Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Exercise of the Week: Circular Bicep Curls

There aren't a whole lot of variations for the bicep curl, so when I discovered this one I was quite happy. It had been a while since my biceps had actually been sore, and this exercise did the trick. Grab two dumbbells and stand with your feet hip width apart, with a slight bend in the knees. (If you are looking for a challenge try doing this exercise while standing on one foot.) Place your elbows right up against the side of your body. Press your dumbbells back and up towards your shoulders as far as you can go without moving that elbow. Circle the dumbbells up towards the shoulders and in towards the center of your body. Slowly lower down towards your belly-button, bringing the dumbbells close together and then down and back out making a full circle. Take this exercise really slow and make sure your dumbbells are heavy enough that you are actually feeling it. It should start to burn pretty quickly if you're doing it correctly. Aim for 3 sets of 8-12, & you'll be ready for the gun show in no time!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Caramel Popcorn: A lighter version

I LOVE caramel popcorn. It's been a treat my mom has made ever since I can remember. Popcorn is a great snack that is low in fat, full of fiber, and even has some protein. Dousing it with butter, refined sugar, and karo syrup isn't the healthiest way to eat it, but this recipe I found in Fitness Magazine provides the sweetness without quite so much fat and sugar.

  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 5 tablespoons peanut oil *not needed if using an air popper
  • 1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

In a stockpot or an extra-large saucepan, heat popcorn kernels in 3 tablespoons of oil. Stir to coat all kernels. Cover and cook over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes, or until kernels are fully popped (shaking pot after 3 minutes). *If you have an air popper you can pop the kernels in the air popper alleviating some fat from cooking the kernels in oil.

Lightly coat 2 large baking pans with cooking spray. Pour popcorn into pans and preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey, remaining oil, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden or silicone spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in baking soda until smooth.

Evenly drizzle over popcorn; stir to coat. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Makes 12 cups.

Nutrition Facts for 1 cup:
250 calories
1g protein
41g carbohydrate
11g fat (4g saturated)
1g fiber
*the fat content and calorie content will drop if you pop the popcorn with an air popper

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Feel like your putting in extra time and not budging a lb??

I always like to read the MSN health section that pops up when i open my computer up at work. I don't know how scientifically correct all of it is, but i find it interesting none the less. They listed reasons why you might not being seeing any difference in your weight even though you're putting in extra time. Some of them I found valid...others...not so much. Here were some of the scenarios that I agree with.

You get up at 6:00 AM every morning for your daily run.
- problem?? you aren't going to bed until 12:00 or 1:00. Morning workouts are great if you're able to get in bed in time to log in 7-8 hours of sleep. Not getting enough sleep will hinder your weight loss considerably. Studies show that women who got from 5-6 hours of sleep are more likely to pack on the pounds. That sleep time is your body's recovery time. Without it your body can't perform like it's supposed to. Lack of sleep also leads to an increase in cravings...more munching...more calories.

You are logging extra miles on the treadmill to make up for big meals.
-The problem here is the caloric balance. A common misconception with weight loss is that you can work out and eat all you want and you'll lose weight. If only working out was the sole key to weight loss!! Unfortunately, this isn't the case. A healthy diet supplemented by exercise IS the key to weight loss. The bottom line is you have to have a calorie deficit.

You Ignore Age Related Muscle Loss
- This is definitely a problem, one that I think women in their 30's need to be aware of. Around age 30 women can start to lose muscle mass. This is also around the time when women's metabolism slows down and they begin to hold on to more fat. The more lean muscle you have on your body the more calories you will burn all the time. It increases your metabolism. The solution to this problem? Lifting weights! You don't have to be a body builder. Doing a few sets of weight bearing exercises 2-3 times a week will do the trick. Don't let it intimidate you, it's easy ;)

You think a "water-rich" diet means add more water into your diet. The end.
- Water rich should mean increasing your diet with foods rich in water; namely fruits & veggies. When you fill up on these foods you'll feel more full, you'll increase your vitamin and mineral intake, and you'll increase your fiber intake. ALL good things! The greatest addition to these fruits and veggies??? You guessed it...whole grains!

