Days 21-23: Add some intervals to my workout

•May 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This is how I feel I look…

and this is how I want to look.

How do I get from Point A to Point B? With a kick a$$ exercise regime and a healthy diet, but of course! Luckily, thanks to my pre-wedding nutrition plan, my diet is flawless nearly flawless. My workouts, though, could use a bit of pumping up. So on day 21, I wrote up a high intensity, high fat blasting workout that will work alongside my diet plan to get me those slim, sexy abs. [And nice legs and a great butt too!]

 So what is the number one way to add intensity to your cardio workout? Interval training! Interval training works both the aerobic (making energy with oxygen) and the anaerobic (making energy without oxygen) systems.  During the high intensity minutes, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles for the short bursts of high activity. Basically, interval training consists of switching back and forth from a lower intensity workout to a higher intensity workout. What are the benefits? This type of training allows the body  to build new capillaries, and is better able to take in and deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Also, interval training increases weight loss efforts because by challenging both you aerobic and anaerobic systems simultaneously, you’re improving your body’s ability to burn calories.

So to show off how I added interval training to my cardio routines, I made this graph. A few things to keep in mind while looking at it. This represents a 30 minute workout [including 5 minutes for the warm up and 5 minutes]. Below [before the graph] is how I spaced out each intensity.

As you will also see,  the RPE [rating of perceived exertion] increased each day I did this. [The RPE scale is as follows: 0-no exertion at all to 10-maximum exertion possible, very hard work]. I did this for 3 days so adapt your intensity on how often you plan on doing this!

Warm Up–5 minutes

Low Intensity–4 minutes

High Intensity–2 minutes

Low Intensity–4 minutes

High Intensity–2.5 minutes

Low Intensity–4 minutes

High Intensity–3 minutes

Cool Down–5 minutes

 

Nutrition in the News: The Bright Side of Wal-Mart

•May 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

With all of the negative news surrounding Wal-Mart, it is good to finally see some positive light shine on the mega-retailer. As stated in an article featured on MSN, Wal-Mart plans to donate two billion dollars to help end world hunger. The two billion, which is more than double what Wal-Mart usually donates, will be given to food banks as well as turned into food stamps.  The plans come in two parts. At least $250 billion will be awarded in grants to support refrigerated trucks, which help to keep food fresher on the journey from warehouses to stores. However, the bulk of the donation will be over 1.1 billion pounds of food to be donated to food banks. All of this money will hopefully provide over 1 billion meals.

People shopping in a food bank. Photo courtesy of 4 and 20 blackbirds WordPress.

I’m not a huge fan of Wal-Mart, never have been and probably never will be, but I do applaud them for doubling their charitable donations and reaching out to give back to the community. Hunger is something that affects billions of people world-wide and it’s about time one of America’s most successful retailers recognized this. However, if you do some research, Wal-Mart is still slightly behind on their donations. For example, Kroger grocery stores donated over 50 million pounds of food in 2009, which is more than Wal-Mart had donated.  For a graph on this, visit http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37106519/ns/business-retail/.

However, as happy as I am that they are doing this, I can’t help but wonder if they are doing it for the right reasons. Wal-Mart is currently in a huge class action law suit in relation to their employee welfare, more specifically gender discrimination in the pay roll. The question that looms in my mind is “Is Wal-Mart doing this just to save face?” I hate to question a good deed..But blame it on the journalist in me.

Eat Skinny, Be Skinny: Guilt-Free Cocktails!

•May 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 

It’s summertime, and the livin’s easy my friends. The weather is warm and the sun is shining, so what better way to celebrate the lazy days of summer than with a nice, cool cocktail? I’m a big fan of the cocktail, and until recently, I have shunned them from my normal routine due to the fact they are high in sugar, fat and calories and can derail your diet faster than you can drink them. However, after doing some research I found some delicious, cool as the summer breeze cocktails that are low in calories and sugar but full in flavor. So kick your guilt to the curb and grab one of these drinks to cool you off during the hot summer months. [Add a cute little umbrella for extra pizzazz!]

