Finding a Gym That Is Right for You



week85To those of us who happen to be working out to what seems like all our lives, selecting a new gym to call home away from home is an easy matter. But for those who infrequently visit a gym or never have, the task of selecting the best gym to meet your needs and goals might be intimidating and overwhelming.

So where to start? Create a list of criteria of what gym will best fit your goals, interests, needs, and lifestyle. This will help the gym that is right for you stand out from the rest of the pack. Here is what you should consider.

Your Goals
Want to lose weight? Tone up? Reduce stress? Get fitter? Increase energy? Socialize? Train for an event? Whatever your reason or reasons may be, write them down and a realistic timeline with benchmarks and a final goal date. Or perhaps this is no end date as this is now a lifelong commitment.

Your Lifestyle
Determine if you are a morning or evening workout person and the distance in miles or drive time you are willing to attend a gym. Then which makes more practical sense to you, belonging to a gym that is close your house, office, or even the daycare center or your child’s school? Do their open hours fit your schedule? Is there a separate workout room for women only if desired? Do you prefer the lush of a high-end spa gym or are the basics found in a Y just fine with you? And just as important as the other factors, how much are you willing to pay for a membership? Decide all before venturing.

Your Interests
What style of working out interests you or will keep you interested and motivated plus yields the results you desire? Possibilities include: body combat, boot camp, cardio, cross-fit, kickboxing, Pilates, spinning, step aerobics, swimming, Tai Chi, team activities, water aerobics, weight training, yoga, Zumba, and others. You might have to try a few to determine.

Your Needs
When it comes to the available equipment, what is the number of pieces so that you do not have to wait or your wait is lessoned? This especially applies to the cardio equipment, including treadmills, Stairmaster, ellipticals, rowing machines, and stationary bikes but also to the circuit training equipment, free weights, and training accessories.

Next, which gym amenities are must have’s besides the basics of perhaps a clean locker room? Here are several to consider: aerobics room, basketball courts, dance studio, daycare center, dietitians, exercise classes, indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, juice bar, masseuse, outdoor swimming pool, personal trainers, racquetball courts, restaurants, retail store, rock climbing wall, running track, sauna, snack bar, spinning room, tennis courts, and whirl pool.

Other considerations for selecting a gym is what is its reputation in the community and what credentials do the staff have? Are there any reciprocal agreements? What is the cost for a guest pass? How often is the equipment updated?

Finding a gym that is right for you can be as enjoyable as getting in the gym to workout. Plan ahead and you’ll be one step closer to achieving the results your desire.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Running in the Cold and Inclement Weather


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week84The first thing that I do every morning when I wake up is to grab my smartphone off my nightstand. Checking email? No. Facebook? Nope. Missed calls? Nada. I’m checking the weather. I unlock my phone and scroll right to the weather app and give it a morning tap.

To be precise, I have five weather apps on my iPhone. Yes, five. Since weather is considered to be a science, one would think theses apps would be able to tell me the same weather predictions for the day. But they don’t. Each one gives a slight variation. Some are right on, most are way off. I find this amusing and frustrating at the same time.

The two things I check (on my preferred weather app of the moment) is the chances of precipitation and the temperatures; the coolest hour of the day in the summer and the warmest time slot in the winter. After all a girl has to run, doesn’t she? I am just need to pre-determine the most optimum time to do so around my schedule of the day.

Next up, what to dress in during my run of the day. Sure it’s easy on the warmer and hot days. Shorts, sleeveless top, baseball cap, sunblock, sunglasses, and my favorite running shoes will do. Tunes are sweet, too. But all can become trickier when the weather is colder, especially when it is frigid outside and dipping down to the teens.

There is a finesse to bundling up when running outside during the winter months, especially when there is a wind chill factor. The trick is to stay dry and warm while not getting overheated, especially the colder it gets. Since I am also skier, I typically dive into my ski clothing and pull out the thinnest but warmest layers of clothes. Keep in mind everyone’s own tolerance to the cold and heat differs. So the clothing needs to be modified and customized for each individual runner. So what I’m about to share with you is what works for me on cold frigid days basically once it hits the low 40s but especially when it’s 32 degrees or below, from head to toe.

