Celebrate the 4th of July without sabotaging your diet

Ok, I'm a realist. The 4th of July is here and I don't expect clients to be munching on carrot sticks while everyone else is chowing down on BBQ and guzzling cocktails. God knows I'm partaking in the festivities! The holidays are a time to celebrate and, yes, relax a little on the eating. But there's a way to do it without undoing all your hard work and setting yourself up for weight gain.

Follow these simple rules

Many people think that if they skip breakfast they'll be "saving calories" for later. But that's a big no-no. Skipping breakfast slows your metabolism down and studies show that people who skip tend to consume way more calories later in the day.

Along the same lines, don't go to a party hungry. Eat a small meal or snack high in protein that will keep you satiated and less likely to eat everything in site.

You can definitely have an indulgence...but not all of them. That means if really want that fat and calorie laden potato salad, you're skipping the chocolate sundae.

Sure, anything smothered in BBQ sauce is going to have more calories but some things are worse then others. Choose skinless BBQ chicken over ribs and burgers. Skip cheeses and extra sauces. Fill up on big portions of the good (salads, fruit, grilled veggies) and have smaller portions of the bad (chips, dips, alcohol, desserts. etc)

Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is pretty much the worst thing you can do (and if you followed rules 1 & 2 you shouldn't be) Alcohol on an empty stomach is the equivalent of eating a bowl of candy. It spikes your insulin levels which promotes fat gain and increases your hunger levels. Plus let's face it, it just leads to bad decisions and a "who cares" attitude. Slow your alcohol absorption by drinking water in between alcoholic drinks. Also, consider adding sparkling water or club soda to make spritzers. Saves a ton in calories. And speaking of calories, stick to beer and wine over highly caloric drinks like Pina Coladas and Margaritas. They can add a whopping 700 calories to you day per drink!

Even if you indulged more than you'd like, do NOT think "It's too late, I might as well pig out and start over tomorrow" Trust me, it will just be that much harder to reach your goals. If you catch yourself overdoing it, put the fork down and walk away.

Ok, the next day the party is over. Get right back on track. No excuses.

The Dangers of Very Low Calorie Diets

I was talking to my wonderful client Danielle the other day, and she told me about a conversation she had with a man who's on a Very Low Calorie (VLC) diet. He had lost 40 pounds (although he recently gained 10 pounds of it back) and insisted it was the only way to lose weight. Of course Danielle knows better, but this story saddens me because many people don't. They think they have to literally starve themselves to lose weight. More importantly, they don't realize how much damage they're doing to their metabolism and their health.

VLC diets are those that are under 1000 calories. Most are in the 600-800 calorie range. When you want to lose weight quickly, a VLC diet can seem attractive. After all, the sooner you lose weight the better, right? No, definitely not. Let me explain what happens to your body when you eat under 1000 calories per day. Quite simply, your body goes into starvation mode. This means the body becomes super efficient at making the most of the little calories it's getting from food. The main way it does this is to protect its fat stores and instead use lean tissue or muscle to provide the calories it needs for functioning. Yes, just breathing, sleeping, watching t.v., and even eating requires fuel. On average a woman needs 1200 calories per day and a man needs 2000 calories per day just to function. When you drop below that caloric amount your body starts literally eating itself for fuel. Even organs can be broken down!!! So yes, you lose weight on this diet, but not fat.

Since VLC diets don't even provide enough calories for daily functioning, the body can not repair body tissues, or manufacture enough hormones, enzymes and antibodies. As a result, a person may feel fatigued and get sick often. Anemia, bone loss, and infertility can occur. Your hair can fall out, nails become brittle, skin dry and dull. Also, the brain requires a certain level of glucose to maintain normal functioning. Without sufficient glucose (which comes from calories consumed) irritability, depression, dizziness, fainting or hypoglycemia can become problems.

If that's not enough to make you pick up your fork, let me tell you just how counter-productive VLC diets are in actually keeping the weight off. As I already mentioned, when you're on a VLC diet your body starts eating its muscles for fuel. This in turn lowers your metabolic rate--the rate at which your body burns calories. So the less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism. Basically you become a slave to this diet because once you start eating again, your metabolism is so messed up you just gain all the weight back...and then some.

That's why I implore you to never try this diet. And if you are on one, consult a trainer or nutritionist who can help you get back on track. It will probably take awhile to get your body functioning properly again. But the longer your on this diet, the worse it will be. And all that being said, it's just a miserable existence! You're always hungry, cranky, and tired. You don't need to starve to lose weight. Through proper exercise and nutrition you can safely lose 1-2 pounds per week. The weight will stay off, and best of all, you can eat!

Weight loss supplement that works!

As a trainer (and a woman) I've tried it all in hopes of curbing my hunger. All the products that promised fat loss and hunger control either didn't work or left me jittery and an insomniac. Even for me, dieting can be HARD! It's not that I'm downing bags of Cheetos at a time (that would be my boyfriend),
it's just that I get so hungry. And I'm not one for starving myself--been there, done that. So it seemed like those last five pounds just weren't going to budge.

Well, then a client actually told me about a fiber supplement that helped her lose her last five. I was skeptical (of course) and refused to try it in the beginning. But then one day I broke down after another day of constant hunger got the better of me. Boy am I glad I did!

The product is called Bios Life Slim and it has been a life saver. The proprietary blend of fibers, vitamins and minerals was developed by doctors who are designated top cardiologists to Presidents and the Pope. The main reason it was developed was to reduce cholesterol. It does, and is actually in the Physician's Desk Reference as doing so. But Slim also promotes fat loss by reducing insulin and glucose levels and keeps your body's metabolism fired up all day.

Bios Life Slim has no stimulants, is vegetarian, and 100% safe. It's considered a food so you can even take it with medicine. You take it 3 times per day (10-15 minutes before meals) At first I only noticed that I wasn't starving anymore. I would eat breakfast and not be hungry until 4 hours later. Believe me, that never happened before! I would eat and then be hungry like an hour later. Very frustrating.

But then a few weeks later I noticed that my energy was even up and I was shedding pounds. I've lost those 5 pounds and am still losing. In fact, I'm eating more ice cream and pizza these days just so I don't get TOO thin! I've got my clients on it now and they're loving their results too.

To learn more about the research and how to buy it click on the image of the Bios Life box and canister in the upper right hand corner of the site. You have to try it to believe it.

Beware of Inaccurate Calories in Prepackaged Meals!

If you're trying to watch calorie portions to lose weight, some packaged foods may be harming your chances. Recent studies found that many prepackaged frozen meals have 20-30% MORE calories than stated. Worse is that it's perfectly legal. The FDA allows for a 20% variance. 20 percent may not seem like a big deal but those calories can really add up. Let's take a look: Say you have a frozen Lean Cuisine every day for lunch. The package states that the calories are 350 but it's really 420 (20% more). That means in a week's time you're eating an additional 490 calories. Doesn't sound like much but in 7 weeks time that's an extra pound. In a year, it's almost 10 extra pounds in weight gain. You also need to be wary of restaurant menus that state their calories on certain items. Some have been found to be several hundred calories more.

