Monthly Archives: July 2015

6 Easy No-Cook Desserts

Chocolate parfaitThe heat is on and so is the air conditioning. What happens when it’s extremely hot and you crave a sweet dessert? You definitely don’t want to turn the oven on, so what are your options? You could grab a popsicle from the fridge, but that doesn’t always cut it. How about making a no-cook dessert that won’t heat up your house? Here are 6 easy to make no-cook desserts you’ll absolutely love!

1. Chocolate Vanilla Yogurt Parfait: The crunch of the Oreo cookies and creamy yogurt will make anyone happy.

2. Strawberry-Lemon Jello Dessert: The Strawberry and Lemon flavor mixed with pineapples, marshmallows and and cream cheese make this salad irresistible.

3. Vegan Peanut Butter Fudge:  This sweet chewy fudge is made with sugar, peanut butter and vegan margarine.

4. Raw Chocolate Pudding: With just some avocados, bananas, soy milk, cocoa, nectar, and lemon juice you can make a home made raw chocolate pudding.

5. Shot Glass Blueberry Crumble: It’s enough to satisfy your sugary cravings but not enough to upset your healthy balance.

6. Chocolate Gelato Shake: Using Gelato will give you a delicious ice cream shake with 1/2 the calories and fat of using ice cream.

 

3 Yoga Stretches for a Better Run

hand of  woman meditating in a yoga pose on beachDid you know that yoga can help you become a better runner? It might sound like a strange idea, but it’s definitely true. When you run, your muscles work very hard, and often times tighten up. Without proper stretching, these muscles can remain tight, causing cramping, pain, or possible injury. Stretching before and after a run will keep your muscles loose and agile to make your run easier.

Yoga is particularly great for stretching your auxiliary muscles. It is best to stretch before and after a run, although afterward your muscles will be warmed up and more flexible. If you run regularly, try incorporating these three yoga stretches to see how much they enhance your running performance.

1. Bound Angle Pose: Great for loosening up your inner thigh muscles.

2. Triangle Pose: Stretches your hamstrings and inner thigh muscles.

3. Upward Facing Dog: Awesome for opening up your hip flexor muscles.

Everything Yoga: Relax and Unwind

Two beautiful young women doing yoga class in nature.One aspect of yoga that we haven’t spoken much about this month is it’s benefits that come from relaxation. Yoga is great for toning, flexibility and balance, but in terms of fitness, relaxation can have it’s place as well.

A few years ago I began doing relaxation yoga right before bed. The routine that I worked through aligned my body and helped me to feel lighter and clearer. By the end of the workout I felt peaceful and ready to sleep. My husband went through a stress filled time at work and wasn’t sleeping well. I suggested one evening that he should try the relaxation yoga with me. He was hesitant, and I had to persuade him for a week before he would do a yoga routine for relaxation.

It started out rough. We laughed at ourselves as we listened to each other breathe like Darth Vader. However, as we got further into the different poses we became less aware of each other and more aware of our own bodies. We were able to stretch through and release tension we had both been holding onto due to everyday stresses, poor posture and muscle strain from other forms of exercise. When all was said and done my husband commented how he felt lighter and that slouching didn’t even seem comfortable. We went to bed that night and sleep deeply.

Making place for relaxation and meditation in your life opens up doors for better fitness. Through yoga you are able to stretch the muscles that you have used during your workouts, you can clear your body and mind of impurities, and even feel more rested so you have more energy to exercise.

Can your Mind Affect the Health of your Body?

Healthy concept, Spirit, Body and MindWe focus so much on eating nutritious food and exercising regularly in order to stay healthy, but is there more to it we don’t understand? Can the thoughts you experience and your emotions affect how healthy you are? The current research suggests a very viable mind/body connection when it comes to health and longevity. When you experience changes in your life, whether good or bad, your body has physical reactions. These changes in your body can result in better or worse physical health. Here is a short list of possible physical reactions:

1. Back, head or chest pain

2. Change in appetite, upset stomach, constipation or diarrhea

3. Insomnia, extreme tiredness or light headedness

4. High blood pressure, stiff  neck or sweating

5. Dry mouth or weight gain

If you have gone through recent changes and are experiencing any of these problems, you might want to take a look at your emotional health. Poor emotional health can weaken your immune system, causing your body to have more physical problems. If this sounds familiar, we suggest you work on ways to clear your mind and relax. Here are 7 powerful relaxation techniques you can try that will help you slow down, breath deeper, and hopefully relieve some of the stress you may be feeling. In time, your emotional health can help your physical health to improve.

