Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Breakfast

If you need a compromise Christmas morning breakfast, here is the perfect solution: lowfat almond biscotti. It's a HEALTHY version of the famous Italian cookie that will appease the health conscious in your family without making the less healthy feel like they are not "enjoying the holiday." You can even prepare it the night before so you don't have to do any preparation in the morning! Goes great with coffee or tea for the adults, and the kids will love it paired with hot chocolate. (Just make sure you use skim milk and Nestle's No Sugar Added Chocolate mix!!) :)

Lowfat Almond Biscotti

1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup Sugar in the Raw
2 tablespoons margarine
4 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Morton Salt lite

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place almonds in a small baking pan. Bake 7 to 8 minutes until golden brown (watch carefully to avoid burning). Set aside.

Beat sugar and margarine in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Add egg whites and almond extract; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl; mix well. Stir egg white mixture and almonds into flour mixture until well blended.

Spray two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Evenly divide dough between prepared pans. Spread dough evenly over bottoms of pans with wet fingertips. Bake 15 minutes or until knife inserted into centers comes out clean.

Remove from oven and turn onto cutting board. As soon as loaves are cool enough to handle, cut each into 16 (1/2-inch thick) slices. Place slices on baking sheets covered with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 5 minutes; turn over. Bake 5 minutes more or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight container.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 56
Protein: 1g
Fat: 1g
Carbohydrates: 9g
Exchanges: 1/2 Starch/Bread; 1/2 Fat

Friday, December 14, 2007

Would you please pass me the BROWNIE?

You remember those things you used to eat before you starting watching your fat and calorie intake? They were full of rich chocolate, sometimes with icing on top... The wonderful smell would fill the whole house. You bit into it. It was warm and moist, and you had to lick the chocolate goo from your fingers after you enjoyed each savory bite. That's right...I'm talking about brownies.

How long has it been since you've had one and DIDN'T feel guilty afterwards? Months? Maybe years?

Well, those days are behind you, thanks to the nutritional geniouses at Apex Fitness.

The Iced Chocolate Brownie Delight is handmade using real Hershey's Chocolate. Each brownie is nutrient rich and contains more protein than two eggs. That's right...a PROTEIN brownie! With no aftertaste...and it's amazing!

They are best used when unable to eat a meal and/or before workouts. They can also be used to increase daily caloric intake when unable to do so by consuming whole food. These brownies make a satisfying, nutritious dessert. Because of their convenience, nutrition, and great taste, they are an optimal meal replacement or supplement...

Here's the dirty details :)

calories 230 carbs 27g
protein 13g fat 8g (0g trans fat)

**For additional goodness, stick in in the microwave for 15 seconds. You will be absolutely amazed!!**

They can be purchased online at or at your local 24 Hour Fitness location! Check them out today!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"But it's COLD outside!"

Yes, it is cold. It's winter. What did you expect?
Yet many people use the cold weather as an excuse to skip their workout - especially when they normally work out in the early morning hours. But here are some tips to help you stay warmer and to combat your cold complaints:

1. Put your workout clothes in the dryer.
Especially when you work out in the morning, it can be hard to get out of that warm bed. But force yourself to get up, throw your gym clothes in the dryer, then head to the bathroom to brush your teeth, comb your hair, etc. After you've done that, retrieve your clothes from the dryer, and you will be warm again instantly!

2. Jump into a hot shower, just for 2 minutes.
It will WAKE you up and WARM you up before you get started.

3. Spend extra time warming up before you begin your workout.
When it's cold, your muscles can get extra tight which makes exercise uncomfortable and leaves you more susceptible to injuries. In the warmer months, you may be able to get away with shorter warm ups but, when it's cold, you may find you need a little extra time to get the blood flowing. For example, if you're running, start with a brisk walk and stay at that pace until you start to feel warmer. Gradually increase your pace and give your body extra time to get the blood flowing.

4. Give yourself an extra ten minutes.
At the end of your workout, use that extra time to sit in the hot tub, take an extra long shower, pick up some coffee from your favorite spot, stretch, nap or whatever makes you feel good.

5. Break out of your routine, and try something new.
Don't be afraid to break out of the old routine and try something different, even if it's not the same intensity as your usual workouts. Doing something new can keep you motivated and on track. Get a copy of the Group Exercise schedule at your gym, and try a new class. You might even find something you really enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reversibility: Runners, Don't Let It Happen to You

We admit it. The holidays are crazy. Many businesses shut down the week between Christmas and New Year's. That doesn't stop the work - it just means you have to get it done before Christmas Eve! Not to mention all the different holiday parties - on top of that, adding a boyfriend or a husband's friend's parties, and later in life, all of your children's activities. Add fighting the traffic at the mall (and on the way to the mall), spending money that you don't have, and baking cookies for the church play...we get it. It's busy.
So many runners allow themselves to be overwhelmed, and they stop their training schedule in early December. They just think, "Oh, I'll get back to it when the holidays are over. I'll just be a little more careful about what I eat, and it won't matter."
First of all, even if you were more careful than usual about what into your mouth (But let's be real, who really does that on holidays anyway?!), here's the bottom line: When exercise ends, detraining begins.
It's true. Runner's World magazine reported a study that after ust seven days of not training, blood colume dropped sharply, which affects your body's ability to be able to function aerobically. An even more shocking statistic....With just three to six weeks of inactivity, your fitness can drop to PRETRAINING levels. All of your hard work was wasted.

Here are three great ideas to back off on your training during December without sacrificing any of your athletic ability. (And hey, if you can keep up your normal routine, DO IT! You go, girl.)

1) Maintain at least 50% of your mileage.
If you normally get in 30 miles for week, don't leave the gym on Saturday night until you've gotten at least 15 miles logged for the week. Try to run at least 3 days per week, skipping days inbetween - that's just 5 miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Much more manageable!

2) Mix in some speedwork.
Since you're running less, pick up the pace a notch. This will work your VO2 max and challenge your body in a different way. Adding speed burns more calories. If you work hard enough, you might actually work off just as many calories as you would doing a longer run.

3) Schedule yourself for two races early in the Spring.
Racing season is right around the corner. Go ahead and hit up to schedule your first two races. Having something on the calendar to work towards will serve as constant, you'll get the early bird discount!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ground Rules at Starbuck's

Who loves Starbucks? Of course, we all do. But those lattes and frappaccinos can REALLY expand your waistline if you're not careful... Can you believe that there are people who DRINK over 300 calories and 10 grams of fat every morning, and then grab a bagel to go with it? Unbelievable! Here are some basic ground rules (get it, GROUND? :) for you to set before you walk into your favorite coffee joint...