This doesn't mean you can't ever have a frozen entree or go out to dinner. But you should not base the majority of your meals around them. Fresh, unprocessed ingredients are not only calorically accurate but they have way less sodium and no artificial ingredients or preservatives--all things that hinder weight loss. Prepackaged foods may be convenient, but they come at a price.

Holiday Weight Gain? Getting Back on Track

Okay, it's that time of year again. Too much pumpkin pie, cookies, chocolates, eggnog, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes (insert your favorite indulgence here) has probably left you feeling a couple pounds heavier and guilty. You may feel like drastic measures need to be taken to lose the weight; severe calorie restriction, diet pills, nothing but grapefruits, or whatever the latest trend is. But if you want to lose weight and keep it off, this is definitely not the way to go. Fad and starvation diets just screw up your metabolism and cause you to regain the weight and then some. But fear not! There are things you can do to lose the weight. If you follow my Top 10 Tips you'll undo the holiday damage in no time.


1.) Move Every Day (And really move it 3-5x per week)
You don't need to be a slave to the gym to make the scale budge. But you do need to do some moderately intense cardio and resistance training (only an hour total) 3 times per week to increase lean body mass and decrease fat. You can lose weight with diet alone, but the "weight" loss isn't only fat loss, it's muscle loss too. You need to do resistance training to build muscle and increase your metabolism. Exercise days off doesn't mean you turn into a couch potato either. Going for walks, cleaning the house, shopping with friends, taking the stairs, is all about moving your butt, so the more the better.

Having a healthy lifestyle is so much easier if you surround yourself with a support network. Turn to friends with common health goals, join weight loss support forums, make exercise dates with your partner or best friend. And if motivation is your enemy, look for a certified personal trainer who can drag you out of bed!

When in doubt, remembering these color do's and don'ts will help you out. Fill up your plate with green foods such as lettuces, spinaches, cucumbers, avocados, peppers, bok choy, asparagus, brussel sprouts, and brocolli, just to name a few. Greens are chock full of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber which keep you full.

On the other hand, white foods usually consist of bleached flour that has been stripped of fiber and nutrients. These foods (such as bread, pasta, bagels, waffles, cereal) spike insulin levels and make you hungrier and hold on to fat. The worst white offender is sugar--avoid at all costs.

If you want to keep hunger at bay and make your metabolism burn like a well-oiled machine, then protein is your best friend. You should eat protein at every meal and snack. Great protein sources include eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, chicken breast, lean cuts of beef, turkey, and fish. Aim for 6oz for meals and 2-4oz for snacks.

If you buy something that can last a long time (without being frozen) than it's junk. To preserve foods, manufactures put in all sorts of crap that slows down your metabolism. Nitrates, partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, msg, sodium, the list goes on and on. Try to eat only fresh, unprocessed foods. And no fast food! To keep things from spoiling, buy smaller amounts and use your freezer.

Along the same lines of processed foods, packaged "health" foods such as protein bars and shakes are usually just candy bars in disguise. Most of the bars contain a ton of sugar or artificial sweetners. An apple and a cheese stick will fill you up and be less calories than a bar. Plus it's a lot cheaper.

Most people fail at their diets because they have nothing healthy to eat when hunger strikes. Therefore, they reach for whatever is quick and easy. (See number 5) To succeed you must have a plan. Take a few hours one day a week to wash and precut veggies so they're easy to grab. Sautee a batch of boneless chicken to keep in the fridge, so you can slice up some to toss on a salad. If you're doing errands, pack a a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit and yogurt in a thermal bag in case you get hungry.

Drinking 8 glasses a day is the bare minimum. For every caffeinated beverage you drink you need to drink that much in water to replace fluid loss. Exercise also increases your water needs. If you're body doesn't have enough water, your liver can not metabolize fat properly and thus your weight loss efforts are thwarted. If that's not enough reason to guzzle water I don't know what is!

1 or 2 cups of coffee a day is fine. But if you're pounding coffee all day or other caffeine drinks like tea, Diet Coke, or (God forbid) Red Bull you're doing your body harm. Over stimulating your body over time reeks havoc on your adrenal glands which in turn causes cortisol production. And we all know that cortisol causes fat storage, especially around the tummy.

If you think working out for hours a day is the way to lose weight, you could be headed for trouble. Most of us are not built like athletes. In fact, a lot of athletes aren't built like athletes, and they fall victim to overtraining. When you don't give yourself proper rest days you run the risk of not only serious injury but of your body holding on to fat for self preservation. You end up putting in more and more effort, but you see less and less results. You may never feel fully rested and your hunger may be unstoppable. Your body starts producing more cortisol which means more fat. So don't feel guilty about taking two days off a week. It's actually completely necessary for muscle growth and fat loss.

Well, these are my tips. If you simply follow them you can kiss the sweatpants goodbye and look forward to that summer bikini!

Strength Training for Women

Are Certain Exercises Better for Women ? The Answer is Yes and No

The best exercises for women are not the same as the best for exercises for men only for one reason. Women generally have different goals than men. While men usually want to build certain muscles, women want to tone.

Toning is the simultaneous reduction in body fat and the maintenance of muscle. While this is possible for some people, toning is not going to happen with toning exercises unless you have a low body fat percentage.

Unless your body fat percentage is on the low end of ideal or lean, the best exercises for women are most likely the same as the best exercises for men.

Multi-joint exercises which work large muscle groups are best to increase your metabolism and tone up. These multi-joint exercises should be the base of weight training for men and women alike.

Top 5 Myths Associated with the Best Exercises for Women

Women's Exercise Myth 1:

Women should lift high reps with light weight to tone, because heavier weight and less reps will bulk.

Whether a weight is heavy or not is a matter of perception. The truth of the matter is in order for an exercise to be effective your muscles should fail within the rep range which you are aiming for. If you perform a weight training exercise and perform 20 repetitions when you could have did 50 the exercise will not be effective regardless of who who you are.

Women's Exercise Myth 2:

Women should only perform the toning weight training exercises in women's magazines, not any exercises men do.

This couldn't be further from the truth. Exercises which work large muscle groups such as the bench press are necessary in any successful fitness program for women. Isolation exercises such as biceps curls are meant to build a certain muscle.

Multi joint exercises such as seated row work many different muscles. You wouldn't want to do 10 sets of bench press though. The best exercises for women can be any exercise with the right set and rep scheme.

Women's Exercise Myth 3:

Women who want to lose weight should not participate in weight training or high intensity activities.

The main purpose of exercise in a weight loss / toning goal is to elevate metabolism. To burn calories during cardio is not as important in the long run as the maintenance of a high metabolism. The activities which will effect metabolism significantly are high intensity activities such as interval cardio, sprints and weight training.

Women's Exercise Myth 4:

Women should always do cardio before weight training.

This really doesn't matter. The best exercises for women before or after cardio will have the same benefits. A good rule of thumb is to do what you least like to do first, so you won't skip out on it.

If you have a specific goal, such as running times, you should probably do your cardio first. If your goal is to do 5 pull ups, you should tackle the weight training first while you have the most energy. There are benefits and drawbacks to doing either first so do what makes you happy.

Women's Exercise Myth 5:

Pregnant women should not lift weights.

