Summer Slimdown!!

Happy July!! Kicking off this month with an awesome bootcamp style workout and nutrition program…bigger and better than last year AND at a discount! Contact me soon to secure a spot in one of our August groups!!

Summer Slimdown_2016revised

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How to stay fit while pregnant…yes you can!

I just hit week 23 of this pregnancy, and while I still can’t believe how soon our little boy will be joining our family, I can definitely feel it…and see it. The growing belly, the frequent kicks and jabs, and increasing back pain. Yep, this baby is growing and time is marching right along.

I’m lucky to have alot of friends who are in the same phase of life as me (which is always good for anxious mamas-to-be like me!). So there’s lots of people to share stories, worries, complaints…and tips with. And, as a trainer who has worked with pre-and post-par tum clients, it’s my turn to share some with you.

My number one tip for pregnancy is to keep moving. Of course, not if you have any medical conditions that indicate that you shouldn’t, and not until your doctor gives you the ok. But, for most pregnancies, doctors recommend getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Basically, it’s what you were aiming for pre-pregnancy, and what you should aim for afterwards too.

I’ve managed to follow my own advice so far, and I’m so glad I have. Exercise during pregnancy helps to decrease joint pain, increase energy, improve mood and often leads to a quicker recovery after birth. After taking my own advice these last 23 weeks, I can absolutely confirm these benefits. The days I work out are my best days, physically and emotionally. Here’s a list of my favorite pregnancy workouts:

  1. Walking, walking, walking. My Fitbit is my new best friend…seriously. I aim for 10-15,000 steps per day, and I definitely feel better and sleep better on the days that I get that amount. This was my exercise of choice in the first trimester, when nausea and fatigue were almost constant…walking helped to distract me and give me a boost of energy…and getting some fresh air always made me happy, mood swings or not. fitbit
  2. Running. Now, I’ve never been a great runner, but I’ve been pretty consistent with it over the years. And somehow, during pregnancy, I’ve grown to love it more. I feel like my old self when I’m outside (or even on the treadmill), running and watching the distance accumulate. So far, it’s been comfortable for me and the best mood booster I’ve found so far. Also, I definitely sleep better on the days I run. Note: You do want to be careful when running during pregnancy – don’t aim to beat any prior records or increase your speed. In fact, plan on going slower, stopping if your heart rate gets to high and being careful about not overheating.                babymoon running                                A pic from our recent “babymoon”, where we did a beautiful family run in the Outerbanks of NC. 
  3. Hiking. This is a favorite activity for my husband and I, and something I like to do with friends and clients too. Being in nature is a natural way to get energy and improve your mood…works every time! I’m just paying a little more attention to my surroundings these days, and not trying any hikes that are too crazy. If you’re going to hike when pregnant (with the ok from your doctor), make sure you have good shoes and go slow so you don’t trip or lose your balance. 
  4. Weight lifting. You don’t want those arms and legs to get weak over these next 9 months. In fact, you’re going to need the strength to lift that infant car seat a over and over. After checking with your doctor, aim for 2-3 days of moderate resistance training per week. Lower weight and higher reps are often best…and aim to alternate between the legs and the arms to get a total body workout without straining any muscle or raising your blood pressure. 
  5. Stationary biking. I’m not gonna lie, I do miss biking outside. But that’s nothing a good music playlist and 30 minutes on the indoor bike can’t fix. I love seeing the miles rack up, I love feeling like I can go pretty fast without hurting my knees or back, and I love the improved cardiovascular endurance I feel after a few good rides. (Again, keep your heart rate at a reasonable level when biking…working large muscle groups, like the legs, can raise your heart rate quite a bit, so be mindful of that).
  6. Prenatal yoga. And lastly, some relaxation. I occasionally find myself with random worries that probably plague most moms-to-be. Is the baby ok? Am I doing everything right? What if I don’t have the nursery done on time? Valid concerns, mostly, with some random and useless ones thrown in. But when these thoughts start circling, that’s when I roll out my yoga mat and tune everything else out. I aim to do prenatal yoga 1-2x per week. In addition to helping with stress, it has helped me manage back and hip pain, strengthen muscles, reduce headaches and learn to focus and breathe. I’m hoping these benefits help on delivery day, but if not, the 9 months of benefits leading up to it are certainly reason enough to seek out a yoga class.

