Friday, December 21, 2012

It's That Time of Year!!!!

WOW!!! That's all I can say- can't believe that it's been over two months since my last post!  Life has gotten busy, and there was travel involved.  But, through it all, my workouts and healthy eating did not suffer!  I hope I can encourage you, especially right before Christmas, to keep on keeping on with your workouts and your healthy eating.

You know what time of year it is, right?  Time to make those New Year's Resolutions?  Let yours not be the type that starts off with gusto and then about 6-8 weeks into it, you forget it.  Go back over some of my old posts about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise.  The New Year's Resolution to get healthy is one that will benefit you for the rest of your life!!  And, everyday you will feel the effects of exercising and eating right.  Your energy level will be higher, you will feel great, and you may even get to stop taking some of your medications because your body doesn't need them anymore!!  Now, that's a New Year's Resolution you can live with and fight for!

So, there's no time like the present to start- no need to even wait until January 1st.  I love the cartoon that I saw on Facebook that said: "You either find time to workout for an hour a day, or you will be dead 24 hours a day."  So true.  If you have a time crunch, try doing several small workouts a day.  Start with a ten minute workout in the morning, right when you wake up, then ten minutes at lunch time and then again, ten minutes in the evening.  You can do something like:  20 push ups, 20 burpees and 20 squats for each of those ten minute workouts.  Or, get up a little extra early and go to the health club.  Take up a new sport or go for a run.  Running in the winter time can be very invigorating!!  But, if the roads or trails are icy, don't do it- safety first!  For Christmas, treat yourself to a new pair of workout shoes, or new exercise clothes.  And, without a doubt, start a food and exercise journal!  That alone can help keep you accountable.  Find a workout partner- that helps with accountability, also.

Be determined to make 2013 the year that you get healthy, or if you're already doing that, make it the year that you continue to stay healthy.  Or, give yourself a challenge, such as running a half marathon, or doing a triathlon.  Make sure to mix up your exercise so you don't get stagnant or hit a plateau.

As always, if I can be of help, let me know!  Merry Christmas and may we all remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Great Ways to Slash Calories at Mealtime!!!!

Losing weight can be as simple as a mathematical equation (unless you have thyroid or hormone issues!!).  One pound is equal to 3500 calories.  If you want to lose 1 pound a week you need to slash 500 calories a day through eating less and exercising more and then at the end of 7 days you will have a 3500 calorie deficit.  Sometimes, something as simple as eliminating soft drinks will slash several hundred calories a day all by itself!  The best way to go about this is to start keeping a food journal so you can see how many calories you are taking in each day.  Read your food labels and measure everything.  You can start eating 200 calories less per day and exercising enough to burn 300 calories which equals a 500 calorie deficit.  You don't want to slash your calories to less than 1200 a day or that could have a negative effect on your weight loss, kicking your body into what's called starvation mode.  In this mode, your body will think it's not going to get enough calories, so everything you eat will get stored as fat, and when you exercise you could start burning muscle instead of fat.  Calories burned during exercise can be a little harder to figure out since how hard you are exercising plays a part in how many calories you are burning.  There are some websites online that can help you to figure that out.

Now, what are some good ways to eat less calories at mealtimes?  Soup!  The clear broth kind, not the creamy kind.  Most restaurants will use cream to thicken their soups and that adds a ton of calories and fat!   A cup of soup eaten before a meal will cause you to eat less of your dinner.  Aim for soups that are filled with vegetables and lean protein.  There have been studies done that show people who eat soup eat less calories per day overall.  Another good way to eat less is to start with some raw veggies or a salad with a little vinegar and oil drizzled on it.  You will fill up on veggies, which provide a huge source of fiber, and will eat less by time you get to your dinner.  Also, make sure you are not eating from a huge plate.  We are very psychological when it comes to what we are looking at in front of us.  If we have a huge plate, we want to fill it up, as opposed to using a smaller plate.  Same thing goes with the idea of having to "clean your plate".  It's okay to not finish everything on your plate.  If you feel guilty about that, train yourself to take less.  Eating 5-6 small meals a day as opposed to 3 large meals is a great way to reduce calories, also.  Eating several times a day is a great way to improve your metabolism, also.  Our metabolism is like a fire:  you have to feed it or it dies.  When we eat, our metabolism speeds up for a couple of hours, so if we are eating 6 times a day our metabolism is speeding up more often than if we only ate 3 times a day.  These meals must be smaller though than your normal three times a day eating.  Aim for about 200-250 calories per smaller meal.  Also, eat a combination of lean protein, complex carbohydrates (the kind that isn't white- no white sugar, pasta, rice, etc.) and healthy fats.

We have a choice as to what we put into our bodies each day.  You can decide if the calories you put in are nutrient dense (the most nutrition for the least amount of calories) or filled with artificial junk and unhealthy sugars.  You will feel more satisfied with less calories eating a healthier diet than eating junk food.  Start eating healthier now- don't wait for the beginning of a new week, or the New Year- start now!!!  Especially, with flu season upon us- your body will be able to fight off viruses better if it's filled with healthy nutrients than if you are filling it with junk!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Do You Have a Goal?

So, do you have a goal in mind with this health and nutrition stuff?  Maybe you want to start eating healthier, or you want to start exercising more.  Sometimes it's hard to get started though!!  That's where a goal comes in handy.  You can write your goal on a piece of paper and post it on your refrigerator, at your desk or on your bathroom mirror to help remind yourself of why you're doing all of this.

As far as fitness is concerned, there are many ways to go about setting a goal.  There are some great programs out there like the C25K- the couch to 5K.  It is a program that slowly gets you running with goals that are attainable and then you work your way up to running a 5K race.  Or, if you know of a 5K (which is 3.1 miles) that is in your area, you can use that as your goal.  Put it on your calendar in permanent marker, so you can't erase it, and start training!!!

Or, maybe you have a reunion coming up that you want to be ready for.  Or a wedding, or your anniversary.  Sometimes, psychologically speaking, when we have a reason or a goal it helps us to get started.  Maybe, you've just received your cholesterol level results or some other test result that needs to be improved.  Use that as the ammunition you need to get yourself moving.  It's really easy to stay on that couch or in bed a little bit longer in the morning instead of going to workout.  How bad do you want it?  And, what is "it"?  I'll tell you what "it" is.  It's feeling better.  It's being healthier.  It's have a healthy heart.  It's having a less stressful feeling to the day.  It's reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.  It's looking better.  "It's"  a lot of things.  When we feel in a rut with our eating and fitness, it's sometimes really hard to take the first step.  Find someone to hold you accountable or find a friend, or your spouse, to take this journey with you.  And, remember, it's not a short term thing; this is a forever lifestyle change that will increase the longevity of your life.

And, along with setting goals, you can also reward yourself.  I think in America, we have gotten in the habit of rewarding ourselves with food.  Don't do that!!!  Reward yourself with a new pair of workout shoes, or a new pair of jeans when your old ones get too big, etc.  Let's get away from rewarding ourselves with food- we are not dogs!!!

How can I help you reach your goals?  Do you need someone to hold you accountable?  I can be that person- just let me know!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Busy Time of Year!!!

Wow!!  End of August is quickly approaching.  School is back in session for most people, and life is busy!!  So, how do you make time to eat healthy and still exercise?  You have to be very purposeful about it.  You need to put it on your schedule and make time for it.  Prepare food ahead of time, knowing that you will be getting home late and will be tempted to stop at a drive thru.  I have three boys all in different sports.  Some nights we aren't getting home until 8:30pm.  But, I either have dinner in the crock pot, or I have it in the fridge waiting to go in the oven.  I have fruits and vegetable cleaned and cut up, so that we are reaching for healthy snacks instead of unhealthy ones.  I look at my calendar for the week, I meal plan, and then I prepare the food the night before if it's going to be busy the next day.  Putting into practice all of these things will keep you on a healthy track.  It's very easy to get so busy, that we put our health aside.  Eating a clean, chemical free diet can have it's challenges, but, it doesn't have to.  It just takes a little pre-planning on your part.

