Beyond Black & White Chronicles, Musings and Debates about Interracial & Intercultural Relationships Fri, 18 May 2018 05:53:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Pack It, Part II: Go From Dorm-to-Class-to-Gym-to-Date Mon, 04 Mar 2013 06:37:31 +0000 By popular demand (okay, two people), here's a follow-up How to Pack It post for students and others out there, who asked for a scaled-down "lite" version that will allow you to get your workout in, on the run.

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By popular demand (okay, two people), here’s a follow-up How to Pack It post for students and others out there, who asked for a scaled-down “lite” version that will allow you to get your workout in, on the run.

My youngest daughter is a college sophomore, so I hear firsthand how challenging it is to race from class to class (which always seem to be located at polar opposites of a sprawling campus), internships or a part-time job, the library, any extracurricular activities, or just meeting up with friends to hang out and grab a quick bite.  I knew it was bad when I called my daughter before bed one night, and before I could even get past a “Hey…” I was greeted with:  “(Gasp)…(Wheeze)…Mom, let me call you back…”

Startled, and ready to speed-dial campus police, I yelled, “What…What hap…Where are..?!?” only to be cut off by her exasperated, “NOTHING, Ma, RELAX…I’m-on-the-elliptical-at-the-gym-call-you-later-bye.”  Click.

Elliptical?  I looked over at the clock.  10:45pm.  WTH?  When I later asked her why she was working out so late, she claimed that because she was scheduled to work a shift directly after her last afternoon class, and then had to race from there to make some other evening colloquium session for her program major, that it was the only time she could get it in.  Sigh.  I was about to tell her of the alleged perils of exercising that late at night (sleep disruption, potentially burning less fat, et al), but figured, why bother?  One, I already knew college students kept the same hours as vampires, so to them 10:45 may as well have been the 5pm dinner hour.  Two, this is the same girl who, along with her older sister, will mockingly respond to my well-meaning words with a cheery Thank you, Mother, I’ll take that under advisement before proceeding to do nothing except that which she’d already set her mind to do.

Oh, well.  Karma is a b**ch.  (Like mother, like daughters.)

Regardless of when you work out, though, you still need to walk prepared.  This is not just for students, but anyone who needs to leave home with a compact, all-in-one bag solution that can take them from class to gym to job to date and anywhere else in between, without having to circle back to their dorm, apartment or house to “get themselves together” for the next phase of their day.  In my previous post, we talked about all the ways these unnecessary circular movements sap motivation, waste time and block fitness-on-the-go opportunities.

This Part II solution assumes two things:

1.  You don’t have access to shower facilities, after your workout.  (But even if you did, you absolutely lack the time.)

2.  You can only travel with ONE bag for all your daily needs.  (No separate purse, bookbag, briefcase, gym duffel, et al.)  My bag of choice, and the one featured in this post, is the Core Bag by Live Well 360, but those on a student budget should feel free to adapt with a less expensive version, with as much quality as your modest funds can afford.  Otherwise, the bag will simply fall apart on you after a few weeks, forcing you to spend additional $$ on a replacement, in which case you could have – for the same money – invested in the premium bag to begin with.  But do whatever your budget dictates.   Bags that work best are those stylish enough to pass as a regular bag (as opposed to a ratty old gym duffel), but with reinforced construction that will hold up to daily use and abuse, not to mention heavy books and electronics.  Optimally, they should also feature separate areas for wet clothes and dirty sneakers, a laptop compartment, and plenty of individual pockets to keep all your other supplies organized and easy to access.

Regardless of which bag you use, the key concept here is this handy Shower-in-a-Bathroom-Stall kit which, rolled up, easily fits in the palm of one hand:

“Shower-in-a-Bathroom-Stall” Kit: The Athletic Body Wipe, DeoDry 24-Hr Deodorant from The Body Shop, SportLite Rat Towel, and Philosophy Pure Grace (Soap-and-Water Scent) Trial-Size Perfume.

The Athletic Body Wipe is the glue holding this entire system together.  For just under $1 per packet (they’re sold 10 units to a box for $9.99), it’s a large, 9 x 8 premium moistened antibacterial wipe designed to clean your entire body without tearing.  What I love is that it’s alcohol-free, contains Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, and is suitable for sensitive skin.  Afterwards, just dab off any residual dampness with a SportLite RatTowel Microfiber Towel, apply deodorant, and spritz on a little soap-and-water-clean-smelling perfume (my fave is Philosophy’s Pure Grace, sold in miniature sizes at Sephora), and you can walk out of any toilet stall feeling like you just stepped out of a shower.  Not the most elegant of settings, but hey, when you have no shower access after working out and your only goal is to go from funky to fresh in 7 minutes flat, it gets the job done.

