Monday, November 11, 2013

Shine Bright Like a Diamond

Throughout the past year, my involvement with Beachbody has afforded me the opportunity to do a good amount of traveling (which I love). I am fortunate to be a part of an amazing team of individuals who are passionate about helping people and using Beachbody as an avenue to do that. We interact with each other TONS through various forms of social media, text, and weekly calls but since we’re spread throughout the country, it’s rare to get together – when we do, it’s GREAT! As clichĂ© as it may sound, they’ve quickly become like family to me.

Success Club Conference and Celebration (Orlando, FL)
Last March, I was lucky enough to accompany Coby Linder and four other LEANation coaches to the Success Club Trip to Orlando, Florida. While there we were spoiled with a packed schedule of events, trainings, sunrise workouts with Shaun T at Epcot, a trip to Disney World and Animal Kingdom and tons of amazing opportunities to meet and learn from some of the top coaches in the company. During the time at Disney I fell deeper in love with my team, with Beachbody, and with the potential that I realized could be unlocked both from a business standpoint and with the impact I could have on people.

Coach Summit (Las Vegas, NV)
Every July, Beachbody Coaches from all over the country (and Canada) meet up for one EPIC weekend known as Coach Summit. There are training sessions led by corporate, presentations by top coaches, recognition events, workouts with ALL of the Beachbody celebrity trainers, and again TONS of opportunities to network and meet fellow coaches. I attended my first Summit in LA in 2011 where Coby Linder and I watched people’s success be recognized and he told me “I’m gonna be up on that stage.” This year, as I watched him get recognized in front of thousands of coaches, it brought a tear to my eye. I have Coby to thank for being a huge part of my journey with Beachbody for the past few years and I couldn't be more proud of the success he's achieved and the lives he's touched already. 

Ok, back to Summit.. this year it was in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand – ironically enough the same weekend as EDC so it was an interesting cross section with kids partying their faces off and getting home as we were waking up for our sunrise workouts. This year I qualified to attend a poolside White Party at Wet Republic and was invited to the Star Diamond Reception at Haakasan; both events were such a great time! Another highlight was the sunrise Super Workout that featured all of Beachbody’s celebrity trainers in one massively epic workout: Chalene Johnson, Tony Horton, Shaun T, Debbie Seibers, and Leandro Carvahlo to name a few. It was a sweaty mess of a good time! The energy at events like Summit is electric and there's no way to leave an event like that NOT super excited about the company, products, programs, and potential. 

Super Sunday (Dallas, TX)
Goodbyes are always tough with our LEANation family, because it is so rare that we see one another. We text daily, check in on facebook often, but sometimes you just need a big ol’ hug. Since we’re spread across the country, a few of us decided to travel to the epicenter of successful Beachbody coaches this September – Dallas, TX to attend Superstar Diamond Coach Christine Dwyer’s Super Sunday event. Super Saturday (or in this case Sunday) is a quarterly training event that gives an opportunity for networking, learning, and getting great information from both corporate and network leaders. We even got to try a sneak-peek P90x3 workout, which was a 30-minute butt kicker; I can’t wait to get it when it’s released in December. Coby lives in Dallas so it was fun to see him and his neighborhood, plus hang out with a couple of other CREW coaches, including its' founder: Jimmy Hays Nelson. 

Krewe de Crew Diamond Trip (New Orleans, LA)
This trip meant so much more to me than I can express. Before I tell you about all the fun… I have a lot of people to thank for making it  happen – each of my coaches who put their trust in me (let’s get you on the trip next year), Champ (for his unwavering support of my Diamond dream), Coby Linder (whose leadership and motivation I appreciate more than I can express) and of course Kelly and Jimmy Nelson (who planned a wonderful weekend and spoiled us rotten – thank you for all you do for the entire Crew, and for including me on this very exclusive trip, and especially your diamonds)

Alright, now for the trip… After what was potentially the worst travel experience of my life (overbooked connection, luggage didn’t make it to me until Sunday early morning, etc) I was met at the hotel with a huge hug and a couple tears from Jacqueline Beley. There’s no better feeling than a reunion hug and I got LOTS of those this weekend. After getting all checked in and quickly throwing myself together we were whisked away to an amazing party at Kelly’s parents house. They prepared gumbo, etouffee, and boiled 20lbs of shrimp and enough crab to feed a small village. We got lessons on how to eat the crab, laughed, talked, and then got knowledge dropped on us by some of our FANTASTIC guests: Mick McAlister, Lauren Knight, Tommy Mygrant, and Senior VP of Global Sales Jeff Hill. If you don’t know who those people are – Google them. They’re a big effing deal in the Beachbody community. Saturday morning we crammed our hotel “fitness center” to do a T25 workout (that effectively offset the beignets, right?) before heading out on a Steamboat Lunch Cruise. The food was great, the company was better and the views were unreal. Couldn’t have asked for a more authentic New Orleans experience. Afterward, we headed to CafĂ© Du Monde and got some HOT FRESH beignets which were just as delicious as I remembered. We walked around the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street, stopping along the way to dance and enjoy the street performers. While the Star Diamond coaches enjoyed what sounded like an AMAZING dinner (I'll be there next year), we stayed around Bourbon Street and popped into a couple of places with great live music, met up with the others, and danced the night away. Flying out of Baton Rouge was not only cheaper, but gave me a great opportunityto get to know a couple of the other coaches from The Crew. Adrienne welcomed us into her gorgeous home, where her husband made us Shakeology for an afternoon snack (gotta love Beachbody coach hospitality) before heading to the airport. I am buzzing with excitement, have a laundry list of action items and hundreds of photos to remind me of the amazing times with even more amazing people.

