Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A 45-Minute Summer Workout

Do you love short weeks? It's already Tuesday! Hooray! But it feels like Monday, since I've got so much on my plate today. After putting in a few hours at the gym, I'll be heading back to my old stomping grounds: The advertising agency at which I used to work a few years ago. Time for some freelance fun! Can't wait to wear heels in an office. It's been so long. I miss my heels. But anyways, that's not the point of this post. Yesterday, I promised you a summer workout. Today, I am here to deliver on that promise.

This 45-minute summer workout is best done outside, where you can find all the space you need to move and shake a few calories off. I'd pick your typical waking or running route, as you'll be doing a little bit of either in between strength moves. Yes, it's true...I leave the cardio up to you. Where it says "cardio" below, pick either walking or running (unless otherwise noted). Whatever your favorite may be. Or, if you feel like it, mix it up! The entire workout is based on time alone, so make sure you've got a stopwatch around your wrist. Get to it:

Lemme know how it goes!

Question: Have your workouts changed at all in the last week or so? Are you doing things differently now that it's summer and more outside-time is available?

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win a bag of Jessica's Gluten Free Granola! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Friday, June 3, 2011).

Monday, May 30, 2011

WIN THIS: Jessica's Gluten Free Granola

Well. Would you look at that. Blue skies! Sun! Warm air! I cannot believe it.

I thought for sure this weekend would round out with yet another dull, gloomy and rainy day—but Mother Nature pulled through for us up here in Michigan. It seems this very last day of our three-day weekend will be a glorious one! Three cheers from this girl.

Jason and I have decided to forgo the packing and purging in favor of an afternoon on the bluff. Last year, we spent many an afternoon on the bluff, strategically placed on our favorite blanket for the best in people- and lake-watching. Today will be the first time we've been out this year, and we're very much looking forward to it. Bonus about being downtown? Great walking paths. We went out last night for a 45-minute trek along the lake and through the cottages along it, and I'm hoping we can do the same again today for some easygoing exercise. But first, I must share with you my glorious breakfast.

Glorious day...glorious breakfast. It's perfect. And so simple, yet completely delicious. I mixed a serving size of Jessica's Gluten Free Vanilla Maple Granola with a partial serving of my favorite cold cereal, plus a few fresh berries, all of which was completed with a dash of skim milk. Divine.

When Jessica offered to send me a few samples of her granola, I was (of course) extremely excited. When the weather warms up, I tend to shift to cold cereals, leaving the hot oats behind...but I do love me some oats, so granola is often a welcomed replacement. But granola doesn't come with quite the nutritious tag you might think. Most granolas on the shelf are filled with sugar (and other ingredients) that up the calorie count rather quickly. You have to be careful of your serving size, and I'm guessing most of us aren't, opting instead to pour a nice, hefty bowl like we would any other cold cereal. But granola doesn't have to be unhealthy—you just have to play your cards right.

That's why I like Jessica's all natural, gluten free granola. No crazy ingredients, just wholesome goodness that promotes tons of flavor. I'll let my bag of Vanilla Maple Granola speak for itself:

No trans fats, no cholesterol and no preservatives. And I love that it's made with certified gluten-free oats. I don't need to worry about remaining gluten-free, but I know some of my readers do, which makes me all to happy to share this product with them. Especially since the nutritional facts are so good:

But remember, a serving size is only 1/4 of a cup. It looks like this:

Not as much as you thought, right?

But just enough to treat the taste buds to something good and healthy. Jessica sent me Almond Cherry and Chocolate Chip, too. And since I'm such a nice blogger, I've decided to give one of you a bag—you can choose between the two (I can't decide which one I'd rather keep)!

To enter, visit Jessica's website and browse her tasty list of granola recipes. Tell me which one you'd like to try the most in a comment below this post, and leave your email address. If you win, I will need to get in contact with you for your mailing address (and your granola of choice)!

For additional entries, do any of the following:
1) "Like" Jessica's Natural Foods on Facebook.
2) "Like" A Daily Dose of Fit on Facebook.

Contest ends on Friday, June 3 at midnight EST. The winner will be announced on Sunday, June 5th.

With that, I leave you! I'll be back tomorrow with a brand-new summer workout!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I did not survive.

