Friday, February 27, 2009

Chocolate PB Banana Smoothie

This is one of my favorite things to make for breakfast. Especially if you work out first thing in the morning, this is a great way to cool down after working up a sweat!

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

* 1 serving chocolate whey protein powder (Beachbody's is my favorite - To check out my store, just click on the title of this post!)
* 1/2 banana
* 1 TBSP natural peanut butter
* 1 packet Splenda (optional)
* 8 oz. water
* 7-8 ice cubes

Put all ingredients in a blender. (A small blender like the Magic Bullet works best.) Blend until there are no chucks of ice left. And instantly - you have a protein-packed healthy breakfast!

WARNING: This smoothie is so good - it can be addicting!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

8 Tips for Masering Portion Control

Eating healthy, especially when you are used to eating whatever you want, can be overwhelming at first. What do I eat? How often do I eat? How long should I wait before/after exercising to eat again? You know the drill. However, the best thing to master first is portion control: how much do I eat. You’ll see – it’s much easier than you think!

Just eat half.
You can cut the calories of your favorite foods by 50% without changing anything – just eat half! For example, if you normally eat a deli sandwich at lunch, eat half of it. (Dining out? Ask for a carry-out box as soon as your meal comes out. Put half of it away before you even take the first bite!)

Make smarter swaps for your sides.
Replace your chips with carrot sticks. Still hungry? Reach for a piece of fruit instead of chocolate for dessert. Produce takes longer to eat – and digests slower – than other foods. This will give you more time to notice that you’re getting full. (Not to mention, the additional fiber will help you feel much more satisfied than chips – which are empty carbohydrates.)

Resist the urge to upsize.
There is no need to upsize the already oversized “meal deals” at fast food chains. In fact, staying away from combos is probably always your best option. A side salad is always your best side instead of fries, and you don’t need the soda either. (If you absolutely MUST have something – you know those days that only a hamburger and fries will suffice – order the kids meal. Just a few decades ago, that was what we considered to be “normal-sized” portions.)

Good things come in small packages.
If you know that “once you pop, you can’t stop,” don’t buy the large bags. Most products come in mini-sized packs now, so try to limit yourself to buying these only. If you are budget-minded, buy the big bag, but divvy out the contents into single-servings in Ziploc bags AFTER you’ve just eaten (so you won’t be tempted to snack as you divide them out.) As a side note, you can do the same thing with leftovers. Instead of just sticking the whole dish in the refrigerator, go ahead and store it in individual serving containers. Instantly, when you go to reheat, you’ve limited your food intake without additional effort!

Say no to buffets!
Unless it’s the salad bar at Jason’s Deli, JUST SAY NO! It’s nearly impossible to practice portion control in an “all-you-can-eat” situation.

Keep seconds out of sight.
Keep pots and dishes away from the table where it’s too easy to dive in for more. Remember, it takes 20 minutes to feel satisfied. Wait a while, and you may realize you aren’t hungry for a second serving after all!

Use your hands.
You can use your hands as an easy guide for portion control.

Palm = Proteins:
 Make protein portions the size of your palm. Protein is found in products, like fish, meats, beans and cottage cheese.

Thumb = Fats:
 Fats are important but also very dense, so match portions to the size of your thumb. Good fat sources are avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

Fist = Fruits & Grains: Your bread, fruit, cereal, rice, and grain portions should be about equal to the size of your closed fist. (Plus, make sure it’s whole grain!)

Hand = Veggies: 
Open your hand and spread your fingers as wide as you can. That is a good vegetable portion. Raw vegetables are loaded with fiber and nutrients, and contain very few calories.

Treat yourself!
Every once in a while, you need to let yourself indulge in a “forbidden food.” This will keep your from feeling deprived. You can stop a binge session before in starts by allowing yourself a treat ever so often.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shoe Shopping Advice

One of the more common reasons for giving up an exercise routine is excessive pain caused by working out. What’s sad about this is that a lot of workout pain may be prevented by a good pair of exercise shoes. If you’re starting a workout routine, you should invest in a quality pair of shoes. Good shoes will support your feet and align your body correctly; you’ll feel less pain in your legs, back, and, of course, your feet. Here are some tips for finding the right shoe to fit your feet and your needs.

If you want to use your shoes for a specific activity, i.e. tennis, running, etc., get a shoe designed for that specific sport. It’s going to provide better support and flexibility in the areas specific to the movement you’ll be doing. For instance, tennis shoes provide better side to side support while running shoes provide more front and back support. You’ll also find a difference in flexibility between certain types of shoes.

Go shoe shopping at the end of the day. Pressure on your feet during the day makes them swell. If you buy shoes in the morning, you may find your snug shoes are now just too tight. You should also be sure to wear the same socks you exercise in; otherwise you’ll run into the same problem.

Leave a little extra space in your shoes. If there is a thumb’s length between your longest toe and the end of your shoe, you’ll experience less pain from crunched toes. Be sure the shoes don’t slide forward and backward when you move.

Find a shoe that fits the shape of your foot. A shoe with proper support should feel snug all over. This means the insole is absorbing the pressure, not your foot. If you can’t find a shoe with enough support, get orthotic inserts. This is especially important if you already experience foot pain. For severe foot pain, you should be fitted for a customized orthotic by your doctor.

