Archives for February 2012

Moving Beyond Exercise TV. There Are Plenty of Options

What Happened To Exercise TV?

That’s a question a lot of people have been asking. December 7, 2011 was the day I realized that Exercise TV was gone.  I wrote a short blog post mentioning how much I had relied on it and that I would miss it.  I still get tons of hits on my blog every day from people that want to know what happened to Exercise TV.

I don’t think it’s coming back, so I’ve been working on putting together a list of some really good alternatives.  I’ve received some great feedback and suggestions in the comments section of my blog and have compiled the following list of Exercise TV alternatives. I’d like to know if any of these will work for you.

Effective At Home Workouts


Workouts on Demand – This site offers fitness classes that you have the option to stream or download.  Classes include cardio kickboxing, step, low impact, dance, total body toning, killer abs, stability ball, Pilates, yoga and medicine ball. Workouts on Demand adds one or two new exercises a week.

The classes are taught by certified fitness instructors. You can watch short video clips of the various classes that are offered to get an idea of what you’re signing up for ahead of time.

Workout on Demand has three membership levels:  Premier – $12.99/month, Value Plus – $11.99/month and Basic – $8.99/month.  The Premier and Value Plus allow you to download an unlimited number of videos each month.  I wasn’t able to determine how many downloads you have access to with the basic membership.

Fabs Cyber Fitness – Similar to Workouts on Demand, Fabs Cyber Fitness provides streaming videos of a variety of quality workouts including bootcamp, BOSU, cardio, core, dance, Pilates, step, studio cycling and personal training.

They also supply video previews of the classes.  If you’re on a Mac (like me) you will have to download Windows Media Player to view them which was a little surprising.

Fabs is for the beginner as well as more advanced exerciser and supplies a custom 12 week program as well as nutrition programs.  One month is $29.99/month. If you commit to a twelve month membership it is $19.99/month.

Slimtree – Includes over 100 videos and 1-minute and 5-minute streaming exercises.  Workouts include the same variety as Fabs and Demand.  Again, it appears as though a Windows operating system is required (or a download of Windows Media Player).

Slimtree is free unless you upgrade to full access which includes 12 months broadband gym membership, personal journals, calculators, articles, fast food calorie counter and tracker.  I have no clue what that would cost.  I didn’t sign up for the free membership because I’m on a Mac and think that in today’s world any on-line streaming video service should be compatible with the Apple product’s operating system.

Fitness Builder Powered by Pump OneFitness Builder has over 750 workouts that are geared for the gym, home, hotel room and even outside.  Each workout includes images, videos, audio coaching and text tips to explain how to perform exercises correctly.  First you choose a goal and narrow down your options from there.

Push Up

Fitness Building uses technology to make these applications available to phones, iPads, or web and allows you to build your own workouts by dragging and dropping images from the exercise library.

For no cost Fitness Builder will provide you 10 challenging workouts and 300 exercise images, and videos. You can create up to 20 of your own custom programs or unlimited workouts using the drag and drop builder.

Sign up for FB Plus – $29.99/month – for 750+ workouts, 5,600 images and videos, tracking and sharing.  There are upgrades including Pro and PT that provide more perks at a higher cost if you’re interested.

You can download the Pump One app to your iPhone, Smartphone or iPad for free and access the videos for $4 each.

Flirty Girls Fitness Live – What you get here are Flirty Girl classes in real time.  The live classes are left on the site for up to 24 hours for access.  Flirty Girls stream their trademark classes like Bikini Boot Camp, Fabulously Firm, Sexy Scuplt and Pole Dance for viewers to participate in live or later on.

The best deal here is you can try it out for 24 hours only $5.  A seven day pass is only $10 and the monthly passes are $15 with access to unlimited live and on demand classes.

The live class schedule is posted here and video clips of the live workouts are here.

BodyRock TVBody Rock TV is a cutting edge fitness blog that posts a new workout routine or fitness challenge weekly, Monday through Friday.  This is a site where the workouts and challenges are completely free, however donations are appreciated.

This site, unlike the others, is not a series of streaming workouts or video library with downloads.  This is some hard core stuff and since they post the workouts on You Tube which allows sharing, I’ve embedded one of the workouts here.  It’s pretty fascinating.  I hope you’ll check it out.

iBodyfit – Free online workouts and exercise videos plus fitness tips. iBody Fit  has at-home cardio, Pilates, yoga, abs, core and strength workouts plus plenty of fitness tips.  You can watch all of the video clips for free.

