Comfort Without the Calories

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By Diana Cherry
The weather outside is starting to turn a bit more frightful, and for me, nothing says comfort like food.  Now that the weather is turning chilly, it’s my first go-to.  Like most of us, I’m having to re-think what warms me up so I don’t gain my traditional winter weight.  The good news is, the fire really is delightful.  So delightful, in fact, that I may not need those cookies and milk to go with them.

Here are 5 comforts that cost you very little (if any) calories at all:

Take a Bath
Baths are soothing after a hard work out and relaxing after a long day.  Buy some scented bubble bath or salts and spend some time soaking in the suds.  It’s as satisfying as a big batch of hot brownies, only minus the late night binge and the morning guilt.

Brew Some Tea
I don’t know about you, but I love the sound of a kettle whistling.  Hot tea on a cold day warms me from the inside out.  Plus there are so many benefits to drinking anti-oxidant rich tea.  It fills you up, it warms you, but without unnecessary calories.

Light Candles
Last winter was cold and dark.  As the temperatures went down, so did my spirits.  I decided to fight back!  I bought candles of all shapes and sizes with pine and cinnamon scents and every night when I got home from work, I lit them.  They made me feel warm and calm; and their glow gave off a beautiful, natural light in our home.  This year, we have a fireplace.  Lighting a fire has the same benefits: an earthy smell and a beautiful, blazing glow.  What better way to stay warm?

Spend Time With Friends and Family
With the winter, come the holidays.  Houses and business are lit up; and we travel to see family and friends.  But, there’s no reason we have to wait for the day of a holiday to spend time with friends and family.  Revive Sunday family dinners or create a Make Your Own Pizza night with neighbors.  If there’s food being served in your home, you can be in charge of the ingredients.  Serve up healthful, hearty recipes.  After all, nothing says comfort like friends and family gathered.

Exercise
Nothing brings me down like being sick.  In the winter, it’s easy to get sick.  Everywhere you turn, there are coughs and sniffles.  And, I don’t always remember to take the best care of myself. Fight back by boosting your immune system, eating healthy meals and continuing to exercise.  Working out makes you look and feel your best, which inevitably lifts your spirits!   There are so many options: snow sports, hot yoga (give your heater a break and get warm while you work out!), and of course, time spent working out with your favorite fit friends at the Fitness Lab.

You see?  I’m feeling cozy and comforted just thinking about it.  With a little planning, you CAN have comfort and you won’t even miss the calories!  Here’s to a warm, cozy, and HEALTHY winter.

Kale -n-Onions

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By Amy Pennington / GoGo Green Garden

Kale & Onions
[ Makes 2 to 3 servings ]

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse and hearty green available all winter long. This is a one-pot-only meal, perfect for a dinner if you add a fried egg to the kale. This dish can be made with little fuss and attention. Serve a crusty piece of bread alongside, and it’s a meal that can be made at a moment’s notice and feed lots of mouths for cheap. Boiling the kale in salted water for an extended period of time softens the tough leaves and turns them near-sweet in flavor. This dish is an awesome side dish for winter, and you can easily swap out kale for collards, swiss chard or other mustard greens.

Olive oil
Half onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch kale, cut into ribbons, crosswise, starting with the stem end
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt

Coat the bottom of a deep-sided sauté pan with olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring until soft and slightly brown, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, put the kale in the sauté pan and cook until wilted, turning continuously 5 to 7 minutes. Toss in the red pepper flakes and season with salt. Fill the sauté pan with an inch of water and cover, bringing to a simmer. Cook until the kale is tender and drain off any residual liquid, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

Traveling and Weight Loss

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By Diana Cherry

After having a baby 6 months ago, I’ve been on a weight loss journey.  I’ve been watching what I eat (for the most part), working out 5-6 days a week (with Dillon’s amazing help), and trying to get back to a healthy weight.  But, on a trip this past week to my sister’s wedding in St. Louis, MO, I found it surprisingly difficult to stay on track.   Most meals were tied to events, with pre-set menus and not much in the way of healthy options.  Not surprisingly, restaurants like Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, Home Wine Kitchen, and Aldo’s Pizza don’t bode well for the calorie counter.  When hash browns and french fries top the list of “vegetable” sides, you know you’re in trouble.  So, what’s a mama (or any health conscious person for that matter) to do? (Tips on eating out).

Mile High Calories Are Not Duty Free:
Just because you’re traveling, doesn’t mean Peanut M&M’s, carb-laden party mixes, and fried potato chips are suddenly better for your waistline.  “Free” drinks on the airline are not calorie “free”.  I stuck to pita slices, hummus, fruit, a cheese stick, and water.

