Monthly Archives: August 2015

September Challenge: All About You

Group of women working out at a gym

Hello Ladies! September 30th is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day so all September long we are going to focus on you. We’ve designed a challenge that addresses 4 topics common to women’s health and will issue a new challenge each Monday to help you improve in these areas.

Week 1: Realistic Expectations and Confidence – Let’s face it, the media and society can really alter our expectations of the perfect body and what will happen when we try to become healthy and fit. We’re going to debunk myth and help you to see your realistic potential.

Week 2: Healthy Daytime Food – Often women get so busy by the middle of the day that a healthy lunch and healthy snacking are difficult to obtain. This week we’re going to share some tips and tricks for eating healthy all day long.

Week 3: Grab Your Girlfriend – Having a friend to hold you accountable and visit with while you workout can help you exercise and eat healthy on a regular basis. This week we’ll teach you to partner up for success.

Week 4: Pick Up Those Weights – Weight lifting is so important for women’s health, but is often overlooked. This week we’ll talk about why it is so important and show you some exercises that can really improve your body.

We’re so excited to celebrate women this month! Come join us and get healthy!

Saving Calories at the Grocery Store

Woman shopping groceries

Eating a healthy diet has to begin long before we put the food in our mouth. It takes planning and preparation, especially when we are preparing meals at home. If I can shop healthy at the grocery store, than I’ve beat over half my battle because the junk food isn’t even coming into my home. Today I want to share some tips with you for saving calories at the grocery store.

First, create a menu. I like to grocery shop weekly, so I create a new menu every week before going to the store. By doing this I am able to make sure that I have good variety in my diet for the week. I try to always plan a few meatless meals as well as use a variety of protein sources. Look for recipes that use vegetables! If I want a piece of chicken breast for dinner, I make sure that I pick a veggie heavy side. I also look at the vegetables that I am using to see if I can double up. If I’m buying cabbage to make  Seasonal Thai Slaw, but only need half a head than I’ll plan on making stir-fry another night as well. This helps keep produce from spoiling and saves me money.

Second, make a list. The list will be your best friend when you go to the grocery store if you’re trying to save on calories. Consider what you are going to need to purchase for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. If you have this planned out before you go to the market, you’ll be less inclined to purchase convenient and prepackaged foods that usually are not as healthy. A little note about healthy snacking: Read the labels on any prepackaged foods that claim to be health foods. They often claim to be high fiber and full of antioxidants that are going to give you energy and cleanse you. They also often don’t mention on the front of the box that they have 28 grams of sugar! Don’t put these kinds of foods on your list of snack foods if you’re trying to eat better. Instead choose healthy snacks like apples with almond butter or string cheese.

Now you’re ready to go to the grocery store. I’ve heard the advice given many times to shop the outer perimeter of the super market. This is great advice! However, it is not always realistic for me. There are items that I need in some of the aisles, and you probably will too. This is where the list is important. Only go down the aisles that contain one of your list items. More likely than not, you’ll be able to avoid all the aisles with the cookies, chips, crackers, etc. Meandering down every aisle at the grocery store is a poor choice if you are trying to save on calories. The Double Stuffed Oreo cookies will somehow sneak into your cart every time. As you are shopping in the aisles, stick to your list. If it’s not written down, don’t put it in your cart. I like to shop the aisles at the beginning of my trip. I’ve got more will power at the beginning (especially if I’ve brought my children with me) and the items along the perimeter are perishable. I figure the less time they spend in my cart the better.

Once you’ve victoriously taken on the aisles, shop the outer perimeter. Again stick to your list as you purchase meat and dairy. I like to end my shopping with the produce. This is where I allow myself to deviate from my list a little bit. If I notice a fruit or vegetable on sale that I hadn’t planned on purchasing I might grab a few for snacking. I like at least half of my cart contents to be produce. This helps me to know that I am going to be on track through the week with healthy eating.

This is how I save on calories at the grocery store. How do you?

5 Stretching Do’s and Don’ts

Fit woman stretchingStretching is a part of fitness that often times gets over looked. It is regularly done improperly, or not done at all by a large sector of the population. This is probably because most people don’t really know where to start. If you’re not a fitness expert, how do you know which types of stretches are safe, how often you should stretch, or which muscle groups you should avoid? Here are five simple stretching do’s and don’ts that will help you stay loose, healthy and injury free.