Honesty is my policy, so I feel compelled to let you (my dear readers) know that I did not survive yesterday's cookout at my parents' house. I ate breakfast, I ate lunch...I was poised for great success. And then my mom got out all of her bowls and chips and salsas. And she made guacamole, which I am addicted to. (I was obviously too busy consuming food to take photos of said food.) Then I found these:

Twizzlers. Also an addiction. As you can see, there are no longer any red Twizzlers left in the bag. Yeah, that was me.

So I failed. I failed miserably. And I made this failure worse when I made two boxes of macaroni and cheese for all the kids in attendance. I should have never "tested" the batch. It lead to four more test bites. If you do the math, that pretty much equates to an entire serving.

Basically speaking, my diet ended up much like the kitchen.

A total wreck.


I can't tell you the last time I ate a bowl of macaroni and cheese.

I can't tell you the last time I pigged out so happily.

(Insert shoulder shrug here.)

Needless to say, I woke up hungry for something healthy. Something that would start my day off on the right foot, so of course, I turned to:

A delicious bowl of Banana Oatmeal. Can't beat it, you really cannot.

Although, I have to say, I thought twice about taking a bite of one of these tasty guys:

Be proud of me, I stayed clear. And now, here I sit. Contemplating a day filled with grocery shopping and errand running, wondering when I'll get some time for fitness. Perhaps a walk about town is on order. We shall see how the day unfolds.

Oh, and since we're talking about epic failures, I have to admit that yesterday's yoga session didn't happen. Apparently, I thought it started at 10:30AM. Oh, but it started at 10:00AM. 


Question: What's your plan for the day?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How To Survive Cookouts

Monday is Memorial Day, but today...today is Saturday. The day when all the cookouts start. And this typically means that your diet leans more toward "hellish" than "healthy." Am I right? Friends gather with delicious dishes, cold beverages flow, the desserts look simply outrageous...I say party hard. But don't party wrong. If you follow these simple words of advice, you can party just right. In other words, you can survive every cookout you've been invited to.

1) Grab a plate, then get away from the food. To hang out by the table of snacks is to, well...snack. Probably more than you need to. So use those cute plates your host or hostess set out and pile them with just the right amount of food, tell yourself it's a meal, then walk away. Don't go back.

2) Stick with low-cal foods. Grilled chicken and corn, minus the butter. Salads without the creamy dressing. Fruit without the whipped cream. Think about the three most important aspects of every meal: whole carbohydrates, proteins, acceptable fats and (to be more specific) fruits and veggies. Skip out on the processed foods. You know what those are.

3) Bring a dish. That way, you know at least one thing on the menu will fit into your diet.

4) Watch what you drink. Pick the low-carb beer if you must. Go for mixed drinks with a clear base. Think sparkling water, flavored vodka and some fruit. And certainly, without a doubt, alternate between glasses of iced water. We pack more calorie punches per glass than we might even realize—this is especially true if you're a soda pop drinker.

5) Get involved. Don't just plop yourself in a picnic chair and call it good. Participate in that pickup game of volleyball or baseball. Run around with all the kids and work up a sweat. You'll get your workout in without having to lift a weight. And you'll have some mad fun along the way.

6) Start your day with a healthy breakfast. That way, you won't be starving by the time you get to the party. Or be sure to eat both breakfast and lunch if you haven't hit the party by the time lunch rolls around. Remember, even if the party starts at 2:00PM, it'll probably just be snacks and stuff before the real meal hits. So if you prep by eating your lunch, you won't be as prone to the snack bar itself.

Now, go. Get your party on. And remember:

Words to live by when you're faced with all that delicious food this weekend. (Man, my calendar has been on a roll lately.) If you're wondering who Gita Bellin is, well...that makes two of us.

And now I'm off to yoga. Some calm before this weekend's storm of activity.

Question: How are you taking advantage of this long weekend? Attending any parties?

Friday, May 27, 2011

On fat. (#Infographic)

Alright, so it's official. I am OB-SESSED with infographics! Ever since I posted that (scary) one about sitting all day, I've been spending my time searching the Internet for more. They're just so...pretty. And informative. Also, quite fun to read. So I've got another one for you, which totally inspired this:

Hello, guacamole! I love you.

