S & W Z Fitness

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Hot & Healthy

Great Links for Learning about Nutrition

Posted on August 10, 2015 at 10:35 AM

Hi all,

Soon I hope to be sharing a wealth of knowledge about nutrition via the Zumba Plate education program.  Until then, please enjoy the following links.  I have included a description with each.  Please note:  I do not endorse any products sold by the following web sites.  These web sites do have lots of great information, however.  If you visit these pages, make sure to watch my videos at www.youtube.com/channel/UCrHo0DKPzrIKoxowjRzTVsg too so that you can get a clear vision of what I do believe.  

1.  Dr. Gourmet - This website is fantastic!  Dr. Gourmet is a real doctor and culinary expert.  He does have a book that includes recipes and it is fantastic.  I believe it is available at the library as well as book stores.  Just excellent straight talk about food, including how to eat for certaing conditions or with particular medications.  It's the best!

2. Kris Carr - Kris is a cancer survivor turned health guru.  She has lots of excellent advice and recipes.

3.  Hungry For Change - This is the site for a documentary that explores the lives of people who made personal discoveries about health through proper diet.  It is frequently available on Netflix.  This is the extreme end of healthy eating.  They advocate clean eating and veganism.  If you watch my videos or read my blog you will notice I take a much more gradual and less strict approach to diet.  With that in mind, it's a powerful thing to watch because it drives home ideas we tend to block out because of the way we are brought up and the way food "products" are advertised to us.

4. https://www.blueapron.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Blue Apron -  This is actually a fantastic service - if you can afford it.  For me, this is kind of pricey.  They do not charge shipping - that is included, and it has many advantages.  So as I said, if it's in your budget it is well worth it!  They take all the guesswork out of eating healthy meals.  You can purchase a package that will send you 2 to 4 meals a week for one person up to a family of 4 (I assume you can order more than one plan to supplement for a larger famliy).  The meals are not cooked, however!  You get exactly the ingredients you need for each healthy meal along with a recipe with specific instruction.  This not only gives you the healthy foods, it helps you learn the skills to cook healthy meals and the things you learn with transfer to the rest of your meal times!  

The Basics - My Philosophy on Health and Fitness

Posted on April 11, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Everyone is unique. We do not all share exactly the same DNA, the same life experiences, the same opinions or the same feelings about everything. None of us came from a mold but we were all made in God's image and as stewards of these precious and sometimes fragile, mortal shells, we are responsible for their care. Self care is not selfish. It is our duty, not only to ourselves but to those who we care for and who care for us.


Most people invest a significant amount of time either working on their health and fitness, planning to work on their health and fitness or simply wishing they were healthier or more fit. Many people place a high priority on setting and attaining specific goals for weight loss. As I said before, we are all unique. I personally do not believe that setting a goal to lose a specific number of pounds or inches by a set date is either healthy or practical. I believe that challenging yourself or anyone else to do a new exercise program or diet that will last for a specific time period is neither safe nor practical. I believe that using pills, shakes, supplements or body wraps to induce weight loss or increase energy is also neither safe nor practical. In addition to these practices, I would like to mention "cleansing" which is a term that is misused and miss-represented. The body is made to cleanse itself of impurities, therefore the only reason you would need to use something for cleansing your system would be if your body was malfunctioning. The renal and digestive systems do what they ought to do as long as they remain healthy.


I have said a lot about what I don't agree with on the subject of health and fitness. Here is what I do believe: The best way to care for your body is by eating a healthy, daily, permanent diet that is very rich in vegetables (especially green leafy ones), lots of fruit, protein in the form of legumes, lean meats, fish and eggs and complex carbohydrates. What you eat should be as close to nature as possible. Avoid additives, preservatives and anything artificial. Limit saturated fats. For fitness you must have activity. The recommended amount has always been at least three sessions of cardiovascular activity a week that each last at least thirty minutes. But as I said, we are unique and some of us need more. It has been proven that building muscle helps to burn fat and to support the musculoskeletal system. Back pain? Guess what!?! You need to improve muscle tone! So moderate strength training is also a great addition to your weekly activity. You don't have to use weights (you can use natural resistance training such as push ups and other floor work.


In regard to goal setting and dime limits I have realized that neither health nor fitness are a destination. They are a journey. A path. The key is to get on the path. Anywhere. Jump in. Progress is progress. Take it at the speed that works for you. Start small. Add a new veggie to your diet. Try a new activity that gets you moving. And keep going. That's how you will find success. Not on anyone else's terms or by the definition in a magazine. You be fit for you. You be healthy for you! I know you can do it!

