Archive for February, 2021

EATING WELL AND EXERCISE: IS THERE ANYTHING TO UNCOVER??

Here’s an ideal situation for me as a personal trainer and nutritionist:  A new client comes to me and wants to start eating well and exercising. We start talking about healthy food v. not-so-healthy food and I discover that this person simply doesn’t know much about nutrition. She doesn’t know that there is a difference between starchy and non-starchy vegetables. She doesn’t know that there are different kinds of fats and that saturated fats are not good for her heart.  She doesn’t know what fiber is, how it affects the body, and where to find fiber sources. Once I lay it all out, she changes her diet, gets healthier, maybe loses a few pounds, and feels so much better! The same scenario happens with exercise. I review the different types of exercise, and the physiological benefits. She takes it in, and starts moving. WOO-HOO!

Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Most of my clients know a lot about good nutrition and exercise but have issues with implementation. My job is to help them slowly change their behavior to create new, healthier habits. It’s not easy but IS doable and it works.

If a client gets stuck and can’t make progress no matter what we come up with, my first question to them is, “Is there an underlying issue that we need to uncover?” Often time the answer is yes.

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of denial. When something bad happens, my first knee-jerk reaction is “OH I’M FINE.” I say this with conviction, even when I’m far from okay. I’ve learned, over the years, to recognize this, and try to shatter the façade quickly, so I can face what’s really bothering me. It is NOT easy. Having said this, I’m able to see the same pattern with my clients. It is so much easier to focus on diet and exercise than it is to face deeper problems such as loneliness, unhealthy relationships, regret, grief, past trauma, or anxiety. If these suppressed feelings never come to the surface, I know with certainty, that diet and exercise behavior surely won’t change.

If you think you’ll feel happier eating better, losing weight and being a consistent exerciser but can’t seem to shift your behavior over time, you have to dig deeper. It is likely that there is an underlying issue waiting to come out. Reach out to a professional. Any good nutritionist or trainer will recognize if something is out of their scope of practice. Often, therapy is a great option to consider. Ironically, when we are brave enough to face our demons and let them come out, the diet and exercise problems resolve.

Bottomline: If you’re stuck and frustrated, stop spinning your wheels. Instead, be open and curious and ask yourself if there is anything to uncover.

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PHYLLIS’S CHICKEN VEGETABLE SOUP

I have a friend, Phyllis, who is 86 years old and still cooking up a storm! Her original recipe was for vegetable soup. I wanted a heartier soup so I added chicken and beans. If you want to keep this vegetarian, eliminate the chicken and use vegetable broth. You can also add any vegetables that you love. It is DELICIOUS!!

ingredients

1 pint roasted grape tomatoes, halved

3 T extra virgin olive oil, divided

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon, Italian seasoning

1 onion, chopped 

5 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 red or yellow pepper, chopped

3-4 springs fresh thyme

1 ½ lbs skinless chicken parts (breast, thighs, legs) with bones

parmesan rind (optional)

1/3 cup frozen sweet corn

1/3 cup frozen petite peas

1, 15-ounce canned beans (black, cannellini, great northern, etc)

2 quarts vegetable or chicken broth

3 cups fresh spinach, chopped

directions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place tomatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning, Roast for about 20 minutes and stir. Keep roasting another 20 minutes until tomatoes are soft and have begun to shrivel. Remove from oven and set aside.

Drain canned beans of liquid and rinse under cool water, set aside.

In a large stockpot, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, red pepper and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Add thyme sprigs. Simmer partially covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, and bring to a boil. Add chicken and parmesan rind. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes.

Add peas, corn, and roasted tomatoes. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Add canned beans and cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove chicken parts from stockpot. Shred chicken with two forks. Discard thyme sprigs, and parmesan rind. Add shredded chicken back to the pot. Then add spinach to wilt and serve.

