The Purpose of this blog:

I only intend to inform, help and inspire in the areas of Fitness, Health, and Nutrition. ~Enjoy~

Friday, June 25, 2010

8 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism

8 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism
By Joe Wilkes, team beachbody

If you spend any time perusing the fashion mags and tabloid rags in the supermarket checkout line, you'll see a wide array of articles claiming to have discovered the latest "miracle food" that will burn off the pounds while you sit on your butt and eat. Well, sadly, the news isn't quite that good. Without regular exercise, a decent night's sleep, and a thought-out meal plan, your metabolic rate is going to be dragging. However, there are some things you can eat that will move the needle favorably into the fat-burning zone. And most of these foods are delicious and nutritious anyway, so why not? Here are eight of the best ones.

Metabolism-Boosting Foods

1. Fish. Most of us have read about the benefits of fish oil, which is full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Found in many common oily fish like mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, tuna, and salmon, it can also be taken in capsules (at least 300 milligrams/day) by those who are averse to seafood. Fish consumption has been found to boost your calorie burn by as much as 400 calories a day. Fish is also full of great, low-fat, muscle-building protein (which requires your body to burn more calories to digest).
2. ChardDark green leafy vegetables. These include arugula, chard, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, and spinach. They are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and lots of fiber. While the vitamins are great antioxidants and very healthy for you, the fiber is where the rubber really meets the road as far as metabolism goes. Your body expends a lot more calories digesting fiber and protein than it does simply digesting carbohydrates. This is called the thermic effect—the amount of calories required to digest the food can sometimes be almost as much as the number of calories in the food itself. Dark leafies also contain many B vitamins, which are necessary to produce the enzymes for metabolism. Most other vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories and can boost your burn, but the cream of the crop, nutritionally speaking, are the dark green leafy vegetables. So listen to Popeye, and eat your spinach!
3. Tomatoes. Tomatoes have gotten a lot of good press lately, as they contain high levels of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been proven to have several anti-carcinogenic properties. And like the dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes are also a good source of fiber. But tomatoes can also work overtime to flush fat, as they also contain citric, malic, and oxalic acids, which support your body's kidney functions, which helps your body eliminate more waste and fat from your system.
4. Blueberries and other whole fruits. Whole fruits contain lots of fiber, and many contain so much, they can be said to have "negative calories," meaning your body burns more calories digesting the food than it stores. One cup of blueberries only has about 80 calories, but 4 grams of fiber. Your body will expend much of those 80 calories digesting the 4 grams of fiber. Blueberries also contain lots of antioxidants, and are believed to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. And they taste great! Try adding them to a high-fiber unsweetened cereal or oatmeal in the morning to get your metabolism up and running at the start of your day.
5. Whole grains. Well, if you've read this far, you've probably gotten that fiber is key to keeping the metabolic fires burning. Whole grains are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. This is where careful label reading comes in. Lots of items purporting to contain whole grains may only contain enough to make the claim truthful, and may in fact be full of insulin-spiking carbohydrates or sugars, which will take your metabolism in the wrong direction. Check the ingredient list of your breads and cereals carefully and make sure the preponderance of the ingredients is whole grain.
6. Anise StarsChilies, curries, and other spices. Ever eaten a particularly spicy meal and felt your heart race a bit faster and your forehead start to perspire? The capsaicin found in many hot peppers and other spices can fire up your metabolism while it fires up your mouth. In fact, some studies have shown a 50 percent increase in metabolism for 3 hours after eating capsaicin. So it helps to keep a bottle of hot sauce on hand at mealtimes. You can use spices to add flavor to recipes instead of salty or fatty ingredients, which will also help kick your metabolism into a higher gear.
7. Green tea. Researchers have found that green tea consumption can increase calorie burning by up to four percent. It is believed to accomplish this by increasing metabolic rates as well as fat oxidation. Studies have also shown that green tea can reduce sugar cravings and can inhibit enzymes that slow digestion, thus raising metabolic rates. Its thermogenetic properties were convincing enough that Beachbody® includes it in its ActiVit® Metabolism Formula Multivitamins. Besides the metabolic properties, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, making it one of the most healthful beverage choices around.
8. Ice water. Almost every nutritionist will recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, but did you know that if you drink ice water versus room-temperature water, your body will burn an extra 9 calories per glass? Drinking room-temperature water can burn about 16 calories per glass—that's 25 calories per glass for ice water. So, eight glasses of cool water a day can be responsible for burning 200 calories! Plus, water is necessary for all of your bodily processes, including the ones that control your metabolism. If you're underhydrated, your body will underperform. Water also flushes out fat deposits and toxins, which can hamper your energy.

