Friday, July 31, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday

The Food Find: Kashi Fruit & Grain Bars

The Facts: If you’re looking for something sweet or an on the go snack packed with fiber, protein and healthy, whole grain carbs, look no further than the Kashi Fruit & Grain Bars. There are a ton of flavors ranging from Dark Chocolate Coconut to Pumpkin Pie or Trail Mix. Each variety has at least 4 grams of fiber, ranges from 120-140 calories and contains at least 4 grams of protein. PLUS, you think that your eating something like desert without the consequences of a calorie laden piece of chocolate fudge cake.

Spice it up! There’s really nothing you can do to make these chewy or crunchy bars better. However, I would like to recommend my favorite flavor: Dark Chocolate Coconut. It doesn’t taste coconut-y if you’re concerned, but it has a thick layer of fudgy goodness on top of it that makes the 120 calorie bar a sweet treat!

Until next Friday...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Health-a-licious Breakfast

Okay...obviously from the photo of my tasty breakfast this morning, I am not going to be the next Food Network Star based on my severe lack of food presentation. BUT it was so delicious, I wanted to share the super easy, super fast, super healthy meal that I call Cool and Spicy Breakfast. With 180 calories, 21 carbohydrates, 19 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber this breakfast is a total winner!

4 egg white omelet with the following:
  • 3/4 cup diced green, yellow, orange, red peppers (sauteed)
  • 1 tbsp diced onion (sauteed)
  • 1/2 slice deli pepper jack cheese
  • salt and cayenne pepper to taste

1 cup diced fresh peaches.

It takes like 5 minutes to make...Viola!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday's Move of the Week

The Move: The Squat

Experts agree, the squat is the most effective and efficient strength training move to firm and strengthen the lower body. This exercise is great because it’s functional, meaning that it mimics a movement that you do every day. In the squat’s case, the functionality is sitting down in and getting up from a chair. To burn the most amount of calories and to gain the most amount of strength when strength training, you want to use the most amount of muscles per move (plus always include large muscles). The squat does both of these things in one relatively simple movement.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the squat exercise, I would like to address something: knee problems. One question that almost all of my clients ask me before we begin squats is “aren’t squats bad for the knees?” The answer to this is no; when done correctly, squats should not effect the knees adversely in the slightest. IN fact, when performed with correct form, the squat can help strengthen the stabilizer muscles around the knee to prevent knee injury. But done incorrectly, your knees are going pay. Therefore, as with any exercise, it is very very important to use correct form and controlled movements. Let’s get into the squat…

The Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus, and Soleus (lower part of the calf)

How to:
Start standing with feet hip width apart.
  • Slowly, bend knees as you allow the hips to bend back behind you
  • Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground
  • Push through your heels and come back up to standing
  • Trainer Tips: A couple things to think about in regards to proper squatting form:

    • Never leg your knees go past your toes, try to keep them over your ankles as much as possible
    • Push through your heels and not your toes, this protects the knees while making sure that you are working the proper muscle groups to their full potential

    Make 'em Harder: You can make this move harder by adding weights…a barbell or two dumbbells work nicely. Just make sure that by adding weight you are not sacrificing your good form.


    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Fantastic Food Find Friday

    The Food Find: Missouri Peaches

    The Facts: Okay, so I know that peaches have been around a while so it’s not necessarily a food “find” BUT, thanks to a friend at work, I just discovered locally grown Missouri peaches and they are amazing! They are organic, juicy and full of flavor.

    Peaches in general are a fantastic fruit to snack on because they are relatively low in calories (just 68 in a large peach), high in fiber (3 grams), aid in digestion, contain over 70% of your daily vitamin C needs, have been show to decrease the risk of cancer and the list goes on. Locally grown organic Missouri peaches are even better for you because they don’t come with a coat of toxic pesticides like many peaches in our grocery stores…plus they just taste better!

    Peaches are in season NOW…so hurry out to you local farmers market and grab some today!

    Spice it up! Obviously you can eat peaches by themselves, but they also make great “toppers.” You can slice them up and top low fat yogurt or non-fat cottage cheese with them to make a great protein packed snack. They are also awesome in smoothies or as a frozen treat.

    Until next Friday...

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    Cardio and Weight Loss

    I have had three people in the past week ask me “what’s the best cardio for weight loss?” Since it’s such a popular question, let’s discuss.

    Recent studies have shown that interval training burns more fat and calories than steady state aerobic as well as increases cardiovascular fitness. Interval training is when you alternate bursts of intense movements such as sprinting with more moderate paces like jogging. Interval training can be done while doing practically any cardiovascular workout; biking, running, swimming, working out on the elliptical, you name it. Even more awesome is that interval training is more efficient and can be completed in less time than steady state cardio with the same amount of calorie burn.

