Archive for December, 2011

The time to make that New Year’s resolution to exercise more is here! Upping your fitness ante, however, can be one of the hardest resolutions to put into action. How can you make your New Year’s get-active goals stick? Here are four tips and tricks to make exercise a year-long commitment.
Instead of just resolving to “exercise more,” make mini-New Year’s resolutions that will keep you committed to regular exercise.
The problem: Taking care of yourself on a daily basis – if you don’t already maintain a fitness routine – can be challenging. From daycare to meetings or just catching up with friends, it can often feel like “you” don’t really fit into the equation of “your” day.
The solution: Start making yourself a priority. Let people around you know that you’re hoping to make a big fitness change in your life and ask them for their support. See if your friends can help you with a few day-to-day tasks — or even exercise with you. Get your husband to clean up the dishes so you can head off to the gym or outside for a walk. By sticking to your “I need me time” plan, you’ll be more likely to keep an exercise schedule.
The problem: You want to loseweight and tone your muscles, but haven’t set any concrete targets and you’re not sure how to go about achieving your fitness goals.
The solution: Studies show people who write things down – from what they eat to how they feel before, during and after exercise – are more likely to stick to a new healthy living plan. So, before you start any routine, go to your local bookstore and buy a journal to track your fitness goals (or keep one online). Include inspirational quotes in your fitness journal to inspire you to exercisewhenever you feel like taking a day off (or feel too lazy to get off the couch). Doing this will help you feel more organized and in control of your fitness future.
The problem: Your fitness goals are too lofty and could set you up for failure. For example, it’s January and you want to run a half-marathon by March or you’re hoping to lose 10 pounds in one month.
The solution: Talk to your doctor before starting any fitness regimen to help you set realistic fitness goals. Give us a call to schedule an appointment with a qualified personal trainer who can assist you in breaking your larger New Year’s resolutions into smaller more tangible fitnesstargets and tasks. This will keep you motivated and increase your odds of being successful. A medical or fitness professional can also help you plan for and overcome the inevitable hurdles that may hinder your workout schedule; for example, illness, injury, or family and work obligations.
The problem: You would rather go out with your friends for an after-a-bad-day-at-work drink than head to the gym.
The solution: Get your friends to hop on the fitness train with you. People are more likely to stick to a fitness regimen if they have someone to support them. Not only will you be able to motivate each other to stick to your long-term plan, you’ll also get to indulge in some quality bonding time.
These mini-New Year’s fitness resolutions will make your ultimate goal to exercise more this year an achievable reality.
Still not sure where to start, contact me asap!

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What’s in Your Pantry?

Does your kitchen pantry work with or against your healthy eating habits? By having a pantry stocked with healthy items, planning and cooking meals and preparing snacks will be easier, making eating wholesome food a breeze. Buy bags and containers that allow you to store food in serving-size portions. Stock up on snack, sandwich and quart-size storage bags, airtight containers, twist ties, and measuring cups of varying sizes.


Oatmeal is a must-have, but move away from the instant variety unless you can find a brand that has no added salt or sugar. Try Quaker Oats’ Old Fashioned Rolled Oats which takes no more than 5 minutes to cook. If oatmeal is not your thing, purchase a whole grain cereal with no added sugar. Shredded wheat is an option, but you can also try Kashi’s Cereal. Adding fresh fruit to oatmeal or cereal is the best way to get a kick of energy-boosting natural sugar. Leave a measuring cup equal to one serving in a box of your favorite cereal or oatmeal to control portions.


Store canned tomato products including whole, crushed, diced, or pureed tomatoes. Make your own salsa, pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce instead of buying them prepackaged, which are loaded with sodium. Another item to add to your pantry is low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock for homemade soup. By making your own soups and sauces, you’ll skip the added salt and preservatives, and gain a cleaner, fresher taste in exchange. Also, keep beans of different varieties including black, red kidney, and black eyed peas. If you go canned, be sure to get those with no salt added. You might also add lentils and lima beans into your legume experience. Add these to rice cooked in vegetable stock with a variety of vegetables for a hearty lunch. For a great source of protein, keep salmon and tuna pouches handy as well.


Kick the instant rice out of your cupboard and pick the boil-in-a-bag brown rice or quick-cooking barley instead. Some additional whole grains to have are quinoa and bulgur, both of which can be used instead of rice in most recipes. When cooking with oils, extra virgin olive oil and olive oil cooking spray are mainstays. Spray a pastry brush and coat a frying pan to grill vegetables or cook fish or chicken. Use the oil in salad dressings or toss with whole wheat pasta. You can also add canola oil to your pantry for cooking at higher temperatures as olive oil burns at a lower temperature. Fresh garlic is best stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container or storage bag. Jars of minced garlic and ground ginger are fine before opening in the pantry, but need to be refrigerated after opening. Regarding spices, check to make sure they are not expired. A good stash includes garlic and onion powder, cumin, turmeric, pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, sage, poultry seasoning, and chili powder.


