Monday, December 30, 2013


We all make resolutions, or goals every year and those are usually in January.  Then, about April, we revert to our "old ways" and most of what we resolve to have done differently is only just a memory.  How do you keep your resolutions from disappearing?  Well, for one you can join my 30 day Goal Setting Challenge and you can also use these tips below written by Kara Walgren from

Make Your New Year's Resolution Stick!

By Kara Wahlgren

Want to lose weight? Get a promotion? Take over the world? Here's how to make sure your New Year's resolution becomes a reality.
First, the bad news: The odds are stacked against you. A few years ago, psychologist Richard Wiseman conducted a study of 3,000 people who had set New Year's resolutions for themselves. At the end of the year, a measly 12% had actually achieved their goals.1 But don't let those bleak stats kill your mojo—there are a few easy ways to make your goals more attainable, so you'll be toasting your success next December.

Champagne Bottles

Plan ahead.
It's 11:59 PM on December 31st—do you know what your resolution is? For the best chance of success, set your goals long before you want to start them. Wiseman says that reflecting on your goals a few days before the New Year will make you more likely to choose a meaningful resolution2—which, of course, will make you more motivated to work for it. Still haven't set a goal? That's okay. Make one now and set yourself a start date a few days from now.
Shout it from the rooftops . . .
. . . or at least share it online. According to Wiseman's research, women were more likely to succeed if they told their friends and family about their goals.3 After all, you wouldn't want to fail in front of a few hundred of your closest friends, colleagues, and high school exes—would you? Make your resolution Facebook® official, tweet about it, or post a "before" photo on Instagram®. Accountability is your friend.
Once you've decided on your Big Important Goal, come up with a few smaller objectives that can help you get there. If you resolve to lose weight, commit to doing your INSANITY® workout every day. Or hire a personal trainer and buy sessions in bulk. Or take a two-mile hike every weekend. "Intention is very different than action," says Daniel C. Stettner, Ph.D., director of Psychology at UnaSource Health Center in Troy, MI, and an adjunct professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. "People have to come up with tactics and strategies. Otherwise, it's like driving to a destination without directions—you're not going to be successful."
Think positive . . . but not too positive.
 Notebook with New Year Resolutions on themIf you paid attention in English class, you might remember "doublethink" from Orwell's 1984—the ability to accept two opposing beliefs as truth. In this case, you need to accept that you can succeed and that you can fail. In his book, 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, Wiseman points to research by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, who found that imagining success kept people motivated, while imagining failure helped them form "avoidance goals."4 In other words, it's okay to fantasize about firing your annoying cube mate when you become manager—but also devise a Plan B in case you get passed over for this round of promotions.
Know thy enemy.
Willpower is overrated. According to a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people were more likely to be successful if they avoided temptation altogether rather than expecting superhuman self-control to kick in.5 So figure out what changes you can make to sidestep your biggest roadblocks—can you take a different route to work that doesn't pass a bagel shop? Can you block Facebook on your computer to free up more time for new projects? Can you switch from your usual hangout to a non-smoking bar? A few small lifestyle changes can prevent big pitfalls.
Reward yourself.
We all love instant gratification. So when you're pursuing a long-term goal like weight loss or digging out of debt, short-term rewards will help you power through. Just make sure the rewards jibe with the ultimate goal—don't reward a week of workouts by eating an entire chocolate cake. If you're trying to slim down, for example, Dr. Stettner suggests buying a new outfit you can't squeeze into (yet!) or working out with a friend so the reward is built-in.
Don't let setbacks derail you.
Spoiler alert: You're human, so you're going to screw up. Don't let it discourage you, and don't use it as an excuse to let the rest of the day (or weekend, or month) go down the tubes. "There are going to be lapses, but a lapse doesn't have to be a collapse or a relapse," Dr. Stettner says. "Seek persistence rather than the dirty P-word, perfection. Don't think, 'I went off the plan today, so I'll start over tomorrow.' Salvage it. Save the day."

Friday, November 15, 2013

How Soon Will You See Changes?

So you've started a new workout program and set goals and taken before measurements.  You have your meal plan put together and did all your shopping.  You have committed yourself to seeing it through.  So, it becomes discouraging a couple weeks in, when you take your progress measurements, and you don't think they measure up.  So what should you expect?  When should you see results?  Check out this article from on this interesting subject... :)

When Will You See Results? Plus, Answers to More of Your Top Fitness Questions

By Steve Edwards

I've been asked a lot of questions over the course of my career, on topics as broad as a "before" picture on The Biggest Loser®. These vary from the most rudimentary, "Why should I work out?" to highly scientific, "What's the best knee angle to activate my gluteus medius during a heel slide?" Without further ado, here are the top 10 fitness questions of all time (cue drum roll):

Couple Weight Lifting, another Couple Showing off  Weight Loss

  1. I've got a slight injury. Should I do my scheduled workout anyway?
    If you can do your workout without stressing the injury (in other words, so that it doesn't hurt), then yes. However, that is very rarely the case. The vast majority of injuries, especially those we don't see a doctor for, are soft tissue, which means you have a problem in a muscle, tendon, or ligament. Since most workouts utilize the body as a single unit, the answer is probably no.

    Training on an injury, at best, does not allow it to heal. More than likely, it makes an injury worse. In both instances, you've got a scenario where your hard work is likely going to all be for nothing. So, why would you roll those dice?

