Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Biceps and Triceps Exercises

Today was a cardio day. I didn't lift a single weight, save for the few I moved around for my clients and my TRX Bootcamp. But tomorrow, well...another strength day. I've added my third workout back into my week. (Don't worry, I lift easier these days.) It just feels right, and I feel better mentally and physically because it's a workout just for me (and Baby). Aside from the past few weeks, I've been relying on my Monday/Friday Circuit Sculpt classes for all of my strength training. They've done me well, but they are a bit limiting given the lack of equipment in the storage closet. So in my Wednesday strength sessions, I've taken to using some machines. Mainly of the cable nature.

It's been going well. Nice to have some variety again.
I think my muscles are responding. At least as much as they can in my present state.

You know, since I have to be careful about how much I lift. I've added a few reps to the exercises where I really need to just add the weight, but can't.

So when, you might be wondering, do biceps and triceps come into this conversation? That's why you're reading this post, right? Well, they come into it right now.

I think that when it comes to biceps and triceps, I get bored really very easily. How many curls and extensions can you really do—with weights or on a cable—before you get truly bored out of your mind? And if you're bored out of your mind, then your muscles probably are, too. Which means no further advancements in strength and/or weight loss can be made.

Until you switch things up, that is.

Here's a video from Oxygen with a few minor tweaks to the standard bicep curl and triceps extension:

If someone could just try the first and let me know how it goes...I'm fairly certain Baby will get in the way of any of my own attempts, but it truly looks like a good maneuver.


Question: How many times a week do you strength train?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Seriously Good Eats

I've been enjoying some delicious meals as of late. Delicious and healthy meals, I might add. It's safe to say that my first trimester diet debacle is behind me. (Even though I'm still not eating my beloved almond butter. It's unexplainable. And sad.) What hasn't left me, and might not ever until Baby is among us, is my incessant hunger. That whole "eating for two" thing...there's some truth to it, although I do still try not to let myself pig out unnecessarily. It's all about distraction at this point. But I won't ever let myself get distracted from the following, should I make them again. Er, sorry...when I make them again.

First up, Chicken Tostadas.

Not only am I obsessed with Mexican food, I am equally infatuated by Cooking Light. Never have I ever been disappointed by one of their recipes. In this case, it was the Avocado Dressing. TOTALLY FAB in my mouth. Reduced-fat sour cream meets avocado meets lemon juice meats ground red pepper. Yeah. You want it. The only thing I did differently than Cooking Light—I skipped the required rotisserie chicken in favor of baked chicken breasts, which I'm sure cuts down on the fat and sodium content. (Sometimes, I get a little skeeved out by the rotisserie chicken that's been sitting there under those heat lamps for God only knows how long.)

Next up, two breakfast options.

For some reason, I woke up on Saturday in the mood for oatmeal. I know, oatmeal in August doesn't make sense. Can I blame this one on Baby? Probably not, it's just in me to want oatmeal when I haven't had it in a while. And honestly, nothing else sounded good so I rolled with it.

Behold, Banana and Egg Oatmeal.

Yes, there's an actual egg in there, which totally ups the protein factor. And makes the entire concoction a bit creamier, which is fun. Not so fun but sinfully delicious: The few bites of Jessica's All-Natural Chocolate Granola that I sprinkled on top. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Here's the recipe:

Banana and Egg Oatmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup water
1 egg
1 small or medium banana, mashed
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tbsp. Maple syrup
Chia seeds (optional)
Chocolate granola (optional) 

Mix oats, water and egg in a sauce pan. Bring it to a boil, then let it boil for at least five minutes (or until the oats reach a consistency you like). Make sure the egg cooks thoroughly. You'll know when it's done. Turn the heat to low. Mix in the banana (reserve a few slices to top off your finished bowl of oats if you'd like), cinnamon and maple syrup. Spoon into your favorite bowl and top with banana slices, Chia seeds and oatmeal...and anything else your little heart desires.

Easy, right?

Almost as easy as the following:

Nope, these aren't from scratch. But the mix isn't all that bad for you! I love me some pancakes, but I don't love the ingredients that make up your typical pancake mix. Good for a splurge, but not good if you'd like to eat them all the time. And I could seriously eat pancakes all the time if I let myself. Maybe I can with these guys.

