Archives for December 2013

2013 Look Back: My Favorite Posts From The Past Year

Tomorrow we will welcome in a new year.  Most of us greet the start of a new year with excitement and anticipation.  I know that I do.

Ushering in a new year provides an opportunity for a do-over.  We get to hit the reset button.  Each year on January 1 we have a chance to start anew on some of those resolutions and projects that, while we had the best intentions, didn’t get accomplished.Blank Book

You might decide this is the year to tackle those extras 10 pounds.  Maybe you need the motivation to get more physical activity, eat more nutritional foods and get your portions under control.  Whatever it is you undertake, you’ll need a consistent dose of inspiration and encouragement.  That’s where I come in.

I’m looking forward to providing readers a year of fresh content  that I hope will help you reach your goals. I vow to provide articles and information that is free of gimmicks.  This site doesn’t promote fad diets or weight-loss prescriptions, nor does it serve up unrealistic promises.  What it does offer is the latest health and wellness news, healthy super-food recipes, inspirational stories, and exercise expertise.

But before I start churning out a year’s worth of content with all of the stuff you need to stay healthy in a supersized world, I want to take a minute to look back at ten of the most popular articles from 2013.

1.  How You Can Up Your Game With Plyometric Training – Whether you’re looking to bust through a weight-loss plateau, or want to increase your fitness level, adding plyometrics can have a huge impact on both. Learn how it can help you here.

2.  Do You Graze Or Fast? One Might Be Better Than The Other – The concept of intermittent fasting is replacing the theory that grazing (eating every three hours) throughout the day is better for weight loss.  Not convinced?  Check out the article that explains how it works.

3.  Twenty Reasons Why You Should Get 30 Minutes of Exercise A Day – We all know that physical activity is important, but there may be reasons to exercise that you’ve not considered before.  Check out 20 reasons you should get active here.

4.   Isn’t It Time For Your To Break Up With Sugar? – In this article I state that the best thing you can do for your overall health is to reduce the amount of sugar that you eat.  If you think that should be one of your goals for 2014, be sure and read this first.

5.  Take Your Life Off Of Auto-Pilot And Go Someplace Different – Learning to be mindful and live in the moment is key to a healthy existence.  It’s not always easy to do.  Read how you can take control of your thoughts and ultimately your life here.

6.  Post Workout Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie – To date, this is my favorite smoothie recipe.  And it’s so easy, creamy and delicious.  Check out the recipe here.

7.  What You Can Learn From Sheldon Silverstein – The What You Can Learn From series highlights inspirational people that can help you reach your goals. Sheldon is one of those creative geniuses that offers the timeless message, “anything can be”.

8. Meditation Can Keep Your Anxiety From Going Off The Rails – We all have plenty of stress in our lives.  Keeping it under control is a must if we are going to be both physically and emotionally healthy. This article explains how meditation can help you get your anxiety under control.

9.  Six Bodyweight Plateau-Buster Exercises To Do Everyday – The American College of Sports Medicine predicts that bodyweight exercise programs will be trending in 2014.  This post discusses why they are good for you.  Check out the six exercises you should be doing every day here.

10  Motivation For Your Monday (or any day for that matter) – This is a slideshow I created using some of my favorite motivational quotes.  Its intent was to help people get through the Monday blues, but you  might find it helpful any day that you’re feeling less than motivated.  Watch the slideshow here.

There’s the wrap-up for 2013.  Tomorrow we will turn the page and start writing the first chapter in the new book titled “Opportunity”.

What are you going to write in your book?

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What You Can Learn From Tony Horton

“Do NOT say you “can’t”! You can say, “I don’t want to”. You can say, “I’m not willing to put forth the effort”. But DO NOT say you CAN’T!” – Tony Horton

Tony Horton, one of my favorite fitness icons has released another workout DVD, P90X3, just in time for the holidays.  P90X3 is a series of 30-minute high intensity interval training workouts that promise to get you lean and mean in 90 days. You can watch the clip below to see it’s not your mother’s workout (whatever that means) but can be modified so that it is doable for almost everyone.

I do love Tony Horton’s workouts.  I was a big fan of the 10 Minute Trainer series that he launched in 2007.  From the 10 Minute Trainer evolved the revolutionary concept that we don’t have to work out for an hour everyday to see results. The radical suggestion that people can get fit in 10 minutes a day is now a mainstream belief in the world of fitness training.

Most of all I love Tony for the infectious enthusiasm he has for life, the quirky Tonyisms that he delivers throughout all of the workouts, and the way he projects the notion that if he can do all of these things, so can you and I. Tony is an althletic trainer, leader, mentor, and coach and there’s a lot we can learn from him.

