Archives for September 2013

Kiwi: The Most Super of the Superfoods

There are plenty of reasons to incorporate kiwi fruits into your diet besides the main one: They Are Delicious!

Kiwis are considered one of the superfoods because of their high vitamin C and antioxidant content.  One kiwi has more vitamin C than and orange will provide you with your daily requirements for vitamin C.  Plus, they are loaded with phytontrients that protect the DNA in the nucleus of the cells from oxygen-related damage.


Kiwis, when eaten on a regular basis, contribute to heart health, reduce the risk of blood clots, and macular degeneration and their rich fiber content helps protect the colon from toxins.

Low-Calorie, Nutrition-Dense Fruit

The easiest way to eat a kiwi is to slice it down the middle and scoop out the fruit with a spoon.

Cut Kiwi

They can be easily peeled, sliced and added to fruit and green salads.

Strawberry Kiwi Salad

Strawberry Kiwi Salad

They do contain enzymes that act as a food tenderizer and tend to become mushy if they are cut too long before time to serve them.  If you want to serve them as part of a meal, cut them up and add them as part of the final preparation.

They come in at around 42 calories each, so having a couple a day as a snack or sliced on your morning bowl of oatmeal, yogurt or added to a smoothie will add a healthy dose of vitamins and other nutrients to your diet without  putting you over your daily calorie limit.

Kiwis can be found at the local grocery year ’round, but they are a fall fruit and you will find that they are more abundant and at a very reasonable price at this time of year.

Kiwi is a perfect low-calorie, high nutrient food that are good for children and adults of any age.

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I’m Not Offended By Fitspiration But Those Foodie Boards Are Another Story.

Critics are lining up to put pressure on Pinterest to rid the site of boards like Thinspo, Thinspiration and Fitspiration.  The claim is that the fuel eating disorders and promote anorexia in young women.

Visit the Thinspo board and you’ll find images of ultra thin women, mostly young, that apparently are thin-orexics and have found a place to gain support.

Thinspo is a board filled with mostly selfie pics of women with frail, runway-style body types that are predominantly in workout clothes and bikinis.  Many of the pictures are images of women that could easily be described as anorexic.

Here’s a collage of three pictures I found on Thinspo:

Ultra thin women at Thinspro.

Ultra thin women at Thinspro.

Supposedly Pinterest banned the Thinspo boards in 2012 but they are still alive and well if you do a quick search.  It may be that members are no longer able to add pins to the boards. I’m not sure about that. I know that I could re-pin the images to my own boards if I chose to so I’m confused about all of the articles I’ve read that tell me Pinterest did away with them last year. They are clearly alive and well.

Pinterest did add this disclaimer to it’s pro-thin boards:  Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or

Fitspiration Replaces Thinspiration and Thinspo

The latest controversy Pinterest is now facing is over the Fitspiration boards. If you’re seeking inspiration from Pinterest to keep you motivated to get thin, get fit or stay thin and fit, the Fitspiration board supplies nearly the same content as Thinspo and seems to be picking up where the banned Thinspo and the highly controversial Thinspiration boards left off.

Although there is more of an emphasis placed on fitness at the Fitspiration board, most of the pictures are of scantily clad, ultra-fit young women that are attempting to inspire you, the visitor, to look like them.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find at Fitspiration:

These pictures offer more motivational sayings

Images at Fitspiration offer more motivational sayings

There are also some before and after pictures of people that have lost weight, and pictures of athletic women that look healthy, fit and not extremely thin.

So What?

So what’s all of the controversy about?

A study published in the European Eating Disorders Review in October of 2010 has shed some light on what, if any impact, internet sites that promote thinness and eating disorders has on female college students.

In the study, college women with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 18 and with no history of an eating disorder were exposed to either pro-ED websites, healthy/exercise websites or tourist websites for 1.5 hours.  The pro-ED website group experienced a significant one-week decrease in caloric intake from pre- to post-exposure.  Following exposure, participants reported using techniques on the websites to aid with food reduction and had strong emotional reactions to the websites.  These changes persisted for 3 week following the study’s end.