I used The Silver Palate's Grain Berry Pancake & Waffle Mix, which I found sitting among all the other breakfast goods at my local Meijer. Literally, there are seven ingredients in this mix. All of which I recognize. It's low in sugar and calories, produces a good amount of carbohydrates for a morning meal, and the resulting cakes taste fantastic. Even the hubs liked the waffles when we made them, and he's super-picky about his waffles.

What's on top? Nothing more than blueberries and Chia seeds warmed up in a little pan on the stove top. If you don't have Chia seeds, I imagine warming up the blueberries would produce the same deliciousness. Try it. And try the mix. (Note: I've also had their Grain Berry Bran Flakes Cereal, which was equally delish. And both boxes featured a small handful of coupons on the inside, which is how I came to purchase the mix. Save  $1.00? Sign me up!)

And now, It's time for me to tackle my Sunday. We intend to make more progress on Baby's room, and quite possibly hit the beach if the temps allow. I slept for 12 hours last night, I think I'm ready to go.

Question: What seriously good eats have you had lately?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Does milk do your body good?

Milk is on my mind for obvious reasons right now, as I will (if Baby gets the process) be a human cow in a few months. I'm accepting of that, but that's not really the point of this post. Rather, thrice today the substance has brought itself to my attention.

Attention-Getter #1: The Oxygen Article
Are you sick of me mentioning this magazine yet? Unfortunately, I don't aim to stop. The September issue offers up an article entitled "5 Milks For Your Consideration," which I guzzled down this morning while walking on the treadmill. (Don't judge, I read when I walk on the treadmill.) And at the end of the article, a link to the website with the promise of more information. I bit, and found this file:

CLICK HERE if you'd like to download it for yourself. It really is a handy tool.

Attention-Getter #2: The Milk in My Refrigerator

We buy skim milk, much to my husband's dismay. He prefers 2% while I go for the lighter version. He's such a good man for letting me win this battle. I lose only when he hits the grocery store without me, and I'm accepting of that. The almond milk, on the other hand, is not a regular and has been in the back of my refrigerator for probably too long now. I remember opening it right before the preggo sickness hit, during which my taste for all things almond sort of went away. My interest in such things is still waning, which is why I tossed the box.

Attention-Getter #3: The Smoothie
I get hungry around 2:30PM every day. Maybe it's because I eat lunch around 11:00AM, maybe it's because I'm hard-wired to need food in the middle of the afternoon. I didn't want crackers and cheese, no hummus either. Today, since I obviously have milk on the brain, I wanted a smoothie. And since I have an overabundance of peaches and some frozen mango chunks, a Peach Mango smoothie it all became. With, of course, about a cup of milk. The skim milk. Yum:

And that's my milk story for the day! I don't drink it that often, maybe once a day, usually in cereal or a smoothie. There's something about the taste of it that I just can't swig down anymore. But I realize that it has its health benefits, so I sneak it in when I can. I'm especially happy to read, thanks to Oxygen, that it does a body good post-workout, too. And yes, the rumors about chocolate milk are true. Although I prefer to eat my chocolate from a chocolate shop.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, baby seems to be developing well at this point. Fingers crossed that this pattern continues. I'd post some ultrasound pictures, but we honestly didn't get any good ones of the stinker. Just some feet, toes, hands and arms. Maybe it's because we opted not to find out the gender. I suppose that makes the picture-taking a bit difficult.

Question: Does milk do your body good? What kind of milk do you drink, and how?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing

Too much of a good thing. Hey, it happens. Think about the last time you ate too much fiber. Think about the last time you drank too much red wine. Or how about the time you strength trained right through that rest day. Or ran one too many miles without having prepared for them. Too much of a good thing. It happens to the best of us. And apparently you can drink one too many glasses of water, too.

You can also have wayyy too much produce in the house. Seriously, I have produce up the what. I inherited a farm share this week, as the two ladies that typically share it were both out of town. So nice of them to give it to me, but...man. The peaches.

I have so many peaches right now! Eleven of them, counting the five I already had in the 'fridge. And a giant zucchini, plus about five tomatoes and countless tiny tomatoes. Red potatoes. Raspberries. A melon of sorts. I think I'll put some of the tomatoes on a whole wheat veggie pizza tonight, but I'm stumped when it comes to the peaches.

But at least I've got plenty of fresh snacking options to pick from over the course of the next few days. Beats crackers and cheese any day, really. Although I do love me some crackers and cheese, they can be quite filling. And unhealthy if you pick the wrong kind.