So there you have it: my go-to’s for pregnancy workouts. Other ones that clients and friends have found helpful include swimming, dance and aerobics. No matter what it is you choose to do, try to stay as active as possible during this time in your life. During these 9 months of serious changes (to both our bodies and our lives), exercise is one constant that can and will make you feel better…and pass the time while you wait for that beautiful baby to join your world.

A happy and fit pregnancy to you!

~Jess

Meal Delivery Service…Is this right for me?

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I wish I could say that I’m a person who loves to cook. That I enjoy shopping, prepping, and serving beautiful, healthy and delicious meals seven nights a week. But that is SO not me… In fact, I’m ashamed to say that I rely on my husband to make sure we eat at least five nights a week. I mean, he’s a great cook, but maybe I should be a little more involved?

Somewhere in the winter of 2015, a good friend of ours introduced us to a meal/recipe delivery service. I was reluctant to try it…it seemed expensive, and I wasn’t sure the meals were going to be healthy or easy to make. But we gave it a try. And got hooked. Now we get our delivery about once a month, and spend the other three weeks recreating recipes or digging through our cookbooks. But I’m not gonna lie…I sure do look forward to the weeks that we are getting our delivery.

Many of my clients have asked me about my experience since we started using this service. And my answers (as usual) are long-winded and complex. So I decided to sum up a few key pros and cons about some of the popular recipe delivery services out there now:

Pros:

  • First of all, cooking at home trumps eating out…always, always, always. You will eat less, consume less sugar, salt and fat and save money.
  • My husband and I have actually both learned to enjoy cooking more. We’ve learned different techniques that make meal prep much quicker and we’ve learned ways to cook foods that I’d never considered before.
  • I’ve tried vegetables and healthy, whole grains that I had never eaten before. And some of these have become a regular part of our diets. Healthy points: ALOT
  • These meals are good. I mean, really good. At least 90% of them. Restaurant quality, but healthier and served in the comfort of your own home.

Cons:

  • Though it’s healthier than eating out, some of the meals use a lot of salt and butter. This can be fixed (see suggestions below)
  • The price can be a bit high, depending on which company you use, though you’ll still spend MUCH less than if you ate out a few times a week.
  • In the beginning, we were definitely frustrated with the amount of time some of the meals took to make. But, as I mentioned…as you learn how to more efficiently prep and cook foods, buy the right tools, and get used to some of the cooking methods, the cook time definitely goes down. And plus, I’ve found it’s a nice way for the hubby and I to spend time together, and catch up on our days. Add a good glass of wine, and the time becomes even less of an issue J
  • Nutrition information: this isn’t always completely revealed in all of the recipes. They may list the calorie count, but for those of us who care about macronutrients, fiber, sugar content, etc…this can be very hard to track.

 

All in all, I think these delivery services can be a great idea for many people, and I have recommended the one we use to many clients, friends and family. If you do choose to give it a try, heed these suggestions:

  1. If a recipe is 8 steps, and 5 of the steps list adding salt to the food, be smart. Maybe add it to the chicken before you sear it, but skip adding it in any of the other steps. We quickly made this adjustment, and didn’t miss the salt at all.
  2. Same with butter. Some of the recipes we’ve gotten come with up to two tablespoons of butter. Yikes! I’m all about using real butter in my cooking, but two tablespoons? So we cut it in half. And again, haven’t missed it a bit.
  3. The meals often say they serve two people, but can contain anywhere from 500-800 calories per portion. That’s a lot for some people, especially at dinner. Of course, this is completely dependent on your calorie needs (according to your size, activity level and goals), but be smart here. If you’re tracking calories and the dinner is going to bring you way above a healthy calorie range, do what I do: immediately divide the meal into three servings before you sit down to eat. Save the leftovers for work tomorrow. Trust me, you’ll look forward to lunch much more than usual (and save calories and money by not buying from the work cafeteria!)