1. Always get a tall. It's all you need to satisfy your caffiene craving or to warm you up. The grande and venti simply provide calories (and money) that you don't need to blow!

2. Decide on skim. Every Starbucks drink can be made with non-fat milk. (Even hot chocolate!) This way, you get all of the protein, without the fat! And I promise you won't be sacrificing any taste either.

3. NO WHIP. You know if you order it, all you're going to end up with is a funny white line above your lips...and run into a super hot guy - or your mother-in-law - on your way out. Don't risk it.

4. Sugar-free eliminates additional calories. There are plenty of sugar free syrups available now - vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, cinnamon dulce, gingerbread...there's no exucse not to try one. Plus, if you like them, you can even purchase your own bottle of the stuff to have at home!

5. Try to be a Brit. Every once in a while, exchange your cup of joe for a spot of tea. Tea has many antioxidants, and it's a great way to spice up your normal diet, usually for zero to minimal calories, as long as you don't go too crazy with the milk and sugar. Infact, if you use Splenda and skim milk, your drink will only cost you about 30 calories tops.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Across the Floor Push-Ups

If you're looking for a killer push-up, your search has ended.

To do this, athletes should get into the standard push-up position. Lower your body as normal, but instead of just pushing back into the starting position, propel yourself off the floor and jump slightly to one side. This can be done to the right and to the left.
(Ideally, if you are going across the floor to the right, your left hand will replace your right hand.)

Whichever way you are going, that side will get a better work-out, so make sure to do the activity to the left and to the right.

This drill will take several attempts to master, because it takes rhythm and coordination of the hands and feet. It is also very difficult, so you should not
expect to do more than 10-15 on the right and 10-15 on the left the first few times.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

3 Word Phrases Women LOVE to Hear

So there's always a lot of hype about that three-word phrase that women love to know... "I love you." But you might want to pass off this Top 10 to the men in your life...tell them they can try these 3-word phrases to add some variety if they've had enough of the "mushy stuff."

Yes, we know that we're right. But that doesn't change the fact that we want to know that you know that we are right!

Again, many times, stating the obvious....BUT by saying that you are wrong makes us realize that you are smart! Better to be wrong and smart than wrong AND dumb!

Okay, this is the 3-word phrase that follows the above two. I was right, yes. You were wrong, yes. Meaning, you shouldn't have done it, so you should APOLOGIZE. Again, a smart decision.

You have just eliminated the stress of "How in the world am I going to go into the kitchen and make something that he won't think is "girl food" (aka rabbit food, or anything that resembles vegetables) and I don't have to question if it can still "moo" or "oink." Meaning, we will have more time and energy to spend with you. Totally worth the cash.

It doesn't matter if we are trying to lose weight or not. This will make self esteem SOAR. Seriously. Just try it.

In the event that we cook or work on a project for you, or whatever, one of the most annoying things is immediately going back to work. This is a way to SHOW the "I love you" that you dread saying.

Seriously. That's just adorable.

And after we come back from a paralyzed state of shock, you won't believe the smiles and hugs that you will get for the rest of the day.

Give us the time we need to get ready, and don't make us feel rushed. It will be worth your wait. Promise.

And the last one really needs a drumroll.......

Sometimes, we seriously can't decide. And we really want both...but that is too much to ask. But if you give us PERMISSION to get both, then we don't feel so bad. I mean, it's not something you neccessarily HAVE to do everytime, but you're not going to be hurting if you do...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

So how DO you run anyway?

Every runner knows that good form is important. So what exactly does that mean? Rveryone's stride and strike is going to be a little bit different, but whether you're a beginning or advanced, a sprinter or a marathoner, here are some basic guidelines for perfect running form:

Head Tilt
How you hold your head is key to overall posture, which determines how efficiently you run. Let your gaze guide you. Look ahead naturally, not down at your feet, and scan the horizon. This will straighten your neck and back, and bring them into alignment. Don't allow your chin to jut out. Run upright. Your back should be straight, roughly at a 90-degree angle to the ground. Ignore anybody who tells you to "lean into it," even when running uphill.

Shoulders play an important role in keeping your upper body relaxed while you run, which is critical to maintaining efficient running posture. For optimum performance, your shoulders should be low and loose, not high and tight. As you tire on a run, don't let them creep up toward your ears. If they do, shake them out to release the tension. Your shoulders also need to remain level and shouldn't dip from side to side with each stride.

Even though running is primarily a lower-body activity, your arms aren't just along for the ride. Your hands control the tension in your upper body, while your arm swing works in conjunction with your leg stride to drive you forward. Keep your hands in an unclenched fist, with your fingers lightly touching your palms. Imagine yourself trying to carry a potato chip in each hand without crushing it. Your arms should swing mostly forward and back, not across your body,between waist and lower-chest level. Your elbows should be bent at about a 90-degree angle. When you feel your fists clenching or your forearms tensing, drop your arms to your sides and shake them out for a few seconds to release the tension. The legs should control armswing, not the other way around.

The position of your torso while running is affected by the position of your head and shoulders. With your head up and looking ahead and your shoulders low and loose, your torso and back naturally straighten to allow you to run in an efficient, upright position that promotes optimal lung capacity and stride length. Many track coaches describe this ideal torso position as "running tall" and it means you need to stretch yourself up to your full height with your back comfortably straight. If you start to slouch during a run take a deep breath and feel yourself naturally straighten. As you exhale simply maintain that upright position.

Your hips are your center of gravity, so they're key to good running posture. The proper position of your torso while running helps to ensure your hips will also be in the ideal position. With your torso and back comfortably upright and straight, your hips naturally fall into proper alignment--pointing you straight ahead. If you allow your torso to hunch over or lean too far forward during a run, your pelvis will tilt forward as well, which can put pressure on your lower back and throw the rest of your lower body out of alignment. When trying to gauge the position of your hips, think of your pelvis as a bowl filled with marbles, then try not to spill the marbles by tilting the bowl.

While sprinters need to lift their knees high to achieve maximum leg power, distance runners don't need such an exaggerated knee lift--it's simply too hard to sustain for any length of time. Instead, efficient endurance running requires just a slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover, and a short stride. Together, these will facilitate fluid forward movement instead of diverting (and wasting) energy. When running with the proper stride length, your feet should land directly underneath your body. As your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed so that it can bend naturally on impact. If your lower leg (below the knee) extends out in front of your body, your stride is too long.

To run well, you need to push off the ground with maximum force. With each step, your foot should hit the ground lightly--landing between your heel and midfoot--then quickly roll forward. Keep your ankle flexed as your foot rolls forward to create more force for push-off. As you roll onto your toes, try to spring off the ground. You should feel your calf muscles propelling you forward on each step. Your feet should not slap loudly as they hit the ground. Good running is springy and quiet. The most natural landing is mid-foot, the ball of the foot landing first, the heel contacting the ground a fraction of a second later. The toes push off a fraction after that. Some runners land further forward, or backward, than others, based on what feels natural to them

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December DONT'S

Afraid of gaining those extra holiday pounds? Here are just a few things you can avoid that will help you stay the same size throughout the holiday season.

