Five Jewels            
            for a Healthy, Fit Body

by Giselle Fernandez

  To all those men and women out there who have yo yo dieted for years, lost and then gained again, and falsely think they'll never have the body they dream for... have faith -- you can have the healthy and gorgeous physique you want. I am proof that you can get healthy and fit at any age! I am nearly 45 years old and am in the best shape of my life. It was not always this way -- I was a chubby kid and battled my weight in the most critical and hyper sensitive years as a teenager. But I made a decision and that is what it came down to.. a decision to simply change that!

    When I am asked for advice on staying fit, I keep it really simple and really plain. There are no fancy or weird diets, no crazy fasting, certainly no diet pills and zero attention to the "ideal" weight as dictated by some universal weight chart!

    To stay fit for me, there are simply five jewels to live by:

  •   1. Acceptance first! Accept the body you have! Accept the height you have and the body shape you have -- simply put -- you were born you with the equipment you have -- decide to make the best of it and be proud of it! This requires a change in attitude!

        Stop saying to yourself constantly, "I hate my thighs," "I am too short," "I hate my skinny legs," I don't like this or that about me.." We all do it. Stop it! And decide to work with what God gave you and make you the best you can be. The negative dialogue is a sure bet way to repeatedly sabotage you and keep you in a place where you feel badly about your body! Acceptance is the first key to success. I used to hate my muscular legs -- before Beyonce and Tina Turner and JLO, muscular legs were not the in thing--being skinny and tall was the only criteria in the magazines for beauty. Nonsense! It took me a long time to realize that each and everyone of us was born with our own magic and package -- accept it and make it the best it can possibly be -- Because when you do this and stop comparing yourself to ideals that don't really exist or have relevance to you, you can start appreciating what you have and then you will have the desire to take better care of yourself.

        Real and inner Confidence comes not from trying to be someone you are not -- trying to fit into size six shoes when you are clearly a size nine... real confidence comes from making decisions that are truly good for you, making decisions to take care of the you, you are. When you embrace the body God gave you, then you can do all in your power to make it the healthiest and most fit body it can be--and this self care and attention makes you feel you are doing all you can with what you got and that is sexy! Being beautiful and sexy has little to do with body size or the size of any part of your has everything to do with an inner confidence that screams--"This is me--I dig it and am taking care of myself because I am in fact worth it!" That is the sexiest attitude you can have and one that spills out from your soul when you dedicate yourself to being all you can be.

        I spent a lot of time on this first step because it is critical to success! Change your mind about your body -- accept what you have and be smart enough to put all you've got into taking care of yourself! Everyday say to yourself--" this is the body God gave me! I'm going to be the best me I can be today--I will not compare myself to anyone else-- there is only one me -- I am unique and distinct and I'm going to do the best with what I've got! And that is enough! That is good enough!

  •   2. Step two! Once you have your mind set -- make a decision to commit yourself to some kind of exercise everyday! Like brushing your teeth -- you must move your body! All studies show exercise is the key to fitness -- I don't care if you walk for thirty minutes a day, stretch your muscles, do yoga, pilates, take an aerobics class, hike, play tennis, watch a fitness tape.. do something! I am not one to stay in the gym and work out for the sake of looking a certain way. Gyms to me are really boring! I am a lover of the outdoors and run as much as I can in the hills of Los Angeles. I started out with one mile a day and worked up to five to seven miles and love it! But not everyone is a runner. But there is out there an exercise that is right for you and the important thing is to stay in touch with your body everyday.. work it out in some way, stretch it, keep it limber, keep it toned-- get a fitness regimen into your daily life just as you incorporate brushing your teeth everyday into your routine! For me to tell you what I do to stay fit, is beside the point -- I run every day, do light arm weights three times a week and one hundred situps a day and do pilates three times a week. That is what is right for me. Nothing fanatical just consistent. Find what is right for you. Some experts say you need 30 minutes a day -- others say one hour a day to really get into fat burning. I say just move your body -- commit to everyday doing some form of exercise that gets your heart rate up and strengthens, lengthens and tones your muscles. Simple as that -- just commit to doing something everyday to make your body fit and strong and healthy! Because when you do this, you are connecting your mind and heart with your body -- you are feeling your body everyday-- working out the kinks, stretching it and staying in tune with it -- to be aware of your body inspires you to want to take care of it more -- so step two is another decision -- a decision to keep your body tuned up everyday.

        I know the pitfalls. I too can be tired, lazy, feel depressed and decide to skip a day. But then I always remember it should be like brushing your teeth -- it's just part of your daily routine. Even if it's lying on the floor and stretching for half an hour -- walking around the neighborhood after work... doing exercises with your kids so you can combine family time with the exercise you need -- whatever works for you and your particular body -- make a decision to find that right routine and to stick to it everyday. Surely you are worth a minimal of thirty minutes a day on your beautiful body -- it's a decision--a dedication that requires determination to treat yourself with care and respect and responsibility. When you do, your confidence builds -- you know you are taking care of yourself from the inside out -- and believe me, it shows and makes a huge difference in your life... not just because your body craves it and benefits by it... not just because it can make you fit into those tight jeans or pretty dress, but because it allows you to tune into yourself and the physical body you live in everyday and make sure the house you live in is sound and strong and taken care of. When you take care of yourself, you build self esteem, you appreciate self effort and the benefits that come from it. When we take care of ourselves, we have so much more room to share and care and be open and loving to others.

