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We could all use some more junk in our trunk!

Ahhh……..aging ya gotta love it! NO really, cause there’s not a lot of choices. So in addition to scheduling your colonoscopy, joining AARP and meeting with your retirement planner. You need to start working on your glutes. You know the junk in your trunk!

IMPORTANCE OF STRONG GLUTES

Moving from a sitting to a standing position, propelling yourself forward when you’re walking, climbing stairs or avoiding a fall after slipping all require hip extension. The primary muscle responsible for this movement, gluteus maximus.

As we age we lose muscle mass, strength and power. Only part of this is due to the natural aging process; the quantity of loss depends on your activity level and the exercises you incorporate into your workouts. While many exercises like squats, lunges and deadlifts work the glutes to a certain degree.  It’s not enough.

EXERCISES, SETS AND REPS  

In the video and workout below, I’ll run you through several exercises that target the glutes. To insure you improve all the facets of this muscle,  change the number of repetitions you perform and the load you use. If you have a history of low back problems or any pre-existing conditions that might be aggravated by starting an exercise program check with you physician before trying these.

Exercises Targeting The Glutes (click link to view video)

Week 1: 2 sets of 15 repetitions (2 x15) frogs, bridging (2 x a week)

Week 2:  2 sets of 20 repetitions (2 x 20) frogs, bridging (2 x a week)

Week 3: 3 x 20 frogs, bridging (2 x a week)

Week 4: 2 x 10 weighted frogs, single leg bridging (2 x a week)

Week 5 and on: Slowly work up to 3 x 20, and once you’re there increase the weight. Also add a third exercise, bird dogs, starting with 2-3 x 10 and continue performing the exercises 2 x a week.

 

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  • Intensity beats volume, make sure you’re contracting and squeezing the glutes at the top of the movement.
  • Don’t go overboard with the weight! How much you increase the weight depends on your medical history and training level. Remember, it’s better to go too light then too heavy.
  • Utilize these lifts at the end of the workout
  • If it doesn’t feel right—STOP!

As usual, if you have any questions let me know.

 

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Simple, Fast and Filling!

Simple and filling

It’s Monday what did you have for breakfast? Maybe you got up late, the kids were cranky and slow to get out of bed and pushed your schedule over the edge or you just didn’t want to fix anything and dirty up the kitchen and dishes. I get it. Here’s a breakfast that takes just a few seconds to prepare, has virtually no cleanup, is easy to transport and will stick with you while you rocket through your day

Why plain Greek yogurt? Simple, it’s higher in protein and since it’s plain you can control how much sugar you consume. Give it try and let me know what you think.

 

Ingredients

1 cup FAGE Plain Greek Yogurt (either 2% or total) topped with 1 teaspoon Turbinado Sugar

¼ cup of salted cashews

1 small handful raisins or craisins

1 large wedge of marbled Monterey Jack and Colby cheese

 

Dinner and then some!

I found this recipe on Girls Gone Strong and made a few changes. This is perfect for those nights when you’re in a hurry to get something on the table and it makes a lot which cuts down on lunch prep later in the week.

Ingredients

2 pounds ground beef (80% lean, 20% fat)

2 eggs

1 can stewed Italian tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano

1 small can of mushrooms

½ – 1 cup of old fashioned oats (stops shrinkage)

1-yellow onion diced

Extras: diced olives, diced peppers (any type), pizza sauce

Shredded Parmesan Cheese to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Combine ground beef, eggs, ½ liquid from stewed tomatoes, oats, onions , mushrooms, and peppers, in a large bowl and mix with a hand mixer.
  3. Once you’ve got a homogeneous mixture, spread it out in an 11”x 17” baking pan that has at least a one-inch rim.Lunchleftovers1
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, until it’s cooked through.Lunchleftovers2
  5. Take it out and drain the excess grease.
  6. Sprinkle the top with tomatoes, the rest of the liquid in the can, parmesan cheese and if you want pizza sauce. I don’t use it as I feel like the stewed tomatoes and cheese is enough for me.Lunchleftovers3
  7. Place back in the oven and broil on high for 5-9 minutes until its golden brown.Lunchleftovers4
  8. Cut it up and serve over the top of my summer veggies with avocado or on a broccoli or spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette. It also works great paired with sides of green beans and carrots.Lunchleftovers9

lunchleftovers12

If you do take this for lunch, make sure you warm it up to really bring out the all the flavors of the meat, spices and veggies.

What is functional fitness?

The term functional fitness is the new, hot term in exercise. But, what is it, why do you  need it and how do you get it?

First—What is it?

