Friday, February 26, 2010

Should you exercise if you have a cold?

As winter drags on, everyone seems to be suffering from colds. If you have the common cold, it’s okay to work out; in fact you might even feel better. Studies have shown that exercising with the common cold (runny or stuffy nose, sore throat) does not have any negative impact on the body. In fact some participants reported feeling better after exercising with a cold. So just keep these guidelines in mind and feel better soon!

  • If your illness is “above the neck” (think head cold, runny nose, sore throat), keep up with your exercise routine.
  • If you are vomiting, have diarrhea or a chest cold, take it easy until your symptoms lessen. Also, if you have a fever or severe body aches, it’s a good idea to take the day off from your fitness routine.

Of course, if you question your ability to work out when your sick, double check with your doctor.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My new favorite breakfast...

Here’s my new favorite breakfast…it’s warm, spicy and totally satisfying…plus, it keeps me from going through the drive-thru.

Sausage and Egg Sandwich:

1 Morning Star Farms hot and spicy sausage patty

1 toasted Oroweat Sandwich thin

2 cooked egg whites

Throw the eggs and cooked sausage patty on the sandwich thin and you’ve got yourself a super healthy version of a McDonald’s favorite. Let’s see how they compare…

Erin’s Breakfast Sandwich:

Calories: 203

Fat: 4 grams

Saturated Fat: 1grams

Protein: 21 grams

Carbs: 24 grams

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 572 mg

Fiber: 7 grams

McDonald’s Sausage Biscuit with Egg:

Calories: 510

Fat: 33 grams

Saturated Fat: 14 grams

Protein: 18 grams

Carbs: 36 grams

Cholesterol: 250 mg

Sodium: 1,170 mg

Fiber: 2 grams

WOW…big, fat, crazy difference right? Try it. Love it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Attitude is everything...

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ...

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitudes."

-Charles Swindoll

Friday, February 19, 2010

Beat the winter blues with food and exercise!

We’ve now sloshed, slide and endured winter for several months now. With the short days, cloudy skies and freezing temperatures comes the winter blues. Now that the holidays are over and spring still seems a long way off, you might start feel sad, low energy, sleepy and just plain not-yourself around this time of year. You can help yourself get through the winter-funk with a smile on your face by eating certain foods and exercising.

Foods that make us happy:

Nourish the happy part of the brain by eating these foods often:

Chocolate: It’s not your imagination; chocolate makes us feel good. Eating chocolate triggers the release of the feel-good hormone serotonin as well as endorphins which give us a feeling of euphoria. So slowly enjoy about 100 calories of chocolate if you need a pick-me-up without having to worry about your waist-line.

Green Leafy Greens: Spinach and Kale contain a B-vitamin called folate which maintains normal levels of serotonin. People that get the recommended dietary allowance of 400 micrograms of folate a day, also show a decreased risk of depression.

Walnuts and Salmon: The Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like walnuts and salmon have been shown to decrease depression symptoms. A recent animal study suggests that Omega-3 Fatty Acids as well as uridine found in walnuts and fish actually act like antidepressants!

Healthy Carbs: Carbohydrates make us feel good. They enable us to release tryptophan which is converted into that feel good hormone serotonin. So be sure to eat plenty of whole grain carbs such as oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and brown rice.

A couple foods that will make your crash and bum…

Alcohol: Your wine, beer or cocktails might make you feel good in the short term, but alcohol is a depressant, so if you’re feeling down in the dumps, skip the mixed drink and opt for a natural sugar high from 100% juice.

Sugary food: You just read that carbs boost mood, but not all carbs are created equal. Things like cookies, cake and white bread are made of high-glycemic ingredients that cause the “sugar crash.” So avoid them to get rid of the blues.

Move and improve your mood

Perhaps a reason that many of us feel so down and out during the dead of winter is that we are less active. Exercise is good for a ton of things like maintaining a healthy weight, decreasing the risk of heart disease and cancer, and relieving the symptoms of arthritis. It also helps relieve depression.

Get high (on exercise).Ever heard of a runners high? That’s not just a made up thing that runners tell you about to get your butt up and out running with them. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins and neurotransmitters which are feel good chemicals in the brain.

Turn the heat up. Exercise increases body temperature which has a relaxing effect on the body…so in the winter it’s waaaay good!

Zone out. Doing exercise can take your mind off of whatever is getting to you, whether it is the weather outside or the let down after the holidays, going to your favorite exercise class or lifting weights can help you focus on something good you’re doing for your body.

Make new friends and keep the old. Being around people is an instant pick me up, so grab a friend, bundle up and go for a walk together or join a gym where you know people that will become your workout buddies.

So get out there and do an activity that you love for 30 minutes most days of the week. You can even split the time up into 10 or 15 minute segments.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Burn calories all day long...yes...even at a desk job...

