The Fit Life, LLC

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Healthy Holiday Stocking Stuffers

(Reprint from a few years ago)

Stuff Your Stocking, Not Your Face!

We all know that the days between Thanksgiving and New Year's are filled with rich, delicious temptations. It is, by far, the most common time of the year for weight gain. Below are some healthy and inexpensive stocking stuffers which will help keep off those holiday pounds.

Resistance Bands
Fold it up, put a rubber band around it, and stick it right in that stocking - instead of the chocolate bars! Resistance bands are inexpensive, travel well (they take up very little suitcase space), and you can do a pretty complete workout with them (i.e. stand on the band for bicep curls, tricep extensions and an overhead press).

Jump Rope
Just as small and easy to carry as the resistance bands - and what a great workout. Five steady minutes of jumping rope gives you about the same workout as running a mile - and it is easier on the knees. And with practice you can learn some tricks and show-off for your friends.

Stability Ball
The stability ball is becoming a standard household item. And sure it takes up some room when it's inflated, but deflated it will fit right in that stocking! Stability balls can be used for so many exercises. It can essentially replace a workout bench, but weighs much less. Have you tried replacing your office chair with a ball? You can turn your desk job into a core workout.

Exercise Videos
Find a video to go along with your band, jump rope or ball. It will give you some fresh ideas for exercise.

Energy/Sports bars and gels Are you trying to fill a stocking for the athlete in the family? Instead of the standard sweets, fill it with carb gels and sports/energy bars. While I wouldn't recommend a diet based solely on energy bars, they do provide more nutrients than a candy bar. Or, you could opt for granola bars. Granola is packed with protein. Look for the most natural bars you can find.

'Tis the time of year when those wonderful little Clemetine oranges are in season. I could eat those by the dozen! And they smell so good. And there's nothing like topping off a stocking with a big, juicy ruby red grapefruit!

Those funny little stress balls
You know the ones, you squeeze them and they kind of ooze. They really do take your mind off stress and keep your hands busy. They're great for someone who is trying to quit smoking and doesn't know what to do with their hands. And they are working some muscles. And they're fun!

A new ball for Fido
If you have a dog, there's just no excuse not to exercise. They love to go for walks and runs. And a new ball or toy will provide exercise and enjoyment for both of you.

A rockin' new CD or download
Pick something they could dance too. Dancing burns all kinds of calories. And nobody says you have to dance in front of other people. Close your door and boogie!

Hat, gloves and a scarf
So you can enjoy walks all winter long.

A three-day pass to a local gym or a gift certificate for personal training
Has your stocking stuffee been threatening to join a gym, start an exercise routine, or hire a trainer, but it just hasn't happened yet? Why not give them a little boost? Get them a gift certificate to get the ball rolling. When they've used it all up, a new healthy habit will be in place. (Maybe you can throw in a massage gift certificate to take care of the sore muscles).

Massage oils, lotions and other bath products
The massage oil will help with the sore muscles you get from all of that holiday exercise. With the other bath products you could put together a ready-to-go bath kit for the gym.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yoga With a Kick

My husband suggested that a nice addition to my week of teaching cardio and strength training classes might be a nice, relaxing, stress relieving yoga class. So I suggested WE find one to try together.

I'm not a stranger to yoga. My Mom teaches it, and I've taken a few classes in the past. I'm sure they are really good for me. I certainly need the stretch. But rather than relax me, they seem to make me antsy and filled with anxiety. I'm just not use to exercise that doesn't make you sweaty and out of breath.

So I came up with the brilliant idea to try hot yoga. I thought that if I sweat profusely during the class, I would feel like I got a workout--and therefore not feel antsy and anxious (please refer to my earlier blog on being a closet Type A personality). And, sweating rids the body of toxins, and I love the thought of that!

Tonight was our first experience with hot yoga (not to be confused with Bikram Yoga--which is a bit different). Hot yoga is basically a regular flow yoga class taught in a room heated to around 95 degrees.

The yoga center we went to was very welcoming. The light, music, and scent were all very nice and relaxing. The instructor greeted us and was great. She put us (the newcomers) at ease. Assured us that if we were bothered by the heat, it was fine to step out of the room or get a drink of water.

We headed into the room where the class would take place. That's where my anxiety began.

The room was fairly small (easier to get it warm and toasty I'm sure), the class was full, and of course, it was 95 degrees in there. It's a combination that just didn't work for me. But I hoped I would settle in as the class got rolling.

For some reason, over the past few years I have become very heat sensitive. I don't know if it's just because I'm approaching menopause, but I've gone from a Summer person to a Winter person in the last two years. Add to that that I have a very mild case of claustrophobia. Being in a cave for four hours doesn't bother me; however, if I was in a small cave with a lot of people I would have a problem. So the combination of the heat, the small space and the people really had my anxiety up. The final glitch was a woman a few feet away who kept coughing a wet, bronchitis sounding cough. I could just imagine the germs thriving in the heat and multiplying during the class.

I made it through class. A few times I felt my anxiety rise to the point where I almost left the room to get some air. But I talked myself down and continued. And I did enjoy the final relaxation period of the class. I can honestly say that on my own I would never take the time to allow that kind of relaxation. Sure I'll veg on the couch and watch some t.v., but I don't turn the lights low, turn on relaxing music and clear my mind. And my mind definitely needs some clearing.

So I'm glad I tried the class. It's good to try new things--expand your mind. But I just don't think hot yoga is for me. Mark liked it. He loves the heat, and wasn't bothered by any of the things I was (in fact, he accused me of being a germaphobe). Different strokes for different folks!

Hey, I had a good stretch and did some good sweating! But I think next time I'll try a basic yoga class in a nice, big room with lots of space!

(I would be curious to hear from other women in their 40's about the heat issue though. Have you notice that you're becoming more heat sensitive? Let me know!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Conversation That Made Me Cringe!

This past weekend Mark and I were sitting at our local wine bar enjoying a glass of red. It's a small, quaint place so it's easy to hear the conversations going on around you--especially when you really start listening! A few feet away at the bar a man and a woman were talking. My guess is that they were in their upper 50's--maybe low 60's. They weren't a couple--more likely friends who hang around in the same circle. Their conversation went something like this (keep in mind my memory is not perfect, but you get the gist):

Woman (while eating some cheese): You know I was at a party with Mike last weekend, and they had this fantastic cheese. I asked him, "Did you try this?" And he said, "No. My doctor said my cholesterol needs to come down, and I don't want to go on medicine, so I'm trying to stay away from things like cheese and eat healthier." I was like, "Really? I just take cholesterol medicine. Life is too short!"

Man: Yeah, I'm on Lipitor. It's amazing how quick that little pill brings your numbers down. But some people can't tolerate it. My wife was on it, but it was starting to cause some liver damage, so she went off. But I seem to tolerate it just fine, so I'm still taking it.