Being a Beachbody coach gets better and better with each event, experience, and day that passes. It's changed my life physically, financially, and I'm inspiring others to do the same. I am so thankful to be a part of such a motivated team that knows how to work hard and party harder. Love all my Crew family and can't wait until next time. #deliverhope

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Meet Jimmy

Meet Jimmy (my great-grand coach). He is a 3 time college drop-out, who was drowning in debt and unhappy; he turned his life around with the help of Beachbody. His journey started with Power 90; he plugged into the Beachbody network, became a cast member on the Insanity DVDs (look for his "Good Squats") and lost 100lbs! 

He is now an Elite coach earning a six-figure income by helping others to achieve the same physical and financial transformations. He and his wife were BOTH able to retire from corporate America and be stay at home parents for their little boy, Asher. 

Jimmy is a friend and mentor who pays it forward, helping people every single day. Are you looking to be more physically or financially fit, like Jimmy? They are both within your reach, but you have to take the first step.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

T25: 70 Days, 60 Workouts, 80 Shakes, countless selfies

Ten weeks ago I made a decision, and I set a goal.

The goal: complete T25, Shaun T’s new workout program that had just been released by Beachbody.
The decision: I was going to do it by any means necessary.
As the program is written, it only calls for 25 minutes of exercise per day – I, however, decided to maintain my strength and circuit training regime and add my T25 as morning fasted cardio. This worked great for me. Do you need to do double days in order to see results with this (or any other) program? Absolutely not; but I had set a goal and I was determined to not let anything get in my way.

Were there days that I didn’t want to push play? Honestly, there wasn’t. The best part about this program was that given its short duration, it was so easy for me to self-motivate. Think about it – unless you exercise at home, you’re getting in your car to drive to the gym. You’re likely spending at least 25 minutes in the car round-trip just en route to your fitness facility. In that time, I was wrapping up my workout and floating on a cloud of pride and satisfaction (and usually swimming in a puddle of sweat). The workouts were fun, the music was great, and all of the movements were progressive and scalable. It is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with a focus on proper form and core activation. There’s lots of squatting, lunging, planks, and you practically never stand still; for all those reasons and the fact that it’s only 25 minutes: it flies by!  

During this two-month duration I also committed to putting an emphasis on proper nutrition, so that I could see the enhanced results of my training. I drank Shakeology EVERY day. In fact, I looked forward to it each morning. Not only do I think it’s incredibly delicious but I know that the small investment is paying dividends as it is providing me with my daily dose of superfood nutrition.  Over the course of the two months the way I drink it has evolved and now I prepare it as full blown brownie-batter consistency. (swoon). In addition to that, I followed a mostly plant-based diet with the inclusion of some lean proteins, greek yogurt, eggs and sheep’s milk feta. But mostly fruits, veggies, nuts, and limited grains.

I also started each morning with a scoop of Beachbody Energy & Endurance formula. While pre-workout supplements can be a hot topic among certain crowds, I have done my research and feel confident that this natural product was doing no harm to me and in fact, found evidence pointing to moderate caffeine consumption being beneficial to your health. I also know that it boosted my energy and allowed me to nail those 6:30am workouts, alone in my backyard. Would I say that it’s for everyone? No. But I do think it was a factor that helped me to achieve my goal and desired outcomes? Absolutely.

Throughout the two months, I have also focusing on trying to keep a balanced-life outlook. Did I indulge for Champ’s birthday weekend? Absolutely! Did we celebrate the following weekend with CREAM ice cream cookie sandwiches? Absolutely! Did I dwell on that and feel badly? A little (hey, I’m being honest) but then I got right back on track, worked my tail off and focused even harder. There were gains and losses along the way, but overall I ended up happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.

Yesterday I completed my final day in the ten-week cycle. I was overcome with pride and while the body recomposition that I achieved is visible proof, I feel an even greater sense of personal achievement in the fact that I pushed play everyday. And the best part? I’ve had a huge support network through the whole thing. It all started with a small group of LEANATION coaches, we each invited some people and in my own personal network, 32 people have joined our T25 Challenge Group to date. They’re seeing awesome results, and it is so inspiring to see success stories flooding our facebook group.

Just think: if you’d joined me when I started this journey, you’d already be done. But it’s never too late to commit, there are new people joining our group everyday (we’re up to 189 members). Contact me if you’re ready to start your own success story today.