    Pain is your guide for soft tissue injuries. Basically, as long as you can train pain-free you've got a green light. As soon as an injury starts to hurt, even in the slightest, further engagement will likely make the situation worse. If you don't know the difference between good pain (muscle soreness/cardiovascular toil) and bad pain (injury), please consult your doctor. It will make your fitness journey so much easier.
Woman Doing a Yoga Pose
  1. Why should I do yoga?
    This used to be higher on the list but people are starting to get the message: yoga is incredibly good for you. There's a good reason it's been around for thousands of years. Yoga trains all of the muscles in the body to work in harmony. This does not just include voluntary muscles (prime mover and stabilizer) but involuntary muscles (smooth and cardiac) as well, resulting in a workout that's more like a full-body tonic than a sweat or pump fest. A regular yoga practice almost ensures that you'll age gracefully.
  1. Why do I need to stretch?
    This one is a little more controversial than yoga, which is mainly because stretching has a lot of variations and some seem to offer little benefit. In a holistic sense, however, stretching has similar benefits of yoga if you're following some type of exercise program. Most exercise causes the muscles to contract over and over. After exercise, stretching elongates muscle fibers, essentially resetting the muscle so that it's supple and ready for further bouts of contraction. This is not disputed. The only controversy about stretching is how much you need to stay healthy, which becomes a sub-category as diverse as how to best exercise or eat. The bottom line, and all you need to know at this stage, is that some stretching after exercise will help you recover faster and lessen the likelihood of getting injured.
  1. Do I need to warm up and cool down?
    Cooling down is mainly covered in number 8, as stretching out your contracted muscle fibers is a part of it. There are a few more factors, like helping your body slow its heart rate and circulatory processes to thwart blood pooling, but most of this is accomplished without trying, as long as, say, you don't finish repeated 100-meter sprints by sitting at a desk for hours. Luckily your desk and the track aren't next to each other, forcing a cooldown. With that in mind, you might not want to skip to cooldown of P90X2® PAP because your desk might, in fact, be next to your living room.

    As far as warming up, it gets your blood circulating and increases the viscosity of other bodily fluids (known as thixotropy), all of which works as a defense system against injury as your workout hits its intensity stride.

    Warming up and cooling down, while not absolutely essential, are simply smart things to do.
Man about to work out
  1. How do I put on mass?
    This question used to be a blip on our radar. Over the years, Beachbody® has created so many fit bodies that individual sculpting has become a very popular subject. I guess once you're thin and fit the obvious evolution is to look like Hercules. It's harder than it sounds.

    Losing weight seems hard but it's technically quite easy. If you change your habits and become healthy, weight will naturally fall off because living in gravity is easier if you're smaller. Being large is the opposite. Not only do you have to train like an Olympian, but you also need to eat like a lumberjack.

    When you break down muscle tissue—the goal of any bodybuilder—you need to eat to repair it. The catch-22 is that your body, in anticipation, raises its metabolism in order to repair the damage and keep you at an efficient weight for fighting gravity. Being big takes extra effort because you've got to outeat your body's natural response. You need to train hard, eat a ton, and most of all stay consistent when your body start to rebel. For more on this subject, read The Book of Beast .
  1. How often do I need to work out?
    I've gotten a lot of iterations of this question, including this one: "At what point can you stop working out? You can't tell me that Tony Horton and Steve Edwards still need to work out in order to look like that!"

    How often we need to work out depends on how hard and how long we work out, as well as what our goals are. These are huge variables since, obviously, if you want to win the Tour de France® you're going to need more exercise than if you just want to participate in the company softball game without getting injured. The only rule is that, aside from what the questioner above believes, we need to exercise in order to keep our bodies healthy and running well.

    There is no set time. There is no set volume or intensity everyone must follow. Diet matters too. The better you eat, the less you need to exercise in order to stay thin. A person who is not overweight and eats well can probably do as little as 30 minutes of exercise a day, including just being mobile, to stay healthy. However, more and more scientific evidence shows that some amount of high-intensity exercise keeps us healthy and offsets aging. I would say, for optimal health, people should get at least 15 minutes of intense daily exercise in addition to plenty of easy day-to-day tasks like walking, chores, etc.
  1. Man spotting for weight-lifting womanHow do I know how much weight to lift?
    Failure is your friend. If you go through an entire workout and never fail on a set, then you're not using enough weight. Conversely you also don't want to fail on every set. This requires some explanation.

    We use repetitions as an easy way to execute what's called "time under tension." Monitoring time under tension is how we gauge how a workout trains your body. The number of repetitions you do should be gauged by the point at which you fail. Few repetitions (using heavier weights) train strength. Many repetitions train endurance. In between lies the sweet spot for what most of us are targeting, muscle growth (known as hypertrophy). Muscle growth, as you'll see later, is the key for both getting smaller and bigger because it increases your metabolism and burns calories.

    There are many reasons to target different repetitions but most of Beachbody's programs target hypertrophy or endurance, which is why the people in the cast are usually doing between 8 and 20 repetitions of an exercise. Here's how to lift the "right" amount of weight.

    Once you can do, say, 20 repetitions of an exercise (or whatever is the peak of your target range) with a given weight, add more weight so that you can only do 8 to 10 (or the bottom of your target range) before you fail. Once you reach the top of your target range again, it's time to add more. This is called progressive overload and it is the key to getting great results out of your exercise program.
  1. How often do I need to train my abs to get a six-pack?
    This is a two-part answer. The first is that your six-pack has very little to do with how much you train your abs. A visual six pack come from having a low body fat percentage and the best way to do that is to train your entire body, not just your abs—in fact, it's nearly impossible to get a six-pack only training your abs. This is why we create full body exercise programs, even if "abs" is a part of the title.