Woman: Yeah, I just don't get it. Why watch what you eat, deprive yourself of all that good food, and do all that exercise when you can just take one little pill everyday? Life is too short for that!

I swear, Mark had to keep me in my seat, because it is this exact attitude that's killing America (literally and financially). It's one of the reasons I have trouble making a living as a fitness professional in Ohio. "Why exercise and eat right when I can solve everything with a little pill?"

And it's an attitude I just don't understand. I would do everything I possibly could to avoid going on cholesterol or blood pressure medication. And any sacrifice or extra exercise would be well worth it.

I think people often believe that if something is government approved (pesticides, medications, processed foods, etc.) it can't possibly harm you. But have you ever read what some of these cholesterol medicines actually do in your body?

Check out this article from Natural News. Here's an excerpt:

Millions of Americans take statin drugs to help lower their cholesterol, making it one of the most popular classes of prescription drugs on the market today, but like most prescription medications, these drugs are often unnecessary, as most Americans could lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels simply by changing their diet and lifestyle. However, we live in a world where people are looking for a quick fix, and doctors are eager to recommend "magic pills" to patients with any and all health concerns. The problem with these so-called "magic pills" is that they often end up doing more harm than good. Such is the case with Lipitor, the most popular of the five statin drugs available today...

As it turns out, the side effects mentioned by the ads' unseen spokesperson are just the tip of the iceberg.

Dr. Matthew Budoff, author of "Enhancing Heart Health," writes that cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor "work by inhibiting the enzyme needed to manufacture cholesterol in the liver. However, these drugs also block the manufacture of important nutrients like CoQ10, which has been shown to benefit heart health. The other main drawback of this class of drugs is debilitating muscle pain ... Other side effects, according to the Physicians Desk Reference, include liver problems, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headaches and skin rash."

Not a believer in natural health (which seems bizarre to me), then check out this report by CBS news.

The choice is, of course, yours. I'm just saying, do some research. Don't just blindly take a medication. Ask your doctor exactly what the medication does. And then do your own research. Make an informed decision. I only take medications when absolutely necessary, and then I still look up everything I can find on it.

A doctor once gave me a prescription for migraines. As an extra bonus, one of the side effects was weight loss! My first thought was, "Wow. No more migraines and easy weight loss! Awesome!" And I took two of them. Because one of the side effects was loss of appetite, I actually dropped a few pounds in just those two days. And as I'm sure many of my female readers can attest to, sometimes we'll do about anything to shed a few pounds--especially when weight loss has been a struggle. But then I started researching everything I could find of the drug. The side effects were not ones I was willing to deal with. Hair loss was one of the most common ones. My hair is bad enough! So I threw the pills away. Now I use feverfew (a plant--I actually grow it), as well as trying to avoid certain foods and actions that trigger the migraines.

Today's attitude just seems to be to take the easiest way out. "You mean I can just take this pill and keep eating cheeseburgers and drinking beer every night? That I don't have to start an exercise program and I can still lower my cholesterol?? Right on!"

I believe that we need an attitude adjustment!

After my husband and I listened in on the wine bar conversation he asked me (playing devil's advocate): Okay, if you knew that after a lifetime of watching what you eat and exercise you only got to live six months longer than the person who chose the Lipitor route, would you still choose healthy eating and exercise, or would you just enjoy whatever foods you wanted?

Without hesitation my answer is still the life of healthy eating and exercise. For me, it's not just about the end result. It's how I feel everyday. Eating healthy and exercising makes me feel good on a daily basis. Healthy eating, gives me energy, helps my digestion, keeps my skin clear and young. And when I know I'm fueling my body with good things, I feel better mentally. And exercise...sometimes I have trouble motivating like everyone else, but ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS I feel better afterward. I have never finished a workout and thought, "Man I wish I hadn't exercised today." Plus, I like the way it makes my body look! Muscles are sexy!

The choice is certainly yours. You can swallow the daily pill or you can make some life changes. (I realize there are some situations where one's cholesterol and blood pressure are high due to heredity and not lifestyle. And while I would still encourage you to do your research, I realize you may have a much harder choice). My hope is that whatever situation you choose, you'll give it some serious thought. Ask your doctor the tricky questions and demand honest answers. Consult a Naturopathic practitioner. Sometimes the easy way out, isn't the best way out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Recipe Post: Raw Food Pad Thai

In an effort to eat more raw fruits and veggies, Mark and I are trying to incorporate some raw food meals into our diet. Last night we made raw food Pad Thai using zucchini noodles. I found the recipe on I will also post it below, but if you follow the link, the author has other easy-to-do raw food meals.

I won't tell you that it was as delicious as the warm, spicy Pad Thai from the local Thai restaurant, but it was a good dish, full of nutritious ingredients.


  • 2 zucchinis, sliced into strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 large handfuls of bean sprouts, approx 2 cups
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (use almonds, peanuts or cashews)
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 tablespoon raw, cold-pressed olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


Toss all ingredients together in a bowl until well coated. Add a dash more salt if desired and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cookies and Cold and Calories--Oh My

It's that time of year again. The beautiful Fall leaves have fallen and there's a chill in the air. It's around this time of year when one's exercise level tends to decline, but their calorie intake increases--a sure recipe for holiday weight gain.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But as a fitness professional, I feel an obligation to go through the ritual!

Okay, first...I know all my Midwest and East coast friends and acquaintances are salty about the impending cold weather and snow. Believe me, I use to be right there with you. But winter is coming whether you like it or not--so why not choose to like it rather than sit and complain about it. A positive attitude can make a world of difference when it comes to motivation! Find the silver lining in winter! For me it was learning how to ski. Maybe that's not for find something else. Take an ice skating lesson. Put your layers on and go for a winter hike. Act like a kid and go sledding! Walking back up that hill is great exercise. Ask for a pair of snow shoes for Christmas.

The point is, don't sit and wallow until March. It's not good for you physically, mentally or emotionally. And if you are unhealthy in any of those categories, you will become defenseless against all the baked goodies out there throughout the holidays. When you are feeling down, comfort food becomes a go to for many people. And come Spring, your blood pressure and cholesterol will be up, and your clothes will be too tight!

So let's talk about those holiday goodies. Soon they will be everywhere. I'm not saying you should forgo them altogether. I mean, they are part of what makes the holidays magic (and delicious). Moderation is key. Perhaps this isn't the time of year for your big weight loss plan. Why not go for a maintain don't gain theme for the holidays? And you can accomplish that by burning off the goodies you do choose to partake in.

So make a solid effort to work a little harder on the days you indulge. Hit the gym. Take a class (most community centers offer classes at a very reasonable price). Go for a walk to look at the neighborhood lights. Plan to stuff yourself on Thanksgiving Day? Sign up for a Turkey Trot that morning. Many communities have them. You don't have to be a runner. Many folks come out to walk it. And most collect canned goods for those in need.

