Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pay Attention to You

When is the last time someone asked you how you were feeling? More important, when is the last time you asked yourself that question?

As you work on shaping up and becoming a healthier person, keep in mind that there is more to this effort than just changing your appearance. Just as you can gauge your weight loss by stepping on a scale regularly, you can, and should, measure your progress another way — by taking stock of how you feel. Is your energy level increasing? Are you getting enough sleep? These are all important signs of good health — and by paying attention to them, you'll be doing yourself a big favor!

Remember that a strong component of a healthier lifestyle is feeling good, not just looking good. Be alert to changes in your energy level, your mood, your interactions with others, how quickly you fall asleep at night, and how rested you feel in the morning. Record your observations in your Journal, and be honest with yourself about your high and low moments. It's exciting to review your Journal later and realize how far you've come — not to mention how great you feel!

All these signs are just as important as your size, if not more. Be proud of yourself for how far you've come!

Help Yourself by Not Helping Yourself!

Time to reminisce about being a kid! I want you to think about dinnertime in your home when you were growing up. Did your mom or dad make you force down all of your dinner before they let you have dessert or leave the table? If so, you're probably a member of the "clean plate club"! That is, your childhood mealtime experiences trained you to be most satisfied after dinner — and other meals too — when you clean your plate and don't leave anything over. Does that sound about right to you?

If it does, this could be what is standing in the way of successful weight loss for you. You're using a visual cue — an empty plate — to decide when you should stop eating, rather than relying on the internal cue of your tummy and how full it is. But don't feel bad! Many of us do this. And now researchers have figured out a way around it. Here's the science: Serve yourself less! Researchers have figured out that you can eat up to 20 percent less and feel just as satisfied. So when you're serving yourself dinner — or any meal — put about 20 percent less on your plate than you think you'll eat. Put away the rest of the food and only then sit down to eat. Most likely, when you clean up that plate, you won't be hungry for any more food.

Here's another trick: When you take a smaller portion of the main course, load the rest of your plate with lots of vegetables. Your eyes still see a full plate, even though there will be fewer calories on it, so you will still feel satisfied. Also, try switching to a smaller dinner plate. This easy change will save you calories and fat grams every day — which add up to pounds lost!

Let's put this trick-your-eyes plan into effect in the coming week. Think you can do it for at least five dinners? I know you can. Give it a shot and see how you feel!
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Be your own best friend and stand up for yourself!

Q: What can I do about my varicose veins?

A: The problem with varicose veins, which many women have, is that they're often progressive (that is, they get worse over time), and they can't be prevented.

But don't lose hope! There are things you can do to minimize their effects. Here are a few ideas: Try not to stand in one place for longer than 15 minutes, avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time, don't wear socks or stockings that leave marks on your legs, and wear support hose with graduated compression (tightest at the ankle) — especially if varicose veins run in your family or if you stand a lot at work.

And of course, exercise! Walking and biking are especially good because they help develop the calf muscles and boost circulation in the legs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What's the difference between those who can and those who can't? Confidence!

If you can walk or bike there, leave your car at home! Challenge yourself to find new ways to get from Point A to Point B!


Those stubborn cravings we all get can be more than just annoying. They can even derail your hard work and effort! You can get past them, though, without bingeing or racing off track. Here's how!

If you feel hunger coming on, you shouldn't automatically reach for food. Before you eat, take a minute to think about what you're feeling. Ask yourself if you're really hungry. If you haven't eaten in a while and your energy is low, maybe your body is telling you to eat! If that's the case, grab a healthy snack and you'll feel better in no time.

But if you've just eaten, you might be having a craving. One of the best ways to beat cravings is to distract yourself. Take a walk, phone a friend, or get up from your desk and move. Sometimes just changing your surroundings can change the way you feel!

Thirst can also feel like hunger! Pour yourself a refreshing glass of water and then see how you feel. Here's another simple trick: If you're having a craving, pop a piece of gum in your mouth. Sometimes the act of chewing is enough to get your mind off that pesky craving. You can do it!