A year’s subscription is $12.95 which includes workouts from beginner to advanced. The Premium Plus + has on-line personal training that includes custom workouts, nutrition planning and additional DVDs for $99 a month.

Some of the workouts are on You Tube and can be viewed here:

Has Fitness – 100 video workouts totally free by Coach Kozak.  I really like the Hasfit site, but I switched over to watch the videos on You Tube because the site runs a little slow.

There are a variety of workout videos to choose from:  beginner, body building, cardio, sports performance, weight loss, etc.  and you can search the site for exercises specific to a body part – biceps for example.

If you like Has Fit on Facebook you can get updates of new workouts as they are posted.

What Are You Doing Now That Ex TV Is Gone?

I’ve mentioned Gaiam TV before.  I’m a subscriber and so far have enjoyed having access to Gaiam’s video library and broadcasts.  Also worth mentioning again are Stream Fit, and Live Exercise TV.  Live Exercise TV has some awesome workouts that are free but require the purchase of a Bodylastics system (or compatible equipment) to effectively do the workouts.

What are you doing now that Exercise TV is gone?  I would love to know your opinion on any of the above, or other streamlining/download services you’re accessing in place of Exercise TV.

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7 Never Boring, Always Healthy Food Sites To Bookmark


There’s More To This Than BroccoliIf you think a healthy meal consists of a garden salad with light dressing and a grilled chicken breast with a side of broccoli, I’ve got great news for you! Below are links to seven of my favorite healthy food web sites that are so abundant in delicious, hearty, healthy recipes, you won’t know where to begin.  Be sure and bookmark these sites because you’ll want to come back over and over.  I guarantee you will never feel ho-hum about mealtime again.


1.  Skinnytaste –  Gina Homolka combines her love of cooking and photography to create a site that displays low-fat, family friendly recipes in pictures.  Skinnnytaste has an extensive list of categories – everything from breakfast, lunch and dinner to gluten-free and low-carb.  All recipes include nutritional information.

Even if you don’t particularly love to cook, the picture stories are sure to get you motivated and anxious to get in the kitchen. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend the Stuffed Pepper Soup:  Nutritious, delicious comfort food.

2. Cooking Light – True to it’s name, Cooking Light supplies lower calorie recipes that don’t look, feel or taste like anything has been trimmed down.  This site helps us realize that all foods can be part of a healthy diet.  It’s all about preparation.

My favorite is the Superfast Cooking tab where Allison will show your how to prepare recipes – via video clips – like Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca.  The lemon chicken may sound intimidating, but it only takes a few minutes to prepare and looks beautiful enough to serve to guests.

3.  WellJourn – What I love about WellJourn – besides all of the healthy recipes – are the inspirational daily messages and health-related blog posts.  I made the Jacked Tuna Asparagus Bake last week and it was wonderful.  It is slimmed down comfort food, but if you don’t tell anyone that it’s a lighter version of the real thing, they wont’ know it.

‘Like’ WellJourn on Facebook and new recipes and updated blog posts will funnel right into your news feed so you’re sure not to miss anything.

4.  WhFoods – George Mateljan, creator of, takes the approach that food is medicine and focuses on helping people use the “power of food to achieve good health and prevent disease“. There are over 100 quick and healthy recipes with prep time of 30 minutes or less.

While this site isn’t as glossy as Skinnytaste or Cooking Light, it is superior in the way it displays nutritional information so that it’s easy to understand. Check out the Curried Chicken Over Spinach recipe’s nutritional profile to get an idea of the depth of nutritional information provided at this site. I don’t know if I’ve seen this anywhere else, but I love it!

5.  Eat Better America – At Eat Better America you’ll find healthy recipes, a blog, and cooking tips and with a team of five contributors, they out push a considerable amount of content.  You can even snag some coupons at the site.

I made the Wheat Berry Salad and we really enjoyed it.  This site also has a very active Facebook page so give them a ‘Like’ on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the most recently published recipes.

6.  Meal Makeover Moms – The name says it all.  Meal Makeover Moms, is dedicated to busy moms looking for healthy and totally delicious foods for their families. Site creators, Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss, aren’t just moms on a mission.  They’re also nutritionists that are making over some favorite kids foods like fish sticks, sloppy joes and chicken fingers. You don’t have to be a  mom to enjoy this site.  There’s something here for everyone.

Meal Mom’s site is easy to navigate and the design in itself has kid appeal.  Open the site for your children to poke around in and they’re sure to find a recipe that they can help prepare.