    The second is that you don't need to, nor should you, train your ab muscles every day. The muscles in your core have a higher percentage of red or slow twitch muscle fibers, meaning you can train them more often than many areas of your body, but they still respond best by having high-intensity training days followed by rest days. There is no good reason to do ab work more than 3 or 4 times per week.
  1. Is weight training or cardio better for weight loss?
    Both are great. If I could only choose one it would be circuit weight training (which also trains your cardiovascular system), but thankfully we don't have to choose one. The best training programs address every system of your body. Not just by lifting weights and doing "cardio," but by systematically using resistance and cardio workouts to train the various sub areas under those two modalities (power, endurance, hypertrophy, aerobic efficiency, anaerobic threshold, and so forth). The more systems of the body you train simultaneously, the easier it is to force adaptations and, thus, body composition changes.
  1. When will I begin to see results?
    Person Icing up the footWhile there is no accurate timetable to seeing results you can generally feel results happening on day one. Are you sore? Results are coming. Are you hungry? Ditto. As your body adapts to exercise, you are making internal changes, meaning results are on the way. Your body will resist the change. That's because its natural defense (law of homeostasis) is to protect the state it's in, even if that state is unhealthy. Its response to this is to fight it with hormonal releases. How well it adapts varies with every single individual, which is why we are constantly advising people not to look at their scale all the time and, instead, trust measurements and pictures. Some people start seeing results in a few days. Others may take many weeks. And none of that matters because the healthy lifestyle will always win in the end. If you keep at it, train hard, and eat well, your body will—absolutely, as it has no choice—change over time. Stay consistent for long enough and you'll look like a Greek statue. It's a physiological law.
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"Phys Ed Follies: 9 Fitness Activities That Feel More Like Play"
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"Mr. Big Stuff: A Q&A with Body Beast's Sagi Kalev"

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What Do You Crave?

It never ever fails.  You start your new nutrition program, vowing to be "good."  Two days into it, you have a craving that is so powerful you don't think you have the will power to control it.  It goes on for days until finally you snap, and instead of having one little chocolate kiss, you have an entire bag in one sitting.  Then begins the guilt trip you put yourself through.  Some of you will then go spend extra hours on the tread mill and starve yourself for a couple of days to make up for your "transgression" and other will break down and just binge on very unhealthy foods in excess... Neither of these are healthy for us PHYSICALLY or EMOTIONALLY.  

So what to do about cravings?  We all are going to have them... how we handle them is what is going to determine our success.

Check out this article from about CRAVINGS:

Ask the Expert: When Should I Listen to My Cravings?

By Denis Faye

Cravings can be intense—and often they go way beyond minor hankering. Surely, it can't just be that you want chocolate. There must be some reason that you need chocolate. Come on, please! Just a taste.
Dark Chocolate

Unfortunately, you probably don't. In most cases, cravings aren't a physiological function telling you what you need. In fact, it's much more like that that they're a dysfunction.
You might be aware of an infographic floating around the Interwebs featuring foods that people typically crave, along with micronutrients that (supposedly) trigger those cravings. If you desire bread, toast, or pasta, the graphic suggests you need more nitrogen in your diet. Salty foods mean you need chloride, chocolate suggests a need for magnesium, etc. You may notice a complete lack of references at the bottom of this chart. That's probably because there's no science backing up these claims—whatsoever. While the craving might stem from something more obvious—sugar, for example—it's highly unlikely that your yen for chocolate means you need more magnesium in your diet.

Why Do I Crave Chocolate and Other Foods That Aren't Good For Me?

Cravings are far more complex than this cause-and-effect chart suggests. While a subtle nutrient need may be partly to blame, cravings arise for several reasons—and tend to include a tangled web of psychology, hormones, and other physiological issues.
Let's go back to the chocolate/magnesium connection. By the time chocolate gets to the milked-down form most Americans consume, there's not much magnesium left. One ounce of milk chocolate contains just 4% of the recommended daily value for magnesium. Dark chocolate has 16%.
CandyWhy would the body seek out a food for a specific nutrient when that food has very little of that nutrient? Wouldn't it make more sense that your body would crave foods richer in magnesium, such as nuts, leafy greens, or beans? Your chocolate cravings probably exist for more insidious reasons. Some research shows similarities between chocolate cravings and alcohol addiction, in that both alcohol and cacao contain similar neuroactive alkaloids (chemicals that tweak your melon).1 In other words, research suggests that chocolate is addictive.
Another reason you could be craving that brownie is because of your emotional history with it. It's one of the great American comfort foods. We're brought up identifying chocolate with birthdays, Halloween, post-soccer game ice cream outings, and all those magic moments when you were a good little boy or girl who deserved a reward. If you can't see how that would etch a positive association neural pathway deep into your gray matter, we need to get Dr. Freud on the horn, stat.
Furthermore, unless you like chewing on cacao nibs (and some people do!), the chocolate you consume is filled with sugar—and sugar cranks up the "feel good" hormone serotonin (among other chemicals) levels in your brain, giving you a feeling of mild euphoria. When it's gone, you want more.2 Combine this sugar hit with the emotional issues and you've got one powerful craving.
I'm not ruling out the possibility of a causal relationship between cravings and micronutrients—but the key word here is possibility. For instance, when I first began road cycling seriously, I found myself with an irresistible craving for potato chips. It was only when I started adding sea salt to my recovery drink that those cravings passed. Similarly, pregnant women often crave foods that are high in nutrients they need. For example, she might crave cheeseburgers—an obvious source of calcium and iron.
If you're convinced that your particular craving stems from a micronutrient deficiency, there's an easy way to test this: supplement the vitamin or mineral you have in mind. Getting back to chocolate, if you buy into the magnesium thing, try supplementing Beachbody® Core Cal-Mag™. Another angle would be to embrace the psychology aspect of cravings and instead grab a bag of Chocolate Shakeology®, so that you can indulge yourself, but in a healthy way. (Not to beat a dead horse, but a serving of Shakeology contains 20% of the recommended daily value of magnesium.)

