“See that line where the sky meets the sea…it calls me!”
Moana Week had to be my very favorite week of all 8 Disney Princess Boot Camp weeks. And as it rounded out the end of my fitness plan, I was able to get really energized and finish strong!
If you haven’t seen the movie Moana yet, it is recently on Netflix and is a delightful addition to the Disney Princess canon of movies! When we first meet Moana, she is just a baby, daughter of the chief and her destiny is basically laid out in front of her. Her path is set, her future decided. But Moana has a wandering spirit and she just wants to see what is beyond the shoals of her tiny island.
Her wise old grandmother is constantly telling her to seek her own future, make her own choices. But the call of duty is very strong for Moana as well. She does not want to let her family down. It isn’t until a deep sickness threatens the island of Motunui and her grandmother’s dying words encourage her to follow her heart, that Moana finally seeks her true destiny to find the demigod Maui and restore the heart of Te Fiti.
Since Moana is raised on the little Polynesian island of Motunui, this week’s menu follows a Pacific Islander’s diet. Here’s the shopping list:
Let’s first discuss that Elsa is no Princess…she is the Queen! Now that we got that out of the way…
This week we are off to Arendelle for our fitspiration. Home of mystical powers that only Queen Elsa has and only those rock trolls know anything about. Home of some seriously dead Disney parents. And home of Elsa and Anna, two sisters that just can’t seem to talk things out until it gets really, really bad.
After the death of Anna and Elsa’s parents, (and possibly leading to the birth of their brother Tarzan, fan theory…Google it!) the sisters become distanced by a secret that Elsa has been keeping since she was a little girl. She has ice powers. Where did she get them? We don’t know. Why was it the best idea to keep them a secret and make her feel like the villain in her own story? Oh, it wasn’t! But here is where we find ourselves.
Years of not building snowmen together has left these sisters on opposite sides of the castle door and on Elsa’s coronation day, they are finally opening that door to the people of their kingdom, as well as to the surrounding kingdoms. Well, if you’re guessing that no good can come from this…you are right. No good does come from it. Anna meets Prince Hans…the seemingly perfect other half of her sandwich. The kingdom is subjected to the Duke of Weselton and the truth finally comes about about Elsa’s powers and the kingdom is plunged into a Frozen tundra.
Which brings me to our shopping list this week. I based this week’s food selection on a Nordic diet and shopped in the Frozen food aisle as much as I could. Here’s what you’ll need this week…
Lots of health benefits to a Nordic Diet. I really liked the food this week and the little nod to the frozen food section is just for continuity. You can feel free to eat the fresh versions of fruits and vegetables. Though I love to have frozen berries for dessert! Great substitute for other frozen desserts that might tempt you.
This week we head to Medieval Scotland and find our inspiration in the Scottish Highlands with Merida from Disney’s Brave.
The story of Brave begins with a girl and her destiny. The fiery haired Merida wants nothing less than to be free to ride her horse through the country side, but her royal station in life dictates that she behave like a lady and marry a man worthy of her. Her mother takes great care to teach her such Queenly activities like making tapestries. Merida has no interest in that life and after finding a witch’s hut in the woods, finds a way around her current problem and casts a spell on her mother.
The spell backfires and Queen Elinor is turned into a bear and if the spell isn’t broken in time, Merida’s mother will end up that way permanently, just like her father’s arch nemesis Mor’du.
Brave is unique in the Disney cannon because it is the first time a Disney Princess isn’t looking for a Prince, trying to win the heart of a Prince or even ending up with a Prince in the end at all. Merida has no interest in marriage. She wants to live her own life and be free to choose her own path, not blindly follow destiny.
For this week’s meal plan, we take our inspiration from a traditional Scottish menu:
-Fish (salmon, trout, pike)
-Wild Game Meats: Venison, Quail, Pheasant, Boar (substitute Boar for plain old pork and Pheasant for plain old chicken if you must)
-Shellfish (mussels, oysters, lobster, crab)
-Haggis (if you can handle it!)
-butter and cheeses (moderate amounts)
-Fruits (Raspberries, Strawberries, Tayberries)
-Scottish Ale (in moderation)
This Scottish Menu is a little heavier than what I was used to, so I went really easier on the heavier things like potatoes and cheeses and the foods I’d never had before like Haggis! But I enjoyed this menu a lot!
Rapunzel is a young girl who was taken from her family as a baby and raised by an evil woman in a tower. She is a hopeful dreamer who thinks that there must be something beyond the borders of her little tower. She is a trusting, happy soul who never once stops to question why she has to stay in the tower in the first place.
This week, we are focusing on Rapunzel as represented by Disney Studios in Tangled. If you are unfamiliar with the original, more gruesome version…look it up. That is not the one we are focusing on, but it’s interesting to read the original fairytales and wonder, how in the world Disney saw the happy, romance in such cautionary tales? I pose that question to you.
