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