 

 

Don’t:

1. Stretch the Wrong Muscles: Make sure you really evaluate which muscles are sore and direct your attention to those specific areas.

2. Move Fast: Going slowly from one stretch to the next will ensure proper stretching and help you avoid injury.

3. Stretch Before Warming Up: Muscles stretch much better when they’re warm, so do a little warm up to get your muscles ready to stretch.

4. Hold Your Breath: When you hold your breath, it limits that amount of oxygen that gets sent to your muscles, which tightens your muscles instead of loosening them up.

5. Bounce: When you do this, you risk tearing a muscle or tendon.

 

Do:

1. Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds.

2. Stretch consistently, at least 3 times a week, about 10 minutes each time.

3. Hold each pose until you feel firm resistance, but not pain.

4. Always stretch after a workout to stay loose and avoid injury.

5. Start small by doing simple stretching to test your range of motion.

 

 

15 Quick Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

15 Quick Breakfasts

We have been busy getting ready to go back to school. While much of my preparation revolves around buying school supplies and filling out paper work, I like to take some time to make sure my children are getting a good breakfast. Mornings can be crazy. While we definitely have cereal days, I like to make sure my kids get a good breakfast in most days. If I’m going to serve something other than cereal, then I need a resource of quick and easy breakfasts I can throw together fast. Here are some of my favorite quick meals to serve my family.

Needs Prep - These breakfasts are ones that you can make ahead and heat up real quick in the morning.

1. Overnight Oats – These are showing up all over Pinterest, and there are some great recipes on there. I love these because they hardly take any time to put together the night before and they are ready to go in the morning. These are really versatile. So many flavor combinations you can try and can be flexible with dietary restrictions. We make ours with almond milk since I can’t have dairy.

2. Quinoa Breakfast Bowl – Who says leftovers can’t be for breakfast? If I’m making a dinner that uses quinoa, I’ll cook up a little extra for the morning. At breakfast I’ll heat it up, add a hard-boiled egg (cooked the night before), some avocado and sprouts. It’s a hearty, hot breakfast that comes together as quickly as heating up an instant oatmeal packet.

3. Breakfast Sandwich – You can cook up a few of the ham, egg and cheese sandwiches one evening and then store them in the freezer. Just pop them in the microwave for a quick breakfast.

4. Breakfast Burritos – Scramble up some eggs with sauteed veggies of your choice. I like onions, tomatoes and potatoes. Place in a tortilla and roll up. Place on a cookie sheet in the freezer until set. Then place in a freezer safe bag. Heat in the microwave in the morning.

5. Whole Wheat Pancakes or Waffles – Whole wheat pancakes or waffles can be made a head and placed in the freezer as well. When you need something quick in the morning, place them in the toaster and top with fresh fruit.

6. Banana Breakfast Pops – My kids love these! They are a great choice for a warm summer morning. Cut a banana in half and place a Popsicle stick inside. Cover the banana in yogurt and sprinkle with granola. My children like it when I add some mini chocolate chips. Place in the freezer. These are a great grab-n-go breakfast because they don’t melt like other Popsicles.

7. Hard Boiled Egg and Toast – Cook up some hard boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge. In the morning make some toast and slice the egg and place on your toast. Add some salsa or hummus for extra flavor.

8. Fruit Salad – Make up a fruit salad and store it in the fridge. It’s ready to go in the morning as a side to toast or paired with yogurt.

No Prep - These breakfasts are quick to throw together in the morning with no prep work beforehand.

9. Fruit with Cottage Cheese and Granola – Place it all together in a bowl.

10. Yogurt Parfait  – Greek yogurt, granola and fresh fruit combined in a bowl is easy to put together and full of flavor.

11. Apple Nut-butter Sandwiches – Slice up and apple so that each slice is a circle to use as your “bread”. Spread your favorite nut-butter on the apple slice and sprinkle with granola and dried fruit. Place another apple slice on top.

12. Smoothie – Smoothies are versatile and can be thrown together in minutes. Add some oatmeal to get some extra protein and to make it more filling. It’s also a great way to get in some green vegetables.

13. Avocado Toast – This one is pretty self-explanatory. Toast up some bread and place sliced avocado on top.

14. Oatmeal – Cook up oatmeal with quick oats in the microwave for a breakfast that is filling and warm. Top with fresh fruit and nuts.

15. Granola-on-the-Go – Place granola in a baggie with fresh fruit for a portable breakfast when you are really short on time.

