My Lower Belly Pooch is not so Cute. How do I give it the Boot ?

October 24, 2008 Diet, Health, Other, The Love Your Life Program 1 Comment


A frequent and often ignored misconception about your abs is that it is

divided into 2 parts upper and lower. Well anatomically speaking that is just not true!


You see your Rectus Abdominis actually consists of one long muscle that travels from the lower part of your chest down to your pelvis so any exercise you do really, works the entire muscle!



Now that isn’t to say that exercise such as leg lifts and reverse crunches which claim to target your lower abs are completely useless because these types of exercises not only work the abs but they also work your lower back, pelvis, hips and your Gluteus Maximus!


You should remember to incorporate a variety of ab exercises in your routine so that your abs like any other muscle group you train do not adapt.


Strengthening your core will also aid in everyday activities such as walking and standing.


But remember that no amount of crunches are going to give you the coveted six pack abs unless you also work on reducing your body fat. The less body fat on top of your abdominal muscles, the more visible they will appear. 


Refer back to The Love Your Life Program for a simplified approach to losing your belly fat. So easy, it can be maintained for life!

shaneekblack Shaneek AKA Miss Murder

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new study links brain chemicals and overeating

October 22, 2008 Diet, Health, Other 5 Comments

kirstiealley050404_250 Even though scientists and experts have studied obesity for many years, they are still far from understanding the truth behind this issue.


But, a recent study conducted at the Oregon Research Institute reveals interesting findings on a brain chemical that seems to lead to overeating: Dopamine.


What is dopamine? Dopamine is a brain chemical that senses pleasure. For example, take a comforting food like warm apple pie. As you stuff your face with a huge bite of pie, dopamine levels are boosted giving you a satisfactory sensation.



Senior scientist, Dr. Eric Stice lead a study that suggests that dopamine levels are less active in obese individuals compared to the fit and lean.


The study involved 43 college girls ages 18-22, and 33 teenagers ages 14-18. The girls ranged from very skinny to obese.  milkshake


They were all asked to sip on delicious chocolate milkshakes while a scanner studied an area of their brain called Dorsal Striatum, the pleasure center filled with dopamine.


Scientists noticed that the pleasure center was less active in the obese volunteers compared to the thinner ones.


Scientists suggest that less dopamine activity may lead to overeating.

For example, if the person’s pleasure senses are low when indulging in a milkshake, then he or she may overeat to compensate to reach the level of satisfaction.


So, how do I feel about this released study?


I find this dopamine study to be very interesting but I also feel that there are more factors that need to be researched before this conclusion is definite.

Since I have experienced being in a bigger body and overeating, I can say that I was always satisfied with my meals. I did feel a boost in my dopamine levels as I tasted all the flavor and appreciated every texture. But, only under a scanner will I really know how active my pleasure center was, compared to now.

I also had an addictive behavior and used food for comfort. I felt insecure and unworthy so every bite was a symbol of happiness.

me1I felt that the problem was me, myself and I.

I realized I had to battle my mind by learning how to retrain my thoughts about food. The difference between then and now, is that I enjoy eating while practicing portion control. I eat to live, not live to eat.


What are your thoughts on the study?

Love, Ghada.

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enhance your weight training with these two second interval bursts

October 21, 2008 Diet, Health, Other, The Love Your Life Program 1 Comment

Want more bang for your exercise buck?

Interval cardio training is an awesome addition to any strength-training routine because it burns a ton of calories, works the cardiovascular system, and builds muscle all at the same time. It’s all about doing short amounts of cardio with an intense amount of effort.

Try these two cardio burst sessions in between your weight-training exercises if you really want and maximize your workout.


Mountain Climbers

squatthrustStart in a plank position with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your right knee and with a springing movement, bring your right thigh under the right side of your torso. Quickly spring back out to the starting position while jumping your left knee in toward your torso. Keep your pace as fast as possible while doing mountain climbers. Besides being a cardiovascular exercise, this move trains the chest, shoulders, lower abs, and transverse abs. 


