Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bring Sexy Back....To The Gym!

A common misconception about working out is that you can just throw on some old sweats and hit the gym. If you haven’t noticed, the gym is filled with attractive men, so ladies, dress to impress! You are still representing yourself in public so make it count. When you have sexy workout clothes, it actually motivates you to work out more, true story! Here are a few of my favorite stores for workout clothes:

1. Karma

2. Lululemon

3. So Low

4. Bebe Sport

You’re sweaty so you might as well look HOTT! So save those grungy sweats for painting and purchase a head-turning new workout wardrobe!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Embrace your body for what it is- improve only what is realistic for your body type

Not every body is created equal. In a quick-fix society, corporate America will do anything to make you believe you can lose weight overnight. Billions of dollars is spent each year on diet pills and supplements. There isn’t enough technology in the world, aside from going under the knife that will make you instantly smaller (your body also has its way of proving how unnatural surgery is). Losing weight naturally through exercise and healthy eating is the only way to take it off, keep it off, and get that body you’ve always dreamed of. People always assume that since I maintain a healthy lifestyle that I am completely in love with my own body. Let me tell you, there are a million things I would change about my body but I have learned to accept it for what it is, imperfections and all. Everyone is well aware of the media’s magic marker, the airbrush that could make Rosie O’Donnell look like a goddess (that might be a stretch but you get the idea). Point is, we know this, yet we continue to compare ourselves to these images. I have recently took up Yoga which is not only a great full body workout but it provides the psychological aspect of positive body image. The teacher always encourages you to be thankful for the body you have and be comfortable in your own skin. Don’t hold yourself to unattainable standards. Once you make the necessary lifestyle changes you will learn to love living a healthy life, look forward to your daily exercise and your clean eats!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Go Nuts!

Don't be thrown off by the high calorie and fat content of nuts. Research shows that nuts play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy physique. Nuts help suppress hunger because they are difficult to absorb during digestion. People who consume about a handful of nuts a day are actually found to be thinner than those who do not.

Most nuts, particularly almonds and walnuts, contain most omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce cholesterol and have been shown to improve mood and fight cancer. Walnuts also contain the antioxidant melatonin which helps to regulate sleep.

Throw a mixture of (unsalted) nuts for a great afternoon snack. I will also add some raisins which increase blood sugar preventing fatigue and giving you the caffeine-free boost of energy you need to get hrough the 4 o’clock slump.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tribute to Mommy Dearest and My Inspiration

What’s more unsettling then looking shabby in a bikini next to your 51 year-old mother? Life is unfair when your mother has bigger boobs, a smaller waist and tighter abs then you. Talk about motivation to get out of bed for the morning run when you have to compare your less than perfect rear to your mother’s rock hard J-Lo booty. But like all daughters who can’t always get their way, when griping and pouting and whining won’t remove that luscious layer of cellulite from your thighs, all I can do is marvel.

I have finally come to terms with the fact my mother is a cougar. Instead of getting down on myself about this fact, I care to look at it as a reflection of my future self. As a matter a fact, I really have her to thank for sparking my interest in fitness and nutrition and for serving as a constant reminder for why living a healthy lifestyle will benefit me for the rest of my life. She too experienced the dreadful freshmen 15 (or in her case 30...so she says) and has since then made exercising and eating healthy part of her daily life. Whenever I feel like skipping out on the gym or eating that extra slice of pizza, I think of how hard my mom has, and continues to work to reap the benefits I can only hope to achieve at her age.

Everyone needs a little encouragement on the road to success. So whether you tack up a picture of a celebrity that has the body of your dreams, or whether you have a memento on your desk that motivates you, everyone needs incentive to live a better life. A picture of my mom sits on my desk as a daily reminder of why I want to achieve my fitness and wellness goals. Whatever your reminder is, keep it in a place that you will see it every day to keep you focused and on-track even on the days when working out is the last thing you want to do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fit Fridge for a Fit You (Part II- Fridge staples)

Refrigerator staples: from top left to top right

1. Light soy milk- It’s protein-rich, has a low glycemic index, and has just enough fat to keep you feeling satisfied (but without the saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal foods) It has less carbs and calories and more fiber than skim milk. I use it in my cereal, oatmeal, and protein shakes.

*2. Mona Vie- This is a highly potent antioxidant supplement that contains the rare Brazilian acai berry.