1) DON'T skip your workout.
* We know it's busy, but you need to take the time to work out this time of year more than ever. Make a workout buddy, abd hold each other accountable. Maybe mix up your routine to avoid bordom - try a new class, give yourself a gift of a few personal training sessions, etc.

2) DON'T skip breakfast.
* Thinking of the night's holiday party or the afternoon gathering at work, many people will skip breakfast as an attempt cut calories. WRONG! Eating a healthy breakfast (oatmeal, egg white omlet with fresh veggies, whole wheat toast and low fat yogurt) at the beginning of the day starts your metabolism and will prevent you from overeating later in the day. Those who consistently eat breakfast consistently weigh less than those who skip the most important meal of the day.

3) DON'T eat only fat and carbs.

* Most Christmas goodies (gingerbread cookies, candy canes, hot chocolate, etc.) are full of refined sugars and unhealthy fats. These are also the nutrients that make you feel even more hungry than before you ate something! Before you have any treats, fill up with lean protein to help control cravings.

4) DON'T eat straight from a bowl.
* When you get to those holiday gatherings, take the time to put everything that you eat on a plate. If you nibble straight from the dish, you will misjudge portion size and be in trouble before you know it! Try and fill your plate with veggies and lean protein, and only allow a small place on the place for treats. **As an additional tip, try using the dessert plate instead of the dinner plate. It's smaller, and it will help you with portion control!**

5) DON'T eat treats that you like.
* Only splurge for those treats that you love. If you just like them, you don't need them.

6) DON'T avoid the scale.
* Weigh in regularly this month so you can see how you're doing. If you prefer to monitor a different way, get your favorite pair of pants that make you feel slim and fit. Try them on every morning to see how they fit. You've got to hold yourself accountable somehow!

7) DON'T go to a party hungry.
* The worst thing you can do is arrive at a party famished! Because you know there will be LOTS of unhealthy options, and very few items that fit into your nutrition plan. Try eating a bowl of broth-based soup or a salad before you go. That way, you already have some healthy nutrients in you, and you've knocked the hunger edge off so you don't devour every cookie in sight.

8) DON'T eat the whole thing.
* Most of the time, you can satisfy a craving with just a few bites. Instead of eating a whole piece of pie, split a piece with your date.

9) DON'T eat for speed.
* Slow down your eating, and savor every bite. You don't indulge every day. Take the time to enjoy it! Plus, the longer you take, the longer your stomach has to realize that you're full, and you can avoid overeating.

10) DON'T beat yourself up if you mess up one time.
* If you go to a party and overeat, don't use that as an excuse to let yourself go for the whole season. Get up the next day, go to the gym, and vow to stick to your diet better. No one expects you to be perfect!

Friday, November 30, 2007

4 "F" Factors to Keep Full Classes through the Holidays

So it's no big secret that class numbers have the tendency to fall during the holidays. People get out of their regular routines - they're out late, up early, spending too much money, overworked, under-rested, etc, etc, etc. But here are four "F" factors that you can use in your classes to help keep attendance high.

For instance, the average American gains 6-8 pounds in November and December alone. That's going up a pants size! Why? We exercise less and eat more. Now, obviously, we're not going to tell our class participants to avoid the holiday parties. But we can encourage them to keep attending class. They've worked so hard, and they don't want to blow it! REMIND THEM!

Play Christmas music. Have a party to reward your class. Encourage your class to wear holiday colors, and have small prizes for those who participate. Use your imagination!

BURN IT. Remind them again WHY they are working out.

Keep them motivated to keep their regular fitness schedule. Exercise gives off endorphins, which will provide them the extra energy they need to survive the holidays. It's also a great stress reliever, will help them rest better, and will allow them to indulge in some of their favorite treats without feeling guilty!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vicki's Spiced Tea

An amazing recipe for a Holiday Spiced Tea...don't go to a Christmas party without it! Plus, it is bursting with antioxidants. Enjoy! (Thanks to Vicki, my mother-in-law, for sharing!)

Vicki's Spiced Tea

Step #1
4 cups Water
2 Large Decaffeinated Tea Bags
2-3 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tablespoon Whole Cloves
Bring to a boil. Turn off. Cover with lid and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Step #2
2 Cups Splenda
2 Cups Water
Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Turn off. Remove tea bags, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.

Step #3
1 large can of frozen orange juice (46 ounces)
2 Cups of Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
6 Cups Water

Store in refrigerator and heat cups as needed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Did you remember to stretch?

So many people claim that they don't run because they simply "don't want to get hurt." I cringe everytime I watch someone come into the gym and immediately begin to run on the treadmill. They are just asking for injury. Sure, when you're a kid, you can run without stretching, bur let's face it: we're not kids anymore. Here's a basic stretching program for you to follow before and after you run. (You might even shave a few seconds off your mile!)Repeat each stretch two or three times:

1. Wall Pushup #1

Stand about three feet from a wall, feet at shoulder width and flat on the ground. Put your hands on the wall with your arms straight for support. Lean your hips forward and bend your knees slightly to stretch your calves.

2. Wall Pushup #2

From the previous position, bend forward to lower your body to waist height. Bring one foot forward with your knee slightly bent. Lift the toes of the front foot to stretch the muscle under the calf. Stretch both legs.

3. Wall Pushup #3

Put your feet together, rocking back on your heels with your hands on the wall and your arms straight to form a jackknife with your body. This stretches your hips, shoulders, and lower back.

4. Back Scratch

Grab your elbow with the opposite hand and gently push the elbow up and across your body until your hand reaches down to "scratch" your back. Gently push on your elbow to guide your hand down your back as far as it will comfortably go, stretching your triceps and shoulders. Stretch both arms.

5. Hamstring Stretch

Lie down with one leg straight up in the air, the other bent with foot flat on the ground. Loop a towel over the arch of the lifted foot, and gently pull on the towel as you push against it with your foot. Push only to the point where your muscles contract. Stretch both legs.

6. Quadriceps Stretch

Kneel on your knees (without resting back on your heels). Lean back with your body erect and your arms to the side. Hold for 15 seconds.

7. Heel To Buttock

Stand on one foot, with one hand on a wall for balance. Hold the other foot with the opposite hand and raise the heel of the lifted foot to the buttocks (or as close as comfortably possible), stretching your quadriceps. Keep your body upright throughout. Change legs and repeat.