Know in your mind that sugar is addicting. If you eat one cookie or chocolate--you'll want another. That's just how our bodies tend to work. So you have to exercise some self-control. Don't let yourself get carried away.

Alcohol is another holiday evil. I'll be the first to admit, I love a cup of eggnog. Remember it's empty calories. As far as fat and calories, a dry red wine is a better choice. Water is even better!

So let's review:
  • You're going to make an effort to at least not hate winter. I won't ask you love it (although I've come to love it). Just give it a chance.
  • You are going to allow yourself to indulge a little, but not a lot.
  • And when you do indulge, you're going to work to burn those extra calories off with a good workout.
  • Your goal is maintain don't gain through the holidays.
  • Finally, try to keep the stress level low and the positive attitude high. Stress can contribute to weight gain.
Got it? Awesome! Now, have a holly, jolly holiday season!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recipe Post: Sloppy J.J.'s

This is a favorite of mine because it's soooo easy.

It is my own creation--hence the name "Sloppy J.J.'s". They are a vegetarian version of Sloppy Joe's (and I bet you could fool some carnivores with the recipe).

1. Set alarm ten minutes early. Get up and chop up a green pepper and half an onion (full one if you really like onions). If you want more spice you could throw in a jalapeno or habanero pepper.
2. Turn your crockpot on high. Put a little olive oil in the bottom. Dump in the green pepper and onions.
3. Go take your shower.
4. Come back to the crockpot, and turn it down to low.
5. Dump in a bag of veggie crumbles of some sort. My favorites are Trader Joe's meatless meatballs or Quorn's crumbles (great if you have a soy allergy). You can also sneak in some other veggies. For example--carrots, tomatoes. You can even chop up some spinach and toss it in about 5-10 minutes before you want to eat it. The kids will never notice.
6. Dump in a jar of your favorite BBQ sauce (I try to find ones with fairly wholesome ingredients (not too much sugar or too much sodium). I like the ones with some mustard in them.
7. Put the cover on the crockpot and go to work.
8. Come home. Dinner is ready.
9. Have some wholesome, natural, multi-grain buns ready for your feast.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's Time To Take Charge of Your Life (Or, Rants of a Frustrated Trainer)

First let me state that this blog is the product of a frustrating day, so if it offends, I apologize in advance. That is not its purpose.

For just over a year now, I have been back in the fitness business full-time. I did it once before, but gave it up because I needed health insurance and the ability to pay my bills. This time around I am blessed to have the support of my wonderful husband--and his good job. Believe me, without both, I would not be able to pursue this career. And perhaps you're asking why I do this--I have a master's degree in journalism for goodness sakes--and plenty of work experience. I could be making quite a bit more money if I just took another public relations job. I do it because it's the one career thus far in my life that I feel passion for. Some people become doctors or firemen or police officers so that they can help people. I want to help people live healthier lives. And, I want to save my own sanity by having a job where I'm active every day. Each time I go back to a desk job, I feel I'm slowly killing myself--mentally, emotionally, and physically.

But helping is where the frustration lies, because you can't help people who do not want to be helped.

I'm an Ohioan born and raised; however, I spent over ten years living in the Washington, D.C. area and two years living in California (about 65 miles north of L.A.). Maybe it's regional angst I'm dealing with right now (and I welcome your comments and opinions on this). Because Ohio is the first place I've lived where one seems to be condemned for trying to live a healthy life...where I am actually insulted--probably on a weekly basis--for living a healthy, holistic vegetarian (plus fish) lifestyle. Yet I hear it constantly--and most often from those who claim to love me. It's beyond comprehension to me--how people actually encourage you to be unhealthy here. Restaurant billboards proudly boast that this week's special is "Deep Fried Battered Bacon," and that they specialize in "down home country cooking".

Okay, I understand tradition. I understand that people like to eat food that tastes good. What frustrates me is that these same people complain (to me, on Facebook, to their friends) that they are overweight, in bad health, fatigued, on too many meds....the list goes on. On one night they post about their delicious dinner of fried chicken, mayonnaise-laden salad, cake and beer. The next day they post about their lack of weight loss or cholesterol problems. Or they post about how they lack the time to workout or get to the gym, and then later update us on their favorite T.V. show.

People, it is time to take control of your lives! If you are not happy with the way you feel or look, do something about it. I'm not talking about drastic changes. Start small. Eat red meat one less time a week. Eat vegetarian or fish one more time a week. Cut out some processed foods. Bake instead of fry. Cut out a soda a day. Cut out a cigarette a day (it's a start!). Schedule fifteen minutes a day of exercise (it's better than no exercise). Use that fifteen minutes and walk around the block. Take the kids! Please don't tell me you don't have fifteen spare minutes in your day (if you do, I'll bet you I can find that fifteen minutes for you).

Today I offered (through a local rec. center) a very reasonably priced bootcamp at 6am (much cheaper than the ones you see in the big cities). The early time is meant to offer people an exercise option before heading to work--before the day gets busy. Not one single person attended.

At lunchtime I provided a wellness seminar to a local corporation. While I was paid for providing it, it was offered free of charge to employees. Again, not one person showed up. I have given away personal training as door prizes, offered free sessions to introduce myself to a new gym, and held drawings so people can win free sessions--and people have not taken advantage of any of these things. I can't seem to give away fitness for free! Again, it seems to be regional because I never had this experience in D.C. or California. When you offered free sessions at the gym, they were snatched up within seconds. Being vegetarian in either place was commonplace. Recently, when we visited Asheville, NC (one of my favorite places) we ate at a different vegetarian restaurant each night.

Ohio, this is a call to action to you. In 2010 you were named the 13th most obese state in the U.S. Change your mindset. Don't condemn a healthy lifestyle, embrace it. Retrain your mind about what food tastes good. You might be surprised at how much you like pure, unprocessed, fresh food that's not fried. Make time to exercise--even if it's only fifteen minutes to start. Once you start feeling better, you'll make more time for it. Involve your children in a healthy lifestyle now. Don't let them repeat the unhealthy habits you grew up with. Now is the time.

This is not a blog about vanity...about losing weight so you look good. It's a blog about saving your life. It's a blog about feeling healthy, energetic and strong. You are the only one who has the power to make the changes. If you don't care about yourself, then care about the people who love you and want you alive--your partner, your children, your friends--your pets!

It's natural to wallow in pity a bit when you feel bad, but there comes a point when you need to suck it up, get up and make some changes.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Recipe Post:: Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice

I've been slacking on the blog. I actually have two in the works. I'm just having trouble finding the time to sit and write them!

Sorry for the lack of photo. But we ate it before I thought to take a picture!

This recipe is from Cooking Light and it is easy and fantastic!