Head, Neck and Face
Since you will lose about 40% of your body heat is lost through your head, wear a lightweight breathable thermal hat that is made from fleece or wool so your head doesn’t get too sweaty and one that you can pull down over your ears. Another option is an ear band, depending on your tolerance and the temp. For extra warmth, pull on a balaclava, aka ski mask, to protect your face from the wind and are a must when temps drop into the teens. Another beloved article of ski clothing that I use on my frigid running days is a neck gaiter also keeps my chin warm and helps to prevent burning lungs. Also, don’t forget to apply Chapstick or Vaseline for your lips, sunscreen with a SPF for your face, and sunglasses to block out the sun glare, especially when reflecting off snow.

Upper Body
You want to keep the body dressed in three thin, yet warm, layers, which help to trap warm air inside and allow for easy perspiration. For ladies, wear a wicking bra and a wicking tank for starters. Then first up, wear a fitted long-sleeve shirt made of synthetic wicking material, such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropolene, or silk. Next, pull on another long-sleeve shirt, this one made from fleece. Try Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece or Thermax. Your third and final layer should be wind and waterproof jacket with preferably a hood and one that zips. Use a breathable layer of nylon or Gore-Tex. For my hands, I have an assortment of gloves to select from depending on that day’s temp. For the frigid days, I’ll use hand warmers in needed, glove liners then fleece-lined waterproof gloves made for running or outdoor activities. Mittens are also great as they keep your fingers even warmer.

Lower Body
Since your legs generate heat, you won’t need as many layers as with your upper body. Running tights made of wicking or wind-proof pants made of synthetic material, such as Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, polypropolene, or Coolmax, should do just fine. Use both layers on frigid days.

Ankles and Feet
For your feet, wear a pair of wicking socks made of fabrics such as acrylic, CoolMax, or wool and not cotton socks, which won’t keep your feet warm or dry and safe from blisters. The higher they rise up your legs, the better! Or pull on gaiters over your calves to keep you dry and warm. Then wear running shoes with as little mesh as possible or water-resistant, trail running shoes to block out the wind and sop water seepage and ones with thick treads that are not well worn to help prevent slipping. If you know you will be running on ice and snow, slip on a pair of ice spikes or ice grippers over your running shoes for added traction and prevent slipping. One other suggestion is to place feet warmers in your running shoes. I do this frequently with long weekend runs.

A few final recommendations. Stay hydrated! Despite the cold weather, you will still warm up and perspire. Avoid overdressing. Remember, you’ll heat up once you get going. Start your runs going against the wind so when you are heading back, the wind won’t be chilling your sweaty body. Avoid puddles, slush, and snow and if you do get wet, change out of your running attire as soon as arrive back inside as you are at an increased risk for hypothermia and possibly frostbite. Wear reflective clothing for better visibility and be cautious when running in the snow and on the ice. During extreme temperatures, be smart and just run indoors!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

10 Protein Energy Bars Worth Every Bite


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week82Like many of us, I am a person on the go. After waking up in the mornings and before taking off, I go over my day, pack a lunch if it’s a work day, and will grab an energy bar “just in case” I am running late for dinner or when I’m heading out for a physical activity. On occasion, the bar may even be a replacement meal for when I have a large dinner engagement planned or need to watch my calorie intake.

When shopping at my favorite market, there is one side of one isle that dedicated completely to protein energy bars. Five shelves high and unsure of how exactly how long in length, this side aisle is filled with all sorts of bars from crunchy ones, chewy, crispy, crème, gel and gummy like, and ones that, well, are like chowing down on a brick! With so many choices, which one is a girl to choose?

With so many protein energy bars now on the market today, deciding on which one you like best is a personal journey of trial and error based on taste, texture, smell, dietary needs and preferences, and nutritional value. That being said, the following are 10 of my favorite protein energy bars.

Atkins Advantage Meal Bar – Cookies n’ Crème
One of my absolute favorites, this crunchy cookie layer topped with cream and coated in chocolate bar not only tastes great, it will satisfy your hunger! Nutrients: 180 Calories, 80 Fat Calories (6g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 15g Protein, 170mg Sodium, 140mg Potassium, 20g Total Carbs (10g Dietary Fiber, 1g Sugars).

Balance Bar – Dark Chocolate Crunch
Chocolate lovers beware! Rich, chewy, and dreamy, get your dark chocolate fix with this delicious gluten-free bar with dark chocolate coating over a crunchy cookie base. Nutrients: 180 Calories, 60 Fat Calories (4g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 13g Protein, 190mg Sodium, 150mg Potassium, 20g Total Carbs (4g Dietary Fiber, 12g Sugars).

