Monday, April 30, 2012

Green Tea

Green tea is another of the latest cure-alls in all fitness magazines, infomercials, etc.    Almost every over the counter “weight loss” product has green tea in it. 

Ever wonder why?  What is green tea and is it truly beneficial?     What makes green tea different from any other tea is it is processed much less and thus retains many of the beneficial properties that are normally killed through over processing. 

Green tea can help boost the metabolism as it creates a natural thermogenic effect in the body.   It is also a powerful antioxidant.  Many studies claim it boosts the immune system, aids in digestion and helps lower blood pressure just to name a few. 

Discover what the Chinese learned over 4000 years ago…….  Green tea is good for you!

Stay tuned……..

Friday, April 27, 2012

Breading Alternative - Pork Rinds

YES  you read that subject line correctly.    I recently found an alternative for the many recipes that call for bread crumbs.   Pork rinds !!!    Pork rinds are high protein and low carb.  They are very crunchy and when smashed work well as a substitute for breading/bread crumbs.   Try it  !!

Stay tuned………..

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Michael Jordan - Quote

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Breathing..... Deep Belly Breathing is often totally absent from our thoughts when exercising.   Yet breathing has a huge impact on how the body reacts to exercises.   One of the many reasons Lance Armstrong was so incredibly successful was his ability to control his breathing and oxygen.

When strength training, many people breathe from the chest.   When you breathe through the chest, only a little volume of air is pushed in, which in turn, lowers the body's energy levels.   You need to breathe from the belly. Deep belly ensures that more oxygen is pushed in and gives you more energy/power.

A few pointers I have learned (and have to keep reminding myself) include:

Take few deep breaths just before starting your set.  Allow the oxygen to flow into the brain and the muscles.

Do NOT hold your breath during lifting.  This is a mistake made by many, even experienced lifters.  When you hold your breath during heavy weight lifting, you are increasing your blood pressure.

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

Take a big breath as you start the exercise.  Exhale as you are in the power/up portion of the exercise.   For example, when you are bench-pressing, take a huge deep belly breath as you are starting to bring the bar down to your chest and then exhale during the push. 

A deep exhale will give you the extra push and energy to move the weight.

Stay tuned…………

Monday, April 23, 2012

Body Mass Index (BMI) - INACCURATE

Body Mass Index (BMI) was invented over 200 years ago by a Belgian named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. He was a mathematician, not a physician. He produced the formula to give a quick and easy way to measure the degree of obesity of the general population.

BMI is calculated using a person's weight divided by his or her height squared.  The resulting BMI score is a single number between 1 and 100. 

The greatest flaw in this logic is it does not consider anything other than weight and height -- as if we are all identical in body structure!  There is no allowance for the relative proportions of bone, muscle and fat in the body.   Bone is denser than muscle.  Muscle is denser than fat (twice as dense as fat).   Therefore, a person with strong bones, good muscle tone and low body fat will have a high BMI.     According to the BMI measurement, fit/ health-conscious people who work out a lot may be classified as overweight or even obese.

There are alternatives:  Use body fat measurements obtained by a professional instead of BMI to access your status and progress.   The most accurate body fat measurement is underwater weighing or the air displacement graph (also called a bodpod).  These two methods however are usually available at a fitness and sports institute (such as NIFS - the National Institute for Fitness and Sports in Indianapolis).   A more readily available measurement option is a skinfold assessment using calipers.     Stay away from those scales you stand on or a device you hold to measure, they are also very inaccurate.  

Stay tuned…………..

Friday, April 20, 2012

Parmesan Chicken with Caesar Roasted Romaine

Feels like a cheat but it is healthy !!!!


4   6 to 8 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Dash of sea salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 large hearts of romaine, halved lengthwise
4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained, chopped (optional - I leave this out)
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges


Preheat oven to 450°.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Season chicken with salt and place on sheet.  Combine cheese, 2 Tbsp. oil, parsley, one garlic clove and a dash of sea salt in a medium bowl.  Roll cheese mixture onto breasts.  Roast chicken until it turn golden brown, which takes about 10 minutes.

