Archive for May 2013

popsicle workout

Traveling workouts – the popsicle stick workout

Summer is almost here and that often means traveling and vacations. I get many requests for workout ideas while on vacation. An easy and interesting one is the popsicle stick workout. Here is how it works:

You will need:

  • Popsicle sticks (available at Target or any craft store).
  • 2 plastic cups – One labeled “Daily Workout”, one labeled “Done”.
  • Permanent pen


  1. Label each popsicle stick with an exercise. I have provided some example exercises below.
  2. Each day you can grab all, or a few, popsicle sticks from your “Daily Workout” cup.
  3. When you have completed the exercise, put the popsicle stick in to the “Done” cup.
  4. When all exercises are in the “Done” cup, repeat.

Exercise examples:

Here are some example bodyweight exercises that you can write on the popsicle sticks.

25 mountain climbers

20 push ups

20 squat jumps

25 burpees

30 situps

30 tricep dips

30 incline push ups

25 alternating side planks

40 hops (20 each leg)

30 jumping jacks

20 inchworms

30 knee ups

15 spider-man push ups

15 diamond push ups

25 supermans

10 tuck jumps

30 prisoner lunges (15 each side)

40 bicycle crunches

30 skaters

50 squats

50 (25 each leg) step ups


Enjoy your vacation and stay healthy!



Love your fruits and veggies

Processed food – the antinutrients

I was having dinner with friends the other night and the question was raised, “are processed foods making my kids crazy”? My answer was “Heck, Yes!”  This blog contains the information that led me to that answer.

What a typical American eats has been referred to as SAD (Standard American Diet). This is based on a typical diet that is mainly comprised of food that is packaged and processed. Processed food can be high in trans fat, sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, bleached flour, GMO soy/corn/wheat… and as a result devoid of nutrients and fiber. In fact, nutrients and fiber are actually removed from processed foods during their creation so that the texture of the food will be more desirable to the palette.  Then they have to artificially add nutrients back into the food so that we can actually eat the processed food.

Avoiding processed food is ideal, but not always possible. As a Mom I know that sometimes you just want to grab something in a packet and run out the door. Ideally you try and eat real whole foods (ones with a mother or grown from the ground) but when that’s not possible, what should you look for? Do not just read the package’s front label, this can be deceiving. You need to educate yourself on the ingredients you should avoid and why, and then look at the entire product’s ingredient list.

Reading labels

Some simple rules of thumb are, the shorter the ingredient list the better, and if you can not pronounce an ingredient then do not buy the product.

A list of ingredients to avoid

Hydrogenated fats (includes shortening, partially hydrogenated oil) – this can raise your LDL “bad” cholesterol, reduce your HDL “good” cholesterol, and shrink your LDL particles increasing the risk of clotting and heart attack. Hydrogenated fats also increase the body’s inflammation.

Refined Grains – (white pasta, white flour tortillas, white rice, white bread) – Refined grains have had the germ and the bran of the grain removed by a chemical process, and then nutrients are often “enriched” back into the product to meet nutritional guidelines. Not ideal at all.  To avoid refined grains, look for 100% whole … as the first ingredient.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Not only is HFCS created using GMO corn, but it also can mess with your hormones. HFCS has been shown in obesity studies to prevent the body from releasing leptin and insulin, the hormones that let you know that you are full.

Glutamates – (Includes, MSG, autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, gelatin, glutamate, hydrolyzed corn gluten, hydrolyzed protein, textured protein, yeast extract) – These are flavor enhancers. Glutamates are excitotoxins, which can be devastating to the nervous system.

Artificial Sweeteners – Not only is it a chemical, but it has also been shown to increase your risk of metabolic syndrome and cause autoimmune diseases. Consumption of artificial sweeteners have been linked to causing permanent damage to the appetite center of the brain. These are also considered excitotoxins.

Preservatives and Artificial Colors -  Avoid artificial colors with numbers (e.g. Red 40, Blue 2), Potassium Bromate, Sodium Benzoate, Benzoic acid, Sodium nitrate, sulfites (sodium bisulfite, sodium dioxide), MSG and BHA. Avoid processed meats that contain sodium nitrate. BHA is considered “relatively safe” but also a “reasonably anticipated known human carcinogen”… and it’s in a ton of processed foods. Artificial colors have been linked with cancer and behavioral changes. The Center for Science in the Public Interest provides a comprehensive table with a list of safe, relatively safe, and unsafe additives in food.