Functional Fitness is the ability to perform common tasks and activities confidently and without fear of injury. For example, moving furniture; picking up luggage; lifting up a child for a hug or moving a bag of mulch from the driveway to a flower bed; all of these common activities require squatting in an unloaded position, grasping a load and then standing up. In short, they’re all examples of a deadlift. (more on this later)

 

Second-Why do I need it?

At some point in your life you’re going to want or need to move a piece of furniture, pick up some luggage, interact with a child or move something from point A to point B.

Now, think back about when you’ve asked a friend or family member how they hurt their back you probably heard something like:

“My neighbor and I were moving furniture.”

“I was playing with the grandkids.”

“Yard work”

Face it, life’s a contact sport. Meaning, at some point you’re going to come into contact with something you need to lift, scoot, shift,  relocate, transfer, reposition, move, raise (get we’re I’m going with this) and you need to be ready.

Third–How do I get it?

Performing exercises that mimic real life movements. To do this, I’d recommend incorporating dumbbell deadlifts into your current workout. As with any exercise program/recommendation, check with your physician to make sure this lift is appropriate for you.

This is a great exercise but don’t overdo it. Start with one set of fifteen repetitions (abbreviation 1 x 15). Make the weight challenging but you should be able to complete all repetitions with perfect form. Once, 15 repetitions isn’t challenging increase the weight by 5-10 lbs. When you increase the weight you are going to decrease the number of repetitions to 10. Why? More weight = more work! Slowly work up to 15 repetitions and then increase the weight again.

In addition to performing more reps you can also perform 2 or even 3 sets of this exercise. Once you can perform 1 set of 15 repetitions, add another set. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets. The first time you repeat a set you might find that you only get 10 reps—no problem! Your goal is increased strength with perfect form not completing 15 repetitions anyway, anyhow no matter what the cost.

Click on the link below to watch the video and then start utilizing deadlifts in your training. As always, if you have any questions let me know!

Dumbell Deadlifts: This video starts with a quick review of how to squat as this is a key component of successful deadlifts. So don’t worry if you hit the link your in the right place. Also, in regards to foot position some people find it more comfortable to have the feet pointing straight ahead so when you practicing if slightly pointing the toes outward feels uncomfortable try it with your feet pointing straight ahead.

Bring on Breakfast!

oatmeal breakfast

I love breakfast! Eggs are great and oatmeal is the perfect side dish. It’s healthy, inexpensive and easy to fix. However, my secret ingredient in this dish is cottage cheese (12 grams of protein/serving). Don’t turn up your nose so fast! Research shows that adding protein increases thermogenesis (calorie expenditure), satiety and decreases hunger. More importantly, it tastes great!

Recently I tried this as a one bowl meal and it really hit the spot and got me out of the house in record time. The directions to prepare both of these are listed below give them a try and let me know what you think. You might have to add 2 teaspoons of sugar in the one bowl recipe depending on your sweet tooth as the eggs hide the flavor with just one. However, one teaspoon works just fine for me.

one bowl breakfast

Don’t like eggs no problem, don’t add them. However make sure to add ¼ of a tablespoon of real butter, this slows digestion insuring the meal stays with you and only adds a little bit of fat (2-3 grams).

Omelet and Oatmeal

Ingredients

-1/2 tablespoon olive oil

-2 eggs plus 3 egg whites

-1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

-lots of pepper

-fresh avocado

-1/2 cup old fashioned oats

-1 cup water

-1-2 teaspoons turbinado cane sugar

-1/2 cup 4% milk fat small curd cottage cheese

-small handful of raisins

Directions

  1. Crack eggs in bowl, remove 3 yolks and mix well so liquid has even consistency.
  2. Add oil to skillet and turn stove to medium high (let skillet warm before adding eggs).
  3. Pour eggs into skillet, if you wait for the oil and skillet to warm, the egg mix will spread thinly and evenly across the skillet, making it easier to fold and flip your omelet.
  4. Add a ¼ of a cup of shredded parmesan and lots of pepper
  5. Once the bottom of the egg mix is solid, fold ½ of it over to make your omelet.
  6. Cook for one to two minutes more and then flip and cook on 1-2 minutes on this side to insure omelet is cooked evenly throughout. When down, slide out of skillet and onto a plate, top with avocado.
  7. Add 1 cup of water and a ½ cup of old fashioned oats to a small pot.
  8. Turn stove to high and bring to a boil, turn burner to medium and simmer uncovered for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally so oats don’t stick or burn.
  9. Remove from heat and let it sit for a minute or two. Add cottage cheese, turbinado sugar and mix well.
  10. Pour oatmeal into bowl, arrange raisins in smiley face and dive in.

