Category Archives: Tips for living

Make a Plan :)

I’m back! After taking my final certification exam, graduating, moving, and settling back in, I’m back and ready to go!

I hope ya’ll are as ready as I am for a fit and healthy summer. I really feel like this is the summer of change and that we will all make some great strides towards a healthier body, mind, and soul. So get ready for some kick tail workouts and recipes to keep us energized, satisfied, and healthy!

With summer around the corner, there tends to be changes in schedules, vacations, and lounging around the pool a little more. When your schedule changes as drastically as mine has, it is VITAL to make a plan. Sit down with your calendar and map out your workout plans at the beginning of each week. My suggestion is to shoot for 6 days a week of intensive exercise and one day of active rest (gardening, cleaning, leisure walking, etc.).

I also encourage you to make a daily meal plan the night before if not at the beginning of the week. This way you know what you are going to be eating instead of being in too much of a hurry to be intentional about eating right. I am never that prepared but always make a plan the night before so I can determine at what meal I will eat my whole grain. This is not necessary, but I strive to only consume about 1 serving of whole grains a day (I get the rest of my carbs out of fruit, veggies, and legumes). This means that if I decide to have a sandwich for lunch, I’ll probably opt for something like fruit and eggs for breakfast and chicken and veggies for dinner. Making a plan can save you a lot of unnecessary calories and ensure that you are getting balanced nutrition.

Here is my weekly eating and workout schedule for this week.

Workout plan:

Monday: P90X Plyometrics (this was a killer!)
Tuesday: Long distance run – 5 miles
Wednesday: Total body bootcamp workout
Thursday: Sprinting and core workout
Friday: Total body bootcamp workout
Saturday: P90X Kenpo workout
Sunday: light walking

1-day meal plan:

Breakfast- Sweet Potato, 1/2 lowfat organic milk, and a handful of almonds
Lunch- Half a chicken sandwich, banana with 1 T all natural peanut butter, handful of carrots
Dinner- Salad, pinto beans, cornbread, and a mango

If you need any suggestion just leave me a comment! Have a blessed day!


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Good Guide

Here is a link to a wonderful website called the Good Guide. This website rates every possible food you can think of in regards to environmental awareness, your health, and safety. There is a breakdown for each category that is easy to read and very informative. There are even journal articles that you can read that are related to the issues and controversies behind your food. This is a great way to know more about the food you are consuming. I found the numbers on sodas and diet sodas especially interesting. In regards to the health portion, every soda I looked at received a rating of 0. Remember to only put food into your body that will make you stronger and provide nutritional value! If it doesn’t make you stronger, it probably will make you weaker.

Enjoy browsing this great site!

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The Skinny on Soda

I have many weaknesses when it comes to eating right, but coke (soda for you non-Texans) has never been something that I crave. However, I am constantly hearing clients and friends tell me that soda is the one thing they just cannot give up. So I have composed a list of the top reasons why you should not drink soda, how to combat your urges, and healthier alternatives. I have also included why diet drinks are the worst thing you can put in your body.

What’s so bad about it?

1. Let’s start with some basic ingredients: carbonated water, caramel color, natural flavors, caffeine, phosphoric acid and high-fructose corn syrup. Two ingredients in the list that automatically make me cringe are caffeine (a diuretic which increases urine volume and ultimately a mineral depletion) and high-fructose corn syrup (a very cheap way to sweeten foods with a high calorie cost – not to mention it’s about as chemically enhanced/refined as possible).

2. It provides NO nutritional value! This is a very big one. Everything you put into your body should be benefiting you in some way. This means that it should provide some sort of vitamins, fibers, or minerals.

3. All the sugar and coloring seriously damages your teeth over time.

4. If you’re drinking too much coke, you’re probably not drinking enough water!

5. The physical effect: This link explains exactly what happens to your body after immediately consuming a whole Coke. It is absolutely crazy and worth glancing at. It’s also very short and can be found here.

