Healthy Snacks: Alternatives to Potato Chips

So you’re having a snack attack and all you’re craving are salty, crunchy potato chips.  It’s so easy to pinch open a bag and go to town, but reversing the negative health effects of potato chips isn’t quite as simple.  What if we told you there are some healthy alternatives that will quench your craving without the guilt?  Yup, today we’re crunching up some healthy snacks and sharing a variety of alternatives to potato chips to try next time you get the chip itch.

Sweet Potato Chips:  Sweeter and healthier, sweet potatoes pack in more vitamin A, manganese and antioxidants than regular white potatoes.  When seasoned with certain spices, this chip satisfies the need for sweet and savory, all in one.

taro chipsTaro Chips:  This root vegetable cousin to the potato has less fat and more fiber and Vitamin E than potatoes, but tastes very similar.  It is common in Asian, Hispanic and Hawaiian cuisines.

Apple Chips:  Sweet, delicious and easy-to-bake makes the perfect combination for this alternative to potato chips.  Making apple chips is as simple as thinly slicing apples, sprinkling them with cinnamon and popping them in the oven for a few hours.  And you know what they say about an apple a day…

Dry Cereal:  If it’s the crunch and repetitive motion of popping a chip in your mouth that you’re craving, select a wholesome whole grain cereal instead.  Most cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals and are much healthier than your average chip or cracker.  Just be sure to avoid those with excess sugar (which is about half the cereal aisle) and sodium.

Kale Chips:  Kale is one of the trendiest superfoods right now.  But did you know it comes in chip form?  Yup!  You may actually like it better crunchy because it can be thick and chewy otherwise.  Kale has a ton of iron, Vitamin K, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that support entire body health.  Add ranch, parmesan cheese or other bold seasonings to make this chip a savory delight.

Rice or Corn Chips:  Chips and crackers can be made of other starches as well, including rice and corn.  These alternatives to potato chips add nutritional variety to the diet and are usually lighter than regular chips.

plantain chipsPlantain Chips:  This less sweet sibling to the banana makes a tasty chip.  Its fibrous consistency makes it easy to turn into a chip.  Plantains offer more Vitamin A and C than potatoes, which are two important antioxidants that help the body’s immune system.

Whole Wheat Tortilla:  Ok, it’s not crunchy but it’s great for dipping into hummus, salsa or ranch dips as a much healthier alternative.  In fact, whole grains are an important part of a well-balanced diet so you can check off one of your daily food groups with this snack.

Green Bean, Carrot or Zucchini Fries:  While potato fries are often as unhealthy as potato chips, frying veggies in a healthy vegetable or nut oil is a great alternative.  Simply coat your sliced veggies in egg and then dip it into a mixture of bread crumbs and seasonings.  You can then sauté them or bake them using a drizzle of your favorite healthy oil.

Next time you have a chip itch, we hope you enjoy these healthy alternatives to potato chips!  Happy snacking!

Unexpected Causes of Fatigue

Being tired is no fun and can be downright aggravating.  Fatigue makes us less productive, less coordinated, irritable, groggy and sometimes miserable to be around.  Millions of people suffer from fatigue for unknown reasons.   Knowing the unexpected causes of fatigue may be a clue into your sleepiness problem and how to resolve it.

trying to sleepThe most obvious cause of fatigue is not getting enough sleep.  So that’s not unexpected at all.  But why you are not sleeping well may surprise you.  Beyond not consuming too much caffeine, sugar and alcohol before bed, your bedtime habits and sleep environment may cause you to be restless during the night.  Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime and keep the lights dim to prepare yourself for sleep.  Ensure your bedroom is at an optimal cool temperature, your bed is not cluttered with clothes, books, pets or children.  Most of us need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to wake up feeling refreshed.

Now that your sleep habits are in order, we can move on to other unexpected causes of fatigue.  Diet is at the top of the list.  A balanced diet – one with lots of protein, some healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and tons of fruits and veggies – is one of the best ways to achieve more energy.  Too much sugar affects our blood glucose levels causing us to feel sluggish and possibly gain weight.  So grabbing that sugar boost in the late afternoon will actually backfire on you by early evening.  Also, consuming too much sugar and fat can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes that causes major fatigue.  Keep your blood sugar level stable with a wholesome diet throughout the day.

