Category Archives: General Health

Stretching: So What’s the Deal?

Recently I had a question from a reader regarding stretching.  What’s the deal with stretching anyway?  Is it better to stretch before or after a workout?  Does stretching actually prevent injuries?

Stretching seems to have been the subject of debate for years now.  I have always been a bit traditional when it came to stretching, probably because it feels really good to me, and, since I tend to be a naturally flexible person, I was pretty good at it (Who doesn’t want to take a nap on their knee anyway?).  However, after college, I found that I had less time in my day devoted to my workouts, so what was the first thing to go?  Certainly not my run…it was my stretching!

Of course I noticed that I wasn’t quite as flexible as before.  It took a few tries before my palms laid flat on the floor while doing a hamstring stretch.  However, nothing catastrophic happened simply because I wasn’t spending thirty minutes a day stretching.

About a year after college, I started doing yoga.  Initially I picked it up because it seemed like it would be fun to try something new.  I was surprised by how sore I was after the first few times!  I loved the boost in energy I got from even a twenty minute yoga session.  And so began my love affair with yoga.  I’m actually thinking about getting my teaching certification in yoga because I love it so much.  It has definitely helped in keeping me injury free since college by increasing the strength of my lower leg stabilizing muscles.  My posture is improved, and I feel great!

Now yoga has taken the place of my stretching ritual.  I don’t seem to have time for both daily stretching and a few yoga sessions each week, so I’ve opted just for yoga.  Besides, it’s so much more fun than just plain stretching.  This week, I even introduced my husband to yoga!  He is amazed at how he feels so far!  Since he tends to be a naturally inflexible person, combined with the fact that he sits in a desk chair most of the day, he was, well, a bit of a tight mess.  We’ve done yoga the past two nights before bed, and he reports that it is helping him get to sleep.  (You have no idea how huge this is for my somewhat insomniac husband!!)

Anyway, end of soapbox discussion on yoga and all of its benefits.  Let’s get back to the questions.  So, does stretching actually prevent injuries?  I’m inclined to lean more towards a “no” on this question.  Recent studies seem to be reporting that stretching isn’t quite as powerful in injury prevention as we initially thought.  In fact, if you are looking to do a lot of power lifting or increase your mass through weight lifting, stretching may actual be counter productive to your goals.  (A shorter, thicker muscle can produce more force than a longer, thinner muscle.)

So does this mean we throw out stretching altogether?  Please, no.  Stretching still has a laundry list of benefits just to your psyche and mental energy alone.  (Try to tell me you don’t “feel good” after a bit of stretching.)  Stretching can provide relaxation and improved mental awareness.  Additionally, it can improve joint health by improving tendon and ligament flexibility.

If I have to pick between stretching before or after a workout, I pick afterwards. Your body is warm, stretching will be more comfortable, and you’ll be able to go a little deeper in your stretches.  That being said, I do like to start my day with a yoga routine or a series of stretches.  In fact, here is a link to Ben Greenfield’s morning stretching routing which he does first thing in the morning after some jumping jacks, pushups, and body weight squats: http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2010/08/the-exact-stretch-routine-that-ben-does-every-morning-no-matter-what/

And that dreaded stretching cage that you’ve seen in your gym?  Don’t worry if it looks intimidating.  You can stretch on a mat if you’re worried about getting tangled up in what looks like Spiderman’s web.

Maybe this isn’t quite as much as a “happy place” for you as it is for her…

If you’re interested in trying yoga for the first time, I recommend Yoga Download’s “20 Minute Yoga Download” podcasts.  They are free (just search for 20 Min. Yoga Sessions in iTunes), and several episodes come with downloadable PDF picture guides that follow along with the audio.  Of course, I’m also a fan of CorePower Yoga’s heated yoga classes as well.  Certainly a different price point, but I consider their classes one of my favorite guilty pleasures (along with Starbucks lattes, dark chocolate, and reading books in my Lululemon yoga pants on rainy days…).

