Foods for Fighting Winter Blues

Besides a small handful of you who absolutely lovvvee and feel your best during the winter, the majority of you don't. When the sun goes down early and it's dark and cold, it's a little hard not to fill bummed out and just plain tired all the time. This is real! it's called SAD: 

The common symptoms of SAD include weight gain and increased intake of carbs (mainly processed, sugary ones), lethargy and fatigue, Irritability and decreased sociability, and lowered motivation. Sound familiar?

Luckily there are amazing foods out there that can boost your mood and energy....and I don’t mean drowning yourself in red wine and dark chocolate (well, in moderation of course). Mother Nature provides all of the essential ingredients our brain needs to function optimally and lift your spirits. Check out some of these super foods for fighting winter blues:

  • Omega-3 Fats: While you've probably heard that fish is a “brain food”, you might not realize that it’s a “mood food”, too. The essential fatty acids found in cold water fish – called omega-3s – are critical to brain health and mood. The higher the level of omega-3s in your blood, the more serotonin you make and the more responsive you become to the effects of this “feel good” brain chemical. Optimize your omega-3s by enjoying wild, sustainable seafood (like salmon and sardines) and by taking a high quality fish oil supplement.
  • Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin” does a lot to help brighten your mood. Due to lack of sunshine, up to 90 percent of us are Vitamin-D deficient at least part of the year. If you live in a climate where getting regular sunshine isn't possible, you might try supplementing your diet with vitamin-D rich cod-liver oil or take a supplement with 2,000-5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily. Fabulous foods rich in vitamin D include the same seafoods listed above, oysters, eggs, and mushrooms.
  • B Vitamins: Vitamins B6, B12 and folate also help to produce mood-boosting serotonin. But that’s not all this B-vitamin trio does. They also lower homocysteine – an amino acid that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression. In fact, a 2002 study found that women with high homocysteine levels had double the incidence of depression. Because B-vitamins in your body are depleted by stress (which is plentiful during the holidays!) be sure to include lots of foods rich in these nutrients in your diet, including leafy greens, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, chicken, salmon, sardines, shrimp, lamb, beef, and liver.
  • Selenium: Low levels of selenium are also associated with an increased risk of depression. To boost your selenium levels grab a handful of Brazil Nuts (just one provides 150 percent of the RDA of mood-enhancing selenium).
  • Antioxidants: Fighting free radicals means protecting cells – including brain cells, which are most susceptible to oxidative damage. Power up your diet with high antioxidant foods including organic blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries, organic dark cocoa; and spices including cinnamon, turmeric and cloves.
  • Animal Protein: If you’re a vegetarian, you may be lacking an important depression-fighting amino acid – tryptophan, an important precursor to serotonin. Protein-rich foods such as grass-fed beef, free range poultry, wild seafood and pastured eggs are the best sources of tryptophan.

Of course keeping up with your exercise routine is key for feeling good! With exercise and consuming the above nutrients, the likelihood of not staying in bed all day and gaining 20 lbs will diminish greatly...and if that’s not enough, plan a tropical escape for a few days!

How to Prepare Meals (and Stick with It) as a Working Professional

Guest blog by Tal Woliner

If you’re anything like me, you’ve struggled for years to figure out how to juggle eating well with a hectic work schedule and constant food temptations at business meetings, events and happy hours. It might even be a source of anxiety and frustration. I’ve figured out a way to work around it and you can too!

Almost three years ago, I decided to take control of how I eat and work out and apply the same rigor and planning I employed in the rest of my life. That’s when I first started working out with Sonja. On top of being an incredibly talented personal trainer, Sonja is a nutritionist. It was her advice about how to eat a healthier diet that started me on a journey that has evolved into preparing meal plans that I can actually stick with.

The key to changing the way you eat is planning, planning, planning. I used to try to prepare breakfasts and lunches every night to take with me the next morning to have at work. Even though I had the best intentions to stay on track, I realized it wouldn’t last and I’d inevitably go out to eat as the week progressed. That all changed when I started preparing my breakfast and lunch meals for the entire week on the weekends. While that sounds daunting, it’s actually easier than you think.

Here are some tips that will transform how you prepare meals for the work week:

1. Check your calendar before heading to the grocery store.

Doing so will help you figure out which days you’ll be in the office and will need meals. While my plans sometimes change in the middle of the week, I’m usually pretty good at estimating how many meals I’ll need. It helps keep me honest so I can make enough meals to last me for the week.

2. Search for inspiration for recipes from sites like Pinterest.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there is a plethora of blogs, websites, and amateur and professional chefs posting their recipes online. Instead of brainstorming ideas from scratch, search for inspiration online. Pinterest is my go-to source for healthy and creative recipes for my meals. The key for me is not to get bored making the same thing every week or I’ll deviate from the plan.

3. Pick recipes that scale up to save time.

While I try to mix up what I make each week, I pick recipes that will yield multiple quantities so I can be efficient with my meal prep time. A good example of that is the egg muffins I make every other week that last for the entire week. Here’s a great recipe I reference often. I usually just mix up which vegetables I sauté to vary up the muffins. If you love everything pumpkin like I do during the fall, you can also try these pumpkin muffins that use old fashioned toasted oats instead of flour.

4. Set aside a block of time on the weekends to buy groceries and prepare meals.

Every weekend I head to the grocery store with a shopping list in hand so that I’m not forgetting the essential ingredients to make the meals I’ve chosen. That means I’ll be ready to go when it’s time to prepare meals.

Then, depending on what my weekend plans look like, I set aside 2-3 hours of mostly uninterrupted consecutive time to make the meals I’ll be eating during the work week. I found that making a commitment to set aside time on either Saturday or Sunday will save you hours of headache later on when you’re exhausted and would rather binge a show than make yet another meal at night.

5. Use shortcuts to make meal prep even easier.

Here are some tips that have helped me cut down on time and expand my recipe options:

  • Buy mason jars if you’re making salads. I bought a pack of 12 mason jars on Amazon for only $11.99 and it was one of the best purchases I’ve made. I make salads each week as I can’t always count on leftovers from dinner to serve as lunch meals the next day. The reason I love mason jars is you can ditch multiple pieces of Tupperware and put all of your salad ingredients, including the dressing, in one jar. The jars lock in the freshness and ingredients are layered in such a way that lettuce doesn’t get soggy. If you’ve never seen a tutorial on how to load a mason jar, check here and here. Also, see below for my go-to salad recipes.
  • Invest in condiments you’ll likely use every week. I make homemade salad dressings at home (overtime, you’ll likely prefer them over store-bought versions), so I have a variety of vinegars handy, which usually serve as a base for any dressing you’ll make. I have red wine, white wine, balsamic and apple cider vinegar ready to use (salad dressing recipes also below).
  • Upgrade your appliances (if needed) to enhance meal prep. I also have a crock pot, electric can opener and food processor to help me make slow cooked shredded chicken, use canned vegetables like chickpeas, and make herb salad dressings, respectively. These tools have helped me expand my repertoire of recipes.