3. Amy’s frozen dinners- Amy’s food products are all natural and organic and are the best frozen dinner choices. The best are the tofu vegetable lasagne, tofu scramble, and the brown rice and vegetables bowl. All frozen dinners should be less than 500 calories, no more than 15 g of fat (5 g or fewer saturated), no trans fats, and less than 700 mg of sodium.

*4. Vibe- Liquid vitamins which absorb into the blood stream better than the pill form.

5. Cranberry juice- I mix 8 oz of this kind of juice with my mona vie and vibe in the morning because it is the best juice I can find that contains the least amount of calories, sugar and carbs.

6. Blueberries- Have the highest antioxidant level of all commonly consumed fruit. This high fiber fruit is great on top of your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or in your protein shake.

Middle row from left to right:

1. Spinach- Rich in iron which keeps you alert and energized and is very antioxidant-rich. Throw it in your egg-white omelette, or make a small salad to go along with your meal.

2. Light veggie dip- A great way to make noshing on raw veggies not so painful.

3. 0% fat Greek yogurt- Your best option for yogurt with less calories, sugar and carbs. You can flavor it with sugar free jam, sugar free syrup, cinnamon and/or fruit such as grapes, blueberries or raisins.

4. Steamfresh singles veggies- Easy pre-packaged and portioned veggies that you can throw in with any meal.

5. Morningstar spicy black bean burger- Great source of protein and are really easy to throw in the microwave and eat with brownrice and a packet of steamfresh singles veggies.

6. Spinach pancakes- A yummy way to get more spinach into your diet.

7. Egg whites- The egg white portion actually makes up for two-thirds of the egg’s weight, which consists of proteins, vitamins, trace minerals, fatty material, and glucose. All that the yolk contains are massive amounts of cholesterol, fat, and about half the protein as in the rest of the egg. Fat does have its benefits though so mix one full egg and two egg whites and make a hearty omelet with spinach, tomatoes and peppers.

8. Ezekiel tortillas- I use these as my bread substitute. I get my share of whole grains without the added carbs and calories of a piece of bread. I also feel less deprived from things like sandwiches.

Bottom row from left to right:

1. Omega-3-fortified eggs- They have all the nutrients of regular eggs with an addes 300 mg of heart-protective fatty-acids. These are your best option for eggs.

2. Oranges- Great source of vitamin C and a yummy grab-and-go snack.

3. Apples- The best throw in your bag snack that is packed with fiber. Eat one on your way to class with a stick string cheese, this will keep you satisfied and energized through class and into stave off hunger.

4. Broccoli- One of your best options for veggies with more than 100% of your daily vitamin K and almost 200% of your daily dose of vitamin C with one medium stalk.

5. Peppers- A great nutrient packed veggie you can cut up and throw into salads, omelettes, stir fry or just snack on them raw.

6. Tomatoes- Low calorie veggie with tons of vitamins and minerals.

7. Bananas- Great to mix in with your protein shake

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Fit Fridge for a Fit You! (Part I: Cabinet staples)

The first step to clean eating is getting rid of the temptations. If you don’t have junk food around, you won’t eat it! Easier said than done when all of your roommates buy it for themselves, right? Developing the will power to turn down the pizza and reach for something healthier is a practiced skill that does not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself. Try to visualize how great your body will feel and look if you do make the right food choices. Remind yourself of that killer workout you had at the gym earlier that day and how disappointing that would be to lose it all to a slimy piece of cheap bread with marinara sauce. I won’t lie to you and say I slip up on occasion, but honestly, that’s normal! You should indulge in something if you really want it because depriving yourself will torment you. The key is moderation. Instead of eating the whole pizza, eat one slice, slowly, savouring every flavour, then get over it! Temptations aside, knowing what kinds of foods will make your body thrive all on its own and actually assist you in weight loss and management, is key to success. Here is a list of the foods you will always find in my fridge and cabinet at home.From top left to top right:

1. Quinoa (Pronounced Keen-wah)- this low sodium whole grain has the highest amount of protein compared to its competitors like brown rice. It is also high in calcium and iron, and is a great source of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It has an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development provides valuable starch and fiber.

2. Sugar free maple syrup- I use this to flavor my Greek yogurt, cereal or oatmeal without the added sugar and calories.

3. Flaxseed- Fiber rich seeds backed with omega-3 fatty acids and disease fighting nutrients. I mix this with my cereal and oatmeal in the morning to help fill me up on less food.