Also important in your diet is Vitamin B, Vitamin D and H2O.  Vitamin B, especially B12, and Vitamin D are important nutrients for breaking down glucose into energy.  Dietary sources of Vitamin B and D are meat, fish, cheese, eggs, soy and fortified cereals.  Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to weak bones and fatigued muscles.  Furthermore, water is vital to your energy level too.  Dehydration can be overwhelmingly tiring.  It’s essential to drink eight to twelve glasses of water daily to keep your cells working at their highest capacity.

exerciseBelieve it or not, vigorous exercise is a key component to relieving fatigue.  You may think that exercise will make you tired but it actually breeds energy.  When you move your body – even by simple walking – you accelerate blood flow and allow oxygenated blood to reach every inch of your body.  This supports more energy, better mobility and improved cognitive function.  It may take a month or two to start feeling the invigorating effects of exercise but stick with it and you’ll notice a significant increase in your daily energy.  Try to not exercise within three hours of bedtime to ensure you have time to cool off and wind down properly.

Other unexpected causes of fatigue include hormone imbalances, infections and anemia.  When hormones are off-kilter, our bodies can fall out of whack quickly.  One huge sign of a hormone issue is fatigue.  Hormone imbalance can also lead to depression which acerbates fatigue and low energy.  If your body is fighting an infection, you may feel fatigued even if you have no other symptoms.  And anemia is a blood condition in which the body does not retain enough iron, causing severe sleepiness.

These unexpected causes of fatigue plague countless people every day.  Watch out for the surprising ways you could be causing your own drowsiness.  Once you identify them, turn them around to ensure days full of energy and vitality.


10 TV Moms that Taught us Invaluable Lessons

Although fictional, the moms we’ve watched on television over the decades have taught us a lot.  They’re encouraging, caring, loving, funny, outrageous and sometimes even magical.  Sounds a lot like real moms!

Much like our own mothers, we have grown up with many of these moms and learned a thing or two along the way.  In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re sharing our top 10 list of TV moms that taught us invaluable lessons.

ModernFamilyGloria Delgado-Pritchett from Modern Family:  While her English isn’t perfect, her parenting is spot on.  As mother to mature-beyond-his-years Manny, Gloria is supportive of everything he does.  Between his choice of activities, how he speaks and his attire, Manny marches to the beat of his own drum and Gloria is hilariously behind him every step of the way.

Mom Lesson:  Believe in your kids and let them be who they were meant to be.

brady bunchCarol Brady from The Brady Bunch:  As mom of three and step-mom of three, Carol Brady had her hands full.  And as we all know, siblings don’t always get along.  But once your kids reach a certain age, teaching them independence in resolving conflicts is vital.  Always being the negotiator impedes social growth and problem-solving.

Mom Lesson:  Sometimes siblings have to work out their issues on their own.  Let your kids make their own mistakes and choices and guide them towards the right solutions.

MomBonnie from Mom:  Ok, she’s a recovering addict, rather whacky and never follows the rules.  But she’s still always there for her family, including her daughter and grandchildren.  Moms who have made their own share of mistakes have a lot to teach us about who we want to be and where to avoid landmines.

Mom Lesson:  Nobody is perfect, even moms, and moms have problems too.  But good moms are those that are there for you when you need them.

bewitchedSamantha Montgomery from Bewitched:  Moms are magical – we all know it’s true.  Samantha Montgomery may have had a leg up with her twitching witch nose, but the true magic behind her was her phenomenal mothering skills.  When all hope seems lost, a mother’s magical touch can do wonders.

Mom Lesson:  Sometimes it takes a little mom magic to get things done.

The Goldbergs: Season 1-- Episode 106Beverly Goldberg from The Goldbergs:  Her perfect kids can do no wrong and she’s going to let everyone in the world know it.  She meddles, she complains, she will do anything for her kids.  While her endless support sometimes backfires, she shows us that kids really just need someone in their corner.

Mom Lesson:  Someone’s got to be your biggest fan and it may as well be your mom.

cosbyClair Huxtable from The Bill Cosby Show:  As a powerful attorney, supportive mom of many, loving wife and family woman, Clair shows us that moms can have it all.  Moms can juggle career, family, love, friendships and more.  It may be a struggle from time-to-time, but it can be done.

