Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Seaweed Superfood

What does seaweed say when it’s stuck at the bottom of the sea?… “Kelp! Kelp!” J A little hump-day humor for you. But really do you know the many health benefits of Seaweed?? Many sea creatures feast on seaweed because it is chalked full of nutrients and minerals; in fact, some contain 10-20 times more vitamins and minerals than the vegetables we purchase at the grocery store.

Seaweed is considered a dark, leafy green vegetable (like kale or spinach) and contains calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc in addition to vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Seaweed varieties are a good source of plant-based protein and fiber as well as an excellent source for iodine. A few to highlight include Vitamin K, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that sends a chemical signal (when you get a cut for example) to your platelets that accumulate to form a blood clot. Certain types of seaweed, for example Kelp, contain about 26.4 micrograms of Vitamin K which is 29% of the daily recommendation for women (which is 90 micrograms/ day in case you are wondering). 

Calcium is very important in keeping our bones strong and also helps with muscle contraction, contributes to nervous system functioning and help cells communicate within the body. Seaweed (kelp, wakame) contain around 60 milligrams of calcium which is helpful especially if you do not consume dairy products and can easily be added into your meal plan.

As previously mentioned, seaweed is very high in Iodine which is very important in protecting the thyroid. The thyroid plays an important role in our metabolism, releasing thyroxin, helping our body’s metabolize and aid in our central nervous systems’ development and function. Iodine is necessary and can heal some thyroid issues but consuming too much is also problematic and dangerous. It is recommended to eat 2-3 servings of seaweed a week to reap the benefits but also stay in safe limits.

There are several types of seaweed and the most popular types include:

  • Kelp- High in calcium, iron, iodine and vitamins A and B.
  • Arame- High in calcium, iodine and has a salty taste that makes it perfect for vegetable dishes.
  • Wakame- High in calcium, iron, iodine, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Agar- High in iodine and is commonly used for making jello like deserts because of the jelly like quality.
  • Hiziki- Very high in calcium, it actually has 10x the calcium than a glass of milk and has a very strong flavor. 

You can find these varieties at the grocery store but will have better luck at a whole foods market or an ethnic foods store. I recommend buying a couple different kinds and tasting them before you go crazy and purchase every brand you find. They all have different textures and tastes but once you find one that is palatable and to your liking, there are loads of great recipes out there to try! I really enjoy seaweed salad and found this recipe that is delicious!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

When to Call in Sick

We have all been there. You wake up with a runny nose, an itchy throat and it feels like your head is in vice grips. You are sick. But should that deter you from working out? Should you skip your daily routine and forgo the gym? Or should you suck it up and go get your sweat on? What about when you are feeling exhausted, mentally drained and life seems to be tugging you in every direction… Should you take a day off and recoup or push through it? Do you feel guilty taking a day to rest?

First let’s examine the first part; you are sick! First and foremost, only you know how you feel. If you have a slight head cold, symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, or scratchy throat, more than likely you are safe to work out at low-to-moderate intensities. A study performed by the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), observed 50 college-aged students who were injected with the cold virus and divided into two groups: exercise and non-exercise. This study found that the symptoms between the two groups were similar and exercising did not intensify the symptoms nor did it compromise the immune system.

If you do find yourself in this position, scale back your workout and give it the 10-minute rule. Workout for 10-minutes at a low intensity and observe how you feel. If you feel better once you have started, continue but scale back on the intensity. If after 10-minutes you are still feeling crumby, take the day off. Listen to your body and please know that one day off will not hinder your progress, in fact it may be just what you need. With that being said, if you are experiencing a wicked cough, chest congestion, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or body aches, it is not recommended to workout. Everyone benefits from you taking a couple days (or more) to rest and kick the crud.

Maybe you are not experiencing a cold but you are feeling physically and mentally exhausted. You have been hitting the gym hard, day-in and day-out and are losing your drive. Maybe you have hit a plateau in the gym and your progress seems to have stalled or you are not recovering adequately and your body tends to feel sore all the time. This happens to all of us at some point or another. Sometimes taking a day or two to recover and recharge is just what you need in order to reap the benefits of your hard work. Your body is extremely intelligent; listen to it!

