Saturday, October 31, 2009

Keeping Workouts Fun - Halloween Style

Happy Halloween Everyone!

One of the things that keeps me motivated to stay in shape is not just because I want to fit into that latest pair of designer jeans, but because I want to have fun! What better time of year to do that than during Halloween when we all get to dress up and be someone we're not (or wish we could be). Every year, our surf club, Blackie's Classics in Newport Beach hosts the annual "Surf in Your Costume" Halloween Bash.

Now I know that not all of you have access to the ocean, but if you do, give surfing a try. It is a phenomenal upper body workout, it works your abs and of course, tests your balance. Plus, if you're a female, like me, you get to check out all the cute guys in their wetsuits. That's how I met my surfer boy husband. Every year for the Halloween event, we dress up in some type of matching costume. This year, we decided that he would be the butler and I would be the upstairs maid. I talked him into wearing his real tuxedo. Here's how the conversation went: "But I spent hundreds of dollars on that tuxedo" to which I replied "How many times have you worn it, and how many more times will you wear it? Now's your chance!" Another one of my pearls of wisdom: Don't save the good china and special occasion "stuff". Today is the day!

Today is the day to get in shape! And next time you are in Newport Beach on Halloween, come join us for the Halloween Bash. I promise you a great time. And you might even get to meet King Neptune!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tarahumara Endurance Diet On Two Bucks a Day

Since I finished reading the book Born To Run which I reviewed in my last post, I have had a hankering for Mexican food!

I am fascinated by what makes the Tarahumara such amazing Super Athletes. Witness the following:

Many Americans will be killed by heart disease, stroke, and gastrointestinal cancers. Almost none of the Tarahumara will.


When it comes to the top 10 health risks facing Americans, the Tarahumara are practically immortal. Their incidence rate is at or near zero in just about every category, including diabetes, vascular disease, and colorectal cancer. Age seems to have no effect on them either. The Tarahumara runner who won the 1993 Leadville ultramarathon was 55 years old. Plus, their supernatural invulnerability isn't just limited to their bodies; the Tarahumara have mastered the secret of happiness as well, in a world free of theft, murder, suicide, and cruelty.

In reading the book, I was enthralled and salivating over their typical daily diet and decided to give it a try. And today, I'm going to share it with you. The best part about it? It's cheap!

The mainstay of the Tarahumara is corn but they also eat squash, beans and chili. Pinole, a fine powder of toasted corn is the most common food. Meat is rarely eaten but on special occasions they eat goat, mice and fish.

I went down to my local Ralph's grocery store, shopping list in hand:

Pinto Beans 1 lb: 1.29

1 onion: .74

corn tortillas: 1.59

monterey jack cheese 8 oz: 2.49

green chili sauce 8 oz. 2.99

avocado (2) 1.49 ea

hav'a corn chips: 2.19

Total = $14.27

The meal is really easy and fun to make. The pinto beans cook in a large pot with the onion and water for about 2 hours. I love the feel of having a big pot simmering on the stove. It always makes me feel cozy and warm.

The corn tortillas can either be served with the beans as is or you can fry them in some safflower oil to use for tostadas. I did both.

The avocados were mashed up with a little spike for guacamole to be served with the corn chips.

I didn't notice monterey jack cheese as a Tarahumara staple but decided to add it to the top of the tostadas anyway topped with delicious green chili sauce. You can use red chili sauce if you prefer.

I decided to forgo the goat and mice, especially since those are typically eaten only on special occasions. Plus, our black cat, Ruby, hasn't brought me any mice lately.

When I checked the nutritional content of the food, I was struck how most of the foods are off the charts high in potassium. I'm no nutritionist, but I do know that potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the human body, responsible for keeping heart, brain, kidney, muscle tissues and other important organs of the body in good condition. It's also acts as an electrolyte, very important for endurance events. I think the Tarahumara are on to something!

So, the meal comes out to about 2.37 per person if you divide it by six. There were only two of us; Surfer Boy husband and me, enjoying dinner Tarahuma style under a stunning Southern California sunset.

And for the piece' de resistance? A bottle of heart healthy, resveratrol rich, Grgich Hills Estate Grown 2005 Cabernet Sauvignaun: 54.99 with my Ralph's Club Card.

Hey, I never promised you I'd be a cheap date. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Acai: What is it?

Now I know pretty much everyone has heard about the acai berry in the recent years, but does anyone know what it really is? I do after some research!

The acai berry is an inch-long reddish purple fruit that comes from the acai palm tree, which is native to Central and South America. It is a relative of the blueberry, the cranberry, and other dark purple fruits. Acai has become known as the number one superfood as well as one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world! One thing about acai that is so great is that it is full of antioxidants, which are essential for staying healthy. When your body needs to put up its best defense, especially true in today's environment, antioxidants are crucial to your health. This is why the acai berry is so awesome, because it has one of the highest levels of antioxidants compared to other fruits and vegetables. It actually tastes really good to! So i hope with this little bit of information i have encouraged you all to go out and try it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Book Review: Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

Hi Everyone!

It's Jen, Angela's Mom. I just finished reading a wonderful book that I highly recommend. It's called Born To Run, A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. I LOVED this book. It starts out with the authors own quest to answer the question: "Why does my foot hurt?" This question takes him deep into the Copper Canyons in Mexico where the reclusive Tarahumara Indians live. Their hobby? To run hundreds of miles in nothing more than handmade sandals for the sheer joy of it. This superhuman tribe possess uncanny health and serenity and are immune to the diseases and strife that plague our modern existence.