Happy Stretching!!

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Coconut to the Rescue!

I promise I have not forgotten about this blog.  It’s just been a little hectic around here the past few weeks.  You see, the Hubs and I just moved into a new place, and we decided that within the span of two weekends we should paint a majority of the new place in addition to all the standard packing, moving, and unpacking!  Whew!  Well, now we’re here, and I’m back to share a nutrition tip with you.

I was a little sad to be leaving our old place simply because I had established so many running routes from our prior location.  Within minutes I could be at the local state park staring at the mountains, watching deer and coyotes, and away from the traffic.  However, this past Friday I found myself particularly excited to go “exploring” around my new location.

As you may recall, I am currently training for my first triathlon (or perhaps, my first triathlon season…), so instead of running six days each week, I am divvying up my training between all three disciplines: biking, swimming, and running.  This past Friday happened to be a running day, and I was planning on a long run.  My schedule on Friday happened to be a bit more open than I had planned, so I spent the morning taking care of odds and ends at home before heading out for my run around 12:30.

As soon as I stepped outside, I realized that this run might be a little bit rough.  However, once I get my mind made up about something, I have to finish it.  So, I headed out on the roads.  Sure enough, after only a half mile or so, I started getting stomach cramps and feeling cold.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I believe it was about 95 on Friday.  It’s just that it’s so dry here in Colorado that I often don’t notice how hot it actually is.

Needless to say, I was not moving as fast as I had hoped, and it was all I could do to figure out how to finish the loop I started and get home.  About 2 1/2 or 3 miles in, I was much less focused on my “long” run and just ready to finish.  It turned out that my run was only about five miles or so (as opposed to the seven or eight I planned on), which was really good because I found myself feeling terrible, still sick to my stomach, and breathing much harder than my less-than-stellar pace called for.  It was pretty clear.  I was dehydrated.

Dehydration can just sort of creep up on you, especially here in Denver.  You have to drink more water than at sea level due to the extreme dryness.  Since the air is so dry, you may be sweating much more than you realize because you’re drying off so quickly.  I had only had coffee that morning while I was doing things at home since I had planned to head out for my run much earlier.  (Big mistake…)  So, needless to say, I hadn’t helped myself out at all.

Now mind you, this sort of dehydration is not really the end of the world.  I made it back home just fine.  I felt a little sick, but all in all, I was okay.  However, I knew I needed to get some electrolytes into my system.  My legs were really cramping near the end of this run.  I thought about pouring a big glass of water, adding some sea salt and some fresh squeezed lemon, but I decided to run over to Walgreens to see what they had.

I perused the shelves and aisles of less-than-healthy fair to no avail.  Tons of snack food, but no real food.  I looked at the Gatorade, but just couldn’t bring myself to down all those sugary calories just for a few electrolytes.  Finally I spied this in the refrigerated section:

Now this was what I was after!  I had forgotten all about coconut water as a natural electrolyte replacement drink!  I knew nature had something better than Gatorade!  680 mg of potassium (more than one whole banana!), a good source of iron, and five essential electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus)–this is what I needed!  Plus, coconut water is much lower in calories than Gatorade.  In fact, this 14 ounce bottle had just 110 calories and zero artificial sweeteners!

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve tried coconut water before, and, despite the glories of its health benefits, I could not get it down.  For a person who loves coconut, this stuff did not taste as good as I had hoped.  So, when  I spotted this brand that had a bit of chocolate in it, I was sold.  I’d really like to wean myself off of the flavored kinds of coconut milk and get used to drinking the real thing, but this did the trick on Friday.

Thankfully, my little tale of woe has a happy, coconutty ending.  Now that drinks like Zico are being sold even at convenience stores, we’ll never have an excuse for reaching for sugary electrolyte replacements again!

Drink to your health!

