Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cook Up Your New Year Resolution!

   It only took 2 1/2 years but at long last our Trim Up Cookbook is finally complete and hot off the press!  Many of our members were eager to get their hands on it and start trying out the wonderful selection of recipes that are "tried and true".  These are women who cook on a regular basis.  But I realize that a cookbook is not top reading for many women who aren't interested in spending their free time in the kitchen!  Maybe they are lucky enough to have husbands or chefs who do all of the cooking.  Otherwise, I am really puzzled.....what exactly do people eat who say they don't cook?  I guess they go out to restaurants alot or buy pre-made or frozen dinners or just make alot of sandwiches?

    Well, I have some bad news.  In order to lose weight (and keep it off) and be healthy YOU MUST EAT AND PREPARE YOUR OWN WHOLE FOOD!   It really is true.  Restaurant and fast food is loaded with trans fats, sodium, MSG,  unhealthy additives & fillers, low-quality meats and excess sugar.  The same is true with any processed or packaged convenience foods in the grocery store.  Eating some of these foods occasionally is not so bad but when a typical day is Cheerios for breakfast, Starbucks skinny latte, Subway sandwich & chips for lunch, fat-free flavored yogurt for afternoon snack, Lean Cuisine for dinner and Weight Watchers ice cream for pm snack - not so good.  Even though the daily calories may be low enough for weight loss, eating processed foods will have a negative effect on your metabolism, body fat and general health.

    Here are some of the major problems associated with processed and restaurant food:

 >  Fried Food is Toxic 
           Fried food causes the fats in the food to become trans fats which means that the high temperatures cause mutations in the molecular configuration that your body does not know what to do with. Trans fats are one of the highest causes of cancer and heart disease.  Just by avoiding fried foods (including chips) you can dramatically decrease your risk.  Restaurants are in the business of making a profit which means keeping their food costs as low as possible which means low-quality ingredients including oils.
           ps  Doughnuts are the worst - fried plus tons of sugar

MSG is Everywhere
           One of the secret ingredients in KFC’s chicken coating is MSG. MSG is a flavor enhancer that works by stimulating the taste receptors in your brain to trick you into thinking that the food tastes twice as good as it really does and it makes the food addictive ("finger lickin good"!)  Starbucks adds MSG to lowfat coffee for more flavor (and to keep you coming back each morning).
           MSG is an excitotoxin that overstimulates the brain, which can cause brain cell damage and cell death (and is linked to headaches, strokes, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, and brain tumors).

>   Aspartame
           Another Excitotoxin, aspartame (Nutrasweet) is often used by food manufacturers to enhance flavoring of low-calorie or low-fat food.  The chemicals in excitotoxins stimulate the taste cells in the tongue, causing the flavor of the foods we eat to be greatly enhanced.  Although these "diet" foods are consumed to improve health, they are actually putting you at higher risk for neurological disorders, water retention and weight gain.  Drinking just one diet soda a day is shown to cause health problems.

> Low Nutrients
       If you eat a diet of processed foods, the calories taken in have very little nutritional content and you will feel hungry again in no time because of the lack of nutrients that your body craves.  Which leads to food cravings and weight gain.  And all of the marketing claims on packaging like "Fortified" and  "Enriched" with vitamins is not even close to nutrients that only whole, unprocessed foods can provide.  Popping a "One a Day" will not make up for the nutritional deficit .  In order to protect your body from disease and illness, a whole food diet is essential!

    Okay, so I know that for so many Americans, the thought of having to cook and give up drive-thru runs is really painful and you have to really want to make a change to be motivated.  The New Year is the perfect time to start on a Eating Clean journey  (Ladies, check out our Detox/pH Diet) since we are stuck indoors and have most likely packed on some holiday poundage.

    In closing,  I have some exciting news!  Since I have made even more of an effort to cook and eat whole foods this past year, the results are showing in my blood cholesterol levels.  My total cholesterol went down from 210 to 188, LDL (bad) down from 117 to 101 and triglycerides dropped from 115 to 71 !!!!   I don't know what this says about my personal life, but that really was the most exciting news I've had in a long time!!

     Merry Christmas everyone!  And I hope you see some cooking inspiration under the tree - like a slow cooker, blender or Trim Up cookbook!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12 Days of Fitness

    Fitness is not first and foremost in everyone's minds this time of year but just because this is a busy month does not mean that exercise has to be totally ditched!  Increased calories combined with no exercise will guarantee weight gain not to mention loss of energy, stamina and protection from illness.  Even for those who work fulltime jobs, it IS possible to still maintain some form of exercise with a hectic schedule - it just takes a few adjustments, some flexibility and willingness to make it happen.

   If you can't attend your regular gym sessions, make a back-up plan.  A 15 minute cardio/strength workout first thing in the morning before you start your day is do-able - even without equipment.  Jumping jacks, jogging in place, pushups, lunges or squats are easy to do and require little space.  Just 15 minutes will make a huge difference in keeping your metabolism up.

   Even though being a "mindless participant" and having trainers tell you what to do is what you pay for in group exercise, a truly fit person will strive to do some type of exercise on their own when schedules conflict with normal gym visits.  And finding ways to work out while traveling on business, vacationing, visiting relatives or at home with a sick child shows how committed you are to one of the most important aspects of your life.
   I love teaching Group Strength classes where we use body weight or free weights for resistance work along with full body movement to elevate heart rate.  The workouts in this class are the most effective way to burn the most fat and calories while building strength, muscle and balance.  While I am giving instructions on form, positioning, modifications and weight load, I always like to give details on the exercise - names for it, how it works and muscles targeted.  Each of our members should learn enough about their workouts that they can walk into any gym with free weights and other equipment (like kettle bells, bands, bosu,etc) and know what to do.  They should also be familiar with weight-bearing exercises like push-ups or planks to safely and effectively work out at home or anywhere with no equipment.

   In keeping with the holiday spirit, here is my "12 Days of Fitness" workout that we will be doing in our Strength classes next week.  It only uses a set of heavy dumbbells (12 or 15 lb) and light weights (8 or 10 lb).  It takes very little space and you can do the full workout (just like the song) or shorten it by just completing 1-12 one time each.

   On the 1st Day of Fitness, my trainer gave to me
          - singing is optional :)

       (1) A Warrior Three (standing yoga pose)

   On the 2nd Day of Fitness, my trainer gave to me:

       (2) Inchworms (walk hands out to plank & then walk feet into hands)
       And a Warrior Three (alternate with other leg raised)

  ***continue like the 12 Days of Christmas song, adding at each verse:

       (3) Jump Squats
       (4) Push Ups
       (5) High Knees
       (6) Dead Lifts w/ Reverse Fly
       (7) Twisting Bicep Curls
       (8) Planks with Leg Raise
       (9) Tricep Kickbacks
      (10) Weighted Jacks
      (11) Sumo Squats w/ Shoulder Press
      (12) Mountain Climbers
 This should get your heart pumping and muscles fatigued - enjoy!!
     Happy Holidays!!