Beauty: Remember the Big Picture

There are plenty of women out there who spend loads of money to improve "flaws" that are so tiny — practically invisible — that you'd need a magnifying glass to see what they're talking about.
What I find beautiful is a person who takes care of herself by eating well and exercising regularly. It's not about crow's-feet or a few extra pounds. You can't bottle and apply the glow of good health or the look of confidencethat a woman who feels good about herself radiates. That's something you can't buy — it comes from within, and you've got to develop it yourself!

In this life, you can't afford to lose sight of the big picture when it comes to your inner and outer beauty. Are you doing all you can to take care of your health? Are you proud of your character and your relationships with your family, friends, and others? Focus more on being a good person and worry less about those superficial things, and soon your true beauty will reflect back at you in the mirror.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Exercise Your Legs Like a Dancer

While we weren't all born with the legs of a prima ballerina, we can definitely get our leg muscles looking leaner with a simple exercise — the plié!
Pliés are great because you can do them anywhere — the only thing you might need is the back of a chair, to hold on to for balance. In addition to working wonders for your thighs, butt, and calves, pliés help improve your posture and alignment. There's a reason dancers do them so much — they're a miracle exercise! To get an even more effective workout, I encourage you to hold small dumbbells while you plié. This will work your arms and will increase the resistance of your body as you bend and lift.

To start, begin in ballet's second position, with your feet wider than hip width apart and your toes turned out. Pull your abs in toward your spine. If you choose to use weights, hold them in front of your thighs or at your hips. Now, inhale as you bend your knees and lower yourself (plié), bringing your knees out to the sides. Exhale as you press through your heels and inner thighs to rise. Repeat, and hold the down position of your last repetition for as long as you can, trying to open your knees outward as you do so.

Go on, achieve the legs you've always wanted. They're only a plié away!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Slim Down with Oatmeal

Blueberry Nut Oatmeal:
Half cup dry Quaker Old Fashioned Quick 1-Minute Oats (150) (mixed with water to create consistency of your choice) mixed with 1 cup Cascadian Farm organic frozen blueberries, warmed in microwave for 1 minute (70), topped with 2 Tbsp MUFA-rich cashews (163)

Total Calories = 383

Banana-pecan oatmeal:
Half cup dry Quaker Old Fashioned Quick 1-Minute Oats (150) (mixed with water to create consistency of your choice) cooked and mixed with one half cup sliced banana (70), sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with 2 Tbsp MUFA-rich pecans (196)

Total Calories = 416

Friday, February 19, 2010

Give Yourself a Fitness Makeover

Are you bored with your exercise routine? Do you dread taking the same walking path around the neighborhood or hitting the treadmill at the gym for the zillionth time? Always doing the same thing can zap your motivation. That's not good! Exercise should be fun, invigorating, and energizing! If it's not, it's probably time for a fitness makeover!

A fitness makeover is simple and fun. All you have to do is find different ways to get your heart pumping and your muscles working. Here are some ideas you can try:

Get a partner. Everything is more fun when you do it with someone else! Plus, having a partner increases your accountability — you're less likely to break an exercise date if you know someone is counting on you. Enlist your spouse, a neighbor, or a friend and work out together. Go for a walk, pick each other up for the gym, or just lift weights together in your basement — it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you are moving!
Sign up for a class. If you're used to working out alone, a workout class will make exercise exciting for you! The music is upbeat, the other people in the class motivate you to push yourself, and the instructor is there to direct you and correct your form. Check out the class offerings at your local community center, park, or gym.
Take a walk to the library or video store and browse the workout section. So many types of workout videos are available — from kickboxing, dance, and Pilates to step aerobics, Tae Bo, and bootcamps — the possibilities are endless! And best of all, you can try these new routines in the comfort of your home, return them, and borrow new ones so you can constantly vary your workouts.
Put on your explorer's hat and go on an adventure! Call up the parks department in your city or town — or look online — to locate beautiful walking or biking trails. Then hit a new locale each week. Walking tours are also a great way to get to know a place.
Dress the part. It may sound silly, but a new workout outfit can freshen up your fitness routine! The right shoes make all the difference, so treat yourself to a new pair. If you don't want to splurge right now, pick up fun and affordable workout clothes at local discount stores.
Kick up your heels on the dance floor! Go out with your significant other or friends and dance the night — and the unwanted fat — away. You can burn around 300 calories an hour by dancing fast or line dancing. Or just turn on some music in your living room and dance to get your heart rate up. Why not sign up for that dance class you've been interested in? It'll help you stay fit and have fun!