Decide. Commit. Succeed. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

FitBit One (First Impression)

It's been just over a week with my new companion - my FitBit One. I haven't named it yet, but I probably should with as much time as we spend together. So far, I'm in love - it's a great little device. I found it on sale at and only paid $89 (w/ free shipping) and it came with all the things in this picture (FitBit One, case/clip, USB connector, night wrist strap, charger).

It provides me with basic activity information (steps, distance, floors climber, calories burned, and sleep) and gives the option to track additional activity as well as food and water consumed, I find it to be quite the perfect tool to keep me active and accountable.

The step counting feature is accurate as far as I can tell. My daily goal is set at 10k and most days I've been able to reach it (it doesn't hurt that I'm usually beyond 3,000 by 7am thanks to Insanity). My highest day was 15, 624! During the day, I wear the one on my waistband and only once have I changed my clothes and forgot to transfer over the lil guy.

At night, however, the One comes with a wrist band to house the FitBit while you sleep. Don't ask me how, but it tracks your sleep - how long it takes for you to fall asleep, times awakened, times in bed, and sleep efficiency. I don't get enough sleep - plain and simple. But this tracking has shown me that at least of the time I am in bed, my sleep efficiency is in the high 90% range, waking up on average about 3 times per night for no more than 3 minutes.

I think that my favorite feature of the FitBit One is the incredibly user friendly website and mobile app interfaces. While the One does have a display that toggles with a button push, it also syncs via bluetooth with my iPhone and gives me instant access to my stats and also allows me to log my activity, food, and water consumption in real time. I'm currently participating in a 30-day Challenge and one of the goals is to drink a gallon of water per day. The iPhone app allows me to easily track this with a few simple clicks.

Another thing that I love so far is the battery life - I've had it since last Tuesday and haven't charged it once. The battery is said to last between 5-7 days but I'm going on nine and trust me, I play with it constantly. However, the questions remains: When I will charge it when the time comes? because I don't want to miss out on steps OR my sleep tracking. Perhaps while I'm in the shower. If anyone has one and can give me some advice - I'll take it.

I wish there were a heart rate monitor associate with this device so I could get more accurate measures of how many calories I was actually burning during workouts, that would be rad - but for the time being, this is suiting my needs just swimmingly.

If you're looking for an activity tracker, I give this one (so far) my glowing stamp of approval. And if you already have a FitBit, we should connect - you can compare steps with your friends. (Sorry Gorman, I'm still smoking you!)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

for a few special mothers in my life...

Today is Mother's Day. One day, of the 365 in a year, that we are encouraged to appreciate, value, and shower our mothers with love. While I'm of the mindset that we should be doing this about 364 more days than prompted, I see nothing wrong with having a special day JUST for them. I was lucky enough to spend the weekend with mom, and I hope you did something special for the mother figure in your life :)

I want to take a moment to recognize and appreciate some of the fantastic mothers in my life*

Quinn Marckesano
I love Quinn for a million reasons and the way that she has risen to the challenges of motherhood are simply one in a long list. I love to see the joy that she shares with her children, and the way she includes them in her daily life. I wish I were closer to her (geographically) so that I could watch her in action, but luckily social media has allowed me to be a part of their lives.
Jennifer Kontich
Jennifer is one of those people who was born to be a mother. Not only did she handle pregnancy like a champ, but she conquered labor (with the help of her amazingly supportive husband) and is now is getting into the swing of motherhood time management. Little Danika is an absolute peach. 
Jessica Dehl
I never knew Jessica as a mom, not until we recently spent a few days with her adorable family in Oregon. She is an absolutely fabulous mother, who does what I hope to someday do - raises her kids in her own likeness. I mean, how can you compete with a toddler who comes up to Champ and I while we're doing an Insanity workout and offers us a beer? All joking aside, she's got the "mom" thing down, and I'm so glad to have reconnected. 

Kristen Varga
I've never seen someone so cut out to be a mom. Not only was she doing yoga and organizing gatherings for her husband's birthday a couple days before delivery, but she's half of a dynamic duo who is raising a girl who is flying through "firsts" and looking good in the process.
Linda Gentry
I love that I've had a few moms in my class that I've been able to form really special bonds with. Linda has not only been a mother figure to me, but I watch the amazing way that she supports her own daughters and many other children in the neighborhood. Linda is a special lady and I am lucky to have her in my life. 
Courtney Eckard
I first met Courtney when her oldest son was in my class. I was and and still am constantly in owe of the ease with which she parents four lil ones. They are some of the sweetest, well-mannered, and most fun children I know. They are a rad family and I have no doubt that someday, when I am a mother myself, I will look to her for advice and organizational tips. She rocks!
Danielle Moore
While I haven't had the pleasure of meeting lil Austin, I know that Danielle will be an absolutely fantastic mother to this adorable lil boy. Plus if it's true that it "takes a village", you've got one hell of a community behind you. Happy 1st Mother's Day! 
Aida Sued-Dominguez
Aida's daughter is currently in my Kindergarten class. While I would never admit to having favorites, Ana is arguably one of the kindest, most considerate, intelligent, and thoughtful young girls that I've had the pleasure of teaching. She is a shining reflection of the mother who has molded her to be such a wonderful little lady. I am constantly impressed by the thoughtful and creative things that Aida does for me and her children.

