Friday, February 3, 2012

A Day In My Diet

I often get asked how do you keep the weight off?  How do you get your abs so flat?  What exercises do you do? Do you do 1000 crunches a day or live at the gym?  Do you live off salad?   I could go on and on about what I do and how it works.  But I feel like the most important thing and the key to weight loss is DIET!!! Yep I said it... it comes down to your diet.  You can work out all you want but you can not out exercise a bad diet - unless of course you are Michael Phelps the Olympic Swimmer... but come on...admit it, a half hour on the treadmill does not compare.  Don't get me wrong... exercise is supper important and has been a big peice of the puzzle for me but its not a one way street.  It takes diet and exercise so go out there and move your body!!! 

Anyway I thought it might be helpful to show you what I eat so here goes...

 I do not by any means have a perfect diet.  I enjoy Texas bar-b-q, Dr. Pepper and red velvet cake too much to cut them out completely (hey I am southern arn't I?).  However what I have learned to practice is not what I consider a diet, it is a lifestyle and it involves moderation. I have also learned to recognize my trigger foods i.e. cakes, cookies, pies, bread, DR.PEPPER!!  What do I mean by trigger foods... I mean those foods that once I start eating them I just can't seem to stop.   I have learned to cut some of them out almost completely - like bread and (frowny face) Dr. Pepper,  or I have found creative ways to sneak in my other favorites - say a sugar free pudding cup for dessert (I promise it really does the trick). 

So here it goes... my typical "diet" day.

Coffee with sugar free Hazelnut creamer (I can give up almost anything... but coffee is not one of them)
2 whole eggs and 1 half cup serving black beans or a serving of fruit
1 serving of old fashioned oatmeal with cinnamon, honey, banana and almond milk (notice I said "old fashioned" not instant... don't care what anyone says... it's not the same... the old fashioned is a much better choice)

Protein powder mixed in water (I like the chocolate whey protein by Jillian Michaels that you can find at Walmart - it's cheap and does the trick)

Mixed salad greens (anything you want can go in here - mix up a big bowl so you have extra for throughout the week) with a tsp or two of olive oil, salt and pepper and either a serving of chick peas or half a chicken breast for protein

One ounce of roasted almonds (these have been a life saver for me - advice - stick to the serving size don't plow throught the whole container) and a serving of fruit
Diet Coke

Vegi based soup, salad or vegies with a serving of protein (chicken, pork, etc)   In this meal I aim to have half my plate full of vegies.

Sugar free pudding cup or a Chocolate dipped granola bar for my sweet fix

I also love, love, love, cottage cheese as a source of protien ( I buy the full fat but keep it to the suggested serving size) and I will put avocados on anything... OHHHHH... and I also cook the whole egg (not just the whites unless I feel like it) in real butter... but just a smidge... tastes so much better and is better then a chemical sprayed from a can or MARGERINE EEEEKKKK!!!

So there you go... as you can see I am by no means perfect... but I believe I have a livable diet that most could practice.  I mostly eat the same thing each day because I am a creature of habit and because I believe in keeping it simple and that works for me.  Don't worry you can change things up to suit you - what works for me may not work for you.  I would suggest making sure that the bulk of your diet is fruits, vegies and lean proteins, limit your grains to APPROPRIATE serving sizes (if you don't know what that looks like - please do some research)  and lay off all the bread and junk. Lastly I drink a ton of water... and by a ton... I mean I have to visit the ladies room at least every hour but its sooooooo good for you and I definitely notice when I haven't had enough.  After all you can live without food for a while but you can not live without water.  So in conclusion - if you commit to lightening up your diet a bit  and throw in some exercise I promise you will see and feel results.

Hope this helps!   Now go out there and MOVE WITH STRENGTH!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Rockin' Inspirational Playlist

So I am sure everyone has a certain set of songs they listen to as they hit the gym or the pavement for a little exercise.   When I am not blasting Latin music for my Zumba classes this is whats on my ipod.  A little inspiration, a little rock, and a few slow ones to round things out.   This gets me through an hour workout.  Hope you find something you can enjoy as well!!

All This Time - Britt Nicole
Waiting For Tomorrow - Mandisa
Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
Suitcases - Dara Maclean
I Will Not Be Moved - Natalie Grant
A Little Bit Stronger - Sara Evans
Set The World On Fire - Britt Nicole
Stronger - Mandisa
This Is The Stuff - Francesca Battistelli
Angel - Akon
Waiting For The End - Linkin Park
Not Over You - Gavin DeGraw
Nothing - The Script
God Speaking - Mandisa
Blessings - Laura Story
Your Hands - JJ Hellar

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bring Sexy Back Workout!!