 

So there are my thoughts. For many of us, time and money are valuable, but so is knowing that what we’re putting in our bodies is good. If you’re someone who doesn’t cook healthy meals for yourself or eats out regularly, you might just find a service like this is worth every dime…

Happy cooking!

 

~Jess

 

80/20 – My kind of math

March is not always my favorite month, but it IS National Nutrition month, which makes it a little better. Anyone who knows me knows I love talking about nutrition (maybe too much?), but this year, I want to focus my ranting on a nutritional rule I live by, that keeps food from ruling my life. You’ve all heard of this 80/20 rule by now, no? Many health and nutrition experts recommend following an 80/20 lifestyle, in which you eat healthy, wholesome foods 80% of the time, and “cheat foods” 20%. But how many of us put this into practice so seamlessly? I mean, are we really thinking of our meals in terms of percentages?

So to make it easier for you, I did the math (if you know me, you also know math is not a strength of mine). But here goes…if you eat 3 meals/day, the number of healthy meals you’re aiming for is about 17 per week, out of 21. If you eat 1-2 snacks per day, you want about 6-11 of them to be truly healthy during the week. That gives you 4 meals and 1-3 snacks to eat that are not the healthiest. So go ahead and enjoy that macaroni and cheese, pizza, cocktail or bag of pretzels. But it also means that the rest of the time, your meals do have to be healthy. Made of whole foods, with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Not packaged. Without added sugars. You get the idea.

Now, how to do this:

  1. Plan your cheat meals. This is key. If you’re going to be going out to eat on the weekend or heading to a party, budget in those cheat foods and factor them into the rest of the week. Planning your treats can make eating whole foods the rest of the week a lot easier and will ensure you don’t go over the 20%.
  2. Plan your healthy meals too. We know this…meal planning is key to keeping yourself on track. You don’t want to be stuck wasting a cheat meal just because you didn’t pack lunch that morning.
  3. Consider that most restaurant meals (breakfast, lunch or dinners) constitute a cheat meal. Even when we think we’re making the healthiest choice, we have no control over how the food is prepared and I can promise you it’s worse than you think.
  4. Keep a food journal. At the end of every week, go back and see if you stuck to the plan. Maybe you ate more than the 20 % cheat meals…that’s ok, just plan better next week. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll find you have room for one extra treat next week…there’s a surprise I wouldn’t want to miss!

Also, I should note that the 80/20 rule applies to other areas of your life as well. But more on that later…

 

Happy March…and Happy Spring!!

How Sweet it Isn’t…

 

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When I heard the latest dietary guidelines recommend that adults limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their daily calories, I was thrilled! Finally, we’re admitting that sugar is a/the major cause of obesity and disease in our country, and I’m glad that’s reflected in the latest guidelines. Over the last 11 years of my fitness and  health coaching career, I’ve placed a huge emphasis on cleaning up my diet, and I’m proud to say I’m much healthier than I was before I started this journey. But, there’s always room for improvement and it’s always important to re-evaluate nutrition every now and again. So lately, my husband and I have been paying much more attention to the added sugars in some of our favorite foods, and it’s been a really good wake up call.

My favorite Greek yogurts, for example, can have 15-25 grams of sugar in them. The gluten free granola I sometimes sprinkle on top? 17 grams. The Clif bars we take on our weekend hikes: 22 grams. And then there’s the less obvious stuff: what’s in salad dressing, tomato sauce, the honey or maple syrup I use in cooking. That piece of dark chocolate I must have every day… I mean, it’s a good thing I bake as rarely as I do…that would really make the sugar grams add up!