4. Whole grain oatmeal- Whole grains are packed with B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium, iron and fiber, as well as other valuable antioxidants not found in some fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of energy metabolism. Vitamin B, magnesium and iron help support and regulate your metabolism by controlling blood sugar levels. Fiber assists in weight management by keeping you full longer on less calories.

5. Whole grain cereal- Much better choice then sugar cereals.

6. Whey protein- High quality, easily digestible, low fat protein that suppresses hunger. Protein helps repair broken fibers after lifting weights to gain muscle. I drink a protein shake twice a day after working out or 20 minutes before lunch and dinner.

From bottom left to bottom right:

1. Extra virgin olive oil- olive oil helps to build a more healthy balance between omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats.

2. Dark Chocolate (70% or more coca)- Studies show the flavanoids in dark chocolate help regulate blood pressure and have more antioxidants and nutrients then some fruits and vegetables. Eating one small square and satisfy your sweet tooth in less quantity then milk chocolate because it is so rich.

3. Salmon cups- Easy to throw onto a salad or dip veggies in for a snack. (Dorm room friendly!)

4. Brown rice- Brown rice, a whole grain, provides three times the fiber of white rice and studies show is correlated with a lower body weight.

5. Almond butter- has all the benefits of almonds without the added sugar. Go for an unsalted organic kind and eat in moderation, both peanut and almond butter are very high in fat so check out the serving size.

6. Green tea-The benefits are insurmountable but for starters green tea extract is a source of caffeine which is a natural fat burner. It helps regulate glucose levels which slows the rise in blood sugar following a meal. AND recent studies have indicated catechins, a major component of green tea extract leads to both a lowering of body fat and of cholesterol levels.

7. Popcorn- I get the 100 calorie mini bags as a fiber rich snack that is filled with air that gives me the feeling of being full on less food. I eat it instead of chips with a turkey wrap.

8. Goji berries- A dried fruit that is very high in antioxidants. They are great to put in your cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt.

9. Almonds-Nuts, especially almonds, are a great on-the-go snack you can throw in your bag when your running out the door. One handful can satisfy your hunger and helps to maintain insulin levels.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Popular Diets and Why They Don’t Work!

The master cleanse- this diet boasts of “clearing toxins” from your body. But Doctors have proven this to be absolutely not true, there is no evidence of these alleged “toxins”. Your body is engineered to naturally cleanse itself within at the most three days. If you feel.... ahem plugged up, simply incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and cut out the junk food!

Calorie counting- cutting too many calories too fast will send a message to your brain to go into starvation mode. This means your body will hold onto every calorie you put in your body and storing as much fat as it can. It will also burn calories slower to conserve energy to get you through the day. Eventually you will become weak, fatigued and agitated. Any weight that is lost is mostly water weight and will be put right back on the second you cave from this ridiculous diet. This method never lasts because being hungry, tired and cranky is no way to live.

Weight loss programs- (Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc.) These programs set you up for failure in my opinion. Having pre-portioned meals delivered to your house or heated up in the microwave may offer a quick fix but does not teach you how to maintain. Once you go out to dinner or wean yourself off of the packaged meals, you go right back to your old eating habits and gain all that weight back.

Adderall Diet- This ADD medication has caused an uproar in Hollywood as the new diet for celebrities. The drug triggers the release of dopamine in the brain which regulates pleasure. The side effects are a feeling of euphoria and loss of appetite. But dangerous side effects like migrane headaches, irritability when coming down which lead to mood swings, and increased heart rate. This drug is very addictive and should not be used recreationally.

Low Carbohydrate- Cutting all carbs will leave you fatigued, irritable, and starving like the Atkins diet. The low carb diet works if your only cutting back on refined the carbs such as soda and foods made with white flour, while loading up on healthier carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Weight-loss pills- They aren’t approved by the FDA for a reason!! Unrealistic, unnatural, and unhealthy! They are dangerous, they screw with your metabolism and if (that is a big ‘if’) you lose weight on them, I can guarantee you with 99% accuracy that you will gain it all back and then some. If I haven’t made myself clear as glass yet, DON’T DO IT!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Solutions to the 3 T’s of exercise excuses: time, tired, transportation

These are the three most common excuses people use for not exercising, especially for college students. With our hectic, stressful, and unpredictable schedules, exercise tends to be the one part of our day we choose to cut out to be replaced for more sleep, homework, or fun. Consistent exercise has been proven to increase your energy level, enhance your focus throughout the day, stabilize your appetite, decrease your chance of illness and have an overall feeling of wellness. Try some of my solutions to the three T’s:


1. Work it at home- Lucky for you last week I posted several upper body, lower body, abdominal and cardio exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home! You don’t need to go to a gym to get a great workout.

