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. It is definitely one of my passions and has helped me in so many ways physically and mentally.

For years, friends have asked me to come up with recipes for runners. Instead, here are my top 10 picks for best foods for runners.

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. Another great reason to enjoy quinoas is that it is 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.

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. Edamame are also 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. This can help prevent fatigue and increase energy levels.

How to Get Lean?

Everyone wants to have a lean body, but how do we achieve it? I did some research to figure out what I am personally doing right and wrong, and here’s what I’ve found. If you have any other tips to offer, please share in the comment area below.

1. Strength Training-Adding strength training to your exercise program will help build lean muscles. Whether you use free weights, machines, body weight, or resistance bands, you will increase lean muscle, reduce body fat and burn more calories efficiently.

2. Eat more protein-Eating protein will help create lean muscle. Create your meals around protein. Identify what protein you are going to have and work your meals around that.

3. Do more yoga-In yoga, muscles are strengthened and elongated so you will not bulk up as much, but get a tone and flexible body.

4. Front-load your carbohydrates-Reduce the number of carbohydrates you eat as the day goes on. Studies show that your body’s ability to metabolize carbs drops as the day goes on, so more can end up stored as fat. My trainer, Jeff Green, from Icon Performance, says “Cut out all carbs after 3 p.m.” Wow is that hard, but if you can do it, you will see a difference.

5. Limit sugar, white flour and alcohol-These foods are quickly digested which causes blood sugar to rise. This stimulates the release of the hormone insulin, which signals your body to stop burning fat (and storing it instead).

6. Eat more frequently and eat smart-Nutritionist and Fitness Expert Sandra Koulourides, of “Fuel Plus Fitness”, suggests eating lean protein, good fat, veggies and fruit. Also, eating more frequent smaller meals with help curb cravings and splurging

7. Drink more water-Staying hydrated with water will help your body stay energized as well as help you cut down on soft drinks and caffeine.

8. Cardio and Interval Training-Do at least 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 days a week and stay consistent. Mix this with interval training, and you’ll rev up your metabolism even more.

9. Get more sleep-Refueling and resting your body often helps muscles rebuild. Get at least 8 hours of sleep (and 9 if possible) and take a day or two off a week.

10. Read labels-Don’t just look at protein and carbs, but take note at fiber, sodium, fat and how much sugar is in what you’re eating.

Coconut Water: Superstar Fitness Drink?

Is Coconut Water the new “Power Superstar” fitness water? There has been a lot of buzz about the health benefits of coconut water with mixed research. E Online wrote an article last year entitled, “Why is Every Celebrity drinking Coconut water?” Coconut water is the juice found in young, green coconuts. Unlike coconut milk, which has fat, coconut water is about 95% water, low in carbohydrates and sugar and has no fat. It is a great way to hydrate without calories, and it contains electrolytes, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphate as well as small amounts of many essential amino acids. In the book “Coconut Water for Health and Healing“, Bruce Fife states that coconut water is a nutritional powerhouse with remarkable healing powers such as in dissolving kidney stones, enhancing the immune function, reducing of swelling in hands and feet, aiding in athletic performance and others. When comparing Gatorade with the Zico brand of coconut water, here are the differences, per ounce:

Gatorade: 6.25 calories, 1.75 grams sugar, 3.75 mg potassium, 13.75 mg sodium

Zico: 5.45 calories, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 mg potassium, 5.45 mg sodium

Coconut Water has been called “nature’s” sports drink, and my opinion is that if you’re looking for something new and different, give it a try. Also it’s a lower sugar option for kids who drink a lot of sports drinks. The downside is that it tends to be a little bit more expensive. Let me know if you have tried it and what your thoughts are.

