Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sip on this...spit out that: Toast to 2010 without ruining your diet

With New Year's Eve upon us, we will find ourselves surrounded by not only tasty food choices but fun drink options. It’s a fantastic time of year, right? But all the mixed drinks and chocolate martinis can undo weeks and even months of eating salads and hard work at the gym. So here’s a list of some of the most calorie-laden drinks and of course some good options if you plan to toast the night away. Please note that the drinks listed are frequently served at a higher volume than the suggested servings, so watch your portion size.

Sip this…Champagne (100 calories per 5 oz)
Spit out that…Eggnog (214 per 5 oz)

Sip this…Bloody Mary (125 per 5 oz)
Spit out that…Martini (306 per 5 oz)

Sip on this…Kailua and coffee (150 per 5 oz)
Spit out that…Chocolate Martini (376 per 5 oz)

Sip on this…Light beer (56-100 calories per 12 oz)
Spit out that…regular beer (150-200 calories per 12 oz)

Sip on this…wine (100 calories per 5 oz)
Spit out that…amaretto sour (350 calories per 5 oz)

And what about mixers? Well here’s the deal: a mixer can make your drink double in calories pretty darn fast. A 1.5 oz shot (jigger) of distilled liquor such as vodka, gin or rum contains about 100 calories. Add that to 12 oz of your favorite soda and you’ve just make that little shot into a 250 calorie drink. Think tonic water and juice is safe? Think again; 124 calories per 12 oz of tonic water and about 200 per 12 oz pour for your favorite juice. Yikes! So what’s a party person to do? Use diet sodas, diet tonic water and club soda as mixers.

Other sneaky ways to have a good time without breaking the calorie bank with beverages:

  • Start with two large glasses of water before you sip even one alcoholic drink. This will cause you to drink slowly since you are no longer thirsty and your stomach is fuller
  • Drink one-on-one: before you grab another glass of wine, drink a glass of water. Keep alternating your favorite drink with water and you will drink less
  • Give your friends a ride. Offer to drive friends to and from the party...sober. How easy is that…no calories from alcohol! Just be careful not to drink other calorie heavy drinks. Stick to diet soda and water.
Happy Celebrating!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Move of the Week: Reverse Lunges

The Move: Reverse Lunge

Lunges are great for the butt and thighs but add a little movement with the lunge and you get a great butt and thighs plus a strong core and improved balance

Muscles Worked: Thighs, Gluts, Core

How to:

  1. Start by taking a large step backwards placing most of the weight on the toe of your back foot and the heel of your front foot.
  2. With control, 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 back foot forward 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.

Make 'em Harder: Grab a set of dumbbells and hold them at your sides while completing your lunges to increase resistance. You can also challenge you balance even more by bringing your back leg up to a 90 degree angle without touching the floor before stepping back into the lunge position.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Favorite Soup of the Moment...

So I’ve been sick for about a week now and the only thing that sounds good to eat is soup (okay…and chocolate). I’ve done the spicy chicken tortilla soup for two days in a row now and am no working on my Tons-O-Vegetable “Beef” Soup. The “beef” is in quotations because I use lean ground turkey but then beef it up with beef broth. This soup is not for the faint of heart…it’s bold, chunky AND you can get multiple servings of veggies per bowl…oh yeah and it’s super tasty!

This recipe should fill an entire stock pot and last for days…feel free to add/take away/or substitute veggie choices.

  • 2-3 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 6 stocks of celery (chopped)
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • One package mixed veggies (corn, carrots, peas and green beans)
  • One package mixed veggies (lima beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower)
  • Parsley, basil, oregano to taste
  • 10 cups beef broth
  1. In stockpot, brown and drain turkey.
  2. Add fresh chopped veggies, drained turkey and spices to the still hot stock pot.
  3. Add beef broth, can of diced tomatoes and frozen veggies.
  4. Cover on medium high for 1-2 hours.

How easy is that?!

Enjoy! J

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Monday's Move of the Week

The Move: Enjoying the Holidays

Now I don’t promote skipping your workouts just because you get busy during the holidays, BUT in case you get behind a bit in your exercise routine, there are ways to burn extra calories during Christmas and New Year’s celebrating. Check out how many calories you can burn doing the following typical holiday activities for 60 minutes*:

  • Dancing the night away: 300 calories
  • Cleaning house before guests arrive: 205 calories
  • Shoveling snow off your driveway/sidewalk: 409 calories
  • Shopping for the perfect gifts: 175 calories
  • Ice Skating: 477 calories
  • Helping kiddos play with their new toys: 225 calories

All of these activities are great because they work the entire body AND are things you might have been planning to do anyway! So lend a hand doing the dishes, playing with your nieces and nephews and become healthier and happier as a result!

*calorie burn is based on a person weighing 150 lbs

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday

The Food Find (recipe edition): Dark Chocolate Bites with Almonds and Cherries

The Facts: Just because you are trying to eat healthy, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a very tasty, chocolaty cookie that wont break the calorie bank. I a version of this recipe in Fitness Magazine and adapted it to taste better J I’m making these for a cookie exchange I’m going to tonight and I’m sure they’ll be a hit (I did a trial run last week…delish!) Check out the stats on these cookies. Per cookie: calories, 1g protein, 4g carbohydrate, 1.5g fat (0.7g saturated).

So enjoy, but also remember that these should be eaten in moderation…pop five of these suckers and you’re looking at 150 calories…enjoy slowly! J

Dark Chocolate Bites with Almonds and Cherries

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Makes: 5 dozen cookies

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 egg whites
Small pinch salt
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped or slivered almond

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa and flour.

2. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually add the confectioner's sugar. When all the sugar has been added, raise the speed to high and beat until the whites have a marshmallow-like consistency. Beat in the vanilla.

3. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in half the melted chocolate, then half the cocoa-flour mixture, scraping the side of the bowl. Repeat with the remaining chocolate and cocoa-flour mixture.

4. Fold in the cherries and almonds; let the mixture sit until thick enough to scoop, about 5 minutes.

5. Scoop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets by level teaspoonfuls, leaving about an inch between cookies. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, until the cookies are crackled on the outside.

6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 1 minute, then transfer them to a wire rack. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Spice it up! I think that enjoying these chocolaty, almondy, cherry-y bites would be perfect with a great cup of tea.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cold Weather Workout Tips

(From an article I wrote for

Can’t stand working out indoors even when it looks like Antarctica outside? Outdoor lovers just need to follow a few simple tips for safe exercising in the frigid temperatures.

COVER UP When we are cold, our bodies focus most of its heating effort to the core to protect our heart and other organs. Therefore, make sure to cover up your extremities (arms and legs, hands and feet as well as your head/ears).

CHOOSE LAYERS Our bodies generate a great deal of heat when we exercise…enough to make it feel as much as 30 degrees warmer that the actual temperature, So dress in layers when exercising outside so that you can take off clothing as you start to heat up and put layers back on if needed. Wear fabric that is a synthetic moisture-wicking material as your first layer, then proceed with cotton of fleece layers as well as a waterproof layer if it is snowing or raining. For those with asthma or in temperatures below freezing (32 degrees), cover your mouth with a scarf or mask.

For the complete post (originally published by, which includes a Snowed-in Workout for anyone, anywhere, click here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday's Move of the Week

The Move: Yoga

‘Tis the season for cookies, eggnog and…heart attacks. That’s right, the most deaths caused by heart attacks are on Christmas day, the day after Christmas and New Years day. So it’s also the season to try to slow down and ease our stress. Yoga is a fantastic way to do both, plus, yoga has many more benefits such as:

  • Decreasing heart rate and blood pressure
  • Increasing concentration and elevates mood
  • Relieving arthritis and back pain
  • Improving posture, strength and flexibility

Therefore, check out your local yoga studio or the class listings at your gym. OR for those who prefer to practice yoga by themselves (I’m with you!), Exercise TV on Demand has some great yoga segments and your can buy or rent yoga DVDs!

Muscles Worked: Total Body

Trainer Tips:

  • Make sure not to push yourself too much if you are new to yoga, breath into the stretches and do not go to the point of pain. Your flexibility and strength will increase as you continue going to class or working out to your DVD.

Click here for other ways to degrease your (and your loved one’s) chance of heart attack this season.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday

The Food Find: Harvestland individually wrapped, all natural chicken breasts

The Facts: I found Harvestland individually wrapped, all natural chicken breasts at Walmart a couple weeks ago and they have been life changing (that might be an exaggeration…but they’re still awesome). These chicken breasts are individually wrapped so you don’t have to freeze or defrost all of them at the same time if it’s just you eating. Also, these suckers don’t have any hormones, antibiotics and are all veggie fed. This is a good thing people. I love all natural meat, BUT it’s soooo expensive BUT you can get Harvestland chicken for about $5-6 for 3 half breasts…best deal I’ve found yet!

So Enjoy your chicken chemical free…it tastes better, cooks better and is just plain better.

Spice it up! My favorite way to bake this chicken is by topping it with a little BBQ sauce and throwing it in the oven at 350 degrees for 22 minutes…sooooo good!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday's Move of the Week

Bar/Table Machine

The Move: Assisted Pull Ups

Pull ups, real pull ups, are great, but not many people can do them before training for a while. Therefore, the invention of the assisted pull up! There are assisted pull up machines that you can use at your gym, OR you can also use the smith machine bar or even a table or desk in your home to do this move. Aside from this move’s ability to get you out of a sticky, hanging-off-the-edge-of-a-cliff situation, pull ups are a fantastic exercise that works multiple muscles in the back, chest and arms…all at once!

Muscles Worked: Back, Arms, Chest

How to (Assisted Pull Up Machine):

  1. Start by adjusting the weight on the machine (the heavier the weight, the more assistance you will get)
  2. Grip the handle bars with hands approximately shoulder width apart
  3. Slowly pull yourself up so that your chin is above your hands
  4. With control, lower yourself down to starting position
  5. Repeat until exhaustion

How to (Smith Machine bar, sturdy desk or table):

  1. Start gripping the bar, table or desk edge with hands approximately shoulder width apart
  2. The position of your knees is key…the more bent your knees are, the less challenging the pull up will be. Straight legs are the hardest position here.
  3. Slowly pull yourself up so that your chin is above your hands
  4. With control, lower yourself down to starting position
  5. Repeat until exhaustion

Trainer Tips:

  • When using a bar, desk or table, it’s easy to use your legs to move your body up. Try focusing on just using your arms to pull you up and only use as much leg “help” as needed to complete the move.

Make ‘em Harder: If these are easy for you…go to a straight on Pull Up…no assistance…just the bar you are pulling yourself up on and you!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday: Think Thin Bars

The Food Find: Think Thin High Protein Bars

The Facts:

If you’re like me, you find that getting good protein in your diet is sometimes tough with all the running around, driving and just plain not being at home (and refusing to go throw a drive thru for a meal). Protein problem solved. The Think Thin High Protein Bars come in flavors like Crunchy Peanut Butter, Crispy Brownie and Chocolate Fudge. They have 20 grams of protein and are sugar and gluten free…so great for people suffering from Celiac or Diabetes.

Each bar has about 240 calories, so this is not a snack bar but a meal replacement!

I found an assortment of Think Thin products at Hy-Vee in their Healthy Market. So go there and grab one today!

Spice it up! To make this a fantastic and complete meal, add a small piece of fruit and some fresh cut veggies!