Maintain, Don’t Gain Through the Holidays

Turkey Eating Pie

Did you know that the average American consumes approximately 4,500 calories and 229 grams fat from eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? And that doesn’t include breakfast, lunch, or late-night snacking on leftovers! Yikes! That is more than your daily caloric intake!

Studies show that the average American gains 3 to 4 pounds during the holiday season. And, those extra pounds tend to become permanent baggage. Year after year, those pounds can add up, and contribute to overweight or obesity later in life.

Although we may not all gain weight over the holidays, there is no question we tend to eat and drink more — and exercise less.

Reducing the amount of fat and calories in your snacking and main holiday meals can help prevent the average weight a person will gain over the holidays (from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day).

Try these Healthy Holiday Eating Tips from the American Heart Association:

  • Track your food intake over the holidays to see how many calories, fats, sugars, etc., you are actually consuming, and to avoid those extra calories!
  • Prepare for handling your worst temptations; if you want both pecan and pumpkin pie, take a tiny slice of each, instead of an average serving.
  • If cooking, provide low-fat foods, or ask if you can bring a low-fat dish.
  • Be sure to get in your normal, healthy meals and snacks prior (if hungry, of course) so come Thanksgiving Dinner time you aren’t famished, which can lead to overeating.
  • Avoid grazing — which I call mindless eating that leads to overeating! Make sure you are paying attention when you are eating!
  • Before or after the meal, start a tradition — a holiday walk or Turkey Trot, for instance, or be sure to get your regular exercise routine in prior to your gathering.



A Thanksgiving Meal Breakdown: Cut Out Extra, Unwanted Calories in Your Thanksgiving Meal by Following These Nutrition Tips:

  • Turkey: Stick to about 3 ounces of white meat and no skin. That’s about the size of your credit card or a deck of cards and about an inch and a half thick.
  • Gravy or cranberry sauce: One-third of a cup is the recommended serving amount for each. Be aware of the sodium content in gravy.
  • Mashed potatoes: One cup of mashed potatoes contains around 210 calories, so if you stick to the recommended amount of half of a cup, you can slash the caloric intake to 105! If possible, choose red potatoes which are more nutrient dense.
  • Green beans: Instead of making green bean casserole, serve them stir-fried or grilled with a little olive oil and garlic. Since green bean casserole tends to be made with canned soup and fried onions, there is a lot of sodium.
  • Sweet potato casserole: Simply make the sweet potato casserole as you would but try to eliminate any extra cream, butter, or marshmallows.
  • Dinner roll: Stick with one, or skip it altogether!
  • Butter (2 tsp): Replace the butter in your meal with margarine instead to reduce the amount of saturated and trans-fat in the meal.
  • Pecan pie (1 slice): Pecan pie comes in at a whopping 503 calories and 27 grams of fat. Swap it out for a slice of the healthier pumpkin pie or apple pie.
  • Low-fat vanilla ice cream or cool whip: Instead of topping your desserts with full-fat ice cream this holiday season, substitute lower fat or reduced-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt, or Greek yogurt.
  • Red wine (5 oz): Alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram itself, which makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about 4 calories per gram) and only just under the caloric value for fat (9 calories per gram). This means that if you are watching your weight this holiday season you will want to stick to the lighter or lower-calorie drinks. Your best bets? Lighter spirits such as vodka, wine, light beers or tonics.


In the end, it really comes down to portion control and moderation. These Thanksgiving tips hold true for Christmas Dinners as well.  In addition to watching your serving sizes and types of food items, be sure to continue or start with a regular exercise routine, even through the holidays.

Take hold of your health over the holidays and focus on consuming less and moving more… your body will thank you!



American Heart Association

The Diabetes Educator

Mayo Clinic on Thanksgiving Dinner


The Power of Pilates

pilates groupPilates is a low impact workout that builds flexibility, strength and endurance by focusing mainly on the abdominal, hip, and back muscles or also what is called the “core” muscles. Pilates was created about 90 years ago by Joseph H. Pilates, who was a German athlete. Joseph Pilates began to devise his exercise technique after studying yoga, Tai Chi or Zen training and traditional physical training once used by the ancient Romans and Greeks. Joseph Pilates was also a proponent of the mind-body connection and his exercises include a focus on breathing and concentration.