Lifting weights is very good for pregnant women. Some say it eases the birth. There are certain things which pregnant women should avoid such as the Valsalva maneuver which is the straining motion associated with holding the breath.

After the first 3 months of pregnancy pregnant women should also avoid all exercises which are in the supine (lying on back) position. First and foremost pregnant women should ask their doctor before starting a weight training program.

Who can Benefit from the Best Exercises for Women ?

The best exercises for women assume that you are trying to lose weight or tone up. They assume that you are not very skinny with a body fat in the lean category for women for your age group. If you are already in the lean category, certain toning exercises will help you tone your muscles. Toning exercises are isolation movements which concentrate on a certain muscle.

The best exercises for women are total body, multiple large muscle group exercises. They exercise a lot of your lean mass so they will benefit you if you are looking to lose weight, tone up and even build muscle.

What are the Best Exercises for Women ?

Since you are most likely not looking for hulking muscles the best exercises for you and women alike who are looking to tone up are combination exercises.

Combination exercises are multiple exercises performed at the same time. These are the best exercises for women because they will allow you to work multiple muscle groups, and get more overall work in during your workouts.

More overall work means extra calories burned, which means a higher metabolism, which means you will be more likely to burn fat, tone up, lose weight, and be lean. Here are some examples of the best exercises for women. This does not mean that all exercises anybody can do will not benefit you. As long as you have a healthy diet, perform cardiovascular exercise and try to live a healthy active lifestyle all exercises are beneficial.

Here are a Few Examples of Combination Exercises

Lunges with Shoulder Press

Lunges with shoulder press is an exercise which works your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, inner and outer thighs, shoulders, and triceps. Lunges are definitely in the top 3 best exercises for women because they work the muscle group which is usually a problem area for the majority of women.

Start: You can either perform the lunge with press from a stationary position or walking. If you have about 20 feet of clear space you can perform walking lunges with press. If you don't have space to walk, you can simply perform either stationary lunges or pushback lunges.

Begin the motion: Hold the dumbbells at your side. Begin walking lunges. After you complete a lunge, either balance on one foot or stand on both feet and perform a shoulder press, pushing the dumbbells above you head. After you are finished with the press, lower the weights back to their original position and repeat the lunges.

Modifications: There are many modifications you can do. You can use kettlebells, body bars or any form of resistance for this exercise. If you do not know proper lunge form please visit the lunge page.

Step- ups with Curls and Press

Step ups with biceps curls and shoulder press work your thighs, hamstrings, glutes, inner thighs, outer thighs, biceps, triceps and shoulders. You will also work on your balance.

Start: Have a pair of dumbbells or any form of resistance. You should have a step which is completely stable to begin for safety reasons. The height of the step depends on your level of training.

Begin the motion: With your arms at your side step up to the top of the step. Make sure you step up with the back 2/3 of your foot not your toes. Your knee should not pass your toes as you step up. You can either balance on 1 foot or put your other foot on the step. Curl the weights up to shoulder level and them perform a shoulder press above you head.

Modifications: You can perform all the motions separately or you can do the curls as you step up. The latter is more difficult. You can also perform these stepping up to the side. This will be a great way to get your stabilizer muscles working, in this case the muscles of your inner and outer thighs. They will be working mainly functionally to stabilize your knees.

Squats with Rows

Squats with rows are a great exercise for your butt, hamstrings, thighs, biceps and all the muscles in your back. Many trainers consider these to be one of the best exercises for women because they exercise 2 muscle groups which seldom work together.

Start: Either use a free motion machine with 2 cables, a low cable with a triangle bar or a resistance tube. Grab the resistance and take a couple steps back. Keep your arms straight as you will use them as a counter balance during the squat.

Begin the motion: With your arms completely straight, but your shoulders and back in neutral alignment perform a squat. Since you have the counter balance of the resistance you can really squat your butt backwards and form a complete 90 degree angle with your legs. Squat back up and perform a row with the cables as you reach the top of the squat. Make sure you squeeze your shoulder blades together in back without elevating your shoulders.

Modifications: You can stand on an unstable surface such as a BOSU balance trainer to modify this exercise and increase the difficulty. You can also pause at the bottom of the squat and perform rows while you contract your legs isometrically (muscle contraction with no movement).

Stability Ball Squat with Lateral and Front Raises

Stability ball squats are one of the best exercises for women which can be used in combination with many different exercises. Lateral and front raises isolate the side and front of your shoulders while the squats work your glutes hamstrings and quadriceps.

Start: Have a stability ball against the wall in the small of your back. Position your feet forward so when you squat down your legs form a 90 degree angle. Keep your core tight, and your back in neutral alignment for the duration of this exercise.

Begin the motion: Bring your hips back and down with the ball. As you squat perform a lateral raise, raising the dumbbells to the side. At the bottom of the squat you should pause for a second with your arms out to the side. As you squat up, lower the weights back to their original position.

Modifications: You can also perform front raises during this motion. You can do them separately or alternating with the lateral raises. You can do a combination of both (see video.) It is best if you perform the concentric (lifting up) shoulders exercise on the way down with the squat. This will eliminate momentum and cause your body to work your stabilizer muscles more with isometric contractions at the bottom of the squat.

Good Fats Vs Bad Fats

Is this a trick question? All fat is bad, right? WRONG!!! The fat free craze from years ago has really done our waistlines a disservice. We were told that fat is the enemy and thus loaded up up on everything from virtuous salads to fat free cakes. Well keep the salad, but put a little fat on it (the good kind of course). Here's why. Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs) are essential to helping your body BURN fat. That's right. It takes fat to lose fat! MUFAs not only help keep you full and help your body absorb vitamins but they also keep your metabolism burning.

The following are just a few types of MUFAS: Olive Oil, Avocado, Flax Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Walnuts, Almonds, Salmon

You don't need to add a lot of MUFA's to see the difference, nor should you since they're still calories after all. Just a few slices of avocado on your salad or salmon to go with your steamed veggies and your inner furnace will start cranking.

Questions or thoughts, let me know

Why You'll Never Lose Weight If Your Liver Is Toxic

Most people don't realize just how critical the liver is to the proper functioning of the body. It is estimated that the liver is the body's most important organ, performing nearly 400 different jobs. It functions as a filter for the whole body, cleaning the system of toxins, metabolizing fats, carbohydrates and proteins, controling hormonal balance, and producing immune-boosting factors. When the liver becomes overloaded or "toxic" it can no longer perform as it should and a whole slew of problems can arise. Here are some of the symptoms of a toxic liver:

* Weight gain, especially around the abdomen
* Cellulite
* Abdominal Bloating
* Indigestion
* High Cholesterol
* High Blood Pressure
* Fatigue
* Skin rashes
* Mood Swings
* Depression

It's not only excessive alcohol that can make a liver toxic. Caffeine, sugar, medications, trans fats, and inadequate dietary fiber all contribute to clogging up your body's liver and thus throws everything out of whack. Literally every organ in your body is affected and your weight loss efforts are thwarted. Your liver stops processing fat effectively and instead starts storing it.

