Monday, October 31, 2011


Did I scare you? Don't worry if I did, your body is just channeling a basic survival mechanism. Yep...that would be fear. And since it's Halloween today, I'm sure many of us are in frightful moods. Good, but frightful moods. Who doesn't love Halloween? I can't wait until this little munchkin inside of me is old enough to appreciate the day. Until then, let's do something to honor it (the day, not the munchkin). Let's talk about fear instead of fitness:

Halloween Infographic

Man, arachibutyrophobia would suck. Didja catch that above? The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth? It does suck when you get too much in your mouth, but I'm glad it never scares me. The stuff is just too good! Could you imagine?

Question: Did you dress up for Halloween this year? If so, as what? (I wore a cat-ear headband to the gym. That counts for something, right?)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Make progress at the gym (and at home).

Ah, Sunday. I don't know about you, but this day is typically reserved for week-ahead prep at our house. From the grocery shopping (which I actually did yesterday) to the laundry (almost done) to planning for clients and picking up random clutter that's about the house—we get shi...stuff done in an effort to make some progress on the week ahead. First up, breakfast (because I can't start my day without food).

Apple and Egg Oatmeal. Yep, there's an egg in there. Sometimes I eat my oats and, while they fill me up, they don't keep me filled. So when I know I'm not going to get lunch at my regularly scheduled time, I like to throw in an egg for some additional stomach-fillin' protein. (Another example: Banana and Egg Oatmeal.) Not only does it work, it makes the oats light and fluffy. To these particularly oats, I also added a small, shredded Golden Delicious apple and a half teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground flaxseed. Because you can't have apples and cinnamon without raisins, I threw some of those in, too. So good. Seriously...try the egg trick.

And then go to the gym. Sundays are great days for light workouts. A little walking. Some stretching. Despite all that you need to get done, a little YOU time is good time. And while you're there, perhaps mindlessly walking on the treadmill or pedaling on the stationary bike, you can contemplate more intense workouts which you'll scatter throughout your week. This, of course, is what helps you make progress at the gym.

 1) Take notes. Keep track of what you do in a notebook or by using an application on your phone. Having this history in front of you keeps you aware of where you were and where you are now. To see exactly how much you've been lifting, or how much cardio you've been clocking, reminds you of your end goals. If things aren't changing, you aren't progressing. You can then adjust as needed—and you don't have to waste time trying to remember exactly how much more you should be adding to the weight stack. Or to the clock on the treadmill.

2) Change it up. If you walk into the gym and commence the same routine every single time, you aren't progressing. You're just teaching your muscles to perform certain exercises, which might work for you for a while, but will eventually lead to boredom. For you and for your muscles. But don't feel like you have to perform a completely different workout each and every time you set foot in the gym. Small tweaks go a long way. For example, try using the cable machine for chest flyes instead of your go-to dumbbells. Do squats instead of leg presses, or vice versa.

3) Don't overdo it. Remember, you don't have to work every single muscle every single day. And it really is true that crunches are best done in smaller increments. It's not time spent at the gym that matters, it's the efficiency at which you build and perform your workouts that counts the most.

4) Use the buddy system. If simply getting to the gym is a problem, or if you have no clue what to do...find someone to work out with. Sometimes, two minds work better than one. And let's face it, it's way more fun. Not only can you catch up on the latest this or that, but you can hold each other accountable for making progress and developing the change you seek.

5) Plan ahead. Use your notebook. Reference magazines and books. You wouldn't go into a speech unprepared, now would you? So save time at the gym and walk into it with a plan so you know exactly what needs to be done. And by exactly, I mean knowing the exercises, the weights, the time...know it all to get it all done in a timely fashion. Because if you have to guess, you might not always guess right, which means you might not pick the challenge you currently need.

6) Support your efforts with a great diet. Don't even try to work out on an empty stomach. Prep yourself with some healthy carbs before and after your workouts to give your muscles exactly what they need to progress. And make sure that post-workout snack has some protein in it, too. No, you don't need protein powder.

7) Eliminate distractions. Sure, some of us can concentrate on the cardio equipment with a magazine in front of us, but if you really need to get down and dirty with the weight loss, with the mileage, with the speed...put it away. Focus on the treadmill itself, as boring as that sounds. Focus on your body, and how it responds to that treadmill. Same goes for people. If the buddy system works for you, great! But if you find yourself at the gym at a time when there's just too many people you want to talk to, or that want to talk to you, switch up your schedule if at all possible. Or crank the music. And don't be afraid to say "Hey! I'd love to chat, but I'm on a time limit today. I'll call you, for sure."

8) Have fun. Embrace the experience. If you can't do that, then your body won't either.

Remember that last one. In my opinion, it's the most important one.

And on that note, it's gym time.

Then I have to come back and finish the laundry, prep for my class, carve pumpkins, etc...etc. If you look at the tips above, oddly enough, they can be translated to everyday life, too.

1) Take notes. Make a to-do list and stick to it.
2) Change it up. Shop at a different grocery store, reorganize that drawer to make it more efficient.
3) Don't overdo it. You don't have to get everything done in one day.
4) Use the buddy system. Shop with a friend. Make your kids help.
5) Plan ahead. Anticipating things to come often makes them more doable when the time comes.
6) Support your efforts with a great diet. Where do you think your energy comes from?
7) Eliminate distractions. Turn off the computer, put the phone down, or shut the TV off.
8) Have fun. Yeah, gettin' stuff done can be fun—if you make it fun.

Question: What's your make-progress trick?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Turkey Flaxseed Muffins and Veggie-Packed Egg Bites (So good!)