I love you because you taste like garlic. I love you because you remind me of Mexican vacations I have been on. I love you because you are good for me. You come from an avocado, and you give me healthy fats.

It's true! Not all fats are bad. Enter infographic.

Question: What's your favorite source of healthy fats?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beautiful, Healthful Foods

Last night, I ate chicken wings for dinner. My husband grilled them, I drilled them (so quickly I didn't even take a picture for you). Maybe it was the hot sauce, maybe it was the fact that they were perfectly cooked. I don't eat wings a lot, but last night...oh, man. They were good. So was my side salad, but let's be honest. Last night's meal was not about the side salad.

Hey, it happens. I'm human. So are you. Indulge on occasion.

BUT...being human, we also need to realize that our human bodies need less of the stuff that isn't good for us and more of the stuff that is. So check it:

Question: What's your favorite "harmful" food? What's your favorite "beautiful, healthful" food?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Get Good Form (and keep it)

As a personal trainer, it's my job to make sure that my clients (and everyone else in my line of vision) are using proper form. It goes without saying that improper form you at risk for injuries—and, quite frankly, it limits your ability to get the most out of your workout. Those mirrors that line your gym? Some people use them to check themselves out, while others use them for their intended purpose: to check out their form. Trust me, that's why they are there. (Save the flexing and posing for your bathroom, mkay?)

So let's talk about proper form.
Let's talk about how to achieve it.

Start by using the mirrors. Watch yourself. Watch every part of your body perform the exercise you've chosen. Take it slow, and work through your entire range of motion. And then, check your breathing. It's what helps you get through the exertions of each repetition. To hold your breath is to make the exercise harder, which therefore fatigues your muscles—which therefore forces you to use other muscles not otherwise intended to be used in said exercise of choice.

Next, and this might be the most important part of maintaining proper form—CHOOSE THE RIGHT WEIGHT! Don't focus on the number, check your ego at the door. Focus on how the weight challenges your muscles. If you can't hold form through every repetition, odds are fairly good that you're using a weight that's too heavy. Which, in turn, means that you're not giving your muscles the workout they deserve. You're just straining them.

Never hesitate to ask for help from a spotter. That way, when the going gets tough, you can still complete your desired repetitions without overdoing it. Or getting hurt. Or breaking form!

Finally, it's really important that you focus on what you're doing. Going back to what I said about the mirrors, really thinking about what you're doing...really getting your mind into the game is what takes your workout to its rightful place. If we don't focus, if we don't concentrate...we get lazy, or we rush. Both of which hinder workouts greatly.

So now, let's talk about some common blunders. Things I see being done repeatedly that most definitely do not equate to "proper form." You probably know these exercise like you know your name:

1) BICEPS CURLS: Whether you're using a bar, dumbbells or the cable machine—do not let your chest tip forward and back. And keep your elbows by your side. Same goes for triceps presses, really.

2) BENCH PRESS: If you have to lift your lower back off the bench when you press the bar up, then you have way to much weight on the bar. To lift your hips is to call upon your hips and legs to get your body into a position in which you CAN lift the bar...and obviously, we're focusing on the chest muscles, so you should be in the right position if you can lay flat. 'Cuz that means your chest muscles are taking on the bulk of the challenge.

3) SQUATS AND LUNGES: Do not let your knee go beyond your toes. EVER. Period.

4) CRUNCHES: Your eyes should be at the ceiling, your elbows out to the side—and your fingertips should be the only thing touching your head. After all, the hands don't need to pull the head up to create a crunch. The abs should be creating the crunch. Right?

5) DEAD LIFTS: Don't hunch over! Keep your back straight and hinge from the hips. You'll keep the motion away from your lower back, which engages the hams and glutes as they should be engaged.

Remember, one of the greatest signs of improper for is pain. So pull back if you feel any and ask for help from the nearest trainer. They, after all, should know exactly how to do each and every exercise you're interested in. And if a trainer walks up to you and suggests that you tweak your form—please listen to them! They aren't picking on you, they're just looking out for your safety.