10 Ways to Avoid Cravings

While I was out of town in Park City last week, I realized that I never craved or had one Diet Coke. I usually think of myself as pretty healthy, and a mostly “clean” eater, but over the past few months I have an off-and-on again relationship with Diet Coke. I am only talking about one a day, but still, I try to keep soft drinks at a distance. It really got me thinking about cravings. Now, you might think I’m being silly, but everyone does have their particular “vice” whether it’s candy, chocolate, chips, French fries or even soft drinks. To help you and me, I thought I would jot down some tips on how to avoid cravings:

1. Don’t give in– One of my friends once told me that the more sugar (or salt) you eat the more you crave it. This is so true. Once I start with Peanut M & M’s, I can’t stop, and I continue to crave them until they are completely out of my house. Don’t buy them, and you won’t be tempted as often.

2. Note your trigger foods– Take note by writing down what your “trigger” foods are. Then, stay away from them. Awareness will help you think twice when you crave your trigger foods. Keep your “trigger” foods at bay, and don’t bring them into your house or surroundings.

3. Stay in control– If you are surrounded by your trigger food at a party or at work, keep control.  For example, if it’s a doughnut, take a small bite or portion if you must, and push the plate away when you’re done.

4. Eat protein along with fat (healthy fats)– Eating snacks that contain protein along with fat will keep you satisfied longer. If you’re craving ice cream or sugary desserts, opt for Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, reduced-fat cottage cheese or fresh vegetables with hummus.

5. Bake something healthy– I love to bake homemade granola or mini muffins to have on hand. Homemade fresh baked goods are a wonderful substitute for junk food.

6. Stay on schedule– Try to eat 3 meals a day and two healthy snacks, so you don’t get overly hungry. Staying on a schedule will help curb cravings.

7.  Drink water and chew gum– A friend once told me this helped her stay away from eating while she was cooking. It helps when you have cravings too.

8. Make homemade smoothies– Use fresh fruit, fresh juice, Greek or low-fat yogurt to make fresh smoothies. These are a wonderful alternative to sugary desserts.

9. Drink green tea– Green tea is filled with so many healthy benefits. Substitute it for that afternoon soda, coffee or packaged snack (I need to do this more).

10. Don’t deprive yourself– Eat something healthy at the end of each meal or occasionally award yourself with a “splurge” meal. My friend, Sandra, brings dark chocolate to every lunch date we have. She eats it at the end of her meals so she satisfies her sweet tooth.

 

My Favorite Sport Water Bottles

I have to admit. I don’t have a sports water bottle. I have been looking for a new one, and I am always checking out what people are carrying around at the gym or in yoga. Here’s some really fun, cool ones that I am trying to decide between. Let me know if you have a favorite. I am in Park City this week, and yesterday I taught a Kid’s Cooking Class at the Park City Mountain Resort. I’ll tell you more about that when I get back in town. In the meantime, have a super weekend, Alison

Klean Kanteen made the first BPA free metal bottle. This “Klean Kanteen Reflect” water bottle is sleek and cool. It has no paint or plastic just sustainably harvested bamboo, food-grade silicone and stainless steel.

Lifefactory’s largest 22 ounce glass water bottle has a fun modern design with a wide mouth which makes adding ice cubes, fruit and tea bags easy. Shown here in light blue, these reusable beverage bottles are free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, polycarbonates, lead and latex. Check out all the other bright colors. (They also make baby bottles.)


Pie Day was earlier this week. If you are a lover like most people, this PI314 Reflected as Pie made by Sigg. It is BPA Free and has a lifetime warranty.

This 25 ounce sport bottle from Camelback, called “Podium Big Chill”, is BPA free and is said to keep water cold twice as long. It is also has a great seal eliminating any chance of spills and leaks.

Insulated Straw Bottle - 17 oz - Purple Glow

The 17-oz EcoVessel Insulated Straw Bottle shown in this great metallic purple is a great bottle for those constantly on the go. It will keep your beverages cold for hours.  The unique straw top makes drinking easier so you can drink from the bottle without unscrewing the cap.  And, the straw won’t open accidentally in your bag or car.

If you are a runner, how can you not love this Sigg Water bottle by Cafe Press? It’s made from a single piece of aluminum, so it’s lightweight and crack-resistant.

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.