Monthly Archives for December 2010

Archives for December 2010

10 Tips: When it Comes to Portions, Size Matters!

When it comes to portion control, size definitely matters.

It’s no secret that weight release is the most common New Year’s resolution, but taking advantage of portion control is one of the best tactics to employ.

There’s a difference between portions (what’s on our plate) and servings (what’s recommended), and most of us are getting way too much of some things… and not nearly enough of others.

Here are few tips to help you ring in 2011:

  1. Opt for smaller plates. We tend to fill our plates to their capacity, and by using a smaller plate – you’re likely to put less food on it. It’s a simple trick that works wonders at buffets or holiday parties. And in your own house, use 8 or 10-inch dinner plates instead of 12 inch. {Insert inappropriate innuendo here.}
  2. When saving leftovers, freeze food in individual portions. When you reheat the food – you’ll only be defrosting what you need, and thus less likely to overeat.
  3. Just take a few bites. I’m officially obsessed with nibnobs. I love cake – but it’s obviously terribly unhealthy. A slice of red velvet cake, for example, can have 550 calories and 27 grams of

    Perfectly portioned nibnobs.

    fat. Recognizing the importance of portions, nibnobs are bite-sized desserts… and they are totally satisfying, even for the sweetest of sweet tooths. I’m even bringing a plate to my parents’ house for New Year’s day.

  4. Divide your plate in half. Fill one half with veggies and/or fruits. Fill the other half with a mix of proteins (like meat), and starches (like rice, potatoes, etc.).
  5. Buy individually portioned snack foods. Instead of buying a huge bag of chips, buy smaller bags. It will prevent mindless munching. If you’re looking to be economical, buy larger bags of food but divide portions up in baggies. Never eat directly from a big bag!
  6. Keep junk foods out of sight. Office workers who kept candy in clear dishes on their desks dipped in for a sample 71 percent more often than those who kept their candy out of sight. But keep healthy foods, like veggies (carrot sticks!) and fruits readily available. A fruit basket on your kitchen table can work wonders.
  7. Don’t mix food and TV. You wouldn’t drink and drive and neither should you eat food and watch TV. It’s much harder to watch portions while zoning out in a good television show.
  8. Use visual cues to estimated recommend servings. A deck of playing cards = one serving (three ounces) of meat, poultry, or fish. Half a baseball = one serving (one-half cup) of fruit, vegetables, pasta, or rice. Your thumb = one serving (one ounce) of cheese. A small hand holding a tennis ball = one serving (one cup) of yogurt or chopped fresh greens.
  9. Split desserts at restaurants. It cuts calories and builds relationships!
  10. Ask for dressings, spreads and sauces on the side. Most restaurants are far too generous in their condiment portions.

Obviously, portion control isn’t the be all and end all of weight release; it’s just one tool of many, but it can be a super helpful and effective dimension of a bigger plan.

What portion control tips do you have? Share them in the comments below!

Is Being a Hug Slut Good for Your Heart?

The manhug: Good for your heart?

I’m a hugger. I love hugging people. You might even call me a hug slut.

Two summers ago, I even organized a group free-spirits to give “Free Hugs” on the streets of Toronto. It was a great experience, and I remember going home feeling totally recharged and brimming with love. It felt good for my soul – but as it turns out, it was also good for my heart.

It all has to do with the hormone oxytocin. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s common during childbirth and it helps to facilitate breastfeeding. It’s also a neurotransmitter and aids in social bonding.

According to Dr. David Hamilton, Ph.D.:

We produce oxytocin when we bond with each other. Having quality relationships increases its levels. But another way to bond with someone is through a simple act of kindness. And this might just be good for the heart…. Exciting research has revealed that oxytocin plays a powerful role throughout the cardiovascular system.

During the 1990s, researchers discovered that breastfeeding women (who have a lot of oxytocin in their systems) have lower blood pressure. Researchers were able to attribute the lower blood pressure to the oxytocin through a number of laboratory experiments.

The implications are amazing: Smiling at strangers, holding the door open, being kind, connecting with friends, cuddling, hugging a stranger – any and all acts of kindness – reduce your risk of heart disease. And since the effects of oxytocin are cumulative, imagine the benefits of making these acts of kindness a regular part of your life?

Now, giving lots of hugs doesn’t justify an otherwise high-risk lifestyle. But it’s yet another reason to share a little more love with the world in 2011.