8. Hip & Lower Back Stretch

Sit on the ground with your legs crossed. Lift your right leg and cross it over the left, which should remain bent. Hug the right leg to your chest and twist the trunk of your body to look over your right shoulder. Change legs and repeat (i.e. looking over your left shoulder).

9. Iliotibial Band Stretch

Lie on your side with both legs bent in running position. Bring the bottom leg toward your chest and then bring the top one back toward your buttocks, so that the running position of your legs is exaggerated as possible. Hold for 30 seconds then flip sides and repeat.

10. Hamstring & Back Stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Hug your shins to your chest to stretch your hamstrings and lower back.

11. Bridge

Lie on your back and, with your feet flat on the ground, lift your hips up until your body forms a flat plane. Repeat this one ten times for 30 seconds each to stretch your quads and lower back.

12. Groin Stretch

Seated, put the soles of your feet together. With your elbows on the inside of your knees, gradually lean forward and gently press your knees toward the ground.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

And now for the TURKEY!

Turkey is lean meat, it's healthy for you, you need the protein... yes, all of these things are true. But this bird can still be prepared in unhealthy ways.

For starters, buy an ORGANIC, free-range turkey. (Whatever you do, don't get the self-basting kind.) This means you will get a lean, protein-filled turkey without all of the antibiotics, animal by-products, preservatives or hormones found in other turkeys. Plus, it tastes better too!

If you want to marinate in a healthy way, mix up a little olive oil, lemon juice, cracked pepper, & onion powder. Lightly, baste the bird before you put it in the oven. Perfection!
(To save a few fat grams and calories for yourself, be sure to trim around the edges to remove the skin. You won't miss out on the taste, promise!)

One more thing turkey...

Start a new tradition with your family, and participate in a Turkey Trot on Turkey Day! It's great fun and great exercise! You can walk, run, jog, or a combination of all three. Burning calories is burning calories!

Here are two options in the Metroplex...


Thursday, November 22, 2007

09:00 AM

starting at Dallas City Hall Plaza

1500 Marilla Street
Dallas, TX 75201

**Additional Information**

$18.00 until 11/10/07
$20.00 - 11/11- 11/19 (on-line registration will cut off at midnight on 11/19)
Dogs - $10 (All dogs must register)



Thursday, November 22, 2007

08:00 AM

Fort Worth, Texas

6115 Camp Bowie
Fort Worth, TX 76107

5k - $22.00
10k - $22.00
Both 10k and 5k - $27.00
. . .

(To find a race near you, search for races on!)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The perfect final side dish touch - Cranberry Sauce

Next time you are at the grocery store, pick up a can of cranberry sauce. You will be amazed at how much sugar and unhealthy additives they can cram into ONE CAN, claiming to bear a healthy fruit. (And after you pick it up, make sure you put it back on the shelf and not in your cart!)

This year, make it yourself, and your family will love it - and YOU will be to thank for keeping them healthy this holiday!

Cranberry Sauce: (yields 2 cups)

1 12oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup water
1 packet - On the Go Crystal Light, Sunrise Orange
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced orange zest
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup reduced-sugar crushed pineapple
½ cup honey

* Bring orange juice, ginger, zest and cinnamon to a boil on high heat in a medium saucepan.
* Rinse cranberries and add once liquid is boiling.
* Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.
* Add crushed pineapple and honey. Remove from heat and cool.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pumpkin Pie.....and you can have the whole piece!

No one will ever know that it's not the full-fat version...unless they get suspicious when their pants still fit the same the next week! :)

1 9-inch whole wheat pie shell
3 TBSP egg beaters
1/4 cup Brown Sugar/Splenda Blend
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup evaporated milk

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
* In a medium bowl whisk together egg beaters, Splenda, and pumpkin pie spice until well blended. Add pumpkin and milk to egg mixture, and stir until smooth.
* Pour mixture into pie shell.
* Place pie on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until set in center.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bet you never thought you'd see healthy gravy.....


6 cups reduced-sodium 99% fat free chicken broth
2 large carrots, chopped in large pieces
2 medium onions, cut into large pieces
2 celery sticks, cut into large pieces
Neck, wing tips and giblets from turkey
1/3 cup whole wheat flour, mixed with water
1 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
2 TBS chopped fresh thyme
Morton Lite salt and black pepper
*optional ¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms

* Simmer all the ingredients except flour, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper for about 1 hour on medium heat.
* Strain and discard solids. Heat ¼ cup broth in a non-stick skillet. Whisk in flour a little at a time to incorporate. Using a wire whisk, add the rest of the broth a little at a time on low heat. Keep whisking to avoid lumps until all the liquid is incorporated.
* Add rosemary and cook for another 20 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Season with chopped thyme, salt and pepper.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


You spend the entire day in the kitchen - cooking, nibbling, tasting...and no doubt, starving yourself so you have an excuse to overeat when the actual Thanksgiving meal occurs. You were too busy coordinating for the family, so you skipped the gym, and you have less energy than you normally do. After you eat, it's time to sit and watch football... now remind me why we say HAPPY Thanksgiving?!

I'm just kidding. There's plenty to love about Thanksgiving. But let's face it - not much of it is healthy...unless you make some substitutions! Enter Michelle. :)

Here are some healthy and creative ways to make your Thanksgiving just as fun and taste just as good - without all of those fat grams and calories! I'll give away all my secrets over the next week so you can continue reaching your fitness goals throughout the holiday season!

½ cup wild rice
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 med onion, chopped
¾ cup diced celery, about ¼ inch pieces
2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
1 medium green apple, diced about ¼ inch pieces
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chopped walnuts or almonds
6 dried apricots, coarsely chopped
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 TBS chopped fresh sage
3 TBS chopped fresh thyme
½ TBS fennel seeds
½ cup + 1 TBS chicken broth
Morton Lite salt and black pepper to taste

* Bring 3½ cups of lightly salted water to a boil. While water is coming to a boil, rinse the wild rice under running water in a strainer. When water is boiling, add both wild and brown rice.
* Cover, turn heat to low and cook for about 45 minutes or until tender. Do not overcook. You will most likely have excess water when rice is cooked properly.
* Put cooked rice in a strainer and drain out excess water. Set aside in a large enough bowl to mix everything together.
* Heat 1 TBS chicken broth in a large non-stick skillet. Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and celery and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
* Mix all the stuffing ingredients together in bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Oatmeal Cookie Oatmeal

I love oatmeal raisin cookies. Unfortunately, my hips don't seem to like them as much as I do! However, as always, I've found a way to work around that little problem to create a perfect healthy breakfast treat - and when done correctly can taste JUST LIKE an oatmeal cookie, without all of the bad stuff. With the weather getting colder, it's the perfect way to coax you out of your warm bed. Plus, you'll stay full until lunch time!

