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Health

Fruits and Veggies For Better Health

Sadly, Americans are not eating enough fruits, vegetables and fresh produce. The proliferation of pre-packaged foods and heat-and-eat meals has just made it more convenient for us to add pounds, while robbing us of the health benefits of natural fruits and vegetables.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average adult American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, up from 3.9 servings per day when the 5-A-Day health awareness program began in 1991. Children eat 3.4 servings a day, up from 3.1 servings a day in 1991.

Goals and Benefits


The goal of 5-A-Day is for each of us to eat at least five servings of fruits and veggies every day. Research has shown that doing so reduces the risks of developing cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Cancer, heart disease and stroke are the three leading causes of death in the U.S. The three diseases are primarily due to diets too high in unhealthy fats and too low in fruits and vegetables.


Those who follow the 5-A-Day suggestions have half the risk of developing cancer compared to those who eat only one or two servings per day. In fact, more than one-third of the 500,000 cancer deaths each year could be prevented by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, according to medical experts.


Eating fruits and vegetables does more than reduce the risk of cancer.


Research continues to find strong links between increased fruit and vegetable consumption and the decreased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.


Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily may reduce other health risks substantially. Convincing evidence indicates that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption plays a positive role in reducing the incidence of cataracts, diverticulosis, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, bronchitis and osteoporosis, as well. Of course, it is always best to consult with your health adviser about your nutrition needs and specific personal guidelines.

Make it a Habit


Veggies are an excellent source of vitamins, fiber and vital enzymes. Unfortunately, Americans are four times more likely to pick a processed snack than to choose a fruit or vegetable. In addition, Americans are 10 times more likely to select a carbonated soft drink than to choose real, 100 percent fruit juice. So, how do we get more fruits and veggies into our diets?


One answer is to select fruits and vegetables as a snack full of vitamins, nutrients and good taste. Lose those empty calories!


Strategies to reach the goal of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day include having fruits and vegetables at every meal. Another way to make sure we get all the healthy fruits and veggies we need is to find new, enjoyable, delicious recipes that include them.


Start right away to make it a habit to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Eat at least one high-fiber selection a day, and, several times a week, eat cruciferous (cabbage family) vegetables, which includes broccoli and collard greens. Enjoy the most colorful fruits and vegetables often, because they contain excellent antioxidants and are the richest in vitamins. Eat at least one dark, green vegetable daily, as well as lot of leafy greens. Enjoy eating salads with assorted lettuces tossed with colorful vegetables.

Preparation and Cooking Tips


"As soon as a fruit or vegetable is harvested or sliced, a process called oxidation begins," according to Holly Brewer, R.D., a dietitian at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas.


"To fight the damage, the plant's cells use up their antioxidant stores, leaving less for you to eventually consume," she added.


In addition, according to a University of Illinois study, fresh green beans retain only 36 percent of their vitamin C after six days, while frozen green beans keep 77 percent. So it is more nutritious to eat fresh produce within a day of purchase or buy frozen selections instead.


When it's not possible or convenient to eat fresh, go with frozen instead of canned veggies, but avoid the urge to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables because they lose their nutrients so quickly.


Choose whole fruits and veggies over processed or juiced. For example, a whole apple is much healthier than a glass of apple juice. Too many juices contain added sugar, and many of the juices have little to no fiber remaining.
Ideally, try to eat as much raw fruit and veggies as possible; many consider that the healthiest way to go. But if you prefer them cooked, here are some tips.


Steam all vegetables, rather than boiling them. When boiled or cooked in water in the microwave veggies release their nutrients into the fluid. Steaming them will prevent much of this nutrient loss. Another alternative is to make soups, stews and other dishes in which the cooking liquid is consumed.

Buying on a Budget


Sadly, it is often less expensive to eat junk food than it is to eat healthy.


Follow these tips to save money on produce:


1) Buy fresh fruit in season, when prices are usually lower. Also, when the demand is higher, such as during the holiday season, certain items are traditionally priced lower. The price of oranges, for example, drops sharply provided there is no crop destruction due to hurricanes or early frost.


2) Stock up on frozen veggies when they're on sale. Many grocery stores sell frozen veggies as loss leaders,' which means they sell them below cost just to get shoppers in the door (hoping we'll also buy profitable items.) It's not surprising to see 16 oz. bags of frozen veggies priced at three for $1 or even less during the week before Thanksgiving. Stock up and save!


