Why Wait?!

19 Dec resolution

Since there are less than two weeks until January 1, I’m guessing many of you have started thinking about that once a year declaration – the good ole New Year’s resolution!  Every year I hear people say that they will do something different, but the outcome is generally the same – nothing!  I am not trying to be negative, but statistically nearly 80% fail by January 20! I believe one of the biggest reasons most people can’t stick to their resolution is because they go into it blindly and without a plan. The most common resolutions I hear are to become physically fit, lose weight, stop smoking, quit drinking, and get out of debt.

Why wait until New Year’s to make a resolution?  What is so magical about January 1, anyway? Don’t put off achieving goals that are important to you. Instead, plan the steps necessary to accomplish them now.  For example, if you want to lose weight, why put it off? Waiting another two weeks during the holiday season puts you at risk for ringing in the New Year with extra pounds, and we all know we don’t want that! The rule of thumb is it takes 21 days to develop or change a habit, so if you start today you’ll have a jump start on your resolution and can get a head start before the crowds break down the gym doors to shed the holiday weight they gained this season.

One resolution I made started last week, and it’s not exactly a New Year’s resolution. I guess you could call it a holiday season resolution – to start the year having gained no weight throughout the holidays.  Yes, I know, I should have thought of this before Thanksgiving, but better late than never, RIGHT?!  I have been going to several holiday parties and sometimes the temptations are too hard to resist – the pies, the cookies, and all the sweets that I have such a hard time saying no to. I decided to stop eating sweets until after the New Year. Why? Because I know I don’t usually crave sweets (unless they’re staring back at me) or keep them around the house during the year. If I can make it through the next couple of weeks without giving in to all the temptation on the dessert table, I will start my year without any extra baggage on the scale. I was put to the test twice this weekend and although it was much easier said than done, it felt great knowing I had the will power to not give in. So give it a try – create your plan and hold yourself accountable!

Why Women Should Lift Weights

12 Dec dumbbells

It’s probably the number one concern I hear from my female clients when I tell them we’re going to lift heavier weights: “But I don’t want to bulk up!” I came across an article on Bodybuilding.com written by Shannon Clark that sums up the reasons women won’t look like a bodybuilder from weight training and highlights the benefits of lifting weights. If you would like to read it in full, click here.

I have outlined the major points below if you’re pressed for time to read the full article.

WHY YOU WON’T BULK UP

1. FEMALE TESTOSTERONE LEVELS

Women don’t have the testosterone levels to pack on tons of mass. Testosterone is the primary muscle-building hormone in the body. A man’s testosterone levels are 15 to 20 times higher than a woman’s. Because women have significantly less of this “Hercules Hormone,” they cannot put on muscle mass as easily as men.

2. FEMALE DIETARY HABITS

Most women don’t consume enough calories to create the mass. Think about it this way: When was the last time you forced down extra servings of protein at dinner because it fit your mass-gaining goals? Chances are, never. Most women are born restriction eaters. They have a built-in tendency to want to be slimmer. To become the bulky beast you needlessly fear, you would have to eat excessive calories daily, add supplementation, and then lift heavy weights on a regular basis.

3. FEMALE FORCE DEVELOPMENT

Finally, you won’t get big and bulky because you typically won’t generate the degree of force that men will. There are some strong women out there who push themselves to the max but for the most part, men have a larger degree of drive to push their bodies beyond the limits of comfort.

WHY YOU SHOULD LIFT WEIGHTS

1. HIGHER METABOLIC RATES

Heavier weight offers women a higher metabolic rate. Since you work against a high degree of resistance with heavy weights, you create tiny muscular tears throughout the body. You will expend a greater number of calories post-workout to repair those tiny tears, thus increasing your overall calorie requirements.

2. GREATER MUSCLE DEFINITION

You will see greater overall muscle definition. When you lift light weights, the muscles are barely challenged. As a result, your muscles won’t feel any need to adapt (grow) since they can easily handle what you throw at them.

Push yourself harder and take the weight up to the next level – that’s when you see muscle definition and form improve. Provided you also follow a proper diet for fat loss, heavy weights will create the greatest change to how your body looks.

3. IMPROVED FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH

Improving functional strength capabilities will make everyday activities easier over time. You won’t need to have the man sitting next to you on the plane lift your bag into the overhead compartment or call your brother to move a couch anymore.

Stop fearing the weights! Get out there and push yourself – I bet you’ll be surprised at how strong you really are!

Gingerbread Cookies!