Starting next week, challenge yourself to take your workout to the next level by trying something new. Remember to choose activities you enjoy — or you'll just be working against yourself!

Seven Days, Seven Lunches

Lunchtime's a real danger zone for most people trying to lose weight and keep their bodies—not to mention their wallets—in shape. For most of us, lunch happens somewhere in or around the workplace, which means looming nutritional and financial disasters if there isn't a brown-bagging strategy in place. If I don't bring my lunch to the Beachbody® office, there are always the siren songs of the nearby McDonald's®, KFC®, and Wienerschnitzel® to reduce my bank account and expand my waistline. Or I could take the marginally healthier approach of buying the $10 salads from the lunch guy who shows up at the office, yet another semi-delicious path to financial ruin.
The best choice is to make your own lunch. You control what goes into the meal and what goes into your body. Instead of the artificial colors, flavors, and various incarnations of high fructose corn syrup you get from the local fast food chain, you can fill your plate with fresh whole foods that will energize your body and save you a ton of money. As my grandfather used to say, there's no point putting your paycheck through your stomach. So here are some healthy ideas to get you through the day with high energy and low cost.

Note: All nutritional information is for one serving.

Sunday: Tuna and White Bean Salad

On Sundays, I like to make a big batch of soup or a salad that will keep for a few days, so I have leftovers for the week. While it's noble to attempt to prepare a fresh lunch from scratch every evening or morning, schedules and snooze alarms can sidetrack the best-laid plans. It's nice to have a big bowl of something in the fridge as a backup, so that if I sleep through the alarm bell in the morning, I won't drive through the Taco Bell® in the afternoon. This recipe's a great source of protein and fiber, and if you want to improvise, it's a great way to use up leftover veggies in the fridge. This meal is good for up to 2 days after you make it.

2 6-oz. cans of water-packed tuna (reduce olive oil amount if using oil-packed tuna)
2 cups canned white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup canned or jarred artichoke hearts, chopped (reduce olive oil amount if using oil-marinated artichoke)
1 bunch parsley, stemmed and chopped
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix first eight ingredients in a large bowl. Mix garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice in a small bowl or cruet with salt and pepper to taste. Toss garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper mixture with first eight ingredients. Serves 4. (For extra zip and fiber, serve on a bed of raw arugula or spinach leaves.)

Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
372 12 grams 40 grams 11 grams 33 grams

Monday: Turkey Avocado Wrap

Somewhere between a pita and a tortilla, a lavash is a low-fat wrap from the Middle East. They're typically lower in carbs than pitas and lower in fat than tortillas, but not all lavash wraps are created equal. When you're shopping, read the label to make sure your dietary requirements are being met. Try to find whole wheat versions. Some brands also augment the protein and fiber contents or add flavors like spinach or sun-dried tomato (which add more color than nutritive value). This is a great way to repurpose leftovers like chicken, turkey, or tofu. You can make some delicious combos using what's in the fridge, or try this recipe. (Joseph's whole wheat lavash used in this recipe.)1 lavash wrap
1/2 avocado, mashed
4 slices (3 oz.) deli-style turkey breast or (2 oz.) firm tofu
2 slices low-fat Swiss cheese
1/4 cup arugula
1/2 tomato, chopped
2 thin slices red onion
Spread mashed avocado on flattened lavash. Layer remaining ingredients on top of lavash.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
460 20 grams 31 grams 14 grams 45 grams

Tuesday: Healthy Chicken Caesar Salad

If you know Michi's Ladder, you might remember that Caesar salad is way down on Tier 4, the Dodgy Tier. What gives? It's a salad, right? Yeah, but when it's all glopped up with mayonnaise-y dressing and deep-fried croutons, it's not really much in the nutrition department. This recipe uses a tofu-based dressing, so you get extra protein instead of extra fat and calories. You won't taste the difference. And if you skip the chicken, this makes a great vegetarian meal or side dish. The dressing also makes a great sandwich spread or veggie dip.

