Saturday, November 30, 2013


FITNESS BUCKET LIST  REVISITED...adding more items as I get more inspired. Feel free to suggest new ideas. It keeps growing and growing.  Fire Dancing classes is my newest idea, thanks to my friend Francie. Namaste'

1. Trapeze Classes at the School of Trapeze in Santa Monica

2. Synchronized swimming classes at Aqualillies in Los Angeles

3. Michael Cornell Ballet Classes at  I am doing this very soon.

4.Ballroom Latin Classes at 3rd Street Dance in Los Angeles

5. Go to Pittsburgh, work out with best friend at Melissa Bender Fitness

6. Go to San Diego, take yoga and aerial yoga with one of my best friends Tracy Gittens at Galaxy Lifestyle, Fitness, and Aerial Yoga. Grand Opening July 19, 2013.

7. Surf if I am not too afraid of sharks, lol  Ok, I have an update on this, Mike my trainer has offered to teach me when I am ready and when I can do a good push up, and I will take him up on that. He said nest summer when the water is warmer, so if James and I are still living here in Los Angeles I will conquer this.

8.Take a Tracy Anderson class in Los Angeles.

9.Some type of Yoga Retreat by the ocean.

10. Be in or on the cover of Weight Watchers Magazine. (Hey, a girl can dream and they use real people all the time). e.I am no longer going to Weight Watchers but I do it on my own so I do not know if this could be possible.

11. Do a 5K in 2014. This is in the works.

12. Practice my yoga and get into the difficult poses I am struggling with. Do inversions, backbends, and anything to do with my leg behind me. This means gaining more flexibility in my quads.

13. Do a 30 day yoga challenge, and do yoga every day for 30 days in a row.

14. Swim with dolphins, not really fitness related but is in a way. I would love to have this experience.

15. Learn Tai Chi or some sort of Martial Arts.

16. Get some sort of certifications down the line so I can pass on my new knowledge and help those who need it. Maybe volunteering for the needy.I am going to do this through ACE, The American Council of Exercise.

17. Take Fire Dancing classes at Firegroove here in Los Angeles. Francie did it and it sounds amazing, maybe a little dangerous but that makes it even more intriguing.

18. Aerial Yoga here in Los Angeles.

19. Audition for The Ole Skool Crew in 2014. They are the dancers over 40 that dance at the Sparks games at The Staple Center.

20. Take a reformer Pilates class.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Happy weekend to all, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for life, living, breathing, love, family, friends. I can go on and on.  My dinner turned out wonderful, and I cheated but not really like I planned to. Cooking took all day, and by the time I was finished I was not as interested in the food as I expected to be. I had allowed myself to be over hungry and tired and I really did not eat too much. I did not even finish my dinner, but I did have a piece of my pecan and chocolate pie. 

Today I went to Trader Joe's to stock up on some healthy essentials, so I can eat the turkey and avoid the fattening sides. I knew I needed a plan of action to get through the weekend on track. I picked up all of my essentials so I should be good to go.

Cheating is a tricky thing. I had every intention to cheat and I did but according to my husband I did not eat like he thinks I should have. Your body gets so accustomed to eating healthy, to fueling your temple with only the best material to ensure the construction of a healthier body. You are afraid one day of deviation will trash your temple and the whole thing will come crumbling down in a pile of rubble. I am happy I chose not to overdo it, and I can go into the holiday season with the reassurance that I will not undo five months of hard work with a month of mindless eating. I can deviate in small ways without going overboard.

Francie joined us for Thanksgiving, and we loved having the company. We talked and talked and she gave me some wonderful ideas to add to my fitness bucket list. She once took a Fire Dancing class at Firegroove here in Los Angeles. At first I questioned the sanity and safety of such a thing, but once we watched the video I was hooked. I am definitely going to take a class and learn the art of dancing with fire. Passion requires you to live a life of light, and dancing with flames sounds like the perfect metaphor for passion.

Off for now, I am writing some new poems and feeling the creative surge and the time to do it in. Wishing everyone love and light. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013


On this Thanksgiving Eve it never escapes my mind and heart how lucky we all are to be breathing. I feel so grateful for life and all of the amazing souls that have touched my world, beginning with my dearest Mother. It is the middle of the night, and I am up finishing my dessert baking. I almost had a bit of a meltdown, my oven is not cooperating with me tonight and my apple crisp did not turn out as planned, but my chocolate pecan pie looks decadent and delicious. Every time I cook a holiday meal something seems to go amiss, and it reminded me of when I first learned to cook. 

James and I were living in Connecticut in 2005, and he worked on that Thanksgiving. I decided to try to whip up Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings for him when he arrived home. My day was utter chaos, my pie burned but I luckily the rest of the dinner turned out as planned, and it tasted amazing. I wrote about that experience soon after, and here is the essay from that Thanksgiving back in Connecticut in 2005.

I wish blessings and abundance to all.
Happy Thanksgiving


My sisters and I used to love to go to the grocery store with my mother. We would follow like little disciples, contributing our wish list of meal choices for the family dinner. This was the one thing that kept us together, the family meal; the one thing that protected us from the ominous storm that was about to brew.