Sue Chiampas
I've been lucky enough to have this lovely lady in my life for the past year. She's the mother to my other half and has accepted and embraced me as part an incoming part of the family. Her work ethic, supportive demeanor, and enthusiasm are qualities that I see in her children.  I admire all the hard work she's put in to raise them, and know that she is proud of the young adults that they're growing into.  
Rose Wagenaar
This list wouldn't be complete without the woman who I place above all others. She is the absolute epitome of what I believe a mother to be. She is caring, compassionate, loving, and supportive. I could not ask for a better friend, mentor, or role model. 
* I'm sure I left some out, my apologies. I'd blame it on "mommy brain" but that's YOUR excuse, not mine.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco De 'Sanity

In a facebook message I received last week from a friend that I've lost touch with, she noted "I see how fit you are... damn. Clearly a lifestyle." This simple message really got me thinking, I HAVE made a lifestyle change - I'm no longer searching for a quick fix. I enjoy the way that this lifestyle makes me feel, and the results that I've already seen. I know that because I have found a balance in this lifestyle, I can enjoy a holiday without becoming completely derailed from my health and fitness goals. 

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, most people are planning a day of indulgence, and a year ago I was not unlike the majority of the population. This year I am spending Cinco de Mayo in a slightly different way. 

This morning when I woke up and had Insanity on my brain. Today was the first day of Month Two, a milestone that I have never reached in previous attempts. Not only was it my third Fit Test, but once that was done, the schedule called for another DVD: Max Interval Circuit (60 min). Ouch. Luckily I got to see a familiar face, Jimmy Hays Nelson, squatting his way through it with me - I love that my great-grand-coach is on the DVDs. 
Since Champ is recovering from a nasty stomach bug and subsequent severe dehydration, he wasn't able to work out with me but he was a trooper and not only came down to count every rep for me on my Fit Test but he brought his laptop and did his work while I "hopped around for an hour" doing my Max Interval Circuit. (Insert obligatory comment about not only how important a support system is, but how lucky I am to have one of the greatest in the world) Now, you may be asking yourself: did you want to get up on a Sunday morning, the Sunday morning of Cinco de Mayo nonetheless, and workout by yourself for 90 minutes? Well, yes and no. I would love it if drinking my face off, eating quesadillas and scarfing down chips and salsa yielded the same results as Insanity. But it doesn't. I know how I feel when I do both activities mentioned above and can say hands down that I feel better mentally, physically and even emotionally when I get in a daily workout. It has become something that I enjoy, even when the time required exceeds what I might want to give to it - the return is always exponential. 

As I walked down to Farmer's Market with a cup of tea in my hand, I commented to Champ that in years past that would likely have been a margarita "road soda". We walked by the crowds of people enjoying a swirl at Aqui's but instead stayed our course - shopping for fresh, seasonal, organic produce. Tonight Champ is going to make a Petrole Ceviche (using fish we purchased that was caught on Friday) while I throw together a Cucumber Guacamole. We will skip the margaritas, but you're foolish if you think we won't polish off some of our favorite Spicy Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips from Trader Joe's. Life is about balance after all. If you're looking for a way to celebrate and save a few calories, Beachbody has taken out the guess work and has compiled a list of 20 Cinco de Mayo Recipes Under 200 Calories. Try some. And if you're gonna have an alcoholic beverage, make it a "Nor Cal Margarita" which can be described to a bartender as follows: "tequila, soda water, and a sh!t ton of lime".

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, hope you wake up feeling as good as I do tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The "Booze Belly"

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I have decided to take a look back.. into the years where I was a bit "softer" and a lot less concerned about my health and fitness. This Thursday I'm throwing it all the way back to the notorious '06-'07 season. It encompassed my Junior and Senior years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and it was GREAT! I had just left a long distance relationship that had stiffled the beginning of my college "experience", I was making friends, meeting people and finally enjoying San Luis Obispo and all that it had to offer. I was doing well in school, and cherishing the weekends that I'd worked hard to earn.

I was a rare breed, someone who actually didn't drink in high school or my first two years at college. I could probably count on two hands the number of times I had alcohol before my 21st birthday (Yar will recall the infamous pink lemonade bowling incident and I still haven't lived down the great New Years debacle of 2006). Even once I turned 21, I didn't really become a "drinker" initially. It wasn't until the rest of my friends began hitting the big 2-1 later that year, that I really starting to enjoy my fair share of adult beverages. Through a series of events that I can't recall, my drink of choice somehow became a Tokyo Tea. For those of you who've never had the pleasure of consuming this variation on a Long Island, let me paint a picture: Vodka, Rum, Gin, Tequila, Triple Sec, and Midori Sour. Ouch! This incredibly potent cocktail not only was efficient and delicious, or so I convinced myself, but it also packed a caloric punch, totaling at least 250 calories per serving (something I never took into account at the time). On an average weekend night, I'd down several of those at Downtown Brew before walking to a taqueria for a late-night burrito. It's no WONDER I looked the way I did. At the time, I never thought of myself as overweight... it wasn't until I looked back at pictures recently that it even struck me how unhealthy I was. Working out was never something I enjoyed, or even thought about. Cooking consisted of quesadillas, sandwiches, or chicken breasts in my George Foreman. forward to last week....