Find a Grocery Store:
When I arrived at the hotel room I was sharing with my mom, she had already gone to the grocery store.  There was water and fresh fruit for munching, so we wouldn’t be quite so tempted to order take out or room service.

Split Your Meals:
Though I couldn’t always control what was on my plate at the various events involved in the wedding festivities, I could control how much of each item I ate.  So, for most items I was served, I aimed to eat half or one third of what was on my plate.

Split Your Meals:
Though I couldn’t always control what was on my plate at the various events involved in the wedding festivities, I could control how much of each item I ate.  So, for most items I was served, I aimed to eat half or one third of what was on my plate.

I do, however, still want to have fun.  I’m nursing my 6 month old so I opted to skip drinks at every event.  But, I did indulge in dessert on occasion.  Oftentimes, I think we are programmed to drink or eat because we think it will help us have more fun.  Without the full array of appetizers, drinks, and desserts at each event, I still had a good time.  Plus, I didn’t have to feel too self conscious about my moves on the dance floor since every one else was drinking and not paying any attention to how ridiculous I looked.

Get Moving:
I was lucky, there was a gym for guests at the hotel where I was staying.  I made sure to hit the workout while in St. Louis and opted for walking/public transit as my means of transportation to wedding events.  This allowed me to see the sites of the city, and still get a little extra exercise.  I also danced my butt off (literally) at the wedding.

I’ll be honest in saying, I feel like I backtracked this week.  But, though all in all it wasn’t a great week for me nutritionally, I didn’t throw in the towel entirely.  I did what I could, where I could.  That, I think, makes all the difference in the long haul.  And, the thing is, while I was gone, I couldn’t wait to get back and have a fresh salad, some grilled fish, and big glass of lemon water.  When you are good to your body, it doesn’t feel good to revert back to bad habits.  So, now I’m back and ready to get busy again at the Fitness Lab. I know Dillon’s going to kick my butt.  And, I can’t wait!

5 Reasons Why Guys Need a Personal Trainer

By Blake Madden

You hit the gym regularly. You get in a good run or a pickup basketball game when you can. But looking in the mirror gives you a sense that something is missing from your workout routine. Your fitness has plateaued, and with no change in your regular gym routine, it’s tough to motivate yourself to even keep it at that level. If you’re serious about being in the best shape you can be, while also getting the most bang for your workout buck, then a personal trainer might be what you need. Here are 5 reasons why guys can benefit from personal training.

1. Look Past Mirror Muscles. Guys spend a lot of their gym time working on ‘mirror muscles’- glamour areas like the chest, arms, and stomach. While this will help you look good at the beach, in a photo shoot for a calendar, or when you try out for the professional arm-wrestling tour, there’s more to being in great shape than just being “ripped”. Being in great shape means that all the muscles in your body work together in harmony and balance, and that no one set of muscles is neglected in favor of another. A personal trainer can bring a fresh perspective to your body and your workout routine, helping you identify which areas you’ve given a bit too much focus to, and which ones need to catch up. Working out muscles you didn’t know you had may give you strength you never knew you was possible.

2. Cut the fat… from your workout routine.  You want to hit the gym for a quick half-hour after work. You slip out of the office five minutes early to get a head start, but while you’re at the gym, you get distracted by the score of the Monday Night game on television and the cute girl on the treadmill next to you, and before you know it you’ve been there forty minutes, but only gotten through half of your routine – the same couple of exercises you always do. Staying focused and motivated is hard. If it weren’t, we’d all be millionaires and Olympians. A personal trainer is there to keep you motivated to stay on track toward your fitness goals, whether it’s in the form of a few helpful pointers, some positive words of encouragement, or a swift (figurative) kick in the rear. You’ve hired this person to do one job: help you get into the best shape of your life by maximizing your exercise results. So even if you get distracted or lax with your routine, your trainer won’t. They will help you keep your routine fresh and diverse, keep your focus always on the task at hand, and make sure you don’t take just a little too long in between sets.

3. Weekend Warriors need combat training. Your pro career may have passed you by, but you can still employ the same exercises and conditioning your favorite athletes have utilized to become the physical specimens they are. Strengthening your core muscles while increasing your stamina and endurance will not only improve your performance when you get on the field or the court, but it will also keep you there, helping to prevent serious injury and extending your playing career. Plus, once you start dominating your weekend rec games, you’ll earn clever nicknames for your exploits.

