Healthy Snacks for Busy People

Eating healthy doesn’t mean going hungry. Even if you’re a vegan (no meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, or honey), you still have tons of delicious options for healthy snacks.

An ideal snack provides 100-250 calories, with a combo of protein and fiber to keep you full and energized. Protein bars are great, but why not think outside the bar? Whether you’re a full-time vegan, a flexitarian, or are simply looking for some new between-meal munchies, here are some healthy snacks to try. 

Sweet healthy snacks

Trail Mix: Mix 2 tablespoons each almonds and pumpkin seeds. Add 1 tablespoon each of dried cranberries and roasted coconut flakes for a touch of sweetness. (~200 calories)

Homemade Energy Bites: In a food processor, pulse 1 cup of your favorite nuts or seeds with 6-7 medjool dates, vanilla, and cinnamon until a paste forms. You can add a tablespoon each of dried cherries or chocolate chips if desired. Form into 4 balls. (~200 calories per ball)

Chia Pudding: Whisk together two tablespoons chia seeds in 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk. Season with vanilla, cinnamon, and stevia to taste. A tablespoon of cocoa powder adds a rich chocolate flavor. Allow to sit at least 4 hours or until chia seeds have absorbed the liquid. Garnish with berries and a pinch of coconut flakes. (~250 calories)

Simple Smoothie: Blend 1 cup unsweetened coconut water or non-dairy milk with half a frozen banana, 1 large handful spinach, ice, and the protein powder of your choice. (~200 calories)

PB&J Sweet Potato: Bake a small sweet potato or steam in the microwave. A teaspoon each of peanut butter and jelly offer a satisfying sweet fix. (~200 calories)

Savory healthy snacks

Roasted Chickpeas: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss half a cup chickpeas with 1 teaspoon olive oil and your favorite spices. Roast on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes, or until crispy, shaking a few times to prevent sticking. (~150 calories)

Avocado Toast: Top a slice of your favorite whole grain toast with a quarter to a half of an avocado. Garnish with a dash of sea salt and a teaspoon of chia, sesame, or hemp seeds. (~250 calories)

Hummus & Veggies: Slice up your favorite raw vegetables and dip into a quarter cup of hummus for a filling snack. (~200 calories)

Edamame: Heat up frozen edamame. Enjoy a half-cup, shelled, as a filling snack. (~120 calories)

“Cheesy” Popcorn: Place ¼ cup of corn kernels in a brown paper lunch bag. Fold the top of the bag over twice and microwave bag on high in one-minute increments. The popcorn is done when the kernels stop popping. Shake in a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. (~150 calories)

Happy healthy snacking!

How to get a great home workout

Sure, it’s nice to have a fancy treadmill, elaborate elliptical and a studio-style bike in a room that’s larger than the town’s post office, but not everyone is crazy enough to invest in that. What do you do if you just want to get a great workout at home, without spending a lot of money or adding a wing to your house?

It doesn’t require that much for a great home workout!

You can create an effective workout space in a spare room, one-half of your garage, or the corner of your living room. All it takes is a little creativity and a small amount of cash.

Start with a step.

Back in the day, we used steps for cardio (sometimes very choreographed cardio that bordered on modern dance!), but nowadays I use them as much for strength-training and simple set-up aerobic exercises. You can usually find them for less than $100 in sporting goods outlets or online. You’ll need the platform and at least two risers at each end.

Add some weights.

Cardio alone will not shape your body. And it won’t build muscle or keep your metabolism humming along. For that, you’ll need some dumbbells, bars or other heavy things. (Oh no, you’re not saying, “but I don’t want to get bulky!” are you?)
If you’re a beginner, look for 3-5 pound dumbbells, but be prepared to get heavier ones as needed. It doesn’t do any good to use weights that don’t challenge you.

Get a mat and add some extras.

Depending on your floor surface, a mat will probably be critical. You’ll need it for your knees when you start doing push-ups, and for your back as you lie down for ab work.

Other small, portable equipment that makes working out more fun: resistance bands, tubing, small and/or large exercise balls, foam rollers and pull-up bars. And there’s so much more! You’re only limited by your budget and space.

Now what?