Drizzle romaine with 1 Tbsp. oil and sprinkle with remaining chopped garlic clove.  Season with sea salt.  Remove sheet from oven; place romaine around chicken. Roast until chicken is cooked through and lettuce is browned at edges, about 5 minutes.  Divide among plates.  Top lettuce with anchovies (if you are using); garnish with lemon wedges for squeezing over.


Adapted from Bon Apetit

Stay Tuned………

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pull Ups / Chin Ups

Even the strongest and most fit lifters can barely squeeze out more than a couple full pull-ups.  It is one of the simplest to execute, yet most physically challenging moves.

A pull-up is a compound, pull-type exercise that works a large number of muscles in your back, shoulders and arms at the same time.

Grasp a bar with either a wide overhand grip or a narrow underhand grip (some gyms have bars with numerous grip variations).  With your arms straightened, allow your body to hang from the bar.   Then pull yourself upward to where your chest nearly touches the bar and your chin is over the bar.  While you are pulling, focus on keeping your body straight.  Once your chin is over the bar, you can lower yourself to the initial position.  You have just completed one rep.   While you perform the pull-ups, you can either bend your knees and cross your feet or keep your legs straightened.  Just do not let your feet do not touch the floor and do not arch or swing.   As you advance, add weight by placing a dumbbell between your legs.

Until you advance, you may need to start with the lat pull down (instead of a pull-up) to emulate the movement.   However, as you progress and whenever possible you should use pull-ups / chin ups as it is superior over the lat pull down in total development and muscle recruitment. 

Stay tuned………

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tzatziki Chicken Salad

This is a quick and easy recipe that is very tasty !!    You can make it ahead and take it with you as a great healthy lunch.


2/3 cup plain no-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion  
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon 
2 teaspoons chopped dill or 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill
Dash of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced (or garlic flakes if you don’t have fresh garlic)
2 cups of chopped or shredded chicken breast  
Mixed Salad Greens


Combine first seven ingredients in a bowl, stirring with a whisk or a large fork.  Add the chicken; toss to coat. Serve on a bed of mixed salad greens

Adapted from Cooking Light, April  2012

Stay tuned………

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dips - The Upper Body Squat

Dips are often called the upper body squat. Dips work the shoulders, chest and triceps.  They are great overall exercise for building an upper body.

Perform dips by grasping two parallel bars that are approximately shoulder-width apart. Raise yourself up to an initial position with your arms extended and supporting the entire weight of your body.   Then lower your body to a position where your elbows are bent, your upper arm is parallel to the floor.  Pause and then use your arms to push yourself upwards to the initial position.  Keep your elbows tucked in through the entire repetition.  If you are working out at a gym, the Captain's Chair is a great piece of equipment with handles at just the right height. 

If you do not yet have the strength to support your bodyweight on the parallel bars then try bench dips instead.   These are a great way to gain the benefits of performing dips until you have sufficient strength to perform regular dips.    Bench dips are performed by placing your hands on the edge of a bench at your sides and a bit behind you then mimic the same move as on parallel bars (lowering your body until your upper arm is parallel to the floor).   Initially you may need to start with feet on the floor and work your way up to placing your feet on a support of some type (feet on a bench as example).    

Stay tuned………

Monday, April 9, 2012

Water, Water, Water

We all hear over and over to drink water...  It is crucial for our overall health.   Though there are many reasons, here are two: Our bodies are over 70% water. Your brain is over 85% water.  

Here are even more reasons:  Staying hydrated is essential for optimum brain function, it maintains our body temperature, aids in digestion, metabolizes fat, lubricates and cushions your organs, transports nutrients throughout our bodies, flushes toxic waste from our bodies and much more.  

However, did you know that thirst is not a good indicator of your hydration level?   By the time you experience thirst you are already dehydrated. 

It is especially important to stay hydrated during exercise.  When you lose body weight via sweat, it causes a drop in blood volume that causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood.  This may lead to muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue.   In more serious cases, you may experience heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink at least 8-10 glasses of pure water a day (not all liquids are as hydrating as pure water).   And make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after vigorous exercise. 