Tofu-Caesar Dressing

1 package (10 oz.) soft silken tofu
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (use anchovy-free sauce, if you're vegetarian)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
Mix all ingredients in a blender or a food processor until creamy. Makes 16 2-tablespoon servings.

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
40 3 grams 1 gram <1 gram 3 grams


3 cups romaine lettuce, torn
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, broiled and diced
1/2 cup whole wheat croutons
2 Tbsp. of Tofu-Caesar Dressing
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground pepper
Toss lettuce, chicken, and croutons with dressing. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and ground pepper on top.

Total Preparation Time: 15 minutes (less if dressing is already prepared)

Wednesday: Shakeology® Oatmeal

At Beachbody, there's usually some Shakeology around, so if I've forgotten my lunch, I often improvise with some Shakeology and whatever ingredients I can scrounge (but no stealing from the office fridge—not cool!). This mixture of instant oatmeal, peanut butter, and Shakeology ends up tasting a lot like cookie dough. That would have been the lunch of choice as a kid, but now it's good for me!

1 cup unflavored instant oatmeal, prepared
1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology
1 Tbsp. peanut butter, unsalted and unsweetened
1 Tbsp. flaxseeds
Prepare one packet of oatmeal. Now listen up—this is important. LET THE OATMEAL COOL to a little higher or lower than room temperature. If you add the Shakeology when the oatmeal's too hot, you'll kill the healthy enzymes in every scoop, and you don't want that on your conscience. After the oatmeal is cool enough, mix in the Shakeology, peanut butter, and flaxseeds, and eat!

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
430 15 grams 51 grams 10 grams 28 grams

Thursday: Lentil and Feta Salad

Lentils contain lots of healthy protein, and are tasty and economical. They're also good sources of iron, as well as of other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. And they come in different colors, including red, green, and brown, so you can make a salad as appealing to the eye as to the palate. This Middle Eastern-style recipe makes for a filling lunch, or you could have half a portion with half of Monday's Turkey Avocado Wrap. If you use canned lentils, try to find low-sodium varieties. Your best bet is to cook dried ones the night before. You can also boil the lentils with a bay leaf or other spices in for extra flavor.

3 cups cooked or canned lentils
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cucumber, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine first nine ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, and salt and pepper, and toss with first nine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two. You can eat it as soon as it's done, but it just gets better the longer the flavors combine. The next day is the best! Makes 4 servings.

Preparation time: 20 minutes (mostly chopping)

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
424 19 grams 45 grams 16 grams 21 grams

Friday: Pita Party

This is a great desk lunch. It's like having a cocktail party at your desk (minus the cocktails). You can combine the ingredients so that no two bites are the same. For a busy day without time for a proper sit-down lunch, this is a good way to graze. If you have a bento box–style container with compartments, this is a perfect time to bust it out. The fat and salt contents of hummus vary greatly by brand, so if you don't make your own from scratch (we'll have a recipe in an upcoming newsletter), make sure you read the nutrition label. To reduce the caloric content even more, invite a coworker to your party! (If they don't have tzatziki at the store, combine 1 cup of nonfat yogurt with one minced garlic clove, half a chopped cucumber, fresh chopped dill, and salt to taste.)

1 whole wheat pita, quartered
1/2 cup hummus
1 cup tzatziki
Optional: Cut-up carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, etc.
Bring containers of hummus and tzatziki to work, and dip pita pieces in either or both of them. Bring your favorite crudité-style veggies and dip them as well for a sinless end-of-the-week treat.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving, not counting veggies):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
511 14 grams 71 grams 13 grams 30 grams

Saturday: Mini-Pizzas

This recipe is from my friend Ali, who is allergic to gluten, but has found a way to still enjoy pizza on the weekend without the gluten, and without a lot of the fat and calories of store-bought or delivery pizzas. Try this recipe with your own favorite toppings. It's also a great recipe for kids.