Oh, and because I can't write an entire post without a pretty picture OR something funny, I give you this:

Question: Have you noticed anyone using improper form at your gym? In what exercise do you have the hardest time maintaining proper form?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Official Product Review: Sip n' Go

Fitness is so much more than lifting weights and running miles. It's about treating your body right and doing so in a way that is ultimately fun and inspiring. What's great about the fitness industry, and I've said this before, is that there are so many exciting products, methods and more that serve to help us out on our journeys to greater health and well being. Products that enhance our time at the gym, methods that perfect our ability to tighten and tone. And ultimately, these products and methods go beyond the gym doors as evidenced in the way we feel, the way we carry ourselves. Really, as evidenced by the way we choose to live. And when I find a product or method that I think truly captures this essence, you know I jump at the chance to tell you about it.

So let's talk about the foldable reusable water bottle. Yes, I said "foldable" and "reusable." It's called a Sip 'n Go and it happens to be quite awesome. It looks like this:

Until you fill it with water, after which it looks like this:

It reminds me of my youth spent guzzling down Capri Sun drinks. Love it! And I love the push/pull sport cap. (If only Capri Suns came with a push/pull cap...think of all the juice that would never have gotten wasted from an overpunctured, leaky packet.) I also love the name tag:

Don't be stealin' my water, you! Ha! In all seriousness, this is another wonderful water bottle. Although it might have a slight advantage above others in terms of travel. I can imagine packing this in the pocket of a carry on bag, and then finding the nearest water fountain upon entering the terminal. And then when you're done with it, you're not stuck carrying around a fancy water bottle you don't want to part with—or parting with one that'll just end up in a landfill somewhere.

And did you see the clip? I ran to the store yesterday and clipped my Sip 'n Go on the corner of my purse.

Hands-free shopping, perfect for finding the keys at the bottom of your purse when you're done. (I always have that problem.) (And yes, I shop in my Vibrams.)

One last thing I have to mention about this sweet product: It's dishwasher safe. BONUS! Who likes to wash water bottles by hand? Not me. So, if you're looking for a portable, adorable, versatile and affordable water bottle—I may have just found it for you. It'll run you $7.99...but if that seems like a lot, ask yourself how much that case of water costs you (on a weekly basis, perhaps).

And since we're talking about water, let us quickly review some hydration facts.

It's always been said that one should consume eight 8-oz glasses of water each day. But that's a general statement, and while not necessarily a bad guideline, there are things that may shift such a need. For example, if you lead a particularly active lifestyle, you may need to consume...or, you may ultimately consume...more than that. If you workout regularly, you should be drinking regularly throughout your workouts. Make sense?

Remember that water comes from other sources, too. Think fruits and veggies, but it's not always easy to calculate just how much water you're getting from these sources, which is why you need to remain in-tune with your levels of thirst.

Once you're thirsty, it's already too late. Never let yourself get thirsty, and drinking water periodically throughout your day can help. Keeping a fancy schmancy water bottle like the above near to you serves as a reminder. And as we move into hotter temps (you might already be in them), it becomes even more important to follow this rule. Warm temperatures tend to dehydrate us, and staying hydrated ultimately helps our bodies stay cooler. So drink-drink-drink when the temperatures go high-high and higher.

Ultimately, water is like gas. Your car can't go without it, and therefore, your body can't go without water. What you do in the gym is just as important as what you do outside of it, so if you're staying hydrated throughout your workouts, be sure to extend that same courtesy to your body outside of your workouts.

Bottoms up, friends!

(I love it when I take a self portrait, and I can then see my camera in the lenses of my sunglasses. Geeze...)

Question: How do you keep yourself hydrated? Do you ever get sick of water? How do you combat this? 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Packing and Purging

What a Sunday. I think it's safe to say that all the packing and purging has begun. It's true, we still have a month left in our little 'ol apartment, but we started prepping for the big move by tackling two areas that don't ever get our attention: The garage, and the dry storage area right outside our sliding door. Well, I should say that Jason starting tackling these two areas. I was too busy doing this:

Clearly, I have not cleaned my closet out in years. No wonder I feel like I never have anything to wear—because all the good clothes are hiding between the old clothes I don't like anymore! Ugh. Why didn't I do this sooner? Do you hang on to clothes and shoes longer than you probably should purely because you loved them so at one point or another? Guilty. I mean, there are still a few things in my closet I will never wear again. But they're associated with great times and happy memories, so I consider them keepsakes.

I did, however, put my last pair of cheerleading shoes in the throw-out pile.