Oatmeal Cookie Oatmeal (1 serving)
1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 cup nuts (crushed or uncrushed)
2 tbs Splenda
Combine oats, water, and raisins. Stir together with a spoon. Microwave on medium for 6 minutes, or until oatmeal is cooked. Add nuts and sugar/sweetener. Adjust to taste, and enjoy your oatmeal raisin cookies in a bowl!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Scratch Out STRESS

Ever wonder who wrote that holiday tune, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?" I mean, sure, the holidays are great. Family. Friends. Food. Presents. Parties. What's not to like?
Well, there are those family members that you avoid the other 364 days of the year but somehow manage to cross your path in the holiday season. Plus, family and friends could pop in your house at any moment, so there's a need to always keep the house prepared for company. You have to spend a little extra time in the kitchen for food preparation, and there are always tempting goodies around...Ironically, when you have less time to be at the gym, you actually need an extra workout throughout the week... And all of those special people in your life need presents, and who has the money for that? And can you keep a balance between your husband's work party, your Secret Santa exchange that you do with your girlfriends every year, and your kid's soccer team church party? Plus, isn't there a school program for you to be at right now? Oh yeah...there's all of that.
The holidays come, but there doesn't seem to be much rest. Most of us feel like we work just as hard as one of Santa's elves on Christmas Eve. Well, I can't make your extended family stop being weird. I can't give you a raise at work. And I can't change that you have four parties every weekend from now until December. But I can tell you a few things that you can do to reduce your stress as much as possible.
1. Limit the amount of sugar and caffiene that you consume. Stress plus one of these things is a trigger to make your heart flutter even more.
2. Focus on natural forms of food. Bring a bag of fresh fruit and cut up vegetables to snack on during the workday. Learn to take health breaks instead of coffee breaks.
3. Don't slack off on your exercise routine. You need those endorphins to keep going! Skipping the gym will only make you feel more lazy and less in control...especially when you step on the scale and no New Year's Resolution will fix it quickly.
4. Practice deep breathing exercises . It sounds silly, but you can do even when sitting in traffic on the freeway or sitting at your desk at work. It works.
5. Keep a water bottle on your desk to drink throughout the day.
6. During breaks, do shoulder shrugs and neck stretches. Take mini stretch breaks throughout the day.
7. Keep a positive mental attitude. Look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself, "I look good, feel good and am going to have a great day!"
8. Pamper yourself. Taking a bath with epsom salts will act as a natural muscle relaxer and reduce stress.
9. Recognize time as a gift. Commit with a friend to meet and go walking twice a week every day for the next year. Your friendship will grow without shrinking your pocketboom...and you're both getting some exercise.
10. Do something for someone else. Volunteer at a shelter with your family, or provide gifts for a family who can't afford to celebrate this season. Have you ever felt worse after you've helped someone? I didn't think so.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Peanut Butter Lovers Month!

Do you love peanut butter? Well, then join the celebration! November is National Peanut Butter Lovers Month. For me, peanut butter is pretty much the ultimate comfort food. When I have a bad day, a peanut butter sandwich can always make it better. Of course, when I was a kid, I ate the full-fat Peter Pan version. As I got older and developed healthier habits, I switched to natural peanut butter. While it's full of rich vitamins and protein, I can't help but feel guilty about the high fat content. A peanut butter sandwich, even with natural peanut butter, is not something you can indulge in every day. Or can you?

Enter Better ‘n Peanut Butter® - an all natural spread that delivers 85% less fat and 40% less calories when compared to regular butter. In addition, it's loaded with calcium carbonate, lecithin, vitamins E & C, antioxidants. Get this, it's low sodium version only contains 95 mg of sodium! It contains all natural flavors, is colored with annatto and paprika, and is sweetened by tapioca syrup, pure water, and dehydrated cane juice and rice syrup.

You can check their website - for a list of retailers. You can even order it online if it's not available at your local health store. Try it - if you're a peanut butter lover, the only thing you'll be missing is extra fat and calories...because you sure won't be lacking in taste or satisfaction.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Healthy Halloween Habits

1) Don't send your kids trick-or-treating on an empty stomach. Otherwise, they will consume a ton of unneccessary calories from candy! (The same rule applies to you if you are digging through their treat bag after they get home! Do it on a full stomach so you can control yourself!)

2) Allow yourself to have ONE of your matter how bad it is for you. You are more likely to be satisfied by getting the actual candy you want instead of downing the whole bag of sugar free chocolates. If you must have a Butterfinger, do it. But enjoy the snack size. And just one. :)

3) Remember - there's more to Halloween than just the candy. Have fun helping your kids carve a pumpkin, and don't forget that you're never too old to dress up! There's lots of things you can do besides see how many pieces of a candy you can eat in one day.

4) If you are taking your kids trick-or-treating, WALK! Use this as a chance to get some extra exercise, and earn those additional calories in your candy splurge! It always amazes me to see parents driving their kids from house to house. Get out, stretch your legs, and walk the neighborhood with them. Also, many churches and parks put on a Halloween festival. Stay active, and you won't even notice the extra calories on your body!

5) Resist the urge to buy the *ON SALE* Halloween candy on November 1. No matter how great a buy it is, you don't need the extra temptations lying around. Your house has enough candy right now! (Plus, Thanksgiving is just around the corner...)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Top 4 Liquid Myths BUSTED (And a final piece of advice your waistline can't afford to miss!)

1) Diet Coke is healthier than Coke. (Sorry to any Yankees - I'm from the South. Everything's a Coke, even if it's a Mountain Dew.)

So it is true that Diet Coke has about 120 less calories than Coke. But what is exactly healthy about artificially colored, flavored, and sweetened carbonated water? Nothing. You're better off to drink something else.

2. Juice has less fat than milk, so you should drink more juice than milk.

Did you know that a glass of juice contains more calories than a glass of 1% milk? Well, it's true. Juice is composed of mainly sugar and some vitamins, while milk contains protein, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. So as long as you are not indulging in the full fat version, stick to the moo juice.

3. Bottled water is better for you than tap water.

Hate to break it to you, but they're basically the same thing, except tap water contains more fluoride, which is healthier for your mouth. Drinking occassional bottled water is not bad for you, but it will damage your wallet quickly. (If you insist on sticking to bottled water, make sure you buy a brand that contains fluoride.)