Mom Lesson: Moms can do it all!

facts_of_lifeMrs. Edna Garrett from The Facts of Life:  Mrs. Garrett was the foster mom every teenage girl wanted.  It wasn’t that she was cool or even super fun, but she was the shoulder to lean on, the voice of wisdom and the glue that kept this group of girls together.

Mom Lesson:  The woman who birthed you isn’t your only mom in this life.

home improvementJill Taylor from Home Improvement:  When you have three boys and a manly husband who likes to do things his own way, sometimes you have to be crafty in how you get what you want out of your family.  Jill made it look effortless when all of her ideas seemed like her husbands and her rough-and-tumble boys needed to learn a lesson.

Mom Lesson:  Moms can always outfox you and chances are, you will never even know it.

DOC MCSTUFFINS, MOMDr. McStuffins on Doc McStuffins:  As a doctor and mom, Dr. McStuffins teaches her kids a lot about health and social skills.  She is a wonderful role model to her kids and encourages imaginary play surrounding real life experiences.  This is one doctor who embraces make-believe in the name of child development.

Mom Lesson:  Playing is an important part of childhood.

Murphy BrownMurphy Brown from Murphy Brown:  First she had her career and then she had her baby.  Not every family looks the same and women who long to be mother’s have many options of how to achieve their goals.  Murphy Brown was an enlightening and ground-breaking example of having the strength and courage to make your own path.

Mom Lesson:  Having a child can happen in a variety of ways.  Reach for your dreams until you catch them.


Happy Mother’s Day!

Breakfast Rules: How to get the Most out of Your Breakfast

breakfast rulesThe way you start your day is often an indicator of what type of day you will have.  Beginning your day with a healthy and strategic breakfast can get you off on the right foot for a bright and productive day.

Eating gives you energy, which is what our bodies need to operate at their best.  When you eat certain foods early in the day, you can set yourself up for a variety of health and wellness benefits including sustained energy, satiation, better blood flow, more physical stamina, better mental clarity and even weight loss.

Follow these breakfast rules to get the most out of your breakfast every morning:

1)      Never skip breakfast.  Even when your morning turns to chaos and you are running late, be sure to eat something for breakfast.  Just like your car cannot run on zero gas, your body is the same.  You need fuel to power your day and that’s breakfast.

2)      Eat soon after you wake up.  Eating revs your metabolism, which is how our bodies burn food for energy.  When you eat within an hour of waking up, you get your body going right away.  This helps burn more fat throughout the day too.

3)      Eat protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.  These three elements make up a balanced breakfast and will keep your body full for longer.  When we feel satiated, we are less likely to grab unhealthy snacks and therefore eliminate unnecessary calories.  Great breakfast proteins include Greek yogurt, eggs, turkey bacon, chicken sausage and milk.  Healthy fats such as eggs, cheese, olive oil and fish high in essential fatty acids are a wonderful choice, and whole grains and oats make terrific complex carbs.

4)      Limit sugar, salt and processed foods.  As tempting as they may be, most protein bars have a ton of sugar, salt and other chemicals.  If you have to grab one quickly, make sure you have plenty of natural bars available, such as those with only fruit, nuts and grains.  Stay away from sugary cereals, salty high-fat meats and other packaged breakfast items that are highly processed.

5)      Select whole grain options.  When it comes to breakfast cereals and breads, there are many choices.  Go for whole wheat or multi-grain when you have the option.  This includes cold and warm cereals, muffins, bagels, toast and tortillas.  You can greatly increase your nutritional and fiber intake by making this easy substitution.

6)      Drink lots of water.  Your body is essentially dehydrated from going all night without water.  You need to replenish first thing in the morning by drinking at least 2 glasses of water.

7)      And you can drink your breakfast too.  Smoothies are a fantastic on-the-go breakfast that you can make yourself.  Add a couple of fruits, at least one vegetable and some Greek yogurt or soy milk to ensure you’re packing a variety of nutrients into your liquid breakfast.  You can even scoop a natural superfood powder in for added nutritional value.


Stick to these breakfast rules and you’ll be bursting with energy every day!

8 Ways to Create a Sexier Bedroom

sexy bedroomGetting in the mood for some cuddle time with your honey may take a lot of effort these days.  If your love life gets lost in the happy chaos of your life, you may need a little love boost.