Squat Thrusts


Start in a plank position with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and jump both feet forward simultaneously to your hands so that you’re in a crouch position. Quickly extend your legs and jump both feet back behind you into the starting position, and repeat. Make sure to keep your abs tight and don’t let your lower back sag or drop.  


step1 step2  


Remember, “interval” is the key word here. These exercises are demanding, so warm up before doing them. These are meant for 30-second to five-minute bursts, not half-hour sessions.

shaneekblack Shaneek AKA Miss Murder

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Rev up your metabolism with fatty coconut oil

October 20, 2008 Diet, Health, Other, The Love Your Life Program 4 Comments


Do you remember when coconut oil was labeled as a dangerous saturated fat that caused heart problems?


I do. And the reason why I remember it, is because I was so sad knowing that this delicious perfect coconut fruit was bad for me.


Well, those claims were revealed to be false!


During the beginning stages of my weight loss journey, I was continuously searching for female role models to learn a thing or two from. One woman that caught my attention was Jennifer Nicole Lee.


Jennifer once weighed in over 200 lbs after giving birth to her two sons. Like many over weight individuals, she was fed up and decided to take action. For motivation, Jennifer Nicole Lee entered a bikini contest hoping to get in shape by that date. And she did. Not only did she compete, by she also took home the medal for Miss Bikini USA.


Being attracted to her story and her amazing post baby physique I had to look her up. I found that she had numerous fitness videos and offered many weight loss tips. One of the tips that stood out was: consume coconut oil and lose the weight.


What? Coconut oil?

I was very hesitant in believing this skinny chick, in fear that I might gain weight from this fatty oil!


Before jumping to any conclusions, I felt that coconut deserved a fair chance.


After a few hours of investigating, I was convinced that coconut oil was going to be added to my daily menu.


Even though coconut oil is classified as a saturated fat, it is also a Medium Chain Fatty Acid.

What does this mean? Unlike hydrogenated oils like margarine and shortening, coconut oil is quickly metabolized in the body and used for energy. This makes coconut oil a GOOD FAT similar to fish oil.


Coconut oil does not convert into cholesterol or body fat.

Here’s an interesting story I found: A group of farmers were on a mission to fatten up their pigs by feeding them corn, soybeans and coconut oil. They assumed that coconut oil’s saturated fats would do the trick. Wrong! The pigs that were fed coconut oil were much leaner than the others that fed on soybeans and corn.piglet


Another study showed that Medium Chain Fatty Acids did not interfere with thyroid functions leading to an increase in the metabolic rate and weight loss results. Weight loss was achieved as long as the individual stayed within the calorie range.


Our bodies are made to consume fats to function properly and efficiently. You’ve heard it over and over. GOOD FATS IN, BAD FATS OUT.


So bring in the good fats like coconut, hemp, olive and fish oil, and ELIMINATE hydrogenated oils like corn and soy.


Click here to watch the famous Dr. Mercola explain more about the amazing benefits of coconut oil.

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4 super easy ways to burn additional calories

October 16, 2008 Diet, Health, Other, The Love Your Life Program 1 Comment

bottledwaterDrink it up!

Drinking water is undeniably good for you.

Drinking ice cold water is even better!

Consume eight 8 oz glasses of cold water, and boost your engine to burn up to 70 calories a day.

That comes to 5 lbs a year!

The body has to keep its temperature at 98.6 degrees, so when you shock it with cold water it will work harder to raise it.

Suffer under 20 seconds of a cold shower and burn up to 100 more. liftweight



Pump it up! Build more muscle and burn more calories. Every pound of muscle can burn 50 extra calories a day. So, grab those weights, chug those protein shakes and start building that brick house. 




Spice it up! Rev up your metabolism by 50 % for up to 3 hours just by adding some hot spices to your foods.





Clean it up! The weekend is here and you know you have to clean up the house. Instead of dreading the dirty work, shift your thinking and make it into your extra fitness day.

Vacuuming can burn up to 245 calories an hour! Put on some of your favorite jams and get to work.

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Introducing my new bff & favorite meathead!

October 14, 2008 About me, Diet, Health, Other Leave a comment

In a recent article, I spoke about my gym buddy Shaneek AKA Miss Murder. I am the Ying and she represents the Yang. She is the ultimate meathead, but still radiates sexiness. I have invited her to share some words of wisdom with you, so I hope you enjoy her just as much as I do.


Hi Smallworld Beauties,


Browsing through different fitness blogs, it always seemed that the spokes person was genetically predisposed to a great body and in amazing top notch shape.



