Monthly Archives: December 2014

Make it Mediterranean: Reclaim Your Health with This Recipe.

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Happy New Year!

Momma’s Lebanese healing soup. When I was a single woman, I would come home to see my mother on the weekends; she would have a large pot of this special soup just for me to enjoy through the weekend. After years of teaching me to eat healthy, she had finally arrived – I was fully on board her “health train” and I whole heartedly ate this soup, guilt free. Sometimes she would add Garbanzo beans or potatoes. She was a free spirit like that. I adored most how she oozed her love, and “health facts” into each delicious recipe. I can still hear her say, “The bone marrow has the most nutrients, this is why we use the beef bone marrow!”

I speak every bit to me as to you, when I say that between Halloween and the New Year, surely, treats have passed our way and our system has been compromised.  Together, we may need to gently cleanse our system toward optimal health. Please, enjoy this soup – I recommend one to two days, with at least 2 pieces of your favorite fruit, and a generous handful of your favorite nuts. Drink plenty of delicious water. One of my favorite ways to drink water is to make lemon and mint ice cubes. Adding these ice cubes not only makes your drink look desirable, but chewing the lemon and the mint, once the ice-cube is melted, is a delicious treat. And yes, my mother would tell you to eat the lemon peel too because of the nutrients! “Sah-tain!” May you enjoy this toward good health!

Momma’s Healing Soup Ingredients:

10 cups of Water

1 cup of Beef Broth (optional)

1 Beef Marrow Bone

1 12 oz can of tomato paste

1 Cinnamon stick

1 Small Onion Chopped

2 Cups of cut Green Beans

2 Cups of Chopped Cabbage

2 Cups of Chopped Celery

2 Cups of Chopped Broccoli Florets

1 Cup of Chopped Carrots

1 Cup of Chopped Yellow Squash

Add Salt and Pepper to Taste.

Directions: Simply put all the ingredients together in a large pot, on high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat.  Cover, and cook until all the vegetables are tender.

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An Ancient Solution To Our Modern Day Problems

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I TRULY MARVEL. We are beautifully and wonderfully made. Consider this: each muscle is designed in delicate order to serve a purpose so we may function daily “doing life” with ease and precision. Seriously, let this sink in for a moment. Each muscle in your precious body has a purpose. But there is more. We were not only designed with a delicate balance of muscle, but our bodies are capable of moving lyrically through space and time because we are beautifully divided into upper and lower extremities; our hips and arms can abduct and adduct; our trunk can rotate, flex, and extend!  Why?  Because we are designed with the ability to move in three brilliant planes of motion, properly known as: The Saggital Plane (movement forward and backward), The Frontal Plane (movement side to side), and The Transverse Plane (movement that is rotational). But there is a catch. If we neglect these beautiful muscles, in due time they will begin to weaken or become inflexible and we risk injury…or with an aging body…we risk a serious fall. And, if we don’t train all three planes of motion, injury may ensue.

AN ANCIENT SOLUTION TO OUR MODERN DAY PROBLEMS. It occurred to me during one of my fitness workshops, as we were studying movement patterns, and the many benefits that come with “multi-planar training,” that the women who gathered in the ancient dance of the Middle East,  knew something about our need to achieve and preserve optimal health and fitness for function. While there are limited resources, and there is much debate on the true origins, oral history suggests this ancient dance was a practice originally shared with women as a means to ease child-birth.  Only later was it coined “Belly Dance” because of the cool belly tricks observed by Westerners.  Indeed, belly dance is a non-impact, weight-bearing, multi-planar, workout.  Envision if you will: Belly Dance is primarily a torso-driven dance, with an emphasis on articulations, mostly through the hips, (i.e. hip twists, slides, and figure eights to name a few). Add any one of these articulations to a lateral travel or a forward or backward walk (or even a lunge) and guess what? You have multi-planar movement!

Let me be clear, I didn’t make this dance up. No, it’s as ancient as it comes; but it was passed down to me at a very early age as a part of my culture. RaqiSa embraces this age-old dance, and strives to revive this “girl power” practice into the here and now, because in addition to the many health benefits, it’s good for the soul.  Belly Dance notoriously promotes a positive body image for women of all ages and all sizes.  While the RaqiSa choreography is fun & flirty, the training is a series of intense, results based formats, which will tone, sculpt, and stretch your muscles. Each workout is uniquely designed to demystify belly dance and speed the learning curve, so that you can enjoy the many benefits that come with belly dance.