The conclusion:  “Even modest exposure to pro-Ed websites may encourage significant changes in caloric intake and increased disordered eating behaviors.  By extension, even greater exposure to these websites by at-risk females may contribute to the development of EDs.

An article on Jezebel called “The Scary, Weird World of Pinterest Thinspo Boards” quotes someone from the National Eating Disorders Association as saying this: “Pinterst is a format that’s attractive to the pro-ana community because it’s both visual and highly interactive; young women (and some men) suffering from an eating disorder or teetering on the brink of disorder crave the unique combination of visibility and anonymity offered by the site. Pinterest users can swap photos of their most enviable shoulder blades in a supportive “community” of like-minded people, but because it’s on the internet they can do it from behind the protection of an anonymous handle.”

So the question remains: Are these board on Pinterest increasing disordered eating among young females?  And if we decide they are is there really anything that can be done about it?

I’ve looked at many of the pictures on the Thinspo, Thinspiration and Fitspiration boards and I agree that many of the women look too thin and frail and are not the epitome of healthy.

I’m having trouble joining in on the outrage over Fitspiration. If Fitspiration is encouraging women to starve themselves or over-exercise to the point of ruining their health that’s bad. But, if they are inspiring women that do need to lose 30, 40, 50 or more pounds to improve their health to do so, then that’s a plus.

Who am I to judge who weighs too much, not enough or is just right?

What About The ‘Eat Yourself Into A Coma’ Food Boards?

The good news is there are plenty of foodie boards to counteract the ‘thin’ ones. Anyone who worries they are becoming obsessed with the Fitspiration board on Pinterest can easily change gears and head over to the food boards where you’ll find this:

You may be starving yourself over at Fitspiration, but are you better off if you eat yourself into a coma after a visit to the foodie boards?

You may be tempted to starve yourself over at Fitspiration, but are you better off if you eat yourself into a coma after a visit to the foodie boards?

My Facebook news feed is inundated with these high calorie, fat-loaded, sugary recipes. If I head over to Pinterest I can easily find the source for all of them.  Now I’m offended.

If the Fitspiration boards promote too few calories and too much exercise, surely we could argue that the foodie boards encourage people to eat too much, over-indulge in unhealthy foods, and gain weight that will eventually lead to chronic disease, ruin their health and shorten their life. Considering the obesity epidemic the U.S. is facing, I think the unhealthy recipe boards are the ones that Pinterest should get rid of these.  (Good luck, I know.)

What do you think?

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5 Ways You Can Benefit From A Structured Running Program

Anyone that wants to run a 5K can be successful if they use the Cool Running or Hal Higdon Couch to 5K program.  Each year I launch a Dream-to-Reality Couch-to-5K program to our employees.  Employees sign up, follow the program, and send me their picture after they’ve experienced the exhilaration that comes with crossing the finish line for the first time.

As much fun as running a 3.1 mile race is, stepping up your game and training for longer distances is where you’ll really start to realize your goals and find out if running competitions is something you want to make a part of your workout plan and life.

Finish Line

The finish line makes it all worth it! Flickr photo by jayeandd’s photostream

From Couch to 5K, 10K, 15K and Beyond

I worked through the steps of doing a couple of 5Ks, then a 10K, a 15K, and finally a half-marathon.  Each time I finished a race of a longer distance, I felt like I was ready for the next challenge.  I remember crossing the finish line at the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15K thinking adding four more miles would not have been impossible.  Five months later I ran my first half marathon.

If you want to be successful at competitive running, your first goal should be to avoid injury. This is where the training programs come into play.  They will take you through the training steps at a pace that allows your body to adapt and respond to the stress of running plus they provide the structure and motivation you need to be race-ready on event day.

Here are five key reasons why following a structured running program will help you reach your goals.

1.  There’s No Guesswork.  You don’t have to figure out how many days you’re going to train, how far you’re going to go (such as until you’re tired) or how much time you’ll need to train each day.  The running programs do all of the planning for you.  The only thing you have to do is run.