As far as exercise goes, you need to find a time in your schedule 3-5 days a week, to get in at least an hour.  There was a cartoon I put on my facebook that was of a doctor talking to an unhealthy patient and the doctor said, "do you want to find an hour a day to work out or be dead 24 hours a day?"  That's probably the number one excuse I hear from people- I'm too busy and I have no time.  I guarantee we all have at least an hour.  It just means that we will have to miss something else, like television, computer time, video games, etc.  Your health is important and you need to treat it as such.  We all need reminding of this from time to time, as our days get busier and busier.  Go to the doctor and have them run some blood work to check your cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.  Sometimes seeing what our numbers are will give us a good kick in the pants.  I've always encouraged people to not put too much stock in weighing yourself everyday, but, instead seeing how your clothes are fitting.  When I was losing my baby weight from all my pregnancies, I would have what I called my "dream" clothes.  I would keep a pair of pants in my closet in the size that I wanted to be and I would try them on every 4-6 weeks.  That was a better judge of how my body was changing than the scale was.  Put encouraging messages on your refrigerator or use the app My Fitness Pal.  You can enter the number of calories burned during exercise as well as the food you are eating.  We have to be proactive about our health and keep ourselves encouraged to "keep on, keeping on".  Because, this is not just a fad we are going through or a "diet" that we are on.  This is a lifestyle change- for life!!!

If I can give you any encouragement please let me know.  You don't have to do this alone- you can have help!!  As always, let me know if you have any questions!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

August Challenge!!!!

Do you know what vital nutrient makes up around 70% of your body?  Water!!!!!  So, this is your nutrition challenge for the month of August- drink more water!!!!

Let's breakdown the water in our bodies:  as babies we are 75-80% water; as we age it decrease to 60-65% for men and 50-60% for women; the human brain is 85% water, bones are around 22%  water, muscles consist of 75% water, and blood consists of 80-85% water. 

Now, what does water do for our bodies:  it transports nutrients and oxygen to the cells, moisturizes the air in your lungs, increases your metabolism, protects our organs, helps your organs to absorb nutrients better, regulates your body temperature, detoxifies the body, and protects and moisturizes our joints.  There are also many benefits of drinking water including:  it helps you to lose weight by flushing out the by-products of fat breaking down in your system and by increasing your metabolism, it helps relieve headaches, improves the appearance of your skin, helps your brain to be more alert and focused, gives you more energy and helps you to exercise more and better, helps with digestion, prevents cramps and muscle strains, protects against illness, helps protect against certain cancers like bladder and colon.

What happens when you don't drink enough water?  Not drinking enough water makes your body dehydrated.  The last sign your body gives that you are dehydrated is a dry mouth.  How many people don't get a drink of water until they have a dry mouth?  You are probably dehydrated to a certain extent often.  Dehydration can cause migraines, fatigue, dry skin, cramps, constipation, irregular heart rate and blood pressure, and death.

How much water should you drink?  Well, that depends on how much you exercise, if you drink caffeine, are pregnant, live at a high altitude, live in a dry climate, your weather is extremely hot or cold, have kidney disease, take certain medications, etc.    For instance, for every cup of caffeine you drink you need to drink 12-16 ounces of water to counteract the dehydrating effects of caffeine.  So, a good starting point is to take your weight and divide it in half, and that's how many ounces of water to drink.  For example:  a 120 pound woman would start with 60 ounces of water a day.  Then she would add in water while exercising and water for the caffeine she drinks, etc.  There are calculators online that you can google to find out, depending on the above factors, how much you should be drinking.  The point is: you need to eliminate sodas and sugary drinks, and drink more water!!!!!

How's your fitness regiment coming along?  Here's a workout for you to do at home:  to warm up go outside and run around your house 10 times; then do 25 squats (with or without weights), 10 push ups, 25 jumping jacks, 1 minute of mountain climbers, and 25 stomach crunches.  Then repeat this 3 more times.  Make sure you have clearance from your physician to exercise!!!

Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Exercising Safely

Wow!!!  Middle of July already!  How are you doing with all of your fitness goals?  Safely exercising is extremely important, because if you injure yourself, you won't be exercising for several weeks- maybe months!  So, below you will find some great tips on protecting your body from injury.

1.  Stretch or don't stretch?
     A lot has changed over the years in regards to stretching.  We used to stretch before working out, but have discovered that's not exactly a great idea.  Before exercising you want to warm your muscles up, but, not with stretching.  Stretching cold muscles can cause injury, such as a torn or pulled muscle.  Instead, you want to jog or march in place- basically, get the blood flowing and start warming your muscles up.  After exercising is a perfect time to stretch your muscles- they are nice and warm and much more flexible now.  Take about 15 minutes, 3X a week, to get a good stretch in when you are done working out.

2.  Do shoes matter?
     Yes, they do!!!  Some shoes are appropriate for certain workouts and others are not.  I know a lot of people worry about cost if they have to buy several different pairs of shoes to exercise.  But, your shoes will last longer if you don't wear the same pair every time you work out and you will be protecting yourself.  For example:  if you run trails, you want to invest in a good pair of trail running shoes.  The tread is a bit thicker and is useful for running through rocks, mulch and over roots and uphills.  If you are a road runner, you need a good pair of running shoes.  Cross training shoes will not give you the stability that a good pair of running shoes will.  Zumba is a popular workout right now, but you need to make sure you where a pair of shoes that give multi-directional support, such as a pair of cross trainers or a specialty dance-fitness shoe that is now available.  When I teach or do spin class, I wear cycling shoes that clip into the pedals.  It definitely gives me a better workout because my ability to fully engage the use of my legs and my core improves greatly with cycling shoes.  And, making sure you replace your shoes in a timely manner is most important!  You don't want to be exercising on shoes that don't have enough tread left, because that will cause many problems with your feet, which then leads to your knees, which leads to your back and so on!

3.  Too much too fast?
     Are you new to exercising?  If you are, make sure you don't fall prey to the number one way that new people get injured- too much, too fast.  Take it slow to start with and work up to more difficult workouts.  If you have never exercised before you don't want to jump in with some high intensity interval training.  You want to get your body used to cardiovascular exercise for a couple of weeks.  Do some treadmill or elliptical workouts.  You can even do a spin class, just take it a little slower- don't use as much tension and sit down more often.  Now, I am the first one to tell you that exercise is going to hurt at times (in a good way!) and it should be difficult (most people don't work out as hard as they should).  But, if you are totally new to this, you need to work up to a good difficulty level so that you don't hurt something or get entirely burned out because what you are doing is too hard.  If you are doing a strength training class with dumbbells for the first time- go a little light with the weights to test things out and see what you can do.  Or, start a little heavy, but keep a pair of lighter dumbbells nearby in case you need to switch.  Pulling or tearing a muscle is painful and can take a long time to repair- I want you to keep working out, not have to sit out due to an injury!!

4.  Bad form!
    Correct form is so important when it comes to exercise, especially when strength training with weights.  Always keep your back straight- whether you are sitting on a bench or standing.  When you are sitting during a strength move, such as a reverse fly- make sure you are pinched forward at the hips- not with a curve in the back.  Or, when you are doing a standing bent over row- you are bent forward at the hips with your back in a straight line and knees slightly bent.  Doing squats with bad form is one of the easiest ways to injure your knees and back.  Squats are an awesome exercise that works the entire lower body- you want to do them correctly though.  Stand up straight, shoulders back, knees slightly bent (never lock out your knees), head in a neutral position (meaning not looking up or down, but your neck aligned with your spine), knees never extending past the toes as you are performing the squat.  Your feet position can vary depending on the type of squat you are doing.  The most popular would be with feet shoulder width apart.   But, you can do sumo squats, squats with your feet closer together, or even split leg lunge squats.  Muscle pain is a good thing- joint pain is a bad thing!  And, always keep your joints such as knees and elbows slight bent and not locked out- you will protect the cartilage and avoid arthritis in the future!