Note below how this portable shower kit takes up literally no space in an outside pocket of your new compact bag, leaving plenty of room for a pair of sneakers, workout clothes, your laptop, a college textbook or two, a binder, a notebook, water bottle, snacks, and even an iPad…not to mention your phone, cosmetics and whatever else you’d normally carry in a separate purse.  (You can even pack a tiny removable clutch purse to transfer just your phone, keys and cash, if you want to dash out to the lunch truck without having to tote the bigger bag.)

The mother in me is obliged to point out that you would have even more space in the bag if you actually wore the sneakers on your feet to begin with, instead of packing them.  But the former-19-year-old in me acknowledges how important the whole “cuteness” factor is for coed fashionistas hell bent on strutting across campus in the latest designer boots (no matter how uncomfortable or painful).  Thus, I allowed for this measure of vanity in the packing system.  Pick your poison.

Special thanks to my daughter, who agreed to be my student model. Note that just by changing the straps, the bag can be worn messenger-style, or off-the-shoulder. Bag: Core Bag by Live Well 360.


Besides students, this solution is also great for:

A.  Commuters who want to ditch gas costs, vehicle wear-and-tear, and stop-and-go traffic – not to mention reduce their carbon footprint (Go Green!) – by biking to and from work.  Think about how fantastic it must feel to finish your commute and know you also got your cardio workout in for the day, all in the same stroke.  No shower at work?  No problem.  Clean up head-to-toe in the bathroom stall with your portable shower kit, do a quick change with the wrinkle-free work outfit you stowed away in your Eagle Creek Travel Pack-It Folder, and you’re good to go for that 9am staff meeting.  All without driving coworkers out of the conference room, Huck-style (Scandal fans?), with your special brand of bike-to-work “funk.”  Poor Huck had a good excuse.  You don’t.

B.  Professionals who (a) work long hours at both ends, (b) have no onsite access to gym or shower facilities, and (c) want to use their lunch hour to get in a brisk walk or run around their building, office park or neighboring community.  Get your 50-minute, no-equipment cardio workout in, and still have 10 minutes to spare to clean up and jump back into your corporate outfit, clear-headed and ready for your first afternoon meeting.

C.  Air travelers, who between long layovers and red-eye flights need to make sure their carry-on contains a “shower in a bag” so they can freshen up in the airport bathroom before meeting that special someone at pickup.

Again, we’re talking about tools to help eliminate all the “can’t’s” from our horizon, that can keep us from getting on with the active lifestyle our bodies were designed for.  Back in prehistoric times, we got all the daily exercise we needed running for our lives, with cave lions and other bloodthirsty predators in hot pursuit.  With that motivation gone, we’ve gotten a little soft.  Actually, a lot soft.  Ticking off one excuse after another to explain why we Can’t.  Move.  Our.  Arses.

But the good news is, every day presents a new opportunity to self-correct.  So let’s decide together to not wait for the threat of mortal harm, before we take steps to make exercise a priority.   Whether you’re a student, parent, busy professional, or all three…all it takes is a little planning ahead, the right tools, and the right organization.

Enjoy your workout!

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How to Pack It: Go from Home-to-Work-to-Gym-to-Date Fri, 01 Feb 2013 06:36:31 +0000 So, once you get serious about making exercise a regular and non-negotiable part of your new healthy lifestyle, you can't let a little thing like logistics consistently derail your fitness efforts and cause you to neglect your health.

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The stuff of many an after-school treat from my 1970’s childhood. Not cute, though, in a closet reenactment decades later…

Remember those Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits from your childhood?  The ones where, when you twisted the canister with just the right level of tension, the dough would suddenly pop out in a gooey cloud, like a deployed air bag?  Long before the days of video games and biscuit bullet urban legends, that visual spectacle alone was considered high entertainment among the latchkey kid crowd.  Part toy, part tasty after-school treat.  All you needed was some warm butter, a little strawberry jam, and a rerun episode or two of The Brady Bunch (dating myself here), and your afternoon was golden.

Why yes, you say.  Good times.  But what does that have to do with this fitness post?