The good news is there are things you can do to get your liver functioning properly again. One of the most important things (and for some reason often overlooked) is to drink tons of water each day. Water is necessary to help your liver flush out toxins and waste. The old recommendation of 8, 8oz glasses a day is the bare minimum. You need to add extra when you exercise or drink caffeinated beverages. Speaking of which, you should keep caffeine intake to only ONE cup of coffee a day. That iced tea with lunch has caffeine too so for every glass you have you need to drink that much in water to replace fluids lost. Here are some other things that help regulate the liver:

* Unsweetened Cranberry Juice (the only ingredient should be cranberry juice! No sugar or artificial sweetners)
* Lemons & Limes (squirted into hot or cold water or over food for a little zest)
* Flax Seed Oil
* High Quality Proteins (such as chicken, lean beef, fish and especially eggs)
* Cruciferous Vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, etc)

Staying away from sugar, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and caffeine will make your liver happy and in turn will help you keep the pounds away :-)

Your Mental Health Workout: by Guest Blogger Danielle Gruen



Those of us who have ever experienced a serendipitous moment or life event know the powerful effect such an experience can have. The moment may seem to come out of nowhere by chance, and even be referred to as a mere coincidence. Prior to the unforeseen occurrence, one might think such a moment were not even possible or probable to take place. This is both the wonder and awe of what we call serendipity. According to Webster's dictionary, serendipity is defined as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for". So, what can we, as career professionals, do with serendipitous moments both for ourselves and the work we do with clients? Making the most of such unexpected moments comes not with detailed planning or forethought, but instead with positive thought, the act of living in the moment, seizing opportunity, and creating action.

Given that a serendipitous event is unplanned and unanticipated, the moment could potentially be missed or overlooked by one person, while the same event discovered and developed by another. How does this occur you may ask? It primarily has to do with personal attributes and positive characteristics of the individual, as career professional John Krumboltz says in his Planned Happenstance Theory. Krumboltz states that people with optimistic qualities are more likely to capitalize on chance events and turn serendipity into opportunity. On the other hand, more pessimistic individuals might get frustrated with the same event, dismissing it as insignificant or bothersome. This critical difference is imperative both in our own lives as flourishing professionals and in the work we do with clients.

As a client of mine builds her private business, for example, I suggest she use self-reflection and assessment to critique her networking tactics and determine what is working and ways to improve. In doing so she realizes she has not engaged in conversation with some of her own friends about her current projects. The following week a social lunch turns into a business lunch as she and her friend discuss overlaps in the work each one does. By the end of the lunch "meeting", the two have come up with ways to work together through cross-promotion, referral and even the sharing of an office space.

Life transitions, unplanned events, and personal situations are aspects of life that can be potentially negative or positive in nature. Depending on the individual, the circumstance becomes challenging, manageable, or devastating. In turn, this can mean the difference between opportunity and stagnation. Turning serendipity into opportunity becomes much more challenging in times of heightened stress or turmoil. Through improving coping mechanisms and developing more optimistic attitudes, one's "toolkit" is enriched, positivity is developed, and the chance for serendipitous opportunity is increased. The following are tips for transforming destiny or chance into reality both for career professionals and clients, even during the most potentially challenging times in life.

Life Transitions

  • Find positivity and opportunities in change and anything new through self reflection and consultation with trusted others
  • Promote self-growth and introspection through activities such as journaling or volunteering
  • Develop curiosity to consider new possibilities
  • Be creative and think outside the box - how can this unexpected event be turned into a new and positive opportunity?

Unplanned Events

  • Foster optimism to get the most out of unplanned events - try to see things from a new perspective and be open to change
  • Cultivate motivation and focus to deal with obstacles, both internally and through external support
  • Establish a flexible, positive attitude to cope with challenges, changes, and unknowns
  • Network regularly and often to maximize the unplanned times
  • Research the labor market ongoing for some understanding of the unpredictable economy

Personal and Family Situations

  • Engage in self-reflection to process your reactions and feelings
  • Construct strength-building mechanisms for dealing with personal issues such as positive selfvisualizations, exercise,and/or personal counseling
  • Form a strong social support network of friends and community

To foster hopeful attributes, create effective networking, and in turn increase the likelihood of turning serendipitous moments into opportune moments, consider lifelong learning and skill enhancement, regardless of professional level or expertise. Incorporate a balance between work and personal life whenever possible, and encourage clients to do the same. Keep in mind, self-assessment and feedback from others is an ongoing process in career exploration and management, both when times are smooth or turbulent.

Danielle Gruen Danielle Gruen, MS, NCC, DCC, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of California, Division of Department of Rehabilitation in Los Angeles, California. She currently serves as Disability Awareness Specialist and liaison counselor in the transition services program for high school students. She also serves as lead counselor and provides Disability Awareness training at a local community rehabilitation program serving the HIV/AIDS community. She earned her Masters degree from San Francisco State and has worked in non-profit, Higher Education, and government as a Career Counselor. She recently began a private practice providing local and distance counseling. She can be reached at:livingcareers@gmail.com

Your Spiritual Health at Work

From time to time I like to feature guest writers, who's expertise in other fields, go hand and hand with the mission of Healthy Go To Girl- complete health for mind, body and spirit. Today's writer is published author Danielle Gruen.

Spirituality and the Workplace

Is there a place for spirituality in the workplace? I find myself being asked this often of my clients. And what do I say, you may be wondering. I'm honest and professional; what else is there to be? Spirituality is such a touchy subject because of how personal and potentially different and deep it is for each person, family, and culture. Here are some Tips to ponder:

*One must first determine if/how a place of employment is draining or replenishing one's self energetically. This, in and of itself, is an aspect of spirituality. Is your spiritual self awake or hindered at work? Are you full or depleated energetically?
*If a job or career decision is troubling your spirit, think about the significance of this and its effects on your mind, body, and soul. Are you losing part of yourself, feeling at peace, or somewhere in between?
*Before accepting a job offer, research the place of employment, the employer, the mission statement, and determine their workplace values. Does it hold meaning and truth to you or is it in conflict with your own values?
*Know what you are looking for, and follow through with your intent. Do not settle for less or other, unless knowingly doing so with acceptance of self and workplace.
Danielle Gruen, MS, NCC, DCC, is the Founder and Career Counselor/Consultant of Living Careers in Los Angeles, California. She specializes in career changers, women in the workplace, and adults in transition. She currently serves as Disability Awareness Specialist and liaison counselor in the transition services program for high school students. She earned her Masters degree from San Francisco State and has previously worked in non-profit, Higher Education, and government as a Career Counselor and Life Coach. She recently began a photography business (daniellegruenphotography.com) shooting headshots, family portraits, and products for individuals and business. She can be reached at: livingcareers@gmail.com and www.livingcareers.net

OVERTRAINING--Why more isn't always better

You're working out, losing weight and starting to feel great. You're getting stronger and think to yourself, "If I exercise even more, than I'll lose even more." Seems to make sense. But for some reason, you're weight loss has stopped. In fact you might be (say it isn't so) gaining weight! How is that possible? So you work out even harder to make the stubborn fat come off. Unfortunately, all your hard work is doing nothing but leaving you drained, more hungry, cranky and even sick. Welcome to the world of OVERTRAINING.