After an 8-day vacation in the Pacific Northwest where we ate and drank all the "must haves", I noticed a change in my body. We had been walking lots, and doing Insanity in our hotel rooms, so I only gained 3 pounds - but I felt pretty crummy. My belly and love handles were prominent and I felt bloated and sluggish. After returning to a clean diet, the pounds fell back off relatively quickly, but this feeling lingered on.  This led me to come to the (somewhat obvious) realization of how much alcohol can affect my weight, performance, self image and overall health. I wanted to confirm that my "booze belly" theory was right so I turned to the trusty internet. While I don't claim to be a dieticion, doctor, or expert in any way - I thought I'd share with you what I learned because it logically made sense to me and made me want to think twice in the future. While this blog is not meant to discredit the appeal of alcohol, it IS a cautionary tale for those of us who are trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, but then derail our progress by overindulging. I believe, like all things in life, balance is the best path to a healthy lifestyle.

So here's the nitty gritty as to why alcohol can make/keep you fat. 

#1 When you consume alcohol, it's broken down into acetate (basically vinegar), which your body will burn before any other calorie that you've already consumed or stored. Therefore, you're more likely to store fat and sugar because your body is getting all of the energy it needs from the booze you just sucked down.
#2 Studies have also shown that alcohol temporarily inhibits "lipid oxidation" - the basically means that when alcohol is in your system, it's harder to burn fat that's already there.
In short: For each drink that you enjoy, you need to work it off before your body will begin to process anything else you have or will consume.

None of this is even taking into account the fact that people tend to eat about 20% more calories when they drink with a meal for a variety of reasons including fuzzier judgement (read: aforementioned late night burritos).  Habitual excessive alcohol consumption has long been linked to an increased waist-to-hip ratio (a fancy term for a beer gut), but new research shows that even infrequent binge drinking can thicken your midsection as well.

While the purpose of this blog is not to encourage temperance (cause what fun is that?), I do hope that you will give a second thought when toasting to a "drink well earned". Keep in mind that every drink enjoyed is affecting your body, and will take more than sleep to flush from your system. So don't turn it into more drinks than you can count or work off. And if you see me losing sight of this, smack me (or just the drink outta my hand).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chocolate Shakeo Almond Butter Cups

Shakeology contains more than 70 ingredients from pea protein to goji berry, chlorella to flax, sacha inchi to coconut flower nectar. It is not only a powerful accelorator for weight loss, but it can help you fight disease. I drink Shakeology every morning; it gives me energy, boosts my metabolism, improves my digestion, provides me with my daily multivitamin while tasting delicious. I recently discovered that there's an entire world of "cooking" with Shakeology.

I have to thank John Hayes for the idea to make Shakeology Peanut Butter Cups. I'm not the best at "just winging it", so I asked The Google to help me compare existing recipes and figure out ingredient proportions. Using what I already had around the house, as well as the inspiration of the research, I decided to give it a whirl. Here's my rendition (which turned out fantastic, if I do say so myself):

Chocolate Shakeology Almond Cups

2 tablespoons Virgin Coconut Oil
1 scoop (or 4 tbsp) Chocolate Shakeology
4 teaspoons Almond Butter (I used crunchy, but this is a personal preference)
4 mini cupcake liners

1. In a small microwaveable bowl, melt 2 tbsp coconut oil. (about 30 seconds)
2. Add Chocolate Shakeology and stir until mixed thoroughly.
3. In cupcake liners, pour about 1 tsp chocolate mixture, to cover the bottom of the liner.
4. Add 1 tsp almond butter to center of chocolate.
5. Pour remainder to coat the tops of each cup.
6. Place in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
7. Enjoy!

The only change I might make to the recipe is that I think it could realistically make 5 or 6 cups, which would change the nutritional values and decrease it's caloric load.  

If you try the recipe, please comment and let me know what you think. 