Everything, when that canister is now your favorite pair of jeans, and your stomach the dough that one day busts through and breaks the zipper while you’re trying desperately to join button to slit, all the while holding your breath like Houdini under water.  (Because we all know that makes a difference.)

Yeah.  Bummer.

Everybody who’s ever recommitted to an exercise program has a similar “Oh, hell no, this is the last straw” tale.  In the end, it doesn’t matter what drove you to finally get serious.  The point is, you’re fully plugged in now, and laser-focused on the work ahead.  Everything’s in place.  Gym membership – check.  Sports bra – check.  Water bottle – check.  You start scoping the gym facility and class hours, thinking about what time you have to be at work, how early you can dip out of work, calculating whether you have enough time to run home, shower and change before circling back to work, and oh, yeah, what about Tuesday and Thursday evenings when you have night classes and only 90 minutes to get there after you leave work…

And so begins the first few unraveling threads.  Yes?


Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. (Seneca, Roman Statesman, Philosopher, 5 BC – 65 AD).

There’s no luck involved in getting and staying in shape, or maintaining good health.  You either show up, or you don’t.  Every day.   And the answer, I learned, does not lie in how rigorous your exercise regimen is.  Consistency is the only measure that matters.  Can we all agree that 60 days of diligent exercise and careful eating, immediately followed by 60 days of slackdom and gluttony, yields the same outcome on Day 120, as it did on Day 1?   Your jeans don’t give a rat’s ass what happened in between, and will render the same judgment at either end.   (Sometimes worse.  See Pillsbury canister.)  Thus it seems foolish to let all our initial effort go to waste, if we’re ultimately not going to follow through in a way that counts and yields lasting results.

So, once you get serious about making exercise a regular and non-negotiable part of your new healthy lifestyle, you can’t let a little thing like logistics consistently derail your fitness efforts and cause you to neglect your health.

Make no mistake.  I’m not preaching from a lofty ivory tower here.  Through much of my own trial, error and occasional lapses into slackdom (to include MANY see-sawing weight loss/gain cycles), I’ve learned that setting and achieving fitness goals has nothing to do with intent, but is all about actively eliminating the source of all “can’t‘s” from my landscape, be they physical or mental.  And that meant being prepared to cram my workout into all the little narrow nooks and crannies of my daily life, and keep everything moving in one streamlined direction.  No backtracking to home base, criss-crossing or circular movements between Points A, B and C.

Plan it.  Pack it.  Park it.

Maybe it’s my former life as a Lean Six Sigma-trained process improvement geek, but it irks me to be stuck with a clunky process that creates waste on multiple fronts…time, travel and lost opportunities.  When I’d finally had enough of skipped workouts due to tight scheduling, I made my own Home-to-Work-to-Gym-to-Date (“PPP”) mobile kit to eliminate obstacles (the “can’t‘s) and keep my fitness program on track.   Nothing new, really, and I’m sure many of you fellow gym warriors have developed a similar system.  But for those who haven’t, here’s how it works:

  • Plan It.  Figure out everything you need to go from post-workout (sweaty and funky) to conference-room worthy (scrubbed, polished and chic), with minimal fuss, effort and time.  Take a tip from flight attendants:  invest in a spare toiletry kit, using travel-sized containers and beauty tools that you’ll never need to touch for everyday home use.   Some of you may be tempted to cut corners and save money by simply transferring your regular suite of home products back and forth.  Go ahead, try it.  (We all have.)  Sounds good in theory, but let me tell you what will ACTUALLY happen.  Not only will you be weighing yourself down with extra bulk, but constantly packing and unpacking all that stuff (and getting flustered during your AM rush trying to remember what to re-pack) will soon become a huge chore in itself…and one that your subconscious will soon start seeking ways to rid itself of.  As in, finding excuses to avoid the entire process, leading you to skip the day’s workout altogether.  Instead, learn to view the system as a solid investment, since it can also double as your grab-and-go kit for weekend getaways and vacations.  Check out the pictures below to see how I was able to cram up to 20 different items in a compact toiletry bag.

  • Pack It.  Invest in a solid, quality bag of your choosing.  My bag of choice is the Luxx made by 360 Live Well, expensive but worth every dime because it takes the place of four other pieces of luggage (gym/studio bag, laptop bag, weekend/overnight duffel, and airline carry-on), features superior construction and tons of organizational pockets (including a vented shoe and wet clothes compartment), and is the only bag I’ve found in its class that features an external yoga mat solution that doesn’t use up any of the bag’s volume.  Also, for $24, grab yourself a Pack-It Folder, which will allow you to throw an ironed outfit in your bag and keep it wrinkle free and ready to wear right out of the gym shower.