7.  Snack Girl – Who can resist a web site that focuses on healthy snacks (along with some other things)?  Snack Girl not only supplies recipes for snacks that you can make, but will also help you figure out what the best pre-packaged snacks are and which ones aren’t so good.

The person behind Snack Girl is Lisa Cain, a evolutionary biologist that has an obsession with how food contributes to our overall health.  She is #44 on Greatist’s 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness 2011.  Wow!  What an honor!  You can like Snack Girl on Facebook too.

What’s Your Favorite Healthy Food Site?

Let me know if any – or all – of these sites inspire you to get in the kitchen. Do you have a favorite web site that you go to for healthy recipes?  Please share in the comment box below.


It’s Just A Little Heart Attack.

Go Red For WomenGo Red For Women events are sweeping the nation this month spreading the word about heart disease and attempting to do away with the myth that it’s a man’s disease.

Did you know?

  • Heart disease is the number one killer of women.
  • More women die from heart disease than the next three causes of death combined.
  • Most women (64%) who die suddenly from heart disease had no symptoms.
  • Hispanic women are at greater risk for heart disease.  In fact they develop the disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics.  African American women are at two times greater risk of developing heart disease than Caucasian.
  • Making healthy choices – eating nutritious foods, cutting out saturated and trans fats, and getting plenty of physical activity – will help reduce the risk of heart disease.

What’s It Like To Have A Little Heart Attack?

Heart disease is often called the silent killer.  Women may not recognize the symptoms of a heart attack because they are different than men’s.  In fact, women often miss them completely or brush them off as other ailments.

I attended a Go Red For Women luncheon on Friday and we watched Just a Little Heart Attack starring Elizabeth Banks of The Forty Year Old Virgin, and 30 Rock fame.  Elizabeth directed Just A Little Heart Attack for The American Heart Association. Thanks to Elizabeth the film takes a funny approach to a serious issue and accomplishes its mission of being an attention grabber. Elizabeth did a great job! The audience I was with thought it was funny and effective.  Check it out!

Heart-Healthy Cookbook! – The other highlight of the luncheon was getting a copy of Recipes of the Heart cookbook published by the AHA.  Tonight I made the Pumpkin Custard that we were served at the Go Red event.  It’s fabulous.  Check out the recipe here. There are tons of delicious looking heart healthy recipes in the book. I promise to try them all and will share.

Learn more about heart disease and prevention at the American Heart Association web site.

Sure-Fire Tips To Rev Up Your Metabolism

Every week since starting the Biggest Loser Competition at work, it’s my goal to send out inspirational e-mails loaded with tips, tricks and secrets to keep people motivated and losing weight.  I’m not the Biggest Loser’s biggest fan.  I don’t think that quick weight loss, whether to win money or get into a wedding dress, is the best strategy for long-term success.

We all know that the key to a healthy weight is developing habits that we can practice day after day, week after week, year after year.  And, if we mess up for a day, week, or even a year, we get right back at it once the disarray in our life that caused us to slip up gets back in order.

However, I’m on board with the competition at work, and am providing as much encouragement and atta-girls and boys as I can muster without being dishonest, superficial or shallow.  If I don’t believe it will work, I can’t recommend someone try it.

Is ‘Weight’ Really Want You Want To Lose?
This week my message to the competitors was about how important it is to exercise, for the primary reason of maintaining muscle, while you lose weight is.  I recall that I read somewhere awhile back – although I’m not able to locate the source to attribute the quote – that when people say they want to lose weight what they really mean is they want to lose body fat.  If we think about that for a minute, it’s absolutely true.

The goal isn’t really to lose ‘weight’, but, in fact, that is exactly what happens.  As the number on the scale starts to go down, body fat is lost, and so is the precious muscle mass that helps fuel our metabolism, prevents bone loss, and reduces our risk of injury as we age.

Dieting without exercise leads to a loss in muscle mass up to as much as 25% per pound according to the American Council on Exercise which is why exercise is necessary for initial body fat loss and long term maintenance.  Aerobic activities like walking, running, swimming, biking, Zumba and Turbo Kick may not build big muscles but will provide a calorie burn that lasts for a couple of hours even after the workout is over.

Strength training programs, including yoga, build lean muscle mass that increases the resting metabolic rate.  People that have a high muscle mass burn more calories – even at rest – than those with mostly body fat.  (To find out exactly how much, keep reading).

