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Monday, May 22, 2017

Quinoa Salad

This is a great summer recipe. I got it from my sister-in-law. I make a half recipe and it is makes three days of lunches for me. I love make ahead meals!

Quinoa Salad
Perfect for summer! High nutrition and very satisfying. 

1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked
1 shallot, diced (I just used about a 1/2 cup of onion)
1 mango, diced (I substituted some pineapple once and enjoyed that)
1 apple, diced (optional, this is my addition to the recipe)
2-3 cups of chopped fresh spinach
a few leaves of fresh basil, chopped
juice of one lemon
2 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
feta cheese (optional, I didn't use it, but have mixed in some cottage cheese sometimes)

Cook the quinoa and let cool. Add the remaining ingredients, toss, and serve.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How and WHY to change your health habits

I love this article about how and WHY to improve your health habits. Diet is probably the most important element in your health, but it can be hardest to change. I'd love to help you! Why? Because if YOU learn to eat healthy, your KIDS will also learn to eat health. In one generation we can change the world!

http://www.heraldextra.com/momclick/health-and-fitness/health-and-wellness-column/health-wellness-ways-to-make-the-change-to-better-health/article_5b1df350-7ceb-57d0-958a-7a7842fb63da.html

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Injuries--it's up to you.

I am friends with loads of fitness instructors. And I'm friends with loads of fitness participants. My data may not be scientific, but I can tell you by observation that the fitness instructors are just as much victims to injury as the novice participants.

WHY?

For a novice participant, they rely on the instructor to guide them through their workout to improve their health.

For the instructor, they are relying on the hope that the participant will enjoy class SO MUCH that they will come again and again. So sometimes they forget that the primary focus is *improving* the condition of their body, not just impressing everyone! They over do it. They don't talk about form. They push too hard.

GUESS WHAT HAPPENS?

The instructor AND the participant wind up injured. The instructor throws out her back or tweaks her neck whipping her hair or gets a stress fracture. The participant executes poor form and torques their knee or rolls their ankle or has such a knot in their hamstring that they can't muster the desire to go to class again and make it worse.

For the participant, unfortunately, all the good regular habits they had been building will crumble and they may never get back into the routine. (Until another January rolls around and they'll try again...until the next injury...wait until January again...)

And for the instructor, they get a sub. Often it's me. WHY? Because I'm not injured! In fact, I've NEVER had a Zumba-related injury.*

It's all so preventable.

HOW?
Cross-training.

Overworking in one area allows other skills and muscles to weaken. Those weaknesses are the doors to injury. I've always said, Zumba 2-3 times per week is plenty. Do other things in between. Yoga/pilates, run, strength training, spin classes, swimming, hiking, or whatever you enjoy! Don't allow your body to become too specifically trained in one area.

And if your instructor is overdoing it to the point of injury, be wary of following their moves too closely or you may wind up injured too!

That's one reason I really LOVE this new STRONG by Zumba® format. It's the perfect complement to your cardio-focused Zumba workout. It builds muscle and strengthens your joints. It improves your endurance and really sculpts your body shape. Because I've been cross-training for years already, my body was ready for introducing YOU to this format. I'm so happy it can come together with such great music to drive it.

Check out some other posts I've written on how to prevent injuries. Key points are a proper warmup/cooldown that prepares the body for movement, good form, cross-training, appropriate exertion level, and what to do about knee injuries. Listen to your body, "move on purpose"--not floppy and out of control, and push yourself when you are able. Take joy in your improvements, not comparing yourself to others.

Take care of your body and it will serve you and those who rely on you well for many years!

*(If you're a fellow instructor reading this--no I'm NOT talking about YOU. This happens to LOADS of instructors. Regularly. And I'm happy to fill-in when you need! But maybe you should start coming to my STRONG by Zumba class--ha ha!)





Monday, January 30, 2017

Stress Eating--It's Not Wrong

So let's just start by stating the obvious: your body needs food.

