Big Announcement: The FoodLife Project

I have been hinting for a few months that I have been working on a very big, exciting new project at Ingredients, Inc. I am ecstatic to announce my new healthy living consulting business, The FoodLife Project: The art of Eating and Living Well for Life. This venture will be done in conjunction with my 11 year old company, Ingredients, Inc, and has come about by so many requests from friends, colleagues, physicians and readers asking me to consult with them individually and in small groups on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

I am delighted to be partnering with a large OBGYN Group in Birmingham, Alabama to offer my services, but The FoodLife Project is open to anyone interested in the art to eating and living well for life. My first Small Group Series will start Tuesday, March 27th, and I’m offering a day and night group to fit everyone’s schedules. There will be 4 sessions for 4 weeks. See more information here. One lucky person who signs up for each group series will win a $100 Lululemon Gift Card. I will be giving away a few other prizes to others attending the group as well. Spaces are limited and going fast, so act as soon as possible. Click FoodLife Project for more information.

Fitness Friday: Bob Harper’s Top 5 Fitness Tips

Bob Harper is America’s #1 TV weight-loss authority and fitness expert from NBC’s The Biggest Loser. You can also find him here on twitter, and he is the creator of Smart Success. Here are his top five weight-loss and fitness tips:

1. Protein is important for building muscle and repair. It is essential to get at least half of your body weight of protein in grams. For example if you way 180 pounds, you must get 90 grams of protein.

2. When traveling, stick to your workout regiment; sneak out to your hotel gym, and get a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio a day. Pack a jump rope-it doesn’t take up much space. Grab a hotel bath towel, and create a short circuit, or just run around the surrounding area of your hotel to keep your body trim and in its normal fitness routine

3. Your warm up sets the mood for your entire workout. Choose something that gives you a dynamic and strong start. An example is standing kicks. They are excellent for getting the blood pumping.

4. When building better abs (or any muscle), work them out 2 to 3 times a week. Not everyday.

5. For an overall body workout, you can keep it simple and stick to push ups. You will see great results.

Photo via Pinterest

Spinning: Cycling Rain or Shine

I took my first “spin” (or cycling) class a few years ago, and I loved it. I quickly learned that the teacher and the music can make or break the class, but you can do it at your own level so it’s a great exercise for anyone. It’s also a great cross-training exercise as well. I am so excited to share this interview on spinning-how to’s with one of my favorite instructors, Josh Beck. Josh is the true definition of athlete inspiration. Since getting involved in endurance sports in 1999, he has completed 8 ironmans, 22 marathons and currently holds the East-West state record for cycling across Alabama. When it comes to cycling, he knows the drill. Check out our interview below:

1. Why did you start teaching spin classes?  I had always utilized spin classes to stay in cycling shape throughout the winter.  So, I figured if I taught the class, I could share a couple of interval, high intensity workouts with others.

2. Why do you recommend trying a spin class? What are the benefits?  Cycling in general is just great cardiovascular work without too much wear and tear on your joints. Other than swimming, it’s hard to find a better low-impact cardio workout.

3. Why do you think indoor cycling has become so popular?  People come for so many different reasons.  The main factor is:  it’s more fun to exercise with a group (camaraderie factor).

4. Why should people incorporate spinning in their cross-training?  The main reason is injury prevention.  Running, in particular, 4 to 6 days per week can really take a toll on your joints and ligaments. No matter what your main sport, cycling is a good way to mix it up from a physiological and mental standpoint.  If you put forth 100% effort on the intervals during a spinning class, you can’t help but gain some cardio fitness (increased ability to process oxygen).  This will transfer over to your other sports.

5. How many calories can you burn in an hour spin class?  It really depends on the instructor.  My classes have high intensity intervals sprinkled throughout the hour.  If a rider does the workout like I have it laid out, a male will burn around 1,000 and female around 800 calories.

6. How important is the music to the class?  Very important.  Climbing songs need a steady, consistent beat.  Fast, interval songs need a fast beat and to be high energy.  The music needs to match the segment of the workout you are doing.  If the music is bad, well, so is the class.

