Monthly Archives: February 2015

Bulk Up in your Living Room

fitness man exercising push ups smiling happy.When you think of someone who has bulky muscles, you might picture some meat head in the gym, lifting huge weights and drinking red bull. Although this may be the case for some bulked up jocks, there are several ways you can increase the size of your muscles. You don’t need a gym membership, a weight bench, or a set of dumbbells to get the job done. Everything you need can be found in your living room. Here are 5 Muscle Toning Exercises you can do with nothing but your own body weight:

1. Standard Push Ups – Make sure you keep your back straight and feet close together.

2. Moving Push Ups – Each time you lower down and back up again, move to one side with both your hands and feet. Do three in one direction, then do three back the other direction.

3. Jack Push Ups – Each time you lower down and back again, jump your feet out and in like you’re doing a jumping jack.

4. V Push Ups – Get in push up position, then walk your feet towards your hands until your body makes a V shape. Lower down like a push up to work your shoulders.


5. Tricep Dips – Your hands can be on the floor or on a couch/chair. Alternate raising one leg in the air for a harder workout.




EXERCISE 3 Days A Week

Two attractive female jogging together on beautiful morning.So far this month we’ve covered eating less sugar, owning up to fitness, and eating more veggies. For the last installment of our L.O.V.E. month, we are going to talk about EXERCISE. One of the best ways to keep your body healthy and happy is to exercise regularly. Don’t get scared off when you hear the word exercise, because it’s not as scary as it may sound. You can exercise your body doing countless things that are fun and already part of your day.

If you take your dog for a walk, jog for part of the time. If you go shopping at the mall, park really far away from the entrance. Take the stairs any chance you get. When you watch TV, do push ups, crunches and tricep dips during commercials. These are a few examples of how you can fit exercise into your day without much effort.

Beyond this, it would be great if you set aside at least 30 minutes, 3 days a week for dedicated exercise time. You could go for a brisk walk or jog, do an exercise DVD in your living room, or go for a bike ride. Each time you exercise, record it on the Diet Tools Exercise Tracker to see just how many calories you burned. Over time, this will become a habit and you’ll start to see weight loss results. Better yet, you’ll be good on the inside and feel more love for yourself.

Motivation Monday: My Favorite Veggie Recipes

Happy Monday! I had a hard time just picking one of the challenges for this month. So while I have been working on eating less sugar, I have also been adding more vegetables to my diet. One way I do this is by making sure I always have some kind of vegetable side with my dinner. However, I love main dishes where the bulk of the meal is vegetables. If it weren’t for my husband I would probably only have a meal with meat two times a week. In fact last night I made this Tortellini Soup which is a wonderful blend of Italian spices, tomatoes and your classic noodle soup vegetables. The flavor is wonderful, but my husband said, “It’s missing something…meat.” Sigh…it did not need meat to be delish. So we compromise, and I cook with meat more than just two times a week, but we also have a few meatless meals as well.

This Monday I wanted to share with you some of my favorite vegetable recipes. Some of these are meatless and some of them are not, but all of them will add veggies into your diet.

Bean Salad - I love this salad. It makes enough to feed a crowd and has wonderful flavors. I like to pull it out for summer cookouts instead of macaroni or potato salad. It’s full of vegetables and easy to make.

Spaghetti Squash with Grilled Chicken and Sun-dried tomatoes - This recipe replaces pasta with spaghetti squash. With peas, broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes added to that, it is a veggie filled main dish.

Grilled Vegetable Stuffed Baked Potatoes - If you are a baked potato enthusiast, I highly recommend these baked potatoes. Rather than loading them with sour cream, cheese and butter, they are stuffed with a mixture of chicken sausage, mushrooms, squash, onion, tomatoes and bell pepper!

Greek Turkey Burgers from Budget Bytes

Greek Turkey Burgers from Budget Bytes

Greek Turkey Burgers - These turkey burgers have spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and onion cooked right into the patties. They are hearty without being too heavy and the spinach isn’t overbearing.  My four and six-year-old eat them with gusto, and they aren’t the biggest spinach fans. They’re topped with cucumber and a dill lemon sauce. Your taste buds will thank you.

Hopefully one of these veggie filled meals will make it to your table this week! Go on… you know you want to add more vegetables to your diet now!


Orzo Arugula Pasta Salad

I love a good pasta salad. This Orzo Arugula Pasta Salad was fresh and had an original flavor compared to most pasta salads. Instead of mayo or Italian dressing, the pasta and vegetables are lightly coated with a orange and honey dressing. The hint of the flavor is just barely there and does not distract from the bold flavors of the olives (I used Kalamata), Feta cheese and red pepper.

orzo arugula pasta salad

Another great thing about this recipe is that it comes together in a breeze. There was hardly any chopping of vegetables involved and the orzo cooks up quickly. It serves as a great side dish because it comes together so easily. We ate ours with Greek Turkey Burgers, and it was a great compliment. My family loved the pasta salad.

I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day and because the dressing is so light, the arugula wasn’t wilted and the pasta wasn’t mushy. I love that!

VEGGIES GALORE: Eat your heart out!

Salad PlateWhen it comes to dieting, it’s extremely common to think about calories, plan your calories, and track your calories. Knowing how many calories are going into your body can help you figure out the best way to lose, gain, or maintain weight. This month we’re focusing on different ways you can love your body, and one of the best ways is to eat more veggies. They are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and contain very few calories. Vegetables do vary in calories, but for the most part, you can eat veggies to your heart’s content and still lose weight. Below is a short list of the calories found in one cup of some popular vegetables:

Spinach: 7

Broccoli: 31

Green Peppers: 30

Tomatoes: 32

Carrots: 52

Asparagus: 27

Celery: 14

Zucchini: 20

If you want to know how many calories are in the food you eat, enter them in our Calorie Counter. This will allow you to choose food items and recipes that are full of healthy vegetables. Might I also recommend you branch out and try new vegetables you may never have tried before. You just may be surprised by how delicious they can be.