But aside from that, we are talking Rapunzel. She of the impossibly long and enchanted hair. For our meal plan this week, we’re getting creative. This is probably a province of England, though no one has accents…so choosing a menu based on region proves a little more difficult this week. Instead we are focusing on foods that are inspired by the movie Tangled and foods particularly helpful in promoting healthy hair growth.
Here’s our shopping list this week:
-angel hair pasta (get it!)
-flaxseed (great addition to smoothies and yogurts)
After a brief hiatus, we are charging forward into Week 4: Mulan Week! This week we are in China and studying all about Chinese culture, foods and fitness all while keeping Mulan herself as the central inspiration for the week.
When the Emperor sends out conscription notices to every family in the face of a looming attack from the Huns, Fa Mulan takes the place of her father, Fa Zhou, who is too old to fight. In an effort to spare her father, Mulan disguises herself as a man and uses the moniker, “Ping” to gain access to the training camp and not only pretends to be a soldier in the Emperor’s army, but eventually becomes one!
With the help of Mushu, a diminutive dragon who was decidedly NOT sent by Mulan’s ancestors to aid her, Mulan manages to find her place in the world in the most unlikely way. She discovers a strength in herself that was not permitted for women at the time. And, in turn, becomes the hero she deserves to be. (And in the meantime she gets the hots for Captain Li Shang, voiced by very American actor, Donny Osmond.)
Mulan is voiced by Chinese actress, Ming-Na Wen (most recently Agent May on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), while her singing voice is Lea Salonga (also the voice of Jasmine.)
This is another movie that lives in that happy place for me. I was a freshman in high school when this movie came out and was still very much into Disney movies! So despite it’s flaws, I can easily find it’s virtues. But I can also call a spade a spade and recognize that Disney could have done a lot better to do justice to Chinese culture and representation.
That being said, here’s a look at my meal plan for Mulan Week, which includes a rich assortment of Chinese foods:
-meat (chicken, pork and moderate amounts of red meat)
-Chinese fruits (kiwi, lychee, dragon fruit, pomelo, rambutan, ya pear)
-Chinese vegetables (bok choy, napa cabbage, water spinach, watercress, pea shoots, bitter melon)
-Other vegetables (broccoli, green beans, carrots, cauliflower)
-soy sauce (use very moderately or swap out regular sauce for a low sodium or light version)
-soup at every meal (the Chinese believe in yin and yang meals that consist of wet and dry foods together)
-white rice (another thing to eat moderately)
A note about switching from a Native American (Pocahontas Week) meal plan to a Chinese (Mulan Week) meal plan. It was a drastic change for my stomach and I tried very hard to ease into the new assortment of foods. I had never tried some of these fruits and vegetables, which was a lot of fun. But it meant that I didn’t know how they would effect me. Just be careful and try things in small amounts and who knows, you might discover some delicious flavors you’ll want to keep eating after Mulan Week is over! I personally loved the Chinese ya pear. It is a fruit I have added to my shopping list permanently!!
There are plenty of other Chinese foods to choose from, this is just the shopping list I was working with. I tried to keep it balanced with the food groups I’d already been working with. Fruit, lots and lots of vegetables, very moderate grains, and meats. The new piece to this week’s equation was the balance of wet foods and dry foods creating the yin/yang meals found in an average Chinese diet. Another interesting fact I found out, the Chinese believe vegetables to be more of a main course item than meat. So a lot of the recipes are veggie centric, which I really enjoyed! Stir-fry was an easy go to for dinners when I wanted something filling and easy to make.
Pocahontas is a great Princess to find fitspiration with and incidentally she is the Disney Princess I find myself relating to most. (No one is making a case for historical accuracy here. Favorite things often defy reason and logic!) Pocahontas is free-spirited, strong, fiercely independent and has her own way of looking at life that often contradicts her upbringing.
The older I get, the more I feel like Pocahontas sometimes. I don’t always fit in with “the way of things.” I’m over 30 and unmarried and sometimes I feel like life is waiting for me “Just Around the Riverbend.”
This week, particularly, I felt very connected to the fitness that I was doing and the foods that I was eating. This week’s meal plan is based on what Native Americans were eating in the early 16th century. Here’s a look at Pocahontas Week shopping list:
-lobster, oysters, shrimp
-berries (black, rasp, blue, straw)
-nuts and seeds (peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc)
-wild game (I don’t like game meats, so I substituted pork and called it wild boar!)
This shopping list offered a lot of variety and I felt so healthy this week because everything was very natural. This is a week to appreciate what the Earth can give us in the way of natural foods. Mother Earth provides everything we could ever need. And I had no desire or cravings for processed or refined foods. I started to feel much better in my own skin.