We all know that our environment can alter the way we feel.  So, one of the best ways to a better love life is a sexier bedroom.   You’ll definitely want to involve all of your senses in your sexier bedroom to experience all of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches that love has to offer.

Today we’re sharing 8 ways to create a sexier bedroom:

Keep it Clean:  Nothing is a turn-off more than baskets full of laundry, piles of bills and dust bunnies filled with pet fur.  Make your bedroom a clutter-free zone for the sake of love.  Wash your sheets often, make your bed daily, hide laundry in your closet, move signs of kids and pets and stack papers elsewhere.  Your love nest needs to be an adult-zone designed for optimal sensuality.

Satin Sheets:  Tussling through silky sheets is about as romantic as it gets.  While nuzzling up with your partner is titillating, enhance the experience with satin sheets.  Select warm colors like light grey, lavender, camel, and subtle shades of green for the best visual experience as well.

Turn on Music:  Music can change your mood instantly. Agree on some romantic beats that will put both of you in the mood.  If you have different opinions of what gets you going, create a playlist and alternate picks.

Dim Lamps:  Lighting is important to set the right tone in your bedroom.  Kill the harsh overhead lights and use dim lamps instead.  Don’t exceed 60 watt bulbs and a lamp with a dimmer is always best.  Light colored shades will allow just the right amount of light for the occasion.

Scented Candles:  Of course candles are the most romantic type of light as long as you aren’t at risk of knocking them over.  Scented candles can add a stimulating aroma to your room.  Peppermint, musk, vanilla and jasmine are among the scents that elicit passion in the bedroom.

Breakfast in Bed:  A romantic breakfast in bed may end up tingling more than your taste buds.  Take turns preparing this tradition on lazy mornings.  If your partner needs a hint, buy him breakfast-in-bed trays as a gift.

Keep the Temperature Just Right:  If you’re too cold you’ll want to bundle up beneath the covers.  If you’re too hot, cuddling with your lover will become a sticky mess.  Set the thermostat to the ideal temp to keep both of you in the mood.

Make it Feel Like a Hotel:  So you’re not at the Ritz but you can use your imagination.  Place a bottle of water on your nightstands, turn down the sheets and leave a chocolate on your pillows.  These small touches may bring your back to your last vacation when you just couldn’t keep your hands off one another.

Earth Day: 10 Simple Ways to Start Saving the Earth Today

With Earth Day just two days away, we should each consider our environmental footprint.  The earth is big and we are small, but together we can make a tremendous difference, not only on a local level, but also globally.  Starting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle may seem daunting.  Like any lifestyle changes, baby steps are the best approach to long term change.  We’re sharing 10 simple ways to start saving the earth today as an initial step to jumpstart or renew your commitment to sustainable practices this Earth Day.

woman-on-pinterest1)      Pay bills and view statements online.  Most of us get between five and ten regular monthly bills and at least one bank statement a month.  If these are mailed to you, the paper being used grows pretty quickly over the course of a year.  That’s not to mention the ink, energy to print and environmental expense of sending items through the mail.  Cut down on all of these negative impacts by paying bills and viewing statements online.  Most utility, phone and television companies, as well as banks, offer online options to keep your bills in order and cut out unnecessary snail mail.

2)      Bring reusable cloth bags to stores.  Plastic bags are not biodegradable and often end up in the ocean and eventually the food chain.  This wastefulness (and health hazard) can be avoided by bringing your own cloth bags whenever you go shopping.  This not only includes the grocery store, but also when you shop for clothes or visit discount department stores.  Cloth bags will be sturdier anyways.

3)      Change your light bulbs.  Compact florescent light bulbs create significantly less pollution than regular high watt light bulbs.  If the tone of the light bothers your eyes, use them in spaces where you don’t spend much time, such as closets, pantries and your garage.

4)      Pick up litter when you see it.  It may seem unpleasant but cleaning up trash from around your neighborhood and parks is a big way you can support your community.  Besides being unsightly, trash can disturb animal habitats and lead to harmful water streams.  Litter is a public danger and fire hazard too.  Plus, if you don’t pick it up, someone will be hired to do it, which will cost you money in the long run.

Best-BPA-Free-Water-Bottles-e14284211584945)      Don’t drink bottled water.  With all the wonderful reusable, dishwasher safe water bottles available, drinking bottled water on a regular basis is just not necessary, even if you recycle the bottles.  Plastic is not biodegradable in landfills and can cause water and air pollution.