A Pilates workout delivers benefits such as long, firm, flat muscles, a strong back and good posture.

The other benefits of Pilates include:

  • Improved heart and lung health. The breathing exercises can increase your lung capacity without breaking a sweat.
  • Increased balance and flexibility. Pilates stretches the muscles and improves your range of motion for greater flexibility, agility, balance and coordination.
  • Brain Pilates, uses a mental concentration and focused breathing; it also heightens the mind-body connection; this may help relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Pilates is a low-impact type of exercise which can be adapted to your physical condition.

What to Expect in Pilates Class

A Pilates session usually lasts for 30, 45 or 60 minutes on floor mats. Your instructor will lead you through a series of very precise exercises. You can wear comfortable clothing, similar to what you would wear for aerobics or yoga and no shoes.

If you have significant health conditions, you should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Also, let your instructor know about any physical limitations you may have. A Certified Pilates instructors can often customize a Pilates fitness program to meet your needs.

Give These Pilates Moves a Try

What you’ll need:

What you’ll need: A mat or piece of plush carpeting

1. The Hundred

The One Hundred

Works abs, inner thighs
Lie on floor with knees bent above hips (not shown), arms by sides, palms down. Exhale and raise head and shoulders off mat, curling chin toward chest while extending arms and legs; keep lower back pressed into floor and pull abs toward your spine (keep them engaged throughout the workout). Vigorously pump arms about 6 inches up and

down, reaching through your fingertips. Inhale for 5 pumps, then exhale for 5. Do 100 pumps, or 10 full breaths.

2. Roll Down

The Roll Down

Works abs
Sit tall with knees bent and feet on the mat, legs hip-width apart. Place hands behind thighs, keeping elbows wide. Inhale and begin to roll back toward the mat, curling your pelvis under and pressing your lower back into the floor. Stop halfway down, when your arms are almost straight. Hold this position for 3 breaths (deepen your abs with each exhale), then roll back up to sitting position. Do 3 times.

3. Single-Leg Circles

single leg circles

Works abs, hips, inner and outer thighs, hamstrings
Lie with right leg on the mat and left leg extended toward ceiling; keep arms at sides with palms pressing down into mat. Point left foot, reaching out with toes, and rotate the leg slightly outward.
Inhale and trace a circle on the ceiling with your left leg, moving the entire leg but keeping hips still (don’t lift left hip off floor).
Circle 5 times clockwise, then repeat in a counter-clockwise direction. Switch legs and repeat.


Mayo Clinic-Pilates for Beginners:

Pilates Benefits – WebMD:

Blending versus Juicing




One minute we should be blending fruits and vegetables for our morning breakfast, the next minute we should be juicing them. Is the difference? Which one should you do? Let’s find out!

For starters, what is the difference? Juicing is when you use a specific juicing machine (“Juicer”) to extract water and nutrients from fruits and/or vegetables, leaving behind the skin where fiber is held. Blending involves using a blender to mash down entire pieces of fruit and vegetables, skin and all, in to a drinkable form, typically referred to as a smoothie.

Knowing the differences, which one is better? Both have fantastic nutritious benefits. Below is some food for thought. See which one would fit your lifestyle better.


  • Juicing has been found to assist in healing and detoxification. This is because they are nutrient dense and restore the human body at the cellular level.
  • Nutrients are available to the body quicker than eating a whole piece of fruit by itself.
  • If you choose to juice only fruits you could cause a rapid blood sugar (glucose) spike and unstable blood sugar levels.
  • Although quick and tasty, juicing fruits and vegetables leaves you without the fiber and most likely hungry soon after drinking it. Fiber is important for heart health. It also keeps us fuller longer because our digestive system has to work harder to break it down.
  • You can intake more servings of fruits and/or veggies with a single serving of juice than with a smoothie.
  • It can be expensive to juice because you need a decent amount of produce to juice an 8 oz. cup. It can also be seen as wasteful since it involves discarding the peels.


  • When blending fruits and vegetables you get the nutrients from the food items and the fiber if you leave the peels on (the edible peels of course).
  • More fiber from blending creates a slow and even release of nutrients in to the blood stream. You are less likely to encounter any blood sugar spikes.
  • The volume of the drink is more so than with juicing = bigger bang for your buck.
  • Clean up is typically easier than with juicing.