So, needless to say, we’ve learned a lot by reading and re-reading the nutrition labels of our favorite “healthy” foods. And we’re not giving them all up. But, we are choosing to make simple swaps to lower our daily intake of added sugars. Here are some of the simple swaps I’ve made so far:

  • Switching from vanilla Greek yogurt to plain Greek yogurt: Save 9 to 16 grams of sugar per serving. (Tip: this can take some time to get used to, so I recommend adding cinnamon, a little fruit and maybe some chia seeds…so good!)
  • Sprinkling walnuts on top of my yogurt instead of granola: 16 grams less sugar per serving
  • Making my own trail mix (from nuts and seeds) instead of eating store bought: 9 grams less sugar per serving
  • Cooking chicken with a little olive oil and homemade spice blends instead of with barbeque sauce or other marinades: Saves at least 10-12 grams of sugar per serving.

Other ideas my clients and I have found helpful include:

photo (8) Homemade overnight oats…tell me this doesn’t look better than anything you can get in a packet…

  • Making plain oatmeal with cinnamon and chopped nuts instead of flavored instant oatmeal or “healthy” cold cereals:  Save 12-16 grams of sugar per serving
  • Buying flavored seltzer instead of vitamin water or iced tea:  Save at least 32 grams of sugar. Whoa!
  • Toss olive oil, some lemon and garlic on your next salad instead of store bought dressings: Save about 10 grams of sugar (sometimes more!

I encourage you to take a few days and really look at what you’re eating. Look at the sugar content and decide if there’s a way you can reduce your sugar intake a little bit each week. I’m not talking major changes…little swaps add up. Feel free to share your swaps…I’m always looking for new ideas!

For more info about the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines, look here:

http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Reflections

For those of you who know me well or have trained with me in the past, you know how much I love goals. Daily goals, weekly goals, long-term goals. It’s how I stay accountable to my clients and myself, and is, I believe, the only way we can get where we want to go. But there’s something that’s just as important as looking ahead, and that’s looking back.

Blue Hills_2015

Like it is every New Year’s Eve, yesterday was a day of reflection for me. A chance to look back at the past year, relive some of the highlights, and process some of the tough times. It was a trying year, at times, facing some personal challenges but forcing me to grow into a more patient and less anxious person in the process. All while reminding me that I have THE MOST supportive husband, family and friends. For the first time, I also took some professional risks, which was terrifying, humbling and necessary. And because of that, I realized that the world doesn’t end if I make a mistake, embarrass myself or make decisions that don’t please everyone. What does happen, though, is that I learn from each mistake, each interaction, each embarrassment and I plan better for the future.

I’m so glad I took the time to think back on this year. To celebrate our first year of homeownership, the growth of a career I am so very passionate about, the reconnecting with old friends and meeting some amazing new people, taking a spontaneous and very memorable road trip with my husband and growing as a person, a wife, a friend, a daughter and a sister. And though it wasn’t always perfect, the challenges I faced in 2015 have prepared me for a healthier, happier and more productive 2016.

I always tell potential clients during our first meetings that, if you’re looking for very quick results, no matter what it takes, I’m not the trainer for you. But I am the trainer for you if you want to look back, one year from today, and reflect on the many healthy lifestyle changes you have made over the year, celebrate your successes and the achievement of multiple short-term goals, and appreciate the healthier you that you have become. I encourage them to focus on who they want to be a year from now. If you can embrace that a healthier lifestyle is a long-term commitment and that each year you will be healthier than the year before, then we’re gonna get along just fine!

So, in taking my own advice, I’m looking back on this past year and celebrating the small goals that I did meet despite some obstacles and appreciating how much closer it has taken me to the person I am going to be on December 31st, 2016. I can’t wait to share my story with you next year!

Happy New Year. And may 2016 bring you the happiness and wellness you deserve.