Hug sluts, rejoice.

Davey Wavey’s Ultimate Guide to Working Out!

For the last month, I’ve been hinting at something new and super exciting. Because you’re a loyal blog buddy, you’re among the first to know about it! I’m tickled pink to unveil: Davey Wavey’s Ultimate Guide to Working Out.

Best of all, it’s just in time for your New Year’s resolutions!

Davey Wavey’s Ultimate Guide to Working Out hires me as YOUR personal trainer. Through the ebook, videos and bonuses, I hold your hand – and together we create a customized workout routine that gets you the results you’ve always wanted!

My Ultimate Guide to Working Out is:

  1. Created to achieve your specific goals – whatever they are!
  2. Customized to the equipment available to you (whether you exercise at home or in a gym)
  3. Great for beginners, experts and everyone in between!
  4. Built around your schedule – we’ll map out the frequency and duration of your exercise routine
  5. The perfect solution if you feel like your routine isn’t getting you real results

Whether you want to drop some weight, tone or build muscle, I’ve packed everything you need into this program.

Since I know you’ll love it, and because you’re such a loyal blog buddy, I have a special discount for you:

  1. Get 25% off Davey Wavey’s Ultimate Guide to Working Out. Use discount code “buddy” during checkout. This coupon expires January 5th at midnight, so be sure to snag your copy before then. AND, if you order before January 5th at midnight, you’ll also receive my Underwear Yoga program (a $47 value) for free!

(Already have Underwear Yoga and don’t need another copy? Contact me and I’ll give you a code for a 50% discount on my Ultimate Guide to Working Out.)

I’ve received a ton of great feedback from the testers that have used my Ultimate Guide to Working Out. It is changing their lives – and together, I know we can change yours, too!

Here’s to creating a healthier, stronger you in 2011. Start today by downloading Davey Wavey’s Ultimate Guide to Working Out. And remember to use discount code “buddy” during checkout to save an extra 33%!

7 Tips for Losing Weight in the New Year.

No surprise: Losing weight is the #1 most popular New Year’s resolution. So, here are seven strategies (that work) to help you shed the extra pounds:

  1. Recognize that weight loss is a spiritual issue. You can’t release weight with the same spiritual mindset that gained it. Read books like Marianne Williamson’s A Course in Weight Loss. It shares 21 spiritual lessons for shedding your weight, forever. When you love your body, you make decisions that honor it. Embark on a path of self-love.
  2. Drink lots of water! Water has a boatload of great benefits for your body. Among other things, it helps boost your metabolism and curb your appetite. Drink at least 8 cups a day.
  3. Describe your body with words that lift it up. Avoid negative self-talk, or criticizing yourself – even when talking with others. “I am beautiful. I am releasing weight with ease,” is a healthier and more effective mantra than, “I look so fat today. I am disgusting.”
  4. Look long-term, and avoid fad diets. If you go on a diet, you will eventually come off it. Real change is longer term – don’t look to fad diets for answers.
  5. Replace emotional eating with a healthier alternative – like going for a walk. If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, and are unable to replace comfort foods with healthier alternatives or activity, then you may wish to seek professional help.
  6. Stock your home with healthy foods. Buy foods that a caveman would eat: berries, unsalted nuts, some lean meats, vegetables, etc. It’s much easier to eat healthier foods when that’s what is available. After you eat a healthy meal or snack, bring awareness to your body’s reaction. How does it make your body feel to eat nourishing meals?
  7. Understand the calorie deficit. Weight release occurs when the body burns more calories than it consumes. While the formula seems simple and straightforward, know that calorie deficits are most effectively achieved by working on both ends of the equation – eating healthier foods will result in fewer calories consumed, and regular exercise will result in more calories burned. Don’t try to release weight through starvation. It will slow down your metabolism, and likely result in long-term weight gain.

And, stay tuned for my brand-new fitness program which will launch tomorrow. I’m super excited to share it with you… Through my new program, I’ll help you use fitness to get the results you’ve always wanted. 🙂

Is weight release one of your New Year’s resolutions or goals? Which of these tips will help you in your journey?

Get Stronger Forearms with a Homemade Wrist Roller!

If stronger forearms are on your New Year’s resolution list, then you are going to love the wrist roller. Truth be told, I find forearms to be one of the most difficult muscles to exercise. But the wrist roller is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do.