2. Drop down and give me 20! Even if you are crunched for time, even 20 minutes can make a difference. If you think about it, 20 minutes is better than none.

3. Make your workout count- Don’t get into the habit of daily marathon workouts. Some days should be longer than others. But use your time wisely. If you need to write it down before you get to the gym then do it, this will cut down on time walking around aimlessly looking lost.


1. Once you start, you can’t stop! We’ve all been there, you plan on working out all day, but after a full day of classes it’s the last thing you want to do. The great thing about exercise is 90% of the time if you can just get yourself off the couch, once you start your adrenaline will kick in and before you know it, you’re working out!

2. Eat a snack (a healthy one, that is). You want to choose foods that are high in complex carbs. Complex carbs are foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals that take longer to digest, keeping you fuller longer and containing less calories. Because your body has to work harder to digest these foods, your body is working harder and therefore gives you more energy. These kinds of foods do not contain artificial sweeteners or refined sugar that create a spike of energy followed by a crash (these are called simple carbs and they are digested quickly and contain little to no essential vitamins and minerals). Examples of good complex carb snacks are whole grain bread or oatmeal, a handful of almonds, an apple, or beans. You can also try drinking a cup of green tea which has natural energizing supplements.


1. You don’t need it! I have given several examples in the Spring Break Slim Down posts for exercises you can do right in your dorm, house or apartment. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you have to go to the gym to get a good workout.

2. WALK! RUN! BIKE! This will get your blood pumping and by the time you’re at the gym you’ve already got your warm-up done! If you have the motivation to get to the gym in the first place, why not make your way of getting there part of your workout? It’s brilliant!

3. Buddy system- Find a workout buddy that has a car. This will not only get you there but it will eliminate the other two T’s at the same time! You have to set a time and you certainly don’t want to be the one to cancel. This can be a chance for you and a friend you don’t get to see much to catch up while encouraging one to achieve their weight loss and/or management goals.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Eat More to Weigh Less

One of the most common misconceptions about weight loss is that you have to exercise more and eat less. A study conducted by the Association for the Study of Obesity in Las Vegas, Nevada found that eating the right food in small portions 5-6 times throughout the day is actually more effective in losing weight. The study found that “eating more low-energy-dense, water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, was associated with lower body weights,” said Dr. Barbara Rolls, a nutritionist who directed the study. This strategy includes eating three meals and two snacks. To retrain your body to accept new eating patterns, follow these simple rules:

· 1. Eat every three to four hours- think of your metabolism as the gas tank in your car. If you keep it above “E” you will never run out of gas or have to rush to the station to fill it back up again to the top. If you let yourself get too hungry between meals you often overeat because you are so famished, which leads to discomfort and added unnecessary calories. When you eat every three to four hours you keep your metabolism in-tact, which fuels your body giving you the needed energy to get you through the day. This will ensure that you don’t crash which can lead to bad food choices.

· 2. Snack right- your snacks should be used to satisfy your hunger between meals, not to fill your time to relieve boredom. Stay away from packaged food like chips, cookies and bars. These are generally packed with sugar, fat and calories which will make your hungrier in less time and lead to a spike of energy followed by a steep crash. Choose foods high in fiber like fruit, vegetables, and nuts. These will fill you up and keep you satisfied until your next meal without the added sugar, calories or fat content. These snacks should stay between 100-200 calories. Add protein like peanut butter with your apples slices or hummus with your veggies to enhance satisfaction and fulfil your daily servings. (Making healthy snacking easier by keeping grab-and-go snacks on hand like bags of almonds and a stick of cheese or an apple that you can just throw in your bag on your way out the door)

· 3. Always eat breakfast- even if your not a “breakfast person”. You need to give your body fuel to start off the day. Going back to our gas tank analogy, you can’t get very far on an empty tank without having to stop at whatever gas station is available to fill up. This means no matter where you are, when hunger strikes, you will reach for whatever is available, which is generally not the healthiest options. Try a piece of fruit and whole wheat toast or Greek yogurt with grapes and almonds. If you can stomach it, eggs are your best option because they are packed with protein.