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Lindsay may look ballet beautiful, but she's in deep, deep pain.
Lindsay may look ballet beautiful, but she's in deep, deep pain.

Ballet Beautiful

Ballet dancers are masochists.

I know this for a fact after experiencing two weeks straight of Mary Helen Bowers’ "Ballet Beautiful" DVDs. I am sent fitness DVDs to experience and possibly review all the time and this duo of videos was no different, except that masquerading in the guise of "pretty ballerina" filmed in billowy white light and set to a repetitive piano concerto, "Ballet Beautiful" is in reality, the most grueling, punishing, torturous set of calisthenics I’ve ever attempted.

Bowers was a dancer for the New York City Ballet for 10 years, but is perhaps best known for training Natalie Portman for "Black Swan." Portman has always been slim, but her transformation for this film showcases her personal discipline and the fact that Bowers obviously knows what she is doing.

For two weeks, I rotated between the hour-long "Classic Workout" (divided into semi-more tolerable 10-minute segments) and the (what seemed much longer than an) hour long "Blast" made up of 15-minute, teeth-gritting sessions. The first three days I was driven by adrenaline and being obsessed with gazing at the stunningly, exquisitely gorgeous Bowers who seems to be executing each move with the greatest of ease. Her tiny, yet elegantly well-muscled body covered by only the slightest sheath of a leotard inspired me to drive forward through each second of muscle-burning punishment. But, after three days, I dreaded her cheerful voice and endless counting of eight reps for four sets.

Still, I persevered. I made it through 14 days straight – at which time I was promised I would see results. Did I? Other than feeling tighter (or really sore,) I didn’t look any different or drop any pounds. (From my experience, I do believe "feeling different" is "results." I personally think it takes longer than two weeks to experience real results from any exercise program. I like to give at least six weeks for the body to catch up to the physical program being inflicted upon it.) They only recommend usi…

Let's split it!
Let's split it!

Let's split it

Breaking bread with family and friends is really important to me. You know from reading my previous posts that getting time around the table enjoying a good, home-cooked meal is a priority. But, hey, I love going out to eat, too.

There’s been a lot of travel in our family since March, which means the fridge is more of a barren cavern than stocked with it’s usual bounty of healthy fare. So, by default and out of admitted laziness, we’ve been enjoying more meals "out," than are typical for us.

So, how are we avoiding the major ouch in our pocketbook and around our waistlines? Well, we’re splitting entrees.

Inspired by my mother-in-law and her beau, who always practice this money-and-calorie-saving dining-out style, we’ve been challenging ourselves to find something on the menu that we can agree on and share. This can be something of an adventure and exercise in marital compromise, but we’ve been making it happen.

We’ve even tired splitting our cocktails, which for a lightweight like me is perfect.

The reality is that restaurant food portions are often scaled for two or more. So, after getting over the initial feeling of being deprived of our very own, full plate of restaurant yumminess, we are realizing that splitting a meal leaves our appetites perfectly satisfied and never overstuffed. Which is really the healthiest way to consume food! Don’t chow until you are stuffed, but only until you are almost full.

That way there is room for digestion! For those watching what they eat, sharing an entrée is a great way to keep tabs on portion size and overall calorie intake.

More than that, it puts a smile of accomplishment on our faces when the bill arrives.

Sharing a meal saves a ton of money – even at fancy, upscale establishments that charge a fee to share an entree. Often, at steak houses, they will charge a small "split plate" fee, but serve an entire plate of sides to both diners. For us – that’s perfect! I can have a few bites of the prime cut …

Skin to the wind: Lindsay checks out all-naked beauty ritual at Oahu's Korean Day Spa.
Skin to the wind: Lindsay checks out all-naked beauty ritual at Oahu's Korean Day Spa.

Get naked at the Korean spa

I am completely naked.

The lighting is harsh and I am not alone.

Other naked ladies, all locals on the island of Oahu and mostly of Korean heritage, surround me.

We nudies are partaking in the beauty ritual of the Korean Day Spa. (This indulgence was a "must do" on my recent trip to Honolulu and I saved it until the very last day, right before our red-eye flight home. I wholeheartedly recommend slipping in a spa appointment before any flight – genius timing.)

But, this spa is not like the cushy, Zen experience of a Western spa. There are no fluffy robes, no private rooms and not a trace of modesty. Although I have already spent a week in this tropical paradise wearing nothing more than a bikini and a trucker hat, which in itself makes you trash any feelings of self-consciousness, being totally naked around other totally naked ladies takes this up a notch. I refuse to let body hang-ups get in the way of having a good time.

I choose my treatment by reading an English description of it, yet I am quite unsure how to begin the first part of this adventure, which is performed on one's own while taking advantage of the spa amenities. The spa concierge commands me into the locker room, which is really just part of the lobby area, tells me to undress completely and then points me to the wet room.

I disrobe and find myself possessing only the key to my locker, which I am instructed to tie into my hair. I am ushered into the "spa" which in spa-talk is like a huge Vichy-room, or in lay terms, an open wet room, this one consisting of a communal shower area, one hot pool, one cold pool, a steam room, a dry sauna and five or six treatment tables nestled under their own shower spouts.

A kind spa-goer notices my bewilderment and tells me to shower first. I step over the wall of showers and am a bit horrified to see one "for-public-use" bar of white soap and two giant pump bottles of a generic body/hair shampoo and conditioner.

"Get over it, don’t judge, just experience it,…

I just can't get enough of the pineapple.
I just can't get enough of the pineapple.

Hop on board the pineapple express

Current trends in nutrition preach the benefits of eating a seasonal diet in accordance with where you live. This nutritional theory encourages eating locally grown food, preferably native to the geographic area you reside in and in accordance with what is in season for best health. Eating papaya in February in Wisconsin doesn’t exactly jibe with this.

We’re so used to seeing bananas in our produce section, at our health club snack bar or even at the gas station check out stand that it doesn’t usually occur to us that bananas are not indigenous to North America. There was a time when air-shipped bananas from the Chiquita farms in Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras and Guatemala were not found in an American grocery store produce section – so, people did not eat them. The modern convenience of importing and exporting our food supply is something we often take for granted.

I totally "get" and embrace this "eat local" trend – it’s a throwback to a "natural" way of living and consumption. It encourages community food production and support of your regional economy – both of which I am all for.

But, sometimes cravings win out.

In complete rebellion against seasonal or local eating, I have been indulging in some major pineapple action. Maybe it was the anticipation of our recent trip to Oahu, where the Dole Plantation produces a bounty of this spiky fruit. We drove by the pineapple fields, which surprised me with their low profile. I somehow envisioned that pineapples grew on trees, not on short, stocky plants.

Or perhaps this pineapple frenzy was the product of an instinctual pull toward the enzyme Bromelain in response to my hand injury that is still plaguing me. Pineapple contains tons of this enzyme known for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Forward-thinking surgeons often prescribe Bromelain as a post-procedure supplement to assist with bruising and swelling.

Bromelain also helps with digestion, which can be wonky while traveling, so consum…