Archive for October, 2012

ARE YOUR BALLS HARD?

What are you thinking? I’m taking about Swiss Balls–the exercise balls that are great for core strengthening and can enhance posture. However, they need to be very firm. The whole point of the ball is to create instability so that the core muscles need to work. If you want to replace your desk chair with a Swiss Ball and the ball is mushy, you will sink right into it. It will be far more stable than a more inflated one.

Look at these two photos. To me, this first ball is not inflated enough. You can see that it has a lot of give. This exercise would be far more challenging if it were more inflated. This one, on the other hand, is perfect. You can see that this ball has very little give making this push up extremely grueling!

So, if you’re going to take the plunge and get one of these balls, make sure they’re nice and hard. And get your mind out of the gutter.  Geez!

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DREAM LOSS

This beautiful passage was written by a client of mine who recently suffered a miscarriage:

Dream Loss

A miscarriage is the loss of a collective dream. The dream of the parents to be,  shared by the grandparents, uncles, aunts & all the close friends who care about them.
Big plans for small socks, painting the nursery & hats with ears all die the minute a tiny heart stops.
The mother or ‘Vessel of the Dream’ once so sure of her immediate future and all the possibilities it holds finds that her calendar has opened wide up. Instead of a 9 month countdown the months now seem without end, a dull eternity. It’s as if you were all prepared for Christmas and it suddenly got cancelled this year. Mean.
The appeal of fitting into skinny jeans and sipping cocktails again is a small but welcome consolation.
The game of chance they call ‘Trying To Conceive’ begins again. Late periods that amount to nothing but dashed hopes each month await. Speculation, expectation, hope, possibility, & disappointment mix together and become hard to swallow
as time keeps on ticking away.
The father suffers silently alongside his beloved careful not to disturb or add more pressure to the fragile Vessel.

My client remains optimistic, the miscarriage proving that at least she can get pregnant as she has friends who are struggling. She prefers to discuss the experience with others that have gone through it. Sometimes it is best just to listen.

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SEARED SCALLOPS WITH PINE NUT SPINACH

Seared Scallops with Pine Nut Spinach

ingredients

1 T olive oil

1 lb fresh sea scallops, patted dry

2 T Wondra Flour

¼ t salt

¼ t pepper

¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 medium shallot, minced

1 ½ lbs fresh baby spinach, washed

1/8-1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

2 T toasted pine nuts (see note below)

directions

Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Add the salt and pepper. Dredge the scallops in the flour mixture. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the scallops to the pan and sear the scallops for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Turn and sear the other side for 2-3 minutes. Set the scallops on a plate; tent with foil to keep them warm.

Add the chicken broth to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits and cook for 30 seconds. Add the shallot and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the spinach and, with tongs, turn the spinach until it just wilts and before it releases too much liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the toasted pine nuts and crushed red pepper flakes and lightly loss. Serve with the scallops over a bed of the spinach.

NOTE: To toast the pine nuts, simply place them in a non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Shake the skillet frequently to ensure even browning—the pine nuts are small and full of rich oil, and will burn quickly if you don’t watch carefully. When the nuts are fragrant and browned, take the pan off the heat.

(Adapted from a recipe found in Diabetes Forecast, September, 2012)

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DO IT FOR THE BRAIN!

Did anyone see 60 Minutes this past weekend? One of the featured stories  was on Steven Spielberg. During the segment, Spielberg’s parents were interviewed. I was struck by Spielberg’s mother………….this woman is in her 90’s and is sharp as a tack. I thought to myself “My God……..I want to be like her when I grow up!”

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, there was a small article entitled “Exercise Might Beat Puzzles For Protecting the Aging Brain.” In essence it said, screw the crossword puzzles and go out and move your body. Unfortunately, our brains shrink as we age but “researchers found that higher levels of physical activity were associated with less brain atrophy, or shrinkage, and less brain damage.”

It’s hard to know what will be important to us in the future. Our priorities change. Think about what was important to you 15-20 years ago vs. what’s important to you now. While I’m not sure what will be on my radar in 20-30 years, I somehow think that having a sharp mind will be very valuable.

So screw the quest for rock-hard abs, a tighter butt, and Michelle Obama arms. We need to exercise for our brains!

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TO TOOT OR NOT TO TOOT?…..THAT IS THE QUESTION

I never met my husband’s mom, Charlotte, as she passed away before we were together. However, I love hearing stories about his mother and one of things that she apparently said was “Self praise stinks.” I like this. However, I also think that every now and then, we need to toot our own horns.

I am now going to toot: My husband’s favorite thing to eat is homemade apple pie. I hate making him a pie. Putting aside the “unhealthy factor”, it’s a pain in the neck. However, I figured out how to make a pie with ease: recruit my children. My daughter peels the apples, my son chops them, I make the crust, and the pie is done in what seems like minutes.

The other day, I got the pie request. As the children are in college, I was stuck doing this by myself.  So I made that f’ing pie. And I left it on the counter for him with a note:

Forgive me, Charlotte, but that felt good!

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MOROCCAN COUSCOUS WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Moroccan Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash 

ingredients

2 cups butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 medium onion diced

1 T olive oil

1 cup water

¼ t cayenne pepper

¾ t cumin

¾ t cinnamon

2/3 cup couscous

¼ t salt

¼ cup raisins

2 T golden raisins

1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

¼ cup sliced almonds

directions

Preheat the oven to 4500F. Toss the squash and the onion with 1 T of olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 20-25 minutes turning 1-2 times.

In a medium saucepan, heat the water on medium-high heat. Add the cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil, add the raisins and chickpeas and stir. Then add the couscous, stir and cover. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Remove the squash and onion from the oven and toss with the couscous mixture. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds and serve.

(Adapted from a recipe found in “Women’s Heath”, October, 2012)

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IT’S A LIE!

When it comes to exercise, I see a common mistake that people make over and over: They think they can eat way more after exercise due to all of those calories burned. There are two problems here:

1. If you are using the caloric expenditure from cardio machines, they lie. Ok, I’ll be nicer………they are NOT accurate. This past weekend I was in a gym in Minnesota and only had time for a 30-minute workout. After 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer, the machine said this:

However, I always use a heart-rate monitor that has my height, weight, and age stored and funny, but it said this:

Even though I entered this same information into the machine, it still lied!

2. Many people don’t have a good grasp on calories. While the recommended amount of calories to burn during a workout is about 300, it is VERY easy to put those 300 calories back in. Consider this:

  • A Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks (“grande” with 2% milk and no whipped cream) has 310 calories
  • A medium avocado has 275 calories.
  • A small handful of raw almonds (2 oz) has 328 calories.
  • A small popcorn that you get at the movies (NO butter) has about 400 calories.

All of these are not that hard to incorporate in your diet during the course of the day.

So please ignore the calories burned on the cardio machines and watch what goes in!

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