Growing up in Cleveland Ohio was not an easy feat, with my fathers disappearance at the age of ten, well lets just say things were bleak to say the least. After that fateful day, memories of that time are a mish-mash in my head. My father was an Italian Restaurant owner, and the one thing he did well before he vanished was to pass on one last gift to my family; he taught my mother to cook with passion. We were far from well off, and we had many tough struggles, but there was always something delicious waiting for us at the end of the day; comfort food personified.

When my mother was growing up, she had artistic abilities, talents that she never had the opportunity to fulfill. She could pick up a pencil and sketch a portrait, and sing like a songbird, but her mother taught her dreams were unrealistic and unattainable. Over the years those dreams were left at the wayside, replaced with children to raise, and the constant need to just get through a day and survive. When my father first met my mother, her cooking skills were so lacking, she could not even boil an egg. I believe when she picked up that wooden spoon for the very first time, the artist in her was reborn; the wooden spoon was her pencil, and the food she created was her masterpiece. Her cooking would be the light that kept us from despair during those challenging years of childhood, and I believe her culinary talent became the basis of her identity and our lives together.

Our home did not have many creature comforts, and we lived in sparse spaces lacking color and light. However, our humble kitchen was my mom's oyster; and a place we all came together and connected, a place where we all came alive. I can remember coming home from a long day at school, pre-teen angst causing confusion within, and my mother would whip up my favorite meal, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli and homemade biscuits with butter. Suddenly all the grief I felt from not belonging disappeared, and was replaced with something that would stick to my ribs along with the meal; my mother nurtured and loved me, and showed it through her passion of cooking.

My mid age school days were turbulent to say the least, yet I always knew no matter how my day went, as soon as I walked in the door my mind would clear. My Mother would whip up something fabulous, even if it was incredibly simple. She had a way of taking whatever ingredients she had on hand and turning them into a culinary work of art. Home was a place that may have been lacking material possessions, but we made up for them in love and spirit and there was plenty of laughter and love to go around. We were nourished in more ways then one.

As we grew into our teens, birthdays meant big meals with spaghetti with meatballs, and all the accompaniments that go with a a huge Italian meal. Our friends were always welcome, and there was always enough food to share with anyone who stepped on our doorstep; kindness to others always came first. We might not have had much, but there was always enough to share. Through my mother I learned it is so much more important to give than to receive. A value I believe has shaped me through the years.

As the years went by I never took a liking to cooking, I was always off doing my own thing and lets face it; who needs to cook when you have someone always doing it for you. I could never compete nor did I want to; that was her arena. Then the day came when I wasn’t within driving distance of my mother. My husband had an opportunity too good to resist and we had to relocate to Hartford Connecticut. It didn’t dawn on me until  that Thanksgiving when I found out my husband had to work that first holiday away from home. I had an ethical dilemma, do I go home and see my family or stay and attempt Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings? I decided on the latter, I could not leave him alone, that would be wrong; but what to do now? I had not the slightest idea what to do with a turkey, let alone a whole Thanksgiving meal.

I consulted my mother and through the phone she guided and taught me how to cook my very first Thanksgiving dinner; and oh what a challenge it was. She always made it look so easy and simple. I was a wreck that day, literally calling home every five minutes. It was like a comedy, me with flour in my hair totally clueless. The first challenge was when my Mother told me the first step, to remove the neck from the main cavity.Excuse me? I was totally repulsed, I had been a vegetarian for almost ten years and here I was removing a neck from a body cavity…I took a deep breath and conquered the cleaning the turkey; next I had to baste it and place it in the oven for hours. I mastered the stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, yet I burned the sweet potato casserole. The last step was to remove the turkey and make sure it was cooked thoroughly and finally make the gravy. To this day gravy is not my forte. Both my sister and mother in law called to check on me, and asked if I remembered to remove the other bag from the other crevice. Pardon Moi? What other bag from what other crevice? I cooked the bird with the bag of giblets in tow. The bag burned, I removed it and the turkey was no worse for wear, but I could not say the same for me.. I questioned myself how she made it look so effortless.

The meal was on the table when my husband finally walked through the doors at seven pm tired from a long day at his new job. The table looked lovely, I on the other hand, well I was a disheveled mess.. How do women time and cook such a large elaborate meal and find the energy to make themselves presentable and pretty? He didn’t care about my unruly hair nor the fact I was wearing sweat pants, he just wanted to sit down and eat Thanksgiving dinner with me, his family.

It was just the two of us, and it was a bit melancholic being so far from our family and loved ones. Traditions are so hard to break, and you can either wallow in your woes or find ways to remember your far off loved ones. We chose the latter, sat down to try my very first culinary feast courtesy of my mothers teaching via the phone. I sat nervous wondering if I had pulled off a success. The look on his face when he took the first bite said it all as he proclaimed ”this tastes like Cleveland Ohio.” I smiled wide, took my first bite and giddily. agreed, I had cooked a replica of my Mothers famous Thanksgiving dinner and did so on my first try.