Contact me if you are interested in trying Shakeology

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Firefly Project: Coby Linder

Coby has been a part of my life for over a decade, but in recent years our relationship has evolved from rockstar/fan to one where I consider him not only a coach and a mentor, but a friend. When I met Coby, he was a drummer for one of my favorite bands: Say Anything. Through the wonders of AOL Instant Messager, Coby and I formed a friendship. We reconnected a few years ago over the common bond of Beachbody; we had both begun journeys to a healthier life by getting involved with Beachbody’s products and programs. I met up with Coby in LA for Coach Summit in 2011 - we sat next to one another while hearing informative and motivational talks from inspiring individuals including founder and CEO Carl Daikler. Coby was one of the first people to take a personal interest in helping me figure out how to maximize my workouts by tweaking my diet and figuring out my “why”. His passion for health and fitness was infectious and his willingness to help me, even though it benefited him in no way whatsoever, was inspiring. Years later, I am lucky enough to be working with Coby and the rest of the LEANATION team to help people find happier, healthier lives. His selfless, and genuine demeanor motivate me whenever we talk. He makes the world brighter each and everyday; he has touched many lives through various avenues and this is my small way of sharing my admiration for him. 
Coby, you make the world a brighter place.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Firefly Project: Bob Wagenaar

Papa Bob is the greatest dad on the planet - I know everyone thinks that about their own dad, but I know it to be true about mine. He is generous, caring, thoughtful, and supportive. He was blessed with three daughters, and he’s been there for each of us every step of the way. He supports all of my ventures, goals, and schemes and is first in line to celebrate my accomplishments. It means the world when he tells me he’s proud of me. He has been there for me through hardships and disappointments, and has helped me find constructive ways to deal with any obstacle that stands in my way. Papa Bob is a hard worker; he is knowledgeable about so many things and will immerse himself in things he doesn’t know, always continuing to learn. Watching the relationship he and my mom have, I’ve been blessed to see what I consider to be a fantastic marriage. I idolize their interactions and gestures and the way they support and love one another. From their dance lessons and foodie fun to their weekend getaways and household improvement projects, they have such a fun life - they are seriously the cutest! Papa Bob is not only all of these things, but he’s a phenomenal golfer and he has a pretty hefty collection of TY Beanie Babies (fun fact). In all seriousness, I couldn’t ask for a better papa. One time my dad told me that together we could make anything happen; I really believe that to be true.

My popsicle, makes the world a brighter place.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Firefly Project: Rose Wagenaar

There’s really not a way to do my mother justice, but I’ll try. She has always provided an example for me of what a loving wife, a caring mom, and a loyal friend should look like. I have always felt supported by Mama Rose, but in recent years I’ve been lucky enough to strengthen an amazing friendship with her as well. My mom has stuck with me through thick and really thin - she always finds a kind word to say or has a compassionate shoulder to cry on when I’m going through a trying time. She has a kind soul and a vibrant energy around her. Her unconditional love and unwavering support are things that I do not take for granted. She endorses and takes interest in all things that I place value on, whether professionally, personally, or in my relationship. She places a huge importance on family, and although we are sprinkled throughout the country - her consistent contact helps to keep our bond strong. She has made a huge effort to visit me in my Northern California homes, and will find any excuses to cruise up for the weekend - whether it’s an event at school or a girls weekend in Napa. Mama Rose is always up for an adventure. This past summer I got the chance to travel with her to Europe; she not only took on a huge portion of the organizing but she brought me and my sister to places that she had visited decades earlier and introduced us to family and traditions that meant the world to her. It was such a touching and memorable experience, one that I will never forget. I love my mom for a million reasons, no blog could begin to scratch the surface - but I hope to someday be as fantastic as she is in so many ways. 
As a mother, wife, coworker, and friend - you make the world a brighter place.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Firefly Project: Darrin Domingo

Darrin Domingo is a do-er. He is the kind of person who will throw himself whole-heartedly into something that he believes in (which I’m finding to be a common thread amongst my fireflies). I met Darrin when he was hired at Club One, and later had the pleasure of having him as a trainer for almost a year. A few months ago, Darrin started construction on a project that’s been a dream in development for years - his own fitness facility. While I’m sure I’ve only seen pieces of the planning and work that’ve gone into the conception and construction of Organic Fitness - I know he’s worked his tail off to create a place where fitness, nutrition, and community will all work symbiotically to help people to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Not only will it offer a well-balanced training program, but also a diet of nutrient-dense, organically-grown, sustainably-raised food (that will be available both through produce boxes and in their community garden). 

In addition to being totally ripped (not like anyone would know ‘cause he NEVER posts pics of his six-pack), Darrin has a huge heart and shares his passion for life with family, friends, and his beautiful fiance. They are a power couple if I’ve ever seen one; their enthusiasm is contagious and dedication is evident in everything they do. 
For all the people you’ve helped and the many you will impact in the future, you make the world a brighter.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why Organic?

There is widespread belief that organic food is safer, more nutritious, and tastes better than conventional food; these beliefs have fueled increased demand for organic food despite higher prices. While doing the Ultimate Reset, our goal was to remove all impurities from our bodies and thus we were encouraged to buy organic. As I live my post-reset life and create a sustainable, affordable diet, I want to know Why Organic? 

Organic produce tends to cost more than its conventional equivalent because organic farming is more labor-intensive—due in part to fewer pesticides used. Additionally, it’s expensive for farmers to maintain their organic status and those producers tend to have smaller supplies because they don’t use preservatives, causing their products to have a shorter shelf life.

Throughout my research, I found that there is certain produce that should be grown organically; it is cleverly referred to as the "dirty dozen". I found similar lists on several reputable websites. I've compiled it here, along with reasoning as to why these fruits and veggies are considered dirty - and should be purchased from certified organic sellers.