So I Shouldn't Trust My Cravings?

Maybe sometimes. With all this talk of micronutrients, we've overlooked another possible root cause for your craving—a macronutrient deficiency. You could be craving certain foods—or certain food types—because your balance of carbs, protein, and fat is off. While it's a stretch to assume your body desires a food because it contains trace amounts of a certain mineral, the causal link between foods and macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) is obvious. Eat a piece of carb-heavy cake and you're going to spike your blood sugar.
AvocadoIf you think this may be the case, feed the craving with healthy food. If you're craving sweet things, increase your fruit and veggie intake. If you crave greasy foods, increase your raw nut or avocado (good fats) intake. If you find yourself craving meat and cheese, increase your lean protein intake with chicken, fish, eggs, and legumes. If you do this and it doesn't work, odds are that your cravings are more psychologically based.
If you're deliberately eating at a calorie deficit, this method can be a problem. Ultimately, you're not getting enough of any macronutrient. In these situations, it might be useful to adjust the balance of carbs/protein/fat in your diet. So, for example, if you're in the middle of phase one of P90X® and you're jonesin' for sweet stuff, try switching to phase two, which features a carb increase.
Cravings suck. And when you're trying to lose weight, they suck even more, as calorie deficits tend to increase cravings.3 In our most frustrated, give-me-the-donut-before-I-kill-someone moments, we'd all like a simple solution. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist. Finding your way around cravings requires a little patience and experimentation. It's just a matter of finding a healthy substitute, a little willpower—or some combination thereof.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ever Wonder Why You Don't See Results?

You've been on your new "diet" for two weeks now.  You have struggled to stick to it, but excited to see the results of your hard work.  You step on the scale... and ... NOTHING HAS CHANGED!  WHY?  You thought you were doing everything right!  That can be SO defeating!  

Check out this article from Jessica Girdwain from for some tips and tricks to help you be successful.

Are you guilty of any of these??

Are You Sabotaging Your Weight Loss?

By Jessica Girdwain
If you just started an exercise plan or are getting your butt in gear by working out more consistently, you may need to change how you fuel your body to get the most out of it. Common nutrition mistakes such as drinking your calories or eating too much post workout may be the reason why you can't lose weight (or inches) even though you're giving it your all. Although getting fit isn't just about the scale, it's still an important factor, so we'll break down 5 common problems—and how to fix them—to get you back on the path to results
Woman eating an Apple

Problem 1: You have no idea how many calories you're really eating

It's common to think more exercise = more calories. But if you're trying to lose weight, you may be adding on as many calories as you're burning—or more. "Think about the food that you're eating to fuel your workouts and ask yourself how it fits into your total calorie allotment for the day," advises Felicia Stoler, MS, RD, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist. Just because you hit the cardio hard today doesn't automatically mean you can supersize dinner. "Most people have no idea how much they're really eating." To get honest with yourself about your calorie needs, write down everything you eat for a day (yes, even that handful of nuts you're holding right now) or use a site like MyFitnessPal®. You'll probably be surprised by your final number.

Problem 2: You're hydrating with a sports drink

Man Drinking Sports DrinkIf you're doing a hard, prolonged workout, then hydrating with a sports drink can be a good thing, but for your standard, at-home program, you're usually better off with water. Sports drinks contain about 50 calories per 8 oz., and 14 grams of sugar (about 3.5 teaspoons). Your body will probably burn though that in an hour-long workout, but then you won't be mobilizing fat stores as much. As for the electrolytes, yes, an hour-long program depletes them, but it's nothing a good recovery drink can't fix.

Problem 3: You're addicted to that pre-workout snack

As long as they're getting enough balanced calories in their diet, the average person should have all the glycogen stores they need to get through an hour-long workout, even first thing in the morning. Eating something beforehand might give your performance a little boost, but if you skip it you're better off—teaching your body how to mobilize fat stores for energy (just like in Problem 2). The exception to this is if you "bonk" or run out of glycogen and blood sugar partway through your workout. When this happens, you don't just feel a little pooped; you feel as though you've just run into a brick wall. If this happens, 50–100 calories of simple carbs, 10 minutes before you start, should fix it. Half a banana would be ideal. If you're looking for a boost with minimal calories, Beachbody's E&E Energy and Endurance® Formula or a strong cup of coffee are two great ergogenic aids.

Problem 4: You're eliminating all carbs

CarbsSo many exercisers try to eliminate starchy carbs—including whole grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn—when they're trying to lose weight. But it's water weight you're losing, not fat. Not only that, the strategy can backfire. Depleting carbs from your diet means that you have to tap into your lean protein stores for energy, which ultimately can decrease your lean muscle mass. Muscle is critical for upping your metabolism—and burning more calories even while you sit around—so you may see your weight plateau. The lesson? Don't be afraid to incorporate some whole grains and starchy veggies into your daily diet.