5.  Exercising with an injury- not a good idea!
     Believe me- I can't stand to not work out, but, if you do so with an injury, you will further hurt yourself!  I love to exercise- but, if I'm injured I have to make myself be good!  Now, an injury won't totally exclude you from exercise- you just have to choose things that won't aggravate the injury.  For instance, if you have a knee that is injured you can still do weight training with your upper body.  Done in the correct manner, you can burn a lot of calories.  Don't rest in between sets too long and you will keep your heart rate up.  Super setting is a great way to do that.  You can take two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps and alternate them without rest in between.  I will super set bicep curls and overhead triceps press.  So, one set of bicep curls and then immediately into one set of overhead triceps press, back to one set of biceps and so on and so forth.  If you have a back that is injured, depending on the type of injury, you could ride a stationary bike.  If you are dealing with an injury, check with your doctor as to what type of exercise you can still safely do.

Our goal is to be able to safely exercise so as to obtain and enjoy all the incredible benefits of working out!  If in doubt about something, check with your doctor or someone who specializes in exercise such as a certified personal trainer or exercise physiologist.  As always, if you have any questions, let me know!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What is a GMO?

GMO- that's the new buzz word in health and nutrition.  But, do you know what it is?  A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process when genes from the DNA of one species (plant or animal) are extracted  and then artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated species.  Where do you find them?  In the food that you are eating!!  GMOs are present in the majority of processed food that is sold in the United States.  They are banned in Europe and other countries, but here in the US the FDA doesn't even require GMOs to be listed or identified on the food packaging.  So, why use GMOs?  Companies that produce the seeds of GMO crops are doing so because they are making the seeds resistant to herbicides and giving the seeds the ability to produce their own pesticides.  Currently, in the US, the most common GMO crops are:  soy (94% of all crops), corn (95% of crops), cotton (90% of crops), canola (90% of crops), and sugar beets (90% of crops).  There are many products that are made from the above items including oils, soy protein, soy lecithin, corn starch, corn syrup- including high fructose corn syrup and many, many more.

How does this affect you?  Laboratory research has shown that nearly every organ on lab animals has been damaged when they consumed GMOs.  Also, the incident in cancer in the lab animals sky rocketed.  Other side effects include allergic reactions, decreased nutritional value in the GMO crops, increase in toxins in the foods produced, and even possibly death.  Research hasn't been done to determine the long term side affects that consuming GMOs will have on the human body.  In the late 80's, early 90's, 37 people died and over 1500 people were permanently disabled in the United States from a disease called eosonophil myalgia syndrome (ems).  The disease was caused by an extremely poisonous substance found in a tryptophan food supplement that was made from a genetically engineered bacteria in Japan.

What should you do?  If you eat any type of corn or soy products, including tortilla chips, corn tortillas, corn starch, corn syrup, soy protein, soy lecithin, etc., make sure the label says it is organic or that a company has confirmed and certified that it contains no GMOs.  Currently, there is no legislature that says a company has to disclose that their product contains GMOs- but, hopefully that will change in the future!!!  Until then- read your labels and be careful about what you buy and consume!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Make Your Healthy Lifestyle a Family Thing!!

We have all heard the benefits of having an exercise partner- it keeps you motivated, right!!  Why not add your family into the mix?  The childhood obesity rates are staggering.  I heard a statistic a few weeks ago that says the average kid in America spends 7.5 hours in front of a screen!  More kids than ever before are being diagnosed with Type II diabetes- which is also known as "adult onset diabetes", and these kids are not adults yet!  A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest dangers our kids in the United States are facing.  Remember, what you  are doing to get and stay healthy is not some fad diet- it is a lifestyle change- something you are going to do forever. Your family needs to be a part of that.  My friend and I run trails a couple of times a week and we will see this man out there running, and he has to be in his 80's at least.  I want to be doing that when I'm 80 and you should, too.  The best way to ensure you are still agile and healthy when you are older is to do something about it right now.  If you don't use it you will lose it.  This means that if you don't use your muscles and your cardiovascular system, you will lose your ability to do it.  That's why retirement can be dangerous for a lot of people.  They go from moving around everyday to a sedentary lifestyle and before you know it their health is spiraling downward and now they are having a hard time just getting around.  We have to be deliberate in our health and make it a priority.  What a great thing to teach our children now, so that they carry it throughout their life.

So, what can you do with your kids?  Take them on bike rides, hikes, to the gym with you, play sports together, etc.  Make it a requirement that they do this, not a suggestion.  It will grow on them and they will come to love it- they just have to get started first.  Limit all screen time.  There are just so many different screens that our kids sit in front of now- put a limit on all of them.  You will be doing your kids a favor with this.  Especially with summer time- get your kids outside, soaking up some great vitamin D from the sun, and making their bodies stronger.  Add some activity to everyday and you will start to see a change in yourself and your family.  Make eating healthy something that you enjoy so that your kids will want to take part in that, also- don't show them that it's a chore or boring or something you dislike.  And, what better way to grow your family's closeness than to spend more time doing things together!

Happy Summer!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

How Ready Are You to Change?

Almost half way through the year- June already!!!!!  How are your fitness goals coming along?  A friend posted something on Facebook that made me think about the "stages of readiness to change", also known as, the "psychological aspect of personal training"!  After more than ten years of research, the stages of readiness to change were introduced.  How ready are you to change your fitness level?  Let's see where you're at!

Stage 1- Precontemplation:  no change is being thought of.

Stage 2- Contemplation:  change is being thought about sometime in the next 6 months.

Stage 3-  Preparation:  change is being planned within the next 30 days and some type of change in behavior is being attempted.

Stage 4- Action:  the behavior that produces positive outcomes has been started within the last 6 months

Stage 5- Maintenance- the behavior that produces positive outcomes has been  done for at least 6 months.

So obviously, the change and behavior I am talking about here is:  exercise!!!   Which stage do you think is the most critical and difficult to achieve?  Stage 5!!  Most people don't believe that, but it's true.  A lot of people  "fall off the wagon" in Stage 4.  Life gets busy with kids, careers, spouse, traveling (especially in the summer) etc.  Many behaviors become a habit after doing them for 3 weeks, but, with exercise it takes 6 months.  Getting to that crucial Stage 5 is so important, because that means it has become a habit.  If you do travel, really, really try to keep exercising, even if it is just a walk on the beach, bicycle riding, outdoor sports, etc.  And, many of us see a vacation as a license to eat whatever we want.  One study has shown that 60% of people gain weight while on vacation.  And, especially if you take a cruise where there are open food buffets 24 hours a day- that is just very tempting.  If you don't already do it, start a food journal or use, it also comes as an app on your phone.  You can use it to log your exercise as well.  If you are traveling and eating out all of your meals at a restaurant, you are almost guaranteed to go over in your calories.  Restaurants prepare foods in butter and oil, even foods that you wouldn't think, so make sure you ask your server how your meal is being prepared.  Take healthy snacks with you so that you know how many calories you are consuming there, since you may not be sure how many you are eating with your restaurant meals.  Choose foods that are grilled or steamed; fresh fruits and vegetables; items without a lot of cheese or heavy dressings; and clear broth soups, not creamy ones.  And, steer clear of buffets for a couple of reasons.  One, I am just a germaphobe and buffets are just a big vat of bacteria, and two, you tend to over indulge at them.

