not normal”, then, there is something wrong with me, not with those around me.

Or else?

Well, let’s talk accommodating the needs of others. You aim to do it. Even if at one point or another, you honestly stop thinking this is of any benefit to you!

See, this is all about the balance: you expand your energy and you shall receive a similar “amount” of it back. Or you go into a deficit. The deficit might be building over months/years. But at one point, it will hit you: You are in that energetic deficit as you keep giving and you are not receiving equally much.

You care about your family, of course! Your kid “wants” a car. Or a new (higher, not lower) allowance.

You care about your clients, too. 10PM on Sunday night, too. Because if you don’t, they might assume that you are not there for them, or you plain dead abandoned them, or you got a problem with your phone text system (or with yourself). Note: YOU clearly got a problem, not them. They are just calling you at 10PM on Sunday, so truly, just talk to them…

You also care about your community, as I do. Three years ago. I was in the post-divorce whirlwind spiral and on a strict budget. I’ve been always giving, donating to the shelters, supporting the charities... That day, I walked out of a grocery store with two bags of necessities for me and my daughter. A fundraiser was going on. One of the two fundraisers encouraged me to donate. I said, sorry, I cannot right now, but thank you for all you do. I got a nasty comment back, which was very shocking. See, the fundraisers did not truly know what I was going through and, on the spur of the moment, one of them judged me for not giving. That was the month when I had to transfer seven dollars between the two accounts of mine so things did not bounce back.

So, physically and emotionally… bend forward a bit, but not too much. And those upper back exercises, such as basic rows and spine strengtheners are a saver to keep our shoulders strong! And once you look strong, the others perceive you as strong and you are strong! Right?...

May 2021

Here Is To Those "MisFits" In Your Life!

You often address me “Miss Fit-Fit” – stemming directly from the name of my business, the Be Fit Fit Studio in the Village of Oak Creek. When my clients see a doctor (or just complain to their significant other), they would often report back to me that they shared with the doctor/partner/friend what “Miss Fit-Fit” does to them during their training/torture sessions with me.

I like it!

It occurred to me that this nickname is a cool play on the word “misfit”. Like in a “troublemaker”. Or like in case of a someone who hates all and any rules, who sees and does things differently… and is proud of it!

To me, there is a certain beauty to being a MisFit!

The term is frequently perceived as something negative, one of its definitions being “a person whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way.” Its synonyms, among others, include a “deviant”, “odd fish”, “weirdo”, “weirdie”, “outcast”, “oddball” and a “freak”.

However, some other synonyms of this word have a more positive connotation (at least for the PhDed linguist in me). I find it good to be labeled as a “nonconformist”, “individualist”, “rebel”. or an “exception”. How cool is that, to realize that you are not any “Fit” in a specific group of people, or a situation! You are a “MisFit”!

To me, there is no progress and no future without being excessively curious and asking the question: “But what if?...” There is no change without the turtle initially sticking his head out of the shell and taking those few steps forward. Without that first step, the turtle would forever sit in his comfy, dark shell, unaware of the outside world and the difference it can made to it. Stagnation is bad, and MisFits certainly change the world!

I find it refreshing to see how we, the MisFits, deal with certain situations and undertake challenges in a non-conformist, atypical, and a bit “crazy” way.

MisFits definitely are the originals, who leave a lasting impression. And I love being an original! They are not easily accepted by some people, because their behavior/their way to dress/their ways/their statements/their daily “routine” (with not much of any structured routine to it) are so different from what other people do.

MisFit, and especially a “social misfit”, means different things to each of us – and this depends on what our “normal” and “standard” is, and what we find “acceptable”.

Being a MisFit can be such a freeing and truly liberating experience!

So, what if 100% hikers on the trail chuckle when they see you in a leopard catsuit or a rainbow ballet tutu? Or in a blond wig? After all, you are running that trail, you keep fit, you are smiling to everyone and, generally, you infect people with your laugh and positivity. So, what is not to like or not to accept about it? So, what if one Friday, you decide to run all sessions at your Studio dressed like a rock star with Nirvana and AC/DC blazing from the speaker in the room? That only makes your clients perceive that exercising can be fun and challenging at the same time. We don’t need to always be so serious.

So, what if thirty years ago, I just trusted myself and decided that I would live a healthy and fit life and become slimmer by, actually, doing the opposite of what the others were doing back then… Not by dieting, but rather by eating more or the healthy and nutritious stuff! It, obviously, worked well!

So, what if, during eleven August days in 2017, I circumnavigated the whole Lake Tahoe on a solo, almost 200-mile-long self-supported hiking trip? Some days out there, I only passed by two-three other hikers. At nights, I slept in my single, ultra-light tent on the side of the barely visible trail, with the bear container full of dry food hidden far away from me.

So, what if after a whole life of having super long and big hair, I kept, basically, shaving my head for about a decade? Did it make me a worse mom, woman, person, fitness trainer, or the worst business owner? The aerodynamics, which I surely must have achieved with the help of my preferred barber, certainly shaved minutes off my finish times at various races!

So, what if I am a bit rough and you are not prepared?

So, what if I always have my plushy giraffe with me, either in my car, or strapped to my backpack, and I also take her pictures when we travel? Fellow tourists love her and take her pictures, too. By now, she acquired a certain travelling giraffe celebrity status, from what I observe!

And my real estate clients accept her smiling from the dashboard of my Mustang, big time! Sometimes, when we arrive, she is asked if she wants to visit with me for a listing appointment!

So, there are intentional and unintentional MisFits. I think I am both, and I think the more of an intentional I am, the more naturally the unintentional part comes out. Sometimes, I go with the flow, but I truly thrive on situations when I do not. Why? Because only this entices a true change, which is so fascinating and liberating to me.

It is cool to reach your goals in a non-standard way. It is cool to be different, and move, change, and challenge this world one (turtle) step at a time!


Pieces of You

November 2020

I wonder if, recently, you feel somewhat dissociated? I certainly have been getting this feeling over the last couple of months. It works this way: you feel that you are starting your day at some 80%-100% “Charged Positive”. By the end of the day, you are at zero, or, like a title of a song which I used to like when I was a kid, at a “Less Than Zero”. An obvious deficit.

Where does all this energy go?

Well, it dissipates between you and your daily interlocutors, your daily tasks, your daily dealings with the new, energy-sapping happenings, such as remembering to stay far from people, not to hug, cover your smile with a mask, and, generally, act distant, scared and concerned.

It also gets lost BECAUSE we cannot/are not supposed to hug/kiss/express emotions and look like ourselves without the unifying face cover.

I am sure that the brave new world and the new normal which we have to bear with is super tiring to you, as it is to me. This is normal and this is our new temporary or permanent new normal, so we need to put it all in our basket to start feeling better about the new reality. Somehow.

So, what does a fit gal or guy need to do?

Keep going the direction that is specifically right for YOU. Support yourself in this – and the support part might vary, depending on who “You” are.

In general, I see it as a cool and healthy mixture of TLC directed straight at yourself, some tough love (sorry… think… exercise!!!!), good nutrition and anything else that YOU (not me) can think of to boost your own respective immune system.

The TLC might include a massage, another type of body work/adjustment, breathing in lots of fresh, mask-free air, which we can do while perfectly safe out in the isolated nature, for example.

We need to include daily exercise/walk/motion. Bodies are not designed to stay at home “until the virus goes away”. BTW, it is not going away anywhere. So, on the positive note, we must find a good, safe venue to exercise (from our respective point of view of what the “safe” these days is).

It can be your own basement or garage/spare room gym. It can be a FaceTime class, such as the ones I, personally, run for my privates on-line. It can be an early morning run or hike.

Given the prolonged virus-scare circumstances, it can be helpful to invest in some home gym equipment, from elastic bands through free weights and a basic suspension system to some kettlebells in your personal “torture room”!

I run FaceTime classes where my Clients do not invest in much: we have bottles of water of various sizes for hand weight, a backpack loaded with books up to the perfect 10lbs, and an odd old kettlebell of 20 lbs. Also, three old elastic bands in three various tensions.

I have been super successful to come up with very challenging sessions for these Clients while using only the above pieces of the “equipment” and, most importantly, their own body weight. Ah, and we use a chair or wall for some support, and pool side rail for the pull-ups!

My point is that we can let this situation to take that much of us away: piece by piece. Or, we can accept/welcome the challenge and still stay very fit and motivated to remain healthy.

And you know what? I know from my own experience and lifetime on the Planet Earth, that the tougher it is to stick to our own plan to do the best for ourselves, the more we are to succeed at what we do!

Let me know how you are doing… I always love getting your phone calls, texts and e-mails!


Travel Offers Needed Break From Fitness Regimen

December 2019

Happy ad Fit-Fit Holidays to you, my beloved Friends! Tomorrow, I am launching myself out onto yet another awaited, anticipated, and planned to detail transcontinental adventure.

The more I travel, the more I understand how the world is embracing me, loving me, and accepting me as I am, and how I need this kind of experience, rather than physical possessions. How safe and welcome I feel out there, wherever the respective “there” might be.

If you persevere traveling and you persevere is sports (and in any other aspect of your life), you can do so much more than you think you are capable of! If you procrastinate to go on that special trip, or launch yourself into a new fitness regime, do not wait! Just trust your guts, yourself, and your instincts and do it!

It is an expected question for me by now, after years spent traveling into remote areas of all seven continents alone: “But WHO do you go with?”. Or, with that scary disbelief suspense in the voice of my interlocutor: “Are you going ALONE?!?!?!”.

YES, I AM. I usually disarm the seriousness and grandiosity of those questions with some sort of a joke. And believe me, situations and people way closer to us than the far-away destination and unknown locals often might hurt us way more. Those who are “there”, far away, would not. They will embrace you and feel glad and show their gratitude that you are coming all the way to learn about their special place and habits and to meet them.

I have met a truly uncountable numbers of absolutely fantastic, open, loving and “safe” people during my travels. And the more I travel alone, the more I see how this reverse psychology works. People see a solo female adventurer exploring their respective place. So, they are double, I should say, triple as nice and forthcoming as if I was dragging that “safety-net” male dude with me.

From the simple Peruvian family who hosted me at their own home and shared the best baked potatoes with me (YAY, I will be passing by Peru in a few days from now!), which we ate straight from their floor – to the ice climbing specialist guides in the heights of New Zealand or remote Patagonia. From the super friendly and easy-going pilot who landed me in the middle of a pristine Alaskan lake to the guy who “smiled with his eyes” as he was explaining to me in his language how to get from one end of that immense Java forest to another, as my guide failed to report to the duty…

Faraway people and places change your attitude, mind, style, belief, and spirit. You open in the way which is simply not possible back at home. You feel embraced and super safe and excited to be there. I say, with all my being, “I love you” to my respective hosts. And they reciprocate way more than any of us would say is some sort of a “standard”.

Well, as I learned a while ago, “standards” and “norms” do not exist when you travel. You are surprised each and every day. This is why traveling, especially sold, gets so exciting! I am not any super woman. I am a petite, friendly, unsuspicious brunette dudette who just kicks her ass when needed/desired. So, if I can do it, so you can.

So, go out there and embrace it all! No matter how far you physically need to remove yourself from the daily grind to feel what I feel while traveling… and on the eve of jumping out of what some would label as my “safety net”. I never feel better or safer than while away and exploring… Happy New Year and Happy Trails! XOXO


Addicted to the Good Stuff

April 2021

Can it ever be too much of the good thing?

Apparently, yes.

Addiction is never good. And the specific addiction I am talking about here is hard to spot. It just seems that you are committed to your wellness and fitness. Therefore, it is socially acceptable and even reinforced. Kudos to those who train, run, weight lift, and bike… right?

Normally, yes. But if you feel down, anxious, depressed or irritable when you do not work out or if your workout load does not match that of the previous day, you might suffer from anorexia athletica.

We often associate exercise with sweat, tiredness, and discomfort. Therefore, it is hard to imagine that you might start liking it “too much” and get addicted to it.

So, what are some symptoms of anorexia athletica? Getting overuse injuries is one. Avoiding social settings/friends/parties/ family because the time with them can be “better spent” while training is another big red flag. If you organize your life around exercise, rather than fit exercise into your life, watch out. If you go to sleep at 7PM to wake up for that 3AM run or your partner feels neglected because you disappear for hours in the local gym, check in with yourself. Eating to barely replenish the fuel for your next training session, rather than enjoying it, is also a warning sign. Measuring your portions and how many carbs, fats, and proteins you eat. Locking into your daily exercise routine... If exercise was fun and gratifying, but now controls your daily life, this is the sign of things gone wrong.

Excessive exercise sometimes takes this turn because of the usual mixture of hormone reaction to it. When we exercise, lots of “feel good” hormones (endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin) get released. Therefore, the “runner’s high”. And this feeling can be highly addictive.

Who am I to write about relaxing or a notion of that?... 😉 Still, try to implement an intentional day of rest into your weekly exercise schedule. On that day, replace exercise with another activity which would have nothing to do with exercising. But both mind and body need to relax, from time to time. Aim at those breaks in order not to… break down.

If you are addicted to exercise, scheduling or implementing those rest days doesn’t feel right. Excessive exercise gives you a sense of control over your mind and, especially, body. Taking a break might feel like losing that control.

Hypergymnasia leads to things breaking down. Sooner or later, you would get injured or burned out or both. You will be easier fatigued at your “regular” level of exertion, the limbs will ache instead of cooperate. That soreness will affect your performance. You will not be able to perform at “the same” level and you will need longer periods of rest to catch your breath. You will feel depressed, tired, not motivated, have mood swings, have problems with sleep. Your adrenals can produce only that much cortisol at a time. Your resting heard rate will stay up for no reason.

Excessive training for weight loss often comes hand in hand with other eating disorders, and it affects many perfectionist athletes, who are in need of control. They become “obligatory athletes”. And by the term “athlete”, I don’t envision spandex-clad top of the country, who are paid for what they are doing. Everyone is an athlete at their own level. This is one of the reasons why this disorder is so hard to detect. You might have a regular, non-athletic life, yet still suffer from the problem of anorexia athletica.

At first, only reducing the time/intensity of your training might feel almost impossible. But this is the first step, before taking a half and then, full day off. Also, develop alternative exercise plans: sometimes, you might be training over and over the same way. This gives you a bit more of the sense of control. If, normally, you hike, try gardening instead. You don’t need to right away drop your biking and spend the day in front of the TV. But take that first step, which will reaffirm for you that you might still feel happy and well even if you do not bike precisely the 5.82M which you have been doing for the last two years and three days.

Of course, not everyone who likes to exercise a lot is an addict. Some people see exercising as an opportunity to socialize – for example, bikers often love riding in groups! Runners, especially long-distance runners, often tend to be more solitary than bikers. One group would exercise to meet people, then, and the other, to be alone. Solitary activities are often chosen by the perfectionists, so group forms of exercise, such as a small group Pilates or yoga class, are one of the ways to treat perfectionism-fueled exercise addiction.

Apart from self-help solutions which I suggested above, some cases respond better to counseling and therapy. Just like for any other type of depression, eating disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.


My Personal Evacuation Plan

June 2020

The other day, my friend told me that he had attended the fire readiness meeting in the Village. He felt that there was not much hope for his survival, in case of fire.

Somewhat resigned, he still decided to work on his evacuation bags, to keep one in Sedona, one in his car, and one at his other home elsewhere.

I did not attend the meeting, but, given the road situation during the summer 2019 when the chunks of the 179 were repaved and traffic was brought to a dramatic still, I agreed with him that the risk of burning like in hell is rather high.

“Thank you, Ms. Cheerful”, he said.

I decided to take things in my own hands. I like the Arizona heat, but it is not in my imminent plans to burn to death. Plus, I have not sinned much, so I simply don’t deserve to go to hell.

So, as my friend was repacking his emergency duffels and deciding which T-shirt put in which bag, I spent that afternoon on my own evacuation plan.

It goes like this:

First and foremost, train daily, like there was no tomorrow. Realize that my survival solely and simply depends on my physical capabilities and speed at which I can run to escape the flames. Focus on endurance and cardio, and make sure to cover ultra-distances by foot on challenging trails to feel that I am always ready (like the scouts are)! Add a sensible amount of weight training – especially for the lower body. Research says that when you run very far, you cannot rely on your cardio fitness entirely. When you get tired and slow down (and start feeling the heat of the flames on your back), this is the moment when your strong muscles kick in and let you escape the danger. Sort of the same as when you run from a grizzly bear, you know how that goes.

Eat a well-balanced and healthy food. Never feel hungry. You never know when the emergency strikes, so having a satiated tummy and adequate energy might be one of the keys to survival.

Don’t go too crazy drinking alcoholic beverages – after all, you need to be alert and in a state conductive to (ultra) running at all times.

Stay aware of your surroundings, report any visible smoke flames, and suspicious haze on the horizon. Meaning keep that iPhone of yours fully charged at all times!

Second, establish your escape routes. To do this part successfully, I used the Emmitt Barks Cartography “Sedona Trails Map” (Vertical Datum dating back to 1929, so it gave me confidence that tis source must be solid for my distance and elevation gain calculations).

Being highly aware that my escape route (and my survival) depends on the fact from where the fire comes and from where the wind blows, I came up with the following:

1) If the fire attacks from the north:

A) Grab the car, complete with your emergency prep duffel, and leave by 179 towards I-17 and then to Scottsdale.

B) In case the road is blocked: Run the Verde Valley School Rd west. At the TH, take a sharp turn onto the Turkey Creek Trail. Do not expect any water in the area called a creek. It is dry. Continue 3.4 mile to the trail’s end, culminating at 4,530 feet, complete with some stunning 360 degree views. Bush walk down towards Cornville and the Forest Road 9960A. Continue south and voila, you are in Cornville, sound and safe!

2) If the fire comes from the east:

A) Grab the car, complete with your emergency prep duffel, and leave by 89A towards Cottonwood, or better, Jerome (it is colder there). Book yourself a room at some Haunted Hotel, eat at the Haunted Burger, and try to relax up on the cool hills.

B) In case the road is blocked: Run fast the Brewer Road (uphill). Turn right to connect with the Airport Loop Trail. This will lead you to the Bandit Trail and Carrol Canyon and the beautiful Herkenham Trail. Continue west and eventually, you will end up in Cottonwood, as well (from where just that many miles more to the cool Jerome and its wine cellars – do not overindulge on that vino, as you might still need to run further west, depending on the situation). In case your starting escape point is in VOC, take Slim Shady to Templeton, enjoy creek crossing to cool off, and continue by the Red Rock State Park trails and then west towards CT.

3) If the fire comes from the south:

A) Grab the car, complete with your emergency prep duffel, and leave by 179 towards 89A and then to Flagstaff.

B) In case the road is blocked: Grab your Camelbak with water and your emergency duffel and run the Dry Creek Road. The signs will lead you to the Bear Mountain Trailhead. Take that turn. It is only 2.5 Mile to the top of the Bear Mtn, you will climb and scramble up with your duffel, and the views are gorgeous and very rewarding! Several false peaks later, you will arrive at the Trail’s End (clearly marked), from where you should be able to see the Humphreys’ Peaks. There is no trail from there per se, so just keep bush walking and running, till you get yourself to Flagstaff. Depending on the fitness level, this endeavor might take up to two days. The town of Flagstaff offers a variety of entertainment, decent hotels and motels, and a maze of trails. And a chairlift to the Agassiz, if you have enough of running, but still want to admire some major views.

4) If the fire is visible in the west:

A) Grab the car, complete with your emergency prep duffel, and leave by 179 towards I-17 and then to Flagstaff. Alternatively, grab the car, complete with your emergency prep duffel, and leave by 179 towards 89A and then to Flagstaff (this route might be blocked, though, as we are having the ongoing construction of new roundabouts and some additional fun road work in the Oak Canyon – so call the ADOT (office hours and locations, as well as their phone number, are easily accessible on-line) and find out if this is the way to go. Please note that in some parts of the area, the Internet is not reliable and might not be accessible. In such a case, hike yourself to the area where you can get the connection, and then call the ADOT.