    Want to try it? Here’s a sample 30-minute interval training workout.
    (Please note that the levels of intensity are based on a scale from 1 to 10. Level 1 intensity would be sitting on your couch watching TV whereas Level 10 intensity would be at an all out sprint or your maximum.)

    5 minute warm up (Level 3-4)
    30 seconds moderate intensity (Level 6)
    30 seconds high intensity (Level 8-9)
    ---repeat 30 second intervals for a total of 8 minutes---
    1 minute moderate intensity (Level 6)
    1 minute high intensity (Level 8-9)
    ---repeat 1 minute intervals for a total of 4 minutes---
    30 seconds moderate intensity (Level 6)
    30 seconds high intensity (Level 8-9)
    ---repeat 30 second intervals for a total of 8 minutes---
    5 minute cool down (Level 3-4)

    Something to remember about fat loss/weight loss: a combination of cardio, strength training and diet are all necessary to reach your goals effectively and efficiently.

    In good health,


    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    Monday's Move of the Week

    The Move: Deadlift with Upright Row

    Doing exercises that engage multiple muscles and joints (especially upper body and lower body) are efficient and scorch calories by increasing the intensity and getting the heart pumping. Doing moves such as a deadlift which targets the hamstrings (back of the thighs) combined with an upright row targeting the shoulders, is a perfect example of this efficient and effective way to reach strength and aesthetic goals.

    The Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, biceps

    How to:

    1. Start standing upright with feet slightly closer than shoulder width apart and gripping a weighted barbell with a close grip facing you.

    2. With legs straight, slowly bend at the waist and lower the barbell to an inch above the ground.

    3. Using the back of your legs and glutes, pull yourself up to the starting position (standing straight).

    4. As soon as you are upright, raise the barbell to the top of your chest keeping the elbows above the bar at all times.

    5. Return to starting position and repeat starting with the deadlift.

    Trainer Tips:
    During the deadlift, focus on your hamstrings and glutes by squeezing them as you rise back to standing position without engaging the lower back
    Both movements should be slow and controlled without jerking motions

    Make 'em Harder: This movement can be done with two dumbbells. You can also work on your core and balance by performing these moves on a BOSU.

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    Fantastic Food Find Friday

    The Food Find: Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds

    The Facts: This might be my favorite food find of the summer. These almonds are not so much chocolate covered as they are chocolate powdered. Like almonds that have been roasted with salt, this power snack is lightly coated with chocolate…yummy!

    These guys would be easy to overeat so thankfully, they come in handy dandy 100 calorie packs. Per 100 calorie serving (.63 oz) there are 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. For your “fat-phobes” out there, the fat in almonds is nothing to fear: they contain the healthy monosaturated fat which has shown to lower the risk of stroke and heart disease as well as reduce bad cholesterol (HDL) levels in the blood. Almonds are also a great source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. In fact, a servicing of almonds contains 70% of your daily vitamin E recommendations.

    Spice it up! These are great alone, but I bet if you crushed them up a bit and added them to low fat vanilla yogurt it might be close to heaven! Also, great in trail mix for a chocolaty kick!

    Until next Friday...

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    Monday's Move of the Week

    The Move: The Lunge

    The lunge is a very effective way to strengthen and tighten your legs and butt. It’s also a great functional exercise as it mimics walking (exaggerated walking of course). Lunges use all the muscles in the legs because the action is rather unstable and even the muscles that are not doing the primary heavy lifting are engaging so support and stabilize the body.

    The Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, Gluts, Soleus (lower part of the calf). Hamstrings and gastrocnemius (upper part of the calf) also engage to provide stabilization

    How to:

    1. Start by taking a large step forward placing most of the weight on your front heel.
    2. With controlled movement, bend both knees until each are at a 90 degree angle. It is okay to come up on the back toes.
    3. Slowly raise back up without locking the knees and step the front foot back to the starting position.
    4. Do all reps (12) on one side and then switch sides and repeat.

    Trainer Tips:

    • Check yourself out in a mirror to make sure that your front knee remains over your ankle and never goes past the toe (this will project your knees).
    • Keep breathing throughout the exercise.
    • Try lunges ad different angles for even more functional training. You can lunge back or out to the side.

    Make 'em Harder: Grab a set of dumbbells and hold them at your sides while completing your lunges to increase resistance. You can also lunge onto or off of a BOSU to challenge stability and improve balance. Walking lunges are also great. These are performed without turning to the starting position and simply lunging in a straight line from one point to another.