Lights went off in my head. I cooked much more than a meal. I cooked memories of Mom and I realized what I had learned that very first Thanksgiving away from home, and it was priceless; I would have my mothers traditions for the rest of my life and the lessons that came with them. My mother taught us to be kind to others, to share your gifts even if you do not have much, because it is far more important to give rather than receive. I could not have had a better teacher of life and I am grateful for my treasured upbringing. I wouldn’t trade those memories for all the money in the world. Those teachings have been the basis that has shaped my identity as cooking shaped hers.

In the years since that first Thanksgiving away from home I moved to NYC and now I reside in Los Angeles California. I have mastered most of my mothers beloved recipes, with her famous spaghetti and meatballs to be my next challenge. Everything I have cooked and learned I did on the phone with my remarkable mother who could put even the food network to shame, and I do so with love and gratitude. I am farther than ever from my mother in distance, yet I feel closer in heart because of the new connection we have formed. We bonded over cooking,sharing, and the blessings of life. We are two very different individuals yet we found such a common ground built of tradition, family,giving, and love.

Tomorrow I think I may cook Sunday dinner, roast beef with all the trimming ala Mom, and sit down to a meal and be transported to a modest yet magnificent kitchen somewhere in Cleveland Ohio; never forgetting to make enough in case someone shows up hungry on my welcome doorstep.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Good morning to all, I have been so busy and I really want to write a post about all of the things that are flitting through my mind. Thanksgiving, and what it means to be grateful. I will have to wait for downtime tonight and tomorrow to write the way I wish to write, for now just a quick update for the week.

Yesterday at work Gigi from the Richard Simmons video was having lunch at Seasons 52, it was such a surprise when my co-worker Ryan told me I think these ladies know you. I also met her lovely friend Dawn who happens to be best friends with one of my amazing friends Jami. I love the way the universe dishes out inspiration. I promised to attend another Richard Simmons class Saturday Morning with them. It made my day and talking with Dawn gave me some wonderful ideas for charities, more to come on that note soon. My mind is spinning a bit out of control.

I worked out with Mike, my trainer and friend last night at the park. We are going to take some photos in the near future so I can share them here. We ran, and I was so proud to say I ran twice around the track at the park. I am not sure how far that is but it was the first time I ran that far without stopping. I was shocked, excited and surprised but of course Mike said he knew I could do it and I did. My anxiety about running was in my head. So onward, training for a 5k in March with the crew and management from Seasons 52. I think we are doing the Bad Prom Run, and even though it is a theme run I convinced Mike to do it with us, he is my trainer after all and it will be tons of fun.

After we ran we did the most creative workout to date. The park in the autumn after 5 pm is perfect for that, there are not a lot of people so you can really utilize all of the options there. We actually went into the children's playground and he came up with exercises there. The artist in him comes out in his unique workout ideas. I did stairs on the kiddie stairs and did some other moves too, some a little more awkward than others. I do think sometimes your mind holds you back, so I am working on correcting that. We had a lot of fun and by the end we sprinted for a short time, and I ran pretty fast if I do say so myself. I told him I was not delicate and kind of disagreed with me, but really I am not delicate. I will prove myself and I am a work in progress. I am beyond grateful to him and happy to have made such a new and wonderful friend in the process.  Working out with Mike at the park makes me feel like a ten year old kid, getting dirty and not caring a lick what people think. It is a lesson in life, never letting go of the child inside. 

Like I said, my mind has so much going on at the moment, and I wish I had time to really write, to delve deep into the emotions and thoughts that ramble through my muddled mind. I was thinking about all of the wonderful souls that have crossed my path since I started this last July, people I would have never met. I am so grateful for all the people in my life. More on that later. For now, I am off to work, then shopping for some last minute items for Thanksgiving. Later in the evening I will be baking, cleaning, and hopefully I can sneak in a run and some writing time. Whew, I am just tired writing all of that.
I wish you a beautiful day full of sunshine and smiles.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Good Tuesday Morning to all. Oh the process of slow weight loss. Do not get me wrong, I am so grateful for my results and I know I am losing inches as well as pounds but it sure is a slow process to see the numbers go down on a scale from week to week. I lost .6 today. That is not much for the books but I will take it. It does make me nervous though, what will happen when I have my cheat day come Thanksgiving. I am going to have to do a lot of cardio.

With that said, I am totally excited for the Thanksgiving, and the holidays. It will be a challenge to lose instead of gain but I can do it. Just two more work days and I am free. I am working out with Mike either tonight or tomorrow night. I had this dream I was running with ease and it felt so good. I am going to try to do that when we run. My running is getting easier, so maybe it is a sign of things to come.

Off for now, work beckons. Wishing you safe travels if you are traveling early for the holiday.
Namaste' Love and Light

Monday, November 25, 2013


Toast and Popcorn for Thanksgiving, Snoopy Style

Good Monday Morning to all. I am so excited about Thanksgiving. I think I picked the perfect day to cheat on my healthy diet and lifestyle, but I am going to try to sneak a run in as the turkey cooks. My friend from the Richard Simmons video Francie is coming to join us for dinner, and I am calling it our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It is going to be so much fun, you do not have to have tons of people to have a good time. We miss family but we love life and make the most of moments every chance we get. Yesterday we pulled out the Christmas tree, and it is ready to go. Only three more days of work.

I weigh in tomorrow, and I hope I lost a little weight. I know I am losing inches and well as weight but it is so rewarding to see the scale go down. My stomach feels so flat, lol, that is the best feeling.

