Friday, December 19, 2014

My Favorite Tips to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Man eating a packed lunch filled with foods based on Alyssa's tips to stay healthy.
Since I already covered the fitness tips to stay healthy during the holiday season, I thought I should also share some eating tips to stay healthy during the holidays. I’ve found a few great rules that have helped me feel healthy and look great, even through the holiday parties, family gatherings and festive celebrations.
Eating tips to stay healthy during the holidays:
  • Keep a food journal. But, actually do it. Write down everything you eat and drink so you can look back and see how you have been eating. This should help you spend more time deciding if an extra slice of that pecan pie is worth it, since you know you will have to write it down. Remember, only splurge on the sweet treats that are really, really worth it to you.
  • Remember liquid calories. It’s easy to forget about the liquid calories when it comes to the holidays. Wine, beer and cocktails are chock full of sugar and calories, so be sure to include them on the list of sweet treats to indulge in only if it is really, really worth it. Be sure to limit yourself to one or two drinks or you may be consuming far more calories and sugar than you might have thought. Stay hydrated during the day so that you don’t become super thirsty when all the sugary beverages are within reach.
  • Eat slowly. If you eat very quickly, your body doesn’t have time to send the signal to your brain that you are full. Try to eat slowly and be conscious of when you are starting to get full. Standing up and realizing you have a stomach ache from eating too much is the worst! I suggest chewing longer because the food will be easier for your body to digest.
  • Brush teeth right after eating and drinking. I like to brush my teeth and maybe floss and use a little mouthwash right after I eat or drink. I become less interested in consuming something that will make my teeth feel dirty and ruin my fresh breath. The best tips to stay healthy eliminate the temptation to overindulge.
  • Eat the healthy things first. Eat the healthier options first so you don’t fill up on the unhealthier stuff and end up not having room in your stomach for any of the foods that have the nutrients your body really needs.
  • Don’t skip meals. Eat a good breakfast and lunch, even if you have a dinner to go to. It’s not healthy to try to starve yourself during the day for more stomach room at night. And you will probably fill up on foods that aren’t healthy during the night, rather than eating healthy during the day and then enjoying the unhealthier dishes in smaller amounts.
  • Wear a sexy outfit. There’s no greater motivation than continuing to feel great in an outfit that you love. If you feel healthy and sexy, you will eat like it! This is one of my favorite tips to stay healthy because it’s such a positive motivation.
I hope you can find ways to follow these tips to stay healthy during your holiday celebrations. All it takes is a decision and the determination to carry it out. Cheers to a healthy season!
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tips For Healthy Holiday Fitness

Woman doing bicycle crunches as part of a holiday fitness routine.
Okay, so healthy holiday fitness is not always a top priority during the winter season. But it should be! Taking a break from fitness means a long road to recovery from extra Christmas cookies, holiday drinks and large, enticing meals. Decide on holiday fitness NOW so you don’t have to worry about catching up in the future.

These are the tips I follow to stay committed to holiday fitness, even during the hustle and bustle of the season:
  • Have a plan. Holiday fitness absolutely needs to be planned out so you know exactly what you are doing and when; this will save time and eliminate the excuse of not knowing what to do. Be sure to take family time and events into consideration; maybe the holiday workouts require you to get up a little earlier or stay up a little later, it’s totally worth it!
  • Get a partner. Find a friend to join you in your holiday fitness journey so you have someone to stay accountable to. Since holiday schedules can get very busy, you don’t have to workout at the same time as that person, but make sure you both have a plan and can talk about it together. Try getting together for one workout per week and then doing the rest on your own. Be sure to regularly debrief each other on how it’s going. Two is better than one!
  • Workout at home. If you have time to workout at a gym, great! If not, have an arsenal of home workouts that don’t require equipment; it’s surprising how much of a workout you can get by simply using your own bodyweight. I call this one “Santa’s Christmas Cookie Cure”: 10 burpees, 30 second plank, 10 squats, 50 jumping jacks, 30 second wall sit, 30 russian twists. It’s great for a quick workout or you can run through it 2-3 times during your favorite holiday movie.
  • Every little bit counts. When it comes to holiday fitness, every small effort you can put in counts. If you end up missing a workout, don’t let it stress you out! Instead, commit to doing 30 pushups and situps before and after a good nights sleep.
  • Keep evaluating. Figure out your goals and stick to them. If your goal is to maintain your weight, keep weighing yourself. If your goal is to get stronger, keep track of what you can do. Seeing the results of what you are accomplishing is the best motivation!
Keep your holiday fitness goals a priority this season by following these tips. Remember, what you decide now will determine the future, so determine your health and fitness goals now so they are still achievable during the holiday season.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Quick Soup Recipes for Clean Eating

Spoon full of french onion, quick soup.
There’s nothing better than a quick soup for a great meal. I love making a big batch of soup so I have extras for future lunches. The awesome thing about making a quick soup is that once you get everything in the pot, all you have to do is wait, giving you extra time to get things done or take a seat and relax. If that sounds appealing to you, I’ve got 3 great quick soup recipes for you to try!  
Quick Soup 1: Ferocious French Onion Soup
Ingredients:
4 cups beef broth
2 medium sized onions
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:

Wash and slice the onions, then saute with garlic in coconut oil until soft. Add beef broth and vinegar and boil until the soup has cooked down by approximately half. Serve with cheese of your choice over the top.