I just experienced it this last week and instead of beating myself up over taking a day or two off, I found it to be the missing component to feeling balanced. This is all from my personal experience and it is entirely up to you when or why you take time off from training. But I can offer my insight on the topic and tell you that I feel stronger and re-focused on my goals in the gym after a break. It is very easy to become consumed by your goals, eating, breathing, and sleeping the “I will not be sidetracked” mentality. As a competitor, this is an all too common theme I find myself consumed by.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a day off and I highly encourage you to. Meet up with a friend and go for a walk or catch a movie with your honey. Do something that is good for your SOUL; health and happiness go hand in hand and since we spend quality time feeding and training our physical self, we must nurture our emotional self just the same.

Take care of you!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Take Anywhere Workout

Good Monday Morning! I have had a couple requests to post a new workout that can be performed anywhere with little to no equipment necessary. These are great when you are stuck inside on a rainy day and cannot make it to the gym or if you are traveling and need a feel good endorphin rush from a workout.

This workout can be performed however you choose but I did it in this order and was sweating like a pig at the end (Sorry TMI): Warmup, Circuit One, Circuit Two, Circuit Three, Warmup, Circuit Three, Circuit Two, Circuit One, Warmup with a little bit of rest in between each.
o    30 jumping jacks
o    15 body weight squats
o    10 push ups
o    10 lunges (each leg)
o    15 bridges
o    30 jumping jacks
Circuit One:
o    10 Burpees
o    10 Plank up-downs
o    10 Incline pushups, using a chair or bench
o    20 Sumo Squats (wide stance)
Circuit Two:
o    10 Jump squats
o    20 Side lunges, alternating legs
o    15 Chair Dips
o    15 Goblet squats, holding something heavy like your kiddo J
Circuit Three:
o    20 Box jumps, or stair jumps, or jumping over something
o    10 Tricep pushups
o    50 Bicycle crunches

o    30-sec Side Plank holds

Over the weekend we had a big family dinner and as a side dish, I prepared some yummy twice baked sweet potatoes that are very figure friendly but still offer the satisfying creamy delicious-ness as normal twice baked potatoes. I actually made a batch of each and the sweet potatoes were the more popular pick! 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fitspiration Boards

Life as we know it comes with many facets from juggling work, family, and our social life along with fitness and nutrition goals. It can be a struggle trying to achieve and maintain balance in our lives and be downright overwhelming at times. You can however, create an inspiration board for any part of your life that provides specific details and help strategize your goals. 
The first step to creating your fitspiration board (or any other type of board) is to envision your goal. Once you have a goal in mind, you can place pictures that represent how you want to achieve this goal, helping organize your thoughts and hopefully preventing you from feeling overwhelmed or losing sight of balance.

Where to start? First take your goal. For example maybe your goal is to incorporate more whole foods into your diet. Search magazines, books and of course Pinterest for images that accurately depict your goal, in this case, choosing images of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, variety of grains/seeds, recipes and posting them to a board provides guidance, inspiration and motivation to help you achieve your goal. 

As you piece together your images, choose the one that highlights your goal the most and post it dead center
on your board. This is your ‘Bulls Eye’, signifying your goal and helps you visualize it on a daily basis, reminding you of your purpose! 

Next, surround your central image with other pictures that inspire you, create balance, and help you reach your goal. Maybe you want to add images that help strengthen your emotional health or your physical health or both. It is YOUR board so you will want to organize it in a manner that speaks to you.

Are you still wondering why create a vision board? This is your personalized board to help you visualize your goal and to seek daily inspiration from. You definitely want images that light a fire within you, that motivate you, that encourage you, that keep you inspired to work towards that Bulls eye! It may sound silly, but I have been making these for years from my high school days when they were mainly comprised of horse images and volleyball to college where the focus shifted to academics to my current health and fitness goals as a competitor and wife. I personally keep mine posted in our closet, front and center in an area I visit numerous times a day.

I will be posting images (here and there) that I use as fitspiration, most of which I have discovered on Pinterest not only because it inspires me to continue chasing my goals but my wish is that you find inspiration from them as well! Please feel free to share your inspiration boards or ideas; you never know who you might inspire! 



