How to NOT Gain Weight During The Holidays


There is some good news about holiday weight gain. People don’t gain as much weight as we thought during the holidays.

According to National Institute of Health, throughout the six-week holiday season, the average person gains about a pound. I guess I am way above average. If you are like me, the holiday eating season can really take its toll. So here are a few ideas to keep yourself in check.
1. Maintaining your weight is a victory. Weigh yourself before Thanksgiving and continue to weigh yourself two to three times a week. Be sure to weigh yourself in the morning before you eat anything. If you see that scale creep, make adjustments along the way. Exercise more or eat a little less.


2. Don’t fast before the feast.  It might seem like a good idea to skip breakfast or lunch before heading off to that holiday dinner, but eating a few small meals throughout the day is a better way to go. If you show up famished, it will be more difficult to avoid eating too much. And when your little voice tells you that you can have a third piece of cheesecake because you skipped breakfast and lunch, things can get ugly.


3. Know what you want. Everyone has their favorites at Thanksgiving. I can probably eat my weight in stuffing and pie. But often times, the main meal isn’t served for a few hours, and there are plates and plates of appetizers to tempt. Most appetizers at my home are pretty generic items that can be found at any bar or party throughout the year. So on Thanksgiving, decide to eat only the things you get on Thanksgiving and step awaaaay from the things you can have anytime. If you need something to munch on before the bird arrives, go for the veggies.


4. Be the last in line. Holiday dinners can be an all-day event. The food is left out for a few hours for people to go back for more and more and more. When it comes time for the dessert tray to make its debut, be the last one to get your dessert. Enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea while everyone else grabs their goodies. If you are the last to get your dessert, by the time you finish your one and only treat, everyone else is going to be done with their dessert too, and will probably have moved on to something else like football, napping, or complaining about how full they are. It won’t be as convenient to go back for seconds. And make sure to choose your very favorite dessert. You know; the one that is totally worth the calories… your Auntie’s pumpkin pie, your grandma’s cookies, etc.



6 Creative Ways to Get Children Excited about Healthy Eating


Getting your children excited about eating healthy food is one of the major struggles of modern parenting. And it’s no surprise really, think about all the advertisements for junk food your children probably come across on a daily basis, think about all their friends at school munching away on sweets and chocolate during lunch!


It’s not hard to see why healthy food seems so unappealing to them! I mean, think back to when you were a child!  Chances are, you weren’t so keen on the green, healthy stuff either. But as parents, we strive to make our children as healthy as we possibly can, and the easiest way to do this, is to get them just as excited about healthy eating as you are.


There are several ways you can do this – and trust me, they’re not as complicated as you might have initially thought. You don’t have to disguise things or use trickery – you just have to be honest and use a little parenting magic. So here goes…


1.  Get your children to help cook

Getting your children involved in the cooking side of food means that they feel like creators – and they are excited to try eating what they just made with their own hands! Cooking a healthy pizza is a great place to start (and a great way to ease them in). Make some healthy dough and get some low-fat cheese, and them ask you child to choose which toppings they want on their pizza. Allow them one meat (wafer thin ham is always a good choice as it is practically water) and then top up with lots of healthy vegetable choices. It works like a charm! And because your children know the pizza was made by them – they feel less scared of or wary of the healthy food.


2.  Always eat dessert

This sounds like a funny way of making children healthier – but if you start introducing fun fruit into dessert then the children will feel excited about it. Don’t just stick to boring apples and pears – mix it up a little bit. Try pineapple, raspberry’s, strawberry’s, star fruit and grapes – and make fun shapes out of them. Your children won’t be able to resist. It’s also a common fact that most children will be more open to fruit than they will be to vegetables – so keep this in mind if you child is particularly stubborn.


3.  Grow the vegetables and fruit yourselves

If you have a garden or even a window ledge, then you can be growing the good stuff. Give your children the responsibility of growing them, watering them, planting them and picking them and they’ll start to really get excited about the end product. Make a big deal out of it too – and when the veg or fruit finally emerges – have a big family meal to celebrate the cooking of the freshly grown produce! You child will feel proud and excited!