4. The main beverage that you should stay away from is coffee.
In general, there is no harm to your health if you drink coffee in small to moderate amounts. Now, doctors are saying that small amounts of caffiene can actually boost your metabolism and may aid in weight loss. Just remember that as always, MODERATION is the key. In fact, coffee contains less caffiene than most soft drinks. In addition to limiting your coffee cups, go easy on the cream and sugar. Use skim milk and a natural sweetener such as stevia instead.
The Bottom Line...
If you trade one calorie-laden beverage for water every day, you may drop as many as 15 pounds over a year. So guzzle that water! Also, get yourself in the habit of checking the Nutrition Facts before you drink something. Remember that ALL calories count - no matter whether you eat them or drink them!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Caprese Chicken Salad with Orange Zest Vinaigrette

Many times, people fail on their diet plans when they don't incorporate variety and variations to their meals. You should consistently change up your meals with the seasons so you are always using the freshest ingredients for a particular time of year. Here's a recipe to keep you on track for the fall that will satisfy your taste buds at the same time.

Caprese Chicken Salad

Begin with a bed of mixed greens and baby spinach. Then, sprinkle with pecans, dried cranberries, and basil. Top with 3 oz. of grilled chicken. To top off your perfect fall salad, stack two layers of tomato slices and fresh peeled orange slices.

Orange Zest Vinaigrette


¼ cup Splenda
1 tsp. paprika
4 TBSP reduced-sugar orange juice
1 tsp. minced onions
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup flaxseed oil
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. Morton Lite salt
3 TBSP white vinegar
1 tsp. grated orange zest


1) Place splenda, dry mustard, paprika, and salt in a blender or food processor.
2) Add orange juice, vinegar, onion, and orange zest to dry ingredients and blend well.
3) With blender running, slowly pour oil and applesauce into orange juice mixture.
4) Place in an airtight container and refrigerate.

To avoid the temptation of drowning your salad in dressing, try putting it in a spray bottle instead of a container that you pour. Then, lightly spray your salad for just as much flavor without the additional calories.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Think Pink :)

If you've noticed even more pink everywhere you go lately, I hope you've taken the time to ask and figure out that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Stats are startling how often this disease occurs in women - pretty much everyone you meet has a story. My mom is a breast cancer survivor - 10 years cancer-free in July 2008! :)

Good news - there are so many things you can do to get involve in supporting medical research, specially related to breast cancer. Most of them probably don't even altar your healthy daily routine. So check out these suggestions, and help make a difference. Keep in mind that every little bit helps, and there is no donation of time, money, or effort that is too small.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has raised a billion dollars to date in breast cancer research and has committed to raise another $2 billion over the next decade. A 5K is just 3.1 miles. It's a great distance for someone who's never done a race before, and a favorite distance among routine racers! Even better, unlike longer distances, the training program doesn't take long. You can be ready for a 5k in a couple of weeks! Find the race closest to you at

To best prevent injury and keep you safe, runners should change their running shoes every 350-400 miles. Also, a great way to keep your shoes at their best is to alternate between 2 pairs of running shoes. If you alternate your shoes, you can make them last twice as long instead of just beating up the same pair everyday. So, you will actually save money in the long run by having 2 pairs of running shoes! New Balance continues its Lace Up for the Cure® program benefiting research. From January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007, New Balance will donate fifteen percent of wholesale sales for each product sold from the Lace Up for the Cure® Pink Ribbon Collection. Lace Up footwear and apparel is distinguished by pink tissue paper in the shoebox, as well as hang-tags, and other in-store signage.

A study done at the University of Tennessee showed that those who incorporated fat free or low-fat yogurt into their diet program lost signifiantly more weight and maintained weight loss longer than those who did not include low-fat dairy products in their diet. Plus, Yoplait sponsors the Save Lids to Save Lives® program, which takes place throughout September and October each year. For each pink lid mailed in by customers, Yoplait will donate 10 cents to breast cancer research with a guaranteed donation of $500,000.

Energizer® supports the breast cancer movement by offering consumers the opportunity to receive a limited edition "Keep Going" Charm Bracelet, by redeeming three proofs of purchase from select Energizer® products by December 31, 2007. So you get to support breast cancer while adding to your jewelrey collection! :) Energizer will also donate $1.00 to Komen for each Charm Bracelet redeemed up to a maximum donation of $10,000. During the month of October, Energizer® will donate $0.50 to Komen for each battery pack sold with a minimum guaranteed donation of $100,000 up to a maximum donation of $200,000.

There aren't too many bags of chips that have ever found their way into my pantry. These whole grain basked chips are an exception. SunChips® brand created the Crunch for the Cure SunChips® pink ribbon bag program. Consumers can submit proofs of purchase from specially marked bags of SunChips® Snacks online, and SunChips® will donate 25 cents to Komen for the Cure for each proof of purchase submitted with a minimum guarantee of $100,000 up to $350,000.
To view an article on breast cancer prevention, follow this link:,6176,s1-3-181-1915-1,00.html

Thursday, October 25, 2007

You Might Be a Runner If...

...You cried more when they discontinued your favorite running shoe than you cried when your last boyfriend broke up with you.

...You have pictures of yourself wearing a plastic bag....multiple pictures...not from the same day

...Your running gear is worth more money than everything else in your closet

...Your friends say they need to train before they can run with you

...You refer to food as "fuel"

...You talk about going for an "easy ten" and people look at you and say, "Ten minutes?".

...You double knot all of your shoes...purely out of habit

...You have tried pretty much every granola, protein, and energy bar out there

...You have a pair of running shoes in the trunk of your car...just in case.

...A gym membership is not an optional financial purchase. It's a neccessity.

...When you arrive at a friend's house for the first time, the first thing you comment on is what a great neighborhood they have to run in.

...You try a new running route and can't wait to get home and get in your car to clock how far you went (even though you can pretty much guess it within 1/10 of a mile)

..You will not stay in a hotel than does not have a good fitness center. (Hey, if it rains, I've got to have options!)

...You know at least 47 ways to prepare oatmeal

..You buy a dog based on his ability to run at your pace.

...The word "fartlek" doesn't make you giggle like a 12-year-old.

...You know which color nail polish best disguises the fact that you don't neccessarily have 10 toenails

...You have literally "run" errands before

...You think a 4-mile walk or a Pilates class is a great way to rest on recovery days

...After you run, you take the phrase, "Wow, you're gross" as a compliment

...You don't have to ask, "Dean who?"

...You have started a conversation with a complete stranger because you can tell from their calves that they are a runner

...Your friends always know if they buy you something that says "Nike" for Christmas, you'll light up more than the Christmas tree

...When someone introduces you, they always follow your name with "who runs marathons" or "who ran twelve miles already this morning"

...BioFreeze has its own special spot in your medicine cabinet

...You keep running out of ponytail holders (Yes...pun intended)

...You would consider trading the diamond tennis bracelet you got for your birthday for a treadmill at home

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

FRUITIFIED Zone Perfect Nutrition Bars

Okay, so I've always kinda stayed away from ZONE Bars on a regular basis. While the taste is great and 14 grams of protein in just 200 calories is pretty impressive, I've always felt that their saturated fat content is a LITTLE high. Not to mention, if you're trying to use this as a quick breakfast , chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel are not exactly on my taste bud's radar that early in the morning.