How can an average woman like me relate? I am seeking for someone real! I am looking for someone that struggles with their weight, gave birth to one or two kids, suffers from cottage cheese thighs and really struggles to get back in shape.


That is who I seek!


Let me tell you about who Miss Murder used to be.


In my younger years, there was no way I was breaking a sweat, because that would cause my hair to frizz! Working out never crossed my mind until I became pregnant and birthed my three children. Consumed with depression, I knew I wanted to lose the weight fast and get down to a size 2.


dietpill Through unhealthy dieting and weight loss pills, I dropped 50 lbs. I achieved my goal of 117 lbs and fit into my size 2 jeans. This was the smallest that I have ever been, yet I still felt out of shape. Even though I was thin, I did not look tone and my cottage cheese thighs were still visible.


I decided to join the fitness center at my work and dedicated three days a week to lifting weights and doing very light cardio. This time, I was going to do it the right and healthy way! I began to research online training programs to help further assist in my health and fitness quest.


I became a gym addict and increased my workout days to five. Not only was it a great way to release stress and gain energy, but my body felt amazing.


I began noticing that my weight lifting program was adding more weight. Fear of gaining my weight back, I went back to doing just cardio. I continued on the cardio kick and dropped more weight.


scale After doing more research, I decided to hit the weights again. This time, my body actually began to look leaner! My new mission was to ignore the scale and look as lean as possible!


I joined a more accessible gym near my home to make sure that I could get my workouts in 5 days a week. My goal was to have a mean lean body by the age of 40!


I continued to enjoy every minute of the gym, and kept busy with reading fitness related books and blogs to further my knowledge.


I also began to meet inspirational individuals at the gym who also shared the same fitness quest that I did. One of those individuals was Ghada.


gymbag At first glance, it didn’t really seem like we had much in common except that she laid her junk next to mine in the locker room. She also talked a lot. But the more I got to know her, the more I realized we were too much alike.


We shared a passion for body building, health and fitness, and the newest trends in skin care. We even engaged in discussions regarding our bowel movements!


We became quick friends and remain great friends till this day. We are two strong, beautiful women on a quest to obtain the best body, mind and soul that we can achieve with what we have.


I am very excited to be part of Smallworld Beauty, and I look forward to sharing more of my words and experiences with you . So, stay tuned and look out for more of my guest appearances.

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Be a food Nazi and avoid bad eating habits at work

October 10, 2008 Diet, Health, Other, The Love Your Life Program 3 Comments

Since starting the Love Your Life Program, I have influenced so many people along the way including my coworkers. I have earned the title of “Food Nazi” and banned processed junk food from entering my office. Dessert is only allowed during birthdays or celebrations, but even then I rarely participate.



Work environments can be hazardous to your program if you are not cautious.


Corporate office buildings are very accommodating with restaurants and vending machines filled with inexpensive sugary snacks and sodas.


badeatingSimilar to many, our kitchen used to be stocked with bagels, brownies and other forms of dessert to compliment a morning cup of coffee.  Not to mention, there was always a large candy bowl welcoming our guests.


Those days are long gone!



I, the Food Nazi transformed our office into a healthy one! My weight loss achievements and healthy pre-packed meals became contagious. Slowly, everyone started to follow in my footsteps.


Our marketing girl replaced her chocolate cake with cottage cheese and frozen blueberries, and our receptionist joined Weight Watchers and a boot camp class.  We all kept each other in line, but I was the toughest of the Food Nazis.


If you currently work in an environment that is hazardous to your waist line, then I suggest that you start making some changes to create a healthier one.


Here are some helpful suggestions to staying healthy at work:


Always keep a water bottle at your desk:  My glass 20 oz  bottle gets filled around 6 times during my work day. Drinking water hydrates me, flushes me out and keeps my satiety in check.



packlunch Pre-pack your meals: I dedicate my Sundays to prepare most of my meals for the work week. I usually bake some chicken and fish, steam my veggies and boil a pot of brown rice. Everything takes me less than two hours to prep, cook and store in containers. Prepping my meals saves me so much time during the week and allows me more free time to engage in other fun activities.




leavedeskEnjoy a 30 minute break away from your  computer: If it’s a sunny day, then lunch is almost always served outside. Why not get some vitamins from my food and the sun! If it’s raining, then I’ll sit by the window and watch. Rain is beautiful and relaxing and by eating slower, I can gauge my hunger level to prevent me from overeating.




Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks: Yogurt,  protein shakes, veggie slices, fruits and nuts can always be found in the kitchen fridge. But, I only stock enough for a few days. If you stock more, you’ll be tempted to finish off the whole week’s supply. Click here if you need some delicious snack ideas.




heelsExercise and get away from your desk: I try to rock my  heels to work so I can get a workout walking back and forth to the bathroom. I also like to take a sprint down and up a few flight of stairs before lunch time to get my heart pumping.



teacupDrink some Green or Herbal Tea: Drinking a hot cup of tea after my lunch always soothes my belly and seals any false craving that I have. Not to mention the great nutritional benefits that it contains.



If you are already a Food Nazi at work, then I would love to hear how you keep order. Do you give the evil eye? Or do you simply snatch their bag of chips and slam dunk it in the trash can?

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Delicious snack options that will satisfy any belly

October 4, 2008 Diet, Health, Other, The Love Your Life Program 4 Comments

People always ask me “aren’t you bored eating the same thing everyday?” My answer is no, because there are endless options of delicious foods and snacks to choose from.

Here are just a few of my favorite snacks! (Notice how my snacks are well balanced, filled with protein, carbs & fat).

1. FAGE Total 0% Greek Yogurt & frozen blue berries. This is my dessert! Zero fat and packed with protein, FAGE Yogurt is unbelievably thick and creamy. Mix it with a cup of frozen blue berries and never crave ice cream again.


2.  Blue Diamond 100 Calories per bag & an apple. Packed with fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, protein and other beneficial nutrients, almonds are always a great snack. These pre-packed 100 calorie bags are great for portion control. Almonds and other nuts are great, but moderation is key since they are high in fat. Compliment this pack with a red delicious.

3.  Hummus & Sweet pepper slices:sweetpepper hummus

Growing up in a Middle Eastern culture, hummus was a staple in my family’s diet. My mom would soak the chickpeas overnight, bring them to a boil and then toss in her special ingredients to create the creamiest hummus ever! Full of fiber packed chick peas, 2 tablespoons of hummus is a great low carb snack and a tasty dip with Vitamin A & C infused sweet peppers.

NCI5_POTATO peanut

4. Sweet potato & peanut butter. You may be thinking “Ewwww Ghada! Sweet potato & peanut butter?” Yes! Please try this combo and you’ll thank me later. Sweet potatoes are delicious complex carbs, rich in beta carotene, anti-oxidants, other vitamins and minerals. Top this with with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and watch it melt. Just pure yummy. Peanut butter is very satisfying because it contains fiber, protein and other micro-nutrients. You’ll be full until dinner time.


5. Breakstone 2 % cottage cheese & 1 tbsp honey. Breakstone cottage cheese has to be the best tasting out there. Try Friendship brand too. Cottage cheese is low in fat and carbs, yet high in protein. Grab a snack pack and get your calcium and Vitamin D in for the day. Drizzle some honey on top, and dream about heaven. Honey is nature’s natural energy booster. Try a tablespoon an hour before a workout for better boost and endurance.

6. Rice cake & Turkey slices. A whole grain rice cake is low in fat and is only 35 calories a piece, so why not go for two! Top your rice cakes with white turkey meat slices and give your body a shot of amino acids, protein, folic acid, vitamin B’s and more.


7. Chocolate protein shake & a banana. I always carry ready-to-drink protein shakes or protein powder in my bag. Protein shakes are great satisfying drinks that can leave you full for hours. If you’re using them for a snack, go for a lower carb and moderate protein count. The combination of protein and carbs are very beneficial in aiding the repair of your tissues and building of your muscles. Have a potassium & fiber rich banana along with it. Banana’s natural sugars give you an energy boost too. Banana’s are the # 1 fruits among athletes.

stringcheesecucumber8. String cheese & cucumber slices. Who doesn’t like low fat string cheese? Here’s another calcium rich snack that is low in carbs and fat. Slice up some chilled cucumbers and enjoy. Cucumbers are high in water and fiber so they’ll surely fill you up.