Problem 5: You're not working out hard enough

If you notice you come home from a run only to find that you're noticeably hungrier, consider upping the intensity of that run. A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity looked at sedentary, overweight men who either worked out at a moderate pace for 30 minutes or completed a high-intensity interval workout for the same amount of time.1 Those who did the intense interval exercise ate less at a subsequent meal, as well as the next day. Not every workout should be an intense interval session, but fitting in one or two a week can help turn the dial down on your appetite.


  1. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Attenuates Ad-Libitium Energy Intake
Related Articles
"Three Powerful Tools for Losing Weight"
"Ask the Expert: Is Cardio or Weight Lifting Better For Losing Weight?";
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Friday, October 4, 2013


You know you have heard and maybe even seen other's transformations.  You have seen a Biggest Looser episode before... Everyone has seen before and after photos of someone who has changed their physique in a magazine, or online.

How many of you thought, "someday that will be me" or "yeah, right, that will never be me"?

Well anyone can have a transformation.  Sure, there are always physical transformations, but the more amazing transformations are what happens on the inside, and the journey you take is more powerful than what you look like at the end.

There is something so powerful in reaching a goal, sticking with the journey.  OF course your transformation is not always smooth-sailing... you will struggle.  Just because you started out to transform your life does not mean that the path will always be easy to travel on.  Is anything worth having worth struggling for?

I transformed myself a few years ago.  YES it was easy at times, and hard at times, but it was worth it.  The lessons I learned far outweigh what I looked like at the end.  I learned what I  could overcome, what I could resist... how far I could push myself physically and emotionally... and the farther I stretched myself the stronger I became.

Now, here is the part I enjoy the most... HELPING OTHERS ON THEIR TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY!  Being a Coach helps me help other people transform themselves.  I love being able to celebrate the small successes (like you avoided eating that doughnut in the break room) and helping you overcome what seems impossible (like that day the scale does not move after a week of strict clean eating and exercise).  I know. I have been there.  I have overcame those days.  I can help you overcome them.

Check out my own transformation.  Think about it.  Is today the day you begin your journey?

Let's do this!

<3 ya,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

To Eat or Not to Eat!

Healthy eating habits should start early.  It is sometimes so hard as a busy parent to take the time to prepare wholesome, nutritious meals every day so it is so easy to resort to processed and boxed foods that you can just "heat up".  These meals are loaded with all kinds of unhealthy substances and loaded with sodium.

Here is a list from of the 9 worst culprits!

9 Foods Not to Give Your Kids

By Joe Wilkes
If you've followed the news on childhood obesity lately, you know the state of affairs is pretty grim. Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past two decades, and most signs point to the next generation being the first whose life expectancy will be shorter than their parents'. Much of the blame for this trend has deservedly been laid at the feet of the producers and marketers of unhealthy food aimed at our youngest consumers, whose parents face an uphill battle: trying to pit fresh, healthy foods devoid of mascots or sidekicks against superheroes and cartoon animals in a struggle to tempt their children's palates and stomachs.

Since most kids have hummingbird metabolisms that adults can only envy, it's often easy to give them a free pass and let them eat whatever they want. But eventually those metabolisms slow down and the pounds settle in. Also, as physical activity decreases and processed food intake increases annually, kids aren't burning calories the way their parents might have when they were their age. And even if the kids aren't getting fat, they are establishing eating habits they'll take into adulthood. As parents, you can help foster a love for healthy eating and exercise that will last your kids a lifetime—hopefully a long one!
Eating can so often be a classic power struggle where kids try to finally locate their mom and dad's last nerve. (I can remember family dinners with my brother and parents that could teach Hezbollah a thing or two about standoffs.) There are a number of strategies you can use to mitigate this type of deadlock. One is to let your kids help with the selection and preparation of the food. If they picked out the veggies at the farmers' market and helped cook them, they might be less inclined to feed them to the family pet. Another is to frame eating vegetables and healthy food as being its own reward. Otherwise, by offering dessert as a reward for finishing vegetables, you create a system where unhealthy food is a treat and healthy food sucks. With these thoughts in mind, let's take a look at some of the unhealthiest foods being marketed to your kids today, and some healthier alternatives you can offer to replace each of them.
Note: The following recommendations are for school-aged children. Infants and toddlers have different specific nutritional needs not addressed in this article.
  1. Chicken nuggets/tenders. These popular kids' menu items are little nuggets of compressed fat, sodium, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and some form of chicken. Depending on the restaurant, chicken might not even be the first ingredient. Oftentimes, the nuggets or tenders are made of ground pieces of chicken meat and skin, pressed into a shape, flavored with HFCS and salt, and batter-fried in hydrogenated oil (the bad, trans-fatty stuff). Then, as if that weren't unhealthy enough, you dunk it in a HFCS- or mayonnaise-based sauce. With all the fat, salt, and sugar, it's easy to understand why they're tasty, but the nutritive value weighed against the huge amount of calories and fat consumed is incredibly lacking. Even healthier-sounding menu items can be deceiving, like McDonald's® Premium Breast Strips (5 pieces), which pack 640 calories and 38 grams of fat—and that's before you factor in the dipping sauce. (By comparison, a Big Mac® with sauce has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat.)

