5 Reasons Why Dieting is Dumb During the Holidays

We have ALL stressed over our not-so-healthy eating habits during the holidays. We even decide to “watch what we eat” and set daily calorie limits between Thanksgiving and the new year. Who hasn’t read articles (and I’ve written one or two) about how to keep yourself from overindulging during this festive time.  Here’s five reasons why we should just chill out a little bit.

You are setting yourself up to fail

With all the holiday parties, get-togethers, and office treats, there is no way you will be able to resist all the goodies, nor should you want to. Take smaller portions, or healthier options if you can, enjoy yourself and the company of your family and friends. Unrealistic expectations means sure failure, and for most people that is a crushing blow you don’t need at this time of the year.

This is a time to celebrate with the people you love most

Celebrations around the world usually mean food and drink. It can also mean dancing, games, storytelling and a host of other fun activities to share.  Strike a balance. Don’t sit around for hours and gorge, but do take part in the celebration feast!

Food = Love for many in your family

For my mom, cooking for the family is a labor of love. Holiday dinners are filled with comfort foods.  That usually means lots of fat, sugar and calories. In the past, I have passed up some of her family favorites and watched her face fall because I didn’t want what she so lovingly prepared for me. Is your diet on this holiday really worth refusing cherished family recipes that have so much history and love attached to them?

You will feel deprived

Severely limiting your participation in the celebration will cause you to feel deprived. Feeling deprived eventually leads to overeating and you will have seriously sabotaged all your hard work in the months leading up to the holidays. Instead, shoot for moderation at each event you are attending.

If you live a healthy lifestyle year-round, this won’t break the bank

Yes, you may have to watch a little harder after the holidays and work out a little more regularly come January, but if living healthy is your usual M.O. indulging a bit in December is okay. Give yourself a holiday from the guilt trip you’re about to put yourself on. If living healthy is not your usual thing, then January is a great time to start!




How to Put More Fiber in Your Diet

Note: These free tips are great and may be all you need. If you think you might like some more individualized help to live the healthy lifestyle, fill out this form and I will be in touch to help you get started!

Americans get woefully little fiber in their diets.  If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, you need to find a way to incorporate healthy fiber into your meals and snacks.  No, that doesn’t mean those giant, sugar filled “high fiber” bars.  Here’s why you need more and here’s how to get it.

The Benefits of Fiber

  • Keeps your cholesterol down. Soluble fiber blocks the absorption of cholesterol in to your bloodstream.
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight. Isn’t it worth adding more to your diet just for this reason alone?
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels.  Blood sugar level spikes and crashes contribute to fatigue and the “fuzzy headed” feeling. Bleh!
  • Keeps you regular.  Yes let’s talk poop here. Less bouts of diarrhea and constipation.  I’m for that
  • Keeps your bowels and colon healthy. Fiber helps you avoid Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and hemorrhoids. I’m for that too.  Who wants either one of those!
  • Lowers your risk of heart disease (see cholesterol above).
  • May help prevent certain types of cancer. Breast, colon and prostate cancer have been linked to low fiber diets.
  • Gives you healthier skin. Fiber helps flush toxins from the body.  Let’s all get some glowing skin!
  • Gives you more energy.  Toxins, be gone!
  • Lowers your stroke risk. Fiber helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels that can lead to stroke.

How much fiber is enough? The national Fiber Council says healthy adults should get 32 grams per day.

What are good sources of fiber?

Oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grain foods and leafy greens.

Want more info? Watch this facebook live video I did with added visuals!

Diet Plan for Menopause-Healthy Fats


You may have the notion that all fats are bad and should be avoided at all costs.  At one time, we rode the “low fat” wave in the US.  Every packaged food you saw on the shelves touted the “low fat” label. Unfortunately for us, most “low fat” foods were also high in processed starch and sugar. Recent research has shown that fat is not the devil.  Good fats are necessary to include in your diet.  Menopausal  women need essential fatty acids because they support hormonal balance.

Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid that have estrogen like ingredients. They also add fiber and keep arteries healthy.  What foods will add Omega threes to your diet? Fish, such as mackerel and Atlantic salmon. One of my favorite vegetables, the avocado.  Seeds such as flax seed and chia seeds contain Omega threes.  These are easy to sprinkle or stir into your favorite foods. Nuts, such as English walnuts and butternuts.  Some of your favorite spices, like fresh basil, dried oregano and ground cloves also contain Omega threes.

With such a variety of foods available to add healthy fats to your diet, you should be able to find something you like to do the trick! Want some easy,tasty kitchen tested recipes that include healthy fats? Get them here!