Clif Bar Natural Energy Bar – Oatmeal Raisin Walnut
Packed with 23 vitamins and minerals and filled with organic rolled oats, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon, this bar can provide the energy you need for your next adventure! Nutrients: 240 Calories, 50 Fat Calories (.5g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 10g Protein, 160mg Sodium, 240mg Potassium, 43g Total Carbs (5g Dietary Fiber, 22g Sugars).

Clif Builder’s Protein Bar – Crunchy Peanut Butter
Containing 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance and packed full of organic peanuts and peanut butter, this crunchy bar will help you recover faster after exercising. Nutrients: 280 Calories, 10 Fat Calories (5g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 20g Protein, 370mg Sodium, 140mg Potassium, 30g Total Carbs (2g Dietary Fiber, 23g Sugars).

Detour Runners Bar – Chocolate Chip Cookie
Made with runners in mind who are hard on their knees, this contains whey protein and MicroLactin, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory derived from milk proteins to improve joint health and function. Nutrients: 200 Calories, 30 Fat Calories (3g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 12g Protein, 55mg Sodium, 29g Total Carbs (4g Dietary Fiber, 9g Sugars).

Luna Who Nutritional Bar – Carrot Cake
Is this dessert? Maybe! Regardless, it’s an indulgent cinnamon-spiced bar with carrots, walnuts, white soy chips, and sweet raisins, drizzled with creamy vanilla icing. Yum! Also try White Chocolate Macadamia. Nutrients: 180 Calories, 50 Fat Calories (2.5g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 8g Protein, 130mg Sodium, 90mg Potassium, 25g Total Carbs (3g Dietary Fiber, 13g Sugars).

QuestBar Natural Protein Bar – Chocolate Peanut Butter
A bar with none of the guilt! With 20 grams of protein and only 1 gram of sugar this gluten free, this high fiber bar is simply delicious and nutritious. Also try the Chocolate Brownie. Nutrients: 170 Calories, 45 Fat Calories (1g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 20g Protein, 340mg Sodium, 380mg Potassium, 24g Total Carbs (19g Dietary Fiber, 1g Sugars).

PowerBar Harvest Energy – Apple Cinnamon Crisp
Filling, delicious, and packed with nutrition, these bars are designed to provide extra energy in a naturally flavored, whole-grain bar. Also try the Peanut Butter Chocolate. Nutrients: 240 Calories, 35 Fat Calories (1g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 9g Protein, 140mg Sodium, 200mg Potassium, 42g Total Carbs (5g Dietary Fiber, 20g Sugars).

Power Crunch Protein Energy Bar Original – French Vanilla Crème
If you like cupcakes, then this bar is the one for you! Light and airy, you might not be able to eat just one of these whey protein, crème-filled wafers! Also try the Peanut Butter Crème. Very low glycemic response and diabetic-friendly. Nutrients: 205 Calories, 105 Fat Calories (5g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 14g Protein, 75mg Sodium, 115mg Potassium, 0g Total Carbs (1g Dietary Fiber, 5g Sugars).

Promax Energy Bar – Cookies n’ Cream
This yummy bar is my most recent find. High in protein and low in fat, it is quite sizeable and filling enough to get you through to your next meal, unlike most bars with similar nutritional value. Nutrients: 270 Calories, 40 Fat Calories (3g Saturated Fats, 0g Trans Fats), 20g Protein, 250mg Sodium, 250mg Potassium, 40g Total Carbs (1g Dietary Fiber, 30g Sugars).

Is your mouth watering yet? If so, happy snacking!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Owning Up to Having a Vice


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week83The other day when I stopped at a mini market food convenience store, there was an elderly woman in front of me in the checkout line. Small and frail looking, she was bundled up on this cold wintery day but unable to hide her wrinkling skin and long yellow fingernails. (I am a people watcher, so I am guilty of seeing such features in a person.)

When it became her turn, she gently asked the cashier for two packs of cigarettes to go along with her pack of gum. As a lifelong non-smoker, I became quickly curious as to how much one pack of cancer sticks costs so I spoke up and inquired. My mouth dropped open in my mind when the cashier quoted me the various prices.

Without making any eye contact, the elderly woman quickly said, “Well, I’m going to quit this year, but this is my only vice.”

The day was January 2.

“Not that I’m justifying it,” she continued. “Everybody has something and this is mine.”