6)      Use rechargeable batteries.  Disposable batteries pose a big threat to our environment because they contain heavy metals that eventually release into the air.  Buying a battery charger and rechargeable batteries prevents battery accumulation in landfills.  This expense will also pay off as you will not have to continuously buy batteries.

7)      Maintain your car.  When your car works optimally, it will release less harmful emissions and save on gas.  Regularly checking oil levels, tire pressure and air filters will ensure your car works properly.  Maintenance and improving the performance of your car may prevent major issues that could impact the environment and cost a lot of money to repair.  Also, try not to carry around extra weight as that requires more gas.

newspaper-gift-wrap8)      Wrap gifts creatively.  Instead of buying wrapping paper and gift bags, get creative with your gift wrap.  Use newspapers, paper grocery bags or your child’s artwork as a fun and unique way to give a present.

9)      Unplug unused electronics and turn off your computer.  Believe it or not, leaving cell phone chargers, night lights and hand-held vacuums plugged in all the time pulls energy as does leaving your computer on all night.  Besides lamps and clocks, try to unplug items when they are not in use to save household energy.

10)  Use water conservatively.  Running water can be quite wasteful.  Baths, long showers and leaving the faucet on while brushing your teeth are among the biggest unnecessary uses of household water.  Also, only run the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load.  Use warm or cold water for your clothes as hot water uses much more energy.


Happy Earth Day!

The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Believe it or not, dark chocolate is a superfood.  Yup, that scrumptious dark chocolate bar not only tingles your taste buds, but it’s also really good for your health.

uptown-darkchocolateDark chocolate is made from raw cacao beans, the natural seeds of the Theobroma Cacao tree.  These beans are chock full of powerful nutrients that support healthy bodies in a variety of ways.  Cacao beans contain important vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, fiber, amino acids, enzymes and many other phyto-nutrients.  Most of all, cacao boasts an unprecedented spectrum of antioxidants with huge life-supporting advantages.

Unfortunately, most of the chocolate we come across is processed with sugar, milk and other unhealthy ingredients.  But dark chocolate with 70% cacao (or cocoa) or greater is a superfood that is super good for you.

The health benefits of dark chocolate include…

Heart Health:  The heart wants what the heart wants so give it some chocolate.  Antioxidants and plant sterols found in dark chocolate help reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure levels. That reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and many life-threatening heart conditions.

Weight Loss:  Chocolate for weight loss…who new?  Studies indicate that indulging in a small amount of dark chocolate reduces cravings for high fat, sugary and salty foods.   Eliminating these extra calories leads to weight loss.  Pretty good trade off!

Disease Fighter:  Antioxidants are the world’s leading nutrient for fighting a variety of diseases that stem from free radical oxidation and inflammation.  Antioxidants protect and repair damage to cells that lead to cell-mutation diseases like cancer and other age-related degenerative diseases.

chocolate-happy-3-300x212Mood Enhancement:  When you bite into chocolate you may notice that you feel really good.  Well, it’s not just because it tastes good.  Cacao contains neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and MAO inhibitors that can instantly elevate your mood.  Fight your dark mood with a dose of dark chocolate.

Stress Relief:  Next time you need a chill pill, grab a dark chocolate bar instead of a beer, cigarette or entire cheesecake.  The nutritive properties in dark chocolate help reduce stress hormones that can wreak havoc on the body and mind.  We don’t always have time for a relaxing day at the spa so make dark chocolate your quick fix for stress and anxiety.

Diabetes Management:  Although traditional candy is not recommended for diabetics, the flavenoid antioxidants in dark chocolate stimulate production of nitric oxide that helps regulate insulin.

Cognitive Improvement:  Dark chocolate improves blood flow and increases energy, two important aspects of brain function, memory, alertness and focus.  Plus, cacao supports brain cells and reduces inflammation that can lead to brain deterioration.

It’s undeniable: the health benefits of dark chocolate are amazing!  Make this delicious superfood part of your healthy lifestyle for your physical, mental and emotional well-being!