Motivation Monday: Motivate Movement

The big question to think about today: What motivates you to work out?

colored runner

I’ve found that in different seasons of my life, I have had different motives for working out. In high school, I was motivated by social opportunities to participate in fitness with my friends. In college my motivation was to not gain the freshman fifteen. I chose to workout regularly and keep my body healthy so that my mind would be more focused. When I was first married, my main motivation was to fill up time. I was out of school and in the work force, but still had a lot of time on my hands. Yoga and Pilates seemed like good time fillers. After my second child was born, I exercised to bring strength and muscle weight back to my body. Life got busier. I found that having a specific goal at this time was the most beneficial in helping me stay motivated to exercise. When I couldn’t seem to find the motivation anymore to exercise regularly, I decided to sign up for a 5k. Preparing for that provided great motivation for me. It got me out on the track multiple times a week.

I want to know what you do to stay motivated when you get into a fitness rut. Share with us because it just may be the motivation tactic that someone else needs to get moving!

Happy Monday!

The Best Asian Noodle Bowl Ever!

bok choy tofu noodle bowl-2I am such a fan of Asian food! There’s something so amazing about the way flavors, herbs, textures and spices are combined that make me want to eat Asian food every day. There is a huge variety of food that’s included in this type of cuisine, and I have done my best to try dishes from all over Asia, including some unforgettable food I had while visiting Hong Kong. Just thinking about some of the food I tried over there makes me want to drool, so I better get back to the topic at hand. Today I want to share a recipe I found that makes the best noodle bowl I have ever had.

If you’ve ever had Pho, you know what it’s like to have a large bowl filled with noodles, broth, veggies, meat and fresh herbs. The combination is simply divine. This dish doesn’t have as much broth as most Pho, but it has just at much flavor. The dish starts with freshly cooked udon noodles, which provide a creamy, slightly salty base for what comes next. Firm tofu is browned to perfection and placed on top of the noodles. Next you saute fresh baby bok choy in a mixture of freshly ground ginger and garlic until it wilts. This simple seasoned bok choy is what makes this dish unforgettable.

Top this all with some savory broth and fresh green onions for a meal that is incredibly flavorful, but also simple as well so you can taste each flavor individually. I have made this countless times and it always comes out just right. If you’ve never tried bok choy, I highly recommend it! It’s like spinach but sweeter and with a watery, crunchy end. I hope you enjoy this noodle bowl as much as I have!


OWN Up To Fitness: Utilize Your Online Journal

Business woman typing on keyboardIf you want to find success in life, you need to hold yourself accountable for your decisions. You need to decide on goals, follow through with them, and record where you succeeded and where you failed. Completing this entire process is necessary for continued success. If you want to succeed with weight loss, you need to own up to your fitness goals. One of the best ways to do this is to keep a journal.

Writing regularly in a journal allows you to express how you feel, brag about your accomplishments, and vent your frustrations. With all the ups and downs that go along with trying to lose weight, having this available to dump on, without any risk of judgement or criticism is crucial. It’s like a best friend that never talks back or gives you confused or disappointed looks.

This month, make it a goal to start writing in a journal. Write on good days, on bad days, when you’re frustrated, after you accomplish something really hard, or when you just need to vent. At the end of the month read all your entries and it might help you get a better view of where you were, where you are, and where you want to be.

Motivation Monday: Seeing Sugar

Happy Monday! How many of you chose the challenge to “Eat Less Sugar” this month? How did it go last week? I am a very visual person. Sometimes it can be difficult for me to make a decision about what to eat just by looking at a food or reading a label and trying to understand how much sugar really is in that food.

sugar cube food sweet

 I came across a website called Sugar Stacks that shows pictures of common foods next to a stack of sugar cubes that shows just how much sugar is in that food. If you need some motivation to eat less sugar, just pop on over to that site. It is a whole lot easier to put a hold on that syrup you were going to put on your healthy whole wheat pancake when you imagine sprinkling 7 sugar cubes on top of it instead. Go take a look and tell me all about how you’re going to eat less sugar now.

One Step At A Time

Running - male runner closeupBuilding up your endurance is something that takes time. It doesn’t just happen overnight. I speak from experience when I tell you this. I went from never running at all, to running a half marathon in a matter of a few years. If you had told me back then that I would be able to run for 2 1/2 hours straight, I would have laughed in your face. Luckily, I kept with it, and little by little was able to build up my muscles and endurance to make it possible.

For me, the secret was to focus on one small step at a time. I started on a treadmill just walking uphill. Then I began to run on the treadmill for a few minutes at a time until I was able to run for an entire mile without stopping. My next goal was to be able to run a 5K, which I did about 6 months later with the help of a good friend. Once I was able to run 3 miles, 6 didn’t seem so bad, so my husband and I trained to do a 10K together. After that was done, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I kept reading online that if you could run 6 miles, you could run 13 miles, but I wasn’t so sure.

I decided it was now or never. I found a 12 week training program, signed up for a half marathon and started training. As I started being able to run 7, 8, 9 and 10 miles I realized my body was building up the endurance it needed to finish the race. As I crossed the finish line, I was sore and tired, but thrilled at my accomplishment. An overweight 30 something mom like myself had done something seemingly impossible just a few years ago.

As I look back on it, I am grateful that I didn’t give up, and that I forced myself to look just one step ahead, and not at the daunting task I would face in the end. Whatever your endurance challenge is, take it one step at a time, and in time you will reach your goal.