  • Park It.  Keep this bag ready-packed and strategically placed at the point you need it.  That means in the trunk of your car if you drive to work, or in the foyer of your house or apartment where you can grab it on the way out in the morning.  “But I take public transportation to work.  You mean I have to haul this bag with me on the train/bus?”  Don’t care, and yes, in that order.  (See how quickly our minds look for the escape hatch, by throwing up “can’t’s?)    You don’t complain about having to cart your laptop and other work essentials back and forth on your commute.  How much more important is your health?  Without which, I might add, little else matters.   (Just talk to someone who has lost theirs.  I’m sure they’d tell you they would have gladly trekked miles with a gym bag on their back, for the chance to get it back.)

After your workout, move with purpose in the locker room.  Set up your area, and work processes in parallel (i.e., put hot curlers in BEFORE you get in the shower so that your hair can set and semi-air out at the same time.)  Remember the concept of “good enough.”  This is not the time nor place to demand or expect the model perfection you’d normally seek at home.  Your hair and makeup don’t need to be runway perfect.  (And with that post-workout glow your skin will have, why would you need to even bother trying?)  With practice, to include perfecting the art of the 5-minute shower, you should be able to get in and out of the gym locker room within 20-25 minutes.  And on to the adjacent item in your day planner.

In closing, mastering the PPP system will finally allow you to move through your day in one continuous linear flow, with no time or workout opportunities wasted.  It works whether you exercise before or after work.  (Personally, I’m a big proponent of AM workouts, but that’s the subject of another post.)  Most importantly, it leaves no time or space for the “inertia gremlins” to step in.  You know what I’m talking about.  You leave work with the intention of stopping by the house to change into your workout gear and grab a quick snack, before heading back out to your local gym.  Once you turn your key in the front door and shut it behind you, the house begins to work like virtual quicksand, sucking you in deeper.  Your refrigerator, which reminds you of the tasty leftovers waiting to be prepared for dinner.  Your favorite comfy armchair in front of the TV.  The warmth of the heat coming through the vents, in contrast to the cold winds blowing outside.  Before you know it, you’ve lost 30 minutes moving around your house in circles, getting psychologically farther and farther away from the workout you’d be doing right now if only you hadn’t stopped at home first to collect “your stuff.”

To Summarize:

  • Eliminate all non-essential movements.
  • Get over any squeamishness you may feel about showering in public, gym locker facilities.  Two words: shower shoes.  (Your ratty flip-flops from last summer will do fine.)
  • Walk with everything you need to go from sweaty and funky, to fresh and sleek in 20 minutes flat.

What’s in my gym bag? All this. (An entire work outfit is in the red pack-it folder, next to the grey suede boots.)

Some other handy travel-sized tools in my mobile gym kit:

Read more from HotYogaChick at

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Yoga in Africa. Yes, Africa. Mon, 28 Jan 2013 18:41:02 +0000 I just stood there in front of my DVD player and television, spellbound. Dressed for practice, and short on time, I nonetheless had to pause for a minute to take it all in, DVD case still dangling in hand.

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I just stood there in front of my DVD player and television, spellbound.  Dressed for practice, and short on time, I nonetheless had to pause for a minute to take it all in, DVD case still dangling in hand.

Through the years I’ve used scores of yoga DVDs at home to supplement my in-class practices, but never one where nearly all the practitioners were black.  And certainly not one with such a compelling global backdrop, by way of an African village.

Baptist Live in Africa. A great 90-minute Power Vinyasa Flow yoga routine, and so much more.

As an extension of the Africa Yoga Project (did you even know there was such a thing?), Baptiste Live in Africa features a live 90-minute Power Vinyasa yoga practice overflowing with young people from Kenya, 6 chalk talks where specific poses are broken down with clear tools for alignment and flow, and a 5-minute guided meditation sequence, featuring a regally-adorned Masai warrior, also a student of yoga.  That the meditation is filmed at sunrise, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, only adds to the majestic beauty and serenity of the sequence.  Every aspect of the production is a sight to behold.