The book portrays a true story but it reads like an Indiana Jones novel, full of wild characters and cliffhanging action. The story climaxes with a 50 mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting Star American ultra marathon runner Scott Jurek against the top Tarahumara runner, Arnulfo Quimare. Who will win? Read and find out!

Not only did I devour this book for the quirky characters and action, but I also loved the scientific aspect. If you are a runner, do you ever get tired of well meaning folks telling you how bad running is for you? Well this book answers, once and for all, why the human body was designed, from a scientific/anthropologic aspect, to run. And not just run, but run lots of miles safely.

The book also makes a strong case for barefoot running. By the way, I am doing great on week two of my barefoot and Vibram Five Fingers hiking. My post surgery knee is progressing quite nicely and I feel my feet getting stronger due to all the stimulation they are getting!

At first I thought that I loved this book so much because I am an ultra marathon runner myself. But then I found out that it has spent many weeks on the New York Times
Best Seller List. When I went into my local bookstore to buy a copy for my running buddy Rico, the clerk told me that everyone was coming in and asking for it!

If you are looking for a great read and some inspiration to get out there and get your body in shape, Born To Run is for you. I give it five stars!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Barefoot Running & Vibram Five Fingers

Hi Everyone!

As I was discussing in my last post, it's time to reinvent myself as an ultra runner. Recovering from knee surgery has been interesting. One conclusion that I've come to is that patience is highly overrated! I am so eager to start running again but so far all I can do is walk. Much better than where I was a couple of months ago. On crutches. Back to the drawing board!

I have started doing research on running, injury prevention, anatomy etc. and here's some of what I've discovered:

The soles of your feet have millions of nerve endings which sense the pounding and stress of running and walking. Your brain and body work together to adapt to this stress by constantly adjusting your gait. This normal protective mechanism keeps you from being injured. When you cover your foot with a shoe, you interfere with this adaptive mechanism. The result is a diminished ability by the foot to adapt, with potential damage to the ligaments, fascia, cartilage or bone in not only the foot, but the leg, thigh, pelvis, knee, low back and many other areas.

Conclusion: Barefoot running is best because there is no interference with the nerves that sense your contact with the ground.

Wow! I have been running in protective trail shoes and orthotics for many years now. The only time I go barefoot is around the house because I like pretty feet. Boy, was this ever going to require a lot of pedicures. Yes, I like to get dirty on the trail, but my idea of roughing it is when room service answers on the second ring!

This week I decided to conduct an experiment of one. I started out by walking my dog, Rusty, around the neighborhood barefoot. The first thing I noticed was the feeling of excitement as my bare feet touched the warm earth. I felt like a kid again. Luckily, we live close to the beach. The beach sand feels like velvet against my feet. The second thing I noticed at the end of day one is that my feet are wimpy, wimpy, wimpy! Boy, were they sore.

But I wanted to get back on the trail and was not sure if Ms. Wimpy's feet could tolerate all the rocks and dirt. That's when I discovered the shoes I'm wearing in the picture. They are called Vibram Five Fingers. They were originally designed to keep from slipping while working on the deck of a boat and have evolved for sporting uses. The model I purchased called the KSO's (keep stuff out) are designed for trail running.

Yesterday, I met Rico at our favorite trail running spot to give them a test. We did five tough trail miles and I loved it. My toes were able to grip the rocks and trail. I could feel my posture improving. I could feel muscles, like my calves and gluteus, (we all want cute butts) working in ways they have been unaccustomed to working. By the end of the workout I was sore. So what did I do? Headed over to the 9 am Bikram Yoga class to loosen up.

I am here to tell you that I think I'm on to something. This is a great workout! I woke up this morning refreshed and yes, sore. In a good way. My legs are talking to me. I think they are saying "thank you, we've been waiting for that!"

Eventually, I would like to give the trails a try completely barefoot. Again with that patience thing! If you want to give it a try, I would recommend easing into it. Relax and have fun with it. Our feet have been so de-conditioned from wearing shoes all the time that it's going to take some time to re-condition them. I, for one, am willing to go for the ride. How about you?

(Also see my upcoming review of Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall.)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hot Yoga

Hey guys! As my mom was talking about in her last post one of our favorite work outs to do together is hot yoga, or other wise known as Bikram Yoga, named after it's inventor Bikram Choudhury. The way that it differs from your standard yoga class is that instead of just doing a series of poses, your doing a set series of 26 poses in a room heated around 95-100 degrees. Now I know what your thinking, that sounds crazy! But it really isn't as bad as it sounds :)

The reason that it is done in such intense heat is because when you sweat that much your releasing all the toxins from your body, as well as the heat warms your body up which in turn makes you more flexible. I don't know about you, but if I'm not sweating then I don't feel like I'm getting a good enough work out. With Bikram yoga sweating is'nt even a question, your pretty much sweating within moments of being in the room. You start with a simple breathing pose, then you move into the standing poses (which I find to be the more difficult poses in the series) and gradually move into the floor poses. So it's set up in a way that you do the more strenuous poses in the begging, so once you start to feel like you getting pretty tired the floor poses begin. Even though sometimes it feels like your not going to be able to finish, somehow your body pushes through and when your done you feel amazing!

I really encourage everyone to try hot yoga, it is hands down my favorite work out and defiantly the most effective method to stay in shape that I have ever tried. Most people don't really get it on the first class, so instructors encourage people to give it at least 10 tries before you decide if it's for you or not. That's about how long it takes for your body to really understand exactly how it works. Hope everyone tries it out sometime soon, Good Luck!