3) Buy what's on sale. Nearly every supermarket in the country has some kind of produce on sale each week, so take advantage of the lower price. Take kiwi for example: while the regular price is often two for $1, a sale may bring the price down to four for $1. When fruit and veggies are on sale, it's a great time to experiment with new foods.


4) Buy in bulk. Even though it's not advisable to stock up on fresh veggies, how about buying large quantities to get better pricing, but then split it with a friend or family member? For example, a 10-lb. bag of onions is much less expensive per pound than buying single onions.


5) Grow your own fruits and veggies. Gardening is fun, profitable and healthy, but it can also be also great exercise. Remember that produce begins to lose nutrients the minute it is cut from the plant, so gardening gives us the healthiest foods available. Grocery stores could never compete with faster picked-to-table time from a home garden.


6) Shop the local growers or processors. We've all seen those roadside stands where the local farmers sell their goods out of the back of their trucks. Why not take advantage of that? Often, it's a fresher, healthier product for a much lower price than what we'd normally pay in the grocery store. Las Vegas has several farmers' markets around town, and the newest one is downtown. Check your neighborhood newspapers for dates and times.

Take Healthy Action


Follow the suggestions offered here, and continue to learn more about fruits, vegetables and the health advantages. And remember: this is one of those rare times when it's okay to eat more! So get going to the garden or to the produce section of the supermarket.

Power to the People

Incense burning... candles lit... chanting music... clean wood floor...  Ready.

Mats are being spread out at Yoga Central, as some participants now arrive at their sanctuary, breathing with relief after traveling a few miles through rush-hour traffic. Stress from the drive and the workday is put far behind as everyone looks forward to a yoga workout to unwind.

Everyone in class is moving through several gentle, warming poses. Breathing in tandem... minds quieting... movement increasing... perspiring heavily... joints loosening... joy of movement. In unison, they end in savasana or corpse pose (total relaxation).

Yoga Central premiered this summer as the first, power yoga studio in Las Vegas. The studio can hold about 20 students per class. Owner Don McNamee prefers to keep his studio's temperature at around 85 to 90 degrees, he says, to be "in sync with the natural environment," which makes for plenty of sweating and loosening of the body, but without a high risk that participants could pass out or lose their lunch.

McNamee, along with Erin Donnely, Jennifer Knox and Tamara Kinoshita on staff, instructs with one goal in mind: to reach out to the community and help empower people in this contemporary world through an ancient, traditional art.

Seeing yoga as a gift that should be available to every person, the instructional team and staff envision making the studio's classes affordable for all. They aim to do so supported by cash contributions and service donations of time and skills.

Their passion for yoga clearly shows in their teaching styles. The approach is hands-on. They give individual attention; demonstrate poses, and watch, doing their best to make students comfortable. They know yoga is an individual practice so no one is forced into doing poses that aren't comfortable for his or her abilities.

Power yoga or vinyasa flow yoga is "breath-synchronized" yoga - one pose flows into the next, in such a smooth way that together the poses become like a dance. An invigorating blend of power and grace. The focus is on breath, alignment and intention.

Classes advance movements from standing poses to floor postures, as intricate and difficult as students want them to be.

"At Yoga Central, we realize that we are all different each day, so there are modifications for all levels to help find your satya (truth) in each posture," McNamee said.

Sun salutations are a common sequence done in vinyasa flow yoga as a way of warming up the body. An individual sequence of poses, it most commonly includes mountain pose, upward hand pose, standing forward bend, half-standing forward bend, plank pose, staff pose, upward-facing dog, and downward-facing dog. All are done in a flowing sequence with the breath, building warmth, strength and endurance. Classes then move through a sequence of poses determined by the instructor, focusing on yoga's chief benefits of building strength, improving balance, stretching the body and clearing the mind.

As a nationally certified teacher of yoga and with a work background as eclectic as Las Vegas itself, Don McNamee brings a powerfully unique experience to his studio. A Las Vegas native, his yoga journey has taken him from severe injuries and obesity to where he is today - fully recovered, loving life and living his yoga dream.

He opened his unique studio with the goal of making yoga affordable to the community and sharing his love of yoga. He has instructed a wide range of clients' personalized instructional needs, from those in wheelchairs to professional athletes. McNamee says all levels from beginner to advanced are welcome to attend classes.

"Power yoga is for all, to empower their lives, no matter what the level of fitness," McNamee concluded.

After the first-ever power yoga class, many newcomers describe a feeling of being relaxed and wide-awake, with clear minds and lighter bodies. Mission accomplished!