B) In case it is not the way to go and you still need to escape the danger, coming from the west, run east!!!! Here, we have many options! From Uptown and Downtown Sedona, I suggest taking any trail connecting to Jim Thompson and then, either escape by the Wilson Mtn trails and into the Canyon, or take th picturesque Casner Canyon and run uphill to Schnebly Vista. From there, it is only 6 miles of relatively flat road to get you to I-17. At the Schnebly exit at I-17, hitchhike either south to PHX, or north to Flag (towards wherever the wind does not blow from). From the VOC: Run Jacks Canyon Rd till the TH of the Hot Loop. You need to take a sharp right to find that well-hidden trail head. Continue for about 11 miles by this fascinating, but challenging trail. You will pass picturesque, small ponds and some rural artefacts, as well as a water tank. You might run into a coyote or two a bull, cows, javelinas, and some other wildlife which enjoys the presence of water in that area. After the initial few miles, the trail is pretty much not marked, so watch out in order not to get lost. In case you get lost, just go by the sun towards the Schnebly Vista area. From where you escape by the same 6 miles getting you to I-17 (not much of views there, as it is a forest and quite flat).

Anyway, once I reviewed my evacuation plan above, I realized that I better go immediately to the gym and do some serious weight lifting, focusing on my lower body. It might be the “survival of the fittest”, so I better keep training! Stay always prepared!


Please Leave No Trace!

October 2019

am a member of Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics.

I pay my yearly dues, knowing that the monies go towards a good cause, and make sure to minimize my own impact on the trails and always pick up any garbage which I find on the trail to dispose it in the trash bin at the trail head.

This is the picture of what does not belong on any train and what I found today during a relatively short trail run (a run which became a bit cumbersome as of the moment I picked up that spirits box at about Mile 4 into my outing).

I also picked up two dog poop bags, decorating a juniper tree, but disposed of them at the TH, so do not have a picture of this trophy.

Unfortunately, I would say that this is the average amount of rubbish which I might collect on any given day of a trail run.

Sadly, some tourists do not think of the impact that their visit has on our trails. The impact which should be minimized. We should leave the trails as we found them, or better (by picking up anything left behind by the others).

Seven principles of the Leave No Trace Org include:

• Plan ahead and prepare. Such as in: repackage food to minimize waste. Carry a bag for rubbish and take it out with you.

• Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Do not hike off the marked trail, that fragile vegetation needs time to heal and grow.

• Dispose of waste properly. Yep. Did I mention: Dispose of waste property? Including pieces of broken glass and dog poop. Pack it in, pack it out. Burning trash is never recommended.

• Leave what you find. Preserve. Observe. Do not touch artifacts. Leave rocks and other natural objects as you found them. Do not build structures, do not move the rocks. Do not write your name on the rocks.

• Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).

• Respect wildlife. Never feed animals. Do not leave food behind. Even an apple core is something that does not belong to the place where you tossed it. It makes animals depending on us feeding us, rather than encouraging them to live their natural way. Feeding them alters the wildlife natural behavior and damages their health.

• Be considerate of other visitors.

Check out for more info and materials. They are very common sense, too.


Let's Get It Right!

August 2019

During the initial evaluation, some Clients tell me that they seem to be doing everything right in terms of their fitness, but they don’t have much (or any) results. They tell me the stories of training for 90 minutes each and every day, seven days a week, faithfully sticking to their gym for years, starting their workouts at 5AM, because then, they have to go to work, sticking to exactly the same food, which they had established is good for them, not snacking in between the main meals. Yet, whenever they step on that scale (which often happens daily), the needle does not bulge!

What can a gal or a guy do to get out of this endless Catch-22 cycle?

Let’s analyze the above confessions. First, if the person claims to be working out for a long time, it is obvious that they do not use any intervals in their training. You see, working longer does not necessarily mean working any “better” or harder. Surely enough, our bodies get adapted to whatever the challenge we throw at them ad stop responding to the same level of stimuli, day after day (let’s say, 60 min. of treadmill at 3% incline and 3.5mph). Make sure you do introduce interval training: warm up, go at your regular speed you are used to, but then, some 8 times per session, introduce a steeper incline or/and a faster belt turnover. These “peaks” do not need to be long, just do that harder work for some 20-30 sec. and then, go back to your recovery level for another 45-60 sec., before doing another peak. Make sure you change your workouts, too. Do not “stick” to the same type of a workout or the same gym, or even the same biking path every time you are training. This can and will lead you to a full stagnation and it will halt your progress. Take a class which is very different from the one you usually take, go swimming instead of biking, sign up for a month at another gym, or make a point of not using a gym for one month and challenge yourself in all other ways possible! Moreover, if you introduce interval training, you won’t need to do the rat race on the treadmill for that long: typically, you’ll go for some 35-45 min. quick, efficient workout. You will, actually, save time! Second: never-ever exercise every day. Introduce one day a week of what we call an “active rest day”: go for a hike or a leisure bike ride, or a calm swim, or do some gardening. Make a point of relaxing and slowing down on that day. It is, actually, during these rest days, that our muscles really get stronger. They take their time to rebuild and strengthen, therefore, making sure your body will burn more calories even while not exercising than if your muscle’s place would have been occupied by fat, which is a slow calorie burner. Just by building muscle mass, your metabolic system will become more efficient at burning calories and fat.

Third, we have the person proudly telling me they start training at 5AM. But, when did you go to sleep the night before? Are you sure you are getting your 7-8 hours of sleep every day? If not, again, your muscles won’t recover well, your body hormonal system will be in havoc and you’ll hit the fridge more often through the day, given the hormonal imbalances, caused by the lack of sleep.

Fourth, as to the food: even if your nutrition seems to be well-balanced and healthy, please introduce some changes. If we stick to the same food day after day, we are at a very high risk of depriving our bodies of important nutrients.

Fifth: Yes, you shall snack! I know, it sounds almost hard to believe, coming from the mouth of a fitness specialist, but yes, you really want to have 3 solid meals and two (ideally, three) snacks in between them. Just make sure you are snacking on healthy foods and watch the portion sizes. Once you snack, you won’t be famished at the time of your main meal, and, as a result, you will eat less for that main meal. Also, snacking keeps our metabolic system churning at all times and it helps our body understand that we are not starving it. Along the same lines, get your hydration right. Make sure to drink lots of water or water with electrolytes. Drink a glass before your meal, so your stomach won’t be empty and, as a result, you will eat less!

Sixth, do not use that scale on a daily basis! I am almost tempted to say, do not use it, point, but I realize how people are attached to the numbers on their scales. Perhaps reduce its usage to once every 2 weeks or so, if you can? Pretty please?...

The weight is not any good measurement of your fitness success. In fact, while training and building muscles ad losing the fatty tissue, which is less heavy, but also takes more space in your body and is less healthy, too), you might, initially at least, plateau in terms of the weight loss. You’ll train and train and take your rest days and, nope, no weight loss! This is due to the weight of the fatty tissue versus how heavy a muscle is. However, it is the muscle which will get you healthy and will activate your metabolic system, not the fat. You will be losing fat and gaining muscle, therefore, the scale won’t bulge much. After that initial plateau, you will start seeing the numbers drop and you will also be more toned. The best way to measure your success is by noting the circumference numbers for the hips, waist, both legs, both arms. You can do it with a measuring tape or a piece of yarn. I like the yarn, because it is less stressful and does not put numbers on your struggles. For example, mark where your hip circumference is on the yarn and see how it changed in 4-5 weeks from the initial measurement. Also, I have great success with the before- and after- pictures - that works, too. In fact, the scale is probably the only piece of equipment I do not have at my Studio!

Let me know if and how I can help you in your fitness- and health-related goals. Let’s start sooner than later, it can only save you some medical costs later in life! Stay Fit-Fit!


Hold Your Gut and Jump!

June 2019

Being in the business of fitness, nutrition, and generalized digestion, I guess am expected to occasionally write about the gut.


By now, you probably assume that this blog will be about digesting fibrous matter versus proteins or something equally horrible.

Well, no.

I am going to reflect about the necessity to, sometimes, hold your gut and jump… and go for it! (Whatever your “it” might be).

Yesterday, I assisted at the Commencement Ceremony at the VVS, the high school of my daughter. She was graduating and John Featherstone from Lightswitch shared his insight on how to, well jump forward.

The fear, which prevents us even from trying out, is the number one killer of dreams, John noted.

The “going for it” attitude is so important in all aspects of life, not only fitness.

How many of us fail to advance and progress, fail to reach out and achieve, and do not try out of fear of… failing? And if you do not try and do not jump into the new situation, how can you say that you will have lived your life to the fullest? That you will have not missed on anything or anybody? The main reason of failing is… not trying. And, at the end… not even realizing that yes, we can.

I remember in detail moments when I had to / or decided to – go for something. Whether it was learning how to swim at the ripe age of 18 despite my family telling me that swimming invariably leads to drownings. Or when I decided to try if weight lifting can help me lose all that weight that I was carrying at about the same age. Then, there were bigger decisions: leaving couple of countries behind, immigrating a few times, deciding to launch my own businesses, risking my PhD scholarship monies to print out the first brochures of one of those businesses to advertise back in the no-Internet era, leaving controlling and otherwise abusive and harmful relationships, buying and selling my two condos back in Montreal… All while not having parents to run to for help… And succeeding at all that.

Starting a fitness program and a new path to the healthy lifestyle and well-being is scary, too. The simple act of engaging in that means that we just realized that we can improve something, exposed something what can/needs to/we think should be addressed. It takes lots and lots of guts to admit to any imperfection of the current state of affairs. So, by all means, hold those guts in and jump in… head first!


Women Can Never Get Enough of Magnesium!

January 2021

Most women do not get enough of it…

It makes us relax better, contributes to decreased levels of anxiety, and it also keeps those cramps away. It makes our muscles stronger, makes us feel energetic at daytime and helps us to fall asleep at night.

And for the best absorption, it should be consumed together with calcium.

What am I talking about? Magnesium!

Without Mg, our muscles cannot get the energy from all the wonderful, healthy foods that we consume. Mg is crucial in daily energy metabolism.

Magnesium also keeps inflammation at bay, meaning that it might be a factor in inflammatory-related diseases and cancer prevention.

Typically, it is recommended to get about 310-320 mg of it a day, but if you train hard, stick to the higher numbers, such as about 600 mg a day.

Dark green, leafy veggies, nuts, grains, cocoa, amaranth and seeds are all great source of Mg.

Almonds, kale and quinoa have a great balance of Mg and Ca, one relaxing the muscles, the other contracting them.

Remember to aim at organic sources! Especially dark green leafy veggies are easy to contaminate, if not grown organic. Aim at as much organic sources as you can, especially when you eat the whole veggie/fruit or eat it with the skin, versus peel/remove the shell.

Try not to take more than 50% of your magnesium from supplements.


It Is Not About Diet, But Commitment to Your Lifestyle

September 2020

Since my mid-teens, I have never dieted.

Back at 18, I finally lost the weight that I needed to lose using the exercise and healthy nutrition approach (as opposed to any “diet”).

To me, the word “diet” implies restriction, discomfort, a notion of temporariness and, in general, it sucks. The best results that I’ve had is a common sense approach to exercising while building a strong, healthy body with solid nutrition.

So, you can only imagine my surprise when on July 8th (Wednesday, for the records), I got a text from my friend asking “How are you with your DIET so far?”…

I was running a trail, so I casually texted back: “WHAT DIET, HA HA?!?!”…

More texts followed. They were much needed to establish what exactly had happened the night before…

Apparently, on the July 7th night (Tuesday), I had two glasses of wine at her place. She is a myofascial therapist, so while imbibing, I surrendered to a fascia foot work. Little do I remember what happened moments later… She explained to me how she was going to try a keto diet, and she needed a soul to do it with her. She reassured me that from the keto point of view, red wine was a “Grade A”, meaning that we can safely have it. And we could also have about five macadamia nuts daily, too!

Supposedly, the very moment when she obtained my “OK, I’m in!”, we took the “before” pictures of each other. She also shared with me the exciting news about the “Carb Manager” app, which we were to use to count our carb intake. At least she says so.

The little devilish app goes nuts the moment you exceed your pre-set carb numbers for the day. You don’t want to exceed those numbers, because the app will tell you about and it would make you feel like a loser.

Once I learned what I had done the night before, I texted her back from the summit of the Hiline trail, saying that I don’t diet and I don’t believe in diets. And that I would have to drink a glass of wine (Keto Grade A) to process what I had committed to.

Well, it just got way worse…

She announced that the first 21 days of the keto approach, we CANNOT drink wine because we are detoxing. I dunno why not the first 20 days or 22, but I digress…

I complained and protested. But hey, supporting a friend is important to me… So, I sort of embarked on the wagon! “Sort of” because it is a pure experiment for me, and if I am running the Humphreys, I would still have one carb-loaded 100cal energy gel, which are making the carb app very unhappy about me. (I am still sane, partially?).

What is my lesson from this experiment so far?

Well, I have been familiar with “keto”, but only from the research, not first-hand. It feels a bit like when years ago, I decided to go vegan, to see what it would have done to me and my energy. That one lasted eight months.

I can tell that the first few days, as my body was switching to using fat rather than the sugar as its source of fuel, I felt super sluggish and tired. I am setting my carb limits quite low and I train a lot, so these might be some of the reasons.

I still hate the idea of any limiting diet, recording what I eat, or counting any numbers. The time that we, potentially, spend on those activities can be used better by walking one mile further.

I am also alkalizing my body more than a typical keto diet calls for. The last thing I want is to become acidic – it sounds bitter and grumpy, too!

What I like about it:

First, after the initial few days, I got my energy (and some more) back!

Second, I don’t crave any sweets at this point. I’m well-known for stealing triple-churred ice cream from my daughter… She has not reported this sort of problems recently! A few grapes taste so sweet now!

Third, I’m learning a lot about fat as the good source of energy.

I’m not setting any time limit on this, nor any goals. It is a pure experiment and I am going with the flow, while also supporting my already fit friend! One thing is certain, I cannot commit to the 21 days without red vino. You try this one for me?


Stay Immune While Having Fun!

August 2020

Choices are important. Especially in the times of cholera.

It is important how we choose to react to what is going on and if we remain friendly, caring, and loving throughout. During uncertain times, we see more of both the hostility and the caring attitude, of the me-not-you approach and the opposites of ow we can be helpful and supporting to each other.

My take is that if you feel or might feel some degree of shame about acting this or that way, don’t act that way… Thank that shaming nudge feeling that you have in your gut for alerting you about your choices, and simply choose to connect through and with love.

There is nothing certain about our being right now and within the foreseeable future. So, without that anchor of certainty secured right here and right now, we might as well embrace it all from the “glass is half full”, rather than “half empty”, position.

One of the super important choices that we can make for ourselves and those close to us is to stay immune to it all.


I am, sort of, my own lab rat, running on the never-stopping treadmill of experimentation. My approach to the virus is to keep myself as healthy, fit, strong, vibrant and all that, as possible. I believe that be simply keeping my immune system happy about my choices, I might be after something here. I have been eating mostly nutritious food choices – mostly organic – mostly pure energy for my body. I make sure to exercise as long and as much as I can (time-wise). I am adamant about spending a part of my day outside on the trail. Every day. When I had access to the pool, that was another great option that I exercised – and I heard that my pool is reopening soon!

Hiking, biking, walking the neighborhood, and – possibly – weight lifting (from the comfort of your mini-home gym, consisting of water bottles, a ten-pound loaded backpack, a random old 20lbs kettlebell and an odd Swiss ball – or way more – are all great options to keep us healthy! Various diseases and viruses affect us way more if we have pre-existing conditions, are sedentary, obese, and suffering from other ailments.

So, it is so worth to move! Now that the temps are – finally – a bit down, especially in the morning, it will pay off to set that alarm clock half an hour earlier and do the Fit-Fit work!

Keep me posted… I am doing exactly this, too.


When Things Get Tough...

March 2019

Wow, am I impressed!

On Saturday March 16th, I plummeted into Grand Canyon.

Again, some of you would say… big thing…

The difference was major, at least from my Mommy-On-Duty perspective. I went in there with my 16-year-old daughter, Amaya. Few days earlier, both of us decided to do it. You know, she had been preparing for the Grand Canyon Rim-To-Rim with her school, our beloved VVS, which is to happen in May this year. She kept hiking around the Baldwin Trail three times at a time with her friends, in circles. Or the Hiline slopes.

What Mommy said?

Mommy said, Baby, the best prep for hiking Rim-to-Rim is to DO IT with your mom, who sort of runs that space teens of times a year and knows every crook and nook and the ways around in (and, hopefully?) out of there.

So, Baby Amaya reflected on my proposal for a few, and when prompted the next time around, she said… let’s do it!

So, off we went from Sedona, starting our drive to the mystic destination at some crazy 4AM. It IS my usual wake up time, but not necessarily hers. But she went with the flow. We ate breakfast in the car just before hitting the Tusayon area.

The top of the South Kaibab Trail, by which we went into the bowels of the Canyon, was covered with snow, ice and, generally, frozen. We pulled out our crampons and hiking sticks, and still, at switchback #2 into the Canyon, Amaya simply sat on her booty and took a glide down - two ice-covered zig-zags down! I followed her suit, and so did several hikers who emerged from the same frozen “Express (hmmm, “Express…”… Kaibab” bus with us. Amaya said, “Might as well!”, smiled to us all, and gracefully went down. This was followed by about 7 miles of ohhs and ahhs all the way to the Phantom Ranch, where my brave trooper refueled with the usual choice of a bagel with cream cheese and pepperoncini - and of course, I had to, ahem, sample her food…

Off we went to climb. She took the sandy part in a stride and then, braced herself up for the first steeper uphill at Devil’s Switchback. I told her it is one tough mile, but only one. She covered it in one push, one leg at a time, immersed in her thoughts and sharing her life with me. It was so very special.

Then, we rested at the Indian Gardens. To my disbelief, I acknowledged that the lovely, big tree, which used to always offer us some major shade at the water spout there, was gone! Cut in pieces. Non-existing. The local landscape changed forever with this one.

We went off, again. We kept going one switchback at a time, admiring the stunning views.

At the bottom of the Canyon, as opposed to the start of our trek, it was a T-shirt situation. On top, emerging again, we put the jackets, hats, gloves, crampons and all on again. And added the hiking poles, too.

We got out definitely in one piece, happy and ecstatic, only 9 hours and 15 minutes later. Amaya’s personal record for a true Rim2Rim.

We changed into somewhat drier clothes and, as power was off in the Canyon and Tusayon, we drove off to Williams for gas and the best sushi ever!!!!

After the hike, Amaya shared with me her approach: one leg at a time, one step at a time. Patience, grit, resilience and perseverance. Even if things go ugly, you sit in the middle of the trail and say, ouch, I have NO IDEA how I get outta here!.... and even it seems we have no energy for that one more step. We CAN do it if we put between our two ears that we can.

I am so very proud of my Munchkin, and she is so proud of herself of leading our little Daughter-Mommy Team into and out of the Canyon! I just followed. A strong leader like her made it so doable to cross that 20-mile distance we registered on our GPS that day!

P.S. We both slept like babies the following night! 😉


A New Trail In Town!

December 2018

OK, fellow Villagers, here we got some great news! And I am sharing this as a proof that I am not a bit selfish (because, you know, I could have been keeping all this to myself and you would have never learned the good news, delivered below!).

So, following years of seeing people parking in a couple of dirt space parking spots off the VVS Road and quietly disappearing into the unmarked territory, that unmarked territory got its name and is now, officially, open to the roaming of the public.

Welcome to the Transept Trail!

It is good for hikers, runners, and bikers, horses are asked not to go, nor are motorized vehicles, of course.

It is 3.25 M long one way, and goes all the way up to the (almost) top of the Hiline Trail! It climbs steadily, then hugs the side of the red rocks, then climbs some more.

While covering the Transept up and down, I just met one couple of folks, and that was it. I had the trail completely to myself! (I guess after this blog, it won’t be so much longer).

Be prepared for splendid sunrise and early morning views of the Cathedral Rock, when the sun truly shines on those magnificent rocks! It is partly shady, but mostly exposed, and, of course, what goes up has to get down, so on the way back, you will be mostly descending the same 3.25 M. Which gives you an awesome 6.50 Miler!