Let's get back to the water. I have an ultrasound today. Yes, THE ultrasound. The one that could tell me if we're having a boy or a girl. But we aren't finding out. So we'll go interested in seeing how our little one is growing, and with fingers crossed that they don't spill the beans. And I'll be crossing my fingers that I don't spill my bladder. I have to drink three 8-oz. glasses of water just thirty minutes before my appointment, and I can use the girls' room until AFTER my appointment is over.

Do they realize that I'm pregnant?

Do they realize that I don't go 15 minutes without using the little girls' room?

Talk about too much of a good thing. I'm in for too much water this afternoon!

Question: Have you recently enjoyed too much of a good thing?

Monday, August 22, 2011

New post on Blissfully Domestic!

Hey all, head on over to Blissfully Domestic and check out my latest post. It's all about working out with your kids—yes, kids can work out. And they don't necessarily have to hit the gym to do just that. Think gym class, but without the pressures of the classroom. It is, after all, that time of year again for most of the munchkins out there. But for those lucky few who have a few more days left to call summer, perhaps the post'll give you some last-minute ways to keep them occupied...while burning calories.

You might also want to check out the following if you like Vitamin Water. I drink it on occasion, knowing fair well that it isn't the best beverage out there. But I don't think I'll be drinking it anymore. I always knew there was something...funny...about it. It seemed too good to be true.

Question: What beverages do you drink that, well...you probably shouldn't?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Common Running Injuries (#Infographic)

I miss my running game. It's been significantly off since Baby came along. I mix in light...VERY light...jogging with higher intensity walking, but with the increasing size of my middle, it's downright uncomfortable to go at the pace I am used to. Not to mention it's bad for Baby. So we run lightly, us two. Which is fine with me. Just trying to keep the mind in the game, anyway. And the last thing I need right now is a running injury. Which brings me to an infographic. Given that we're deep into racing season (I know, every season is racing season), I figured it would be appropriate. Behold, common running injuries. If you find yourself suffering from any of the below, act accordingly.

Question: Are you currently suffering from any running injuries mentioned above? How are you coping?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I love my clients! And produce.

And I love it when my clients bring me bags full of produce grown in their own gardens. Such generosity! And such joy for my stomach. I almost feel badly about it. I make them sweat, I ask them to push it harder than ever, and I make them sore. And yet, they still bring me these wonderful little gifts. I have the best clients. And now, I have the best produce drawer. We've been spending this summer getting used to our new yard, plotting and perfecting the spot on which we'll plant our own garden next year. I'm looking forward to zucchinis and tomatoes, green onions and basil. And I'm looking forward to sharing it all with my clients in return. Until then, I'll do them a solid by creating delicious treats with all the lovelies they've given me. First up, this tomato/mozzarella salad:

Question: How does your garden grow? What are you currently harvesting? Did anything fail to bloom?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do you experiment with fitness?

Despite the fact that I recently discovered Julianna Margulies in "The Good Wife," and despite the fact that I recently picked up the 758-page issue of Vogue—I started a new book. The Great Fitness Experiment by Charlotte Hilton Anderson. A fascinating read, really...taken from her aptly titled blog, The Great Fitness Experiment. In her book (and obviously in her blog) she spends one year "trying everything" and by "everything" I mean functional training, Jillian Michaels, CrossFit, Kettlebells and more. And she does so with heart—and a hefty dose of honesty, too. Charlotte isn't shy about her issues with compulsively overexercising, and speaks very candidly about her struggles with overcoming it. In her words:

We can all identify with that in one way or another, right? We might not all be compulsive exercisers, but we probably know what it feels like to need just one more minute in the gym, or just one more workout this week. Compulsive overexercising isn't a joking matter, but Charlotte finds the right kind of  humor in her book. The kind that keeps you reading. And, well...her experiments are quite interesting, too. I'm only three chapters in, to be quite honest, so the fact that I'm already recommending it says a lot.

Oh, and I should let you know that Charlotte is not a professional. She's not a personal trainer, not a group fitness instructor. She's an everyday woman sharing her honest opinion. And in the first chapter, she talks about functional training.

And in one that follows, she talks about CrossFit. I'll admit—this is one workout I don't know much about, so I'm anxious to read the chapter. What is CrossFit?