Healthy Eating Tips from Tina Haupert

I recently finished a book recommended to me by my client. It’s called Carrots ‘n’ Cake: Healthy Living One Carrot and One Cupcake at a Time.. It was a very quick and enjoyable read about the life and fitness journey of Tina Haupert. Tina has a blog by the same name and has enjoyed tremendous success in the “blogosphere” with her daily posts and pictures of her eats. I’ve enjoyed a few of her recipes as well. Right now as I write this I’m enjoying her 3-minute Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. I’ve already posted the recipe for Banana Breakfast Cookies that I adapted from her Banana Oatmeal Chip Cookies as well as the recipe I pulled off her site for her protein pancakes. So far I’ve been a fan of everything I’ve tried.

I may not agree with Tina on everything in her diet, but I definitely think she’s got so many things right I couldn’t help but share a few things I gleaned from her book.

1. Cookie Friday. Tina celebrates Cookie Friday each week. On Friday, she allows herself a special treat. Note, it’s just Friday, and it’s just one treat. This concept really works for me. In fact, in preparation for my upcoming triathlon, I’ve developed “2 Treats a Week.” This concept really helps me know when I really want a treat and when I’m just eating it because it’s there or I’m tired or something else along those lines. Since, like Tina, Friday is my favorite day of the week, I like to save a treat for Friday night. Usually, that includes a mini-pint (an actual 1/2 cup serving) of Hagen Daas while watching a movie with my Hubby. By planning for my treat, I don’t feel the least bit of guilt for eating it, and I savor every bite!

2. Plan for Indulgences. Nobody wants to be the person drinking water and eating celery sticks at a party. It attracts undue attention for one thing, and for another, it’s just plain not fun! If you know you’re going to be in a position where you’ll be around less than optimal food choices, plan the rest of your day around it. Going out for dinner? Have a salad or soup for lunch. You’ll be hungry for your special meal out, and you’ll have saved some extra calories for a little indulgence later. Read again: no guilt with a little splurge means you probably won’t overdo it!

3. Eat Whole Foods. This is such a simple thing, but often it’s where people really miss the boat! Eat foods with pronounceable ingredients…and only pronounceable ingredients! Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid those inward aisles of food in boxes and cans. You’ll feel more satisfied when you eat real food than processed foods. Avoid the scam of diet foods! They don’t make you slimmer, and you’re body just doesn’t know what to do with all those chemicals.

4. Find Accountability. One of the reasons Tina started her blog was to help keep her accountable to make healthy eating choices every day. Find someone you trust to help keep you accountable to your fitness and nutritional goals every week. My husband holds me (with love, of course) to my 2 Treats a Week plan, and that works great for me. Remember, this is also the job of your personal trainer. 🙂

Here’s to improved nutrition and better health as a result. What small thing can you change today? What about this week? Here’s my goal for the week: to drink a glass of water and stretch upon rising every day. Join me in my sane and sensible approach to health!

What I Wish I Had Known as a Collegiate Athlete

My journey in health and fitness started at a really young age.  I can still remember what I was wearing on those first few runs with my dad and sister.  My sister had joined the Middle School track team, and was running the 800 Meters.  My dad thought she should go on at least a couple of runs in order to train for the event.  Of course, I wanted to come along, so the three of us went out and did a loop together.  I know it now as the mile and a half loop.  I don’t remember being tired or thinking it was hard, I just remember thinking about how cool I was that I was running with my dad.  After all, even at the age of four or five I had seen him leave for a run in the evening.  I’d mix up a glass of gatorade for him and watch for him to get home.  Then I’d sit next to him and think something along the lines of, “Wow, he’s really sweaty!”

Then in middle school, it was my turn to join the track team.  Again, I have vivid memories of my first race.  Unfortunately, all those years of people telling me I was fast had me thinking I was a sprinter.  I think I was second to last in my 100 Meter race.  And I cried.