6. The SUGAR! A can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar which is 100% of our daily recommended value.

Curbing the addiction:

Chances are, if you’re a heavy soda drinker, you are a soda addict. Caffeine, like most addictive substances, is very difficult to eliminate from your diet cold turkey. If you are drinking sodas daily or even multiple times a day, start by slowly decreasing the amount; start with one a day, then move to two a week, and then one a week. While you are slowly decreasing the amount, you may experience some side effects in the first few days such as restlessness, headaches, anxiety, and even depression. Push through this period and your body feel so much better and healthier in the days to follow. Here are some suggestive alternatives:

1. My favorite is a trick that Jordan’s dad taught me – combining sparkling water with any 100% juice that does not have any sugar added. I tend to choose cranberry-grape juice or cranberry-blueberry juice more than anything else. This delicious soda replacement provides some sort of nutritional element to your body while being free of caffeine, high amounts of sugar, and excessive coloring. You also get to control how much juice you put into your mixture. When you first try this it will not taste anything like your Coke or Dr. Pepper; however, your body will adjust and it will curb your craving for something fizzy.
Tip: Because there still is quite a bit of sugar (even though it is natural) in all fruit juices, try to limit your water to juice ratio to 4:1. You may begin with a more equal ratio, but try to add less juice in your mixture each time.

2. Water. Water. Water. I know this is very difficult, especially if you are a soda-a-day drinker, but we have got to consume enough water on a daily basis. Because our bodies are made up of so much water, it is necessary that we drink enough. Remember your recommended amount is 1/2 of your body weight in ounces (Ex: If you weigh 120 lbs, You should be consuming 60 ounces of water a day). Drink your recommended amount for the day and then you can treat yourself to a little sparkling water juice mixture at the end of the day.

3. There are several soda alternatives out on your grocery shelf. My very most favorite is called IZZE. It is completely all natural and is the same concept of adding juice to sparkling water. It comes in a variety of flavors including: pomegranate, clementine, apple, and blackberry and I have even seen these bottles in Starbucks. When comparing the two, an 8.5 oz only has 90 calories and 19g of sugar, while 8 oz of Coke has 100 calories and 27g of sugar. There is also a lower calorie version (IZZE esque) that simply has less juice and more sparkling water. It only has 50 calories and 11g of sugar per bottle! To really see the difference between IZZE and Coke, compare the labels. This is something you should be doing with everything you consume.

Diet drinks = XXX

I tell all of my clients that if they are going to drink soda I would rather them drink a regular Coke than a diet Coke. My critical thinking along with tons of research tells me that diet sodas are absolutely the worst thing you can possibly put in your body. Just the fact that they have no calories or fat in them makes me a little concerned. Don’t you wonder how something with so much taste can have nothing in it?! It’s almost like the well known proverb that says “nothing in life is free.” Every time you think you have gotten something for no cost, there is usually some kind of catch or hidden cost. This is the same concept for diet sodas. Every cause has an effect whether it is a good one or a bad one. You think you are consuming nothing, but you are putting something into your body that will affect it in some way. Here are just some plain facts that state why you should quit the ‘diet’ drinks.

1. Studies have shown that diet drinks may actually cause our bodies to crave more calories when we put something in it that tastes like it has calories but does not. We think we are fooling our bodies but we are not!

2. It has aspartame. Look it up! Trust me, you don’t want it in your body! When the temperature of this sweetener exceeds 86 degrees F, the wood alcohol in ASPARTAME converts to Formaldehyde and then to formic acid, which in turn causes metabolic acidosis. (Formic acid is the poison found in the sting of fire ants.)

3. Studies have directly linked diet sodas to obesity. A specific study looked at two different groups that consumed either diet sodas or regular sodas. This study showed a stronger correlation between obesity and the diet soda drinkers rather than the regular soda drinkers.