 

And now for some 2015 highlights: 

Auntie Pic_May 2015 Cape Cod_2015

Becoming and Auntie again and annual summer vacation to the Cape. so grateful for this amazing family of mine.

 

Nashville_2015

Driving from Boston to Nashville, Kentucky and West Virginia with my was one of the most memorable trips my husband and I have taken together. We were both surprised, but road trips might be a thing from now on!

Newport_2015

Connecting with a very good friend in Boston and Newport this year was a highlight, for sure. It’s good to know that certain friendships never change, despite distance, careers, family obligations and time.

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Finally joining the biking culture that is quite big around our city. So glad two very good friends convinced me to pick up this new workout and do the New York 5 Boro bike tour…I’m obsessed!

Ready or not…

Ready or not…September’s here. That means, for many of us, it’s back to school/back to work/back to chaos, right? As an early morning trainer and an Occupational Therapist in the public school system, I’m very familiar with early morning chaos, and how the best of intentions to pack a healthy breakfast and lunch can somehow disintegrate in the midst of hitting the snooze button a few too many times, making the coffee (a must!), and trying to make myself look presentable. But I also know that making the right choices for breakfast and packing a healthy lunch goes a LONG way toward staying healthy and fit, and not having to buy new work clothes! So, I’m sharing with you a few of my “go-to’s” for eating well and still getting out the door on time:

  1. Brown rice cakes topped with peanut or almond butter and a side of fruit.
  2. Plain Greek yogurt with walnuts and berries.
  3. Whole wheat toast topped with avocado or peanut butter and a sliced banana.
  4. Oatmeal (a sit down option, but quick to prep), with walnuts, cinnamon and fresh or frozen fruit.
  5. I also recently found this recipe on Pinterest, and love it! Perfect for those of us who love muffins (but don’t want all that sugar), easy to grab and go, and the kids will love them too: http://www.alagraham.com/2013/02/individual-baked-oatmeal-cups.html?m=1
  6. And lastly, I bring to you my new favorite from a good friend who also happens to be an excellent cook and appreciates the early morning struggle. Overnight oats are a great way to get in whole grains and fresh fruit, and this recipe will keep you full all morning…and it’s beyond yummy!

Basic Overnight Recipe

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup Milk of your choice (I use So Delicious Coconut milk)

1/3 cup plain yogurt *

(I use So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt or

Greek would be great too-adds protein)

1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Pinch cinnamon

Vanilla extract (optional)

I also add Sun Warrior Vanilla Protein powder (keeps me full and adds protein)

* the yogurt can be eliminated but you will need more milk then

Directions:

 

Mix all ingredients in a container and leave in fridge “overnight”

It is literally that easy!!!

Can be left in fridge for up to 3 days

Variations:

 

To add more flavor and yumminess to your breakfast many variations can be added to the basic recipe, here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Berry-Simply top the basic recipe with your favorite berries or any fruit of choice
  2. Pina Colada- A spoon shredded coconut and chopped fresh pineapple (or canned)
  3. Carrot Cake– Shredded fresh carrots, chopped walnuts, and maple syrup (could also add raisins)
  4. Peanut Butter Cup-Add chocolate protein powder instead & spoon of peanut or almond butter
  5. Almond Joy – Add a spoon of shredded Coconut to #4
  6. Pumpkin Pie– substitute 1/3 cup organic canned pumpkin for yogurt and add nutmeg, cinnamon, chopped almonds or walnuts
  7. Kheer –( indian rice pudding)- cardamom, nutmeg, chopped almonds and raisins (optional) –one of my faves!!!

So many options just let your imagination run wild!!

So there’s a few ideas to get your started as the school/work year begins. Remember, “abs are made in the kitchen”, and fast food breakfasts are the fastest way to a sluggish morning and bigger waistline.

Wishing you all a wonderful return to school/work, and happy and healthy Labor Day and a beautiful fall.