Should Men and Women Workout Differently?

I think it’s important women lift each other up and this chick rocks hard. . . .seriously!

Muffin Topless

I can’t help but notice when I enter the gym, that the cardio section is primarily filled with women, and the men occupy the majority of the weight room. From the outside looking in, it may seem as though there is a fundamental difference in the way men and women should be training. This; however, is not the case. When it comes to cardiovascular exercise or strength training, both men and women can benefit substantially. According to certified personal trainer, Danielle Vindez, “Training, no matter the sex, has to do with the goal and present physical condition.”

 

Spencer Neveux Fitness & Nutrition www.spencerneveuxfitness.comMany women believe the myth that lifting heavy weights will result in a “bulky” or “manly” appearance.  The truth is, women do not have the levels of testosterone men do, and thus cannot “bulk up” without the help of steroids and years of serious dedication.  This fundamental difference in hormones makes it…

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Invaluable Lesson

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I’m confessing to something here and now, kind of like a disclosure statement, in advance in the event I’m tried in the court of public opinion, my dogs are a band of terrorists, and dogs like humans when in large groups take on the mentality of the majority, the mob and my mob of six+one ( we have my daughter’s dog for the weekend) decided to terrorize our singular cat who happens to like to hide behind the trash can under the kitchen sink while we were out to dinner. I think you can see where this is headed.

Now this is really nothing new, the cat mews to get their attention (he’s bored; he’s a singular cat in a multi-dog household) and the dogs give chase. We yell at them and they eventually stop, but it truly is a game of cat and mouse or ummmm, cat and dog. They’ve never hurt him, but our big dog is 80 lbs, with a booming bark and a vicious growl, but he’s pretty much all bark, no bite, unless he really feels threatened. The rest of our little gang members, that’s what my in laws lovingly call them,  are under 15 pounds and Konan, the big boy  has  been nothing but patient and gentle with them, so I have no reason to believe he’d hurt our other animals, but don’t want to tempt fate.

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So now that you have the back story, I will proceed to tell you about the cluster f—- we came home to. As we crossed the threshold into the interior of the house we noticed a singular hamburger meat outer wrapper and that was a telltale sign that the dogs had been up to no good whilst we were away. We followed the trail of crumbs and empty wrappers into the kitchen where it had appeared that all hell had broken loose and exploded onto my kitchen floor. The trash can overturned and filthy garbage (save for the cat, I’d have snapped a picture) everywhere, and the poor traumatized cat, Tigger, panting , wet, hung up on the pipes( which was loosed and leaking)  and of course covered in his own pee and poop. We were terrified that the dogs might have bit him, but no signs of blood, just a hell of a lot of emotional trauma. The dogs were thrown outside and Tigger rescued and eventually bathed, this way we could also check for injuries, but none thankfully.

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We made quick work and cleaned up, while the dogs remained on time out, outdoors. We finally let them in and not a peep out of them for the rest of the night. So either they were exhausted from their terrorist activity, or they knew they were in trouble. Living in a multi- pet home can be a challenge, and of course it’s mostly fun and entertaining, and can also be time consuming. Our animals teach us things and last night Konan taught us that he needs to be outside when we’re away. He just gets way too excited when he’s egged on by  the others.  Secondly, the cat can mew to lure them, but if they even look his way they will be corrected. I know it’s not positive reinforcement, blah, blah, blah, but I do not claim to be an animal trainer or the dog whisperer. The situation could have been much worse: lesson learned. Btw: the cat is 13 years old and the oldest of the dogs is nine, so they’ve cohabited relatively peacefully for some time, but the grand -dog adds a new dynamic, because he’s young and male and he and Konan wreak havoc when they’re together.