Quick Soup 2: Beneficial BrocoCauli Soup
Ingredients:

2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small head of broccoli, roughly chopped
1 small head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin powder
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Heat coconut oil in a big pot. Add chopped onion and cook on low heat until soft. Add garlic and cumin powder, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable stock and cauliflower and broccoli. and bring to boil. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes until vegetables are soft. Remove from heat, let cool, then purée in blender. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Quick Soup 3: Spectacular Southwestern Chicken Overnight Soup
Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp chili powder
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16 oz) bag thawed corn
1 (12 oz) jar salsa
Avocado to taste
Pepper
Lime juice
Directions:

Put the chicken breasts on the bottom of the crock pot then sprinkle chili powder over chicken. Pour tomatoes, salsa, beans and corn over the chicken breasts. Cook on low 5-7 hours or until chicken easily falls apart. I like to serve with fresh chunks of avocado, a dash of pepper and lime juice over the top, delicious!

Remember, you can add your own twists to any of these quick soups. Think of an ingredient you really love or something you think would complement the soup and try adding it!
P.S. These quick soup recipes are all clean eating approved :)

Next time you are meal planning, think about the ease of a quick soup and add it to your list. It’s a great way to stay healthy, save some time and experiment with flavors!
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stretching Benefits You Won’t Want to Miss Out On

Woman experiencing stretching benefits.
I don’t know about you but I feel refreshed, relaxed and satisfied after a great workout that includes some ballistic stretching beforehand and static stretching afterwards. Ballistic stretching is stretching that includes movement to get the muscles going, like doing arm circles or leg kicks. With static stretching, you sit in a stretch and push yourself as opposed to using movement. Ballistic stretching is awesome before a workout to prevent injury and I like doing some static stretches afterwards for increased flexibility. Stretching benefits extend from body to mind and it’s one of my favorite aspects of a fit life!
Stretching benefits:
Increases range of motion. The general increase in motion is obvious when it comes to stretching benefits. When muscles are more flexible, they are less susceptible to be torn and snapped during movement. Plus, there’s a real sense of accomplishment in being able to touch your toes. :)

Promotes circulation. Stretching strengthens blood flow by increasing blood supply to the muscles. The stretching benefits for muscles is that they get additional oxygen and nutrients for increased circulation.
Helps with aches and pains. Keeping the muscles stretched out helps keep aches and pains at bay by preventing muscle tightness that can cause them to painfully cramp up. Keeping the muscles in your neck, back, hips and chest relieves the pressure on the lumbar spine and can help prevent postural problems.

Peace of mind. Stretching benefits can extend beyond the muscles to your mind. As the muscles contract and lengthen, the whole body can relax into a calm emotional state. This is also a great time to reflect on the workout or the day ahead of you.
Lean, toned muscles. The benefits of stretching include muscles that look lean and toned instead of condensed and overly bulky. Be sure to stretch so more of those beautiful muscles that you’ve been working so hard for can be seen for all they are worth.
I love experiencing the stretching benefits from taking a few extra minutes before and after a workout to stretch out my muscles. I hope you are enjoying all the joys of stretching too!
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Friday, December 5, 2014

How to Eat for Energy

Healthy foods like apples are something you should eat for energy.
We’ve all been attacked by the afternoon energy blues and they can be tough! Turning to sugar or caffeine is not the answer, it’s going to give you false energy that will cause you to crash later on. So, I’d like to share with you some foods that you should eat for energy to help your body naturally ward off those wary afternoon blues.
Foods to eat for energy:
Veggies. If you are trying to eat for energy, veggies are amazing! Some vegetables have protein, complex carbs and good fats that will keep you energized. I recommend bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers and broccoli. Iron deficiencies can cause fatigue, so eat foods like spinach that are full of iron to rev up your energy.
Healthy Starches. These are typically full of fiber and protein to keep your energy high and stomach satisfied for hours. I love to add a little brown rice, lentils, beans, granola or quinoa to my afternoon snacks as I eat for energy.
Fruits. Besides being absolutely delicious, fruits are an awesome source because they are chock full of antioxidants, natural sugars and complex carbs that turn into energy. Some of my favorites are apples, berries, melons, pears and coconut. Add a little lemon to your water and you’ve got a tasty burst of liquid energy!
Proteins. Add a protein to your snack or meal as you eat for energy; it will help sustain energy to keep you going strong all day. Good sources of protein are almonds, yogurt, protein bars, hummus, salmon, eggs, beans and lentils.
Water. Sometimes it’s not all about how you eat for energy, staying hydrated is important too! Drink enough water throughout the day or dehydration will slow you down. Remember, caffeine is even more dehydrating so try drinking more water for energy before sipping some coffee.
Dark Chocolate. My favorite! Grab a piece of dark chocolate when it’s time to eat for energy. Make sure it is dark so that it is full of antioxidants and doesn’t have all the added sugar of milk chocolate, which can cause a sugar high and crash later on.