Bottom line: If you have to have them, just drink the regular coke instead. ‘Diet’ drinks are not worth it. If you don’t believe me, take the time to do your own research and learn for yourself what is really in these deadly drinks.

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Frozen Yogurt Without All the Calories and Sugar?? Yes Please!

I have a little secret that I am going to share with you today. This really excites me because even though it may appear that I have discipline when it comes to eating, I am a SWEET tooth at heart!!! I have to coach myself every day on why I shouldn’t eat that delicious chocolate dipped doughnut; and the days when I do fall off my wagon, I have to do my really intense workout and eat carrots, broccoli, and asparagus for dinner. So I try to find alternatives to the desserts that really set me back in terms of health and calories.

Amongst my many vices, ice cream and frozen yogurt are some of my favorite treats. Both of these desserts tend to run anywhere from 15 to 25 grams of sugar per serving and it doesn’t help that we always end up licking our bowls clean! We just take what is given to us right?? It would be rude not to finish the whole thing! 😉 Well, thick snack will only cost you a whopping 60 calories and 9 grams of sugar (still a little high but better than the unhealthy alternatives).

So here is my new friend: Stonyfield’s Organic YoKids Squeezers.

All you have to do is pop the tube in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes or until somewhat frozen. When you take it out you have a product that tastes just like frozen yogurt! Regular yogurt in a cup just gets icy but in the tube it stays nice and creamy like frozen yogurt!

These ‘squeezers’ are the equivalent of Yoplait’s Go-Gurt. This little desert seems so simple but there is theory behind my choice. As I have previously discussed, I choose Stonyfield’s yogurts because they are lower in sugar than most yogurts AND they have live active cultures! Live active cultures convert milk to yogurt in the fermentation process. Many yogurt brands use a heat-fermentation process which kills many of the beneficial cultures that help to regulate your digestive system. Studies have shown that live active cultures help to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, reduce the conversion of bile into cancer causing substances, enhances the immune system, and provides a means for lactose intolerant individuals to consume dairy (these people can usually tolerate yogurt with live active cultures).

So always look for live active cultures on the back of the box. Look for words like: L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei and L. Rhaminosus.

Another bonus to the Stoneyfield brand is that they are organic which means they use REAL ingredients. Though this snack still has 9 grams of sugar in a tube, it is still lower than most yogurts and ALL of the sugar is accounted for unlike many other brands that hide chemical sweeteners in the label. Yoplait for instance has sugar listed at the end of the ingredient list because they have cleverly used TWO sweeteners in their ingredients: sugar AND high fructose corn syrup. I have listed the two different brand’s ingredient lists below for a quick comparison and breakdown.

Stonyfield’s YoKids Squeezers

Cultured pasteurized organic reduced fat milk
Naturally milled organic sugar
Organic tapioca starch
organic cherry juice from concentrate
organic carob bean gum
Carrogeenan and Pectin (Plant based thickeners)
Organic beet juice concentrate (for coloring)
Vitamin D3
Live active cultures: L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei and L. Rhaminosus.

Yoplait’s Go-Gurt

Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Milk
Nonfat Milk
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Modified Corn Starch
Kosher Gelatin
Tricalcium Phosphate
Potassium Sorbate (preservative)
Natural And Artificial Flavor
Carmine (which is made from boiling dried insects to extract the carminic acid)

Doesn’t that last ingredient sound appetizing?? No Thanks! The sketchy thing is that Yoplait wouldn’t even list the ingredients online anywhere. I had to do some extra digging for those ingredients. We should all be worried about companies who are not proud to post their ingredients for the world to see!

READ your labels! And if you don’t know what something is, look it up! We have got to be more conscious and less trusting about what we put into our bodies.

* For you Abilenians, I bought my YoKids Squeezers at Drug Emporium on Barrow St. between 27th and 25th.