1 spelt or brown-rice tortilla
2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chicken breast, chopped
1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella (or soy cheese), shredded
4 tomato slices
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly toast the tortilla. Be careful not to overcook it—just a couple of minutes, enough to give it the structural integrity to hold the toppings. After you've toasted the tortilla, spread the tomato sauce thinly on top. Add basil, mushrooms, and chicken, and finally top with cheese and tomato slices. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted. Let cool slightly and serve. It's so low in calories, you could even have two!

Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes

Nutritional information (per serving):

Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
310 12 grams 35 grams 2 grams 14 grams

Feel free to eat any of these lunches on any day of the week. And repeat your favorites. Most of these can be integrated into your favorite Beachbody meal plan, including P90X®. Come back next week for part three of our series and get recipes for 7 Days, 7 Dinners. Bon appétit!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Eat Right - on the Road!

Heading out of town? If you travel a lot, you know how tricky it can be to stick with your eating plan. But just because you're in a hotel or a restaurant doesn't mean you can't eat well. Follow these tips and you'll be good to go!

Eat as you would at home. You've gotten so good at measuring your portions, and now it's time to take that skill on the road. If your order arrives and it's enough for three, make sure you stick to just one sensible portion. If you have a fridge in your hotel room or are staying with friends, you can ask the waiter to box up the extras before you even start to eat so you won't be tempted — and you can enjoy the leftovers as a guilt-free meal on another day.

Snack before you go. If you know you'll be tempted by rich foods, have a snack before dinner. You'll feel fuller and will be less likely to indulge once you arrive at the restaurant.

Know the lingo. Avoid menu items that are described as "au gratin," "crispy," "fried," or "creamy." These are the buzzwords that signal major calories! Stick with choices that are baked, broiled, poached, or steamed instead. Now, that's menu smarts!

Substitute. If a dish comes with fries, don't hesitate to ask for it with a salad or a veggie instead. Likewise, if a meat or veggie is prepared with lots of heavy oils, ask about lighter preparation options or chose another dish. Restaurants want to make you happy, so chances are they'll be willing to help.

Share. If you're dining with a friend, split an entrée, an appetizer, or even a dessert! It's a simple way to cut calories and not feel deprived.

Don't dread the pounds you envision you'll gain on your next vacation or fall off the wagon on your next trip. By thinking ahead, you'll be equipped to travel in healthy style!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Chocolate: A Not-So-Guilty Pleasure

For years, you’ve tried to break it off. You’re certain this relationship is wrong, even sinful. But try as you might, you just can’t end it—your willpower inevitably crumbles, and you always go back for more.

We’re talking of course about your love affair with CHOCOLATE— that dark seducer even more likely to attract as you're surrounded by heart-shaped displays. Long thought to be an aphrodisiac, chocolate has been inextricably linked to Cupid and lovers since it was discovered among the ancient Aztecs and carried to the Old World.

The New World likes it too: the United States is the top importer of cocoa beans, averaging 559,600 metric tons of cocoa beans or cocoa products each year between 1993 and 1997—almost one-quarter of the world's cocoa! While 75% of chocolate purchases are made by women, the tables are turned during the days and minutes before Valentine's Day. $1 billion worth of chocolate is sold for this holiday—75% of it purchased by men.

But, whether you’re the giver or receiver, just how sinful is chocolate? The Aztecs and their neighbors, the Mayans, believed chocolate transmitted knowledge and power to those who consumed it. While there’s no evidence to support that idea, there is mounting evidence showing some health benefits to eating it in moderation. Studies have found that dark chocolate helps prevent heart disease and cancer, and has also been shown to improve mood by boosting the brain chemical serotonin. Some even consider chocolate an effective diet food, claiming that a chunk of chocolate before meals diminishes your appetite.

Made up of about 300 chemicals—some of which in theory have mood-altering effects – chocolate contains negligible amounts of the stimulant caffeine, as well as theobromine (which stimulates the heart and the nervous system) and phenyethylamine (an amphetamine-like substance said to simulate the feeling of falling in love). A University of Michigan study says chocolate causes the brain to release b-endorphin, a naturally occurring chemical similar to opium, which dulls pain and increases your sense of well-being.