Ain't that the truth! :)

Take care of you!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Motivation Movement

Have you ever been gung-ho about starting something and just to find your motivation begin to dwindle a few weeks in? Maybe it is a New Year’s resolution or you start the quarter strong but when finals roll around you dread going to class. It could be a new eating or workout plan that you were more than tickled to start but find yourself side tracked with other things. This is normal and happens to all of us at some point. I often get asked how I stay motivated to stick to my training and nutrition plan and what works for one person may be completely different from what works for you. However, there are things that I practice and truly believe keep me on track, even on those days that I simply do not want to do it. It is not always easy but it is definitely worth it!
  • Take one day at a time- It is very easy to start something with great expectations. Expectations that we will accomplish whatever it is overnight or within a short amount of time. Yet when we do not see the results (as soon as we were hoping to), it is common to get frustrated and upset. Be patient. Great things take time. Try to focus on the present and be the best version of you today (not tomorrow or in 2 weeks from now). Enjoy the journey to a better you by taking each step, one at a time, one day at a time and you will be amazed at the clarity you can achieve by focusing on one goal or one day.
  • Make it fun! When it comes to the task at hand, attitude is everything. If I am working on a project that someone else signed me up for and I have no interest, it is going to be one hell of a task to complete. But if it is something that I REALLY want, I will do anything to accomplish it. Same goes for your health and fitness goals. If someone else drug you to the gym, chances are you might have a negative attitude towards your workout but if you got yourself there because YOU WANT IT, you probably enjoyed your time. It you aren’t keen on cardio, try a spin or Zumba class. If you don’t like the group setting, hire a trainer or download some new workouts from your favorite website. Whatever it is, make it fun and it won’t seem too bad.
  • Find Inspiration. What inspires you to work hard towards your goals? Is it to be more active and keep up with your kiddos? Maybe you want to get off your high blood pressure meds? Or maybe it is that fabulous new bikini that you are dying to wear this summer?! Find something or someone that inspires you and keep it in the forefront of your brain. For example, if it is a person that inspires you reach out to them and ask them about how they achieved their goals or read inspirational books and success stories of someone just like you. 
  • Believe in yourself! Squash all the negative thoughts and replace them with positive! Really focus on your thoughts and recognize how you talk to yourself. If you find that you are a negative Nelly, it is time to turn that mindset around. Start replacing “I can’t” or “It’s too hard” with “I can sure as hell do this or anything else I want too”. This may take digging deep and really listening but it is a HUGE component of staying motivated. 
  • Stick with it. Whatever you do, do not give up! Even on the days that your motivation is a negative 155%, do not give up. Tell yourself to try for a true 15 minutes, whether it is a workout, a new recipe, or a sewing project; give it everything you got for 15 minutes. Most of the times you will find yourself getting into it and feel better after you are finished. On the rare occasion you just can’t do it, walk away and try again later. If you need a break, take one, but get right back at it after you have had a breath of fresh air. 
  • Do not compare yourself to others. Whatever you do, please please do not compare your journey with that of someone else! Comparison really is the thief of joy and you are uniquely created to be YOU! Celebrate your successes and acknowledge your attributes. This is a personal journey of finding a healthier, happier version of you (not the lady down the block)! 
Keep your head high and work hard towards what you really want. I am here for you.

I am also here to give you insight on a delicious dinner that is quick, easy and delish! Flavors of fresh basil, tomatoes and balsamic with sprinkled mozzarella cheese…Yum.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Self-myofascial Release... Your New Best Friend

A few Friday’s ago, I mentioned that I take my foam roller with me everywhere and have multiple rollers stashed in my house and car. The reason for keeping a roller with me at all times is for the fact that it really helps relieve my aches and pains, especially after sitting for extended periods of time or after a grueling leg workout. When packing the roller around the gym, I often get asked about it and what it does, why I do it, and where to get one.