9. Boiled egg & Whole grain bread. Do I need to say anymore about eggs? If you haven’t read my article on eggs, click here and read about how you can drop the weight by adding them to your daily menu. Enjoy a hard boiled egg with a slice of whole grain bread. Try Ezekiel sprouted bread full of flax seed, barley and other nutritious whole grains.

blackbeansbrown rice10. Brown rice & 1/2 cup of black beans. I found this rice at the grocery store about a month ago. I love brown rice, but I’m so impatient in preparing it. Not to mention, I always burn the bottom and spend days soaking the pan to get the rice off. Minute Ready to Serve Brown Rice contains a little bit of safflower oil (healthy fat) and tastes amazing. I really have issues, because I think that I am truly addicted to it. I look forward to eating it everyday. With only 170 calories, this whole grain rice is a great snack or addition to my lunch. Add 1/2 a cup of black beans on top or mix it in.  Eat slow and savor the flavor.

What are some of your favorite snacks? If you do try some of mine, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Click here to read about the “Love Your Life Program” and learn more about healthy eating and living.

I love you Smallworld Beauties!

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I love you Arnold! Chain restaurants in California will soon be required to post nutrition facts.

October 2, 2008 Diet, Health, Other 1 Comment

I think our hero Arnold Schwarzenegger is tired of eating out and packing on the weight. fatarnold


The California governor has agreed to sign a bill this week that will require California chain restaurants to post and provide nutrition facts for their customers.


This new law will effect restaurant chains with 20 locations or more. A total of 17,000 restaurants will have to take act by July 1st.  On that date, the qualified restaurants must start providing hand outs/ brochures with nutrition facts and calorie info.


By January 1st, nutrition facts must also be displayed on the front counter and display board. 



Check out the nutrition facts on McDonald’s Medium Fries!  Ruh Roh


This law has already been in effect in New York City, and will soon be passed in other states as well.


I hope that these new laws will lead to a decrease in obesity and weight-related health issues. I know that if I was provided with nutritional information while dining out, I would more likely choose the healthiest options. I hope that others start doing the same.


Starbucks, Cosi and Chipotle are some of the many chains that are already on the ball, providing nutritional facts on their food items, so try to make a stop there before heading to another fast food place.


starbuckscosi Chipotle_BlackFin



Personally, I would rather make my own coffee at home and pack my own meals and snacks to go.


Thank you ladies for taking the time to read my articles, now go spread some fairy health dust!fairy_dust copy

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Keep a Journal and double your weight loss!

September 24, 2008 Beauty, Diet, Health 2 Comments

Keep a Journal and double your weight loss!image

A study conducted by the Kaiser Permanent Health Research Center revealed amazing results when volunteers were asked to maintain a food journal.

The study involved 1700 overweight individuals who were asked to follow a healthy diet.

  • The individuals who did not keep a food journal lost an average of 9 lbs.
  • The individuals who kept a journal (6 or more records per week) lost an average of 20 lbs.

The study concludes that by keeping a food journal and tracking your meals, you can double your weight loss efforts!

I have been keeping a food and exercise journal since I started the Love your Life Program, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to lose weight or just maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Tracking foods has its many benefits:

  • I find that I am able to control my portions better
  • I make better food choices when I have to plan my day/week
  • It keeps me from going over my calorie range
  • It motivates me to stick to my overall program and continue pushing to reach my goal

By having a food and exercise journal, I can also pay attention to how certain foods make me feel. For example, having eggs and oatmeal in the morning fill me up longer than if I just eat some fruit.  The combination of protein and complex carbs take longer to digest and gives me a feeling of satiety hours after.

Every once in a while, I like to evaluate my food journal and see if I can add or subtract foods, or tweek my portions size. Be careful not to become obsessed! I have been there.

You may purchase a food journal from any bookstore, or use online tracking systems instead.

Since I am always on the internet, I prefer to keep an online food journal.

Here are a few sites that you will find helpful:


The Love your Life program is intended to be so realistic that you can follow it for life. Breathe, relax, take it easy and enjoy the journey.

Remember, if you lose weight the healthy and patient way, you will be able to maintain it for life instead of gaining it all back.

Feel free to share a page of your journal if you already have one by posting it in the comments. We can all learn from one another.



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How I lost the weight!