Although now that I think about it, I might actually keep them. Tucked away in a closet at my parents' house is a small collection of cheerleading uniforms and corresponding pompons. I'd hate to be without the shoes, should I ever be invited to a costume party at Halloween. Laughing...I think I've still got bows somewhere, too. Geeze, always a cheerleader.

Anyways, I now have this in our bedroom:

Six bags of clothes, shoes and purses ready and waiting for a garage sale. Or maybe Goodwill. Not sure if I feel like moving these to the new house or not. We'll see.

I also, in all the madness and mayhem of packing and purging, attempted to make a batch of homemade bagels. It wasn't a yeast-based recipe, so I'm not exactly certain they turned out. They certainly do not look like bagels, not at all. Perhaps they'll make an appearance in a post later this week. We'll see how they taste.

So what happened Sunday night? Nothing. I spent the evening preparing for the week ahead. Circuit Sculpt and clients require my attention today, so I had to make sure I was ready to deliver.

I also thought about all those empty hangers in my closet. (Insert devilish thoughts of shopping here.)

No workouts for me on Sunday, although all the packing and purging kept me moving. And it was so hot out yesterday, I certainly worked up a sweat.

You have to pack and purge on occasion. Even when it comes to fitness. Try new things. Exchange old workouts for new, get rid of the moves that aren't doing you any good.

This you already know. This I've said a million times.

Perhaps not the daily dose of fit you were expecting today, but rather—a look at my life as I currently know it. It's always fun to see what other people are up to, right?

Question: What non-fitness related thing did you do yesterday? How often do you clean your closet?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SELF Magazine Workout in the Park '11

Yesterday was another glorious day in the city, and I say that with a bit of sarcasm. Little drops of rain tagged us throughout our adventure, but with the slight sense of humidity in the air, the raindrops falling on our heads were almost welcomed. Luckily, they never amounted to rainstorms. Mom and I were able to enjoy the 2011 SELF Magazine Workout in the Park—and a side adventure in Anthropologie. (Girls will always be girls on State Street in Chicago.) The pictures:

When you got there, you had to sign up for some of the specialty classes. We chose Yoga Body Sculpt and Tighten & Tone. We sort of felt it was a bummer that you could only sign up for two. But...I guess that's what the mainstage workout area is for.

Vendors like Athleta and Lucy were on hand to share some of their goods. We definitely wanted one of everything, and were thankful for the coupons we got in exchange for stopping by.

Special guest, Alison Sweeney of "The Biggest Loser" and (more importantly) "Days of our Lives." Hello, Sammy Brady! You look so cute in person!

I wish all of my workouts could be in the city's backyard. How cool to have skyscrapers behind and in front of you, and the lake on the other side? You can't see the lake, but it's just behind the trees.

Hi, Mom! Thanks for spending the day with me. 'Twas fun, as always.

 Yoga Body Sculpt. Halfway through this class, it started to drizzle. I've never done Yoga in the rain before, so that was kind of cool. Even though it made my mat slippery.

"Would you like to have your picture taken with Alison?" Yes, please. And I think this just might be my only picture with a celebrity. Unless, of course, you count my photo with Bozo the Clown when I was five or something. Sammy Brady is much cooler. And so cute in person!

Freebies! How great is it that you can walk away from such an event with a bag full of treats? It makes for truly an awesome day...and it makes paying $20 to get in totally worth it. Especially since you get a subscription to the magazine. BONUS!

Love SELF, love their message. It's truly a magazine that can inspire women (maybe even men) to be their healthiest, fittest selves. Obviously!

Question: Did you attend this event? What's your go-to fitness magazine?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Frog Jump

Did you play Frogger when you were a kid? That video game where you have to jump a little frog across traffic, then across a stream of floating logs? I played it almost as much as I played Tetris and Paperboy, which I happily kill hours playing even to this day. (Yes, we have an 8-bit Nintendo game system that still works. Only after you blow on the game cartridge a few times, of course.)

I think there's something quite hypnotizing about the above video games. Something almost relaxing. No matter how good you do in one round, you are absolutely certain that you can do even better in the second round. But sometimes you don't, which only continues the pattern. It's mindless entertainment, really. And before you know it, your day is gone and you never got to the gym or the grocery store.

"Why are you talking about this?" So glad you asked.