Once upon a time, I too sat at a desk from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. By the time I left for the day, I felt stiff, my energy was zapped and the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was lay down on the couch and continue my move-less life. BUT that is no way to treat the one body that we have for our entire lives. Our bodies are made to move, not be still. Therefore, in a society of desk jobs, we need to be intentional about getting the movement our bodies need…not just at the gym…but in every day life. Try the following suggestions for a couple weeks and watch your energy soar, your muscles tighten and your spirits raise. In the long term, will pay off!

Become a people person. Instead of sending an e-mail to the person on the floor above you or across the office, go talk to that person. I totally get the importance of a paper trail, so send a follow-up e-mail after you meet…but get your rear end out of your chair and go visit people.

Take the stairs. This isn’t a new concept. If you have the choice between an elevator/escalator and the stairs, take the stairs. Just five minutes of climbing stairs burns a whopping 50 calories…guess how many calories you burn taking the elevator…ZERO.

Give up your parking spot. Why do we try to find the closest possible parking spot even when we have to circle the lot several times or wait for someone to back out of their spot. We could have spent that time walking (i.e. exercise) from our car to our destination. So try this, choose the furthest parking spot from the door at the office or at the store.

Take a stand. while talking on the phone, pace your office or just stand up. If possible, ask your company to put your computer up high so that you can work while standing.

Transform your office or cubicle a personal gym. Do squats in and out of your chair, dips off your desk or even get a few pieces of equipment that you can hide in a desk drawer and pull out for a few reps when no one is looking. An exercise band is great for bicep curls, back pulls and front raises. Or get an exercise ball and replace your chair…you’ll improve your abdominal strength as well as posture.

Implement the buddy-system. Find a co-worker who wants to move more too and help get each other moving over the lunch hour...take a walk, climb stairs together, etc. Research shows that having someone to be accountable to increases commitment as well as goal reaching!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Treadmills vs. Ellipticals

Oh the choices we have at the gym! Do I run/walk on a treadmill or do I go for the elliptical?! Both pieces of cardio equipment offer a great workout. In fact, Thomas Altena, an exercise physiologist at the University of Missouri-Columbia concluded that the physiological response to treadmill and elliptical training is identical. That being said, there are advantages and disadvantages to both treadmills and ellipticals.


Treadmills provide a very functional exercise…walking and running. We do at least one every single day…hopefully a lot. Treadmill workouts are the best indoor training equiptment if you are training for a walk or run. They provide various programs with speed and incline to get your heart pumping plus treadmills control your speed so you can’t start slacking without turning down your mph. Treadmills are not low impact, however, so if you have knee and joint issues, you need to be careful. Just like you would pound it out on the pavement…you’ll pound it out on a treadmill.


Ellipticals can come equip with moving handle bars that you can push and pull with the upper body making this exercise a full body workout. They come with various programs based on resistance and incline but you control your speed. Elliptical machines are also low to no impact which means that they are great for people with joint issues such as knee problems.

On both machines you should practice good poster and do workouts that are challenging to you…you shouldn’t feel like you’re going to keel over and die, but you should be working hard for the most benefits. If you prefer one over the other, use the one you like. It’s hard to stick to a routine when you hate the exercise you are doing J

Also, if you like both machines, use both…cross training is a great way to jolt your body into better shape!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saved by Exercise TV...

I needed to relax a bit tonight so I “took” Yoga on Edge Sunset…27 minutes of yoga bliss all in the comfort of my own home. Exercise TV on Demand is amazing! Want a quick workout at home but need the motivation of a group exercise instructor…look no further than your TV. If you have Time Warner Cable, check out Exercise TV on Demand (channel 150 in KC). I also love love love Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred…there are 3 levels, 20 minutes each…and they are all killer-great workouts. There’s like a hundred things to choose from…so check it out next time you’re snowed in or just don’t want to make it to the gym or need a little pick-me-up! Check out the website at schedule by clicking here.

What’s your favorite Exercise TV on Demand workout!?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Survive the Super Bowl...without blowing your diet.

Just when you thought you were back on track with your healthy eating after the holidays…BOOM…Super Bowl Sunday hits. It’s not just a game anymore, it’s an eat-and-drink-with-friends-fest. But just because the table is spread with the normal high-fat and calorie loaded munchies like chips and dip, pizza, burgers, cheese sauce, little smokies, etc. does not mean that you need to throw out all of your healthy habits and gorge yourself. Just follow a few simple tricks and trades and you’ll be cheering for health as well as your favorite team (what will it be…Saints? Colts?).

Don't cheer hungry. A great tactic to ensure that you won't overeat on Sunday is to not arrive hungry. Eat a light but satisfying snack before you go. A half turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, veggies and hummus or a protein shake should do the trick.

Take a step back. You see all the food on the table and you want to make a beeline for the buffet. Go for it, but once you've gone through the line once, plant yourself on a far away coach out of arms reach of the snacks and, better yet, keep your back to the food table. With this little trick, you are less likely to absent-mindedly snack.