You can keep nuts, seeds, and dried fruits around for eating in between meals, but keep the serving size in mind! Just a third of a cup of dried raisins is 143 calories and almost 38 grams of carbs. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are also high in calories and fat if overdone, so use small storage bags to divide them into single serve packets. Frozen fruits are also a great way to enjoy a sweet treat if the fresh variety is not available.

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When any workout or specific exercise causes you pain, pay attention. Knowing how to react can help you avoid a serious injury. Training can cause several types of pain including:

Muscle Soreness

When you use muscles you have not used for a while or try a new exercise or training technique, it is normal to feel a dull ache of soreness in the muscles that were trained. This pain is caused by very small tears in the fibers of the connective tissues in your body–the ligaments that connect bones to other bones, and the tendons that connect muscles to bones. Each time you work out with weights, you cause this “damage”–these tiny tears in your muscles; they need ample resting time to rebuild and become even stronger, bigger, and more firm.

Pain During or Just After a Workout

During a workout, repeated contractions cause lactic and other acids, as well as proteins and hormones, to build up in muscle tissue. This can cause pain even without injury. But if you experience a sharp, continuous pain, or pain accompanied by a burning sensation, stop lifting and get it checked.


These happen when muscles, often in the calves or feet, knot up in intense contractions. Cramps occur most commonly in endurance sports like cycling and running, where the athlete loses a lot of fluids through sweating. This is why it’s very important to stay well-hydrated during exercise. If you do get cramps, the best way to stop them is to gently stretch the cramped muscle.


When working out with weights you need to be in full control of both the weights and your own body as it lifts and uses the weights. Careless weightlifting can result in injury. Not warming up, attempting to lift too heavy a weight, using momentum or jerky movements, letting the weights drop, not using correct form, or forgetting to stretch or cool-down after your workout can indeed result in injury.

The following injuries can occur as a result of carelessness:

1.Tendonitis: This is inflammation of the tendon and can occur if you begin your first set with too heavy a weight and/or are not properly warmed-up. Rest is the best treatment for this painful injury.

2.Fascia injuries: Can occur if you suddenly jerk or pull the weight. Fascia is basically the packaging tissue of muscle. When fascia is torn, it becomes inflamed and the pain is severe. The injury should be treated with cold packs and wrapped with an ace bandage.

3.Ligament injuries: Can occur when people use momentum and jerk the weight to accomplish a lift. This injury is treated by using cold packs and rest.

4.Sprains or muscle tears: Are uncommon if you warm-up, stretch, and cool-down properly and implement the safety precautions and principles we teach.

Any time you do have inflammation or swelling, use the R.I.C.E method of reducing damage and speeding healing. For injuries, R.I.C.E. is nice.

1.Rest: When you are hurt, stop your workout immediately and take weight off the affected area.

2.Ice: Wrap ice in a towel and hold it against the injury for 10 to 20 minutes, three or four times a day until the acute injury diminishes.

3.Compress: Wrap the injured area in a snug, but not tight, elastic bandage.

4.Elevate: Raise the injured limb and rest it on a pillow to reduce swelling.

Strength training provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity. However, when enjoying this great form of exercise, be sure to pay attention to pain and soreness so that your program is not only effective, but safe as well.

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Cakes. Pies. Cookies. Fudge. Eggnog. Buffet tables filled with rich foods. It’s no wonder many people feel holiday weight gain is unavoidable. But experts say you can still enjoy the holidays without abandoning healthier habits.

 People generally gain about a pound during each holiday season, according to researchers from the National Institutes of Health. The problem is that this annual holiday weight gain tends to add up over the years and can eventually lead to obesity.

 So watch what you eat while keeping in mind that falling off the wagon once during the holidays doesn’t mean you should give up on healthy eating and maintaining your weight for the entire season.

 Keep in mind that a holiday is just a day, it’s not a holi-week, it’s not a holi-month. For one day, it’s okay. Just remember the following day is a new day, and it is back to healthy eating.