    Instead: If you're cooking at home, grill a chicken breast and cut it into dipping-size pieces either with a knife or, for extra fun, cookie cutters. Make a healthy dipping sauce from HFCS-free ketchup, marinara sauce, mustard, or yogurt. Let your kids help make the shapes or mix up the sauce. Try and go without breading, but if you must, try dipping the chicken breast in a beaten egg, and then rolling it in cornflake crumbs before you bake it. It'll be crunchy and delicious, but not as fatty.

  2. Sugary cereal. I can remember as a child, after going to friends' houses for overnights and being treated to breakfast cereals with marshmallows that turned the milk fluorescent pink or blue, feeling horribly deprived when faced with the less colorful and sugary options served up in my home kitchen. But now I can appreciate my mom and her unpopular brans and granolas. True, they didn't have any cartoon characters on the box or any toy surprises, but they also didn't have the cups of sugar, grams of fat, and hundreds of empty calories that these Saturday-morning staples are loaded with.

    Instead: Read the labels and try to find cereal that's low in sugar and high in fiber and whole grains. Remember, "wheat" is not the same as "whole wheat." Also, avoid cereals (including some granolas) that have hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, or chemical preservatives. Add raisins, sliced bananas, berries, or other seasonal fruit to the cereal for extra flavor and nutrition. Again, letting your child help design a healthy bowl of cereal from choices you provide will get you a little more buy-in at the breakfast table.
  3. Hot DogsLunch meat and hot dogs. Kids love hot dogs, bologna, and other processed meats, but these are all full of potentially carcinogenic nitrates and nitrites, sodium, saturated fat, and artificial colors and fillers. A study in Los Angeles found that kids who ate 12 hot dogs a month had 9 times the risk of developing leukemia.1 And more health risks are being discovered all the time. Leaf through any research about kids' nutrition, and you're bound to read about the bane of the cafeteria—Oscar Mayer's Lunchables®. These and similar prepackaged lunches are loaded with processed meats and crackers made with hydrogenated oils. These innocent-looking meals can boast fat counts of up to 38 grams. That's as much fat as a Burger King® Whopper® and more than half the recommended daily allowance of fat for an adult.

    Instead: Get unprocessed meats, like lean turkey breast, chicken, tuna, or roast beef. Use whole wheat bread for sandwiches; or if your kid's dying for Lunchables, fill a small plastic container with whole-grain, low-fat crackers, lean, unprocessed meat, and low-fat cheese. This can be another great time to get out the cookie cutters to make healthy sandwiches more fun. For hot dogs, read labels carefully. Turkey dogs are usually a good bet, but some are pumped up with a fair amount of chemicals and extra fat to disguise their fowl origins. Look for low levels of fat, low sodium, and a list of ingredients you recognize. There are some tasty veggie dogs on the market, although a good deal of trial and error may be involved for the choosy child.
  4. Juice and juice-flavored drinks. Juice—what could be wrong with juice? While 100 percent juice is a good source of vitamin C, it doesn't have the fiber of whole fruit, and provides calories mostly from sugar and carbohydrates. Too much juice can lead to obesity and tooth decay, among other problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day for kids under 6, and 8 to 12 ounces for older kids. Juice drinks that aren't 100 percent juice are usually laced with artificial colors and that old standby, high fructose corn syrup, and should be avoided. Your best bet is to make your own juice from fresh, seasonal fruit. You won't have to worry about all the additives, and it's another way you can involve your kids in the cooking process. Let them design their own juice "cocktail."

    Instead: Water is still the best thirst quencher. Explain the importance of good hydration to your kids, and try to set a good example yourself by carrying around a healthy reusable hard plastic or stainless steel water bottle. Get your kids used to carrying a small bottle of water in their backpack or attached to their bike. If they're very water averse, try water with a splash of fruit juice in it. But just a splash. The idea is to get your kids used to not having things be overly sweet, overly salty, or overly fatty. Another great beverage is milk. Growing kids need plenty of milk (or fortified nondairy milks, like soy or almond)—which is filled with nutrients, calcium, and (in the case of dairy and soy) protein—but they don't need too much fat, so choosing low-fat or nonfat options will help ensure that they get their milk without actually beginning to resemble a cow.
  5. French fries. High in calories, high in fat, and high in sodium—and unsurprisingly the most popular "vegetable" among kids. Fries offer virtually none of the nutrients found in broccoli, carrots, spinach, or other veggies not cooked up in a deep fryer, and the fat they're fried in is often trans fat, the unhealthiest kind for the heart. To top it all off, studies are beginning to show cancer-causing properties from acrylamide, a toxic substance that is created when starchy foods like potatoes are heated to extreme temperatures. In some tests, the amount of acrylamide in French fries was 300 to 600 times higher than the amount the EPA allows in a glass of water.2

    Kid Biting a CarrotInstead: Vegetables like baby carrots, celery sticks, and other crudités are great options, but if potatoes must be had, there are some options that don't involve melting a brick of fat. A scooped-out potato skin with low-fat chili and a little cheese can provide lots of fiber and vitamins, with even higher amounts if the chili has beans. You can also try making baked fries, using slices of potato with a light brushing of olive oil. Or the classic baked potato could be a hit, with plain yogurt or cottage cheese instead of sour cream and butter.
  6. Potato chips, Cheetos®, Doritos®, etc. These are full of fat, oftentimes saturated, and way more sodium than any child or adult should eat. Some chips also have the acrylamide problem discussed in #5, French fries, above. Also, watch out for innocent-seeming baked and low-fat chips that contain olestra or other fake fats and chemicals that could present health issues for kids.