IN SUMMATION.  Your motivation to stay fit may be because you want to look good. Sure, we all like that as an added benefit. But truth be told, there should be an expectation – an urgency on our part to prioritizes fitness simply because we ought to be balanced and fit so that we may “do life” physically with ease.  So why not train like the women who gathered in dance?  Belly Dancing works the body as a unit, connecting all the parts at once, relying on deep stabilizer muscles to maintain precision.  Oh…and it’s a lot of fun.

Realize your body’s potential to achieve a higher standard.  Because if we don’t train or condition our muscles evenly and on many planes, then we are doing our bodies a disservice.  So go ahead!  Marvel at how beautifully you were designed.  Walk in front of the mirror and dance around and say, “Wow!  It’s me moving in 3-D – and I’m amazing!”

RaqiSa 2015 Workouts are in production.  So please stay tuned for these RaqiSa signature formats:  Belly Barre, Belly Ball, and Belly Dance.  Be sure to LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more updates.

Gain Perspective…Not Weight

RaqiSa Photo FOod

The Mediterranean Lifestyle enjoys gracious living. Based on the belief that hospitality requires serving fresh, quality, natural foods, the Mediterranean host keeps her pantry prepared to feed her family as well as the unexpected guest. But above all, it is the sincere and welcoming spirit, and the sheer joy, in seeing others enjoy food in good health, that feeds the soul.

Traditionally when you compliment the chef, they will respond to you, “sah-tain” – which means, “to your health.” This is the food perspective seen in the Middle East, “food equals health.” RaqiSa Lifestyle embraces this belief. We believe in serving graciously to all, (including ourselves), with a joyful spirit.  Why not see food as both delicious and as good health?…Gaining this perspective may eventually help you lose the excess weight you may be carrying.

To be sure, training yourself to see food as “health” will take time.  More over, learning to cook delicious foods that happen to be healthy, may tempt you into thinking you can eat more…after all, “it’s healthy,” you may reason.  Well, tis the season to see things differently.  And what better time than the present, especially as the New Year’s Resolution list is likely to be in the making?  May I propose a toast to living a quality life free from constraints?  To help you inch into the “New Year, New You” mode, I offer three seemingly simple rules to live by, followed by one single (and do-able) fitness goal:

1) Eat what you want when you are hungry.  Why waste time eating something you are not even craving?  Within reason, accept that you enjoy certain foods, keeping the portions small.  One time I was craving “Arabic Pizza.”  All week I ate Arabic Pizza.  It seemed that my body needed the carbohydrates and protein and the fresh lemon and tomato in this recipe because I was training for a competition and I was rehearsing routine after routine and I needed “energy.”  Mind you, I am referring to food.  Craving sweets often indicates a lack of sleep (fatigue) or an emotional trigger has been tapped.  Listen to your body and listen to your emotions.  One could easily over eat in an emotional state saying, “Well, you said eat what I want,” and end up bypassing whether or not hunger was even present.  Which leads me to rule #2.

2) Be aware of every bite you are savoring. This may require some planning on your part because we are often eating on the fly and in actuality, we end up consuming more calories than we realize because we are grazing all day long.  If you are a grazer, no problem…simply pause as you graze to really taste the food you are enjoying.  After all we are so fortunate to live in a country with abundant food.  We ought to honor this moment.  Personally, I pray before I eat anything.  (My personal faithful prayer:  “Thank you Jesus for this food; bless the food to my body; bless the hands that prepared this food.  Amen”…I even envision the factory worker who may have assembled a packaged or canned food I am eating as part of the hands who prepared my food!)  As I eat, I try to savor the flavors.  Everyone in my family will tell you that I am a “fast eater.” This is true.  Nonetheless, I do savor my foods…quickly.   But yes, I am working on slowing it down.  (I suppose I should add “Chew at least 30 times!” as a personal goal.)  Still, to be clear, being aware of your eating will also steer you clear from eating while feeling overly emotional.

