7 Steps to a Perfect Packed Lunch

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

Summer vacation is winding down, fall is approaching and the kids are going back to school.

It’s time to examine the art of packing the perfect lunch.

While it is easy to rely on the school cafeteria for the kids and fast food meals for you, this method will quickly result in unwanted pounds.

The only way to ensure that you and your kids are eating a nutritionally balanced, health promoting lunch is to pack it yourself.

According to Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes in their book, Lunch Lessons, “When it comes to nutrition, children are not just miniature adults. Because they’re growing, they have different dietary needs.” (Their daily serving recommendations are in boxes below.)

Use the following 7 steps as your guide for packing healthy lunches that cover the spectrum of nutrients that your growing kids needs.

Don’t have kids? Keep reading. You’ll need these steps when packing your own nutrient-dense, fitness lunches.

Step 1: Hydration

Every function of the human body requires water, so it’s a no-brainer that water should be included in your packed lunch. Eight glasses a day is a minimum.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of giving kids juice or soda pop, and once your kids are accustomed to drinking these sugary treats expect a battle when you switch to water. This is one fight that is worth winning.

Remind yourself that the sugary drinks are filled with empty calories, which quickly lead to weight gain. Sugar also robs the body of vital nutrients and minerals.

Step 2: Protein

  • 2 – 3 servings daily
  • 1 serving equals: 2 – 3oz meat, 1/2 cup cooked beans, 1/3 cup nuts or one egg

Protein is an essential part of lunch, both for you and your kids. Kids need protein to support their growing body, and you need plenty of protein in order to grow and maintain lean muscle tissue.

Here’s a list of healthy protein sources: fish, beans, tofu, nuts, eggs, chicken, turkey, lean pork and lamb.

Limit the amount of high-saturated-fat protein that your kids eat to no more than 3 servings per week. These include cheese, hot dogs, salami, bacon and sausage.

Step 3: Whole Grains

  • Kids 6-9 yrs: 4 – 7 servings daily
  • Kids 10-14 yrs: 5 – 8 servings daily
  • Teens: 6 – 9 servings daily
  • 1 serving equals: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 bagel, 1/2 cup cooked rice, 1/2 cup pasta, 1 cup of whole grains

Whole grains are one of the major building blocks of a healthy meal. The key word here is “whole” meaning not refined.

White bread, bagels, pasta and rice have been stripped of the nutrients and minerals. As a result these items convert quickly into sugar, leaving your child drained after an initial quick burst of energy. Always avoid refined white grain products.

Here’s a list of healthy whole grains: oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, millet, bulgur, whole-wheat or sprouted grain bread, barley, whole grain cereal and whole wheat pasta.

Step 4: Veggies

  • 4 – 9 servings daily
  • 1 serving equals: 1 cup raw of 1/2 cup cooked vegetables

When it comes to veggies, variety is key. Choose a array of colors like orange, red, purple, green, blue, white and yellow to make sure that your kids are getting all of the necessary vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

Don’t save vegetables for dinnertime. Pack each lunch with lots of colorful vegetables.

Try these veggie-packing ideas: Put a small container of hummus with cut veggies for dipping. Fill your sandwiches with baby arugula, roasted peppers and slices of tomato. Pack a container of veggie and whole wheat pasta instead of a sandwich. Invest in a small thermos and fill it with vegetable soup.

Step 5: Fruit

  • 3 – 5 servings daily
  • 1 serving equals: 1/2 cup cut fruit, whole fruit size of tennis ball, half a banana, 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice

Fresh fruit is filled with vitamins, nutrients and minerals. As with your veggies, choose a variety of colors to ensure that your kids are getting a range of nutrients.

Stay away from fruits that are canned and coated in syrup, and also from fruit snacks and chews that contain added sugars. If fresh fruit is not readily available then go for plain dried fruit, with no added sugar.

Unlike veggies, it is possible to eat too much fruit. Though the natural sugars within fruit are much healthier than refined sugar, too much of it will have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels and the extra calories will be stored as fat. Stick with 3 – 5 servings per day.

Step 6: Calcium

  • 2 – 6 servings daily
  • Serving size based on the amount of calcium in the food. Examples of 1 serving: 1 cup cooked beans, 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 cup dried figs, 1/2 cup dark leafy green vegetables, 1/2 cup tofu, 1 cup low-fat milk, 1 cup low-fat yogurt

Your kids need calcium in order to build strong, healthy bones. It is important to incorporate calcium into each meal.