4. Get an extra set of eyes on your nutrition. You can’t eat like you used to in high school and college anymore. Well maybe you can, but with a slower metabolism, those love handles can turn into spare tires fast. You can scour the internet and magazines for information on the latest diet craze, or a personal trainer can give you a few simple and easy tips for getting better nutrition without a complete diet makeover. If your diet is a complete train wreck then you should consider working closely with a registered dietician who can ensure that the nutrition plan you come up with will be specifically geared to your body and your daily routine… and that you’ll follow through with what you agree on.

5. Form a partnership. Road trips. Going to the movies. Card games. Some things are just better with company. While your personal trainer may not be your best friend (sometimes you might even think they’re your worst enemy), putting your heads and your efforts together will ensure you get maximum results in a minimal amount of time. Feel like skipping a day at the gym? Nice try- your trainer is waiting for you. Having trouble mustering your usual gusto for a workout? Your trainer will be there to push you through the rough spots.  Together, you will form a kick-ass team with a singular focus: pushing your health and fitness to its highest heights. Can you do it alone? Maybe. Will it be easier with a partner in crime? Definitely.

Sadly, the fun and sun of summer have come and gone. But while everyone else gets ready to hibernate for the winter, you can be working towards a better body, better fitness, and a better overall you. Joining Soma Training's Men's Fitness program will not only help you find your own personal path to excellent health, fitness, and well-being, but it will make sure you stay on that path, turning bad workout and nutrition habits into good ones. Start today and take control of your fitness!

5 Things I Learned About Health & Fitness From My Kids

By Diana Cherry

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Go Ahead, Be a Picky Eater
My kids don’t eat everything on their plates.  If they don’t like something, they don’t eat it.  If there’s too much food served, they leave what they can’t finish.  They eat slowly, taking time to play with their food, their utensils, and each other.  It’s so simple, and yet, most grown-ups simply don’t do it.  So, go ahead, be a picky eater. Next time you are served a meal, try this:  Eat only what you like (if it’s healthy.) Take your time. Eat only until you’re satisfied.  You’d be surprised by how much gets left on the plate.

If It’s Not Good for Them, It’s Not Good for You
When I’m pregnant, I worry constantly about what I eat and drink.  I don’t eat any artificial colors or flavors.  I avoid preservatives, additives, and sweeteners.  And, of course, I never, ever drink caffeine or alcohol.  I limit my sugar, take my vitamins, and try to eat as healthy as I can.  I’m responsible for another life, and I want to be sure they get all the nutrients and none of the junk. I’m extremely sensitive to what might be harmful to their little growing bodies.  The same goes for my kids post pregnancy.  I wake up early to fix them a healthy breakfast, and yet I often neglect to eat breakfast myself.  I pack them healthy, balanced lunches for school and eat a granola bar on the go for my own lunch.  The same care I put into their meals, into their health, I must put into my own.  After all, one day they’ll likely do as I do, not as I say.

Sugar Makes You Crash and Burn
I can always tell when my kids have had too much sugar.  Once they’ve had it, the sugar high begins.  They are little mad-women, running around the house destroying everything in sight.  They have momentary little bursts of energy that almost always end in loud, screeching fights with each other, a melt down, and an early bedtime or nap.  The same goes for you and me, when we’ve had too much sugar, we may get an initial burst of energy but when it fades, boy, do things get ugly.

If You Don’t Eat and If You Don’t Sleep, You Are Not a Fun Person to be Around
It seems so simple.  My kids have a daily wake up time, a daily rest or nap time, and a daily bedtime.  They eat their meals at the same time everyday, and when they don’t I can tell because they’re just. plain. no. fun. to. be. around.  We may think as adults that we outgrow this phenomenon, but, not really.   When you take the time to take care of yourself, you feel fitter, happier, and more productive.  You have the energy you need to go about your day.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun
My kids beg to ride their bikes everyday.  They have endless energy for climbing play structures at the park.  They love swimming pools, lakes, and the beach.  They could play tag or climb trees for hours.  They skip or race one another, everywhere we go.  All of these things are calorie torchers, but they have no idea what a calorie is - and they’re certainly not worried about burning or counting them.  They know what so many adults don’t, that when you make exercise fun, it doesn’t feel like exercise.  When you find activities you enjoy, you’re more apt to do them. Take time this week to head over to the Fitness Lab, and spend some time for yourself this week in an upbeat work out with friends. C’mon, it’ll be fun.  I’ll race you there!

Diana Cherry is a client and regularly attends Body Revolution.