Yoga Central is located at 6135 West Sahara Ave., at Jones Blvd., Suite #5. For more information on class schedules and rates, call (702) 336-1123.

Bet on the Farm

On any beautiful autumn day, outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, nature walks and street festivals take place in and around Las Vegas.

One delightfully fun, healthy activity is growing in popularity and ensuring that locals gain better access to high-quality, fresh food year-round.

Ginger Johnson recalls peeling the husk off a freshly roasted ear of corn, brushing it with butter and chili, then handing it to an excited little girl who was ready to experience the mouthwatering goodness of corn fresh from the farm.

Johnson is a local farmer who was active for years with Ears to You, a roasted corn business at the Las Vegas Farmers Market. There are about 30 farmers, along with artisans and artists, who sell their goods at several outdoor markets around town. Johnson still works to promote and educate the public about these types of public-access, agricultural events.

"I love farmers markets," exclaimed Johnson, "because it's a great place to meet your friends and neighbors while supporting local, sustainable farming," she added.

A native Las Vegan, Johnson and her partner, Steve Johnson, lived in the Northwest for two years where they helped open tribal gaming, and she recalled their love for shopping for fresh goods at local outdoor markets there such as Pikes Market.

"We moved back here from Seattle. ... There wasn't anything like it here," she said. That was the impetus for them to start the Las Vegas Farmers Market in 1999. She now serves on the board of directors for the Nevada Certified Farmers Market Association.

The NCFMA, an umbrella organization, has among its members most of the ongoing farmers market operators in Southern Nevada. It is one of the many local, regional or national organizations that promote the availability of healthy foods for consumers and sustainable farming as an industry.

The NCFMA encourages the public to consider agriculture as a business and works to increase the number of farmers to help provide Nevadans with locally grown fruits, vegetables and other farm products, according to Ginger Johnson and representatives of the Reno-based organization.

While Las Vegas does have some local farmers who grow mostly seasonal foods, the dry desert climate can make farming difficult. In order to keep the produce diverse and interesting, most of the area farmers markets are open to vendors within a 500-mile radius. Every week, farmers from California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, of course, transport their produce and goods to sell.

This makes it possible for Las Vegans to have year-round access to nutritious, farm-fresh, in-season produce. Shoppers are happy to find juicy blood oranges in the summer and succulent artichokes in the fall.

"What you find at farmers markets really depends on what's in season and which farmers are attending that week," said Steve Johnson, manager of the three Las Vegas Farmers Markets.

"That's one of the great things about it. You are constantly being exposed to new foods and produce throughout the year. It can be a real learning experience for some of the customers."

Farmers markets also supply a variety of ethnic foods, which well suits the culturally diverse community of Las Vegas. Shoppers have access to cilantro and a host of peppers that might not be found at the neighborhood grocery store.

It's not unusual to find the kind of produce that is typically used in Asian cooking such as bitter melon and opo, a type of squash. For the less adventurous, there is always plenty of the usual staples - salad greens, onions, tomatoes, legumes, root vegetables and more.

"The Las Vegas Farmers Market attracts pretty much everyone," said Steve Johnson.

"From families to singles, young and old, people come here to shop, socialize and have fun. There really is no typical customer," he added.

The average shopper ranges in age from 25 to 50 and comes to the market for good food, a sense of community and entertainment. The Las Vegas Farmers Market usually has live music, cooking demonstrations, recipe contests and plenty for kids to do, including play areas, face painting and a balloon artist.

There are also festivals throughout the year depending on what's fresh that season. Coming October 10-17 is the Pumpkin Festival, which will include games for kids, music, additional vendors and tons of contests, including pumpkin carving, pumpkin rolling and pumpkin dressing.

In addition to fresh produce and entertainment, the Las Vegas Farmers Market offers baked goods, dairy products, prepared foods such as hummus, Italian ice treats and funnel cakes. Local restaurant vendors at the market offer everything from barbecue to Filipino dishes. Hand-crafted jewelry and other accessories are frequently on sale. Shoppers find that it's a great way to help the area economy by supporting local entrepreneurs and small business owners.

"We are always looking for new vendors to keep our farmers market growing," Steve Johnson continued. "Our requirement is that you make it, bake it, grow it or sew it."

Buying locally at farmers markets also has many environmental benefits. The farmers who frequent the Las Vegas Farmers Market are usually certified organic, natural or sustainable farmers, and they do not use pesticides or fertilizers that could be harmful to people or the environment. Also, because the food does not travel a great distance, packing materials and carbon dioxide emissions from trucking are reduced.