P90X who? Exactly. I only wish I could give some of this a try right now, but clearly that'll have to wait 'till this baby pops out. Until then, I'll make do with reading about it in Charlotte's book.

Speaking of Baby, things are going well. I may have gone to bed at 7:30PM last night...I may have gained a few pounds...but it's all for the good of this child within. And I couldn't be happier or feel better. I'm looking forward to next week's ultrasound, even though we aren't finding out what the gender is. It'll just be nice to see how the little peanut is growing.

Question: Do you CrossFit? How do you experiment with fitness?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Food Labels and Serving Sizes

Whether or not you actually use them, food labels are printed on food packages to inform us of what we're eating. From calories to fat...to exactly how much of the food we should be eating...they're there because the government forced them to be. And that's actually a good thing. But are they truly easy to interpret? The opinions might be different. One thing we might all agree on—they're sort of boring, but rightfully so. I mean, it's the info that counts. But what if they looked a bit more...snazzy? UC Berkely and Good magazine put together a contest that asked such a question, the winners of which are shown below.

Snippits, of course. Check out the full versions, and check out those entries that didn't make the podium. They're all quite cool, and it'd be fun to see them on food packages. But, I'm not sure that's ever going to happen, so we'll just have to work with what we've got. Here's some help:

Want more? Click here for a further explanation of the above straight from the source, the FDA. And remember, this information really is important. Especially if you're trying to balance your diet with your workouts, etc. And if there's one thing you take away from those food labels, it's the serving size. It's so, super easy to overlook serving sizes, and it's what gets us all in trouble.

When was the last time you actually measured out your bowl of cereal? Odds would be fairly good that a single servings wouldn't be good enough, at least in your opinion, leading you to pour just a few more spoonfuls into that leftover milk. Some organizations think serving sizes are too small anyway. I guess you'll ultimately just have to use your noggin'.

Question: How conscious are you of nutrition labels? Do you think they make sense? What do you, do you not like about them?

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Jane Fonda's Third Act"

Joy Behar (love her or hate her, it's up to you) recently interviewed an iconic face in the fitness industry. Jane Fonda...quite possibly the queen of tacky unitards and leg warmers, but that's why we loved her so way back in the 80's. Things have changed since her prime time, but so has she. And let's face it—she's still got it.

For your entertainment:

Question: Jane says the bare minimum would be walking as fast as you can for 20 minutes, three times a week. When you take it easy, what does your workout look like?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Good Lunch, Great Fitness Clothes

This was my lunch. And it was really, really good. Someone at work gave me a bunch of fresh veggies, and I happened to have some sitting in my produce drawer. So before they went bad, I chopped 'em up and sauteed them in a pan. With some garlic and olive oil, plus freshly ground black pepper. To be specific about the veggies used: Three different peppers, zucchini and a shallot. Also some black beans and shaved Parmesan. It was so good. Seriously, so super good.

And then I went to Old Navy. I'm in need of new workout pants. Only one of my current pairs actually fits me properly, given the bulging bump. Baby is growing! And I am quickly growing out of things. And since I've always had good luck finding great fitness clothes at Old Navy, that's where I went. Here's what I took into the dressing room:

And here's a visual reminder of why I took it into the dressing room with me:

Growin', right?

I ended up picking the pair you see in the middle above. The waistband was stretchy. I may have had to go up a size or two already, so I figured the stretchy waistband would give me even more room to go.

Oh, and I bought this, too:

My favorite water bottle, made specifically for kids. Granted, my kid won't be able to use it for a few years, but still—I couldn't pass it up. It's just too dang cute.

Question: Where do you buy your fitness clothes?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Favorite Exercises

I had some extra time this morning, so I snuck in a bit of strength training. I always relish these impromptu training sessions because they give me an opportunity to use some of the equipment I can't bring into my twice-a-week Circuit Sculpt classes, which lets me do some of my favorite exercises. And, well...it's nice to get that third session in, too. While I get my fair share of cardio outside of class, I don't always get the extra strength training—which is fine in terms of a fitness regime, but I'm used to doing more.