Off for my day, this week I will be doing less yoga in class because I have things to get ready for my Thanksgiving, but I will sneak a class in and of course go running/walking. There is no schedule for that, you just step out the door and go.

Happy Monday

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Thanksgiving is almost here, and I am excited to have one day where I deviate from my healthy lifestyle. I get a one day opportunity to cook, bake and eat some wonderful food. I have worked hard and it is really starting to show. Today I was shopping for some bake ware and I saw my reflection in a mirror and I admit I stood there for some time staring at my weight loss results.  I do not have a full length mirror and I should have bought one today, but I decided to wait and get one next time. I am very happy and proud of how far I have come. It is surprising to see yourself when you do not own a full length mirror.

I have decided in 2014 I am going to get certified with The American Council of Exercise (ACE)  for Group Exercise Instruction. I am going to order the premium package and take the test into the new year. I want to share my experience of getting fit with others. I am already working on my list for what my New Year's Resolutions will be, and I am so happy that I am ending this year on such an upbeat and positive note. I am beginning training for 5K in the end of March. Seasons 52 is sponsoring us and it looks like we are going to do the Bad Prom Run, a fun filled 5K.

It is a cool night here, and I am going to stay in and do the treadmill. Wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday night.
Sweet dreams, Namaste'

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have been pondering my former lifestyle of being a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for almost ten years in the 90's, and then for over two years since I moved to Los Angeles. I started eating meat again exactly one year ago and to be honest I have been in denial about it. I have lost weight, and eating protein and less carbohydrates may have helped me to do so. With that said, as my weight drops I am tinkering with the idea that I will return to being a vegetarian in 2014.

To live your authentic self, it sometimes is difficult to follow a path even though you know it is the right way. You get lost, you stumble and you find yourself on the wrong side of the tracks so to speak. You deviate from your beliefs, and as in my case you choose not to think about it. That is how I feel about eating meat. I by no means wish to come across preachy here, or to pass judgement on anyone or myself for that matter. I just feel like I have strayed from my authentic self and I need to be true to everything I am about. Eating meat for me makes me feel like a hypocrite, and that is the last thing I want to be. I need to breathe, forgive myself and turn around and head back in the direction that fits my spirit.

I am going to make it a New Year's Resolution, to return to my former vegetarian lifestyle. To try again to make it work and continue to lose weight will not be easy, it will be a process, everything is but it will be worth it to me. I will start slow, and not be hard on myself if I slip up. I will also have to plan and make sure my protein is not lacking. Just another challenge in my quest to be a better version of myself. I am always up new challenges.

Happy Weekend to all and to all a goodnight.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Good Morning, Happy Friday to all. I am so excited, the holidays are coming. I was making my morning coffee and tragedy ensued, no raw sugar. I was forced to use Stevia instead, which is supposedly healthy but a little bit bitter. I gave up Splenda for good, it caused side pain every time I used it. I was later diagnosed with three liver hemangiomas and one adrenal adenoma and even though they are benign and are not supposed to cause pain, every time I used Splenda my side would ache for days. So I gave up Splenda for good.

What do you use in your coffee? I prefer a little raw sugar, it is just a hint of delightfulness every morning. I was also out of my morning think thin bar, I am just devastated.
The sun hopefully will peak out today, it has been so overcast and believe it or not rainy. I have to admit I missed the sunshine, California is spoiling me.

Wishing you a bright and beautiful day. Love and Light to all.
Namaste' Love and Light all

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Just a quick blog, a gratitude moment of all the people I have encountered because I decided to take on this project. Tonight after yoga I am meeting with Francie, we met during the Richard Simmons Hair Do video shoot and have become fast friends.  Here is a few photos of the amazing people I have met along the way, and there are many more who I do not have photos of. It is the friends, old and new that keeps you going. We are never in it alone. I will add captions later, I am running so late today. Love to all my friends, old and new.
Have a great day all.

With Richard and Tori

Mike on the left with The Monday Night Mission

Joanne and Susan, my faves.

The Monday Night Mission with Courtney and Danny, Mike and Maria

Susan, a lovely friend, Richard Simmons, me, and Joanne

Francie, Erin, Richard, George, Me, Shoshana

Francie and me, fasr friends forever.

Me with Erin

Me Gigi with the Guess Marketing Team and Richard

Richard Simmons and me after the video shoot

My first and current yoga teacher at Pink Iron with Nicole

Francie and me

The O'donnell Family

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I have started running, and I am a complete beginner. I am trying to run on my own as well as with Mike my trainer and I am planning a 5K with some co-workers and my management from Seasons 52 in March. I totally have my work cut out for me because I am not very good at running, but I am getting better. Yesterday I went running walking, and I alternated between the two and I had music which made me feel like I actually was getting into a running rhythm. So I thought of a few things that I am learning about my own running, and here is the list.

