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The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is an incredible resource for people trying to find a simple explanation of how to eat healthier. They come out every 5 years and the newest version is due to come out this year and has some pretty neat recommendations. Granted, some are controversial like their advice on cutting down how much red meat people should consume, but these are guidelines with quite a lot of research associated with it.  I actually agree with whole lot of what they have to say (especially the sugar portion!!)

One of the most amazing things I read that is new to this years advice, is the evidence associated with coffee consumption.  I am super happy to report that drinking a moderate amount of coffee (3 to 5 cups per day) does not seem to have long term health risks! It can even, possibly, help with certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s.  It’s coffee time in my household!

 

This is really some of the best news I’ve heard in a long time.  I’m also happy to say that they made a distinction about what you put into your coffee stating that the added sugars that most mix in are no good for you.  There is also a section on added sugar for those that are curious :).

Click here to see the recommendations.  It isn’t quite laid out in a digestible format yet, but it’s on page 8 and I’ve quoted it for you.  Plus, below that are a couple of healthier coffee options for those just as excited as I am.

“In regard to food safety, updated and previously unexamined areas of food safety were studied. Currently, strong evidence shows that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (3 to 5 cups per day or up to 400 mg/d caffeine) is not associated with increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals. In fact, consistent evidence indicates that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults. Moreover, moderate evidence shows a protective association between caffeine intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors. However, it should be noted that coffee as it is normally consumed can contain added calories from cream, milk, and added sugars. Care should be taken to minimize the amount of calories from added sugars and high-fat dairy or dairy substitutes added to coffee.”

Healthy Coffee Drinks:

  • Black :) – it had to be said

So, that’s pretty mean to just have black coffee listed but it all gets pretty loaded in sugar quickly after this.  Just like alcohol, coffee drinks load up on empty calories (calories that don’t provide sustenance or vitamins).  Please add your favorite flavors, because I know you will, sparingly and please stay away from overloaded drinks at those wonderful coffee shops!  Try almond milk, honey, maple syrup or even xylitol.  Remember portion control, nothing is a free-for-all.

Enjoy! I will.

 

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(Oprea Personal Fitness)

To say it lightly, I am a very active person.  I enjoy having things to do and places to go, it makes me feel alive and too much sitting around makes me itch.  It’s a problem, I know, but I love my problem :)!  When I find myself all over the map from business trips to soccer games I want to maintain my fitness level and, most importantly, hit my 10,000 steps each day.

 

That is the reason that my ultimate fitness pal is my jump rope.  Completely portable and as simple as it gets, this keeps me going anywhere I want.  Yes, people stare at me, and one funny instance while wearing a winter beanie some kids confused me for a guy! Short hair problems, no big deal :).  But when I’m in my little jumping world, it all rolls off me: stress, sore muscles, headaches, stomach cramps, the works.

I challenge you to find the one thing that allows you to be healthy and happy.  Once you do, I

 

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When discussing with my clients their progress and goals I always touch base with how they are eating.  Nutrition plays such a big role in a healthy body that it is immensely important that we are both on the same page so that they can keep on track.  So, however uncomfortable the conversation is, I always start with; “What did you eat yesterday?”

As you can imagine, it sometimes comes across as nagging, but I have paperwork saying that you are paying me to nag!  Quite often I get a response like this; “I had this much chicken for dinner,” as they hold up their hand indicating that all they had for dinner could fit into the palm of one hand.  Now, I don’t train liars. I actually train some really great people!  I actually believe that their dinner consisted of something about that size.  More than likely for those (my clients and others reading this) who find it difficult to lose weight and are finally on a consistent exercise schedule, that you simply did not count all the small bites you had surrounding dinner.  It’s all a bit of a memory lapse.Mindless eating is a HUGE source of extra calories and, apparently, done in a way that the brain does not store that action in its memory banks!  Those wonderful meals you cook for the kids and you take a bite while you’re cooking, you may even snag a bite off their plate, finish the tiny bit they may have left and then nibble a bit more as you clean up after, are really adding up.  Have you ever sat in front of your TV or computer at work with a jar of very healthy almonds? The kind that have low sodium (or no sodium, go you!) and suddenly realize that the whole can is gone and it was supposed to last all week?  Have you told your spouse not to order you fries and somehow you ended up eating half of theirs?  If you were to very seriously track each and every tiny calorie that you consumed you would no longer be surprised at why your weight isn’t heading toward your current goal.

Here is the important thing to remember about what you consume: Be aware of what you are eating. All the little things add up, just like what you would tell a child about saving money.  It all gets put in the bank!  So next time you are about to start a snack off, try one of these tips and you may just find yourself making it through that tempting time.

  • Drink water – you may be confusing thirst for hunger. Plus the water will fill your belly!
  • Throw in some gum and get your mouth moving.
  • Call your best friend to distract you.
  • Go on a walk! (Okay, personal favorite here.  Those 10,000 steps a day don’t come easy!)
  • Brush your teeth. (Never mind, this is my favorite.  Brush your teeth before you go walk seeing as the mouth is the gateway to your health and all.)
  • Create a new house rule. You can only eat if you sit down at the table, preferably with family or friends, because no trainer needs to tell you that that’s always more fun!
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Some people claim that I am not normal when it comes to eating, or just about everything actually.  However, that is not true, I face all the enticements and challenges that most people come across.  My will power is very strong, except perhaps when it comes to breakfast foods!  I love eating breakfast and that word does not mean a morning meal to me.  So, how does one have a healthy breakfast meal for lunch or on that special occasion, even for dinner? Get creative, adjust ingredients and find what you love.