4.  Do the shopping together

Get your child involved in the shopping and you’ll see their interest in fruit and veg completely improve. If you currently order your food online (whilst it is convenient) it’s ruining the interaction that your child should be having with food. Take them around the super market at least once a month to look at all the produce, and even let them pick and choose anything that catches their eye. They’ll not only feel valued – but they’ll be excited to share their choices with the rest of the family!


5.  Do a cooking competition

If you have multiple children then arrange a week of cooking competitions where the most healthy meal wins… This is a great way to not only getting them thinking healthily, but also to get them excited and encouraged to make things healthy too. Most children love having a friendly competition against their siblings, but if your child is an only child then don’t worry you can still do this one! Just have them compete against you instead! It’s a really fun way of getting them to actively think about what they’re eating in a fun way.


 6.  Get them to start a food blog

Getting your children blogging isn’t only a good idea because it means they’re writing on a regular basis – but it’s also really smart because it will encourage them to record what they eat and take note of it. You could make it a family project even – and you could see who has recorded the best meals that week!


About the Author:  Elle works for chefsknivesonline.com and loves encouraging families to not only eat well – but cook and prepare food properly!



Top 5 Tips to Reduce Exposure to Harmful Pesticides


Too often it seems that the easier, more beautiful or more delicious something is, the more dangerous it is for you.


Such is the unfortunate case with many of the shiny, colorful fruits and vegetables we choose at the grocery store in an effort to eat healthy – they are riddled with pesticides to prolong shelf life and keep insects from ruining their appearance. While no one wants to bite into an apple and eat half of a worm with it, nor find a six-legged family living in their head of lettuce, the side effects of heavy pesticide exposure are even more serious.


According to livestrong.com, these toxic chemicals can cause learning disabilities, negatively affect the nervous system, weaken the immune system and may even be linked to breast cancer. Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take to greatly reduce your exposure to pesticides and therefore decrease your risk of suffering from negative side effects.


1. Buy Organic

Some fruits and vegetables already have very low pesticide content and are safe to buy in the normal produce section, such as those included in the Clean 15. But many staples in our diets are members of the Dirty Dozen, the twelve types of produce with the highest pesticide content, and should only be eaten in organic form to reduce pesticide ingestion.


2. Grow Your Own

If buying organic seems difficult and expensive, why not cultivate your own produce? Not only does gardening provide a fun hobby and even exercise, it assures you that there are no pesticides in your food because you grew it yourself.  TLC has a great list of 66 different fruits and veggies you can grow at, or even in, your own home.


3. Eliminate Pests Without Using Pesticide

Chemicals are a convenient way to keep unwanted guests out of your home and garden and food, but you may be sacrificing your health in using them. Taking natural measures to keep your home clean and bug-free, such as following this helpful guide from grist.org, will help keep your home free of pests and pesticides.


4. Detoxify Your Diet

In addition to avoiding pesticides in your diet and your methods of pest control, you can counteract pesticides you may unknowingly ingest by eating foods that act as natural detoxifiers. Make sure you still purchase these items organic if they are part of the Dirty Dozen.


5. No Shoes In the House

Incorporating all of these safety measures into your lifestyle will greatly reduce your risk of exposure to harmful pesticides, but you can only control so much. You may not use pesticides and harmful chemicals on your lawn and garden, but anywhere else you go you can’t be sure what you’re stepping in.  Having a no-shoe rule in the house keeps toxic chemicals from being tracked in to your home and cultivates a cleaner, safer living space. This is especially important if you have small children or pets that crawl on (or eat things off of) the floor.


Author:  Emily Johnson



5 Quick and Easy Fiber Fixes


Whole, fibrous foods are a weight loss favorite because they are good for the pocketbook, waistline, and your body. Whole foods that are packed with fiber are less expensive when compared with their fortified food counterparts. For example, a cooked cup of barley costs pennies per serving and has 6 grams of fiber. In contrast, the leading fiber-filled granola bar can cost about 60 cents apiece and have 9 grams of fiber. Not only is the granola bar more expensive, gram for gram, but that bar is merely a snack whereas the barley is half a meal. As a bonus, the whole grain barley is also packed with phytochemicals, fiber, and protein.