10 Dec gingerbread cookies

If you’re heading out to a Christmas party tonight and need some inspiration for what to bring, look no further. These gingerbread cookies from Cooking Light will have everyone coming back for more – and without the guilt. Weighing in at 79 calories per cookie (almost half the calories of a traditional recipe), they are a healthier option for dessert and trust me, no one will know the difference! I made these last night for some friends and they were a huge hit. Enjoy!

**You can omit the chopped crystallized ginger and increase the ground ginger to 1 1/2 teaspoons, if desired**

Ingredients
• 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1/3 cup stick margarine or butter, softened
• 1/4 cup molasses
• 1 large egg white
• 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
• 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Cooking spray
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preparation
1. Beat brown sugar and margarine at medium speed of a mixer until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg white; beat well. Stir in crystallized ginger.
2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, wheat germ, baking soda, ground ginger, and cinnamon. Stir into molasses mixture. Cover; freeze 20 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350°.
4. Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Shape the dough into 30 balls, about 1 tablespoon each. Roll the balls in the granulated sugar. Place the balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool cookies on pans for 3 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool the cookies completely on wire racks.

Post Feast Remorse

1 Dec jeans don't fit

Happy December! I can’t believe we only have 1 month left of 2011! Where has the time gone? As we continue the Holiday season, we will be faced with delicious treats, heavy entrees and libations. My wish for you is to remember your goals and why you want to be healthy. Commit to staying on track, not just through this month but into the New Year as well. Remember that this is a lifestyle, not a fad or gimmick.

Last week I was asked to write an article for Yahoo! that could help others come back from their Thanksgiving vacation without having a hard time buttoning their pants Monday morning. Even though Thanksgiving is over, keep these pointers in mind and remember many of the exercises I highlighted can be used throughout the season (and year)! Check it out here

I know many of us are having some gorgeous weather this week and weekend, so be sure to get outside and take advantage of it!

To your health!
Lauren

Taking Cardio Up a Notch

28 Nov At the Starting blocks

Feeling a little sluggish today after a long weekend filled with food, family, and more food?! Before hopping on the elliptical for your usual 30-minute stroll while watching reruns of Friends on the gym television, TRY THIS: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). No matter if you’re 5 or 50 pounds overweight, this form of cardio training is, in my opinion, the best! It’s what I did to lose my “spare tire” and now have my clients do this on their cardio days. Most people are surprised the first time they try it because they realize they haven’t been exercising at a high enough intensity (one of many reasons people fail in their weight loss efforts).

So, what IS HIIT??

HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise that burns fat in a shorter amount of time, so it is especially beneficial if you’re crunched for time. Usually a HIIT session can be done in 8-20 minutes and uses a ratio for work compared to rest. For instance, a runner could do a 2:1 ratio of a 20-30 second sprint (almost maximum effort) followed by a 10-15 second rest period of jogging or walking (about 50% of your maximum intensity). If this is too difficult then build your endurance by sprinting for, say, 30 seconds and walking or jogging for 30 seconds (1:1 ratio) or 1 minute (1:2 ratio). Try setting a goal of achieving at least 6 cycles, no matter which ratio you use.

Other machines I love to do interval training on are the stairs and the rowing machine. Perform the intervals the same way I mentioned above and trust me, you WILL feel the burn! Whichever form of HIIT training you choose, trust me when I say -  it will be hard, it will be intense and it will be WORTH IT!!!

Ginger Pumpkin Pie

23 Nov pumpkin pie

Looking for a lower calorie dessert without sacrificing the taste? I stumbled upon this recipe in Cooking Light. The ginger really brings out the pumpkin flavor, and although it still packs 224 calories per slice (12 servings per pie), it sure beats the average 380 calories in a traditional pumpkin pie slice! I also suggest cutting the pieces smaller to reduce the calories. Just two or three bites can usually tame a craving, so be mindful! I made it the other night and it sure is tasty!

Ingredients:

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 ½ tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 large eggs

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

1 (14 ounce) can fat free sweetened condensed milk

½ (14.1 ounce) package refrigerated pie dough

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with whisk until smooth
  3. Roll dough into an 11 inch circle; fit into a 9 inch pie plate. Fold edges under, and flute
  4. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared crust. Place pie plate on a baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven on lowest oven rack. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from baking sheet; cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Refrigerate 2 hours or until chilled.
  5. For some added taste and “flare”, sprinkle some shaved coconut on top and WA-LAH!