I said nothing more as the woman who looked shamed grabbed her cigarettes and gum and left the store. By her defensive reaction, it was obvious she felt some guilt by smoking the life-threatening habit, padded by future self promises of quitting.

Two days later, I was in a lab waiting for blood work. One of the only two technicians grabbed his winter coat and said, literally, that he ‘needed to fulfill his bad habit.’ Out the door he went, very well knowing what he about to do wasn’t good for him.

Upon his return, I sat across from him as I checked in with my health insurance and script. I jokingly teased him by saying, “What happened to your New Year’s resolution to stop smoking?”

He chuckled and wittingly responded without hesitation and without any eye contact, “My mother did not raise a quitter.” Then added, “It’s my only vice.”

Vice. Only vice. Why do some people think they are justified to having one when it affects one’s health and well-being? Allowed? Entitled? It is interesting. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of vice is a “bad or immoral behavior or habit.” Hmm. That doesn’t look it should be permitted or accepted  to me. Perhaps vices are better classified as addictions?

In a flip about, I have a vice, err addiction, to working out and eating healthy. It is the plague I am guilty of carrying and trying to spread. Goodness knows many have called me on it. But it brings me inner peace and rewards my inner being. If most people do have some type of self-proclaimed vice, then why not a healthy one? How about, ‘My vice is running’ which releases those high-catching endorphins. What about, ‘My vice is reading,’ a mental escape to sharpen the brain, increase knowledge, and flourish the imagination. Or ‘My vice is traveling,’ as it relaxes, soothes, and re-energizes. All of these are good.

I believe there are bad, negative vices as there are good, positive vices. One is supported by weakness and dependency while the other by discipline and dedication.

Breaking and ending a physical addiction and a psychological habit can be difficult, but it is achievable. Here are five suggested steps to help you override.

  1. Background. Do some soul searching and understand why and when you partake in your vice. What made you start and why it’s time to stop? Identify your triggers and associations. Remove any temptations from your home, car, and work. Find positive replacements and surround yourself with positive influences.
  2. Goal. Set a quit date within the next two weeks and get mentally prepared for your next chapter.
  3. Strategy. Create a plan of action with benchmarks and achievable goals. A good strategy will address the short–term challenge of quitting smoking and the long–term challenge of preventing a relapse.
  4. Alliances. Let your friends and family in on your plan and ask them for their support and encouragement to break your negative habit. Look for a “quit buddy” who wants to stop the same habit as well. You can help each other get through the rough times. If you believe it will help your journey, talk to your physician. He or she can prescribe medication to help with withdrawal and suggest other alternatives.
  5. Journey. Document your daily journey of struggles and wins. This will also help zero in on additional vice patterns while tracking your highs and lows. When you have a craving, include the intensity on a scale of 1-10 and what you did to overcome, such as types of distractions, embarking on a new hobby, or reminding yourself why you quit.

Quitting a bad habit is no walk in the park, but it is one of the best things anyone can do – replacing it with a positive healthy one. Then the next time when someone asks about your (new) healthier habit, you can look them in the eye and proudly say with a smile of accomplishment, “It’s my vice.”

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Exercising with Fast Twitch Muscle


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week81Don’t all women want firm fit bodies? Beautiful curves that show you’re tight and tone. And with one, no fitness model has anything over you! Right?! But wait … at what price when you have been blessed genetically delightfully, or perhaps cursed dreadfully, with fast twitch muscle fiber?

I am one if these females; fast on the bottom, slow up top. As a teen, I always noticed my lower half was slightly more muscular than my skinny upper, quickly reacting to exercises that incorporated resistance and weights. But what is cardio girl suppose to do? Not ride her bike? Skip the weight training? Forget exercising all together?

At first, I just let it be. But then I became more conscious of it. I obviously had the natural statuesque of a gymnast, one I didn’t want or desire. To me, I looked dis-proportioned, but I’m certain no one else ever noticed or sensed my dissatisfaction for my muscular legs and rump. I was my own elephant in the room. So I began paying closer attention to what I did do exercise-way that increased my muscle mass, and what I did that didn’t. Soon, I noted what worked and what I needed to stay away from to achieve the results I was seeking.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are fast reacting. There is just no way around it. They are larger than slow twitch, becoming activated and responding quicker when used during the concentric phase of a repetition. These fibers are excellent at generating quick explosiveness powerful bursts of speed, power, and strength and are ideal for leading, sprinting and high-intensity training, such as gymnastics, bodybuilding, or power-lifting.