If you follow these steps and make a habit of it, you’ll feel like you took back control of what you eat and how it’s prepared. I know I do. I’ve been following this process since the beginning of the year and I’ve found a way to make it fit into my schedule because it’s a priority. I find myself less excited to eat out during lunch when I know I can make food better and healthier on my own. I hope you’ll consider this approach or find your own methods to make a plan and stick with it. You won’t regret it.

Salad Recipes

Salad Dressings

  • Balsamic Vinaigrette – Whisk these ingredients:
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • ½ cup olive oil
  • Apple Cider Vinaigrette – Whisk these ingredients:
    • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Tomato Basil Dressing – Blend in food processor:
    • 1 medium tomato, chopped
    • 2-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • Pinch of sea salt and pepper
  • Herb Salad Dressings (including Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette)
  • Other dressing ideas:

5 Easy and Healthy BBQ Essentials

Hi all! How many times have you shown up at a BBQ and there’s not even a single veggie...except for maybe a pickle to throw on your burger? Most typical BBQ’s involve a ton of highly processed carbs and meats. If you’re trying to eat well or watch your weight, it is not happening here! Luckily there are lots of easy, BBQ friendly food items you can bring along and people will love you for it...and if not at least you’ll be good to go ;).

Here are my 5 favorite easy and healthy BBQ essentials:

1. Veggies for the grill - This is beyond easy! Pick up some asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions at your local market (ideally organic). Slice veggies long ways and sprinkle on a little pepper and sea salt. Bring it along to wherever the grill may be. You can also get a little more fancy and put the sliced veggies on a stick. Voila! Veggie kababs!

2. Homemade Turkey or Lean Beef Burgers with lettuce buns: High quality meat is essential. Insure that you are getting the good stuff by purchasing it at a local market or from a butcher you trust...then prep the burgers yourself! It’s this easy:

Place ground meat in a large bowl. Sprinkle on sea salt, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and any other desired spices. Mix spices into the meat with your clean hands, and roll into balls. Place on a sheet of waxed paper or a plate, and press down on the balls to flatten them. Place patties in some tupperware or ziploc, and you’re good to go. After grilling, wrap with large bed of romaine lettuce. Even better, add a scoop of the guacamole salad (see below) on top of the burger before wrapping with lettuce. Yum!

3. Hummus with sliced veggies: Home-made hummus is a piece of cake! It’s cheaper than buying it, and you can make it in larger quantities. The key ingredients are chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water, and sea salt. Blend these ingredients to desired consistency and taste (note that the hummus comes out creamier if you soak the chickpeas overnight). Slice up some celery sticks, carrots, and cucumbers. These essentials will definitely be a hit.

4. Guacamole Salad: Who doesn’t love guacamole?! Especially when it’s homemade. Try adding a healthier twist on it by adding in shredded carrots and diced cucumber.

Start by mashing 4-6 ripe avocados with a fork or potato masher. Add in fresh minced garlic, sea salt, pepper, paprika, finely diced tomato, and lemon to taste. Then add shredded carrots and diced cucumber. It makes for a perfectly healthy dip!

5. Summer salad plus fish: Fish and salads are both great additions to a bbq (bring separately and add together once fish is grilled). Wild salmon and tuna fillets are easy to cook on the grill with just a little salt, pepper,and lemon. Then place fish on or aside one of these two perfectly easy and delicious Summer Salads. They will go great with your grilled fish or burgers.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with macadamia nuts:

In a large bowl combine: Organic spinach leaves, sliced strawberries, thinly sliced red onion, chopped unsalted macadamia nuts (almonds or walnuts work as well), crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Dressing:

Balsamic vinegar, raspberry vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper (Whisk together slowly in small amounts to create desired taste...watch the honey though ;))

Coconut Pear Salad with Arugula

In a large bowl combine: Organic arugula, sliced pear, diced cucumber, unsweetened flaked coconut, and sunflower seed

Dressing: 

Water, sunflower oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, small amount of honey to taste

Enjoy!

 

 

Top 5 Tips to Eat Well on a Time Crunch


If you feel like your life is non-stop race for time, you are not alone!  It's amazing how work, deadlines, family members, and everybody and everything but YOU seems to be a priority. It can feel so frustrating and discouraging. The main thing I hear from people is that there's no time to exercise and it's impossible to eat healthy with a crazy schedule. That's such an unfortunate thought process, because our health and well being is being put on the back-burner. If you find yourself in this boat, think about this: There is time (even if it's rushed) to grab a coffee at starbucks, munch on a candy bar at your desk, wait in a drive-through line, buy a new outfit, or spend a couple hours watching TV at the end of the day. Bottom line is, you will find time for what you WANT to make a priority in your life, and your health of all things should be more than anything! If you're not taking care of that, your energy levels, mood, sleep,  attitude, and efficiency at work and with family will be affected.
If you're struggling in this area and need a little guidance, here are my Top 5 Tips to Eat Well on a Time Crunch:

1. Prep- This may be an obvious one, but it is often overlooked. It involves scheduling time (usually on a Sunday) to get your meals as ready as possible for the week. It may take a minute to get into the habit, but like all things, once you get it down it will feel easy breezy. Invest in a good, solid set of tupperware, and a lunchbox type cooler to take with you to work. Try to plan your meals for the week based on good quality protein (eggs, quinoa, chicken, fish, ground turkey, lean red meat, protein powder) and veggies (anything seasonal). Ideally you want to include these in every meal.  One thing I like to do is rinse and slice all my veggies after going shopping. Throwing together a salad may seem easy enough, but when you're crunched for time, chopping veggies may not seem like an option. Anything you can do to create grab and go meals will make your life a whole lot easier. Need some ideas of what to shop for? Check out my personal Spring/Summer Shopping List and narrow it down to fit your needs.


2. Embrace the crockpot- The only thing that would make a crockpot easier would be an app on your phone to turn it on or off. If you don't already own this incredibly convenient kitchen appliance, get one. You can basically throw a whole chicken in there, plug it in, turn it on, leave for 8 hours, come home and dinner is ready. What's even better is usually there's enough food to put in two or 3 tupperware containers, add some veggies, maybe a little quinoa or sweet potato (that you've already prepped) and there's your take-out lunch for the next couple days! 


3. Protein/Green smoothies are your best friend- A shake with good quality ingredients is one of the best things you can take along with you when you're rushing out the door. It takes about 2 minutes to throw together and pour into a Contigo like container so that it will stay cold. There are a ton of delicious/healthy smoothies out there, but if you're looking for some serious convenience, invest in a good quality protein powder and organic raw green powder. The combo will hold you over for typically 3 hours, and give you the nutrients you need to feel energized. I use Isagenix Whey Protein and  Raw Berry Greens Natural Health. Check out my favorite Super Smoothie below. I literally drink it everyday cause it's amazing!