What is it? A wrist roller is basically a piece of wood or pipe with rope hanging from it. The rope is attached to a weight. Simple enough.

How do you use it? Stand erect (yes, erect) with your arms extended straight out in front of you. Hold the wrist roller with an overhand grip. Slowly rotate one wrist a time to spin the role up the rope and lift the weight. Once the weight reaches the roller, reverse the motion until the weight reaches the floor.

It’s easy, but super effective. You can purchase a wrist roller online for $16 – $40, or you can make one at home practically for free. If you have a gym membership and your facility doesn’t have a wrist roller, but in a request for one.

Click below to learn how to make a wrist roller:

How to Avoid Gym Burnout on January 1!

With January 1st just a few days away, we’ll continue our focus on New Year’s resolutions. And more specifically, how to keep ’em. Today, we turn our attention to burnout. The treadmills will be packed on January 1st – but how many of those people will be there a month later?

You know the story. Maybe you’ve even lived it. Starting on January 1st, many people have a new-found commitment to their health. They are energized and enthused about getting to the gym. And so they hit the gym frequently, and for an extended duration of time. It’s a full out sprint into a healthier lifestyle – but almost always, burnout occurs. The commitment isn’t sustainable, the energy subsides and the resolution is never realized.

Burnout is avoidable; here’s how:

If you don’t currently exercise, and if January 1st will mark the start of a new (or renewed) workout schedule, then start slowly. I know that you’re super excited to hit the gym and change your health and body, but pace yourself. Start with 2 or 3 days a week for 30 – 45 minutes. Over time, slowly build on it. After a month, maybe you exercise for an extra day – or for a few extra minutes. Gradually build on your workout schedule.

If you already exercise, but want to vamp up your workout, try increasing your current schedule by 20%. If you exercise 3 days a week for an hour, try hitting the gym for 40 minutes on an additional day. Don’t go from 3 days to 6 days – it’s just not sustainable.

Here’s the bottom line: We are creatures of habit and change is difficult. If you can introduce small change – instead of a huge change – you’re more likely to stick with it. I liken January 1st to running a marathon. A good marathon runner can pace himself or herself. If you start a marathon with a sprint, you’ll start fast – but there’s no way to finish the race. Perseverance goes out the window.

You’re excited about your New Year’s resolution – I can feel that! But here’s what you’ll need to do: Dole out that energy, enthusiasm and excitement in a way that it will last you through the entire new year. Ration it out as needed, but don’t burn it all in the first two weeks and then have an empty tank for the rest of the year.

Pace yourself and you’ll reach the finish line.

9 Tips: Plan for Your New Year’s Resolution TODAY!

With Dec. 31 just around the corner, it’s certainly not too early to start thinking about your New Year’s resolution. In fact, planning ahead is one of the best ways to ensure that you keep your resolution.

Here are a few tips for doing just that:

  1. Decide on your resolution. There are probably a number of things that you’d like to change in the New Year. Maybe you’d like to lose some weight, build muscle mass or run a marathon. Start by writing out or thinking up a list of resolution contenders – and then narrow things down to just one resolution; don’t overload yourself – achieving just one resolution is challenging enough!
  2. Ensure that your resolution is SMART. Smart stands for specific, measurable, attainable (but not too attainable!), relevant and timely. Instead of saying that you’d like to lose weight, a SMART resolution is that you want to lose 15 lbs by April 1.
  3. Write your resolution down. Put it to paper. Write it in the comments to this post. Jot it on a post-it note. Writing your resolution makes it real.
  4. Visualize yourself achieving your resolution. Close your eyes and see yourself accomplishing your resolution. Feel it with every cell of your body.
  5. Articulate why your resolution is so important. Why do you want this? How will it change or improve the quality of your life? All of these things can fuel your motivation.
  6. Take the first steps TODAY. January 1 is right around the corner – what steps can you take today to pave the road for the new year? If your goal requires joining a gym, then get the membership today. If you want to lose weight, educate yourself about the best ways and healthiest ways to do that. Set yourself up for success by doing the groundwork now.
  7. Focus on the change. a New Year’s resolution is about the result – but it makes a lot more sense to focus on the change. The result may be losing 15 lbs by April 1, but the change that is required is paramount. Know and anticipate which changes you’ll need to make (and how you’ll introduce them) to get the results you want.
  8. Build a network of support. You can do it alone – or you can lean on a network of support. Enlist the help of friends, support groups or virtual communities.
  9. Plan for the hiccups. If your New Year’s resolution necessitates you exercising regularly, anticipate your backup plan for if and when you fall off the horse. Maybe you catch the flu and miss a week of exercise, or go off on a long business trip. These obstacles can be resolution killers – so plan for them. Know that getting back on track is always an option.