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How to Eat a Baked Potato

Did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to eat a potato? If eaten in the correct way you may benefit from the potatoes many nutritional benefits without having to unbutton your pants by the end of the meal. Typically we eat potatoes in the form of french fries, potato chips, or exp-loaded with calories baked potato. Because we have disguised this little veggie in grease and fats, we rarely reap the health benefits of the potato. A typical loaded baked potato can usually cost you between 400 and 1000 calories depending on how you dress it up. Another setback is the American mentality that the baked potato and the steak are married to each other. We just can’t have one without the other. Not only that, but a typical steak and baked potato dinner is usually accompanied by a roll of some sort. Adding all of those calories up may turn into far more than you should plan for one meal. Yikes!

On the flip side, diet-conscious individuals have given the potato a big ‘X’ off of their diet because of their starch only label. Though it is a starchy food, there are too many health benefits to just cross it out of your diet. It is also only about 150-200 calories depending on the size. Recent studies have identified over 60 different phytonutrients (antioxidants that fight free radicals) and vitamins in the skin and outer layer just under the skin of potatoes. That means no skimping out on the skin of the potato. That actually goes for any fruit and veggie; ALWAYS eat the skin! It also serves as a great source of vitamin-C and dietary fiber.

Here are some tips for eating a baked potato the RIGHT way:

1. Have it as a meal with a side salad.
2. Eat it for lunch instead of dinner so that you burn those carbs off throughout the rest of your day.
3. Try to let this be your only starchy carbohydrate for the day. I know this is hard for those of us that have to have at least one starch or bread at every meal. Try consuming fruits and veggies instead of the bread you would otherwise consume.
4. Load it with fat free ingredients.
5. Use seasonings to spruce it up instead of fatty bacon bits.
6. ALWAYS eat the skin!

My baked potato:

1. One medium russet potato baked – Wash and dry potato, poke about 4x with a fork all over, and bake at 450 degrees for about an hour.

2. Fat-free plain yogurt (my sour cream substitute) – I use this because it is fat free and it has 5 live and active cultures which keep your digestion system healthy.
3. Fat-free cheddar cheese. Of course 2% or regular cheese is just fine in moderation.
4. Chives
5. Herbes de Provence (Italian seasonings)

Load that sucker!

Optional: We added a little bit of roasted chicken for a little extra flavor.


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Color Palate

Green: Kale
Tan: Mushrooms
Red: Apples
Brown: Peanut Butter
Light Green: Cucumber
Orange: Carrots

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Kale follow-up and weekly challenge

Isn’t that color beeeautiful!!? That’s not even photoshop enhanced! I hope you all have gone out to try your first batch of kale. I myself have been experimenting at the house. Tonight I sauteed kale upon the request of Jordan’s mom Julie. I do have to say that it is one of my new favorite sides! It is similar to spinach but far better. It has more substance and also has a magnificent buttery taste to it. All I did was saute it with a dabble of EVOO and salt and pepper (lightly please). Now it’s your turn to give this baby a try! The worst thing that could happen is that you hate it and if that happens you can toss it to the dog.

For your weekly challenge: I challenge each one of you to eat a whole meal of only vegetables followed by a dessert consisting of only fruit. For some of you this will be nothing. For others it will be like doomsday. Try it at least ONE time this next week and see how it goes. Think of creative ways to present or to cook your veggies. Try a light sautee with EVOO and herbs or go for plain fresh veggies. If you absolutely can’t stand the taste of a raw cruchie carrot, add a dab of hummus to your plate for flavor. Our brains have been conditioned (by our grandmothers and Luby’s) to make sure our plate has exactly one veggie, one meat, one bread, and something deliciously sweet and fattening for dessert. Remember that your diet should consist mostly of veggies, fruits, and nuts. Lots of COLORS. The rest should all be in moderation.

Tonight my plate was green, orange, and red: sauteed kale, carrots, and an apple (with a smidgen of organic, all natural peanut butter). What color is your plate?


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