Category Archives: Lifestyle

4 Steps To Burning Belly Fat!

One of the main issues we have when it comes to dieting and working out is  how do we get rid of our belly fat?  Contrary to what many believe, doing crunches is not the best and only answer to this question.  There are other important factors to consider when you want to start seeing that 6-pack.




 In one study people that got six-seven hours of sleep per night gained less visceral (abdominal) fat over five years compared to those who slept five or fewer hours or eight hours or more per night. When we are tired we produce more ghrelin, which triggers cravings for sugar and other fat building foods. Losing sleep can alter your hormone production, affecting cortisol levels. Cortisol is what breaks down lean muscle (type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently). It also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region. Resting up and sleeping is very beneficial for our bodies so don’t feel guilty if your body is telling you to relax and go to sleep.



Stress causes high levels of cortisol secretion and now we know what these do to our bodies. Vitamin C is highly recommended as it helps balance the cortisol. Bell peppers, kale, kiwi and orange juice are a great source. Aside from the scientific explanation of how having altered anxiety levels affect your body, there is also what you do when you are feeling this way. Think about what you do when you are stressed. While some people go out and exercise, others indulge in alcohol, pick up smoking or sit down in front of the T.V. and eat, eat, eat. None of these are good for your body and this is why finding a way to manage your stress is a step towards being healthy.



As stated before, it will take more than just crunches to lose that belly fat. In terms of exercise, engaging in multiple muscle groups is better than just doing those sit-ups. These are some exercises that you can add:

  • ½ hour of aerobic exercise four times a week
  • Jogging
  • Walking rapidly at an incline on a treadmill
  • Rowing
  • Stationary bikes

Planking (hold yourself in push up position) 3-4 sets of 30 seconds each.  Below are some examples:





After all, what you consume is what ultimately is going to help you the most when it comes to weight loss and toning up your body. There is no particular diet for belly fat but when you lose weight, the belly fat is what usually goes first. It takes fat to burn fat so it is okay to eat fat, but know which are the ones you should be consuming. Foods rich in Omega 3’s such as salmon, avocados and walnuts are a good source of fat. It is also recommended to eat natural fat burners such as cayenne pepper, green tea and flax seeds.

Stop the junk food!  Reduce calorie intake as your body will end up using stored belly fat and you will see a reduced waist line. Cut the sugar intake, as well as the alcohol which is packed with calories. Okay! Okay! If you will not give in with this last one, at least find out which alcoholic beverages have the least amount of calories. Stay away from the drink mixes with juices, unless they are natural.

Juicing.  And talking about juices, natural juices can burn fat, cleanse your body and shrink your stomach. Many people have turned into juicing and classes are even offered for those who want to make it part of their daily diet. Carrot, Melon, Pineapple, Berries, Watermelon are great examples of juices that will be of great benefit to your overall health.

Clean your kitchen. Get rid of all the junk and focus on what you want to put into your body. Chop up meals. I prefer having smaller meals throughout the day than three heavy ones. It keeps me satisfied and I end up picking healthier choices. Take some time after you eat before getting more food. I used to finish eating and immediately go for a second serving. A friend of mine recommended for me to wait a couple of minutes before getting up to get that second one. It was true what she meant when she said that the body is already full but you don’t realize it unless you take some minutes before getting up again. Now, I stay there in front of an empty plate and realize that it was all mental. You are full and you don’t need to go get more food. Last but not least, DRINK WATER!



Hope you found this helpful and are able to practice it towards that goal that we all have at some point:  Loose the belly fat!!!





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4 Trendy Diets for 2014



Receiving a new year is always exciting as we take notes of what we learned from the past and what we want to achieve in the present and future.  We are filled with goals, wishes, dreams, plans and of course, resolutions.  I am pretty sure that you will agree with me when I say that the number one resolution people have when starting a new year is to lose weight. As part of the process of shredding those extra pounds you could have involuntarily welcomed into your system during the holidays, comes the dreaded word:  DIET!


There are plenty of diets out there to choose from.  I believe that it is very important to consider your lifestyle, the specific goals you have and your health condition.  I want to share with you some interesting diets that I came across while doing some research on the topic.