Both are great options. It just depends on what you are looking for. Still not sure? Try out these two delicious recipes and see which one tickles the taste buds.

Carrots & Apples, with a bit of Celery Juice

Makes 1 serving


3 Apples

2 Carrots

2 Celery Stalks

Place all ingredients in your juicer. You may want to add some ice cubes to your glass and then pour. Typically they taste better chilled.


Parsley, Kale, and Berry Smoothie

Makes 1 serving


1/2 cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)

4 kale leaves (center ribs removed)

1 cup frozen organic berries (such as strawberries or raspberries)

1 banana (cut into pieces)

1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

Purée ingredients with 1 cup water in a blender until smooth (add water if too thick)



Sitting – Are You at Risk?

As a society we have become a population of professional sitters who spend long periods of time at a desk, in a car, on the phone or looking at a screen device.

Research studies performed in the United States and Australia have produced some thought-provoking results. Too much sitting has been associated with an increased risk of death cardiovascular disease and cancer.


One study analyzed adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of a screen – of any type – and compared them to those who engaged in more than four hours a day. Here are the results:

There was nearly a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause.  An approximate 125% increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease.

Activities associated with extending sitting such as driving your car or sitting at your desk are also harmful. Additional studies indicate that a FEW weekly hours spent at the gym or engaged in vigorous activity does not show significant offset of the risk.

There is hope however. The American College of Sports Medicine has prepared a handout with tips to help alleviate the effects of long-term sitting. Please see the link below.



Matthews CE, et al. Amount of time spend in sedentary behaviors and cause-specific mortality in US adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012:95:437.

Stamatakis E, et al. Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: Population- based study with ongoing mortiality and hospital events follow-up. Journal of the Ameircan College of Cardiology. 2011:57:292.

Levine, James A. What are the risks of sitting too much? Mayo;adult-health. June 2012.




Metabolism & How to Rev It Up


Rev Up Your Metabolism

“That girl eats a lot and is still lean. She must have a high metabolism!”

You may have heard this before. You may not have. In our younger years, we could eat what we wanted and not gain an ounce. Now, for many of us, this isn’t the case.

Your metabolism involves a complex network of hormones and enzymes that not only convert food into fuel but also affect how efficiently you burn that fuel.

“The process of metabolism establishes the rate at which we burn our calories and, ultimately, how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose it,” says Robert Yanagisawa, MD, director of the Medically Supervised Weight Management Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Not everyone burns calories at the same rate. There are several different factors that go into your metabolic rate. Your metabolism is influenced by your age (metabolic rate slows down gradually at age 40); your sex (men generally burn more calories at rest than women); and proportion of lean body mass (the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate tends to be). Heredity can make a difference as well. Although we have age working against us, there are ways to keep your metabolism working at an efficient rate.


What are ways to increase your metabolism to prevent those extra pounds?

  • Build Muscle – Resistance Train! Time to pick up those dusty dumbbells.  The truth is that muscle tissue will burn seven to 10 calories daily per pound. Fat burns two to three calories daily per pound. “Replacing a pound of fat with a muscle, therefore, helps you burn an additional four to six more calories each day”, says Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise.


  • Add Aerobic Workouts – Cardio/Aerobic training may not build muscle post-workout your metabolic rate remains high. High intensity interval training (HIIT) gives a longer lasting elevated resting metabolic rate than low intensity workouts.


  • Drink Up! Water that is- Lack of water can slow the metabolic rate just as lack of food can, says John Acquaviva, PhD, assistant professor of health and human performance at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. “Since water is the body’s most important nutrient, the liver will turn its concentration to water retention instead of doing other duties such as burning fat.” Aim for 32oz of water for every 50 pounds of body weight per day, more if exercising at high intensities outside. Factors such as diet, exercise habits and health status all affect the amount of water a person actually needs to drink in a day. Try to drink a glass of water (8oz) prior to eating your meal. Also, snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, which naturally contain water, rather than pretzels or chips which contain too much sodium.

  • Avoid Energy drinks- Yes, they do have caffeine which allows your body to have more energy to burn and may have taurine, an amino acid. Taurine can speed up your metabolism and may help burn fat. However, most energy drinks have high sugar content and may cause problems such as high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, anxiety, and sleep issues (Web MD). Looking for an energy boost mid-day? Try black coffee or tea instead, as you will get a quick metabolism and energy boost.