Slightly less obvious: Your brain needs food, too. Just because your brain isn't a moving part doesn't mean it doesn't need energy. In fact, your brain uses about 20% of your total caloric intake.

So when we are stressed, why might we eat more? The research is unclear about whether or not high brain activity requires significantly more energy, but either way, having low blood sugar levels isn't going to help you think clearly when you need it most. So in response to a need for greater focus, our body may send us into a consumption mode to make sure we are fueled up.

Our bodies are meant to chew, but with the sort of food we have widely available now, we can get to our daily caloric needs in a lot fewer bites than what nature intended! What kind of food would be available to a stressed out person living 200 years ago? Okay, NOT refrigerated cookie dough, Big Macs, Doritos, and microwave popcorn. So if our bodies are naturally wired to want to munch more during stress, the kind of food we are responding with is like putting out a candle with a firehose.

But let's be real, if you're stressed, the last thing you are likely to be when it comes to food choices is TOTALLY LOGICAL. I'm not. And this goes double when I haven't had enough sleep--which is also usually a factor when we are under stress.

At times of stress, there is usually something that we are supposed to be doing that we don't really want to do. Maybe we have to deal with some paperwork, or an unpleasant relationship, or tackle a difficult chore or project. Instead of doing what we SHOULD be doing, we reason that we need to fuel up first.  Before you know it we've mindlessly eaten a half-batch of cookies because that requires WAY LESS brain power than preparing our taxes. And you know, the stress doesn't even have to be that big. Maybe we just feel tired, or don't want to do the dishes, or have to deal with putting the kids to bed AGAIN.

So it's not necessarily wrong if we feel the impulse to munch when we are feeling stressed. Go ahead and feed your body, but feed it something smart (with a mix of carbs, fats, and protein), and then *move on* to doing that thing that you are avoiding. Maybe then you won't be so stressed anymore! Problem solved!

Monday, January 2, 2017

How to Succeed Without Really Trying

Are you trying to meet some new goals? This one tip will make the work 5 times easier!

Listen. People who only sorta know me think my kitchen cupboards have nothing but organic, whole-grain, super foods and I that I go into convulsions at the sight of a Snickers bar.

I hate to burst your bubble but this is totally not true. I love cookie dough and baked goods are my weakness! And friends that know me *really* well know this!

But people are always apologizing to me for foods they are eating or serving or buying or whatever is in my sight.

I'm cool. It's good. I own white sugar. I love brownies. And I don't buy organic everything--GASP!

But this perception of me being a health fanatic creates a bubble of protection around me. People don't show up at my door with a plate full of cookies because they know (think) I wouldn't like it.

I'm not complaining. It really is a weakness for me, so if they don't bring it, it's all good.

If you want to have a bubble of protection around you for goals you are trying to meet, TELL PEOPLE. They will respect you. They will help you out. And when you know that other people are respectfully looking out for you and trying to help you meet your goals, well then, you're more likely to respect yourself and do your part as well.

Win-win.



Saturday, December 31, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: YOU DID IT!



I hope you are feeling as good about all these good habits as I am! When New Year's Day arrives I hope you'll feel like you are on top of your goals and will look forward to whatever else you want to accomplish with confidence! You have really exercised your decision-making skills over these past weeks. You've been thoughtful about how you structure your life so that it is easier to make the right choices. Don't drop these good habits. They are good for life!


Now take what you've learned about goals and apply it to whatever else you want to do. Make the steps small and attainable. Keep the focus on your behavior and not results. Decide HOW you will make the goal happen and set up the scene so you know the plan in advance.

And if you enjoyed the process of picking one new goal each week, go through each goal again, but this time focus on the "EVEN BETTER" portion at the bottom to take it to the next level of good healthy habits.

Here is an article that may help you even more. I think you'll recognize some of the strategies I used in the 12 Weeks to New Year Program we just completed.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK TWELVE!