2.   You’re Not Relying Solely On How You Feel. – We all have good and bad days when it comes to running.  On our bad days we may quit before we do what’s needed to move us towards our goal.  On good days we tend to go farther, faster.  Overdoing it can be just as detrimental to our success as not doing enough.  Going too far or too fast before we’re ready, leads to injury and fatigue.  A structured running program sets the pace for you.

3.   Rest Days Are Built In – When you follow program that gives you the permission to ‘rest’ you’re more likely to do it.  Every runner needs to spend some time on cross training activities like strength training, stretching, or yoga.  The days that you cross train are built into the program along with rest days so there’s no need to feel guilty when you take a day off from running to get recharged.

4.  You’re Less Prone to Procrastination– You decide you want to run a 10K but don’t know exactly how many weeks ahead of race day you need to start training.  When you follow a structured running program you know exactly how many weeks in advance of the event you’ll need in order to be properly prepared.   You can print the schedule out and attach it to your fridge with a magnet, log your runs into your FitBit, download the training program app to your phone and start marking off the days leading up to the event.  You’ll avoid the “I’ll start next week” attitude that can easily put you way behind with your plan.

5.   Your Chances of Success Are Greater – Since I started offering the Couch to 5K program each year as part of our wellness programming, employees that were not runners have completed the program, ran a 5K and several have gone on to run longer races.  These are people that would not have gotten from the couch to the finish line without the help of the program.

Whatever distance you choose, there’s a program available to you for free from the web sites listed below.  These programs, developed by pros, guide you easily through the steps of race training and get you to the finish line.

Some of the most popular running web sites that have downloadable training programs are:

What’s your favorite training plan?

You might also like Eight Tips That Will Help You Achieve Your Running Goals or Running Without A Goal Is Like Reading A Book Without An Ending.

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HIIT Workouts Not Only Burn More Calories, They Suppress Your Appetite

Would you be motivated to try a HIIT or Tabata workout if you knew it would act as a natural appetite suppressant?

Researchers at the University of Western Australia in Perth decided they would find out what effect exercise intensity has on appetite. The results of the small but significant study suggests that intense exercise sessions – such as the popular HIIT and Tabata workouts – lead to short-term suppression of appetite.

Box Jumps are a HIIT and Tabata training exercise.

Box Jumps are a HIIT and Tabata training exercise.  Flickr photo by Cathe

For the study researchers recruited 17 overweight but otherwise healthy men in their 20’s and 30’s.  The men were asked to come to the university’s exercise physiology lab on four separate days.

During the first session the men rested idly for 30 minutes.  In the next session they rode an exercise bike continuously for 30 minutes at a moderate pace at around approximately 65% of their predetermined maximum aerobic capacity.

In the third session the men completed 30 minutes of interval riding.  They rode for one minute at 100 percent of their endurance capacity, then pedaled gently for 4 minutes.

In the final session the work load was ramped up.  For 30 minutes the men biked for intervals of 15 seconds at 170 percent of their normal endurance capacity followed by pedaling for one minute at 30 percent of their maximum capacity.

After each 30 minute session the men were provided a standardized liquid breakfast.  About 70 minutes after that they were taken to a table loaded with sweetened but bland porridge and were allowed to eat as much as they wanted.

The results were surprising.  After the resting and light pedaling sessions the men loaded their bowls.  But after the higher intensity trainings they weren’t as hungry, didn’t eat as much and consumed, on average, 200 fewer calories.

Blood draws that measure the levels of the hormone ghrelin, which is known to stimulate appetite, were taken from the participants both before and after the exercise sessions. After the higher intensity sessions the men not only had lower levels of ghrelin, but also measured higher levels of both blood lactate and blood sugar, which act as natural appetite suppressants.

Researchers acknowledge that the studies on the relationship between appetite suppression and high intensity exercise are in their infancy and more research will be needed to make an absolute determination. But this study does show that there is a link between high intensity exercise and decreased appetite which is what I’ve always experienced.