Aside from eating the right foods, general health is so important for staying energetic the whole day long. Be sure to eat real, unprocessed food. Choose food that is local and in season to get the maximum amount of vitamins and nutrients and eat a balanced selection of foods to feel good all day long. Don’t forget to get enough sleep - it’s difficult to eat for energy if you aren’t properly resting up during the night.

It’s not always about the shots of caffeine and bursts of sugar. Be healthy as you eat for energy and stay alert the whole day by eating these delicious foods throughout the day.
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

10 Tips to Survive the Night Shifts



Trust me, I know how difficult it can be to balance life when the night shifts show up on the calendar. Although they inevitably mess with our rhythms, there are some steps to take that will help with survival during the night shifts and making life a little easier.


Here are my 10 tips on how to make the best out of night shifts:
  1. Get enough sleep beforehand. Create an atmosphere of sleep if you need to - use ear plugs, eye masks, room darkening curtains and the scent of lavender. DON’T use alcohol to help you sleep because it can disrupt the REM cycle of your sleep so you will feel less rested when you wake up.
  2. Make healthy meal and snack choices. It is essential to choose the right foods and drinks during night shifts to get energy and avoid crashes from too much sugar or caffeine. Eat proteins, veggies, fruits and drink plenty of water. Eating small portions of food throughout the night will help to regulate your sugar level and provide a steady source of energy. A healthy you is a happy you!
  3. Be active to stay alert. If the night shifts are going slow, make sure you are being productive and getting things done. If you need an extra burst of energy, try doing something active like running up and down the stars or throwing down a few burpees in the break room. P.S. this is also a good way to impress your co-workers :)
  4. Don’t skip the workouts. Be sure to plan time for workouts. It will be difficult at first but getting a workout in before your night shifts can give you a burst of energy. If you start skipping your workouts, you will notice a difference in your health and stamina. Stay energized by continuing your workouts!
  5. Use caffeine, don’t abuse it. Caffeine is great to indulge in before or at the beginning of night shifts, but don’t become too dependent on it or drink it for several hours before you need to sleep. It can disrupt your circadian rhythm which will make shifted sleeping even more difficult.
  6. Wear a watch. It can be disorienting to work during the time you normally sleep, so wear a digital watch during night shifts. This will help you stay alert and not miss important responsibilities that depend on a timer.
  7. Get to know your co-workers. Night shifts are better with friends! Get to know your co-worker so you can look forward to enjoying the time you get to spend with your friends during the work night.
  8. Create a healthy balance. Make sure to intentionally plan enough time with friends and family so you don’t let those crazy night shifts get in the way of the important relationships in your life.
  9. Don’t commit to daytime activities if you need sleep. Just because you aren’t working during the day doesn’t mean you are available. That is your time, so make sure you are getting the right amount of sleep when you need it.
  10. Monitor your health. The stresses that come with night shifts can alter your health. Make sure to check in and make sure you are staying healthy or it may be time to adjust your schedule.


Night shifts have their benefits, but they can also a wrench in a good sleeping, eating and working out schedule. Make sure to prepare for success in night shifts by following these 10 tips and share any additional tips you have!

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Easy Tuna Recipes

Tuna over greens - a simple tuna recipe.
Hey guys! Let’s talk about tuna. Tuna has some great nutritional benefits, so I wanted to share a few easy tuna recipes with you and explain some of the health benefits. Tuna contains omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation in your body and can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Niacin is a B-vitamin found in tuna that can help with the health of the digestive system, skin and nerves. Tuna is also a source of vitamin B12, which supports the functioning of the brain and can help turn food into usable energy.