Calcium isn’t just found in dairy products. There are many plant sources that contain calcium that is more readily absorbed by the body than the calcium found in dairy.

Try these sources of calcium: nuts, dark leafy greens, salmon, broccoli, tofu, soy milk, sardines, beans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt.

Step 7: Healthy Fat

  • 3 – 4 servings daily
  • Serving size based on the amount of healthy fat in the food. Examples of 1 serving: 1 teaspoon of olive, safflower, sesame, flax or canola oil, 1/2 cup nuts, 1 tablespoon peanut, almond or cashew butter, 1 cup cooked beans, peas or lentils.

You may think of all dietary fat as being bad, but fat from plant sources are very important to the growth and development of a child’s body.

Limit animal fats, which are filled with saturated fat and cholesterol, and eliminate trans-fatty acids contained in foods that are labeled as hydrogenated.

There you have it, 7 steps to the perfect packed lunch. See the recipe below to get you started on your first perfect packed lunch.

Remember that eating right is only half of the equation. Exercise is just as important when it comes to fitness and weight loss.

Are you ready to get started on a personalized fitness program? Call or email today to set up a consultation.

Dance as Exercise

It may just be creative movement to you, but to your body, dancing is a great workout.

When you take to the dance floor, you transform into a machine. Nothing matters except the next move, and every one is made with the ultimate precision. Or maybe your dancing style looks more like someone suffering a seizure, and you dread the thought of anyone ever seeing you bust a move. No matter what level of a dancer you are, your body can still reap many of the same benefits.

Starting with the Legs

Unless you’re dancing in a chair, your legs are going to get a fantastic work out when you’re dancing. Practically every move in the world of dance involves moving your legs, and the longer and more intense your dance is, the better work out you’ll give your thighs and calves.

As you move, pay attention to what makes your legs feel the burn best. Deep dips, high jumps, and powerful sprints across the floor will turn an average dance into an excellent addition to your exercise routine.

Moving into the Arms

While your legs are kicking and swaying, your arms should be doing much the same – and then some. Whether you’re dancing with your toddler, spouse, a complete stranger, or all by your lonesome, your arms should be working continuously. From tossing your partner in the air to creating poetic motion in the air, your arms have an opportunity to experience a unique test of endurance.

Don’t think dance is getting your arms in shape? Strap light weights to your wrists and keep dancing. You’ll definitely feel the burn after the next time you burn up the dance floor, and your arms will look great as a result!

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Now that you know dancing can help tone your body, there’s something else you may be interested to learn. Busting a move burns a lot of calories. How many calories can you expect to lose during a three-day dance-a-thon? There’s no telling. But you can find out how many calories you can get rid of in a 30- or 60-minute dancing extravaganza!

15 Minutes 30 Minutes 60 Minutes
Slow Dance
175 pound male
60 120 241
Fast Dance
175 pound male
110 220 441
Slow Dance
120 pound female
41 82 165
Fast Dance
120 pound female
75 151 302

Don’t Forget the Core

Without a strong core, your legs won’t move and your arms can’t flail about as you dance. Fortunately, your core can get a good bit of exercise as you enjoy an evening at the club, showing off your newest moves.
To dance your way to a strong core in an exotic way, try belly dancing. It may seem scary, but belly dancing is a safe and effective way for people of all shapes and sizes to get some fun movement into their day and wind up with a stronger core, which will help in all aspects of life.

Dance Safely

Because dancing can work out your entire body, you should treat the dance floor like the gym. That means starting slow, stretching out your entire body, and not getting out of control and putting yourself in harm’s way.
You should also maintain your body’s hydration by drinking plenty during your dance routine. And don’t rely on alcohol to keep you well hydrated. To stay properly hydrated, be sure to get adequate water before, during, and after hitting the dance floor.

How Many Can You Count?

Think you know your dance steps? Close your eyes and name off as many dances as you can think of, and have a friend check your list against the one below. If you name them all, you are Lord of the Dance!

  • Ballet
  • Ballroom
  • Belly
  • Break
  • Cha Cha
  • Disco
  • Foxtrot
  • Hustle
  • Jazz
  • Jitterbug
  • Line
  • Mambo
  • Menengue
  • Salsa
  • Square
  • Swing
  • Tango
  • Tap
  • Twist
  • Waltz
  • Slow
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Exercise for Big Bodies

How you can begin living a healthy life with a few simple exercises.