Exercise portion control. Where does it say that just because you can eat a truckload of food, you should? Get one plate of food and make sure that at least half is filled up with veggies, fruits and lean protein, the other half can be your favorite Super Bowl food picks…”favorite” being the key word here. Don't waste precious calories on food that you don't really love. Pick out your favorites and savor them slowly.

Drink Dilemma. If you decide to have a cold one or two while watching the game, make sure you’re drinking light beer. And for those that are not beer drinkers, trade your mixed drink for a glass or wine or champagne…you will save yourself at least 100 calories if not lots more. And of course, drink two glasses of water to every alcoholic beverage to keep you from overdrinking as well as staying hydrated.

Skip the hangover. Schedule a sweat session for Monday morning…knowing that you will be going to be working hard the next morning will make you think about how much you’re drinking on Sunday evening…plus, you'll burn calories from your “favorite” treats and zapping fatigue and winter blues all at once.

Make it your mission to put a healthy option on the table and bring one of these tasty, waist-friendly snacks:

  • Veggies and hummus (this is what I’m bringing to the party I’m going to!)
  • Fruit skewers
  • Baked chips and low fat chip dip or salsa
  • Grilled chicken sliders
  • Whole grain crackers with turkey slices

Enjoy your party and goooooo….whoever you’re routing for (My pick is the Saints J )

February is American Heart Month: Protect your heart

(as heard on Calvary 88.5 FM 2/5/10)

In the U.S., more people die each year of heart disease than of any other disease, accident or other cause of death. In fact, every 25 seconds, an American suffers from a coronary event such as a heart attack and every minute, someone will die from one. That’s scary, right?! And yes, to answer a question that is asked often, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to the CDC, an estimated 1,255,000 people had heart attacks in 2009. These statistics are staggering but you don’t have to be a part of the statistics; there are step every person can take to stay healthy and prevent heart disease.

Eat Heart-Healthy

Eating foods full of saturated fat and cholesterol leads to blockages in the arteries which cause heart disease. So skip the fried foods, full fat dairy, sugary foods and high fat meat and instead protect your heart with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy and health oils. The fiber found in veggies, fruit and whole grain can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Protein sources such as salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids which lower blood fats and reduce the risk of cardiac sudden death. Heart healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil help decrease your cholesterol.

Heart Healthy Food Choices:

Fruits and Vegetables

  • All fresh fruits and vegetables!

Beware: If your veggies are fried, covered in butter or cheese sauce or your fruit is swimming in sugar, you aren’t doing much good for your heart. Use spices like garlic, pepper, rosemary, etc to make your veggies taste great and remember that fruit is already sweet, there is no need to pile on more sugar (that means no canned fruit in syrup!).

Lean and low-fat protein

  • Skinless poultry
  • Salmon
  • Lean (93%) ground beef
  • Soy products
  • Fat free or reduced fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Beans/legumes
  • Egg whites

Beware: Even lean protein such as chicken turns into a saturated fat feast when fried, so always opt for grilled or baked protein.

Healthy Fats

  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil

Beware: Be on the lookout for saturated fats such as those found in butter, some margarine and other oils. These fats can clog arteries which may lead to heart disease.

Whole Grains

  • Oatmeal
  • 100% whole grain/whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • High fiber cereal

Beware: Just because a package says that something contains whole grains doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Make sure it’s 100% whole grain. When a food mostly contains enriched flour or white rice, that means that fiber, vitamins and minerals that make whole grains regulate blood pressure, are stripped out. So read labels!

Workout for your Heart

Eating well is only one half of the equation when it comes to protecting yourself from heart disease. Regular exercise helps reduce and sometimes even eliminate many of the risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity/overweight.

The American Heart Association recommends a person do at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise in your target heart rate (THR) on most days of the week to see the reduced risk of heart disease.

Some examples of exercise can include:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Taking a group fitness class
  • Hiking
  • Exercising on an elliptical or other cardiovascular machine at your gym
  • Sports that include continuous running such as basketball and soccer

Click here to find your own target heart rate.

Do you know how to spot a heart attack? Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body such as arms, back neck, stomach or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Nausea or lightheadedness

The most common symptom of heart attack in both men and women is chest pain or discomfort but women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms.

If you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms, call 9-1-1 right away. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Out of sight, out of mind...

I just read that Dr. Oz banned all junk food (including sugary drinks…soda…from his offices). There were some complaints made for sure, but I wonder if it’s really a bad thing to ban unhealthy food from the areas we work. Though some may think this is unreasonable and cruel, think about it: what if “out of sight, out of mind” works in making people weigh less, become healthier and feel their best.

I know that when I have worked in a place that provided candy at every corner, donuts in every conference room and soda in the break room, I would totally much down, not because I wanted to, but because it was convenient and “there.” BUT if it isn’t there (as I have purged my office…which is my home of junk), when I get hungry, I have low fat popcorn and cut up fruit and veggies to satisfy a craving. This is just a thought…and a challenge, to remove the foods that you know you eat without thinking and that you know are not great for you nutritionally. Just see how you feel after a few days of clean, healthy eating…