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Diet Plan for Menopause- Water


Are you slowly beginning to feel like a raisin in the Sahara? Do your eyelids scratch across your eyeballs like sandpaper in the morning? Does your skin suck in moisturizer like a sponge, but it still looks cracked and flaky?  Does every mucus membrane in your body feel dried up and ready to blow away?  Welcome to one of the many joys of menopause.  This is another side affect of your lower estrogen level.


Now is the time to pay more attention to your water intake.  Did you know that you are to drink half your weight in ounces?  That means if you weigh 130lbs, you should drink 65 oz. of H20. That’s a little over eight 8oz glasses each day. Drinking the correct amount of water has several benefits

  • Keeps your energy level up
  • Makes your skin more supple and glowing
  • Maintain and offset dryness of mucus membranes (think eyelids, nasal passages and vaginal walls)

You may be thinking that you are getting adequate water intake by drinking coffee, tea, soda and juice during the day, but think again.  Coffee, tea and soda are diuretics.  That means they make you urinate more frequently.  They may be causing you to dehydrate. Any sugary drink is adding calories you don’t need to your diet and don’t forget that caffeinated drinks can trigger hot flashes.

Do your “new” body a favor and replace some of your other beverages with a tall cold glass of water.  Better yet, make it about 8 a day.

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Diet Plan for Menopause-Phytoestrogens


You have arrived! You have worked hard building a career, taking care of your home and family and building relationships with friends. Now it’s time to start focusing on you. There are so many things you want to do….and then IT starts. Insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, aching joints, mood swings, forgetfulness, weight gain, anxiety, vaginal dryness, sagging libido  AARGH!! All the things you have done in the past to maintain your weight, your mood and your energy levels aren’t working anymore. The menopause monster has sneaked up behind you and pulled the rug out from under you. Your hormones (or lack of them) are taking control.  But you can take back that control.

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: Serious menopause symptoms, such as extreme anxiety, depression and mood swings should mean a consult with a doctor. END OF DISCLAIMER In my 30 years experience as a health and PE teacher, and more recently, a certified personal trainer I know that many adverse physical symptoms we experience can be improved with the proper diet.  But what is the proper diet, now that the game has changed???

I’ll be chatting about that in depth over the next few weeks. I can’t give you a meal plan. You’ll need a registered dietitian for that.  I’ll give you some guidelines to follow to steer you in the right direction.

One important thing you want to increase in your diet is phytoestrogens.  Most of you are thinking, “What the h%&* are those?  There is no way I can find them in the grocery store!” Phytoestrogens are just a fancy way to say plant based estrogens.  They are important to you now because your body is producing way less estrogen than it used to. You need a way to balance this lack of estrogen out at the cellular level. So what foods contain plant based estrogens?

Fruits and vegetables and whole grains should be a main staple of your diet. Here’s why: Your lower estrogen levels are slowing down your production of lean muscle. Lean muscle requires more fuel to operate than the same amount of body fat. Less muscle means a slower metabolism, which equals weight gain. Estrogen also acts as an appetite suppressant, so even though you need less calories to get through your day, you are hungry for more.

Other benefits of fruits and vegetables: 

  • Fiber– this keeps you feeling full longer and ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????aids in proper digestive health
  • Folic Acid-lowers risk for cardiovascular disease, which goes up after menopause
  • Antioxidants-reduces hot flashes
  • Vitamin C-boosts your immune system
  • High water content-Keeps your skin and mucous membranes hydrated
  • Natural sugar-helps avoid the insulin spikes and crashes associated with processed sugar (which causes fatigue and over eating)

A 53 year old woman weighing 130 lbs. needs 2 cups of veggies a day and 1 1/2 cups of fruit to maintain her weight. (Be honest, how many of you are eating that much right now?) Fresh are best, followed by frozen, then canned.  Fresh retain the most nutrients. To find out how much fruits and veggies you need, go to choosemyplate.gov

Other benefits of whole grains:????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • B vitamins-boosts energy
  • Fiber-digestive health
  • Complex carbohydrates-keeps you full longer and helps avoid those nasty insulin spikes and crashes
  • Folic acid-lowers cardiovascular disease risk

A 53 year old woman weighing 130 lbs, needs 5 oz. of whole grains per day to maintain weight.

What counts as whole grains? 

  • 100% whole grain bread, flour or pasta
  • Stone ground whole grains
  • brown rice
  • oatmeal

Take back control from the menopause monster, head to the grocery store and load up on phytoestrogens! Get cooking and let me know how you feel.

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How to Stay Fit on Vacation

Recently I was invited by Jennifer Whitehair (she promotes vacationing in Las Vegas and it sounds like there is tons to do there besides gambling and going to see shows on the strip) to blog about staying fit on vacation. It’s a part of #TravelFit2014. She contacted me right before I was headed to South Bethany Beach Delaware.