After that tragic day, I decided I should join the rest of my friends on the field hockey team.  I had heard that the conditioning portion of the practices were really, really tough, so I thought I better show up at the end of the summer prepared for the worst.  So I started running 3 miles every weekday morning at 7:30 a.m. around the cemetery down the street from my house.  I still kind of shock myself at how disciplined I was with my training regimen.  I just got up and got it done every morning.  Needless to say, the conditioning portion of field hockey practice turned out to be a bit of a joke for me.  I was more than prepared.  During that first summer of running, I ran a one mile road race.  I remember loving that experience, and finished in 6:28 for my first timed mile ever.  I didn’t have anything to compare it to until the following track season where I took second in our one and only track meet of the season with a 6:08 this time.  After that, I was hooked.  Track was my “thing,” and I loved it.

I remember going to the library and checking out Runner’s World magazine and just pouring over it even in eighth or ninth grade trying to engage myself in this really “cool” new community that I was quickly becoming a part of.  Finally, my dad said he’d just pay for me to have a subscription if I liked it so much (read: my dad is awesome).  As I got older, I loved to read any fitness magazine I could get my hands on.  I loved being an athlete.  I loved seeing my body develop in high school as I ran more and more.  I loved being competitive.  Heck, I just loved winning!

Enter the college years.  I had been recruited by a small, NAIA school to run cross country and track.  I was beyond excited to actually be part of a team as I had run cross country somewhat independently in high school and was typically the only girl distance runner on the track team.  Unfortunately, my collegiate career didn’t end up quite the way I had hoped.  I couldn’t really tell you why at the time, but looking back now it seems crystal clear for several reasons.

1.  I was overtraining.  This was really no one’s fault but my own.  I had really excellent coaches who did not believe in pushing their athletes to their literal breaking points (i.e. stress fractures, etc.).  They put together excellent programs and then tweaked them to each runner’s abilities.  None of this ridiculous “Here’s our star.  Let’s write a really fantastic training program for her, and then just have all the other girls do the same thing so they can help push her a little bit.”  My coaches saw a bigger picture than that, thank goodness!

However, now I think back to those days, and I had all of the classic symptoms of overtraining: constant, nagging injuries (imagine not being able to squat down for four years or jump off of anything because your shins are always hurting); fatigue; not much improvement most seasons over my best times; even weight gain.  As much as I loved this sport, I was pushing myself too hard.  My competitive streak told me that I had to do all the same training as my teammates, even if it was truly too much for me.  However, popping Motrin before practice just to make it through without hurting too badly is not healthy!  I had a stress fracture, and a near stress fracture.  After my freshman track season, I limped for at least a month before going to physical therapy.  I was just so worried that if I took a day off when I felt a nagging twinge or pain, that I would get out of shape while my teammates were getting in better shape.  Silly me…I should have listened to my body so that it would listen to my mind come race day.  Sigh…

2.  Running was my definition of true exercise.  Oh boy…how far I’ve come on this one.  In college, I couldn’t really call anything “exercise” in my mind, if I wasn’t running or if it didn’t supplement my running.  If I didn’t run, I couldn’t say that I had worked out that day.  I was sure that running was the only true exercise, and nothing else could give you quite the same workout.  This was probably one of the reasons that I was constantly injured.  I was always stressing my body in the exact same way.  Not to mention the fact that my body was completely adapted to running, even hard, high intensity speed workouts.  I have since learned that weight training that includes a good bit of plyometric and cardio intervals are where I really see results in my appearance because they are hard for me!  I’m not naturally strong, so I am really challenged by strength training.

3.  Adequate sleep is crucial to recovery.  I absolutely loved college.  I loved running.  I loved my major.  I loved my friends, coaches, and professors.  There was nowhere else in the world I would rather be than at school.  That being said, I was very, very serious about everything in which I was involved–especially my grades.  My sister graduated college with a 4.0 cumulative GPA.  I wanted to do the same.  So I worked and worked and worked, and, while I really did love it, I wore myself quite thin.  If it came down to getting a good night’s rest or studying hard to ensure I knew everything that could possibly be on the exam, I never once questioned that I’d be up studying.  I was involved in two performing groups in addition to the weekend traveling of the track team.  I knew that if I just managed my time, well, perfectly, I could have it all–the grades, the voice, the times on the track.  However, I was extremely exhausted.  I could not consistently maintain a schedule of five to six hours of sleep a night while running forty or fifty miles a week without reaping the consequences.