Processed Food = Crazy Kids

Back to the topic of processed foods and crazy kids, there have been a number of studies on kid’s behavioral problems and artificial colors and preservatives. Some do not believe that it makes a difference, however many studies clearly link hyperactivity with food additives. For example, in 2007 The Lancet reported on a study that showed an increase in hyperactivity of children when they were reintroduced to artificial colors and/or a sodium benzoate preservative (see link below).

Changing your diet to limit your family’s consumption of these ingredients can do you no harm. So why not give it a try?  You may feel better and your kids may stop acting “crazy”.  Sounds like a win-win to me.


For more information:

Jillian Michaels Master Your Metabolism

The Lancet article on hyperactivity

Center For Science in the Public Interest – Learn about food additives

Environmental Working Group – information portal for all making healthy choices and enjoying cleaner environment.

Shopping Guide to Pesticides and Produce (Environmental Working Group). Includes information on organic foods (the dirty dozen, and the clean fifteen).

Center for Food Safety – Genetically Engineered Food – Shopper’s guide

Kind bars – great snack bar made with wholefood ingredients


My breakfast in Seattle.

Boosting our immunity

Autoimmune disease… “an inappropriate immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body”. Recently, I have heard this diagnosis a little too often. It could be considered as relatively good news.. in that your body is not fighting something scarier, but at the same time the body is fighting something with an unknown cause. How can this even be possible? Can we do something to change this?

I just got back from the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute in Seattle… not only am I inspired, but I also feel like I lived every day well while I was there. As I consider this.. I know it has the majority to do with what I ate over the weekend. Not only did I make good food choices and drank lots of water, but I also ate a plant-based diet. I’ve done this a few times – been inspired to follow a plant-based diet, particularly after I read Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollen, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, or watched the documentaries Forks over Knives and Food Inc.

One of the sessions I attended was Boosting our Immunity by Teri Mosey. Totally inspiring! After the session it got me thinking… eating is not just about fat loss and being lean (which is what I have recently been striving for), it’s also about using food to optimize my life, improve my immunity, fuel the cells in my body.

According to Mosey, every system in our body is intertwined… the skeletal, muscular, endocrine, digestive, immune system… the list goes on. If 75% of your immune system is linked to your digestive system, and 90% of your body’s serotonin is in your stomach… how can what you eat not matter to your whole body? Well evidently it does! So… what should you eat? What is optimal for our body?

Here is some interesting information that I learned:

  • The body is a self-healing system. If self-healing is optimal, you are physically a new person every 7-10 years.
  • You want the pH of your blood to be slightly alkaline. This is ideal for your immune system and allows optimal self-healing. In an alkaline body, cancer cells can not grow.
  • So, what causes the opposite; what causes acidity? This is what causes inflammation in the body. It includes, processed and packaged food, genetically modified food, excess protein, fat, sugar, alcohol, coffee, dairy and meat, sweeteners, stress, and lack of sleep,
  • Anti inflammatory (alkaline forming foods) include walnuts, avocados, bitter-leafy greens..
  • The most genetically-modified food in the US are wheat, corn and soy.
  • Carbohydrates should be fruits and vegetables, and gluten-free alkaline grains (quinoa, amaranths, millet)
  • The only sugars that do not harm the immune system are maple syrup, unheated honey, unrefined cane juice.
  • The digestive system is our enteric brain, our second gut… hence the term “go with your gut”… therefore by keeping your digestive system balanced and healthy you can positively effect your emotions.
  • Supportive nutrients for a healthy digestive tract include, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, mint, ginger, sage, thyme, rosemary, papaya, pineapple. Natural prebiotics (food that feeds the good bacteria in your stomach) are bananas, raw garlic and raw sauerkraut.
  • The number 1 causes of allergies/intolerance are gluten and dairy.
  • Grass-fed, organic, antibiotic and hormone-free meat should be consumed in moderation.
  • Going gluten free needs an all-or-nothing approach. As soon as you have one meal with gluten, you have caused inflammation and you are back to square one.
  • To reduce gas from beans, cook with Kombu seaweed in the water (and scoop off the foam in the water while boiling) or used Eden bran canned beans (organic, non-BPA can linings, cooked with Kombu seaweed and not salt).
  • Eat with the seasons is advantageous to the immune system

So..I found this information really interesting and I am definitely going to try a plant-based diet while I keep researching … but be your own nutritional detective – we are all different.. find what works for you!

My breakfast in Seattle.

My breakfast in Seattle. 5oz broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, coconut milk, grapefruit, almonds, cranberries, hemp seeds, chia seeds and cacao nibs

Some stuff to check out:

Teri Mosey’s Website at

Eat to Live food Pyramid