The Las Vegas Farmers Market has three locations, open all year, rain or shine:

Hours:

4-8 p.m. - Late Spring/Summer/Early Fall

2-6 p.m. - Winter/Early Spring (eff. Nov 1)

Tuesdays: Las Vegas Farmers Market at Gardens Park, sponsored by Summerlin Council, is held at 10401 Garden Park Dr., off Town Center Drive, north of the 215 Beltway in Summerlin.

Wednesdays: Las Vegas Farmers Market at Bruce Trent Park, sponsored by the City of Las Vegas, is held at 1600 N. Rampart at Vegas Drive.

Fridays: Las Vegas Farmers Market is sponsored by the Fremont East District and held on Fremont Street., just east of Las Vegas Boulevard.

For more information, visit the website at LasVegasFarmersMarket.com or call 562-CORN (702-562-2676).

Henderson Farmers Market:

For those who are shopping in or around the City of Henderson, there's a fourth local farmers market, located at 200 Water St., south of Boulder Highway and Lake Mead.

The market is operated by Dave Star, an NCFMA member, who can be contacted for vendor and visitor information at (702) 579-9661. The Henderson Farmers Market is open daytime hours from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. (weather permitting) on Thursdays year-round. For more information, click Events on the CityofHenderson.com website.

Other area farmers markets:

Website www.NevadaGrown.com has listings for locations in other cities, or check the local newspapers.

Add locally produced, fresh, fruits and vegetables to your shopping list. Visit the area farmers markets often, especially as an outdoor, fresh-air, fall activity.

Taura S. Mizrahi is a freelance lifestyles writer who enjoys finding fun, historic, unusual and out-of-the-way places that appeal to families and business travelers. Her website is WriteApproachLA.com.

Holiday Eating

Bread pudding. Pumpkin pie. Turkey and stuffing. Honey-glazed ham. Casseroles loaded with cheese...

The traditional artery-clogging foods of the holiday season made more sense if you lived on a farm a mere century ago. A nice fat tire around your belly kept you warm and happy throughout the lean days of winter, and you can bet that no pilgrim ever fretted about being a size 2. The main task of winter was simply to get through it alive, and lard in the pie crust had meaning: pack on enough calories and you'd make it to see spring.

Nowadays, it doesn't make much sense to load up on the extra cornbread dressing - except that it's delicious. And really, how many times a year do we actually get to eat cornbread dressing? What are a few extra pounds going to do anyway?

It's as easy to rationalize festivity-inspired gluttony as it is to get an extra helping of mashed potatoes, but according to WebMD.com most Americans gain an average of two Holiday pounds they never end up losing. So if you are thirty years old and scratching your head at how skinny you looked at age twenty, multiply two pounds by ten years of Thanksgivings and you'll have your answer.

This isn't to suggest that we should ban pumpkin pie from the holiday table. Depriving ourselves of those irresistible holiday foods would be masochistic, if not downright impossible. Even someone with a will of iron will crack around a plate of snickerdoodle cookies. But avoiding holiday weight gain is not a hopeless cause - there are plenty of easy and economical strategies to maintain your weight during the holidays.

Slow down

The pleasure of eating is not in quantity, but in our ability to savor.

If you've ever been to Europe, you'll notice that the long wait for service isn't just because French waiters are surly but because they actually expect you to chew your food before you swallow it. In France, the gastronomic capital of the Western world, the average dinner may take several hours. Back in the states we feel lucky if we manage to eat at a kitchen table and not in a car. If your idea of "savoring" is wolfing down a burger while stopped at a traffic light, try chewing your food at least ten times before swallowing. Taking your time to eat will allow you to realize when you are full. You'll feel less groggy and you won't have to loosen your belt buckle a notch. And if there's any prime occasion to savor a food, it's with that perfectly roasted, once-a-year turducken.

Savor smaller portions

If you are attending a traditional Thanksgiving meal with a traditional calorie-packed smorgasbord, help yourself to a small portion of each dish. "Small" does not mean Applebee's sized, but a few decadent and slowly-enjoyed spoonfuls.

If you are still hungry for more, look for the lean meats and the vegetables. Have another serving of the green beans and white turkey meat and less of the creamed corn.

One more thing: lay off the booze. Alcohol is packed with calories and it's rarely as tasty as dessert.

Host a healthy potluck

Hosting a traditional Thanksgiving meal can make a substantial dent in your grocery budget. Let your friends and family know you are hosting a healthy, potluck-style Thanksgiving. It will allow everyone the opportunity to contribute a favorite dish without putting the financial burden on a single person. More than likely you'll savor something new and out of your usual cooking repertoire.