But what the DVD really offers is a lesson in the power of imagery.  If you ask the average person on the street, especially a person of color, to show you their idea of the “typical person who does yoga,” chances are they will point to the first lithe, 20-something Caucasion girl they see, clad head-to-toe in Lululemon gear, her blonde ponytail swaying in the breeze as she jaunts down the street with her yoga mat slung across her back.

Certainly not the young male or female with the beautiful dark skin and micro-braids, sporting old, worn t-shirts and, occasionally, traditional Masai jewelry around the neck.  I mean, who’s ever walked into a yoga studio and seen that, right?

Most days, I can count the number of black females in my yoga class on one finger (me).  In my 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training program, which I’m pursuing part-time on the weekends and will complete this May, the number doubles to two.  (Me, and one other black chick, out of a class of around 30).  But I’m encouraged, because even there I see definite signs of the discipline reaching non-traditional audiences.  Several women and men over 45, of all body types, along with a sprinkling of other students from varying cultures, backgrounds and walks of life.  Which is why reading about these young people in Kenya empowering themselves similarly, so that they can take yoga directly to the people in their community, further thrills me in a way I can’t describe.

In our quest for fit body and mind, it’s very important for us to continually rid ourselves of self-limiting and ridiculous notions around who something is for.  Such as, “only tree-hugging granola types practice meditation” or “yoga is for old bearded Indian spiritual gurus, or skinny hipster white girls who can twist their bodies into pretzels.”  Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice with modern-day applications, offering physical and mental benefits too numerous to list here.  (We’ll save that for future posts.)  With this project, Baron Baptiste took yoga out of its upscale suburban or “Sex and the City” domain, and placed it squarely in the most unexpected of global environments, among those who could care less about the latest trends in studio wear.  They just want to flow.  And feel good.  It’s a powerful visual, and the message is clear.

Yoga is for everyone, and anyone.

Even if you live in a remote village in Kenya, practicing under the open sky with a donated mat and t-shirt among your few worldly possessions.


Learn more about the Africa Yoga Project.  The DVD can be purchased  here, and profits benefit the Africa Yoga Project.

Read more from HotYogaChick at

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Barefoot Training? Try it. Your feet, knees and back may thank you. Wed, 16 Jan 2013 17:32:11 +0000 Kick off your shoes and get fit!

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Like everyone else, on a frosty winter’s day I’d rather kick back on my couch watching the latest episodes of Moonshiners, and delight in the philosophical musings of my new hero Jim Tom, rather than suck wind on the running trail near my house, trying to eke out a 3-mile run. (Which is actually more of a 1-mile run, and 2-mile stagger. But let’s not split hairs.)

(Yeah, OK. Fine. I’m the ONLY ONE out there addicted to the antics of Jim Tom, Tickle and Tim.)

But knowing everything there is to know about the moonshining business, while certainly handy, won’t get me into top swimsuit season form.  Somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I fell off the wagon on the running routine I’d worked so hard to establish, partly because it got so damn cold in the mornings, I just didn’t feel like getting out there.  So I relied on my other indoor cross-training workouts.

Truth be told, though, my body – especially my core – hasn’t really felt the same since, and I miss that runner’s high thrown in the mix a couple times a week. After hot yoga, especially, there’s simply nothing like it.  So it’s time for me to suit back up, and stop being a weather wuss.  (I mean, really.  If someone started to chase me out of my house with a machete, would I pause at my front door because “it’s too chilly outside for running”?  I’m pretty sure, then, that I just need to stop overthinking it, suck it up, get my butt out there and just…start…running.   My body temperature will adapt.  I hope.)

Speaking of which, for those of you asphalt junkies who’ve never heard of or tried barefoot running, it’s something you may want to check out:

It’s funny, actually.  I only discovered and bought my first pair of Vibrams two years ago, out of sheer laziness.  I had just gotten into kickboxing, and after the first few classes realized my legs weren’t quite up to par for all the bag work involved.   So like a shipwrecked sailor in a leaky boat, I zeroed in on my heavy sneakers as the dead weight that had to be tossed overboard, in favor of the lighter Vibrams which I surmised would make it easier for me (read: lazy) to kick higher, faster and with more force.   Turned out they were so comfortable, I started keeping them on after class, and wearing them nonstop on errands all over town.  Caused quite a stir in the Costco checkout line.  Everybody – and I mean everybody, from grandmothers to bodybuilder types – stopped me to ask about them.  How long did it take to get used to them? Do they make your toes feel weird?  Where did you get yours?  (My primary advice to them, and also to you:  get fitted for the correct size at a local authorized dealer like City Sports or other sporting goods store, but then consider purchasing online at either Amazon or  Moosejaw, where the prices are often significantly cheaper.)