I still haven’t checked to see how much weight I’ve actually lost, as far as numbers on a scale go. But I started to find myself wondering about it less and less and actually focusing on how much healthier I was feeling. How much more I appreciated my muscles after working them. I took note of the way the different foods I was eating made me feel and discovered that dairy wasn’t sitting so well with me and quickly decided to cut it out altogether. Something amazing happens when you listen to your body…it starts communicating with you. That was new!
I made it through Cinderella Week, ready and energized to head into Week 2. If you missed all that Week 1 had to offer CLICK HERE.
Week 2 I looked Under the Sea to Ariel:
Now, to be honest with you, while I have loved the movie, The Little Mermaid, since I was a little girl, as a grown woman I’ve got problems up and down with Ariel as a Disney Princess and role model heroine.
The Little Mermaid is the story of a mermaid princess who is unhappy in her royal circumstance. She wants to see what is beyond the borders of the ocean into the world of men. But guess what…she doesn’t have legs or the ability to be on land for extended periods of time. It doesn’t help that she saves a hunky sailor, Prince Eric, from certain death and falls instantly in love with him.
After making a deal with an evil octopedal sea witch, she is given mere days to make the handsome Prince fall in love with her or else doom herself to returning to the sea (where she lives, grew up and has a loving family.) The catch is…she must head to land with no voice to aid in her quest. That doesn’t stop Prince Eric from finding her on the beach, taking her into his home, almost kissing her and starting to fall in love with her. So many issues. And yet so many fun songs and memorable moments that have stayed with me from childhood.
Who among us doesn’t want to live the #mermaidlife? That’s not to say Ariel doesn’t have redeeming qualities. She has bravery and purpose driven ambition to see beyond her borders. These days we call that wanderlust. The whole ocean is her palace and yet she dreams of dancing and walking and strolling down the street. These things we humans take for granted. (That’s really stretching to give her redemption as a character, but hey, I tried!) Here’s a funny Buzzfeed post poking fun at this beloved Disney Classic (there is language in this post.)
Obviously for a Ariel Week Meal Plan, we’re gonna be looking to the sea. Here is week 2’s shopping list:
-fresh fish (tilapia, salmon, sea bass, grouper, etc)
-sushi is an option this week
-fruits (I stuck with more tropical fruits like starfruit, pineapple and mango)
-veggies (seaweed, lettuce, spinach, cabbage)
-coconut oil (for cooking)
-coconut and seaweed snacks
-fruit infused water
There are extensive debates about a typical mermaid diet. Would Ariel have eaten fish and lobster given that her two best friends were a fish (Flounder) and a lobster (Sebastian)? You can decide for yourself if you want to go ocean vegan or not. I didn’t. Lobster best friend…look away!!
Whether you go vegan or not, may I specifically recommend these delicious vegan snacks as options this week: Go Raw Coconut Crisps & Sea Gift’s Roasted Sea Weed Snacks. I tried to stay as natural as I could, but sometimes throughout the day you just need a crunchy snack. These 2 products are delicious and won’t ruin any progress you’re making.
Starting is always the hardest part with it comes to a new fitness plan. At least for me it is. Months of eating poorly and choosing Netflix over any strenuous physical activity had left my body in very poor shape. I live in a 2nd floor apartment and stairs were quickly becoming my nemesis.
At the start of 2017, I chose the word “Believe” as my word of the year. I picked it at a time when I was having trouble believing in anything, myself least of all. But I saw this challenge as a chance to start believing again. And for the next 8 weeks, that’s what I did. I dove into #PrincessBootCamp with both feet and I started to believe that I could do things I hadn’t done in a long time, believe that I could do things I’d never tried before!
As I said in my introduction post, I’m in a different place than I was when I was an #AvengerinTraining and repeating what worked then simply wasn’t an option. So a new series was born.
Week 1 I focused on Cinderella.
Cinderella is the story of a girl who loses her mother, then loses her father and is left in the care of her evil stepmother and stepsisters. She is basically held captive by these uncaring women and with little love or compassion, is left to a life of slavery and cruelty. Her socio economic status makes it impossible for her to break free from this household.
Being the kind-hearted, optimistic young women she is, Cinderella takes each challenge as it comes to her and never lets it make her cruel or bitter herself. She is a hard worker who spends plenty of time dreaming of what could be. Does she dream of princes? Yes. But given her situation in life, and her view of the palace, can you blame her? It’s a tangible representation of the life she could have, if only…
Cinderella spends her days in the kitchen cooking for her “family,” in the garden working her fingers to the bone. She does the chores in the house and she makes sure everything is in working order. If there is back breaking work to be done, it falls to Cinderella’s slender shoulders and do we ever hear her utter one complaint in most of the movie adaptations? One bitter invective? No, we do not. This Princess is kind and persistent and she does not let the circumstance of her life change her kind heart. Now, that is something to aspire to!