Fascia (the white tissue)
Self- Myofascial release (foam rolling if you will) is a soft tissue therapy technique (self-massage) that relieves skeletal muscle pain and immobility issues. It also improves blood and lymphatic circulation, relaxes contracted muscles, breaks up adhesions, and improves overall muscle health. The term fascia refers to the fibrous connective tissue that encases each individual muscle fiber, envelopes entire muscles and blood vessels and nerves. Think of the casing of a sausage and how it holds the components together, the fascia surrounds your muscles, providing support and protection within the body. Fascia binds some structures together while allowing others to slide past each other. Think of a sweater, all the threads knitted together to form one whole component. That is exactly how fascia works, one continuous network of tissue from head to toe, connecting the entire body together. There are different types of fascia in the body including deep fascia (surrounds muscles, bones, vessels and nerves) and visceral fascia (surrounds and suspends organs with in their cavities).

As you can see, fascia is critical in supporting and allowing our bodies to properly function. Healthy fascia is very pliable, stretching and moving without restriction. When fascia is unhealthy due to poor nutrition, physical trauma, stress, inflammation or scarring, the fascia loses suppleness and becomes tight, tense, and restricted, causing a lot of pain, irritability and may severely limit movement and physical function. If you have ever experienced issues with your fascia, you know what I am talking about! It is extremely uncomfortable and painful to deal with. Luckily, there are several things you can do to keep your fascia healthy!

Foam rolling is a great way to get started on a path to healthy fascia! Other options include ART (active release therapy), ROLF (a form of myofascial work), massage and physical therapy. Why foam roll? Self-myofascial release can help relieve pain that only you can feel, improve blood flow to the tissue and ultimately enhance performance by breaking up those trigger points (knots) that form on the muscles. The most common areas to roll are your IT bands, hips, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Areas that cause pain, are tight or overused are good areas to focus on. For example, if you are a runner, your IT bands probably could use some foam TLC.

To properly foam roll, apply enough pressure to a specific muscle using your body weight. Always roll slowly and when you find a trigger spot (area that really hurts), you should pause and breathe into it, concentrating on relaxing as much as you can. If you find that an area is too painful to roll, administer pressure by shifting your weight and working the surrounding areas. I can’t promise it won’t hurt (because more than likely it will!) but I can promise that over time, you will feel much better after rolling and almost crave it (okay maybe not to that extent).

I found this chart HERE that does an excellent job of taking you through the movements for your lower body. You can search for foam rolling techniques and will find that that is plenty of information available.
You can purchase rollers online (amazon,, ebay), at any sporting goods store or stores such as Target and Fred Meyers. If you would like more information, just let me know! I would be happy to provide you with more :)

Take care of you,


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fiber... Take 2

With each post, there is always much more information I feel like I could or should have included but whether time permitting or the length of the post, I decide not to. Yesterday’s fiber post is one that after posting, I kept thinking about it and wanted to add more information that would provide a substantial guide for y’all to refer back to.

I compiled a food list chart that provides fiber information per serving partly because it is easier to have a list right in front of you to select from but also as a means to creating healthy meals that are tailored to what you want.  

As you can see using the chart below, if I were to have 1/2 cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of raspberries and 2 TBSP flaxseeds mixed in, my breakfast would be 16 g of fiber... and that is only ONE meal! When you put high-fiber foods together in the same meal, the dietary guideline (as mentioned yesterday) does not seem too bad. 

FIBER (g) per serving
½ cup
½ cup
Whole wheat pasta
½ cup
Whole wheat bread
1 slice
Brown Rice
½ cup
White Beans
½ cup
Kidney Beans
½ cup
½ cup
Black Beans
½ cup
Garbanzo Beans
½ cup
2 oz
1 medium
1 cup
Brussels Sprouts
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
Pear, skin on
1 medium
Apple, skin on
1 medium
1 cup
1 medium
1 medium

Now for the fun part! Using the food chart above (plus a couple added ingredients), here are some easy meal ideas that will not only ensure you are getting your fiber but also add some jazz to the same old foods you have been eating!

