VALENTINE 911: TIPS AND MORE! #495 02/15/12
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7 Ways to Save Valentine's Day When—Oops!—It Slipped Your Mind

By Lisa Palac

It's here, February 14th. And that means you're pretty much required to show your lover some serious love. But perhaps you have a resistance to this holiday because you feel it's not a real holiday, just some made-up thing by the greeting card industry. Or maybe previous Valentine's Days have been let-downs or screw-ups, so you're pretending you don't care and telling yourself that your beloved doesn't really care either. Or maybe you do love candy hearts, red roses, and love poems from Shakespeare, but somehow, here you are completely empty-handed. Whatever your reason, you've waited until the last minute to think of a way to celebrate, yet you want it to be something amazing and absolutely perfect that shows you really put a lot of thought into it. No problem. We have you covered.

Happy Valentine's Day

  1. Romance in a Bottle. This is the accompaniment to all of the suggestions below. It's a crowd-pleaser. First, get a bottle, any kind: empty or full, refilled or new—as long you can open and close it. Make a label that reads, Romance in a Bottle. Blind-fold your partner and then place it in their hands. When the time is right, have them take off the blindfold and at the next perfect moment, have them open the bottle. You, of course, create the magic that will spill forth.
  2. Man and Woman Having a PicnicHike to a beautiful place and pack a gourmet picnic. Think of a new place with a gorgeous view, a lush setting, or a magical off-the-beaten-track location. Make a plan to hike there with her. Shop for all of her favorite foods and load them into your backpack. Bring a blanket, some flowers, and instructions for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation so you can brush up on your life-saving skills. Here's the key to success: Come prepared. Think of everything. Love is in the details.
  3. Travel around the world. What if, in your part of the world, you can't hike to a beautiful vista? Then pick a place on the globe where you know he's always wanted to go, and travel there in your imaginations; Beijing, Bombay, Baja, and Baltimore. First on the list, food. Using the Internet, find out what the local cuisine is, then either cook it yourself (fresh or frozen), order in, or take-out. Even if it's not exactly what a native would eat, remember that your heart is in the right place. Next, create the atmosphere. Find a streaming radio station that plays music from your chosen spot. Make signs that say "128 Miles to (insert location here)." Write up a list of words or phrases that embody local color and practice them together. And how do you say "kiss me" in Zapotec?
  4. Man and Woman at the BeachTry a new workout together. Take a break from your regular exercise, and give yourself over to what she likes best. You could surprise drop-in on her favorite class, or make a date for a P90X2® workout together. Alternately, you could make February 14th the day to finally try the new thing she's been so curious about: vinyasa yoga, surfing, stand-up paddling, kickboxing, Tai Chi, pilates, or a power walk at sunrise.
  5. Put on a show. Displays of love that include a bit of vulnerability are the most deeply appreciated kind. Going out on a limb for the one you love has a profound impact. Seriously. So, especially if you can't sing, sing a love song. You don't have to memorize the words. (You can print out the lyrics.) Whatever you do, you must put your soul into it. If you've never read poetry, recite a poem. If you don't dance, put the needle on the record and give it all you've got. Creative attire and candlelight are encouraged.
  6. Woman and Man MeditatingTry a 3-minute love meditation. There are all sorts of meditation practices designed to evoke various states of consciousness, but this quickie is all about love. It's a simple meditation that can heighten your sense of well-being and open your heart. First, get comfortable. Sit across from each other in an upright position—in chairs, on the floor, with pillows or support if you need it. Next, close your eyes and begin to slowly breathe in and out. When you're ready, say, "I am love." It's helpful to say, "I am" on the in-breath and "love” on the out-breath. Now have your partner join in. Continue to say it out loud or silently to yourselves. If your mind wanders, just come back to love. You can do anything for 3 minutes, right?
  7. Rosy foot massage. Ah, the old Valentine's Day massage idea. But this one is scaled down to a manageable size with a few heart-shaped details because, let's face it, giving someone a full-body massage is a lot of work. First, throw a white sheet over a comfortable chair and another one underneath the chair. Scatter the scene with fresh rose petals. Checklist: a large plastic tub filled with warm water, marbles, sea salt, and a squeeze of fresh lemon; a towel; lotion or massage oil; soft music and candles. After the delicious foot soak, rub the lotion in your hands to warm it up. Next, take one foot at a time in your hand and travel up and down, from the base of the toes to the pad, to the arch, to heel, and back again. Remember to be gentle on the toes themselves. When you're done, keep your hands on your partner's feet for one quiet minute.

Done the wrong way, Valentine's Day can seem like an expensive, corporate chore. But if you follow a tip or two above, it doesn't have to be. Even if you wait until the last minute, a little thought and planning can make you a romantic champ in no time, without contributing to Hallmark's lonely hearts club coffers.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

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Knee Pain—Part 1

By Dr. Mark Cheng, L.Ac., Ph.D, Sr RKC. FMS faculty

The knee bone's connected to the . . .