I occasionally brag to my husband, who doesn’t sleep very well, that I wrote the book on sleeping, and particularly napping.  In fact, one time in college I had three minutes before I had to leave for track practice.  So, I set my watch to go off in three minutes, laid down on my bed, and in that amount of time, I actually woke up from a dream.  How on earth did that not tell me how extremely sleep deprived I must have been?  A dream–in three minutes!  

4.  I had really poor nutrition.  This is actually the factor that I want to hone in on the most.  My nutrition was horrendous, but I thought it was actually pretty good.  I had always been careful about eating too many sweets during the season.  In high school, I wouldn’t touch dessert during the whole season.  My motto was “garbage in, garbage out.”  However, in college, I was racing about eight months out of the year, and it just seemed too restrictive to never have a treat.  Plus, my teammates weren’t quite as obsessive about no desserts, so I thought it was okay to indulge.  Unfortunately, there were other areas of my nutrition that were much worse.  For example, one of the ways in which I made my hectic schedule work was by skipping lunch.  I realized that I could get an extra hour of practicing in (read: singing; I was a Vocal Performance major) if I skipped lunch.  That was when all of the other music majors took a full hour to do nothing but socialize.  I felt superior eating my Clif Bar quickly and then putting in a solid hour of practice.  However, this led me to be really lightheaded during my afternoon classes, and I usually had trouble focusing.  By dinner, after practice, I was starving, and I know I ate way too much for dinner and after dinner snacks to more than make up for the calories I had missed during the day.

Additionally, I snacked on really unhealthy foods that I thought were healthy.  Animal crackers and pretzels were my staple snacks, and I truly thought these were at least nutritionally neutral choices, if not actually positive choices.  The thing is, all that white flour has zero nutritional benefits to my body.  White flour is really just one step away from white sugar (the evil thing I thought I was avoiding with no or few sweets).  I was pumping my body full of empty carbohydrates.  Sometimes to keep myself awake while I was up late studying, I would also eat.  However, even if it was a bunch of raisins I was eating, I was still consuming way too many calories.  

So what happened?  I lost all that muscle tone that was so apparent in high school.  I gained a few pounds, but not a lot.  Remember, I was still working out a lot!  However, my body fat percentage increased significantly (about 5%).  Combine all of these factors together, and you’ve got an athlete who never actually reached her potential.

When it all came together.  It took me a long time to realize all of these things that had gone wrong for me in college.  One day, though, it really started to come together.  After college, I worked for a year, then got married and moved to Denver.  I hadn’t raced at all since college, so after about a year and a half of just easy running (and recovery from my myriad of injuries), I decided I would run a half-marathon.  Naturally, this meant increasing my mileage a little bit (not a lot) and adding in some speed workouts.  I decided to do one of my easiest track workouts to get me started with my speed workouts–some 200s and 400s.  Dear goodness was I nervous to start that workout, but then I got started, and you know what?  On about half the training, but with plenty of rest and some markedly improved nutrition, I was hitting the exact same times I ran in college!  The workout felt easy!  For one, my body just remembered that pace pretty well, but there was no straining to hit the times.  I stayed relaxed, didn’t even push that hard, and hit those times without a problem.  

