Fitness Friday: Burn More Calories Trail Running

Need some new ways to blast calories? Since it’s warmer outside, head to the trails. Try some of these three fun, fast-paced trail routines designed by Vindum and Nikki Kimball, three-time winner of the prestigious Western States 100-mile endurance race. I love all of three trail running suggestions.

1. Circuit Play
Why: Mixing walking, running, sprinting, and strength work transforms a hike into a full-body workout.

How: As you move along the trail, vary your pace: Go easy for two minutes, pick it up a bit for five, then sprint or speed-walk hard for 15 to 60 seconds. Recover at a slow pace until your breathing returns to normal. Then launch into a strength move (pushups and triceps dips on a log, calf raises on a rock, squats with one foot propped up on a rock) for 60 to 90 seconds. That’s one cycle. Do four to six cycles, switching up the strength moves and your speeds throughout your workout.

2. Cardio Hill Blast
Why: Running and hiking uphill increases your leg strength and improves your cardiovascular fitness while also torching fat—win, win, win! For each degree of incline, count on at least a 10 percent increase in calories burned, according to New York City nutrition and metabolism expert Jana Klauer, M.D., author of The Park Avenue Nutritionist’s Plan: The No-Fail Prescription for Energy, Vitality & Weight Loss. So running up a 5 percent grade (a gentle hill) will burn 50 percent more calories than running on a totally flat surface for the same amount of time.

How: Run up gradual hills at a strong but comfortable pace (you’re breathing hard, but you can still say a few words). Keep your chest lifted and your shoulders relaxed and down. On steep grades, switch to a quick walk, using medium to long strides. If the route you take has only one or two hills, do repeats: Run or walk the hill, jog back down, then take the climb again. Aim for four to eight total hill climbs.

3. Power Up, Race Down
Why: When you do squats, lunges, and other strength moves uphill, and then run downhill, you’ll get a balanced lower-body workout. The uphill exercises target the glutes, calves, and inner and outer thighs, while downhill running works your quads. Bonus: Doing strength moves on an incline requires more energy, so you’ll burn more calories, and managing uneven ground as you descend improves balance and coordination.

How: When you get to a hill, work in a few strength moves. Then run down the other side (or the same side). If the climb is long enough, perform 20 reps of each exercise on the way up.

Read more of this story at Women’s Health

Blueberry Pancakes for Mother’s Day

What a week… I can’t believe that a week ago I buried my mom, and tomorrow it’s Mother’s day. It’s been such a rough week, but I have so many of you to thank for the sweet messages, notes, emails, calls, flowers, comments, lunches, etc. I am trying to pick myself up every day and move forward, and this blog is one great way to push me to do that. I thought I would share a super simple recipe for Blueberry Pancakes for Mother’s Day or any day since my mom always loved Mother’s Day brunches and who doesn’t love pancakes and blueberries?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the beautiful, wonderful, giving moms out there. For those of you who still have a mom, give her a big hug today! All the best, Alison

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

Two Ingredient Raspberry Popsicles

When I first saw “Sparkling Ice”at a friends house, my 3 kids begged me to buy it. After taking a look at the ingredients, I thought, “Why not give it a shot.” They loved all of the flavors, but it is also great to use in cocktails and even popsicle recipes. The Black Raspberry flavor was one of their favorites, and I love how easy it is to make Two Ingredient Raspberry Popsicles. Sparkling ICE is also a great alternative sport drink beverage for people of all ages. Sparkling ICE combines fresh spring water, natural fruit juices and vitamins and antioxidants to create tasty, lightly-carbonated refreshments in assorted thirst-quenching flavors. It’s a great alternative to soft drinks. It is caffeine-free, Kosher U and free of sodium and carbohydrates. For more information, see their Facebook page or website.

Sparkling ICE retails for $1.29, or $12-$15 for a 12 pack. Flavors include Coconut Pineapple, Lemon Lime, Kiwi Strawberry, Lemonade, Orange Mango, Pomegranate Berry, Pink Grapefruit, and Black Raspberry. Sparking ICE is available at retailers nationwide, including Kroger, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Publix, Winn Dixie, Amazon and more.

Quinoa Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

My oldest son, Alec, has been begging me to make homemade fried rice for a while. I decided to twist the basic recipe and make it with quinoa instead of rice. This Quinoa Chicken Fried Rice recipe is a hit for something new and different for your weeknight table, especially if you’re looking for something gluten-free, healthy and hearty. Feel free to substitute rice for the quinoa if you wish, but I love that quinoa is a gluten-free, nutty grain that is a complete protein which is high in fiber, low in calories and is high in iron, magnesium and calcium.

Travel Tuesday: Peninsula Spa in Chicago & Mother’s Day

If you’re traveling to Chicago this spring, or live there, take note of the The Peninsula Spa in the Peninsula Chicago. This spa, located on the top two floors in the Peninsula Chicago, offers a holistic approach to mind, body and spirit wellness. The Peninsula Spa introduces monthly specials this spring and summer to celebrate and rejuvenate by combining healthy cuisine, state of the art fitness techniques and all-natural beauty treatments in packages for men and women. Check out their Facebook Page.

This urban retreat offers a variety of signature treatments that uniquely layer European and Asian philosophies using all-natural products, a half-Olympic-length swimming pool surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows with city views, and a state-of-the-art fitness center with expertly trained personal trainers and advanced group fitness classes.  ESPA’s newest product line, which is proudly used at The Spa, offers updated formulas that average over 99% all-natural ingredients to ensure each product is as efficacious, luxurious and natural as possible.