After wearing my Vibrams exclusively for two years during kickboxing and boxing training, and seeing my lower back, knee and foot pain dissipate, it felt natural for me to keep them on when I decided to add running to the mix. I hadn’t worked out in traditional sneakers for more than two years, and couldn’t see going back to lacing up a bulky pair just because the surface under my feet was shifting from rubber to pavement.

I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience, but along with yoga, my Vibrams helped to completely transform my stand, posture and gait.  My toes had a newfound free range of motion, and I liked the new sensation of the strike emphasis shifting from my sole, to my forefoot and midfoot.  I literally couldn’t bear to take them off, and did so only when the dead of winter drove me back into more traditional footwear. As a concession to the brisk fall weather, I invested in a really solid pair of ASICS running shoes, which worked OK, but…my running was simply not the same.  And lately, we’ve had some unseasonably warm weather here in the DC area, which got me looking wistfully at my beloved Vibrams sitting in the corner of my closet…

My beloved Vibrams, parked for the winter 🙁 …Time to dust them off, maybe?

I know it’s January. But the very next time I’m scheduled to run, where the mercury is hovering at around 45-50 degrees, they’re coming out.  (Or maybe I take the plunge with Vibram’s brand new insulated winter running shoe, the Lontra Trail Runner…??)

Bottom line:  I’m not a natural runner to begin with, and it took me way too much time, effort and diligence to build up my modest endurance gains to date.  I can’t lose all that ground – pun intended – on account of the weather.   More importantly, I miss the intimate relationship between my foot and the asphalt, and the lightness I felt as my legs and body coursed through the wind. And I just don’t think I can hold out until spring.

Open Letter to Jim Tom, Tickle and Tim:  Moonshining is a business where one needs to remain fleet of foot, at all times.  Might I suggest a pair of Vibrams, specifically the Men’s Spyridon model?  I’ve got this one myself, and while I’ve never put it to use running from ATF agents, I can assure you it performs extremely well on the type of rugged backwoods terrain you guys encounter daily.  (And did you note the military camouflage design?  How useful is that?)  Think it over.  Out there on your feet in the remote bush all day,  transporting stills, watching for wild pigs charging from out of nowhere, constantly looking over your shoulder for Agent Jesse.  There’s a lot of operational risk inherent in what you do.  I just don’t think inadequate footwear should be one of them.  (Just sayin’.)

Your biggest fan,

TM in Washington, DC

Read more from hotyogachick’s fitness blog at

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I Yam Impressed: How one food can help you lose weight, stay fit and fight disease Thu, 10 Jan 2013 19:17:43 +0000 Online you can now find tons of credible research extolling the health virtues of the Japanese Sweet Potato or Korean yam (also known as "goguma"), which forms the cornerstone of the diets belonging to the globe's longest-lived populations, like the Okinawans in Japan.

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“Sonia, what is that?”

It was the second morning in a week I’d walked past my Korean-born colleague’s cubicle to find her hunched over a foil-wrapped, reddish tube-shaped object, munching away.  It was obviously some type of potato, I could see that.  But it was the way she was eating it, more than anything else, that piqued my interest.  Totally naked (the potato, not Sonia), in medallion-shaped slices, and savoring each bite the way one typically sees reserved only for, say, a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Damn, that must be one hell of a potato, I had already started thinking, when she answered:  “It’s a roasted Korean yam.  So good.  We eat them for breakfast all the time.  Want to try a piece?”

Why, yes, Sonia, don’t mind if do.  You’re a peach.  Before sundown, I’d driven 3 miles out of my way after work, to the nearest Asian supermarket in search of some..

Korean Sweet Yams at my local Asian supermarket. What a bargain!

…and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Have you ever stood over your kitchen sink holding a plain roasted potato in one hand like a Dairy Queen dipped cone, devouring it down to the nub?  No?  Just me?  OK.  Well, you will.  I like to think I’ve been around a sweet potato or two in my lifetime, but these Korean yams are in a whole different ball park.  When roasted, the flesh takes on a velvety, butter-rich texture unlike any other variety I’ve tasted.  And the flavor.  I can’t even describe it.  Plus, imagine that you are down to your last $5.00 and can only buy a single food to sustain and satisfy you every day for a week straight.  And not just any food, but one ranked highest among ALL vegetables (and probably all food, period)?   Where else, I ask, are you going to get all this…

A yam for every day of the week, all for $4.81. Are you kidding me?

…for just $4.81?

Online you can now find tons of credible research extolling the health virtues of the Japanese Sweet Potato or Korean yam (also known as “goguma”), which forms the cornerstone of the diets belonging to the globe’s longest-lived populations, like the Okinawans in Japan.  As this is a fitness post, let’s get straight to brass tacks about how this specific food can support your efforts to get and stay fit:

  • Cheap source of highest-quality, low-glycemic carbs, plus a host of other nutritional bennies.  Full of antioxidants like Vitamins A, C and E. (Christelyn knows what I’m talking about…if you missed it earlier, check out her sweet potato pie recipe HERE…)
  • Low calorie.  One Korean Yam = approximately 115 calories (could vary by weight)
  • Portable pre- or post-workout snack (just be sure to combine with some protein, like raw almonds), that can be thrown in a gym bag and enjoyed at room temperature.  I pack these for my long days in Yoga Teacher Training on the weekend, and they not only keep my hunger at bay, but fool my taste buds into thinking I’m eating something “sweet,” thus keeping me away from the Georgetown Cupcake shop down the street.
  • Substantial enough to stand alone as a one-dish meal.  Try it in the recipe below, which I adapted from Tal Ronnen’s The Conscious Cook.  You will not be disappointed.  (The miso dressing alone will make you want to jump up and slap someone.  But don’t.  Because that’s just rude.)

Green Bean and Sweet Potato Salad w/Miso Dressing

Green Bean and Sweet Potato Salad w/Miso Dressing


  •  2 tablespoons yellow miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives


  • 1 and 1/2 cups baby arugula (sub watercress, or other nutritious greens)
  • 1 Korean Yam yam, pre-roasted on stovetop or in oven for 1 hour, and sliced into rounds
  • 8 ounces green beans, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute

Blend all dressing ingredients (except chives) in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Fold in chives.  Coat the remaining salad ingredients with the dressing, and serve.

Tip:  I roast my Korean yams stovetop with this handy little pot I picked up for $8 at my local Asian grocery store…

From my local Korean grocer: pot for roasting yams (top view)

…bottom view (note the slits on the bottom, where all the dry steam magic happens)

Searched under everything I could think of, but couldn’t find a source for these online (Really, Amazon?), so for those of you who don’t live near a well-stocked Asian supermarket, I’m sorry I can’t help you out.  Truly.  Because for $8 this is the best thing since sliced bread, and I’ve been rocking it nonstop to roast EVERYTHING.  (For some reason, results are so much better over the oven.)  And since I can’t read the Korean on the box it came in (below), I can’t even track back to the manufacturer.  If you live in the DC area, you can find it at the H Mart on 12015 Georgia Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902.

Otherwise, good luck in your local area, and report back if and when you find it…!

Sweet Potato Roaster - Box

Box it came in. Good luck finding it at your local Asian grocery store. (Field trip!)

Read more from hotyogachick’s fitness blog at

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Detox that holiday meal! The Everything Smoothie to the rescue Wed, 26 Dec 2012 16:08:06 +0000 So, here we all are. Still burping up the taste of that rich holiday meal and its residual leftovers, knowing that sooner or later we're going to have to detox all that mess out and get our fitness and nutrition game back on the rails for 2013. Here's a powerhouse smoothie recipe to help out.

The post Detox that holiday meal! The Everything Smoothie to the rescue appeared first on Beyond Black & White.


The “Everything” Smoothie, for training, recovery, meal replacement and weight management.

So, here we all are.  Still burping up the taste of that rich holiday meal and its residual leftovers, knowing that sooner or later we’re going to have to detox all that mess out and get our fitness and nutrition game back on the rails for 2013.  Here’s a powerhouse smoothie recipe to help out.

Whatever you need, it’s all here.   Meal replacement.  Nutritional supplements.  Workout recovery drink.  Protein shake.  Antioxidant  boost.  Detox formula.  Weight-loss aid/Appetite suppressant.  Vegan-friendly, gluten-free and soy-free option.

I know what you’re thinking.  That it must taste like crap.  Au contraire.  (I’m a foodie, so in my book “not delicious” = a colossal waste of my time, energy and consumed calories.)