And remember, a good night's sleep and smaller, evenly spaced meals can be your best metabolic friends. And the best thing to really get your metabolism going is exercise. You can burn almost 700 calories in one 45-minute TURBO KICK® workout alone. Also, stress has been found to produce cortisol, a metabolism-inhibiting steroid, so try and relax—have a blueberry. Or a fish!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Ultimate Resistance Band Workout

Resistance bands are an easy way to firm up without breaking the bank. The unique thing about bands is that the tension increases as you stretch them, so the exercise gets harder as you move through the range of motion, challenging your muscles in a different way than weights do. That helps you get stronger faster. Plus, they're light, so you can tuck one in your bag when you travel. Add these moves to your routine and you'll look like a million—for only a few bucks!

The following images and ideas are from

Resistance Band Workout: Side Plank Lift (image above)
Wrap center of the resistance band around feet and hold end in left hand. Balance on right forearm and outside of right foot, feet stacked and hips lifted so body is straight from heat to feet. Bring left hand next to left side, elbow bent and pointing up. Keeping torso still, raise left leg as high as you can, then slowly lower leg to within a few inches of bottom foot (hips stay up the entire time) and repeat. Do 10 to 15 reps, then switch sides to complete set. 

Resistance Band Workout: PliƩ Pull (image above)

Hold an end of the resistance band in each hand and stand with feet wide, toes turned out. Extend arms overhead, palms facing forward, and choke up on the resistance band band until there's no slack. Rise onto toes. Lower heels and sink into a deep squat as you draw arms down to shoulder level, elbows slightly bent. Rise onto toes, extending arms overhead again, and repeat. Do 15 to 20 reps. 

 Resistance Band Workout: Seated Tri Extension (image above)
Sit with legs extended (knees bent) and wrap center of the resistance band around middle of feet. Hold an end of the resistance band in each hand and extend arms behind you, palms facing each other. Keeping chest high and upper arms still, bend elbows so hands are next to hips, then straighten them again; repeat. Do 12 to 20 reps. 

 Resistance Band Workout: Balancing Fly (image above)
Wrap center of resistance band around middle of feet and hold an end in each hand. Sit up, then lean back slightly and raise legs so shins are parallel to the floor. Extend arms on either side of legs in a V, palms facing feet. Keep legs still as you draw arms out to the sides to shoulder height. Return to V and repeat. Do 12 too 20 reps. 

 Resistance Band Workout: Band Bend & Curl (image above)
Stand with feet wide, left foot on one end of the resistance band. Hold the other end in your left hand at your side, palm facing your body; place right hand behind you head, elbow pointing out to the side. Lean to the left and choke up on band to remove any slack. Keeping your hips still and squared forward, ride up so your torso is straight and draw your left hand up to your shoulder. Return to start and repeat. Do 12 to 20 reps, then switch sides to complete set.
 More band exercises to come~Natalie

Monday, June 7, 2010

blueberry banana muffins

I looove the book, "Master your Metabolism Cookbook," by Jillian Michaels. Jillian has 125 recipes specifically designed to enhance nutrition and weight loss. Today I cooked blueberry banana muffins - TO DIE FOR!And SO easy to make!

blueberry banana muffins:
-Olive oil spray for the tin
-3/4 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2)
-3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
-1/2 cup honey
-1/3 cup olive oil
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-2 and 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
-2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 generous cup fresh or frozen blueberries
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 425 degreesF. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with olive oil or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, place the bananas, yogurt, honey, olive oil, and vanilla. Stir together until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and the nuts, if using.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Place the tin in the oven and reduce the heat to 400 degreesF. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (keep an eye on it b/c I only cooked my for 20~depends on the oven), or until tops springs back when lightly touched. Let cool in the tin for 10 to 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Serve warm. (For longer storage, let cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.)