What This Means For You

We already know that HIIT and Tabata trainings burn more calories both during and after the workout.  If they also diminish your desire to eat, that’s even better.

Plus with this research the two most popular excuses to not exercise – “I’m too busy” and “exercise makes me hungry” – can be thrown out the window.  Effective HIIT and Tabata workouts can be done is as little as 10 minutes.  In those 10 minutes, not only will you burn calories and increase your cardiovascular health, you won’t feel the urge to blow it afterwards by over-eating.

HIIT and Tabata Workouts

The popular High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts usually consist of a warm-up followed by a pattern of 30 to 40 seconds of a high intensity exercise followed by a period of 15 to 20 seconds of a lower intensity exercise.  Repeat this pattern for 15 to 20 minutes with a target heart rate of somewhere between 70 to 90 percent maximum during the high intensity segments.

The Tabata method consists of a basic warm up followed by 20 seconds of an ultra-intense exercise that targets large muscle groups followed by a 10 second rest period.  Repeat the 20/10 cycle eight times for a four-minute workout. You can do different exercises during the ultra-intense cycle, or repeat the same one to target a specific muscle group. Maximum heart rate should be between 90 and 100% during the 20 second bursts.

For more information about HIIT and Tabata workouts check out the post I wrote: Is It A HIIT or a Tabata Workout and Which one Is Better?

The study can be found in the International Journal of Obesity.

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Hard Core 30 Day Ab Challenge

Gone are the days when we do a cardio workout then drop to the floor for 100 ab crunches.  The most effective core exercises target and isolate abdominal muscles, but incorporate other muscle groups too.

The 30 Day Ab Challenge is based on seven exercises that you can do at home or the gym, in your hotel room, or even at work.

Ab Challenge Box

The seven exercises in the 30 Day Ab Challenge start with standing squat chops and end down on the floor with a cool down side plank dip (which, by the way, are really hard).  The number of repetitions increase as the challenge progresses.

Try to do each exercise through a full range of motion and remember, doing the exercise in proper form always trumps completing a certain number of reps.  If you get fatigued and feel that you are no longer able to do the exercise correctly, discontinue that move and go on to the next one, or take a break.

*Below the challenge calendar is a picture (thank you Pinterest) and description of each exercise.

Are You Up For The Challenge?

