It’s January and that means New Year’s resolutions are in full effect! Many of us have resolutions to become healthier and fit. To help stay on track for the whole year rather than just the gung ho kick off in January, create an inspiration board that is all YOU! Every time you look at it you will be reminded of your goals and that a lot of small changes add up to big changes. This is my inspiration board.
Here are some easy tips for designing yours:
- Look through magazines and online for images, quotes and power words that speak to you
- Don’t make your board too wordy and busy, aim to keep it crisp and clean so that every time you look at it the messages are crystal clear and easily identified
- Place your board in a spot where you will see it often without having to go digging it out (i.e., on your refrigerator door, in a frame on your coffee table, over your kitchen sink or in your workout area at home)
- If you use Pinterest or other similar online pinning sites, you can create your board there, save it as a PDF and then print it out to place it in your “go to” spot around the house.
- A cork board can be used to tack images to; the advantage to this is that you can constantly be adding new inspirations to your board. Or stick to the basics and all you need is a sheet of paper and some tape or glue stick, and scissors!
Get creative with it and make it meaningful to YOU; because YOU are the one who will be making daily choices that help you stay on track with your resolutions. Have fun with it and stay motivated…pretty soon you’ll be adding a photo of yourself looking smoking hot in your bikini onto that inspiration board!
Our bones remain strong throughout young adulthood. As we hit middle age, they slowly begin to thin out. In women, this process speeds up after menopause, but there are ways to halt it. One line of defense is your diet and exercise, eating the right foods, exercising on a regular basis and eliminating certain risk factors that you can control, can give you the maximum peak bone mass and boost your bone density at any age.
Be sure to include these items in your daily arsenal in helping to prevent osteoporosis:
- Yogurt and Cheese
- Greens (the greener the better…think collard greens, kale, spinach)
- Fortified Foods
- Calcium Supplements
- Soy Foods
- Nuts and Seeds
- Vitamin D Supplements (if you can’t get more sunshine like here in New England winters!)
- Weight Bearing Exercise (this is a biggy, perform exercises using your own body weight as well as exercises using external weight (dumbbells, med balls, kettlebells, etc.)
Here are two big NO NO’s.
Using a lot of salt on your foods
Although osteoporosis can be hereditary, there are steps we can take to help raise your chances of not developing it. If it does run in your family, tell your doctor you want to have a bone density scan and Vitamin D level testing done. This can help catch it early and you can begin taking steps to stop it from worsening. Our mom has osteoporosis so we have to be diligent in trying to prevent it. By making mindful, daily choices and eliminating as many risk factors that we have control over, we can lower our risks as we age.
Every time you eat, instead of Bon Appétit, think BonE Appétit!
Sometimes technology can be a tad bit overwhelming, there are so many gadgets and gizmos out there to aid us in virtually every aspect of our lives (most of which children under the age of 6 all seem to be able to use better than us adults)!
My favorite technology when it comes to fitness and diet is called MyFitnessPal. You can log in from your computer or add it as an app on your smartphone; and it’s FREE. Want to lose 5lbs? Plug your stats and weight loss goals into the program and away you go! The app logs your daily food intake along with exercise to keep you on track, providing you with a net calorie amount. For added convenience, you can scan in many food items with your phone directly into the food log. The program also keeps a record of foods you frequently enter, so you don’t have to retype food items in.
It also allows you to connect with your friends who are on MyFitnessPal, you can comment on your friends’ daily activities and updates (think Facebook newsfeed). This community feature helps keep you motivated and on track. If you are a new mom and are breastfeeding you can simply add in “breastfeeding” under your daily food log and voila..it shows up as a negative calorie reading; now who doesn’t love that?! Walk your dog or clean your house today? Add it as an activity into MyFitnessPal and it will factor in the calorie burn.
Technology never looked so good!
The Fall season means pumpkins and squash! Here is a recipe for a spinach and ground turkey stuffed buttercup squash that is out of this world while being super healthy for you! You could also make this vegetarian by not adding the ground turkey.
