Monday, September 5, 2011

V8 and Other Fruit or Veggie Drinks Tell Us to Sip Away But We Say Otherwise

Here, we’re all about getting the most out of anything we do. If we only have 20 minutes for a workout we are going to PUSH IT and wrench out from every second just as much sweat as we possibly can. If we’re going to refuel we’re going to do so with the right kind of carbs, whole grains, the good Omega fats, and make sure we pair it with protein.

When we sleep, we’re going to sleep hard; making it a priority because we KNOW just how vital it is for overall health and mental clarity and also that it will get us in our best possible shape. Here, we’re all about getting the most bang for your buck.

So, when it comes to fruits and veggies, here is where we stand: eat them…don’t drink them. Now, of course, if it’s a choice between guzzling some V8 and nothing at all, by all means go for the former. And of course the brand has been making a big marketing push to get you to do so, but if you’ve read up on some of our previous posts you probably can already guess our bottom line: why drink your calories?

Staying hydrated is essential and that means more than water; we’ve covered this plenty in the past and you need electrolytes as well. Today there is a myriad of calorie free or low calorie options available. Most fruit drinks, vegetable drinks, smoothies, and the like are not low calories. Many of them include a ton of excess sugar you don’t need either. 

The other thing about drinks is that they don’t register on the ‘fullness’ scale like actual food does. Drinks might fill you up for about as long as it takes for them to work their way through you, but when you hit the restroom you’re left just as hungry. In countless studies, people who drink their calories tend to eat just as many calories in food as they would have without the drinks.

That means those drink calories are just ‘extra’ calories that add up to poundage on your body later. Why drink the equivalent of a serving or two of fruits and veggies when you could eat them and get even more benefits.

Take the apple. If you ate an apple as a snack I’m sure you’d feel full and it would tide you over until your next meal. If instead you drank one serving of fruit juice, a measly 8 ounces, you wouldn’t feel full and then would likely reach for something else to fill you up. Sure that slogan may tout that “Fruits and vegetables fill you up without filling you out,” but it doesn’t exactly work that way when you’re ingesting them in liquid form.
Fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories, use that to your advantage. If we think of them in terms of volume, noshing away on these healthy foods is a great way to fill yourself up without ingesting a ton of calories. 

So why ‘waste’ those calories in replacement drinks when you can actually eat them…use those fruits and veggies to your advantage! :)

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer's Over...Here's How to Make the Return to Reality a Little Easier

Did you hear that, the ending of summer? That alarm buzzing at you can feel like a fast, hard sucker punch to the face, so if you’re stuck hitting the snooze button once, twice, three time’s a charm, we have some tips that will help you get back on track, fit, and healthy as you return to that regular routine.

Hopefully you were able to get out and make the most of your summer while it was in full swing, go on a relaxing vacation, a fun getaway, or at least enjoy some time off from work. Cherish those times but of course they can make going back to whatever is waiting a little less appealing. Getting back to your regular eating and workout routine can sometimes be tough too; well, we helped you with ways to stay fit while out vacationing and luckily some of those things can carry over here as well.

*Get Organized: Once you’re all unpacked and home start doing all the things around the house as you normally would. Get right back to cooking up those healthy meals, hitting the gym at your regular hours, the sooner you start the easier it will be and there’s no time like the present. If you’ve got a few days left before going back to the office take the time to get a jumpstart to getting back on track.

*Get Prepared: The night before you have to report in, make getting up as easy as possible. Working out first thing in the morning is ideal; you get it done, it will give you plenty of energy and make you more productive at work, and you won’t have any excuses that come up later. Lay out your clothes, have your bag packed and ready to go, even go so far as to have a quick and handy breakfast pre-packed and ready for you after. That way you can be up and out the door in a dash!

*Get Packing: Remember how we said it’s smart to pack snacks and lunches while on vaca? Well, the same rule apply here. You don’t want to wait until you’re overly famished at work or on the go that makes you dive at the first edible thing you see. Instead, take time the night before to put some carrots or almonds in a baggie, make a healthy turkey sandwich, and don’t forget to stay hydrated with water or electrolyte water!

*Get to Bed: Skimping on zzzz’s is one of the worst things that the majority of people are guilty of. Not only for fitness’ sake but overall health; fitness wise though it stagnates muscle repair and growth and will leave you feeling drained. It also isn’t doing your mental clarity any favors. It might seem like you just ‘can’t’ put that file away and it’s easy to get sucked into distractions, but you need go to bed. Set an alarm that reminds you it’s time to power down and tuck in.

*Get Realistic: Accept that yes, it might be rough those first couple of days, you might have to force yourself to get up and get that sweat session in, but once you get over the hump you’ll slip right back to your healthy habits of before. Soon enough that alarm won’t feel as early, the workday not as grueling, and the healthier fare food ever more appealing!

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kids Aren't Getting Active, Americans Putting on Weight - Do I Need Studies to Tell Me This?!

In scanning some recent health and fitness news releases, I find a headline that informs me that a ‘new study’ proves many children are not getting enough exercise. Ummm, duh? Do we really need another study to state the obvious? And are people still funding these studies instead of actually taking proactive measures to get these kids moving?
This particular study came by way of the YMCA, tracked kids from 5-10 from over 1,600 American families. The results were that 58% of these youngsters were not getting outside to play for at least four days a week. The reason for this was cited that the parents kept the kids inside to spend time at the computer or with the TV instead.
“Among the factors you could blame are technology, time and money,” explains the YMCA’s US Director of Chronic Disease Prevention, Dr. Matt Longjohn. “There are many small things that make it very difficult for families to get an hour of physical activity a day.”
That sounds very familiar to the same kind of excuses adults are using to shirk a sweat session. We’ve tackled, answered, and busted those excuses before and making fitness a priority goes for people of all ages. Sure, schools cutting programs makes it harder but that doesn’t mean you have to cut out any kind of exercise…there are 24 hours in a day.
Families can workout together or at least during the same time, and if you don’t have an hour then make that shorter workout more intense. Doing intervals will take you less time but you can get the same, sometimes better, results than a moderate effort lasting twice as long.
It also comes down to parents setting the example of fitness being fun and an important part of a healthy life. We can revisit our tribute to moms for that one and read a few of their pointers.
I’m amazed sometimes at what the ‘results’ from these studies are, and that they make it to headline status. Not long ago there was one that issued this late-breaking alert: Americans are putting on weight, latest study reports that it is most likely due to increased portion sizes.
Does that one even warrant a response? :)

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Surviving the Buffet Line -- Tips for Staying Sane While Eating on Vacation

In our summer vacation series we’ve covered how to still fit in those workouts while out traveling and we’ve also shared that it’s okay to sometimes take a break from regimented workouts, but it’s a good idea to still make that time an active rest. This time we’ll talk about the big F word. No, not that one: Food. 

Food on vacation, do images of colossal buffets come to mind? The BEST burgers and fries  that are the width of rulers? How about ice cream mountains swimming in hot fudge and caramel? Are you drooling on your computer, if so I’m sorry. Let’s face it, one of the biggest draws of many tourist destinations is the grub, the restaurant business loves it and heck, the people there dining are fans too. We live in a society where food is often a major focal point and usually when we are on vacation that is a prime opportunity to experience new foods from different areas and cultures.

This isn’t a bad thing and in fact some of the best memories from a vacation can be food related. Now, some people take that to the extreme and see their break as a no holds bar food-fest and take it to an unhealthy level. Savoring a slice of cheesecake is one thing, wolfing down half the cake and never really tasting much of it is another.