In this first of a three-part series on knee pain, I'm going to give you a quick overview of how the knee works in relation to the rest of the body when it comes to exercise and optimal functionality.

A Man Grabbing His Leg

When starting a new workout, it's almost inevitable that there's some sort of legwork involved. Lots of lunges, lots of squats, and lots of other movements (such as kicks, running, and climbing) get piled on top of a body that might not have had to accelerate at that rate or perform some of those movements "since high school." While the ego certainly remembers having the ability to do those movements, the body's memory of proper execution might not be as clear.

Lots and lots of reps, and possibly lots more load than the body's been used to handling, can combine to push a musculoskeletal system past the point of safety and into compensation. Many of us have heard the term "compensation" before, but let's define it now for this human performance context.

Man in a ConvertibleCompensation is the act of using sub-optimal body mechanics to get more movement out of joints that can no longer be powered or stabilized by the appropriate muscles. So think of it like this . . . in rather simplistic terms. There are two teams of muscles that are playing on the field that your joints provide—stabilizers and prime movers. The stabilizing muscles have the job to provide reflexive stability for the joint. The prime movers are the bigger muscles whose job it is to generate some serious force through the joint and create motion and move a load. Generally speaking, the stabilizers, or intrinsics as they're also known, are smaller, deeper muscles that lie closer to the joints, whereas the prime movers are larger, thicker muscles that often span multiple joints.

With that picture in mind, it stands to reason that the intrinsic muscles wouldn't do such a hot job as prime movers. You wouldn't want to hand the heavy lifting jobs to the scrawny little kid. Nor would you want to tire out the big brawny guy in a wasteful fashion by having him holding a light screen door open. This is exactly what happens in situations where compensation occurs. The wrong muscles try to do the right jobs. And as a result, some joints become hypermobile and some joints become too rigid.

Now, with the geek-speak taken care of and marinating in your brain, which of these two qualities do you think the knee joint should have more of when climbing up stairs, for example—stability or mobility?

Close-up of Inflammed KneeAccording to world-famous movement expert, highly sought-after physical therapist, and founder of the Functional Movement Screen, Gray Cook, the knee would choose stability over mobility if it had to pick one attribute over the other. Note that I said "stability" and not "stiffness."

The knee is a hinge joint that essentially moves well in a plane of motion. So more than anything else, it needs lateral or side-to-side stability. If a knee buckles drastically towards one side or the other under load, bad things happen, usually with a not-so-pleasant soundtrack of crunching, popping, and screaming or expletives accompanying it.

The two major joints neighboring the knee are the ankle and the hip. These two joints, according to Cook, should be primarily mobile, and this is where lots of the problems lie. Lots of societal, lifestyle, and exercise factors play into the epidemic of immobile hips. The problem is so great that some human biomechanics experts have gone so far as to call it "de-evolution right before our eyes."


About the author: Dr. Mark Cheng holds a Ph.D. in Chinese medicine and acupuncture and is a California-licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac.). He blends ancient medical knowledge with modern sports rehabilitation science in his private practice. With an extensive background in martial arts, Dr. Cheng is also a Senior RKC kettlebell instructor, a faculty member for Functional Movement Systems, and a TRX Suspension Training Sports Medicine certified instructor. He has taught, lectured, and demonstrated around the world to fitness professionals, physicians, professional fighters, and military personnel. No other Beachbody® instructor has ever brought the depth of credentials to the table like Dr. Cheng does. Look out for his upcoming program—Tai Chengby going to http://www.facebook.com/taichengworkout

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

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Going Solo on Valentine's Day: 5 Ways to Celebrate Yourself

By Sarah Stevenson

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.
—Oscar Wilde

Valentine's Day can be so depressing for singles. There's nothing more obnoxious than a whole day set aside to celebrate lovers when you're riding it solo. For years, I rued February 14th for this very reason—until I realized all I needed was a change of perspective. I now celebrate the holiday my way whether I have a partner or not. After all, we're modern folks with no interest in waiting around for Cupid to shoot his silly little arrow just so that we can be happy—so let's get the party started without him!