So what is a female with fast twitch muscle fibers to do when she wants to be tight and tone but just not overly muscular? While you cannot change your muscle fiber type, you can change your exercise workout regime to get a different result. For weight training, go for high repetitions with low weights (versus low reps and high weights) or use your body weight, such as calisthenics or plyometrics. Run long distance over short, aiming for three to five miles a day or longer OUTSIDE, five days a week as long distance running will help to change the size and structure of your leg muscles, developing leaner leg muscles over time. Running inside on a treadmill provides resistance and can cause you to bulk up. Also remember to stretch, stretch and stretch again as stretching will lengthen your muscles and prevent you from exercising on shortened muscles, which can also cause bulk up. Finally, try power yoga or Pilates, both excellent for elongated the muscles plus toning and strengthening.

With regular, committed, and consistent workouts, your fast twitch muscle fibers can develop to size you desire. Achieving the results you want for your own physique and determining how to best achieve is everyone’s own fitness journey. Along your way of trial, error, reward, and success, remember to keep a journal and document your rite of passage and included your diet, hydration, and sleep as all are just as important to your recipe of self wealth of health and fitness.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Fitness Apps Worth a Download and a Whirl!


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week80Yes, like there is for just about everything else these days, there are apps for fitness. Several. Probably hundreds if I dig far enough. So which one to use? Which ones are the best? Well, as 2014 is off and rolling with many new health and fitness resolutions in sight, there is no better time than now to download one or two of these popular fitness apps to help you stay in shape, on track and on goal. Below are just 10 of them for Apple wireless devices since that is what I use to test and use them!

Fitness Buddy (Buy) – With 1700+ unique exercises, 1000+ HD videos, and a workout journal at your fingertips, it’s no wonder this popular app has received accolades from Gizmodo, ESPN Magazine and even Jay Leno. This app will help revolutionize and revitalize your gym regimen with comprehensive exercises for all major equipment, including barbell, EZ curl bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, and stability balls. By Azumio, Inc. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5.

HealthyOut (Free) – I saw this app promoted on GMA and had to immediately go download it and give it a go. Of course, due to the TV appearance, the app crashed with all of the requests. Once in, pre-select your diet style – such as gluten free, high protein, low calorie, vegan, Paleo and even Weight Watchers, Atkins, and more  – then the app will locate area restaurants for eat-in or take-out that meet your nutrition preferences. By HealthyOut. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5.

iMuscle (Buy) – If you’re looking to improve or change up your workouts, check out this app which will guide you through 450 different lifts and stretches to create a customized balanced workout without having to hire a physical trainer. There are great illustrations and written instructions for those already familiar with most exercises. By, LL. Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPad 2 and newer.

Lose it! (Free) – This is one of the first health and fitness apps I downloaded to my iPhone. Keep tracking of what you eat, how much of it, and all if it’s nutrient values (including calories) can not be in the palm of your hand. There are a number of name-brand food items or you can add your own. It also takes your daily exercise into account. By FitNow, Inc. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

MyFitnessPal (Free) – This award-winning app has won accolades for many reasons, including hosting the largest food database of any iPhone calorie counter with over 3,000,000 foods! It is hands-down is one of the best all-in-one calorie counter and exercise trackers with its enormous catalog of foods, meals, and recipes. It even includes barcode scanner for finding packaged foods’ nutritional information. By Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5.

Runkeeper (Free) – Are you a runner or a cyclist? How about a hiker or walker? If so, downloading this GPS app is a must! Filled with motivational cues and an opportunity to connect with workout buddies, this is a great little app to track your cardio. See detailed stats around your pace, distance, and time plus get notified when you hit new personal bests and milestones. By FitnessKepper, Inc. Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5.

ShopWell – Healthy Diet & Grocery Food Scanner (Free) – Want quick assistance reading food labels to find healthier foods and achieve your nutrition goals? Consistently ranked as one of the top health and fitness apps, with ShopWell all you need to do is scan the bar code and it will reveal nutrition facts panels, calorie count, and ingredients to help you match foods meeting your dietary needs. Scan foods in booth supermarket and at home. By YottaMark, Inc. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock (Buy) – If you are thinking, “No, I don’t need another alarm,” then you are mistaken. This “intelligent” clock not only wakes you in the lightest sleep, but analyzes your sleep. Getting enough sound sleep is just as crucial to being healthy as a healthy diet and regular exercise. This app uses the accelerometer in your iPhone to monitor your sleep movements in addition to providing metrics about how well you slept. By Maciek Drejak Labs. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5.