    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Fantastic Food Find Friday

    The Food Find: Sabra Hummus

    The Facts: What can I say…I’m a hummus lover. I love it with toasted pita, I love it in a whole wheat wrap with spouts and turkey, and I love love love a good hummus simply on celery sticks. I’ve tried many varieties of hummus; store bought, homemade and in restaurants, but the best by far I have had is Sabra brand. It is so smooth and creamy and it comes in awesome flavors like Roasted Red Pepper, Luscious Lemon and my personal favorite Supremely Spicey (watch out…it’s really hot!).

    So what’s so great about hummus? First, it’s one of the oldest foods…it dates back to ancient Egypt, so that gives it a few cool factor points. Second, it not only tastes delicious, but it is nutritious as well. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are the main ingredient in hummus which are packed with folic acid, fiber, zinc and magnesium, plus protein. Lastly, in a two tablespoon serving, there are only 80 calories…hurray!

    Recipe: Want to make your own super easy hummus and save some cash? Follow this simple recipe:
    *1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (drained but keep the liquid)
    *1/2 teaspoon cumin
    *2 tablespoons lemon juice
    *3 minced garlic cloves

    Use a food processor to blend all ingredients until smooth…how easy was that?!

    Spice it up! Throw in some minced jalapenos, a tablespoon of tahini or some diced roasted red peppers.

    Until next Friday...

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    Monday's Move of the Week

    The Move: Ab Bicycles

    Everyone always wants to know the most effective core move for tight and toned abdominals. Well friends, one exercise that consistently tops the charts of most effective and efficient ab exercises is the bicycle crunch. Why is this movement so effective? Well, in one movement, it targets both the rectus abdominis or the “six pack” muscle as well as the obliques which are the muscles to the right and the left of the rectus abdominis (where love handles tipically pop up…or out :) )

    The Muscles worked: Rectus Abdominis and Obliques

    How to:

    1. Start by laying on your back with legs bent at a 90 degree angle and finger tips behind the ears with elbows out wide.
    2. Contract your abdominals and bring one knee towards the chest while straightening the opposite leg to a 45 degree angle. At the same time, bring the shoulder blade off the floor and bring the opposite shoulder towards the bend knee.
    3. With control, switch legs and arms; opposite shoulder towards opposite knee (the knee and shoulder do NOT need to touch)
    4. Repeat until failure.

    Trainer Tips:

    • Make sure that you do not pull the head and neck with your hands…the hands are there for support only.
    • Keep breathing thoughout the exercise
    • You can do this movement fast or slow, but remember to keep good form at any speed

    Make 'em harder: There are many ways to make this move more challenging. One of the best is to lower your straight leg so that it is about 1-2 inches off the floor. Also, you can try this movement on a BOSU ball.


    Friday, July 3, 2009

    Fantastic Food Find Friday: Fast Food Edition

    The Food Find: McDonald’s Premium Southwest Chicken Salad

    The Facts: I know, I know…McDonald’s not something that people automatically think of when they think “health food.” I personally stay away from the place unless it is an absolute emergency. HOWEVER, we all have crazy busy lives and let’s be honest, there are the occasional instances when a super fast drive thru is the only way we can get a bite to eat. So, in these instances, it’s important to arm yourself with a healthy alternative to the burger and fries deal of the day.

    On Tuesday, I was in one of those “situations” where I was about the eat my arm off and the only place with food between client #1 and client #2 was a little place with big golden arches. Fortunately, earlier this week, a friend gave me a coupon for a FREE Premium Southwest Chicken Salad (at which I have to say I scoffed at him and with my nose in the air I told him “I don’t eat at McDonald’s.” Sorry, Friend! I was wrong!)

    The salad was actually tasty. It had a good mix of salad greens, black beans, roasted corn, peppers and tomatoes, a wee bit of cheese, a few tortilla strips and a good size grilled chicken breast (fried chicken is an option as well…don’t go there…). All of that came to 320 calories, 9 grams of fat and 6 grams of fiber. Not bad, right? An even better surprise came from the dressing, Newman’s Own Creamy Southwest Dressing, which only tacked on 100 calories and 6 grams of fat. Compared to some salad dressings, that’s a major calorie steal! The only downside to the salad that I could find was the sodium content. With 960 mg of sodium in the salad alone, that sucks up over 40% of your daily sodium allowance…yikes! But overall, the salad was a winner and I’m sure glad I found it for those “emergency” situations.

    Spice it up! If I had time to spice this one up, I would add more black beans and mix one half packet of the dressing with some fresh chunky salsa…yummy!

    Until next Friday…