Woman Holding an Apple

  1. An Open BookBe proactive. Don't spend the big day—or any other day, for that matter—wallowing in "rom coms" or romance novels. You're just setting yourself up for unreasonable expectations if you do. Yes, I know you know that romantic comedies aren't real, but your brain doesn't always know that. The reason these movies succeed is because they cause you to identify with the characters. If you watch dreamy Ashton Kutcher chasing pretty Natalie Portman, you're going to put yourself in one of their shoes and fantasize your way into an unreasonable expectation. Look out for yourself and be smart; don't make the holiday harder than it has to be. You might want to stick to documentaries and Caddyshack marathons for the time being.
  2. Perform random acts of kindness. This is a day to celebrate love and that doesn't require a boyfriend or girlfriend. Celebrate the fact that you have children, friends, and family. Make all the people you love cookies or cards. Have a nice little candlelight dinner with your kids, your siblings, or your parents. Show up at your friends' work with balloons. Put a quarter in someone's meter when they're about to get a ticket. Buy the person behind you at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® their latte. Even smiling at a stranger counts. Research suggests that when you help make others' lives better, you help increase happiness in your own life. Visit www.randomactsofkindness.org for hundreds of ideas on how to make this world a better place.
  3. Four Women SmilingThrow a "Solo On V-day" party. Take the bull by the horns, my Lone Rangers! Get your friends together and celebrate the connection you have of all being single. I'm a yoga instructor and every Valentine's Day, I teach a totally 80's yoga class. (Valentine's Day and the '80s share equal cheesiness qualities!) I ask each girl and guy to totally dress up in their best neon attire and we get seriously down(dog) to this bitchin' playlist:
    • "Sailing" by Christopher Cross
    • "I Know This Much Is True" by Spandau Ballet
    • "Eyes Without A Face" by Billy Idol
    • "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" by Culture Club
    • "Save A Prayer" by Duran Duran
    • "Red Red Wine" by UB40
    • "Lady in Red" by Chris De Burgh
    • "If You Were Here" by The Thompson Twins
    • "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper
    • "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel
    • "Faithfully" by Journey
    • "Lady" by Kenny Rogers
    • "My Love" by Lionel Richie
    • "Truly" by Lionel Richie

It is so, like, incredibly awesome! Instead of sulking around all lonely, we're celebrating our goofy selves. I even have couples who push their Valentine's Day dinner plans so they can join in the fun.

  1. JournalJournal. Journaling is a great way to get what's going on inside your head and heart outside where you can actually do something with it.

    Gratitude Journal. Set some time aside to account for all your loved ones. In your journal, write down all the reasons you think they're amazing. How do they make your life better or easier? How are they unique? What are their positive aspects? Research shows that focusing on positive aspects of life can increase a person's level of happiness and sense of satisfaction.

    Desire Journal. Imagine, if you will, that you could have the "perfect" mate. What internal qualities would they possess? Would he/she be intelligent, attractive, athletic, creative, kind, funny, and sweet? Years ago, I started to do this activity and I found that it allowed me to attract really amazing people in my life. I also found myself trying to build similar characteristics in myself. Birds of a feather flock together. So once you write down all that you want in a partner, build those characteristics in yourself.

  2. Woman OutdoorsTreat yourself like a queen/king. Sometimes it's perfectly OK to spoil yourself. In fact, sometimes it's down right necessary. The truth is, you're worth it! Go ahead and buy that amazing pair of shoes. Eat the chocolate cake that you normally run screaming from on any other given day. Run a hot bubble bath, pour yourself a glass of wine, and soak up some swanky tunes for an hour. You're more vulnerable when you fail to take the time to nurture yourself. Celebrate self-love this Valentine's Day. Celebrate yourself. You're worth it, darling.

Sources

  • Anonymous. On happiness and random acts of kindness. Work and Family Life. 2008. HighBeam Research. 19 Jan. 2012
  • http://www.randomactsofkindness.org
  • Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life. From the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development. JOHN F. MITCHELL, M.D. Am J Psychiatry 2004;161:178-179. 10.1176/appi.ajp.161.1.178

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat. Or, if you just can't wait, log onto the Information & Education section of the Team Beachbody Message Boards for questions, answers, and scintillating conversation.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. We may even answer your question right here, for all the world to see!

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.

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Recipe: Spiced Chocolate-Covered Strawberries



Spiced Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
It's a universal truth that chocolate-covered strawberries are great for romance, but if you do them right, they can be good for your heart too. The resveratol and flavonoids in dark chocolate are powerful antioxidants. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a "good" saturated fat that has been shown to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Ancho chilies are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A. And don't even get us started about the many benefits of the strawberries themselves!

However, for the record, although no one wants to hear the "M" word (moderation) on V-day, you all know the score when it comes to chocolate, right? Right?

  • 1 lb. strawberries (about 20)
  • 9 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 dash ground ancho chili powder
  • Water
  1. Wash strawberries, dry completely; set aside.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment or waxed paper; set aside.
  3. Place chocolate and coconut oil in heatproof medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Place 2 to 3 inches of water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat; turn off heat; set bowl of chocolate over water to melt, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add chili powder; stir until smooth; remove pan from burner.
  6. Hold a strawberry by leaf, dip into melted chocolate; lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Set strawberry on parchment paper. Repeat with remaining strawberries.
  7. Set strawberries aside for 30 minutes or until chocolate has hardened.

Makes 10 servings, 2 strawberries each.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 23 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
176 2 g 4 g 14 g 12 g 7 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.


P90X® and P90X2® Portion Information

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Fruit Snack
1/2 1


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