Whether you inherited your weight problem, suffered a life-altering injury that caused you to be immobile for a long period or time, or have just made bad dietary choices, there is no time for self-pity if you’re going to overcome a weight issue. What can you do when your weight prevents you from fitting on an exercise machine; causes knee, joint or heart problems; or makes you feel too embarrassed to wear a bathing suit? Swallow your pride and get to work. And it is very hard work.

If you think you’ve got the resolve to do what it takes to shave some pounds off, read on to find out how you can get started.

The place to start is your doctor’s office. Have your physician check on any current health conditions that are affecting you. Also, going to the doctor will allow you to get a baseline on your heart rate and overall health, which will make it easier to work with your physician to monitor your progress along the way. The key to any weight-loss routine is to find an exercise you can enjoy doing and to start out slowly. Ask your physician for recommendations of good exercises, and give them a shot. If you find them too repetitive and boring or a little more difficult than you expected, try something different. Gradually, smartly increase the time you spend at it as well as the intensity of your exercise.

For those who may be severely obese, the exercises to get you on your way would be simple leg lifts, arm raises, or bending and leaning over, which can be done while sitting. These movements provide the muscle strength necessary for future exercises and will minimize your risk of injury. As you go through each day, look for ways to add more movement and exercise. Make it a part of your daily life.

A great form of exercise for anyone is walking. The more steps you take, the better you’ll feel. Even walking from one end of the house to the other is helpful. When walking, start off slow and only go short distances. Each day try to go a little farther but do not overdo it. If needed, take frequent breaks and don’t walk so far that it will be hard to make it back to your starting point. No matter where you’re walking, be sure to wear good walking shoes and drink enough water along the way. Doing these easy steps will keep your body ready for the next walk around the block.

For those who are able to wear a bathing suit and have access to a body of water, swimming is a wonderful form of exercise if you’re obese. As the water supports your body and therefore does not put the usual strain on your bones and joints, swimming makes it possible to move your body with greater ease, which increases your strength, stamina, flexibility, and range of motion. With these improvements in tact, performing other exercises on the ground will become easier as well.

No matter how much you weigh, what you may need most is accountability and encouragement along the way. If possible, a personal trainer is a great way to stay on track and stay safe along the way. A close friend can also help keep you accountable or tag along for your regular workouts. Joining a support group may be a good option for some. With any exercise program, remember that the gym isn’t the only step to losing weight. You should also eat a healthy diet. Not only will healthy, low fat foods help you lose weight, but they will also give you the energy you need to do the exercises that do the body good.

Understanding Obesity

As the weight of the average American has been increasing during the past decades, health professionals have claimed America to be suffering an “obesity epidemic.” How do you know if you’re overweight or obese? First, you have to calculate your body mass index (BMI).

To do this, multiply your weight in pounds times 703. Next, figure out how tall you are in inches, and square this number. Finally, divide the first number by the second. The answer is your BMI.

A BMI below 18.5 means you’re underweight, between 18.5 and 24.9 is a healthy weight, 25-29.9 is overweight, and 30 and above is obese.

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Your Self-Guided Kitchen Raid

Our Pantry
Image by Incase. via Flickr
Your kitchen will make or break your weight loss results.

A kitchen stocked with the makings for healthy meals and snacks will keep you on track, even when late-night cravings strike. On the flip side, a kitchen filled with unhealthy munchies will derail your weight loss efforts every single time.

So what should your cupboards hold and what should be off limits? I’ve designed this self-guided kitchen raid to help you sort out the good from the bad.

Go ahead, grab a garbage bag, print out the list below, and then head to the kitchen.

The Refrigerator
Let’s start with the fridge, the heart of your kitchen. If you find something in your fridge that is on the “Dump this” list, then you know what you have to do. Get that garbage bag ready.

Dump this: Beverages with high fructose corn syrup or sugar. Drinking calories is one of the quickest ways to gain weight, so quickly rid your fridge of any beverage that lists HFCS or sugar on the ingredient list.

  • Replace with: Water. It is a well known fact that most people are partially dehydrated, a condition that is harmful to your health and wreaks havoc on your weight loss efforts. Keep plenty of cold water on hand for proper hydration.

Dump this: Rich dairy products. I know that cream cheese tastes amazing, but fat-filled dairy products are extremely high in calories and should not reside in your fridge. Eliminate high-fat cheese, milk and yogurt from your kitchen.

  • Replace with: Fresh Vegetables. The produce drawer in your fridge should be overflowing with colorful nutrient-rich veggies. In fact, your fridge should hold more veggies than the drawer can hold. Veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and nutrients and are a vital part of a healthy well-rounded diet.