Mojito

  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 packet Splenda
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 ½ oz light rum
  • 2 oz club soda
  • glass of ice cubes

Pour lime juice into glass. Add mint and Splenda, stir until dissolved. Add rum and ice cubes, followed by club soda. Garnish with a fresh spring of mint.

Nutrition Facts: 172 calories

Bellini

  • 3/4 small flute champagne
  • 1/4 flute peach puree

Spoon peach puree in bottom of champagne flute. Fill to top with champagne.

Nutritional Facts: 95 calories, .5 gm. fat

Bloody Mary

  • 22 ounces reduced-sodium V8
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 10 dashes
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 ounces vodka, optional
  • Ice cubes

Preparation

  1. Shake V8, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco, pepper and vodka, if using, in a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Fill two tall glasses with ice and divide the Bloody Mary between the glasses. Garnish with olives, celery or nothing!

Nutritional Facts: 78 calories, 2 grams protein

Pina Colada Cooler

1 1/2 ounces coconut-flavored rum
3 ounces pineapple juice
4 ounces sparkling water
1 tablespoon of Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut Lite (found in the drink mixers section of many supermarkets)

Pour ingredients over ice and stir. Recipe is courtesy of Fitness Magazine.

Nutritional Information:  165 calories

Skinny Mini Mango Martini

Ingredients:

4 ounces of Fruit 2O Strawberry Kiwi or Citrus)
1 1/2 ounces vodka
Splash of pineapple juice
Splash of lime juice
Splash of orange juice
Muddled cucumber

Directions:

1. Shake ingredients together vigorously

2. Pour over ice into a rocks glass.  Recipe is courtesy of Fox News.

Nutritional Facts: 110 calories

Basic Low Calorie Margarita Recipe

  • 6 ounces of a diet lemon-lime soda 
  • 1-2 shots tequila
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar-free lemonade mix
  • 1 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • Citrus wedges for fun garnish (limes, lemons, oranges)

Directions:

Blend ingredients together in a blender with 1 & 1/2 cups ice. Add more or less depending on how thick you like your frozen margarita. You can also serve this mixture on the rocks if you don’t have a blender or do not care for frozen margaritas.

Tips:

Use Diet Sprite or Diet lemonade for the best tasting margarita!

Nutritional Facts: 200 calories

Not a fan of any of these? You can easily make your favorite drink low-calorie and low sugar by switching up your mixers or your alcohol.  Alcohols that are lighter in color [vodka, gin, light rum and light tequila] always tend to have the lowest calorie count.

This list, compiled by WebMD, lists the best mixer choices for someone calorie and diet conscious.

  • Diet soda or diet tonic: 0 calories
  • Orange juice (6 oz): 84 calories
  • Cranberry juice cocktail (8 oz): 136 calories
  • Light orange juice (8 oz): 50 calories
  • Light cranberry juice (8 oz): 40 calories
  • Light lemonade (8 oz): 5 calories
  • Coffee, tea: 0 calories
  • Baja Bob’s sugar-free margarita or sweet ‘n’ sour mix: 0 calories
  • Lemon or lime juice (1/2 oz): 10 calories
  • DaVinci or Torani’s sugar-free syrups: 0

Grab a drink and enjoy the dog days of summer, with no remorse! [Until the next day, that is :)]

Superfood of the Week: Pomegranate

•May 5, 2010 • 1 Comment

I’m jumping on the pomegranate bandwagon this week because this food, which is often overlooked in the fruit and juice aisles, is just too full of great stuff to ignore!

So what makes this exotic fruit so healthy? Researchers have reported that pomegranates are very rich in antioxidants that can keep levels of LDL [bad] cholesterol down. In addition, pomegranate juice, which can be found in most grocery stores and health food stores, can help keep blood platelets from forming unwanted clots! The American Journal of Cardiology also produced a study that reported that eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily for up to three months improved the amount of oxygen getting pumped into the heart muscle of patients with coronary heart disease.