As promised... here it is... my Bring Sexy Back Workout!!!  Be warned this is not for the faint of heart... if you want to see results then you have to work for it!

This is a circuit workout... meaning you do one set of each exercise with 30 seconds rest between each exercise.   Each exercise is to be performed for 60 seconds... do as many reps as you can in 60 seconds. When you have completed all of the different exercises, rest two minutes and start all over again.  Try to complete the circuit three times through.

Squat with Side Kick:  perform a squat - as you come back up kick right leg out to the side as if you were doing a jumping jack. Repeat squat and kick out with the left leg - that equals one rep.  Continue in this pattern for 60 seconds.

Mountain Climber: Place yourself in a basic push-up position.  Pull right knee into chest and tap toe on floor - push leg back out to start position and perform move with left leg.  Repeat rapidly for 60 seconds... this exercise mimics the motions used when mountain climbing.

Kettle Bell Swing:  Start by gripping bell with both hands and lower into a squat position.  As you push up through the squat swing the bell up and over your head.  Let the bell lower as you return to a squat position.   The bell will swing through your legs and slightly behind you.  Repeat as many times as possible in 60 seconds.   *you could also use a heavy object with handles on it if you don't have a kettle bell - i.e. a milk jug filled with sand*

Push-up:  Just what it says... a push-up... whether modified on your knees or a full push-up perform as many as you can in 60 seconds.

Back Lunge with Front Kick:  Step back into a lunge with your right leg as you return the leg to start position come all the way through and up and kick to your front.   Repeat quickly for 60 seconds.   Repeat with left leg.

Dumbbell Row:  Standing, knees bent.  Grasp two dumbbells or any heavy object in your hands palms facing up.  Pull your elbows in and to your side at a 90 degree angle.    Bend forward slightly at the waist and pull arms back by pressing shoulder blades together.   Repeat for 60 seconds.

Three Point Squat:  Grab a medicine ball or dumbbell with both hands.   Come to a squat position. As you come up press the ball or weight up and over your head.  Come back down to start position, bringing the ball back down, push back up and rotate to your right, come back down and repeat on the left - that is one rep.  Repeat for 60 seconds.

Hammer Curl to Shoulder Press:  Hold a dumbbell in each hand palms facing your body.  Using your biceps curl the dumbbell up, as you reach the top of the curl press the dumbbells up and over your head turning your palms to the front.  Repeat for 60 seconds.

Weighted Single Leg V-Up:  Lie flat on floor.  Grab a weight, kettle bell, medicine ball or heavy  object with both hands and stretch arms out over your head.   Lifting your right leg pull the weight and your torso up to meet your leg in a V-position, come back down repeat with left leg - that is one rep.  Repeat for 60 seconds.

Plank:  Place yourself in a basic push-up position.  From hands come down and rest on forearms.  Keeping your body straight hold the position for 60 seconds.

Single Leg Step Up:  Grab a step or bench of a height that you can comfortably step up with some challenge.  Step up onto bench with right leg - do not allow left leg to touch the bench - step back down and repeat for 60 seconds.   Repeat with left leg.

Tip: If you can not perform the exercise for 60 seconds...stop for a second,  catch your breath and keep going.  You will get stronger the more your perform these exercises and will eventually be able to perform them for 60 seconds.

There it is!!!!  Now get out there and Move With Strength!!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sometimes We All Fall Off The Wagon

Did you ever have one of those days when you feel as if your a running after something instead of keeping up?  Today is one of those days for me.   I looked at the calendar and realized that January is almost over and then I thought about my New Years resolution.  My goal was to cut out processed food, soda, most dairy and grains for at least one well as committing to be more intense and consistent in my workout routines - so far so good right?  Well, not so much.

 I am sure many of you cringed when I said New Years resolution... have you already fallen off the wagon?  Well I am going to let you in on a little secret - I have too.  While I find myself hitting the weights and adding those extra runs in I also find myself slipping on my diet resolution.  So I guess its kind of a win - loose situation. Sometimes I am on fire... getting in a great workout and really eating clean and others I may manage to get a good workout in but cave to my craving for dessert.  Today for example I just wanted one of my favorite things... this really yummy sandwich from a certain bakery, but I knew what that sandwich came with - a whopping side of guilt and whole lot of calories.  Not to mention I would in no way feel like working out after a heavy meal.   So instead of my caving into my weakness I chose to go after something similar but  a little lighter.  When your are forced to choose in a situation like this... go with something similar that will at least help curb that craving and satisfy that little voice in your gut.

I think we all have been here haven't we?   I will be honest committing to several goals at one time can be monumental and very difficult.  And for most people I would suggest NOT trying to resolve to change everything all at once but instead to make small important changes.   However in my case  I found myself wanting to make some serious changes - fast,  so I went all out.   And you know what?  I have done pretty good... and I am ok with that.  I am by no means perfect and do not expect to be.