These keep me full and taste delicious. Enjoy!~Natalie

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to Get a Flat Stomach FAST

By Jeanine Detz, Shape Magazine

How to Get a Flat Stomach Fast: Why these moves work

Core exercises like the ones here firm the front, sides and back of your torso (not just your abs), making control-tops obsolete. But belly flattening is just one benefit of this plan. Your core muscles protect your spine, and the better they are at doing it, the comfier your body gets with coordinating movements (like hitting a tennis ball, rowing a kayak, and even running). In fact, a strong core can improve your endurance, make you a stronger athlete, and prevent injuries. Follow this plan and your body will function as fabulously as it looks.

How to Get a Flat Stomach Fast: Anatomy lesson

Your core includes muscles from your upper back to your pelvis, but the primary spine stabilizers are your rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominis (together called your "abs"), and rector spinae. Your abs flex your spine, rotate your body, and pull in your belly. Your erector spinae, along your vertebrae extends the spine and helps support your torso.

How to Get a Flat Stomach Fast: Details

You'll need a 5- to 7-pound dumbbell, & a exercise ball. Do these exercises twice a week with many reps.

How to Get a Flat Stomach Fast: Trainer's Strategy

"Nearly every woman will suffer from back pain, but a strong core can prevent it," says Dorcey Porter, a trainer at Equinox Fitness in Hawthorne, California, who designed this plan. "To get the most benefit from these exercises, focus on your posture during every rep."

Primary muscles targeted with these flat stomach exercises:

1. rectus abdominis
2. external obliques
3. internal obliques
4. transverse abdominis
5. erector spinae

The Best Flat Stomach Exercises
A.  Hold a 5- to 7-pound dumbbell in right hand and get in plank position with wrists aligned under shoulders. Reach right arm under your body to the left. Keep hips squared.

Bring right arm back across your body and rotate torso to the right, reaching right arm straight up. Reach right arm to the left again; repeat. Do 6 to 8 reps; switch sides to complete set. Keep your abs tight so your body forms a line from shoulders to heels; letting your belly sag puts pressure on your lower back. 

One ab exercise I love is the plank. See picture below - Body should be flat as a board. Keep butt down and abs tucked in tight. (The picture below has a foam mat but you don't need one.)
Stabilize: Plank on Ball - One of my favorites!!
Use the stability ball to work your core with these two moves. Engage your abs to stabilize, then move your spine, which is their main job.
Kneel in front of a stability ball and place forearms on top of it, hands in soft fists. Step feet back (the wider they are, the easier the move) and keep your body straight from head to heels [shown]. Hold for up to 60 seconds, squeezing both your abs and your glutes tight.
Stabilize: Long-Lever Crunch

Lie faceup with your back centered on a stability ball, knees bent and feet hip-width apart; squeeze your butt so your hips are even with your torso. Extend your arms alongside your head, thumbs interlocked and palms facing up [A]. With your butt contracted, crunch up as far as you can [B]. (This is a small movement, so don't worry if you're not rising very high.) Lower arms and repeat. Do 10 to 20 reps.


SETUP Strengthens abdominals and spine extensors - Lie on the floor with legs extended above hips, feet pointed toward the ceiling. - Lift head, neck and shoulders off the floor and rest hands on calves. - Squeeze shoulders down and back to stabilize upper body.


ACTION - Inhale, then exhale as you lower right leg to the mat about 6 inches from the floor. Continue to guide left leg toward chest with both hands. - Inhale, then exhale as you switch legs. - Continue to "scissor" legs, inhaling as you initiate the movement and exhaling as you move your legs. Trainers Tip Keep your pelvis stable by keeping abs tight and flat as you scissor your legs; don't tilt it upward.