As a fitness nut I have found myself in this predicament too many times to count. I loved the way exercise made me feel and used to feel guilty if I took rest days. But I got fed up with living at the gym and dealing with physical hunger that couldn't be satiated. So I educated myself and learned that when it comes to exercise, more is not better.

If you work out too hard or train every day, you can easily over train your body. Overtraining is counterproductive. Why? When you overtrain your body is in a constant state of stress. Because of this, your body releases cortisol. Cortisol does many horrible things to the body. It suppresses your immune system, breaks down your muscles and bones, accelerates brain aging, and INCREASES fat storage! What's more is that it increases hunger. This means you're doing tons of exercise for nothing. You stop gaining strength and easily lose muscle and gain fat. Your body becomes stressed and weak.

The following are common symptoms of Overtraining:
* You are hungry all the time
* You crave sweets
* You feel overly tired an sleepy
* You have trouble going to sleep/ or have disrupted sleep
* You are quick to anger or get upset
* You are constantly thirsty
* You lose motivation to work out
* Your strength decreases
* You find yourself run down and sick
* You easily suffer injuries
* Your body fat percentage increases

The problem with overtraining is that it sneaks up on you. You can be going along with an intense workout routine for awhile (say a month) and then all of a sudden you start gaining weight and feeling like crap. That is why monitoring your workouts are vital. If you do not take proper rest days, trust me, it will catch up to you. And at that point you will be forced to take 1-2 weeks completely off before you're well again. Or worse, you may have caused an injury and require months of recovery.

This is a good guide to how much/hard you should exercise to get maximum results and not overtrain.

* Don't workout every day! You should take 2 days off per week to rest. No, you don't have to be a couch potato on those days. You can do "active rest" activities like a brisk walk, gardening, house cleaning

* Alternate intense workouts with easier ones--don't push yourself to the max everyday

* Cross train--give your joints and muscles a rest by not doing the same exercise day in and day out. Use a variety of equipment like the treadmill, stairmaster, elliptical, free weights, balance balls, etc.

* Keep workouts to 1 hour maximum (the body starts to rapidly produce cortisol after an hour of intense exercise)
* Get 8 hours of sleep every night

* If possible, do other cortisol reducing activities such as meditation & yoga

If you have a trainer make sure they are knowledgeable and understand the real risks of overtraining. I know that people see "The Biggest Loser" and think that it's the way to lose weight. But don't forget, those folks are only on this very intense routine for a limited time. And even still, what they're doing is very dangerous. (It's no wonder one of the contestants passed out and was rushed to a hospital this past season)

All that being said it's still important to exercise. But keep it to five days a week, mix it up, get proper rest and nutrients, and listen to yourself when you're feeling run down. You've only got one body so please take care of it! Exercise does not need to take over your life. With like everything else, moderation is key.

Exercise Making You Hungry? How To Deal

You're trying to lose weight and in doing so you've upped your workouts. Good for you! The only problem is all this exercise is making you hungry... and frustrated! How are you supposed to lose weight when you end up eating more? What's the point of exercising if it's just going to make you consume more calories and undo all your hard work?

First of all, besides just aiding in weight loss, exercise does so much for your health and well being. Exercise helps prevent disease, enhances heart health, improves mental health and cognitive ability, and many other things wonderful things.

Ya, ya, ya you're saying. I just want to lose weight. How do I combat my hunger? In a word, PLAN. You must fuel your body (food & timing wise) like it's a machine. On the days you work out you must eat a little something an hour before your workout and no longer than an hour afterward. If you don't, you're just setting yourself up for some serious hunger pains that could get out of control and cause you to eat too many calories. Good food choices are high in protein, with a little complex carbs. Examples: hard boiled egg with tomato slices, cottage cheese with a few berries, chicken breast with some carrots, cheese stick with a few almonds.

But won't that mean just more calories added to my over all total? Not if you do it right. If you eat snacks, like the ones I recommend, it will only be an additional 200-300 calories. That's where the planning is involved. If you workout in the morning, the pre-workout snack is basically your breakfast. The post-workout food intake is your mid-morning snack. Eating these small meals will keep your blood levels stable so you won't be as hungry. So if you plan accordingly, you won't take in any extra calories. And I can't stress enough the importance of protein. It will keep you satiated longer. Protein takes longer to digest and the body burns more calories to digest it than carbs.

Should You Exercise When Sick?

With flu & cold season around the corner, we're bound to at least a get a sniffle or two. As someone who is used to a fitness routine, I always get thrown off when I'm sick. Should I work out anyway? Will it make me feel better? Or will it just prolong my recovery? I did a little research as to what doctors say you should do, and they all pretty much say the same thing:

If your illness is "above the neck" (i.e. runny nose, sneezing, sore throat) you can work out but at a reduced intensity. So instead of hitting heavy weights and going for a hard run, take it easy. A light jog around the neighborhood may give you some much needed energy and help relieve sinus congestion.

However, if you're illness is "below the neck" (i.e chest congestion, cough, muscle aches that aren't due to a previous workout, upset stomach, fever) than NO you shouldn't work out. You're body is already working overtime fighting infection. So any more stress to it could just make you worse.

Most importantly you should pay attention to how you feel. If you start working out but realize that you have absolutely no energy or start getting dizzy, stop. Take another day or two to rest. You won't get fat! Just make sure you stick to clean eating. Also, your body actually burns more calories when you're really sick due to fighting the infection.

Why Is It Easier For Men To Lose Weight?

Ladies, does this scenario sound for familiar? You go on a diet, eating nothing but vegetables and grilled chicken, work out everyday, and only lose a couple of pounds. Your man, on the other hand, keeps to his couch potato ways, but cuts out beer for 2 weeks and drops 10 like it's nothing. Frustrating? You betcha! Something wrong with you? Nope, just another hardship we women must endure. You've always suspected it and it is true...Men DO have an easier time losing weight. Here's why:

The more muscle mass a person has, the more calories burned in a 24 hour period. Because women have less muscle, they have to work harder to lose fat. A man could be working at 50% of his capacity during physical activity, but a woman would have to be working at 70% of her capacity to burn the same amount. Not fair. Since a woman has less muscle, that means she has more fat cells. And those fat cells are also 5x lager than men's. Women are also programmed to store and hold on to fat more. (You know, that whole baby making and housing thing)

Too many women (practically never men, right?) will starve themselves to get into their skinny jeans. Well, this just makes matters worse. When a woman eats too few calories per day (under 1200 calories) her body thinks there is a famine and thus holds onto fat for dear life by activating and multiplying fat-storing enzymes. Even worse, her fat cells become less efficient at releasing fat. Some studies have shown that severe dieting can reduce fat releasing enzymes by 50%!!! Most of the weight loss on a crash diet comes from muscle and water. Thus, your metabolism slows even more and you end up gaining even more weight after the crash. Alas, the vicious cycle.

Estrogen, the female sex hormone, has been found to multiply those good old fat-storing enzymes. That's why the two periods in a woman's life when estrogen floods her system (puberty and pregnancy) are the times when a woman is more likely to store fat. Also, hormone fluctuations make women more susceptible to injuries, especially knee problems. Therefore, they end up taking more time off from exercise. Oh and just in case you were wondering, Testosterone, on the hand, encourages the production of fat-releasing enzymes. Errr.....