Ever do the frog jump at the gym? Seriously good stuff! It obviously reminds me of the above, but more importantly, it gives me yet another way to work the legs, core, heart and lungs in one fell swoop. The frog jump is serious plyometrics, and worth a try if your knees can handle the impact.

How to: Pick a wide-open space in your gym. Or if you're at home, go out to your driveway, sidewalk, or the grass in your yard. Start with your feet hip-width apart, squat down, then jump up and forward as you extend your arms and legs. Land in your starting position, then repeat ten to twelve times. Try to make one repetition follow another, but don't go so fast that you have to compromise your form. Work through your entire range of motion, and really focus on what your legs and abs are doing to propel you forward. Sounds easy, but I promise you'll feel it.

Speaking of jumping, I hop-skipped across the lake (not really, I drove) to Chicago today for the SELF Magazine Workout in the Park. Last year's event was a huge success, so I'm anxious to see how this year's turns out. Bag full of goodies? Let's hope. Good weather?

Ugh. HEY SUNSHINE, COME OUT...COME OUT...WHEREVER YOU ARE! Geeze. I'll give you the full report tomorrow. While you wait for it, feel free to play some Frogger (after you finish your workout).

Question: What's your favorite plyometrics move?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

Yesterday was super crazy for me. It was non-stop fitness action at the gym: I observed a class, taught a class and trained four clients. All before noon. It all started at 5:45AM, and ended at 12:15pm. I'm just glad I got to head home for an hour around 7:00AM. I zonked out, headed back to the gym, at which I realized that I completely forgot to eat breakfast. Insane.

I did not, however, forget to eat dinner. I spent all afternoon working on some freelance writing projects, and at one point I stopped doing so after having realized that I was super starving. Although I did eat lunch, it didn't quite hold me over. Toast with a side of jam carried me through another hour, and it was after this hour that I realized dinner time had arrived.

And so I began making Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti, a recipe I found in Gourmet Nutrition. I have been extremely intrigued by the spaghetti squash for quite some time now, but never quite felt the courage to actually cook with it. Mostly because I wasn't sure that I'd actually like it, despite being a huge fan of squash. I'm also a huge fan of pasta, so you can imagine my reluctance to swap the two. But in the name of nutrition, I decided it was time. So I bought this:

A spaghetti squash. I almost sliced a finger off trying to cut this tough guy  into two pieces, but the drama of it all was well worth it. I'm a fan.

When you cook it, it looks like this:

And when you spoon it onto a plate, and then swirl it onto your fork, it looks like this:

 Like spaghetti pasta, right? Although it doesn't taste like spaghetti, it doesn't have a strong squash taste either, which makes it happy neutral between the two. But swapping out pasta for spaghetti squash isn't really about the flavor. It's mostly about the nutrients, and perhaps the lack of bad carbohydrates.

Spaghetti squash brings a lot of fiber to any pasta dish, and according to one website I visited, a single serving (one cup) of spaghetti squash adds about 42 calories to your daily intake. I need not remind you how much normal spaghetti adds, right? Let's just say it might be at least three times that amount. Give or take, on average, etc...etc...and it all depends on whether or not you're eating whole wheat or gluten-free pasta. But that's another post entirely. Back to the squash. Along with all that fiber, you'll also get a hefty dose of carotenoids, which of course equate to Vitamin A. "A" for "always a good thing," at least in my book.

Another good thing?

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti
1 spaghetti squash
Olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 cups canned tomato sauce
1/4 c cashews, crushed
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste
Parmesan cheese

1) Preheat your oven to 375F. Carefully cut your squash in half, then remove all the seeds and guts in the middle. Brush olive oil across the top, then cook in the oven for 45 minutes. When done, pull it out of the oven so that it can cool off for just a bit.

2) While the squash is cooking, cook the ground sirloin in a pan over medium heat. When the meat is complete, add the onions and green pepper. Cook for another two minutes or until the veggies begin to soften. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the tomato sauce. Stir to mix, then add the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste.

3) When the sauce is complete, grab a spoon and scrape out a cup of the squash from the skin. Plate it, then top it with the sauce. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top and serve with a smile.

Although I don't think it convinced Jason to give up spaghetti noodles forever, he quite simply stated that he "could eat this." And if he eats it, then I must have done something right. He's not very adventurous when it comes to my crazy healthy recipes. He tries everything, though, which I am thankful for.