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice (I replaced boil-in-bag rice with good ol' brown rice. More time consuming, but I feel worth the effort).
  • 2 1/4 cups chopped asparagus (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce with garlic (such as KA·ME) (We up'd this a bit for more spice)
  • 1 pound extrafirm tofu, drained and cut lengthwise into 9 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided (we always skip the salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup preshredded carrot (just shredded our own real quick)
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil


  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add bag of rice, submerging bag completely in water. Boil 10 minutes. Carefully remove bag from pan, leaving boiling water in pan. Add asparagus to pan; cook 1 minute. Drain.
  • While rice cooks, heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and chili sauce in a small bowl. Sprinkle tofu with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add tofu to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Add soy sauce mixture; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Combine rice, asparagus, 1/2 teaspoon salt, carrot, and sesame oil. Serve tofu over rice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Schedule it!

You keep meaning to get a workout in, but suddenly it's 9pm and you are way too tired. Or, you spend so much time debating whether you should go for a run or lift, that you end up not doing either. There are so many excuses not to exercise! But at some point you have to JUST DO IT!

For me, the easiest way to stick to an exercise plan is to schedule it out. You schedule your meetings, you schedule your doctor's appointments, your grocery shopping...why not your exercise? So I not only schedule my exercise, I schedule exactly what exercises I'll be doing (on most days at least). Better yet, at least two days a week I schedule workouts with my husband, so there's more motivation to do them. If you know by canceling you'll disappoint someone else, you are much more likely to do it!

For example, my exercise time is early in the morning. Mornings are when I have the most energy, and the air seems so much cleaner.

My schedule looks like this (keep in mind, fitness is what I do this for a living and I'm my own boss, so I allow myself time off for exercise):

Monday: Bike sprints and strength train
Tuesday: Early morning trail run with my husband
Wednesday: Distance bike ride and strength train
Thursday: Track Run (sprints and bleachers) with my husband
Friday: Trail run (the trail runs are simply because I find it more enjoyable than running on the road and the hills are good training) and strength train
Saturday: Just make sure we do active activities together--a walk, canoe/kayak, laser tag/etc.)
Sunday: Distance run (building up to a half marathon)

By knowing my assignment for each day, I'm able to do it. It brings out the former student in me. Plus, I see improvements (in performance and body composition) each week--which provides further motivation to keep going.

Your schedule doesn't have to look like the one above. Maybe running and biking aren't your cup of tea. Find the activities you enjoy doing, and schedule them into your weekly agenda.

Isn't your health important enough to deserve a meeting on your calendar?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Confessions of a Non-Shopaholic

I'm a woman, and I don't like to shop. There. I said it. Don't get me wrong...occasionally I get in the mood and splurge on a few things, but not often. Usually, it's when I realize I'm washing the same pair of shorts over and over again because they are the only ones I have that fit right. Or the elastic has come loose in one pair of underwear too many. Of course, then I typically just hop over to Goodwill (for the shorts, not the underwear). I like that I can get shorts for under $4 and that I'm recycling clothes that somebody else didn't want anymore. Plus, when I get them all muddy--which inevitably happens--it's not such a big deal.

There are venues that I don't mind. For example, I love to go to the marathon expos. Running expos are like my Macy's. Or give me a gift certificate to Dick's Sporting Good, Endurance Sports or Gander Mountain. Those are stores I can get into. But when I walk into a Macy's (or any other department store) I feel over-whelmed and anxiety-ridden.

Today I decided to brave it--work on my phobia a bit. I have a Macy's exchange card that I have been holding onto for about three years (I'm surprised they let me use it), and a gift card I've had for over a year. Both had just been sitting there, collecting dust. Crazy right? What woman would not take over $100 in Macy's gift cards and spend them? I kept telling myself that when I got down to my ideal weight, I would go buy something nice with them. Yeah...well...who ever reaches their ideal weight?

This morning I ventured into Macy's with the thought that I needed some new running shorts (again, I've been washing the same pair over and over again). I assumed they'd have various brands (Under Armour, Nike, Champion, etc.). That way I could go to Macy's and still be in my comfort zone. Guess what? Macy's doesn't really carry running clothes. I mean, they have some cute workout clothes...but these are not clothes I would throw on to go for a run. I found one pair of Nike running shorts that cost $45. And even though I had more than that in gift cards, I just couldn't spend $45 on a small piece of black spandex. It just seemed insane (now spending $45 on a good bottle of wine that's gone in a few days--that doesn't bother me. Go figure).

So much for getting much needed new running clothes. Well I was in the store--gift cards in hand--so I decided to browse a bit. And I actually did purchase a few things. I bought running socks! Four pairs! Whoo hoo! I also bought a few shelf-bra tanks for summer (those who know me, know I live in those during the summer months--being not so well-endowed has its advantages). I also bought a really cute pair of summer jammies (Now a jammy store I could get into. I love pajamas), and a very colorful swimsuit cover-up/dress for our vacation this summer. That's progress for me! Of course, it was all on-sale because even with gift cards I go into sticker shock--I mean I do purchase the majority of my clothes at Goodwill.

My gift card still has a balance on it. Do I go back? Try again? Hmmm...maybe Mark and I will get online and look for a nice kitchen appliance.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beat the Heat While Staying Fit

(This is an article I wrote a few years back, but on a day like today, I felt it deserved a re-post)!

You’ve been waiting all winter to get outside—enjoy the sun and warmth. And now…well…you’ve got it—plenty of heat! The mere thought of spending the day outside in the humidity exhausts you. The urge is to turn on the air conditioning, pick up the remote, a pint of ice cream, and relax.

Despite the urge to chill, there are ways to beat the heat and stay fit all summer long. The most obvious would be to get your cardio (biking, running, roller-blading, etc.) in during the morning or evening hours when heat is not at its peak. Save those prime hours for water sports. Swimming is a fantastic cardio-vascular workout! Just don’t forget your sunscreen. Other “cool” options are renting a kayak or canoe for a day. A hike in the woods will be cooler than a walk in town on the concrete (especially if there’s a nice stream to soak your feet in). And while biking can still be a chore on a hot day, you get a nice breeze!

To all the runners out there…if you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting months to get off the treadmill and back outside. Now the heat is forcing you back to the machine. If you long for the outdoor run, your best bet, of course, is to run early in the morning or in the evening once the sun has gone down. However, if the only chance you have to catch a run is your lunch hour, you can acclimate yourself to the heat. I still don’t suggest heading out for a hardcore run in the heat of a code red ozone day. But by gradually building up resistance to the heat (and staying hydrated), your body can become somewhat acclimated.

Start out slow and short—ten minutes of running at a slower than normal pace. The next day add another five minutes. After eight or nine days your body should have adjusted enough to tolerate the heat at your normal pace.