On top of those benefits, pomegranate juice also has been linked to prevent and slow Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, mice bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease were given pomegranate juice and in turn, they accumulated less amyloid plaque than the control mice. They also performed better in mental tasks.

If you aren’t brave enough to eat a pomegranate, try the juice! Either way, this superfood is too great to ignore, so stock up!

Days 13-16: Have a better TOTM

•May 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

ATTENTION MALE READERS! You may want to *skip* this article, it’s about that time of the month. Every guy I know would rather gauge his own eyes out than read, talk, or even think about menstruation. [Trust me, I don’t even want to think about it half the time!]. 

As the title suggests, this article will feature ways to make your TOTM [time of the month] easier to get through, less painful and less of a burden! It’s something that has ruined a few too many of my days and frankly, I’m tired of it! So instead of locking myself up those 4 days or biting off my boyfriends head [figuratively, most of the time], I’m going to take this month’s “gift from mother nature” and kick it square in the face. If you aren’t careful, the TOTM can not only derail your physical health [eating greasy food, chocolate cravings] but can also seriously affect your mental health [some women suffer from such severe PMS and PMDD that they go into fits of depression!] Below are just a few suggestions that have been proven to decrease the most common PMS symptoms [bloat, fatigue, irritability, cramps and weight gain].

Days 13: Pump up the exercise

The last thing I want to do during those few days is exercise. However, staying on your normal exercise regime will not only decrease your feelings of fatigue or bloat, but will also reduce your feelings of irritability and sadness. Exercise releases endorphins, which in turn, increase your mood and outlook on life.Exercise also works to prevent water weight gain. So grab your running shoes and hit the pavement!

Day 14: Do Yoga and other meditation routines

Along with your regular routine, adding yoga and other meditation exercises can help alleviate pain caused by cramps. Practicing common yoga stretches and exercises have been proven to reduce the pain of menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding and lower back pain! For the most relief, practice the stretches shown below.

Paschimottanasana (The Posterior Stretch)

This  yoga pose focuses solely on stretching. This supplies abundant blood to stomach, kidneys, liver, pancreas and spleen. This stretch also tones up your abdomen.

Janu Sirshasana (The Head To Knee Posture)

This stretch allows muscles of the back to get fully stretched and legs and spinal column to become more supple.  This head to knee posture relieves congestion in pelvic organs and improves blood flow to pituitary, pineal and thyroid glands. Not only does this allow your body to be more limber, but it works to relax your muscles and organs and relieve stress.

Shavasana (The Corpse Pose)

The pose is ideal for complete physical and mental relaxation. Your whole body and mind gets recharged with energy. This pose also works to eliminate toxins accumulated in the blood. By relaxing your entire body, you are able to reduce high blood pressure, insomnia, nervous disorders and depression.  The above yoga poses should be practiced gently, followed by controlled breathing and meditation.

Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s Pose)

This pose tones up the organs in the abdomen and the pelvis.  It is good for genitourinary disorders of the ovaries as well as menstrual irregularities.

For more yoga poses, visit http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/finder/browse_categories.

Day 14: Get your vitamins

One of the key vitamins to take during that time of the month [as well as the rest of the month!] is iron. Low energy level is often one of the most common symptoms associated with your period and increased iron can help to give you more energy and reduce constant fatigue.  Including iron, you should also be taking an additional 500 milligrams of calcium prior to your cycle beginning and during it. Calcium taken during the beginning has been shown to ease PMS symptoms. B-vitamins and magnesium are key as well because they help to ease irritability and decrease water retention.