VigorWay (Free) – This is the first social network designed to give active health and fitness enthusiasts a place to share their journeys and connect with others. Surround yourself in an online world with those who eat, sleep, breath, and believe in your healthy lifestyle! Use the active categories and Geo-Tag system to see the most trending and motivational pictures across the world and get the latest news and articles from the most reputable resources. By Vigor Health & Fitness, LLC. Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5.

Yoga Studio (Buy) – Voted runner-up in “Best App Ever” Awards 2012 and recommended by MacLife, Fox, MSN, The Guardian, Huffington Post and others, this ultimate yoga app allows users to play, customize, and schedule easy-to-follow HD video yoga classes. Easily create unique HD video classes or participate in one of 30 ready-made yoga classes with HD videos. 20 ready-made pose blocks readily available plus library of over 280 poses with detailed advice and instructions. By Modern Lotus. Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Optimized for iPhone 5.

Remember in the end, all apps are personal choices that best fit you, your fitness lifestyle, and ultimate goals. Select apps that have features, an interface, graphics, and support that meet or exceed your expectations. You may have to try a few before determining which your prefer. If you find others you would like to add to this list, please post!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Vitamin E for Hot Flashes


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week71My cousin Patricia is 10 years older than me and is experiencing hot flashes. I have heard stories from other relatives and co-workers who say they can come on at any moment and that they are dreadful. They can arrive in the middle of the night while sleeping – causing the kick off of covers – or right in the middle of first meeting with a new important client.

Patricia suggested I should ask my own mother at what age she first experienced the change of life and how were her hot flashes. Did she get them frequently or just occasionally?

Hot flashes, or hot flushes, are a sudden and quickly passing sensation of heat often is accompanied by a red, flushed face and sweating. It is a symptom of menopause and perimenopause and is caused by circulation changes. More than two-thirds women experience hot flashes during perimenopause and almost all women during menopause.

So I called my dear mom, who is still a whipper snapper in a lot of ways. When I posed the question to her, she said she was 50 when her menstrual cycle stopped for good, but for hot flashes, she never had any. Nada. Zip.

“But why not” I immediately asked?

“I took vitamin E. Just 400 daily,” she point blank responded.

Mom is so still on it, even at 88 years young. She then told me the story of her co-worker in a library where she volunteered while I was in elementary school. The head librarian complained often of the hot flashes and how unbearable they had become. Listening to her, my mother suggested that she take 400 international units (IUs) of vitamin E every night before bed. Not too long after, the librarian was thanking my mother for curing her flashes and gave her the honorary title of Dr. Falco.

Sure enough, Mom is right – again. As backed up by clinical studies published in “Journal of the International Menopause Society” and “Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy,” taking vitamin E daily at mealtime can help significantly reduce menopausal hot flashes as it acts as an estrogen substitute. It also replenishes electrolytes lost through perspiration and provides cellular protection from oxidative stress.

Some natural dietary sources of digesting vitamin E include wheat germ, safflower oil, olive oil, whole grains, peanuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds.

Other remedies to help ward off hot flashes include exercising at least for 30 minutes daily, keeping your room cool, wearing light layers of clothes, and trying deep slow abdominal breathing of six to eight breaths per minute – 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening and at the onset of hot flashes. You may also try taking a vitamin B complex and Ibuprofen. Moreover, try to eliminate or avoid caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, cigarette smoke and stress.

Since vitamin E is fat soluble and can become toxic from overdose, consult a physician before starting supplementation. Your primary physician can also recommend the right daily dosage. Not it may be two to six weeks before the effects are felt.

Good luck, ladies!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.

Home Remedies to Fight Cellulite


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week70When I am out and about, I am sometimes stopped by other women complementing me on my legs and asking me how I ward off cellulite. Typically, I smile and tell them it’s a combination of diet, exercise, an anti-cellulite regimen on addition to genetics.

People might be surprised to learn that the genetics is not on my side when it comes to cellulite. My mother, who is 88 years young, still covers up her cellulite by wearing long skirts, long shorts, or slacks. She has had cellulite as long as I can remember and never shows her legs. I have asked her about it, if it bothers her, or  if she has tried to prevent it.  Cellulite is a sensitive subject to many with my mom being no different.