 

One Bowl Recipe

Ingredients

-1/2 tablespoon olive oil

-2 eggs plus 3 egg whites

-1/2 cup old fashioned oats

-1 cup water

-1-2 teaspoons turbinado cane sugar

-1/2 cup 4% milk fat small curd cottage cheese

-small handful of raisins

-1/4 tablespoon of butter if not adding eggs

Directions

  1. Crack eggs in bowl, remove 3 yolks and mix well so liquid has even consistency.
  2. Add oil to skillet and turn stove to medium high (let skillet warm before adding eggs). Wait a minute of two for oil and skillet to warm
  3.  Pour egg mix into skillet move eggs so they cook but don’t brown.
  4. Once eggs are done (solid and not watery), remove from heat and add to bowl.
  5. Add 1 cup of water and a ½ cup of old fashioned oats to a small pot. (If not adding eggs add ¼ table of butter to the mix.)
  6. Turn stove to high and bring to a boil, turn burner to medium and simmer uncovered for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally so oats don’t stick or burn.
  7. Remove from heat and let sit for a minute or two. Add cottage cheese, turbinado sugar and mix well.
  8. Pour oatmeal into bowl with eggs, arrange raisins in smiley face and dive in.

 

Summer Veggies With Pan-Seared Steak = One Great Dinner!

summer vegs and steak 2

steak and summer vegs 3

Just tried this one on the family and had the greatest compliment, no leftovers! It’s meets all my requirements—-its healthy, filling and visually appealing. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Ingredients

-3 yellow squash

-1-2 zuchinni

-1 sweet bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)

-1 yellow onion

-1 handful of grape tomatoes

-1 can of sliced mushrooms

-1 1/2 teaspoons of dried leaf organo

-3/4 teaspoon basil

-dash of black pepper

-Italian Style Blend shredded cheese  (just Parmesan would work but I like the variety in this mix)

-pure olive oil

-1/2 tablespoon of real butter (stick butter not liquid, I prefer unsalted)

-petite sirloin steak

 

Directions

  1. Rinse all veggies (this includes the canned mushrooms).
  2. Cut squash, zucchini and onion in half then slice thin, dice the red bell pepper.
  3.  Pour all veggies into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix. Then add the oregano, basil and black pepper and mix again. Make sure you spend some time doing this so the oil and spices adhere to all the veggies.
  4. Turn stove on medium high and place a large pan on the burner, add one tablespoon of olive oil, let the oil heat and swirl it around the pan to coat.
  5. Add veggies and cook until they are tender. While the veggies are cooking, grab a cookie sheet and using the 1/2 tablespoon of butter coat baking sheet.
  6. Pour veggies onto baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese. How much? It’s up to you remember though we are trying to compliment the taste of the veggies not cover it up.
  7. Broil on high until browned.
  8. While you are browning the veggies. Take the pan you sautéed the veggies in and add an additional tablespoon of olive oil.
  9. Turn stove burner to high and swirl oil around.
  10. Do not start this step until you have a kitchen timer ready. As you will turn the steaks every minute, this way you sear the meat to lock in flavor but minimize charring. Add steaks to pan and turn every minute for a total of 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the steak. You might have to add a little olive oil to the top of the steaks in-between turning to minimize charring.

11. Spoon out veggies onto a plate and top with steak.

 

Adding Exercise To Your Daily Routine

We all know we need to exercise but sometimes it’s tough to fit into a schedule. I find the earlier in the day I exercise the more successful I am. So, here’s a workout that fits into a lunch hour and still leaves time to eat. Additionally, I designed the program to work multiple facets of fitness—muscle strength, endurance and power. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Before starting any exercise program, check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to participate. Also, some exercises might not be suitable for everyone. If you feel pain, dizziness or something just doesn’t feel right—stop!

 WEEK 1

15 minute walk, at the end of the walk perform the exercises listed below.

Perform 1 set of 10-15 repetitions of each exercise listed below

Lunges: Click on the exercise name to go to my video library; make sure you watch the entire video to determine which of the three versions of lunges is best for you based on your current activity level and level of conditioning.

Push-ups with a plus: As with the lunges, watch the video to determine which of the three versions of push-ups is best for you based on your current activity level and level of conditioning.

 

WEEK 2

20 minute walk, at the end of the walk perform, the exercises you did in week one and add skaters (see video below).

Skaters: Watch the video to determine which of the three versions of skaters is best for you based on your current activity level and level of conditioning. For this exercise you should perform 1 set of 10-20 repetitions per leg.

 

WEEK 3

30 minute walk, halfway through stop and do one set of each exercise, adding bounding (see video below). At the end of your walk complete a second set set of each exercise.

Bounding: Watch the video to determine which of the three versions of bounding is best for you based on your current activity level and level of conditioning. For this exercise you should perform 1 set of 10-20 repetitions per leg.