I am super thrilled about this trail, because so far, whenever I wanted to get to the Templeton/Slim Shady/Hiline/Creek ~8M combo, I was starting either from the Yavapai or the Back O’Beyond TH parking. Or, I was reaching the loop from VOC by Slim Shady or even the Baldwin Trail.

This one is nice, fresh, and solid, and yesterday, I went by Transept to continue by Hiline, Templeton and Slim Shady and back to the Hiline and down by Transept to VOC. That gave me a cool 13.80 M, covered with about 30K steps (you know, I am little, so it is a short stride…).

You can either shorten that venture, by simply only exploring the new trail as an in and out, or extend it by adding, say, the Baldwin loop or any combination of the trails to the east side from the 179.

I was the most thrilled about the new perspective on the Cathedral Rock and about how close we can get to hug that massive red wall while hiking there.

So, consider this top-secret info my Holiday gift to you and… check it out between your commitments to family obligations of the Season!


Watch Out for that Kiddo on the Side Bench!

November 2019

So, the researchers pronounced themselves. The verdict is in.

Negative Physical Education- related childhood experiences do influence our attitudes towards physical activity later in the lifetime.

“Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine” published the research relating the negative PE experiences to the amount of time we sit on our booties over the weekends and, in general, during the free time, which we could potentially consecrate to exercise. Unfortunately, the relation is proportional to our estimation of how much the PE sucked years earlier… and how much we despised not being chosen as the first into that team of mates.

I was slightly surprised by the results of this research. My own childhood featured… ZERO physical education classes completed. My family was against me sweating in any way, so I was that bespectacled chubby kiddo, hiding under the avalanche of my long hair, sitting on the side bench and studying while my classmates run around the school field or in the gym. I, actually, vividly remember being embarrassed by all that sitting and not participating, and I badly wanted to belong. I also remember the bullying, directly associated with the fixed position I used to assume twice a week on that bench over my school years.

So, my experience was negative, but it has not influenced my adult times training attitude and habits in the way the research suggested. It influenced me, but in the opposite way. I, actually, became super motivated to exercise the moment I could do it without asking anyone when I turned 18. I craved the motion and unstructured or structured sweating sessions. So, the negative PE-related experience of mine, actually, turned into an amazingly healthy adulthood filled with fitness, running, swimming, weights, and keeping in shape (myself and others… maybe I project…). It has been almost a rebellious opposition approach to the stagnation of my early years, a total negation.

And, on that negation of the unhealthy early years, I have built a pretty amazing and FitFit life…


Rainbow of Colors...

October 2019

I am addicted to colors. From painting the first condominium which we owned back in Montreal in 16 (sixteen) colors, which, everybody was saying, were “nicely blending and talking to each other”, through dressing like I was a walking rainbow, to the colors of my food.

I digress, but we had hard time selling that condo before… I repainted it all white. The moment the potential buyers were in, all their attention was on asking questions related to our lifestyle and if we were some wild artists, instead on calmly and orderly focusing on the square footage and number of rooms.

And I am a firm believer that the more colorful food we eat, the better for us and our system.

So, starting from plain white…. It might be boring, but it is still good for you. Think along the lines of plain Greek yogurt. You want to have your yogurt Greek (or at least Icelandic) for its increased content of proteins per portion, compared to the regular “yogurt yogurt”. In the past, the big trend was to also go “ZERO percent”. Zero. Like in, “nothing”. Meaning that we were all consuming those zero percent foods, including the above-mentioned Greek yogurt, but we were sort of never satiated as a result. Because it takes more of the “zero” product to fill you up than, say, of the 1-2% product. So nowadays, our super modern scientific research suggests to stuff ourselves with about 2%. Personally, I still, mostly, do “zero”, but don’t tell anyone.

OK, moving to some more colorful choices…

What about pale whitish-yellowish? Yes, steel cut oats! Steel cut work our GI tract better than rolled. Half a cup has 4 grams of fiber, half of it the soluble fiber, which does good stuff to our cholesterol levels. Just don’t use commercial oats. I simply soak mine overnight. In the morning, for me, they are nice and perfectly mushy. Or “disgustingly mushy”, depends on the person and the liking… Top your oats with that Greek yogurt, add berries and nuts, and here you go, a perfect breakfast!

Yellow: Both sweet potatoes and butternut squash offer lots of fun stuff: potassium, fiber, vitamins A, C, and K. And garbanzo beans (chickpeas) have that color, as well. One of the best types of beans out there for us, full of copper, folate, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

Color-wise, next should be, probably, wild-caught salmon, which provides us with Omega-3 fats and lots of proteins, too. Just don’t do farmed, as it swims in its own, antibiotic-saturated poop.

In the orange and red section, we should see mangoes and oranges (Vit A and C, potassium, and the fiber – yes, they do get stuck between the teeth!). Also, raspberries, strawberries, and any melons. Watermelons are full of vitamins A and C, potassium, lycopene.

I don’t need to explain the greens, especially the dark and loafy greens. Just go for them!!!! Broccoli, asparagus, kale, collard, spinach, mustard greens, and Swiss chard.

As to the dark side of them all, purple-colored potatoes and, of course, blueberries and blackberries and grapes are a must in your kitchen. Purple cabbage deserves your try, too.

So, when you shop for food, make sure that your cart resembles a rainbow, or, alternatively, the colors of the walls in my first own apartment… 😉


Get Fat!

September 2019


Yes, we, actually, should be getting 20-30% of our daily calories from fat! And these calories will not make you… fat! Actually, if you eat excess calories form any source, being it carbs, fat, even proteins – you will, undoubtfully, gain weight. Yep. Tough luck.

Another misconception is that it is somehow better to eat the “non-fat” stuff. It used to be true and now, it is not anymore… as the brave researchers keep unfolding virgin areas of nutrition-related mysteries. The “non-fat” stuff was the topic of many articles years ago and, in fact, lots of people, including yours truly, stuck to this for quite a while. I must confess that I still very much enjoy the “non-fat” versions of some food items, such as organic Greek yogurt, for some reason. (Please don’t tell the researchers).

Well, nowadays, the researchers apparently proved that if we eat lots of the “non-fat” or “low fat” foods, we crave more of them, or we crave to eat more often, in order to feel satiated. As a result, we eat more than we would have normally. Plus, oftentimes (and this is NOT the case of my Greek yogurt) those low- fat and non-fat foods have added sugar, to compensate for the taste. So, it seems one devil or another, and out of the two, we better stick to the fats.

One of the fat-free tricks is to… add flavor. Lots of us would mistakenly believe that non-fat, organic, Greek yoghurt with FRUIT at the bottom is something truly great to eat. All those strawberries, right??? Not really. “Fruit at the bottom” is sort of a sugary jam, which, mixed with your all-great-non-fat-Greek-and-organic thingy will surely make it edible and pleasant to eat, but… the nutritional content by then is messed up and just wrong. Do NOT eat yoghurts with that stuff at the bottom (by now, I have 99% of the yoghurt industry against me, I guess…). Or, yes eat them, but… do not mix the “fruits” from the bottom with the good stuff and leave the colorful part where it is, i.e. in the container.

Sometimes, if we consume fat-free, we won’t absorb or absorb well enough some nutrients, which are fat-soluble (such as lycopene and beta-carotene)

On the other hand, I have to honestly share this, as well: I, personally, never tried ketonic approach, but I do see lots of my clients succeeding with their weight loss goals to great extent thanks to, as per their own words, the ketonic diet.

Moreover, in the world of endurance sports, such as long-distance triathlons, ultra-distance runs, and long, multi-day through hikes, there is established research saying that some of the top performers succeed on fueling their bodies with a higher percentage of fats than normal and way lower percentage of carbs than we would have thought. From my personal experience, when doing Rim-to-Rim or a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, or any of my ultra marathons in the mountains, I would truly feel the kick if I have some plain nuts. If, during a competition, the aid station treats me to an avocado or guacamole, they officially make my day out there!

Unsaturated variety of fats, like the fats found in the Mediterranean diet, are still highly recommended, comparing to any other type of fats out in the wild-wild world.

In summary, if you eat your fats in form of French fries or fatty salad dressings (thinking that, well, you eat salads, so it is all good…), you are, pretty much, screwed up. If you eat like the friendly Italians do, you shall be fine!


Comfort Sugars, Fats, and Other Beasts...

August 2018

When stressed or bored, we oftentimes reach out to so-called “comfort foods”. What are they? In three words, they are “SUGAR – FATS - ALCOHOL”, which leaves us tired, sluggish and sleepy. The more sluggish we feel, the more depressed about our bodies we are. We become disappointed in letting the stress get the best out of us and us get the worst out of the fridge. A Catch-22 of a sort. And if we continue to stress about eating this way, we reach for more foods and that, undoubtfully, leads to weight gain! So, we stress now about our bodies…

So, it could be the right moment to go out (or to stay in) and use healthy nutritional strategies – to diminish the stress levels, increase serotonin (the happy hormone) and stay well despite the problems we deal with.

The above-mentioned serotonin plays a huge role in regulating our mood, appetite, memory, and sleep. Foods which contain tryptophan, which promotes higher levels of serotonin, help countering stress. For similar reasons, making sure that we get some Vitamin D, as well as amino acids such as tyrosine, methionine and phenylalanine positively impacts mental health.

Stress often causes high blood pressure – and making sure that we got some potassium in our foods can help with that.

What are the foods which are the best during tough times?

Turkey, shrimp, dairy, soy, pumpkin seeds for tryptophan…

Brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus for folic acid to stimulate production of serotonin…

Grapefruits, lemons, oranges and other fruits and veggies for Vitamin C…

Dairy for Vitamin D (as well as sunshine!)…


Also, drink chamomile tea, and any other type of tea labeled as “Sleep Time” or relaxing.


Grains: They Are Not That Complicated!

June 2018

So, here we go again: Standing at the Whole Grocers in front of that intimidating wall, featuring several rows of like-looking large containers, each container containing that “something” inside.

Today, we are on the pursuit of GRAINS!

But which of those similarly-looking products are really grains and which are even any good for us?!

OK, let’s put some order into that grain mess.

Let’s start form the queen of them all, the quinoa. Technically, it is classified as a “pseudo grain”, whatever it means… But the important stuff you really want to know about is that it is gluten-free and it contains all of the essential amino acids. That means that quinoa is a plan which offers us full-scoped protein! It tastes slightly nutty. I, personally, never overcook anything (unless I burn it, oftentimes together with the pot in which the victimized food is trapped). So, I cook it for maybe ten minutes max, just in water. There are several varieties of quinoa, such as the gold one, the red one and the white. The red quinoa (which looks more brownish than reddish) offers the best taste, I think.

Farro is nutritionally alike to quinoa and also worth to try. Great source of protein, fiber, calcium and it also has that slightly nutty flavor. When facing that Whole Foods Wall Of Bins, look for light brown grain, slightly bigger and longer than rice grain.

Then, try spelt. Just do not cast spell on me while trying to distinguish it from farro! (Disclosure: they look very alike!). It is great for salads and to combine with fresh herbs, spices, pepper, nuts, and it is also good for stews.

Make sure that you also try frekkeh. It has twice more the proteins and four times more the fiber than brown rice – so, rice, move over! Just like brown rice, it tastes slightly chewy and it is super good to add to your Greek yoghurt and fresh berries for your breakfast.

Make sure that, whenever possible, you buy organic. Organic grains and pseudograins are very important, as the final product we are consuming there is very exposed to nay type of potential pesticide and other “treatment” during its growth period. So, protect yourself and whenever possible, shop organic!


Munchin' Away The Healthy Way...

May 2018

Eating raw carrots. It pays off. Really…

We might be thinking that one treat here, another there are “not going to ruin our waist”. They might not if the indulge really happens occasionally. However, if we start “rewarding” ourselves at quite a frequency, it all adds up. It even adds up if we tend to reward ourselves not that often!

Simply put, what we feed our bodies with builds our bodies in the long run. So, if we overfeed on chocolates, we become chocolate-y (somehow, it sounds good to me, but I digress…). If we dip too often into that hummus, well, we become… hummus-y. And who wants to be hummus-y??? Not me.

The point is, that all that food we consume over our lifetime adds up: it quality, its type, and its amount. By the way, you always want to check if the food you are buying is really a real food (such as in “apple”), or some colorant-infused dough of suspicious origin.

The stricter we are with the choices of good quality, healthy foods over the years on this earth, the more chances at staying healthy into our old age. That simple and wise investment in healthy eating will directly translate into less medical problems, a slimmer waistline, more energy, less medical visits and costs later in life.

So please, when you chomp on something, think of your investment in the future wellbeing: is this particular food/meal good for you? Does it contribute to your health today and in the years to come? This approach will pay off down the road… no matter how boring eating raw carrots might feel to you!


Volunteering Magic Hands!

April 2018

Multiple times a year, I participate in long-distance endurance races.

Most of my events take entirely place in very remote and mountainous, hard-to-access areas, and consist of running for fifty or sixty miles or kilometers, while being supported and tended to at several Aid Stations.

Aid Stations are distributed as evenly through the race distance as possible (typically, every seven or ten miles). At each of them, they take a note that you are still alive and accounted for. At the Station, you can also seek medical help (or they will make you seek medical help if you think you are fine, but they think otherwise), you can resupply your water and refuel.

Moreover, the volunteer-based aid station crew is always extremely cheerful, helpful and smiling! No matter that they had to get up at some insane hours of early morning (such as 2 or 3AM, for example), had to load their respective trucks with water, food, electrolyte solutions, gels, even portable BBQ for the overnight races to keep us all satiated and relatively warm. They had to prepare the foods they are serving during the race, make sure there is always plenty of ice for both consumption and cooling down the bodies. They took large quantities of anti-chafing creams, sunscreen, first aid kits and ointments with them. Often the night before, they had to set the station, put the tents, chairs, stretchers and tables up. If the Aid Station area is not easily reachable by car, they often would hike in and out to these stations, carrying all the above-mentioned necessities with them.

Lots of logistics, dedication, determination, love, and pure physical strength to do all this for the runners.

Oftentimes, some volunteers have a family member running, so they want to help out. Or they are runners themselves and suffer from an injury, so they want to be a part of the race by helping out while recovering from the physical setback. Then, there are many of them who simply want to help and offer a smile and a high-five, sun, rain, or snow!

Volunteers and their cow bells, with which they greet each and every runner approaching their station, create this special, great atmosphere of any race. When I pass them or seek assistance from them, I always make sure to thank them for their time. I also usually say, “All this would not be possible without you, guys!”. They say, well, this is you who is running, we “only” help…

Well, thank you all for all you do, it is well beyond the attributive “only”… Love yah all!


Are You Truly Motivated?

March 2018

A question to yourself: When you think of your fitness or non-fitness goals: do you smile? When you think of the yummy and healthy food you plan to eat: do you smile? Do you at least smile to yourself, you know, deep inside?

You should! This is one of the best ways to tell that you are intrinsically motivated, that you are not motivated by your friends, partner, the secret wishes of your pet or by the harsh comments of your ex’s grandma. When you think of, say, running that 5K in the spring, and you smile – this is a great sign. It means you want it for yourself and your wanting comes from deep inside of you, and is not the result of the whimsy daydreaming of your pal.

Now, once you get that beautiful, broad smile on your face, it is time to see how you are going to achieve your goal. Plot. Create a plan. Even if it is a secret plan. Push towards your goals daily. I understand too well the lack of motivation to get up early on December 18th to practice that one mile swim, for example.

But once you have the goal, the type of goal for which you smile while thinking of it, you will do it. You will, actually, set the alarm clock for 5AM to swim before work. You will prep your googles, the cutest swimsuit and the swimming cap in your bag, along with the change of the work clothes you need for the rest of your day… You will get to the bed early in anticipation of that early rise, sleep till’ the alarm really gets to your system and you will even have a prepared nutritious, healthy and full of good stuff breakfast on the kitchen countertop. You will eat it, and head out.

Simply. You will get into your car, while 90% of the town population is still asleep, and you will drive to that pool. You will stop to let an occasional javelina or a sleepy coyote pass and you will get to the Club. You will change into the swimsuit and get out, your breath steaming out of your mouth. You will plunge into the warmth of the pool waters and do your laps.

You will, secretly, smile to yourself that you did it again: you set your mind on your goal, you set your clock, you prepared your clothes and all, and yes, you are in that cold water, which, comparing with your external environment seems to be warm enough to swim your morning mile.

The Mile which will lead you to your future success. You will complete your mile, get out of that pool and feel chilly for the moment. You will “reward” yourself with the super-quick shower and perhaps two minutes and a half in the dry sauna, and off you go! Dress, drive to work, work, then drive back home, do more chores, take care of your family and… sleep… All with THAT secret smile on your lips, because YOU know YOU did it. Again. Remember: I always cheer for you and I am so very proud of you!


Raising From Ashes...

January 2018

I hit it. The bottom. It was the Halloween night and I suffered from a freak deep cut accident to my right foot. Bleeding profusely and leaving the trace of my journey the whole way to the ER, I rendered myself to the good souls at the Sedona Emergency Room with the appeal to, pretty please, somehow stop the blood let. They assured me that it is the Halloween night, therefore, they are all fake doctors in there and have no idea…

Several X-rays and compression attempts later, I was being discharged with a glaring gap in the limb I sort of need for running. It looked like a bleeding volcano, so it was impossible to put the stitches on, as the injury took a substantial piece of my meat off. Just lovely.

The first question I had to the good docs was, of course, sports-related. Like, can I swim in a week from now? Or run tomorrow, if I am OK with the pain? Ah, you know, docs, I have high tolerance for pain and my toenails are anyway black from all the running I do, so… can I run???

They looked at me. They looked at each other. Then, I learned that it takes different time for everyone to heal such a deep and wide and gaping wound and I shall just “wait and see”.

So, this is what I did: Started the two-month long period of waiting and seeing: mostly walking/hiking, no swimming, no biking, no running with the exception of two times six miles in the later stages of healing.

In the process, I compensated and my knee and hip gave up on me. And I got infection, twice. Antibiotics and all.

About a month ago and five doctors later, my orthopedic surgeon was, finally, able to sew me back into one functional piece again.

The process of raising from a ruin was hard and very discouraging for a runner, not to mention simply painful with each step (and even at rest), time- and cost-consuming.

I decided to put my mind on the activities I could do, rather than dwell on the ones I could not (I was still dwelling excessively, but putting my mind to the positive made me take the first steps to recovery).

The Things I Could Do: such as walking and endless weight lifting had to make my days as of that Halloween night and, pretty much, until now. About six weeks ago, I started freaking out that I would now resemble a weight lifting champ. No cardio and all weights? Welcome to even more bulky muscles!

Each visit to my ortho surgeon, he could expect me asking The Question: “So, what else can I do now? Can I swim already?!?!”…

As the subsequent doc’s approvals released me, to an extent, back into the wild world of fitness, I enjoyed taking one step at a time. Starting small in order not to reinjure anything and not to re-open the wound.

When I attempted my first short run (which happened to work uphill, but not downhill, due to the knee issue), I did not even set my GPS watch. The pace was embarrassingly non-existing. My breathing was out of whack, and, most likely, I looked like I was having an apoplexy right there right then (thanks God, there were no witnesses to my misery out on that remote trail, though). The second run which I completed so far went slightly better, if not the knee.

So, for now, I just start setting the new goals for the year. Apart from the two long-distance races I am already signed for, I am soon leaving for a wonderful trek to Patagonia. My primary goal at the latest doc’s visit was to make sure the foot can handle it.

I do not care about the scar and the wound’s looks, as it changes its color daily from red to purple to freaking bluish and so on, which is, apparently, normal and might last another year or so. I was also told we shall see if I regain the feeling in the top of my foot, as, most likely, the nerve was severed.

What I do care about is my foot’s functionality. And it seems that with my cautious, boring, frustrating approach, I am finally on the mend. Now, I watch that knee, so believe me, it will be one step at a time to get back to what I consider my usual fitness level. It shall just get better!


Let's Get It Right From The Beginning of The Day!

November 2017

The breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. What you eat and how much you eat in the early hours sets the tone for the rest of the day. And yes, you should, indeed, eat a breakfast like a king.