Take advantage of school being out to spend time together outdoors with your family.  You can be the positive influence that your family needs to get moving.  Go on hikes, bike rides, walks,  the pool to swim laps, or to the gym together!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Challenge!!!!!!!!!

Wow!!  May, already???  We are almost halfway through the year- how are you doing on your fitness and nutrition goals?  The nutrition challenge for the month of May is to:  eliminate all artificial sweeteners.  I have written about aspartame, also known as Equal or Nutrasweet, in my blog before, but there is also suclarose, called Splenda, and saccharin.  These are really the "big 3" of artificial sweeteners. They are all filled with cancer causing chemicals and should be avoided entirely!!!!  I cannot express to you enough that these are dangerous chemicals for our bodies.  Everyone wonders why the incidence of cancers are rising- this is part of the reason why.  In this post I will detail the dangers of aspartame and then I will detail the dangers of the other two in subsequent posts.

Aspartame was approved by the FDA in 1981 for use in dry foods. It was originally approved in 1974, but, findings by a neuroscience researcher put the approval on hold. There is a list of 92 side effects from the use of Aspartame. Seventy-five percent of all adverse reactions from food additives reported to the FDA come from the use of Aspartame. These include: headaches/migraines, seizures, dizziness, nausea, weight gain, muscle spasms, depression, fatigue, irritability, rashes, insomnia, tachycardia, vision and hearing problems, anxiety, heart palpitations, breathing problems, loss of taste, vertigo, memory loss, joint pain, and symptoms of hypoglycemia. I know about this side effects all too well, because I experienced many of them. I used to be a diet soda junkie and have been quit now for almost 6 years. I started this research originally because I discovered I had Aspartame poisoning. I quit it cold turkey and within a week, my symptoms started to disappear.

Aspartame is L-apartyl, L-phenylalanine methyl ester. The three toxic ingredients of it are methanol, which is grain alcohol, phenylalaine and aspartic acid- the last two are amino acid isolates. Let me explain that: Proteins, needed for muscle development and repair, is made up of many amino acids grouped together. There are 22 amino acids necessary for normal human growth, with 14 of those that our body can make called non essential amino acids. Then, there are 8 other amino acids called essential amino acids that we must get from outside sources such as food. Amino acid isolates have been artificially separated from the protein chain and are now single or dipeptide molecules. Aspartic acid and phenylalanine are two types of genetically modified or manufactured amino acids. Because of this our body's metabolize them differently than amino acids that have not been broken apart or artificially made. You also need to know that the isolates of aspartame are incorporated into a compound containing free methanol, which is a carcinogen and mutagen that breaks down into formaldehyde inside our bodies! At certain high temperatures, those of which a can of soda experiences riding on a truck to your local grocery store, the aspartame breaks down into methanol and formaldehyde- so just picture yourself drinking a can of chemicals, because that's what is happening.

Regarding Aspartame in diet soda: it actually can make you gain weight, not lose. This is because when you drink Aspartame it sort of has the same response as when your body ingests high fructose corn syrup. It causes your pancreas to start releasing high levels of insulin which then signals your body to start storing things as fat.

Now onto your fitness goal.  For the month of May, I want to encourage you to:  stretch at least 3 times a week!!!  So many times we forget about that important part of our fitness routine.  Stretching elongates our muscles and keeps us from injury.  You can go online and google many different types of stretches that you can do.  Make sure you don't over stretch- you don't want to tear anything.  When you stretch, only go as far as you can without feeling pain.  As you do it several times a week, your flexibility will improve.

Happy May!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Portion Sizes!!!

How is everyone doing with getting fit?  One big obstacle that can affect our goals is our portion sizes of the food we eat.  Especially when we go out to eat in a restaurant- the U.S. has some of the largest portion sizes of anywhere in the world!  It's a wonder why we have the highest obesity rates. So, paying attention to how much you are putting on your plate is a big deal.  Try to use a smaller plate to eat.  Eating can be very psychological. We "think" we need to fill the plate up, so using a smaller one tricks us into thinking we have enough food.  Many of us were taught as children to "clean our plates".  That's actually a terrible habit, if in fact you are taking too much.  I'm not about waste, at all, but, you are better off saving what's left on your plate in the refrigerator than trying to eat it all, if you are full.  Another thing we tend to do is eat off of our kids' plates. Bad habit!!  So, let me encourage you to read, read, read labels!  Get a good set of measuring cups and use them to measure your portion sizes.  Most people are very surprised at what "one serving" looks like.  When it comes to meat, 3 ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.  Measuring is very important when it comes to items like pasta and rice.  Those calories add up very quickly.  I always measure my granola- it's what I eat very often for breakfast, but only 1/4 of a cup in 1/2 cup of organic vanilla yogurt with some fruit.  Granola can be healthy, but it packs a lot of calories, so you must be careful how much you consume.  It's a good form of healthy carbs, protein and fat and is a much better choice than a bowl of surgary cereal.  I make my own granola or I eat an organic variety that is not filled with refined sugar, but instead, is sweetened with honey or molasses and has healthy nuts in it- that's where the protein comes from.  This is another reason why reading labels is necessary- you have to know what you are eating.  Chemicals in food can make us retain fat on our bodies.

For years I have encouraged my clients to keep a food journal.  Well, in this age of technology, that has gotten easier.  There is a wonderful app called My Fitness Pal.  You can access it on the internet if you don't have a way to download an app.  This app allows you enter everything you eat each day, as well as the calories you burned exercising (obviously, that part isn't going to be 100% accurate, since the app doesn't know how hard you pushed yourself or to what level you worked out- but, it's a rough estimate).  You can enter how much weight you want to lose, and it will calculate how many calories you should eat each day.  It's really a great way to keep track of what you're eating.  For example, after you enter your breakfast calories, it will show you how many calories you have left to eat that day.  It really helps you to make good choices, knowing that you only have "x" amount of calories left to consume that day.

I have always said that I am about eating in moderation- except, when it comes to chemicals!    So, here is an example of how I allow myself to eat something that's not exactly healthy for me.  This is also how I taught my kids to eat.  If I know I'm going to want something that's high in calories or fat, I never start off eating that item first.  Instead, I eat healthy items until I'm almost full, and then I have a little bit of that food I'm craving.  It's just enough to satisfy, but not enough to sabotage my eating for the day.  When my kids were young and we were eating lunch, I would give them the healthy food first, ex:  turkey breast on whole wheat, veggies and fruits.  Then, when they were done eating all of that I would let them have some chips (chemical free ones of course) or a cookie or something of that nature.  They never ate a lot of the junk because they were full from the good stuff, yet, they never felt deprived.  Another huge rule in our house is:  NEVER EAT ANYTHING FROM THE BAG!!!!!!!!!  So many people will sit down with a bag of chips and have no idea how many they have just consumed.  We tend to eat mindlessly, especially if it's in front of the television.  Always, measure out a serving on a plate and then put the bag away.

Eating healthy doesn't have to be a chore- sometimes we just need to break those bad habits!!!!  Oh, and I have a new facebook page at  I hope you go and "like" it!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tips For Healthy Eating!

With warmer weather here, I hope that encourages everyone to get outside and exercise!  I have found that when I exercise, I tend to not want to eat junk food, but, instead healthy food.  Here are some tips that I find work for ensuring healthy eating:

1.  Don't keep junk food in your house!
     This is a BIG one.  If it's not there, you won't be tempted to eat it.  Instead choose to find healthy foods to eat as a treat, such as fresh fruit or yogurt.

2.  Make your own snacks.
     When you make your own food, you know exactly what you are putting in it.  Choose a day out of the week that you aren't as busy and make that your day to prepare snacks for the week.  Go online and find some healthy recipes for granola bars and snack mixes.  Or, if you find a recipe you like that isn't particularly healthy, make some ingredient changes and make it healthy.