1. I have to get my ipod set up, because running  with music makes all of the difference.

2. Alternating  between running and walking is a bit easier for me and I actually was having fun.

3. Here in California I prefer to run after the sun goes down, it is just more comfortable.

4. Wow, running makes you sweat so much more than speed walking. For me even when chilly, layers are not needed.

5. Do not drink too much water before running, you may find yourself running to find a restroom.

6. The Goo Goo Dolls song Slide is the perfect rhythm for my running. I can run to it over and over.

7. Running makes your thighs feel so heavy, and makes you so more.

8. Your breathing may be loud and heavy which I find embarrassing. You may find you sound like a heavy breather when you run, which is fine if you are a teenager and you like to make prank calls like we did when we were silly and young. Then again I bet teenagers these days do not prank, everyone would know it was them pranking. Anonymity is gone in the modern world. The breathing is getting a little better though.

9. Run on your mid foot to heals, it just feels better. Make sure you stretch after and get enough electrolytes. I tend to cramp up because I run low on potassium. Coconut water helps with that issue.

10. Keep at it, and do not care how you look to others.

Namaste and Happy Wednesday

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Good Morning to all. I am happy to say I lost the 1 lb I had gained. I now weigh 177 again, and I am hovering at 20 lbs since mid July. Yes, it took me four months to  lose twenty pounds, and it has been easy sticking to healthy eating and working out and yoga, but it has not been easy to get the numbers to go down. I am almost 47, and I recognize the fact that my age make my process much harder. But I am content and happy with my results so far and will continue on and on as long as it takes.  I am hoping to lose up to 10 lbs by the New Year, and I may have to up my cardio to do so. I plan on cheating on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas. I am hoping those cheat days do not derail me. I have not had a cheat day in four months, or a cheat meal for that matter.

So, the 20 lb charity. I have a few ideas and one of them involves Mike my trainer and friend but at the moment that idea may take more time to execute so I am going to plan C for the twenty pound charity. It is Christmas, so I am going to do some things that are close to my heart at this time of year. I am looking for an elderly assisted living home to visit during the holidays, and I have emailed volunteer match for more information. I want to visit once a week. I am hoping to get the information I need soon so I can begin visiting those who need it most.

There is a scene in a movie I love, an old 60's movie. It is called The Trouble With Angels and it is about these silly girls that go into a Catholic School and make havoc for the nuns. It is all full of slapstick humor and  it is really cute. There is this particular scene that gets me, when they visit the Nursing Home of the elderly and this old woman cries and asks the nun why her children do not come to visit her. It gets me into tears every time. I think it may have been this movie that made me decide that in my life I would  try to help the underprivileged and forgotten ones of society. It has lingered with me all of these years. This works since my goal weight is so far away, and that leaves me with plenty of charities to assist.

Coffee, yes my golden elixir of the morning is needed today. Off to work and then working out and my Iyengar Class. Yesterday I bought some brand new pyrex pie pans at the thrift store for next to nothing. I am making a chocolate pecan pie and an apple crisp for Thanksgiving. Yes, those are not what I usually eat but it is my one cheat day and I feel treats are better homemade then store bought. At very least I know all of the ingredients. I am so excited to cook and bake for the holiday.

Happy Day to all, the sun just popped out for a visit. Wishing you sunshine and smiles and bright energy to guide your day.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Rose on the left with sister Gina on the right.

Good Morning to all on this chilly Monday Morning. I am so excited for the holidays and my weekend away for my Birthday. My plan is to work out like crazy and only splurge on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. The other days I am going to practice moderation and mostly clean eating. If I can get to the new year with close to another ten pounds off I will be very happy. This is the challenge, not to undo all of the hard work of the last five months. I am going to be silly and have my photo taken with Santa Claus, I have always loved to do that since I was just a little girl.  I think it will be a festive way to document the season and fun at the same time. If only I could get James to do it with me. 

Off for now, I am so sleepy I need a second cup of coffee today. Work, then workout tonight after work. Tomorrow I weigh in, and I hope being a female and water weight and all will not hinder my weigh in. Taking it one day at a time as the old saying goes.

Happy Monday

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Soups, they are so simple and satisfying. I love to make soups, one pot wonders that make it easy to eat healthy and there is always an abundance for the next day. Warm your heart and soul with my healthy yet delicious chicken soup with grains and vegetables and remember to share with someone you love. Soups are the perfect autumn dinner and make the chill a little more tolerable. Paired with some crusty whole grain bread and a simple  spinach salad mixed with oil and vinegar and you have such a well rounded and healthy meal. Manga'

You will need:
For grains
Olive oil
Low sodium chicken stock, as much as directions calls for in place of water.
One package Mirepoix mix or a blend of chopped celery, carrots, and onions.
One pack of Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend or a pack of Orzo
Start by sauteing Mirepoix mix in 2 tablespoons olive oil, and make Harvest Grains Blend or orzo with low sodium chicken stock in place of water, following directions. After cooked set aside.

For Soup:
One package of carrots
One large onion
One package turnips
One package carrots
a few cloves of garlic
Two cartons low sodium chicken stock
Four boneless chicken breasts
Fresh dill
Dried thyme
sea salt, ground pepper

This is such a simple yet delicious soup.  
1. Add chopped carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and turnips to a large pot. 
2. Add boneless chicken and both cartons of low sodium chicken stock.
3. Flavor with a generous amount of fresh dill, sea salt, ground pepper and dried thyme.  
4. Bring to a rolling boil, careful to not let the soup over boil. 
5. Bring temperature down to low and let simmer for over one hour until the chicken has cooked through. 
6. Remove chicken and chop in nice size bites and add chicken pieces back to the soup. 
7. Add half of the grain/orzo mix to soup and blend. 