First things first: never skip a breakfast. You do not want to “diet” or starve through the day, you want to nurture your body, virtually build the “bricks” which create your body and make it stronger. Which means, you have to fuel your body’s cells appropriately for all the hard work they are doing!

Moreover, if you skip a breakfast, or eat not enough at this time of the day, you will “crash’ later on. Most likely, by reaching for a doughnut during that 3PM meeting at work or/and inhaling a bag of chips in front of the tube in the evening.

When you eat a healthy and voluminous breakfast, your body will not ‘think” it is starving at any point of the day. Therefore, it will not hold on to every and each calorie you get through the day, which results in even more of a fatty tissue stored and even a slower metabolism. In other words, the body will not “think” that the end of the world and some major starvation is near. It will metabolize nutrients you eat at its own pace, much quicker than if the starvation is “imminent”. This will result in you burning more calories through the metabolic process alone, even while watching the TV!

So, what should you eat for a good breakfast? Well, the rules are the same as for the rest of the day: eat “clean”. No processed foods, no white breads/muffins, no sugars. With the exception, put a particular attention to eating lots and lots of proteins (to feel satiated through the day and to build the lean muscle mass) and lots of healthy and fibrous carbs, either from veggies or fruits. Eat low-fat, but perhaps steer away from any “0% fat” fares: these are, typically, overloaded with sugar (just to compensate for the lack of taste which a “no-fat” fare would normally suffer from). 1% or 2% Greek yoghurt is the best (Greek because it has more proteins than any other type of yoghurt, which is due to the way the companies produce it). Sprinkle it with some healthy fats (nuts, seeds: but they have to be plain, not roasted, not salted). Add berries, grapes, slices of kiwi or orange on top. If you feel OK about it, add some half scoop of protein powder. And voila, you have a great breakfast!

Another option: Eggs are great, again because they have so much proteins. They are a natural, non-processed source of good stuff for us. So, hard-boiled, sunny side up, scrambled (use milk or unsweetened apple sauce instead of oil), 1-minute eggs… All are great choices. If you scramble them, add kale, spinach, bell peppers… The more colors you get on the plate, the better! Just make sure not to have any bacon or ham – they are full of chemicals and fats, even if the label says “natural”.

Otherwise, you might want to have some steel-cut oats (the digestive system works harder to digest the steel-cuts, if you compare with how easy it is for it to digest the round oats). Forget commercial oats, go to the bulk section and start from there. Also, cottage cheese, anyone? It is another great source of proteins and calcium. You can also add your protein powder into it, if you wish, it mixes well.

Have fun, stay Fit-Fit and full in a clean way and keep me posted how you are doing!


Resolution Time!

November 2017

Resolution Time!

I know, I know… it is only mid-October, and her I come, with the big Resolution thingy, normally due to bother us only around the New Year’s…

I’d ask you to reconsider and go for a resolution… right now! Resolutions, small and big, can be made any time of the year and any time of the day.

In fact, the first time I remotely though of running an ultra-marathon, therefore deciding to train for it, was a middle of the night in December! About 3:11AM, to be precise. The least probable time of the year and day/night (back in Canada for me) when you should be even coming up with any sort of resolutions…

You might want to go for a new resolution, or to renew the interest in the existing (and neglected) one. Carefully choose the resolution you want to work on, so you do not open too many resolution-filled Pandora boxes at the same time – a guaranteed way to overwhelm you.

In case of the been-there-done-that-already resolution, reflect on what did not really work. Being aware of what failed you, or what contributed to you failing your resolution, is very helpful. This way, you will know what remains to be worked on/improved.

Specify your goal. Don’t generalize “I want to lose weight” or “I want bigger muscles”. Stick to the more precise: “I want to lose 4 pounds by December 1st” or “I want to gain 2lbs of muscle mass by February 1st”. Then, think of the ways you are going to achieve your goal and of the situations/people/places which would facilitate your success (such as: sticking to fit friends, hiring a trainer, signing up at a gym).

If you feel you start slipping away and failing, redefine your goals. Make yourself accountable, either to yourself (by writing a diary of the food you eat/wine glasses you do not drink/exercises you perform), or to the family, friends and trainers. And to any other folks who are out there to support you.

Within the scope of my offerings at the Be Fit Fit Studio, I have this great service called “You Bite It, You Write It”. It is extremely popular with my clients. Why? Because it makes them reporting to someone knowledgeable with their progress. Within the frame of this service, I ask the clients to note (or take a picture) of everything they bite/drink during the day, for thirty days. And to send me this diary as often as they can/feel like (even after every meal!), for a friendly, extended and quite immediate comment how we can improve the existing habits. Many people choose to snap a picture of the foods they consume, and they would add some description of what is on the plate in case the foods are processed beyond-recognition… I say, don’t take it personally, and here we go… I comment extensively on their eating habits. At the end of the month, they typically love it. They do not feel like they went on any sort of a diet, because they were just adjusting their existing nutritional habits, as we were discussing what could be improved. They learned tons about their eating patterns and about how to improve them, depending on their fitness, health and wellness goals. And they paid only slightly above 300 dollars for the service, i.e. some ten dollars a day.

If you feel your resolution did not catch with you using one strategy (such as: “I will lose weight on my own”), use another strategy the other time around (such as: “I will hire the trainer/wellness consultant”). You know that, if we fail one hundred times, we must try to reach the same goal in the Way #101…

Good luck and keep me posted! I am here for you!


Want To Hike Far?

September 2017

So, you mastered the art of the few-hour-long hike, half-day and day-long hikes.

Ready for the next challenge?

What about hiking far? But… really far? Like in… few hundred miles far?

Initially, the task might seem very daunting, no matter if you plan to do it alone or with a friend. How do

I prepare for this? What do I pack? What about food and water? What if I get injured or sick? What if a bear eats me?

Well, make sure you have your last will updated (just kiddin’…).

Preparing for a multi-day through hike requires tons of planning, patience, compromise, grit, experience from shorter hikes, and some imagination. You want to approach it step by step, just like other fitness goals, such as losing weight or becoming more toned overall. Truly, what you really need is water, food and shelter (and a pair of good hiking or trail running shoes)… OK, and some luck, too. But you try to imagine any possible situation that can happen to you, and you need to plan for each and every of them.

First, read about the destination. Get the right maps. Plan if, and if yes, how often, you want to get down from the trail to any hamlet populated by more than one person in a tent. If the hamlet features a food store or a basic gas station, you hit the spot! Some long-distance hikers make their respective lives more complicated on purpose by, say, not resupplying while on the trail. They would carry lots of dry food and nuts for healthy fats to fuel them. On the other hand, some would not mind hitting the local grocery store or a motel room for one night to refresh, or sending packages to the local post office (addressed to themselves) with food and fresh socks, change of clothes and food. The sky is the limit, in terms of how easy or complicated you might make your long hike.

So, once you’ve got the total mileage planned, got the maps and divided the full distance in more manageable day-long chunks, and you have planned for the camping spots (solo by the side of the trail or at designated campgrounds), the packing starts.

First, think of the water: would you have easy access to water? Would you need to filter it or chemically treat it? Plan for that! Take as many water bladders/squeezable bottles as you need to get you through the longest dry part of your trail (and then, possibly, add one bottle more, just in case! I cannot stress how important water is. We all know we can go with no ater for several days before perishing for good, but why do it you ourselves? It is not fun). Plan to carry a water filtration system and/or tablets. Plan which bottle would contain the “dirty”, non-treated water, before the treatment, and which bottles are designated as “clean” (after filtration). Mark them accordingly or use different colors or types of bottles for each stage of treatment (pre- and post-).

Then, think of your backpack – you want your backpack to weight you down as little as possible, and to either be waterproof or come with the waterproof cover. There are quite a few types of ultra-light backpacks out there on the market. I, personally, appreciate the ones which are waterproof, so you do not need to carry the additional rain cover – one thing less. They roll and close with Velcro and two snaps on top of your load, just like a water rafting bag.

I like to have some mesh pockets around my backpack, so I can dry my laundry in the sun and charge my solar panel as I hike. I also appreciate the front pockets, easily accessible ones, where I can keep my map, nuts, energy gels, sunscreen and SPF lip balm, the basics I reach for often.

You want the weight of that backpack and all it will contain as low as possible: on a multi-day trek, each ounce of weight seems to be one pound by the end of the day. Also, the less stuff you have, the easier you will find your possessions in the bowels of your pack.

Here, the fine balance of comfort versus necessity kicks in. Do I really need to have warm food? Do I want to carry the ultra-light stove, matches, and so on – or can I go by with no stove? Do the regulations of the area you are heading to allow you to make a campfire, instead? Or do they require you to carry a bear container? If yes, even the ultra-light container would set you back at under two pounds of weight – and, from experience, it takes some muscle to squeeze the ten-day food and toothpaste supplies into the largest one on the market! If the container is not enough, you might need to get a few Special Op sacks, which promise to be water- and air-proof and won’t let the smell of their contents out. Once you are out of the bear-infested area, you might consider sending the container back to your home address and continuing your hike some two pounds lighter!

You might need (or want?) the basic sleeping pad. An ultra-light tent for one person adds about 1.12lb minimum. Then, the sleeping bag: yes or no? Are you ready to sleep on the pad, in the tent, but with no sleeping bag, in your dawn jacket? Decisions, decisions…

Clothing: go for one of each and rinse daily in a zip lock bag with some water (far away from any water source). I’d only double on the underwear and socks (which, surprise-surprise, were the only two items I truly forgot to take for my recent Tahoe Rim Trail through hike!!!).

Think of the kind of weather you will be hiking in, as well as the elevation. You might be hiking in the middle of the summer in Nevada, but if you do so at nine or ten thousand feet of elevation, you will experience very cold nights and, most likely, will hike over snow caps, small snow fields, bursting and deep streams, and so on. Most likely, there will be even permanent snow that high.

Think how the items you pack might multitask. For example, for my recent long hike, I did not pack a beanie – I took a neck warmer, which I was pulling over my head during especially cold nights. If you plan better than me and take two pairs of socks instead of one, you might want to skip taking the gloves/mittens. One pair of socks on your feet, you can put the other pair on your hands to keep warm.

You might decide to take rain gear or rain/waterproof jacket, at least. I find having the waterproof pants less essential.

Avoid cotton, opt for wool and fast-drying clothes.

Do not forget the first aid kit, Swiss army knife, spork (spoon and fork in one) and a supply of medications you typically take – for the duration of your hike plus one-two days more, just in case.

A good, compact and reliable solar panel might be helpful if you have hard time unplugging from your electronics. Many spots won’t have the service, anyway, but if you can charge your GPS watch and phone to take pictures of your adventure, that can make your day! However, never-ever rely on the electronics to guide you in terms of where you are going. They are not 100% reliable at all. Have the maps, compass and an extremely good sense of orienteering, especially if you head for a remote, barely there single-track with possible snow caps over your trail.

Planning is essential, but even with the most meticulous plan in place, things will surely go wrong or at least get derailed and you will experience surprises and setbacks. So, make sure to have a good sense of humor and see the obstacles arising as something that would make you stronger. Obstacles are out there to be conquered by us. Each time you do so, you feel stronger and more accomplished: the moment when you manage the situation and weeks and months later, when you remember how you can deal with them.

You will be, likely, more uncomfy than ever, you will be hot or cold, wet, delayed, very tired, hungry and thirsty, low on sodium, suffering from blisters, under-caffeinated and a notch scared at night when you hear that bear in the bushes nearby or when an elk jumps out of the forest right in front of you. You will lose some toenails (no worries, they will grow back).

And the sense of accomplishment you will feel each day during your hike, as well as upon completion of your adventure, will be worth all the typical multi-day hike/power packing suffering.

Good luck, good planning and have a time of your life out there!


Think of the Payoffs!

July 2017

In need of some motivation to stick your head from under that cozy blankie at 6AM to head out for the gym?

Think of the payoffs! And not any non-specific, good-for-all-of-us payoffs, such as: “We get stronger if we slave to the gym twice a week”. Think specifically about you and what you can get out of your training. Think how the exercise you are about to perform will translate into the better, stronger you when you need it.

OK, enough of abstract blah-blah. Example: You are a skier. Every year, on multiple occasions, you visit our local Snowbowl and once a winter, you go for a full week of white powder paradise to Colorado. And your dream is not to feel that the highlight of each and every of these outings is that full-sodium fare soup you get at the skiing shack. You dream of effortlessly (or as close to effortlessly as possible) gliding down the slopes, feeling the good burn in your leg, core and arm muscles, feeling flexible, healthy and 100% oxygenated. You dream of feeling good.

So, what does it have in common with that dreadful feeling at 6AM when your bones simply refuse to get a grip and get outta that bed?

A lot. Believe me, things will get easier if and when you manage to convince yourself that vigorously exercising six times a week will result in that wonderful, yet distant, great feeling on the Colorado slopes. You want to toss in some planning, too. So, the evening “before”, always have a plan what you are going to do, in terms of the exercise, the following morning. Prepare the right clothes. Go for aerobic activity (preferably outdoors), weight, balance, and flexibility training daily. Target somehow the muscles you will need the most for your particular carrot activity, dangling at the end of the stick. In case of the skiing, it might be lots of exercises focused on the legs, specifically the quadriceps, quite a core workout (maybe a Pilates session or two to address that?) and strong biceps. Yes, actually, you do need strong arms and biceps to ski! Remember that last time on the slope when, as a result of you holding the skiing poles, your biceps started aching well before your legs? Also plan to address the flexibility, so you feel ready and flexible when hitting the slopes.

Good luck!



May 2017

Have you noticed how much time at the gym is lost on unnecessary small talk? Whenever I pass by any of the “big” gyms in the area, I observe, with horror, how some gym members come mostly to exercise their maxillofacial muscles while chatting with the other gym-goers. To me, exercising your facial muscles is not the primary goal of visiting a gym. Even today at one of the big gyms I kept glancing at quite a substantial group of people, formed by the regular members of that gym, as they congregated in the narrowest passage area of the room. One sat down, the other leaned against the wall and some others simply stood around, mindlessly shifting their weight from one leg onto the other. Some had coffee cups in their hands. One also had a snack (ah, you know, surely one of these fat-free, sugar-free and gluten-free chunks which do not end in our muffin top). And they chatted and chatted… for probably at least 40 minutes. I successfully run most of my abdominal workout, while they kept talking about some truly insignificant stuff. Then, only one remained in the workout room to train, while the rest of them left either to get more coffee or to the locker room – session accomplished! Yep. After all, they came to the gym. They changed into the workout clothes. They got into the training room. They spent “their time” in the workout room. They even met the fellow fitness aficionados and exchanged some words with them. Mission fulfilled?

Along the same note, I oftentimes observe how people have full-blown snack breaks between the fitness classes. I understand the exciting social aspect of these congregations, but I don’t think they should be routinely done at any gym. There are better places to do it. I do not think, either, that eating at any gym should be a standard. We run the danger of eating more than we burn – the facial muscles are not the biggest, therefore, they do not burn much calories while being trained.

And, once I am at it, fiddling with the TV remote control(s) and your cell phones exercises only the small finger muscles. Not worth it. Do yourself and your body a favor and forget about all the media and social media for that hour or so. Train with intensity and with focus, not with the goal of “surviving this or that amount of minutes at the dreaded gym” by reading the FB posts.

What about going to your respective gym with the clearly-defined purpose of exercising your body? With a plan, what body part you are going to exercise and for how long? What about completing your training without losing time on anything else but… your workout? You even do not get the same effect on your muscles if you train them without thinking of the particular muscle at work and without the proper inhalation/exhalation as you work out. Do not lose your time on distracting yourself from the task at hand, i.e. your workout. By not engaging in the small talk or repeating the same old jokes, you also make a favor and make life easier for those of us who want to go to the gym to, actually… work out.

As to me, I truly appreciate no small talk while I am at it. To the point of, sometimes, contemplating creation of a T-shirt which I could wear and which would say: “Talk to you later!” or something similar.

See you (training your big muscles) at the gyms nearby!


Just Flex It!

March 2017

You would ask, what should you do to become more flexible? Unlike other types of fitness (such as cardio), there are no guidelines. What you do depends on what part of your body you need to become more flexible and on where you are at the starting point and what your goals are. Usually, you work towards your flexibility through increasing the range of motion (ROM).

Some of us think flexibility is related to how tall/heavy/thin we are, even to how long our limbs are. This is not true. Another misconception is that flexibility will negatively impact your weight lifting routine. Actually, increasing your range of motion can result in engaging more muscles in your weight-bearing exercise and in strengthening that muscle even further.

If you want to maintain your flexibility, I would suggest maintaining your stretches for 15-20 seconds. If you want to improve them, go for 30-45 seconds. Also, after the initial 10-15 seconds, I’d suggest you go deeper into the stretch. As you go into the stretch, breathe out in synchronicity with the motion. Hold at the newly gained point for a few and repeat the breathing/further stretching again.

I would always encourage you to stretch following a warm-up. Lots and lots of people would stretch before the exercise. For example, oftentimes, you see folks stretching and using static stretches before the tennis match. This can only lead to an injury. What you can safely do before your exercise is the so-called dynamic stretch. Check it on YouTube or so. Basically, instead of holding the stretch, you smoothly go into it and get out of it, and repeat for a minute of so. For example, you would repeat going into front lunges: in and out. Then, AFTER the game, it is a different story. You can still use the dynamic stretches if you prefer but this is, actually, the time to stretch the static way: go into the stretch while your muscles are warm from the training and hold the pose for those 15-30 seconds 9depending on your goals).

Please do focus on that target muscle you are trying to stretch. Maintain the good posture. For example, if you perform the common standing quadriceps stretch, but you do not remain erected in terms of the upper body or do not keep the knees close to each other, well, the stretch will not be the best. So, think of all the details to get the best stretch possible, leading you all the way to a highly improved range of motion and flexibility!


Bring It On!

March 2017

Take It On!

Obstacles be damned. Take that mother on. You’ve got a goal, you’ve got a plan and you are about to execute it, step by step, just as planned. No matter what mother nature, circumstances, or your spouse throw at you.

So, the trail goes up? Bring it on! It is raining? Great, that much harder to train out! Muddy? Even better, just think of all that additional workout your legs are getting! It is all good, right???

When you pursue a fitness goal or lifestyle, it gets just that much easier if you are gritty. The grittier you are, the better! “When it comes to achieving the goals that matter most, grit trumps talent, smarts, privilege, and luck,” says researcher Paul G. Stoltz, PhD, the author of “Grit: The New Science of What It Takes to persevere, Flourish, Succeed.” “Anything worth accomplishing in life is tough. Without grit, you’ll never get there.”

With grit, you get determination, passion, perseverance, and that certain je-ne-sais-quoi stubbornness, which we need the most at Mile 30 of our (uphill) ultramarathon run in the middle of nowhere. And the good news is, you can get your grit stronger if you want! Practice, practice, practice… When things get tough, do not quit. Just pursue, one step at a time. Always forward.

People would often look at you in disbelief. Why on earth are you subjecting yourself to the daily hard training, just in order to, occasionally, toe that starting line at your respective races, be it a road or trail run, a triathlon, or a century bike ride? Are you, sort of, crazy? What is so pleasurable for you while running for the 8th hour straight, and still having some ten miles to cover before the finish line?

Well, if you are truly passionate about your fitness goal, you clearly state what you want and how to get there, you are surrounded by like-minded people, you define yourself as somebody who would succeed and does not give up, and you are ready to – yes – simply take that risk that you might fail, you might not finish, you might be forced out of the race course due to the incremental weather or your momentary state of being, you have that many more chances to succeed! You see, without risking, there is no success. Assuming that initial risk of showing up at your race, and realizing that, yes, you might DNF (Did not Finish) or maybe finish dead last, is all what you need for your success. If you are gritty, you realize; even if you finish the last, you are way better than 99.99% of the population which is asleep in their respective headquarters, while you put one foot in front of the other.