By planning ahead today, you can position yourself well for January 1. And by positioning yourself well for January 1, you’re more likely to achieve your resolution.

Start today by writing your SMART resolution in the comments below.

How to Kick-Up Your Ab Workout.

A lot of people do “more of the same” when performing exercises – and yet are unhappy with the results. Watch this video to change the status quo:

Change Your Workout for Better Results.

As I mentioned, I spent much of my weekend in New York City. To my delight, the gym in our hotel was covered in inspirational fitness quotes – and there are few things that I love more than inspiration fitness quotes (though the fitness model at right is one of them). In fact, I even designed a gym bag covered in uplifting quotes. The best of the best was a quote that read as follows:

“Focusing on results won’t change anything.
Focusing on change will give you results.”

The quote resonated with me, and I’ll tell you why.

We’ve all heard people say, “I wish my _______ was flatter/more defined/more muscular/thinner/thicker.” In fact, most of us have probably said it ourselves. It’s pretty easy to look toward the results that we want, but it’s much wiser (and a bit harder) to look at the changes in our routines that those results necessitate.

Many people get in a rut at the gym. It’s common to fall into a repetitive routine. But if your current routine isn’t creating the results you want, it’s time to make changes.

Often times, the changes don’t mean spending more time at the gym – or even necessarily working out harder (though this is sometimes the case). For many people, it’s really about exercising smarter. It’s about making use of the methods, techniques and exercises that are connected with the results you want.

But where do you start? Learn about exercise, and then apply what you learn to your routine – make the changes that will give you the results you want. Reading this blog is a great start. Signing up for these blog posts by email is even better. And stay tuned for Dec. 29 – I’ll be releasing a downloadable fitness program that will essentially make me your personal trainer. I’ll simultaneously hold your hand while kicking your workout’s butt. Great stuff.

The bottom line: Make a commitment to educate yourself about fitness, and then make the changes that your workout needs. More of the same will just bring you more of the same.

Giving Gifts to Your Body.

Go ahead, unwrap it.

I spent this past weekend adventuring my way through the always bustling—but especially bustling this time of year—New York City to see the sights and do some Christmas shopping.

As I was making my way through Columbus Circle, I realized that I had neglected to include a gift for someone (or perhaps something) very important: My body. With all the work our bodies do for us, they certainly deserve something special.

So while sitting in a crowded Starbucks wherein customers feuded over available seating, I located a few nearby spas. To my delight, one had a 30-minute slot of availability. I kissed the chaos goodbye, and took some much-needed quiet time to thank and celebrate my glorious body.

(By the way, my body isn’t glorious because of how it looks. My body is glorious because all bodies are glorious—it’s a birthright, regardless of our size or shape.)

I know my body appreciated the gift. For the rest of the afternoon, I was radiant. I chucked to myself when I saw a sign in a store window that read, “Glow home for the holidays.” The brief pause and reprieve helped me find my center in an otherwise whirlwind weekend; what a difference it made.

Today is Dec. 20—Christmas is only five days away. That’s five days to do something special for your body—and it need not cost money. A walk in the park, bubble bath or even a nutritious meal all count as gifts.

What are you getting your body for Christmas? Let me know in the comments below.

Does Running Burn More Calories than Walking?

Running his way into my heart.

Being in New York City and having walked nearly 100 blocks last night, I thought about the age-old adage that you burn as many calories walking as you do running. Obviously, this isn’t true per unit of time – you’d burn more calories running for ten minutes than walking for ten minutes. But what about per unit of distance? Would I have burned more calories if I had run the 100 blocks instead of walking them?

It turns out that the caloric difference between walking and running a mile is pretty minor, and that speed does play a small role. In general, the faster you go, the less efficient your body is – and thus, more calories burned. But the numbers aren’t as dramatic as you might expect and clearly a number of other variables come into play.