I’d like to end this post with a shout out to  my multi-dog brethren. I would love to hear from you. Do you have any crazy stories you’d be willing to share?

top picture: Calypso aka Piggy-opportunist/dumpster diver

middle picture: Konan aka Fathead: mob boss

last picture: + one, Finnegan, aka Black Mamba: second in charge

grass fed beef: part one

Plain Street

As a small child I loved McDonalds, I mean so much so that I had a nickname for the place: Donny’s; however, it wasn’t just McDonalds, I loved hamburgers and I could eat them any time of day. My dad often cringed when I ordered them for breakfast. Needless to say, I did grow out of that phase eventually, and as my palate grew more sophisticated I began to develop a taste for flavorful healthier food, including colorful fruits and vegetables. Meanwhile, I also discovered the origins of that (delicious) burger from the 1970s forward in America as McDonalds began to obtain their meat from factory farms.

Factory Cow Herd

Today, there are approximately 250,000 Factory Farms, aka-CAFOs: concentrated animal feeding operations, in America, according to Wikipedia. In an AFO “animals are confined for over 45 days in a vegetation-free area. These animals are packed into warehouses and lots with slatted floors, not wandering around in the grass,” like we imagine at Old McDonald’s farm. (Grist.org). Animals are confined to a small area with their own excrement (enter ecoli and mad cow), possibly surrounded by sick and dead animals and their food is brought to them (GMO feed-we’ll get to this later) without any room to wander and graze. Additionally, they are forced into maturity through hormones, overfeeding and supplements. They are also injected with harmful antibiotics to protect them from sickness, since cows are not actually meant to eat grain. Factory fed cows spend most of their life (one year) in a cramped pen preparing to be slaughtered with no quality of life whatsoever, and we won’t even get into the sometimes unethical means of slaughter.

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Enter grass fed beef, the alternative to the latter. Bear with me, this is an overwhelming amount of information, but I’m getting somewhere I swear. When you go to the supermarket you should assume the meat available for purchase is CAFO beef unless otherwise labeled. Now, there are some drawbacks 1). grass fed beef is more costly 2). less convenient to obtain and 3). as a result you may need to cull consumption. On the flip side 1). grass fed beef is a more ethical way to eat meat (since vegetarianism is not an option for me right now–I’ll get to this) Here’s why: cows are free to naturally graze open pastures, allowed to mature naturally to two years old, lending to a much better quality of life for the animals. 2). Many Grass fed farms allow tours, so you can see the origin of your meat–transparent operation– and meet the rancher who raised said cow, 3). Grass fed meat is free of hormones and supplements, 4). Grass fed beef is leaner, with a higher level of omega 3s.

I’m not so naive to believe that we will all become vegetarians or vegans and that the practice of slaughtering animals will hence stop; however, we have a moral and ethical responsibility to do right by them and be mindful of the origin of our food. There’s research now to prove humans are omnivores and while we can survive on a vegetarian diet, our whole genetic makeup, body structure and past eating habits point to a diet consisting of both plant and animal products. So, if you’re still with me a great place to start is here: http://www.eatwild.com, a website dedicated to organic farms and ranches by state.

Lately, I have been purchasing my grass fed  beef at Trader Joes, and they are limited. I was only able to purchase ground beef at a whopping $6.99 a lb.; however, it is  flavorful, tender, and hormone free–unlike some questionable grocery store purchases I’ve made in the past, and sourced in Uruguay.  I’ve not heard anything negative about Uruguayan beef except the fossil fuel it takes to get here. It makes me feel slightly better and that’s got to count for something, right?

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So the next step in my journey here is to sample various cuts from some local ranches, who deliver to CSAs: community supported agriculture, and local farmer’s markets.  Stay tuned: I will report my findings on price, taste, and  availability soon.

What Death Teaches us about Living

John Donne once said  “When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.” Donne was a poet and a preacher and someone who obviously knew a little something about coping with the death of someone close. When I started this blog (yesterday) I fully intended on keeping it professional; however, sometimes it’s hard to separate the personal from the individual, and while I wanted to post about my findings on local grass fed  beef (that can wait), but the former lies heavy on my heart and I think this is the best way for me to work through how I feel and share one man’s legacy.