This concept debuted in France in a book called Dine Avec Une Fourchette.  It is very simple and more than a diet, I would say it is more a way of eating.  Silverware is the important aspect of this particular method of losing weight as you can only eat what you can spear with a FORK.  There is a French adage that says that you should have breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and Dinner like a Pauper.  With the Fork it Method you have three meals a day.  There are few restrictions for breakfast and lunch.  But at dinnertime, you are only allowed to consume foods that are naturally eaten with a fork.  Among those foods are some veggies, pasta, salmon and only white meats such as chicken and turkey.  So, no cheating with pizza, burgers and steak.  I believe that every diet has its pros and cons.  One of the parts that I did not like about this particular one is that you are not allowed to eat sashimi, edamame or any other Asian food because of the use of chopsticks and/or hands.  Aside from Puerto Rican cuisine, Japanese food is one of my favorites and there is no way that I would ever leave my sushi behind.  Also, you are not allowed to snack under the Fork It Method and I love doing it throughout the day.  This diet is based on three meals a day and I do think that it is better for your metabolism to have several small healthy meals a day.  On the positive side, this method is very easy to implement and maintain, as well as safe to practice.  For more information, food suggestions and different options depending on your goals, you can visit

5:2 DIET


Developed by health journalists Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, the 5:2 or 2 Day Diet promotes short term weight loss.  You can eat normally for five days of the week and then restrict calories to 500 (600 for men) for the other two days.  Although there is limited evidence as to how much weight is lost, some have admitted to losing up to 1.5lbs a week while undergoing the two non-consecutive days of fasting.  This is a diet that I would definitely consider.   It is not about going crazy the other five days of the week but you have the flexibility of choosing what you eat and then for two days you keep count of the calorie intake.  An example:  Breakfast (2 scrambled eggs with ham and green tea, water or black coffee) Lunch/Dinner (Grilled fish/meat with vegetables).  For menu ideas you can go to



Although I don’t see myself ever going the vegetarian route, I found this diet pretty interesting.  Flexitarian is obviously a combination of the words flexible and vegetarian with the philosophy that you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to receive the health benefits associated with vegetarianism.  Although meat is limited, the diet does contain approximately 50 grams of protein daily.  The Flexitarian diet can inspire people to eat less meat and more plant-based meals.  It teaches you to add more disease fighting and earth friendly plant foods to your diet.  Examples of foods that are acceptable in this diet are:  The “new” meat (tofu, lentils and beans), peas, nuts, seeds and eggs.  Also, fruits and veggies, whole grains, sugar, spice and one of my favorites:  Agave nectar sweetener!  (This is the only one I use on my coffee)  There are different stages on this diet.  Beginners can do two meatless days a week and then progress to three or four.

If you think this is the diet for you, I strongly recommend reading this book.  It gives you a range of options, recipes, meal plans, tips on losing weight and it can serve as an introduction to vegetarianism.



Former gymnast, Dr. Melissa Hershberg breaks the rules of dieting with her own Rebel Diet.  Under less strict conditions this diet helps you stay fit and improve your nutrition, energy and health.  You can skip breakfast, consume coffee, carbs, sweets, chocolates and breads.  This diet works for the person that is constantly on the go.  You can eat everything but in moderation.   Hunger deprivation can lead to rebound weight gain so this type of diet may work better for those who do like to eat.  In her book, Dr. Hershberg offers medical insight on some diet myths we constantly hear about and she offers plans that allow you to keep eating those foods that you enjoy.


Remember that there are plenty of diets out there that can help you achieve your goals.  Try to choose the one that works best for YOU, not necessarily your friend or a relative.  It should be easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss, against diabetes and heart disease.

I want to wish you all a happy and healthy 2014!!!

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Darlene  Vazquetelles

© DarleneVazquetelles, [2013]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [DarleneVazquetelles] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Technology Overuse: What are you missing when you don’t put it away.

There is a huge possibility that you are reading this article on your mobile phone.  There is even a bigger possibility that you are accompanied by a friend that is either on her/his own phone or upset that you are on yours.
By now we should all be aware of the great impact smartphones have on our society.  All of this as a consequence of the Facebook/Twitter revolution.  These two are now followed by other sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, …  Communication via social media has created a great frenzy throughout the years.  Some people find it important and necessary to let everyone know what they are doing at all times.

If you are promoting your company or career through social media, posting at all times would be something essential as part of the marketing strategy.  But, a great amount of people have made it so imperative in their lives that they end up giving more importance to this piece of technology than to the person or scenario in front of them.

It is so sad when you see three out of four people sitting at a table bowing their heads down to their phones.  It is okay to take it out if you want to show something to someone because there is an actual interaction with the person sitting next to you.  It is also okay to take a phone call by excusing yourself from the table, especially for parents who left their kids with a babysitter for the night.  But, there is nothing like a nice dinner and eye to eye conversation where you are able to put your phone in your pocket or purse and enjoy the company.