Calories burned per mile for a 160-lb person:

Walking
2.0 mph – 91
2.5 mph – 87
3.0 mph – 85
3.5 mph – 83
4.0 mph – 91
4.5 mph – 102
5.0 mph – 116
Running
5.0 mph – 116
6.0 mph – 121
7.0 mph – 119
8.0 mph – 123
9.0 mph – 121
10.0 mph – 131

My 100-block walk was about 5 miles and we managed a 4.5 mph clip. That’s 510 calories. If I had done a fast 9 mph run, it would have amounted to 605 calories. That’s not a big difference considering the exertion of a 9 mph run. Of course, the run would have taken half the time – but with increased joint stress or injury risk than walking.

Just looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see why walkers swear by the exercise. Of course, calories burned while exercising don’t tell the full story. Runners can enjoy significant benefits after exercise is complete – like the huge metabolic increases associated with interval training. Plus, sweat is good for your body – and really great for your skin.

Are you a walker or a runner? What do you like best about it?

5 Unhealthiest Foods of the Holidays!

The shocking-but-true nutrition information for a cup of egg nog. ::gulp::

The holidays are about jingling bells, not bellies… but almost all of us gain a few holiday pounds. Eat good food and be merry, but do your best to replace these five worst of the worst foods to minimize the gain:

  1. Egg Nog. Drink two cups of egg nog and you’ve already exceeded your daily recommend saturated fat intake. Yup, it’s that bad for you. Made with eggs, sugar, milk, heavy cream and brown sugar… the result is an artery-clogging concoction with about 350 calories in a single cup. It’s basically liquid heart disease. Cheers!
  2. Pigs in a blanket. Pigs in a blanket are those addicting mini hot dogs wrapped in dough. They make the list not just because they are terrible from a nutrition standpoint, but because it’s nearly impossible to eat just one or two. Each piggy is a bomb of calories, sodium, nitrates and saturated fat; one serving has about 1/3 of your daily recommend value of sodium and saturated fat. But who has just one serving?
  3. Peanut brittle. Sure, peanuts are good for you. Until you cover them in sugar and butter. Get ready to gag: A single cup of peanut brittle has almost 700 calories! Add to that: 43% of your daily value of fat, 37% of your daily value of saturated fat and more carbohydrates than a bagel – it’s no wonder that this delicious treat makes my unhealthiest holiday foods list.
  4. Prime rib. A true holiday favorite, prime rib is rich in protein. But it’s also cut from the fattest part of the cow. A single slice has 750 calories and… 45 grams of fat! And now, a message from your heart: Opt for turkey or a beef tenderloin instead.
  5. Pecan pie. Eat a slice of pecan pie, and you’ve already consumed a quarter of your day’s calories; each slice has anywhere from 500 – 600 calories, 40% of your daily value of fat and 25% of your daily value of saturated fat. And that’s without the whipped cream topping!

Enjoy your holidays – and ensure that you’ll be around for many more by replacing these foods with healthier options like unsalted mixed nuts, shrimp cocktail, fresh steamed veggies, leaner meats and healthier (but still delicious!) dessert options.

And check out my 6 absolute worst foods of all time here!

How Often Should You Exercise Your Abs?

Frequency of ab workouts is one of the great fitness debates. There are basically two schools of thought.

One school of thought argues that abs should be exercised everyday. Because our abs are stabilizer muscles, we’re always using them – whether it’s walking down the street, getting out of a car or sitting in a chair. And since our abs are accustomed to this heavy workload, we can train our abs more frequently than we would other muscles.

The other school of thought argues that it’s important to give our abs a day or two to recover. Because ours abs are not fundamentally different than other muscles, we need to let them rebuild and repair – or else we’re limiting our progress and set ourselves up for injury.

I take the middle-ground. I don’t think ab workouts are so much about frequency as intensity. If your ab workout is intense, and if it leaves your muscles feeling sore – then give your abs rest. Never exercise a muscle that is still sore from a previous workout.

Furthermore, for my own workouts, I’ve broken my abs into three parts: obliques (side abs), lower abs, and middle abs/upper abs. One each day, I focus on a different part. If I do my obliques today, I’ll do my lower abs tomorrow – and so on. And if I am sore from a previous ab workout, then I give myself a day of recovery.

How often do you exercise your abs? Let us know in the comments below.

P.S. If you dare, you should try out my 5-minute ab workout!

F*ck Your Way into Shape?

