Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Zig- Zags 101

"3 minutes strength training, 2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute abs, why? It is the most effective way to burn calories, burn fat and build lean muscle mass." -Jillian Michael's-30 Day shred (OK, I love her, she's tough and she knows her stuff!) These are the "zig- zags" I have used and found success with. I think it is always good to have some helpful ideas, things real people have tried and found their own success with. Again, finding what works best for you is what is most important.

Zig- Zag 1:For a long time, I was just running and running everyday, which is fine, but it wasn't until I added strength training and intervals to the mix that I started getting better results with my fitness goals. Two of my most favorite workout DVD's are Jillian Michael's 30 day shred and Jillian Michael's "No more trouble zones". The great thing about "the 30 day shred"is it is only 20 minutes and there are 3 different level workouts you can do, and I started seeing results with all of them,pretty quick. I did the "30 day shred" for 30 days, combined with cardio and pilates and got to my lowest weight. I have now added "No More Trouble Zones" to the mix 3-4 days a week and I feel like I am getting tighter and more toned all over. It has combination moves that work your abs EVERY TIME-(abs-big problem area, for many of us,and if it isn't, consider yourself extremely lucky!) It is 40 minutes, but you can break it up into individual circuits if you don't have time to do the whole thing. Or I like to mix up the order of the circuits to break it up if it starts to feel monotonous. Most importantly, however, keep at it and not quit. I mean, really, one of my biggest frustrations is when some of those "trouble zones" just don't seem to go away completely no matter what I do. But I will keep at it. I think my next thing to research will be self acceptance and being completely happy with myself. How does one get there? I wish I knew. I want to stop always finding something I don't like about myself. I know I have come a long way, but it is still a struggle for me all the time. Anyway, back to the "No More Trouble Zones" DVD, don't let the first circuit (after the warm up, of course) scare you off, if you can get through that, you can do the rest. It is really hard, I won't lie, but it's worth it. I absolutely love this DVD! I love them both, it's like my own little road map to strength training. Before I found these little gems I didn't know where to start or what exercises to do. It shows you exactly how to do the exercises and what muscles the particular circuits are training. What's even better, you can do this on your own at home! Jillian also constantly reminds you to remember as you are doing it,think about all the things you want for yourself and why you are doing it so that it is something positive and not something you dread doing.

Zig- Zag 2: Cardio Intervals: I have been reading up on why intervals help you lose weight faster and why they are so effective. They help build endurance and burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Staying at a steady pace is not as effective and it doesn't challenge your body as much. (Although, I do want to add, I still like to do an hour's worth of cardio because I just feel better, and I enjoy running and you will get results that way as well. It's just good to mix it up and give your body a challenge). My sister has a friend that went to a body building contest in Las Vegas and won by running 20 minutes of moderate speeds for (I think) 2 minutes at about 5 mph, then short bursts of a speed as high as you can go, and repeat, and 6 days a week of strength training (but also a very, very strict diet) I have also found some good incline speed interval workouts that are programmed on most treadmills. There are sample interval workouts you can find on the Internet, or sometimes what I have done is just mix it up to what I am feeling up to that day. Unfortunately, the incline hurts my knees too, so I have to watch that one. The great thing here is that it doesn't have to be complicated. We are all capable of pushing ourselves. When Jillian Michaels trains you in cardio, she says she wants you to "feel like you are going to die" then you know it is working!

Zig -Zag 3: The Calorie Zig-zag: If you decide to go the counting calorie route, to lose or even to maintain, an effective tool of you have hit that all too familiar plateau is to zig- zag your calories because it constantly "tricks" your body by constantly changing calories: Here is an example I found on the internet of a 7 day calorie zig-zag for fat loss: Monday-1653 Tuesday:1322 Wednesday:1983 Thursday:1653 Friday: 1488 Saturday: 1818 Sunday: 1653. This one is a good starting point, and you can lessen the calories for a more extreme fat loss.

So, basically, just having a plan,staying with it and mixing it up, will help you get the results you want! Of all the "plans" I have had, this is what has worked the best for me!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sweet Holiday Temptations

No, this is not the title to a romance novel I am working on, it's something much,much lighter. One thing that I look forward to and also causes me stress around the holidays, are all the treats and family dinners. I enjoy them a lot, but don't want to gain 5 pounds in the process. I looked on the Internet the other night on one of my random searches about ways to avoid gaining weight over the holidays. Jenny Craig's holiday commercial with Valerie Bertinelli talks about how to lose 12 pounds over the holidays. Sure, that's all fine and good if you want to eat prepackaged meals the rest of your life. But I want to learn these things using my own recipes and my own food. I don't think it is realistic or any fun at all to go to holiday functions and not eat anything. So, I found a list of easy ways to prevent holiday weight gain that I really liked because it was just practical,good common sense. I found this on About.com

1. Practice Portion Control: All things in moderation. Keep your serving sizes in check at all times and you really can enjoy your favorite holiday treats without gaining weight.