Dump this: Fatty meats. It is important that you be selective about the meats that you eat. I may tell you that chicken is a great source of protein, but if you take that as a license to eat fried chicken everyday then the benefit of the protein will be lost in all the extra fat calories.

  • Replace with: Lean meats. Skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, white fish – there are numerous choices when it comes to lean meats.

Dump this: Fruit-flavored yogurt. I hate to break this to you, but that cute individually packaged yogurt is going to do more harm to your waistline than you think. More than 50% of the calories in fruit-flavored yogurt come from sugar. Check out the ingredient list and you likely find both high fructose corn syrup AND sugar.

  • Replace with: Plain low-fat yogurt, Greek yogurt, or low-fat cottage cheese. If you love yogurt, then get the low-fat plain version. You can even chop up some fresh fruit and stir it in. Another option is to have a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese with chopped fruit on top.

The Freezer
Next let’s take a look into your freezer. Anyone who has walked the freezer aisles at the store knows how plentiful frozen temptations are. How does your freezer measure up?

Dump this: Ice cream. We may as well get this one over with. Hiding a gallon or two (or even a pint) of your favorite ice cream “for a rainy day” is NOT a good idea. Save yourself from that temptation and don’t buy ice cream.

  • Replace with: Frozen fruit. When your sweet tooth starts acting up, throw an assortment of frozen fruit into the blender and whip up a healthy fiber-filled smoothie.

Dump this: Frozen Pizza. This is another one of those items that is just too tempting to keep around. Why would you bother to make a healthy dinner when a frozen pizza is calling your name? Ban frozen pizza from your home and watch as your waist starts to shrink.

  • Replace with: Turkey or Veggie Patties. For quick dinners keep your freezer filled with lean turkey patties and veggie patties. Serve on a bed of brown rice or on a whole grain bun.

Dump this: TV Dinners. I doubt that you need me to go into too much detail on this one. The next time that you are tempted to buy a pre-packaged frozen meal, please turn the package over and read the nutritional facts. You will be shocked by the staggering number of calories and less-than-healthy ingredients.

  • Replace with: Home-made Portioned Meals. Spend some time on the weekends to cook up healthy meals, and then freeze them in portioned containers. Then throughout the week you simply need to reheat and enjoy.

Dump this: Frozen Breakfast Food. French toast, waffles and pancakes are popular items in the freezer aisle. Don’t fall for the pretty photos and tasty-sounding names. These items are highly processed and contain loads of unnecessary sugar.

  • Replace with: Sprouted Whole Grain Bread and Muffins. It is just as easy to throw a slice of sprouted, whole grain bread into the toaster as it is a frozen waffle. Spread it with some natural peanut butter and pair it with a piece of fruit. Now that’s a much healthier breakfast.

The Pantry
Last, but not least, we come to your pantry. This may be the most painful part of your kitchen raid, since most junk food ends up here. So take a moment to give yourself a pep talk before grabbing that garbage bag and opening your pantry.

Dump this: Sugar-filled cereal. If sugar or high fructose corn syrup are listed as ingredients on your cereal box, it’s got to go. Sugar-filled cereal is basically another form of junk food, and will only add inches to your waist.

  • Replace with: Whole Grain Oatmeal. There is a huge difference between instant, sugar-filled oatmeal and whole grain oatmeal.

Dump this: Refined/White Bread/Rice/Pasta. These highly processed products promote weight gain and a plethora of other health problems. Do not buy “white” bread, rice or pasta – especially if you want to lose weight.

  • Replace with: Whole Grain Bread/Rice/Pasta. Whole grain is the best choice you can make. It is filled with healthy fiber, and is less likely to contain harmful, waist-expanding ingredients.

Dump this: Chips/Crackers. While refined chips and crackers are fun to munch on, the extra calories will quickly add up. Do yourself a favor by not allowing these into your pantry.

  • Replace with: Almonds. The key to making this snack a winner is to practice portion control. Place a handful of almonds into individual bags for pre-portioned snacks.

Dump this: Packaged Sweets. I don’t really have to explain this one, do I? Cookies and cakes and candies shouldn’t be a regular part of your diet, so keep them out of your house. It’s one thing to enjoy a dessert once in a while, it is quite another to routinely eat processed sweets at home.

  • Replace with: Dried Fruit. When you want to munch on something sweet, turn to a bag of dried fruit. Make sure that you purchase dried fruit that does not contained added sugars.