3) Stop eating when you are full.  This one is tough even for me.  Why?  Because a lot of times I am actually THIRSTY.  I teach several fitness classes a week and if I am not hydrated well enough, I risk losing my measurement of hunger for thirst.  However, the more we are in tune with #2, the easier #3 will be.  May I also suggest that if you are packing a lunch, you can put aside any unfinished food and resume eating again when you are feeling hungry.  This way, you have a measure of how much you have been consuming.  Pack extra fruit and a handful of nuts if you are concerned you may need extra energy.  This is the Mediterranean thinking.  Eat fruits and nuts as snacks.

While these rules seem easy enough, you may need additional support from friends or a computer gadget that helps you keep track of your calories.  To be sure, I too like to have someone on my side rooting me on days I feel weak.  Nonetheless, I believe in this “Mediterranean Thinking” because it is both liberating and healthy.  We all have days we feel more emotional or overwhelmed.  Having loved ones and friends who are on your side is a good thing.  Saved for another blog, I can say first hand that adopting this thinking rescued me from a vicious cycle of fad diets in my younger years.

Finally, I’d like to offer you one and only one “New Year, New You” fitness goal as you strive to gain perspective…and not weight:

MOVE At Least Six Days a Week.  We were MEANT to move.  Our bodies are capable of doing amazing things!  Find whatever helps you get into “move mode,” whether it be good music, a great (RaqiSa;) workout, or simply a walk to enjoy at your leisure.   You are ALIVE!  Honor your body with movement!  Give thanks every day for your precious body and all that it has done for you!  Move because you CAN.  This New Year, I challenge you to commit to doing something at least six days of the week, that involves moving your body throughout the course of a day.  I submit to you that as you make this commitment, and simply begin to “move” you will enjoy many health benefits.  Once you have secured “moving” as a habit, then and only then experiment with intensity and duration during specific movements you enjoy.  *Naturally, watch for upcoming RaqiSa workouts which will help challenge you even further.  But for today, get a pedometer and strive for 10,000 steps a day.  Gather a group of like minded friends for support and make this year exceptional.

Be sure to “Like” RaqiSa Fitness on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter to learn more about amazing 2015 RaqiSa programs you will want to add to your “New Year New You” Lifestyle!

RaqiSa Fitness: Capturing “That Woman.”

Momma

Classic.  Timeless.  Beauty.  

Keep a Healthy Perspective Toward Good Health and Fitness.

My three sisters and I doted on our mother, and that was easy to do. She was a petite, delicate, and elegant mother who demonstrated daily her affectionate motherly love and support with tenderness, yet with an indescribable inner strength. She challenged us to keep a direct course in our lives and to never settle for mediocrity. She was a sweet feminine woman who was passionately in love with her vibrant and cosmopolitan homeland Beirut, Lebanon. She was possibly one of the first Lebanese feminist, certainly that I had ever known. She was a brave woman who ventured alone to America on a scholarship to a Christian University for four years. She fell in love with the American people, yet knew her identity as she served as an unofficial ambassador, to her country, Lebanon. When she returned back to Lebanon she met my father, a charming young military American – they fell in love and married. They traveled the world together and once again, she bravely took on any new country or state she was transferred to with dignity because her feet stayed firmly planted in her Lebanese roots. She passed her passionate spirit and cultural traditions on to each of her five children.

While her children came first, my mother was a career woman, and quite proud to be an associate professor at the Defense Language Institute on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. She loved to take information, dissect it, then present it so her students could understand and excel. Twice she was honored with the “Teacher of the Year Award.” Indeed, she was a strong, accomplished woman who extended to her children her inner strength, her wisdom, and class. To be sure, with such role modeling, my siblings as I felt fully capable to be anything we desired, we felt beautiful, feminine, strong, and yet graceful.

The RaqiSa Method strives to capture “that” woman through a program that enhances posture, grace, strength as well as RaqiSa style dance filled with a lot passion! It is my sincere desire that as I expand the RaqiSa program and begin to share with you my mother’s pearls of wisdom, her words will resonate with you so that you too will feel beautiful, feminine and fully capable.  We all encounter obstacles in our lives, but I like to think that the disciplined RaqiSa woman is not just training for outer strength….but inner strength as well.

RaqiSa Fitness@TheRaqiSaMethod

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