Yoga for your Pregnant Body

Pregnant woman relax doing yoga over whiteWhen you’re pregnant, it’s important to stay in shape for your own health, and the health of your baby. One of the best ways to do this is through yoga. It’s the type of exercise that can strengthen your muscles, burn calories, keep you flexible, and prepare you for delivering your baby. There is a large amount of research supporting the benefits of yoga throughout pregnancy. One of the biggest benefits is teaching your body to relax and focus on breathing.

Think about it for a second. When you’re giving birth you need to be strong, calm and in tune with your body. These are the three main cornerstones of yoga. As you do each pose, you work a specific muscle group while concentrating on proper breathing. This is exactly what you will do in the delivery room. Doing regular yoga workouts is great prep for the big day.

If you have only a few minutes to spare, try this 10 Minute Pregnancy Yoga Workout.  You can do it at home, in your living room, or even at the park. With a little exercise each day, you can have a very health pregnancy and baby.

Everything Yoga: Yoga with Your Children

Young woman and little girl engaged in fitness outdoor on terrace

Happy Monday! If you are wanting a workout you can do with your children, yoga is a great option. Yoga focuses on flexibility which most children are already pretty good at. Practicing yoga at a young age will help them stay flexible and teach them how to stretch as they grow. Yoga also requires balance which can be fun for kids. Asking them to try and balance on one leg like a tree allows them to use their imagination while they do yoga. Allowing your child to use their imagination while doing yoga will make the workout seem like play to them.

My little ones love to join in on yoga sessions with me every now and then. They don’t have yoga mats, but they love to go grab a towel and lay it out on the floor as their “mat.” For them it is fun to pretend to be a clam when we’re doing child’s pose or a snake when we do a cobra pose. In fact, after my last baby I broke my tailbone and couldn’t work out for a couple of months. My kids missed doing yoga and asked me to tell them different poses they could do one morning. It really is a fun way to spend time together. If you want to try yoga with your little ones, but aren’t sure where to start, try our Kids Yoga Workout.

8 Things You Should Know About Vegans

Vegan food design.When you hear the word vegan, what do you think? Do you envision hippy loving, tye dye wearing bohemians that live on nothing but nuts, berries and tofu? Or do you think of uptight yuppies that claim to be vegetarians because they get more attention from friends and strangers? Before I became a mostly vegan individual, these are some of the images I conjured up, but as I looked more into the idea of vegan cuisine, I realized it was much more complicated than I thought. The reasons why people choose to become vegans is very diverse, as are the types of food vegans like to eat. Here are 8 things I’ve discovered about vegans that I think you should know.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Vegans choose to become so for different reasons. Having a healthy diet, animal rights, environmental factors, lowering cholesterol, decreasing your carbon footprint, saving money, and fighting infectious disease are just some of the reasons people choose to become vegan.

2. Not all vegans eat tofu. Yes, tofu is one way vegans can get protein, but I usually only cook tofu about once a month. The rest of the time I drink almond milk and get protein from vegetables, nuts and grains.

3. We don’t eat cholesterol. I was shocked when I learned the only foods that contain cholesterol come from animals. Cholesterol doesn’t exist in any plant based food. When I stopped eating animal products, my cholesterol dropped dramatically.

4. Not all vegan food is healthy or natural. Several unhealthy items, like Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, and Fritos are all vegan. Just because you choose a vegan diet does not mean you’re healthy. A healthy vegan diet includes plenty of fruits and veggies, healthy grains and nuts.

5. Protein is easier to find than you think. I used to think you could only get protein through milk, cheese and meat. The truth is that you can find protein all over the place if you know where to look. Protein can be found in all plant based foods, so as long as you eat a variety of healthy fruits and vegetable, protein is never a problem.

6. Kids thrive on vegan diets. Kids on vegan diets are usually more healthy than their omnivore counterparts. By filling their bodies with fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and healthy grains, they will grow strong and healthy in no time at all.

7. We get plenty of calcium. Just like protein, calcium can be found all over the place in the plant based world. Getting calcium from plants is actually healthier than calcium you get from animal milk because it doesn’t contain the acidity that cow’s milk has, which can actually cause bone density loss.

8. Vegan diet is friendly to your bank account. Meat and cheese is much more expensive than raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Natural and unprocessed food always costs less than processed food, meat and cheese.

 

14 Easy Ways to Save Calories When Dining Out

Cheerful friends chatting while lunch

How often do you dine out? Is it once or twice a week, or even more than that? Eating at restaurants has become a large part of American culture because of our increasingly busy schedules. Often it is just easier to have someone else prepare and clean up your meal for you when you have a full schedule. Dining out is often a part of special occasions and celebrations. Restaurants usually serve portions that are too big and loaded with extra fat and calories. This can make it really difficult when you are trying to lose or maintain weight. Whether you dine out daily or only for special occasions, here is a list of tips that can help you save on calories.