(One particular restaurant in the U.S.A. has introduced a ‘NO Phone During Dinner’ policy, wherein the customers cannot use their cellphones while having dinner; and in return, the restaurant offers a 5% discount off their total bill. By Guide5 on Pinterest)

Our cellies not only can be a distraction to yourself at a movie theater, but also to the people sitting around you.  That bright light that comes up when you are texting and the phone call you answered in the middle of the movie is very distracting and annoying.  How hard can it be to disconnect yourself for 90 minutes?

So you pay $$$ to go see a live show of your favorite artist and as soon as he/she comes up on stage, you have that urge to get it on camera.  That is fine.  These are cool memories that you want to be able to have and to share.  Now, it can go a little bit overboard when you end up watching the entire show through the screen on your cell phone.  You spend the whole time taking videos or pictures and end up missing what you came out to see.
After taking the picture comes the making sure it came out all right.  Then you start editing by cropping and finding that perfect filter.  Tweet it, post it and tag it!  You should be done now, right?  Wrong!  Now, lets see who ‘liked’ it, who commented and then start replying.  Before you know it, you have missed the essence of being there in real time, watching the ‘live’ show.  This same process happens in any other social activity or event.  I miss the times when you would take the picture and then have to wait to get it printed in order to see it.  Nowadays, we don’t wait until we get home to do the editing and sharing.  We have that urge of doing it at the moment.  I say WE because in more occasions that I would like to admit, I have been one of those.  At the end, I end up being upset at myself because it made me miss a great play at a sporting event or a great part of an artist’s performance at their show.


I believe that it is very important to step away from technology and enjoy what is going on around you.  If you invite people over, focus on them.  Whoever is not there does not need your full attention when other people are there waiting for you to finish texting, posting, reading your newsfeed, checking out what is new on Instagram or what your favorite artist had for dinner through Twitter.  Prioritize in life.

I cannot say the same thing happens with computers, as they are not as accesible on a minute to minute basis.  Most of the time you sit in front of a computer and it is to work or do something else that requires attention.  But with the cell phones, there should be some sort of self restrictions being that we have them on us every single time of day.
It is okay to play games and browse through all the great applications out there while you are alone or waiting at a Doctor’s office.  Along with reading a good book you have left behind on the bookshelf at home,  these can be really good ways to make time go by faster.
Don’t get me started with the texting and driving.  You are not only risking your life but you are also risking the other driver, cyclist or pedestrian’s life.
Knowing in what situations to throw your focus on your cell phone and when to put it aside is about respect, to you and others.

Recently I saw the change in two teenagers and their friendship when their cellphones were taken away by their parents because of grade issues.  I attended one of my nephew’s sporting events and they are the sisters of two of the other players.  I noticed how they were more or less the same age, sitting close to each other but had absolutely no interaction with one another.  One was on Instagram and the other one I am not sure, probably the same.  For one hour and a half they stood there looking at their phones, missing their brothers’ game and whatever could have been going on around them.  A few weeks later they ended up being punished right at the same time because of bad grades at school (I wonder why).  One of the days at the baseball game, they had no choice but to watch the game, talk and interact with each other.  Soon enough they were laughing, talking and having simple, non-technological fun.  To this day, they have become best friends.  I love how when they got their phones back, they still managed to leave them in their pockets and admitted to not having that need to check them constantly anymore.  They started living the moment.
There should be some time restrictions for children, teenagers and adults as to the usage.  There is no problem with shutting it down for a bit.  Again, not everybody can do this because of some work requirements or other situations where you need to be reached.  But if this is not the case, it is totally fine to just put it away and do something more meaningful.

I am not going to be a hypocrite and say that I practice all of this.  But, watching these different situations on a daily basis and actually have had friends and family ask me to put my phone away, I am more and more aware of how it is something that needs to be changed.  I feel that everyday I am getting better at it and it really feels great.  I don’t have as many pictures on my phone anymore that were taken with the cyber sharing purpose in mind and I don’t post everything that is going on in my life.  I have been able to enjoy life more, appreciating what is going on at the moment, and have also learned to keep many personal things out of the social media eye.  Privacy can be very rewarding, especially when starting a new relationship.

A must watch video on the subject:

Now, share this article and put your phone away!!!

With Love,


© DarleneVazquetelles, [2013]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [DarleneVazquetelles] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Darlene Vazquetelles

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