It's funny, some people look at me now and appreciate my preggo body in action. Other people, I can tell they're wondering if what I'm doing is good for the baby. Rest assured, my intensity has changed. So, yes...it's fine. But now, more than ever, people are approaching me with smiles and congrats and how-excitings. I found this cartoon on the Internet, and am now wondering what (if anything) is really behind all the well-wishing:

Anyways (she says with a smile). Back to my workout. It inspired the following, which is a total-body workout encompassing all of my favorite moves, some of which I cannot do right now. So you'll have to do them for me. See how I spin that? Enjoy.

A Total Body Workout
Do two sets of each exercise with weights (as needed) that are appropriate to your individual fitness. Aim for 12 to 15 repetitions, increasing weight not reps as the exercises get easier. Or, if you'd rather not lift heavier, add a third set (but do no more than three sets per exercise).

1) SQUATS ON A SQUAT MACHINE: Load 'er up! If you don't have access to a squat machine, do squats with a dumbbell in each hand (second in line to being my favorite).

2) SINGLE-LEG DEAD LIFTS: Focus on the right leg as you hinge forward, lifting the left leg up behind you. Make sure you keep a slight bend in the knee to protect your hamstrings.

3) SIDE-STEPS WITH A BAND: So in love with these, except for when the band rolls up your leg because of all that sweating you're doing. Start with it flat against your calf muscles for the best effect. Take steps sideways, leading one set with your right and another with your left. Channel your inner Sumo wrestler and take steps forward/backward, too.

4) LAT PULLS ON A CABLE MACHINE: Don't lean back too far on this one—it happens to be the number one mistake I see at the gym. Sit as upright as possible, and pull that bar IN FRONT of your chest, rather than behind it. You'll get the same effect without killing your rotator cuffs.

5) PUSHUPS: Yeah, I know. I'm crazy for liking them so. But...damn if they don't make me feel strong!

6) BICEP CURLS ON A CABLE MACHINE: I don't know why, but these fatigue my biceps every time. I think maybe it's because I find it easier to maintain proper form. Note: Doing each arm individually is a close second in terms of favorites.

7) REVERSE-GRIP TRICEPS ON A CABLE MACHINE: They make my triceps pop, and they'll make yours do the same if you stay consistent with them. Stand facing the cable machine with a bar attached to it, palms facing you. Pull your elbows down to your sides, then leave them there as you pull the bar down to your thighs.

8) PALMS-UP SHOULDER PRESSES: Whether I do these to the front or to the side, I really feel them. Pick a lighter weight and hold them at your side, flipping your palms so that they face out/up toward the ceiling. Raise your arms to the side while maintaining a slight bend at the elbow—but don't lift any higher than your shoulders. Lower and repeat. Same rules apply toward the front.

9) CROSS BODY CRUNCH ON A BOSU WITH A MED BALL: Opposite arm, opposite knee. Bring 'em together above your abdomen, holding a med ball on your shoulder the entire time to add resistance. Love these. Love them so much.

10) PLANKS: Obviously.

11) CALF PRESSES ON A CALF PRESS MACHINE: I sometimes have a hard time challenging my calf muscles, but when I can up the weight factor, I always feel the burn.

12) MORE PLANKS: They're just so good for you.

I could go on. And on and on, but the workout would get too long and obnoxious and tiring and...enough with the "and" usage.

Time to celebrate the husband's birthday. "How do I act now that I'm 32?" "How does a 32 year-old wear their hair?" "Do I look like I am 32?" I'd post a picture of him, but every time I try to take one, he does something outrageous just to ruin the picture. So alas, I haven't got a good one. My silly husband, happy birthday to you!
Question: What's your favorite workout?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zucchini Angel Hair Pancakes

If your produce drawer looks anything like mine...

...it's full of zucchini. I love me some zucchini! And it's coming aplenty right now, and in rather large formats, too. Perfect for making all your favorite zuc recipes. Lord knows I have plenty. Actually, I have an entire cookbook devoted to recipes that employ the big green thing. It might be my most favorite squash of all, which is why I was all too happy to give Cooking Light's Zucchini Angel Hair Pancakes a try. Aren't pancakes the best, too? Take a look:

Oh, that? That's an al fresco Sundried Tomato chicken sausage. Seriously, if you haven't discovered al fresco chicken sausage...run to your nearest grocery store right now and get to hunting for it. It's by far my favorite chicken sausage out there. For real. And it comes in a wide variety of flavors. I have yet to find one I don't like. Back to the pancakes: I followed Cooking Light's recipe exactly, the link to which you can find above, but I might suggest you consider the following thoughts.