                                                                   30 Day Ab Challenge

Day 1

10 Standing Chop Squats

10 Standing Oblique Crunches

10 Single Leg Kicks

10 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups


Day 2

Same as day 1


Day 3

10 Standing Chop Squats

10 Standing Oblique Crunches

10 Single Leg Kicks

10 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

Plank Hold – 10 seconds


Day 4

Same As Day 3


Day 5



Day 6

12 Standing Chop Squats

12 Standing Oblique Crunches

12 Single Leg Kicks

12 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

12 Bicycles

Plank Hold – 10 seconds


Day 7


Same as Day 7


Day 8

15 Standing Chop Squats

15 Standing Oblique Crunches

15 Single Leg Kicks

15 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

15 Bicycles

Plank Hold – 15 seconds

Plank Side Dips – 4 each side


Day 9




Day 10


Same as Day 8






Day 11


Same as Day 8

Day 12

18 Standing Chop Squats

18 Standing Oblique Crunches

18 Single Leg

18 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

18 Bicycles

Plank – Hold for 20 seconds

Side Plank Dips – 6 each side




Day 13




Day 14

20 Standing Chop Squats

20 Standing Oblique Crunches

20 Single Leg Kicks

18 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

18 Bicycles

Plank – Hold for 30 seconds

Side Plank Dips – 8 on each side



Day 15

Same as Day 14


Day 16

20 Standing Chop Squats

20 Standing Oblique Crunches

20 Single Leg Kicks

20 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

20 Bicycles

Plank – Hold for 30 seconds

Side Plank Dips – 8 on each side


Day 17

Same as Day 16



Day 18



Day 19

20 Standing Chop Squats

20 Standing Oblique Crunches

20 Single Leg Kicks

20 Wide Leg Cross Sit

25 Bicycles

Plank – Hold for 40 seconds

Side Plank Dips – 8 on each side


 Day 20

Same as Day 19

Day 21

Same as Day 19


Day 22



Day 23

25 Standing Chop Squats

25 Standing Oblique Crunches

25 Single Leg Kicks

20 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

25 Bicycles

Plank – Hold for 45 seconds

Side Plank Dips – 8 on each side



Day 24

Same as Day 23


Day 25

Same as Day 23


Day 26



Day 27

25 Standing Chop Squats

25 Standing Oblique Crunches

25 Single Leg Kicks

20 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

25 Bicycles

Plank – Hold for 45 seconds

Side Plank Dips – 8 on each side


Day 28

30 Standing Chop Squats

25 Standing Oblique Crunches

25 Single Leg Kicks

20 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

25 Bicycles

Plank – Hold for 60 seconds

Side Plank Dips – 8 on each side


Day 29

30 Standing Chop Squats

30 Standing Oblique Crunches

25 Single Leg Kicks

20 Wide Leg Cross Sit Ups

25 Bicycles

Plank – Hold for 60 seconds

Side Plank Dips – 8 on each side


Day 30

Celebrate!  You Did It!



 *Important – One repetition for the Standing Chop Squats, Standing Oblique Crunch, Single Leg Kicks, and Bicycles means on one side.  For example – 10 standing Chop Squats means that you will alternative right and left 10 times.  In other words, five to the right and five to the left, alternating for one set of 10.

Below is a picture (from Pinterest) and a description for each exercise:

Squat Chop – Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms overhead.  You can use a 5 or 6 pound medicine ball or dumbbell.  Squat down as you bring the ball down to the right side.  Return to starting position and squat, bringing ball down to left side. Continue to alternate right and left.

Squat Chop

Squat Chop













Standing Oblique Crunch – Stand with feet shoulder width apart and left arm overhead; right hand on right hip. Pull left elbow down to side as you lift the left knee to the elbow. Repeat on the right side.

Standing Oblique Crunch












Single Leg Lifts – Lie on your back with both arms overhead and legs straight out in front of you. As you sit up, alternate lifting your legs one at a time.

Single Leg Lift













Wide Leg Cross Sit Up – Lie on your back as shown in the picture below.  As you sit up, reach the left hand to the right toe. Go back to starting position and sit up crossing left hand to right toe. Continue to alternate right and left.

Wide Leg Cross Sit Up













Bicycles – Lie on your back. Moving your legs in a bicycling motion, alternate crossing right elbow to left knee and left elbow to right knee.











Elbow Plank – The basic plank posture is shown in the picture below.  Hold the position, keeping your core tight.  Try to keep the hips, shoulders and ankles in a straight line.

Elbow Plank











Side Plank Dip – Assume the side plank position shown in Step 1 below.  Drop the hip to the floor and lift back to starting position.  Repeat on the other side.

Side Plank Dip















Are you up for the 30 Day Ab Challenge? I guarantee you’ll find it challenging!

Don’t forget to share the challenge with you Facebook and Twitter friends so they can join you!

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 (Pictures are from Pinterest.  To see the original source, please click on the photo.)

Breaking The Sugar Habit Offers Practical Tips to Help You Kick Your Sugar Addiction

The average American consumes about 100 pounds of sugar a year or almost 30 teaspoons a day. Even though we realize that sugar is a factor in many of the chronic diseases that are on the rise today, we can’t seem to end our love affair with it.

Sugar is addictive and that makes breaking up hard to do.  The e-book Breaking The Sugar Habit: Practical Ways to Cut Sugar, Lose the Weight, and Regain Your Health can help.

Breaking the Sugar Habit smaller

Breaking The Sugar Habit is an easy-to-read 69 page e-book written by Margaret Wertheim, nutritionist and registered dietitian who specializes in helping people break the sugar habit. Margaret holds a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MS in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Seattle.