With my boyfriend in town, I got to thinking about the cardiovascular benefits of sex. It certainly gets the heart pumping, the blood flowing and the sweat dripping. So, it’s got to be a good workout, right?

Sorta. It’s certainly better than watching TV and eating Cheetos.

An hour of intercourse burns somewhere between 300 – 400 calories for the typical participants, depending on weight and intensity. At 160 lbs, I could expect to burn at least 307 calories in an hour of f*cking.

But what about foreplay? In terms of calorie consumption, I’d burn 106 calories in 60 minutes. Not so great.

So how does intercourse rate against other cardiovascular exercises? At 160 lbs, here’s how sex stacks up for me:

  • Sex – foreplay 106
  • Raking lawn 288
  • Sex – intercourse 307
  • Walking 4 mph 374
  • Swimming – moderate 442
  • Aerobics – high impact 509
  • Rowing machine – moderate 509
  • Bicycling / cycling 12-14 mph 634
  • Swimming – vigorous 710
  • Running 6 mph 730
  • Basketball full court 797
  • Running 7 mph 835
  • Running 8 mph 979

I’d put sex into the “kinda” workout category. It’s good for your heart, but not reason enough to skip the treadmill.

Bottom line: You’re probably not going to f*ck you way to a six pack.

And, it turns out that hitting the gym is great for you sex life. Learn why…

Kick-Ass 10-Minute Jump Rope Workout!

I just got my ass kicked by a piece of rope.

I’ve recently rediscovered jumping rope as a fun and effective way of getting cardio – in fact, a jump rope is on my holiday gift guide. I say rediscover because when I was in elementary school, I loved jumping rope. Each day at recess, my friends and I would challenge each other to jump rope competitions. But it only recently occurred to me to try it as an adult.

We know that interval training is super effective at dropping body fat. As a refresher, interval training means alternative between different intensities (i.e., a moderate and then fast speed) several times over the course of a cardio workout. I usually do it while running or on the rowing machine – but today, I applied it to jumping rope. And after just ten minutes, I know I’ll be feeling it tomorrow.

Here’s what I did, after warming up:

  • 30 seconds of two-foot jumping at a moderate intensity
  • 30 seconds of two-foot jumping at a high intensity
  • 30 seconds of skip-jumping at a moderate intensity
  • 30 seconds of skip-jumping at a high intensity
  • Repeat 4 more times, for a total of 10 minutes

And, if you want to get creative – you can mix it up and try some one-foot jumping (I did) or some side-to-side jumping.

If you get caught up in the rope (and you probably will) just keep going.

And… if you don’t have a jump rope handy, you can still try the workout. Just use an imaginary rope – it works the same. 🙂

Failing Your Goals.

If you’re exercising, then you probably have goals. If you don’t have goals – make them! Otherwise, it’s like taking a road trip without a destination in mind.

And if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to write down your goals. I like to write “SMART” goals – goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Since my goals are specific, they contain a “by when” date. For example, I might want to increase the circumference of my biceps by 1 inch by April 1, 2011. When April 1 comes along, I can evaluate my results.

But here’s the kicker: Though our goals should be attainable – i.e., it’s physical or mentally possible for you to accomplish whatever goals you create – they shouldn’t be too attainable. Failing to reach about 50% of your goals is a good thing. It means you’re shooting high. It means that you’re really pushing and challenging yourself. After all, it’s better to shoot for the stars and land on the moon than aim for the mountains and reach them.

If you’re reaching all your goals, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.

And remember, “failure” really isn’t failure. It’s just a result – and it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate your goals. Maybe you didn’t accomplish it because it’s actually not that important to you. Or maybe it needs a new deadline, or a new approach. Learn from your results, and evolve.

Want questions do you have about goal setting? And what are some of your fitness goals?

Davey Wavey Gift Guide: My 5 Favorite Things!

‘Tis the season for giving – and so (to take a page from Oprah) I’ve put together a list of my favorite things! And no, I’m not getting commission or kick-backs for any of these products… though I feel like I should be on the Lululemon payroll by this point. 🙂

Lululemon Smash Pant

I have two. One for lounging around the house – and one for wearing to the gym. It’s cozy, warm (but not too warm) and unbelievably comfortable. It’s expensive, but it will change your life. It’s great for being active and doing yoga, or just watching TV and snuggling with your dog. Plus, Lululemon has a great corporate philosophy (they call it their manifesto) that you’ll love.