SETUP Strengthens abdominals and spine extensors - Kneel behind a stability ball, then drape your body over the ball and slowly walk your hands forward into a plank position -- arms straight and in line with shoulders -- knees or shins on top of ball, legs straight, feet together. - Tighten core muscles to maintain position, keeping head and neck neutral.  


ACTION - Contract abs, keeping legs straight, and flex at your hips to draw the ball under your torso, pulling with your legs and feet. - Slowly return to starting position and repeat. Trainer's Tip As you roll the ball beneath you, concentrate on bringing your hips toward your ribs to avoid transferring weight to your shoulders.


SETUP Lying on floor with knees bent in line with hips and feet on top of ball, contract abs and lift head and upper shoulders off floor, grasping lower legs with palms.


ACTION Slowly straighten legs, rolling ball away from hips and raising arms straight above head, next to ears. Slowly bend knees, rolling ball back toward hips and moving arms out to sides and back to legs as you repeat for all reps. Keep head and shoulders lifted for entire set.

More exercises to come --->Natalie

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The 6 best foods for runners

This article is from this months SELF magazine. Enjoy!

Choosing the ultimate running superfoods can help you stay slim, fuel up and recover. Make sure these six items are on your shipping list:

They supply a decent dose of vitamin E, which studies have shown can help stave off postworkout soreness. Toss almonds on top of oatmeal or spread a tablespoon of almond butter on apples or bananas, but don't go nuts—they're still relatively high in calories.
They are egg-cellent energy sources, thanks to their protein content. Runners tend to load up on carbs but skimp on protein. Not only does protein provide energy, but it's essential to recovery, as it repairs tissue damaged during and after training. Keep a handy supply of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for snacks, salads or sandwiches.
3-Leafy Greens
Can contribute to a stronger skeleton. No bones about it: Like other forms of weight-bearing exercise, running is a bone-health boon. For extra help, munch on spinach, collard greens, kale, and bok choy. The gang of greens boasts high levels of vitamin K, which aids with the production of proteins essential for bone health.

May accelerate your burn! The vitamin C content helps your body absorb bone-building calcium and has been shown to increase fat burn during exercise. You'll see oranges on the sidelines of any road race: The juicy slices are the ultimate lift during or post-run.
is a complete protein. It contains all eight muscle-mending amino acids, so it can help your body bounce back after a workout. It's a low-cal alternative to traditional grains, so give it a try if you hear yourself saying, "Pasta again?!" Or swap it for rice in a veggie stir-fry.

6- Sweet Potatoes
provide sustained energy rather than the flash-and-burn jolt of simple, or white, carbs. The orange spuds' serious punch of complex carbohydrates means they're in it for the long haul! They also have protein, fiber, potassium and vitamins C and A.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't let Exercise & your Health slide as you get older...

There are so many people who just let exercise slide as they get older and they blame it on their metabolism slowing, their hormones and other things.
According to Jillian Michaels, as we age, our hormones shift in ways that encourage weight gain. So it is true, HOWEVER…more and more research points to the fact that age-related muscle decline is largely the problem and is under your control. “We’ve spent years blaming the fat on our bellies on our advancing years, but the truth is that we just haven’t been taking care of ourselves! The more we eat clean, live clean, and work out, the better our hormone balance will be, and the healthier our metabolism will remain,” said Michaels.
The reality is that WE HAVE TO EXERCISE. Your body needs it like it needs oxygen and water. I’ll say it over and over again; every pound of muscle burns three times more calories than every pound of fat does. “Muscles scoops up blood sugar and enhance your body’s insulin sensitivity. Exercise reduces weight-gain hormones like cortisol by releasing endorphins to combat stress and increases fat-burning hormones like testosterone, human growth hormone, DHEA, and thyroxine production,” said Jill. YOU NEED EXERCISE. PERIOD.
YOU and only you create it all so stop treating your body as a victim to age, metabolism, hormones or to genetics or whatever… It will do you no good! There is a better way!, and that is to take the initiative to make good things happen for your body and health. We are only given ONE body in this life & so we must take care of it. It is soooo important - It affects all we do!  You have the power to change. Start tttoday !:)
More to come ~Natalie