Find a shoe that fits how you run. This is actually usually determined by the shape of your feet; specifically how high your arches are. Overpronators’ feet roll inward as they run. They often have flat feet and should buy shoes marked for stability or motion control. Supinators’ feet roll outwards as they run. The usually have high arches and should look for shoes marked as flexible or cushioned. If you have normal feel that don’t roll when you run, you can buy a variety of shoes.

Consider where your shoes will be used. If you’re running through the woods, you’ll require a different amount of traction than if you’re playing tennis or volleyball on a court. Be sure to check the tread and see if it is appropriate for your needs.

Try the shoes out. Don’t just put them on while sitting and then take them back off. Lace up the shoes and move around as if you were performing your exercise. Good shoes will feel comfortable as soon as you put them on.

If you follow these simple rules, you’ll be sure to find the perfect pair of shoes for you. Happy shopping!

Friday, February 20, 2009

At the Gym: To Sneeze or Not to Sneeze

While we are still in the middle of cold and flu season, one of the main questions I'm asked is: Should I work out even if I am sick?

The answer is no...and yes. It depends on what kind of sick you are.

General rule of thumb: Listen to your body. If you are sick, your body is telling you that something is wrong.

You should definitely skip your workout if you have a fever. It puts too much stress on your heart, which is already beating faster because of your higher body temperature. If you have chest congestion and shortness of breath, you should also forgo the gym for a day or two. And this may be common sense...but if you exercise with a stomach ache, you will feel worse after.

In these situations, working out may prolong the illness. Plus, some viruses are capable to actually damage the muscles of your heart. There are a lot of myths about "sweating out" germs and toxins. While low intensity exercise may increase endorphins, you can also wear down your immune system. Be smart. Don't count on your endorphins to heal you.

However, if you just have the sniffles or milder symptoms of a cold, moderate exercise should be okay. Just don't push yourself to do your normal routine. Take it easy until you begin to feel better. Gradually increase your workout as your body heals. If you jump right back in at 100% the second you start to feel better, you're likely to relapse. Give your body time to recuperate.

One more thing to keep in mind: A little courtesy never hurt anyone. You may want to skip the gym is to keep from spreading the germs to everyone else. You can always take a walk outside or do a video at home until you are back to normal health.

If you do decide to head to the gym for a low intensity workout, just be considerate. Wipe down machines, wash your hands, etc.

So there you have it. Just be smart! (And if you're sick, feel better!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

On February 14, there are lots of gifts exchanged between people who want to show their love. Many of us use this day as an excuse to over-indulge in chocolate. Remember: everything is okay in moderation. So here's your healthy alternative: DARK chocolate covered strawberries.

Chocolate and strawberries both contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are thought to improve immune function and lower the risk for infection and cancer. Antioxidants help protect our bodies from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are formed in simple body processes and can increase upon exposure to environmental contaminants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution or chemicals. Free radicals can damage cells and increase the risk for cancer, artery and heart disease, cataracts, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C. Just one-half cup of strawberries provides 50 milligrams of vitamin C. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men. Vitamin C helps produce collagen which helps hold muscles bones and other tissues together, helps keep blood vessels firm to prevent bruising, helps keep your gums healthy, helps heal cuts and wounds and helps protect your body from infection.

Make sure the strawberries are dipped in dark chocolate - that is the key. NOT milk chocolate, and absolutely NO white chocolate! Dark chocolate contains more flavonoids. Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plant-based foods. The source of antioxidants in chocolate is flavonoids. Flavonoids may also reduce the risk of blood clots and heart disease by expanding the arteries and increasing blood flow.

And remember - just because it contains fruit, that doesn't mean you need to eat the whole box in one setting. Just one or two should do it. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

got Calcium?

First of all, I hate to take pills.

Second, I hate when people try to get me to buy things.

But I'm throwing both of those out the window because of the great health benefits I have seen from taking Beachbody's Core Cal-Mag.

Studies show that most people don't get the recommended amount of both calcium and magnesium. (This is especially a problem for me since I am lactose intolerant!) And that's a BIG deal! Together, these two elements are required for over 300 metabolic and biological processes. If you body doesn't have enough calcium and magnesium, your body takes unhealthy shortcuts, taking away from other needed minerals to do other jobs in your body.

Core Cal-Mag contains 100% of the recommended daily value of calcium and 125% of magnesium, with added vitamin D so the calcium is absorbed for optimal bone health. Plus - it contains no lactose, protein, or milk allergens, so it’s easy to get an adequate supply of calcium daily, even if you don’t drink you aren't supposed to eat/drink dairy!

Together, these minerals work together to help support normal blood clotting, regulate blood pressure, support the functions of the immune system, and also contribute to increased bone strength and heart health.* In fact, it's an important mineral in regulating the entire cardiovascular system.

ATHLETE’S ALERT: There’s even more to magnesium. It also aids in nerve and muscle function! With added vitamin D and phosphorus, Beachbody's Core Cal-Mag gives you the important support you need to build and maintain bone mass and optimal health.

If you are interested, head over to and check it out!