If your friends and family think that a "healthy Thanksgiving" is an oxymoron, gently share your vision of what that might look like.

Substitute ingredients

You can still honor your great-grandmother's recipes and stay healthy by substituting ingredients.

For instance, replace white bread and flour with whole grains. Whole grains contain more fiber and are gradually absorbed in your system, thus avoiding a spike in blood sugar levels and leaving us more satisfied for a longer period of time.

Consider using olive oil instead of butter, or try heart-healthy brands like SmartBalance. Neither contain the saturated fat of butter or the partially hydrogenated oil of margarine (both are terrible for you).

Use fresh vegetables and fruits instead of canned ones. They provide everyone with more vitamins and minerals, and actually taste better than processed canned foods. A bowl of freshly made cranberry sauce is far more appetizing than the cylindrical, gelatinous cranberry blob that comes from a can. You can save a good deal of money on produce by sifting through the coupons that stuff your mailbox. Stores like LaBonita and Sunflower offer specials on fresh produce that can seem insubstantial, but add up significantly.

In addition to honoring traditional dishes like turkey and stuffing, make sure to offer plenty of vegetables. Try including winter greens such as kale and chard, or astonish everyone with a delicious beet salad with goat cheese (it's shockingly good).

Desserts like a crustless pumpkin pie have a mousse-like decadence but cut out fat by omitting the crust.

If you are still hard-pressed for healthy Thanksgiving recipes, look around the Internet - there are dozens of helpful websites like allrecipes.com and foodnetwork.com which offer creative and healthy dishes.

Stay active

It's too easy to slip into a food coma after a heavy meal, but trade the television for a walk, before and after dinner. Exercising after meals helps suppress the appetite and can help ease the grogginess and belly-aching that often follows a large dinner.

Try to get your family involved in the exercise. Watch the football game, then round everyone up for an actual, touch-football game in the back yard (if your family is in the midst of a food coma, small wagers and stabs at pride can motivate just about anyone). Tell your mother-in-law that you would love to catch up but your mouth works best when you're walking. Or, invite your nieces and nephews out into the backyard for a game of tag or monkey in the middle.

Lastly, if you happen to be traveling over the holidays and are dying to get back on a treadmill, check out local gyms for temporary guest memberships or weekly trial offers.

Eat healthy now

Getting into the habit of eating well is a lot easier if you start before the holidays. Our bodies become addicted to simple carbohydrates and sugars and cutting out junk food now will help lessen the cravings that make you reach for a second helping.

At work, steer clear of the snack machine and bring your own healthy snacks to munch on. It's much easier to stay away from the cookies and candy in the lounge if there's something tasty awaiting you at your desk.

Humbug, M.D.

In a perfect world, everyone would be happy and optimistic throughout the holidays, but oftentimes winter sentiments are the exact opposite - that is, pessimistic and sad. An unrealistic expectation to be joyous can be the underlying cause for unwelcome feelings of bitterness and can lead to a serious case of the "Bah Humbugs". These holiday blues are common, especially when it seems like everyone else is celebrating and enjoying themselves, and they can easily become the catalyst for a melancholy holiday season.

There are many different causes which can contribute to this negative mental state.

Financial limitations, commercialism, striving for perfection, memories of prior holidays, family conflict, and remembering people you've lost through death, divorce or separation - all of these events can serve to increase stress and fatigue.

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly

Whether we participate fully or not, the holidays seem to suck the energy out of all of us. With all the parties to attend, errands to run, and family and business obligations on the agenda it is no wonder so many people are left feeling exhausted and drained.

Here are some practical ways to keep your battery from petering out.

Exercise - Fight fire with fire and combat energy loss with energy input. Hit the gym (preferably with a buddy) to fortify your metabolism, or take a yoga class to stretch away tension and mellow out. Even a simple stroll down the block will elevate your heart rate and get the endorphins pumping. Whatever you decide, devote at least an hour of your time daily to these activities and it will pay off in spades.

Sound Nutrition - If you stuff your frustrated face with junk food you'll just induce lethargy, which is the opposite of what you're striving for. Instead, stay hydrated with plenty of water and eliminate foods that bring you down (such as sugar, pasta, fatty meats, or fried foods). If you must sample them, please don't devour them!