This is where your waistline and health come into play. Foods higher in fiber make you feel fuller on fewer calories. Whole foods such as beans, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of healthy calories and fiber.


Fiber also works as a scrub brush to clear out natural byproducts of our body’s metabolic process and unneeded cholesterol in our blood. Fiber adds bulk to our poop thus helping dispose all the toxins and dead cells from the colon. For various (and more technical) reasons, eating more fiber has shown to help decrease the chances of colon cancer.  How much fiber do we need to consume in a day to enjoy the full range of benefits? It is recommended that men need 30-38 grams a day, and women need 21-25 grams a day.


An easy step to increase your fiber intake is to focus on getting 5 to 9 fruits and vegetables a day in your diet. Here are a few more quick swaps and additions you can make to your daily diet to increase your fiber:


  1. Flax and Chia seeds: Great to add to any breakfast cereal. If the nutty flavor of flax is not your favorite try chia. Chia is more gelatinous so adding it to oatmeal is a good fit. Chia can also go undetected for children as it blends so well with the oatmeal! Three Tbsp of chia contains 14 grams of fiber and that is more than the average American eats in a day (12 grams).
  2. Beans and legumes: Wash-off dry beans, place in a slow cooker, and cover with 2 inches of water or vegetable broth. Add seasonings as desired. I like the seasonings from Chef  Paul Prudhomme  or Mrs. Dash because they are quick salt-free spice mixes. Cook on low for 8 hours and have bean soup served with/over whole grain or corn bread. A cup of black beans will add 15 grams of fiber to your day.
  3. Wheat berries: Eat hot or cold. This is a wheat product that has a clean nutty flavor. Eat as a side salad (hyperlink to
    http://nourishnetwork.com/2009/08/25/get-a-new-grain-wheat-berries/) or alone in place of rice. A half a cup serving has 4 grams of fiber.
  4. Bulgur: Meat is void of fiber so add some to your dish! Add cooked bulgur to your meat loaf. Try adding dry bulgur your taco mix when you add your water and seasoning. Bulgur picks up any flavor you combine it with and has a similar texture to the ground beef.  Add a cup of bulgur to dinner and this will add 8 grams of fiber.
  5. Amaranth- Pop like old-fashioned popcorn on the stovetop. I recommend to only popping 3-4 Tablespoons at a time. It will “pop” and turn from the light brown color to white. Eat as a snack or sprinkle on your salad to add a fibrous crunch. A nice sprinkle of about 4 Tbsp of popped amaranth to your salad will offer about 5 grams of fiber to your meal.



15 Foods You Don’t Have to Buy Organic for the Holidays


Healthy eating is no longer a crazy fad but a widespread movement that reaches far beyond the social borders of hippies, locavores and their ilk. But those of us who weren’t raised perusing the incense-infused aisles of the local health food store for fructose-sweetened knock-offs of the diabetes-inducing cereals all the other kids were eating need a little help. With Thanksgiving coming up, there is no better time to try out delicious recipes that will weigh lightly on your conscience (if not on your scale).



Starting with the basics, a good beginner’s guide to pair with your holiday grocery list is The Clean 15, a guide to 15 fruits and vegetables whose non-organic options are low enough in harmful pesticides to greatly reduce your risk of growing a third eye (save that for yoga class). Sadly many of the fruits and veggies involved in classic family dinner dishes, such as the apples in your favorite pie, are often full of pesticide residue if they’re not certified organic. But fear not, the Clean 15 has plenty of yummy choices like the ones used in these recipes that are worth giving thanks for.


1. Asparagus with Creamy Tarragon Sauce

This Huffington Post slideshow features 25 photos of different preparations for this member of the Clean 15. Steamed asparagus is a good, green substitute for green bean casserole, and with its creamy but light sauce you won’t even miss the Cream of Mushroom soup.


2. Eggplant Gratin

This luxurious dish is a fine replacement for scalloped potatoes, with all the cheese, much higher nutritional value and much lower risk of ingesting pesticides.