4.  Know what to eat when you're out and about- If you're at work and forgot your prepped meal, or have a lunch meeting with colleagues, it's good to have an idea of what you can choose. Always opt for something veggie and protein rich. Be careful with sandwiches and wraps, because the breads, sauces, and spreads are typically highly processed. If you get a salad, ask for dressing on the side. If you get an entree, sub starchy carbs for veggies. It's good to know what restaurants/markets are around you. That way you can pick and choose where to go, and make suggestions to colleagues for places with healthier options.

5. Stay stocked with healthy snacks- You should always have a few snacks on hand if you are going to be away from home all day. They don't necessarily have to be eaten, but if you are starving and have 2 mins to eat, you need to put something nutritious in your system. If not, you'll find yourself munching on the sugary goodies brought to you by your ever so thoughtful  co-workers, or you'll starve yourself only to eat everything in sight later in the day. In case you missed my last article, I shared some tips on how to curb cravings and included some healthy snack ideas. Check it out here: 
5 Tips to Curb Cravings

I hope this helps a little! Any nutrition/exercise info you'd like to learn more about? Hit reply to this email and send me your thoughts. I will include it in a future article.
Have a great day!
Xo, 
Sonja

5 Tricks to Curb Cravings

Lately I’ve been getting lot’s of inquiries about cravings, and what to do about them in order to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Maybe it’s because Spring is here, and more skin will be exposed over the next month or two. During Winter months it’s almost impossible not to put on a few pounds, but it’s easier said than done to break couch/comfort/snacking mode overnight!

Here are my 5 top tips on curbing cravings in time for swimsuit season:

1. Don’t “try” to diet: Does this scenario sound familiar? Diet day #1 : Breakfast equals coffee. A few hours later, you have a few slices of an apple, or maybe nothing. Lunch rolls around and you have a salad with chicken breast...low in anything fattening. As the late afternoon comes you’re starving, but you don’t want to mess up your diet so you refrain from eating. You get home from work famished...and then continuous meal happens. You crave everything! (Dinner and snacks until your full and it’s bedtime). Then you tell yourself you’ll get back on track the next day. I’ve done it, and I’m pretty sure everyone’s done it at least once! Even if the reason for lack of eating is not to diet per say, but due to an insanely busy day, don’t do this! If you really want to see results, you need to focus on nourishing yourself throughout the day with protein rich food, lots of veggies (fiber), and healthy fats. Your blood sugar levels, energy, and moods will stay balanced and you will be much less likely to have an afternoon or evening snack attack.

2. Wait 20 minutes: Give yourself a time lapse post meal before scanning the office lounge area or your cupboards for sweet or salty treats. When you go straight for dessert post meal, it is often due to habit, or because your hormones are slightly out of whack. Your insulin levels will increase and your blood sugar levels will spike, and it will be a continuous high as you eat until you ultimately crash and feel like crap. If you crave a treat post meal, try waiting a bit and keep yourself busy during that time. Often your cravings will simply go away, and if they don’t completely, you will at least  be able to restrain yourself from going overboard if you do have a small treat.

3. Drink water!: So often we get busy and forget to drink the liquid of life, and hunger can easily be mistaken for thirst. If you start feeling headachy, tired, and start craving sugar (or anything to pick you up), chug a glass or two of H20. Most likely the symptoms will go away. If you actually feel hungry after drinking water and waiting a bit, then you probably are. Eat a substantial snack instead of cookies or chips: Check out a few of my Quick and Easy Snack Ideas.

4. When you really just NEED chocolate: Chocolate can actually be amazing for cravings if you consume it right, and I don’t mean snickers bars. Dark unsweetened cocoa actually releases serotonin, your happy mood hormone, and puts you on a natural  high. The problem is when you go a little overboard with sugary chocolate and just can’t stop eating it. Instead, try mixing two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa with a tablespoon coconut milk or coconut oil, splash of water, sprinkle of cinnamon, and a drop or two of stevia. Mix it together to create a frosting like paste. It may be on the bitter side compared to what you’re used to, but it will get the mood enhancement job done. Also, you may notice over time that a treat like this becomes sweet enough, and a processed chocolate bar will actually make your teeth itch.

5. Check in with your stress and sleep levels: Most of the time when we’re craving things, it’s because cortisol (our stress hormone) is seeping through our systems on overdrive. When you’re stressed out sitting at your office desk, do you notice how it correlates with snacking? When cortisol is on overdrive, it increases insulin levels in your body, which makes you crave more sugary/carb based foods. Instead of giving in to the temptations, pay attention to that stress, and acknowledge that you need to get some of that cortisol out of your system. How can you do this?  Sweat it out!  If you’re at work, go into the bathroom and do 100 jumping jacks or find a stairwell and go up and down the stairs 10 times. Maybe even hold a plank or do some pushups if you can find a little space to do so. Once your done, drink some water. Then ask yourself if the cravings are still there. Even better, make sure to schedule a workout in your day! I don’t care if this is 10 minutes in your living room. Challenge your muscles and get your heart rate up in and down. As for sleep, this is essential for regulating your hormones and breaking cravings. Do you notice when you sleep less than 6 hours, you subconsciously snack all day? It’s cause you're fighting the fatigue by feeding it with a blood sugar high. This is not the answer if you want to lose or maintain a healthy weight. With that, there are many other detrimental side effects from lack of sleep. Instead, focus on winding down at a decent hour and getting at least 7 hours of Z’s.

Hope that gives you a little insight into cravings!

Xo,

Sonja

 

Travel Workout

Wondering how to exercise while on vacation? Try this full body workout anywhere there is space available, and mix up the exercises to keep your body challenged! One day try all exercises back to back and repeat the circuit 1-3x. You can also pick 2 or 3 exercises and repeat them back to back before moving on to another set of exercises. Have fun!

Warm up by jogging, doing jumping jacks, or jumping rope in place (5 minutes)

1. Fire Pushups: Complete pushups in regular plank position or on your knees for 20 seconds; then hold in pushup position for 20 seconds. Aim for 4 sets back to back with no rest.

2. Front kick to lunge: Thrust your right leg forward into a front kick and immediately drop it into a back lunge with the right knee down to the ground. That's one rep. Complete 20 reps and switch to left leg.

3. 180 degree Squat Jumps: Start in squat position. Jump into the air landing back in your squat. Immediately jump rotating 90 degrees to the left, then back to center, then to the right. Make sure you always land with your feet in parallel position and hip distance apart. Repeat this explosive movement for 20 reps.

4. Plank Walk with Tricep Pushup: Start in regular pushup position. Keeping your abs and hips tight, move across the room maintaining your high plank. Once you get there, complete 2 tricep pushups so that there is no space between your elbows and your ribcage. That's one rep. Continue back and forth across the room like this 4-6 x.

5. Side Kick Jack: Start standing with your feet hip distance apart. Leading with your right leg, kick out to your right side and immediately come back to starting position to complete a jumping jack. Repeat on the left. This should be a continuous movement...i.e. right kick- jumping jack-left kick-jumping jack. Repeat for 1 minute. 