Now here's one I didn't even know. During the first few weeks of exercise a woman's body (again) thinks it's going into starvation mode and her metabolism slows to preserve her weight. (A man's metabolism on the other hand kicks up to high gear) The good news is this metabolism slowing for women only lasts 2-3 weeks. The bad news is a woman needs to start an exercise program and stick with it! Starting and stopping is not a good idea.

So what is a frustrated gal to do?

*As just mentioned you need to work out a minimum of 3 times per week, period. No stopping and starting. Take your rest days, not rest weeks.

*Make sure you do 2-3 strength training sessions per week to gain lean muscle mass. No, running on the treadmill is not enough. (As a side note, when I started adding weights to my workout that's when my body transformed)

*And speaking of the treadmill, switch it up. Since women are prone to injury, doing the same thing over and over is not a good idea. It's important to cross-train.

* DON'T STARVE YOURSELF! Yes, you still need to pay attention to calories, carbs and portions. But going under 1200 calories is a recipe for disaster. If you're working out you should aim for 1400 to 1700 per day.

So the next time your boyfriend, brother, father or male co-worker complains that he's got it rough, just smile politely knowing that you know the real truth. And if that doesn't make you feel better go ahead and hide his Doritos. Hey if you can't have them, why should he?

Not Losing Weight? Vitamin D Deficiency May Be To Blame

Everyone knows that vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, but the latest research shows that it may be a big factor in weight loss and weight management. Why? Well there seems to be a connection between low levels of vitamin D and insulin resistance. (Insulin resistance is the term used for when the body can make insulin, however cannot use it properly to convert glucose into energy. Thus the body holds on to it and stores it as fat)

Vitamin D deficiency is common in adults. One of the reasons is because we're stuck in offices all day instead of getting some much needed sunlight. Natural sunshine has an abundance of vitamin D. Also as we age, our bodies slowly lose the ability to mobilize vitamin D.

Are you vitamin D deficient? The best way to know for sure is to get your levels checked by your doc. But besides weight gain (or having trouble losing weight) here are some symptoms of vitamin D deficiency: Muscle pain, weak bones/fractures, low energy & fatigue, lowered immunity (get sick a lot), symptoms of depression or mood swings, sleep irregularities, IBS

Marcelle Pick an OB/GYN NP has the following advice to prevent vitamin D deficiency

What You Can Do To Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency may be a pervasive problem — one that we treat with specific therapies at our medical practice — but the best way to protect yourself from any deficiency is to build your health from the bottom up and let your body balance itself. We acknowledge the controversy over whether our primary source of vitamin D should be the sun, diet, or supplements. Which combination is best for you depends on many variables, including your age, nutritional status, and geographic location. In a world where so many of us are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, we recognize each of these sources as valuable. With this in mind we recommend the following steps to prevent vitamin D deficiency:

  • Allow yourself limited, unprotected sun exposure in the early morning and late afternoon (no more than 15 minutes for light-skinned individuals, 40 minutes for darker skin)

  • Eat a diet rich in whole foods. Nutrient-dense, fatty fish like mackerel and sardines are good sources of vitamin D. Egg yolks, fortified organic milk and other dairy products, and some organ meats (like liver) are also reasonably good natural sources of D. Because vitamin D is still somewhat of a mystery, we’re not sure which co-factors are important for its absorption, but we can surmise they are most fully present in wholesome food.

  • Take a top-quality multivitamin every day to fill in any nutritional gaps, preferably one that includes fish oil.

  • Take a vitamin D supplement. Supplement additionally with vitamin D3 at 1000–2000 IU daily if you do not get testing (or higher with testing, under the care of your healthcare practitioner). For a long time, vitamin D therapy was being prescribed as vitamin D2. To our thinking, this form has more potential for toxicity and is much less effective than natural vitamin D3. Nowadays vitamin D3 supplements are widely recognized as the superior, more bio-ready form for use in the body. How much you need really depends on your particular needs, so testing is really the best way to go for most people.

  • Check with your healthcare professional about vitamin D testing. If you think you may be suffering from vitamin D deficiency, get a blood test and ask for the results. I like to see an optimal value of 50–70 ng/mL. A conventional doctor might think anywhere from 20–50 ng/mL is normal, but that recommendation will soon change as the newest research becomes incorporated into the standard of conventional care.

  • Discuss adding a vitamin D supplement to your diet with your healthcare provider. If you don’t get out in the sun every day for 15 minutes in the early morning and late afternoon, consider supplementing with 1000–2000 IU per day — at least during the winter months! But you may need higher levels to reap all the long-term health benefits vitamin D has to offer you, so talk it over with your healthcare provider. This is so important for women of all ages — especially those over 50. Then be sure to get follow-up testing to monitor your response.

What I Eat In A Day

What do YOU eat Robin? My clients, and people curious about weight loss, ask me that question a lot. I know it can be confusing to know what to eat when there is so much mixed info out there. What should I have for breakfast? What's a good late afternoon snack? So I figured I'd actually write out what a typical day of consumption is for me. This is what yesterday looked like...

Woke at 6am, Breakfast at 6:15
Eating 15 minutes after you got up?!!! Yes. It's called break-fast because you're breaking the fast. Thinking you'll "save" your calories for later is a big no-no. All this does is start your day with a sluggish metabolism. But breakfast doesn't have to be big. Here's what I ate-

Coffee, 2 whole eggs pan fried in Pam cooking spray, 1 tbs of whole flax seeds, 1/2 cup cantaloupe
(250 calories)

Morning Snack 8:30
By now I've trained two clients and I'm going to do 30 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes of strength training. I'm starting to get a little hungry. I never wait until I'm really hungry to eat. That just leads to overeating and a very cranky Robin...

3 oz of sliced cold chicken (not deli lunch meat) sprinkled with sea salt
(100 calories)

"Brunch" 10:30
Now is when I eat a pretty big meal. I've worked out and I need it. Almost every lunch of mine starts with the "Big Salad" (Like Elaine used to eat in Seinfeld). Basically my salad consists of tons of lettuce (usually romaine or mixed greens) with lots of veggies,one of my favorite dressings (See my blog "Best Tasting Low Cal Dressings"), about 6oz of protein and a healthy fat (Read Good Fats vs. Bad Fats blog).

5 cups of chopped romaine, 5 baby carrots, 1 tomato, mixed with my own dressing concoction (2 tbs Follow Your Heart Ranch, 2 tbs Gaello's World's Best Miso Caesar, 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar (adds tang and many health benefits), sprinkled with 3 heaping tbs of feta cheese and 2 heaping tbs of avocado
1 large bone-in chicken breast (skin removed after cooking), sprinkled with sea salt
(300 calories)

1st Afternoon Snack 1:00
I'm getting a little bit hungry (and again don't want to wait until I'm ravenous.) It's been 2 1/2 hours since I ate, so I need to in order to keep insulin levels stable and metabolism fired up.