Mother’s Day Promotion

Book a massage, facial or body treatment and receive:

50% off an additional treatment for your Mother or loved one

Available Mondays through Thursdays

Price: Treatments begin at US$ 160

Valid: May 1 through 31, 2012

Mother’s Day Gift Certificate Promotion

Purchase a Mankind Massage or Tension Relief Massage and receive:

A complimentary one-week membership to The Spa

A one-hour personal training session

Price: US$ 245 (valued at US$ 405)

Valid: May 1 through 31, 2012

No-Bake Date Nut Energy Bars

I am always looking for new, healthy snack ideas for the kids, and if I can come up with a no-bake recipe idea, then even better. My two boys love dried dates, so I thought this combination of dates, nuts and flaxseed would make a great healthy snack, dessert or breakfast idea. You’ll love these too. No-Bake Date Energy Bars are not only “no-bake”, they are also gluten-free and perfect for all of my friends following the Paleo Diet. They also make a great pre or post workout snack so enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from “The Dramatic Pancake”.

10 Foods That Boost Your Metabolism

I am on Magic 96.5 FM Radio this morning in Birmingham doing my monthly radio show on “Foods that Boost Your Metabolism”. Tune in at 6:50 a.m and 8:50 a.m CST today. Here are 10 Foods that can help boost your metabolism so add them to you diet. You can find the recipe above for Oatmeal with Egg whites here.

1. Water-Water speeds up weight loss and increases the metabolism. It also flushes toxins and sodium from the body. Cold water is said to be even better as your body has to work to heat the cold water until the temperature reaches the rest of the water in your body. This process increases the metabolism even more.

2. Green Tea: The caffeine in green tea speeds up metabolism and also has a chemical, EGCG (antioxidant), that stimulates the nervous system and helps prevent cancer. Extracts from Green tea boost metabolism, aid in weight loss, and also have anti-cancer properties.

3. Grapefruit-Water rich fruits, such as grapefruit, dilute calories. Grapefruit also reduces insulin, which can help your body process food more quickly and efficiently. Grapefruit is also a good source of Vitamin C, reducing insulin levels and boosting metabolism.

4. Broccoli-Broccoli is high in vitamin C and calcium. These two work together to help burn calories faster and more effectively. Calcium also activates your metabolism, and vitamin C helps absorb more calcium. Broccoli is also great for immunity. It  has vitamin A, folate and fiber.

5. Low-fat Yogurt or Greek Yogurt-Yogurt is full of calcium and protein which gives you energy and helps build lean muscle mass. Yogurt also helps regulate your digestive track

6. Hot peppers-Eating hot peppers can boost metabolism and curb cravings. The chemical capsaicin (found in jalapeno and cayenne pepper) assists in speeding up metabolism. Other spices, cinnamon and curry powder, are also metabolism boosters.

7. Salmon-Salmon is a lean protein and high in omega-3 fatty acids which help speed up your metabolism.

8. Lean proteins-Protein found in chicken, turkey and lean meats takes energy to break down so your body burns calories in the digestive process. 

9. Almonds-Although almonds are high in calories, they are jam packed with essential fatty acids, which are great metabolism boosters.

10 Oatmeal-Oatmeal is rich in fat-soluble fiber which requires a lot of calories to break down. It also reduces cholesterol levels and risks of heart disease.

Fitness Friday: The Power of Twist or Rotational Moves

I do a lot of twisting when I do abdominal workouts and strength training, but I don’t think I truly understood the power of “twisting exercises” and why rotational exercises are so valuable until now. “Twisting or throwing exercises engage more muscles, improve your balance, and build functional, real-world strength,” says Tony Gentilcore, a strength coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. “Plus, the rotation comes from the core, so you’ll gain power and carve flat abs while you’re at it.” That’s a pretty awesome bonus. Check out these moves below and do them as a circuit, going from one to the next without taking a break. Then rest 60 seconds. Do the circuit four times. These, and a few more, can be found and are courtesy of Women’s Health Magazine. Photo credit by Jeff Lipsky.

Move 1

Medicine-Ball Reverse Lunge and Shot Put

Stand 10 feet from a wall, holding a medicine ball at your chest. Step your right leg back and lower into a lunge, rotating your torso and bringing the ball to your right shoulder. Throw the ball at the wall, then push yourself back to start, catching the ball on the rebound. That’s one rep. Do five, then switch sides.

Move 2

Barbell Twist

lace a barbell on the floor in the corner of a room, and hold one end with both hands at eye level, feet hip-width apart. Rotate your hips, torso, and feet to the right and bend your knees to lower the bar, without bending your arms. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do five on each side.

Move 3

Rotational Cable Row

Adjust the cable station to its lowest setting and stand to the right of it (or use a resistance band), handle in your right hand, feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Pivot to the left, bending both knees and extending your right arm toward the pulley. Pull the handle across to your right hip as you rotate into a standing position. That’s one rep. Do 10, then switch sides.

Peanut Butter Cup Blonde Brownie Recipe

When I saw this recipe from a past issue of Cooking Light magazine for Peanut Butter Cup Brownies, I knew that I had to make them. I have a weakness for anything peanut butter, but the fact that they are only 153 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of fat, I let this one slide. These brownies are so easy to make and make for parties (Super Bowl), Valentines and a great afternoon snack for the kids or dessert, of course. I used the new Reese’s cup minis, which worked perfectly. Enjoy!