Breathe - It may sound simplistic, but regulated breathing IN of energy and exhaling OUT sluggishness and tension really works. It is best accomplished through your nose with your mouth shut. Try closing off one nostril with your thumb and breathe IN to a count of three, then close off the other nostril and exhale OUT to a count of three. Do this ritual for 2-5 minutes to cleanse out the mental debris weighing you down while pumping yourself up with good intention for the day.

Laugh - When you find an opportunity to laugh, do it, and do it hard. It's the healthiest method of pain reduction and it promotes energy and well-being. If you can laugh at yourself when something gets screwed up instead of beating yourself down, you'll be much better off.

Sleep - Sleep is restorative, so do whatever it takes to relax before saying good night. Try reading for pleasure, listening to soothing music on your iPod, enjoying a long hot bath with drops of lavender oil, sipping a glass of Pinot Noir, receiving a full-body massage, or having sexual release - either with your partner or alone (you get the idea).

Deck the Halls with Love and Cheer, Not Stuff

In our society, preoccupation with material possessions seems to be highly valued around holiday time. Christmas is heavily endorsed by merchandisers who condition us to participate in a shopping frenzy to purchase perfect gifts for those on our list. The resulting materialism diminishes true holiday spirit. Of surveyed Americans, 80 percent would prefer to have a more simplified holiday season this year. Below are some ideas to accomplish this goal:

1) Agree to exchange handmade items with the adults on your list.

2) Donate to a charity in a friend's name.

3) Focus on the giving aspect of the holiday with your children versus the receiving aspect.

4) After all gifts have been unwrapped, plan to do something together. Bring the whole family to a sporting event, spend an afternoon at your local park or go see a movie, play, or concert.

5) Organize a fundraiser for a worthy cause.

The holiday season is a very busy and stressful time of year. We have more things to do, more things to buy, more traffic to navigate, more parking spaces to find, and more crowds and lines to wait in - it is these extra demands that threaten to bring out the Scrooge in all of us year after year. If you find yourself slipping into the "Bah Humbug" mood, just remember the most important remedy: stay positive, stay active, and stay happy.

Dr. Joseph Barry is a Clinical and Consulting Psychologist living in West Los Angeles. He is a writer of fiction and non-fiction and is currently working on his memoir. Joebarryphd@gmail.com

Hotel Room Training

All of us take a vacation from time to time, but should we take a vacation from the gym? That decision is up to you. I found myself in a complete power outage when preparing for a physique competition. Rather than panic, I used my dismal sitaution to devise a brand new way to exercise. I would like to take a few minutes to share my experience with you.

While preparing for the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation Championships in 2003, I found myself in the middle of the largest blackout in Canadian and American history. Caused by a massive power fluctuation due to unusually high temperatures in the Northeast, over 55 million people, me included, were left without power. This meant no gym, no healthy, home-cooked meals, and no public transportation available to get anywhere. I was stuck.

It was August of 2003, just a few weeks from my figure show. I was in shock when I heard that I would be stuck in a hotel, stranded in Toronto, Ontario between flights as I traveled from Nassau, Bahamas to Victoria, BC Canada. My new home was actually in Mississauga, and to create a workout, I relied on the only power around: my will power.

The result of dedicating just 20 minutes a day to fitness while you are on the road can make a difference in your vacation. You will feel more alert with an increase in energy. Your level of guilt when you enjoy dessert at the buffet will barely be noticed.

Looking back at that show in 2003 I know that every piece of dedication paid off. I have since then placed 1st at the Canadian Fitness & Figure Nationals, and just recently 2nd place at Fitness America in Las Vegas. Whether you are working out for general health and fitness or a competitive athlete, it’s important to take time for you. I am sure you know the saying, I don’t have time to work out. You must make time! Schedule your work- outs into your calendar and honor each fitness appointment. Setting aside 20 60 minutes a day for fitness will help you reduce a variety of life’s stresses, including food cravings and anxiety. Use my basic hotel room workout above and feel the immediate difference.

Here are the essential basics for you to use when it comes to staying fit anywhere, and at anytime!

Skipping or jogging on the spot for 2 3 minutes for getting your heart rate up. Be sure to always have a skipping rope in your suitcase. Jump rope is an excellent alternative to jogging outside or using a treadmill, plus you can stay in the comfort of your hotel room.

Pushups for your chest and front delts. Great for getting your heart rate up.

Squats for your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Also raises your heart rate fast.

Dips from a chair with feet on the floor. Works your triceps.

Crunches (reverse, side and regular), working your abs.

Lunges for your glutes, quads and hamstrings, and maintaining an elevated heart rate.

Repeat circuit at least two to four times for a total of three to five complete circuits.