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Zen Boot Camp with Mary Horn

The Martha Stewart Show, January 2009

Staying fit is a challenge for many of us, but these wonderful exercises, courtesy of Mary Horn, director of nutrition and exercise science at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona, will help you achieve a successful workout.

Ladder Drill
Ladder drills (using a rope ladder) bring up your heart rate, help burn calories, and are an excellent way to improve foot speed, agility, coordination, and overall quickness. Simply take 2 steps in, 2 steps out, then repeat and go faster, lifting your knees a little higher for more intensity.

Step-ups, which are done using 2 aerobic step boards, test endurance and strength and are particularly great for quadriceps and hamstring muscles in your legs. If you don't have an aerobics step board, just use steps in your house or make a 4- to 8-inch wooden box.

Core Workout with Medicine Ball
This workout is a really fun activity to do with a partner. Start with squats for bone health and balance. (Martha begins by holding a 5-pound ball and squatting while lifting the medicine ball up in front of her.) Next, try a rotation: Pass the medicine ball from side to side, creating a circle around your body. These exercises force you to use your core to lift the medicine ball, and help to stretch the lower back, arms, shoulders, and legs.

It's important to take a few minutes to concentrate on breathing; it is a vital part of meditative practice and a great way to finish any fitness routine. Deep breathing also helps to bring attention back to yourself, allowing you to "check in" with how your body is feeling.

While taking deep, meditative breaths, place your hand on your abdomen; this will allow you to watch your breath go in and out. You'll notice the difference between our normal shallow breath pattern and a deep breath, which promotes health and vitality. As you practice this breath, it soon becomes second nature to you.

Healthy Snacks
It's important to replenish fluids and refuel your body after exercise with something that provides protein for rebuilding muscle and carbohydrates to replenish glucose stores. Try these great low-calorie foods, perfect for eating right after a workout.

Peanut butter
Half of a peanut butter sandwich -- on whole-grain bread -- combines carbohydrates, protein, and fat, and is a great snack to curb hunger. Martha uses peanut butter from Whole Foods made of peanuts that have been ground. This peanut butter is about 95 calories and should be reserved for people who are taking part in vigorous physical activity, not just a light workout.

Be careful about the kind of peanut butter you buy -- some are highly processed. Avoid peanut butter in a jar, as it is often loaded with added sugar, sodium, and hydrogenation (trans-fatty acids, which are unhealthy for the heart). Also, stick with whole-grain bread -- white bread offers few nutrients; many of the natural vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber are stripped from the flour when white bread is made.

Yogurt is a functional food: It offers 300 milligrams of calcium, probiotics for gut health, and protein with only 80 calories. Try 1 cup of plain Fage yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh blueberries and 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (a good plant source of omega-3 fats, extra fiber, and phytoestrogen -- a plant source of estrogen). Adding fruit and flax seeds makes yogurt the perfect post-exercise snack. But beware of flavored yogurts that are packed full of sugar, artificial colors, and flavorings; they increase the calories without increasing the nutrition value.

Pear and almonds
Most of us need about three fruits in our daily eating plan, but we often do not eat even one. Try eating a green pear with 10 almonds (for crunch and additional calcium) after exercising. Any hand-held fruit about the size of a tennis ball is only 60 calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber.

Foods to avoid
After exercise, you should avoid calorie-dense foods such as handfuls of nuts (if you don't count out 10, you're likely to eat way too many), dried fruit, granola, trail mix, and smoothies. They all stack up calories in very small quantities.

Healthy Drinks
It is also important to replenish fluids after working out.

Try flavoring water with fresh cucumber slices for a delicious and refreshing beverage.

Iced Green Tea
Natural iced green tea is high in antioxidants and contains anti-cancer agents.

Most people don't realize it, but milk is a perfect liquid medium for replenishing fluids and tissue, and is not as high in fat and calories as many other food and drink options. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, which helps with absorbency and building bone density, and can help prevent osteoporosis later in life.

Skim milk
Skim milk has about half the calories of whole milk with the same amount of calcium and none of the fat.

Goat milk
If you are sensitive to cow milk, goat milk may be an alternative. It has less lactose, is often more digestible, and has the same amount of calcium as cow milk.

Almond milk
Made from ground almonds, this milk has no cholesterol or lactose and is completely vegan. However, it contains only trace amounts of calcium and no vitamin D.

Special thanks to Mary Horn, director of nutrition and exercise science at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona, for sharing this information. Martha and Mary are wearing the Lululemon Shape Jacket, one of Martha's Must-Haves. Special thanks to Lululemon for giving gift certificates to our studio audience. Our studio audience also received copies of Body+Soul magazine. To learn more about our second annual Body+Soul Challenge, dedicated to achieving optimal wellness, visit Get more wellness advice with television's best health tips.

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