To get a great workout at home, simply get out as much equipment as you have on hand, and create a “circuit workout,” by moving from one exercise to another. Turn on some music that motivates you and count the number of exercises you do at each “station,” or set a timer  for 60-90 seconds.

Great Home Workout: The Next Level

Check out Tony Horton’s workout areas at his home! Tony is the creator of the “P90X” series, as well as the brand new “22 Minute Hard Corp” workout. See more about these special workouts, and get me as your coach! I’ll help you along the way with workout tips and nutrition recommendations so you get the results you’re looking for.

Unstuck – 3 Ways to Break Free

We’ve all had times when we feel stuck – in a job, weight loss journey or just in our own minds. It’s easy to get bogged down and feel like we’re spinning our wheels. Instead of getting discouraged, get busy and break free. Here are three ways to get unstuck and move forward.

ONE: Get unstuck in your job.

If your job is unfulfilling, unrewarding or just plain boring, don’t wait for it to change on its own. No matter what your title is, regardless how much authority you think you have, there are steps you can take to improve your worklife. Communication is key. Talk to your supervisor and be honest. Let them know you’re feeling unchallenged and not as productive as you want to be. Ask for more (or less) responsibility, some flexibility in your hours, or whatever you feel would make you a better employee. Afraid they’ll show you the door? If so, do some serious soul-searching about your current job and longterm career. You have the power to make changes happen.

Recommended Resource: The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

TWO: Get unstuck from a weight loss plateau.

If you’ve been trying to lose weight but the scales say the same thing week after week and your clothes aren’t one bit looser, it’s time to change things up. Start by adjusting your nutrition – but don’t immediately think, “Oh no, I have to eat less!” In fact, restricting your calories could make the situation worse.

One eating strategy that works for some people is to “zig zag” your calories. Eat fewer one day, eat a little more the next, but keep your overall caloric intake (average amount for the week) the same.

Another is to shorten your “eating window.” Start by not breaking your fast as early in the morning – that simply means put off eating breakfast a little longer in the morning. At the other end of the day, plan your last meal for earlier in the evening, say, at 6:00 p.m.

If varying your eating patterns doesn’t get you unstuck, change up your exercise routine. Three times a week, do some high intensity interval training or Tabata training. At least two days each week, lift something a lot heavier than your purse! Weight training is the best possible way to speed up your metabolism and get unstuck if your body is hanging on to excess fat.
Get unstuck from a weight loss plateau

Recommended Resource: Podcasts and blog posts by Chalene Johnson

THREE: Get unstuck from your own mind.

Many of us harbor secret, self-limiting beliefs:
• I’m too old, overweight, uncoordinated or undisciplined to get fit.
• I’m not creative, motivated or smart enough to learn new things.
• I’ve never been good at ______ (fill in the blank).
• I always mess up when I try to ______ (whatever that voice in your head says).

The truth is, we’re capable of much more than we think. We let fear of hold us back.
• Fear of the unknown.
• Fear of failure.
• Fear of looking foolish.
Recommended Resource: 3 Tips to Boost Your Confidence

Spring is in the air – time to take action

Spring Cleaning

It’s time to spring into action! With the warmer weather, I plan to start riding my bike, going for hikes, and being outside with my animals. And yeah, maybe I’ll even clean up my mailbox, car and closet while I’m at it. Maybe.

If I’m going to be more active, I could use more energy. And I wouldn’t mind dropping a few pounds of “winter weight.”  You know, the stuff we’ve been hiding under our sweatshirts and baggy sweaters the last few months?

I think it’s time for some “Spring Cleaning” of our eating habits! Are you ready to take action? If so, you’re invited to join me Monday, March 21 for five days of info, support and accountability.

This is an online group, so you can participate from anywhere; all you need is a Facebook account.

For five days, we’ll focus on:
• How to get off the sugar roller coaster
• Which fats are healthiest
• Best sources of lean protein
• How Shakeology curbs your sugar cravings
• 3 ways to lose weight by eating more

I’ll share with you some tips and tools to make eating healthy easier and more fun, including a new app called, Way of Life, that lets you track your daily habits, set goals and reminders, and lets you see your success trends over time.

If you’re interested in jumping in, please visit the Facebook event page, and get in touch with me to get started. I’ll show you how just five days of paying attention to your habits, adding nutrients to your diet through daily Shakeology, and group support can help you make changes in the way you currently eat.

