Tag Archives: New Year

Lebni, A Timeless Tradition, by RaqiSa Living.

Lebni

This Holiday Season, bring good health and flavor to your table with a Timeless Mediterranean Tradition: Lebni.  Enjoyed in homes and restaurants, particularly in Lebanon and Greece, Lebni is a delicious, thick, and creamy yogurt with a sophisticated texture served as a spread or a dip.  As a dip, simply drizzle with olive oil and top with pomegranate seeds. This preparation is both visually beautiful and flavorful, adding just enough sweetness in each bite!  Serve with either pita chips or vegetables.

Remember, Lebni may also be enjoyed as a spread and is a classic breakfast or snack.  Simply spread on pita bread, add fresh tomato, cucumber, fresh mint, and a dash of *salt, and *olive oil (*optional) and voila!

As always we say, “Sah’tain”!  Which means, “To your Health”!

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The FIVE Major Components of Physical Fitness

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“One who is physically fit has an enhanced functional capacity that allows for a high quality of life.”  

American Council on Exercise

It is very likely that one of your New Year’s Resolution included getting in shape. But what does that even mean? “Getting in shape” is synonymous with fitness. And while there are several habits one should begin to practice in effort to see rapid results; there is a more pressing issue one must first grasp: what does being “physically fit” entail?

Learn the five major fitness components and measure yourself with this quick quiz to see where you currently stand. On a scale of 1 – 10, (10 being perfect) rate yourself in general terms whether or not this is an area think you excel or where you know you can improve.  This is not a scientific testing, rather a simple method to help you test your knowledge of the five components and  where you believe you currently stand.  The goal is to celebrate your strengths; and acknowledge the areas where you may need to improve. If you are serious about actualizing an improved fitness level, then your goal is to strive to include these five fitness components as you train toward optimal fitness.  I invite you to retake this quiz after 6 months. Share your improvements with me, and I will post it on my blog to celebrate your success!

(Pssst! Great news! Currently we are filming a series of workouts which will cover all five fitness components! In addition watch for a series of guest trainers who excel in various topics to educate you further!)

The Five Major Components of Fitness:

1)  Muscular Strength – How much weight can you handle during a muscle contraction? What is the maximal force your muscle (or a muscle group) can exert during a single contraction? For example, with a basic bicep curl, I am comfortable with 10 lb. dumbbells in each hand, repetitively lifting and lowering.  My maximal weight is closer to 20 – 25  lbs dumbbells in each hand.  In earnest, I am satisfied with this weight.  I will say, as I get older, I will aim to increase this number as it is good for my bones.  Rate yourself in general terms if you don’t have weights.  How many gallons of milk or bags of groceries can you handle before it gets to be too much?  ***To help you further with this, be sure to watch for one of Boston’s leading fitness experts to lead us in a workout to train for muscular strength.  

Your score  (1-10)  ____________

2)  Muscular Endurance – How many push ups or tricep dips can you perform before you become fatigued?  Muscular Endurance is the ability to perform a fitness task repetitively before becoming fatigued.   In effort to increase muscular endurance through exercise, perform exercises with low weight and complete a high number of repetitions. *** Belly Barre and Ball are excellent workouts to improve muscular endurance.

Your Score (1-10) ____________

3)  Cardiorespiratory Endurance – Often referred to as “aerobic fitness;” dancing, swimming, walking, are all ways to improve your cardiorespiratory endurance.  If you are easily winded during any of these basic exercises, then your goal is to build cardiorespiratory stamina. *** Belly Ball and Belly Dance will train for optimal aerobic fitness.

Your Score (1-10)____________

4)  Flexibility – If you are able to move (all) your joints through their full range motion comfortably, then you enjoy optimal flexibility.  Maintaining a level of flexibility is essential to prevent injury.  One of the leading causes of lower back pain,  as well as compromised posture, is due to tight muscles. *** Belly Barre pays close attention to flexibility.  (Never say never, many have learned to do the splits after training effectively in my belly barre classes!)

Your Score (1-10)____________

5)  Body Composition – Lean body mass to body fat ratio. In physical fitness, body composition is the percentages of fat, bone, water and muscle in human bodies.  In essence, you want to have more muscle than fat.  There are a variety of ways to measure body fat which go beyond the scope of this blog.  Learn from your doctor which percentage is best for your body and aim to meet this by watching your diet and training effectively.  Pay special attention to weight-bearing exercises designed to  improve your muscular strength and endurance – doing so elevates your resting metabolic rate – which means you burn more fat at rest!  To be sure, eating healthy is key. *** RaqiSa Lifestyle, provides healthy recipes and insight to give you support as you strive toward a leaner total body composition.

Your Score (1-10)_____________

TALLY YOUR TOTAL SCORE________________

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In Summation: Clearly your total score is meant to be 50. And as long as your doctor has given you the green light, then be assured that no matter how old (or young) you are; no matter what your current fitness level is – if you begin to get serious about your health, and you train in effort to meet all five fitness components, then you will likely be one of the few who can actually put a “feather in their cap” because you will have officially become “more physically fit in 2015!”

To be sure, recognize that each component is equally important; in addition, striving to meet each component will be a life long process.   If it feels too overwhelming, begin by discovering what motivates you to move.   Then layer in these essential components little by little.  Trust that the process will be tough at times – but it’s so worth it.  Keep your eye on what’s important:  “A life time of fitness allows for quality living.”

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RaqiSa Fitness:  We Believe that Strong and Healthy is Beautiful.

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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Gain Perspective…Not Weight

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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.

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