Chocolate contains a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals that the body needs, including potassium, sodium, iron, fluorine and vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E. In fact, researchers at Harvard University believe chocolate may help people live longer! A study tracking older men found that those who ate chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who didn't.

Researchers believe this has something to do with the fact that chocolate contains flavonoids(compounds that may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer while slowing the aging process) and stearic acid, a heart-friendly fatty acid that doesn’t promote cholesterol increases.

But a University of Pennsylvania study testing so-called chocoholics found that the cravings may not lie in chemistry at all, but the melt-in-your-mouth texture of chocolate. Subjects in the study were found to prefer chocolate bars, even white chocolate bars which didn't actually contain any chocolate at all, over capsules of cocoa powder full of chocolate's active ingredients.

The bottom line: Chocolate may be getting a bad rap as a sinful food. On the other hand—as always—moderation may be the key. If you simply must indulge, here are some tips for controlling your chocolate cravings and consumption:

Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Studies based on dark chocolate tend to show benefits that milk chocolate does not.

Partner your chocolate with nutrient-rich foods, like chocolate covered strawberries, apple slices or bananas. Add a few chocolate chips in your berry-nut trail mix. Try a refreshing glass of chocolate-flavored milk or soymilk.

Buy smaller sizes of chocolate bars or hot fudge sundaes, since research shows you tend to eat the entire amount you’re served.

Order fruit for dessert, with a small chocolate truffle on the side.

Savor, don’t chew, your chocolate. Sit down, take your time, and focus on the taste in your mouth. Enjoy it thoroughly. If you pop it in your mouth while you are driving, watching TV, or talking on the phone, you’re likely to keep reaching for more.

Give in to your chocolate cravings! Every try to stifle a craving by eating something else? You usually just end up eating more and more foods, eventually giving in to your original desire anyway. Save yourself the calories and the torment! A small portion may be all you need for satisfaction.

-- By Rebecca Pratt, Staff Writer (Sparkpeople)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Live a Stress-Free Life!

Had a run-in with your boss or a fight with your sister — and can't stop thinking about it? Are you overloaded with projects at work and errands at home? Our lives are jam-packed with stress — and that can take a toll on our body and health. Long-term uncontrolled stress can cause chronic conditions like high blood pressure, headaches, and ulcers. Stress can also weaken your body's natural defenses so you're likely to get sick more often.

You don't have to live with stress! There are so many simple ways to cut stress and take back control of your life.

Say no! If you don't have time for or can't realistically accomplish someone's request without straining yourself, do not agree to it. In most cases, people will understand that you need to put yourself first. If you can't say no to your boss, for example, try not to take on more than you know you can handle.

Set priorities. We don't always have the luxury of saying no to daily tasks, so stay organized by making a list of everything you need to do. Prioritize your list so you can take care of the most vital items first.

Stay positive! Stress is not inevitable; it's the way your body reacts to the situation you're in, so it's completely controllable. Keep yourself calm by maintaining a positive attitude. It helps to choose an inspiriting mantra that you can repeat to yourself or image that you can visualize.

Burn off your stress! Go for a brisk walk or bike ride, or lift weights to let off some steam. Exercise causes the body to release endorphins — chemicals that help you feel better — which help reduce your stress level.

Practice deep breathing. When we get stressed out, our breathing tends to speed up. So take a break and sit somewhere comfortable and quiet to focus on taking deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Playing soft music can enhance the calming effect.

Treat yourself! If you had an unusually stressful day or just finished a big, stressful project, go ahead and reward yourself! Not with food, of course, but with something that will help you relax. How about a pedicure or massage, a long bubble bath, or a great book you can curl up with?

Reach out to others. We can't do it all alone, so don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. A co-worker or supervisor may be able to shed light on a work problem, while your spouse or kids can pitch in to help with household stresses. Even if you must take care of some task or problem yourself, it still helps to talk it over with a friend.

There's no reason to be bogged down by stress for another day. There are seven stress-busting strategies here — put one of them to work every day in the coming week!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Eat Right & Feel Gorgeous

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "You are what you eat." Well, forget about weight for a minute — this saying is true when it comes to your looks too! Certain foods help your body feel great — and luckily, the same foods that keep you healthy and fit also help keep you looking your best. We can thank Mother Nature for that!