No matter what the activity, hydration is key during these hot summer months—not just during activity, but also on a daily basis. And if you are outside building up a sweat, you will want a sports drink to replace all the electrolytes you’re losing.

Light clothing that wicks away moisture is another key to staying cool, along with keeping equipment to a minimum. If you have asthma, skip the runs on bad ozone days and retreat to the air conditioned gym. And always carry your inhaler during outdoor exercise.

When the heat really starts to get you down, just think back to cold, dreary February—when all you could think of were the golden days of summer! So blow-up those water wings and head out to the pool!

Heat-Related Illness

Heat Cramps
Heat cramps are caused by muscle contractions in both the calf or hamstring area. It feels like a severe muscle pull. The cramps are caused by dehydration, high temperatures and lack of physical conditioning. While heat cramps are painful, they are not life threatening. However, ignoring heat cramps can lead to some of the more serious heat related illnesses. Heat cramps can be treated with rest, water and cool air.

Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is severe exhaustion caused by extreme body heat. Excessive heat and dehydration can cause the body to overreact—raising your body well over 98.6. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, extreme fatigue, paleness, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting and cool, clammy skin. Heat Exhaustion is more serious the heat cramps and should be addressed immediately. Cool, shady environments, liquids, cool compresses placed on the body and sports drinks are used to treat heat exhaustion. If the body temperature remains elevated after treatment, you should seek medical treatment.

Heat Stroke
Heat Stroke is the most severe of the heat-related illnesses, and needs immediate medical attention! High temperatures, lack of body fluids and overexposure to the elements can all bring about Heat Stroke. Children and elderly people are especially susceptible to the hazards of this heat related illness. The first symptom of heat stroke is red, flushed skin. With heat stroke, a person doesn’t sweat, so medical attention is needed to bring down their body temperature (which can get extremely high). Other symptoms include: seizures, headache, rapid pulse, and unconsciousness.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It Looks Like I'm Here, But I'm Really Over There!

I don't really have a blog post for today. It's a busy day! My brother is getting married, and I'm in the wedding party. But, I am being featured in somebody else's blog. So I thought I would guide you over there. Check out I go over a workout you can do on travel--even when there's no gym in sight!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Great Health Blog to Check Out

Here's a great blog you can check out: Diets in Review. Here's a blog they did about healthy camping meals. I submitted one of my favorites.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Contest: Let's See Those Feet!

I have friends who love their feet. They go for pedicures, and get fancy French manicures for their toes. My feet? Not so much. Once a friend coerced me into getting a pedicure. The whole time all I could think about is that they were going to file away all my calluses--and my next run would be very painful.

I'm sure many of you can relate. Runners, bikers, soccer players, rock climbers--our feet take a beating! So just for fun, I'm having an ugly feet contest. It's time to celebrate those hard-working feet--the feet a pedicure just can't help.

The Contest:
1. Email a picture of your feet at their finest to by June 4th, 2011. You can use any camera angle/view that shows just how ugly your feet are.
2. I will do a post showing all of the entries (labelled by first name and last initial).
3. People will have two weeks to vote for the ugliest feet.
4. I will announce the winner on this blog and post a picture of their glorious feet.

The winner will receiver a Fit Life t-shirt and a Ped Egg Pedicure Foot File.

Let the contest begin!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recipe Post: Edamame Donburi

This is yet another dish out of Robin Robertson's 1000 Vegan Recipes. This is such a great cookbook--even if you are not vegan or vegetarian.

We've made this several times now. It's delicious. A little time consuming just because you need to get your rice started and your edamame cooking before you started browning your onions.

1 cup fresh or frozen shelled edamame
1 tbsp canola or grape seed oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced (I use red onions for almost everything)
5 shitake mushroom caps, lightly rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/4-inch strips (I hate mushrooms, so I do this dish without them)
1 tsp of grated fresh ginger (I've used powder in a pinch and it tasted fine)
8 ounces of firm tofu, drained and crumbled (below I'll tell you the secret to great textured tofu)
2 tbsp of soy sauce (low sodium to keep the sodium content down)
3 cups hot cooked rice (we always used brown...there's just no need for processed white rice)
1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds (for garnish). I actually forgot to add the sesame seeds in the picture shown. They do add a nice extra taste.

1. In a small saucepan of boiling salted water (I never add salt to the water), cook the edamame until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes longer. Stir in the ginger and green onions. Add the tofu and soy sauce and cook until heated through, stirring to combine well, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked edamame and cook until heated through, about five minutes.

3. Divide the hot rice among 4 bowls (I sometimes just stir it right into the pan with the rest of the meal), top each with the edamame and tofu mixture, and drizzle on the sesame oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Woman and Her Shoes

Everyone knows the stereo-type about women and their shoes. I personally know many women who have a shoe addiction. They have a different pair of shoes for every outfit. They have shoes in their closet, under the bed, and in special bins they keep for the sole purpose of storing their shoes.

But I have to say, I never thought it would happen to me. But when I examine my shoe rack, I have to admit, I might have a problem. It's just a little different than most shoe addictions.

I love my shoes, and I like to think I have all my bases covered.

First, and probably most important, are my "go to" running shoes. They are the shoes I currently do all my distance and pavement running in. I went out on a limb a bit with the color this time, but they are suppose to have really good heel support. So far, so good.

Then there are the running shoes from days gone by. They were once the "go to" shoe, but now they are worn, but not forgotten. They are used for muddy trail runs, yard work, gardening and will become the "go to" shoe for a few adventure races (involving mud pits) this summer. After the mud pits, they will be retired.

Now these...these are my Merrell multi-terrain, adventure shoes. They are made for both ground and water. They worked wonderfully for a caving trip in Puerto Rico last year. I also love to wear them for kayaking, stream playing, rafting and on shorter trail runs and hikes. What makes them a really spectacular shoe, is that they were free! I won them in a drawing at the Muddy Buddy Adventure race in Chicago. They are a tad muddy because I took them on a very muddy trail run Saturday.

The Vibram Five Fingers were an anniversary present from my wonderful husband. I was really excited to try running in them. The theory is that they teach you to run the proper way with the ball of your foot striking first, rather than the heel. Unfortunately, because of a foot surgery I had about seven years ago, I just can't run that way. I have too much nerve damage in my foot to strike with the ball. But I still love my Vibrams. It's another pair that can be wet or dry. So I use them for kayaking, rock climbing, hiking (if it's not to rocky) and just hanging out in the summer. It's like being barefoot (which I'm typically not able to do anymore) with some protection on the bottom of your foot.

These are my New Balance trail runners. They are pretty much my hiking shoes. I don't like them for running the trails because they don't have enough flexibility in them; however, they are great for hiking. And, I prefer them to wearing hiking boots.