3. Honey Grapefruit Salad

Pie is a traditional staple in most any holiday-geared household, but let’s be honest, who ever has room for it? This traditional French dessert is light, full of Clean 15-approved grapefruit, and spiked with a little Grand Marnier to make things interesting. Follow the link for the original recipe in French from Le Figaro, or reference the English translation below.


2 red grapefruits, 1 grapefruit, 3 oranges, 4 tablespoons of honey, 1 lime, 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier, 2 sprigs of fresh mint


Wash the fruit and zest one orange and the lime. Juice the oranges and the lime and pour it into a pot with the zest. Add the honey and one sprig of mint. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove the mint and set your sauce aside.

Peel the grapefruit, cut them into quarters and put them in a large bowl. Add the sauce and the Grand Marnier. Refrigerate and serve decorated with mint leaves.


4 & 5. Sweet Creamed Corn and Sweet Potato Casserole  

These are two favorites for which there is no need to turn organic- sweet corn and sweet potatoes are both Clean 15 cardholders.


Author:  Emily Johnson


Getting the Most Out of Your Cycling Class


Cycling classes (especially Spinning classes) have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity in gyms and fitness centers recently, and with good reason. Cycling not only increases your cardiovascular endurance, it also works out your leg muscles much more than other cardiovascular exercises. A cycling class is a great way to burn calories and improve muscle tone in your lower body!



Benefits Of Cycling Classes Over Other Cardiovascular Exercises Compared to some other forms of cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, cycling is a very low-impact exercise. Jogging, especially if you are jogging on a treadmill, can place excess strain on your ligaments and joints; it’s not uncommon for joggers to suffer debilitating foot and ankle injuries if they over-train.
Cycling, conversely, is very gentle on the joints and ligaments in your lower body. This is incredibly important for people who have already suffered injuries to their knees or ankles in the past, as high-impact exercises can aggravate these injuries. To avoid the risk of having your fitness goals derailed by sudden injury while working out, you should stick to low-impact cardiovascular exercise such as cycling as much as possible.


Cycling Classes Are One of The Best Exercises For Toning Your Legs

Practically every form of cardiovascular exercise, whether it be cycling, jogging, using an elliptical trainer or cross-country skier, works out both your calves and your thighs. However, cycling has two distinct advantages over other forms of cardiovascular exercise. The first advantage is that the bikes in cycling classes have adjustable pedal resistance; by increasing the resistance on your bike, you can increase the amount of force needed to pedal the bike, which will result in building up both your calves and your thigh muscles.


The second advantage of cycling is that proper cycling form (which your instructor can help you with) works out your core muscles. Maintaining proper form over a 30 or 45 minute workout is a great workout for your core muscles, which include your abs, obliques and your lower back. Having strong core muscles not only improves the way you look, but also significantly reduces the chance that you will injure your back from carrying heavy loads or making sudden movements in the course of your daily life!


Why Take Classes Over Cycling On The Road?

Cycling classes are much safer than road cycling. Not only are you safe from traffic, but you are also safe from inclement weather. In hot weather, you risk suffering from heat stroke; in cold weather, you risk slipping on icy roads and losing control of your bike.


Taking classes also has social benefits. You can meet other fitness enthusiasts while cycling, and making friends in your classes has the benefit of making you accountable to going to the gym on a regular basis; after all, if your friends don’t see you at the gym in a while, they’re likely going to be calling you, asking if you are okay and trying to get you to come back to the gym! The social atmosphere of cycling classes and accountability can definitely help you stick to your workout regimen.


Author bio:  Karlee Wiggins blogs about fitness and health.  She is a supporter of San Diego Plastic Surgery  due to cosmetic difficulties from trauma.


Get Fit with Full-Body Workouts!


Whether it’s an upper body workout or a lower body workout, heavy metabolic demand is what people who want to slim down are after. Mix the two, experiment, challenge the center of gravity, and use more than one plane of motion. Finally, as a reminder, never forget that increasing form is more important than increasing weight. With low weight and nearly infinite variability there’s no reason why this can’t be safely practiced each and every day.


Full Body Workout: Slimming

Exercise regimens that concentrate on regularly incorporating a full-body workout, with short bouts of cardio, are extremely effective in both physical conditioning, and overall health. This means creating exercises that challenge the upper and lower body, within multiple planes of motion, and force internal balance and stabilization mechanisms to come into play.