  •   3. Diet. Once you have made the decisions to accept your body and commit to some physical activity once a day -- combine that with a clean, organic and healthy diet that is right for you and stick to it!

        Once again, I will tell you how I eat, but this may not be right for you -- what is important, is that you find out what is right for you, what your goals are and then to stick to it! Sticking to a regimen you know is right for you...inspires discipline and commitment and phenomenal results -- you look better, feel better and have so much more energy when you eat right for you!

       Here is my basic and simple diet that I stick to at least five or six days a week. It's really simple...

        For breakfast -- I eat egg whites with one piece of multigrain toast -- a fruit, a cup of coffee with nonfat milk or two percent. I sometimes have a bowl of cereal and a fruit or sometimes have two regular eggs with toast. I eat my only starch in the morning. I have numerous fun recipes for morning egg white meals but for most mornings when I'm on the go, a toast and egg white omelet is my favorite breakfast!

        For lunch -- again really basic -- I have a salad with grilled chicken with olive oil and vinegar.. with salmon or tuna -- Or I have a protein with vegies -- I don't care if there is a little margarine on the vegies..and I don't order my dressing on the side. I just eat a normal salad or protein and vegie meal like chicken or beef or lamb or fish with a salad or vegie. I avoid bread at lunch.. if I want a sandwich, I'll use a lettuce wrap- If I know I'm going to lunch and want starch, then I'll skip my bread or cereal in the morning, have just the eggs or fruit and decide to eat my starch during lunch instead.

        For dinner -- I eat protein and vegies again in a variety of ways and try and avoid butter, creams and sauces unless made really healthy. I eat a fruit as a snack if I'm hungry.. sometimes a handful of almonds or walnuts for energy or a handful of cranberries from Trader Joe's.

        That is how I eat almost every day. But I don't believe in anything fanatical! It never works. On the weekends I will have a dirty martini when going out, I will have that delicious pasta dinner and on Saturday night, I might in fact indulge in that sinful chocolate cake. I want to live and enjoy and constant denying yourself of the yummy pleasures is a sure bet way to failure! So have it once a week -- reward yourself at the end of a week with that meal you really crave.. and then the next day.. go right back on your healthy eating plan.

        When people say this is too rigid for them -- I say it works for me. Find what works for you and stick to it. One thing I know for sure from all my years of crazy dieting.. the only thing that works no matter what you chose is something that is truly healthy for you, and being consistent with it everyday. Consistent exercise, consistent way of eating and consistent mind set that taking care of what you've got, is essential for getting fit, staying fit and having a healthy attitude about your body and the way you care for it.

  •   4. The fourth jewel in the crown of staying healthy is to find ways to reward yourself every week for your hard work -- set a goal to fit into that dress -- to increase your endurance, to hike up to the top of that mountain-- goals you set for no other reason other than to challenge yourself and give yourself something to strive for always that makes you more healthy and fit. The goal in my mind is never to look like someone else -- never to be a certain weight or size -- it really isn't! My goal is not all about outside looks-- that is way too damaging -- being perfect is not possible because perfect is relative not to mention boring -- make little goals and then make sure to reward yourself with a little treat that only you know has value for you.

  •   5. Lastly, but most important -- be bold baby, be bold! Be bold enough to take care of yourself -- be proud of who you are and to strut your stuff with pride and ownership! Be bold enough to get your body into fit and fabulous shape -- the best you are capable of for you, and then get out in the world and be bold -- challenge yourself in other ways... Try something new -- dare to stretch into the life you want to lead -- put yourself out there and dare to fail -- dare to succeed.. dare not to limit your ways of thinking about yourself or what you can do. I don't care what age you are, how heavy or thin you are, what your past has been about, what I care about is your future -- all you have learned, the wisdom and life lessons that you and only you embody.. and dare to make your mark -- your way! Don't compromise your dreams -- don't sell yourself short. Believe in yourself -- don't silence or diminish your dreams or hopes. Be bold and take the strategy for staying fit and apply it to your whole life! You have a unique gift that is yours alone to give to the world -- be bold baby -- and think of your soul as an acorn -- the seed of destiny within you that has all the magic to become a mighty oak -- be bold.

    ** One last note.. be forgiving of yourself... this is the ideal... we all falter...the trick is to get right back to our regimen as consistently as possible after we fall.... it's all a decision simple as that.

    ** And to my Latina sisters or anyone who has fuller bodies with delicious curves -- to you I send a special message-- embrace your curves -- embrace your full and beautiful bodies and don't even think about trying to fit into a body shape or size that is not right for you. Commit to getting fit and healthy...and love the body you have!

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