60 Second Health & Fitness

time for new ideasStaying healthy and fit is not something that takes a lot of time. It is something you can do in small increments, a little bit each day. It’s all about creating new habits that you start to do without even thinking about it. Once these new habits are formed, staying healthy and fit becomes a breeze.

Here are 7 simple things you can do for just 60 seconds a day that can really improve your health and fitness.

 

1. Drink a full glass of water 6 times a day.

2. Hold a plank for 60 straight seconds, 2 times a day.

3. Spend one minute doing some deep breathing or meditation.

4. Do jumping jacks for a full minute without stopping.

5. Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk an extra minute to the store entrance.

6. Skip the elevator and spend 60 more seconds walking up the stairs.

7. When you want an afternoon snack, spend an extra minute washing and cutting up an apple instead of grabbing a handful of chips.

Beef Up Your Rope Climbing Muscles

Child in a playgroundIf you grew up in the 80′s or 90′s, chances are you were forced to climb the rope in your elementary school physical education class. This usually happened as part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, were you the kid that raced to the top, or the one that hung on for dear life with your feet barely 12 inches off the ground? Over time, things have changed and this is no longer a requirement in most schools. There are better ways to test physical strength in children than having them climb a rope. I want to look at the specific muscle groups rope climbing is supposed to target, and discuss alternative exercises that might work those muscles more efficiently.

 

1. Forearms: These muscles are what you use to grip the rope.

Alternative Exercises: Preacher Curl, Reverse Curl

2. Upper Arms: Your biceps are specifically used to help you bend your elbow and you pull yourself up.

Alternative Exercises: Barbell Curl, Hammer Curl

3. Shoulder: There are two main muscle groups that are used help pull your body up the rope. These are your Latisimus Dorsi (lats) and Trapezius (traps) muscles. Your lats are located on the sides of your back and work together with your lower traps to contract your muscles on the way up.

Alternative Exercises: Deltoid Raise, Arm Circles

4. Lower Body: Three main muscles are used in the lower half of your body to propel your body up the rope. Your Adductor muscles, located in your inner thigh, squeeze your legs together to prevent you from sliding down the rope.  Your Gluteus Maximus and Hamstring muscles then help extend your hips to push you higher up the rope.

Alternative Exercises: Lying Glute Bridge, Deadlift

 

Staying Active After School

happy little boy and girl running outdoors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s recommended that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity in every day. Most schools provide at least 30 minutes of physical activity through PE classes and some time to run around during recess. However, often PE is not provided daily and that means that it’s up to mom and dad and other caretakers to ensure their children are active enough. Here are some ideas to help your kids be active after school.

Indoor Activities

Play a game of Simon Says – One person is “it” and instructs the other kids on what action to make. “Simon Says hop like a bunny.” “Simon says pat your tummy.” All the other children follow the directions. If the child who is it does not say “Simon says” before a direction is given, the children don’t follow. If a child follows these directions then they are out of the game.

Indoor Hopscotch - Sometimes it is too hot or too cold to play outside depending on where you live. You can easily make an indoor hopscotch mat the children can play with indoors. You can make on on a large piece of fabric they can easily pull out or by making tape squares on the floor out of masking tape.

Sardines – This is backwards hide-and-go-seek. One child hides first and then all the other children go searching. Once a child finds the hider they join them in their hiding spot until only one person is left searching. That person is the first to hide in the next round.

Musical Statues - Put on your children’s favorite music and let your kids dance. When the music stops, everyone has to freeze in what position they are in. If you are a competitive family then anyone who moves after the music stops is out.

Tissue Dance – Place a tissue one every child’s head. Play some music and let them try to keep the tissue on their head while dancing.

Indoor Volleyball - Have the kids place their hands and feet on the floor with their belly’s facing up (the crab walk position). Let them kick up a balloon filled with air.

Outdoor Activities

Use a Stop-watch - Send the kids outside with a stop-watch. Let them time themselves to see how fast they can run and skip. Have them find out how many jumping jacks, hops, push-ups they can do in 30 seconds.

Paper Airplane Race - Have each child make a paper airplane. Start all children at one end of the yard. Let them throw their paper airplane toward the finish line. Have them run to pick up their airplane and throw it again. Continue until they reach the finish line. The first one there wins.

Splash Tag - With a filled water bottle, let a child who is “it” get other kids out of a game of tag by squirting them with the water. The child to get squirted last gets to be “it” the next time.