If you have cellulite, you are not alone. Ninety percent of all women have some level of cellulite caused by heredity, inactivity and diet. Your genes are your genes but when your food intake becomes greater than energy output, then body fat levels rise, especially as you age.

I suppose I was never truly worried about getting cellulite, since I’m also 50 percent of my dad’s good genes and I live a different health and fitness lifestyle then Mom. But still, over the years I keep a watchful eye out for that dimple appearance, due to her, and with the first slight showing of any, I hit my anti-cellulite program even harder.

So what is my anti-cellulite program? What do I recommend that works for me? It is a treatment plan and daily regimen that I have developed over the years from trial and error. Just like any exercise and diet program, you’re anti-cellulite regimen should be customized for your body type, lifestyle and genetics. This of course takes time, patience and commitment to discover what works best for you.

For me, it starts with an anti-cellulite diet. This includes a glass of cold cran-water (1 oz. 100% unsweetened, organic cranberry juice, 7 oz water and 1 teaspoon psyllium fiber) when I first wake up and before going to bed. a cup of hot water with fresh lemon before each meal, and staying hydrated with lots of fresh water throughout the day – all to help flush out unwelcomed fats and unhealthy toxins in the body.

Next up? Food! Who doesn’t like to eat? For me, I love doughy food and sweets especially which all the wrong foods to ingest when it comes to preventing cellulite. Yes, I love my pizza as well as creamy ice cream and warm chocolate brownies, none of which I eat today unless it’s a rare special treat or a revamped recipe that replaces the unhealthy ingredients with healthier choices. Hence, my daily intake is comprised of the eating clean diet which helps me to ward off cellulite in addition to other great benefits.

You need a good exercise plan as well; one that includes a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio daily to achieve fat burn. Running will burn the most, but additional great cardio exercises to help in the prevention of cellulite include: spinning, swimming, tennis, step aerobics, hiking and cross-country-skiing.

Behind closed doors, I have also developed a regimen that I do daily, every morning after showering and every evening before going to bed. It includes deep massaging my potential troubled areas with either a massage roller or a rolling pin, as suggested by a personal trainer over 15 years ago.  This was actually her mother’s trick. The more time you allow for the messaging of each area, the better. The trainer also suggested to walk (scoot) across a floor using your butt. Simply sit on the floor when your legs bent in front of you and your feet slightly touching the floor. Move forward by pushing off with one butt cheek at a time to move you across the room, continuing for 15-30 minutes. Afterward, I deep massage in anti-cellulite lotion with my hands and fingers. There are countless on the market, but I use Nivea Skin Firming Cellulite Gel-Cream Q10 Plus.

Preventing cellulite should be a part of your everyday ritual to reduce and prevent. Try any or all of my suggestions above and discover what works best for you and your genetic makeup. Staying youthful does take an extra effort, but is worth all the work in the long run for you and loved ones.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well. Adriana

Three Favorite Clean Eating Recipes for Breakfast


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week69One of the tricks of the fountain of youth is what you eat. You truly are what you consume, especially as you age since your body isn’t as forgiving. Your metabolic rate decreases and your ability to breakdown and digest foods is greatly reduced. Weight now can pack on quicker and muscle tone can be harder to retain. Hence even more of a reason to eat clean.

When eating clean, your daily meals area a combination of lean means, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats which keeps blood sugar levels stable and wards off hunger. The foods are natural, free of added sugars, hydrogenated fats, trans-fats and anything else that is unnatural, unnecessary and unhealthy. Meals are more frequent, three main ones and two to three small snacks a day, to rev up your metabolism and curb your appetite.

One of my own fun tasks with my clean eating diet is finding recipes that feel like I’m indulging then restricting. It’s all about getting creative, inventive and experimenting. Below are just three of my favorite morning recipes that I are simply delicious and yet clean!

Scrambled Egg Whites with Spinach, Tomatoes and Ground Turkey: Cook 1 pound lean ground turkey in a medium skillet until cooked through and lightly browned. Drain excess juices from the pan. Place turkey in a bowl and set aside. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Scramble 8 egg whites until dry. Add scrambled eggs to cooked turkey. In a small skillet coated with cooking spray, lightly sauté 2 coarsely chopped tomatoes, 2 c. shredded spinach and 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press. In a large skillet combine all ingredients and mix until evenly distributed. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. Serves 6. Nutritional facts (per serving): 114 calories, 8 calories from fat, 24g protein, 2g carbs, 0.59g dietary fiber, 1g sugars, 120mg sodium.