We typically go grocery shopping every weekend, buying just enough food for the week ahead of us. But sometimes we don't eat through all that food so we put it off for a few days, which inevitably leaves us lacking come mid-week. Such was the case this week, and as I contemplated what to pick up from from the store on my way home from work, I remembered the November 2011 issue of Oxygen. (Yeah, I'm obsessed.) Now, if you read this magazine, you know that it's super good at combining fitness content with clean, wholesome and healthy recipes. Two of which I ended up making for dinner last night.

Boy, did I sure make the right play. Even the hubs loved 'em—he didn't even add hot sauce! (He adds it to everything, especially meals he doesn't particularly care for).

Let's start with the Turkey Flaxseed Muffins.

Yep, you actually make them in a muffin pan. I followed their recipe exactly. You'll get 12 muffins. A single serving is just one, but at only 123 calories each, you can probably get away with eating two.

Source: Oxygen, November 2001

• 1 lb ground turkey breast meat
• 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
• 3 tbsp grated Parmesan
• 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
• 1 large sweet potato, quartered and cooked
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
• Cooking spray

1) Preheat oven to 375F.

2) In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until everything is well blended. If you don't have a food processor, mash the sweet potatoes with a fork and combine well with other ingredients using clean hands.

3) Spray a 12-muffin tin with cooking spray Evenly divide mixture amongst muffin tins. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool before serving.

On to the Veggie-Packed Egg Bites.

What I loved the most about this recipe was its adaptability. Seriously, you could put any veggie (or bean) in and they'd still taste good. For dinner OR for breakfast! What I didn't love about this recipe: The amount of salt, which I ended up cutting in half. One serving size clocks in at 190 calories, which makes it the perfect side dish for the muffins above.

Source: Oxygen, November 2001 (although, I've made a few small changes)

• 4 bell peppers (any color, just make sure they stand up)
• 1 cup broccoli florets
• 1 cup frozen peas
• 1 cup carrot slices
• 4 whole eggs
• 4 egg whites
• 1 cup skim milk
• 4 drops Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 tsp garlic powder
• 1/4 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and thyme
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Slice the stems off the top of each pepper, then clean out the guts. Take care not to puncture the bottom or sides of the pepper. Place on the baking sheet.

3) Combine broccoli, peas and carrots in a microwave-safe bowl and warm slightly. (The peas thaw, which sort of steams the other two.) Stuff evenly into each pepper. If you do end up with a hole somewhere, try and block it with one of the veggies.

4) Mix the remaining ingredients, then pour evenly into the peppers. Bake for an hour, or until a knife comes out clean. (If, after an hour, they aren't done...microwave them in one-minute increments to get the job done.)

While it's true that these take a long time to bake, you can certainly place the Turkey Flaxseed Muffins in the oven at the same time. But you'll want to place them in at least 20 minutes in so that they get at least 40 minutes in the oven—you know, since they'll be working with a cooler oven temp than required.

Or make them on two separate occasions and forget I even mentioned it!

Cheers to the freakin' weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something you might find Pinteresting:

I didn't always "like" Facebook, and I'm still not "tweeting." But this...this Pinterest thing? I'm all over it. If you haven't heard of Pinterest, it's essentially a "virtual pinboard" that "allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web." Like that bulletin board you had in your bedroom when you were little, the one you pinned pictures of all your favorite toys and tween actors to? It's like that, but on the Internet. And, well...I guess it's more mature since you can pin recipes and wedding ideas, fitness tips and fashion finds, great quotes and girly hairstyles.

Key words in that last sentence: Fitness tips.

I'm loving it for the access to fun fitness content I might not otherwise come across. And when I find something I like that someone else has already pinned, I can pin it to my own board for later reference. Or I can pin something I find on the Internet, which essentially puts it up for other pinners to repin.

Sound confusing? It might be at first. It took me some time to figure out what's what with the site, but once it clicks and you get it, you get addicted. Right now, the site runs by invitation only, but you can request an invite. From the site or from me. Or from any of your other friends who are already on Pinterest. Trust me, they are.

So check it out. It's worth it. And let's be totally beats using pushpins and cork board. Ever drop a box of pushpins on the floor? Not fun to clean up.

Feel free to pin your favorite Daily Dose posts for all to see! How? Put the "Pin It" button on your Bookmarks toolbar. It's super easy—and this little button is how YOU add to Pinterest from sites beyond mine. If you want to follow me on Pinterest, you can click on the button in the "Subscribe" section of the column at right. Although, just so you know, I go beyond fitness with my pins. Think fashion, cooking, words...I guess you'll get to know me right quick if you don't already!

Question: Do you pin?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are you prone or supine?

Let's talk vocab. Did you have vocabulary quizzes in grade school? I think I might have had them in high school, too. We had these little orange books with page after page of fill-ins meant to teach us proper use of words we probably wouldn't ever make a part of our everyday language. How much I retained from those lessons...who knows. But I would like to give you a short vocab lesson today (minus the quiz).

You might, if you work with a trainer, have heard the terms "prone" and "supine" on occasion. Let's talk about "prone" first. According to Merriam-Webster:

We'll focus on the second definition, as the first doesn't really pertain to fitness. Your "front or ventral surface" is obviously your chest, and "downward" is otherwise known as "face down." If your trainer were to use this in a sentence, he/she might say something like this: "Let's stretch our quads in the prone position today...reach behind you and grab your right ankle, pulling it into your bum while keeping your knees together." Make sense?

5 Exercises that Can Be Done in the Prone Position
1) Supermans (Core/Back)
2) Straight-Leg Abductions (Glutes)
3) Reverse Flyes (Upper Back/Rear Delts) <—You'd be on a bench in this case.
4) Back Extensions (Low Back)
5) Pressbacks (Triceps) <— Bench again.

While certain exercises require the prone position, others don't. Putting yourself in this position takes a load off the rest of your body. Translation: The muscles supporting the targeted muscles. This, in turn, means that your targeted muscles are targeted even more.