Incorporate these miracle foods into your diet, and you'll notice the difference in your appearance right away! All of these foods are also perfect for a healthy, low-fat diet:

* Citrus fruits help your body form collagen, which is essential to keep skin looking young and smooth!

* Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C and potassium — all of which help give skin a radiant glow!

* Garlic is said to combat wrinkles and help restore tissue. It's like a natural antiwrinkle cream!

* Dairy foods — like skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese — help keep your bones and teeth strong, and your smile bright!

* Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, which promotes clear, smooth skin!

Remember: Good looks are about much more than being thin or having expensive makeup, hair, and clothes. Enrich your looks by being smart about food, and get that beautiful glow naturally!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Failure cannot — and will not — overtake you, if your determination to succeed is strong enough!

Should You Be Eating Flaxseed?

You've probably heard people talking about how flaxseed can be a good addition to a healthy diet. Before you head out to the health food store, here's some info on this little seed and its potentially big health benefits!

Flaxseed can be taken in a number of ways. You can buy it whole, crushed, or as a powder, and you can take it with either juice or water. And I'll bet you wouldn't even notice it if you added a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed to a smoothie, yogurt, soup, or oatmeal! You can also add flaxseed oil to food if the powder or grainy consistency of the crushed seed bothers you. Flaxseed can add valuable soluble fiber to your diet, which can help lower cholesterol and move the fat from your meals out of your body. It also contains alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that may benefit people with heart disease, the way omega-3 fatty acids do.

The jury is still out on many other claims about flaxseed, including the possibility that it can help prevent certain cancers, ease menopause symptoms, and regulate ADHD. Stay tuned for more on this new dietary breakthrough!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Healthy Chicken Nachos


A bag of Blue Chips

1 can Black Beans

½ can of sweet corn

1 cup of chopped tomatoes

1 large Avocado diced

3 pieces of Chicken breasts

1 bag of low fat shredded cheese (4 Cheese Mexican Cheese blend)

Salsa of your choice homemade or store bought


Grill the chicken breast pieces on both sides until cooked (no pink in the middle), juice 1 lime fresh and add while grilling and season to taste (salt & pepper)

Dice the chicken after grilling

First empty the bag of blue chips into the serving dish,

Mix black beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, and avocado, season to taste (salt & pepper), add ¾ of the cheese and pour over the chips

Pour the remainder of the cheese on top to cover the rest of the ingredients and serve (if you prefer you can melt the cheese).

Serves 4 people

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"However, when we shift our awareness or "frequency" from self-consciousness -- where fear, impossibility or feelings of separation reside -- to cosmic consciousness, which is in total harmony with the universe and where none of those feelings exist, then anything is possible."
Rhonda Byrne

Boost Your Own Confidence!

We all have what I like to call inner chatter — that voice in your head that says "I can't do this" or "Yes, I can do this!" What does the voice inside your head say about your efforts to get fit? Are the messages positive and encouraging, or just the opposite?

Make a conscious effort today to take note of your inner chatter so that you can decide whether it's helping you succeed in your exercise efforts — or holding you back. If your inner self-talk is negative, it's easy enough to fix; it just takes some practice!

Next time you're heading to the gym or deciding whether or not to go for a jog, take note of any negative messages you send yourself and replace them with a positive spin! Here are some ways you can change negative thinking:

Instead of thinking "This won't work," think "I can make this work!"

Instead of "It's a waste of time," think "It will be worth the extra effort!"

Instead of "It's not going to make a difference," think "I'll never know unless I try!"

Instead of "It hasn't worked before," think "I'll try again!"

Instead of "I've already tried that," think "I can learn from my mistakes!"

Instead of "I don't like that exercise" or "It sounds too difficult," think "I'm excited to try some new things!"

Instead of "That was painful! Never again," think "Wow, I just got through some hard work, and next time it will be easier!"

You can learn to be positive about getting fit — just practice having a more optimistic mind-set. Be your own cheerleader and boost your own confidence.