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!