 

The Perfect Breakfast Smoothie

apple banana oatmeal smoothie

I am always looking for quick, nutritious snacks for my kids. I always try to have cut up fruits and veggies that are easy for them to grab, but that’s not always what they want. Now that they are home for the summer, they seem to be hungry all the time! This afternoon I decided to try this Apple Banana Oatmeal Smoothie. My children love smoothies! I love that they are a healthy option for my children, but I often feel like it leaves them hungry 30 minutes later. This smoothie recipe was great because the oatmeal helped to make it more filling and kept them satisfied for a longer period of time.

The flavors in this smoothie are delightful. My children drank theirs up quickly and were begging for seconds. While it was delicious for a snack, I will be adding this as another of our breakfast options. The cinnamon and oatmeal combination is so comforting, but the cool drink makes it refreshing for the hot summer months. It’s also quick and easy to make so it’s great for busy mornings. Go blend this together for some summer yum!

Push-Ups and Sit-Ups 3 Different Ways

Sport exercisePush-ups and sit-ups are some of the oldest and most common forms of exercise you can do. Although these are effective and easy to do, they can get very boring after a while. It’s also very important to alter the types of exercise you do in order to use a variety of muscle groups, and keep your body guessing. Below are three different variations you can do to traditional push-ups and sit-ups that will give you a great workout, and help you avoid boredom and weight loss plateaus.

 

Push-Ups

1. Jack Push-ups: Get in the traditional push-up position with your feet close together. As you bend your arms and lower down, jump your legs out like you’re doing a jumping jack, then jump them back together again as you straighten your arms again.

2. Moving Push-ups: Get in a basic push-up position, then move your right arm and right leg to the right as you lower down, then back up again. Do this three times to the right, then three times going back to the left.

3. Feet Elevated Push-ups: These are performed like regular push-ups, except you rest your feet on a couch or chair to raise up the lower half of your body.

Sit-Ups

1. Reach for the Sky: Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your arms stretched out in a line with the rest of your body. Sit up and raise your arms towards the sky, then towards your toes. Lower back down and repeat.

2. Jack Knife Sit-ups: As you lift your shoulders off the ground, point your hands out in front of you and raise your straight up until they make a 45 degree angle with the ground. This should make a type of V shape with your body. Lower down and repeat.

3. Frog Sit-ups: Lie down on your back with your knees bent, and the bottom of your feet touching. Your legs should look kind of like frog legs. Keep your legs in this position as you raise your upper body off the ground and sit up. Lower down and repeat.

17 Fun Fitness Facts

whistle flat icon with long shadow,eps10

 

 

 

 

  1. There is no “best time to exercise.”  Whenever works for you is best. So get out there when it’s a good time for you. Moving some is better than not moving at all.
  2. By the time your are 50 you will have walked approximately 75,000 miles. It could be even more if you are physically active. Park farther away from the store. Choose to walk to destinations that are within a mile of where you live.
  3. If you can sing while doing a cardio workout, you’re not working hard enough. If you can’t talk more than a couple words between breathes during a workout, then your workout is too intense. This is a simple test you can do during a run to make sure that your intensity level is in a favorable place.
  4. When exercising, the average person breathes about 2377 gallons of air.
  5. Your heart is your hardest working muscle. This muscle is continually working to pump blood through your body. Cardio is so important to make sure you keep you hardest working muscle strong.
  6. The jaw muscle can generate the most power and can close the teeth with a force as strong as 200 pounds on molars.
  7. The soleus muscle exerts the most force and is responsible for keeping us up all day. It’s better known as the calf muscle.
  8. Kids from age 5 to 17 should exercise at least 60 minutes per day. Many schools require at least 30 minutes of physical activity. That means its up to mom and dad to make sure your kids are getting active after school.
  9. People between the ages of 18 and 64 years should exercise at least 150 minutes per week. 
  10. A warm-up helps prevent overheating by starting the warm-up process.
  11. Cooling down after a workout helps remove waste products in the blood and restores the body to normal breathing and heart rate resting levels.
  12. Working out before cognitive tasks improves cognitive performance. Exercising could help you in your education and work life.
  13. You should try to take 10,000 steps per day.
  14. A hard working adult sweats up to four gallons per day.
  15. Most sweat evaporates before the person notices.
  16. If all inactive American adults became physically active, savings in medical cost would be about $75 billion per year. 
  17. Gardening for 30 minutes can burn about 150 calories.