6. Jumping jacks with overhead press: Aim for 100 reps. If you have water bottles, hold them in your hands and raise over head as you jump.

Interested in your own customized take-home workouts? Click below:

Create Your Own Transformation

 

Top 10 Super-Foods for Smoothies

It’s almost summer time, and there’s nothing like to a refreshing smoothie to start your day off right! This time of year there are so many delicious seasonal fruits and veggies to get creative with. You can also spike things up with a few antioxidant rich super-foods that will make your day, health, and life feel that much better!
Check out these 10 super-foods, which you can pick and choose from specific to your needs:

Lasting Energy and Stress Reduction-

    Acai - These Brazilian berries are loaded with antioxidants that not only improve your mental clarity, but give you an energy boost similar to what you would receive from caffeine.  This super fruit has also been shown to improve digestion by cleansing and detoxifying your body. Use the frozen pulp of acai in your smoothies to get the whole food without added ingredients.

    Maca - This super-food is considered the Peruvian “ginseng". It can improve energy and lower stress. It is rich in protein, B vitamins, and much more.  Maca has shown to alleviate cramps, body pain, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. You can buy Maca in powder, pill or liquid form for an easy addition to your smoothie!


Weight-loss-

    Chia Seeds- These little guys  are very high in fiber, which make them good for weight loss and weight maintenance. They are also high in omega fatty acids, protein, and many essential minerals. They can regulate your blood sugar levels, prevent blood clots, reduce high blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve your digestion, and give you energy. Just add a couple Tbsp of these babies to your smoothie for some major health benefits!

    Coconut Oil- This incredible ingredient has so many benefits beyond weight loss that it is hard to pick a category. It’s even good for your hair and skin! Coconut oil is high in saturated fat; however, it has been proven to aid in weight loss and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL levels.  Coconut oil has also been shown to have an antibiotic effect. Just add a tablespoon to your smoothie for a creamy, coconutty taste.

    Avocados- This creamy fruit is rich in tryptphan, vitamin B6, and folate. They provide healthy fats which raise serotonin levels to keep you happy. They also help keep you satisfied and less likely to reach for sugary, processed carbs. It is a perfect ingredient for a “milkshake like” smoothie.

Immunity Boost-

    Kale-  This amazing super food is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and so much more. It is also filled with fiber which helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and many other micro-nutrients. Kale helps improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, and clear mucus and congestion especially in the lungs. This dark green veggie is almost an instant source of vitality. Try freezing a bag of kale and adding a large handful to your smoothie. If you’re not a huge leafy green veggie fan, you won’t even taste it!

    Gogi Berries- These candy like treats are packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They can help protect you from heart disease, improve your eye health, fight against viruses, and balance hormones. They are also a wonderful enhancement to your fruity smoothie.

    Bee Pollen or Raw Honey- Both of these super-foods have strong antibacterial properties and contain antioxidants. They can also combat seasonal allergies, which you may be feeling right about now! When you have a cold, honey can ease coughing and the inflammation of a sore throat. Bee pollen is also a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It has been used to treat asthma, indigestion, anemia, acne, arthritis, and fatigue. Both products are easy to add to smoothies, and provide a natural sweetness.

Mood Lift and Brain Function-

    Flax seeds- These super seeds contain Omega 3 fatty acids which are vital for brain functioning. If you’re needing  some extra mental clarity, these guys are for you! They have also proven to be good for your heart by fighting high cholesterol and heart disease. Flax seeds are filled with protein, fiber, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, calcium and antioxidants. Just add 2 or 3 Tbsps to your smoothie.
    
    Cacoa Nibs- Raw cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that can improve your health in a number of ways. Cacao has been shown to increase blood flow, lower blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar. It also improves brain function, vision, and mood. If you add raw cacao to a smoothie you can expect it to be bitter, but just add a little natural sweetener such as bee pollen or raw honey.

 

Quick and Easy Snack Ideas

Most of you who work in an office of any sort know what it's like to be constantly tempted by the gifts of your co-workers...i.e. candy, donuts, and cookies. In the back of your mind this "kind gesture" is really just an evil plot to sabotage your diet. At the same time it's already there, so why not partake?  Especially when you're bored, stressed, hungry, or need a pick-me-up. Snacking is often the number one obstacle when it comes to weight loss. The best thing to do in these inevitable situations is to have a healthy alternative at hand. That way you won't feel like you're depriving yourself. You'll also feel more energized and satisfied rather than sluggish and sugar crashed.

Here are a 10 great snack ideas to take along with you to work:

In general, try mixing a fruit or veggie with a protein source

1. Cauliflower popcorn (You can also use kale, sweet potatoes, zucchini, or broccoli). Prep this in advanced, and distribute what you make into tuber wear to take with you to work. You can mix in almonds, cashews, or walnuts...or bring some in a separate baggie to eat with the veggies.

2. Turkey, cheese, and lettuce roll ups- Use nitrate free, organic deli turkey if possible such as Applegate. Wrap a slice of turkey around a piece of string cheese; then wrap a leaf of lettuce around that.

 3. Protein Energy balls- This is a great alternative to protein bars, and you can control the amount of sugar that goes into them. There are lots of recipes out there, but here is a great example. You can use whey protein powder and almond butter rather than peanut. You can choose to add or omit some of the other superfood ingredients, but it gives you options to play around with: Protein Energy Balls

4. Hard boiled egg with carrot or celery sticks

5. Celery sticks with almond or cashew butter (try not to use more that 2 TBSPs of nut butter).

6. 2 squares of dark chocolate (72% or higher) mixed with a handful of almonds

7. Shrimp cocktail, mashed avocado or guacamole, and a handful or crackers (such as Blue Diamond’s gluten free nut-Thins)

8. Frozen blueberries with coconut milk- pour coconut milk over  a ½ cup of blueberries. Sprinkle it with cinnamon (optional)

9. Banana with a handful of walnuts or cashews

10. Hummus and veggies

Winter Wonder-Foods for Curbing Cravings

As we head into the New Year most of us feel that surge of determination to get back on the health wagon, detox from all those holiday get-togethers, and get in shape! The problem is it’s still January, and cold dark weather is not the greatest motivator. If you are craving sugary/processed foods, fries, and tons of caffeine, pay attention! It means your body is lacking some essential nutrients, and a salad with chicken on top is just not going to cut it when its freezing out. Most likely it’s because you’re needing a boost of energy, mood enhancement or warmth. Unfortunately these foods will have the opposite effect and leave you feeling worse than before you had them.

Fill your fridge with the following seasonal and year round food items which are packed with the nutrients. You may just find that your cravings reduce, your energy heightens, and you will be back on track in time for bikini season!

When you’re craving sugar, other processed carbs, and excess caffeine:

What’s lacking? Magnesium, Carbon, Chromium, and Tryptophan, Vitamin C, and Nitrogen

Winter Wonder Foods:

Cashews are an instant nutritious snack that replenish mineral supplies and help you burn fat. These are packed with the nutrients listed above, are perfect right after exercise, and leave you feeling satisfied.