Let's not forget that today is Opposite Day (not really). Time to talk about the "supine" position.

Any guesses?

Yeah, you figured. "Lying on the back or with the face up." Obviously we do this a lot at the gym, but you might not know what to do if your trainer spouts out the following: "Let's do chest presses in the supine position today." To remember this versus the prone position, remind yourself that your SPINE is on the ground in the SuPINE position. that's clever.

5 Exercises that Can Be Done in the Supine Position
1) Leg Extension Crunches (Core/Hip Adductors)
2) Presses/Flyes (Chest)
3) Weighted Bar/Medicine Ball Pullovers (Lats)
4) Alternating Dumbbell Extensions (Triceps)
5) Bridges (Glutes/Hamstrings)

One thing to remember: Whenever you do exercises in the supine position, take care NOT to let that lower back arch too prominently off the ground. You'll see this happen when guys pile on too much during a bench press. (Dudes, if you have to totally arch your back off the bench when you press up all that're not really doing a bench press. Take some weight off, do it right. That'll impress me.)

Now go, shine at the gym with your new vocab words. (Oh, don't lie down. You "position yourself in the supine position.") Then head on over to the Merriam-Webster site and take their vocab quiz. See if all that schoolin' paid off. (I got 3,060 points...did you beat me?)

Question: What's your favorite exercise in the prone position? Supine position?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Oatmeal Spice Cookies

Great news! I passed Glucose Test #2! No more worries for the time being, and let's hope it stays that way. Funny story: After she drew the last vial of blood, I asked her what the next steps would be if the test came back positive for Gestational Diabetes. She says to me, "Well...we like to treat it with a good diet and exercise program, so we'd probably set you up with a nutritionist who could offer some good advice..."


In all honesty, it would have been fun to meet with a nutritionist, but I'm really glad I don't have to. I know Gestational Diabetes isn't a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, and that it's somewhat out of a pregnant woman's control—but it would have been a huge blow to this preggo's ego. I've always been a fairly healthy lady, and I obviously do everything I can to eat right and exercise...I think the whole "it puts you at risk for Diabetes later in life" thing is what scared me the most.


I am totally loving pumpkins right now. We've got them on our porch, and one sits out by the light in our front yard. We've got ugly pumpkins and perfect pumpkins, small pumpkins...

...and fake pumpkins, too.

Alright, I know it's creepy, but how could I have possibly passed up a pumpkin-head pushing a candle-holder crow stroller? It's deluxe! But it's not delicious. I reserve that right for these Pumpkin Oatmeal Spice Cookies:

There are so many great pumpkin recipes coming out of the blogosphere right now that I can't even keep up, but when I found these treats on Love From the Oven, I pretty much ran to my kitchen. Not only are they healthy, they're also quite low in fat. "What's that you say?! A cookie that's low in fat?!" Yes, dear readers. It's true. And like I said before, they're also quite delicious. I followed Christi's recipe exactly, choosing to forgo the optional mix-ins because I didn't have any in the pantry. I also left off the frosting because, well...frosting is frosting is sugar and who needs more of that than necessary?

A couple of tips:
1) Christi is right, it's hard to mix the batter. Get down and dirty with your clean hands.
2) Use a small scoop to make the cookies bite-size. You'll come up with way more than a dozen.
3) Freeze what you can't eat, then move the cookies from the freezer to the 'fridge when you're ready.
4) Don't be surprised—they turn out chewy. Chewy is good, right?
5) They make for a great pre-workout snack.
6) Enjoy.

Question: Do you have a good pumpkin recipe? Send it my way, or link me to it in the "Comments" section below this post!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Official Book Review: You Are an Ironman

2.4 miles in the water, 112 miles on your bike and 26.2 miles in your running shoes. Could you do it? Anyone who has ever trained for a race has probably asked themselves that very question. If you're like me, your response would be something like this: "Yes, I could...if I knew how to swim the strokes. And if I had the time to train." I supposed I could learn the strokes, and I could probably find the time to train, but let's be honest. Becoming and Ironman is fairly low on my list of things to do. A short triathlon? Maybe someday. I might rather do a marathon, though.

Regardless, all three events test the participant's commitment, physical strength and mental health.

Such is the point Jacques Steinberg set out to study in his new book, You Are an Ironman, which follows "six weekend warriors" as they chase "their dream of finishing the world's toughest triathlon." You'll enjoy this book even if you don't have any desire whatsoever to compete in an Ironman. All 290 pages will truly inspire you to get up, get active and to chase your dreams be they good health or a faster 5K.

You'll meet Scott Johnson. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis, survived a double lung transplant and is now a triathlete.

Take a look at Steinberg's recent appearance on Today for a hint at Johnson's character:

But Johnson isn't the only star of Steinberg's book. Brian Reece hadn't set foot in a gym in over 30 years, but was told he was "a heart attack waiting to happen." He completed his first triathlon less than two years later. You'll also meet Laura Arnez (a mother), Tom Bonnette (a teacher) and Tracy Tucker-Georges (a nurse)...all regular people like you who simply decided to take their training up a notch. Or rather, to take their health and fitness up a notch.

And finally, you'll meet Seth Cannello. A cancer survivor whose previous treatments would surely come back to haunt his ability to train. But Seth, along with the others, persevered in the face of the Ironman. I won't tell you who crossed the finish line, nor will I confirm or deny that any of them actually did. But that's a mute point, really. What matters most is that they overcame their own selves to train for such a race, sacrificing time and money along the way.