It was so delicious, especially with oyster crackers. James ate three bowls. I am making soup this evening, and I just purchased a crock pot so I will be experimenting with my new cooking toy soon.

Love and Light to all

Melissa Bender Fitness: 17 Lbs and Counting: One Woman's Journey in Weight...

Melissa Bender Fitness: 17 Lbs and Counting: One Woman's Journey in Weight...: Hi Everyone! Today I am happy to share with you an inspiring weight loss success story. This summer my friend Rose started her jou...

17 Lbs and Counting: One Woman's Journey in Weight Loss and Philanthropy: Inspiration

Hi Everyone!

Today I am happy to share with you an inspiring weight loss success story. This summer my friend Rose started her journey to lose weight and make a difference in the world. For every ten pounds she loses she is making charitable donations to different causes, and blogging about her journey/experiences along the way.

You can find her blog here: My Change for a Ten and her facebook page here: My Change For a Ten Facebook.

Rose's first charity included a donation of time and food to the homeless people of Skid Row and the Monday Night Mission.

Since starting her blog Rose has successfully lost and kept off 17 pounds, and she is going strong and getting healthier along the way.

Check out my interview with Rose below,

Congratulations on losing your first 10 lbs! What made you decide to celebrate your success by donating to charity? 

When I moved to California I felt myself feeling more connected to the universe and felt more of an overall sense of well being. I am one with nature and all creatures of the planet. I decided I wanted to help with charities as much as possible to give back and share my love of life. In 2012 I planned Downward Dog For Cats, a Yoga event in Griffith Park in Los Angeles to raise funds for a local animal shelter. At the same time my weight had become a lingering issue, and I was losing and gaining the same ten pounds for one year. I realized when I do something for charity I always follow through, but I did not have the same success with my weight loss. I am a former dancer and it had been my wish to return to my former shape and embrace turning 47 on the most positive note. I am also a poet writer, so in July 2013 I came up with the idea if I were to combine my love of making a difference with my weight loss and fitness goals I would not have any excuses, and I could write about my journey and the charities in a blog. When I decided to take on this venture my co-worker Mike who is now a good friend offered to be my personal trainer and help me with the charities. The first week of my blog I was cast in a Richard Simmons video, all of these things came together at the exact time and I was so inspired and ready to take on my new challenge. Of course my best friend Melissa Bender has always been such an inspiration. Her journey is awe inspiring and she always looks to help people be a better version of who they are. I could not have started this without the help of my friends.
What have you been doing to achieve your fitness/health goals?  
In the beginning I walked daily, and went to Richard Simmons classes following the video. He is very inspiring. I have been working out with my trainer Mike once a week since July, and I attend Yogaworks in West Hollywood three to five times a week. I attend yoga at Pink Iron with Nicole once a week. I am now running with Mike, and on my own. I am a beginner runner but I am determined to take on this new challenge and he thinks I can do a 5k soon. When at home I do Melissa Bender videos and her yoga videos. I plan to return to ballet classes eventually. I eat extremely healthy, and I watch my sodium, fat , cholesterol and portion sizes. In three months I have not allowed myself a cheat day, but come Thanksgiving I will cheat with a little abandon.