Avocado’s provide instant satisfaction due to their higher fat content and other essential nutrients, which raise serotonin levels and keep you happy.

Chicory Greens, such as Belgian endive, escarole, and radicchio, are a great functional food to prevent sugar cravings. They contain vitamin B6, a well known anti-craving nutrient, and are helpful for digestion and detoxification.

When you’re craving oily, heavy, or salty foods:

What’s lacking? Omega 3’s, Calcium, Vitamin D, B vitamins, Chloride, and Protein

Winter Wonder Foods:

Oyster’s are packed with the nutrients listed above, plus Zinc, Selenium and more. This combination helps with mood enhancement, brain function, and overall improved health.

Sardines  are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce blood cholesterol levels, lower risk for atherosclerosis and decrease blood pressure. They are also packed with the above nutrients, including chloride which help curb salt cravings.

Eggs contain many of the nutrients listed above and help increase energy to burn fat more efficiently. Eggs are also packed with protein, which helps control food cravings and prevent overeating by making you feel longer.

Killer Kettle Bell Routine...and More

If you only have 10 to 15 minutes to workout and want to burn some serious calories, this fat scorching routine will  work your body from head to toe. If you don't have access to kettle bells you can use dumbbells. Complete 15 reps of each exercise and Repeat 2 sets

1. Kettle Dead-lifts

2. Tactical  Lunges- start by holding a 15-30 lb kettle bell next to your left side. Lunge back with your right leg. At the same time circle the kettle bell behind your left leg switching from your left hand to your right. Return to a standing position. Complete 15 of your tactical lunges, each time stepping back with your right leg, and then stay in your lunge position with your right leg back..continue to next exercise.

3. One Arm Row- Continuing from your tactical lunge, shift forward slightly so that you are leaning into your front left leg and extending through your right leg. Your back should be flat and angled forward at a 45 degrees. Hold your kettle bell with your left hand. Complete 15 one arm rows. You should feel the left glut burning. Once completed lean forward to set the kettle bell on the floor, and straighten back up to your lunge position (right leg still back). Go into the next exercise.

4. Split Lunges- complete 15 split lunges. Then drop down into pushup position

5. Pushups and Mountain Climbers- complete 15 pushups and immediately go into 15 Mountain Climbers.

Pre Wedding (or Event) Arm Tone-up

It's been so much fun working with all of my beautiful brides-to-be this summer, and seeing their amazing results! Even though these ladies started months in advanced, there still are some tricks of the trade you can do days or hours before an event to make your arms feel tighter and more toned in your sleeveless dress. Here are a few of my favorite arm focused exercises you can you can do in the comfort of your living room, and require no workout equipment!

Double push-up to side plank hold

Start in a high plank position (or on knees to modify) with hands directly under the shoulders, and slightly past shoulder distance apart. Make sure your spine is neutral and abdominals are engaged. Complete two slow push-ups, ending in your high plank. From there,  pivot your feet to the right, stabilize your left shoulder, and rotate your torso to the right allowing your right hand to reach toward the ceiling. Hold the side plank position for 8 counts and return to your high plank. Complete 2 push-ups as before, and rotate to your side plank on the left. Think of this whole sequence as 1 rep, and complete 4-6 reps.

Reverse plank with tricep dip

Start sitting with legs extended, heels planted on the floor, and knees just slightly bent. Lean back so that your torso is at a slight incline. Place your hands directly under your shoulders with fingers facing forward. Elbows should be bent. In one motion lift your hips off the floor and straighten your arms to come into a reverse high plank. Hold here for a pause, then similataniously bend your elbows and lower your hips back to the floor.   That's 1 rep. Think about lowering down for a slow count of 3 or 4 in order to challenge your muscles. Complete 8 reps. Modified handstand push-up

Start in a downward dog position. Lift on your tiptoes and start to walk your feet out wider than hip distance and up towards your hands (only as far as you can go without bending your knees). Make sure your shoulders are stabilized. Lift higher on your toes and simaltaniously bend your elbows, allowing your head to reach closer to the floor. Then straighten your arms to press back up. You should feel most of the work in your shoulders and upper back. Keep the movements slow and controlled, and repeat 10-15 reps.

 

Super-Foods for Spring Cleaning and Detoxification

Spring is officially here, and as the sun starts to shine most people feel the urge to lighten their loads. Whether this is in the form of getting rid of stuff around the house, wearing lighter clothes, or losing a few of those holiday pounds, we naturally have an inclination to do some spring cleaning. For our body’s, this comes in the form of “cleansing” or “detoxing”.  These two words don’t have to be as extreme as they sound. Rather they imply adding in spring foods to help cleanse our digestive system, liver, and cells from toxins or excess fat that was not used during winter months. With spring come some of the best mineral packed, detoxifying foods. Try adding these 5 amazing, super foods into your diet and start to feel light and alive. Try mixing these baby’s together with a little olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar to make a cleansing low calorie/nutrient dense salad:1. Dandelion: Dandelions are a powerful food for a liver detox diet.  It stimulates the digestive juices, helping the digestion of fats. It also contains 48 substances that support your body to detox naturally. Spring is the ideal time to benefit from dandelion greens, as they get too bitter later in the summer. 2.Grapefruit:  Grapefruits not only contain high amounts of vitamin C, but they also contain large amounts of potassium, vitamin A, and Fiber. Grapefruit contains pectin which is a soluble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol and slow the buildup of plaque on the inside walls of blood vessels. Ruby red grapefruit juice also contains lycopene which helps prevent LDL (bad cholesterol) from damaging artery walls. 3. Watercress: Cultivated almost exclusively in spring-fed streams, watercress is considered a superfood because of its high content of antioxidants, vitamin C, and Vitamin A. Historically, watercress was revered for its nutrition and healing properties, more specifically in cleansing the blood, kidneys, and liver. 4. Curly Endive and other baby greens: Endive is rich in Vitamins A and B; iron and potassium. It has detoxifying effects that act as a tonic for the liver and gallbladder, and it aids in digestion. Baby greens contain large amounts of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium, iron and numerous trace minerals. Spring is the ideal time to introduce yourself to the health benefits of leafy greens as young tender leaves haven’t developed bitterness. 5. Cucumber: Cucumbers are 95 percent water! The high water content and dietary fiber are very effective in ridding the body of toxins and aiding digestion. Cucumbers also contain a lot of potassium, magnesium and fiber which work effectively for regulating blood pressure. The combination of Vitamin C and caffeic acid in the flesh of a cucumber helps reduce inflammation.

Megan's Favorite Crockpot Chicken

  One of my favorite kitchen appliances, hands down, is the crock pot. It's so versatile, easy to use, and can really make any meal taste delicious without having to be in the kitchen for an hour. I learned of this recipe a while ago from the blog Rubies and Radishes and changed it up a little bit, adding a few ingredients but still keeping it super simple. I get all the ingredients for this recipe from Trader Joes, but I'm sure you can find similar ones anywhere else.

If you're in a rut or not sure what to make this week for dinner, this is a great go-to recipe. Put it in the crockpot before you leave for work and it will be ready to go when you come home.

Crock Pot Chicken Verde

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs OR 3-4 chicken breast
  • 1 jar Trader Joes Salsa Verde (any salsa works, just make sure there is no sugar in the ingredients)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bag frozen Roasted Bell Pepper and Onions from Trader Joes (or fresh sliced peppers and onions)
  • Optional toppings: sliced avocado, chopped tomatoes, shredded carrots

Directions

  1. Put chicken, salsa, and salt and pepper in crockpot. Set to low and allow to cook for 4-6 hours
  2. During last 30 minutes or so, add in desired amount of bell pepper and onions (sometimes I do half the bag, sometimes I do all of it)
  3. Shred chicken with 2 forks and add additional salt and pepper to taste
  4. Serve over a bed of spinach and top with desired toppings.

For more from Megan, visit her at corewellnessandnutrition.com

Sonja’s Killer Core Workout with Stability Ball

There is so much you can do to keep your body in shape and strong, even when you’re stuck inside your house for yet another snow day! A great portable and inexpensive piece of equipment to have around the house is a stability ball. Below is one of my favorite routines to challenge my core and get me sweating. Make sure you can hold a basic plank on the floor before you attempt these and then give it a try! Complete 2 sets of 10-20 reps with no more than 10-20 second rest between each movement. All movements should be executed with slow control.

Stability Ball Plank Variations:

1. Start in Plank position with your forearms on the stability ball, elbows positioned under the shoulders. Make sure you are lifting your chest off the ball and engaging your abs. Hold for 10-20 counts. 2. Still in your plank, stabilize the lower half of your body, and shift your forearms forward and back so that the ball moves forward and back simultaneously. 3. Still holding your plank, stabilize your upper body and pivot back and forth on your toes (heel lifts) so that the ball moves forward and back. 4. Get into a pushup position plank with your feet on the ball, hands on the floor. Your hands should be directly under shoulders, and slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. Engage your abs and tuck knees into your chest. Slowly extend back to your plank and repeat.

And More...

5. Ball Hamstring Curl-Transition so you are lying on your back with your feet propped up on the stability ball. Your legs should be straight and arms down by your side. Slowly peel your hips off the floor so you are holding a reverse plank position. Keep your hips lifted and bend your knees to pull the stability ball towards your gluts. Keeping your hips high slowly extend your legs back out to your reverse plank. Repeat

6.Ball Leg lowers-Next, squeeze the ball between your ankles and lift the ball so that your legs are straight up in the air directly over your hips. With the ball still between your ankles, tighten your abdominal muscles and lower your legs to about 45 degrees. Pause, then return back to 90. Make the movement as small as necessary in order to stabilize your pelvis and not strain your lower back. Repeat

7. Ball Pass-off-Continuing from the last movement...your ankles are squeezing the ball and your legs are straight in the air above your hips. Engaging your abs, tuck your chin and round up in a crunch position to grab the ball. Round back so your legs lower to 45 degrees, and your arms reach behind. Draw your navel in and round back up to place the ball back between your ankles. Repeat.

 

Moderation

I recently broke up with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m still pretty sad, listening to Taylor Swift break-up anthems on repeat, but I know it’s for the best. The relationship crossroads came about on Halloween when I literally wrestled a Reese’s out of Spiderman’s tiny little hand because I realized it was the last one and I had to have it (and because the six I had before weren’t going to cut it).

So, yeah – it needed to end.

I’m not usually a proponent of cutting out entire food groups from one’s diet (Um, yes – Reese’s PB cups are totally their own food group, don’t argue with me – I’m going through a tough break-up, see above). However, if I can’t exercise moderation with a food/food group, it’s best to just walk. Away. From. The. Candy.

And now, to the point of this month’s blog post: Moderation.

The cute red cups have made their annual debut at Starbucks this week, which means that holiday season is officially upon us. Christmas parties, finger foods and booze become weekly staples…and I bust out my sizeable collection of stretchy waistband clothes. NO MORE. This year, I pledge to indulge in moderation. I pledge to bring healthy options to a holiday dinner party so that I have no excuse to eat 15 pigs-in-a-blanket. I pledge to get physical activity every day, even if I only have 20 minutes. I pledge to drink a ton of water every day. I pledge to listen to my body and stop eating when before I am ridiculously full. And, I pledge not to have one, single, solitary Reese’s. Ok, well time to go pour myself a glass of Pinot Noir and do a bad-ass abs/booty workout while I catch up on Homeland season three. Because everything in moderation, right? Happy hols, y’all!

Annie M (guest blogger)

Sunday Evening Plan of Excellence

Weekends are my JAM.  I mean, what’s there not to love about sleeping in, having breakfast in bed, (a girl can dream…), and getting in some leisurely sweat sessions?  Exactly. Unfortunately, my blissful weekend existence comes crashing down around 3pm on Sunday afternoon, when I start getting pre-work week depression.  Over the years, I’ve tried hundreds of tactics to avoid this sinking feeling:

Making my brunch reservations for 2pm, drinking bottomless mimosas until dinnertime and going to bed (err, passing out) at 8pm to get a “full night’s sleep” before Monday morning.  Result?  Not feeling human until Tuesday, not grocery shopping until Wednesday, and eating out (read: unhealthy AND expensive) almost all week.  #FAIL.

Going out of town until late Sunday evening to “make the most of my weekend.”  Result?  See above.

Pretending it’s not actually Sunday and shopping/eating/drinking/napping/watching Breaking Bad/insert-unproductive-activity-here until it’s time for bed.  Result?  You guessed it.  Being TOTALLY unprepared for the week ahead.

At some point (probably when the guy at Potbelly’s asked if I wanted “the usual”), I realized that getting myself organized on Sunday night was critical to eating healthy throughout the week, saving some serious $$$ and actually feeling on top of my s*%& going into the week. So, without further ado, my new, massively improved, Sunday night ritual:

Step 1: Plan out meals for the week.

Step 2: Make a shopping list based on the meal plan above

Step 3: Go shopping!  Duh.  My favorite places in the DC/NoVA area are: MOM’s Organic Market in Alexandria, Whole Foods,

Yes! Organic Markets, and – if you’re feeling SUPER motivated  -- farmers markets in Falls Church and Dupont Circle are amazing for farm fresh produce!

Step 4: Prepare Foods.  I usually get salmon fillets (2 6oz. portions, enough for 4 lunches) and put those on the broiler for 10-12 minutes with salt, pepper and squeeze of lemon.  Then, I wash and cut up veggies for my lunch salad: kale, cucumbers, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes – whatever’s in season and most fresh!  In the mornings, I’ll throw ¼ an avocado on top of my salad so it doesn’t get brown.  I also rinse and cut up fruit so it’s easy to grab on-the-go. (Insert other ideas or options here). Step 5: Go watch Breaking Bad!  Relax, and enjoy a square (or two, let’s be honest) of dark chocolate and mint tea, knowing that you’re about to be #winning all week!

B

Bad Romance: Fat Free Version

As a society, we are emerging from a long, rocky relationship with all things Low Fat and Fat Free (I’m looking at you, Fat Free Potato Chips).  Thank goodness we are coming to our senses and breaking free from this unhealthy romance.  Because the truth is, fat doesn’t make you fat. In fact, a low fat diet can actually be WORSE for you than a diet with a good balance of healthy fats. But what exactly are these non-evil healthy fats?  Fit Evolution's newest nutrition contributor extraordinaire, Megan, breaks it down for you in this month's newsletter. Read her article here, or check out her website to read the original.

Why We Need Fat 1. We need fat to absorb and use vitamins A, D, E, and K, also known as fat-soluble vitamins. Macronutrients (i.e. fat, carbs, protein) and micronutrients (i.e. fat soluble vitamins) work together to assimilate and be used effectively by the body. Whole foods in their natural form - for example, an egg - naturally contain the fat needed to absorb the vitamin A in the yolk. Dairy products, like milk, contain fat for a reason - to absorb the vitamin D. That's why skim milk fortified with vitamin D is kind of pointless.

2. It provides a steady, sustained source of energy. Eating fat makes you feel full sooner and for a longer amount of time. Sugar (i.e. carbohydrates), on the other hand, makes you hungrier sooner with a stronger craving for sugar. That means that your low fat yogurt (with sugar as the second ingredient) will not benefit your mood or satiety.

3. Fats are essential for your brain, hormones, and nervous system. Your brain is fat and cholesterol, so it would make sense that we need both to "feed" the brain. Without fat, it's no wonder someone might experience more brain fog and less mental acuity.  Fat also facilitates hormone production and nerve signals for the entire body.

The Not-So-Skinny on Low Fat Products When someone is trying to follow a low fat diet, chances are they are eating more carbs and sugar. The USDA (A=agriculture) recommends that we limit fat intake and increase intake of harmful, inflammatory foods like wheat and vegetable oils. You might be thinking to yourself, "I eat low fat products, but that doesn't mean I eat more sugar and carbs - it's not like I eat candy bars or loaves of bread." The truth is, low fat products are loaded with sugar. And when we need something to keep us full and aren't using fat, we have to turn to carbohydrates as an energy source.

When manufacturers take out fat from food, they need to put stuff back in to make it taste good. And what is it that they put in? Sugar (in various forms), hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fat and hidden source of GMO), and sources of MSG like soy protein concentrate. Let's take a look Jif's Low-Fat Peanut butter for an example.

Peanut butter should be just that: peanuts. Jif takes it a step further though and adds corn syrup solids as the second ingredient, followed by more sugar. Soy protein and hydrogenated vegetable oils are both sources of MSGs and GMOs.  We will stop there, but I will mention that ferric orthophosphate is used as a molluscicide to kill slugs.

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What other low-fat products are deemed as "healthy"? Yogurt, granola, cereal, sour cream, cookies, chips, deli meat? Next time you pick these up, read the ingredient list (at the very bottom) and not just the label. Figure out what's really in your food and don't trust the health claims.

Not All Fats are Created Equal: So What's our Lesson? Eat food in their whole, natural form, the way nature intended. Eat healthy fat from coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and do not consume inflammatory industrialized vegetable oils. Don't think about limiting your fat intake - make it apart of every meal and snack. Read ingredient lists, and stay away from hydrogenated vegetable oils, industrialized man-made seed oils (canola, vegetable, cottonseed, soybean, corn, etc.)

Some of my favorite sources of fat include:

-Coconut (extra virgin, milk) -Avocados -Grass-fed butter -Ghee -Extra virgin olive oil (cold use only) -Nuts (in moderation)

Don't take my word for it though - try it out yourself. Do not fear fat. Start having an avocado a day, sautéing your vegetables in ghee, stirring coconut oil or milk into your coffee, and feel the difference.

Desk Job Booty

Chances are, if you live and work in the DMV, your booty is stuck in a chair for HOURS every day.  If you’re a normal human being, by 3pm you are either going completely stir crazy, convincing your co-workers to hit up the McDonald’s for a mini ice cream cone (I mean, they’re only 140 calories…) – or both.  If that’s a once-every-few-months occurrence, not a big deal.  If you’re hitting up McD’s for some McFlurry action on the regular, that’s bad news bears. It doesn’t matter if you dare jump up and down in front of your co-workers or do standing crunches in the bathroom stall. Here are some tricks for breaking up the monotony of a desk job and keeping your blood pumping throughout the day. Challenge yourself with how many repetitions you can do for all exercises below:

Desk chair squats- Sit on the edge of your chair with feet hip distance apart and your arms either in front of you or above your head. Pull your body up to standing position and slowly  lower your buns toward the chair. Make sure you can still see your toes. Gently touch the seat with your rear and stand back up. Repeat several times. Bonus move: Hover your butt just over your chair for 30 seconds and feel the burn in your glutes and thighs.

Desk push-ups- Stand up facing your desk, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, and slowly lower your torso toward the desk; then slowly push back up, and repeat several times.

Seated oblique rotation- Sit at the edge of your chair. Engage your abs and lean back slightly to create a C shape with your back. Holding this position, exhale and rotate to the right, inhale back to the starting position, and exhale to the left. With each exhalation, tighten your abs deeply. Repeat 20 reps or more.

Standing side leg extensions- Stand behind your chair and hold on to the back for support if needed. Engage your core and slowly staring balancing on your left leg. Laterally lift your right leg, pause, and return leg so it’s hovering off the ground next to your left leg. Repeat  20 reps and switch sides. Bonus: after repeating 20 reps, continue to hold your leg in lateral position, stabilize your pelvis by engaging your abs and gluts, and circle your leg clockwise for 10 reps and counterclockwise for 10 reps.

Desk chair tricep dips-Place palms, fingers facing forward, on the edge of a bench or chair. Sit up tall with straight arms, eyes forward, shoulders down and back, chest out, elbows squeezed in tightly and glutes off of the chair. Slowly bend arms (no more than 90 degrees) Slowly press up to straight arm position and repeat several times.

Bathroom break jumping jacks- complete 50 to 100 jumping jacks any chance you get to sneak out.

Arm circles (standing or sitting)-Sit or stand and extend your arms out to your sides, parallel to the floor. Rotate clockwise 20 times in each direction, and then circle your wrists 20 times in each direction.

Standing roll down stretch- stand with your feet hip distance apart. Engage your abs and start to roll down one vertebrae at a time. Reach down towards the floor and allow your arms and neck to relax while keeping the back of your legs and abs strong. Exhale and round back up the same way you came down.