We have been going to Sunset Beach, NC (and loved it) for years. This year all of our young adult kids have jobs that don’t mesh too well with traveling 12 hours away so we decided to bring the party North.

This is a perfect time for me to explore what kinds of fun things I can do to stay in shape while I enjoy the shores of South Bethany for two weeks.

June 15 was our first full day here. I decided to try some Yoga on the beach. I have my P90X Yoga X pretty well memorized so I just walked down the beach access and gave it a shot. It was great gazing at the ocean while doing my sun salutations. I felt very relaxed after about an hour doing Yoga in the wind and salt air. Sure beats my basement home gym!

Today my sister and I took a two mile bike ride up highway 1 to Bethany Beach. There is a bike path that runs parallel to the road. We were able to park the bikes and walk around, check out the shops and restaurants, and walk the boardwalk a bit. It was a beautiful day for it! On the way back DelDot had a bike safety station and installed free lights on our bikes. Thanks 🙂

When we got back to the beach house, I decided to use my 12 Minute Athlete app on my smartphone to get some resistance exercise. This app is great for traveling and it only costs about a dollar so the price is right. You just put in how long you want to work out (12 or 16 minutes) and what equipment you have and it creates a workout for you. If you don’t like it, you just shake it and it creates another one. Since it didn’t have resistance bands as an option for equipment, I had it create a bodyweight workout and substituted 2 band exercises for two bodyweight exercises. I just went under the beach house in the shade. Who needs to spend extra money to go to the gym?

How Do I Stay Motivated to Eat Healthy and Exercise?

Since becoming a personal trainer, I hear this from many of my clients: “I know what I changeblvdshould do.  I know what I should eat.  I know that I should exercise regularly but I just don’t do it.  I don’t know how to stay motivated.”  When it comes right down to it YOU are the only one who can make the choices for a healthier lifestyle.  The trick is to take the “willing mind” and turn those thoughts into actions.

First and foremost, if you are eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle you will not be able to change overnight.  If you think about it, you probably got to that point gradually (perhaps over a number of years) and you won’t go the other way in a heartbeat.

  1. Pick your one most unhealthy habit.  Maybe you drink soda at every meal. Work on changing that habit gradually.  Should you pick a “give up soda” day and quit cold turkey?  NO!  You will probably feel deprived, give up in a few days, beat yourself up for failing and not try it again for months.  Instead, pick the meal that you could most easily swap out a soda for a glass of water, and then do it.  Don’t change anything else about your diet until you start noticing results from that action.  Now, swap another soda for water and repeat. Write down what results you are seeing (more energy, a small loss on the scale, better sleep). Refer to this list if you start to waver.
  2. Add some exercise.  If you are a total couch potato, are you going to go to boot camp?  Again, NO.  Add some light exercise.  Fifteen minutes each day is fine. Walking is fine.  The important thing is to set that time aside and DO IT. When it starts feeling easier and when you start seeing benefits, add a little bit more.
  3. If you mess up, that’s all it is.  The next day you get a clean slate and you get back to business.  It is not time to give up and go back to the “old you”.
  4. Get someone else to hold you accountable.  Tell them what your goal is and ask them to check in with you at regular intervals. It’s a lot harder to blow off your workout and eat six donuts if you know you will have to tell your accountability buddy it happened.
  5. Try something new.  It’s always fun to try something different and it can keep you motivated.  Find a cookbook full of healthy recipes.  Cooking Light’s Complete Meals in Minutes is a great place to start.  Ever tried Yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, kayaking or circuit training?  The list could go on and on.  Sign up for a class or find a good DVD.  Just remember to build up to this kind of exercise (see #2)
  6. Make it social. Share your experiences (both successes and setbacks) with others.  Find a workout partner, post about your journey on Facebook or on your blog, start or join a support group, take some healthy meal prep lessons.  There’s nothing better than getting healthier except making new friends while you get there.
  7. Challenge yourself.  You may not think you will be able to ever do a push-up from your toes or run a whole mile, but if you take it one step at a time you CAN! When I did 90 days of P90X the thing that motivated me the most was seeing my ever increasing number of repetitions on my chart as the days went on.  Check out challengeloop.com to find a challenge that will keep you going!

Research shows that if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. If you trade that ONE soda for a glass of water and continue for 30 days, you will soon wonder why you ever wanted a soda. Before you know it, you won’t want any other beverage but water and all that soda and extra calories will be a distant memory.

Now I will challenge you! Post the one unhealthy habit you would like to change here. What is your plan is to change it?  Tell me.  Putting your goal and your plan in writing makes it real and that’s motivating too!

Do You Really Need a Detox Diet?

There has been a lot of buzz in recent years about detox diets. Usually they look something like this..very low calorie, a meal replacement drink or juicing, maybe some kind of cleanse, and supplements.  The big question is do they really work?