1) Try using a bit less pasta than suggested. Substitute whole wheat pasta while you're at it.

2) Don't skimp on the fresh herbs. I did, mostly because I forgot to buy them. While the dried version worked find, fresh is probably best.

3) Any marinara will do, dip or spread it. Whichever you prefer.

4) Instead of cooking it all in one pan at the same time (per the recipe), make pancakes. They'll cook quicker and you can control portion sizes better.

5) Sprinkle ground pepper on top, even some more parm if you feel so inclined.

6) Beware this makes a lot. I got about eight pancakes out of it.

7) Try some yellow squash, too. And let me now how it turns out. I bet it'd be delish.

8) From the husband: "I bet you could ground up the sausage and cook it IN the pancake since the sausages come precooked."

Question: What's your favorite zucchini recipe?

Monday, August 8, 2011

All Natural Taco Seasoning

They tell you to avoid MSG (monosodium glutamate) while you're pregnant...well, to be quite honest, they tell you to avoid MSG period. It's an ultra concentrated form of sodium that is used in a wide variety of spice packs, canned soups and frozen meals. While it enhances flavor, it skyrockets the sodium content—and that's never a good thing. Ever. Unless, I guess, you like feeling bloated and gross. But who likes that, anyway.

While I don't eat a lot of canned soups, I do eat tacos quite frequently. Tacos, when built correctly, can become a very healthy meal. Except, of course, if you buy the wrong taco seasonings. I prefer to make my own, but don't always have the patience (or ingredients) for it, so I ultimately end up sifting through the various options at the grocery store for the one or two that don't have MSG in it. Great success, but what they lacked in MSG, they gained in other unnatural ingredients not even worth mentioning. Bummer.

And then I found Lysander's All Natural Taco Seasoning.

Seriously, at the risk of sounding like a food blogger, I have to tell you about this stuff. It's a bit pricey, but you get two packets which amounts to (in my grocery store) about $0.89 a packet. And that's roughly what you'd pay for one packet of the non-natural stuff. So it's worth it...'cuz then you're set for the next time you get a taco craving! (Like I said, I get lazy with making my own seasoning...and I inevitably forget the seasoning when I go grocery shopping. Sigh.)

Back to Lysander's. Check out the ingredients:

Sure, salt is the first ingredient, and the sodium content is a bit high. But if you look close, you can see that one serving size is two taco's worth. And if you're like me, you don't overload your tacos with the meat anyway. There must be room for tomatoes and green onions and black beans and lettuce, oh my!

(If only had corn tortillas.)

Honestly, I'm of the opinion that less than one packet can perfectly season an entire pound of meat, be it beef, turkey or chicken. Or whatever. Look how much they give you:

That's a lot, right?

So try it out. Opt for the all natural version if you're not going to make your own. It never hurts to healthify as many aspects of your meals as you can. Healthy eating supports a fit life like no other, but this you already knew.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup to eat (and some baby swag to sort through). Yeah, I said "Justin's"...as in, one of the best PB brands out there.

Doesn't look like a regular peanut butter cup, but it tastes skippin' good.

Oh, and PS: The hubs just called to inform me that he was headed to La Perla (my favorite Mexican restaurant) for lunch. WITHOUT ME.


I was going to buy his birthday present today...well, maybe I won't! (Sigh, yeah...I still will.)

Question: How do you season your tacos?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hmm, which yogurt to pick...

The yogurt aisle flabbergasts me. Literally, there are hundreds of options—and I know my grocer doesn't even stock all that the industry has to offer. I typically stick with Chobani, mostly because it's familiar and I know it's truly good for me. I wonder, I certainly do wonder about all the other brands (and options within brands), but I just don't have the energy to read label after label. Because you really do have to read labels when you're shopping for yogurt. Very quickly, it starts to rival ice cream. Fat and sugar contents are sometimes startling, and "all-natural" claims are often false. Again, that's why I typically stick with Chobani.

But yesterday, I bought something new. I ventured into unfamiliar territory, I did. And I wasn't disappointed. Ever hear of Nostimo Greek yogurt? It's new to me.