 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

  •  Tackle the buffet table with a plan. Always survey the buffet table first and then get in line with your plate and choose the things you really want, including healthy choices.
  • Have a snack before you go to a party. Most people, knowing they’re going somewhere, will not eat during the day, saving up their calories. That’s a nightmare waiting to happen because you’ll end up eating too much because you’re so hungry.
  • Bring a healthy dish with you. If you’re going to someone’s home for a potluck or buffet, bring a low-fat, low-calorie offering. Be the one who says, ‘I’ll bring a vegetable’ or ‘I’ll bring a salad’.
  • Engage in the leftover battle. If you’re at someone else’s house, don’t leave with leftovers. If you’re throwing the dinner party, send everyone home with leftovers.
  • Talk at parties, rather than eat. Use the time to catch up with friends and family, not just to eat food.
  • Keep up your normal exercise routine. You’ll be able to relieve holiday stress, burn excess calories, and avoid weight gain.

Remember, you can still enjoy holiday goodies — just use your head before you open your mouth.

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Unique Holiday Gift Ideas

Well, it’s that time of year again – the holiday shopping season has arrived. Have you thought about what you are going to give those people on your “hard to shop for” list? Instead of another tie for your dad or music CD for your sister, why don’t you give them a truly unique and invaluable gift? I’m talking about the gift of fitness.

The gift of fitness is something that you can give to just about everybody on your shopping list, from your parents, to your spouse, a friend, your siblings, an employee or co-worker, even your children. And it’s a gift that is invaluable to everyone.

And, it’s a gift that you can truly feel proud to give. When you give someone the gift of fitness, you are helping him open a door to better health (both physically and mentally). I can’t think of a more thoughtful gift that shows the recipient how much you care about their well-being. By giving the gift of fitness you are providing them with unlimited health benefits.

Of course, we all know that exercise can help people stay slim and fit. Daily physical activity reduces stress and can help you sleep better. Fitness has been linked to reducing the risk of some diseases and to warding off depression. Researchers also believe that strength training can help prevent osteoporosis. Not to mention that exercise also improves self-esteem, increases stamina and ultimately helps you be able to do continuous work for longer.

If the people on your list are like most of us, they’ve probably even mentioned how they want to drop a few pounds of just get in better shape. In fact, experts say that about 62% of Americans are currently on a diet. By giving the gift of fitness you are helping provide them with motivation (which is one of the biggest obstacles in getting fit). They may feel more motivated to actually get fit because they don’t want to feel guilty for ignoring such a thoughtful gift (this is especially true when you give an online personal training gift certificate, which is a great motivator).

While fitness gifts are incredibly valuable, they don’t have to be expensive. Gifts can cost as little as $5 or range into the $100s of dollars. Here are a few suggestions in the various price ranges:

Under $15:

• Resistance Band (also makes a great stocking stuffer)

• Dumbbells

• Jump Rope (also makes a great stocking stuffer)

• Exercise Mat

$15 – $35

• Fitness Ball

• Online Personal Training Program (custom designed for the gift recipient)

• Home Exercise Video (also makes a great stocking stuffer)

• Heart Rate Monitor

Over $35

• Full dumbbell set

• Treadmill

• Bicycle

• Yoga Kit

Giving something that supports health and wellness will be appreciated for years to come and may even turn someone’s life around. The gift of fitness will make the recipient feel special – they’ll know that someone cared enough to give them the opportunity to improve their health. So why spend another holiday season searching for the perfect gift only to end up with the same old things like gift certificates or socks or books? Surprise everyone this year and give the gift that comes from the heart and truly keeps on giving throughout the New Year and beyond. And don’t forget yourself – you deserve the gift of fitness too!

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With thousands of food choices out there and numerous name brands to choose from, how do we go about choosing the

right foods to provide proper nutrition? Here are some smart shopping solutions for navigating the supermarket and making the most of your grocery shopping experience.

1.    First and foremost, plan ahead. Write down or at least have an idea of the meals you plan to eat for the week. Keep in mind how much time you have for cooking and food prep. If you only have one or two days to cook, prepare meal options for the entire week and/or stock up on some healthy convenience foods.

2.    Organize the list to match the layout of your favorite grocery store. It is too easy to become tempted by the

Navigating the Supermarket

thousands of processed junk food items, strategically placed to tease you as you walk down aisle after aisle. To avoid this, only go down the aisles that contain items on your grocery list. I rarely venture down the cookie or chip aisle because even the low-fat or low-sugar varieties are not on par with my goal to lean out. Those items are still loaded with artificial fillers and preservatives. I like to compare food to gasoline for a car. Food may be food and gas may be gas, but there is such thing as “bad” gas. With “bad” gas your car will still run (we hope) but it will likely kick and sputter and could ruin your car in the long run. Poor food choices can do the same to our bodies, so choose clean, unprocessed foods.