Don’t Wait – Spring is Here!

There’s no better time to lighten up your life, and start eating in a way that gives you solid, happy energy. Not the ups and downs you get from caffeine and sugar, the kind that sustains you through your day and your physical activities.

I’m looking forward to springing forward with you! Please let me know what questions you have or what I can do to help you get started on your spring cleaning.

Don’t die of embarrassment

I had a friend once who hated herself because she was overweight. She tried dieting, exercising fanatically and all kinds of quick fixes … none of which fixed her problem, which was in her mind more than anything else.

The voice in her head told her she wasn’t good enough, wasn’t skinny enough, would never amount to anything. I watched her become bitter about her inability to make changes, and jealous about anyone else who was successful.

Years before I met her she’d been diagnosed with cancer that was treated and in remission. Everyone told her she needed to have annual check-ups to make sure the cancer hadn’t returned.

But here’s the deal: She didn’t want to see her doctor because he weighed her, chided her about her weight, and made her feel even worse about herself.

So she went years without any tests or check-ups. All to avoid her weight issue.

By the time she finally saw a doctor, it was too late. Her cancer had returned and took her life within a few short months after being diagnosed.

Do you avoid check-ups or other self-care strategies because you can’t face your demons? Is your weight keeping you from enjoying your life and feeling good about yourself? Would you rather die of embarrassment than admit you need help?

Don’t let anyone in the medical profession make you feel embarrassed about your weight, lifestyle choices or the way you look. If your healthcare provider lacks empathy and understanding, find a new one who will support you instead of treating you like a child. There are plenty out there who will provide the care you need.

A doctor’s visit should not be a cause for embarrassment.

Are you on a wild ride, too?

Who do you hang out with? Are you surrounded by people who are positive and  adventurous? Remember, we’re the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Maybe it’s time you took a ride on the wild side!

I met this guy 30 years ago and right away he convinced me to get in a 12-foot boat and go out to the San Juan Islands with him. I was a non-swimmer and terrified of the water, so that tells you something about his power of persuasion (or my stupidity).

Not much later, we got married, I quit a perfectly good but slightly boring job, and we opened a scuba diving business and a fitness studio. What?!

Never one to sit still, he started racing sailboats and we soon owned a yacht brokerage. I wasn’t the best first mate, but rode the waves with a smile (sometimes).

Then he got his pilot’s license and I flew all over the region with him, clutching the seat and screaming silently, convinced we couldn’t possibly stay in the air. Those little planes are made out of tinfoil, did you know?!

We’ve been alpaca breeders, Harley riders, backcountry hikers. We traveled to Germany, Japan and Argentina, where neither of us spoke a word of anything but English.

We’re mule owners and cat lovers and we run a retirement home for chickens. We work out together every day. And we see a boat load of movies.

Life has never been dull. It’s one wild ride.

Weights and Sagi are what I needed

Sagi, Master of the Weights

I’ll be honest: I never thought I’d work out with somebody whose arms were bigger around than my hips. But here I am, spending 30 to 40 minutes every morning with this guy, Sagi –  my newest workout buddy.

Lifting heavy weights, as Sagi demonstrates on my screen, is making me:
a) hungrier – because my metabolism is faster
b) leaner – because I’m burning body fat
c) taller – I swear it’s true.  🙂

Pick up those weights

Sagi is part-creator of the home fitness program, Hammer and Chisel, from Beachbody. (The other half of the equation is the Chiseler, Autumn.) I didn’t think I’d like it, being the cardio-junkie, quickly bored, twitchy thing that I am. But after just a few days I discovered that using heavier weights, going slower and following Sagi through some crazy-hard exercises makes me feel great. A little sore, a little tired, but great.

I used to think that weight-training would involve hours every week in my gym, but actually the newer programs are designed for busy people like me (and probably you!). The exercises are carefully chosen, using more than one muscle group to get the most out of your time. Each workout in the Hammer and Chisel series focuses on something different: fast-twitch muscles, power, strength, agility, etc. I love the variety and the challenge.

Weight training is what I’ve needed, I can see that now. I want to be strong for many years to come, and I’m not going to get that from using 8-pound dumbbells or doing two hours of Zumba.