Blueberry Almond Pancakes: Heat a pancake griddle to 375. In a blender, blend together 6 egg whites, ½ c. old fashioned oatmeal (not instant), a splash of vanilla extract, pinch of cinnamon powder, pinch of stevia, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. flaxseed oil. After coating griddle with cooking spray, drop batter by spoonful onto the pan. When bubbles start to form, place evenly on pancake about 1 tbsp. fresh blueberries. Let them set in before flipping the pancake. When ready to serve, top with additional blueberries and sliced almonds. Makes 1 service of 6 pancakes, depending on the size. Nutritional facts (per serving): 287 calories, 3g fat, 37g carbs, 28g protein.

Apple Pumpkin Muffins: Preheat oven to 375. Line muffin pan with paper or silicon liners or coat with cooking spray. Combine 1 c. old fashioned oatmeal (not instant), 1/2 c. canned pumpkin, 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 c. milk or milk alternative or 1/2 c. apple juice, 2 large egg whites + 1 yolk (lightly beaten),  and 2 tbsp.+ 1 tsp. canola oil. Mix until all ingredients are blended. Measure and mix all dry ingredients:  1 tbsp. double-acting baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1 tsp. pumpkin spice, 1/2 c. amaranth or quinoa flour, 1/4 c. whole wheat flour and 1/4 c. maple sugar flakes. Make a well in the center and pour wet ingredients into dry. Add dried fruit if desired. Mix until dry ingredients are just moistened. Fill muffins cups 2/3 full. Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Makes 12 muffins. Nutritional facts (per serving): 189 calories, 78 calories from fat, 6g protein, 21g carbs, 2g dietary fiber, 8g sugars, 25mg sodium.

Have a favorite eat clean recipe? Please share below!

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.


What’s for Dinner? Pumpkin in the Soup, Entrée and Dessert!


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week68aPumpkin is my favorite fruit right after blueberries. When the leaves start to change, I know it’s time for pumpkins and my beloved pumpkin recipes. Pies, breads, puddings – I just can’t seem to get enough of this seasonal fruit.

Pumpkins are a superfood, loaded with vitamins A, C, E, K, and many minerals including magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron. Pumpkins are high in antioxidants – carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin – and are an excellent source of fiber.

The autumn season has allows me the opportunity to explore new pumpkin recipes. As homemaker and cook/baker when I’m home, I boast a collection of well over 200 cookbooks that I love to pour my heart and taste buds into. The following are a few of the new recipes I have already tried out this season. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Roasted Pumpkin Apple Soup: Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss 4 lbs. pie pumpkin (peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks), 4 large sweet-tart apples (Empire, Cameo or Braeburn unpeeled, cored and cut into eighths), 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper in a large bowl. Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, for 30 min. Stir in 1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage and continue roasting until very tender and starting to brown, 15-20 min more. Transfer about one-third of the pumpkin and apples to a blender along with 2 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a Dutch oven and repeat for two more batches. Season with the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and heat through over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to prevent splattering, for about 6 min. Serve each portion topped with toasted chopped hazelnuts and a drizzle of 2 tbsp. hazelnut oil. Makes 12 cups. Serves 12. Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave on high, covered, stirring frequently, or on the stovetop over medium heat.

Pumpkin Ravioli:  Combine 1 c. canned or fresh pumpkin, 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Spoon about 2 tsp. pumpkin mixture into center of each wonton wrapper (you will need24 wonton wrappers). Moisten edges of dough with water; bring two opposite sides together to form a triangle, pinching edges to seal. Place ravioli into a large saucepan of boiling water with 1 tsp. salt; cook 7 minutes, and drain in a colander. Place 1/2 c. chicken broth in pan; bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Makes 24. Serves 6.

Pumpkin Cookies:  Preheat oven to 375°F. Beat 1/2 c. corn oil and 2 eggs until well emulsified. Add sugar substitute to equal 1 c. sugar and beat until fluffy. Add 1 c. pumpkin, then the following dry ingredients: 2 c. flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ginger and 1 tsp. baking soda. Add 1 c. raisins and 1 c. walnuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes 3 dozen. Serve with frozen vanilla yogurt sprinkled with pumpkin spice.

Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.