A high percentage of lean muscle tissues not only burns more calories while we’re sleeping, it also helps prevent osteoporosis, improves glucose metabolism and decreases the risks of falls and injuries. An exercise program consisting of both aerobic and strength training activities three to four times a week will help with both fat loss and lean muscle retention.

Before we get into the arguments about exactly how much muscle affects our metabolic rate, let’s look at some other things we can do to prime our metabolism.

Water – Studies have shown that even mild dehydration will cause the metabolism to slow down.  Adults who drink eight or more glasses of water a day burn more calories than those who drink four.  Mild dehydration is also a known cause of afternoon fatigue. Along with drinking plenty of water, eating foods that contain high amounts of water naturally, like fruits and vegetables, will help you stay hydrated and keep your energy up throughout the day.

Protein – Make sure you get plenty of protein from low-fat sources.  The human body uses about 25% more energy digesting protein than it does fats or carbohydrates.  Some healthy sources of protein are lean beef, skinless poultry, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products. Protein is also important in the growth and maintenance of muscle tissue.

Coffee – Whether or not coffee actually increases our metabolism to any advantage hasn’t really been proven, although there are plenty of health and fitness web sites that will claim that it has.  One thing we do agree on is that coffee before a workout can help improve our endurance and fight fatigue.  It may also help reduce the amount of pain that we feel both during and post-workout.  Not only will coffee give us the energy burst we need to get moving in the first place, and keep moving once we have stated, it will help reduce the after effects so that we don’t dread doing it again.

Vitamin B12 – The proof that Vitamin B12 improved metabolism is in the same bucket as coffee.  One source says yes, the next one says noHere’s what is agreed on:  B12 is crucial to metabolic function and the creation of red blood cells. Primary sources of B12 are meat, eggs, dairy products, beans, soy, lentils, and fortified cereals.  Deficiencies occur when we’re not able to get an adequate amount of B12 from food sources, when the stomach doesn’t have the ability to properly absorb it, or a combination of the two.

People that are deficient in B12 suffer from numerous ailments includinganemia, fatigue, weakness, loss of balance, poor memory, depression and confusion. These people aren’t feeling their best; their energy is depleted and a supplement may be necessary to get them back to peak.  I’ll let the experts determine whether or not B12 increases metabolism, but people that are lacking B12 need more than a couple of cups of coffee to give them a boost.

The Debate On Muscle Mass and Metabolism Rages On
Years ago it was common knowledge that muscle tissue burns more calories – even at rest – than body fat does.  The claim was that a pound of muscle burned as many as 50-60 calories per day at rest. Now that claim is considered a gross exaggeration and it’s probably closer to five to six calories a day.

I read a post on Mark’s Daily Apple discrediting the 50 calories a day claim.  The article made for a good read, but the comment section was even better.  People don’t want to believe that the 50 calories a day is a myth.  The most frustrating part is that no one really knows for sure.  One study says one thing, the next one disputes it.  Like with the coffee and B12 studies.

I remember when I was writing a post on how music motivates me to run further and faster I found articles written by athletes who are adamant that running should not be done to music.  We should all be listening to our feet hit the ground. No thank you.

Who knows. They may decide that drinking a lot of water isn’t that helpful to metabolism either. I’m okay with all of that.

I Don’t Need Absolute Proof
I like coffee.  It helps me get motivated to work out in the hours before dawn when humans really shouldn’t even be out of bed.  Liquid B12 makes me feel perkier too. I take a dose of liquid B12 everyday whether I need it or not.  When I run out and don’t get it refilled on time, I feel like I’m lagging.

I do three strength training workouts a week.  If my muscle tissue is burning 50 times more calories than it would be if it were body fat that’s a huge bonus.  If not, I’m still going to strength train.  I like the way it feels.  I like that it’s helping prevent the painful disease of osteoporosis that my mother suffered from.  I like that the back of my arms don’t wave goodbye when I wear a tank top in the summer.

I love running to music. (Check out the best running playlist ever here.) I’m going to continue to search for and download songs that inspire me to run farther and faster.  If people want to listen to their feet hit the pavement that’s fine, but that’s not for me.

Life is complicated.  Human beings are complex. Scientific research is a work in progress. What’s proven one week, may be disproven the next – or even worse, the results conflict – so we end up not knowing what to believe. If science isn’t absolute about the best way to increase our metabolism – besides the obvious sit-less, move-more – why can’t we be the test subject in our own research project?

If there isn’t proof that some of the techniques you use to keep your energy at peak are absolute, do you throw them out? I’m constantly exploring and examining what works for me. I’ll bet you are too!


Five Star Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes Make A Delicious Chili!