Their journeys are exciting, sometimes amusing.  And, of course, extremely inspiring. Once again, this book is a must-read. Even if you never, ever in your life wish to participate in an Ironman event.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Food Day

Who doesn't love a day devoted entirely to food? This girl does, that's for sure. It's ironic, however, that I'll be starting my day by coming off a fast for Glucose Test #2. (Big, fat 'ol YUCK to that.) So after three hours of bliss (not), I'll be ready and willing to participate. It's Food Day! Which means that all day long, "thousands of events will inspire Americans to improve their diets and fix our food system." These events are all part of a grassroots campaign sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a "nonprofit watchdog group that has led successful fights for food labeling, better nutrition, and safer food since 1971."

Let's face it, we're a hot mess (for the most part) when it comes to food. From our diets to our supply, we need help on a variety of different levels. Devoting one day out of the entire year to promoting ways to actually help, well...that just makes sense. But it doesn't stop there. The campaign itself is ongoing and evermore, constantly striving to embrace a very specific list of principles.

6 Food Day Principles
1) Reduce diet-related diseases by promoting safe, healthy foods.
2) Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness.
3) Expand access to food and alleviate hunger.
4) Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms.
5) Promote healthy by curbing junk-food marketing to kids.
6) Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.

You can get behind all of that, right? See if there's a Food Day event in your area and do so physically. If there isn't an event, or if you simply cannot attend it, at least do your part by eating real today. Why eat real? Because real food is the only true source of that which maintains and sustains you. Real food starts at the source and ends in a nice, homemade, clean meal on your dinner table.

Need help with that? You can download the 32-page electronic cookbook at left from the Food Day website. It's full of awesome recipes from chefs you already know and love (Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Mark Bittman, etc). I'm seriously drooling over all the recipes inside it.

There's nothing, at least in my opinion, quite like a real (translation = clean) meal. Not only does it taste better, it brings such good things into your body that really make a huge difference in the way you feel. Particularly if you're a fitness freak. (I mean "freak" in the most loving sense possible, obvi.)

So anyways, get behind today. And if you walk away with anything, at least walk away understanding the ten best and worst aspects of America's food scene:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

And the winner is...

Congrats, Rita! I can't wait for you to get your Happy Belly Bag! Be sure to let me know what you think of know, if there's anything good in there that I need to know about. I don't doubt there will be! To the rest of you, thanks for participating. And thanks for reading. I love getting your comments, some of which link me to your precious places on the Internet. I can't help but check 'em out! Of course, I can't write this post without thanking Happy Belly Bags for providing the product. Seriously, they're a great company!

What's also great? This is totally random, but:

This candle is the very epitome of fall, and I can't help but burn it brightly in my living room. I can smell it in the computer room, where I've chosen to park myself for the duration of this sunny Fall day. There's some back-end blog things I need to take care of, and I'm in the mood to get them done. The husband is out raking leaves (bless his heart for taking care of that chore), so I figured it was a good time to get to gettin'. Although I do anticipate taking a break at some point for a nice walk about the neighborhood. It is, as I've previously mentioned, a sunny Fall day.

And we should always make time in our day for a little physical fitness, right?

So I won't keep you any longer. Step away from the computer (unless you, too have to get some back-end blog things done). Get yourself moving!

Question: What did you do today that got you moving?

Friday, October 21, 2011

On passing and failing.

When I was in college, I took a course called "American Popular Music" for no other reason than to rack up credits. It sounded interesting, and slightly reminiscent of a course I took in high school (and subsequently loved). Lemme tell ya, it sucked Tootsie Roll pops (which I hate). The content was cool, but I just couldn't connect with the professor nor could I anticipate the test questions. I literally bombed...completely failed...the first few tests, despite having made note cards to study with. So unlike me, Miss B-Average. So I dropped the course. I cut out of there like no other—it's not like the course had anything to do with my major, so why let it ruin my GPA?! That was my thinking, and I ended up taking a Journalism class over the summer to make up for it.

It seriously was the only time I can remember failing so miserably in school. I hated that I couldn't master the course. I'm not one to fail tests. But I did. And I'm dealing with those same feelings this week, albeit on a different (more emotional) scale.

I failed my glucose test. Gaaaaah! WTF?

I eat healthy. I work out. I'm in my seventh month of pregnancy and have only gained 18 pounds. Any other tests I've taken thus far have all come back with stellar results. So, seriously...WTF?? I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a tear or two over it. I hate failing, and I hate being "unhealthy." And also—I hate that orange stuff, which I apparently get to drink again on Monday. Talk about the epic retaking of a test. I have to fast for twelve hours on Sunday night, after which I'll return to my doctor on Monday morning for a 3-hour extended glucose test.

Warning to my doctor: You're asking me not to eat for 12 hours straight, possibly even more. I cannot be responsible for my attitude. I do NOT do well on a very empty stomach! (Ask my husband.) And also, I got my Circuit Sculpt covered by another instructor, so you're forcing me to miss my morning workout because obviously I cannot hit the gym on that same empty stomach. Argh!


Here's to hoping Glucose Test #2 goes a lot better than Glucose Test #1. I hear other mothers have had this same problem, but ultimately walked away without a problem. Fingers crossed. (Cross your fingers for me.)

Here's the deal, though. Failure isn't a be-all, end-all. It's just another push to achieve whatever it is we've set out to achieve or accomplish. You can look back and ask yourself why and how the failure happened and ultimately learn from the experience while leading yourself on to another check point at which you'll hopefully have finally accomplished what you set out to accomplish. (Sorry, wordy...didja get that?) In the meantime, as you work toward that check point, you can focus on the positives in your life. So you failed to lose five pounds by X date. Perhaps you finally get why those five pounds aren't coming off, or perhaps you made some advances in your efforts at the gym. Now's your chance to really lose those five pounds, now that you're beginning to connect the dots a bit more.

So I failed my glucose test. I get another chance. (Did you cross your fingers for me yet?) And while I wait for that chance, I'll focus on the fact that I'm still feeling really good. That there's a munchkin within who will soon (76 days!) be able to take advantage of all the gifts it's been getting. Take a look at some of the cuteness:

I know, it's just a car seat and stroller, but having it in the corner where a plush gray chair will soon be just makes everything seem so completely real.