After more than a year of trial and error, I finally perfected a breakfast smoothie recipe that not only fueled my workouts and recovery periods, but which satisfied all my other exacting (plant-based) dietary and weight management needs.  And my insatiable appetite for all things chocolate.

Know that my whole-food, no-junk, maximum-flavor standards are pretty high, so this is probably the cleanest, tastiest, nutritionally-dense and antioxidant-rich smoothie formula you’ll find anywhere.  (If you don’t agree, send me your version and I’ll do a comparison test.)  At around 400 calories (1 c. fruit option), 31 grams of protein and 54 grams of carbs, it’s ideal for training,  a great weight management tool and keeps me feeling full for up to 5 hours.  Note:  If you’re obsessed with carbs (I am not) you can always omit the fruit and knock off 30 grams, so long as you and I are in agreement that you will not hold me responsible for the resulting “Meh” flavor.

Either way, here’s what you get per serving, at a minimum:  50% daily intake of vitamins and minerals, 3 servings of greens, 6 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of Omega-3 (the same as 2-3 servings of salmon), 1 billion CFU of probiotics (the same as 1 cup of yogurt), and 3+ cups of antioxidants (same as 3+ cups blueberries).  I’m sure we’d all agree that it’s preferable to take in all our nutrients by eating the whole foods themselves, but let’s face it:  with today’s hectic lifestyles (and modern food production being what it is), few of us are able to actually do it on a daily basis, to the extent necessary to cover all our nutritional bases.  I know that’s the case with me, and this is where supplementation via this smoothie has not only helped me to close a gap in my diet, but allowed me to toss out all my other expensive vitamins.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to choke down 3 or more cups of kale or collard greens a day, trying to get it all in.  (It’s a nice goal, but not going to happen.)

While I don’t have space here to detail the smoothie’s full nutritional profile, trust me when I tell you it’s comprehensive.  Read the labels yourself, and then add up the time and energy you’d invest trying to cobble together your RDA from various sources, or money you’d otherwise spend on vitamin supplements, weight loss formulas, other healthy meal options and, of course, expensive lattes and designer coffees for energy “pick-me-ups,” made necessary by the fact that you’re not taking in the proper balance of nutrients to begin with.  And finally, while you’re at it, please don’t forget to calculate all those hidden “backend” costs $$$ associated with an impaired immune system and deficient diet.  (Illness, medical expenses, et al.)  So yes, while some of the smoothie ingredients aren’t cheap, it’s a hell of a lot less costly than debilitating illness and poor health.  And I believe in paying my money on the front end (preventative) rather than the considerably more painful back end (curative).

INGREDIENTS:  Use a high-powered blender to mix the following into a smooth milkshake-like consistency:

This recipe obviously won’t be an option for someone with a nut allergy (sorry!)  and  unfortunately, I now know too much to be comfortable recommending other market substitutions such as dairy, rice or soy milks.  (By the way, also tried swapping out water for the almond milk, and it tasted heinous.)  But hey, you do you.  Understand that I’m only a layman sharing what worked for me, and helped me to lose and keep off 25lbs, exercise more effectively, build lean muscle mass, and boost my own immunity.  In all cases, I urge you to do your own research, consider whatever may be your unique dietary or health needs, and consult your own healthcare professionals before deciding on substitutions, or whether to adopt this recipe.   As always, take what you can use, and discard the rest.  For those of you who DO try it (or tweak it to come up with your own custom formula), report back with the results.  Enjoy!

* Note: I usually opt to boost mine with an additional teaspoon each of maca powder or superfruit powder (goji, pomegranate, acai), but the base Vega One formula already  includes trace amounts of these antioxidants, so this is totally optional.   And it goes without saying that if you’re not a fan of chocolate, you might want to make other arrangements.  By that, I mean skipping the recipe altogether, as the only reason I spent so much time tweaking this formula to death was to indulge my culinary fantasies of drinking a chocolate bomb milkshake for breakfast every day.   And yes, since I know someone will point it out, I’m aware they make Silk brand almond milk in dark chocolate flavor.  (Come on. Don’t you think that was my FIRST idea?)  Tried it, and yes, it was a positively sublime experience.  But after mulling it over and crunching the numbers,  I ultimately rejected it because I was determined to keep the overall sugar gram content, and caloric count, as low as possible.  Plus, I found that I could get the shake plenty choco-yummy with the pure cacao powder, which has *0* grams of sugar.  Even this chocoholic has her limits.

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