Springtime Full Figure Fashion: The Rules of Cardigans

Cardigans are part of most women’s wardrobe and are an essential element of most springtime uniforms.  As the mornings and evenings tend to be cooler and the midday sun is hot, layering is a great way to dress for the fickle weather.  But like most pieces in your wardrobe, different styles of cardigans work better on certain body shapes and when paired with the right outfits.  We’re breaking down the rules of cardigans for you to keep things light and breezy in your springtime full figure wardrobe.

There are four basic styles of cardigans:  fitted waist, oversized drape, crop and boyfriend.  Each may have a place in your wardrobe as long as you wear them in the most flattering ways for your body type.



Fitted Waist Cardigan:  This classic cardigan is great with blouses of a similar length, A-line dresses or high-waisted skirts.  Contrasting colors make a beautiful spring outfit.  Try matching your jewelry and shoes to the color of your cardigan for trendy and polished look.  Avoid shirts that hang well below the fitted cardigan as it may distort your body shape.  Also, make sure the cardigan does not hit at the center of your bottom, which may cut you off at an unflattering spot.


drapeOversized Drape Cardigan:  These comfy sweaters are super stylish for spring.  The longer style helps lengthen the body the draping adds interesting detail and texture.  Some oversized sweaters feature playful necklines and single buttons as well.  Because these cardigans tend to be bulky, pair them with a slim pant such as skinny jeans or leggings.  This look will also benefit from a bold shoe, perhaps a riding boot, galosh or thick heel.  Oversized sweaters work great in solids or classic prints.


cropCrop Cardigan:  This short and sweet piece is ideal for springtime.  Many crop cardigans have shorter sleeves and are lighter weight, which will keep you nice and cool on warm days.  Crop cardigans hit below the breast making them terrific with empire-waist dresses and pencil skirts.


Boyfriend Cardigan:
  This relaxed fit sweater looks lovely with jeans, shorts and knee-length shorts.  Unless you are belting it, wear the boyfriend cardigan open to show off your figure.  Don’t wear boyfriends with pleated or bulky skirts as they will fall at an awkward place and add unnecessary poof, especially on the backside.  If your boyfriend cardigan has pockets, definitely use them during stylish poses!


To keep your springtime full figure wardrobe fresh and fashionable, try these cardigan tips:

  • Pair a fitted waist sweater with a collared shirt.  Fold the sleeves of your shirt over the cardigan to create a trendy three-quarter length ensemble.
  • Tie the ends of your cardigan together for a flirty twist.  This looks great with high-waisted skirts.
  • Wear a belt with your longer cardigans to accentuate your curves.  This creates definition and shape, even if your cardigan is not form-fitting.
  • Play around with the buttons.  While many women leave their cardigans completely open, just fastening a few buttons in the middle can be a sleek and slimming look.
  • Solid color cardigans are great staples in your springtime wardrobe, but buy a few fun ones too.  Adding some floral print, swanky patterns or playful textures will brighten your look.

Enjoy exploring new possibilities with cardigans this spring!

Why Working Out in the Morning is Better (especially during Spring)

You may not be a morning person but your metabolism is.  Studies have shown that working out in the morning is better for the body and mind on many levels.  Setting your alarm earlier than usual may not be your idea of an energy-boosting way to start your day but it is absolutely the best time of day to do some heart-pounding, muscle-building exercises.  Today we’re discussing why working out in the morning is better and how to get into the habit.

Working out in the morning has a ton of great advantages.  From elevated weight loss and energy, to a sense of pride, accomplishment and a healthier daily outlook, shifting your workout to the morning may be the springtime change your body needs.  Cool spring working outmornings offer an excellent opportunity to get outdoors for jogging, cycling or boot camp.  Now that we’ve “sprung forward” you may even get to experience the sunrise, which can be an uplifting moment unto itself.

Whether your goal is weight loss, weight management or just maintaining a strong and healthy body, morning workouts can keep you on a path to success.  Your metabolism is somewhat like a wind-up toy.  The more you wind it, the faster it will work churning food for sustained energy and burning through stored fat.  Studies show that working out before breakfast can help you lose up to 20% more weight and can combat weight gain from a high fat diet.  Once the metabolism gets started for the day, it will continue to work hard for you, even while you’re at rest.  And working out in the morning often gives people a healthier perspective and encourages them to keep up their good work by eating well and abstaining from unhealthy habits.