The “Dirty Dozen”

Why They’re Dirty
Due to peak consumer demand around Thanksgiving/Christmas, 75% of the crop is grown during the fall and winter, when rain and wind promote the growth of bacteria and fungal diseases. And because we eat the entire stalk, it must be sprayed repeatedly to ward off pests.
Sweet and succulent, peaches can be just as attractive to insects as to people. Farmers may spray peaches every week or two from bloom to harvest—and peach fuzz can trap pesticides.
Strawberries are not only sweet and juicy but also delicate and prone to disease, including fungal attacks that can turn them to mush during transit and storage.
Sweet-smelling and delicious, apples are susceptible to more than 30 insects and at least 10 diseases. And fungicides and other chemicals are added after picking to prevent tiny blemishes that can accumulate during storage of up to 9 months.
The berries are targets for insects such as blueberry maggots and bagworms.
Thanks to their waxy skin, they don't retain as many pesticides as peaches. On the other hand, they are more vulnerable to rot and scarring.
Bell Peppers
Unlike cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, sweet bell peppers (which are technically fruits) have no bitter compounds to serve as built-in insect repellents. They even lack the fiery taste of their cousins, the chile peppers. And the creases at their crowns may provide nooks for pesticides to accumulate
Spinach is a mere leaf that's crunched by a variety of insects, including grasshoppers. In addition, spinach tends to pull DDT residues (which remain in the earth decades after they were banned) out of the soil and into the leaf.
The outer leaves are not removed before sale, so any amount of damage will make it unmarketable. Even natural enemies of the pests that feed on kale can be considered contaminants in harvested produce, so farmers spray for all bugs, including the "good" ones.
Because cherries are a naked fruit—without peel or protection—they're vulnerable to pests such as the western cherry fruit fly. If just one of its maggots is found in a shipment, the entire load of fruit must be dumped, according to quarantine regulations, so growers spray out of fear of losing their crops.
America's number one vegetable is sprayed 5 or more times throughout the growing season to protect against various pests—and to ensure a crop of uniform shape and size for fast-food outlets and potato chip producers. After harvesting, another round of spraying occurs in the packing shed to ward off molds and sprouting.
Imported Grapes
During their long transit from the southern hemisphere, imported grapes are susceptible to Botrytis cinerea rot, which causes the fruits to split and leak. To prevent that, farmers spray aggressively with fungicides.

On the flipside there is a similiar list referred to as the "Clean Fifteen" which are usually more sheltered from pesticides and therefore if you are not prepared to go 100% Organic, this is where you could purchase non-organic produce:

onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mango, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, and sweet onions

 Regardless of the produce that you obtain, the FDA recommends washing all of it (including produce you plan to peel) under running water and drying it with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria. Be sure to even wash produce that has a tough skin—such as cantaloupe, avocado and cucumbers—as the bacteria on the outside can transfer via your knife to the flesh. The FDA suggests you scrub these and other firm fruits and vegetables with a clean produce brush.

So whether you are buying organic because it's trendy or doing it for your health - you're doing it. Good for you! Hopefully this guide will help you ease into the organic lifestyle, if you're not ready to jump in with both feet (and your paycheck). But if you really want to be sure that the food you're eating is healthy and clean, why not grow you're own....

Our planter box at the Organic Fitness Community Garden.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Firefly Project: Linda Gentry

I met Linda a few years ago, when her youngest daughter was in my Kindergarten class. Linda took “room mom” to a new level - she was helpful, supportive, and spoiled me to no end. Not only did she bring me treats from tea to pizzas, shoes to gift cards but she gave me the gift of her unwaveringly honest support in both my professional AND personal life. She brought me flowers when I got dumped, talked me through stressful life decisions and has been the voice of reason more times than I care to admit. Her contributions to the world reach far beyond the capacity I have had the pleasure of getting to know her. She is a fantastically involved parent who will do anything to help her children succeed, and a loyal wife who found the perfect man to share a life and build a family with. I look up to Linda in so many ways. Linda’s sense of humor, kind heart and unflinching honesty are qualities that I admire deeply in her. For the contributions she has made in my life and so many others, I am eternally grateful. 

Linda, you absolutely make the world a brighter place.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Firefly Project: Naoko and Adrian Ott