Lower Body Workout: Flavors

Full-body workouts for trimming down aren’t geared towards building lean muscle mass. Instead, they’re about burning as many calories, safely, as possibly. Because the legs and hip complex are such huge portions of the musculature, making sure they’re in every single workout, somehow, is rather important. They add tons to metabolic output.


Endless squats aren’t enough. Try to add movement that requires leaving a stationary stance. Frontal, Saggital, and Transverse lunges are viable options that bring into the mix all kinds of smaller artificial muscles, keeping joints, tendons, and ligaments strong. Also, the more the lower body is asked to balance and navigate through precarious postures; large amounts of calories are burned as a result.


Upper Body Workout: Creations

The more the body is confused, the more variation it’s expected to adapt to, and the more it must fully engage the central nervous system to keep the body from falling over, the better. This means that making the upper body exercise go one way, while the lower torso is going another is a great idea!


Add some dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, barbells etc. and use the imagination to get in the habit of making workouts seem more like martial arts Kata’s rather than single-joint traditional gym exercises.


Form Trumps Weight

Because these workouts are for lowering body fat percentage, there’s no call for heavy, or even moderate weights. The body is calling on and employing so many muscles at once it really doesn’t matter. The demand is going to burn tons of calories and protect the lean mass from breaking down.


However, make sure that a complex full-body workout is eased into. There’s no reason to rush into insane full-body circuits without getting the used to these types of situations. Serious injuries can occur if a highly untrained body attempts intricate movements without having a chance to adapt. Concentrate on form first, then worry about weight, but keep it light because in the end form rids the body of far more fat than weight alone.


Get Fit with Full-body workouts!



Navy Seal Workout


For gym rats, we have the luxury of being far more creative and employing tons of variety in the gym when seeking functional strength. Every day is a full-body workout!


Seal Workouts and the Battlefield of Fitness

Due to the mystique surrounding elite fighting forces, especially in this day and age where Hollywood derives a large percentage of its funding from military interests, the Navy Seal workout has been exaggerated. 


Seal training is about incredible cardiovascular efficiency, head to toe functional strength, and discipline, but isn’t all that complicated. A basic Google search will show that popular notions of getting ready for Hell Week include metric tons of swimming, running, pushups, sit-ups, and pull-ups.



Of course there’s more to being a Seal and it’s obvious why so few are chosen. But in terms of the average Joe or Jane who desires to have a physique like they do and get fit, I suggest a workout mind frame and regimen that has far more variety, but a similar level of dedication.


Adopt a Full-body workout Method
Seals need to possess not only impressive amounts of agility and stamina, but masterful command of the body. They need to be light on their feet and to have conquered their own weight and center of gravity. Thousands of pushups, sit-ups, and pull ups is great, especially with perfect form and full range of motion, but since most people in the gym aren’t preparing to visit warzones, get creative and incorporate two other exercises into each.


For example grab some exercise ingredients like burpees, box jumps, dumbbell rows, and dumbbell presses and swirl them together in a fitness cauldron. All of those as one is a pretty intense full-body workout; now add five pushups into each rep. In terms of building functional strength and muscle endurance 20 of those would feel like 500 pushups, but to nearly every muscle group in the body.


Get Creative with a Basic Navy Seal Workout
If one has an itching for Seal training then why not get imaginative with it? There are more ways than one to skin a cat in terms of pushups, pull-ups, and ab workouts right?


Pushups come in a variety of stances and military is only one of them. Remember to keep that backside low, try not to avoid eccentric stress, and then go from wide to the V-stance, from clapping to staggered.


Pull-ups also, in terms of grip, have a variety of stances and like pushups; each one poses its own challenge to a different set of muscles. Expend some effort to discover them and experiment on a regular basis. Also, I like to integrate at least one other exercise into my pull ups, whether it be burpees, box jumps, Romanian style get-ups, or barbell curls to squats.