Although you may not believe it, you probably have more energy in the morning than later in the day.  Waiting until the afternoon or evening to work out often leads to major procrastination and skipping the workout all together.  After you wipe the sleep out of your eyes and have a cup of coffee, you should feel the great benefits of the full night’s rest you just had.  Use that energy to your advantage by getting your workout in early.  After a few months you’ll be able to train your body to push harder in the mornings than you would after a long day of work, kids, and other responsibilities.

Working out in the morning also gives you a sense of accomplishment.  If you can power through a tough workout, you can tackle anything in your day.  You can start your day in a positive mood, with less stress and a more balanced approach to any problems that come your way.  Plus, you don’t have to dread the workout all day because it’s already over.  Additionally, you may feel more beautiful – Working out gives your skin a healthy flushed glow and natural oil secretions can tame a bad hair day.

If you have trouble waking early, there are some hacks you can use to get yourself up and at ‘em.  Try setting two alarms and at least one that is not near your bed so you have to get up to turn it off.  Shock your system by turning on a bright light, loud music and washing your face with cool water immediately upon waking up.  Make sure you have a plan and are prepared for your workout by having your clothes, gym bag and sports equipment ready to go the night before.  Schedule a morning class or make plans to meet a friend in the morning so others can help hold you accountable.  Also respect your routine and stay focused on your goals.  The more you do it, the easier it will be.  Seeing progress towards your goals – mores stamina, better health report, weight loss, etc.. – will help you remain motivated too.

Happy spring training!!



Spring Clean your Diet

With warmer weather and a new crop of produce hitting markets, spring is a great time to clean up your diet.  Ditch the heavy foods like red meats, starches and sugary snacks and “spring” for a lighter fare including seasonal fruits and veggies, lean proteins and lots of water.  Today we’re offering tips on how to spring clean your diet.

Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

eating-fruit-and-vegetables-will-keep-you-healthyA balanced diet should focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Did you know you’ll get the most nutrition out of produce when they are seasonally ripe?  Better yet, they’ll be freshest and bursting with the best nutrients when you buy fresh and local because they won’t have to be packaged and maintained for long distance travel.  Spring fruits include strawberries, pineapple, honeydew melon, cherries, oranges and apricots.  Spring vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, fennel, peas, radishes and green beans.  Incorporate these new flavors of the season into your diet and try to consume them as raw as possible to preserve their maximum nutritional value.  As always, bright colors usually make the healthiest foods so play up the colors of spring and eat the rainbow.

Lighten your Protein

Lean proteins are healthiest year round and spring is a great time to lighten up on your protein.  We don’t mean eat less protein; we mean go leaner with meats like chicken, turkey and fish or try meat alternatives such as nuts and beans.  Many people look to heavy, dark meats for warmth and sustenance during cold, winter months.  As the weather warms, our meals can cool down a bit and get lighter too.  In addition to having less fat and calories, lean proteins offer some terrific additional perks like the essential fatty acids found in many types of fish and nuts, and iron found in beans.

Hydrate with Nature

waterPerhaps nature’s way of subtly encouraging us to hydrate is through spring showers.  Much like the budding leaves and flowers need a good amount of water this season, so do you!  Cut out the sugary sodas and work on purifying your body by increasing your water intake.  Most people need eight to nine 8 oz. servings of water a day, and more if you sweat a lot or exercise intensely.  Because a huge percentage of our bodies is water, replacing what’s lost through normal channels is vital.  Beyond quenching your thirst, water keeps cellular function strong, aids digestion, supports blood flow and increases energy.  Try natural herbal teas as an additional way to consume enough water every day.

Clean out your Kitchen

As you’re working your way through your house with various spring cleaning tasks, do the same with the food in your kitchen.  Toss sugary snacks, anything with trans fat and other hard-to-resist foods that offer little nutritional value.  If it’s not on hand, can’t reach for it when you’re having a snack attack.  Stock your kitchen with healthy foods, especially those you can grab on-the-go.  These include single servings of yogurt (but avoid those with highly sugary fruit on the bottom), nuts, whole fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal and plain microwave popcorn.  Set yourself up for success by spring cleaning your pantry and fridge too.

Try New Recipes

Spring is a great time to research new recipes.  Go online or ask friends for suggestions.  Then spend a few days trying a bunch of new things.  Involve your family in the process by asking them to help you cook and being your taste testers.  It can be a fun family activity and you may discover a few new meals that will become a staple in your family’s spring diet.

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