 

Thirty minutes of walking is plenty. As you continue you on with this program you need to change it up to keep it challenging. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Increase your pace (walk faster)
  2. Change your route—add hills and steps
  3. Do not split up the strength exercises but perform both sets as a circuit repeating twice or even three times
  4. Change or add exercises (videos for these exercises are coming soon)
  • Work your abs by adding 1-2 sets of planks
  • Drop one of the lower extremity exercises and add 1-2 sets of burpees
  • Carry a ther-band and add a rowing exercise
  • Try performing 1-2 sets of long jumps, instead of skaters

Looking for a healthy lunch? Try Mark’s Big Salad!

Big Salad 1

The secret to this recipe is making the nut mix early and allowing the dressing to marinate with the nuts and craisins you add. 

Ingredients

Nut Mix

-1 cup of pecans, sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts

-small handful of reduced sugar craisins

-dollop of balsamic vinaigrette

Salad

-2 cups broccoli (I prefer frozen.)

-handful of baby carrots

-handful of grape tomatoes

-1/2 and avocado

-2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

Directions

The night before:

  1. Pour 1 cup each of pecans, almonds and sunflower seeds into your blender
  2. add a small handful of craisins and dollop of balsamic vinaigrette
  3. Blend at high speed for 2-3 minutes make sure you stop a couple of times to move things around so everything gets chopped up
  4. Refrigerate for later use.

The day of:

  1. Warm the broccoli in the microwave and then set out to cool.
  2. Rinse carrots and tomatoes, chop carrots and slice tomatoes and avocado into thin wedges
  3. Add carrots, tomatoes, avocado and dressing to broccoli and mix well.
  4. Top with ½ to 1 cup of nut mix and you’re done.

 

While I recommend making the nut mix before hand, I’ve had this numerous times right after blending and always had a great meal. Give it a try and tell me what you think! I guarantee it will fill you up and provide you with plenty of energy to plow through your day.

 

Steak and Beet Salad (yes beets!)

Steak and Beet Salad 2

Beets aren’t just for thanksgiving dinner. They are chock full of anti-oxidants that are good for us and they taste great! Here’s a simple way to work these into your diet that’s fast and easy to prepare.

Ingredients

-large handful of spinach chopped

-4-5 grape tomatoes (sliced)

– 4-5 baby carrots (chopped)

-large handful of shoestring beets (You can find these in your stores produce section.)

-Steak—round, petite sirloin, London broil, any cut will do. This is also a great dish to utilize leftovers.

-1/2 cup 4% milk fat cottage cheese

-Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (to taste)

-Black Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse spinach, pat dry and chop into strips.
  2. Rinse Carrots and Tomatoes, slice tomatoes into thin wedges and chop carrots into small pieces.
  3. Drain and rinse shoestring beets.
  4. Warm steak in microwave.
  5. Add all ingredients to your salad bowl except cottage cheese and pepper, using a pair of salad tongs mix all ingredients together.
  6. Add cottage cheese and pepper
  7. Dive in, cause dinner’s ready!

Todays Lunch Special–Tuna Salad Over Broccoli!

Tuna Salad

Here’s a quick, easy and healthy lunch dish that fits in anyone’s budget and dietary guidelines.

INGREDIENTSPrimal Mayo Label

1 ½ cups of broccoli (I prefer frozen)

1 medium tomato parmesan

1 handful of baby carrots

¼ of an avocado

1 can albacore tuna

2 tablespoons shaved parmesanbalsamic vina

Anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Primal Kitchen Mayo

2 tablespoons Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

1 teaspoon raisins

Pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Warm the broccoli in the microwave and then set out to cool.
  2. Rinse carrots and tomatoes, slice tomatoes and avocado into thin wedges
  3. Drain tuna of all water and spoon into a bowl.
  4. Add mayo and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese to bowl and mix well. How much mayo you add really depends on you, remember though the purpose of this mayo is to highlight the flavor of the tuna and meld all the ingredients together not mask it. The tuna shouldn’t be swimming in mayo (get it, tuna’s a fish and it’s swimming!—come for the recipes, stay for the humor).
  5. Microwave tuna for 1 minute and remix.
  6. Add carrots, tomatoes, avocado and dressing to broccoli and mix well.
  7. Top with tuna, raisins and pepper.
  8. I’ve found that this tastes better after it’s been refrigerated. So make it the night before, put it in your lunch box the next morning and have it for lunch at work!

 

ADDITIONAL INFO

  1. Don’t get sticker shock when you go to the grocery to pick up primal kitchen mayo, it’s expensive but well worth it. You won’t use nearly as much as you do with other brands.  Compare the ingredients, which one would you rather eat?

mayo comparison

  1. You’ll also find that it’s pretty tart. However, there isn’t any added sugar or high fructose corn syrup and you don’t need it. Like I said the addition of mayo in this recipe isn’t to mask flavors but highlight them.