ENJOY and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Cauliflower Mash

22 Nov cauliflower mash

From www.eatingwell.com

I know, I know, we all love our mashed potatoes. BUT this mashed cauliflower is a perfect low-carb substitute, I PROMISE! It gets its fabulous flavor from garlic, buttermilk and a touch of butter and, best of all, it has about one-quarter of the calories of typical mashed potatoes! I made them Sunday night at a friends house and they were a hit, so give them a try! You never know – Uncle Larry may not even know they’re not potatoes!

Ingredients

  • 8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Snipped fresh chives for garnish

Preparation

  1. Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place florets and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water, cover and microwave on High for 3 to 5 minutes.)
  2. Place the cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. Add buttermilk, 2 teaspoons oil, butter, salt and pepper; pulse several times, then process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garnish with chives, if desired. Serve hot.

Eggplant and Barley Mediterranean Salad

22 Nov Eggplant & Barley Salad

From: www.epicurious.com

WOW I don’t think healthy has ever tasted so good! Even if you’re not the biggest fan of eggplant, don’t write off this recipe just yet! The fresh and vibrant flavors are sure to be a crowd-pleaser and can make even those of you who aren’t the best chefs look like a pro. This dish is perfect for any occasion, not just for Thanksgiving. In fact, I made it for our tailgate party over the weekend and it was a big hit! I suggest preparing it a day in advance to give the flavors time to meld.

Not so sure about Barley? Listen to this – Barley is a nutritional powerhouse – it is an excellent source of dietary fiber and is low on the glycemic index, meaning it won’t raise your blood sugar too quickly. It is naturally cholesterol free and low in fat AND houses plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so enjoy!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another delicious and healthy side dish to accompany your Thanksgiving meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/4 cups pearl barley (8 oz)
  • 1 (14-oz) can reduced-sodium chicken broth (1 3/4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and drained if desired
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Roast eggplant and zucchini:
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss eggplant and zucchini with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool, reserving other pan for cooling barley.

Cook barley:
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add barley and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Make dressing and assemble salad:
Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add barley, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.

Eating for the Holidays!

19 Nov cornucopia

Here we are – another holiday season upon us. It’s a time to give thanks and be with family but it is also a time that takes a lot of will power to say no to that extra serving of mashed potatoes or huge piece of pie. Often we let our guard down and get caught up in the excitement of the season and we end up with a new year… and tighter clothes.

Let’s Face the Facts -  On average, people gain 10 lbs between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Due to social obligations, we tend to exercise less, eat more calorie dense food and increase our alcohol consumption. Here are some tips to get you through this holiday season and into the New Year, with no extra “baggage”.

-       Drink at least 96 ounces of water per day. Drinking enough water will prevent fluid retention and often times when we think we’re hungry, we are really just dehydrated

-       If you choose to have a few libations, drink an 8-ounce glass of water in between drinks. This will prevent the increased intake of empty calories and stave off the severity of a hangover due to dehydration

-       EXERCISE! Don’t allow excuses to get you off track this season. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week and if you know you’re going to have an   abnormally high intake of calories that night, put in some extra work at the gym. You’ll increase your calorie expenditure for that day so the effects of your second helping of mashed potatoes won’t be quite as bad.

-       Don’t hang out by the buffet! You may think you’re just having a few bites of that delicious dip, but a few bites here and there over the duration of the party add up.  Put all food on a small plate and don’t go back for seconds.

-       Stay away from high caloric drinks like egg nog. One glass can have up to 350 calories!

-       If you’re unsure if there will be healthy options at the party, eat something at home first so you’re not tempted to run straight to the food. Better yet, bring something healthy you’ve prepared on your own so that you know there will be a healthy option for you to snack on.

-       If you do eat or drink to much it’s not the end of the world, just jump back on the wagon the next day and get into the gym. It is not healthy or effective to beat yourself up over a holiday slip up.

Want some healthy ideas for Thanksgiving to keep that extra “bulge” at bay? Check back Monday-Wednesday next week for a daily recipe!

Exercise of the Week: Pike Rollout

21 Aug

Courtesy of thepostgame.com

Difficulty: Advanced

What you need: a stability ball

To start the pike/roll-out, hold yourself in a pushup position with your feet on a stability ball. Keep your legs straight and push your hips up towards the ceiling while keeping your back flat. After coming back to the start position, push your body backwards on the ball until your arms are fully extended in front of you and your legs are fully extended behind you. Now THAT’S the hard part! Return to the plank position and repeat. Enjoy!

Here’s the video, courtesy of Nick Tumminello:

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