Holy small infant diaper, Batman! I'm not sure what boggles me more: The fact that I was small enough to wear one of these at one point, or the fact that I will soon be responsible for something small enough to wear one of these.

Or one of these. Yep, Baby already has an Irish hat. Jason wants to let the kid pick his/her own team. I'd rather brainwash it to love Notre Dame. Which is why it will love it's new teddy bear:

But, whatever. If it ends up hating Notre Dame, I'll still love it. Unless it likes M...nevermind. Let's look in Baby's closet:

Is that not the cutest bathrobe ever?! I'm obsessed! Can't wait to start adding the pink or the blue. Can't wait to get this glucose test over with, either. But for now, I bid you a good weekend. I'm heading down to South Bend for some tailgating. What are you doing?

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win an Organic Snacker Belly Bag from Happy Belly Bags! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Friday, October 21, 2011). 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about the word "natural" lately. It has a very important place in a healthy lifestyle, but with today's marketing-rich society, we tend to move very easily away from that which is completely and totally natural. We forget about "the way things were" and the fact that those things were often easier, simpler than they are today. We focus instead on the latest this or that, which claims to make those same things easier but actually ends up complicating the situation over and over. Shall we discuss?

1) Eat, naturally.
Your body needs sustenance to survive. Whenever a client asks me why they aren't losing weight... It usually goes something like this: "I'm watching what I eat and I eat good but I can't lose the weight and what's wrong what's going on WHY CAN'T I LOSE?!?!" ...I always ask them if they're actually eating enough. We have a natural inclination toward less is best, thanks to all those pretty skinny models in all of our favorite fashion magazines. And thanks to the diet industry that makes us all feel like we should just stop eating forever 'cuz it's so confusing. But when it comes to eating, if we eat too little, our bodies think they need to store whatever they are getting. That's as basic as it gets. I know, this you've heard a million times before. But have you ever actually tracked how much you might be taking in each day? I encourage you to check out MyFitnessPal. Your calorie counts might surprise you. And you might find yourself newly inspired to skip the overprocessed "crap" we sometimes call food.

2) Eat naturally.

Freshly cooked potatoes will always and forever be better for you than a bag of potato chips. Peanut butter will always be better for you than a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Freshly baked chicken breasts will always be better for you than fried chicken from Kentucky (otherwise known as a bucket of grease from KFC). So eat as close to the source as you can. Eat clean, pure and wholesome foods—even if you can't afford to buy the organic version. Remember: Fast food didn't always exist and our grocery stores weren't always this packed—and we still managed to survive. Just barely, though, given our long list of diseases we've been dealing with.

3) For best results, go natural at the gym.
From protein bars to meal replacement shakes, diet pills that promise fat loss and supplements that swear to provide increased muscle definition...whatever happened to sweating your butt off (literally speaking)?! There is no miracle cure. Cavemen (and women) were ripped because they had to work for their meals. They had to work to survive. They didn't have what we have today, and they still got the results some of us only dream of achieving naturally. But I'm telling you, if you really focus on what you're doing, your dream of being happy and healthy in a body that shows it isn't completely unrealistic. You just have to be willing to sweat a little—and to actually work for it. Poppin' pills is not the solution, despite what any trainer tells you. (Seriously, if your trainer is encouraging you to take protein supplements left and right, ask for proof of certification. You'll probably find that he's not actually certified by any significant organization, most of which teach you never to ever push supplements.) So ditch the chemically enhanced protein shakes and power bars. Pick bananas and smoothies made with the most natural ingredients. Your body will thank you.

4) Do what feels natural.
This can be applied to a number of different scenarios, but I'd like to apply it to your workouts. If ever you join a class or try a move that just doesn't feel right to you? Question it, specifically if you're working with a trainer. They need to know you're feeling funky because if it doesn't feel natural, it just might be something your body can do. And that's perfectly fine. There are a zillion different ways to work out, one of which is bound to fit you perfectly. So don't feel like you have to take the latest class because everyone else is, or do the latest move simply because your trainer is telling you to. And certainly don't feel like you have to work out of the week simply because your friends are. Or run with them at their pace if it's too fast. Our bodies are all different. What works for one might not work for another. (PS: If sitting on the couch and eating Cheetos feels natural to you...get over it, Lazy Bones. You can do better.)

5) Give birth naturally.
Oh, sorry. This one might only apply to me at the moment. We completed Week 2 of our Labor/Delivery classes at the hospital and my mind is all abuzz with birthing options. Lemme throw this out there: Epidurals scare me. No way do I want that big needle near my spine. I don't care if it worked just fine for you! Epidurals didn't exist even a few years ago, so I can go without. Right? I'm not trying to be a birthing hero or anything, I just feel like my body will know what it's doing when the time comes. So I should be able to tag along for the ride, right? Yeah, it's gonna hurt like a beeeeyotch. My mom survived. I can, too. Right? RIGHT? So right now, my plan is to go the natural route. In some sick, twisted way I truly want to feel the pain. I want to feel what so many other women before me have felt, ultimately saying it was the hardest and best thing they've ever done. I want to say that, too.

Question: How does "natural" fit into your lifestyle?

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win an Organic Snacker Belly Bag from Happy Belly Bags! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Friday, October 21, 2011). 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Do I have gestational diabetes?

Glucose is a simple sugar created from the carbohydrates in our diet. Any excess, unused glucose is stored in our liver and in our muscles—we call it glycogen at this point. Together, glucose and glycogen create a source of energy that fuels our activity in and out of the gym. Specifically referencing the gym, if you were to run for a longer period of time and subsequently hit a wall, you would have reached the point of fatigue where your glucose and glycogen supplies are nearly depleted. Snacking on healthy carbohydrates would, of course, bring those same supplies back up.