1/2 cup Knudsen's Live Active cottage cheese & 5 almonds
(150 calories)

2nd Afternoon Snack 3:30
Little hungry and know dinner isn't until 6:00 so snack time!

Individual size can of tuna (Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea make ones with peel top lids--good for travel) mixed w/ 1 tbs of BestFoods/Hellman's Canola Oil Mayo, side of 5 celery sticks and 5 carrot sticks
(150 calories)

Dinner 6:00
Dinner is alway made up of tons of veggies, protein and a healthy fat. Grilled or steamed veggies are awesome or another salad. Last night I felt like having something with an Asian flare so this is what I made-

40z of pan-seared Salmon, 1 cup of steamed Baby Bok Choy, 1 cup of steamed Spinach, 1/2 cup of Steamed Sugar Snap Peas, 1/2 cup steamed Red Peppers. (When I say "steamed" I'm actually putting them in a glass bowl with a plate on top in the microwave. No time to steam!) Then I top the dish with 2 tbs of Galeo's World's Best Miso Toasted Sesame Seed Dressing (found at Gelson's and Whole Foods) and a tsp of whole flax seeds
(350 calories)

Boob Tube 8:00
While catching up on my favorite shows I have a little snack. Plus bedtime is 10:00 so I need to eat something or I'll be too hungry to fall asleep.

1 container of Fage Greek Yogurt 2% topped with a sprinkle of Stevia & 1/2 cup concord grapes (got a farmer's market), 1 spelt cake (similar to a rice cake) with 1 tsp of peanut butter
(250 calories)

And there you have it! A day in the life of my eating habits. So the moral of the story is tons of protein, low-glycemic carbs and (I forgot to mention) lots of water. Exciting isn't it?

The Real Skinny on Protein Bars

Ahhh protein bars. I am a reformed junkie. Knowing how important it is to eat every couple of hours, I had protein bars stashed in my car, purse, desk drawer, you name it. And why not? They are an easy go-to-snack and I was able to find ones that are high in protein and low in carbs & sugar. Plus they were soooo convenient. But for some reason, the weight on the scale was going up, not down. I did a little research and found out that the modified soy in most of the protein bars I was consuming was to blame. There is so much genetically modified soy in our food today because it's cheap. But there are a lot of problems associated with it. I enclosed a brief article about the dangers of modified soy. It can do a number on your thyroid functioning (among other things) which can cause you to gain weight. So yes, it may be extra work to pack some chicken breast, an apple, etc. in a travel cooler but it's worth it. Here's the article:

Currently, there is a lot of controversy over the use of soy products, especially in their ubiquitous form of protein bars, protein powder, ice cream, cheese products, milk replacements, and pills. The Asian people have incorporated soy in the form of tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari, Soya sauce, for a long time. It is a part of their culinary history. However, in China they use very little in their daily diets, only about 10 grams (2 teaspoons), and in Japan daily consumption is about 30 to 60 grams per day. These soy products are used as condiments, meaning that they serve as additions or flavorings to their food, not a substitute for animal protein. And most of this soy used is in the form of fermented soy such as tempeh, natto, tamari, soy sauce, and not as protein isolate powders, protein bars, substitute cheese, and soy ice cream products.

Unfermented soy products contain toxins in the form of phytates and trypsin inhibitors, the former of which leach important nutrient minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron from the body, and the later which interfere with protein digestion and affect normal pancreatic function.

All soy contains phytoestrogens which are endocrine inhibitors that affect the hormonal balance in babies, growing children, women, and men alike. Soy also has a potent antithyroid affect upon the thyroid gland and its hormones, and increases the body's need for vitamin D, which is important for strong bone health and in preventing osteoporosis. The native protein present in soy is fragile and is easily denatured, or broken down, by the use of high temperatures required for the production of soy protein isolate and textured soy vegetable protein. The by-products of this high temperature processing results in the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines and toxic lysinoalanine. Because of this problem, soy protein isolate products should not be the protein of choice for the human body. In addition, highly processed soy products may contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the body, especially the kidneys, the nervous system, and the brain.

If you need to use protein supplements, which are recommended for vegetarian and vegan diets, then the best choices would include whey protein (if you are not allergic to milk and dairy products), and rice protein, which is not highly allergenic. High quality whey protein is useful in detoxification of the body and is an excellent choice for balanced amino acid supplementation. You might also want to check out hemp protein and other newer protein sources.

As far as healthy fast food choices, you might want to use a handful of nuts, along with fresh cut vegetables such as carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, cucumber sticks, etc. which can be prepared the night before and refrigerated until ready for use. Almost all pre-prepared package foods contain additives, coloring agents, high salt, and/or high fat content, so it is wise to use raw, fresh vegetables and nuts in their raw natural state without added fat and salt. This way you can be assured that you are getting the freshest most natural products available and they will give you the necessary enzymes needed by the body, and also will help with your weight maintenance and loss. Good luck in your healthy eating habits!

13 Top Superfoods

Used for centuries in Eastern medicine, mushrooms have powerful effects on the immune system – especially the maitake, shiitake, and reishi varieties. "Mushrooms such as maitake help prevent and treat cancer, viral diseases, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure," says Bauman. In fact, mushrooms are used as an adjunctive cancer treatment throughout Asia because of their ability to counteract the toxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation while simultaneously shrinking tumors. What's more, Japanese researchers have found that regularly eating shiitake mushrooms lowers blood cholesterol levels up to 45 percent.

Research shows that garlic lowers total cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels, helping prevent clogged arteries. "Two to three cloves a day cut the odds of subsequent heart attacks in half for heart disease patients," says Bauman. "Garlic also tops the National Cancer Institute's list of potential cancer-preventive foods." Whole baked garlic helps detoxify the body of heavy metals like mercury (from fish) and cadmium. Garlic also acts as an antibacterial and antiviral, boosting resistance to stress-induced colds and infections. Can't stand garlic breath? Chew on a sprig of parsley.

When it comes to chocolate, bitter is better – at least in terms of health. The benefits of chocolate come from flavonols and antioxidants (the same disease-fighting chemicals found in cranberries, apples, strawberries, and red wine). The caveat: Only real cacao contains flavonols, so look for chocolate that boasts a high percentage of cacao (60 percent or more). Dark chocolate also has fewer calories than other varieties, and when eaten in moderation, it lowers unhealthy LDL cholesterol and prevents plaque from building up in your arteries.
Loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation, flaxseed has been used for centuries for medicinal and health reasons. Gandhi himself proclaimed, "Wherever flaxseed becomes a regular food item among the people, there will be better health." Bauman adds, "The seed itself has terrific nutritional value, very usable protein, tremendous fatty acids, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc." Additionally, they're a great source of fiber.

The best protein source on the planet, eggs consistently outrank milk, beef, whey, and soy in the quality of protein they provide. In addition to containing all nine essential amino acids, eggs are loaded with nutrients. "And for God's sake, eat the yolks," says Bowden. People avoid the yolks because they fear cholesterol, but egg yolks contain choline, which helps protect heart and brain function and prevents cholesterol and fat from accumulating in the liver.