That completes your self-guided kitchen raid. I encourage you to raid your kitchen every couple of months as a way of keeping yourself on track. Talk with your family members about the healthy changes that you’re making, and try to get everyone’s support.

You know that weight loss comes as a result of healthy eating and consistent, challenging workouts. Call or email today to get started on a fitness program that will get you on the fast-track to your best body ever.

Eat Less, Feel Fuller

What can you do to slim down your ever-growing waistline?

DietNothing drives people crazier than trying to lose weight. Television commercials, radio shows, and advertisements in the newspaper and your favorite magazine make it seem that losing weight is as easy as picking a fad diet out of the air. But if you’ve ever tried losing weight by eating only cabbage or swallowing everything you can in an hour, you probably realize that those diets only last for so long.

If you want to obtain and maintain a healthy weight, you’re going to have to figure out how to eat less. Sound impossible? Prepare to do the impossible in three easy steps!

Step 1: Determine if You Need to Lose Weight

Believe it or not, you may not need to lose weight. Each year, countless Americans take on the world of dieting without consulting anyone or anything except a mirror. However, the mirror doesn’t always tell the truth. And neither does the media, which insists that excessively skinny is the norm.

Before getting on a diet, ask your physician if you are at a healthy weight. If your weight isn’t a problem but you don’t feel confident with your body, you may need to change your exercise routine. Work with a personal trainer to formulate a regiment that will help you meet your personal goals – whether they involve weight loss, body toning, or both. If your health would benefit from losing weight, you should learn to eat less.

Step 2: Take Your Time at the Table

A common mistake made by many people is to eat everything on their plate. Doing this may indicate good manners, but it results in bad eating habits and a larger-than-desired belly. Fortunately, this problem is easily remedied. All you have to do is slow down.

Instead of shoving bite after bite of food into your mouth, take a deep breath and relax during mealtime. After each bite, set your fork down, chew, and swallow. Before taking another bite, say something to a family member or friend who is eating with you. By slowing down your eating process, you allow your brain time to figure out your stomach is full. Otherwise, you may end up eating for up to 15 minutes after your stomach is filled to capacity. Yes, that’s why you occasionally feel uncomfortably stuffed beyond your limits.

Step 3: Force Yourself to Eat Less

If slowing down your eating isn’t enough to help you eat less food, your best weapon is self-control. Determine how much food you are going to eat, put it on your plate, and don’t go back for seconds. When first starting to reduce the amount you eat, cut back your eating by two or three bites. Keep reducing the amount you eat by a bite or two until you find a healthy amount that leaves you feeling content and not hurting due to excessive fullness.

Gradually, as you learn to eat less, your stomach will shrink and will have less room for food. As a result, you feel fuller faster and won’t feel the need to eat the final bites of your meal just because it happens to be on your plate.

Staying Balanced

Often, people who are trying to lose weight cut something out of their diet. From carbohydrates to proteins to milk products, diets are available that promise great results if you’ll just give up one food product.

Before you go with the food flow, give thought to your body’s nutritional needs. Carbohydrates, fats, and practically everything else present in food is actually needed for your body to function properly. When you deprive your body of one or more of these essentials, your body is unable to perform at its peak. As a result, you feel weak and tired and have a hard time concentrating.

Instead of cutting a single nutrient out of your diet, reduce the total amount of food you eat on a daily basis, and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Doing this will help you maintain a healthy weight and feel much better than any of the deprivation diets on the market.

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Foundations of Your Fatigue

Tired of feeling tired? You’ve got to get to the root of your problem.

When you work and play hard, you’re going to get tired. It’s only natural. However, if you feel out of energy and unmotivated on a daily basis, it may be more than a little bit of tiredness. You may be suffering from fatigue. Instead of ignoring the problem and learning to live with it, figure out what’s causing this tiring condition so you can regain the energy you need to live life to the fullest!

Here are a few of the most common causes of fatigue.


Everything is hard to do when you’re depressed – including getting up and going to work. Whether you’re clinically depressed (depression that lasts two weeks or longer) or are just going through a brief rough spot, overcoming your depression is vital to recovering energy. As difficult as it may be, a great way to beat both depression and fatigue is to force yourself to get some fresh air and exercise.


In case you’ve not figured it out yet, your entire life depends on getting enough sleep. When sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia set in, it is virtually impossible to get the quantity and quality of sleep you need for good health. The result is an initial tiredness that turns into lack of productivity or motivation, a.k.a. fatigue. Beat it by undergoing a sleep study to figure out what you can do to improve your sleep habits.