It’s been almost exactly three years since my last race of college track, and I am amazed at the difference in my body.  My pants from college are all too big.  My body looks toned and tight again.  The number on the scale is a little bit lower (not a lot), but my body fat percentage is definitely dropping.  Even my husband has repeatedly told me in the past several weeks, how toned I look.  I finally have those abs that I knew had to be there…they were just hiding under a layer of overtraining and white flour laden fat!  My workout routine now includes a mix of swimming, cycling, running, and weight training as I prepare for my first triathlon, and I am excited about how great I feel!  If only I had known in college what I know now–listen to your body, switch up your routine, get some rest, and eat whole, unprocessed foods, and you will be truly healthy and able to train consistently and enjoyably.

Here’s to a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle!

Sugar Search

In my pursuit of good health and better nutrition, I have become increasingly aware of the large quantity of sugar in the Standard American Diet.   The suggested amount of added sugar in the diet (read: any sweetener not including fruit) is somewhere between 25 grams and 50 grams per day depending on the association guidelines with which you are following.  I think it’s probably best to stick a bit closer to the 25 gram guideline, but once you start actually adding up the amount of added sugar in your diet, those grams add up quickly!  In no time at all, you may find yourself at that magic 25 gram limit.

I’ve found that many people are quite unaware of the astounding amounts of sugar hidden in their diet.  I mean, it’s often not until you start looking for the powdery white stuff that you realize it’s absolutely everywhere.  Turn over that jar or package and read the ingredient list, and you’ll find it lurking in deli turkey, spaghetti and pizza sauces, sandwich bread, cereal, granola bars, yogurt, beef jerky, and even canned tomatoes.  Many foods that would be deemed as “healthy” are actually loaded with sugar.

I’ll spare you the details (for now) of why we need to be so concerned with the abundant amount of sugar in the Standard American Diet, but for now, just know that sugar causes large fluctuations in insulin levels which lead to low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, a lack of appetite control, food cravings, and, of course, weight gain.  It’s very likely not the fat in our diets which is making us fat.  It’s the sugar!

Maybe you’ve got a “sweet tooth” like me, and you just really like sugar!  By significantly reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, you will begin to crave it less.  One way that I’ve attempted to reduce my sugar intake, is by cutting out foods that have snuck it in where I don’t even want it anyway.  Look for packaged ingredients that don’t include sugar.  For example, choose a can of diced tomatoes rather than stewed tomatoes.  Buy smoked deli turkey rather than oven roasted, and simply stick to a bowl of oatmeal in the morning topped with fruit rather than a boxed cereal.  Then, when you crave something sweet, you can really eat a small treat without having already exceeded your sugar intake for the day without even knowing it.

Be warned!  Sugar comes in a variety of disguises!  I find that most people don’t even know the names of all of sugar’s aliases, so I’m including a list below which is taken from Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About.  Who knew one ingredient could come with so many nicknames?!

So, next time you’re at the grocery store (and maybe before you take a second portion of that cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table), take a look at that ingredient list before placing that item in your cart.  Where did you find sugar, in one of its various forms, that completely surprised you?

The Many Aliases of Sugar

Sugar (beet, brown, cane, confectioner’s date, demerara, grape, invert, malt, powdered, raw, turbinado)
Cane (crystals, juice, syrup)
Syrup (malt, corn, maple, cane, high fructose, glucose/fructose, refiner’s, rice, sorghum)
Words ending in “ose” (glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose)
Maltodextrin
Honey
Molasses
Malt (syrup, barley, sugar)
Concentrated fruit juice (pear, grape)

The Whole Grain Health Halo & Spaghetti Squash Recipe

One thing I frequently hear from clients and gym members when I ask them about their nutrition is that they stick to white over wheat.  Usually it sounds something like this, “Oh, I eat pretty healthy.  I don’t eat anything white.  I eat wheat bread and brown rice.”  Then, they sort of sit back and wait for my accolades.  Herein lies a great problem in the Standard American Diet.  Whole grains have been all over advertisements, labeled on boxes, and just in general touted as being superior foods, that we’ve come to believe our diets are doing well as long as we’re eating a lot of them.