Important Things You Should Know About Zumba!!

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 10:50 AM

 1. We WANT you there. The more students in a class, the more fun we all have. Yes, you pay to be in class, but it isn’t your money we’re excited to see. It’s your smiling face when you hear a favorite song. It’s you telling us how glad you are you made it to class. That’s the best thing about being an instructor. P.S. We love it when you really get into the music and add your own flavor and hoot and whistle and be generally obnoxious. It makes class more fun!

2. Consistency is the key to success. No matter why you come to class, the best way to accomplish that “why” is by showing up whenever you possibly can. If you only show up to class a few times a month, it should not be a surprise when you see little to no change in your fitness – or whatever you are trying to change.

3. Zumba is not just for weight loss. If you come to class with the hope of losing weight, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that Zumba has multiple benefits. Besides possible weight loss you stand to reduce your stress level, strengthen your core muscle group, reduce chronic pain, increase flexibility, increase your energy level and improve your over-all self esteem. Plus it’s just plain fun!

4. That said, Zumba is not a magical weight loss tool. Yes, you stand to burn calories and lose some fat if you were not this active previously. But if you are coming to class with the hopes of weight loss, here are some important things you need to keep in mind:

*Remember #2. The more classes you attend, the more likely your weight loss will be successful. Likewise, it will be faster.

*Don’t focus on a scale. We incorporate many muscle toning movements into our routines – particularly for the glutes and abs. Muscle really does weigh more than fat. So if you feel your clothes loosening up but the numbers don’t change, that could be why. Just remember, being fit and firm is more important than light and slender.

*If you are coming consistently for awhile and have some weight loss, you might still hit a plateau. Zumba can take you part of the way but studies show that diet is way more significant in weight loss than exercise. Remember the importance of what you are eating. Keep track of your portions and what kinds of things you eat. (Hint: We have other blog posts about healthy eating you can check out!) Likewise, varying your workout or increasing it can help you maximize your efforts. Add in some additional cardio. Try out some Zumba moves at home in your kitchen while you are waiting for the meat to defrost or the water to boil. Try some yoga or weight training.

*Carrying excess weight can have unhappy side effects. One is chronic joint pain – which can include in the spine. Zumba helps with this by increasing your core muscle tone and flexibility. But it is important to do those toning moves correctly! (Go read #5!) 5. As in #2, while coming to class consistently is important, your level of participation while in class makes a huge difference! Just like with attending regularly, keeping up with us while we teach as much as possible will optimize your workout. In addition, the moves we do are best done correctly. The dance type moves are perhaps less important to mimic exactly – what’s important is that you keep moving. However, when we are doing squats or ab targeting movements you will get the most out of these moves when you do them with the proper form. If you need advice on these, please ask. We love when you take an active role in optimizing your class time and we do not mind answering your questions – EVER! This is especially true because your SAFETY is of prime importance. So while we love to see you work hard, it is more important that you do not over-do your workout. CONTROL is the key word here. Keep things tight and strong. No flinging or flopping. Jiggling is fine. ;-) Do what you are capable of and do it as correctly as possible. In fact, some nights you will notice we are taking it easy ourselves. This could be because one of us is injured, under the weather or pregnant. So if you know the moves and want to work harder than we are, feel free to do so as long as you are staying safe!

6. We love it when you keep track of your own attendance! Yes, we will sign you in if you don’t do it or if we see you come in and we are just standing around. But when you actively keep track of your card or keep a reminder of when your unlimited pass expires we are thrilled. We don’t like to tell people they owe us money. That’s not fun. We prefer the fun part where we wink and woot at you during class. That’s fun. So if we remind you that it’s time to renew or get a new card, just know that we only do so to keep consistent track of our business.

7. Your feedback is super helpful! If you have favorite songs or moves or songs or moves you hate; we want to know. If you have a suggestion we would be happy to hear it. We might not use it, but then we might. Or we may use something similar or make some other adjustment based on your suggestion. So it never hurts to ask. As you may have heard us say, our song wish list is very, very long at all times. New songs and choreography are constantly in a holding pattern. We absolutely love to share new material with you and we try to rotate in new routines as often as possible. We want you to know, also, that having some routines and keeping them for extended time is for a good reason. Two, actually. One reason is that it takes work and effort for us to choreograph and/or learn new routines well enough to introduce them in class. The second reason is that YOU get the most out of the routines that you know best and have gotten the most familiar with. The better you know the routine, the more effort you can put in and the more personal flavor you can add! Feedback is also important to how we plan for the future of our classes as it relates to our schedule and what we choose to offer in addition to two week-night classes.