3.   Learn to read labels. Manufacturers of food products are required to list all the ingredients of most products available to us. The first ingredient listed will usually be the largest amount of any of the other ingredients. The second item will be the second most abundant, and the last item will be the least amount of all the ingredients in that particular product. Try to avoid products that contain the following items when listed in the first few of the ingredients list. Large amounts of any of these ingredients will certainly stall any progress to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle. I personally try and avoid all products with any of these ingredients, with the exception of sodium, which if you train intensely, is necessary to replenish and can even help you grow.

        High fructose corn syrup

        Lard Shortening (any kind)

        Oil (any kind)


        Artificial ingredients (coloring, flavoring, etc.)

        Sodium (salt)




        Any ingredient that is partially hydrogenated

        Any other high fat or high sugar ingredients.

4.         Know what to shop for in each section of your supermarket.

a.     Produce – Since produce does not last very long, buy only the amount you will eat for a few days. Raw vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower are great snacks when boredom sets in and your feel like noshing. Also, freeze fruits like blueberries for when you need a quick little snack fix. However, try not to munch on fruits all day. Many are loaded with natural sugars and we want to control our glucose levels so that we do not experience spikes in blood sugar that lead to overeating and a sluggish metabolism. A small apple in the early afternoon can be a great pick me up, full of fiber, that will not derail your efforts.

b.     Meat, Fish, Poultry & Eggs – Stock up on sources of high quality protein. Choose the leanest cuts of red meat possible, such as top sirloin and top round. Boneless, skinless chicken and turkey breasts are excellent options. White meat fish, such as halibut and tilapia are certainly low calorie but high in protein. Also, do not forget the eggs. Avoid eating too many yolks, because they contain high fat and cholesterol. Instead, separate the yolk from the egg white, discarding the yolk, or use a fat free egg substitute. Eggs are one of the cheapest choices for a high quality protein.

c.      Milk, Cheese & Yogurt – It is certainly important to take in calcium each day; however, too many dairy products can really hinder body fat reduction. Many of today’s dairy products are so laden with hormones and antibiotics that they are no longer the “cleanest” choice. Many contain high amounts of saturated fat and are loaded with sugar. Look for varieties low in fat AND sugar, and limit your intake. Some manufacturers now make yogurt with as little as 3 grams of sugar, as opposed to the estimated 23 grams in most regular brands. Also, fat-free milk does not necessarily mean that it is a good choice. Check the sugar on these labels as well. It might surprise you to learn that one 8 oz. glass of fat-free milk has 12 grams of sugar. I have found one brand of fat-free milk with only 3 grams, so read the labels. I prefer to get my calcium by consuming leafy green vegetables and broccoli, as well as by taking a multi-vitamin. Just be sure not to skimp on getting your calcium for the day, especially if you weight train. Calcium helps build and maintain healthy bones beneath that fantastic muscle we work so hard to build.

d.     Frozen Foods – The frozen food aisle is a great place for convenience items. Although there is an abundance of frozen, pre-packaged meals, these are not the convenience items you should stock up on. Many of these convenience meals are loaded with artificial preservatives and tons of sodium. Remember the bad gas analogy? Sure, some items are low in fat and calories, but the way our bodies process these foods, is not the same as unprocessed, more natural foods. If the item had a laundry list of unidentifiable ingredients, chances are it should stay in the freezer. Instead, look for convenience items such as frozen vegetables, pre-chopped onions and peppers for cooking and even sugar-free/fat-free frozen popsicles.

e.  Bread, Cereal, Pasta & Rice – Despite past emphasis on low carb diets, eating “good” carbohydrates is an essential part of a healthy meal plan for both fat reduction and muscle gain. Choose unprocessed varieties of these foods, such as natural rolled oats, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and breads. Try and get an equal amount of carbohydrates from vegetable and grains each day. Carbs work in conjunction with protein to, in a sense; sweep the protein into the muscles. Avoiding bad carbs, such as white flour and sugar is smart, but avoiding good carbs will do little to promote lasting fat loss and will only hinder brain function.

f.       Legumes, Lentils & Nuts – There are quite a variety of lentils and legumes, both dry and canned. Pinto beans, kidney beans or black beans provide fiber, folate and protein. Nuts and all natural peanut butter, where the ingredients list just peanuts and salt (no added oil), contain monounsaturated fats (healthy fats), vitamin E, selenium and protein.

g.   Canned foods – Canned vegetables, provided that there are few preservatives added, including sodium, can be great convenience items to have on hand. They are very similar to the fresh options and sometimes contain more nutrients because their fresh counterparts tend to deteriorate quickly, losing nutrients.

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