What I have learned through the past couple of weeks is that it is ok to fall off the wagon every once in a while... as long as we commit to get right back up.  I see alot of people throwing in the towel after one slip up... I urge you not to not let that one setback get the best of you.   Take your day one workout, one meal at a time and commit to making the best choices that you can.  Instead of a hamburger and fries why not reach for a lighter lunch,  instead of that slice of chocolate cake why not choose instead to mix some hot chocolate powder into a serving of greek yogurt.   If you can not imagine chugging through 5 miles why not commit to walk at least one... and take it from there.   I promise you that once you commit to a better choice everything else will get much easier.  Take count of all the good things you have done... not of all your failures.  You need to find ways to boost yourself up not break yourself down.

Remember it is never all or nothing... you have room to choose.  So choose wisely most often and I promise you will begin to see the results you hoped for.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Things You Thought You Knew!

So I have been doing a ton of reading lately about nutrition and fitness and trying to sort through the myths and facts out there.   One of the things that I have found most interesting and have come across over and over has been around the things we thought we knew in regards to food choices we are supposed to be making. 

I know, like many of you I am sure, that I have been stuck in the world of low fat, low calorie eating for a lifetime it seems.  Well I have come across some pretty compelling information that speaks just to the opposite.  Now I am no nutritionist and I can not say for sure if what I have been reading is the miracle cure... but I think it warrants some thought and some experimentation.  The big factor in what I have been reading is - Sugar is Bad... not just bad... but toxic it seems and can totally derail any and all efforts you have of loosing that stubborn fat.   If you look around... sugar is everywhere... have you ever looked at home many grams of sugar are in fat free yogurt?  Yep I said fat free... something you think is healthy is loaded with sugar - not good.  Sugar is also loaded into juice, low fat foods, granola and the list goes on and on.  My advice... reduce or eliminate the amount of added sugar you consume.  By doing this you will get your insulin levels back in order, insulin is a fat storing hormone ( them more you have swimming around in your body... the more fat you store), so by reducing the sugar your reduce the insulin which can help you let go of some of that stubborn fat.

The second thing I noticed...eliminating carbs is not the way to go.  Carbs are essential to our well being... they give us the energy needed to get up and go.  But that being said there are carbs to enjoy and carbs to avoid.  First try to avoid carbs such as of course cakes and cookies,refined white breads and pastas.  I would even go so far as to say eliminate or drastically reduce the amount of carbs you consume in the form of whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, cereal and crackers.  I think you can enjoy the healthier whole wheat carbs in moderation... but thats just it... you have to practice moderation.  The truth is you don't need this type of carb at every meal. Some carbs you should add to your diet or consume more regularly are sprouted grain breads, rice breads, millet, quinoa, sweet potatoes ( you can even add pat of butter and some cinnamon), fruits and vegies.  Please don't eliminate carbs in the form of fruit... fruit is full of vitamins and is super good for you and easy to enjoy on the go.

The last thing I want to mention is in regards to fat.   I know what you have heard - that low fat is the way to go, but I feel differently.   We need fat, however, what we have been told is reduce or eliminate fat from your diet.  Buy fat free and loose weight!  That is so not the case.  Fat is essential it makes food enjoyable, it helps you feel satiated, it gives you energy... to name a few benefits.  So I don't want to talk about getting rid of fat. What I do want to talk about is the kind of fat you consume.   All that fat free processed food is not the way to go. So avoid it at all costs.  It is nothing but chemicals and sugar with a healthy label slapped on the package.  What we should focus on is natural fat, the kind of fat found in avocados, butter (real butter - not margarine), eggs (whole), olive and coconut oil, and raw nuts.  Now of course you should be enjoying these moderately but you can and should add these to your diet today.  Let me tell you my scrambled eggs taste much better when I cook them in just a little bit of real butter. 

In short... eat a more natural diet buy one ingredient food - fruits, vegies, lean protein, nuts etc.  Avoid the processed foods and sugar, foods with more the 5 ingredients and ingredients you can't pronounce and you should see vast improvements in your "bottom" line.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Try it - You'll like it!

So in my last post I promised to post some recipes that are not only healthy but yummy too.   I highly suggest you add these to your weekly meal plan.   I am a firm believer in trying new things when it comes to food.  If you are dieting or trying to clean up your diet you will never succeed if you don't add new, interesting and flavorful dishes into your repertoire.  So try it - You'll like it.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1 whole green pepper, chopped
1/4 lime juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or to your taste... I add way more then that... but i love the stuff)
2 (14.5 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 cup minced red onion
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.   Add the corn, beans, green pepper, cabbage, tomato and onion; toss to coat.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I found that this is really good over some warm brown rice and topped with Tabasco sauce.  I think it would be even better if you added some chopped avocado!