And, of course, you can't be a road biker without a good pair of biking shoes. Once you ride clipped into your bike, you'll never go back. It allows you to power up hills by both pushing with the quads and pulling with the hamstrings.

Finally, there are some shoes I tried out as running shoes, but they just didn't make the cut. They are nice and clean, so I wear them when I'm with clients. And everyone needs a selection of comfy sports sandals that can also get wet. You can throw them on with shorts or capris. They are nice and cool for summer.

So there you have it--my shoe addiction. I'm always on the lookout for a shoe that will add some fun and excitement to my life.

What's your favorite shoe?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Caution: I Bite (Part II: Am I still a biter?)

A few weeks ago I posted about my nasty nail biting habit, and my quest to quit. I have not posted an update on my progress! As you can see, I'm doing well. The nails are growing! (I'm still having some cuticle issues--baby steps).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

If I knew then what I know now: Reflections over dirt

I spent a lot of time playing in the dirt this week. I went for a few muddy runs, and I spent three days doing yard work.

I put a truckload of topsoil down on the garden. I pulled weeds, tilled soil, planted flowers and seeds, and unloaded a few truckloads of mulch and spread it in the yard. At the end of each day my body ached, I smelled, and you could tell I had spent the day in the sun.

It was glorious.

As I was hoisting my shovel full of dirt and enjoying every minute of it, I kept thinking back to college. The question I asked myself was, "If I knew then what I know now, would I have taken the same path?" The answer is a resounding "No." At 18, I didn't know myself well enough to know what I wanted to do with my life. I'm not sure I even realized you could go to school to learn a trade that would keep you outside all day. I thought college meant that you study hard so you can get a good, 8 - 5 desk job with benefits and advancement potential. A career in the great outdoors never entered my mind.

I went back for my master's degree at 26. I chose a little better. I pursued journalism--and I do enjoy writing. But it wasn't until my 30s that I started to realize I was meant to be outside in a job that's physically demanding. That's not to say that I don't want to be mentally challenged in my career. I do--to some extent. But not to the point where I feel stressed--where the stresses of the day come out in my dreams at night (or in my lack of sleep at night).

In my 30s I met friends who made a career out of being naturalists, adventure guides, outdoor education specialists, bootcamp instructors, running coaches, photographers, etc. There's a whole world out there of careers that don't involve sitting behind a computer all day.

So finally, at 40 I'm headed in the right direction for me. I'm a fitness professional, freelance writer, scheduler for a magazine, gym manager, aerobics instructor--a little bit of everything (which is really good for my short attention span). And I have time to play in the dirt.

So if I knew then what I know now, would I take a different path? Yes. I wouldn't trade the friendships or the experiences I had in college for anything, but I would change my career path. I would have pursued a degree in exercise science or botany or landscape design.

I'm not sure what the solution is. College starts at 18 for most. And you have to pick some sort of career track. Some people seem to get it right. They are happily doing the careers they set out to do in college. But it just seems like such a young age to make that choice.

So I pose the question to you. Did you make the right choice back in college (or trade school, training, etc.)? Or if you could be 18 again, would you chose a different path?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Caution: I Bite!

I have a bad habit. (I assure you, I have more than one). But this particular habit I've had almost my entire life--probably since my first tooth! And it's time to overcome it.

I am a chronic nail biter. I bite until they hurt. It's an ugly habit--literally--my fingers (as you can see) are ugly. And it's an unhealthy habit (hands touch germs...I stick the germy hands in my mouth...).

I've quit a few times. The most successful was for the few months before my wedding. I wanted one of those pictures of the bride and groom's hands with the wedding bands showing. By the time we returned from the honeymoon, the nails were gone.

I'm not going for crazy, long nails or anything. I do too many nail-hindering activities for that. Just sensible nails that don't look bloody and sore. I want nails you aren't embarrassed to show when you meet new people.

So I'll keep you posted. Perhaps post a picture of my progress a few weeks from now.

For now, I'm going to get a few last bites in before I quit cold turkey. Feel free to leave me suggestions on how!

My nails now (sorry about the low quality picture, but taking a picture of your own hands is not an easy task):

Monday, March 14, 2011

Recipe Post: Kale Chips--a delicious, healthy snack!

Looking for something something healthy to munch? Sick of carrot sticks? Trying to avoid the typical salty snacks like chips and pretzels? Try kale chips. They're easy, delicious and seriously healthy. Kale is one of the most nutrient dense veggies you can eat.

I've seen this recipe in a variety of sources, so can't really credit a certain one.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Buy a big grocery store bag of organic kale (or pick it from your garden)!
Wash it
Tear it off the big, thick stems into bite-sized pieces.
Spread it out on a cookie sheet and spray it with some non-fat cooking spray (I like the canola or olive oil ones).
Season it with whatever you want. I used a spice rack seasoning that's suppose to be a mixture for ranch dressing. We really watch sodium around here, so I didn't add any extra salt.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Check them. If they are still soft at the center, back a few more minutes.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do Couples Who Play Together, Stay Together?

In honor of Valentine's day, I'm re-posting an article I wrote a few years back. I'd love to hear your stories. Do you and your partner "play" together when it comes to fitness/sports? Does it help or hurt your relationship? Would you like to do more activities with your partner?

Do Couples Who Play Together, Stay Together?

Since February is the month of romance and love, is seems appropriate to examine how fitness fits into all of this mushy stuff. How do couples balance exercise and romance? What if one part of the couple is active and
the other is not? What if you’re both really active, but enjoy different activities? If you are single, do you seek out mates that are active and enjoy the same activities you do? Do couples need to play together to stay together?

For me activity level is absolutely an important part of a relationship. I’m a very active person, and what I like to spend my free time doing is hiking, biking, kayaking, running, camping, etc. So ending up with a couch potato would make for a difficult relationship. My career is based on fitness, so finding someone who lives a fitness-focused life was kind of critical. I'm lucky, because at 38 I married a man who was very like-minded. We love to go camping and enjoy many outdoor activities together. Most of our vacations are built around the adventures we can have while on them. Although our run paces are different, we still sign up for many of the same races. And we'll head out on the same run, we just don't run together very often. Sometimes we'll run the opposite way on a loop so we can pass each other--kind of check-in--during our runs. (Okay, okay, I'll admit deep down I have this goal of training, training, training--secretly--until I can beat his pace--and then just pulverizing him in a race...but I digress). Personally, I just can't imagine ending up with someone who doesn't enjoy many of the same activities.

How do other couples fit exercise in with love and romance?

Dawn of Virginia:
My husband and I take yoga
classes together on a regular basis, at least 2 to 3 times a week, and we begin our morning routine with a meditation together. I would say that we're on equal ground when it comes to fitness levels. Since I teach yoga on a daily basis, I have the luxury of getting exercise in daily. My significant other makes time during his lunch hour or after work (while I'm away teaching class!). We place exercise and fitness high on our priority list. Some of our "dates" have included taking yoga classes together. Incorporating fitness activities into our relationship has definitely made the relationship stronger. I would have a hard time staying in a relationship with someone who was not physically active.