7. Do you have any tips for beginners?  Your first move should be to have the instructor help you set up the bike so that it fits properly.  It is like any other type of exercise; it takes a few times to build up your conditioning to where you can really push yourself for the entire hour.  Just do the best you can during the first several classes.  Another factor is saddle comfort.  If you are going to spend time on a bike seat, you need to get some cycling shorts that have a chamois built in.  Lastly, you should try each of the instructors’ classes at least once to find the class that fits you the best.

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

What are Your Diet Pitfalls?

If you are trying to lose weight, whether it be ten pounds or one hundred pounds, it is not uncommon to backslide into unhealthy eating and exercise habits. In March 2011, CNN identified “The Moments That Make us Fat” from dinner at a buffet restaurant to resisting dessert at a swanky cocktail party. According to James Hill, executive of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, it can be dangerous to rely solely on willpower to sustain your diet in challenging situations. “Willpower is not inexhaustible, ” Hill told CNN.com. You only have a certain amount of it, and it’s gone.” Instead of relying on willpower, Hill suggests planning ahead. Identify the situations that tempt you to veer away from your healthy habits and plan strategies to keep yourself on track.

Diet Pitfall: Vacation

When you’re on vacation, sipping cocktails by the pool and indulging in new regional cuisine might be appealing but it will quickly result in weight gain if you aren’t careful. When on vacation, enjoy local food and beverages in moderation. Try to get plenty of exercise on vacation to offset indulgences.

Diet Pitfall: After a break-up

Instead of seeking comfort in your favorite flavor of ice cream or a deep-dish pizza, opt for exercise. The endorphins released during a sweat session will improve your mood. If you’re ready to get back out there and mingle, choose a group activity, like training for a 5K, which will help you socialize and meet new people.

Diet Pitfall: A party with fabulous food

Parties can be an easy place to fall off the diet wagon, especially when there is a spread of delicious food and drink. Before you head to your next affair, eat a small, healthy snack and limit alcohol consumption to avoid overindulging.

Diet Pitfall: Watching TV

When you settle in to watch a night of prime time TV, it can be tempting to pair your favorite shows with an unhealthy snack. Instead of eating junk food when you aren’t even hungry, beat mindless eating by becoming more aware of your own hunger cues. If you need to eat a snack, opt for fresh fruit, veggies or low-fat yogurt.

Diet Pitfall: A Buffet

Whether you’re dining out or enjoying a meal in someone’s home, buffets offer endless temptation.  Limit yourself to one plate of food and fill half of it with fruits and vegetables. If a second helping tempts you, drink a glass of water and wait twenty minutes before eating again to decide if you’re actually hungry. The cute diet journal (above) can be found at Cafe Press.  Thanks to Diets in Review and author, Maris Callahan, for sharing this post.

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

Top 10 Health Benefits of Cherries: A True Superfruit

Cherries are a nutritional powerhouse fruit with so many incredible health benefits. One cup of raw cherries has 87 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Enjoy them now while they are at their peak because their season is way too short.  Read on for some of the great health benefits of eating cherries.

 

Ten Great Health Benefits of Eating Cherries

1. Cherries, known as a “super-fruit”, are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins which aid in the reduction of heart disease and cancer.

2. Cherries are one of the few food sources that contain melatonin, an antioxidant that helps regulate heart rhythms and the body’s sleep cycles.

3. Cherries are an excellent source of beta carotene (vitamin A). In fact they contain 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries and strawberries.

4. Cherries are rich in vitamins C, E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber.

5. Cherries are referred to as “brain food”, aiding in brain health and in the prevention of memory loss.

6. Because cherries contain anthocyanins, they can reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis and gout.

7. Eating cherries reduces the risk of diabetes.

8. Cherries are a good source of fiber which is important for digestive health.

9. Cherries are a great snack or dessert choice important for weight-maintenance.

10. Because of their powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, cherries are said to reduce pain and joint soreness for runners and athletes after workouts.

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.