3.  Do a menu plan for the week.
     This is huge!!!  If you know exactly what you are going to be eating at each meal, you will be less likely to reach for something unhealthy.  It also is a great way to save money.  Instead of just choosing random things to put in my grocery cart, I only get the items I need to make the menu I have chosen for the week.  It also helps you to intentionally add those fruits and veggies to each meal.

4.  Do prep work ahead of time.
     This goes along with the menu plan.  Have your salad chopped up ahead of time, along with other veggies and fruits.  If all you have to do is open the fridge to find something prepared to eat, you will be less likely to grab that bag of chips (which you shouldn't have in your house anyway!).

5.  Instead of a whole cheat day- just have a cheat meal.
     I firmly believe in not completely depriving yourself of some of the foods you really love.  Most people will have a cheat day in their week, which can lead to a lot of unhealthy calories being consumed.  Instead, have a cheat meal- it will still give you something to look forward to, but you won't go overboard on the calories.  Thirty five hundred calories equals 1 pound.  It would be fairly easy to eat 3500 calories if you had a whole cheat day!  REMEMBER:  EAT TO LIVE, DON'T LIVE TO EAT!!!!!  If we can get our minds wrapped around that, we will want to fill our bodies with healthy foods.

6.  Soup is where it's at!
     Soup is a great way to eat a meal with low calories.  If you are out to eat, always choose a clear broth soup, not a cream based soup.  Most restaurants use heavy cream to make those types of soup.  If you are home making your own soup, you can still have a creamy type of soup, but instead use skim milk and some flour or cornstarch to cream it.  It works great and you save a lot of fat and calories.  And, choose to make a soup that has a lot of veggies in it- they tend to pick up the flavor of the broth and even kids who don't normally like veggies will eat it.

7.  Grocery shop around the outside perimeter of the store as much as possible.
     Next time you are at the grocery store, look and see what is on the shelves in the middle of the grocery store as opposed to the perimeter of the store.  I have readers in other countries, so this may not be true in other parts of the world, but, unfortunately here in the United States, those shelves in the middle of the grocery store are filled with processed foods.  Produce, meats, and dairy are on the perimeter of the grocery store.  Once I eliminated chemicals from my family's diet, I don't shop those inside aisles near as much as I used to.  Obviously, things like condiments, rice, pasta and beans are in those middle aisles, and those can be healthy choices.  But, there are a lot of processed foods lurking on those shelves, too!!!

I hope this helps you in getting your family on the right track with their eating!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April Challenge!!!!!

Can you believe it is April already??????  How are you doing with the monthly challenges?  January was to remove high fructose corn syrup; February was to remove dyes and artificial coloring; and March was to remove nitrites and nitrates from your diet.  This month we are going to be removing MSG- monosodium glutamate from your diet.  I wrote a post a few months ago on the dangers of MSG which I am putting below:

What is MSG? Monosodium glutamate is a salt made from glutamic acid. It's used to bring out the taste in salty and sweet foods. So, most restaurants put it in just about everything as well as many prepackaged and processed foods. Side effects from consuming MSG include: headache, diarrhea, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, weakness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, chills, heartburn, unusual thirst, depression, anxiety/panic attacks, hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children, joint pain, hives, rashes, etc. MSG is an excitotoxin that crosses the blood- brain barrier which means it can cause neurological problems. So, as you can see MSG should not be consumed if you are trying to be healthy. When it comes to weight loss, MSG can cause hypothyroidism, which causes your thyroid gland to not produce enough of the thyroid hormone, which in turn affects your rate of metabolism. People with hypothyroidism do not burn as many calories and then they gain weight. Another problem with MSG and weight loss is that it actually acts as a non appetite suppressant meaning it makes you crave the food that you are eating that contains the MSG. This is why so many people "crave" certain foods, especially fast food. Think about those fast food french fries that you love or certain other dishes from restaurants. More than likely they contain MSG.

Now, here's the tricky part. There are ingredients that contain MSG, so food companies don't have to actually list MSG on the label, only the ingredient that contains it. So, when you see the following ingredients on a label, it more than likely contains MSG: autolyzed plant protein, autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, gelatin, glutamate, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, monopotassium glutamate, senomyx, sodium caseinate, textured protein, vegetable protein extract, yeast extract, yeast food or nutrient, flavor, bouillon, cornstarch fructose.

So, the bottom line is, whether or not you are trying to lose weight, get rid of the MSG. There are studies that have been conducted and are still being conducted to show a relation between consumption of MSG and diseases such as Alzheimer's. Just remember that whenever you consume it, it is affecting your central nervous system in a negative manner. If you have any questions let me know!!

Now, how is your fitness program going so far?  We have been adding on exercise each month, also.  This month I want you to try and ramp up your exercise to a whole new level!  Remember, one of the easiest ways to figure out your target heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.  Then, take that number and multiply it by .85 and by .60- this will give you the two numbers you want your heart rate to be in between.  If you are not working hard enough you won't be burning fat, and if you are working too hard you may hurt yourself.  Remember, your heart rate will start to improve as the days and months go by.  This is because  your heart is a muscle.  The stronger it is the less beats it will take to pump all the blood through your body.  So, your resting heart rate will decrease, which also means it will take longer and harder exercise to get your heart rate up to a good burning zone.  How can you ramp up your exercise, you ask?  Work out harder, longer and with more intensity.  Your body is capable of doing things you didn't think it could.  If you have joint pain- that is a signal to stop, but if you are just experiencing muscle pain or fatigue- you can keep going!  Always get approval from your physician to start a new exercise program if you haven't worked out before or you have some preexisting conditions, a family history of heart disease, or take medication regularly.  And, if you can- hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to get some good ideas for working out.  You don't have to hire them indefinitely, just a few times could get you started on the right path!  Your health is worth it!!!  Enjoy- and always, if you have any questions please let me know.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Supplements: Are They Necessary?

As a personal trainer, I am often asked this question:  Should I be taking vitamins/minerals/supplements/diet pills?  So, here is my long answer to that short questions!


Ideally, we shouldn't take vitamins because we should be getting everything we need from the food we put in our mouths.  But, unfortunately, not enough people eat the proper nutrition that they need daily. And even if we do, so many fruits and vegetables are grown with pesticides and chemicals we are not getting the good stuff from our food anymore, so we supplement (and eat organic when you can).  If you do need to take vitamins and minerals, make sure you are buying high quality supplements- not synthetic ones.  Synthetic vitamins have been formed in a laboratory by reconstructing the vitamin molecule chemically.  Natural vitamins are made from food concentrates such as carrot powder, wheat germ or buckwheat, and their molecular and biomedical combinations remain untampered with.  Synthetic are generally much less expensive than natural, but, synthetic vitamins can actually harm your body and not help.  Do your research to make sure you are getting high quality supplements.

Let me explain a little bit about vitamins.  There are two types of vitamins:  water soluble and fat soluble.  Water soluble vitamins are all your B vitamins and C.  Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble.  Fat soluble vitamins are dissolved in fat and are usually absorbed in fat globules that travel through the lymphatic system of the small intestines and into the general blood circulation within the body.  They are then stored in body tissues and usually remain there, which if you have taken too much, can cause a potentially dangerous condition known as hypervitaminosis.  It is rare, but be cautious of taking too many fat soluble vitamins.  Many people are now deficient in vitamin D- the reason being is the excessive use of sunscreen.  I most certainly advocate the use of sunscreen if you are going to be out for a long length of time, but, if I am just going outside for short amounts of time, we do not use it.  Your body needs a certain amount of  vitamin D from natural sunlight and the sunscreen blocks that absorption.  And, if I do wear it, it is a natural sunscreen and not the chemical filled ones.  Remember, what we put on our skin is actually absorbed faster into our bodies than if we would have ingested it.