Margaret explains in the introduction that she wrote the book for her patients, clients and friends that are struggling with health problems caused by sugar.

Margaret believes that “excess sugar and refined carbohydrates intake to be at the root of many of the worst health problems out there today. There are of course other factors like lack of fruits and vegetables and lack of exercise, but I consider sugar the primary problem, when you consider an average daily sugar intake of 94 grams or about 23 teaspoons in the US.”

Breaking The Sugar Habit is divided into four parts: Sugar basics, Why Sugar Isn’t So Sweet, Kicking The Sugar Habit, and How To Still Savor Some Sweetness.  Throughout those sections the book:

  • Contends that it is sugar, not fats that contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol levels, and fatty liver disease.
  • Explores the negative health impact of sugar, fructose, and artificial sweeteners.
  • Will help you understand the difference between sucrose, glucose and fructose.
  • Explains the value of the Glycemic Index and Load charts and shows where many popular foods are on the chart.  (You’d be surprised at some of the ‘healthy’ foods that are at the top of the chart.)

The book is backed up with research and data on the effects of sugar on chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome as well as breast, colon, prostrate and endometrial cancers. And, it provides a convincing argument that if you’re going to change one thing in your diet, focusing on reducing – or even eliminating – sugar should be the top priority.

The book doesn’t just lay out a case for quitting sugar.  It provides a step by step plan to cut back on added sugar along with 10 tips to get you on your way to kicking the habit.

It’s informative without exaggerating the research and doesn’t use an alarmist tone.  Margaret says the intent is “not to provide an exhaustive analysis of the research linking sugar and these health conditions, but to give you an overview of the research and proposed mechanisms by which sugar increases risk of disease.

If you’re interested in solid, fact-based information about sugar and know that it’s time for  you cut back – if not break up completely – you’ll learn how you can improve your health by focusing on this one area.

You can purchase the book at Margaret’s web site for $2.95. Later in the month it will also be available at

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What You Can Learn From Diana Nyad: Never Give Up.

I have added a name to my rather short ‘favorites’ list of fitness icons. It’s not that I don’t follow people in the fitness industry like Jillian Michaels and Kelly Coffey Meyer.  But I only have three people that I am semi-obsessed with meaning that I faithfully follow them on Facebook, watch for their tweets and anxiously wait to see what there next venture is going to be.  They are Tony Horton, Cathe Friendrich and Chalene Johnson.

I now have a new fitness icon to add to the list. Diana Nyad. The 62 year old swimmer that is the first person to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Key West, Florida without a shark tank.

It isn’t the physical feat of making the swim that is so inspiring – not that that in itself isn’t incredible.  It’s her amazing spirit and incredible tenacity that fascinates and inspires me.


Flickr photo by Cuba Gallery

Not An Easy Swim

It took Diana 52 hours and 54 minutes to swim from Cuba to Key West.  During the swim she vomited constantly, making it nearly impossible to stay hydrated.  She was sun burned, endured jelly fish stings, and had unbearably swollen lips from the salt water.  Yet she kept going.  How?

At a news conference on Tuesday she revealed some of the tricks that she uses to keep swimming such as counting her strokes in English, German, Spanish and French and singing songs to herself.  She says there’s a song list of 85 tunes in her brain. Neil Young is her favorite.

But for most of us there are no songs that we could sing in our head, or any language that we could count strokes in that would keep us swimming through salty, churning ocean waves for 110 miles while vomiting, getting bit by jelly fish, and suffering from dehydration and extreme exhaustion.