Here we are on the last goal! You've done so well! This week I think you'll find the goal very simple. You can totally do this one!

WEEK TWELVE: Only eat sitting down at the table. Don't eat in front of the TV or in the car. No eating out of bags. Load a plate with the food you choose (remember what you learned about portion sizes), put the rest away, and sit down.

WHY: Eating anywhere besides the table can easily lead to overeating or eating for reasons other than hunger (boredom, social situation, habit, empty craving, emotional impulses). Eating in the car means you are probably in a hurry and it's likely you will grab something less than healthy to fill your stomach.

HOW: No food in the living room or TV room. Tell the kids. If they see you eating in front of the TV they'll be sure to report it and you'll be accountable to them! Arrange the pillows on your couch to be in the way of your seat. If your hands are holding food when you go to sit down, you'll try to move the pillow and remember you aren't supposed to have food in your hands at the couch. If you typically eat in the car, you'll need to plan your schedule a little in advance so you can have time to eat before you leave.

EVEN BETTER: Keep snacks between meals to healthy choices only. Save treats for after dinner when you are already full and likely won't binge. Make a list of things that can keep your mouth busy without doing a lot of damage.


Next Week is New Year's Eve! Woo Hoo! You are ON IT!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK ELEVEN

How are you feeling? STRONG and HAPPY! Keep it all up! You are sailing through the holidays with great habits!

WEEK ELEVEN: Don't drink your calories, which means no juice or soda. Smoothies that use the entire fruit are still okay. I still add milk to my cereal, but I don't drink it by the glass. If you still want milk with your meal, make it part of your meal, not just drinking through the day. And honestly, the major problem with drinking your calories is typically not milk, it's juice and soda.

WHY: Continuously feeding sweetness (even artificial sweetners) to your palate trains you to crave more sweets.

HOW: Hopefully having a drink of water first thing in the morning has gotten you used to drinking plain water more frequently by now. Make your daily choices simple by make one strong choice when you are at the grocery store. Just don't buy juice!

This goal can be a hard one if you rely on caffeinated drinks to give you energy. Many people find that it's the fizz of the soda they really want more than the sugar. Try switching to plain club soda. You can add a little flavor with a splash of lemon or lime juice. See an earlier post I shared about club soda.

EVEN BETTER: Eat the whole fruit instead of just the juice. It brings fiber that is useful to your body. Also, no diet soda or energy drinks. The syrups and chemicals are taxing your liver.

WEEK TWELVE will be posted December 23. Look back on the previous weeks. Look what you've done! I promise that keeping these habits will pay off big in the long run. Even if you don't need to lose weight or change your health, these habits will protect your health longterm!



Thursday, December 8, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK TEN

WEEK TEN: Correct your posture 10 times per day AND smile.

WHY: Standing up tall makes you feel more in control, more confident and is good for your spinal health. You can instantly feel more energetic. And when YOU feel more confident and in control, you'll make better choices and even LOOK stronger to others.

HOW: This goal has two built-in reminders. It's week TEN and you have TEN fingers. Every time you correct your posture and decide to smile mentally count on your fingers. Or put a ring or loose hairband on your thumb at the beginning of the day. Move it to the next finger each time you correct your posture. You could also paint one of your nails an interesting color to remind you.

Here's the secret to improving your posture: Shhhhhh!

Pull in your bumhole (a.k.a. your anus). I know you think I should have said "pelvic floor" but I'm telling you it's not the same thing. A lot of times it's pushed downward because it's under a lot of pressure from everything inside our body. And after some crazy pressure we put on it (for instance: pregnancies!) it is in a bad habit.

Now try this: pull that bumhole in. Not tighten it, but up and inside your body. That will place your pelvic bone in a more neutral position (instead of swayed backward like most people). Your lower abdominal area will naturally tighten. This pelvic position should cause your gluteal muscles to tighten a bit and your lower back to loosen. This movement will likely engage your central abdominal muscles and engage muscles in your upper back. Push your shoulders back as you lift your chest. It's all connected and it starts at the bottom!