Months ago, a close friend of mine mentioned to me that it’d have been the worst nightmare to finish last. I responded right away with the comment above, about being better than the rest of us who do not dare/try/even attempt to do things some of us do. I must say, the comment took me aback to the point that I still remember it months later. If you like the person, sometimes, you wish they would not have said certain stuff…

Buy hey, you know what? No time to contemplate here, we’ve got our respective gritty goals to pursue! Bring on more wind, slush, rain and cold and let’s go for that training run! ;-)


Love Your Body!

February 2017

t is all our perception. The same situation/thing/person can be seen as entirely different by two persons. Or even by one person, if that person looks at it from another point of view. “Reality” is just as real as we allow it.

Invariably, the more we use the loving thoughts and words while self-talking, the better our chances at loving ourselves and our bodies.

1) “I hate working out!” – Try to replace this statement with something more positive. It is hard to get our caboose to the gym, but we do it in exchange for long-lasting benefits. So, focus on the positive of the “working out” situation: “Getting to the gym will make me healthier in the long run.” Also, aim at not repeating to yourself you hate your training. If we repeat a statement enough of times, there is a chance we will start believing it and acting as it is real!

2) You are NOT your scale. Rather look at how tight your biceps are, how you just run effortlessly to catch that bus, how high your butt “shelf” is, how energetic you feel and how nice your skin looks. Our weight can fluctuate by several pounds a day! And less weight does not mean healthier. Ever had some gastrointestinal distress and vomited? Lost seven pounds overnight, as a result? Yes? Did you feel great and healthy? No. So, less pounds does not equal any better…

3) Always gift your body with some sort of movement through the day. It will thank you for this! Take a walk around the block, power walk in the morning, using the hiking sticks (for added energy expenditure), swim in the afternoon…

4) Enjoy your (healthy) foods. You become what you eat, so eat healthy and nutritious stuff. Lean proteins and carbs, mostly veggies, healthy fats. Snack on nuts, low glycemic index (=sugar) fruits and other healthy stuff. they will all result in a beautiful, strong, healthy body!

5) Make sure you catch your zzzz! Multiple research indicates that between 7 and 8 hours does us the best. Less than that, and you will not be rested and, due to some complicated hormonal shifts, you will have the tendency to overeat. More than that, and it might be the symptom of depression, for example.

6) Stick that chest out, tighten the belly muscles and pull your shoulders to the back. Do not moan when you get into your car, you are not that tired! ;-) This will result in your body language speaking volumes about how strong and healthy it is and feels! Try it!

7) Promise yourself and your body to exercise in some way daily, to get rest and to eat well: all that work will pay off, I promise!

8) Stay in the moment. While training, do not check your FB. Focus on the muscles you train. Squeeze them. There is proof out there in the scientific world that focusing on the muscles we work increases the gains by about 17%!

9) Be grateful for your body and what it does for you.


Principle of Minimal Disruption

December 2016

I am oftentimes asked for the simplest way to improve your nutritional habits. We all know how tough it is to change our habits.

One answer invariably comes to my mind, and it involves the principle of minimal disruption. I will explain below.

We are creatures of habit, we enjoy homeostasis in both our day-to-day life and relationships and in terms of how and when we exercise, for example. The same is true with what, how much and when we eat.

Knowing this, it is easy to understand that the less changes we introduce to our daily nutritional habits at any given time, the better our chances at assimilating those changes into our lives.

So, aim at changing to the smallest degree necessary (but that would do the job) to achieve your nutritional goals.

Also, once you succeed at implementing the first small change and it works for you, go after the second and third one, and so on…

This approach is similar to the one I described in one of my recent articles for “The Villager”, “How to Eat an Elephant?” – well, slowly, in chunks, and piece by piece!

Happy Holidays to all of you


Removing Barriers, One at a Time!

November 2016

We are all too familiar with routinely coming up with obstacles to exercise.

If we do not like to move, or even only think we do not like to move, the natural thing to do is to come up with an excuse or two to explain why we do not move…

What are the most common excuses to exercise?

Well, the one which is brought up the most frequently is lack of time. Another one is no money to join a gym. Or, once we have successfully joined the gym, it seems that the gym is located just a notch too far from our home to bother. Some of us feel we need to rest instead of exercise and get even more tired. Then, some would believe they might get injured if they train. You will also hear explanations such as, I do not have right clothes to train, I forgot my bike riding shorts, my phone is on the New York, not Arizona, time, so I overslept my training session, my local gym is dirty, or even that “I am too old to exercise”.

Truly, we can kill all of the above obstacles one at the time.

No time? What about lacing your shoes up and going for a 15-minute long walk around the block? You do have fifteen minutes. And believe me, if you do not exercise, you will spend more than that patiently waiting in line to various doctors later in your life (think of the origin of the noun, “patient”…).

No monies? You do not need any expensive gym. Grab two bottles of water for light hand weights or perform an array of body weight only exercises at home. No monies needed.

The gym is too far from your headquarters? Well, either join one which is closer, or refer to the paragraph above and train at home. And use the great outdoors for the aerobic training. Go out and have fun! By the way, literally go out and have fun – dancing is great for you!

You are tired? Of… sitting at your desk? Give exercise a chance and train for 20 minutes and see if you feel any better after the session. My bet is, you will feel more energized, happy and positive. So, trust me and just try it.

Injuries? No need to worry if you approach your training progressively. Or, if you are still scared, hire a trainer and perform your exercises under their watchful eye. No monies for the trainer, but still perplexed at the bare thought of an injury? Use free YouTube videos and free, solid information on the Internet to give you a good idea about the form, posture, and types of exercise to perform.

No right clothes for your sweat session? Believe me, you can sweat in a simple T-shirt and shorts, or even in your day wear clothes. Then, you wash them at one point or another… Clothes are there to be used, right?

Forgot the bike shorts? Tough luck. Bike in your regular ones and suck up the discomfort, if any. Most likely, you are not going to bike fifty miles right away, so it won’t matter if you use the padded shorts or not.

And, you know what? You are never too old to exercise! My oldest client at present is 94 and I remain ever-impressed by her! The gal rocks.

To overcome barriers to exercise, we have to understand why moving, sweating and, generally, being somewhat out of our comfort zone on that treadmill is good for us. And then, we have to develop a solid plan of action to implement the plot to exercise into our daily life.

Even one exercise session is scientifically proven to enhance your self-image. It is hard to get our respective cabooses more, but once we do, our system is overflowing with happy hormones, such as serotonin and adrenaline. We feel proud we did it, we feel more confident and our self-esteem skyrockets. All those positive hormones make us less suspect to depression and we feel better for the whole day. A nice Catch-22, isn’t it?

Good luck with overcoming your personal obstacles to train. Please remember that it is what we perceive as an obstacle can become an obstacle. If the given situation is not perceived by us as an obstacle, we will simply not even notice it and will continue on the path to well-being. So, choose wisely what you perceive as an obstacle and what maybe is not.



October 2016

Lower your (bad) cholesterol Levels with these foods If you suffer from increased levels of the LDL (bad) cholesterol, listen up. You can positively influence its levels within several months by consuming more foods containing lots of soluble fibers. You can get this fiber, for example, from celery, carrots, pears, apples, oranges, beans, peas, barley, oats, almonds, and whole grains. These foods diminish insulin resistance and act similarly to the statins, by blocking the assimilation of bad fats. Naturally, these foods do not contain much fats and are filling, so we do not feel hungry for a while after eating them. Moreover, they promote healthy digestion - their bulk makes the gastrointestinal system working hard. It is especially the case of non-soluble fibers, which simply remain that much longer in our GI tract!

At the next physical, make sure to ask your doctor to check your cholesterol levels. And do not get scared if your results are not ideal: you do have enough of control to improve the numbers you're your nutrition and by exercising.

Optimal LDL cholesterol level is anything less than 100, while the desirable magic number for the total cholesterol is less than 200. There is only one type of cholesterol which is 'god" and of which you'd rather have more than less: the HDL cholesterol, which prevents the blockage of arteries. You want to have its levels at 60 or more.



August 2016

I am a big fan of unilateral exercises.

To give you an example, when performing the chest press, I often hold the dumbbell only in one hand, while the other stays put on my abdomen. Then, I switch. Same with the back rows or Arnold presses, cable machine twists and even deltoid fine-tuning.

Why on Earth train one side after another, and not both at the same time?

Well, first, you remain under that weight load for twice longer. And the longer you are under the load, the more calories you burn and the more you lean out.

Second, you strengthen the joints and ligaments better because unilateral movement demands more from your joint capsules.

Third, you get that nice, strong and flat tummy and strengthen your core in a major way. When you use unilateral movements, you want to keep a stable and relatively straight position in terms of your core. This becomes very challenging under any unilateral load, requiring lots of additional work from your abdominals to maintain that dynamic stability.

What are some examples of unilateral exercises ready to implement on a daily basis? Try some of the following: 1-leg dead lift, 1-leg bench-based split squat, 1-arm dumbbell press, 1 arm chest press, renegade row, 1-arm back row with a dumbbell or cable, 1 arm kettlebell snatch, and the more of them you perform standing versus seated, the better the effect.

Have fun!


Want To Put All Fit-Fit Chances on Your Side?

July 2016

Here you go. Several mini ideas which, when added up and pursued daily over an extended period of time, will result in additional weight loss, muscle toning, general well-being, increased energy levels, endurance and way more happiness than you can imagine. If you follow these, you will have energy to fly to the moon and back, twice! ;-)

1) Do not diet. Eat well and organic. Nurture yourself and never starve. You should never-ever feel hungry. Eat clean, i.e. no heavy sauces, mayo, half-and-half and other empty calories, processed crap. Steer towards lean proteins, healthy, wild fish, seafood, organic chicken, eggs and any ~loin piece of meat (ex., sirloin). If you are vegetarian or vegan, think beans and tempeh. Add lots of lean veggies and some fruits (especially high water content fruits, like watermelon or apples). Also, check the www for the fruits marked as low glycemic index (GI) versus high GI fruits. You want the low GI fruits, if available.

2) Increase your protein consumption daily, even before your workouts. "Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport" published a study indicating an additional 185 calorie loss over 24 hours if you eat lots of proteins before you exercise.

3) Work on increasing your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (ex., salmon).

4) Use spices, turmeric, ginger and hot peppers, not salt.

5) Balanced approach works the best: increase your activity levels and watch what you eat. The pounds will melt and you will also add healthy muscle which, in turn, burns more calories per day even as you sit around and flip the TV channels.

6) Donate your TV set to a charity of choice. I did it 14 years ago and have been happy and lean ever after.

7) Do not slave away for an hour of steady work on the "dreadmill". Do shorter, but intense bursts of activity with multiple breaks. This method is called "HIIT" (High Intensity Interval Training). An especially tough and cruel form of HIIT is called "Tabata" and it takes only four minutes of your life - you might want to Google it and even try it. Survival rate is high enough to give it a shot. Please note that "high intensity" might mean a 200 yard sprint at 120% of your heart rate or a 50 yard long walk. To each their own.

8) Drink. Possibly plain water, sparkly water or water with a lemon or lime wedge, not alcohol. ;-) Green tea contains the fat-reducing catechins, so have some of that, as well.

9) You've got my blessing to have your java in the morning, especially before the workout. It helps with your energy levels, endurance and focus while you exercise. Invariably, it also helps to shake us back to reality when we start daydreaming at our respective desks at 3PM.

10) Drink milk - it is proven to help in fat metabolizing. Did I mention drink milk and not half and half? ;-)

11) Do not fall victim of the Sitting Disease. Seriously, it is now medically recognized. Even if you exercise at one point during the day, but spend the rest of it at your desk, you, basically, negate any benefit gained from that one-time-a-day activity. We have to move regularly through the day, every single day. If you have hard time remembering about it and you still do not feel like moving around every now and then naturally, I would advise you set an alarm on your phone. Let it ring at least every 45 minutes and commit to some stretches, wall push-ups, squats or even jumping jacks the moment the device shakes you back to the Fit-Fit reality.

12) Run (or walk) stairs: at home, at your office, and, if you have no stairs, sign up for training with me. To get to my Studio, which is located upstairs, you have to climb stairs. Some trainees call them affectionately "Stairway to Heaven", while others refer to them as the "Stairway to Hell". Your call.

13) Alternatively, hit the hills and mountains. Cathedral Rock climb, anyone?

14) If you have no medical/skeletal/bone issues, do some plyometric training. It can be as simple as jumping out of joy or rope skipping, or as complicated as chaining yourself down to a special heavy platform I hide at my Studio and jumping up against the resistance of the cords which are there to hold you in place and grounded. Plyometric exercises also improve our chances of never-ever having to deal with the bone density issues, such as osteoporosis or osteopenia.

15) See your friends and loved ones often. That will assure that you will (plyometrically) jump out of joy frequently enough.

16) Lift weights. It is that simple. (No, you will not turn into a monster-looking, steroid-enhanced animal freak overnite. I have been intensely weight lifting since I was 18 and I still look decent enough).

17) In case you do not have an eternity to spend at your favorite gym, choose wisely. Go for compound movements versus any exercise which would isolate one muscle or two. Leg press, chest press and pull-up are way better than a biceps curl.

18) Have sex. It burns tons of calories and it is fun!

19) P.S. Sugar is poison. In any form. Steer clear.


Salty Subject

July 2016

Salt, especially the salt we add to our foods, which does not occur in them naturally, is the culprit of many health-related problems, such as cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, bloating and water retention.

So, how can we reduce our consumption of salt?

First, remove the salt shaker off the table.

Second, while cooking, add less and less of salt to your culinary creations. Just like you can acquire a "sweet tooth", you can lose the "salty tooth". In general, while cooking, rather under-salt than over-salt your meals. You can always add a pinch more later on, but you cannot remove it if it is already in your food.

Third, replace salt with other flavored stuff, such as spices, roots, citrus, vinegar, herbs and even wine. Wary of the commercially-prepared spice mixtures. Always check the label. The main ingredient of some of the above is, actually. salt! Use pepper, chili powder, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, curry, garlic, poppy seeds. As for the herbs, enhance the taste of your food with basil, dill, bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, saffron, or thyme.

Fourth, use low-sodium products (such as low-sodium soy sauce for sushi, which will save you hundreds of mg of sodium, instead of the regular one).

Fifth, use healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts and good oils - all of these would add flavor to your foods, therefore reducing the need for salt.

Sixth, sear, roast and sauté, which definitely boosts flavor.

Seventh, watch out for the salt (and sugar) contents in your bread.

And not related to the topic but worth mentioning: Especially here in Arizona, use iodized salt. We do not have enough of iodine in the air and using iodized salt will only make our thyroid glands jump with joy!


It Should Be Fun!

May 2016

Let's make sure that fitness-related activities you engage in are fun for you. That last part of the previous sentence, "for you", is very important. Playing tennis might be fun for me, but if you are not good at it or simply dislike this activity, you will do your best to simply not do it. You will go ways to avoid it, blaming either the lack of time, somewhat windy conditions, or the fact that you'd rather play singles or doubles, while the option which you prefer is not available right now and right here.

Making fitness fun will make it easier for you to work it into your daily routine. Create a list of three to five activities, which involve you moving around to an extent and which you relatively (or totally) enjoy. This way, you might, actually, start looking forward to your next fitness endeavor.

It does not need to be anything well-structured or anything what would involve locking you up in the steel-filled dungeon of a formal gym. Be open-minded and think along the lines: a fun bike ride, perhaps? Hating the traffic and not too cozy with the passing cars while on the bike? What about trail biking? Not that adventurous? What about taking your dog on a long walk or hike? Having a cat, not a dog? What about promising your four-legged furry friend to chase them around the house three times a day for five minutes? Doable, right? Your grandkid owning that lovely trampoline? Go for it and jump your heart off! Your cardio will get challenged and the impact of trampoline jumping is still a good impact, but safe enough and fun.

Weave motion-related activities into each and every day. One of my beloved clients simply walks and walks those aisles of the Safeway store - not that she has so much to buy there, but she enjoys to walk and the support of the cart gives her the reassurance she will not fall - what a great idea!

If we create negative associations with the act of exercising or moving around, they will only make it harder for us to do it. Think positively: how moving around can be fun, how you can make it fun specifically for you, which activities would be more doable than not and which ones you would stick to: both while you busy yourself with other daily tasks or do them purposefully. Exercising can be fun once we start thinking of it in the "fun" terms!



April 2016

I cannot stress enough how important it is to be compassionate when you help others on their path to wellness, health and fitness. People come to you, oftentimes as a "last resort", after years of struggling with either some medical problems or weight issues or nutritional habits. It is extremely hard for them to book that first date with the fitness professional, come to the meeting, sit down, open up right away and pour out all the worries, problems and stress, as they see the person for the first time in their life.

I must admit that I get lots of comments about how "compassionate" I am, how helpful this quality is to my new clients, and how much easier it makes it for them to open up. I always truly appreciate these comments, because they mean I am right on the target. It is how I want to sound and appear to my new clients; compassionate and understanding.

On multiple occasions, what helps out is the moment when I can relate to their weight loss struggles, when I pull out one of the two "pictures-on -duty" I have in the drawer of my desk at the Studio. The pictures show yours truly at the age of 18 years old and at the weight of 181 pounds, solid. Before I lost all that (what took me a while, as well). This is the moment when my new clients instantly reconnect and know that I was there, too, and I know how it feels and I am very compassionate about the whole situation. Relating is so important, not only in the fitness business.

What most of my new clients do not realize is that feeling compassionate makes me feel way better, too. Feeling stressed? Ah, just help another soul! Tell them how nice their sweater is, how lovely a smile they sport, or help that elderly gentlemen with the walker to get over the curb. Instant gratification of feeling better! The person who was "helped out" also feels better and, most likely, contagiously continues with the 'feel-good" attitude through their day. Also, when you meet someone at the grocery shop, simply wish them to have a lovely day - you do not even have to spell that loud, just wish them the best silently, in your head. Believe me, little things like that make such a huge difference in the daily lives of all of us!


Aww, The Roads You Will Go!

March 2016

Last weekend, I was privileged to participate in the ultramarathon, organized in the Monument Valley.

I would like to share with you a few thoughts and observations, which came to my mind as I was running this wonderful event.

First of all, I had been feeling really blessed to be able to train to my full potential before that race. I realize that health, well-being and a relative lack of injuries is never granted. Yes, I had been stretching and cross-training and applying my due vigilance to the training methods over those months. Still, things always can go wrong, and, thanks God, they had not.

So, I felt very happy to be able to be where I was to do what I was about to do, run my 31 miles. Through the most remote parts of the Monument valley, normally out-of-reach for the tourists. Ankle-deep in sand. So what? Hard? Yes. Well, what does not kill us, makes us stronger, right?  Very true.

Second, I was thrilled to observe all ranges of age at the starting (and the finish) line: from teenagers to people in their late 60s. All smiling, eager to go, easy-going, flower child-like, relaxed and awaiting the great race day with thrill and anticipation. Positive and smiling people for whom some sand in the shoes is not a problem, who would remove their respective shoes at the finish line and who would with certain proudness compare the toe nail losses. Who would run into one of our Navajo guides on the horse thanking him for allowing us to run this sacred land, and then mumble to themselves: "Run or whatever we call THIS"! Who would be joyously spitting the inhaled sand until one week after the race.

Third: It all would have simply not be possible without the wonderful volunteers. This is why I always make a point to stop and thank every one of them during my races. We were blessed with the wonderful Three Sisters aid station. After every ten miles or so, we would all invariably land in that fabulous place, full of happy volunteers, greeting you like you just came from the moon or at least Pluto. Then, one of them would jump in front of you and ask what you need and help out with everything, from filling the water bladder to handing you SIMPLY THE BEST, steamy-hot Navajo taco! Not to say, there were many other goodies to pick up, but once I set my eyes on the Navajo taco, that was it. Plus some mouton stew, for a good measure. The Three Sisters (and other) volunteers had a long shift to work: we started our run at 7AM. I was, personally, done 8hrs and 10 minutes later, but there were folks running well into their thirteen tour.

Why? Ah, because we were blessed to be allowed to "run"/scramble on top of the Mitchell Mesa at the very end of the race. You know, at about Mile 23, you have to go all the way up onto that mesa (when you arrive into the Monument Valley, it is the huge one to your right, to the right from the View Hotel, as well). Then, we run one mile on top of it to a check point, staffed by yet another kind Navajo man-on-duty, then we run back and down (mostly on our tush.). Then, another 8 miles and we were home! So, it took forever.