* * * * *  Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili * * * * *

This Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili from Eating Well gets five stars.  I made it last night for dinner and it was wonderful.  I made a couple of revisions to the recipe:  I replaced the water with fat free beef broth and changed out the chili power for jalapeno peppers, primarily because I needed to add some heat and was out of chili powder.

I don’t know if my version turned out better than the original, but it was one of the best soups I’ve ever had. Plus it’s nutritious, loaded with fiber, inexpensive to make and is low in calories.


  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • Olive Oil – (1 tablespoon)
  • Minced garlic (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 medium onion
  • Two cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • One can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  • One can of beef broth
  • Two tablespoons of jalapeno peppers, chopped – (most recipes call for chili power but I didn’t have any so substituted jalapenos)
  • Four teaspoons of cumin
  • Two teaspoons of cilantro
  • One teaspoon of garlic salt
  • Pepper
  • In a dutch oven sautee chopped sweet potatoes in a tablespoon of olive oil and minced garlic until slightly brown
  • Add onion to potato and garlic oil
  • Add beans, tomatoes, beef broth, jalapeno peppers and spices
  • Simmer for 40 minutes on low
I served the chili with multi-grain tortilla chips.
Nutrition – Makes four 2-cup servings
307 calories; 8 g fat ( 1 g sat , 5 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 12 g protein; 14 g fiber; 494 mg sodium; 947 mg potassium.

Give Or Receive The Gift Of Chocolate This Valentine’s Day Without Guilt

Dark Chocolate – Good For The Heart

Enjoy The Benefits Of Antioxidant-Rich Dark Chocolate This Valentine’s Day.

If you’re worrying about how to get through Valentine’s Day without chocolate, you don’t have to.  You may just want to skip the milk chocolate and indulge in the dark.

Dark chocolates are loaded with antioxidants.  Antioxidants help destroy free radicals, those destructive molecules in our system that, in abundance, lead to chronic ailments including heart disease and some cancers.

Dick Taubert, MD, PhD, at the University of Cologne Germany conducted two studies on dark chocolate.  The first one was to determine the impact of dark chocolate on blood pressure.  Taubert put together the study using six men and seven women between the ages of 55 to 64.  They had all been diagnosed with mild high blood pressure.

The participants were divided into two groups.  Both groups were instructed to consume a 100-gram candy bar every day for two weeks.  One group was given dark chocolate; the other group white.

The dark chocolate group all had a significant drop in blood pressure, however, there was no change in the participant’s that ate the white chocolate.

The second study involved seven women and five men, all healthy and between the ages of 25 to 35.  On different days they all ate 100 grams of dark chocolate, 100 grams of dark chocolate with a small glass of whole milk, or 200 grams of milk chocolate.

An hour later their blood was tested.  The participants that ate the dark chocolate alone had the highest levels of antioxidants in their blood.  Those that ate the milk chocolate had the lowest levels.

Flavanols and Flavonoids- Flavanols and flavonoids are found in cocoa and chocolate.  Flavanols, along with being an antioxidant, have a positive influence on lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and make the blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.  Flavonoids help protect plants from toxins found in the environment and help with cell repair.

Dark Chocolate Also Contains Cocoa and Cacao – The more cocoa or cacao the chocolate has, the higher the health benefits will be.  Look for chocolate that has 60% cocoa or more.  A good choice would be Godiva’s Dark Chocolate Truffles or Lindt’s Extra Dark Chocolates .

The Dryer The Wine, The Better It Is For You

Wine And Chocolate – A Perfect PairFor an extra burst of antioxidants and flavonoids, enjoy a glass of red wine with your chocolate. The health benefits of red wine are similar to those found in dark chocolates.

The wines that have the highest concentrations of flavonoids, according to researchers at the University of California, are Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir.  The dryer the wine is, the better it is for you.  White wines or sweeter red wines don’t contain the same healthy properties as the dry darks.

Everyone deserves a little indulgence on Valentine’s Day.  It’s even better if your indulgence can be healthy.

Cinnamon Is Good For The Muffin Top

Cinnamon! My Favorite Spice Is Good For Me!

Get Control Of Belly Fat With A Sprinkle of Cinnamon.

We all have it in our pantry but don’t give it a thought or much credit.  It’s one of my favorite seasonings.  I love it in coffee, on oatmeal and sprinkled on pudding.   The best part is, I’ve found something I enjoy that’s actually good for me!