Day 15: Reduce salt consumption

A little salt can’t hurt anyone, but be very wary of how much you consume during that time of the month. The same advice goes for caffeine and alcohol intake as well. Salt is a major contributor to water retention and bloating during your period. Try to reduce your sodium intake to around 500-2000 mg the week before your period. However, sodium is hidden in many foods, particularly pre-packaged and processed foods, so be careful of what you are eating and pay attention to the nutritional facts on the back of the packaged items you buy.  Another way to help flush the sodium out of your diet is to drink more water. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Drinking more water will not only reduce the bloat caused by too much sodium, but also helps to keep your body regular during this time.

PMS happens, but it doesn’t have to define us. Hopefully some of these natural remedies will help you overcome all of the agonizing symptoms we often face during that TOTM!

Nutrition in the News: Are we really “too fat” to fight?

•May 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A recent article I read while on my long commute into work really scared me, and no, I wasn’t reading the crime page. The article was about America’s ever-growing childhood obesity epidemic and the relationship between school lunches and military enrollment. Two retired generals were on record saying that our obesity epidemic, especially in children, was no longer just a severe health theat, but was considered an issue of national security. It’s a bit terrifying to realize how out of control this epidemic has spun; that people who are obese are now considered security threats. 

According to the article, which was featured in The Washington Post Express and The Huffington Post, weight problems are now the leading reason possible recruits are being turned away from service. According to a recent study, 27 percent of all Americans aged 17-24 [about 9 million] are too overweight to fight. Although the military is still reaching their recruitment goals, the retired generals and other top military officials are legitimately scared for the future [because of how many children now are considered obese].

With these startling realizations being made, where do we go from here? According to the generals, the health and well-being of our future [children] takes precedent. Luckily, the wheels are already in motion regarding the battle against childhood obesity with the proposed healthy lunch initiative [The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010]. This initiative is gaining serious traction across the US as thousands agree with the language in the bill, which features complete menu overhauls and reduction of soda and vending machines in schools. [Visit my previous NITN segment on the Health kids act for more details on the bill]. 

So will the school lunch overhaul help reduce our childhood obesity rates, which will in turn, increase the number of eligible youth able to serve in the military? Only time will tell, but in my heart of hearts, I’m really hoping so. If we have gotten “too fat to fight”, there is no limitations on what we CAN’T do because of our weight.

A Fabulous Fit: Sundresses!

•April 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Dear Summer,

Thank you for deciding to grace us with your presence. It is almost May after all. So thank you for the high 80 degree weather this weekend. I know the perfect way to thank you, with a vast new sexy collection of beautiful and affordable sundresses!

So to thank summer for finally showing its face up here in DC, I’m showcasing all of the gorgeous little sundresses I’m salivating after.  Get out, shop and thank the weather gods for gracing us with a little bit of warmth and a lot of sunshine!

Donna Morgan Cotton Eyelet Dress, Nordstrom, $118

White Jaelle Halter Dress

Diane von Furstenberg White Jaelle Halter Dress, Saks Fifth Ave, $365

Maggy London Ruffle Trim Jacquard Dress, Nordstrom, $138

Calvin Klein Print Strapless Dress, Nordstrom, $118

Click for larger product view Pleated Party Dress, American Eagle, $44.50

Ralph by Ralph Lauren, Macy’s, $150

Kensie Dress, Sleeveless Ditsy Floral Chiffon, Macy’s, $58.80 (love the boots too!)

Broomstick Gauze Sundress in tropical sunset, Old Navy, $29.50

RED PATTERN

GREAT DEAL! Exploded Rose Print Dress, Arden B, $34.50

CORAL

Belted Ruffle Dress, Arden B, $59

GREAT DEAL! Fab Solid Maxi Dress, Forever 21, $14.50

Pleated Floral Dress, Forever 21, $24.80

Mini Market Dress Shells in Fishstripe, Revolve Clothing, $204

Free People Freebird Dress in Citron, Revolve Clothing, $148

Pretty Ruffles Jersey Dress, JCrew, $88

Painted Silk Bridget Dress, JCrew, $168

What better way to celebrate this season of skin?