Glucose (from healthy carbohydrates) is a good thing. Except when it isn't—and this is what we commonly refer to as diabetes. Insulin regulates our glucose levels, making sure that there isn't too much sugar circulating within, which could essentially overload the kidneys. In the pregnant woman, this is particularly alarming because the body purposely lapses in glucose regulation in an effort to provide just the right amount of insulin to make sure that mother and baby are getting enough of it. But sometimes it gets too lapse in regulation. So it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that if a pregnant woman's body lets too much glucose flow, diabetes will result. But since this condition often goes away after pregnancy, it's otherwise referred to as gestational diabetes. Meaning, the pregnant woman might only have it while she is with child. But like any other diabetic, it needs to be treated. And today, I'm going to get tested. Which means I have to drink this, the dreaded sugar fluid:

They say it tastes like flat orange pop, only thicker. I detest orange pop, in fact, I don't drink pop save for the occasional Dr. Pepper splurge—and by "occasional," I truly mean once every three months or so. Needless to say, this should be interesting. Former preggos insist I drink it over ice with a straw. Why is it that we drink faster when a straw is involved?

I'll never know.

But I will soon know what this stuff tastes like. I have to drink it one hour before today's appointment. In all honesty, I'm a bit nervous. Not about the drinking of the orange goo, but about actually having GD. There are no true signs of gestational diabetes.

I eat as healthy as I can, I obviously exercise. According to What to Expect When You're Expecting, this cuts the risk in half. So that's positive. But still, what if I fail the test? No one likes to fail. And I certainly don't want to have to deal with the resulting treatments. Sometimes it can be regulated with diet and exercise, other times insulin (shots!) is involved. That sounds neither pleasant nor convenient.

Wish me luck.

Today's lesson: Even if you aren't pregnant, getting enough exercise while maintaining a healthy diet is essential. Not only will you feel better, you'll cut your risk of developing diabetes down the road, and you'll set your body up to be it's maximum best. Sure, we all like to splurge on things that are bad for us, but when we splurge on occasion in tandem with a regular program of physical activity and healthy meal, it's OK. Splurging on bad things every day, not exercising at all...not OK.

Today's lesson, part two: Healthy carbs are essential. To develop a diet sans carbohydrates is to deprive your body of a key source of energy. Remember, carbohydrates = glucose/glycogen = ENERGY. That's why races supply whole wheat bagels and bananas. That's why the fitness industry is booming with "energy" bars filled with sugar. Be smart around these, but certainly be smart about carb intake before and after your workouts. 

Question: What, dear readers, do you like to fuel up on before and after workouts? To all of my pregnant/previously pregnant did you handle the glucose test?

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my giveaway! You just might win an Organic Snacker Belly Bag from Happy Belly Bags! (Contest ends at midnight EST on Friday, October 21, 2011).

Monday, October 17, 2011

WIN THIS: An Organic Snacker Belly Bag from Happy Belly Bags!

Eating healthy is hard. With all the labels, the marketing schemes, the ever-changing rules and the vast selection of diet books all claiming the same's hard! Picking the right foods becomes a challenge we often don't have time for. Or the tastebuds for. So we make bad decisions on a whim and instantly regret them. Or we keep eating the same 'ol crap day in and day out. But eating healthy isn't so hard, really. It just takes a little common sense and a small selection of excellent resources. My favorites include Oxygen, Cooking Light and my Google Reader (currently subscribed to a number of reputable healthy eating resources). I've learned a lot just by reading up, and I've come to really know what's good and what's bad. But still, I wish healthy food would just show up on my doorstep.

Turns out, it can. Ever hear of Happy Belly Bags? It's a wonderful resource for specialty food gifts for people who are "on restricted diets due to choice or for medical reasons." And since eating healthy is obviously one of the key choices we should all be making, this company is a winner in my eyes. It's not a grocery store, per se. But a resource for strategically packed gift bags and (of course) a la carte items that have been chosen specifically by Sarah, the woman behind the bags. She's committed to "selecting absolute quality."

And so, when she agreed to send me a few samples of her products, I basically jumped for joy. Who doesn't love tasting new foods that happen to be healthy, too? This girl does, that's for sure. This girl loved her sampler pack, too. It was chock full of deliciousness:

It's as if Sarah knew exactly what I wanted to try. Mangos? Almond Butter? Tortilla Soup?! Hello, happy belly. And that's what I love about this company. There truly is something for everyone. From gluten-, nut- and dairy free bags to Kosher and egg-free products...every belly can be made instantly happy. Choose from pre-selected gift bags or build your own. However you go about it, your recipient will love it...and yes, you can be your own recipient. Think about building a snack pack for your desk drawer or an upcoming road trip. Or maybe you just had to switch up your diet and now face restrictions you haven't yet had to deal with—this is the perfect way to make dealing with them fun!

Take a closer look at some of the products from the bag above:

Bare Fruit 100% Organic and Bake-Dried Mangos. (Notice the absence of sugar?)

22 Days Enlightened Pumpkinseed Bar. (LOVE me some pumpkinseed.)

Love Raw Foods Whole Raw Organic Almonds. (On-the-go snacking!)

I've also sampled the Better Than Roasted, Sprouted Raw Almond Butter and the Big Tree Farms Organic Coconut Palm Sugar with Cinnamon (in my oatmeal). Both of which were de-li-cious.

Happy Belly Bags is like someone walked around Whole Foods for you, picking out only the best of the best. That's a jackpot, if you ask me. And it might be for you, too. They've graciously agreed to give one lucky Daily Dose reader an Organic Snacker Belly Bag, which would be a seriously awesome score. And yes, those icons mean that this bag contains foods that are gluten-, dairy- and casein-free, and they also happen to be organic and whole. Does it get any better than that? You'll love this bag if you find yourself packing snacks every day. And you'll love the bag, too. (Who doesn't love a stylish, reusable tote? Beats those plastic bags from the grocery store, right?)