Cinnamon can help people burn fat, lose weight, prevent blood sugar spikes, and reduce triglycerides and LDL (bad choleserol). Some studies even suggest that cinnamon will help reduce stores of abdominal fat, specifically visceral fat that is inside your belly and wraps around the organs increasing the risk of heart and liver disease and diabetes.

Penn State University recently did a study to test whether cinnamon – and other spices – had any impact on triglyceride levels and insulin response.  The study showed that there was “a 13% increase in blood antioxidant activity and a 20% decrease in insulin response” in patients consuming a diet rich in spices like cinnamon.

To say that cinnamon can help people lose weight may not be entirely true.  Rather, cinnamon helps with blood glucose control which results in a reduction of both internal fat (visceral) as well as external . . . . you know, the ‘muffin top’.

Sprinkle Cinnamon On Almond Milk

The research I’ve done suggests that we should see benefits from about a teaspoon a day.  Like everything, moderation is the key.  If a teaspoon is good that doesn’t mean that two teaspoons are better.  Adverse reactions can occur from too much cinnamon, especially for people that are on blood thinning medications.

A Little Goes A Long Way

There are plenty of ways to add cinnamon to your diet.  It’s good sprinkled on:

  • Coffee gounds
  • Oatmeal and other cereals
  • Almond Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Hot Tea
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Popcorn
  • Whole wheat English muffins, bagels or toast
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Brown Rice

My Favorite Way To Add Cinnamon Is Sprinkling On Coffee Grounds

There are plenty of other spices that can be added to the diet that serve as antioxidants and have health benefits:

  • Tumeric – Contains curcumin and is believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
  • Rosemary – Helps improve mood and reduce pain.
  • Oregano – Loaded with antioxidants that fight free radical oxygen molecules
  • Garlic – Protects cells against cancer
  • Paprika – Also contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants
Adding an extra dash of flavorful spices to what we’re cooking may keep us from reaching for the salt shaker later on. Check out the recipe for whole-wheat cinnamon muffins here and a low fat chicken oregano recipe here.  Don’t be afraid to sprinkle.


Lose A Pound A Week Without Dieting. It’s Simple Math

Sometimes To Go Fast . . . . . . You Have To Slow Down

This is the first week of our Biggest Loser Competition at work.  Everyone that’s signed up is super excited to do what they need to do to lose weight and ultimately win the prize money. Sometimes the folks that are totally motivated and drop the most weight in the first two or three weeks lose their momentum somewhere around week four and can’t get going again.  By week twelve they are no longer coming to the weigh-ins.

There’s no doubt a variety of reasons for this.  Mostly it’s because once the start gun goes off and the over achievers are out of the starting gate, they begin a diet too low in calories and double up on their workouts.  By week three they feel like it might not be worth it.  By week four they’re starving and exhausted.

How Does The Turtle Win The Race?

The people that started out slowly, making small, yet effective changes that don’t totally turn their entire life upside-down end up getting to the goal.  Forgive me for citing an old cliché:  “Sometimes the turtle wins the race.”  Here’s why.

Weight Loss 101
One pound is equal to 3,500 calories so to lose a pound a week you have to reduce your caloric intake by 3,500, increase your physical activity to burn that much more, or do a combination of the two.  You may not be trying to win a Biggest Loser Competition, but if you want to be successful at losing that ever elusive pound a week, and get it done without upsetting your life and the lives of everyone in your path, you need to know what you’re up against.

To get started, take a step back and look at how you can 1.) Eliminate 500 calories a day from your diet, or 2.) Exercise away 500 calories a day or 3.) Reduce your calories by 250 and increase your physical activity so you burn 250 more each day.

#1 – Reduce Calories by 500 A Day
Let’s start with the first one.  What are some of the foods that you eat everyday that you can live without?  These may not be the big diet sabatogers like ice cream and pop that we always think of giving up first – although those should go too – but some of the foods that are labeled ‘healthy’ can be just as much of a problem because we don’t bother counting them most of the time.

Here’s a list of foods that seem innocent enough.  They certainly sound healthy, but have too many calories for their nutritional value. Plus most of them are high on the Glycemic Index which means you’ll get a sugar rush followed by the inevitable fall, and wind up hungry again in an hour.