Drink up and stay tuned……..

Friday, April 6, 2012

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Shrimp are loaded with protein, vitamins, zinc and iodine. In addition, they are carb free. Goat cheese not only adds a great flavor to these quesadillas but is also a very rich source of the essential amino acid tryptophan. ENJOY


6 oz. frozen cooked shrimp (peeled and deveined, tail off), chopped (I pat them off before slicing with paper towel to get the excess liquid)
2 oz. goat cheese crumbled
1-2 sliced roasted red peppers (drained from jar and I pat them off before slicing with paper towel to get the excess liquid)
10-15 green olives sliced in half
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 low carb tortillas (larger size so you can fold them)
Smidge of olive oil or cooking spray


Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a bowl, mix shrimp, cheese, roasted peppers, olives and basil. Lay low carb tortillas out on a flat surface. Scoop 1/2 of shrimp mixture into center of each tortilla. Fold tortilla over filling into a half-moon shape, pressing gently to flatten filling evenly inside tortilla. Place tortillas on a parchment-lined baking tray. Brush tops of each tortilla with 1/2 tsp. oil (or if you prefer spray with cooking spray). Bake for 6 minutes, until quesadillas are golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Cut each quesadilla in half and serve immediately.

Adapted from Clean Eating

Stay tuned………..

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rows- Pull-Type Compound Exercise

Your back consists of a major muscle group -- one of the biggest. It is made up of many separate muscles. A strong back is essential to good posture and proper balance. We use our backs in essentially everything we do daily. Ever had a sore back? If so, you know how it is fundamental to almost every movement (sitting, standing, walking, laying).

Bent over rows are a compound exercise that involves a whole array of muscles, and not just in the back, but also notably the posterior deltoids and the biceps. Both barbell and dumbbell bent over rows are tremendous examples of upper back exercises.

The bent over row is an exercise where many people "cheat." In an effort to row more weight, people lean back (upright) which becomes more of a shrug. Unfortunately, these work more of your traps and not your back. Instead, keep your back PARELLEL to the floor. When performing the barbell rows, return the bar to the floor on each rep. This will strengthen your entire back more than any other row variation.

Barbell Row – Technique:

Row each rep from the floor. As when you deadlift, the bar starts and returns to the floor on each rep. Stand behind the bar and bend at the waist to pick it up. The barbell should be above the middle of your feet when you start rowing, same stance as on conventional deadlifts. Grip the bar as you do for bench presses (same hand width). Your barbell row should be the exact opposite movement of your bench press, that is, instead of pushing away from your chest, pull it towards you using the exact same motion. Pull your elbows towards the ceiling instead of merely pulling with your hands. This will help you use your upper-back rather than turning your rows into a biceps exercise. Row to your chest. Same position as where you touch the bar on the bench press. If the bar does not hit your chest, it is like doing partials. Keep your back parallel. Try not to swinging the weight. Use good strict form. Keep your head down to prevent inquiry.

An alternative exercise to barbell row is the dumbbell row. To use dumbbells, apply the same techniques as above.

Stay tuned……….

Monday, April 2, 2012

Carbs – Never Eat Carbs within 4 hours of Bedtime

Rule of thumb: Try not eat carbohydrates within 4 hours of bedtime and really avoid right before bed. The body naturally produces growth hormone (GH) within the initial 90 minutes of sleep. GH increases fat burning. It is also required to build muscle and strengthen your immune system. (See previous blog entries on hormones). Carbohydrates will affect and significantly reduce the GH release thus interfering with your fat loss and muscle building. Now here's the catch: It is not advisable to go to bed on an empty stomach because your body will go too long without nourishment. Therefore, your last meal of the day and any right before bedtime snacks should consist only of protein and healthy fats. You want your blood sugars to remain low and have enough protein and healthy fats to keep your metabolism up and take advantage of nighttime GH production.

Stay tuned…………………