Water soluble vitamins are dissolved in water when they are ingested and then go into our bloodstream.  They do not get stored in our bodies.  Our bodies keep what is needed and then the rest is excreted through our urine.  So, because they aren't stored everyone needs a continual supply of B vitamins and C.


Minerals cannot be created by your body (our bodies are able to build some vitamins from the nutrients we consume), so we must obtain them from the foods that we eat.  Once again, if your diet is healthy, you will not need to supplement.  But, if not make sure you are using high quality supplements.  Calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc are just a few of the minerals that our bodies need.  We can obtain calcium from dairy products; iron from meat; potassium from bananas; and zinc from venison, beef or shellfish.  Obviously, if you are pregnant or have any other medical condition, make sure you check with your doctor for how your vitamin and mineral needs may change.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.  They band together in chains to form the essentials things in our bodies needed to live.  Amino acids get together and form peptides or polypeptides, from which proteins are made.  There are 20 amino acids.  Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids; the others need to be supplied in your food intake.  The ten amino acids that we can produce are:  alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine.  The ones we must obtain from our diet are:  arginine, histidine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.  Many people know tryptophan because it is in turkey- it's what makes us sleepy on Thanksgiving!  But, too much of it will cause gastrointestinal discomfort.  Just like anything- you must take amino acids in moderation or you will experience side effects.  One side effect you may not realize until too late is damage to the kidneys.  Protein and amino acids are filtered through the kidneys.  If you are consuming too much your kidneys will have to work extra and that will put them at risk for kidney disease.  Most people do not need to supplement their diets with amino acids.  What we eat daily will supply what we need.  There are other side effects to taking too many aminos including:  anxiety, depression, and muscle weakness, among others.  As always, if you feel you are lacking something, talk to your doctor and make sure they run  tests to determine the levels of amino acids in your body.

Diet pills or diet supplements

This is a short answer:  NO!!!  There is no quick fix.  If someone tells you that all they do is take some pills or supplements and they stay thin and they don't even have to workout- run fast and far away!  First of all, if there were some magic pills to help you lose weight- it certainly wouldn't be healthy.  As I have said in previous posts:  exercising is important for so many more reasons than just losing weight.  Exercising reduces blood pressure, heart rate, risk of cancers, risk of heart attack and stroke, risk of osteoporosis, it stabilizes your blood sugar levels, improves mood and energy and the list goes on and on.  Let's do it the healthy and natural way- eat nutritious foods, high in vital nutrients and not chemicals, and exercise.  That's what is good for your body!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Granola Anyone?

I love granola!!!  It's a great source of fiber, protein and carbohydrates.  I like to make my own because you can customize it any way you like.  Add in the type of dried fruit and nuts that you like- the fat in nuts is a good type of fat, by the way!  I use my granola for breakfast in the morning- sprinkled on organic yogurt, and also in my homemade granola bars.  Below is the recipe for a basic granola and also for the granola bars I make.


3 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup canola oil- I only use organic canola- because of the possibilities of gmo's.  Or you can use coconut or any other type of oil that you like
1/4 cup honey- I use raw
1/4 of demerera sugar- an unrefined type of sugar that looks like brown sugar- larger crystals than regular sugar and a brown color.  Or you can use an organic brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or a little more if you like vanilla flavor)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 salt
2 cups add-ins like dried fruit, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with natural parchment paper (regular parchment paper is coated with chemicals!!)  Whisk together the oil, honey, demerera, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.  Pour over the oats and toss well.  Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.  Let cool completely, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in add-ins.  Store in an airtight container.

Granola Bars

4 TBL butter
1/4 cup demerera sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups of granola
1 cup of puffed rice cereal- you will want to get this from a healthy grocery store- the "normal" brands of rice cereal contain chemical preservatives that are cancer causing.
1/4 cup of dried fruit or nuts ( if you have a lot of this in your granola- you do not have to add more)

Put butter, demerera, honey and cinnamon in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring, reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Remove from heat and add in granola, rice cereal and fruit or nuts.  Stir until well coated and combined.  Pour into an 11 x 7 (or two 9 x 5 pans) foil lined and greased pan.  Use a piece of parchment paper that has been lightly oiled and lay on top of the granola- press down and evenly spread the mixture into the pan- well compacted. Let cool and then remove to a cutting board and cut into about 16-18 bars.  About 130 calories each

Monday, March 5, 2012

March Challenge!!!!!

Can you believe it's March already????  How have you done with the January and February challenges?  Are you still free of high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes?  I hope so!!!

The nutrition challenge for this month is:   to remove all nitrites and nitrates from your diet.  Nitrites and nitrates, (referred to as sodium nitrites/nitrates on many food packages) are found commonly in foods that are cured or processed, such as:  deli meats, hotdogs, sausage, bacon, etc.  Why do we not want to eat them, you ask?  Well, when you eat nitrites, they can be converted into nitrosamines, which are potent cancer causing chemicals.  Specifically colorectal, stomach and pancreatic cancers.  Research has also found that people who consume nitrites and nitrates are more likely to have COPD, which is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, DNA mutations, and if you are a child you have an increased risk for brain tumors.  In fact, nitrites/nitrates are so dangerous that the USDA tried to ban the use of them in the 1970s but were overridden by the meat processing industry.  This chemical is what they use to cure all their meats, give them a bright, fresh color,  and  keep them from spoiling on the shelf. Thankfully, due to the increased awareness of their dangers, many supermarkets are now offering deli meats, hotdogs, bacon, etc. without sodium nitrites/nitrates.  Naturally occurring nitrites/nitrates can be found in certain vegetables, but, because they are natural and not artificial chemicals, there is no harm to you.  Please read your food labels to make sure you are not consuming any of these cancer causing chemicals.  You will be doing your family's health a huge favor!!

Now, how are your workouts coming along?  Have you been able to increase your cardiovascular exercise?  How about adding in some weight resistance training?  Remember, you must overload your muscles past their normal ability in order to see change.  Exercise shouldn't be "easy".  You should have to push yourself!!  So, for this month try to add in some old fashioned calisthenics, such as jump roping, push ups, mountain climbers, running sprints, and bear crawls.  You really don't need a fancy health club to get exercising- you just have to motivate and push yourself to new limits!

Have a great March everyone!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Organization: How it Can Improve Your Health!

Life is busy!  I once sat down and named all the "job descriptions" that I filled on a daily basis.  Included on the list were:  nurse, chef, teacher, personal trainer, grocery shopper, laundress, taxi driver, psychiatrist, cheerleader, maid- to name a few.  Without organization, my health would be on the decline.  I know this may not be making sense, but stay with me on this and keep reading.  I schedule my exercise each day to make sure it happens.  I discovered a time that works best for me and that's when I do it.  It is a priority enough to me that it makes it on my daily schedule.  On previous blog posts I have listed all the benefits of exercising and there are a lot of them!  In order for me to be able to do all my "jobs" on a daily basis, I have to set a little time aside for myself  to exercise, if not, I may not have the energy to get done everything I need to get done.  And, I know that if I didn't schedule my exercise, the day would get away from me and before I knew it, it would be time to go to bed.