  • Orange juice – 12 oz bottle – 167 calories
  • Yogurt  – Greek with strawberries – 140 calories
  • Whole grain bagel – 340 calories
  • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars – 180 calories
  • Ritz Whole Wheat Crackers (5) -70 calories
  • Kashi 7 Grain Frozen Waffles – 170 calories
  • Luna’s Sports Bars – Chocolate Peanut Butter (1 bar) – 190 calories
  • Dried Fruit – Banana Chips – 1.5 oz = 218 calories
  • Terra Chips – 1 ounce – 140 calories
  • Trail Mix – 3 tbls. = 137 calories
  • Sun Chips – 16 chips – 140 calories

There are plenty more.  These are the foods that we really need to look at when we decide we want to lose a few pounds.  We think they are lightweight and good for us, but they add up quickly throughout the day.

Last week I hit up the vending machine and ended up with a Special K Chocolate Pretzel bar which had 130 calories and not much of anything else.  As soon as I ate it I realized my mistake.  I was in the hole 90 cents, had consumed 130 calories and the pretzel bar hadn’t made a dent in my hunger.  Thankfully I was out of change or I might have purchased something else.

#2 – Burn Off 500 Extra Calories A Day
This will require spending 45 minutes to an hour each day speed walking, jogging, biking or participating in a fitness class.  Determining exactly how many calories you’re burning during exercise is tricky. The best way is to wear a heart rate monitor, but if you’re okay with an estimate, you can get a reasonable calculation at Calorie Count.  Nutri Strategy has a list of activities and with estimated calorie expenditure that you can use.  Keep in mind, these are not entirely accurate so just use them as a guide and, to be on the safe side, underestimate.

#3 – Combination of #1 and #2
Move more and eat less.  This strategy does not entail a crash diet, require a gym membership, and will allow you to live a normal life for the most part.  You can purchase an inexpensive pedometer and once you find out how many steps you take each day, set a goal to increase your steps by 3,000 daily.  This should help you get to the increased calorie burn of 250.

Download a good calorie tracker and get serious about reducing your intake by 250 cals a day.  My Net Diary and My Fitness Pal are two that are highly recommended.  Tracking calories will encourage you to make better food choices.  You’ll end up swapping the whole grain waffles and orange juice (total calories – 337) for a boiled egg, slice of whole wheat toast, and an orange (total calories – 232).  Calories savie – 105!  See how easy this is going to be?

After a couple of week you’ll get food smart, be in the habit of selecting more nutritional foods, and learn how some basic swaps can make a huge difference in your progress.

The ultimate goal when we set out to lose weight is to keep it off.  Gaining knowledge about the calories in food, how much we burn when we walk or workout, and discovering how to balance the two in a way that we can live with, not just this week or until the competition is over, but forever is the key.  There’s no need to rush the process.  Take your time.  Adapt the role of the turtle and win the race!

Healthy Breakfast Recipe – Steel Cut Crockpot Oatmeal

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
If we all had a dime for every time we’ve heard or read that, we’d have a lot of dimes. Not only is breakfast crucial for busy adults, but even more so for school age children.

Breakfast is also the meal that is the hardest to fit into the schedule. Most people don’t have a lot of extra time in the morning so they dash out of the house with a fiber bar in their purse or pocket or run through the McDonalds that’s on the route to work.

I’ve gotten into the habit of grabbing one of these:

Fit and Active Meal Replacement Shake

When I get to work I pour it over ice and call it a meal. From a nutritional standpoint it’s not terrible, but an hour or two later my energy is waning and I’m hungry again. I need something besides the meal replacement shake to get me through a busy morning. I know a lot of people rely on the individual oatmeal packets, but they contain a lot of sugar and I find they don’t stick with me any longer than the replacement shake

Steel Cut Oatmeal Experiment
I bought a box of steel cut oats last week at the grocery. Steel cut oats are not nutritionally superior to rolled oats, but they haven’t been through as much processing so they have a nuttier flavor and chewier texture. Steel cut oats have more fiber which helps lower cholesterol and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Because they are less processed they also take longer to cook and don’t do well in the microwave. I tried putting a bowl of the oats in the microwave the first day I bought them and ended up with half cooked oats all over the oven.

Which brought me to search and find a recipe for crockpot oatmeal using the steel cut kind. It’s a pretty awesome recipe from Ann Kroeker and I’m so excited that I found it I’m sharing the love and passing it along to you.

Six Easy Steps To Delicious, Nutritious Oatmeal
There are a couple of steps to the recipe but it’s worth it. If you prepare the oatmeal and cook it on low overnight you’ll wake up in the morning to a warm breakfast that requires very little clean up.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• Crockpot
• Oven safe bowl that is small enough to fit inside the crock pot with the lid on
• Aluminum foil balls,
• Steel cut oats
• Water.