There are lots of opinions on them, but according to medical doctors nutritionists and registered dietitians, there is no hard and fast evidence that they work.

1. Extreme limited calorie detox diets can be harmful if they cause you to lose muscle mass, lower your blood sugar too much or create an electrolyte imbalance.

2. Your liver is the organ in charge of detoxifying your body.  It is designed to be self cleaning.  Your job is to feed your body healthy food on a regular basis so your liver can do its job.

3. Doing a  detox diet can trick people into thinking it’s okay to go back to an unhealthy diet once they have “detoxed”.  Concentrate on eating a healthy diet year round.

Here’s are some more common sense ways to detox:

Drink more water, drink less alcohol, stop smoking, eat more plants, eat less animal based food, eat less processed food, and last but not least..exercise!

What is your opinion on detox diets? Post your thoughts.

info condensed from IDEA Fitness Journal, October 2013


“Lose It!”Weight Loss App For Your Smart Phone

So it’s after the holidays, you ate, you drank, you gained, you slugged.  If you need some help to get back on track, look no further than your smart phone and download a free app called “Lose It!”

“Lose it!” is an exercise and diet tracking app that is relatively simple to use.  In order for it to work for you, you will need to figure out how many calories you should be eating each day.  You may need to go to another website to do this.  After looking at several, the website I found most accurate was www.hussmanfitness.org/bmrcalc.htm It will give you a calorie range to stay within.  You will need this information to complete the goals section of “Lose It!” Once you have the numbers, you can get started.

The “Lose It!” app is really easy to use on a smart phone and the nice thing is it will travel with you to work, to restaurants and to the gym. You will be able to keep track of all calories in and all calories out.  When you keep track of it all, you can’t help but lose weight.

I like to use “Lose It!” after holidays and vacations so those 2 or 3 pounds I gain during these times don’t accumulate to 10 to 15 over time.  I have included a Youtube video at the bottom of this post made by an app reviewer to show you how to use “Lose It!” It shows the app on an iphone, but it is almost identical to my Android. Now stop slugging and get busy everybody!


Online Fitness Coaching: Sugar is the New Fat

There has been a lot of buzz lately about added sugar. It seems to be replacing fat as the bad guy in your food. Why should you be concerned about this? Do you know what happens to your car when you put sugar water in your gas tank? It doesn’t work correctly. The same thing happens when you put too much added sugar into your body.

Your body needs specific nutrients to perform at peak levels. When you eat too much added sugar, it causes a spike in blood sugar levels. This is followed by a crash. When you have a crash your body is telling you, “I’m hungry!” You didn’t feed me the nutrients you need. The sugar is not cutting it!” Your body wants nutrients. If you continue to feed it junk it can’t use, it will signal you to feed it something else. The more junk you eat, the more food your body will want, trying to get the nutrients it craves. See the problem?

How much sugar is too much?

According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day. That’s 100 calories or about 6 teaspoons. Men should have no more than 36 grams. That’s 150 calories or about 9 teaspoons. The good news is that the sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables are good for you and part of a healthy diet. No need to limit those.

Since most Americans eat WAY to much added sugar, here are some tips for reducing the amount you consume:

  • Limit sugary drinks such as soda, tea and juice. Water is the best drink choice.
  • Cut back on sugary breakfast foods. Check the nutrition facts label and remember, if your cereal is changing the color of your milk, it’s probably loaded with sugar.
  • Check ingredients. If sugar or or sugar type ingredients (high fructose corn syrup, honey, etc.) are in the first five, avoid it or at least eat sparingly.

I just finished a 7 day “no added sugar” challenge I am doing with Slimkicker It’s almost impossible to limit your added sugar intake to 0. Sugar is added to everything in our society. I have been able to keep it to about 12/15 grams per day. I did not feel deprived and I loved the added benefit of not feeling hungry all the time. I did have to consciously make different food choices and it does take some effort. Happy to report that a nice flat stomach has made the effort worthwhile!

Here’s a sample of what I ate for one day to give you an idea of how YOU can cut back on the amount of added sugar YOU eat. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Breakfast: Shakeology 7 grams added sugar OR Whole grain sandwich thin with one teaspoon peanut butter 3 grams added sugar

Snack: Snack bag of grapes 0 grams added sugar

Lunch: Grilled pork loin, orange, 10 Tostitos corn chips 0 grams added sugar

Snack: 1/2 Pure Protein Bar 2 grams added sugar

Supper: Spinach dinner salad with grilled chicken strips, walnuts, feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. 2 grams of added sugar.

Water to drink for each meal and snack.

Total added sugar for the day: 11 to 15 grams

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad