10 Reasons to Start Strength Training

Several years ago, my older sister, Julie, told me I need to start doing strength training. She is eight years older than I and always has good advice. She stressed the importance of this type of workout for strength, osteoporosis, and of course, a great looking figure as you get older. So, I gave it a whirl. When I began, I told my trainer, “Please don’t make me bulky.” He (Jeff Green at Icon Performance) continues to laugh about it to this day. I am so thankful I listened to my sister, so I thought I would share 10 great reasons to start weight training (you will be so glad you did).

1. It really does make you look lean- I can honestly now see real definition in my legs and arms without the bulk.

2. It prevents injury-I am a runner, and I cycle a lot. Strength training keeps my muscles strong to help prevent injury. Before I started weight-training, I used to be constantly sore. Now, I feel great.

3. Increased metabolism-Strength training can boost metabolism up to 15 % more, and it increases your metabolic rate for hours after training.

4. Increased strength and balance-the stronger I have become, the more my muscles work together properly in balance. I can carry my groceries inside with ease, and I see a difference in performance in my other sports.

5. It increases flexibility-By working my muscles though a full range of motion, my flexibility has increased. This really helps ward off back pain that I used to have.

6. Increased posture-Since my muscles have become stronger, I see a difference when I’m sitting and standing.

7. Stress relief-Weight training can really take your mind off stress and problems of the day. If you work out in a group of people, the time really flies by.

8. Increased Energy Levels-I normally leave the gym energized. Strength training elevates your level of endorphins which make you feel great and boost your mood. It is also said to help ward off depression.

9. Burn more calories-Your body burns calories during and after strength training. More calories are used to make muscle than fat.

10. Help fight diseases-Strength training is great to help prevent and fight arthritis, post menopause and even diabetes.

 

“The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.” – Ken Doherty

Tennis Anyone? What Tennis and Love Have in Common

About seven years ago, I learned how to play tennis. My son was taking lessons, and when his friend didn’t come one afternoon, the tennis pro (Bob), asked me to give it a try. He pumped me up telling me that I seemed “like a natural”, and that started the next several years of my tennis addiction. I played almost every day, moved up from level to level, attended two state tournaments, and become a compete tennis fanatic. I loved so many things about playing tennis: meeting new people, making new friends, the competition, the challenge, and honestly, the clothes. I loved playing a team sport which I really never had done when I was young. Tennis gave me a certain confidence, and it helped me focus and exercise my memory. Two years ago, I gave it up for various reasons of family, work and burn-out. Friends and family often ask me, “Will you ever play again?” I hope and think so, but not to the level as before. Tennis is a great sport for so many reasons. I thought I would share why some of my closest friends love this great sport.

 

Love this quote: “Love is nothing in tennis, but in life it’s everything.” Author Unknown


Stephanie: “It’s therapeutic especially after becoming a first time mom. You get to exercise and have fun at the same time. I have made great friends through tennis.”

Nancy: “Tennis is a great weight bearing exercise that uses muscles I don’t use every day. It’s very social. It’s a great way to meet people, talk and exercise all at the same time. The clothes are so cute.”

Amy: “I love tennis for the exercise, camaraderie, competition. I can play as I age, and there’s always room to improve.”

Steven: “I enjoy the competition, strategy and friendships I have made.”

Vanessa: “I love to have a little competition in my life. It’s pure fun.”

Megan: “I LOVE tennis because it is exercise that doesn’t feel like it. It can be competitive or not.”

Jon: “Tennis is competitive and strategic. It helps you think on your feet. It releases aggression, and it helps with coordination.”

Heidi: “Tennis is a great life sport. I love it for the exercise and camaraderie.

Angie: “Tennis gives me a great sense of accomplishment when I play well. It is great exercise, and I have made great friendships through tennis.”

The shirts at the top and bottom can be found at Cafe Press. The middle shirt is from Love All

Is The Mediterranean Diet the Healthiest Diet?

The Mediterranean diet has been called the “healthiest” diet of all, and my brother, Craig, a physician, sites research to his patients quite often as the most highly recommended diet. As a Nutritionist, I have studied a lot about it too, but when I was in Italy last month, I became a true believer. I traveled for seven full days in Italy eating six and eight course meals for lunch and dinner served with wine. I also didn’t exercise the entire week (very unlike me). When I came home and realized I actually lost weight, I was stumped. I thought about what ingredients comprised those extravagant meals, and I realized how pure all the food was. This shot was taken on my trip touring the beautiful land of the Le Marche Region of Italy.

Some Key Components of the Mediterranean Diet Include:

1. Plenty of exercise

2. Eating primarily plant based foods

3. Replacing butter with olive and canola oils

4. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods

5. Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month. Eat more vegetables.

6. Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.

7. Drinking red wine in moderation.

8. Eat fruit for dessert

9. Eat small portions of high-quality foods.

10. Eat yogurt and cheese as your main dairy products.

11. This diet conveys the importance of enjoying meals with friends and family.

Top Foods on The Mediterranean Diet

-Fish and Seafood

-Olive oil or canola oil

-Fruits and Vegetables

-Nuts

-Beans

-Cereal

-Red wine

Rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, fish oil and even red wine, this diet is lower in saturated fat and has been said to reduce risks of cancers, heart disease and more.

Other Great Attributes about a Mediterranean diet:

1) A diet rich in fruits, grains, nuts, can reduce risk of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and alzheimers.

2) This diet is high in fiber which is great for decreased risk of diabetes and stomach issues.

3) This diet is filled with a good supply of mono-unsaturated fats found in fish, avocados, olive and canola oil which can help fight disease from the cellular level.

4) This is a diet people can stick to and actually enjoy.

Great Family Healthy Site & Sports Authority $100 Giveaway: Together Counts

Being a full-time working mom with 3 kids isn’t always easy. I am very fortunate that my company, daily work and passion revolves around food, health and lifestyle. I am so excited to be a part of the Together Counts campaign asking families across the country to take a pledge to get healthy and active. Together Counts believes that the most powerful way of gaining a healthy lifestyle is by working together as a family. Eating meals together as well as being physically active together can only make families healthier and happier.

 

The Together Counts program empowers families and helps them balance and learn lifelong healthy habits. Just go on the website and take a pledge of how many meals you will eat together as a family and the amount of physical exercise you will do as a family. Teamwork is the theme. This site really helps keep you on track.

 

As part of this campaign, I would like to offer $100 gift card to Sports Authority to one lucky winner.  This giveaway is sponsored by Together Counts. Just take the pledge on Together Counts and leave a comment of your favorite way to exercise as a family or your favorite healthy family dinner. Winner will be drawn on Friday, May 27th.

Note: I was compensated for my participation in the Together Counts campaign. The giveaway was sponsored by Together Counts. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

How to Choose a Yoga Mat

I am so lucky to have Jennifer Berman, Owner of Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga, as a friend. She is always there to answer all of my yoga questions. I was in desperate need for a yoga mat, and she was a wealth of knowledge. I thought I would share my interview with her recently. If you’re considering a new yoga mat or curious about the differences, read on. For more information on Jennifer, see  Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga.

1. Why is a yoga mat important?

A good  yoga mat will provide you with cushioning and traction for your yoga practice.

2. What should you look for in a yoga mat?

Just like most things, the type of mat people prefer is a personal preference. I have tried just about every type of mat, and my preference is a basic, no frills mat. The basic mats are lightweight, easy to carry and provide enough cushion for most people. The more expensive mats, like “Manduka“, are thicker, have extra cushioning and provide more of a textured non-slip surface. If you have knee issues, you might choose a thicker mat. Also, when you choose a mat, you might select an eco-friendly mat that is free from PVC or latex. If you do Bikram or Hot Vinyasa Flow, then a Yogitoes Skidless towel is helpful for slipping and to absorb sweat.

3. What is your favorite brand?

I like Gaim and Hugger Mugger.

4. How do you clean yoga mats?

The thinner mats can be put in the washing machine on gentle cycle with a mild detergent. In fact, when I first get my mat, I put it in the wash to get rid of slickness and any rubbery odor. You can also make a simple water/vinegar spray that is a natural antibacterial spray using 1 part warm water and 3 parts white vinegar. Spray the mat, wipe it down with a sponge or towel, and hang your mat outside to dry.

5. How should you store a yoga mat? hung up? rolled? why?

If your mat is dry, then it’s fine rolled up. However if you sweat a lot, make sure you wipe it down each time you practice yoga and then hang it to dry.

6. What is your favorite thing about teaching corporate yoga?

I love bringing health and wellness to people that normally would not have time to get to a yoga class. It is so rewarding to watch my students transform their overall well-being.

7. If you could purchase any yoga mat, which would it be?

I like the Gaim Eco Reversible Yoga Mat (pictured below). It’s not too thick, it’s versatile and it’s made from nontoxic TPE, which contains no PVC or latex.

From Alison: The Breathe mat (pictured above) is my new favorite a mat and towel all-in-one which is so easy to wash.

Best Foods for Runners

I have been an avid runner since I was 16. I love it, and it’s definitely one of my passions. For years, friends have asked me to come up with recipes for runners. Instead, I thought I would research what are the best foods and write about it. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Wild Salmon-Wild salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids which boost heart health and nerve system functioning. Some doctors even say omega-3’s can help with post-run achy joints.

2. Almonds-High in antioxidants, protein and vitamin E, almonds are a wise choice for a runner’s snack helping to prevent achy muscles.

3. Quinoa-This complex carbohydrate (pronounced Keen-wah) is a great energy source filled with fiber, B vitamin, zinc and magnesium which are so helpful to runners. One-fourth cup of dry of quinoa has 172 calories, 6 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber, and it’s also gluten-free.

4. Kale-This member of the cabbage family has high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber. It is one of the most antioxidant filled vegetables.

5. Bananas-This great pre-workout or post-workout food is a great source of carbohydrates and potassium. That is why you will always find bananas offered at the end of races.