 I apply those same organizational skills to my eating. Obviously, we are all busy and we have those days where we are running out the door going from place to place and forgetting to eat.  Then, we realize how hungry we are and what usually happens is we stop somewhere for fast food or an unhealthy snack.  I have everything I need to do on a schedule so that I can see if we have to be out of the house during mealtimes or if I can avoid it.  I do a meal plan each week, so that when it hits 5pm, I know what I am going to make for dinner so I don't end up ordering pizza.  My meal plan also helps me save money at the grocery store because I know exactly what I need to buy instead of just throwing things in my shopping cart.  Eating healthy can be a little bit more costly, so every penny saved helps.  I try to have healthy snacks made up ahead of time, so we aren't reaching for something that's not unhealthy (I try not to keep that in the house anyway, so the temptation is not there).  I can look at my schedule and see which day I can set aside to do my bread baking and snack making.  Now, I am all about special occasions and not denying yourself treats- but until you learn how to do that in moderation, just stay away from it!  I can look back at my week and see how my schedule has kept my family on a healthy track with exercise and meals.  We live in such a fast paced society, where we are constantly on the go that without a schedule of some sorts, we start living an unhealthy lifestyle and start making bad food choices because we are so hungry we just have to have something to eat.

So, I would encourage you to set up some type of schedule for yourself and start meal planning to help you meet your health and fitness goals.  Happy planning!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Benefits of Eating Grass-fed Beef

Mmmm- nothing beats a big, juicy, grass-fed beef hamburger!!!  And, you are probably thinking: "I can't believe she would eat all those calories and fat!!!"  Well, lower fat content and fewer calories are just a couple of the benefits of eating grass-fed beef.  All cows used to be grass-fed until the small farmer got taken over by big, money making corporations.  They wanted the cows to grow bigger and faster so that they could make more money quicker.  God designed cows with a stomach that has 4 compartments so they could properly eat and digest grass.  They were not made to eat corn, but it was discovered that feeding them corn, would fatten them up faster and give the steaks that marbled look.  Corn actually has one of the highest rates of e.coli, which is why cows that are corn fed get put on antibiotics- to fight the bacteria.  Then, on top of that, they are given hormones to make them grow faster- for cows used for meat, and to produce more milk- for dairy cows.  All of this is unnatural!!!!  In fact, there is growing evidence linking the hormone given to cows, rBGH or rBST, to breast cancer in women.  Yes, cows naturally produce hormones just like humans do, but, the hormones they give cows are genetically engineered- not natural.  So, along with fewer grams of fat and calories, grass-fed beef also has a natural presence of ALA- alpha linolenic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid that serves as the building block for all other omega-3 fats. Research has shown that omega-3 fats help to protect against high blood pressure and heart attack.  Grass-fed beef also contains CLA- conjugated linoleic acid.  Research has found that the benefits of CLA include: a reduction in cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, osteoporosis, insulin resistance, inflammation, food-induced allergic reactions, and body fat.  Yes, that last one was:  a reduction in body fat!!!  Researchers are also seeing a reduction in the size of cancer tumors.

We have heard all about the dangers of eating too much red meat, but, that only applies to corn fed beef.  Eating grass-fed beef is very healthy for you.  I would encourage you to use the computer to find local farmers in your area where you could purchase grass-fed beef.

Now, go grill up a big, fat, juicy grass-fed burger!!! Enjoy!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

February's Challenge!!!

So, did you complete January's goal of removing high fructose corn syrup from your home?  I hope you found that you could find plenty of things to eat that did not contain the harmful chemical.  We're doing these monthly goals to try and help you weed the bad things out of your diet without the stress and anxiety of doing it all at once.  This month's goal is going to be:  remove all dyes from your diet.  This includes any dye you see on the ingredients list of a package such as yellow #4 or red #40 (not sure if those numbers go with those colors or not- I don't have any in my house to check!!), but, you get the idea.  You will be surprised as to what foods really do contain these chemicals.  Foods like pickles!!!  They actually put yellow dye in pickles.  I don't understand why, because the pickles I eat, which come from Earth Fare in the packaged meat section, taste delicious and look great.  No need for dyes!!!

How is your exercise goal, which for the month of January was to exercise at least 5 days a week for 20 minutes?  I hope you have found ways to get active.  We started slow so that you didn't do too much too fast.  So, for the month of February let's bump that up to 5 days a week for at least 40 minutes.  You can split that between cardio and weight training.  I would suggest combining the two, such as:  do a set of bicep curls and in between sets jump rope or do pushups to exhaustion, then do another set of biceps.  Do three sets of each.  You could also do a set of biceps and in between those sets do squats.  This way you are working your upper body and your lower body and doing them without resting you are super setting, which is a great way to get your heart rate up and burn lots of calories. Be creative!!!  A great way to get started is to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to be able to learn more about ways to work each muscle group, or attend a boot camp.  Take advantage of the internet and find exercises on there.  Many sites give very specific instructions so that you don't hurt yourself.  Always remember to protect your back by not locking your knees and no jerky or flinging motions with weights in your hands- this will protect your joints.  Use slow and controlled movements.

How important is your health to you?  Remember, exercising is more than just losing weight.  It's about decreasing your chances of a heart attack, stroke, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer, lowering your blood pressure and stabilizing your blood sugar levels, decreasing stress and anxiety, improving your balance and flexibility, and improving your muscle strength.

Happy exercising!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Dreaded Plateau

How are your fitness and nutrition goals going so far?  If you have been at this for awhile, you may have had the frustration of hitting a plateau- that dreaded time when it seems like you are stuck at the same weight and not moving anywhere!  Number one, I would encourage you to always take measurements, because even if the scale isn't moving, you may still be losing inches.  There is always the age old question of which weighs more: muscle or fat?  I will reply to that with:  which weighs more:  a pound of feathers or a pound of steel?  A pound is a pound.  It's not that muscle weighs more than fat, it's that it is more dense than fat.  So, we can actually lose inches, but we may not see a lot of movement on the scale.  Take your measurements once a month.  You will want to measure your chest (for women or men- around the fullest part of the chest area or bust), waist (measure around the navel), the abdomen (about 2-3 inches below the navel), the hips (around the fullest part of your rear end), thigh (have foot planted on the ground and then measure around the fullest part of the thigh), calf (foot planted on the ground and measure around the fullest part), upper arm (measure around the fullest part).  It may work best if you have someone help you with these measurements.  Don't pull the tape too tight, either.

If after you measure yourself you find that you have indeed hit that dreaded plateau, examine a few things.  Are you still keeping a food journal?  If not, start up again.  It's very easy to go over in calories.  Think of it this way:  if you eat just 100 calories more than you need per day, in a year you will have gained 10 pounds.  Another thing to look at is your exercise.  What kind are you doing?  Are you doing any weight training?  Have you been doing the same form of exercise for a while now?  We can sometimes get into a habit of doing the same thing over and over.  I'm going to put it to you bluntly:  if you are not challenging yourself and if you don't feel like you have exerted yourself past your normal ability, you are not going to see change.  I have talked about the overload principal before.  You must overload your body past it's normal ability.  Make sure you are doing both aerobic and anaerobic activity.  The simplest and easiest way for me to explain the difference between the two that you will understand is this:  low intensity vs high intensity.  Aerobic means "the presence of oxygen" and anaerobic means just the opposite.  During exercise with adequate fuel and oxygen (aerobic), muscle cells can contract repeatedly without fatigue.  During anaerobic or non-oxygen conditions, muscle cells must rely on other reactions that do not require oxygen to fuel muscle contraction.  When you are exercising if you are not feeling fatigued or extremely out of breath you are in an aerobic metabolic mode, but when you are feeling exhausted and fatigued you are in an anaerobic metabolic mode.  Here is the benefit of anaerobic activity:  you will continue to burn more calories after you are done working out than you will with aerobic activity.  Make sure you are doing both aerobic and anaerobic activity.  Some examples of aerobic would be:  walking, running, elliptical, biking.  Examples of anaerobic would be:  weight lifting, sprinting, cycling in a spin class where you are doing intense intervals, classic calisthenics such as push ups, squats, mountain climbers- all to exhaustion, exercising such as pushing and pulling different weights, etc.  Aerobic activity is less exhausting than anaerobic, but you need both.  Remember:  if you are not challenging yourself, you aren't getting the most benefit from exercise.  As always, if I can help in any way please let me know!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How MSG Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss and Cause Numerous Other Health Problems