Getting into Your Workout Groove

Whether it’s summer, or really any other time of the year, the number one excuse for not exercising is “I don’t have any time”. This is most likely because it hasn’t become priority, it’s not set aside in your schedule, or you’re not sure what to do to make it effective. Maybe right now winding down after work and watching your favorite show is a priority, and you make time for it. Exercise becomes a priority when you notice how good you feel inside and out, how it can alleviate stress, and how you have more energy throughout the day. If you have a few exercises down, you can burn some major calories and work muscles in 10 minutes with little space and no equipment. Here are a few tips:

  1. Schedule exercise in your calendar: Whether It’ going for a run, joining in a class, working with a trainer, or working out 10 minutes on your living room floor, write it down just as you would an appointment or another priority in your day.
  2. Mix up your routines: You don’t want to get bored with the same workout. Mix up your routines, intensity levels, types of exercise. You will also see more effective results this way.
  3. Don’t over think it, just do it: I know personally if I’m tired after work, go home and settle in, I’m not going to exercise. If you’re exercising at home, do it first thing in the morning or right when you walk in the door. If it’s a class or outdoors, have your workout clothes with you. Throw them on and go. If you think about not wanting to workout for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes you could have gotten your workout in!
  4. Have fun with it!: Exercising shouldn’t be looked at as a chore. It’s YOU time. Time to take care of your body, mind, health, and sanity. Whether it’s personal training, Pilates, yoga, dance, group exercise, or just you and your music. Find what works for you, and I guarantee, you will suddenly have time for it.

Create a 10 minute Full Body workout with no equipment that will get your heart pumping and work multi-muscles. You can do this by picking 4 to 6 different exercises and going through them back to back for one minute each. Repeat the circuit twice. Example: Pushups, Squats, Mountain Climbers, Burpees, and Crunches.

10 Minute Workout (No equipment):

1. Basic Squat

Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles. Retract your shoulders down away from your ears and extend your arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down. Begin by descending into a squat, making sure you can see your toes. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, pause for a second before pressing back up to the starting position.

2. Pushup (to regress, place your knees on the floor or do pushup in an incline position against a wall or countertop).

Support your body with the balls of your feet and with your hands, positioning the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, palms flat on the floor. Straighten your arms without locking your elbows. Lower your torso until your chest is just a fraction of an inch off the floor. Push yourself back to the starting position.

3. 180 degree Squat Jumps:

Start in squat position. Jump into the air landing back in your squat. Immediately jump rotating 90 degrees to the left, then back to center, then to the right. Repeat this explosive movement for 20 reps. (If you are having trouble landing in a squat position practice regular in place squat jumps, only lightly lifting your feet off the floor).

4. Plank hold

Come into plank position with your forearms resting on the floor directly under your shoulders. Keep your back flat like a tree trunk, engage your abdominal muscles and hold

5. Burpee

Begin in a squat position with hands on the floor in front of you. Kick or step your feet back to a pushup position, making sure your shoulders are stabilized over your wrists, back is flat, and abs are engaged. Immediately return your feet to the squat position. Leap up as high as possible from the squat position. Repeat.

5. Russian twist

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Hold arms in front of your chest with your palms facing each other as if you’re holding a ball or weight. Lean back so your torso is at a 45-degree angle from the floor. Twist to the left while tightening your belly button back to your spine pause, then reverse the movement and twist all the way back to the right, and pause. Return to the starting position.

What's in Season? Get the most out of your Fruits and Vegetables

First of all, why should you eat seasonal? In America, we are able to buy any fruit or vegetable we want just about any time of the year.  Let’s look at some reasons why buying foods in season can be beneficial. 1. Budget friendly – When you buy produce out of season from other places, that means longer shipping times, plus the cost for fuel to ship them among many other logistical costs. These costs add up and are passed onto you as the consumer. When you eat seasonally, that means things can be grown locally, and in their natural environment and climate. This means less money spent on what it would take to create an ideal environment for something out of season. Bottom line, in season means less cost for transit, less energy used, and a cheaper price tag for you. 2. More nutritious – As we all know, vegetables and fruit are nutritious. However, as soon as they are harvested, vitamins and minerals begin to breakdown. The vitamins in fruits and veggies are unstable and depleted just after a few days. 3. Tastier – Try it yourself and taste the difference. Strawberries in the middle of summer taste juicer and sweeter than ones you might find in January. Out of season produce spends days in transit, stuffed in crates in a ship or on a truck, getting bruised and discolored. By the time it gets to the market it lacks the vibrant color, texture, and taste it was meant to have. 4. Fun – Picking fruits and vegetables that are in season might mean trying new things. It’s fun to go to the market or farm stand and pick up something you don’t recognize, but it’s there because it’s in season and what the farmer is able to grow. You are also choosing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which means a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins. So grab something you’ve never tried, cook it up or eat it raw, and reap the benefits from the nutrients and delicious taste.

So what’s in season right now?  Here’s a rundown of some vegetables and fruits to enjoy. Remember, the nutritional benefits of these whole ingredients are significantly greater than any prepackaged/prepared/processed foods you will find in the isles of your grocery store.

Vegetables

  1. Tomatoes – high in vitamin C and A. Slice them up and mix them with cucumbers in this salad for a fast, easy, refreshing summer side dish
  2. Cucumbers - use these in a salad with tomatoes (see above) or slice up and use this homemade mayonnaise recipe for a creamy dip
  3. Summer Squash and Zucchini – great sources of vitamin A and C, both of which are essential for healthy, glowing skin. Slice them up and sauté them in some coconut oil with salt and pepper, or replace that pasta with zucchini noodles and a homemade tomato sauce
  4. Peppers - packed with vitamin C, which is great for skin. Slice them thin and sauté with peppers and ground meat for a fast, easy stir fry.
  5. Carrots - buying these whole and peeling them tastes much better than the baby ones that come in a bag. Shred them and put them on a salad or get creative and make these pancakes

Fruit

  1. Berries – pair great with nuts, mixed in with some full fat Greek yogurt, or a great base for this grain-free cobbler
  2. Figs – rinse these off, pat them dry, and cut off the stem. Drizzle a little bit of sweet balsamic over top, or dip them in a little bit of almond butter for a treat
  3. Peaches – if you can smell it that means it’s ripe.  They are great on top of a salad of arugula with walnuts and balsamic, mixed into a smoothie with almond milk, or as a base for the blueberry cobbler recipe (see above).
  4. Mangos – juicy, aromatic, and filled with vitamin C. Try these popsicles for a yummy summer treat.
  5. Apples – these seem to be available all year around, but they are actually summer-fall produce’s finest. They are great as a snack with almond butter, or sliced on a salad with walnuts and balsamic vinegar.

Herbs: It's worth mentioning these because they are a great compliment to dishes, while still having anti-oxidant components that help your mind and body

  1. Basil - put a few leaves in your smoothie for an added kick, or pair with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a Caprese salad
  2. Cilantro - Toss this with lime and shrimp for a classic, delicious combination. Serve the shrimp over some greens with a soup and you have a super fast dinner!