  • Spice it up! – Spicy foods have natural chemicals that can kick your metabolism into a higher gear. Cooking foods with a tablespoon of chopped red or green chili pepper can boost your metabolic rate. The effect is probably temporary, but if you eat spicy foods often, the benefits may add up. For a quick boost, spice up pasta dishes, chili, and stews with red pepper flakes.


  • Protein Power – Consuming protein can have a positive effect on your metabolism. Your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates. As part of a balanced diet, replace some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods to boost your metabolism at meal time. Good sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.

  • Your body burns many more calories digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates. As part of a balanced diet, replacing some carbs with lean, protein-rich foods can boost metabolism at mealtime. Good sources of protein include lean beef, turkey, fish, white meat chicken, tofu, nuts, beans, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.


  • Avoid Crash Diets- Crash diets involve eating fewer than 1,200 (if you’re a woman) or 1,800 (if you’re a man) calories a day. These diets may help you drop pounds but can affect your overall metabolism. There is also a great chance of losing muscle, which in turn slows your metabolism. The final result is your body burns fewer calories and gains weight faster than before the diet. Aim for a healthy diet rich in




Questions? Comments? Email




Vegetarian Varieties


A common assumption is that vegetarians are all the same – someone who only eats vegetables and beans. You may be surprised to find out that there are actually different kinds of vegetarians. Heck, you might be one yourself and not even know it! Let’s break down the 7 types of vegetarians.

1. Vegan

Someone who considers themselves a vegan will not consume any animal products or by-products in addition to not using any type of animal product like leather, wool, or silk.

What they don’t eat: Red meat, white meat, meat by-products (gelatin, animal broths), fish, fowl, eggs, or dairy products.

What they eat: Plant based foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, fruits or vegetables.

2. Lacto Vegetarian

What they don’t eat: Red meat, white meat, meat by-products (gelatin, animal broths), fish, fowl, or eggs.

What they eat: Plant based foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. They also consume dairy products.

3. Ovo Vegeterian

What they don’t eat: Red meat, white meat, fish, fowl, or dairy products.

What they eat: Plant based foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. They also eat egg products.

4. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

What they don’t eat: Red meat, white meat, fish, or fowl.

What they eat: Plant based foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables. They will also eat dairy and egg products.

5. Pollotarian

This type of vegetarian is considered a “semi-vegetarian.”

What they don’t eat: Red meat, fish, or seafood.

What they eat: Plant based foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, fruits or vegetables in addition to poultry, fowl, eggs, and dairy.

6. Pescatarian

Technically, this is not a type of vegetarian, but we include it because they do restrict their meat consumption.

What they don’t eat: Red meat, white meat, or fowl.

What they eat: Plant based foods such as nuts, beans, legumes, fruits or vegetables. They also eat fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy.

7. Flexitarian

Technically, this is not a type of vegetarian, but we include it because they do restrict their meat consumption. These types of individuals consume a plant-based diet and eat meat occasionally.

Next time someone tells you they are a vegetarian challenge them and ask them “What level of vegetarianism are you?” This is especially helpful if you are having someone over for a meal and they have specific dietary needs.


Goal Specific Resistance Training Series: Power

Power training is a very specific type of training that emphasizes improving an individual’s ability to be quick and explosive. Power training is typically performed by many types of athletes. This is a high intensity, short duration (2-5 reps) type training where you will be activating type 2 muscle fibers to optimize performance. Power training is an advanced type of training, so if you fall into this category of athlete or wish to improve quickness and explosiveness then this is the training for you.  If you are new to resistance training,  it is advised to stay away from power training to due to the quick complex movements.

• Reps-2-5 reps
• Sets-2-6
• Rests-2-5 min
• Weight-40-60 percent of 1 rep max

Power Training Exercise Examples:

  • Power Clean

Powerclean1    powerclean2   powerclean3    powerclean4

  • Romanian Deadlift

romaniandeadlift1    romaniandeadlift2

Power training is the last segment in our 4 week series on Goal Specific Training.   Before taking part in a power based program, be sure you have a good general base of physical fitness and are practicing proper form when lifting.

All of these specific training types offer health benefits.  Please consult your personal trainer or wellness professional to decide which training suits your personal health and fitness goals.