What is your first charity? 
My first charity is The Monday Night Mission. They are a group who feeds the homeless at Skid Row in Los Angeles Monday through Friday evenings. I donated food and also donated dinner courtesy of my employers at Seasons 52 in Century City California. When I told Seasons 52 what I was doing they offered to donate food on my behalf. Chef Jessica prepared an amazing pasta and chicken dish with baguettes. I am so grateful to Chef Jessica and the whole management team for their support. I also donated my time and service to the cause. Helping the homeless has always been a goal for me. I wrote a poem about the subject when I lived in NYC.
What made you choose them? 
I have been following their Facebook Page and I have wanted to help them for some time. The work they do is truly selfless and beautiful. No soul forgotten.
What was your favorite part of the experience? 
The way everyone comes together for the better of mankind. No egos, no judgement. We are all the same, connected to the core that is our humanity. The people who serve and donate are selfless angels.
Most difficult part? 
The reality of the injustices that occur right under our noses. Skid Row is tragic, and Mel from The Monday Night Mission took us on a tour of Skid Row after our service and it was terribly disturbing and sad. Afterwards I was emotionally numb until the middle of the night. At that point the emotions and tears flowed and I was able to write about my experience. I plan to assist them again in the near future.
Who helped you on your first mission? 
Mike was on board since the beginning, so it was Mike, his girlfriend Maria, my friend Courtney, her boyfriend Danny and of course myself. Chef Jessica and Seasons 52 helped with the amazing donated dinner.
What is your next charity? 
I am currently searching for a 20 pound charity. My original twenty pound charity is now my thirty pound charity since it is going to take more planning. Since the holidays are approaching I was thinking about spending some time at a Nursing Home during December as my 20 pound goal. I am researching at the moment.
How close are you to your next weight loss goal? 
I am 3 pounds away from my 20 pound weight loss goal and charity but I do not do the charity until I am five pounds past the weight milestone. That way I know the weight is off for good even if my weight fluctuates.
Has your fitness program changed at all along the way? 
It has evolved. Mike changes up our workouts always, and I have excelled at some of the exercise moves that were so difficult in the beginning. My yoga practice is evolving as well, I am so much stronger and I can now do wheel pose on my head and I did my first shoulder stand. I am now running, something I thought I would never attempt.
What inspires you to keep going on days you don't feel like it? 
I am truly enjoying the process as well as the results and I love to exercise and do yoga. Knowing I am able to help with charities and in the meantime become healthier and stronger keeps me moving forward. I have people telling my that my journey is inspiring them. I believe we all are here to motivate and inspire each other. My saying is to remove the letter e from the word ego and just go for it.
Favorite healthy food: 
I am obsessed with Think Thin Bars, Brownie Crunch. They are sugar free, gluten free and at six am in the morning I enjoy one with my cup of coffee. I am also great at making healthy vegetarian soups and chili. Just tonight I made a Lentil and Black bean Chili with sweet potatoes and assorted vegetables. My husband James loves my soups and has become healthier as well and is also starting his own fitness journey. He has lost 16 pounds since I began my mission. I am rubbing off on him and he is extremely grateful. He now speed walks over an hour a day and has an extra pep in his step.
Favorite Workout Move: 
Balance poses, I have amazing balance.
Favorite moment on your journey: 
I have a few and it is all about the people that have touched me along the way. The Richard Simmons video was amazing. Getting to know Mr Simmons has been a blessing and he is so inspiring. At the video I made three new friends. Francie who I have become very close with, and Susan and Joanne who I will see in November when they visit Los Angeles. Getting to know Mike, who went from being a co-worker who I did not know at all, to becoming my inspiring trainer and good friend. The Monday Night Mission and all the people who give so much of themselves. I am humbled by the beauty of humanity. I have become so liberated, and I am conquering my fears along the way.
Overall goal: 
I was 197 pounds when I began and I am now 180 pounds. I hope to reach 130-140. That gives me a lot of time to help more charities and I am up for the challenge. I also plan to improve on my running, and do a few 5k's in the future. I want to eventually take ballet classes and ballroom/latin classes again. To improve and evolve in my yoga practice, and eventually to get certified so I can help others as I have been helped.
Love and Light

Friday, November 15, 2013


Good Morning to all. This is me with my wonderful Yoga teacher Nicole at Pink Iron. She makes the tanks we are in, her company is Honu Yoga, and I have one in every color and proceeds go to helping with conservation of sea turtles. I love my Honu Yoga tanks.
I she is my first yoga teacher, and even though I belong to Yogaworks, I also go to her class once a week at Pink Iron because she is such a phenomenal teacher. Pink Iron is an amazing Cross Fit gym for ladies, and the only reason I do not belong is because I prefer to work out with my trainer and on my own, and do group classes for other things like yoga and aerobics etc. Cross fit is great but for me it was not a fit, but the Pink Iron community is like a family and I am grateful to them and the owner Holly Holton. If you want to do Cross Fit for take one of Nicole's three yoga classes at week they are located in West Hollywood on La Cienega and Holloway. 
Love and Light

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Sometimes you look at your goals and lament on the time it takes to make them happen. For me I am proud of my accomplishments so far but I admit I sometimes look at the time it has taken to get to where I am, and wonder if I should be farther along in my progress. It is not a wise thing to question time, it passes anyway and to be able to say you are better off then you were before is a gift. The old cliche' is true, Rome was not built in a day. It takes time to make your goals a reality, and in my case taking longer to get to the destination is better than some short fix. It is a marathon and not a sprint. I am in for the duration of the run.

Yesterday I had a great workout with Mike, and I plan on getting a photo of him as well to post soon. I am so grateful to him and I am definitely improving since that awkward day of our first workout last July. We spoke about my idea to learn to surf, since it is on my fitness bucket list and I said it is something I would like to do when I get to my final goal weight of around 130-140 lbs. He said that works because the water temperature is warmer in Summer, so I hope to be at goal or close to goal by then. We are running every week now, and all of a sudden as we were running I had this aha moment when I felt like I can do this. Next week we will run farther so I have my work cut out for me but I am up for the challenge.

After my workout I ran to my 7:15 Yoga Class with Nicole at Pink Iron. It was a crowded class with awesome energy. I love Nicole, she is amazing and I got the chance to snap a few photos with her and I will post them this weekend. She is my first yoga teacher and I am very grateful to her. I love Yoga and tonight I am going to Yogaworks to either take an Iyengar class or a flow class. depending on the time I get there. My husband James told me this weekend I was a Yogi before I ever took a Yoga class or stepped on a mat. That was the best compliment.

Off for my day, coffee and some fuel is needed. I wish you a beautiful day, full of radiance and warmth. Love and Light to all.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Good Morning to all on this sunny Thursday here in Southern California. I must do a short yet sweet post since I am running a bit late today. The cats are so happy we are home from Palm Springs, and the holidays are approaching so it is mandatory that I push even harder because this is the danger zone time.