If you feel yourself running low on energy, look under your eyelids. If they’re almost white, your energy problem is likely due to anemia. Fortunately, overcoming mild iron-related anemia is relatively easy, as all you need is to get some iron in your body as soon as possible. Any leafy vegetable that is dark green will do. You can also grab some iron with almost any meat you can get your iron-hungry hands on.


Along with a variety of other problematic and dangerous complications, fatigue is yet another common side effect of thyroid problems. Whether you’ve got hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, your body’s response is to grow weary. As thyroid conditions will stick with you for life, you’ll need to work hand in hand with your physician to keep the condition under control and keep your fatigue at a minimum.


As if the constant throbbing in your back weren’t troublesome enough, it may also be at the root of your fatigue. In fact, any long-term pain can result in fatigue. To beat pain-induced fatigue, you need to receive appropriate treatment, which may include oral or intravenous medications, physical therapy, surgery, acupuncture, or lifestyle modifications.


They may make you feel better at the time, but alcohol and illegal drugs can both contribute to fatigue, especially if you do either with excess. Though both of these causes of fatigue are voluntary, they can be difficult to kick on your own. In the event you don’t feel able to say goodbye to drinking or drugs on your own, seek professional help. It will help you overcome fatigue and protect your overall good health for years to come.

Stranger Causes

Though fatigue is usually the result of a common problem such as anemia or depression, it can also be the result of a variety of other serious conditions, including the following:

  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • infections
  • kidney or liver disease
  • lupus

If you can’t figure out what’s causing your fatigue and fear it may be one of these conditions, talk with your physician as soon as possible.

Treating these conditions properly is essential not only for overcoming fatigue, but for having the quality of life you desire.

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The Drinking Bulge

Enough information on alcohol-related weight gain to get you intoxicated.

Whether you’re a social drinker or enjoy sipping on an occasional beer in the peace and quiet of your home, you will agree that alcohol makes life better. Unfortunately, as you may have realized, too much alcohol can lead to a little pudge in your middle – and anywhere else you tend to gain weight.

Why does it do this, and what can you do to avoid it? Read on to find out.

Alcohol’s Effect

While alcohol is busy doing fun things with your head, it is doing some rather different things with the rest of your body. Instead of falling in line behind all your other calories, waiting patiently to get burned off, alcohol-based calories skip line and become the first to get removed from your system. Though it is nice to be able to get rid of alcohol’s calories right off the bat, it causes all those other calories you just ate at the bar to sit still and turn into fat.

On top of that, with every sip of alcohol, you tend to feel better. At the same time, you tend to slow down. Drink enough and you’re so worn out that all you can do is pass out until the following morning. What’s wrong with calling it a night after downing a handful of alcoholic beverages? You give all those calories a chance to do nothing but sit still and add to your waistline. Think getting that beer or wine buzz is still worth it? Then you’ll need to pay particular attention to what’s coming next.

Bye-Bye, Beer Belly

For many, alcohol is a part of life. It doesn’t interfere, cause the person to lose control, or result in poor decisions that will be greatly regretted later. But it still adds to the amount of calories consumed. With that in mind, it is important to have a good game plan to turn the keg that has developed in your abdomen into a six-pack.

Ready to fight for your healthy shape? You’ll need to do the hard thing. You’ll have to learn to drink less alcohol. A great way to do this is to go into any potential drinking situation planning to have no more than one drink. It sounds difficult, but it can be done. Simply order a glass of water to go with your alcohol and drink your alcohol slowly and surely.

In addition, you can trim your wine-induced love handles the old fashioned way. Get to the gym and work up a good sweat. When you’re there, remember that you can do all the exercises you want to try and hone in on your trouble spots, but they won’t do any good until you’re getting full-body cardio. Also, once you get home, you aren’t off the hook. If you’re serious about warding off alcohol-related pounds, be sure to maintain a well-balanced diet all of the time, swapping out high-fat foods for low-fat options and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Fattest Drinks

Like most foods and drinks, alcoholic beverages are not created equal. Some are a tad bit tastier, and others are a good deal fattier. Which drinks should you be particularly wary of? Check out the list below to learn what drinks are the most calorie-laden.