  • 1 cup cooked Quinoa (10 g) mixed with 1 tsp agave and sprinkled with cinnamon. Add 4 oz 0% blueberry Greek yogurt (0.5 g), 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (2 g) and 2 oz almonds (7 g) = 19.5 g
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (4 g) mixed with 1 chopped apple (4.4 g) sprinkled with cinnamon and stevia. Add 2 TBSP chopped walnuts (1 g) = 9.4 g 
  • 2 slices whole wheat toast (6 g) topped with 1/2 avocado (5.9 g) 1/2 cup black beans (2.5 g) and 2 TBSP fresh pico de gallo = 14.4 g
  • 1 cup spinach (4 g) topped with 1 cup brown rice (4 g) mixed with 1/2 cup kidney beans (8 g), 2 TBSP shredded non-fat cheddar cheese, 2 TBSP salsa and 2 TBSP 0% plain Greek yogurt = 16 g
  • 1 cup kale (7.2 g) mixed with 1 cup raspberries (8 g), 2 TBSP olive oil, 2 TBSP red wine vinegar, 2 TBSP reduced-fat feta cheese and 2 oz chopped almonds (7 g) = 22.2 g 
  • 1 medium artichoke (10.3 g) steamed and drizzled with 1 TBSP olive oil mixed with 1 tsp roasted garlic = 10.3 g
Hope you find this helpful. As always, please keep sending your comments and questions! 

Take care of you!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Fiber Fundamentals

Happy Monday Y’all! Hope you had a wonderful Easter and enjoyed your weekend J I want to talk about fiber. I know we have all heard the term and see it listed on packages such as “good source of fiber” or “high in fiber” but what does it really mean? What distinguishes the two types? How much should you be consuming? How do you know if you are getting enough?
Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body cannot break down; therefore it passes through our bodies undigested. Dietary fiber is the type of fiber that you eat, intact in plants including plant polysaccharides such as cellulose, pectin, and fibers in oat and wheat bran. Functional fiber is non-digestible carbohydrates including commercially produced Polydexterose and resistant starches. Total fiber is the sum of dietary and functional fiber and the number that we are concerned with when looking at our fiber intake. 
To help distinguish the differences in fiber, there are two categories that fiber is divided into: Soluble and Insoluble.

Soluble fiber is dissolvable in water, hence the name. It forms a gel-like substance and helps lower blood glucose as well as blood cholesterol levels. Foods include oatmeal, beans, lentils, apples and psylluim.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water but it assists in moving food through your digestive track, keeping you regular by increasing the number of stools passed per day and bulking up your stool (TMI I know). 
Foods include wheat, brown rice, legumes, seeds, and the skin of some fruits and vegetables.

But why is fiber so important besides aiding in digestion and keeping things “moving smoothly”?

Scientific studies have shown that fiber appears to reduce the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes, aid in weight control, and prevent bowel disorders. Because fiber helps lower blood cholesterol levels, the risk of heart disease is more than likely going to reduce. In fact, a Harvard study examined over 40,000 male professionals, concluding that a diet high in fiber was associated to a 40% lower risk of coronary heart disease. Harvard Some research has demonstrated that soluble fiber binds with bile and dietary cholesterol, thus reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed in the intestines. Now we are not talking a jar of Metamucil a day here! It has been shown that an average of 5-10 g of soluble fiber per day can decrease LDL (remember the bad cholesterol) by about 5%.

Diets high in fiber have also been shown to lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. In one study examining overweight and obese men and women, ingestion of a high-fiber diet helped lower blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity in as little as two-week’s time. The modifications included increasing participants’ intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables as well as swapping processed foods for unprocessed. As you can see, by making small adjustments to your diet, you could be making a big impact on your health!
So how much fiber should you be consuming? 

According to the American Dietetic Association in 2008, adult women should consume 25 g per day and 38 g per day for adult men. Children should consume age plus 5 g per day. You can use an app such as My Fitness Pal or calculate each food item individually to see how much you are currently eating. If you find that you are not eating enough, there are several ways to add more in but increasing fiber in the diet should be done slowly. If it is added to quickly, you may experience gas and bloating.

Ways to increase your fiber intake include: adding nuts and seeds to yours salads or yogurts, cut up and pack fresh vegetables as snacks, try and eat vegetables with every meal… the more the merrier! Choose cereals that have at least 5 g of fiber in each serving and choose whole grain products over white! There are also a lot of over the counter fiber supplements that you can take if needed, but remember it’s always a good idea to check with a health professional first.

Now for a high fiber recipe… I found a cherry crisp of my Aunt’s but I am not the biggest fan of cherries so I used raspberries, which have 8 g fiber per 1 cup raw!