You know the time of year, you want to snuggle at home with your honey and watch Christmas movies, and that takes time away from your routine. I need to stick to my routine and get through the next few months. If I can lose another ten pounds by the New Year I will be very happy. I gained a pound this week and I did not even cheat while I was in Palm Springs, and on Thanksgiving and Christmas I am allowing myself to finally cheat, so this time of year may be difficult if not impossible to lose weight but I will make it through and make it happen.

Tonight after work I am working out with my trainer and friend Mike and if I have time I am going to try my best to make it to Nicole's Yoga Class at Pink Iron at 7:15. So I will be running with Mike, and then running to make my Wednesday yoga class, but it is so worth it.

Off to work in a bit, my cat Spanky is snuggled on my feet. These are the times when you all of a sudden want to stay home and play homebody.  Coffee is so needed for an extra nudge out the door. Wishing everyone love and lots of light.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


At the casino, almost kicked out for taking a photo

Salad kept me full so I would not eat anything too bad. At Ruby's Diner in Palm Springs

Salt is not my friend. I did great with my eating this weekend in Palm Springs but since I ate in restaurants I am positive I ate more salt than I usually do. I control my sodium at home but it is difficult to do when away. You may be able to eat healthy, but some extra sodium and salt is inevitable. I got on the scale and I am happy to report I only went up a pound. My current weight is 178 and I am completely confident that one pound is just water weight from my long weekend away. 

I got on the scale and it is done, now I am off and ready to lose more weight. I have two weeks before Thanksgiving to lose more and stick to my program. I am cheating on Thanksgiving, it would not be Thanksgiving without a little indulgence to go along with my gratitude.

Tonight back to yoga, and hopefully time for a long walk before. Last night I made a wonderful and healthy chicken soup with grains and vegetables and I will post a recipe this weekend. I wish everyone a beautiful sun filled 11-12-13.

Monday, November 11, 2013


I love weekends away. Having some time away from home gives your perspective a different vantage point. You collect your thoughts, you connect with the person you love. It is refreshing and renewing. I always come home with ideas to make my daily life better. I was reading my LA YOGA magazine by a fountain by the pool, and being near the water made me feel so serene. I remembered years ago I waited on this strange but intriguing woman who told me I always need to have water near me. She told me I should purchase one of those fountain machines for my home so I can have the sound of running water to relax me always. I think I am going to look for one online, inspired by sitting in a little courtyard in Palm Springs.  

Our Palm Springs weekend for James' Birthday was wonderful and now it is good to be home with our two loving Siamese cats Rascal and Spanky. They could not be happier we are home.

Going away creates challenges with your diet and workout routine, and even if you stick to eating as healthy as possible, restaurant food still is higher in sodium than home made food. I find I have a bit of a stomach ache today, and I look forward to getting on the scale even if I may have gained a little from water weight. That may just be an inevitable fact. Starting today I am returning to keeping a journal of all of my food, and I may start counting my Weight Watchers points once again. It is a great way to stay accountable, and keep on track without having to do the math of calories. I have been successful not counting, but I feel as far as I have to go it will help me keep my sanity. I will be posting about my next charity this week. Since the holidays are approaching I may do a few different ones through the course of December.

I want to wish all of our Veterans a Happy Veterans Day and thank them for their service. Our freedom is the best gift we have, and I truly am in debt to them for all that they do to uphold our safety. My father was a World War II veteran, and he served in the Pacific.

Off for now. Long day ahead of me. I am assuming work will be slow today since it is a holiday, so I am heading to Trader Joe's after to find something healthy and simple to cook for dinner. I am going to just go walking/running tonight since I am not sure the yoga studio is open for the holiday. Back to the grind, so much weight to lose, many charities to assist, I have my work cut out for me and I love it. 
Love and Light

Friday, November 8, 2013


Nothing tests your willpower like a weekend away. I have been doing so good with my diet and I have not splurged at all since I began in July. I am here in Palm Springs and I am proud to say I am sticking as much as possible to my healthy habits. The only difference this weekend is that I may be eating more sodium than my body is used to. 

We left Los Angeles today at noon, and I started my day off with a think thin protein bar and a cup of coffee. When we arrived my husband wanted to stop at this cute diner called Ruby's and he wanted burgers. They had a menu called de-liteful and there was a low calorie, low fat turkey burger on the menu. I had it with a side salad and vinegar and I splurged on a few french fries. I also had a few sips of diet coke but drank tons of water.

For dinner we went to The Fisherman's Market and I chose charbroiled swordfish with rice pilaf and broccoli. I splurged a little on coleslaw and tartar but I passed on the fried seafood platter that my husband chose. All in all my first day away was a little off my own program but I think I did pretty well. We did a lot of walking  around town.

Tomorrow I will make healthy choices but at the same time try to enjoy my weekend. We are going to have birthday cake, a few bites will not hurt me. I am trying so hard to stay away from food that is over the top in calories and fat, and this definitely is a challenge.

Monday I am hitting the diet and workouts/yoga hardcore. I have improved and I am definitely making progress but as I sit here in this desert oasis I reflect on the fact I have such a long way to go. 
I just have to take one day at a time.
Low calorie, low fat turkey burger on wheat bun