(Oprea Personal Fitness)

I happily bring to you my recipe for Almond Pancakes.  It has three ingredients, it’s easy to make and freezes for future quick heating.

  • 1 – 11 oz bag of Almond Meal (almond flour)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup water

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl, spoon the mix onto a hot, flat skillet and cook till a nice golden brown.

You end up with pancakes that have a great source of protein, fiber and are incredibly filling!  Freeze them and later on all they need is a quick trip through a toaster.  Oh yeah!

*They are, as you know, as healthy as what you put on them! Loading up on jelly, syrup, powdered sugar and granola will, without a doubt, take what could be a great pancake and make it into a sugar bomb.  Treat yourself well and your body will thank you.

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I always find myself talking about nutrition with my clients, whether they want to or not, because it is the very cornerstone of being able to work out successfully.  Many refuse to think of food as a fuel that allows you to function during your day, but that is exactly what food is.  You eat and your body processes food so that you can (or can’t) stay active.  Now, I understand that very few people can break down the act of eating to something so mundane, and I completely understand why that is.  We grow up having fond memories of certain family dinners, we met our loved ones over dinner and a movie and the whole aspect of a cheat meal is so that you can enjoy a good restaurant without fear of guilt.  I never try to change people’s minds (although one can hope!) but I continually educate about what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat.

Recently, the fad of low or no-carb diets has shown some incredible body transformations, but unfortunately it is, for most people, a quick fix and something incredibly hard to maintain.  Once going off this diet, the weight gain comes back in a hurry.  This is because your body seriously needs carbohydrates.  Your energy level, daily mood and brain function all rely so much on the intake of the right kind of carbs each day.  Also, when you eat carbohydrates matters too.  Having proportionately more in the morning fuels you for the day but having a load of carbohydrates late at night starts creating energy right before you go to sleep, which you don’t need.  Eat ‘em when you can burn ‘em! A major lesson here is not necessarily when you eat but what you eat when you do.  Having a big serving of rice and chicken at 10 o’clock is much worse than having Brussels sprouts and chicken at 10 o’clock.  It’s the difference between complex and simple carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates will break down into energy much faster than complex carbohydrates among other things.  Howtothinkthin.com says it like this; “Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods, which improve your digestion. They help stabilize the blood sugar, keep your energy at an even level, and help you feel satisfied longer after your meal.” and go on to say; “In contrast, sugar and other simple carbohydrates can alter your mood, lead to cravings and compulsive eating, cause wide swings in your blood-sugar levels, and cause weight gain in most people.”  Which would you rather just before bedtime? Or think of it another way, which foods would you rather give your child just before trying to create a relaxing atmosphere for bedtime?

Your body needs carbs, don’t starve it! Here is a list of each type of carbohydrate, make a decision based on both time of day and how healthy of a lifestyle you want to live.

For evening eating, stick to these complex carbohydrates:

  • Spinach
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower (chopped up – like rice / processed – like mashed potatoes)
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Kale
  • Eggplant
  • Quinoa

For earlier in the day, these wonderful complex carbohydrates are great to have:

  • Apples
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown Rice
  • Lentils
  • Yams
  • Berries
  • Ezekiel Bread
  • Whole Wheat English Muffin
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It takes just a slightly different perspective to make classic workout moves into a fun workout game.  Grab a deck of cards and let me show you that new perspective right now! During this game, each card’s face value will count as the number of repetitions you perform.  The Ace is 14, King is 13, Queen is 12, the Jack is 11 and all the way down to the 2.  Shuffle those cards real good and flip over one at a time.  That card will tell you which exercise and how many times to do it.  Get through the whole deck for a great, and seriously fun, workout!

Make it your goal to be able to go through the whole deck without resting!!
 

GAME #1:

Hearts = flutter kicks

Clubs = squats

Spades = floor dips

Diamonds = pushups (knees if needed)

GAME #2:

Hearts = jumping jacks

Clubs = jumping lunges

Spades = plank jacks

Diamonds = sumo squats

GAME #3:

Hearts = bicep curls

Clubs = bent over rows

Spades = tricep kickbacks

Diamonds =  Shoulder Presses

 

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Making sure your backside is toned and firm is a priority for many and I want to make sure that you have an arsenal of moves that will help target and build muscle that will shape your bottom.  Here are a few wonderful moves you can do in your home with limited equipment.  Bonus points for performing in a park or right there in the middle of the gym!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge Pulses with Stability Ball:

1. Grab dumbbells anywhere between 8-20 lbs and roll out into the bridge so that your head, neck and shoulders are still supported by the stability ball.

2. Drop your hips down, then push your hips up squeezing your bottom as tight as possible.

3. Repeat for 30 repetitions.

Fire Hydrant Kicks:

1. Start by going on all fours and bring your right knee up and out parallel to the ground. (Like a dog peeing on a hydrant!)

2. Point your toe and kick straight out, again keeping the leg parallel to the ground, squeezing your quad and bottom tight for full effect.

3. Continue kicking in and out without dropping your knee for 15-20 repetitions per leg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(Oprea Personal Fitness)

Ankle Band Reverse Pulses:

1. Place your resistance band around your ankles and find a sturdy tree/pole/person/handle to grab for balance.

2. Soften your right knee and extend your left leg squeezing your bottom doing little pulses.

3.Do not let your leg come too far in so that tension stays on the band.  Continue pulsing for 20-25 repetitions.

 

Repeat all of these exercises for 3-4 rounds for that nice booty burn!

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