About Tony

Tony was born on July 2, 1958 and raised in Trumbull, Connecticut where he attended the University of Rhode Island.  By 1980 he had left his home state and moved to Los Angeles with the dream of becoming an actor.

While in LA he started working out at the World Gym in Venice, California where he collaborated with former-triathlete and Ironman competitor Mark Sisson who introduced him to interval training.

Tony became a personal trainer and started his own business, ASH Fitness, in Santa Monica, CA where he became the trainer for the stars.  Some of his clients included Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Bruce Springsteen.

In the early 2000’s Beachbody recruited Tony to help them develop a workout video in-home boot camp program called Power 90.  In 2004 Tony developed the first P90X series which took the Power 90 program to the next level. In the P90X program, Tony introduced the theory of muscle confusion that has been proven to help participants achieve maximum results and shatter a plateau.

The P90X2 series was launched in 2011 and now, the most recent program,P90X3, is on the market in time for the holidays.  Tony’s home workout series has reached $500 million in sales and he continues to inspire people to get fit without leaving their home.

Tony’s World

There is plenty you can learn from Tony by visiting his web site Tony Horton’s World.com.  He has a question/answer style blog and a ‘Bring It’ sound clip where you can listen to Tony answer fan’s questions about fitness and nutrition.

You can learn the most about Tony by doing his workouts where you can benefit from his persistently intense energy, his ‘no excuses’ outlook, and the Tonyisms that he disburses frequently throughout the program. Here’s a few of my favorites Tony Horton quotes:

  • Don’t let your ego get in the way of your success.
  • Focus on the present moment. Stay in the moment.
  • If you need a break, take a break.  Look at me.  I’m taking a break.  I’m the leader. I can do whatever I want.  But when you’re back, you’re back with a vengeance!
  • Hamburger bad. Fries bad. Coca-cola bad. There I said it. Drink your water people.
  • Do your best and forget the rest.
  • Feel free to laugh, because these are all really funny jokes.
  • Don’t just kinda do it!
  • Clear your mind of all bad things.
  • Yes, I know it’s hard.  It’s supposed to be.
  • Happiness is right here.

Is P90X3 on your holiday wish list?

If you like this article, you might also like What You Can Learn From Diana Nyad and What You Can Learn From Chris Cardell, J.D. Meier, and Pink.

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Eleven Non-Food Holiday Gifts For Under $20

Most of us have at least a short list of people that we need to purchase a special, yet inexpensive, gift for at the holidays.  The mail carrier, dog groomer, hair stylist, boss and school teacher are all deserving of a thoughtful gift. A typical gift is a home-made tin of cookies, a bottle of wine or a box of truffles.

But since these food items are so common – and not always appreciated if someone is trying to lose a few pounds – here is a list of under $20 non-food gifts to give this year. All of the gifts can be purchased easily at your local mall or department store and are versatile enough for nearly anyone on your list.

1.  Bath & Body Bath Shower Gels – These these bath gels let you give the gift of scent.  They come in delicious fragrances that are too numerous to count. They retail for $12, and most stores offer an ongoing buy-three-get-three-free special. Body gels comes in fragrances for men too.

Bath And Body Gels

Bath & Body Shower Gels. Retail $12 each.

2.  White Barn Candle Company Three Wick Candles – These wonderful candles can be found at Bath & Body or at a White Barn Candle store and come in a variety of sizes and fragrances.  The large three wick candles retail for $20 and many stores run two for $22 specials.

Candles

White Barn Candle Company three wick holiday candles.

3.  Cheerful Snowman – Who doesn’t love a cheerful, colorful snowman?  These can be found at TJ Maxx, Kohl’s, Macy’s and nearly anywhere that has a housewares department.  Your dog-sitter, mail carrier, or hair dresser will love receiving one. Most retail between $10 and $15.

A cheerful, colorful snowman makes winter seem more fun.

A cheerful, colorful snowman makes winter seem more fun.

4.  Decorative Holiday Towels – This is one of those gifts that people love to get because they don’t think to buy it for themselves. Special occasion towels are fun to put out when you have company and make inexpensive, yet appreciated, teacher gifts.  I purchased these for $7 at  TJ Maxx.

An inexpensive gift that's perfect for anyone.

An inexpensive gift that’s perfect for anyone.

5.  Athletic Wear Jackets – If you have someone to buy for that likes to wear athletic gear you can find trendy jackets in stores like Burlington for under $20.  The selection is somewhat overwhelming and you’ll find that there’s one for every athlete on your list. I like the white one so much I may keep it for myself.