This particular recipe, by the way, is a close adaptation of the one I found in Gourmet Nutrition. They didn't include the garlic or the peppers, and they suggested adding 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon—I wasn't quite feeling that big adventure. Quite frankly, it sounded disgusting. I'll keep my cinnamon in my oats, thank you.

If you try it, let me know what you think of it. 

Happy Friday! Anyone going to the SELF Magazine Workout in the Park tomorrow in Chicago? Let me know!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sitting is killing you. (#Infographic)

Some of you probably spend a lot of time sitting down. You have to, it's the way you make a living. You punch in at 8:00AM, work (sort of) wholeheartedly 'till 5:00PM, and before you know it—you haven't gotten out of your (uncomfortable) desk chair for almost nine hours straight. It's called being a professional, and it's definitely respectable. It might be the greatest thing for your bank account, but it is undoubtedly the worst thing for your waistline. Take a look:

Sitting is Killing You

I share this with you today not to scare you, because I realize that working at a desk is almost essential for most of you and I don't want to discredit what you do, but I share this with you today as a reminder that once you punch out—you need to get your butt movin' again! Wait, scratch that...you can get your butt movin' again during your workday, too. Get up and go to your coworker instead of calling him/her on the phone. And please, take the stairs! Or, heck...take a five minute break and do some jumping jacks in your office.

When you do get home, while nothing seems better for you than a remote and your couch, you must find it within you to get some physical activity. As the infographic explains, adding more hours of sitting to your day full of sitting does nothing for your health and well-being. So before you get too comfortable with the primetime line-up, head to the gym. Or go for a walk. Do something that will always and forever be considered the exact opposite of sitting.

Question: How much sitting do you do in a single day?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Individualized Upper Body Strength Training (and some really good food)

Wednesday. It's here...which means the week is halfway through. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to whittle away my workdays, I just get very excited when Friday nears. It means I don't have to wake up early. I don't have to punch in at a time clock. It means I can do whatever I want, essentially whenever I want. And this produces quite a bit of calm for me, as I'm sure it does for you. But anyways, it's still Wednesday. Which means that many of us still have things to do, workouts to complete and work meetings to get through so that we CAN enjoy our individual weekends. So let's get to it.

I must admit that my obliques are screaming today. Yes, a little delayed onset muscle soreness is currently flaring up in my sides. I kinda like the feeling, though. It produces a sense of accomplishment, a reminder that whatever I did to make my muscles sore—it worked to make them stronger, too. In this case, it was side bends. I put them on the menu every so often in my Circuit Sculpt class, but I recently upped the repetitions to fifteen to increase the challenge.

Guess that was a smart call on my part.

Have you upped the repetitions in your workouts lately? Try going from 10 to 12, or from 12 to 15 if you're feeling up for the challenge. Sometimes, and I am a walking billboard for this right now, sometimes those extra one or two repetitions really push you up and over your limit. And we all need to be pushed on occasion. That said, it doesn't hurt to push each of your sides individually. Especially when it comes to your upper body. We tend to favor one side over another, but the more balanced we are in terms of strength, the easier it becomes for us to perform everyday tasks like lifting grocery bags out of the trunk. Or moving furniture. But when we constantly train both sides at the same time, it becomes easier for our weaker sides to back off the action of moving the weight since, well...since the other side is more capable. And this we might not even notice. So grab a bench and some hand weights and try the following:

Single Arm Side-To-Side Sequence

Yep, you should do 15 repetitions per side, two sets per side. Start on your right, completing each move before starting on your left. And then start your second set back on your right side. Confused? I didn't think so. The moves in the sequence aren't unknown, but it's the act of doing them in a sequence...doing them with one arm at a time that ultimately switches things up a bit. Try it, lemme know what you think.

And now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move on to another important topic otherwise known as "good food." You know I love me some good food. Wait, I should clarify: You know I love me some good, HEALTHY food. (There, that's better. I'd hate to mislead you.)

Example #1:

Yeah, alright. So the chocolate chips make this a slightly sinful treat. I really only added them for visual effect, otherwise it would have made for a very boring bowl of oats. And you also needed to know that this bowl of oats contained chocolate...well, 100% natural Cocoa powder. There's a difference. At least I think so. I give you Chocolate and Banana Oats. Creative title, I know.