What is MSG?  Monosodium glutamate  is a salt made from glutamic acid.  It's used to bring out the taste in salty and sweet foods.  So, most restaurants put it in just about everything as well as many prepackaged and processed foods.  Side effects from consuming MSG include:  headache, diarrhea, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, weakness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, chills, heartburn, unusual thirst, depression, anxiety/panic attacks, hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children, joint pain, hives, rashes, etc.  MSG is an excitotoxin that crosses the blood- brain barrier which means it can cause neurological problems.  So, as you can see MSG should not be consumed if you are trying to be healthy.  When it comes to weight loss, MSG can cause hypothyroidism, which causes your thyroid gland to not produce enough of the thyroid hormone, which in turn affects your rate of metabolism.  People with hypothyroidism do not burn as many calories and then they gain weight.  Another problem with MSG and weight loss is that it actually acts as a non appetite suppressant meaning it makes you crave the food that you are eating that contains the MSG.  This is why so many people "crave" certain foods, especially fast food.  Think about those fast food french fries that you love or certain other dishes from restaurants.  More than likely they contain MSG.

Now, here's the tricky part.  There are ingredients that contain MSG, so food companies don't have to actually list MSG on the label, only the ingredient that contains it.  So, when you see the following ingredients on a label, it more than likely contains MSG:  autolyzed plant protein, autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, gelatin, glutamate, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, monopotassium glutamate, senomyx, sodium caseinate, textured protein, vegetable protein extract, yeast extract, yeast food or nutrient, flavor, bouillon, cornstarch fructose.

So, the bottom line is, whether or not you are trying to lose weight, get rid of the MSG.  There are studies that have been conducted and are still being conducted to show a relation between consumption of MSG and diseases such as Alzheimer's.  Just remember that whenever you consume it, it is affecting your central nervous system in a negative manner.  If you have any questions let me know!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Breakfast: How eating it will improve your metabolism!!!!!

How is everyone doing on removing the high fructose corn syrup from their homes?  I hope you are finding that it is getting easier and also, that it is getting tastier eating all of those wonderful whole foods.  But, many of you may still be inhibiting your metabolism from burning at it's best.  What is the number one way to sabotage your metabolism?  Not eating breakfast!!!!  You see, your metabolism is like a fire.  Unless you "feed" it, the fire will go out.  So, when you eat a meal or a snack, your metabolism will start burning at a higher rate for a couple of hours.  That is, unless it is a meal of simple carbs like white sugar, white flour, etc.  Your body burns through that much quicker than say a complex carb such as brown rice, whole wheat flour etc.  If you are someone who doesn't eat breakfast here is what happens:  you eat dinner around 6 or 7pm; you go to bed at 11pm; you wake up at 7am and skip breakfast; you don't eat lunch until around noon.  If you follow a schedule somewhat like that, your metabolism is absolutely dead for much of your day.  If you eat dinner at 7pm your metabolism will burn higher until about 9pm.  If you don't eat breakfast and wait until lunch the next day to eat, your metabolism has been at it's lowest for 15 hours!!!!  You are missing out on a lot of calorie burning.  Here is what you need to do:  eat breakfast when you wake up, which for most people is around 7am; eat a mid morning healthy snack around 10am; eat lunch at noon; eat an afternoon snack around 3pm; and then eat dinner around 6 or 7pm.  Do you see how your metabolism will actually burn more?  If I eat at 7am it will burn high till around 9am.  And, then I'm eating a snack at 10am which will keep my metabolism burning until I eat lunch at noon.  My lunch will keep it burning until around 2pm and then I'm eating a snack at 3pm and so on and so forth.  Do you get the picture?

Now, this is not a license to go out and eat whatever you want.  Make sure you are making good food choices. This means you want nutrient dense foods:  the most food, with the most nutrients, for the least amount of calories.  Think whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean protein, and dairy.  And, if you do eat nuts make sure you measure them- it's very easy to eat several hundred calories worth without even realizing it.  I measure just about everything.  I think you would be surprised at how many servings you may be eating without realizing it. Be conscious of what you are putting in your mouth at all times.  NEVER eat from bags of food.  Always take out a measured serving and put it on a plate or in a bowl to eat.  We can start eating mindlessly and not even realize it until the whole bag of chips is gone!

What is a good breakfast?  Eggs or egg whites, lean protein, yogurt and granola (always measure- granola can add up in calories quickly).  You can do a whole egg plus an egg white omelet with veggies and lean protein and a sprinkle of cheese.  That will give your body a lot of fuel!

If you start eating right you will feel better and will have motivation to exercise more!!!  Nutrition and fitness go hand in hand!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Amazing Exercise That Works Your Whole Body!!

It's the:  push up!!!  I know many of you are cringing right now, and, I was right there with you at one time.  The thought of doing a push up was not appealing to me, but, it was because I couldn't do many of them.  I finally got over it when I realized the amazing amount of muscles it works in your body.  The primary muscles being worked are the muscles of the chest and triceps, but, because of the position that your body is in, nearly every muscle from your shoulders down to your toes gets a workout- if you are in proper position.  And, that includes your abdominals!!!  Tired of doing those abdominal crunches?  You will feel your abdominals when you do push ups.

I started 2012 doing 60 push ups a day.  I usually do them in 3 groups of twenty.  I have my whole family doing them!  If you have never done a push up before start on your knees if you need to.  Just make sure that your hands are not too far forward- you want them to be under your shoulders, but a little bit wider- not too wide, though.  Your body should look like a long plane- without your bottom sticking up in the air.  Your feet can either be touching or spread out some.  If your feel are spread a little it will give you some stability.  If you can't do 60- start with 20 and work your way up.  There has been some controversy as to whether or not you should do push ups everyday.  With weight training, we recommend every other day to give your muscles time to repair, but, because push ups are an exercise that you are not holding a weight in your hands, it is considered more of a calisthenic, which can be done daily, as long as your joints are not in severe pain.  Muscle pain is to be expected as your body works out, but, joint pain is not good.

So, let's challenge our bodies!!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Have a Challenge For You!!!!!!!!!!

Happy New Years to everyone!!!  The year 2012 is going to be a year for everyone to get fit and healthy- so, I have a challenge for you!  I know it can be overwhelming trying to get rid of all the bad stuff at once, so, I will give you a new challenge each month to eliminate from your diet.  I will also give you a fitness challenge each month.  Do you accept this challenge?  I hope so!!!

Your nutrition challenge this month (each item you eliminate is not just for the month, but to be carried on throughout the whole year and hopefully forever) is to get rid of everything with high fructose corn syrup.  I know you are probably thinking that I'm starting you out with a huge challenge, but, I am here to tell you it is possible.  Go through your pantry, cupboards, refrigerator and freezer and start reading the backs of those packages to see what you need to throw away.  There are so many substitutes available now that are free of hfcs, so if you need help trying to find an alternative to a favorite food, let me know and I can make some suggestions.

Your fitness challenge this month is to workout at least 20 minutes each day- 5 days a week.  We will start slow and build up.  You don't need to join a health club if you can't afford it- you can do it right at home!  Here's your first workout:  Do 1 minute of lunges, followed by 1 minute of squats, followed by 1 minute of jumping jacks, followed by 1 minute of push ups (on your knees if you need to- challenge yourself though), followed by 1 minute of abdominal crunches.  Repeat this circuit 3 more times for a total of 4 times through.  If you need a little more challenge hold dumbbells while you are doing the lunges and squats.  If you have been exercising already, do this circuit 5 times instead of four.  Or you can do jump squats instead of regular squats. You can always make a workout harder or easier.

So, who's in?  Let's make 2012 the year you took control of your nutrition and fitness!!