And now, the rules: To enter, in a comment following this post, let me know what foods keep your belly happy on a daily basis. Additional entries can be accumulated by doing any of the following:

1) "Like" Happy Belly Bags on Facebook.
2) Follow Happy Belly Bags on Twitter.
3) "Like" A Daily Dose of Fit on Facebook.
4) Subscribe to A Daily Dose of Fit.

Please leave your email address so that I may contact you if you win!

Best of luck! Trust me, you'll want this prize. Giveaway ends at midnight EST on Friday, October 21, 2011. The winner will be announced on Sunday, October 23, 2011.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's baby shower day!

The sun is out and the wind is fierce, a true fall day indeed—and the perfect backdrop to the lovely shower my mother is hosting for me. The house is abuzz with baby right now, down to the letter blocks and mums scattered about:

I won't even begin to show you the food being made, as I'm already drooling. It's a very good thing I started my morning off with a 35 minute walk on the treadmill. My buddy kept checking in on me:

Kedzie was so concerned! I think it had less to do with Baby on board, and more to do with the fact that her "pack" (my mom, my sister and myself) was all over the house and not in one room. How very motherly of her. Regardless, it was a good walk for this mother (even though this mother's bladder ended it about five minutes before she wanted it to). (TMI?) Lunch thereafter was a great toasted veggie sandwich with a glass of new POM Lite:

It's got about half the calories as the original POM juice, and no...they didn't add some goofy sweeteners to make it possible. Try one if you like pomegranate juice. It's the right amount of sweetness for a savory lunch such as the one you see above. Speaking of sweetness, there are cakes all over the house right now. Little, tiny cupcakes that I want to put right into my mouth right...this...second:

Life is good whenever cupcakes are involved.

Check out this other cake that my good friend Kate made me:

It's a diaper cake! And how unbelievably cute is it? She gave it to me yesterday. I couldn't resist bringing it to the festivities. Turns out, it makes for a great centerpiece. Although, to be honest with you, I can wait just a little bit longer to dig into this one. Diapers...egads. This is really happening, isn't it? Hope your day is wonderful! (Be sure to sneak in some fitness, even if it's just a short little walk outside among the blowing leaves and dropping temps.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Garlicky Spinach-Sausage Gratin

It's Friday night! Never have I ever wanted a weekend so badly. Why's that? Baby shower! So excited. But first, before we get to the festivities tomorrow, I really want to make sure you know about this Garlicky Spinach-Sausage Gratin recipe from the October 2011 Cooking Light. Honestly, I've bookmarked so many recipes from this issue that I think you should run out and buy yourself a copy. It's worth it. This will be the third recipe I've made from it and it does not disappoint. In fact, I don't think I've ever been disappointed by a recipe from Cooking Light. So next time you hit the grocery store, get these ingredients... you can make this...

So tasty. Hearty, too. But healthy. I want some right now.

Question: How do you feel about spinach? I find that people either love it or hate it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tips to Avoid Strength Training Plateaus

You might be thinking that yet another post on plateaus will prove to be extremely boring, but thanks to ACE Fitness, I am here today to prove you wrong. And I do so kindly, of course. Check out their latest video for some really great tips to avoid strength training plateaus:

Do you have machine envy, as I do? For starters, that leg press looks awesome and comfortable. And I'm super intrigued by the biceps curl chair. Gosh, I love the fitness industry. You never know what they'll come up with next. For example, I came recently came across a picture of the CoreBody Reformer in Fitness.

I don't usually go for gimmicky home fitness equipment, but I actually sorta dig it. It looks like a great way to build some long, lean and strong muscles. And in all honesty, it doesn't seem that gimmicky. It's got a hefty price tag ($279), but I can see it being used in gyms much like the way a typical Pilates reformer would be used. And they say adults can't play with toys. Psha—that's what the fitness industry is all about!

My day of playing with fitness toys is currently over. I am now looking at an afternoon filled with cleaning (the dreaded kitchen, blech) and blogging. (If you are still interested in blogging for me when Baby arrives, please do contact me soon! I'd love to get you scheduled!)

I'm also looking at the flowers my hubs brought home for me on our anniversary.

Love me some red roses.

Question: What's your favorite fitness "toy" and how do you keep it new with each and every use?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Diagonal Dead Lifts

I tried something new today: Diagonal dead lifts. I love dead lifts more than chocolate—and you know how much I love my chocolate. But just like any other exercise, I get sick of them. How many times can a girl bend forward with 15-pound weights or an Olympic bar in her hands? And then there's that whole "switch it, change it" rule of achievement. We exercisers like our reps, but not when they get repetitive. So I do single-leg dead lifts, straight leg dead lifts, dead lifts on a BOSU...I love them all, but I've done them all a million times each. So that's why I tried something new today.

Diagonal dead lifts rock my glutes and hams—every part of my glutes and hams, which includes the outermost part of the muscles. A how-to:

Diagonal Dead Lifts:
1) Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, legs straight and with a weight in each hand.
2) Keep your back straight as you hinge forward from the hips, moving diagonally toward your right foot by leading with your hip (not your lower back). Keep your legs straight the entire time, pulling back to your starting position with your glutes and hamstrings (again, not your lower back).
3) Repeat, hinging toward your left foot to complete one repetition.

Try them next time you put dead lifts into your workout. And try these whole wheat fig bars from Nature's Bakery. I found 'em at Meijer for $0.99:

 They're like Fig Newtons, only much cleaner. As the package indicates, they're cholesterol free, dairy free, without trans fats and completely kosher (if that's a concern). And you'd totally recognize every ingredient on the label. Oh, and they taste good, too.