Brussel Sprouts with Mushrooms
4 cups of sprouts
1/2 pound of mushrooms
4 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Boil sprouts for 15 minutes until fork tender.
Remove and set aside.
Place butter and mushrooms in saute pan and cook until browned.

Add sprouts until hot, add parsley and lemon juice and saute for another minute.

Lentil Chili
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
4 cups chopped onion
1 garlic clove chopped
16 oz dry black lentils
6 oz canned tomato paste
14 ½ oz can crushed tomato
2 qts water
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 dash paprika
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery
Heat olive oil and butter in large pot.  Stir in onion, garlic, and cook until tender.  Mix in lentils, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes. Pour in the water.  Season with the chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix carrots and celery into the chili.  Continue cooking 20 minutes over low heat, until lentils, carrots, and celery are tender.
*you could substitute any color lentil for the black
*experiment with the different flavors of crushed tomatoes – I especially like fire roasted
*add a jalapeno for extra heat

There you go!!! I hope you enjoy!!

Monday, January 9, 2012


So we see trends for everything... there are trends in fashion, music, homes, cars etc... but I guess I never gave much thought to "health food" trends.  This morning as I was knocking out some miles on the tread mill I came across an interesting piece... the top 10 health food trends for 2012.  I know what you are thinking... really... health food trends... doesn't seem so exciting.  I can understand why you might think that... but at this time of year we are all looking for ways to freshen up our routines whether it be a change in our lifestyle or a change in our diet.  So here is a rundown on that list and my thoughts on them...I think some of them may very well indeed be a way to freshen up your routine for the new year.

Top Health Food Trends for 2012

1. Seeds.... yep seeds... pumpkin, sunflower, flax,chia ( yeah like the Chia pet).  Seeds are full of things like zinc, Vitamin K,  Vitamin E, calcium etc etc.  In short they are little powerhouses of goodness that can be eaten plain or sprinkled on your salad.   New Years suggestion... add them into your diet in some way at least once a week.

2. Protein powder - most people are familiar with protein powder and how to incorporate it into your diet and most of us have a love hate relationship with the stuff.   I will admit protein powder sometimes can be hard to swallow, however, there are so many kinds on the market now that if you try a few you are bound to find one you like... my fav right now is the Jillian Michaels brand.  Its cheap and has a decent taste and mixes well... I found it at Walmart.   You can put protein powder in your pancake mix or of course smoothies.  Word of advice if you mix it in your oatmeal... be sure to mix it up well or it clumps... not good.

3. Mini Desserts - I find it odd that this is considered a health food but hey will go with it.  Many restaurants such as AppleBee's and Chili's are scaling down the size of some of their most popular desserts.   Finally!!! Have you seen how large portion sizes are?  Do you know what the appropriate portion size it?   Like I said I wouldn't consider desserts health food but I do believe in a little of most things is ok in moderation.

4. Cherries - what I found interesting about this was that the spotlight was on dried, tart, sour cherries.  These cherries are said to have an anti-inflammatory effect and are great for muscle recovery.  This would be a perfect addition for this time of year when most of us are suffering through new workouts and lots of muscle soreness.

5. Grapeseed and Truffle oils - in short these are better for you oils that can add another level of depth to your meals.

6.  Black Lentils - I think most of us probably don't spend alot of time in the dried bean isle at the grocery store... but you should.   Not only are beans such as Lentils cheap they are really easy to make and so good for you.  Black lentils are full of antioxidants, fight cancer and can help boost memory.    They can easily be your protein in a meatless meal so do a little research online and find a recipe and add lentils to your weekly grocery list.

7. Brussel Sprouts -  now before you give me that face hear me out.  Brussel sprouts are high in fiber, vitamin C and may also help prevent cancer.   Are you seeing a pattern here - food as medicine?  Should give us all something to think about.  Not only are brussel sprouts good for you but prepared the right way are super good.   And if you have never seen a brussel sprout fresh on the stock its kinds interesting looking...I know for years I thought they were baby cabbages (?) and grew like cabbage... but boy was I wrong... they actually grow on a stalk in a bunch. Anyway... try them!  I will be following this post with some recipes I have found that my family and I love!  And yes by family I mean my carnivorous husband and my six year old daughter.

Well there it is - the health food trends for 2012... I know I will be throwing a couple of these in.. I hope you will too!!

Check back in as I will be posting some yummy recipes for Brussel Sprouts and Lentils as well as running down the top fitness trends for 2012!  :)