(Adapted from a recipe from Phyllis Marcus)

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BEST EVER OVEN ROASTED GREEN BEANS

I love roasting vegetables but never found a green bean recipe that I loved…….until this one. It must be the combination of the lemon and capers! It’s my new favorite!!

ingredients

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons capers

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

directions

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scatter the green beans on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Top with oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper. Use your hands, or kitchen tongs, to massage the ingredients together and coat the beans with oil.

Roast the green beans in oven for 10-15 minutes, shaking the pan once halfway through, until the beans are tender and lightly browned.

(recipe found on https://thewanderlustkitchen.com/)

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WHO HAS BEEN DIPPING INTO MY CHOCOLATE JAR??

I have a jar full of dark chocolate in my kitchen.

Now before I continue, I have to tell you how I came to have a chocolate jar. About 5 years ago, I was eating way too much sugar in the form of candy. I loved the candy that most adults don’t like: Swedish fish, hard candies, toffies, jelly beans, licorice, sour gummies, tootsie rolls, Mary Janes—you get the picture. For me, eating all of this sugar had two big downfalls:  First, the more sugar I ate the more sugar I wanted. Second, all of this candy was ruining my teeth. (My father, MY DENTIST at the time, can verify!)  I had to stop. The first few days were extremely rough (ok, agony!), but I survived.

I decided I couldn’t live life without SOMETHING delicious in my daily life, so I turned to dark chocolate. I wanted to have the least amount of sugar with still having a lot enjoyment and satisfaction. After buying several brands with different cocoa percentages, I was sold on Lindt 78% cocoa and Endangered Species Strong + Velvety Dark Chocolate with 88% cocoa. These two brands went into my chocolate jar. Life was good!!

Lately, I noticed that the chocolate in my jar seemed to be disappearing rather quickly. I would fill it up only to find out it almost empty a day or two later. My husband never dips into my jar and given that it’s just the two of us living here, what was going on???  

Of course, I want to say, “IT WAS A MOUSE!”, but it was just ME. I am the culprit. Somewhere along the way (let’s blame the pandemic), I’ve become less mindful of my chocolate consumption. While it’s great that this chocolate is low in sugar, if I eat enough of it, it will add up. And, of course, the more sugar I eat, the more sugar I will want to eat. To get myself back on track, I now pull out a serving for the day, and that is that. So far it’s working. I’m realizing how much more I have been eating.

I wanted to tell this story for two reasons. First, all of us have lapses—even the most disciplined. That’s because we are all so gloriously human! Second, every now and then we might have to go back and re-visit portion sizes. Especially with foods like nuts, cheese, chips, and, um, chocolate! I’m sure I won’t have to be this vigilant for forever, but for now, I just need the reminder. Maybe you do, too, with something???

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EXERCISE IN THE PANDEMIC: DO IT ON YOUR TERMS

Since the pandemic began, I have seen all kinds of changes in exercise habits.  Some of my clients feel that exercise is easier now that they’re at home. Others have found it excruciating to get motivated. I know I’m stating the obvious but if you are stuck and can’t seem to get going, you have to figure out what will work for you.

Recently, one of my clients found a way to finally get into a routine after months of stagnation. For her, scheduling an activity and putting it on her calendar was key. Whether it was a private zoom session with me, or a walk with a friend–the activity went on her calendar. In the beginning of the pandemic, she was able to join one of my on-line zoom fitness classes. As time passed, she found the timing of the class restricting. The compromise was for me to send her the recording of the class and for her to do it at her convenience. (Yup, it went on the calendar.) She so eloquently said, “I just had to do it on my terms.”

Some people need more flexibility. Others need a set plan. The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong way to exercise or keep moving. My advice? Have an open mind and start experimenting. See what works for you. You might find that you actually DO enjoy an on-line zoom class, even though you have been resistant to the idea. By contrast, you might discover that the only thing that works for you is bundling up and walking outside. If you figure out what works for you, you will set yourself up for consistency. And that will feel wonderful!

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