The flavor of the buttercup squash’s flesh is sweet and nutty, with a creamy consistency more in line with that of a baked sweet potato than a pumpkin, which tends to be more fibrous and watery by comparison. This type of squash is a powerhouse of nutrients. A 0.5 cup (100 gram) serving contains fewer than 50 calories and little if any fat, but it is loaded with vitamins A, B, and C, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It also provides protein and fiber.
Makes 4 servings
2 buttercup squash, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 pound ground turkey meat
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup white wine
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, completely thawed, drained and chopped
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons Italian Style Breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
Generous pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut each squash in half and scoop out the seeds. If necessary in order for the squash to sit upright, cut off a small portion of the bottom. Put 1 of the 4 pieces of butter in the cavity of each squash. Set squash on a sheet pan spayed with olive oil. Fill the bottom of the pan with water. Set aside.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, brown the ground turkey until no longer pink. Remove the meat from the pan, add the olive oil and saute the onion, celery, mushrooms, and carrot until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.
Return the turkey meat to the pan along with the spinach, pine nuts, oregano, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper, to taste. Stirring constantly, heat mixture thoroughly, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Divide the mixture evenly among the squash and bake for 1 hour or until the squash is tender. Drizzle a bit of maple syrup over squash and serve immediately.
Getting more sleep is something that is a work in progress for me, I find it difficult to get to bed before 11pm, but am working on it! There are MANY different reasons why we all should be trying to hit the hay early enough to give us 8 hours of uninterrupted Zzzzs. The average American adult does not achieve even 7 hours of sleep per night.
Some food for thought:
- Getting eight hours of sleep at night helps you lower the cortisol levels in your blood, while lack of sleep raises your cortisol levels. Higher levels of cortisol lead to a lower metabolism. Breaking protein down into glucose is stimulated by cortisol. If you have too much glucose in your body, it will get stored as fat. On top of this, cortisol interferes with your body’s ability to build muscle mass.
- Increases in leptin (an appetite suppressor) and decreases in grehlin (appetite stimulant) occur in sleep.
- Growth hormone is released during deep sleep and is important in the repair of cells and tissues.
Regular exercise is a way to help achieve a good night’s sleep. Vigorous exercisers tend to have the best sleep and fewer sleep problems. Even if your mind is racing with to-do lists, a physically tired out body will put you right to sleep.
So, DVR some of those favorite TV shows and give yourself the benefit of getting your 8 hours of sleep each night, your body and brain will thank you!
When I think of watermelon I think of summer and all of the fun, beach days, and laughter that go along with it. This juicy fruit is packed full of nutrition, provides great hydration benefits, and is low in fat. Watermelons are an excellent source of several vitamins: vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health and is an antioxidant; vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system, heal wounds, prevent cell damage, promote healthy teeth and gums; and vitamin B6, which helps brain function and helps convert protein to energy. This power fruit is beneficial to the skin and aids in the regenerative process. Watermelon has the highest concentrations of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant hat helps fight heart disease and several types of cancer. It is also a great source of potassium, which helps muscle and nerve function, helps maintain the body’s proper electrolyte and acid-base balance, and helps lower the risk of high blood pressure. Watermelon contains the amino acids citrulline and arginine, which can help maintain arteries, blood flow and overall cardiovascular function. Along with all of these benefits, eating watermelon can aid in reducing weight as 1 cup of diced watermelon has only 46 calories.
Alone or in a fruit salad are the most common ways many of us eat watermelon. One recipe that combines a touch of salty with the sweetness of the fruit is watermelon mint feta salad. I make this all the time in the summer and is great at summer BBQs as a side salad or as a dessert option. I also eat it as a mid-afternoon snack to tide me over until dinner. This recipe is fast and easy to make:
Watermelon Mint Feta Salad
• Dice up fresh watermelon into bite-sized chunks (you can buy the pre-sliced kind if you are really short on time)
• Add a couple of tablespoons of reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese
• Chop up fresh mint leaves and sprinkle into the salad
• Shake well in a container and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve
With so many benefits watermelon offers, we should all add this wonder fruit into our diets on a consistent basis. There are fresh watermelons galore in the grocery stores throughout the summer so pick one up ASAP and get wild for watermelon!