Athletic Jackets at Burlington for under $20 each.

Athletic Jackets at Burlington for under $20 each.

6. Yoga Pant Sets – This gift won’t work for everyone, but for the females in your life that like the comfort of yoga pants and tanks for lounging or sleeping, these are the perfect choice.  They come in a variety of colors. I purchased the sets at Kohls for under $20.

Yoga pant sets for under $20 each at Kohls.

Yoga pant sets for under $20 each at Kohls.

7.  Decorative Wall Art – These signs are fun and catchy and you can easily find one to match the personality of the person you’re shopping for.  An assortment of trendy wall decor can be found at any retailer that has a housewares department. Big Lots also has a good selection for less than $20 each.

Trendy wall art at most large retailers.

Trendy wall art at most large retailers.

8.  The Big Jar – Big jars are fun to give because there are so many ways to use them.  They can be filled with wine bottle corks, potpourri, or even a candle.  I purchased this jar at TJ Maxx for $8.

The Big Jar

You can fill big glass containers with wine bottle corks, potpourri, or other items.

9. Flavored Olive Oil – This might be on the fringe of a food gift, but I thought it was too good to pass up or leave off of the list.  Plus, it is a healthy item and if you have someone who enjoys cooking with olive oil, they will love this gift set of three flavored oils. I purchased at the local grocery for $15. It’s a perfect hostess gift.

Flavored olive oils are an excellent choice for a hostess gift.

Flavored olive oils are an excellent choice for a hostess gift.

10.  Scented Oil Pot – Fragrance pots can be purchased for about $15 at Wal-Mart or other department stores.  They will fill the house with aroma and use a light bulb instead of a flame to heat the wax so you reduce the risk of fire.  The chips melt down and fill the area with scent and come in a variety of fragrances.

Scented oil pots fill the house with fragrance.

Scented oil pots fill the house with fragrance.

11.  Wokout DVDs – Perfect for the person in your life who likes to work out in the comfort of their own home.  Check out Collage Video.com for the latest workout DVDs.  You can read reviews and watch video clips before you buy.

Workout DVDs for the person that likes to workout at home.

Workout DVDs for the person that likes to workout at home.

What’s your favorite non-food gift for under $20?

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30 Day Butt Lift Workout Plan From BeFit

I’ve been posting exercise challenges lately.  I’ve posted the 30 Day Squat Challenge, 30 Day Ab Challenge, and have provided links to several Burpee Challenges that you can check out.

Why am I all about these challenges lately?  Because you can do them at home, they are serious exercise, and you only need a few minutes each day to get them done. Plus you don’t need to purchase a gym membership or even a workout DVD to participate.

Here’s another challenge for you to try and the only thing you need for this program is internet access. It’s the 30 Day Butt Lift Workout Plan from Lionsgate’s Be Fit. In this introductory clip, 30 day butt lift trainers Courtney Prather and Alicia Marie give you the top three reasons why you should do consistent lower body workouts.

30 Day Butt Lift Workout Plan

The BeFiT 30 Day Butt Lift Workout Plan utilizes workouts to firm your glutes and legs, strengthen your abs and core, and help you sculpt a strong and sexy body.

Actress Nikki Limo who you know from How I Met Your Mother and 90210 will be uploading workout diaries every Friday to detail her own experience as she goes through the month long workout program.

There’s even a 30 Day Butt Lift Work Out Calendar you can download to keep you on track.  Check it out here.

Ready to get started?  Below are the links to the workouts for Week 1:

Day 1– Butt Workout 1: Tone Up | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmcLB9ObdOM (Preview)

Day 2– Butt Workout Cardio 1: Bootcamp | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUZuKIUXcYg (Preview)

Day 3– Butt Workout 2: Booty Booster | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFJt322szc4 (Preview)

Day 4– Rest Day- Consider making a healthy grocery run

Day 5– Butt Workout 3: Firm Extreme | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssMiQX0XyZ8 (Preview)

Day 6– Butt Workout Cardio 2: Fat-Burning | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2BaSmw3CTE (Preview)

Day 7– Butt Workout 4: Dance Fit | 30 DAY BUTT LIFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCrm1SC7YiM (Preview)

By doing these short workouts each day you can head into the New Year lean and fit and won’t have the traditional one to five pounds of holiday weight to lose.

For other Be Fit workouts go to http://www.youtube.com/user/BeFit.