But those days are OVER! The minds behind Berry Sear's Zone Diet have come out 4 new flavors of FRUITIFIED Zone Perfect Nutrition Bars - Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Orange Cranberry, and Banana Nut. Each bar has real fruit pieces, and they also have additional Vitamin A & C. Each bar is also loaded with potassium, free of unhealthy trans fat, and provides 14 grams of protein. The nutritional values vary a little bit, so check out the numbers below to see which flavors best match your personal eating plan. Some are slightly lower in calories, a few less grams of sugar, lower in saturated fat, etc. There's a bar for everyone somewhere in this mix!

Apple Cinnamon - Calories: 180; Total Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 0.5g; Trans Fat: 0g; Carbs: 27g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 17g; Protein: 14g

Blueberry - Calories: 190; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Trans Fat: 0g; Carbs: 25g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 14g; Protein: 14g

Orange Cranberry - Calories: 190; Total Fat: 5g; Saturated Fat: 2.5g; Trans Fat: 0g; Carbs: 24g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 11g; Protein: 14g

Banana Nut - Calories: 200; Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 1.5g; Trans Fat: 0g; Carbs: 24g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 12g; Protein: 14g

Breakfast suggestion: If you have time before you leave the house, take it out of the wrapper and pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. It adds that "just out of the oven" goodness to make you feel like you put a lot more effort into your breakfast preparation than you actually did.

Snack suggestion: These bars are great to fuel a workout after a day at work. 1-2 hours before your workout, eat half of the bar while you sip some water. Then, place the remainder of the bar in your gym bag. If you are headed straight to eat dinner after your workout, save the rest of the bar for the next day. However, if you're going to be a while before you get to eat again (have to pick up the kids, need a shower, you have to cook first, etc.), go ahead and finish the bar. This will prevent you from overeating later, and you can go ahead and refuel while your metabolism is still high.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BUST A RUT (And kick your butt!)

As a personal trainer, one of the top questions I am asked is, "If I am trying to lose weight, should I concentrate more on cardio, or should I focus on weight training?" I'm sure they love my response when I say, "Yes!" Not exactly the answer they were hoping for.

But the fact is, it's true. One of the best ways to lose weight is through circuit training, where you are alternating cardio and strength training drills in one workout. It's a guarenteed way to get you into your personal fat-burning zone.

BUT please remember that it is an ADVANCED way to lose weight. If you bust into a gym for the first time in 10 years and attempt to do this routine, you will leave the gym feeling sore, useless, and defeated. Don't do that to yourself. Build a fitness base by slowly building up your strength and your endurance. Then when you are ready to take your fitness to the next level, advance to circuit training.

If you have been in the gym for a while and you aren't quite seeing the dramatic results you saw when you first started your workout plan, try adding this routine into the mix 1 day next week. It should take you about an hour and a half to complete. The next week, try it for 2 days. The week after that and for 3 more weeks following, aim for 3 days per week. I have a 100% success rate with this workout.

I repeat, this is an ADVANCED workout.


SPRINTS – 30 minutes – Every 2 minutes, sprint for 30 seconds.


`1) Heavy Squats – 90 lbs. – 3 sets of 15-25 reps
(Sprint 1 lap between sets)

2) Incline Chest Flyes – 12 lbs. – 3 sets of 25 reps
(50 Jumping Jacks between sets)

3) Lunges w/ Glute Lift - 12 lbs. - 3 sets of 15 - each leg
(10 unlevel push-ups each side between sets)

**Walking Lunges – 1 Lap w/ 7 lb. dumbbells**

4) Power Clean & Press – 30 lbs. – 3 sets of 10
(20 athletic lunges between sets)

5) Step=Up with Bicep Curl – 7 lb dumbbells - 3 sets of 20
(20 tricep dips between sets)

6) Power Squat with Medicine Ball Toss – 2 sets of 20

7) Leg Burnout – 250 Rep Combo of Squats/Lunges


500 crunches, alternating exercises every 25 reps

FULL BODY STRETCH! - Take at least 10 minutes to stretch EVERY MUSCLE in your body. It's that important.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Heart Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

With Halloween right around the corner, your local grocery store probably is loaded with calorie-laden and unhealthy pumpkin pies, muffins, and sweets. However, the pumpkin itself is a very healthy food and one that you should include in your diet. The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene (just like sweet potatoes and carrots). Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body.

Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protect against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts(1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)
Calories 49 Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg Potassium 564 mg
Here's the catch. Don't give in to the store-made temptations. Instead, make a few adjustments to the store recipes, and indulge yourself (in moderation, of course) to this tasty fall treat. Plus, your house will smell amazing after these bake in the oven.
Heart-Healthy Pumpkin Muffins


3 cups Splenda
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 egg whites
1 lb. of canned pumpkin
3 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. Morton Lite Salt
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. all spice
½ tsp vanilla
2/3 cup water


Combine Splenda, applesauce, and eggs. Add pumpkin. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add spices. Add dry mixture to pumpkin mixture. Add water. Pour into two greased and flour loaf pans or muffin trays. Bake 1 hour at 350 or until bread/muffins test done. Enjoy!

Yield: 2 loaves/24 muffins

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Treadmill Running with Results

Do you feel like you're running and not getting closer to your fitness goals at all? Now, I'm not talking about running in place on a treadmill. But if you feel like you're running without results, see if this description matches your running routine...

You get to the gym, and you hop on YOUR treadmill. (You know you run on the same one every time.) You set your iPod to your favorite running playlist, and hit the start button. You warm-up for the recommended time, then you punch the speed up to your usual number, and you run for your normal time. When you're done, you cool down, wipe your sweat, and leave the gym. Successful? Maybe. But maybe not.

Our bodies are strange things. Once your body does an activity, it puts muscle memory into practice, meaning your body begins to recognize things you do repetitively. In an effort to prove its efficiency, your body even tries to cheat and find an easier way to do it than it did it last time. Guess what? That means, the awesome workout that you started doing two years ago doesn't give you the same calorie expenditure today. You've got to change it up to see results, and you've got to keep your muscles guessing.

Here are just three simple things you can do to bust the rut of your regular running routine:

1. Add an incline. Yeah, that's the other set of arrows next to the speed on the treadmill. Select a new number to try everyday. You may have to adjust your pace, so be patient with yourself. Don't expect yourself to be able to run up a hill as fast as you can take a flat path. Also, don't stay on the steepest hill for an entire run. Especially when you first begin experimenting with incline, stay at a number for a few minutes, and then change it. (And as an added bonus, interval training can really help keep you in your fat burning zone.)