I mixed a teaspoon of Cocoa powder in once the oats had cooked. And of course, I cooked the banana in the oats from the get-go. I also added a small drizzle of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon to up the flavor factor. Once topped with some peanut butter, it was deliciousness defined.

Example #2:

Strawberry Mango Salsa. You may also refer to this as Mother Nature's candy bowl. SO. STUPIDLY. GOOD that I can't stop eating it. I followed this recipe, and added some freshly pressed garlic and chopped tomatoes to the mix (in place of the cilantro because cilantro makes me gag).

First, I tasted it atop a tortilla chip.

Which proved to be a delightful move. And then I did this:

I slapped some in between two corn tortillas, and added just a bit of Pepper Jack cheese to glue it all together. Despite the fact that the fruit juices made for a sloppy quesadilla, it tasted wonderful. Lunch tomorrow? I think so...I really think so.

PS: The inspection went well. Nothing major needs our immediate attention, although there will be a few things we'll need to take care of. But these things we already knew about. Such is the story when you buy an older home. Well, there was one small surprise. I'm just thankful it was dead. I hate mice.

(I'm thankful my new kitchen will be full of light, too. It's much brighter, much more open than what I'm currently working with. Looking forward to experimenting in the food photography department. Really looking forward to it, actually.)

Question: Do you feel as though one side of your body is stronger than the other? Why do you think this is so? Is it golf, maybe you play tennis or perhaps it's just because you write with one hand versus the other. I think my right side is stronger, and I blame it on gymnastics. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Aerobarre Workout

Ballet and boxing. Two completely different things, and yet—someone somewhere brought them together as one. I am intrigued by the following workout:

Perhaps it's the (sorta) ex-dancer within me. Perhaps it takes me back to college and high school, a time when kickboxing seemed to be all the rage. Either way, I love this workout for it's ability to combine tough, manly moves with graceful, soft moves that still serve to tone and tighten. Plus, (let's be honest) the girl's boots kick some serious ass (sorry, had to say it).

The above is what you might call an Aerobarre workout. Sounds crazy, but it's the brainchild of a pro-boxer and a ballet dancer. And it seems as though they've got an entire fitness studio in New York City (of course) based around this workout and a few others that they've developed. They push the idea that machines aren't a necessity in terms of good fitness, and I tend to agree with them. While I do use them from time to time with my clients and on my own, I actually prefer to do most of my work off of them. Anyone can work a machine—and anyone can easily cheat on a machine, too! But when you're moving your own bodyweight, jumping up and down or shuffling from side to side. Throwing punches here and there, or generally just dancing your way to better strength, well...it gets much harder to fudge the effort.

So take your workout off the machines. You can even forgo the weights. Step back for a minute (yes, right now) and do some burpees. Or try one of Zuzana's workouts. You'll get what I mean.

Let's move on.

In case you can't get enough of your Daily Dose (ha!), I am all too happy to report that I am writing for Blissfully Domestic again! If you haven't checked this site out, please do...it's rather great! Lots of informative information on a wide variety of topics, including Diet and Exercise, which is obviously the category I have been assigned. My first post is up. Let me know what you think! And be sure to "friend" Blissfully Domestic on Facebook to keep up with the latest and greatest the site has to offer. (You can also follow them on Twitter, if that's your thing.)

And now, I'd like to leave you with one little piece of advice. If you're headed out for a run today, or maybe a bike ride, whatever your exercise of choice, do it with all of your heart. Like this:

Just put a smile on your face and go. Go with everything you've got. Only then can you guarantee yourself a great sweat session. (Chasing a dog around a big backyard never gets old. Even if you do. I swear...time of my life!)

Oh, and I picked out my next book:

So far, it's so good. Let's hope it stays that way. Before I get to reading more of it, I have a day. Yoga, then a coupla clients and then...HOME INSPECTION! Cross your fingers that nothing major is discovered, and that it only puts us one step closer to being HOME OWNERS! (Can you tell I am excited?)

Question: How often do you use weight machines? Ever go through a home inspection, only to find that something major needed to be done before move-in? Wait...maybe I don't want to know the answer to that question. Ha!


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