Don't stand like an army sergeant. If you feel this is uncomfortably tense, drop your shoulders. Look at yourself in the mirror. See what I mean?! You look great!

You can use these same cues when you are seated. Don't slump in your chair and constantly lean against the back. Sit tall in your chair. This will also make you look more in control and professional. If you work in an office, ask if your Human Resources office provides an evaluation of your workspace. Your chair, chair height, desk height, and desk tools can make a big difference in your spinal health.

If you are faced with a difficult food choice during the day (or any choice) take a moment to correct your posture.

Here is an interesting TED Talk about how our posture can impact our life. Check it out!

EVEN BETTER: Do plank exercises along with your 12 squats or pushups each morning. AND think of one good thing you did in the last 24 hours.

WEEK ELEVEN will post December 16.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK NINE

WOW! We've already conquered a lot of good habits!

Here is one you may think is odd but give it a try.

WEEK NINE: Leave half of your lunch on the counter or in your bag or maybe even in the fridge. Basically just put it somewhere else besides where you are sitting to eat. After you've eaten the first half, ask yourself if you're still hungry. Don't hesitate to finish the rest if you're still hungry. Do the same when you go out to eat. Put half of your food in a take home container before you take your first bite.

WHY: So often we eat mindlessly while reading or talking. We eat more than we need and wonder where it all went when we see the plate empty. The purpose of this goal is to train you to stop and check your body signals before you automatically eat everything. And finding you still have the other half to eat (guilt-free) is so fun! Restaurant portions are typically 2-3 times what a good meal size should really be. Put away half and you'll get 2 meals for the price of one!

HOW: This one is pretty easy if you just remember. If you pack a lunch, package half separately to remind you to leave it in the bag. If you eat at home you can leave a note on the cabinet (like the one I give you in class). Or if you want, hang a whistle where you'll see it. That means "half-time!"

EVEN BETTER: Pay attention to your body whenever you make food choices. What is it that you really need? Are you hungry or just bored? Is this food going to make you feel satisfied or frustrated? And always drink a glass of water first.

WEEK TEN will be posted December 9.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

12 Weeks to New Year: WEEK EIGHT

This is a big week. All we have to do is hear the word, "Thanksgiving," we think of LOTS AND LOTS OF FOOD. Well, you keep at all those other things we've been doing in the previous weeks. Remember what you've learned about portion sizes and keep it real. But enjoy the day with your family. But here is your goal.

WEEK EIGHT: Learn one new recipe for dinner that is a little healthier. Any dinner, not just Thanksgiving.

WHY: Sometimes we don't know that the recipes in our cookbooks are really recipes for disaster! Or maybe you don't cook much at all. Going out to eat can really pack on the calories. Restaurants aren't concerned with your health, they just make sure your mouth is happy!  Learn to cook yourself. Just start with one recipe. New recipes take longer the first time you do it. So just take this one step. Maybe you'll find a new family favorite.

HOW: It doesn't have to be Thanksgiving food, but if you'd like a lighter version of some of the traditional foods for Thanksgiving, check my Pinterest board. I also have a lot of recipes on my recipe tab at the top of this page. I especially like my guilt-free version of chicken enchiladas. I also LOVE Cranberry-Turkey Enchiladas. Find something a little lighter. (Hint: avoid your neighbor's favorite casserole or pretty much anything that calls for a container of sour cream and a can of cream of chicken soup!)

EVEN BETTER: Find one of your favorite recipes and make it healthier. Maybe you can reduce the butter or sour cream. Google the name of your recipe and "makeover" to see if someone else out there has already figured out how to make it healthier. Find out where most of the calories in your recipe are coming from and see if you can cut that ingredient in half. Check my pinterest board for ideas.

WEEK NINE will post December 2.