And it was only $0.97...yeah, that's on the cheaper end of the Greek yogurt spectrum. I figured Vanilla would be a good place to start, plus...I'm not always the biggest fan of added fruit. It has to be the perfect type of added fruit to please my taste buds, otherwise it reminds me of (pardon the comparison) boogers. Anyways. This stuff isn't bad, although it doesn't beat the always-good Chobani. And I'm not quite the fan of the sugar content. Here's the label:

You can see that there are 17 grams of sugar. I typically try to keep that number as close to ten as possible. 17 isn't bad, but it's not good either. And those grams come from actual sugar, rather than some manufactured version of it, which is always a good thing. Chobani's version of Vanilla Greek yogurt has 13 grams, which is less...but still not the best. And it employs evaporated cane juice. Still a pure and good option. I don't know that I like the addition of corn starch in the Nostimo yogurt, but I think it's just a thickener—isn't Greek yogurt naturally thick? Is Nostimo cheating? I don't know.

So, moral of the story: Be adventurous in the yogurt aisle, there's so many options! But be smart, too. Read labels carefully so that you don't turn what could be a healthy snack into a sugar bomb.

Need further clarification? Read this: "How to Decipher the Yogurt Aisle—Finding Truly Healthy, Weight-loss Options"

Question: How does yogurt fit into your diet? Have you tried anything new lately? What is your favorite brand and why?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Get the most out of your cardio routine.

I get a significant amount of junk emails, some of which I actually chose to receive. I look forward to those emails, especially the ones that come from the American Council on Exercise. They almost always provide links to interesting articles—the occasional video, too.

I'd like to share one of those videos with you today. It's all about cardio, and how to get the most out of your cardio workouts. There are, in fact, a few things we're doing wrong. Take a look:

To recap:

Eat before you hit your favorite cardio machine! Choose healthy carbs, which you'll ultimately need to fuel your efforts.

Don't use hand weights of any kind while walking and running. It really isnt' doing you any good. In fact, it might even be harming you. Go for the weighted vest if you really feel the need.

Switch it, change it..rearrange it. Never do the same cardio blast every time you need a workout. Your body, like your brain, will get bored.

And now, it's Friday. Baby and I are (yes, again) headed to the beach. I can't wait to actually, physically take this child to the beach for the first time. Bring on the sunscreen!

Question: How do you get the most out of your cardio routine?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Side Plank with Single-Leg Adductions

"Did you have a bad night? Are you taking it out on us?" That would be a direct quote from one of my bootcampers today. It was said, of course, with a chuckle. I responded "no" on both counts. With a chuckle. I will admit—today's class was challenging. Perhaps because it was the last class of the week, or perhaps because I whipped out some new exercises. I figure, who doesn't like a new challenge on occasion? They did great, my bootcampers. And I cut 'em some slack toward the end of the class. (I only made them run two of six laps around the gym. See...I can be nice.)

One of the new exercises: A side plank with single-led adductions. They might all agree that it was challenging. Grab a step with at least two risers, or set yourself up near an actual step (or another stable platform) that's at least one foot off the ground. Position your body perpendicular to the step, quite close to the very end of it so that your toes point away from the step (you'll need room in front of you to lift and lower). Place your top foot on the step, balancing your upper body on your elbow while keeping your hips in line with your shoulders. As you hold the plank, lift and lower your LOWER leg, ending just a smidge above your upper leg, contracting your left inner thigh the entire way through. Start with twelve repetitions, then increase to fifteen. Continue holding the side plank for ten to fifteen seconds if your obliques can take it. Of course, you can also do this one off the step if you feel that's too difficult at this time.

And now, for pictures:

Wait, no. Sorry. Not of the exercise above (if only I had my own photo studio, or a personal photographer). Of the salad I made to go with dinner. Take it as a friendly reminder that now is most certainly salad season. Fruits and veggies come aplenty, folks! And there's seriously nothing better than a hefty does of Nature's candy. Love it:

Question: What did you think of the exercise above? Have you been taking advantage of your local farmer's market? Do you go regularly? Have a favorite booth? I wanna know!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beagle and the Beach

Did you know that owning a dog increases your chances of reaching weekly physical activity levels by roughly 34 percent? I read this in Oxygen. Bet you can guess why this rings true...yep, that's right. Dog owners walk more than pooch-less households. I, personally do not own a dog. But I happen to be watching my fur sister all week because my parents are off in California's wine country (jealous). We leashed it up today, Kedzie and I, and took ourselves for a nice walk about town.