2. Change the type of run you do everyday. Instead of coming to the gym and running for the same amount of time and at the same pace each day, experiment with each of these types of runs. You will find that you can push your body differently everyday, and you will start seeing changes in your body.

* Foundation run - A steady run at a comfortable, moderate aerobic pace
* Strides - 20-second relaxed sprints with 40-second jogging recoveries
* Long run - A long run done at the same pace as your foundation runs
* Hill repetitions - Uphill running intervals done at near maximum intensity with two-minute jogging recoveries
* Fartlek run - Foundation run with scattered 30-second bursts at one-mile race pace (i.e. the fastest pace you could sustain for five to seven minutes)
* Tempo run - Steady run at a threshold pace (i.e. between 10K and half-marathon race pace) sandwiched between a long warm-up and cool-down
* Speed intervals - One-minute running intervals done at speed pace (one-mile race pace) with three-minute active recoveries
* Lactate intervals -- One-to three-minute running intervals done at VO2max pace (i.e. 5K race pace) with jogging recoveries of equal duration

3. Take adequate time to recover between runs. Running is a high impact exercise, so you should treat it like one. Just like you give your muscles a day to recover between weight training, you shouldn't do two maximum intensity runs on back-to-back days. Maybe if you an hour of hill repititions one day, the next day you could do a foundation run on the next day. Even if you are training for a race, there should be between 1-3 days per week that you give your joints a rest from running completely.

Friday, October 19, 2007

10 Tips for Group Exercise Instructors....(that they usually don't tell you in training)

So you've taken group exercise classes for years, you've gone through training, and now you're ready to start tackle your first class! But before you do...check out these tips that they probably didn't mention during your certification.

10) Just because your class is quiet, that doesn’t mean that you should be.

We’ve all been there. The music is pumping, your muscles are working, and you are getting a great workout. You ask the class how they feel…and the silence follows. While this is not always the most encouraging moment, DON’T GIVE UP! As a GXI, I know that you are not quiet and shy, but your class might be! Remember that opposites attract, so keep your energy high. Also, they might not be as fit as you are (YET!) They may be feeling the burn, but at a breathless moment of workout and unable to respond. Keep encouraging, and keep motivating them.

9) All GXI’s have GX eyes too.

GX eyes are always open and alert. They are constantly moving and scanning the entire room. You are looking for newcomers, checking for proper form, and doing anything and everything you can to prevent injury and create a great workout. Remember the look past the front row. Don’t ignore a person who has a scowl on their face. You don’t have to personally call a person out who is doing something wrong, but if you say the cue to the entire class, but use your GX eyes to focus on them, most of the time, they will realize they are making the mistake and fix it.

8) Make fun of yourself.

Group exercise can be intimidating for some people – especially when they are new to fitness. Think about it – coming into a room full of people that you don’t know and attempting to blend in among the fitness freaks and fitness royalty (that’s you) in charge. The best way to break the ice is to tell an embarrassing story about yourself (FYI – microphones make an embarrassing story even funnier.) or to admit when you are struggling with an exercise. They are more likely to feel comfortable in your class if they know they have something to mock you for in the event that they mess up.

7) Train yourself to identify “newbies.”

Sure, in training, they tell you to arrive early, get the class set up, and be prepared to meet and greet faces as they come in. Those who are new should come up to you and introduce themselves and tell you it is their first time so you can be sure they have all of the equipment they need to participate in your class. Right. In Athletic Paradise, I’m sure they will. Nine times out of ten, this is not the case. It is your job to seek out people who look like they are new, introduce yourself, and help them. Repeat their name a few times as you are helping them so it will stick in your brain. Talk to them after the class, and get their feedback. New participants are a great way to get an honest opinion of how you are doing as an instructor.

6) The majority of your class would define themselves as competitive.

This is a great way to motivate and challenge your class. You can use competition in various forms in all of your classes! Divide your Cycle class into three sections, and have each section sprint in twenty second intervals over a minute. Get the other two sections to cheer the sprinting section on as they recover. In resistance classes, divide the room in half and add up the total weight lifted for each half. Challenge the losing side to win next week. In a yoga class, see who can hold a pose the longest – the men or the women. The possibilities are endless!

5) Have a class buddy (or two or three!)

As you teach, you will get to know the people who regularly attend your classes. Pull them aside, and ask if they would be willing to help newcomers in class. Most of the time, they will jump at the opportunity, since it makes them feel like an expert and gives them importance. (It also gives them a sense of ownership in your class, and they will continue to come!) As newbies arrive, pair them up with a willing veteran who can answer any one-on-one questions while you are instructing. This is also a great way to get your class participants to make friends and hold each other accountable to exercise!

4) Repeat after me: I am not Superman.

At least, not everyday! Some weeks, you will teach more than others, and you may get sore. Especially if you teach back-to-back days of resistance training, you may have to take one day lighter than the other. This is OKAY! Explain to your class why you are choosing a lighter workout for yourself, move on, and continue to motivate them to work their hardest. Remember – the members are always watching you. Some of them may even have their fitness goals set to look like you and copy your workout as closely as they can. Don’t model over-training for them. It’s just increasing their chance of injury.

3) Expect the unexpected.

In the five years I have been teaching, there have been some interesting moments. I’ve had a diabetic who forgot to eat breakfast almost faint during squats. I’ve had a woman answer her cell phone in Cycle to find out that her daughter had been in a car wreck. The fire alarm has gone off at the gym. I put a CD in on September 12, 2001, and the first song was Outkast’s Bombs over Baghdad. (Whoops!) You can’t always control what happens in your class, but you can control the way you handle it. Memorize this rule: If you put the members’ safety first, you will always make the right decision about what to do. (And on all of the above mentioned situations – I noticed she looked pale and had her sit down before she passed out, the daughter was not injured, the alarm was pulled by a teenager, and I admitted to being a bonehead.)

2) It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to make your class FULL and FUN.

Don’t get in the habit now of blaming poor timing, bad traffic, “old” equipment, etc. If you are a highly motivating instructor and doing your job to the best of your ability, you can have a full class at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon during football season. (Check out Micki’s Camp24 class at Hulen if you don’t believe me.) Also, you set the tone for your class. The more fun you have, the more fun your class will have. Be energetic, be creative, and be positive!

1) You have the best job in the entire world.

As you stand before your class participants, realize that you are getting paid to do the workout that they are paying to do! They may have been staring at a computer screen all day, chasing little kids around the house, or sitting in a classroom. It is your job to make sure that they get more fit and have fun along the way. Love your job, own it, and be thankful. J