Valeo Deluxe Speed Jump Rope

Jumping rope is one of my favorite things. It’s an AMAZING exercise and it requires… well, only a piece of rope. The Valeo Deluxe Speed jump rope is as good as they get. It’s a great way to get in some powerful cardio an endurance training – you can even do it during commercial breaks while watching TV. All for less than 7 bucks.

Good Vibes Gym Bag

Feel those good vibrations with this $19.95 gym bag from Davey Wavey apparel. It’s durable, water resistant, available in a wide range of colors – and hand-printed with a spiral of body-positive quotes. The center of the spiral is my Davey Wavey logo. It’s great for the gym – or as an overnight bag. And, 20% of the profits go to charity. Good vibes, good stuff.

Altus Ankle Weights

I’m in love with ankle weights. They open up a whole new world of possibilities. I’ve found them particularly helpful when training my lower abs – especially during leg lifts. I use this 20 lb set – but they’re available in a full range of weights. They’re one of the best kept fitness secrets!

Underwear Yoga

I had so much fun creating my Underwear Yoga program – and I get a lot of fulfillment knowing how many people it is helping. It includes two 20-minute yoga videos starring the beautiful and talented Nick Kindrick and myself. The program comes with a bunch of great freebies and is instantly available by download online. It’s a great gift for the most important person you have – YOURSELF!

I hope you enjoy my favorite things as much as I do! Happy holidays to you and yours!

How Much Sodium is in Our Food?

Sweat contains a lot of sodium, but I think he'd be worth every last lick.

As a culture, we’ve become very conscious of carbs, fats (both good and bad) and calories… but few people pay much attention to sodium. We should.

It’s been called the forgotten killer.

Sodium is a necessary ingredient in the human body. But most of us are getting way too much. The general consensus is that we should aim for 1,500 mg of sodium each day. The average American consumes nearly 3x times the recommendation. It’s bad news, as excess sodium has been linked to:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease and stroke
  • pre-hypertension
  • water weight gain (when you feel and look bloated)

Because of the health issues caused by high-salt diets, excess sodium is blamed for 150,000 annual deaths in the United States. It’s a staggering – and sobering – number.

Much of the sodium we consume comes from processed and packaged foods. Go to your cupboard and grab a can of anything. Check the nutrition information. Shocking, isn’t it?

I can credit my boyfriend with turning me on to sodium awareness. As a result, I’ve found myself trying new recipes and moving away from canned and processed foods. The convenience just isn’t worth it – and nothing beats food cooked with love.

Do you have any good ways to cut back on sodium intake – other than opting for home cooked meals? Let all of us know in the comments below.

Six Pack Secret: Drinking Water?

The world's most famous six pack!

Since elementary school, our phys ed teachers have reminded us to drink our 8 cups of water a day. But why? It turns out they were on to something. Staying hydrated is associated with a number of benefits – including better definition in your abs.

Decreased risk of cancer, clearer skin and increased productivity are a few of the reasons to stay hydrated. But water also has another important benefit: Fat loss. Water curbs hunger (the body often sends a hunger signal when it’s actually thirsty), replaces sugary drinks and actually boosts your metabolism.

The findings of a water/metabolism study were reported in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The researchers tracked energy expenditures among seven men and seven women who were healthy and not overweight. The subjects, after drinking approximately 17 ounces of water, increased the rate of burning calories by 30% within the time frame of 30-40 minutes. Drinking water helps create the create the calorie deficit required for weight and fat loss. And less fat = more defined six pack.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. In the December/January issue of Men’s Fitness, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino (famous for his abs) touts water as one of his top 8 six-pack rules.

Remember: Even a small layer of belly fat will obscure abs. So… exercise, maintain a clean diet – and drink tons of water. Cheers!

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about crazy abs, check out my “how to get a six pack” guide.

When Friends & Family Stand in the Way of Fitness.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You decide to make a huge, positive change in your life by becoming healthier through exercise and nutrition. Because your friends and family love and value you, you expect them to be supportive.

But they aren’t. Sometimes they say things about how you’ll fail – or other times they push you to cheat on your diet or skip the gym. What’s that all about? And how can you deal with it? I recorded a talky blog on the subject – check it out below (and let me know what you think in the comments):