Canned tuna contains mercury which can cause nervous system damage, so it is a good idea to limit how much you eat if it is canned. One of the easy tuna recipes listed below uses canned tuna, but you can also bake and pull apart a fillet if you’d rather not use the canned. Albacore, or white tuna, contains more omega-3 vitamins but has a higher mercury level. Skipjack, or light tuna, contains less mercury so you can eat more of it. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, it is safe to eat one serving of skipjack every 3-4 days and one serving of white tuna every 9-14 days. Choose a canned tuna that has “BPA free” on the label to limit your exposure to the harmful chemical found in the linings of cans. Otherwise, stick with the fresh tuna filets to avoid the potential hazards of the mercury.


Let’s get to the fun part, here are a few easy tuna recipes!


Easy tuna recipes: grilled tuna steaks



Ingredients
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 clove minced garlic
½ tsp chopped fresh oregano
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp thyme
4 4-oz tuna steaks


Directions
In a large dish, mix together orange juice, soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, oregano, pepper and thyme. Place the tuna steaks in the marinade and turn to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Lightly oil grill grate and turn on to high heat. Cook steaks for 5 minutes, then turn and baste with marinade. Cook for 5 more minutes or until desired doneness.  


Easy tuna recipes: Tuna & Kelp Noodle Stir Fry



Ingredients
1 Tbsp refined coconut oil
7 ounces ahi tuna, cubed
½ sweet bell pepper
⅓ cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
4 mushrooms, sliced
½ package of kelp noodles, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
2 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
salt and pepper
dash of crushed red pepper
¼ cup carrot, julienne-cut
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh chopped scallions


Directions
Season cubed tuna with salt and pepper and 2 tsp of soy sauce, set aside. In large skillet or wok, add oil to skillet until melted over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onions mushrooms and carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and kelp noodles and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add tuna to pan cook for 1-3 minutes or until desired doneness is reached. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil, crushed red pepper and fresh cilantro. Toss and serve.


Easy tuna recipes: Tuna Lettuce Wraps



Ingredients
1 can tuna
1 avocado
chopped red onion
salt and pepper to taste
½ tomato, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juicce
lettuce


Directions
In a small bowl, mix 1 can of tuna and 1 avocado with a fork until mixed. Add red onion, tomato, lemon juice and salt pepper and mix well. Wrap tuna mixture in lettuce and it’s ready to eat. Easy tuna recipes don’t get easier than that!

I hope you enjoy these easy tuna recipes, I suggest eating tuna for a meal once every 1-2 weeks to get all the health benefits. These dishes would go great with a side of fresh veggies in the summer, or cooked veggies in the chillier seasons. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Great Arm workouts to accessorize that little black dress

Great arm workouts are the answer to looking amazing in those strapless dresses, halter tops and swimsuits. And guess what? You don’t need to go to the gym to get toned arms. Great arm workouts can be done in the comfort of your own home! Here are the moves I’ve put together to use as one of your great arm workouts; doing this 3-4 times a week will get incredible results so you won’t have to think twice before choosing which shoulder bearing piece to wear. Work up to the numbers I suggest - start with whatever works best for you and then gradually increase.




My top exercises for great arm workouts:

Push Ups (25) - Standard push-ups are one of the best moves around. Great arm workouts usually involve push ups if you are looking for something that works every muscle in the arm in addition to the core. Make sure to keep your body straight the whole time.

Arm Circles (50) - This one seems simple but it can be a killer! Stand with feet shoulder width apart and engage the core muscles. Then put your arms straight out to the side and do 50 arm circles backward and 50 forward. For intensity in great arm workouts, add some weights!

Chair Dips (25) - Don’t forget about the triceps during great arm workouts. Put hands on the seat of a chair with fingers facing forward and feet on the ground in front of you with knees straight. Dip your booty straight down the ground and then push back up.

Push Up Circles (10) - Start in a push up position and shift your chest over your right wrist as far as possible, then lower down to one inch above the ground. Shift chest as far over left wrist as possible and then push back and return to normal push up position. Repeat 10 ten times and then do the same thing going in the opposite direction. If this one doesn’t make you sore, I don’t know what will!

Push Up Jumps (20) - Involve the push up position as much as possible for great arm workouts! For this move, start in a push position then jump hands and feet out at the same time to make an X position with your body and jump back to push up position.

Plange Dip (20) - Start in an elbow plank, then slowly rock forward until chin is one inch from ground and pull back to elbow plank position. This is also super awesome for the core so make sure to be squeezing your stomach too.

Pike to Elbows (25) - Start in a downward dog position, slowly lower right elbow to the ground and then left so that both forearms are on the ground, then push right elbow back to straight and follow with the left.

Pike Push Up (20) - Start in a downward dog position, then bend elbow to touch the top of the head to floor and push back up. This move is awesome for working the shoulders so make sure to fit it in!

What are you waiting for? Get your great arm workouts done this week for extra confidence next week. Toned arms are in your future!


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