6. Eggs-Eating one egg offers a great source of vitamin K and protein which aid in promoting healthy bones and muscles. I like to purchase the organic omega-3 enhanced eggs.

7. Blueberries-Filled with vitamin C and potassium, these can help the body repair itself after long, hard runs.

8. Edamame-This great snack is filled with protein, fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin C. It’s a great snack option loaded with health benefits.

9. Yogurt-Low-fat yogurt has a good source of carbohydrates and protein, and Greek yogurt has less carbs and even more protein. Both are great sources of calcium which is important for runners to help prevent stress fractures and osteoporosis.

10. Oranges-High in vitamin C, oranges are great for healing and helping absorb iron in the body which can help prevent fatigue and increase energy levels.

10 Ways to Keep Up Your Workout Routine

People always ask me, “How do you keep up with your workout routine?” It got me thinking…How do I? Here’s some of my favorite pointers.

1. Get up early-If you do it first thing in the morning, you will get it done. I do most of my workouts early during the week, and I always feel great afterwards. My friend, Caroline, once said, “If I get nothing else accomplished all day, at least I know I got my run in.”

2. Find a friend-I never want to let my friends down. Do you? Whether it’s a running partner or weight training partner, if you hold each other accountable, you’ll stick to it.

3. Pay it Forward-If you pay for it in advance, you will be more likely to keep it up. Invest in a trainer, join a gym or yoga studio or buy a DVD. When you put money down, you will want to make the most of it.

4. Log it. Whether you keep a fitness log, use an app or tweet it, keep a journal of your workouts on a daily basis. If you write it down, you’re more likely to keep it going when you have a visual to look back on. My favorite log apps are RunKeeper Pro and Livestrong Calorie Tracker

5. Get New Gear-Buy a new pair of running shoes, cycling shoes, shorts, workout pants, sports watch or anything relating to your sport. Dressing for success (even in sports) can only boost your workouts with confidence and make you feel good at the same time.

6. Treat Yourself-Start by setting goals. Then, when you achieve them, buy something new for yourself, treat yourself to a massage or spa appointment, or have a great splurge dinner or dessert.

7. New Tunes-Getting new music always keeps workouts fresh, new and interesting (I need to do a better job of this).

8. Eat & Drink Healthy-When you eat healthy on a regular basis (and drink a lot of water), you will want to keep your workouts up. Studies have shown that people who regularly exercise eat healthier.

9. Read-Purchase fitness magazines, health magazines or read fitness blogs for new ideas, trends, etc.

10. Events-Sign up for an event such as a race, charity cycle class, yoga seminar etc. This will keep things interesting and give you a goal to work toward.

Yoga Top by Prana

Cute T Shirt by Nike

Watch by Soleus from Road Runner Sports

Top Fitness Trends of 2011

I’m so excited to introduce a new addition to my site called “Lifestyle”. In this section, I will be writing about fitness, healthy living, health, nutrition and more. I am so excited about this opportunity as I will be taking my passion for a healthy lifestyle to a new level. This week my “Lifestyle” post is about fitness trends. I have been researching and talking to many fitness professionals to determine what I think are going to be the Top 10 Fitness Trends of 2011. Please let me know if you have some ideas of your own.


1. Yoga-Different styles of yoga are becoming mainstream, and more people are catching on to the physical and mental benefits of yoga. I personally love “Bikram” (hot yoga). See information on corporate yoga (below).

2. Strength Training-More and more data explains the importance of strength training. There’s a strong trend of sports specific training for kids, teens and adults. Group training is also even becoming more popular because of the reductions of personal training costs.

3. Core Workouts-Workouts focusing on the core are trending with ball workouts, plank workouts, water core workouts and horizontal workouts.

4. Spin Cycling classes-Indoor cycling classes are really taking off. You can ride at your own level, get a great workout and sweat, and do it even if it’s dark or rough weather. Warning, it really revs up the appetite.

5. Bootcamp Workouts-Personal trainers, as well as, gyms are having more group style mix-it-up workout classes that are tough challenges to the body.

6. Interval Training-High interval training classes (HIT) are becoming very popular this year as well as interval training in all sports such as running, cycling and swimming. You can burn a lot of fat in a short amount of time with this type of workout.

8. Yoga Spinning-This combines yoga and spinning in one workout. I’ve haven’t tried this, but I hear the two go together like a “yin and yang” combining stretching and strengthening all in one. It sounds fun to cycle to new age music.

9. Piloxing-This new celebrity craze combines the power, speed and agility of boxing with the sculpting of pilates. I can’t wait to try this.

10. Body Weight Workouts-Workouts using your body weight are becoming hot. My friend, Sandra, Owner of “Fuel Plus Fitness”, specializes and is the founder of “Horizontal Conditioning”. This is a challenging workout that creates a lean sculpted body. She has DVD’s of her workouts as well as ball videos.

Note: The photo above was taken by Joseph DeSciose of my friend, Jennifer Berman, Owner of Jennifer Berman Corporate Yoga. Jennifer travels around with her mat in tow to business offices such as law firms and corporations. She brings a yoga mind and strong workout to the corporate world.