Debbie and Steve of Maryland:
Steve and I had gotten out of the habit of exercising due to our busy schedules and severe migraines on my part. We both wanted to get back in shape and find something that we could do together and to support each other. That is when I learned of the Train To End Stroke marathon program.

Steve went to the info session and when he got home he was very excited. I asked him if he signed up and he informed me he had signed us both up. I was shocked and almost speechless and decided to give it a try.

There have been times during the training where one of us had to miss a run due to illness or work and we have encouraged the other to go on the planned day or have made arrangements to go the following day together. We work at being flexible with each other so we can train together as much as possible.

Steve's athleticism has been a positive influence on me, he has taught me how to roller blade, how to ski and gave me his old mountain bike when he got a new one. We have been out on the milder trails with them and look forward to doing more biking on the trails when the weather gets nice again.

I think the fitness activities are a positive impact on our relationship. We agree most of the time and when we don't we can discuss and see the others point... sometimes it may take a bit of convincing! We learn from each other and our performance improves with the encouragement that we give each other.

Laurie of Maryland:
My husband is less active than I am—and sometimes we don’t do a very good job of balancing fitness and our relationship. I don't feel that fitness hurts the relationship, but I do feel that the potential is there to strengthen the relationship. My husband and I have a very independent relationship, and he respects and admires my running adventures. I am currently trying to recruit him to run/walk a half marathon and he is working on it. For us at least, competition also plays a part - he wants to be able to beat me - so if he can't he would rather stay on the couch!

Dan of Maryland:

We don't exercise together but pursue recreation time together. i.e. a long slow bike ride on the bike path is a common evening together. We swim together at least once a week. But gym time is separate. We train differently for different goals. We play softball for the same league on different divisions for different teams.

I am more structured about training. I try to hit the gym before work or during lunch to avoid taking up our time with my activities. A couch potato will never be an option for me again—it’s too contagious.

It strengthens it in someway and weakens it in others. We spend some great quality time together as a result of our active lifestyle. My s.o., however, does not understand the importance that races play in my life. For example, when traveling to a city for a race he doesn't understand the need for avoiding alcohol, sleep, etc.

Deborah of California
Since I value physical fitness as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, physical activity is an important factor in determining my compatibility with prospective dates. Foremost, fitness is an important factor because it indicates the stamina, strength and appearance, which are a part of any woman’s basic attraction to the male gender. Secondly, since exercise encompasses a wide-range of enjoyable pastimes, it is necessary that dates are able to participate in a wide-range of physical activities. Sports such as gun shooting, kayaking, backpacking and paint-balling require a lot of flexibility, cardio and muscular endurance which must be invested in before the event. Although my mate/date does not need to be a “Schwarzenegger” of masculine fitness, a man who is strong enough to be confident of his physical prowess, capable of being competitive and who’s health is mentally and physically boosted by activity is ideal to date. Whether I’m having fun or in a serious relationship, my dates must be physically fit in order for me to appreciate the quality of time we spend together pursuing pastimes or pleasures.

So whether or not you and your spouse “play together,” a healthy body is key to having a healthy mind. Maybe your fitness time is YOUR time and not together time. Experts do say that exercise leads to a much
better sex life. If that's not encouragement to be active, I don't know what is! Regardless, you and your partner will enjoy each others company much longer if you both make time to play at the physical activities you love.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How a love affair saved me from winter

Confessions of a former winter curmudgeon

I use to hate winter. I hated it with a passion. I was always cold. It seemed like the days--although short--were always dreary. By the end of February, I was one cranky girl. In fact I despised winter so much that I moved to California for the year-round warmth! (What I didn't count on was the crazy cost of living and how hard it would be to live 2000 miles away from everyone I loved).

I use to like snow. I figured if it was going to be cold outside, we might as well have snow. At least it's pretty. (And there was always the chance they'd close the office and I'd get a free day off). But after awhile, I would even get sick of the snow. I was seriously one of those people who would benefit from a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) light. In fact, last year, rather than purchase a SAD light, we purchased tickets to Puerto Rico. Now THAT helped make February a little brighter (although it made March really tough).

But then at the end of last year something happened. I met a new love--and that love's name was skiing.

I was a resistant skier. Ask my husband. He tried to get me to go the first winter we were together. I said, "No thanks. Skiing is not for me!" I had my reasons. I tried it once in my early 20s. A friend talked me into going. I borrowed some skis from my aunt (the old, long straight kind). The boots didn't fit quite right, but I figured they would do, and save me $20 in rental fees. I went to Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield, Ohio with a friend and her boyfriend. She gave me a five minute lesson on the bunny hill, and then left me to my own devices while she went to conquer the bigger hills. I managed the bunny hill for awhile. I wasn't comfortable, but I did it without killing myself. So I decided to try one of the other green runs they had.

During my five minute lesson I learned to snow plow. That's the only way I knew how to slow down or stop. This hill was quite a bit steeper than the bunny hill. I started going too fast and panicked. I then tumbled head over heels down the hill, leaving one ski up near the top somewhere. I twisted my knee and had to stay off of it for six weeks (which knocked me out of karate lessons for six weeks). That was it. I had tried skiing. I hated it. And, I was never going to do it again.

The transformation

Last winter I relented. I promised Mark (husband) that I would give it a try. He tried to convince me to go before our February trip to Puerto Rico, but I bailed. I wasn't about to break my leg and ruin all of our Puerto Rico adventures. But when we returned, with a good month of winter left, I agreed to go skiing.

It was much better this time. Having long boards attached to my feet still felt very foreign and uncomfortable. But skis had changed a bit in the fifteen years since my last attempt. They weren't as long. I could actually turn myself without falling down. I brought a friend along (another ski virgin) so she could feel awkward with me. Together we learned the basics. Mark was a very patient teacher. He started me on one ski and I learned to push myself around with a ski and a boot. He taught me how to control my speed by turning. He coached me down the bunny hill by skiing from side to side, slowly. By the end of the night, I could conquer that hill that defeated me fifteen years earlier. And by the end of the night I was hooked!

We only managed to get one more ski day in last winter before Spring arrived and melted the snow. But when winter rolled around this year, I was actually excited. I was going to become a skier! Mark (sweet husband that he is) took me to the ski swap at the beginning of the season, and got me all geared up. Now I looked like a skier! I had my own skis, boots that actually fit and poles (and of course, I had to find a jacket, hat and gloves--all color coordinated--to complete the ensemble).

The rest is history! I LOVE skiing. And because of skiing, I LOVE winter. Yes, I said it, "I love winter!" Instead of moping over the fact that we still have over a month of cold and snow to go, I'm moping over the fact that ski season is almost over!