2. Take a Walk: Stay active during the holidays and those extra pounds won't creep up on you. A 30-minute brisk walk outside, if weather permits, or hitting the mall for a workout before it opens, can do wonders for the waistline.

3. Plan Smarter Meals: Try some new ways to make your holiday meals healthier. Small changes can add up to a big difference. It's as simple as adding a serving of steamed vegetables or just choosing fruit instead of desserts that can save hundreds of calories.

4. Cope With Cravings: Food cravings are part of life. If you can't avoid food cravings, the best way to fight back is to be prepared with an alternative activity to eating.

5. Don't Give Up: The worst thing you can do when it comes to weight management during the holidays is to give into the all-or-nothing thinking and keep making bad choices once you've made a mistake.Don't throw in the towel because of a few slip-ups!

I am all about finding substitutions to the real thing to keep me on track during the week, and then when special holiday occasions come up, I don't over do it. In Lisa Lillien's book: Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World, she includes a Holiday Hot List and a Holiday Not List:

Holiday HOT List!

Choose these guilt-free goodies at your next holiday party. . .

Shrimp cocktail (4 jumbo shrimp w/1 Tbs. cocktail sauce=75 calories and 1g fat)

Candy Canes (1 cane=60 calories and 0g fat)

Chicken or Beef skewers (1 skewer=100 calories and 3g fat)

Raw veggies with salsa (1 cup veggies w/1/4 cup salsa=55 calories and 0.5 g fat)

Holiday NOT List!

Eggnog (1 cup=400 calories and 20g fat!)

Hot cocoa (1 cup w/ whipped cream=200 calories and 10g fat!)

Assorted chocolates (3 pieces=200 calories and 11g fat!)

Cookies (1 chocolate chip cookie=210 calories and 13g fat!)

Cake (1 small slice of chocolate cake=340 calories and 14g fat!)

My own personal feeling is that you simply can't go the whole entire holiday season without having your favorite treats, even when watching your calories. What's the fun in that? Most of the time, just use your common sense and you will be fine. For me, I find it works best if there are a bunch of holiday events coming up, to just pick one or two of them to have dessert, and skip it other times. Or, if I really want the dessert, keep the dinner light. Some holiday treats have special traditional meaning to me, so I save those. Why give those up when I don't have to? I'm sure we all have our favorite traditions that include our favorite treats. For example. I used to go every year with my dad to get a Christmas tree at Fred Parker lots, followed by hot chocolate on the way home. It's one of my favorite Christmas memories. So when I go get my tree this year, I will get me some hot chocolate and when I want hot chocolate other times, I stick to the no sugar added kind, it's only 25-50 calories a cup (depending on what kind you get) and it keeps me on track. Anyway, my point is, I like to substitute when I can, and other times, enjoy having the real thing. I think if you have a good plan, you can stay on track, no matter what the plan is. Another good rule to follow especially during this holiday season is to do what my mom's "He-Woman" aerobics instructor said and that is, if you feel you may have indulged a little too much, just do an extra exercise session in the evening to make up for it. I think my favorite survival tip that Lisa Lillien gives in regards to holiday parties is: Wear fitted party clothes. Doing so will help keep you from shamelessly stuffing too much food down your gullet!

Here are a few holiday recipes from Lisa Lillien that I like:

Freakishly Good Frozen Hot Chocolate

58 calories (entire recipe)


One 25-calorie diet hot cocoa mix

1/4 cup light vanilla soymilk

1/2 ounce sugar-free calorie-free syrup (white chocolate or vanilla)

1 tsp. sugar-free chocolate syrup

2 no-calorie sweetener packets

2 tbs. Fat free Reddi Whip

5 to 8 ice cubes or 1 c. crushed ice


Place hot cocoa mix, chocolate syrup, and sweetener in a glass, and stir in 3 ounces of hot water. Next, add soy milk and sugar-free syrup and stir again. Place a mix in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes or until cool. Pour mix into a blender and add ice. Blend on the highest speed for a bout 45 seconds or until well blended. Pour into a tall mug. Finish off with whipped topping. Makes 1 serving

No-Nonsense Nog

1 cup=98 calories


5 cups light vanilla soy milk

1 small (4-serving) sugar-free fat free vanilla instant pudding mix

6 no-calorie sweetener packets

1 tsp. imitation rum extract

1/2 tsp. nutmeg


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until mixed thoroughly. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow nog to thicken. Makes 5 servings