In an effort to channel Cindy for this first week of #PrincessBootCamp I created a meal plan for the week based on what a 19th century peasant girl might have been eating at the time. My shopping list looked like this:
-whole grain bread (the cheapest kind)
-butter or low cost jams
-inexpensive cuts of meat (ie: ground beef, chicken, whatever is cheapest at the market)
-greens (brussel sprouts and spinach)
-apples, blackberries, raspberries
-water, water, water
Monday through Saturday, I adhered strictly to the above list and DID NOT DEVIATE…can I tell you what a win it was to make a plan and stick to it. Even for 6 days. It was a bloody triumph!!! Now the amount of food I ate from day to day varied. With an elevated level of activity, some days I needed more energy than others. And since all the food on my list was good stuff, I felt perfectly fine not counting the calories and just trusting my body. I also gave up weighing myself for the whole 8 weeks. In fact, I encourage you to do the same with any fitness plan you take on. That scale becomes a crutch very quickly if we let it. Don’t let it!
On the seventh day, I let myself go to the ball and I indulged in a delicious piece of chocolate cake from my favorite place in Winter Park: The Briar Patch. In order to fully embrace your inner Cinderella, you have to accept that home girl probably got her eat on at that ball, despite what we see on screen! I think she would have taken the chance to taste something delicious at some point in the night. Even if she was short on time and dazzled by a handsome prince! Think what you want…I choose to believe in the power of cake!
Entering the final week, I felt strong. Stronger than I’ve ever felt before. I discovered muscles I didn’t know could ache. I had better balance and control in my workouts. And since Captain America is my very favorite Avenger, I’d been looking forward to this week since the beginning of this challenge. And this week certainly did not disappoint!! It was an amazing finish to an amazing 6 weeks of focus and determination. I’m not an actress! And I’ll probably never be in a big budget action film. I’ll never have a crazy six pack or weigh 140 pounds. But I lost 15 pounds on this program and I have felt healthier than I ever have before! And that is success.
Week 6: Captain America Week
Steve Rogers, an average man with above average morals and a desire to do more than he was born to do. After joining the Army, Rogers was given a “Super Soldier Serum” that transformed him from a small town Brooklyn boy into the superhero known as Captain America.
To become what he needed to be to play the Super Soldier, Chris Evans packed on 30 pounds of muscle and spent a lot of time in the gym training as he never had before. Take a look over at BodyBuilding.com for the full report.
Avengers, Age of Ultron, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are all obvious. And if there’s on other comic book hero that will bring that all-American spirit, it’s DC Comic’s Superman. The alien who started it all. Without Supes there might be no Cap. And just imagine that sad, sad world!!
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap comes back the world but is out of his time and has missed decades of pop culture, music, movies, etc. To try and catch up, Cap keeps a running list of things that people suggest he see or do or listen to. I tried to add some of the music to this list that Cap might have missed in the decades he spent in the ice. Including Falcon’s suggestion, Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye.
I really loved having steak back on my shopping list!! Thanks Chris Evans!! Take a look at Evans’ meal plan at BodyBuilding.com
Weekly Workout Challenge
I chose an army crawl challenge for Captain America Week for the obvious reason. Before becoming Captain America, puny Steve Rogers joins the army to try to make something more out of himself, not knowing at the time what that would mean for him in the long run. So army crawls it was!!
Day 1: 2 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)
Day 2: 3 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)
Day 3: 4 Army Crawls across living room (Hands and Feet)
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: 3 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)
Day 6: 4 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)
Day 7: 6 Army Crawls across living room (Elbows and Knees)
This was my favorite class of the entire 6 week program. I’d never taken a full on boxing class before. Church Street Boxing Gym is everything a boxing gym should be. It’s in the basement of a building in downtown Manhattan. There are pictures plastered on the walls, a giant ring in the middle of the gym and punching bags hanging around every corner. Church Street offers a free intro class and it was so great! Best workout of the entire series. I love that they allow you to start punching the bags right away. Halfway through the class we were hitting the bags. I gotta tell you, it’s addictive and after all the other classes I’ve taken, I would sign up to do this weekly!!
Parkour, for those of you who don’t know this word, is a form of free running. You’ll often see it in high speed action chases in movies/ TV like: Casino Royale, Arrow and of course Captain America. It’s the art of being able to handle any challenge that comes in your path as you run. Jumping, swinging, ducking. Throwing your body into the movements needed to keep your momentum up. Brooklyn Zoo specializes in a lot of amazing high intensity classes. And their parkour class did not disappoint!!! If I thought the boxing class or the cirque class was intense, I was mistaken after taking this!!! Another class I would definitely try again sometime. And their gym is really cool!! Classes are $20 if you pre register online. Give it a try and stretch yourself far beyond what you think you can accomplish!