So, the aid station volunteers, and the ones who "swiped" the course after the last runner, had a very long day at work.

Fourth: What about the effort of the race organizers? In our case, it was the Grand Circle Trail Series. They are a relatively young group, but very well organized. They descended on the Valley the day before the event and meticulously set it all in place: from the start line and the confidence ribbons to the medical tent and they even commissioned an artist to paint local Monument Valley landscape on their white truck for the duration of the event. The organizer met with all of us in person and was available both before and after the race, handing us our trophies - in this case, lovely Monument Valley mugs. Hand-painted and hand-made by the Navajo.

It was one of those weekends I will never forget. And it would not have been possible without my meticulous training, commitment to running even on the "ugly weather" or "I don't feel like it" days, without the volunteers and the organizers, and without the smiles and encouraging words of the other participants. Last but not least, it'd not have been possible and not the same without our daughter Amaya, who woke up with us at 5AM to cheer on us at the starting line and was right there at the finish line eight hours later, snapping pictures of yours truly and asking me if I want to lean on her on my way from the Finish line to the hotel.

A big thanks to all of you!


You Have an Upper Paw!

March 2016

So, you have been diagnosed with a big one. It might be diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, dementia or a prolapsing bladder.

Please remember that you have the disease, but it does not have you. You are in charge here and can steer yourself on the path to at least a relative comfort, functionality and well-being.

In my daily practice, I meet many people who come in and, at first, seem quite resigned to their respective diagnoses. They explain me what is wrong with them and what medication they take for the condition. They mention which movements they are NOT supposed to do, and most of the times when I ask why, they are not sure - the doctor told them so. For example, lots and lots of people are, apparently, told not to squat. So, my question in answer to that is: "So, how do you sit on the toilet?". For this or that reason, they are or feel they are prohibited from doing quite a lot of daily, functional movements. Most of them are prescribed pills, as per standard protocol to address the given condition. No one discusses with them the WHYs: Why did I get this disease? Why am I prescribed this particular medication and why no one speaks with me about any alternative approach? What can I do to, perhaps, get better by addressing it at its origin, instead of relying for the rest of my li fe on prescription drugs?

The prolapsing bladders are held by a mesh and other devices and no one asks the question, WHY are they prolapsing? Is it, perhaps, due to the weak pelvic floor? Can anything be done to strengthen that area rather than rely on the supporting rings of increasing sizes?

This leads them to a situation when, at one point or another, they realize that they cannot and do not want to live like this anymore and they come to see me or other wellness specialists for some alternative solutions.

How do I personally look at each and every case? I see the client with their set of conditions and ask many intake questions to be sure how they ended up suffering from what bothers them at present. In the case of the above-mentioned prolapsing organs, it can be a result of multiple pregnancies or weak pelvic floor due to an abdominal surgery. From my point of view, inserting a supportive mesh might help hold things in place, but it does not address the origin of the problem. The client is in discomfort, especially while seated, the doctor keeps inserting larger and larger supporting devices in order to keep things together. a catch 22. What about approaching it from another point of view: that of strengthening the pelvic floor, of rebalancing it? If we build a nice muscle in the pelvic floor, that floor is going to do the job it is designed by nature to do and it will start holding the bladder and other organs in place. It will take our pelvis and other abdominal muscles mon ths, but, eventually, they will strengthen and we will be able to sit straight without any soft cushion under our booty and in a relative comfort. We will be stronger and able to lift heavier objects without the permanent fear of dropping our internal organs.

We can discuss each and every condition from this preventive and fitness-based point of view. There ARE alternative ways to address your respective health problems. Even as you keep using the prescription drugs, inserted meshes and focus on not doing a single squat a day, yes, you can work on your problem by addressing its origin. Many diseases can be helped by specific exercises (ex., lots of functional training in case of MS or working on movement patterns and copying what you just did with your left hand on the right side in case of dementia, and so on). Investing in this kind of specific training is not any waste of money. You are investing in your future health, comfort and well-being and, as a result, you will save big on your future medical bills. Isn't it better, safer and easier to take that walk, grab a few dumbbells or attend a Pilates class twice a week than sponsoring your own surgery?


Healthy Asian Cooking

February 2016

You asked, we deliver! Here goes (text only) of the presentation on Healthy Asian Cooking, which took place at the Be Fit Fit Studio on January 27th. I hope it is inspiring, happy (Asian) cooking!

1) A note about Asian restaurants:

Avoid the temptation of Asian restaurants, take-outs and preferably even ready-made sauces (Tandoori, Vindaloo, curry sauces, etc.). While tempting, the food comes with loads of salt, sugar and conservation agents.

Example: P. F. Chang Hot & Sour Soup (bowl) has 7,980 mg of sodium (a 5-day allowance), and none of its soups have less than 1000 mg. We like P. F. Chang since it sponsors the Phoenix Rock'n'Roll marathon! But we never eat there.

Avoid anything described in the menu as crispy or crunchy [unless it's lettuce!] - it means that it was fried - breaded, or things looking shiny or oily.

Typically, Chinese Cuisine is loaded with fats and added sugars.

Japanese cuisine is generally lighter - just avoid tempura and other fried stuff when you cook or order, and pay attention to salt (even miso soup can be extremely salty) Whenever possible, replace coconut milk with Greek yoghurt (at least a part of it). You will save on calories and fat and get lots of proteins!

Make yourself: steam fish drizzled with a notch of teriyaki sauce or chicken/bell pepper/onion kabobs with a drizzle of yakitori sauce.

Also, home-made sushi are great.


Be creative with spices! Spicy foods can extend your lifespan. Scientific evidence shows they are good for heart, respiratory system and cancer prevention.


Spice mixes - beware if salt is in the mix; you can always add salt separately if you must.

I can highly recommend Penzey Spices for their creative choices of spice mixes.

Examples of spice mixes:

Salt free Bangkok blend: sweet peppers, garlic, ginger, black pepper, galangal, hot peppers, lemongrass, basil and cilantro Garam Masala (available at Whole Foods): Indian: coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg. One of few spice mixes actually used in India Other interesting options: Tandoori, vindaloo, Balti. They are versatile and can be stored up to a year without losing aroma.

Indian cuisine spices: Turmeric [its compound curcumin slows the growth of some cancers, particularly colon cancer], cumin, laksa spices (coriander, turmeric, lemongrass, galangal - experiment with them!) Some exotic flavors:

Thai flavors: lemongrass, kaffir limes, basil Ginger - great in grated form for tea, smoothies Mexican spices [not Asian but worth mentioning here]: fresh and dries chili peppers, serrano, jalapeños [great roasted on fire or on your gas stove] Shichimi Shichi-mi tōgarashi (seven-flavor chili pepper): A wonderful no-salt citrusy Japanese spice mixture containing seven ingredients: Coarsely ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient) - Ground sansho ("Japanese pepper") - Roasted orange peel - Black sesame seed white sesame seed - Hemp seed - Ground ginger - Nori or aonori (seaweed) (Excellent for soups, chicken, no salt - Penzeys does not have it, so buy online from elsewhere)

3) Sample Healthy Recipes:

A) Thai Curry with Shrimp and Kale:


6 ounces of dried rice noodles / rice / kelp noodles / quinoa

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/3 cup chopped green onions

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups matchstick-cut carrots

1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock

1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk

6 cups packed chopped Lacinato kale (about 1/2 bunch) (or regular kale or even chard)

1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon grated lime rind

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

B) Indian Dahl Soup:


1. Prepare rice / noodles separately. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions, garlic, and ginger; sauté 1 minute. Stir in curry paste; sauté 30 seconds. Add carrots, chicken stock, and coconut milk, stirring well to combine; bring to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes.

3. Fold in kale; sprinkle with salt. Cook 3 minutes or until kale is wilted and tender. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from heat; top with cilantro, lime rind, and juice. Serve over rice noodles.

[Lends itself to countless combinations - red/yellow curry instead of green, chicken or even tofu/tempeh instead of shrimp]


It Did Not Happen Overnight!

January 2016

OK, so, you are growing inpatient because, despite the New Year's resolution, your weight seems not to bulge down much. Worry not, the weight gain did not happen overnight. It took you months and years, plus this past November and December (jointly and joyously referred to as "the Holiday Season"), to arrive at the starting line of this year's resolutions.

Average American gains several pounds over the Holidays Apart from overindulgence at various end-of-the-year parties, with family, friends and coworkers, many of us also run out of time to exercise. So, sensing the general lack of vigilance, the end-of-the-year pounds jumped on the occasion to land in our so-called "muffin tops".

Therefore, here we are, with our muffins of various sizes, worrying about the current state of affairs. Let's be patient, by the same giving ourselves a chance to succeed at our weight loss plot. Approach the challenge step by step and from different angles: be it the "clean" nutrition and eating, drinking lots of water, feeling satiated in a healthy way at all times, exercising and remembering to stretch and walk around a little every 45 minutes while at the computer.

Most likely, it will take us months or even up to a year to get where we really want to be. Especially if we aim at losing the weight in a healthy way, which will result in a change of habits and no yo-yo effect. Changing habits takes time, lots of time.

So, trust me, you will get there, but slowly. You know, I like very much the following quote: "If you think you cannot, you cannot, if you think you can, you can"! I believe in you.


Are You Truly Motivated?

December 2015

A question: When you think of your fitness or non-fitness goals, do you smile? Do you at least smile to yourself, you know, deep inside? You should! This is one of the best ways to tell that you are intrinsically motivated, that you are not motivated by your friends, partner, the secret wishes of your pet or by the harsh comments of your ex's grandma. When you think of, say, running that 5K in the spring, and you smile - this is a great sign. It means you want it for yourself and your wanting comes from deep inside of you, and is not the result of the whimsy daydreaming of your pal.

Now, once you get that beautiful, broad smile on your face, it is time to see how you are going to achieve your goal. Plot. Create a plan. Even if it is a secret plan. Push towards your goals daily. I understand too well the lack of motivation to get up early on December 18th to practice that one mile swim, for example. But once you have the goal, the type of goal for which you smile while thinking of it, you will do it. You will, actually, set the alarm clock for 5AM to swim before work. You will prep your googles, the cutest swimsuit and the swimming cap in your bag, along with the change of the work clothes you need for the rest of your day. You will get to the bed early in anticipation of that early rise, sleep till' the alarm really gets to your system and you will even have a prepared nutritious, healthy and full of good stuff breakfast on the kitchen countertop. You will eat it, and head out. Simply. You will get into your car, while 90% of the town population is still

asleep, and you will drive to that pool. You will stop to let an occasional javelina or a sleepy coyote pass and you will get to the Club. You will change into the swimsuit and get out, your breath steaming out of your mouth. You will plunge into the warmth of the pool waters and do your laps. You will, secretly, smile to yourself that you did it again: you set your mind on your goal, you set your clock, you prepared your clothes and all, and yes, you are in that cold water, which, comparing with your external environment seems to be warm enough to swim your morning mile. The Mile which will lead you to your future success. You will complete your mile, get out of that pool and feel chilly for the moment. You will "reward" yourself with the super-quick shower and perhaps two minutes and a half in the dry sauna, and off you go! Dress, drive to work, work, then drive back home, do more chores, take care of your family and. sleep. All with THAT secret smile on your lips, becaus e YOU know YOU did it. Again. Remember: I always cheer for you and I am so very proud of you!


Be Fit Fit Studio Presentation: How I feed the Fit-Fit GiRRRl (A hard day in the chef's life)

Due to the popular demand: Below is the text of the presentation which Jan offered last night at my Studio and lots of you missed. So, here you have lots of the questions answered re: how i eat (or not)... In the fun way. Jan cooks for us (I do the dishes!). So, he told it all from the personal Chef's perspective! We laughed all the evening long! ;-) So, here it goes (he had more of the funny pictures of yours truly, but we have to do just with one here):

Who is Magdalena?

Be Fit Fitus Musculus. A rare species originating from Europe (Only one specimen at the last count). Consists of: muscle, water, healthy fat. Requires lot of healthy food, otherwise becomes wimpish

Three ingredients of a healthy lifestyle:

Sleep - Exercise - good Nutrition

Breakfast - the most important meal of the day. What does she eat for breakfast?

Steel cut oats + chia seeds, lots of nuts, raisins, various berries (usually blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes; sometimes pomegranate, papaya, mango), plain non-fat Greek yogurt (everything organic) + cappuccino (no sugar or sweeteners)

GOOD AND BAD INGREDIENTS of her nutrition:

BAD and to be avoided:

Added sugar (and artificial sweeteners)

Anything with high glycemic index


Processed, canned, deli foods

Breads (especially white), rice, pasta

Alcohol (it is, somehow, a GOOD food twice a week, though!!!) Bad fats (anything that is solid in room temperature)


. Vegetables

. Beans

. Nuts

. Lean proteins

. Fruits

. Good fats (avocado, virgin olive oil, nuts)

. Some spices (turmeric, pepper, ginger)

Best of..

. Fruits: All berries (especially blueberries), apple, kiwi, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, grapefruit, orange, mango, guava, banana and pear (both not ripe, otherwise, their sugar content is high and Be Fit Fitus starts complaining right away)

. Veggies: kale, spinach (raw or cooked), collard greens, Swiss chard, asparagus, broccoli, bok choy, bell peppers, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, and hot peppers (serrano, habanero, etc.)

. Beans: ALL! - but especially chickpeas (garbanzo), lentils, black-eyed peas, kidney beans

. Grains and pseudo grains: Quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, barley. If rice at all, it must be wild rice

. Meats: turkey breast (no skin), chicken breast (no skin)

. Nuts: ALL! - plain, unsalted, not roasted: walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

Good sources of (lean) protein:

. Skinless chicken or turkey

. Beans and lentils (again!)

. Quinoa

. Eggs

. Fish and seafood

. Non-fat dairy (such as Greek yogurt)

. Tofu and tempeh

. Nuts and seeds

Be Fit Fitus' Lunch:

. Eggs, homemade gravlax, tofu / tempeh, quinoa, beans - for proteins

. Colorful salads, no commercial dressing - use balsamic vinegar and spices instead

. Spinach, kale, chard sautéed with garlic, ginger, turmeric with no or minimal oil

. Chicken soup: chicken breast, mixed vegetables, spices, beans (favorites: garbanzo, kidney beans, peas, lentils). No added salt. I use minimal amounts of low sodium broth.

. No bread or minimal amount of Pumpernickel, Genesis/Ezekiel breads - sprouted grain breads). Two bites at the most.

. Spread ripe avocado instead of butter/cream cheese/mayonnaise

. Dinner preparation - [two kinds of proteins, mixed with the cooked veggies before serving, salad with nuts, sometimes tomatoes, celery, dill or grated feta]

. Dinner cooking - onions, celery, tomatoes, beans, fresh spices (basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.)

The final result: A happy and satiated Be Fit Fitus. She claims she is never hungry. And yes, I can say she eats a lot.

Some alternatives - Time-saving options, such as: Cooking in bulk - Freezing

1) Squash soup: slice squash/pumpkin in 4, remove the seeds, cook with skin, cool, flesh out meat, process in a blender with a small amount of water, reheat, and refrigerate/freeze the rest. Be Fit Fitus eats it as is, but you can add flavor with fresh coriander, fresh dill, freshly grated ginger or turmeric, curry powder, or even stock / bullion cubes (watch for the salt!). No sour cream or grated cheddar, unless you want to offend Be Fit Fitus deeply and personally!

2) Beet salad: Cook red beets whole, cool, peel, grate; I usually add horseradish or ginger for flavor.

Traveling be Fit Fitus:

Hint: Use a cooler, wise choices, and a bit of indulgence go a long way

Addicted To The White Death?

October 2015

White death comes in an array of colors. And I am not talking about an avalanche. The topic of today's blog is sugar. It hides in most of the food "products." Pretty much, the more colorful and crazy-looking the package of your "food" item is, the better the chances it contains lots of sugar.

Sugar also lurks in items which are perceived by us as healthy, such as yogurts with "fruit" on the bottom. Check their levels of sugar on the label against the same size container containing their "plain" counterpart. We'd be all better off just having plain yogurt, possibly Greek (for the amount of proteins it has versus the other yoghurts) and sweeten up this fare by adding some fruits and berries (which would also help you get some fiber). Well, the manufacturers figured it out: we are too "busy" to buy a yoghurt, then look for some fruits, then mix them up together. Conveniently, they have it ready for us. And the total product tastes great (because, well,

it is. one sugar!), makes you feel good about your food choices (because, ah, it is a yoghurt, after all, and also it says "with fruit on the bottom", so it just must be healthy) and fuels the pockets of the manufacturers like a well-oiled machine.

So, when I talk about sugar, I, actually, make a point that added sugar is really bad (such as the one you might be adding to your morning coffee). However, the sugars which are in hiding within the "food products" can be even worse, because not many of us are aware it is there. Tell me, when the last time you thought of your pasta sauce containing tons of sugar? Didn't you have your latest pasta dish under the auspice of the "healthy Mediterranean cooking", rather than seeing it as sugar in your sauce and processed carbs in form of your pasta, and so on? And it all adds up: sugars naturally occurring in fruits, sugars in cereals, bread, juices, salad dressings and marinades. In America, every day, we eat several times the WHO's recommended maximum daily amount of sugars.

Which, inevitably, sets up for further sugary consumption, as we simply become addicted to the "sugar high", just like drug users get addicted to their narcotic of choice. As the sugar bomb flows into our bloodstream and system, the pancreas is shocked and reacts outside of its normal action and reaction range. In a few words, whacking it out of its peaceful existence inevitably brings on the sugar high, followed by a sugar crash. Some of us even fall asleep after a sugary meal or snack, just to wake up tired and confused, with sort of a sugary hangover.

Exposing ourselves to lots of sugar makes us also resistant to our usual "dose" of sugar per day. We crave that sugar rush, therefore, we amp the amount of sugar we eat, so we can get there and feel it again - just like in the case of alcohol or drug addiction. There is, actually, quite a research comparing the sugar high to other types of "highs". Of course, eating more sugar results in weight gain and sugar-related diseases, such as diabetes.

So, which type of sugar is "good" for us? Well, we should be definitely looking into having it the way Mother Nature created it - not in any boxes, but in form of fruits. A fruit is a perfect bundle, containing some sugar, but also lots of other nutrients and fibers to lessen the impact sugar has on our body. Once we eat, say, a blackberry, we get some sugar, but also many other nutrients, really needed by our bodies.

E-mail me at if you want us to discuss further the methods and strategies which you might successfully implement in your daily life in order to win the war against the white death.


The Mighty PSSS...

October 2015

Psoas. A well-hidden core muscle. Not many of us heard of it. Protected by layers and layers of other body tissues and organs and hard to access. Well-hidden and silent. But mighty. We, actually, have one major and one minor psoas on each side of our body, but for the purpose of this blog, I will just refer to the major one as the psoas anyway, the minor one is on its way to extinction, give it a few million years more. It is not doing much anyway and it feels totally overwhelmed by the major psoas in there.

So, what is the mighty major psoas? It is a big core muscle, which attaches to the 12th thoracic vertebrae, every single lumbar vertebrae and then runs into the femur bone.

By the way, it sort of runs through your pelvic area, so you better take care of it if you have any issues at this level. The psoas is the only muscle which attaches the swinging leg to our bodies! Important. Isn't it?

It is strong enough and we cannot make it much stronger. How can we improve the psoas' life, mood and chances? Actually, by relaxing it. There are many ways to relax that ever-and over-stressed muscle. Starting from the constructive rest position, a very valid exercise where it seems we are doing absolutely nothing. However, we are working hard on. relaxing our psoas! And through some simple bent leg "hugs" and bridges to several more complicated positions. Making sure to out that warm, moist towel or bean bag on the psoas area once we are done, or before all that exercise. Warm and moist relaxes the psoas, so it does not tense up, does not pull the other muscles which attach close by, and does not get dehydrated. A happy psoas is a hydrated psoas. A happy psoas is a relaxed psoas. A happy psoas lets you move freely, using those legs to walk without pain, using the core for the balance, and so on. It is vital and crucial to our health and well-being.