Thursday, May 20, 2010

5 Keys to Treating Depression through Exercise

By Omar Shamout
About 19 million people in the United States suffer from some form of depression ranging from mild to severe. It's hard to imagine that something as seemingly intangible as the feeling of sadness is governed by science, but it's true. Emotions, like everything else found inside our bodies, can be broken down into chemical equations. The upside of this is that you can sometimes take charge of which emotions your brain generates by altering the things you do every day. Yes, there are a number of pharmaceutical treatments for depression, but studies show that our bodies produce a natural defense that can combat this debilitating mental condition.
What are these organic wonder drugs, you ask? And how do we get them? The answer is endorphins, and you get them through exercise. These chemicals interact with receptors in our brains that send a euphoric feeling throughout the body to combat pain in all its forms. Many people have dubbed this phenomenon "runner's high."
Evolution has gifted us with an anatomy filled with a vast repository of resources that can fight many of the obstacles nature will throw at us. The key is understanding how to unlock the door and utilize all the tools we have available at our disposal. So, with some hard work and dedication, we might be able to discover the secret to one of our self-healing properties.
  1. Consistency. Because depression is a chronic problem that can't be cured by an hour in the gym, sufferers must realize that it takes a strong commitment to an aerobic routine to see any improvement. Even then, endorphins alone may not be enough to aid in more severe cases. Research studies conducted by Harvard Medical School found that daily aerobic exercise over a sustained period of time can have exactly the same impact on lowering rates of depression as antidepressant drugs can have. The length of the daily workout is crucial though, as workouts of less than 15 minutes produced negligible results compared to those of 30 minutes or more. Workouts don't have to be high impact, either. Low-impact routines involving walking and light stretching are equally effective. Prescription drugs may work faster, but the benefits of aerobic exercise on our brain have been shown to last longer, while also improving other physical conditions such as heart health and blood pressure. You must make a long-term commitment, though, because we are talking about a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. A serious problem demands a serious solution.
  2. Drugs are addictive; exercise is not. You might be tempted to take an "easier" route for self-medication. Drugs such as morphine and cocaine also trigger the release of endorphins in your system, but their addictive qualities are dangerous and deadly, not to mention illegal. Overeating can also trigger the release of endorphins, but all of these activities will only make you feel more depressed in the long term once the guilt sets in, and the cycle will only become harder to break. Recognizing any destructive personal triggers of your depression symptoms is vital to understanding how your psyche got to where it is now. Exercise is one of the few coping mechanisms that is not addictive, so embrace it as a welcome and positive addition to your life.
  3. Exercise can be social. Willpower, you say? But, I'm depressed! I have no willpower! Here's where other people can come in. Exercise doesn't have to be a solitary activity, and the Mayo Clinic recommends social activities as a way to cope with symptoms of depression. Maybe try joining a group dance or yoga class, joining a pickup basketball game, or softball league. Tennis, anyone? For some people, this is the way to stop thinking of exercise as a chore. The more we turn our workout into a fun activity with friends, the easier it is to think of it not as "work" at all, but rather an "out"ing. Get it?
  4. Little things add up. Just because you need to get in 30 minutes of cardio a day to improve your mood, doesn't mean you have to do it all at once. Simple things like walking or biking to work, taking the stairs, parking farther away, and the like really do add up, and count as exercise even if you don't have your cross-trainers on.
  5. Be honest with yourself. Understanding your limits and setting realistic expectations are crucial to establishing a routine that you can sustain over a long period of time and enjoy simultaneously. If you're not used to exercise, don't expect to run for an hour nonstop, because you won't, and will end up getting frustrated with yourself, which is exactly what you don't need! Ease into your routine by setting manageable and attainable goals, and build up your confidence. Overdoing your exercise routine will not make you twice as happy, so there's no need to harm your body while taking care of your head.
The bottom line is that exercise should be considered one part of a strategy to overcome depression and get yourself back on track, and shouldn't be considered a one-way ticket to Happytown. Changing your lifestyle is difficult, but a regular aerobic routine can give your brain the added boost it needs to conquer your destructive habits and combat negative emotions.