Bring it on, Sagi!

Refreshing My Body & Brain

I’m finishing the 3-Day Refresh and am very happy with the results. I usually schedule a Refresh every few months — the beginning of a new year seemed like a perfect time.

What I love about it:
* It prompts me to plan out my meals and snacks for the three days.
* I bought fresh organic produce and cut and portioned it out for the three days.
* I actually love the taste of the Vanilla Fresh, although not everyone does!
* Drinking vegan formula Shakeology make me feel satisfied but light.
* Unlike a juice cleanse, you get to chew real food several times a day!
* I never feel hungry on the Refresh. It’s well-designed and proven to work.
* It helps me rediscover the fact I feel better when I don’t overeat.
* My brain is so much clearer. I’m able to focus and concentrate.
* I’m more productive and energetic. No more sluggishness.
* My clothes feel more comfortable. What’s not to love about that?

If you’d like more details on the 3-Day Refresh, just get in touch. I’d be happy to walk you through the program, and offer ideas for blending the shakes and choosing your meals.

A chicken lesson

A couple days ago the neighbor’s dog carried off my little rooster, Bob. I chased him across our 10 acre field, threw rocks, screamed obscenities and did everything I could to intervene. But then the dog and chicken disappeared and I thought it was over. Just as I turned to leave, I heard a tiny squawk and saw Bob under a pile of lumber with the dog on him. I dug him out, wrapped him up in my shirt and carried him home. He’s fine, minus a few missing tail feathers.

How does this incident relate to fitness and health? Because a lot of us give up too soon. We work hard at getting in shape, eliminating unhealthy food from our diets, exercising every day for what seems like forever — and we still aren’t where we want to be (ie. perfect?). We get discouraged. We tell ourselves, “see? this never works.” And we slide back into the bad habits that got is here in the first place.

Think about it. Sometimes things get tough and we give up too soon. But you never know when your rooster (or success and happiness) is right around the corner.

Bone Up on Bone Strength

My husband and I have this joke that if I fall and break my hip, he’s going to just pack me off to the nursing home because it’ll be all over. Unfortunately, it’s no joke. Women between age 65 and 69 who break a hip are five times more likely to die within one year, than women of the same age who don’t break a hip.

That’s a higher mortality risk than breast or cervical cancer combined, but we aren’t wearing pink ribbons or doing marathons about it. In fact, I’ll bet most of us seldom think about our bone strength. If you’re at risk of osteoporosis (loss of bone density), you should ask your physician for a test.

How Does Hip Fracture Lead to Death?

Recovery from a hip fracture requires immobility, and immobility can easily lead to infections, blood clots and poor nutrition that diminishes overall health. In fact, women are most likely to die within the first three months after hip surgery, when they are most immobilized.

Exercise Your Options

The three types of exercise that will strengthen your bones are:
• Weight-bearing
Walking, hiking, dancing, stair climbing
• Resistance
Free weights or weight machines, bands and tubes, water aerobics
• Flexibility
Regular stretches, T’ai chi, yoga

Make an Impact

One type exercise that’s often overlooked is something we do regularly in our workouts at Encore Fitness: add impact by hopping, jumping and jogging in place. These activities create forces that move through your bones and help them build density.

Add Mixed-Up Movement

If you’re able to add even more challenge, add activities that have you moving from side to side and forward and back. Tennis is a good example, but you can also incorporate those moves into any exercise program.

Recommended Fitness Programs

There are several home fitness programs that help improve your bone strength:
• 21 Day Fix includes a variety of “plyometrics” (activities that have you hopping off the floor, even if not very high).

• PiYo, a program inspired by Pilates and yoga, not only increases your flexibility, but also strengthens bones and muscles through resistance exercises.

• Tai Cheng, a mix of Chinese martial arts for whole body health.

For more information about any of these at-home programs, or my workouts at Encore Fitness, send a message. I can help you get started, progress slowly and safely, and answer your questions about the best exercises for bone strength.

Nutrition is Vital, Too

Your food choices play an important part in the health of your body, brain and bones. To prevent osteoporosis, you should be getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D.  If you aren’t sure you’re getting the right nutrients for the best bone strength, let me know.