E-mail me if you want us to run a Happy-Psoas Session, OK? Your trunk and leg muscles will thank you for this. Plus, it is a truly relaxing session, you won't even notice the time passing by! Let's have some psoas fun together!


Think Of The Payoffs!

September 2015

In need of some motivation to stick your head from under that cozy blankie at 6AM to head out for the gym?

Think of the payoffs! And not any non-specific, good-for-all-of-us payoffs, such as: "We get stronger if we slave to the gym twice a week". Think specifically about you and what you can get out of your training. Think how the exercise you are about to perform will translate into the better,s tronger you when you need it.

OK, enough of abstract blah-blah. Example: You are a skier. Every year, on multiple occasions, you visit our local Snowbowl and once a winter, you go for a full week of white powder paradise to Colorado. And your dream is not to feel that the highlight of each and every of these outings is that full-sodium fare soup you get at the skiing shack. You dream of, actually, effortlessly (or as close to effortlessly as possible) gliding down the slopes, feeling the good burn in your leg, core and arm muscles, feeling flexible, healthy and 1005 oxygenated. You dream of feeling good.

So, what does it have in common with that dreadful feeling at 6AM when your bones simply refuse to get a grip and get outta that bed?

A lot. Believe me, things will get easier if and when you manage to convince yourself that vigorously exercising six times a week will result in that wonderful, yet distant, great feeling on the Colorado slopes. You want to toss in some planning, too. So, the evening "before", always have a plan what you are going to do, in terms of the exercise, the following morning. Prepare the right clothes. Go for aerobic activity (preferably outdoors), weight, balance, and flexibility training daily. Target somehow the muscles you will need the most for your particular carrot activity, dangling at the end of the stick. In case of the skiing, it might be lots of exercises focused on the legs, specifically the quadriceps, quite a core workout (maybe a Pilates session or two to address that?) and strong biceps. Yes, actually, you do need strong arms and biceps to ski! Remember that last time on the slope when, as a result of you holding the skiing poles, your biceps started aching well before your legs? Also plan to address the flexibility, so you feel ready and flexible when hitting the slopes.

Good luck!


Is It Any Fit-Fit?

September 2015

Do you feel stagnated, not moving forward? Even if you do dutifully put in your gym time every Mon, Wed and Fri, and on the alternating days, you take that hike?

Maybe you need something more challenging?

Isn't the fitness all about non-stagnation?

What can you do next?

What do you want to do which you have not done yet?

Going out of our comfort zone, anyone?

I guarantee, stepping that hard step out of your cozy place WILL bring you that much closer to your goals, both fitness- and other-wise.

Go for it, I do know you can do it!

Stay Fit-Fit, as always!



August 2015

Oftentimes, I am asked which type of applications and electronic devices I am using at present.

The bad news is that I am somewhat electronically- and device-challenged, meaning that I only use these devices when I really must. And when I use them, I bet I do it at 10% of their potential, having not discovered all the cool stuff they can offer to me! The array and the vastness of possibilities simply scare me. Oh, well, it must be personal, because then, our 12-year-old daughter comes and claims it is all SOOO EASY to navigate!

My point of view (and the lame excuse not to go too wired) is that instead of watching TV, I better go out and exercise. Instead of letting my computer know what I ate and see if it is happy with my daily consumption, I just eat healthy. To the best of my knowledge.

After all, we should have an upper paw over the devices! You'd not believe how many times I get into the discussion that this or that person is REALLY going to start their walking program, but only upon the reception of their newest pedometer/watch/tracking device. Which is either not ordered by that person yet, or on the backorder, or on its way, but the UPS delivered the product to Kansas, nor Arizona. So, tough luck, no walking for now, until the infamous pedometer arrives to let us know how much we walk. Only then, we REALLY will beat all the records and we will REALLY go for it!

In terms of the applications, as far as I am aware, there are quite lots of choices to track both your exercise habits and the nutrition. You might check the HealthyOut application, or the Fooducate one. Also, visit or Fitness can be relatively easily tracked with the help of, for example, MyFitnessPal.

I'd just suggest, don't postpone starting your good eating or exercise habits until you become an expert at tracking it all by your devices. The app should be of help to you and you should not feel obliged to "report" to it. I have seen cases where a person let it go for a day or two and intentionally did not record the data from these two days, so it does not "look" bad on the app. Who are we kidding here? Or, the person would eat poorly "because" they did not have access to their app, so they felt it was OK to indulge.

Personally, I do not use any applications. I do use, however, two heart monitor watches, one by Garmin (920XT) and one by Polar (V800). I use them to maintain a reasonable load of training, not to overtrain, and mainly to monitor my heart rates and distances while I train. But if I forget to charge them or forget to wear them, I still train without them, to the best of my capabilities. In such a situation, I simply go by the 'feeling". I just refuse to become too dependent on these devices.

A few months ago, I read somewhere that at the elite level of running, some athletes would, actually, not use the watch from time to time. It teaches them to tune in with their bodies at a different level and to experience how one mile of run at this or that approximate pace "feels." I found it to be quite an interesting, fresh and valuable thing to do in today's world, which is excessively computer-obsessed.


Let's Get Suspended!

July 2015

In some circumstances, it is actually beneficial to get suspended! I am talking here about the current trend of exercising with so-called body suspension systems. The most popular of these is called TRX® and its basic part consists of a solid strap with loops to accommodate feet and two handles for the hands at the respective ends of it. You can hook it up over a bar, a tree, and even at the upper part of the door frame. TRX® and similar systems are readily available for purchase and they are very light, versatile, and easy to carry with you when you travel. They also take minimal space in the suitcase. Originally, the system was invented by an Army member while in Afghanistan: with limited supplies, that man managed to come up with a brilliant training system, benefiting the whole body.

I personally love to work with just the body weight. It is heavy enough to constitute a challenge and make us stronger, more agile, powerful and ready to endure it all! With the addition of a suspension system, the body weight training takes on a whole new dimension. Depending on your position, for ex., how close or far you stand from the TRX hook-up spot, the same exercise can be easy or very demanding. Then, there is that additional benefit of instability, which the suspension system creates. Typically, at one point or another, your muscles will start shaking while training with the system. It is a 'good" shake, meaning that the smaller, stabilizing muscles we were barely aware of kick in to support the bigger muscles we typically use. This results in us becoming stronger and more balanced, with the direct benefit of fall prevention, if it is your legs which are shaking.

Also, if executed correctly, the suspension system digs deep into your abdominals and lower back muscles. While you train with the system, you desperately need these core muscles to control your posture and perform the exercises without any added momentum. Overall, the suspension system should be a part of your weekly training. Most of the gyms have it, usually hanging unsuspiciously from the wall or a bar, attached to the ceiling, or even hooked up to the upper bars of the cable machines or so. I enjoy having it at my Studio, as well, and I use it extensively with my trainees: from simple warm-up movements to suspended planks and advanced movements, such as one-leg suspended lunges or mountain climbers. TRX® is fun and easy to use, so make sure you give it a try the next time you swing by the gym! Happy trainings!


Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life

July 2015

As I was running the depths of the Grand Canyon in May, it occurred to me how perspective explains why individuals looking at the same reality can each perceive it differently.

I was descending from the North Rim, and it looked so different than when approached from the south. The same canyon, yet so different because I was seeing it from a different vantage point. It was my new reality based on a different perspective.

That experience made me reflect on how our journey to fitness, weight loss and healthy eating can be seen as either a very burdensome process full of obstacles or taken head-on with optimism, self-belief, self-respect, excitement and anticipation of the results. It all depends on us and our choice to see the given task from the positive point of view, which can make our journey that much easier.

Focus on fun

Instead of complaining about the cost of a gym membership or a personal training session, see them as the first step toward a major savings later in life.

Becoming fitter and stronger will help make you healthier and may translate to lower health-care related costs in the future. I'd rather spend my money and time on training today than on hospital bills down the road.

Moreover, look at it from the perspective of what you can do to become fitter and healthier without much of a financial investment: walk, jog, run, hike, bike or swim.

You can also do an unlimited number of body-weight exercises at home: jumping jacks, squats, lunges, planks and wall or floor push-ups.

You can participate in community classes or sign up for a personal training session to learn your way around the gym and get the most out of your membership.

It's the same with eating habits. Eighty percent of our fitness is made in the kitchen. In order to get fit, you decide to go for the dreaded D-word and go on a diet.

Those of you who read me regularly know I passionately hate the notion of any diet. It implies restriction and general unhappiness until the day we've had enough, give up on it and go back to the familiar pre-diet status quo of burritos and sodas.

However, if you choose to perceive eating as a process where you are building a stronger, healthier body for yourself, you'll have a much better chance at succeeding.

It all depends on your point of view. Choose to see what you have been perceiving as obstacles on your path to fitness and health as opportunities to become healthier.

It's a win-win!


Lower your (bad) cholesterol levels with these foods

June 2015

If you suffer from increased levels of the LDL (bad) cholesterol, listen up. You can positively influence its levels within several months by consuming more foods containing lots of soluble fibers. You can get this fiber, for example, from celery, carrots, pears, apples, oranges, beans, peas, barley, oats, almonds, and whole grains. These foods diminish insulin resistance and act similarly to the statins, by blocking the assimilation of bad fats. Naturally, these foods do not contain much fats and are filling, so we do not feel hungry for a while after eating them. Moreover, they promote healthy digestion - their bulk makes the gastrointestinal system working hard. It is especially the case of non-soluble fibers, which simply remain that much longer in our GI tract!

At the next physical, make sure to ask your doctor to check your cholesterol levels. And do not get scared if your results are not ideal: you do have enough of control to improve the numbers you're your nutrition and by exercising.

Optimal LDL cholesterol level is anything less than 100, while the desirable magic number for the total cholesterol is less than 200. There is only one type of cholesterol which is 'god" and of which you'd rather have more than less: the HDL cholesterol, which prevents the blockage of arteries. You want to have its levels at 60 or more.

The Labels I Want And Don't Want To See

June 2015

So, we walk into a "natural" store. Or, into as "natural", "wholesome", "organic" and, generally, "beaming-with-health" store as it gets in the given area. And many of us assume that all products which the "as-natural-as-it-gets" store sells are, well. natural and good for us.

Unfortunately, this is not so.

First: Look at the labels. Look for the famous "9". If the long number on the sticker with the code starts with a "9", it means the product is indeed organic. Typically, the stores (even the "natural" ones) would blend lots of produce and other products, whose label number do not start with a "9". They mix these conventional products in hopes we do not notice that they are not that organic, healthy and "natural" (whatever this word means.) and we will purchase them. They are even recommendations to display these conventional items much more in our face than the organic fare they are famous and paid for. At the same time, these stores tend to have their prices for conventional food fares established much higher than any regular supermarket. So, with help of our lack of attention, lack of knowledge or lack of reading glasses and a magnifying glass to read these numbers, the stores aim at selling us the exact fare we do not really want to buy, or which we can get cheaper elsewhe re!

So, be aware of this situation and always check that the item you buy is indeed organic.

Second: Make sure the foods labeled with cool-sounding "GMO-free", "natural" or "gluten-free" labels do not contain other ingredients, which you'd rather stay away from. Oftentimes, the marketers would target the given group of population by saying what it wants to hear. Say, they would cheerfully label a naturally gluten-free product as. "100% gluten-free!" This note will bring full attention of any gluten-intolerant customer to this new great product, which, hey, is gluten-free! In their restless pursuit of getting our attention, the marketers will not mention in big letters on the front label that the manufacturers "enhanced" the given gluten-free product with lots of sugar or fat to compensate for the taste (which is, oftentimes, the case of any "gluten-free" fare). Or, the manufacturer would follow the suggestion of their marketing department and place the "No added hormones" label on their. chicken (while they simply are not allowed to use hormones while raising poultry !). So, the consumer thinks they are buying the healthiest fare, while, in reality, it is not so! It is. just a regular chicken.

Third: Let's put our attention to the example of the word "natural". This term is not regulated by the FDA. So, we all can claim something is "natural", because this word has no meaning to the FDA. So, FDA will not prevent manufacturers from using the term, which they do not care about, while the health-inclined consumer thinks that they do themselves a huge favor by buying the product, labeled as "natural" (therefore, having the connotation of "healthy"). Please beware of many other nonsensical and meaningless labels, such as "More than organic", "Antibiotic-free", "Free-range" or "Beyond organic" - they are not regulated and are used to make you buy the given food even if it is not really what you think it is!

The GMO label: Only in Vermont there is a law to plaster GMO labels on the foods which underwent genetic modifications. So, in most of the U.S., the absence of this sort of a label does not mean that the product has not been genetically modified.

If you want to avoid genetic alterations, look for two other labels (sticking them on the product means, indeed, that GMO have not been used): The "USDA ORGANIC" and the "Non-GMO Project Verified" labels. THESE ARE THE TWO LABELS YOU REALLY WANT TO HAVE ON YOUR FOOD ITEMS. Aim at finding the "USDA 100% organic" or "Made with organic" labels (meaning, respectively, that the food product is 95% + and 70%+ organic - not really 100%, but as close as it gets.). Also, visit the local Farmers Markets. Local farmers are - oftentimes - operating on a small scale. They cannot afford the US FDA organic labelling, even if they are compliant. Moreover, their products are fresher and spend less time in transport to reach you. Typically, at a market, you meet the farmer who actually grows the food you are about to eat. So, you can and should ask questions how they do what they do.

Always look at the back label of the given product (if you end up buying products that have such a label) - as you know, I always promote cooking from scratch, using the whole foods which "contain" only themselves, such as "an USDA Organic avocado"). The back label reveals much more about the given food item than the front one, which is designed to get us excited about the product and to make us buy it.

Good luck with this maze! Please keep yourself well-informed about the labels. This can only help you to make good and healthy food shopping decisions. Stay Fit-Fit!


The Mommy's Day Reflections

May 2015

Why is it so important to me that my daughter likes to exercise? And, by "exercising", I mean both activities, structured around the gyms, studios, and soccer and other fields, and the games and other active pursuits, which she likes while not even realizing that she is working out (such as trampoline jumping or running with the dog).

Well, the gains of moving around and living the fit lifestyle early on are exponential. The active lifestyle becomes her habit. It becomes something she is used to do daily. She does not even realize how much energy and willingness some of us, adults, have to put into convincing ourselves to exercise. Daily commute to school by bike makes her a natural to use the same means of transportation when I ask her to run to the store and get some milk. In the future, she might be less dependent on her car to go to work or to the shop.

If Mom and Dad virtually run while running errands, our daughter might copy this behavior and do the same. We are known for occasionally running about 20 miles round-trip from our home to the Walgreens. Not to mention oftentimes running to the post office, my Studio, or the grocery store. She knows about it and is proud that we are able and willing to do it.

She knows that being fit means we are healthy, strong, outgoing, and that we eat really well. Making sure to know how important it is to sufficiently nurture our bodies might make her not buy into any so-called "diets", which unnecessarily deprive us of this or that nutrient. Being fit already makes her oscillate around the like-minded healthy young people. Socializing with them is her training for the future PR, wherever it will happen: on the tennis course or during that local mud race.

Fit friends know the work they put into their respective practices, respecting each other that much more. They are aware that staying fit is, to the extent, hard work, and then, lots of fun, as well.

Being routinely active contributes to her great health now and fares really well in this field for the future. The emotional aspect is important, as well. Our daughter's self-esteem soars after a great Swim team practice. And she feels really proud of the Nutcracker performances she delivers yearly. As a benefit of the substantial daily dose of exercise, all the "good" hormones stay at high levels in her body, making her feel able, capable and happy.

Let's make sure to set a great fitness example for our little ones. They would benefit from it both immediately and later on in their life.


How to get the flavor without using too much salt?

April 2015

Excessive sodium (salt) intake is blamed for high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, water retention, and it contributes to the weight gain.

We can make our foods yummy and full of flavor even while not using any added salt at all.

First, let's appreciate the natural flavors of the food fares we eat.

Second, if it is not enough and your taste buds crave more, consider adding pepper, fresh herbs (such as basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, thyme, mint, etc.), or, in case the fresh ones are not available, try dried herbs (such as curry or cumin).

Third, you might want to consider healthy and full of flavor garlic or even shallots!

I, personally, always steer away from the commercially-prepared BBQ or "herb" mixes. You never really know what do they contain and, in most cases, the first and main ingredient listed is. the salt we are trying to avoid!


How Blessed We Are!

April 2015

I always start my day with a moment of reflection: how blessed I am to wake up, be healthy, and feel strong and energetic. How great it feels to be me, to be where I am and to be at the point in my life I enjoy right now. I am 45 and I feel so blessed and happy about my life now!

I do not take things for granted and, I guess, this is why I am able to appreciate the present moment so much. I was not an example of health and fitness while a kid. Nowadays, I am much healthier than in the past and I enjoy all the energy I did not have back then. I have known many people, including my family members, being sick, disabled, suffering, and even anxious about the day-to-day survival and making meet the financial ends. All the situational stress creating a huge burden, landing directly on their shoulders. And imagine experiencing all these daily worries if you are not in great health (as the direct result of the circumstances endured)! They went through a lot: wars, both domestic and international, martial state, Iron Curtain woes, and so on. All this left a huge impact on their health and well-being, oftentimes shortening their lives and robbing them of the retirement years.

The first 18 years of my life, until I left Poland, I was behind the Iron Curtain, as well. Back in Poland, where healthy food was not available or granted, you had to queue for bread as of 4 AM. Well before the time the stores were open. So we did not miss our chance to get some basic food. If the bread got delivered to the particular shop where you were queuing, and if they had enough of it so that by the time it was your turn, there was still a loaf on the shelf, you could exchange a governmental coupon and some monies for it. If not, tough luck. Sugar, meat, chocolate, and coffee, even cigarettes: you could get them sometimes, and in exchange for the specific coupons, which all Poles used to receive monthly. So, we ate haphazardly what was available and when it was available. Environment was highly polluted and people were resigned and depressed. I suffered from heavy asthma and constant spells of bronchitis or pneumonia and wore the shoes of my mother. The shoes were three sizes too large, with cotton balls between my toes and their tip to fill the empty space. I hated not having my own shoes which we could not afford, as my foot was ever-growing. We never knew what the so-called 'tomorrow" would bring. Many families suffered from repressions and persecution of the state. People felt powerless and had no control over their own fates. By the way, the institution of fitness gyms and spas was non-existent -I saw a real gym for the first time when I left the country. Not the best recipe for great health, good mood, fitness and bright future.

So, I guess, it is very easy for me now to be happy and appreciate it all! I just hope that all of us feel, at least to some extent, how privileged we are to live in this great, free country, have a choice of eating healthy, exercising for health and well-being, taking care of ourselves, spending our time on some work, some fun and some travel! Please reflect for a moment how blessed we are. It will only make you feel good. And, perhaps, say a "thank you" each and every morning, for just. being who you are and where you are, and for having all these choices around us!Most Read

Have A Spicy Weekend!

April 2015

As the weekend approaches, I figured it out you might be about to cook something really, really, but really yummy!!! Take into account the healthiest spices out there which you do want to use in your creations: rosemary, cinnamon, curry powder, oregano, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and cumin. Now, I do have a so-so history with both cinnamon and rosemary: I used not to like any of them. Now, I start being VERY OK with rosemary (mostly thanks to my Better Half, who prepares food in here, while I've got the part of the dishwasher!), and I do consume some cinnamon just because it is good for me... But tastes differ, so you might find it totally OK and, actually, a great piece of news that cinnamon is very good for us! Just make sure not to use it on top of a double-full-fat-latte-with-fat-fat-fat-milk and you shall be just fine! Stay Fit-Fit and well and have a fabulous weekend! M.


Dinner Is Served!

March 2015

I am often being asked about the yummy recipes we use at our home. Below is one of the salmon dinner recipes we use:

Place wild (this is the name for the most "organic" salmons we can get) salmon fillets in a pan with a bit of water, fresh or frozen vegetable mix, season with your favorite seasonings, perhaps pepper and lemon juice or a half of crushed low-sodium Knorr broth cube or curry power if you like it and simmer until done. Or, alternatively, put it on a griddle/grill sprinkling with pepper and lemon juice, finely chopped cilantro on top of it works very well too. Do not overcook. You might need to sprinkle both recipes additionally with some salt. We do not do it for me, but the above version is really mild in taste. You can serve it with quinoa, burglar, and a fresh salad with minimal olive oil and vinegar, or lime or lemon again. Enjoy!