We all know that cardio burns calories and can be quick and relatively easy and convenient to perform (i.e., hopping on the elliptical machine or heading outside for a run). But, cardio alone will not give you that toned, fit and strong physique we all strive for. The ideal fitness program should incorporate cardio and strength straining. Below is the skinny on strength training.
Strength training revvs up your metabolism
As your lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism and you burn more calories all day long. This is especially important as we get older and our metabolism begins to slow and muscle mass is lost.
You will NOT bulk up into a female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger!
Researchers have found that unlike men, women typically don’t gain size (aka “bulk up”) from strength training, because compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy (increase in muscle size). You will, however, develop muscle tone and definition.
You will decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis and prevent injury
Research has found that strength training over a period of time can help prevent bone loss — and may even help build new bone. This, coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, can be a women’s best defense against osteoporosis.
Strength training not only builds stronger muscles, but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury.
Ladies, you must hit the weights; do not be afraid! Your body will thank you from the inside out!
Running with the kiddos in a stroller…sound like a big hassle and production?! Not at all, with a little planning and the right stroller, it can be simple. It keeps you active and gets you out of the house at a time in your life when things may be hectic and you feel like exercise time for yourself can be hard to find. Running with a stroller is a tougher workout, the weight of the stroller and your child in it will make for a slower pace but that extra weight you are pushing amps up your total calorie burn. Many runners find they are anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds per mile slower when jogging with a stroller, especially a double stroller.
Be armed with snacks, juice, water, and a couple of toys/books, stashed inside the compartments of your stroller. And as most moms know, nowadays hand-held electronics are highly entertaining to kids as well. You may want to coordinate your runs around nap time when they are more apt to be sleepy and doze off.
Not sure which stroller to buy for hitting the pavement or trails? This is a great guide to the world of running strollers.
Kids generally enjoy being outside and seeing new things. They just sit back and enjoy the ride! Not only are you getting great exercise for yourself while spending time with your little one(s), you are also setting a good example for your child on the importance on staying active and healthy!
Summer is right around the corner and a sculpted, strong back is the best accessory to go with that favorite tank top, swim suit or sun dress. Here are some exercises to build the muscles of the back for that sleek and fit look!
1) Dumbbell bent over row
Kneel over side of bench by placing knee and hand of supporting arm on bench. Position foot of opposite leg slightly back to side. Grasp dumbbell from floor.
Pull dumbbell up until it makes contact with ribs or until upper arm is just beyond horizontal. Return until arm is extended and shoulder is stretched downward. Repeat for a set of 12 to 15 repetitions per side. Complete 2-3 sets per side.
*Torso should be close to horizontal. Positioning supporting knee and/or arm slightly forward or back will allow for proper levelling of torso.
2) Dumbbell lying row
Lie chest down on elevated bench. Grasp dumbbells below.
Pull dumbbells to sides until upper arm is just beyond horizontal or height of back. Return until arms are extended and shoulders are stretched downward. Repeat.
*Bench should be high enough to allow shoulders to stretch forward without dumbbells hitting floor.
Repeat for a set of 12 to 15 repetitions. Complete 2-3 sets.
3) Resistance band seated row
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Secure the band around the bottoms of your feet and hold on to either end of the band.
Sit up nice and tall with your shoulders over your hips.
Keep your arms in a neutral position, with your elbows slightly bent. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale, pull the band back and bend your elbows behind you. Try not to move your torso, since you’re trying to target your upper back and arms in this exercise. Focus on making your movements slow and with control. This is one repetition.
Repeat for a set of 12 to 15 repetitions. Complete 2-3 sets.
4) Rear lateral raise
Grab a pair of dumbbells and bend forward at your hips until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang straight down from your shoulders, your palms facing each other. Without moving your torso, raise your arms straight out to the sides until they’re in line with your body. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Complete 12 reps. 2-3 sets.