In case you're wondering about the nutritional information, a single serving is worth 110 calories, and contains just 20 fat calories.

It's perfect for a light snack between meals, or to accompany a small salad at lunch. Other flavors include Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Peach Apricot (also good) and Raspberry. I can't wait to try them all.

Question: How often do you put dead lifts into your workout? If not with dead lifts, how do you hit your glutes and hamstrings?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Marathon Mom

By now, you've heard about Amber Miller—the woman who gave birth after running the Chicago Marathon this past weekend at 28 weeks pregnant. Being pregnant myself, and being a part of the fitness industry, I've had no less than five thousand people (yes, a slight exaggeration made purely for emphasis) come up to me with an opinion on her historical finish.

"Is she crazy?"
"I can't believe her doctor let her do that!"
"That poor baby."
"So awesome!"
"I could never do it. I wouldn't want to."
"How inspirational!"
"What was she thinking?"

Generally speaking, people think she's crazy—but is she? Is she really crazy?

We look at Amber Miller and we immediately see nothing more than a pregnant woman running in the type of race many of us only dream of finishing. Strike #1: Pregnant woman running. Strike #2: The type of race many of us only dream of finishing. What we don't see is the runner that Amber is, which means we also don't see that she has trained her body (for a number of years) to finish such a race. A race she's finished on multiple occasions, two of which she ran pregnant. No, Amber Miller is not crazy. She's a runner. And a smart one, too. She obviously took into consideration her unborn child. If we look past the headlines, we read that she repeated a pattern of walking two, then running two miles until she crossed the finish line. And she did all of this with her doctor's approval. Clearly, he understood how capable she was. And clearly, the baby is fine.

As women, we should celebrate one of our own accomplishing something so great. And we should remember that pregnancy, while it slows us down, does not banish us to the couch for nine months straight. I swear I feel so great right now because of all the work I do at the gym. Granted, I'm not working as hard as I used to, but I am still able to push accordingly. Yes, I get funny stares when I run the track...but seriously, if you were to see me running, you'd see the look of utter boredom on my face. My body says: "OK, girl...I can't go any faster and I seriously have to pee." My brain says: "Damn, girl...LET'S GO." But I don't go, because I physically can't right now. Just like I don't lift nearly as much as I used to. It's not about being skinny or buff, it's about keeping my body strong for my own health and for the health of my child.

I know my limitations, just like Amber Miller did.

I praise Amber Miller, and I praise all the pregnant women of this world who continue with their workouts. Yes, you can keep working out while you are pregnant. Yes, you have to make sure your pregnancy will allow it (talk to your doctor), but if all is good...squats and lunges and moderate cardio will be, too. Provided you modify as your pregnancy requests.

I spoke with a woman at my gym who happens to be pregnant with her second child. She explained to me that she never worked out with her first, and that her second pregnancy is so different purely because she is working out. She has more energy, she doesn't need as many naps. She's hooked in the best way possible!

Just think about what a little exercise could do for you, all you non-preggos that don't hit the gym! Jump on the motivation train! If we mom-to-be can get our buns (our butts and the little ones inside of us) to the gym, why can't you?

And if you already do get to the gym sans bun-in-the-oven, you rock my world. Thanks for being a part of the fitness brigade. It truly is an awesome brigade to join, am I right?

Question: Did you work out while you were pregnant, why or why not? If you haven't ever been pregnant, what do you think when you see pregnant women working out? What do you think about Amber Miller?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wide-Leg Squats with Elevated Heels

Hooo, dang! I kicked my butt in Circuit Sculpt today. Literally. We did wide-leg squats with our heels up off the ground, which seriously ups the burn factor. One of the other trainers did them in her Studio Pump class on Friday and couldn't stop talking about her shakey, tired legs—and I'm a huge sucker for anything that makes my legs shakey and tired. It's hard for me to make them sore. I blame it on all those years of cheerleading and gymnastics. I've been squatting and lunging almost daily since fourth grade.

So, wide-leg squats with elevated heels. Here's how:

1) Grab a free weight, something heavier. (I used a 15-pounder.)
2) Stand with your legs wide, toes pointed out according to comfort.
3) Let the weight hang between your legs. Rise up onto your toes.
4) Stay here—yes, on your toes—as you lower into that wide leg squat.
5) Straighten without letting the heels drop. Squat and repeat. (We did 15 repetitions.)

Not only will you feel it in your quads, glutes and calf muscles—but you'll feel your core engaging as well. You are, after all, on your toes which means your balance is being challenged.

The only thing missing was a squat hold. If you take my class and you're reading this—get ready for a set of 15 wide-leg squats with elevated heels...with a 5-second squat hold every five repetitions. I know, I'm so mean. Your legs will thank me someday.

We also did tick-tock lunges this morning, and those suckers always burn.

You know what else burns? My love for my husband....bahahaha! How cheesy is that? I couldn't resist, I really couldn't. It provided the segue I needed for this:

It's October 10, 2011. That means we've been married for two years! It's our anniversary! I couldn't be happier. Two years and a baby on the way...all is good in our world. It truly is. And if I could go back to that day and marry him again, I would.

And I'd make this soup:

Spinach, Pasta and Pea Soup from the October 2011 issue of Cooking Light. It's seriously SO GOOD. And easy to make. Perfect for lunches, if you ask me. The only thing missing from the above? The sprinkle of fresh Parm I placed on top of my serving. Best part? It contains a trace amount of lemon, which the hubs doesn't like in fresh form, so that means I get to eat it all throughout the week.

Speaking of "week." It's totally "clean the house" week, so I best be getting started started. It's a workout in and of itself. At least it is for me these days, Miss Third Trimester.

Question: What's your favorite leg exercise? I mean, what really gets them to burn?


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