8.  We love our students!  The most important thing to us is seeing you succeed and enjoy yourselves!  Thanks for reading!!

M.J., Magic And An Unlikely Princess

Posted on October 27, 2013 at 1:50 AM

If you have never heard the song “Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson, the lyrics go something like this:

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror

I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways

And No Message Could've Been Any Clearer

If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place

Take A Look At Yourself

And Then Make That Change!

Yes, the song IS about making the world a better place and starting with yourself. It’s about charity and kindness and compassion and generally being a person of improved character. But at the core is a truth you can’t escape. If you want to see a difference in your life, you have to look into the mirror. You have to look not only at your physical reflection but at your daily actions and look into your mind and reflect upon your attitudes and beliefs.

We make a habit of blaming other people and things and situations for not being who WE want to be. We blame our kids. We blame our parents. We blame the schedule. The TV. The weather. The economy. And while those things can be allowed to shift our motivations and actions, they need not be the cause for our stagnation.

We live in a city that is built around food. Gluttony abounds. Drinking (of alcohol), casual or otherwise, is a regular activity. But that doesn’t mean we cannot eat clean if we want to. Life here, like everywhere, is busy and packed with activity but being busy does not mean we cannot make time for exercise. And I hate to break it to y’all but, guess what, the idea that eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk is a misconception.

If you don’t like what you see when you look in the mirror because your body is not what youwould like it to be, then it’s time to make that change. If you know that you have always wanted to work out or eat healthier but always have excuses, it’s time to make that change to your attitude. If you just want to look at that man, or woman, in the mirror longer, make the change to prioritize healthy activity. Review your diet. Review your physical activity and ability. Review your habits, excuses and roadblocks.

Michael tells us he is “asking him to change his ways”. I think we ask ourselves constantly. We even pray to God to change us. And while God could help us out, it really is down to us, you and me, to make the necessary changes to recreate our lives. Don’t just ask. You will almost always say no. Not in so short an answer either. We spend hours standing in front of ourselves explaining how we simply do not have the time, money, energy, experience, education, inspiration, whatever, to make any change. We are the bosses of ourselves, right? Tell yourself, “Self, you will change!” And be specific.

As I have heard it put so well, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. Just like anything else. If you dive into a huge campaign to change yourself, you risk a set back caused by being overwhelmed or exhausted. Start at 1. Don’t move on to 2 until you are ready. Be strict, but be fair. Give yourself a break but keep pushing at the same time. Raise the bar. Reward yourself properly (Not with anything unhealthy!).

If you have seen the first “Harry Potter” movie or read the first book, you will remember the Mirror of Erised. If not, in a nutshell, it’s a big fancy old mirror which when gazed into shows you the deepest desire of your heart. Pretend you are looking into the Mirror of Erised and then live like it is your reality. And the people in your life, or your “friends” on the social network have no power over that. Only YOU can change you.

I will leave you with one last thought. A question. Not hypothetical…a real, honest, soul searching, mirror gazing question. It comes from the movie “Brave” and is stated by a princess who is most unwilling to be a princess. She is very happy to be herself and everyone else expects something different. She asks us, “If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?”

Getting from Point A to Point Be

Posted on June 15, 2013 at 11:00 PM

I want to share something with you. It's something you probably already know, but you most likely don't use. I'm going to tell you how to eat an elephant. It's simple, really. Just take one bite at a time; the same way you would eat a raisin or a cookie.


This is goal setting 101. If you have a big, scary mountain of a goal in mind but you are too intimidated by its size, then this is for you! In the spirit of "keeping it simple", here is your To Do list for getting from here to where you want to be.


• Know your ultimate goal and make sure it is BIG. And make sure it's healthy!


• Break your goal into bite sized chunks. You can do this by using a timeline, but with fitness goals please remember that fitness and weight loss don't progress at an even pace or in a straight line. These goals are best divided into layers. For example, you could call your first goal at 5 pounds lost or 2 inches in your waist or being able to lift 5 pounds more.


• Make a stairway of your efforts. Continuing to do the same thing for any length of time will ultimately end in a stalemate. You will need to "up the ante" if you want to make progress. If you gradually increase your efforts over time you can avoid that stalemate.


• Track your progress. Keep a chart. Take pictures. Use an app!


• Find your WHY. Know why you have the goal you chose and use your why to motivate you. Make a poster. Put it on your desk or your computer screen. Keep a daily reminder.


• Find other things that motivate you. What gets you going? What is your theme song? Search for "motivation" online to find more ideas.

Now, let's get started!  We are at Point A.  Where do you want to BE when you reach your goal?