Sleep Tight!

February 2015

With the Holiday Season in the past and all of us moving into the New Year, desperately attempting to stick to our respective New Year's resolutions, sleep might be the last on our list. We are back to work, back to school, back to the daily routine and back to our respective training schedules. In case we did not have yet any training schedules for this year a week ago, the chances are, now we do - as a result of the resolutions we make around January the 1st... So, just a quick note: don't get lost in all that craziness and do get some rest. As you might know, personally, I do quite a lot of triathlons and in our sport, sleep and recovery is called "the fourth discipline" (after the swimming/biking/running part). It is treated as an equally important aspect of preparation for the next race. Apparently, it is the best to sleep between 7 and 9 hours a day. The researchers are not yet sure why, but any longer sleep does not translate into anything that

would benefit our bodies. They speculate that it might be because people who sleep too long often suffer from some chronic diseases or depression. They are not well; therefore, they sleep longer, but do not tend to profit from all that slumber time. If we sleep any shorter than 7 hours a day, we cause havoc in the hormone levels in our bodies. Stress hormones and hunger hormones skyrocket, causing us to overeat (possibly on so-called "comfort food" the next day. We have less energy and cannot focus well, which results in a skipped workout of the day or a poor workout, without any focus on the performed exercises. The body is in need of rest and simply cannot work on building healthy, lean body tissue or burning fat in any effective way. So, take all of the above into consideration and... Sleep tight!


Eat Your Way To Health!

January 2015

Why do you still eat food which is not good for you?

We are very well aware that packaged, processed foods, full of chemicals, colorants, strange multi-syllabic names of mysterious ingredients and lurking additives are not real food and, most likely, are actually harmful to your health. Even some foods with the heart healthy label cannot be compared to the benefits of real food. Real food is fresh, unprocessed and, most likely, bought either in the grocery aisle or at the local Farmer's Market. Usually, it can go bad quite quickly. Food which is bad for you cannot. Good food often consists on one ingredient: itself and you won't find a never-ending list of suspiciously-ingredients on it.

Now, challenge yourself for the next 10 days to eat exclusively good food. I bet you can muster not eating packaged bars and snacks, candies, baked stuff. cakes, sugar, maple and any other types of syrups, bread, crackers, chips, ready-to-reheat lunches, dinners and breakfasts from the frozen section, and anything which contains several ingredients or more! I do not mean you should go on any diet. In fact, I pretty much hate the word "diet" itself and always stress that it is nutrition, not diet. We want to nurture our bodies to feel good, not diet ourselves to the point of almost fainting! So, feel free to indulge in organic vegetables and fruits (watch out for the sugar content in the fruits, though!), salmon, tilapia, tuna and sardines, lean meat, skinless, bone-less chicken breasts, tons of eggs and/or egg whites, seeds and nuts (of course! Those of you who have been reading me for a while know well that I "go nuts!" daily.).

Try scrambled egg whites or eggs with kale, spinach and bell peppers for your breakfast. Or go for steel-cut oats, which you pre-soak overnight, just heat them up before serving for a minute, add a couple of spoons of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, and top with a variety of berries and grapes. Yummmm!!!! Ban breakfast sausages, bacon, pre-packed cereals, grains, bars and syrupy pancakes! These are not real, good food. If you do not eat your lunch at home, prepare a lunch box for yourself. Make sure there are some tomatoes, dark greens, lean chicken breasts or a slice of lean turkey or fish in your lunch box. For dinner, again, go organic and go lean: chicken, lean meat, whose name possibly ends in "loin", (like, for example, in "sirloin"), grilled fish, any kind of beans for their protein content, quinoa, wild rice, dark green salad, containing some kale, spinach and arugula, asparagus, broccoli, bok choi, cauliflower. Healthy options are endless! On top of all that yummy food challenge, add some regular exercise to your day, and you'll rock your abs of steel in a matter of weeks! Stay Fit-Fit!


Let's get it right from the beginning of the day!

January 2015

Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. What you eat and how much you eat in the early hours sets the tone for the rest of the day. And yes, you should, indeed, eat a breakfast like a king.

First things first: never skip a breakfast. You do not want to "diet" or starve through the day, you want to nurture your body, virtually build the "bricks" which create your body and make it stronger. Which means, you have to fuel your body's cells appropriately for all the hard work they are doing!

Moreover, if you skip a breakfast, or eat not enough at this time of the day, you will "crash' later on. Most likely, by reaching for a doughnut during that 3PM meeting at work or/and inhaling a bag of chips in front of the tube in the evening.

When you eat a healthy and voluminous breakfast, your body will not 'think" it is starving at any point of the day. Therefore, it will not hold on to every and each calorie you get through the day, which results in even more of a fatty tissue stored and even a slower metabolism. In other words, the body will not "think" that the end of the world and some major starvation is near. It will metabolize nutrients you eat at its own pace, much quicker than if the starvation is "imminent". This will result in you burning more calories through the metabolic process alone, even while watching the TV!

So, what should you eat for a good breakfast? Well, the rules are the same as for the rest of the day: eat "clean". No processed foods, no white breads/muffins, no sugars. With the exception, put a particular attention to eating lots and lots of proteins (to feel satiated through the day and to build the lean muscle mass) and lots of healthy and fibrous carbs, either from veggies or fruits. Eat low-fat, but perhaps steer away from any "0% fat" fares: these are, typically, overloaded with sugar (just to compensate for the lack of taste which a "no-fat" fare would normally suffer from). 1% or 2% Greek yogurt is the best (Greek because it has more proteins than any other type of yogurt, which is due to the way the companies produce it). Sprinkle it with some healthy fats (nuts, seeds: but they have to be plain, not roasted, not salted). Add berries, grapes, slices of kiwi or orange on top. If you feel OK about it, add some half scoop of protein powder. And voila, you have a grea t breakfast!

Another option: Eggs are great, again because they have so much proteins. They are a natural, non-processed source of good stuff for us. So, hard-boiled, sunny side up, scrambled (use milk or unsweetened apple sauce instead of oil), 1-minute eggs. All are great choices. If you scramble them, add kale, spinach, bell peppers. The more colors you get on the plate, the better! Just make sure not to have any bacon or ham - they are full of chemicals and fats, even if the label says "natural".

Otherwise, you might want to have some steel-cut oats (the digestive system works harder to digest the steel-cuts, if you compare with how easy it is for it to digest the round oats). Forget commercial oats, go to the bulk section and start from there. Also, cottage cheese, anyone? It is another great source of proteins and calcium. You can also add your protein powder into it, if you wish, it mixes well.

Have fun, stay Fit-Fit and full in a clean way and keep me posted how you are doing!


A Strong Start!

December 30, 2015

We all want to improve our speed and strength - plyometric exercises can be very handy here! Do not start any of these without making sure your GP is OK with it and without a few months of strength and aerobic training. Plyometrics tend to become intensive very quickly and, due to their explosive nature, it is easy to get injured.

Always make sure to warm up properly before doing any plyometric exercises. Never warm up with static stretches, where you hold the stretched position for a while. Warm up with either a jog or 10 min. on the rowing machine, or dynamic stretches (such as marathoner's legs, single knee tucks to the chest, butt kicks, and so on). Typically, plyo exercises do not take you long time anyway, because they are so tiring, so you might invest all that time into a solid warm-up. You might do them once or maximally twice a week or intercept your weight training session with some of them: do them between weight lifting sets instead of resting, you'll get even fitter - fast! Progress from low to high intensity and do not use any weight or wrist ankles for this type of movement. Beginners should aim at about 80-100 ground contacts during a typical session, while the intermediate exercisers will aim at 100-120 and advanced - 120 to 140.

Plyometrics will get you out of breath very quickly and also, they will make you feel that muscle burn super quick. This is the kind of discomfort you want to achieve, but if anything aches in a sharp way, stop, as this will lead to an injury.

Plyometrics are great for the prevention of bone loss as we age - each impact movement makes our bones that much stronger! Also, they quickly contribute to increased power, speed and strength, as well as coordination. Perform them quickly. The simplest example of a plyo movement is rope jumping. You might also try squat jumps, vertical jumps, lateral jumps, burpees, jumps over a box or cone, depth jumps, or front or side jumps onto a plyometric box (or a step). If it is too challenging to start from jumps onto a box, then work on jumping from the box down! Land on soft knees: The lower you squat following the landing, the better the workout (you will feel it in your quadriceps and gluteal muscles, I promise!). Also, try 'froggy jumps", i.e. squat in place and, from that immobile position, jump as far in front of you as you possibly can! Repeat 20 times! Jogging and running is also a form of plyometric exercise: you have to move your legs relatively fast, and each step is, act ually, a one-leg jump! For the upper body, you may want to try the following plyo challenges, using a sand bell or a medicine ball: squat throws, overhead throws, side throws, throws to the back over your head, slams of the ball onto the ground with a simultaneous deep squat, one -arm overhead throws, or even plyo push-ups (hands over the ground [tougher] or over a box [easier]. Once you master these, place your feet on a plyo box and perform plyo push-ups with your hands over the ground - this is a real challenge!

Aim at completing 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps of every exercise you choose to do and in between the sets, rest plenty (or do your weight training).


Be Fit Fit! -- 'Tis the Season - Relax!

December 2014

It all starts around the Thanksgiving time and, well, does not end until a few days after the New Year. Season parties, sometimes two a night, all the frenzy of gift-buying, sending the cards - be it by the snail mail or in their electronic version - while trying to manage our usual daily lives and duties. Our days have not enough of hours, our nutrition slacks and the first thing to "go" and not happen is your daily visit to the gym or your daily walk.

A recipe for physical and mental disaster.

Did you know that the stress hormones, which peak when we stress and also, as a result of sleepless nights, can contribute to the expanding waistlines? They have this sneaky way of working in a way that, in January, as a result, we wake up and notice this additional muffin top which was not there in November! Apart from the weight issue, stress contributes to heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, back pains, migraines, headaches, cancer, diabetes and, generally, weakens our immune systems big time.

Time to get an upper hand over this mess!

First things first: Make sure you get 7-8 hours of the shut eye every single night. Don't drink coffee in the afternoon hours and try not to drink alcohol, as well - typically, when we drink, we feel relaxed and might fall asleep, but after that first cycle of sleep, lasting about 90 minutes, we will wake up and lie and toss from right to left, not being able to fall asleep again. This is a case of a secondary insomnia, triggered by our body's response to metabolizing the alcohol and its by-products. You might try some relaxation techniques before going to bed, or have a few drops of lavender essential oil diffused in your bedroom. Make sure the bedroom is quiet, quite cold (this promotes good sleep) and do not watch TV or use electronics for about one hour before your bed time: the light of the screen might cause you having trouble relaxing and fall asleep. Try meditation instead. Some 15 minutes just before your bed time should do the trick.

Second: Nurture yourself. I know, easy said, while in reality, you have to run from one party to another and simply cannot walk in there and. refuse to eat! Make sure you eat really well while things are in your hands, i.e. at your home or at work. Prepare lunch box for the office to minimize the damage. Before any party, drink two glasses of water or, even better, have a glass and a small healthy snack. This way, you won't be ravenous once arriving at the party. If it is not a buffet, but a seated affair, eat little, comment how you really, but really love the dish and ask the Hostess to give you some more to bring home with you - somehow, you are not too hungry now. It will make the Hosts happy that you like the dish and you will relax as you won't feel obliged to eat all that turkey.

Third: Prioritize, be it in terms of which party you go to, where you shop for the gifts, and also, in terms of keeping that daily appointment with yourself to exercise. It is your time and you deserve it and your body will thank you for it by being healthy and fit for years to come! You even might want to mark your walk or gym time in the calendar, just like any other "obligation" or appointment of the day, and stick to it.

Fourth: Smile! And smile often! Approach things from the positive point of view. See the good things about any situation you are in and try to minimize the negatives. Just this should make you more relaxed!

Good luck and have a great Holiday Season!


Be Fit Fit! So, you want to lose 10 pounds!

November 22, 2014

What to do? Well, notwithstanding the Holiday Season, there is plenty you can do to achieve your goal. You just need to allow yourself some time for implementing the first couple of changes and make sure you do not lose more than 1-2 pounds per week. Any faster than that, and your weight might be back sooner than later! If you "shed" fast, you do not build healthy life habits, you do not change your daily actions for a time long enough to imprint the new way of acting as your "usual" from now on.

To lose about one pound a week, you just need to create a 500 calorie deficit every single day of the week. You can do it in two ways: by exercising and/or making better food choices. The best approach is to combine both of them: making sure you burn some additional calories each day by simply walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, playing out with the kids, and weight lifting at your local gym or with a trainer, and also eating "cleaner", leaner and meaner foods. Sometimes, a little change such as abandoning your soda-drinking habit can result in a loss of many pounds over the year! Many Americans drink literally hundreds of calories, due to the "soda habit". Drink water, sparkly water with lemon, or 1%-2% milk, but, please, give up that soda! Apart from all the calories it contains, it is also full of chemicals 9all these ingredients which are hard to pronounce). You might try to say, well, I will drink a zero calories soda from now on. I'd not do that, either; the sw eeteners used in these are so sweet that they challenge and permanently change your taste! This is why today's kids do not taste the sweetness of an orange, their taste buds are used to so incredibly sweet taste that nothing natural would do!

Also, you might want to try to eat that breakfast, after all. I know, many of you would say that you do not even 'feel" like eating in the morning, or perhaps this is the meal which is the easiest to skip during the day - in the afternoon, temptations are too many! Well, if we do not front-load with food for the day (so to speak), we will crash and be hungry and attack that vending machine later on. Surely enough. We will also make worse food choices, because we will be hungry. If we happen to shop for food, we will load the cart with many unnecessary and fattening items, because we will be on the "hungry edge". So, make sure you do eat breakfast every day and that you eat lots of proteins for your breakfast. They make us feel satiated for much longer than the carbs or fats, and they also tend to be good food choices, lean and healthy. Think along the lines of scrambled eggs with kale or spinach or Greek yoghurt or milk, maybe even with some protein powder in it. I personally

eat about 5 times a day, sometimes 6. As a result, I am never hungry and I feel energetic and happy. I'd eat some healthy fare every 3 hours or so, just to make sure my metabolism keeps churning. Now, I am aware there are nutritionists who say we should, actually, eat three times a day, point. And then, there are those who promote the way I eat. You have to see what works for you, there is no simple, single answer for all of us. What makes you eat healthy and feeling energetic is the right answer for you.

Keep some notes regarding what (and how much) you eat. We all tend to underestimate the calories ingested, especially if they come in form of a drink. Somehow, the more fluid the food is, the more we think of it in terms of a low-caloric fare- while that margarita can and will set you back by 500 calories plus!

Then, there are little things that, if applied religiously, will add up and result in weight loss. For example, did you know that spicy foods tend to burn more calories? So, go ahead and have some jalapenos and pepper in your food, because hot peppers can burn an additional 20 calories while being digested.

And, in case you head for that party tonight, gulp one-two glasses of water before you open your door, this will make you feel fuller and more satiated and will reduce your chances at overeating. Some people also say that they succeed by simply having a healthy snack before they go out, so they don't jump on the buffet table like a mad dog on a mission.

Just be consistent and never-ever give up! In no time, the pounds will start melting, no matter that it is the Season of eating and partying and indulging to the brim! Good luck!


Be Fit Fit! Stay on the Fit Holidays Track!

November 2014

So, we all sort of start feelin' this pre-Holiday rush. Soon, it will be one party here, another there, two over the same weekend. And all this can easily result in pounds accumulating all over our bodies! We can do many things to stop them from creeping on our (Fit-Fit) physiques.

First, it is all in planning. Bring your own food to the parties! Prepare a clean, lean and mean food item, bring it in and eat it!

Second, at the buffets, make sure you scan all the food available, and only then hit the few (lucky) items you really, but really want/must/need to eat. Research says this' the method to eat the least and the healthiest at any buffet! I also use this method while on the cruises: scanning the buffet for the best food available, then hitting these hot (and, usually and unfortunately, not busy) spots!

Third, DRINK! And I am talkin' water here! Drink water before and during the party. Ask for sparky water with lemon instead of the booze. Or get one glass of wine and flush it with two glasses of water. Your waistline and your hangover will thank you for this.

Fourth, think STRATEGY in case you are visiting with an uncooperative member of your family or an ever-sitting-and-eating friend. Warn them in advance you will get out and walk/run/visit the local gym daily, even on the Holidays days, because you simply have this urge and you must. Basically, what it is, you become unbearably grumpy if you don't, so it is indeed in their own interest to let you go. Just for a while, and you will be back, even happier and. healthier!

Fifth: Even for those of you stuck in the guest bedrooms or basement rooms of your relatives, who refuse to train: Think along the terms of the "body weight exercises". You have your body, which normally weighs anywhere between 115 and 250 pounds, right? So, USE IT! Planks, squats, back, front, side lunges, push-ups, burpees, pull-ups on the un-expecting-anything doors of the bedroom you are stuck in - all this, you can do without the equipment! Also, position yourself under a solid table, any table, hands on its edge, face up, legs straight for the advanced and at 90 degrees for the beginners, and pull up towards that table! See if it is really solid!!! ;-) Then, if you travel to your relatives, you have to have some luggage with you, right? So, USE it! Do back rows and swings using it! Take a bottle full of water and do deltoid exercises, extending those hands in front of you for 12 times, then to the sides. Opportunities are endless.

Sixth: Over the whole year, pray a lot that the family/friends you are visiting with do own a dog (or at least a horse or a donkey). So, if you are lucky enough that they do own a dog, walk them. Tell them how much you love this particular animal and how much you desire to be a part of making them happy, daily! Walk them with purpose, try to challenge the creature so they are also out of breath, their waistlines might depend on you! ;-)

Seventh: Do not overindulge. If you do, just start calmly over the very next mornin'.

Happy and Fit-Fit Holiday Season to you! Keep me posted how you are doin'!


Be Fit Fit! Berry-Go-Round!

October 2014

Today I was at the natural store checking out my items and the cash register girl commented on the great amount of various berries I buy and how much they must be costing me.

Surely, berries are not the necessity and our survival is definitely not based on them. However, they are so nutritious and healthy that I have been buying really lots of them year after year. If they are truly not in season, then, worst to worst, I get them frozen. I do spend lots of monies on them, but I think they are really worth it, as they contribute to the health of my whole family big time.

First of all, it is very important to buy them organic, possibly from a local source, such as a Farmers' Market. They are small, we eat them in a whole, with the skin, and any residual pesticides and other horrible chemicals would easily get on them into our bodies. By eating organic, we assure berries' only ingredients are themselves, not a non-pronounceable list which would make a chemical factory proud.

Second, why should we eat them, after all? Well, they are yummy, they are full of stuff preventing us from getting sick and also, they contribute to a healthy weight loss. They burst with antioxidants, phytochemicals, which play a major role in preventing the cell damage, and flavonoids. They taste sweet, but are full of fiber, so this is, actually, the type of sweetness you want to eat. They won't spike your sugar levels as candy would.

The "Neurology" and "Annals of Neurology" journals published some data indicating how consumption of berries diminishes the risk of suffering from Parkinson's disease by 25% and how the anthocyanidins in them slow down the cognitive deterioration. Cranberries in particular seem to help with prevention of urinary tract infections. All berries are also anti-inflammatory and seem to help in prevention of cardiac diseases, high blood pressure, colon cancers and make us feel full, thanks to the fiber content.

Go for a rainbow of colors - like in the case of veggies, the more colorful your plate, the more benefits to your health. Eat them non-processed, fresh and without any added sugars or whipped cream. They are tasty and sweet enough!


Magdalena is the owner of the Be Fit Fit Personal Training Studio ( and the Top 3% Chairman’s Board Realtor® at the Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International in Sedona. Visit her “Be Fit Fit” blog at