  • Budweiser (12 ounces), 145 calories
  • Gin and Tonic (9.5 ounces total, 1.5 ounces of Gin), 200 calories
  • Long Island Iced Tea (9.5 ounces total, 1.5 ounces of alcohol), as many as 550 calories
  • Margarita (9.5 ounces total, 1.5 ounces of alcohol), as many as 500 calories
  • Ruby Port (8 ounces), 185 calories
  • Sam Adams Boston Lager (12 ounces), 160 calories
  • White Chardonnay (8 ounces), 90 calories
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Make the Most of Summer Foods

Before the sun goes down on the hot days of summer, be sure to soak up all the warm-weather foods you can.

During the summer, you have a lot of things to do. You’ve got to stay well hydrated, soak up some sun to get all that precious vitamin D, build a few sandcastles, and catch some waves. However, if you don’t take advantage of the many great foods that grow in abundance during the warmer months, you’re missing out.

What should you know about summer foods, and how can you incorporate them into your diet with greater ease? You’re about to find out.

What to Know

Before you’ll go off and buy all sorts of summer foods, you may need some convincing. So why should you take advantage of the foods that are so prevalent during the warmest days of summer? Try out these reasons to see how they taste.

They’re Colorful: Nothing says summer like bright, fun colors! With that in mind, this is the time to add some spunk and beauty to your diet without having to add food coloring.

They’re Healthy: In addition to being full of wonderful color, the fruits and vegetables that grow in such great abundance during the summer are also incredibly healthy. In fact, if you want to boost your diet’s health rating, look for a wide variety of colors, and as mentioned above, there are never more colorful foods available than in the summer!

They’re Cheaper: Sure, you can get oranges and tomatoes during any time of the year. However, those same foods are much cheaper when they’re in season, as there is a much greater abundance of the foods to be sold. And in case you haven’t noticed, they’re also much tastier when in season.

How to Incorporate

More than likely, you’re incorporating summer foods into your diet without needing any assistance. But you can always add a few more fresh summer fruits and veggies into your favorite meals. From breakfast to lunch to dinner and beyond, you can add some fresh summer foods easily.

In the morning, grab your favorite fruit and toss it on top of your cereal. Good choices are blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. Then eat a fresh tomato and cucumber sandwich for lunch, with a slice of cantaloupe on the side. When dinner rolls around, grill some chicken and toss it in a salad made with fresh lettuce, carrots, tangerine slices, and more. Put it on the table next to a fresh glass of homemade lemonade and enjoy!

The Color Wheel of Health

Trying to figure out which fruits and vegetables you should add to your diet? Use this color chart to have a better handle on what you should eat for improved health in specific areas.

Orange foods, as well as yellow foods, are jam-packed with lycopene, vitamin C, flavonoids, beta-carotene, and potassium. These are helpful in countless ways, including lowering your cholesterol levels.

Blue and purple foods contain vitamin C, fiber, and flavonoids, and these foods improve your immunity and retinal health, while helping your body make the most of other vitamins and minerals you consume.

Red foods are filled with lycopene and more nutrients that help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels, prevent prostate cancer, and potentially improve arthritis symptoms.

Green foods have fiber, folate, calcium, and beta-carotene, helping you chop down your bad cholesterol and blood pressure, improve your digestive health, give your immune system a boost, and fend off various cancers.

White foods, though often considered the bottom of the food chain, can have a substantial effect on your good health. With a variety of nutrients, white fruits and vegetables reduce your risk for a variety of cancers and increase your immunity to illnesses and diseases.

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Yoga on the Quick

Incorporating the slow-and-steady exercise in your fast-and-crazy life.

In today’s world, everything is fast and furious. Hence why you find yourself eating at fast food restaurants six times a week. And while you’ve been dreaming of getting in some yoga on a regular basis, it seems the relaxed pace of yoga would be a poor way to spend your time at the gym. If only there was a way to squeeze some yoga poses into your daily routine and still sweat.

There is! It’s called power yoga. So what is power yoga and what can it do for you?

Power Yoga Defined

At its core, power yoga is everything that is great about yoga rolled into an Americanized package. With power yoga, you’ll move, you’ll sweat, and you’ll leave the gym feeling great. Focusing less on meditation and chanting than other versions of yoga, power yoga is the yoga of choice for athletes and others who want to get in some creative yoga poses and break a sweat at the same time.

The yoga mat is a good place to turn when talk therapy and antidepressants aren’t enough
Amy Weintraub

The term “power yoga” has only been about for 10 or 15 years, and was created to make another version of yoga (Astana yoga) more appealing to Americans. Unlike Astanga, power yoga does not always have the same series of poses. This makes it possible to have a variety of options when you go to yoga class, which decreases burnout.