When it comes to abdominal workouts, there must be over a 100 of them that can be mixed, juxtaposed, and melted together. Military style sit-ups are effective, but add to them anyway. Throw in a dumbbell or weight plate, add a twist or incorporate the legs.


A Navy Seal Workout for Gym Rats
Running, swimming, pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups are time tested and approved workouts; when conforming to the rigid discipline of preparing for Hell Week, seal training is hard to believe. But for gym rats, we have the luxury of being far more creative and employing tons of variety in the gym when seeking functional strength. Every day is a full-body workout!



Power Up With a High-Protein Diet


Every cell in the body contains protein, and whether running, jumping, shopping, or just hanging out, protein is doing important work by repairing damaged cells and making new ones. Protein is essential to keep cells alive, and even though it is not a super source of energy such as carbohydrates and fats, it keeps the body functioning 24/7.




Protein is the building block for muscle, and since the body can’t save it for later like carbohydrates and fat, it’s important to keep a constant stream coming, so the muscles stay strong and healthy. Protein construction is a never ending process, so if it doesn’t get a new supply often, the body will break down muscle from elsewhere in order to rebuild damaged areas – stealing from the biceps to pay the triceps.


In order to keep this thievery at bay, it is important to ingest protein throughout the day, and the two key times to get a protein fix are 30 minutes after waking up and 30 minutes after working out.

Wake up and smell the protein:
We hear it all the time, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and come to find out protein is a critical component. If there’s any time the body is craving to get some much needed replenishment, it’s after being deprived of protein for the whole night. The body is hungry for nutrients, and protein is a fast way to break the fast. It’s also an instant metabolism boost, because eating protein requires extra energy to digest, which means the body burns more calories digesting it than carbohydrates and fats.

Equally as important is getting some protein after exercise. Following a training session, the body is damaged at the cellular level, and it needs time to repair this damage in order to get stronger. For the body to do this, it needs a little help from its friend, protein, so it can get the raw materials to rebuild and recover. By taking in protein (20 grams or so) within 30 minutes after exercise, the body gets the nutrients it needs to recover without breaking down its own muscle tissue.

High Quality Protein Sources:
Eggs, turkey bacon, soy protein, raw nuts, or cottage cheese. Fish, beans, lean beef, and chicken are great alternatives as well, but may not be so appetizing for breakfast. The quickest and easiest “whey” to get protein is by chugging down a protein shake, as it is absorbed faster than solid foods.

Timing is everything:
A serving of protein 30 minutes after waking up and 30 minutes after working out will help to keep the body strong and healthy by preserving muscle tissue and giving the metabolism a boost. Power to the protein!


6 Foods to Brighten Your Day


How do you boost your mood? Oreo cookies, cheesecake, Boston cream pie!! These six foods may not sound all sweet and yummy but use them creatively and you’ll be getting more bang out of your calorie count and a less stressed out mind. Source “The All-Pro Diet” author Tony Gonzalez & Mitzi Dulan, RD.



  1. Peppers are packed with vitamin C, which can inhibit the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Yellow peppers have the highest levels (341mg), Red peppers have (209mg), and Green have (132mg).
  2. Walnuts have been linked to heart health and weight control, but just a handful a day! New research from the University of Barcelona finds that nuts, along with almonds and hazelnuts, can boost levels of serotonin, a hormone that increases feelings of well-being.
  3. Chickpeas have the vitamin B called folate and in only half of a cup you get (141mg) of folate. This vitamin is n ecessary for the production of dopamine, a neuro-transmitter associated with pleasure.
  4. Sardines are an omega-3 loaded fish. Research from Ohio State University found that people who regularly consumed foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are 20% less anxious feeling than those who do not consume them.
  5. Avocados are a must if you are stressed. Stress can deplete stores of B vitamins in our bodies.  These B vitamins are essential for the creation of serotonin. Avocados are an excellent source of B vitamins and potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure.
  6. Sunflower seeds an excellent source of magnesium and a one ounce serving will give you (91mg)…you need (320mg) a day. A deficiency of magnesium can slow dopamine production, leaving you feeling stressed and anxious.


If you work hard to keep your outsides looking good, why not do the same for your insides. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any more cookies!! Eat them because you love them but, in moderation.