And let’s face it, plenty of summer destinations include sun, sand, surf, and swimsuits, you don’t want to completely wreck havoc on that bikini bod! Here are some tips for still allowing yourself to take full advantage and giving your palette a much deserved vacation while still staying reasonably sane and healthy.

*Take inventory. If you’re at a buffet, do a lap around the spread first before you start filling your plate. That way you can choose the items that you truly want instead of filling up on some so-so things before going back and seeing that you missed out on your favorite foods. 

*Weigh the options. Are you a big dessert person and think of the entrée as merely an obstacle to get through on your dive for the sweets? If so, that’s fine and there is certainly no reason to feel guilty on getting your dessert on. But, if you do plan on that maybe choose a lighter entrée and then indulge in that dessert sans guilt.

*Get menu savvy. Know what you’re ordering and if you don’t, then ask. How many times have you ordered something thinking it was one thing and wind up getting something totally different? Do you then grudgingly dig into something you don’t really like and regret it? Feel like you ‘wasted’ your bite…and potentially calories? Ask your waiter what something is if you need to and if you’re in a different country don’t feel too embarrassed if you have to have it explained a second time.

*Enjoy it, don’t turn into the wolfman. Make sure that whatever you’re eating you are actually liking the taste of. Savor those bites. If you’re not, why force yourself to finish it? If it’s a ‘meh’ experience maybe just take a pass and find something that really makes your taste buds sizzle. You don’t want to wind up feeling overly stuffed and then think back on how you didn’t even really like that shrimp scampi to begin with.

*Packing eats. When you’re out and on the go it’s easy to forget to eat something before you are at the point of being famished. Then it’s even easier to gobble down the first thing that’s remotely appealing and usually on the greasy side. So plan accordingly and pack some snacks or even a lunch or two to enjoy between kayak lessons or site seeing. Not only will you save a little money but you’ll be doing your hungry belly a favor too.

*Ditch the ‘guilt’ hitch-hiker. Finally, give yourself the liberty to cut loose on the whole diet thing. If you’re in some far off country how many times will you get a chance to eat that certain something, maybe never. Don’t pass up on the experience solely because you’re sticking to a diet; in all honesty it takes a whole 3,500 calories to gain a single pound of actual fat. Worst case scenario, you come back a little heavier; that’s okay you can always ‘undo’ that by working out a little harder upon your return!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Starbucks Survival Guide- Your Drink of Choice's Dirty Little Calorie Counts

If you’re like most people, your day doesn’t actually start until you’ve had your coffee, or at least you’re not ready to face the world yet. Coffee has become more than a beverage in our fine Nation, it’s almost the lifeline that keeps us going…I worry should Starbucks come up with a way to IV it straight into us. 

Ahhh, Starbucks, it only took me two sentences to get to it. Starbucks and coffee, yes there are competing chains out there and people are almost scarily loyal to them, but let’s face it Starbucks is heckbent on taking over the World. They have that corner in the grocery store, another one in the bookstore, AND of course the regular old chain all in the same shopping center.

Now coffee, if you sip it straight black has between 0 and 5 calories per cup. Not bad you say, let’s guzzle it down like water. But hold up, who drinks it straight black? I’m sure if you stepped to the counter and asked for that you’d be greeted with one fine about face by the barista. Sure you could add a couple of Splendas and only be raising the caloric stats by 5 per pack, but for the most part a typical Starbucks order takes a minute to rattle off. 

You might be shocked though to learn that if you order a Venti Caffé Vanilla Frap Blended Coffee as is you could be chugging down 580 calories! That’s before you even actually eat anything for the day! Mindless sipping can lead to major weight gain and the thing about drink calories is that they don’t register the same way as actual food ones. They count in the sense that the body will store them as fat if they aren’t burned off, but they don’t make you feel full like food would. That means you’ll be just as hungry come lunchtime.
Here’s a quick Starbucks Survival Guide to fuel your day but not your waistline:

*Don’t Overload the Extra’s: Read that as the heavy whip, the creamers, full fat milk, and the like. Of course you don’t have to have your coffee bland, but be selective and also go for the lower-fat versions.

*Sprinkle Me This, Straw Me That: Yes, chocolate rocks, not going to lie, but those cutie sprinkles and swirls on top don’t get a free pass on the calorie counts. Darn, same goes for caramel sauce and cookie straws.

*Seasonal Beverages: These come and go and with seasonal drinks Starbucks isn’t necessarily forced to post up the nutrition stats (they’re even cagey with full disclosure on the regular menu), but the same rules apply with everything else. Look at what is in it and use your calorie know-how. Case in point, a Venti Mocha Coconut Frap has 550 cals and 18 grams of fat. Even a Tall Frap version still with the whip and nonfat milk will set you back 9 grams of fat and 300 cals.

*Tea It Baby: Tea is also 5 calories or below per cup if you don’t add anything to it, and certain ones will still offer you the caffeine kick. Just something to think about, but also remember to keep in mind the calories of anything you add to it, not all tea drinks are created equal.

*Size Matters: This should be a no-brainer, but keep in mind that a single serving of any liquid is a cup, 8 ounces. Starbucks size-wise that means a Grande is actually two cups, with 16 ounces, so look at the ounces and do the math when you order.

Quickie Skyhigh Stats:

  • White Chocolate Mocha (Venti/whole milk/whipped cream)– 620 cals 27 grams of fat
  •  Double Choc Chip Frap (Grande/whipped cream)—640 cals 22 grams of fat
  • Caffe Mocha (Venti/whole milk/whipped cream)--450 cals 22 grams of fat
  • Cinnamon Dolce Latte (Grande/whole milk/whipped cream)—370 cals and 17 grams of fat
  • Tazo Green Tea Frap Blended Crème (Grande/whipped cream)—490 cals 14 grams of fat – proof teas can be dangerous too

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Day The World Was Taken Over by 100 Calorie Snacks - Are They Worth it?

So are all those 100 calorie snacks inundating the supermarkets worth it? Well, yes and no. Yes because it is a nice way to enjoy some of your favorite foods in a small, portioned control version…and let’s face it staying on track with a tiny pouch of Milanos is way easier than cracking open the full sized version!

These small servings can also act as a startling wake-up call: “THIS is what a single serving looks like, are you joking me?!” The bad news is that many of these snacks are 1) super expensive and 2) are able to be devoured in about two bites.

The idea behind the 100 calorie craze is a sound theory, but typically the varieties are of chips, cookies, sweets, and other high calorie treats shrunk down to Munchin size. So that means that they will give you a nice taste of the foods but they probably won’t fill you up all that much. Cut to about three or four empty snack pouches littering your desk.

The other drawback is that often times faux foods, or ones that are the fat-free or sugar-free replacements, can cause you to eat more of them, both mentally and biologically. Mentally you can sometimes justify eating more because they are ‘fat-free’ but that doesn’t mean they are calorie-free or that because they are a few grams of fat less you can wolf them down by the truckload. Chemically these foods are also broken down differently by the body and can cause some whacky brain signals to be sent to your from your stomach; you might not be registering fullness or satiety the same.

Finally, prices…let’s be realistic and admit that most of us are on a budget. Portion control is really what these 100 calorie things come down to and if you want to do the same (actually this is a great technique to keep you on the right track regardless) just bust out some plastic baggies and get to measuring. Check the nutritional stats of whatever food it is you want to eat and measure out a calorie specific amount. You just made what Nabisco or Doritos wanted to sell you in a slicked out version for the cost of a Ziplock. :)

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Tips for Fitting in Those Workouts During Vacation

Not everyone ditches the gym when it’s vacation time, myself included. Though, it can be tricky sometimes making sure that your own workout agenda doesn’t get in the way of plans or leave the other members of your party grumbling. In following up to our last post on fitness during vacations, here are ways to make sure your exercise routine gets done without cramping anyone’s style.