Power Yoga Visualized

Poses for power yoga practitioners are varying, but all of them are performed to help individuals gain strength both physically and mentally. During a power yoga session, participants will find themselves standing, sitting, balancing, bending over backwards, twisting, bending forward, and more.

In order to provide the best workout, power yoga does not pause between poses. Rather, participants are required to move from one yoga pose to the next seamlessly. Poses also may be held for longer periods than is typical in other forms of yoga.

Power Yoga Praised

After finishing up a series of power yoga classes, you’re sure to reap substantial benefits. Though yoga technically means “union,” if done right, power yoga can also mean a great workout.

The most obvious perk of power yoga is how it tones your body and increases your flexibility. In addition, the longer poses and seamless transitions between poses increase your strength and stamina. Add on power yoga’s ability to reduce stress, help you become more mentally focused, and maintain a straighter spine and it’s clear why many on-the-go individuals make time in their workout regime to squeeze in some power yoga.

Other Types

Whether you plan to implement some power into your yoga routine or not, you may be curious about the other types of yoga that are out there.

The following are some of the non-power yoga techniques available to you:

  • Ananda yoga maintains focus on gentle postures that help your body get aligned, while getting the brain prepared for meditation
  • Bikram yoga is usually performed in 105-degree heat in order to loosen up the muscles and force the body into a state of sweatiness
  • Hatha yoga is the slow and gentle yoga that most people associate with the exercise; it is great for yoga users of all ages and stages
  • Lyengar yoga uses coordinated breathing and poses and results in increased flexibility, endurance, balance, and strength
  • Kundalini yoga has an emphasis on proper breathing, while including plenty of chanting and meditation mixed in with rapid poses
  • Restorative yoga is the practice of lying on blankets and other surfaces to allow the body to relax
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Losing your Love Handles

Because as you know, they’re not nearly as cute as their name implies

They sit naturally on your hips and turn your otherwise picture-perfect physique into something of a pear. So what can you do to kick those love handles to the curve? You may be surprised to learn that all it takes is a couple exercises you’re probably already doing and a few others.

Crunches. They’re nothing new to your exercise routine, and they shouldn’t be forgotten when you’re in the gym next. In addition to straight-forward crunches, twist to the left and the right to work out the entire abdominal area and to help your body ward off love handles that show up on both sides.

Standing Trunk Twists. As effective as the name is fun to say, standing trunk twists do what any good love-handle-battling exercise should do: firms up the love handles and gets you sweating. To perform this exercise, stand with your feet a foot or so apart and your knees relaxed and slightly bent. Next, twist your body’s trunk to the left, while attempting to keep your hips and legs still. During your trunk twist, swing your right arm across the front of your body, as if you were punching someone. Immediately twist to the right, bringing your left arm across your body in a punching motion. Repeat up to 100 times.

Leg Flutters. You may feel awkward with this exercise, but the end results are worth it. To get started, lie flat on your stomach with your arms down by your side. Lift your head off the ground and look straight ahead. Finally, lift your feet and knees off the floor, kick (flutter) your legs back and forth for 20 seconds, stop, and repeat for another 20 seconds.

Love Language

As you suspect, love handles aren’t always called love handles. In the medical and muscle community, they’re known as the oblique muscles. So when you find yourself face to face with a personal trainer or physician, you’ll know what that big word means!

Side Bends. One of the best exercises for targeting those troublesome love handles, side bends are relatively easy to perform. Standing straight, feet shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell in your left hand, bend to the left as far as possible. Once you hit the lowest part of your bend, raise back to the standing position. Repeat 15 or 20 times, switch the dumbbell to your right hand and bend to the right for 15 or 20 repetitions.

Knee Kicks. Want to get a little tougher while you kiss your sweet little love handles goodbye? Go find a punching bag and put both hands flat on the bag, with one hand approximately two feet above the other. Next, lift your back leg and knee the bag as hard as possible. Return to your starting position and repeat 20 times. Change your position and repeat with the other knee. By the time you’re done, your love handles will be burning their way into nothingness, and your self-esteem will be shooting through the roof.

Now that you know what exercises will tone up your midsection, there’s something else you should know. You can’t get rid of your love handles just by doing crunches and knee kicks. Those exercises will help tone your muscles, but they won’t force those little areas of fat known as love handles to disappear. To do that, you’re going to have to burn more calories than you eat each day. The easiest way to do this is to get plenty of aerobic exercise and to eat low-calorie meals filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. With these steps, you’ll be prepared to show off the hips and abdominals you’ve worked so hard to tighten up!

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