Mr. Raz was a teacher who was on my team for the last couple of years(he passed away this morning and it feels so surreal to talk about him in past tense) and a man I had come to know and love over the last several years. He was an older man, probably upper sixties, but still a teacher so passionate about literature and so wise in his spectrum of knowledge about not only literature, but also in history, art, and music, some of it perhaps gained by his teaching stint in South Africa.

I know he had been dealing with some health issues and  the pressure of teaching in such a turbulent time probably had sadly also taken a toll, and while he may not have fit the mold of what the current administration deemed a “great” teacher, he made an impact on his students, because he “still” loved what he did and truly cared about the well being of his students. I don’t want to sully his good name by getting into educational politics so I’ll stop there and suffice to say Mr. Raz may very well have been a relic of the past . He  believed our students needed to be exposed to classical literature and if he loved it then they couldn’t help but love it too, and by golly I think most of them did. Another teacher described him as a “ray of sunshine” in our hallway; he changed his music in his room  according to the literary era and drew some amazing artwork on the board of the Grendel and Beowulf battle among other things. He always absorbed his students in whatever we were reading.

Apart from the profession, he was a sweet, thoughtful man and a holiday rarely passed that we (his team members) didn’t receive a little token of some sort whether it be candy or a little skeleton for Halloween; I couldn’t help but think with all he had going on he always stopped to think about others. So today, I want to pause and reflect on him and take a little piece of that tattered page–his legacy–as I would ask any of you who will be heading back into your classrooms this year or any workplace for that matter–and do just a little fine translation to help make this world a better place if even for a fleeting moment, because we never know when that bell will toll for us. Life teaches us invaluable lessons, but death teaches us about our own mortality, life’s brevity,  and what we leave behind when our vessel is gone.

Please keep Mr. Raz and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Raspberry Zinger Cake redux

So, this is the first post on my new blog. I may  eventually upgrade to a format that allows for more versatility and lots of categories. I like to write and some of my interests may be too eccentric or niche for Facebook and Twitter (come on 140 words.)

My blog will primarily be used to communicate with like minded individuals in the animal advocacy, baking, healthy cooking, and fitness communities and an online journal of sorts.

My first post speaks to one of my first few attempts at vegan baking. I’m a self confessed sugar addict, and when I started logging my food in an online diary I was mortified by my sugar intake. Why does Greek yogurt have so much freaking sugar?! Anyways, this spurred my interest in alternatives to traditional baking ingredients. I’ve spent the last three weeks gathering coconut oil, coconut palm sugar, almond flour, and dried fruit (who know dates are an awesome sweetener?) some of these products are not cheap, and difficult to find. My grocery shopping trips are now confined to Sprouts, Trader Joes, and Amazon.  Prior to this I thought I was doing adequately as I had recently stopped eating refined carbs and most processed foods. My husband and I aren’t exactly on same page when it comes to dietary habits, but this Zinger cake was a way to try and win him over, since he loves raspberry zingers and has been talking about Hostess product, since it was announced that their product is back on store shelves.

Here’s the link to the recipe, save a couple alterations, I subbed coconut milk for the soy milk and coconut palm sugar for the regular cane sugar, otherwise no other alterations.

http://www.namelymarly.com/2012/02/vegan-raspberry-zinger-coconut-cake/

As you can see my cake looks nothing like the recipe picture and I decided against coloring the icing pink, just an unnecessary step IMHO; however, the taste was addicting, not in so much a Zinger way, but a more natural moist version with a hint of cashews and butter; although no butter to be found here.

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What I learned is that 1). bakers have been working with butter, flour, and cane sugar for years and, there is less info out there for more obscure ingredients like peanut flour, so as new information gets out into the intarwebs, and there becomes a need because of allergies or other dietary needs the more research on how the ingredients interact with one another and 2).desserts without butter and cane sugar can be quite delicious. I’m inspired by the recipes already out there and professionals like Sweet Freedom Bakery who are doing it quite successfully.

Ultimately, I have room to learn, improve, and grow, and I  am thankful for the wealth of information shared and recycled on the internet.

G’ nite all