Don’t forget to share the butt workout with your friends and co-workers.  You could even invite them to join you in a 30 day butt workout challenge!

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Quick and Easy Garlic Spinach Recipe

For many people, spinach is one of those vegetables that you remember being fed as a child.  You might remember that you didn’t like it. What’s more you never believed that Popeye got his big muscles from eating it.

The spinach you ate as a child was probably poured out a can and heated on the stove.  It may have been over- processed and contained a large amount of salt.  But fresh spinach is so different from its canned counterpart that you can put the two side-by-die and they don’t look like the same vegetable.

Organic Spinach

 Why Spinach?

Spinach is a food that, pound for pound, supplies you with more nutrients than any other food. Spinach has an abundance of phytonutrients and flavonoids, both powerful antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and lower the risk for cancer and chronic disease.

One serving (1 cup cooked) of the green, leafy vegetable will provide you with 1110.6% of your daily value for vitamin K; 377.3% for vitamin A; 84% for manganese; 65.7% for folate.  It’s also rich in iron (35.7%); vitamin C (29.4%); vitamin B2 (24.7%) and calcium (24.4%).  Plus it has generous amounts of potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin E and fiber.

One of the most popular ways to use spinach is in fresh salads.  Buying fresh pre-cleaned spinach in the bags or cartons makes salad creations easy.  But a little spinach goes a long way in a salad so you may need to find some other ways to prepare it.

For variety, here’s a super-quick garlic spinach recipe that takes 10 minutes to prepare.  It calls for a full bag of spinach which cooks down to about two servings, so keep that in mind and plan accordingly.

Garlic Spinach Recipe

Ingredients:

1 bag of pre-washed spinach (I started with a 9 oz bag.)
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

Mince garlic cloves.

Garlic

Simmer the garlic in olive oil until lightly brown.

Olive Oil & Garlic

Add spinach to the garlic and oil.  Simmer on low, stirring occasionally until the spinach is wilted and warm.

Spinach

Serve warm as a side dish.

Garlic Spinach

 

Beyond salads and sautees’, a cup or two of fresh spinach is a great addition to any smoothie and can be added to pasta dishes and soups for extra flavor and a nutritional punch.

For a delicious green smoothie recipe, click here.

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Light Recipes, A Bootie Challenge and a Pop Song Mashup. It’s Friday I’m in [Link] Love

It’s been awhile since I’ve indulged in a link love Friday post.  I do love link posts and love Friday even more so today I’m sharing the love and enjoying both.

Link-Love2

Here we go:

1.  8 Light Recipes to Help You Eat Right After Thanksgiving – Que Rica Vida has eight light recipes to help you with your post-Thanksgiving detox program.  If you feel you’ve already successfully recovered from your Thanksgiving feast you could try incorporating these light dishes into your meal plans over the next couple of weeks to keep your calories under control through the holidays. Check out the recipes here .

2. The Restart Project – Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracy Anderson have teamed up on a new web series called “The Restart Project”.  The first show premieres on AOL on Monday, December 16.  The ‘project’ shares inspirational stories from women that have transformed their lives through diet and exercise to reach their goals.  You can watch a trailer of The Restart Project here.

3. Glute, Butt, Bootie Challenge – I posted an article a couple of weeks ago that linked readers to some crazy hard burpee challenges.  Here’s a glute, butt and bootie challenge at Skinny Ms.com that was created by Gale Compton who is a nationally certified fitness instructor.  How hard is the challenge?  The first clue is Day One starts out with a set of 100 squats.  The article includes some videos that demonstrate the exercises done in the challenge. Check it out here.

4. World Wide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2014 – Each year the American College of Sports Medicine puts out a list of what they predict will be the most popular fitness programs in the upcoming year.  This year HIIT workouts top the list with body weight training coming in at a close second.  Boot camp held on to the #20 spot.  Zumba, Pilates and spinning dropped off of the list. For the top 20 trends click here.

5. Caroline Berg Eriksen, Fitness Blogger, Under Fire For Post-Baby Underwear Selfie – Caroline is the new mommy that’s being hated on for posting an underwear selfie where she looks fit and trim four days after giving birth. Back in October Maria Kang posted a picture of her fit bikini clad body with her three boys and a caption that said “What’s Your Excuse?”.  Both women are being accused of shaming overweight mothers and have angered many people.  What do you think?  Is Caroline’s picture offensive?  You can view her picture here.

Pop Danthology Mash-Up – Just for fun, here’s a link to a mash-up of 68 of the most popular songs of 2013 with their original music videos.  It’s good for five minutes of entertainment and you might get some ideas for your workout playlist that you missed.  After all, doesn’t everybody want to be a rock star? Sing along here.