Today’s “firefly” is actually a pair of people - Naoko and Adrian Ott. I hate to lump them together, because independently they are both absolutely spectacular individuals, but to me they’re an entity: “Naoko and Age”. I met Adrian a few years before Naoko, yet have been lucky enough to form a strong friendship with her in the past few years. While they meld so well together, they each bring unique strengths and quirks to their relationship - but the thing I love the most is the way that they interact and highlight the best in one another. Adrian is an adventurer; just a sprinkling of his interests include camping, surfing, working on his Westie, riding his scooter, and watching marathons of “Cops” or “Campus PD”. Naoko is his perfect counterpart; she is organized, stylish, meticulous and caring. She loves to cook and entertain, plus she is always up for an adventure. She is one of the strongest and most resilient women I know, as life has not always dealt her the easiest cards but she's come through all hardship stronger and with a positive outlook. Both Adrian and Naoko place a huge value on family, and have an equally impressive support network of individuals that love and care for them (as was evident at their recent wedding). Adrian and Naoko may be married, but they haven’t let that slow down their fun - they love to go “wine drinking” (cause it’s not tasting when we do it), enjoy fine culinary experiences, and of course going out with friends. While geography makes seeing these two difficult, I value and cherish the times I do get to see them. Naoko and Adrian are amazing individuals, and an even more amazing couple and they truly bring joy to anyone who’s path they cross. 
So in a double dose, Adrian and Naoko, you make the world a brighter place.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Firefly Project: George Chiampas

Today, on his birthday, I honor a man whose heart is bigger than most. George Chiampas is the father of my first firefly, and I can definitely see in him many of the qualities that I admire so much in Chris. Since the first time I met George, he has welcomed me into his family with open arms. He and his wife are gracious, kind, and compassionate. Their genuine love for one another is visible in their interactions every occasion we spend with them. George would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need, and throws himself with full dedication to any task - from maintaining his beautiful backyard to a host of do-it-yourself home repairs. He never makes judgements and truly looks for the best in every person and situation that he encounters.

With your optimistic approach to life and endless love you give, George - you make the world a brighter place

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Firefly Project: Matt Hutchison

I met Matt while we lived across the hall from each other in the dorms at Cal Poly SLO. He was one of the few people whom I bonded with my freshman year, in fact he was even nice enough to let me borrow his gold Honda Legend to get to off-campus for a few class meetings. Matt’s path and mine reconnected 6 years ago when I took a job near Sunnyvale (his hometown); he had moved back home to pursue a career in fire/police and we reconnected with the help of Facebook. Matt came in and helped me set up my brand new classroom - he was patient and understanding, especially when I made him reconfigure an entire wall of shelves only to change my mind and have him move it back the next day. While I don’t get the opportunity to see Matt as much as I’d like, I know that he lives his life in service, not only while serving as a Public Safety Officer in Sunnyvale but in his everyday life. He is a loving husband to Katie and loyal friend. I value the times that we do spend together - annual pumpkin carving, hitting balls at the driving range, or watching Zac Efron movies (ok, so that was only once). His sense of humor can’t be overlooked and I especially value the way he will speak his mind and give his honest opinion when I’m seeking advice.

Today Matt came into my classroom to read to the kids in celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday - he did this despite having just worked a graveyard shift. That's just the kind of guy he is. He was enthusiastic and the kids absolutely loved hearing him read our favorite tongue twister Fox in Socks. I’m lucky to call Matt my friend.  

Matt, you make the world a brighter place.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Firefly Project: Jennifer Kontich

Jennifer is a friend who is constantly impressing me, both personally and professionally. While I met Jennifer down at Cal Poly, we didn’t really connect until we were both working in Santa Clara and further strengthened our friendship while going through a Masters Program together at San Jose State. On a professional level, Jennifer is a competent, dedicated, and enthusiastic teacher - she loves her job and she not only excels in the classroom, but has taken on more extra responsibilities in her years of service than most. As a graduate classmate and part of our cohort, Jennifer proved herself to be motivated, organized, and thorough - a perfect balance for an “orange” like me. I didn’t think anyone loved “To Do” lists as much as me until I met Jennifer.

On a personal level, she is an amazing friend who I feel fortunate to have in my life. Both Jennifer and her husband are an absolute blast to be around - they cut a rug harder than any married couple I know. Jennifer is active, loves the outdoors, and does a seemingly effortless job of balancing friends spread geographically throughout the greater Bay Area as well as consistently making time for her family and in-laws. Jennifer is currently pregnant with what will undoubtedly be an incredibly active little girl; she is going to make a fantastic mother. I can’t wait to have a mini version of her running around. 

Jennifer, you make the world a brighter place.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Firefly Project: Allison Gomez

Today’s firefly is a girl who inspires me with her ambition, drive, and the way she gives 110% to everything that she does. If there was a modern day, female equivalent of a “Renaissance Man” - Allison would be it. 

She is a gorgeous young lady with amazing athletic abilities who is focused and dedicated to her health and fitness. She attends group classes daily AND has made time to supplement with an extensive triathalon training program. Oh, and did I mentioned she holds down a very successful full time job in addition to all of that. In the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to also get to spend some time with her outside the training facility. She’s always up for an adventure - whether it’s carving pumpkins, driving to the city for a movie premier, or taking an art lesson at a random El Torito. Every time I hang out with Allison I find out something else she’s got up her sleeves - skiing, rockclimbing, and baking to name a few. Not only do I admire the way she throws herself into everything whole-heartedly, but I appreciate the way that she maintains a great demeanor and balances all her obligations. I am lucky to call Allison a friend, and I look forward to many more adventures with her. 
Allison, you make the world a brighter place.