Inspiration From Diana Nyad

After reaching the shore at Smathers Beach in Key West, Diana was surrounded by news photographers and fans that wanted to know how she did it.  Here are some of her responses along with quotes from the new programs she was a guest on the following day:

  • On CBS This Morning “…. All of us suffer heartache. All of us suffer difficulties in our lives. And if you say to yourself ‘find a way,’ you’ll make it through.”
  • Upon reaching Smathers Beach Diana had three things to tell her onlookers: “One is, we should never ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”
  • Remarking on her motivation to keep going:   “I am stunned, at age 61, at how fast it all flies by. My mom just died. We blink and another decade passes. I don’t want to reach the end of my life and regret not having given my days everything in me to make them worthwhile.”
  • “Never, ever give up. And find a way. … And my age, they’re looking at me as a baby boomer, saying life is not over at this age by any means. So I’m more of, shall we say, a human spirit story than I am a sports story.”
  • In a Today Show interview: “You can dream, you can be vital, and you can be in your prime.  I may not look it right now, but you catch me on a good day, I’m in my prime.” (check out Diana here and I’m sure you will agree that she is in her prime.)
  • “You’re never too old to live your dreams.”
  • From PBS News Hour – “The thing about aging is, it’s true that the clock seems to be ticking faster as you get older. It isn’t, but it seems to be. Time seems to be running out. And I wanted to swim this endeavor not to just be the athletic record. I wanted it to be a lesson for my life that says, be fully engaged.

Never Give Up

Diana had attempted the swim four times without success prior to the September 2013 swim. Once, in August of 2011, she was unable to complete the swim because of shoulder pain and winds that blew her miles off course.

In September of 2011 she attempted the Cuba to Florida swim but was defeated by box jellyfish and Portuguese man of war stings.  In August of 2012 her swim ended before she reached her goal again due to bad jelly fish stings and a lightning storm.

The final attempt landed her on the shore of Key West, Florida on September 2, 2013 at 1:14 p.m.  Her web site simply says, “She freaking made it.”

What can you and I learn from Diana?

Never, ever give up on your dreams.

“I think that a lot of people in our country have gotten depressed, pinned in, pinned down with living lives they don’t want. I do write all the time about — you tell me what your dreams are. What are you chasing? It’s not impossible. Name it.” –Diana Nyad (CNN news article)

Are you inspired by Diana Nyad?

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Quick and Delicious Super Food Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I attended a health fair last week and prepared a picture board that had the top ten super foods on it.  Of course the usual super foods were on the board:  salmon, berries, broccoli, kiwi, and nuts.  New to the board was quinoa.

The super foods board turned out to be a conversation starter with the employees that came by my table.  Many of them affirmed they love salmon, are okay with broccoli, some not so much with kiwi.  But most of the questions and comments surrounded quinoa.  What it is?  Where can I buy it?  How do I prepare it?




Quinoa is trending and is now considered to be one the healthiest of the super foods.  Because of Quinoa’s exceptional nutritional qualities, its adaptability to different agro-ecological floors, and its potential contribution in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a highly nutritional food that is loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, and flavonoids.  Although it is typically thought to be a whole grain, Quinoa is actually a seed vegetable similar to Swiss chard, spinach and beets. When compared to grains it has some superior qualities including significant amounts of protein, heart-healthy fats and calcium.

Quinoa is also gluten-free, has only 172 calories per ¼ cup of the dry product, and is a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index.  It is low in sodium and cholesterol and is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and iron.  It can – and should – be part of a healthy diet and can be used as a healthier replacement for rice and pasta in some popular dishes.

This super food can be found pre-packaged at the local grocer or can be purchased in bulk at a food co-op or health food store.

Below is an easy and delicious stuffed zucchini boats recipe.

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats from Real

Here’s a recipe for quinoa stuffed zucchini boats that uses garden tomatoes and zucchini


  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped (about 2 ounces)
  • cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat oven to 400° F. In a large saucepan, combine the quinoa and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Arrange in a large baking dish, cut-side up.

Cored Zucchini

  • Fluff the quinoa and fold in the beans, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, ½ cup of the Parmesan, and 3 tablespoons of the oil.Quinoa filling
  • Spoon the mixture into the zucchini. Top with the remaining tablespoon of oil and ¼ cup Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake until the zucchini is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats

The stuffed boats are filling enough to be an entree.  I served them as a main dish with a side salad.  This is a basic recipe that you can be creative with.  Add colorful diced bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and other ingredients to add flavor and nutrition.

What’s you favorite quinoa recipe?

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