Step One – Tear off seven or eight pieces of aluminum foil about six inches wide and wad into balls and place in the bottom of the crockpot.

Step Two – Fill the crockpot half way up with water. Here’s a picture of the crockpot with the foil and water in it:

Aluminum Foil Balls In Water

Step Three – Pour one cup of oats and four cups of water in the ovenproof bowl. Add a dash of salt (optional). Place the bowl in the crockpot on top of the water and foil. It’s best to have the water almost level with the top of the bowl so you may need to add a little water or pour a little out.

Step Four – Put the lid on the crockpot, turn it on low, and let it cook for six or seven hours.

My Bowl Fit Perfectly Inside The Crockpot

Step Five – Remove the bowl from the pot – careful it’s hot and steamy.

Five Six – You’re ready to enjoy it so go ahead an spruce it up your with favorites: brown sugar, almonds, raisins, cinnamon, bananas. Whatever you like on oatmeal works here.

Steel Cut Oats With Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

Step Seven – If you don’t have a brood to help you eat the entire batch you can put whatever is left over in the fridge and reheat in the microwave the next day.

The best thing about the recipe – besides the delicious, nutty oatmeal – was how easy it was to clean up. I poured the water out of the crock pot, dried it and put it away, rinsed out the oatmeal bowl and put it in the dishwasher. There was no sticky, gummy aftermath to deal with.

I made a batch yesterday afternoon and after they cooked and cooled I put them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I plan to take them to work to have for breakfast this week. I did warm up some this morning and added a little brown sugar, cinnamon and almond milk. They were delicious! I may need to make another batch before the end of the week.

Kathy Smith’s Yoga Sculpt Review – A+

Kathy Smith Delivers With This Three-Workout DVD Set

Yoga Sculpt Is Both Ageless and Timeless

We’ve been doing fitness classes using workout DVDs at work.  This is a program I launched after the holidays to get people more active during the workday and after work.  The sweatier workouts – Turbo Jam and Zumba – are after work, and yoga and strength training are held over the lunch hour.

I will confess that I have not done a lot of yoga.  Okay, I haven’t really ever done it.  I’ve been intimidated by it for the same reasons many people are: the clothes, mats, exclusive studios, and most of all that calm, Zen-like atmosphere.  I like energetic, rhythmic workouts to music!

But I wanted to offer yoga over the lunch hour to give people a chance to do a class where they could go back to work without having to shower.  Plus, after I did the post on the workouts that the stars do to stay looking fabulous and learned that yoga is a mainstay, I decided it’s definitely something I want to try.

I watched almost every yoga clip at and decided to order Kathy Smith’s Yoga Sculpt.  I made a good choice.

Three Workouts In One DVD

Yoga Sculpt includes three workouts:  New Yoga, New Yoga Challenge and a 30-minute toning workout.  I consider the workouts to be intermediate to advanced although a beginning yoga student can start with the New Yoga workout and be challenged but not find it impossible. Those of us in the class were not able to hold the poses the first couple of times through, but we like to be challenged and plan to keep working on it.

Kathy provided excellent cues, options for modifications, and a calm demeanor throughout.  What I like most about the workout was that is was intense enough that I felt energy from it the rest of the day. I wasn’t so relaxed that I had trouble keeping my eyes open at my desk, which is what I had feared might happen.

This clip from the DVD should give you a sense of the flow and level of difficulty of the workouts.


Yoga Sculpt Has Been Around For Awhile

The workouts in Yoga Sculpt aren’t new.  The DVD is actually a compilation of three earlier workouts originally sold under separate cover on VHS.  Even though there are newer yoga programs I selected this one because I knew I could count on Kathy to deliver a program that I could use in a class setting at work.

Kathy Smith – Fitness Icon

Kathy herself is a fitness icon that has been in the fitness business for thirty or more years.  She is the president of her own company, Kathy Smith Lifestyles, and has sold over $500 million in fitness products and equipment.  She has a wide variety of workout DVDs on the market that include everything from cardio kickboxing, to workouts for baby boomers and pregnant women, and her famous fat burning classics.

Kathy is also a spokesperson for the International Council on Active Aging. You don’t need me to tell you how appropriate that is.

Yoga Sculpt Gets an A+

This workout is not just for beginners.  It will provide an effective workout for a wide range of fitness levels and abilities, but is an excellent place to start if you’re like me and just now ready to add yoga to your repertoire.

Have you tried Kathy’s Yoga Sculpt, or do you have another program that you think is the absolute best?  Please share in the comment box below.