You have the "one goal at a time" mentality
- " I will only focus on going to the gym this month, next month my focus will be to eat healthy." While the building block approach is a GREAT one, accomplishing one thing and then adding another on top of it, far too often we forget about the first block and only focus on the second. I'm not saying have 15 goals....I realize that can be overwhelming. But, the odds of accomplishing something when looking at watching food, exercise, sleep, etc. is more likely than if you only focus on the gym and eat whatever you want. Makes sense, right?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Exercise of the Week: The Plank

I LOVE the plank! It is a great way to work the core, getting your upper and lower abdominals, your lower back, and your glutes. If you've mastered the basic plank position here are some ways to step it up, and challenge yourself a little more. I'd first try to get to the point where you can hold your plank for 1:00 to 1:30 seconds. Once you've accomplished that add a small plate to the small of your back (5-10 lbs) to make those abs work harder to keep that body in line. Really watch your form as you start to get tired. Squeeze your glutes and use your lower abs to keep your body in line. You can also try lifting one foot off the ground and holding, or alternate lifting one foot of the ground at a time. The same can be done with your arms. Punching one arm at a time forward or just holding.

Once you've mastered that there are a lot of variations that you can try. Press yourself up to a straight arm plank, and hold there. You'll feel this a little more in your shoulders, but its still giving that core a great workout. This position can also be done with some weight on your back.

Try the plank on the physioball. In this variation you want to make sure you keep your hips down. The tendancy is to press them up to release the pressure in your back.
Side planks are a great way to work those obliques. You don't have to hold a weight to do this one. Once you've mastered this exercise you can add some variations here as well. Try dipping your hips down to the ground and pressing them back up to starting position. Aim to do 15-20 reps on each side. You can also start from beginning position and curl that top arm around underneath your body so your hips rotate toward your front foot, and then back to startining. By 15-20 of those on each side you should feel it!

The Plank is a GREAT way to finish off a workout. Try to do 3 - 5 sets, and you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll improve your plank, and how strong your abs will get. Keep pushing yourself and making it harder. Fight complacency!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Snack Attack!!

Because I have a genetic disposition to snacking I'm always trying to help myself out by finding things that won't ruin my whole day by eating them. Hilary asked for some good snack ideas, so i thought I'd post some new ones that I love. If you didn't see my previous post on great snack ideas check it out here Little Indulgences.

Some new ones I am loving are Popsicle Brand's Sugar free popsicles. The Fudgsicles have 40 calories in 1! AMAZING. They really do taste good too. They have a wide assortment of tasty treats are delicious. Side note (in looking this up i just discovered they have a diet dr. pepper sugar free popsicle...i'm going to be hunting for this!!)

I've also recentely discovered Klondike's Slim-a-Bear line of frozen products, and they are SO good. The ice cream sandwiches taste just like you're average ice cream sandwich, and for only 100 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. You can't beat that! (Can you tell I have an affinity for frozen treats??)

I've also just jumped on the 100 calorie pack bandwagon. It seems as if almost every food company such as Nabisco, Hershey's, Chex, etc. has put out 100 calorie pack variations of thier food Items. I love this idea because you can have some of your favorite snacks, but instead of eating the whole box of wheat thins you can limit yourself to 100 calories worth! With these it is important to remember that they shouldn't be an all the time event, being as how an oreo is still an oreo. Even if it's only 100 calories of Oreo.

I love fresh fruit, and sometimes chilled cut up fruit hits the spot. A lot of my clients will use lack of prep-time as an excuse to not eating fruits and vegetables, but it doesn't have to be a big process. My favorite thing to do is to buy a cantelope or baby watermelon and as soon as i get home from the store i'll cut it up and put it in a tupperware in the fridge. This way its right there on hand whenever you have a craving for a little snack. This could be done with any fruit really. I also love to have a bag of baby carrots on hand with some fat free ranch dressing to dip them in. So good!

I'll stay on the lookout for more great treats for you! Let me know if you have any to add to the list!!

Fitness @ Lunch Article

My fabulous friend Emilie Nuttal's equally fabulous husband Todd has started a website called Fitness @ Lunch. It is a website all about fitness, weight lifting, and proper nutrition, (right up my ally i know!) It is geared more towards men, but has great information for all those who are interested in health and fitness. Todd asked me to contribute to thier website by writing a column about pre and post workout nutrition. I was definitely excited to contribute! Check it out by clicking on the link below. :)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Swap that Oil for Applesauce

I have mentioned making substitutions in your recipes in the past, but I wanted to touch a little bit more on the oil for applesauce trade out. When baking its easy to cut out calories and fat by making this switch. Most recipes call for about 1/3 cup of vegetable oil which contains 635 calories, and 71 grams of fat. Yikes! Applesauce can be traded out on a 1:1 ratio and 1/3 cup contains 35 calories and 0 grams of fat, a much better set of nutrition facts if you ask me. Using applesauce will give your confectionery goods a bit more of a cake-like substance, but I think it actually makes it more moist. You can use other purees such as banana, pumpkin, or sweet potato if the flavor won't compromise you're recipe. Give the trade-out shot and let me know what you think!!