Beware of health halos!  The front of a box of anything in the grocery store is 100% marketing!  When you see a product that is proudly boasting its large quantities of whole grains, chances are it’s trying to hide something else (Old Fashioned Plain Oatmeal might be the one exception that I can think of).  Take a look at the ingredient list.  Are there ingredients that are completely unpronounceable?  Do they look more like a list of chemicals than actual ingredients you would find in your own kitchen?  If so, leave that box right there on the shelf…it’s doing you more good as a pretty decoration in the grocery aisle than hanging out in your body.

Secondly, consider the fact that “wheat” is a word that is used with far too much authority.  Remember, even “white” bread is made from wheat.  Chances are good that wheat bread isn’t actually as far from white as we may think.  Perhaps you have not been fooled by marketing ploy, and you’ve reached for 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread.  This is probably a better option but still may not be quite as nutritious as you may think.  For one, there may still be sugar and caramel color hanging out in those well-preserved loaves of bread.  Additionally, all it takes for a food to be labeled “whole grain” is for the germ and bran of the wheat to remain intact prior to grinding it into flour.  However, it is far more nutritious to reach for a grain product that has not been converted to flour at all.  Our bodies break them down more slowly, absorbing more nutrients, and helping us feel full for longer thanks to the extra fiber.

The makers of whole grain foods particularly want us to believe that we should be eating more whole grains.  While I certainly hope you are choosing whole grain and intact grains over refined grains, less is usually more when it comes to these carbohydrates.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love bread and baked goods!  However, I’ve come to recognize that we need to eat these in quite a bit more moderation than we tend to think…even if it claims to be “whole grain!”

Here is a link to an article and podcast by Monica Reinagel that I think cuts through the health halo of whole grains quite well.  Consider subscribing to her weekly podcasts for additional nutrition information.  In five to ten minutes a week, you could be saving your body AND your sanity from all the nutritional myths out there.  http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com/the-truth-about-whole-grains.aspx

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits and warnings about whole grains, you may be realizing you need to cut down on your whole grains a bit (particularly, if you’re looking to lose weight and/or tone up.  If that’s the case, consider the video about spaghetti squash located on the right-hand side of the page of the link above.  Cut a serious amount of calories and carbohydrates from your dinner with this simple substitution.  I chose a store-bought marinara sauce that was low in sugar (yes, tomato sauces tend to pack in a good amount of sugar–check the label!) and contained all pronounceable ingredients.  Then I browned some ground elk meat (complements of my client) and added that to the sauce to give the meal a boost of protein.  Enjoy!

I Feel Pretty…Oh So Pretty!

Yesterday I held a brunch and tea for my business as an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay.  I love the diversity of my jobs, by the way–personal trainer in the morning, voice and piano teacher in the afternoon, Mary Kay “lady” in the evening and on weekends.  I love having a hand in all of my respective interests.

At any rate, this got me thinking about how closely beauty can fall in line with health.  We know that when we are healthy on the inside it will start to show on the outside.  Sometimes, though, I think we forget that when we feel beautiful on the outside, we will want to make the inside match!

There is something about how feeling “pretty” helps us stay on track with healthy nutrition.  Sometimes something as simple as a new haircut, manicure, or face mask makes us feel rejuvenated and confident in our beauty.  When we’re feeling beautiful, we’re a lot less prone to wander from a healthy diet.  Sure, maybe that beauty regimen comes with a small glass of red wine or a piece of chocolate, but even after that splurge, we’re feeling satisfied and content…and hopefully a little more “pretty.”

So next time you’re fighting the urge to stray from a healthy diet and eat something that your body will recognize as garbage, try treating yourself instead to a beauty regimen.  Paint your nails, take a hot bath while listening to classical music, read a fun book while you mask your face, try a new hairstyle or a fun, fashionable outfit, or call me to come over and create a custom color look for your face (of course, I can also suggest some fabulous masks and at-home microdermabrasion treatments!).  Above all, treat yourself to something that makes you feel as beautiful as you really are!