*Up already? Yes, sleeping in is one great luxury many people look forward to when they have a break from the usual everyday commitments, but if you’re dedicated to your workout one of the best times to get your sweat session in is first thing in the morning. Not only will this ensure that you actually DO get it done (that run doesn’t seem so appealing after a full day of tacos and mimosas does it?) but it also means your fitness routine doesn’t affect anyone else…chances are they’re still sleeping.

*Band together. You know that saying about strength in numbers, well the same applies here. If you’re on vacation with another fitness fanatic, that makes staying dedicated to your sweat session will be easier. Not only do you not have to worry about explaining to people who ‘don’t get it’ and question why you’d want to workout, but having another like minded person around also helps each of you stay committed if exercise motivation ever starts to wane.

*Scope it out beforehand. Do a little research before you take off, find out if the hotel you’re staying at has a fitness facility on site. If not, then do a little Google search and look for the nearest gym for you to use. If you’re planning on running outside, look at the surrounding areas and find a good, safe route for you to hit up or maybe even some trails.

*Be practical. Be realistic with yourself and what your schedule allows. If you’ve got less time than allows for your ‘usual’ routine that’s okay and squeeze in as much as you can. Combine cardio and strength elements into your workout and make the most out of every minute…that means intervals and intensity are you friend.

*Bring on the buffets. Let’s be honest, lots of vacations include awesome food and who wants to miss out on that?! What better way to deter too much bulge from calorie onslaught than by working out? This tip is more like an incentive to get up when that alarm goes off and hit the gym. :)

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Means Vacations But Does it Mean Ditching the Workout?

So hopefully you are able to get away and do something fun this summer, but just because you’re out on vacation, doesn’t mean you have to chuck excise out the window. Now, some people do allow themselves to take a break from regimented workouts during their vacations and taking a break every so often is not going to kill you. Actually taking rest periods are actually healthy and give your body a chance to fully recover.

Though, even during those rest days or weeks you can still make them active rest days. What’s that? Well it just means that you’re not a complete slug and the only time you move is to go for round two or three at the buffet line. Hehe. Joking aside, integrating activity into your vacations isn't only to keep you moving but they also make things much more fun…who wants to stay couped up in a hotel room watching TV anyways?

* Take a tour of the area. If you’re visiting somewhere new, then get out and walk around, sometimes it’s fun to just explore and try and get lost. You can find some of the best local shops, restaurants, and sights that way. You can always take a map with you or do a little Google research before you set out too.

* Pedal, paddle, climb. Rent some bikes, climb a mountain, take to the surf…these are all fun vacation type actives and all of them are workouts as well. Working out is fun after all, but even if you’re not pedaling around like a beast on that bike you’re still moving about and putting that body and those muscles to good use.

* Learn something new. This ties into the last one, but it’s always a fun challenge to try something new. Push yourself, test your limits…sure you may not wind up being very good at surfing, kayaking, or rock climbing but that’s okay. In fact doing something you aren’t good at, or maybe have never tried, is a wonderful way to find a new passion and ALSO will work muscles you probably haven’t worked that way before.

* Bond, Baby. No reference to James on that one, but doing something active with whoever else you’re on vacation with gives you the perfect chance to connect. Whether it be with the family or as a couple you’ll certainly create lasting memories. Insert cheesy Hallmark quote and smile here. :)

BUT the thought of still exercising on your vacations is not to be dismissed and is completely possible. Check back for part II of our series for staying fit tips while on vaca!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sweat and the City - Chuck Self-consciousness and Get the MOST out of Your Sweat Sessions

If you're leaving that treadmill a drippy mess then you're doing something right. Working out for results can be gross, should be sweaty, and can get downright stanky. Oh the price of looking amazing! ;)

Yes it can be a little embarrassing being that you probably aren't looking your best blasting out an intense interval session, and I myself have been in the spot of the quick sprint back to the locker room in as much haste as I was running on the treadmill. But you know now, who cares?

I have heard people say, "Oh, I can't go that hard because I'm going to get all sweaty." Are you serious? Isn't that the point? The treadmill belt is not a runway, the stairclimber is not the stairwell to Hef's Mansion. When you're going to get your workout on work it out. Amanda has challenged those partaking in her kick-your-butt bootcamps to go sans make-up on Monday (scary I'm sure for plenty!) and I'm challenging you to get as sweaty, drippy, stanky, and one hot messy as possible in your workouts.

Just think of it like the worse you look during your sweat session the hotter you're going to look for the other 23 hours of the day...I promise. Need some inspiration to get you started? Here's an interval cardio routine:

*5 minute warm-up on the cardio machine of your choice (I like the treadmill or elliptical!)
*1 minute power interval- kick up the speed or resistance and go HARD for this minute, get that heart rate up there
*1 minute recovery- keep moving but lower the speed/resistance and let yourself regroup
*2 minute power interval- go hard again but at a pace/workload that you're able to sustain a minute longer
*2 minute recovery
*1 minute power interval- push your limits here, you'll be feeling that burn
*1 minute recovery
*2 minute power interval
*2 minute recovery
*3 minute endurance push- this time you'll be going hard the whole time but do it so that you get a little faster each minute; pick up the pace or increase the resistance so that by that last minute you are nearing a max effort...get that piece of equipment nice and sweaty!
*finish with a cool-down

Don't think about looking a hot mess, join me and chuck self-consciousness out the window. If you've got time maybe squeeze in a quick core session and work on those abs of steel. :)

If you're looking for another awesome interval workout to try, read HERE one Amanda just posted up that's perfect to get you over the post-break-up blues.

1) Do you feel self-conscious sometimes at the gym or while you're really working out hard?
I used to, especially because I SWEAR I must have overactive sweat glands, but I don't let it get in my way from putting my all into my workouts. That's what showers are for!
2) How are you staying cool in the summer heat?
I make sure to stay hydrated and opt for moisture wicking gym wear. You won't find me donning a cotton tee that by the end of the run will weight about 20 pounds! ;)

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We're Back and With Some Fair Food Shockers!

Well hello again! First off, sorry for being MIA for so long!! Blogger decided that it would spontaneously eat our blog and then not give it back. Thankfully it was recovered but there were some other niggles to work out. Regardless, we are back up and running and extend our apologies.

Moving on to new material, have you all heard about the latest fair food find? If you haven't it's fried Kool-aid. Yes, you heard that right. Is there nothing that Americans won't try and fry? If you're putting down the fried Twinkie and already grabbing your coat to jump on this latest concoction than feel free to disregard the rest of this post.

Summer is here, hopefully the weather is nicer where you are, and that means there are plenty of outside actives and events going on. Fairs are one of them, and while I'm always up for a good concert, checking out some blue ribbon winners and if the rides look relatively safe to ride I'll catch a turn on the Tilt-a-whirl. But what can be scarier than the seedy character operating those rides is what's lurking behind those concession stands.

Now, of course there are times when even the healthiest of folks deserve to indulge in some not so 'healthy' treats. I mean we ARE human and everything in moderation. Also, if you are active you have a little more freedom to cut yourself some slack when it comes to food. But knowledge is power after all and while Im sure you wouldn't' guess that funnel cake is a low-cal option, you may be surprised that even the seemingly 'okay' foods are not so diet friendly. Here are a few shockers that even Bozo might not smile about:

* Funnel Cake (8.3 oz)- 760 cals/44 g fat
* Fried Twinkie (2 oz)- 420 cals/34 g fat
* Fried Dough (6 oz)- 720 cals/39 g fat
* Onion Rings (3 rings)- 309 cals/13 g fat
* Soft Pretzel (1 pretzel)- 340 cals/2 g fat
* Caramel Apple (7 oz apple)- 298 cals/9 g fat
* Chocolate Frozen Banana (4.9 oz)- 240 cals/5 g fat
* Regular Corn Dog (4 oz)9 250 cals/14 g fat
* Jumbo Corn Dog (6 oz)- 375 cals/21 g fat
* Cotton candy (1.5 oz)- 171 cals/0 g fat
* Small Frozen Yogurt w/ Sugar Cone (10 oz)- 340 cals/1.5 g fat
* Smoked Turkey Legs (19 oz)- 1,136 cals/54 g fat
* Snow Cone (3 oz)- 270 cals/0 g fat
* Fried Onion Flower (1 onion)- 1,320 cals/72 g fat
* Fried Oreo (1)- 98 cals/5.8 g fat
* Foot Long Hot Dog- 470 cals/52 g fat
* Kettle Corn (7 cups)- 490 cals/12 g fat

Okay, just doing some comparisons I think more than a few would be surprised to find that if you went with a small corn dog instead of a soft pretzel you'd come in with 90 calories less. Also note that a caramel apple has about the same number of calories as the fried onion rings. Think a little sugar and ice in the form of a snow cone is a safe bet? Yes there may not be any fat in there but it's got 270 calories of pure sugar. I don't think I'm even going to have to address the fried onion flower or the smoked turkey legs. If you eat those then you're on your own.

So if you're hitting up the fair, you might want to either pack yourself a little snack or do a little reading up on the stats of your favorite fair foods. That said, if you do plan to chance it on that Tilt-a-whirl make sure to save any noshing for after!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer's Top Picks for Healthy Foods

It's getting HOT, Baby, and what does that mean? Well, it means that you should get out there and soak up some Vitamin D during your workouts! Just another reason to get out and get active, and for those who suffer from a motivational lag during the winter you can come out of hibernation! (One more excuse you can't use...hehe!)

Well, the summer is also great because a TON of healthy foods are made all the more appealing. Fresh fruits and veggies can take center stage. How delicious does a cool watermelon or vine ripe tomato sound for a picnic, at the beach, or at the BBQ? These healthy foods fill you up and are also packed with immune boosting antioxidants and other nutrients that are good for you in many ways more than just your waistline. Here are some top picks and why you need to sink your teeth into them:

*tomatoes: these guys have beta carotene, lycopene, and vitamin C. They are perfect in salads and a base for soups.

*sweet bell peppers: getting it on with peppers is going to give you fiber along with vitamins A, C, and B6. Go spicy and you could help lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels too. You can add peppers to a variety of dishes but you can eat them from off the grill too!

*squash: these have vitamins A, B, C as well as magnesium. There are tons of different varieties but all of them are low in calories and can be used i salads, grilled, kabobed, or baked into breads. I've also known people who use spaghetti squash as a great gluten free alternative to the 'real' stuff and with far fewer calories too.

*berries: these are antioxidant powerhouses and you'll also get a shot of vitamin C and fiber. They are perfect on the go snacks, add them to yogurt (and get your fix of calcium too), or toss them into a fruit salad.

*watermelon: they've got lots of antioxidants, like your berries, as well as vitamins A, B6, and C, but because they are 90% water their calorie counts are very low. That high level of water will not only fill you up but keep you hydrated too, just watch out for those seeds. :)


are one way to go. Blend these babies up and they make for a great post-workout refuel.

*Go fresh or local. Try to help support your local growers and opt for a local provider. If you can check out a farmer's market.

*Grilling is great! Many of these foods are flavorful enough and you don't have to add a ton of stuff that might not be all that friendly to your waistline.

*Toss It Out: All of these foods are great additions to salads, but be careful of what else you add in there because you can easily turn a healthy salad into a caloric bombshell. Getting too heavy with dressings, nuts, and high amounts of sugar are things to beware of.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Come get into Prime Shape with ME this Summer

Hi Guys,

I have an opportunity to help get you into the BEST shape of your life right in time for summer!
For the First time ever, I have decided to host an outdoor AR Program Bootcamp in NYC. 5 Weeks of explosive energy, and memorable moments - leaving with more than just a tighter derrier you WILL learn new ways to workout and meet other like-minded ladies.

The AR Program Bootcamp June!

Winter is over, and now it's time to leave the layers behind and start sizzling for summer! Email me today if you’re interested in getting in on the action in JUNE. There are 10 spots left and I’d love to have you!

Get Tight, Toned, and SEXY for SUMMMMEERRR!!! You know I can help you… LET"S DO IT!!
Bootcamp the AR Way

Here are the details:

Here are the details:

When: Tuesdays at 6:15-7:15PM

This program is only offered for 5 weeks beginning this June!

Where: NYC: Pier 46 on The West Side Highway at Charles Street – Astro Turf Field

Why: Slim Down, Tone Up and Have Fun!

What: Think Running, Jumping Jacks, Sit-ups, Push-ups, Sprinting… Everything that’s going to get you the body you deserve!

Cost: The total 5 week package is only $125, which is a total of 5 classes (one/week) including bi-weekly motivational emails and surprise free products!

For more info – AR Program Bootcamp

To pay shoot Randi an email at: or


Amanda Russell

Health and Fitness Professional

Founder of Amanda Russell Workouts, LLC

Top Five Fitness Pet Peeves - A Monday Rant

Today's post is going to be a little bit of a fitness rant. Maybe I've seen one too many Easy-Tone commercials, maybe it was the addition of the clothing line that put me over the top, who knows. For whatever reason, today's post is going to be my top five workout and fitness pet peeves:

5) The Fat Burning Zone Workout on Cardio Machines. Okay, every time I see that option number in the menu on cardio machines, I can't help but laugh. Or sometimes it's depicted on a little heart rate zone chart, that little green block colored in below the 'Cardio Training Zone.' You'll note the heart rate numbers are pretty low, and if you actually press that workout option the effort is usually about a brisk walk. I don't like it because if someone new to working out were to just jump on the treadmill, it would be a fair assumption that picking this workout option would be their 'best bet' to losing weight, I don't fault them for falling victim to this one. There is a basis behind naming this low intensity zone for 'fat burning' but it's outdated and if you really want to get results and lose weight you need to UP the intensity and be working out in a higher heart rate zone. 'Nuff said.

4) Everyone and Their Uncle's Fat Loss Pills. It seems every single day I see a new reality show 'star' or other kind of celebrity endorsing their own 'unique' blend of ingredients all slammed into one pill that is the SURE FIRE way to get you to finally lose weight and being a champ. I think the latest is Ronnie from Jersey Shore and now of course in order to keep up with his Biggest Loser pal, Jillian, the other trainer has his. I apologize for not having the names on the top of my head because I don't really watch the show, but you catch my drift.

3) Those 'I don't workout and just eat whatever' People. I DO however confess to reading tabloid sleaze, but c'mon they are sitting their at every check-out aisle and if the lady in front of me is taking forever can you blame me for taking a look-see? You see tons of celebs, always super skinny and with amazing bodies, claiming, "I'm just genetically blessed, I NEVER workout and I just ate a whole pizza for lunch!" Okay, I don't know if they just think it's 'cool' to claim they never have to bust a sweat, but I disagree because exercise isn't something that is bad...too many great benefits. Now I do know there are people who are naturally slim, but I'm going to go out on a limb and call many of these folks out. I doubt they never workout.

2) Easy Tone My Butt. Okay, I opened the post with this one, and now more and more shoe brands have their version. The spokesperson ALWAYS says how they ditch the gym and now their lives are infinitely better because of these shoes. FALSE. A shoe change isn't going to give you a get out of workout free pass. If you want to wear them WHILE you're working out maybe they can give you some benefits, or in addition to your workouts, but a shoe isn't going to run a couple of miles for you, sorry Kim K.

1) Easy Tone Clothes. This one piggy-backs the last one and it only beats it out because this claim is even more ridiculous. You're telling me that a shirt is going to give me the same results as a real workout? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Well, that's it for today's little fitness rant, and I encourage you all to air your own pet peeves if you'd like! Happy Monday and now go get your workout on! :)

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Your Gym's Germy Little Secret!


We all know that working out and staying fit is the best thing for our health, but the scary fact is that the gym is one of the most germ-riddled places around. Between all the sweat, close quarters, and general activities that take place there, one of the easiest places to get sick or pick up an infection could be during your workout.

Okay, now don’t take that as an excuse to pass up on the gym sessions…that’s hardly the case! What it does mean though, is that you need to be aware of the germ-fest that is around you and take precautions. Now, I’ve worked in a gym, and while it was a really nice one and we did our very best to keep it as clean as possible, there is just no way to stay on top of everything. There are also some things that I’ve seen people do that made me want to dive into a pool of Purell! we can’t control the sanitary or hygiene habits of those around us, but we can still take care of ourselves:

Wipe It Baby! I’m sure you’ve seen those sanitary wipe dispensers around your gym. They should be in all of them, if not the actual dispensers at least some paper towels and spray. Make friends with them. Wipe down benches before you use them and the same goes for the cardio equipment. It’s a kind of courtesy protocol to wipe these things down after your workout and you've gotten them all nice and sweaty, but not everyone does that. So before you use, wipe it, Baby!

My Face Goes Where? Think of the places that come into close proximity to your face: the benches, certain weight machines, but namely workout mats. In yoga classes there are plenty of stretches that have you laying face down on these mats, these mats are used by SO many people; they get flipped upside down, turned around, and by the time you get there your face could be on the side that was previously on the floor, or getting the rear view of another gym member. Again, grab a wipe and make sure to disinfect before you stretch.

Flip-Flops Required. In the locker room, if you plan on taking a shower, be sure to bring a pair of shower safe shoes. One of the easiest places to get a fungal or staph infection is by walking around barefoot. That also goes if you’re going into a sauna (a breeding ground for bacteria thanks to the hot and humid conditions), a steam room, or even just walking to the pool. Avoid being barefoot anywhere.

Have Waterbottle Will Travel! Waterfountains are also notorious for being germy, and this goes for all of them. Bring a reusable waterbottle for yourself and sip away. Of course it’s far better to stay hydrated especially when you’re working out and if it’s between a waterfountain and passing out, by all means guzzle away! But if you can, stuff that gym bag with your own bottle.

Don’t Touch! Even with the most wipe-friendly attitude you still can’t avoid touching everything with germs…this is also just a fact of life, we can’t and don’t want to be living in bubbles! So don’t be afraid of grabbing that dumbbell and going about your routine, but also try not to touch your mouth, nose or eyes without thoroughly washing your hands first.

Alright, that should give you some tips on keeping your immune system healthy while sweating through your workout! The intention of this post wasn’t to scare your into becoming a complete germ-a-phobe, but rather to just make you more aware. Have a great one and have you gotten your workout in yet?

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Awesome Dessert Pie Sans the Super-sized Calories

chocolate-mouse-pieHappy Monday, guys and this one goes out to all those who LOVE dessert but are not all too keen on all the calories that may come with it! This ultra low-calorie dessert has been featured before, but we wanted to bring it up again because 1) it tastes AWESOME (not funky like you sometimes get with low-cal options) 2) it is seriously super easy to make and fast 3) it can be made with so many twists and tweaks...if you want even more chocolate, pumpkin style, and even with mix-ins like cookies. Finally, we also wanted to do this because we're introducing a fun new gadget to the blog and soon to be the site. This widget is called the ShopGlider and anytime we put up a recipe you'll see below the little button with the message "Click to Add This Recipe to Your Recipe Book" which takes you to a place where you can choose to create an online recipe book. You do need to make an online account, but it's free, and again totally up to you. We thought it was a fun kind of idea and wanted to see what you guys thought. We also wanted to say that the ShopGlider isn't paying us or anything like that by trying to bring them visitors. It's really only something we wanted to share with you all that might make eating and making healthier dishes easier!

So, without further adieu, here's the skinny on this Ultra Low-Calorie Dessert Pie recipe:


  • 2 Pkgs Instant Fat Free/Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding
  • 2 Cups Skim Milk
  • 1 tub Light Cool Whip
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1 Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1 Combine milk, pudding mix, vanilla and half the tub of cool whip. Mix thoroughly
  • 1 Pour mixture into crust and top with remaining cool whip
  • 1 Optional: Add slices of banana or crushed Oreo cookies on top


  1. This is one of my absolute favorite desserts. I am usually very skeptical of light, low cal or fat free desserts, I usually think they either have a funny taste or simply are not satisfying. This dessert proved me wrong! In fact, it is so good that people often ask me for the recipe with no idea how easy and ‘light’ it is. This is one dessert I would have no doubt about serving at a party or bbq, I guarantee the compliments will flow!
  2. The best part is that there are so many variations that will totally change the dessert, so you never get bored!
  3. Variations:
  4. Make it a pumpkin mousse pie by adding half a can of pumpkin (can easily buy this at any grocery store), and sprinkle the top with cinnamon
  5. Use chocolate pudding instead and add a crushed up ‘skor’ chocolate bar to the mix
  6. Use cheesecake instant pudding mix to make it a cheesecake pie
Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 0 min Ready in: 5 min
Click to add this recipe to your Recipe Book
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dynamic FIT Mom Awards -- Vote for who you think is the top fitness inspiring Mommy!

Well, we'd like to thank you all for your submissions into the Dynamic FIT Mom's awards!! Each and every woman was a superstar in her own right, but we've had to narrow it down to the top five moms, and now it is up to all of YOU to decide who ranks supreme. Here's the profile of our top five contestants:

Debbie Napieralski: "Debbie is not just an inspiration to her family and friends but to the entire community!" Being the only female in a house with four guys (a husband and three boys) and trying to keep the chaos to a minimum is a tall order, but she manages like a champ. The Napieralskis are a family of runners (even the dog is named Pre!) and weekends are either spent at a road race or leading a Fleet Feet Training Group run. Debbie is a leader of one such pace group and takes this role to heart, cheering her runners through their workouts, encouraging them if they are struggling in a race, and all-the-while joining them every step of the way. "She has inspired me to achieve goals I've never thought possible, and I know the same is true for countless others. I NEVER thought I could be a runner, but I've already finished a 10 mile race and am gearing up for a half-marathon next!" When not running, Debbie keeps her fellow companions fueled up...running does burn up loads of calories after all. Manning aide stations at events (such as marathons and 50+ milers) and post-race expo's, the spread includes of course healthy fare but Debbie is famous for her signature sugar cookies where creativity always takes center stage. "One of the best parts of running a race with Debbie is getting to see what kind of cookies she brings for after! We've had ones shaped like cows for the Cow Pie Run, shamrocks, hearts, running shoes...and the toppings are just as delicious."

Clara Peterson: "Having a woman pass me in a race isn't something that usually happens to me, but I couldn't believe it when I saw that she was probably about nine months pregnant!" Watch out guys, better keep those egos in check cuz this hot mamma is smoking fast! Though, Clara is no stranger when it comes to beating the boys. She was one of the Nation's top ranked high school preps in cross-country and track, went on to continued success at Duke, and then to run professionally. She's won plenty of titles and represented the USA at the World XC Championships, but her greatest victory is being an incredible mother and wife. Now married (and her husband is no slouch either...Jeff is a top ranked triathlete and when not training himself works as a coach. We're talking about one SERIOUSLY fit family!) and with two kids, nothing has slowed her down. Clara just gave birth to her little girl and already this foursome has been bonding on hikes and at the track. "Those kids are going to be superstars in ANY sport they do!" Clearly living a healthy and active life suits this family as any one of them could double as a fitness model too. "Clara is an inspiration to moms and women everywhere." And I think it's safe to say an inspiration to men everywhere to step up their game as well, they better watch out because that woman beating them very well may be running for two!

Janet Freerks: "Janet is the best at ANYTHING she puts her mind to...whether it is on a project, on the field, and most recently while tackling mommy-hood!" Some people are just born competitors and such is the case with Janet, she made a name for herself as a top soccer and softball player and today still does her best to do something active each and every day. She had an amazing example of support set for her as her own parents never missed one of her games, and she plans to carry on that tradition with her own little boy. "I will never forget the day, when playing as one of the only girls in the club football championships, Janet made a block on a guy, took him down, but when she came up had clearly broken her nose...she ran inside, put on some bandages, and then finished the game! We did win though!" Dedication and determination is clearly evident, but don't get us wrong, this mommy certainly has a softer, nurturing side too. "Seeing her with Cooper, it just melts your heart." She and her fiancee already get the little guy in on the family fitness fun with walks, and when he's old enough they plan to inspire in him the same kind of passion for health, sports, and fitness that both of his parents have.

Jo Ann Hunt: "Some women have a few children, Jo Ann has hundreds!" Don't worry, she hasn't been THAT busy, instead, Jo Ann is like a mother to the countless high-schoolers that attend the annual running camp that she and her husband (who has coached for the vast majority of his nearly 85 years!) put on. But her tender heart and care extends well past the end of summer, as most of the other staffers are either camp alums or former athletes of the coach. "Jo Ann, and Jim, give all of themselves to those kids, you can see just how much they truly love it! Their enthusiasm and passion makes this camp what it is and why these kids keep coming back year after year, even after they've graduated. Once a camper always a camper!" Jo Ann has raised her own children and is now granted the joy of grandmotherhood, but she has also inspired and cultured an appreciation of heath and fitness to multiple generations.

Kellie Malamatenios: "Every time I leave one of Kellie's yoga classes I feel not only re-energized and refreshed, but also already looking forward to the next one!" Teaching yoga is just one of this mighty mom's many forte's, raising three boys has certainly kept her busy but she always makes time to be their team mom for football. Setting an example of fitness and health since the boys were young, Kellie has always made working out a priority and used to be a body-builder. Today, she still likes to incorporate her weight room exercises and "likes to mix old-school with new disciplines." Her latest obsession? Kettlebells! So in addition to her yoga instruction she balances out the more centering focused practice with the high-intensity, calorie blasting boot-camp type workouts. She also tackles mountain biking, "sitting next to Kellie out on a ride, she spurs me on to push myself harder. Anytime I feel like slacking off she inspires me give it my all." Kellie knows just how important it is to treat your body right and she takes that same attentiveness to her family. "Yes, boys will be boys and I'm sure they may cause her plenty of headaches at home, but out in public all you see are true gentlemen, which is a rarity today. She's certainly raised them right."

Alright, so it's all in your hands! Vote for your top pick in our poll over at the top right-hand side of the blog, just under our newsletter icon. The winner will be announced on Mother's Day, so be sure to tell your friends and get them to vote before then as well...the more voters the more fun, right?! Then be :)

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Make Like a Bunny and HOP to It!

Well, we couldn't let the Easter Bunny's big day go unnoticed, so in anticipation of tomorrow's egg hunts we're going to pay a little tribute to our main bouncing friend! (Tigger comes in as a close second, but sadly that guy doesn't boast of his own holiday.) Here's the low down on why YOU should be hopping to it:

It's All Plyometric, Baby! Plyometrics revolve around the basis of quick, all-out, intense bursts. Think things like box jumps, high jumps, long jumps, bounding, single leg hops, star jumps...they all tap into those fast twitch muscle fibers and get you feeling the burn FAST. That means you may not need to do many rep's, but do them right and you'll reap the rewards. Doing plyometrics a couple times a week, in non-sequential days, will build up muscle mass and leave you tight and toned. They also crank up that metabolism and leave you burning more calories all day long. Try THIS PLYOMETRIC workout.

Grab a Rope and Jump In! Can you criss-cross apple sauce? Taking a trip back to the schoolyard can pay off for your fitness routine too. Jumping rope is a great way to mix-up your cardio routine, and heck, a lot of fun too. There are lots of ways to play around with a rope and challenge yourself; alternate between standard rope jumping, bursts of chili-pepper fast step jumping, jumping on one leg, adding a high bunny-style jump ever few revolutions, traveling around while jumping, there are lots of things you can do. Also, for parents, this is a great way to get the kids involved and excited about working out...make it a game! Try THIS JUMPING ROPE workout!

Jumping 'n Climbing! Jumping and plyometrics can easily be integrated into stairs...both get you higher in elevation and both get you firing those fast twitch muscles. They are also both excellent at giving your butt a nice LIFT and granting you an enviable pair of legs. Try THIS STAIR JAMMER workout!

Jump to Better ABs! You read it right, use the plyometic method to rock a better core. Getting abs is tricky because the first hurdle is getting rid of any excess flab covering those muscles. So that means you need to be dedicated to your cardio as well as doing core work. For the time crunched, you can use a plyomtric move, the Burpee, and combine both cardio and ab work. That way you get your heart rate up, burning that fat, and then use ab exercises to tone up. Try THE BURPEE BELLY BLASTER workout!

Alright, so hopefully this gives you plenty of ideas and inspiration to start doing more jumping yourself...even if you don't believe in the Easter Bunny!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Dynamic Tribute FIT Women! -- And A Very Mommy Contest Too!!

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, (Yes sons, daughters, husbands, boyfriends, grandchildren, kiddies, and everyone else…if you haven’t started figuring out something special for that mother in your life, here is a friendly reminder! Hehe) and Amanda and Caitlin found it the perfect opportunity to show that it IS possible to not only be a mom but to be a FIT Mom. Make that a Fitness-Inspiring-Toned Mom! (See what we did there?)

In anticipation of Mother’s Day we’re going to be rolling out a special newsletter highlighting get-real tips for cramming in those workouts despite hectic schedules and a little chaos, bouncing back to Hottie Mommy status after baby, and sound advice from who else but other moms?! But we also want to make it clear that while being a Fitness-Inspiring-Toned Mom IS possible, it DOESN’T mean they can do it all themselves….they may be super but still human after all! So we want to include EVERYONE…man, woman, child, boyfriend, girlfriend, hubby, daughter, son, grandfather, fetus…you get the picture. So we’ll also include a tribute to the other people who help these moms rock their fabulously fit status and what they do to make things possible.

BUT…it gets even better! That’s right, we’re going to be inducting a few special ladies into the Dynamic FIT Moms Hall of Fame…so that means we need some candidates! We’re now asking you to submit who YOU think deserves to be in the running. Which fantastic mother do you know that is not only a living example of fitness and health but also inspires others to follow suit. Because one of the BEST ways to instill in our youth is through example, what better than for kids to grow up around an active and healthy-eating example?

HOW TO SUBMIT: Anyone can do it…it’s really easy, see…just so long as you have that special lady in mind! Email by May 1st to: your candidate, include a picture of your tight and toned mom, and then a short reason why SHE has embodied the FIT spirit. How does she make being fitness a priority and then of course get the rewards of being a Hottie Mommy too?! Hehe.

JUDGING: Once we get all of the candidates, deadline to submit is again May 1st, Amanda and Caitlin will narrow the finalists down to five. From there we will post the top five and then ask YOU to come back and vote for the winner. It’s in your hands…WHO will come out to be this year’s Queen of Dynamic FIT Moms? This top mommy will not only be showered with praise, but also win a case, yes, a whole case of her choice of Zico Fitness Water! Woot-Woot…so she can keep on sipping right for those kick-butt workouts. But, all five of our finalists will garner our unyielding respect and become the first wave of inductees into the Dynamic FIT Moms Hall of Fame…so get your submissions ready people!

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Your Weight Loss More Successful Part II: Sneaky Tips to Get More From Your Exercise Routine

Following up on Five Ways You May Be Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Part I: When it comes to what crosses those lips, for Part II of this series we tackle the other part of the equation: Exercise. Eating right and in moderation is one aspect of weight loss, but those who rely on diet alone are not only making things tougher on themselves BUT also jyping themselves out of plenty rewards.

We all know we should exercise, but not just for looking good...though that doesn't hurt either. Especially for those who are trying to lose weight, if all you do is cut calories you won't be building up any muscle mass. What that means is that at a certain point your body may end up losing muscles mass; that number on the scale may go down but your body fat percentage won't. You'll end up looking 'skinny fat' and that is neither hot nor healthy.

Plus, us fitness fans are just plain more fun to be around, right?! Haha...I jest, but working out does mean we can be a little less strict when it comes to what we eat and no one is much fun if they're hungry. ;) Still, there are ways that your exercise routine may be stalling...or sneaky things you can do to get the most out of your workouts:

Intensity: I'm going to keep this short and sweet because we talk about it so much here...but it is paramount. You have to be working hard. For the sake of this post we HAVE to include it and here are some tips: make friends with intervals, hills, ploymetrics, and bursts of giving it your all. These all burn more energy during the workout and elevates your metabolism hours afterwards in the after-burn effect.

No Rest For the Strong: Doing your weight and resistance training in a circuit method not only will save you time and allow you to do more exercises, but it will also keep your heart rate up. That means your metabolism will keep on trucking. Circuit training means that you do your exercises back to back (think of doing a set of bicep curls and then immediately going into tricep kick-backs, then back to your next set of curls, etc.) and continuously versus doing just one set of a bicep curls, resting, and then doing the second set.

Elevate It: If you're working out on the treadmill, play with the grade. You can do mock-hills on the treadmill, but even if you're not putting it up that high, keeping it above grade 0 will make you work harder and thus burn a few more calories. You can also do the same thing with the ellipticals that have both resistance and grade levels.

Avoid the Rails: This is if you're on a machine with side rails, like the stairclimber. We've all seen those people who hunch over and hang on the rails when they are tired. When you support yourself that way you aren't working the machine right and by taking off most of the load from your legs you're 'cheating.' Keep good form and you'll get much better results.

Double Up: When you're running, on the elliptical, or on the stairclimber, keep your core tight. Suck in those abs, stand up straight; that not only will make you more efficient at the machine and possibly go harder/longer but it will also keep that core strong and thus toned. If you're already doing your cardio, you might as well kill two birds and work that core to the max.

Stay Hydrated: This may sound kind of out of place, but if you're muscles are dehydrated they will be zapped of their full potential. It's been show that this is true both in cardio and weight training; dehydrated muscles wind up falling short when it comes to their strength and power. That means you won't be able to lift as much. Stay hydrated and you'll be able to workout harder, lift more, tone up better, and feel better while you're doing it too!

Try Something New: The body adapts to stressors and that means that after time the same routine won't yield you the results you want. As you get more efficient at something, over time you won't be burning the same amount of energy (ie: calories) and to combat this you want to shock that body and make it work. Every 4-6 weeks throw a challenge in there with something new or tweak your routine.

Okay, that will do it for our second part here. But I also want to point out that muscle weights more than fat. So that means that you shouldn't be gauging your 'success' solely by what the scale reads. If you've hit a plateau on the scale but your clothes are fitting better, you have proof that you've gotten leaner and have less body fat. That is healthier than just a number on a scale, and we shouldn't measure ourselves by only a number anyways. Being healthy and happy in ourselves does come from the inside out, and while yes, some of us do need to drop a few pounds to get there...remember that exercising and working out ALSO makes us happier mentally and parlays into so many other areas of our life. Thank you endorphins! Okay, off of my little soap box here...just wanted to point out that the scale shouldn't be your only gauge but rather how you're looking and feeling in your, I mean skin! :)

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Five Ways You May Be Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Part I: When it comes to what crosses those lips

Anyone currently trying to drop a few pounds, or maybe even more than a few, can attest that sometimes it is just plain tough. Whether it is a waning of motivation to stay committed to your workout routine, feeling downright enraged at having to forgo desserts when it seems the rest of the world is diving into rocky road euphoria, or you've been doing EVERYTHING 'right' but still the scale won't budge.

Losing weight can be tricky, don't get me wrong, BUT a lot of the time people are making it harder on themselves than it should be...and plenty of time they may not even know they are engaging in a little self-sabotage. Because there is MUCH to say on this topic and I don't want to try to cram it all into one epic post, this will instead be a series. This first one will be five mistakes people make when it comes to their eating habits.

1) Discounting Liquids: How many times do you see the woman complaining to her girlfriends about not being able to lose any weight...while sipping on a ginormous whipped-topped drink from Starbucks? People, if it aint water, straight black coffee, diet soda, or something else explicitly stating 0're guzzling away your weight loss goals. For those who don't count calories, (And I'm not proposing that everyone necessarily should; instead focus on eating healthy portion sizes and everything in moderation. I only cite calories because many do and in this example I'll use them to give you a frame of reference.) take a look at the stats of your favorite beverages. You may be shocked to discover that some drinks clock in over 800 calories; that drink alone could come out more than your actual meal. The problem with liquids is that they also don't fill you up the same way as food would. For instance, if you were to drink a glass of apple juice you'd still feel just as hungry afterward and then likely turn to some food. Rather, if you had eaten an apple instead of the juice you'd be getting a more nutritious way to satisfy your belly. I'm not saying all drinks are banned, but if you are trying to lose weight you need to be conscious of what you're sipping on.

2) Portion Size Scmortion Size: It's no secret that portion sizes have been growing faster than The Blob here in America. What's happened is that now peoples' sense of what an actual portion size is has become fuzzy. This isn't only when we go out to eat, but even the plates and tableware stores are selling today are larger than in decades past. If you are watching what you eat you need to get reacquainted with what a typical serving of your favorite foods are. The good news here is that our good friends fruits and veggies make that pretty much a no-brainer. An apple is an apple is an apple. But for the rest of it, you may want to measure out what a half cup of rice looks like or 3 ounces of fish.

3) Mindless Eating: People eat when they're stressed, people eat when they're bored, people eat when something just happens to be in front of them. We're all guilty of it...but next time you're checking in for an appointment and you see a bowl of M&M's think before you fish out your favorite color. A few handfuls here and there add up. This also happens when you're eating a meal and you're distracted You may just keep on eating without listening for those hungery/full cues. It's documented that people will eat more while watching TV, out with friends, or doing anything else besides focusing on enjoying what they're eating. I'm not saying you need to hole yourself away in a dark corner whenever you eat (NOT FUN!) but every now and then check in with yourself and see how satisfied you are. Also, savor what you're eating and don't just wolf it down.