    Instead: Kids gotta snack, and in fact, since their stomachs are smaller, they aren't usually able to go as long between meals as adults. Cut-up vegetables are the best thing if your kids want to get their crunch on, but air-popped popcorn and some baked chips are okay, too. You can control how much salt goes on the popcorn, or involve your child in experimenting with other toppings like red pepper, Parmesan cheese, or dried herbs. Try making your own trail mix with your kids. They might be more excited to eat their own personal blend, and that way you can avoid certain store-bought trail mixes, which sometimes contain ingredients like chocolate chips and marshmallows that aren't exactly on the healthy snack trail.
  7. Fruit leather. Many of these gelatinous snacks like roll-ups or fruit bites contain just a trace amount of fruit, but lots of sugar or HFCS and bright artificial colors. Don't be misled by all the products that include the word "fruit" on their box. Real fruit is in the produce section, not the candy aisle.

    Instead: If your child doesn't show interest in fruit in its natural state, there are some ways you can make it more interesting without losing its nutritional value. For a healthy frozen treat, try filling ice-cube or frozen-pop trays with fruit juice, or freezing grapes. Or buy unflavored gelatin and mix it with fruit juice and/or pieces of fruit to make gelatin treats without the added sugar and color (let it solidify in big flat casserole dishes or roasting pans—another good time for the cookie cutters!) Try serving some raisins, dried apricots, apples, peaches, or other dried fruits that might give you that chewy, leathery texture without the sugar.
  8. Doughnuts. These little deep-fried gobs of joy are favorites for kids and adults alike, but they are full of fat and trans-fatty acids, and of course, sugar. Toaster pastries, muffins, and cinnamon buns aren't much better. The worst thing about doughnuts and these other pastries, aside from their nutritional content, is that they're often presented to children as acceptable breakfast choices. These delicious deadlies need to be categorized properly—as desserts, to be eaten very sparingly. And you can't have dessert for breakfast.

    Instead: Honestly, a slice of whole wheat toast spread with sugar-free fruit spread or peanut butter isn't going to get as many fans as a chocolate-filled Krispy Kreme® doughnut, but at some point, you have to stand firm. Be the cop who doesn't like doughnuts. Doughnuts—not for breakfast. Period.
  9. PizzaPizza. In moderation, pizza can be a fairly decent choice. If you order the right toppings, you can get in most of your food groups. The problem comes with processed meats like pepperoni and sausage, which add fat and nitrates/nitrites (see #3, Lunch meat and hot dogs, above); and the overabundance of cheese, which will also provide more calories and fat than a child needs.

    Instead: Try making your own pizza with your kids. Use premade whole wheat crusts, or whole wheat tortillas, English muffins, or bread as a base. Then brush on HFCS-free sauce, and set up a workstation with healthy ingredients like diced chicken breast, sliced turkey dogs, and vegetables that each child can use to build his or her own pizza. Then sprinkle on a little cheese, bake, and serve. If your child gets used to eating pizza like this, delivery pizzas may seem unbearably greasy after awhile.
Someday your children will come to realize that caped men in tights and sponges who live under the sea might not have their best interests at heart when it comes to food. Until then, however, why not involve them in the process of selecting and preparing healthier alternatives? Some of these cleverly disguised wholesome foods might become their favorites. Who knows, they may even tempt some of the overgrown children among us!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Sometimes eating clean means eating boring chicken meals.  It gets old quick.  Check out this delicious chicken recipe from Team to change up your boring, bland chicken meals and create something yummy and good for you!

Grilled Chicken with Apples and Honey

Grilled Chicken with Apples and Honey
Total Time: 35 min.
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 20 min.
Yield: 4 servings
¼ cup white wine (or low-sodium chicken broth)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. raw honey
1 dash sea salt
4 tsp. olive oil, divided use
4 (4-oz.) raw chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
½ medium onion, thinly sliced
1. Preheat grill or broiler.
2. Combine wine, mustard, honey, and salt in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.
3. Brush chicken breasts evenly with 1 tsp. olive oil.
4. Grill or broil chicken for 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and juices run clear. Set aside.
5. While chicken is cooking, heat remaining 3 tsp. oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.
6. Add apples, onion, and wine mixture; cook, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until apples are tender and liquid thickens slightly to sauce consistency.
7. Serve apples over chicken.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Let's face it, it is hard to eat healthy in our busy schedules if we don't take the time to prepare our meals ahead of time.  The "grab-and-go" snacks are just not that healthy.  My answer to eating healthy when I am busy during the week... prepare most of my meals on the weekend and get them in grab and go containers!  You spend a couple hours on the weekend, but save many more house and stressing over what your going to eat (or did eat) during the week.

This recipe prepares well all at once. You will just need to increase portions for as many days as you're making :)

Coconut Curried Chicken

3-4 Grilled Chicken Breasts Cut into 1" pieces
3-4 Cups Stir Fry Veggies
1 medium white onion
1 large clove garlic minced
1/3 -1/2 cup vanilla low carb yogurt
1-2 TBSP Curry powder
1-2 TBSP Sugar Free Torani or DaVinci Coconut Syrup (I buy mine from Cost Plus)
1 Can Chicken Broth

Heat a large skillet sprayed with pam. In a small bowl add yogurt, curry powder and coconut syrup and mix well. Add onions and garlic to skillet and cook for two minutes or until start to get clear, then add stir fry veggies and cook for another five minutes. Yogurt and chicken broth together then add to skillet and stir well, cover and simmer 7-10 minutes. Serve over brown rice.