Happy Friday!

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Five Ways To Re-Energize Without Extreme Caffeine

Along with Black Friday and the post-Thanksgiving shopping marathon came a rise in the consumption of energy drinks.  Many people felt that the way to power through 12-hour shopping blitz starting at midnight on Thanksgiving night was with Red Bull, Monster and Rock Star.

But pushing your physical limits through the use of highly caffeinated energy drinks can have a detrimental effect on your heart by increasing the heart’s contraction.   A recent study done by researchers from the University of Bonn found that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility even in healthy people.

Energy Drinks

Popular highly caffeinated energy drinks. (Flickr photo by Au Kirk)

More Caffeine Research

For the study researchers recruited 18 healthy people.  There were 15 men and three women with an average age of 27.5 years.  The participants underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging both before and after drinking an energy drink that contained 21 milligrams/100milliliters of caffeine, and  411 milligrams/100milliliters of taurine.

An hour after consuming the caffeinated beverages, the participants underwent cardiac MRI to see what, if any, effect the drink had on their heart. The researchers found that all participants’ hearts had increased contraction rates, which was indicated by increased peak systolic strain in the heart’s left ventricle.

The study did not find that the energy drinks had any impact on blood pressure, heart rate or ejection of blood from the left ventricle.  However, previous studies cited by the American Heart Associated have found that energy drink consumption does seem to increase systolic blood pressure and has a negative impact on the electrical wave in the heart which can increase the risk for dangerous arrhythmia.

If the up-tick in energy drink consumption on Black Friday and the remainder of the Thanksgiving weekend is an indicator, people will be relying on extreme caffeine to get them through the remainder of the holiday season.

Re-energizing Without Mega-Doses of Caffeine

We already know that the holidays are one of – if not the – most stressful time of the year.  It’s a time when we find we’re under pressure to get more done than is often physically possible.  Excessive holiday fatigue comes from too much decorating, shopping and wrapping plus additional social activities, programs at school, carry-ins at work, and no time to exercise.

Top it off with an over-dose of caffeine and you have the recipe for a physical, mental, and emotional melt-down.

There are some ways to keep you energy levels at peak without the help of a 5 Hour Energy drink.

  • Exercise – As little as 15 to 20 minutes of low-impact physical activity every day will help you feel more energetic.  Even if you don’t have time for an hour long spin class or CrossFit session, 15 minutes of yoga or a brisk walk will lower your stress and improve your outlook.
  • Power Nap – A 20 minute power nap before you hit the mall for an evening of shopping can go a long way to reduce your fatigue.  The National Sleep Foundation says that a 20-30 minute nap will increase alertness, enhance performance, and provide an easy to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.  Think you don’t have time for a nap?  In the end,it will pay dividends in productivity.
  • Avoid Sugar – Sugar is a lot like caffeine.  A sugary snack or drink may seem like a good idea for a pick-me-up, but the results are short term.  Once the sugar is out of your blood stream, you’ll fine you’re headed for a crash and will be searching for the next fix to keep you going.  For optimum energy levels, choose healthy, high-protein snacks like peanut butter on apple slices, plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries, or mini peppers dipped in hummus.
  • Drink Water – Studies have found that borderline dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue.  If your water levels are low you’ll feel tired and lethargic.  Instead of reaching for a caffeinated beverage when you’re tired, make your own jug of smart water and take it with you when you go shopping.
  • Stay Positive – Lack of sleep and exercise along with holiday stress and too much caffeine can be the perfect storm for a negative, self-defeating mood.  It’s important to remember that the holidays should be both thoughtful and joyful.  Being in the moment is a great way to keep the repetitive negative thought patterns at bay.

You don’t have to go caffeine free.  A regular cup of java or Chai tea can help you get through a slump without any negative effects. In fact, there are health benefits to both coffee and tea in moderation. It’s the super-caffeinated commercial beverages that are bad put a strain on your heart and overwork your nervous system that you should avoid.

What do you do to re-energize during the holidays?

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Motivation For Your Monday

It’s Monday.  The day most of us dread more than any other day of the week. Some of us, me included, make the decision to just ‘get through’ Monday most of the time.  But if you think about it, what that means is we are making a decision to give less than 100% of our effort and energy one-seventh of the time.

Don’t resign yourself to the Monday blahs. Make it a goal to embrace Monday and your week will get off to a better start.

Here’s a short Monday motivational slideshow I’ve created for you.

Enjoy!

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