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.