Option to add to the yogurt mixture in the beginning for a Thai spin:
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
Juice of one lime
1-2 TBSP chopped cilantro
1 TBSP lite soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos

Monday, July 29, 2013

Healthy Can Taste Like Your Cheating On Your Diet

Why is it sometimes hard to stick to eating clean all the time?  Right when you are starting to make some progress, someone has to bring in two dozen Krispy Kremes and leave them next to the microwave where you heat up your chicken and broccoli!  Ugh!

You then spend the afternoon in an epic inner battle over if you will or wont have a doughnut.  You sneak into the break room, even pick up a doughnut only to put it down in disgust!  Then finally after hours of that, you give in and shovel in 3 doughnuts as fast as you can with out even tasting them.  Afterwards you feel ashamed with yourself.  It wasn't even worth it!  "If only I was stronger" you say to yourself.  You then figure, "welp, I have ruined my diet today, might as well have a super sized combo from McDonald's.."

I have done this, I think we all have.  So WHAT can you do to beat the temptation?  Well for one don't deprive yourself! I find healthy alternatives to help me feel like I am eating sweets!  Here is one of my favorite recipes. It is for Healthy Protein Muffins.  My favorite is chocolate.  I feel like I am eating chocolate cake, and I am satisfied and keep the cravings at bay!

Mini Chocolate Cake
1/2 Cup Oats (ground extra fine like cake flour I use my coffee grinder)
1 Scoop Chocolate Whey
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 TBSP ground flax
1/8 Cup mini dark chocolate chips
1 sugar free pudding cup in chocolate
1/2 Cup egg substitute 1 tbsp coconut or caramel sugar free syrup (Torani or Da Vinci)

Preheat oven to 375. Spray muffin pan with Pam. Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Mix in the wet ingredients until smooth. Pour evenly into muffin pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tooth pick comes clean. A serving is four mini cakes. Enjoy.

This is the most versatile recipe I have.  You can make pumpkin spice by using Vanilla Whey instead of chocolate, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree instead of the pudding cup and pumpkin pie spices.  So delicious

For blueberry muffins, use Vanilla Whey, 1/2 Cup Sugar Free Vanilla Yogurt, and 1/3 cup frozen Blueberries instead of Chocolate Chips.

Leave me a comment if you try them and tell me how you like them!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Adversity.  Trials.  Struggles. 

Those are all going to happen in our lives.  We are human.  It is part of why we are here.  I don't think there is anyone who loves to have a trial.  But it is through our trials and struggles that we become stronger, better people.  We can learn to appreciate the good things in our lives, like family and friends.  With out adversity, we would not appreciate the good times or learn as much about our selves. 

We each have our own set of struggles, sometimes designed that way, sometimes we bring it upon ourselves or get ourselves into our own "messes."  How often have you looked at someone and thought, "they have it so easy?"  or "Look how stupid they are..."  A speaker at a funeral said it is a wise thing to not judge someone or compare them to yourself.  He used life as a test.  Where you may be on question 58  out of 100 on your test of life, then you glance over at your neighbor and they are only on question number 2.  One may think they are much more ahead or better off.  However, you may have 100 easy multiple choice questions and your neighbor only has three very difficult to answer essay questions. 

Each of us is unique.  Here on earth with unique talents and abilities.  It is always wise to not compare yourself to someone else.  Instead, compare yourself to yourself.  If you are not a better you today than you were yesterday, you have work to do.  It is through those trials and struggles that you can develop your character and become better, be more happy, live a more abundant life.

Or you can let those experiences destroy you.  You can become embittered.  You can say, "why me" and wallow in your pity.  I truly hope no one chooses this option, this option is not the purpose in life.

The purpose in life is also not to have a cushy or easy life.  You should not "coast through life"  We are meant to be challenged! 

I like to compare this to my muscles.  When I first started working out, I could hardly do much, and I was so sore the days after.  With time, the workouts I was doing became easier.  I looked different, felt different.  Those workouts were no longer a challenge for me... so I had to add weight and push a little harder.  Same cycle.  I was sore again, and then it no longer challenged me.  Then I began to like being sore after my workouts.  My friend and I would joke that we felt like we had been in a "car accident" because everything hurt, but it meant that we were improving, becoming stronger, becoming better!  It is the same with trials.

I have decided that while I don't always enjoy struggling, I am taking the time to really search my soul and look for what I should be learning and improving upon.  I am not going to complain or whine or give up.  It is my trial. Time to grow.  Time to learn.  I know that when that struggle is over I WILL be stronger, I WILL be better. 

I guess that is why I have a horrible time listening to people talk to me in a whiney, complaining tone.  Ok, yes, things may be hard, but whining or complaining is going to do absolutely nothing for you.  Of course! I would love to listen to your thoughts, feelings and struggles. I would love to help you learn and grow.  I don't want to hear the, "poor me, things are so hard" whine! 

Now the big factor in all of this is my FAITH.  I was watching, "Finding Faith in Christ" from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  In in on of the actors was discussing what faith actually was.  She said, "Faith is believing that good will come out of what ever happens."  Up until then, I was trying to use faith for a particular outcome.  It changed the way I think about my trials.  Believing that no matter what the outcome,  good will come of it and I will grow.  I may wish and desire things to go a certain way, but I need to trust my Father in Heaven and know that whatever happens, it will be best for me.