  1. Abstain from Appetizers – Appetizers can add a lot calories to your meal. They are also frequently foods that have been fried that are waiting to clog your arteries. If you really want to have something off the appetizer menu, consider ordering an appetizer as your main dish rather than having both. This way you’ll save on calories, but you’ll also get to eat what you want.

  2. Pick Your Portion – If you go to a restaurant that provides complimentary bread or chips and salsa, ask for a small plate. Place a portion of the complimentary item on your plate and only eat that portion. Often these foods are unlimited and can fill you up before your main dish even comes. Picking your portion from the beginning allows you to be in control of your caloric intake.

  3. Limit Drinking – Opting to skip out on alcoholic beverages can save you calories.

  4. Order Water – Ordering water can save you both calories and money. If you don’t like plain water, request lemon or limes for flavoring it.

  5. Drink a Glass of Water – Decrease your appetite before you order and eat by drinking a glass of water.

  6. Pack Your Plate – Request a to-go box as soon as your plate is brought out. Before you begin eating, place half of your main dish in the to-go box for later. Large portion sizes at restaurants lead to eating more calories than one really needs and makes it difficult to lose weight. We may intend to not eat our entire plate when we sit down, but good conversation and yummy flavors can distract us from paying attention to our bodies and before we know it we’ve eaten our entire plate. If you pack up half your plate, you can’t accidentally over-eat.

  7. Dressing the Side – When ordering a salad think of the dressing as a nice accessorie to an outfit, not the focal point. Ask for your dressing on the side so that you can control how much goes onto your salad.

  8. Fill Your Plate with Veggies – Try to order a dish that has a lot of vegetables. Vegetables naturally contain less calories than meat and grains. If you have sides that you can choose, always select vegetable sides if you are looking to lose weight.

  9. Desert Dairy – Those creamy, cheesy dishes are so delicious, but they are loaded with calories and fat. If you are really trying to lose weight try to order something with a creamy sauce. Also, if you can request something to be made without the cheese you can lower the amount of calories in your meal.

  10. Avoid Fried Foods – Fried foods are heavy in fat and calories. Always opt to eat meat that has been baked rather than fried.

  11. Order Off the Light Menu – Many restaurants today offer healthy, low calorie option on their menu. This is a great place to order from when you are watching what you eat.

  12. Split a Meal – If you are dining out with your partner or a good friend, consider splitting a plate. Remember those huge portions we spoke about earlier? Sharing them with a friends splits the calories and the check!

  13. Skip Dessert – Avoiding dessert after a meal saves you on calories and sugar intake. Decide before you go that you are not going to order dessert if this is a temptation for you.

  14. Split Dessert – If you absolutely need something to fill your sweet tooth after a meal, consider splitting the dessert with a friend.

Tabata Style Fitness Yoga

group of smiling women exercising in the gym

 

When you hear the word yoga, you might envision soothing stretches as you listen to meditative music by the beach. Although this is one type of yoga, it’s certainly not the only type. As yoga has grown in popularity, so have the various ways of performing yoga. More and more people are using yoga for cardiovascular and strength training purposes, and having great success doing so. We’re going to look at performing fitness yoga with a Tabata style twist.

Yoga consists of performing different poses in succession. Sometimes you move slowly through these poses, while other times you move quickly. Some of these poses aim to stretch and lengthen you muscles, while others are meant to strengthen and tone them. By combining a handful of strength building poses that you perform in quick succession, with little or no rest in between, your workout becomes much more cardio in nature. This should result in more calories burned, and more toned muscle groups.

To get started, I highly suggest you check out this 30 Second Yoga Workout that features 4 basic yoga poses that you can do 30 seconds at a time, Tabata style. Perform the poses in quick succession as many times as you’d like for a great workout.

Everything Yoga: Making Your Yoga Workout Count

Young people holding triangle pose in a yoga class

Yoga feels great. From the deep breathing, clarifying meditation and alignment of the body you walk away from a yoga session feeling light and centered. However, is your yoga session strengthening your muscles or helping you lose weight. Possibly not if you are not practicing the right type of yoga.

If You Want to Strengthen Your Muscles

If you have been practicing yoga for a while and your goal is to strengthen you muscles then it might be time to pick up the intensity of some of the yoga poses you are performing. We have put together a list of different yoga poses you can do at the beginner, intermediate and advanced level. Check it out and see if you can engage more of your muscles based on your practicing level.

Yoga Postures: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert

If You Want to Burn Calories

If your goal is to lose weight and burn calories, you will need to choose a Yoga workout that is more intense. Flow Yoga quickly moves through one pose to another. The focus is not as much on mastering a pose, but combining poses to get your heart rate up and burn calories.