Pomegranates have up to three times the antioxidants of red wine and green tea – and the juice has been shown to reduce artery-clogging plaque, which in turn prevents heart disease and stroke. Research shows that long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may also help slow aging and protect against cancer.

"An apple a day really does keep the doctor away," says Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Apples are loaded with the powerful antioxidants quercetin and catechin, which protect cells from damage - that means a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, especially if you eat the skin. Research shows that the apple peel contains five times more polyphenols than the flesh. Apples and their skins pack a lot of fiber too (about twice that of other common fruits, including peaches, grapes, and grapefruit), which may help fight the battle of the bulge.

Antiaging superstars, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve vision and brain function. Studies show that eating blueberries slows impairments in motor coordination and memory that accompany aging. These little berries also reduce inflammation, which is inextricably linked with virtually every chronic disease from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, to diabetes and heart disease. Other studies show that blueberries have much greater anticancer activity than other fruits.

Sure they're high in fat, but avocados contain healthful monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. "Avocados aid in blood and tissue regeneration, stabilize blood sugar, and are excellent for heart disorders," says Ed Bauman, Ph.D., director of Bauman College. They're loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per fruit) and are a good source of lutein, an antioxidant linked to eye and skin health.

Almonds are loaded with fiber and monounsaturated fat, both of which have been shown to lower cholesterol. According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, including almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. And even though almonds are relatively high in fat and calories, studies show that eating almonds can actually help with weight loss (their protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats provide the feeling of fullness, preventing overeating).

A small amount of any kind of alcohol each day does your heart good by increasing HDL cholesterol and reducing the risk of blood clots. "Red wine also contains powerful antioxidants, reservatrol and saponins, which may provide additional cardiovascular benefits," says Anding. Resist a refill, however: More than one drink daily has been linked to high blood pressure.

Eating fish helps cut the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. The fatty varieties may also help alleviate depression. The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat at least two fish meals per week, especially wild salmon, herring, and sardines, because those varieties provide the most heart-healthy omega 3s. Avoid mercury-containing varieties like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and albacore tuna, says Roberta Anding, M.S., R.D., national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. (Chunk light tuna is okay.)

In the vegetable world, the Brassica genus reigns supreme, and the cabbage is the most impressive of the lot. Brassica vegetables (including broccoli, bok choy) contain compounds called indoles, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer dramatically. "Eating cabbage more than once a week cut men's colon cancer odds by 66 percent," says Bauman. "Cabbage also stimulates the immune system, kills bacteria and viruses, and is a good blood purifier." If you go for the red variety, you'll also get a healthy dose of anthocyanins (the same pigment molecules that make blueberries blue), another powerful antioxidant with an anticancer punch.

Digestive Health for Women

Maintaining digestive health is an essential part of healthy living. The foods you eat are not in a form that you can use until your body breaks them down into smaller molecules that can be absorbed and carried by your blood to every part of your body where they provide the nourishment and energy you need to stay alive.

A Healthy Diet for Digestive Health

"Digestive health requires a well-balanced diet of lean protein, moderate carbohydrates, and less saturated fats," explains Amit Bhan, MD, a gastroenterologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Mich. A healthy diet is good for food digestion and also decreases your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Components of a healthy diet include:

* Moderate Carbohydrates- "Too many carbohydrates can cause fat growth around your mid-section and can contribute to type 2 diabetes," says Dr. Bhan.

*Lean protein- A healthy diet should include less red meat. "Cold water fish are a good source of protein and supply omega-3 fatty acids that may increase cardiovascular health and lower your risk of stroke," advises Bhan.

*Antioxidants- "Include antioxidants found in brightly colored fruits such as blueberries and strawberries," says Bhan. Antioxidants are substances that protect your body from cell damage that can lead to heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Other good sources of antioxidants include vegetables, grains, and fish.

*Healthy fats- "Mono and polyunsaturated fats are good fats that help lower cholesterol and protect you from heart disease. You can get monounsaturated fats from olive oil and peanut oil," says Bhan. Polyunsaturated fats come from vegetable oils. "Nuts such as walnuts and almonds are also a good source of healthy fats," adds Bhan.

Digestive Health: How Exercise Helps

Aerobic exercise is important in preventing heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and also boosts digestive health. "In the same way the aerobic exercise benefits the circulation in your cardiovascular system, it also benefits the gastrointestinal circulation. Just as being overweight and out of shape can lead to blood vessel disease in other parts of your body, it can also affect the important blood vessels that are needed for digestive health," explains Bhan.

Digestive Health: Subdue the Stress

If you have ever had butterflies in your stomach before a presentation at work or a big exam, you have experienced one of the effects of stress on your digestive health. "Stress does not cause ulcers, but it does increase gastric acid and can cause heartburn and indigestion. Stress doesn't cause irritable bowel or inflammatory bowel disease, but it can make these diseases act up," explains Bhan.

You can reduce stress by getting regular exercise and learning how to handle stress in better ways through relaxation training and other mind-body techniques. You can also reduce stress on your digestion by following a few simple steps:

Chew your food completely. This helps reduce the work of your stomach.
Eat slowly. This makes digestion easier and you will tend to feel full sooner.
Take smaller portions. Using a smaller plate and learning how to measure appropriate portion sizes are good ways to keep your portions better balanced.
Don't gulp. "People who take big bites also swallow air. This can cause a condition known as 'aerophagia' that can cause bloating and pressure," warns Bhan.

Probiotics and Digestive Health

"A lot of digestive heath complaints come from the growth of abnormal bacteria in the colon. This can be seen in bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and can also be caused by antibiotics that kill off healthy bacteria and allow the growth of harmful bacteria. Probiotics are supplements to your diet that attempt to promote the growth of normal, or healthy, bacteria," explains Bhan.

Probiotics are live bacteria similar to the healthy bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Experts at one recent conference sponsored by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the American Society for Microbiology reported that there is some encouraging evidence to support probiotics in the treatment of diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Generally, probiotics are safe and have few harmful side effects. There is not enough evidence to say that probiotics can cure any digestive diseases, and you shouldn’t attempt this without talking to your doctor. Probiotics are in foods such as yogurt, fermented milk, miso, and some soy beverages. You can also take probiotics as a dietary supplement in capsule or powder form.

If you want to boost your digestive health make sure you eat the right foods, exercise, and do your best to manage stress. Take time to enjoy your food, without rushing and without overeating, and your body will thank you by digesting it well. By Chris Iliades, MD
Medically reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD

Interval Training For Quicker Fat Loss

Are you doing the same cardio routine and not seeing any results or are you hitting a plateau? I know the way to get your body into fat burning mode. It's interval training!

Interval training is just what is sounds like--it's extremely high intensity bouts of training with recovery periods. Here's what it looks like: Say you're going to go for a 30 minute run. Instead of just jogging at the same pace the whole time you should try jogging for 2 minutes, sprint for 30 seconds, and then "recover" by jogging again for 2 minutes. Repeat this routine for the whole 30 minutes.

What this does is activate your fast twitch muscles which in turn gets your metabolism fired up. You burn way more calories and fat working out this way. Once you get even more conditioned you can shorten those "recovery" periods a bit and you'll see even more results!