Of course, we detoured it to the beach. There was a nice section virtually abandoned by bathing suits, so I figured it wouldn't be a problem to walk her down there right quick. Typically, four-legged friends aren't allowed along the shore.

Mom and Dad, correct me if I'm wrong, but this might have been Kedzie's first trip to the beach. She loved it, but shimmied away from the incoming waves. I'm fairly certain she would have ran her little heart out if I had let go of the leash. She liked the sand, but walked away with a nose full of it. Beagles...they always gotta smell stuff.

Although my pace wasn't quite up to par, it was nice to have a partner in walking crime. And honestly, if it hadn't been for the dog, I probably wouldn't have gotten up out of bed. My preggo body needed a nap this afternoon. I'm typically not a napper, but at almost 18 weeks, I see a few more in my future.

Moral of the story? Dogs really do get you up and runn...well, walking (at least in my case).

Question: Do you have a dog? How often do you walk (or run) it? And do you factor those walks (or runs) into your own workout schedule?

Monday, August 1, 2011

"I am strong." (and a note on positivity)

Hey, hey...it's Monday. I taught, I trained, I hit the grocery store, I did the laundry and the dishes, I'm currently blogging and will soon head back to the gym for one last client. A manic Monday, indeed. But, who am I kidding. Aren't they all? And why is that? Is it because we're just not quite ready to give up our weekends. Perhaps we feel the need to catch up (emotionally and physically) on all the things we failed to catch up on over the weekend. I don't know, it's unexplainable. What I can explain: Why you are strong. You might recall an ad I posted a few weeks ago, and it seems the company has a series of such ads. Here's the newest one I've seen (in Oxygen, of course):

Again, I don't  endorse (or suggest using) the product should you discover what it is, but I do endorse the company's positivity. What's wrong with a little positivity? I think we need as much of it in our lives as we can get, don't you agree? And this is why I have a bone to pick with the latest issue of Oxygen. Well, with Robert Kennedy (the publisher). He's quite negative in his letter. And I quote:
 1) Not everyone is into "hardcore progressive resistance training," but I think everyone is into finding inspiration in another woman's (or man's) fit body. I find it interesting that he assumes these other health-based magazines are "copying" the Oxygen cover style. Last I checked, pretty much every magazine out there, fitness or any other, puts a pretty face with a hot bod on their cover. Am I wrong? This is nothing new, right? And surely not something RK came up with.

2) The term "really useful advice" can be interpreted in a variety of different ways by a variety of different people with a variety of different interests. I personally reference Oxygen way more than I reference any other magazine, but that's because, as a certified personal trainer, I am looking for a more focused publication that I can benefit from at the gym. BUT—I also subscribe to Self Magazine. I find it quite useful and inspirational as well. And as a professional in the field, I would never say that they print "bogus" workouts and "fake" diets. They print workouts and diets, which might be a little different than those in Oxygen, but are worthwhile nonetheless to someone, somewhere out there.

3) I think it's funny that he calls out "sugar-loaded foods and drinks" when Oxygen is filled with ads for supplements and protein bars that hardly qualify as "wholesome". In another part of his letter, he takes pride in helping women "build their self-esteem by adopting a wholesome lifestyle." Seems like a contradiction to me.

For a women's health and fitness magazine, I applaud Oxygen for it's ability to communicate effective diets and exercises. It's a beacon of positivity, that's for sure. But Robert Kennedy's column has put me off one too many times in the past. Step down from your soapbox, sir. Lead by example, not by putting down your peers. Adopt some of the positivity that streams from your other columnists, including your own wife. Tosca is great, and I often wish her column could replace yours permanently.

And to all my readers: Remember that positivity and inspiration come from a variety of different sources. What may inspire one may put off another. If you don't like Oxygen, but prefer Women's Health or Fitness or something else, know that they're fine magazines. In fact, any fitness magazine that gets you off the couch and into the gym is a fine magazine. At least in my opinion.

Finally, to Robert Kennedy and every woman out there—remember that hardcore resistance training, while completely effective and definitely worth trying at least to some degree, is not the be-all/end-all when it comes to health and well-being. We are all different and we all require different things. And we all, once again, find inspiration from different sources. Instead of shunning women that lift differently than us, or read different magazines than us, welcome them into the wonderful world of healthy, happy females.

And males. Guys, we girls love you, too. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have my own soapbox to step down from.

Question: What health-based magazines do you read? Why?


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