4) Believing Packages: Don't fall victim to slick marketing. Just because the front of the box screams 'Low Fat' or anything of the sort, don't take that as permission to go overboard. Again, I'm not saying we all have to be calorie counting Spartans, but if you are looking to lose weight you need to be label savvy. Companies' main goal is to sell products and they do that with their packaging. Find out what one serving constitutes, how many are in said package, and the stats for that single serving; then do the math. An interesting point about some of the low fat or sugar free fare, sometimes the total calories for the regular products are nearly the same. In some cases I've actually seen some cookies or crackers as being more; but because the package says it is lower in fat people sometimes tend to then take that as permission to eat more than they normally would.

5) BUT...Know When to Cut the Fat: This comes on the heels of the last. For things like mayo, dressing, sauces, cream, cheeses, spreads, etc. you should seek out the lower fat versions. This isn't just a weight loss issue but also because cutting out some of the saturated fats in these products is better for a healthy body. Here is a reason why people should never just assume that ordering a salad is their best bet. When you add in dressing and all those other 'extras' some of those salads have more calories and fat than if you were to order a burger and joke.

All right, that will give you plenty to chew on for the first in this series. Check back for the rest, but in closing I would like to recommend that we all throw out the word DIET. It brings to mind synonyms such as deprivation, misery, torture, and the like. That alone is enough to push you off-track of your goals; besides, diets are also usually some kind of 'plan' and many of them come with some pretty wacky stipulations. Eating healthy isn't a diet, it doesn't have a definite end date, and it also allows you to eat what you want...just in moderation. There aren't necessarily 'bad' and 'good' foods, but instead those that you should eat more of and others that are more treats and should be savored in smaller amounts. Eating healthy is also a way of life and a way to treat your body the best so that it then can be the best for you! :)

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

When's the Best Time to Workout? -- Finding the Time to Get Your Sweat On

I hear this question a lot and also have heard some pretty funky answers. There are no shortage of wacky suggestions when it comes to fitness, nutrition, working out, and losing weight in general; and unfortunately there are also ones willing to take advantage of that fact. (Do I need to mention the ab-zapping belt?!) And don't get me started on the people who tell you to workout slower or easier during your cardio sessions so that you keep your heart rate low enough, or in the 'fat burning zone.' That one really gets to me...that fat burning zone, you'll see people barely moving those bike pedals and thinking their doing themselves a favor. Not true, for plenty of reasons (ie: higher intensity not only burns more calories in the same time, builds more muscle mass, and revs up your metabolism, but more) but that is a topic for another post! So here's the low-down on what time really IS best to workout.

Drumroll's when you are going to ACTUALLY get your workout done! Shocker right? Okay, sorry for being a tad sarcastic here, but the truth is that everyone is different; not only when it comes to personal preferences but also schedules. If the only time you have to exercise is during your lunch break, then that's your golden time slot. If instead you feel just plain sluggish or 'off' until you've had your sweat session (Both Amanda and my arms are raised here...hehe!) then the best time is in the morning. That being said, there are some really interesting new findings that suggest those who do get up and exercise first thing may be getting an edge on the rest of us. We'll be rolling out an article on just that soon, so stay tuned!

Until then, there are some factors that come into play and need to be taken into consideration depending on what time of day you do your workouts:

  • Rise-and-Shiners: Personally, I like to start my day off with my workout. Not only do I feel more energized throughout the day and more productive, but I then don't have to worry about something suddenly coming up that may interfere with getting my workout in. Still, sometimes that means having to get up a bit earlier and it can be hard to get moving first thing. Skimping on sleep is not something that I'd recommend and if you know you're going to have to get up earlier, really try to get into bed earlier the night before. Also, I like to have everything laid out and ready the night before; I even go so far as to put the running shoes next to the clothes I'm going to wear so it's a quick change and I can get out the door. Coffee is also our friend, and studies show it can improve your workouts, making you able to go faster, longer, and give you a little extra 'pop.'
  • Mid-day-Follies: Some people need some time to gradually 'wake-up' and don't find working out first thing appealing in the least. For them they find that during a lunch break or mid-day tends to be the best time. That's fine, but it also means that the time frame could be a tight fit if you've only got a certain amount allotted for your break. That's where having that gym bag already packed, ready, and waiting at your desk is helpful so that all you need is right there and boom, you're out the door. What can also get people in trouble is if a coworker gets to talking to you and before you know it you've talked through half your break. Or instead, a pressing project gets you toiling away and you lose track of time. That's where setting your watch alarm, a reminder on your computer, or scheduling your workout time just as you would any other appointment in your agenda book can help. Those cues will alert you that it's time to get physical; if you feel 'guilty' putting a project on hold, remember that it's been proven that bouts of exercise breaks will perk you up, re-energize you, and make you more productive upon your return. In fact, there are businesses that encourage their workers to do just'd you like to find yourself on the elliptical next to your boss?
  • Night-Riders: There are also those who live for the night; whether it is because they find it relaxing to watch the sun set on their runs or it's the only time they have free during the day, this is their sweat hour. That's cool, but there are some things that can also make this time a little tricky. Sometimes motivating yourself to get to the gym after a full day is a little tough; you're already mentally burnt-out, tired, and just want to get home. To combat lagging workout inspiration that's where loading a fun new playlist can help get you in the mood, having people to meet up with at the gym, and keeping a fitness log can help. What works best for me when I'm tempted to skip out, is that I remember how much better I'll feel AFTER I'm done. I also remember that those first few minutes of getting started are usually the hardest part and that once I get going those endorphins kick in and I'll start getting into the groove.
What to eat, when to eat, and weight does this come into play?

I heard that working out on an empty stomach is the best way to burn fat? Again, we're in speaks with a few experts on that one and will address just this in more detail in our next article. For now, we'll offer you some quick tips and advice. As for doing your workouts off of no fuel, you'll be like the little engine that ran out of gas. You'll feel tired, sluggish, and won't be able to perform at your best. People who are afraid that putting the calories into their body might then cancel out or negate the calories they'd burn off from their workouts need to think about two things: first, that not eating will cause your metabolism to slow down to almost nil because the body goes into 'starvation' mode and secondly, eating a smart meal or snack will enable you to go harder or longer in your workouts and thus burn more calories than you would have running on empty.

  • AM'ers: Waking up even earlier to eat something...are you kidding me? In this instance, doctors we've been talking to say that perhaps if you're an early bird and workout before breakfast you could be doing yourself a favor. Though if you plan on running a marathon or doing a particularly long workout you may want to consider putting something into the tank. In these cases, and you just can't handle getting yourself up earlier, then something people do is to keep a sports bar by the side of their bed. Then, you wake up during the night for a bathroom break, eat your bar, go back to bed, and have that energy ready when you go to workout. Finding something that is 'easy' on your stomach is key; I've found oatmeal works best for me. Finally, if nothing else, try to find a sports drink with a good amount of carbs and protein and sip on that.
  • Nooners: Don't have the last thing you've eaten be from breakfast; aim for a snack a few hours beforehand that is a combo of carbs and protein. Try half of a bagel with some peanut butter, fruit and nuts, or you could also have half of your turkey sandwich and finish the rest as your post-workout fueling.
  • Night Owls: Again, don't let the whole day get away from you without eating something. Follow the example from the nooners and have a snack before getting sweaty with it. When you're done make sure to refuel within 30 minutes, the optimal window for recovery. That goes for everyone; but if dinner isn't all cooked or ready in that time make sure to get in a smart, complex-carb and protein rich snack to tide you over until then.
Whew! Are you guys still with me? Sorry, you'd think a simple question would grant you a simple answer but I tend to get going and then keep on rolling! Hopefully you've gleaned a few tips to help you improve your workouts, WHENEVER you find is the best time to get them done! :)

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