I love skiing through the snow. I love the snow in the trees. I like warming up by the fire with some hot chocolate in a ski lodge. I like winter vacations to cold places! I love having a winter sport that keeps my legs strong and muscular. There's just only so much training you can do on a treadmill. Skiing has been a great supplemental workout for me. And the better I get, the more I like it. I've now conquered all the green slopes I've come across, most of the blues and even a few black diamonds (the more mild black diamonds).

Skiing has changed my entire outlook on winter. So when I hear fellow Ohio friends saying mean things about Winter, I feel the urge to defend her! "Learn to ski!" I want to shout. Or if skiing isn't your thing, try ice skating, ice climbing, sledding, tubing, build a snowman, go on a snow hike, have a snowball fight, build a snow fort. Just do something that allows you to embrace winter. Make your winter fun! Because folks (at least many of you reading this), you live in Ohio (or some other snowy place) and winter isn't going anywhere!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Recipe Post: Stovetop Chili (vegetarian)

I have tried many, many vegetarian chili recipes. Most are good, but this one was fantastic. It will become a standard in our household. It has a kick to it, but you could forgo the jalapeno if you're not a fan of spice (however, I think the spice is part of what makes this chili so good). This is another recipe from Good Housekeeping's Vegetarian Meals: Meatless Recipes Everyone Will Love. It's a one-pan meal--which I'm always a fan of.

Prep: ~ 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes (we actually left this cooking on the stove while we went for a glass of wine. So it cooked for about an hour with no problem)
Makes about 11 cubs or 6 main-dish servings.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion (I like red onions best)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press (I always up the garlic. I used three cloves)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 can whole tomatoes (we always use the sodium-free, organic variety)
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half (I didn't measure the beans, just grabbed what looked like a good amount from the produce section)
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1.5 lbs), peeled and cut into 1.5 inch pieces
1 tsp sugar
2 cups water
2 cans black soybeans or black beans, rinsed and drained
Can be served with sour cream (I used plain yogurt. I typically replace sour cream with plain, low-fat yogurt in recipes)

1. In nonstick 5 or 6 quart dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic, and jalapeno; cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Add tomatoes with their juice, green beans, sweet potatoes, sugar, and water; heat to boiling over medium-high heat, breaking up tomatoes with side of spoon. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Add soybeans/black beans and heat through, about 2 minutes longer (we just added the black beans in step #2 with no problems).
Serve with low-fat, plain yogurt.

Each serving: About 275 calories, 14g protein, 45g carbohydrates, 5g total fat (1 sat), 0 mg cholesterol, sodium depends on your canned goods.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Recipe post: Couscous with Garbanzo Beans

I have another recipe post for you. This was a quick, tasty, healthy dish. I post it mainly because it is so quick and easy. And I love a quick and easy healthy recipe! This is another recipe from my Good Housekeeping Vegetarian Meals: Meatless Meals Everyone Will Love book:

1 box couscous with toasted pine nuts (now normally I don't promote cooking out of boxes, but that's part of what makes this dish so easy. I used Near East couscous with toasted pine nuts. You could easily substitute some whole grain couscous and pine nuts)
1/3 cup dark seedless raisins
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 garlic clove, crushed with garlic press (I used two. I love garlic)
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used a teaspoon--we like things spicy!)
2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drain (the organic ones have less sodium)
1/2 cup salad olives, drained, or chipped pimiento-stuffed olives (I don't like olives, so I left these out)
1/4 cup of water

1. Prepare couscous as label directs, except add raisins to cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, in nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, and red pepper and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add beans, olives, and water and cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 5 minutes.
3. Add cooked couscous to bean mixture and toss gently. Spoon into serving bowl.

Each serving: About 555 calories, 20 grams protein, 101g carbs, 10g total fat (1g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 1,110 mg sodium (leaving out the olives will cut both sodium and fat)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sometimes you need a do-over

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Life doesn't always go according to plan. Sometimes the greatest intentions just don't work out. And there is simply nothing that states you can't take a "do-over."

Tonight, for instance, my husband and I are having a New Year's Eve re-do. For our original New Year's we went to New York for three days of skiing; however, on day #1 I came down with a horrible flu and spent the next three days in bed. So tonight, it's dinner out, champagne at midnight and a re-declaration of my New Year's resolutions. (Since I spent the first week of the new year under the weather, my planned New Year's resolutions have yet to begin). But that's okay!

Rather than just give up on the resolution--figuring we're a week into the new year and I have yet to start them--I'm re-declaring them tonight. My resolutions are as follows:

1.) I will be following a fairly strict half-marathon program that I created myself (for a client). The program requires six days a week of steady exercise--both cardio and strength training.
2.) I will eat a salad at least four times a week (either for lunch or with my dinner) in order to increase my intake of raw vegetables.
3.) I will expand the garden this year, and work harder to preserve (can and freeze) the organic vegetables that come out of it
4.) I will continue to strive to eat pure (no preservatives or chemicals). I may not be perfect, but I will do my best.
5.) I will try to be more content--perhaps even happy--with my 40-year-old body, realizing that I am not in my 20s anymore.

So if you find yourself a week into 2011 and either you've already let your resolutions slide or you never started them--how about a re-do? It's not too late. Only one week has gone by. So go ahead, have your New Year's Eve all over again. Re-energize and re-motivate. Make 2011 your best year yet!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recipe Post: Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato Medley

It's been awhile since I did a recipe post. I guess I haven't had a new recipe worthy of posting lately. But this one definitely is! It was delicious (and nutritious)! This is from Good Housekeeping's Vegetarian Meals: Meatless Recipes Everyone will Love, except I left out the salt and added up'd the red pepper by a 1/4 teaspoon.

Moroccan-Spiced Sweet-Potato Medley

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into 3/4 in pieces.
1 can stewed tomatoes (salt-free)
1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
2 1/4 cups water
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dark seedless raisins
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (I probably put a little more than that in there. I love cilantro)!
Plain, low-fat yogurt (optional)

1. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, coriander, cumin, salt, and ground red pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, bulgur, and water; heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in beans, raisins, and cilantro; heat through. Serve with yogurt if you like.

Each serving: about 525 calories, 16 grams of protein, 109g carbs, 5g total fat (1 saturateed), 0 mg cholesterol.

About Me

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I am the owner of The Fit Life, LLC. The Fit Life, LLC offers fitness instruction and nutrition counseling in a holistic way. I focus on personal training using mainly your own body strength--very little equipment. I also hold a certification in holistic nutrition. Because nutrition counseling regulations are very strict in Ohio, I'm still working on what nutrition services I can provide to my clients; however, I'm happy to provide general nutrition information. I enjoy teaching TRX, Indoor Cycling, and Boot Camps.

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