The Best Gifts for the Holidays from NYC Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer

Simplify with These Gifts for Everyone on Your List

‘Tis the season – of endless shopping lines and driving through icy sludge, traffic and wandering around the aisles wondering what to buy. Though many get caught up in the buzz of holidays, others end up feeling frustrated, tired, and, well, pretty cranky. The pressure, economic and time, can make holidays a highly stressful time of year.

As we grow older, our wish lists tend to get a lot smaller. So, to help you save some holiday stress and a lot of money, I thought I’d write down some ideas that might work for most anybody in your family, your workplace, your kids’ teachers, to give you downtime to really enjoy the people in your life instead of the list of to-dos.

Give tradition. Start a family/friend recipe book, adding a recipe each year. Write down your grandmother’s, your aunt’s, your father’s favorite recipe, include a photograph, and make it with your kids, your friends, with the people you most love. Each year add another recipe, another photo, and another afternoon of cooking. For teachers, reuse some jelly jars to put your favorite hot chocolate mix in it. Roll up the recipe and decorate with ribbon! What a great way to share your family stories sand pass on important flavors, generation-to-generation.

Give time. Take an afternoon off and go to the park, a movie matinee, the museum, or library. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy some local historic sites. Attend fun storytelling events. Go skating at Bryant Park.  Take part in MoMa’s family time and free films. Every city and town have something fun to see and explore! Be tourists at home. Make holidays about the time you spend with one another instead of the time you spend standing in line.

Give activity. Instead of a gift you open once that ends up getting put on the shelf or in the back of a closet, give something that lasts all year (or at least a few months). Give membership to a gym, dance classes, or tickets to a basketball game. Buy a subscription pack to the NYC public library and enjoy events once/month or more. Get your library card and sign up for some of the free classes and activities they offer. By developing a movement mindset in kids, from an early age, they learn to value activity as a gift and not just another thing to do after school. Active kids = active adults.

Give kindness.  The holidays can be an incredibly lonely time for many. Volunteering at the local food bank, doing a book drive for a low-income school library, and finding ways to give back to the community can make the difference between someone feeling despair or hope during the holidays. Teaching children the value of giving back has no price. Likewise, for those spending the holidays alone, tapping into our humanity and generosity is a great way to channel holiday anxiety.

Give memories. Presents are often forgotten, but a trip to the ocean, climbing a mountain, going on a wine walk, soaring in a hot air balloon ride, meeting a favorite author … these are moments that will last a lifetime. Instead of buying gifts for the family, make a family gift (a weekend trip to the ocean). This goes back to spending time with one another instead of time standing in line to buy something for one another.

Instead of filling our lives with stuff, fill them with memories, good habits, family traditions and flavors. Perhaps the best stuff we can have are the photos and diaries we keep, the recipes we share, the time we spend.

Enjoy the holiday madness planning great moments to share.

holiday meals

9 Tips to a Healthy Holiday Season from NYC Registered Dietitian

Healthy Ways to Navigate the Holidays

holiday meals

It’s here. No matter what you celebrate, or don’t celebrate, the holidays come. They bring loads of activities, noise (sounding Grinchy here, I know), and expectation. Lines at the grocery store are longer. Traffic is more intense. And I haven’t even touched on meeting up with family, in-laws and more. (And it’s been an election year. UGH!)

There are school parties and office parties. There are cookies and cakes on every corner. Everything smells like cinnamon. And it seems like everywhere we go, someone is offering a hot, frothy, sugary beverage. Since we’ve been wired to feel guilt, all these decadent flavors can often bring stress and anxiety, instead of joy.

Suffice to say, the holiday season can be crazy chaotic and stressful. Add the high-sugar, high-calorie deluge, and our bodies, and minds, take a hit. 

Here are 9 tips to a healthy holiday season (without falling into the cliché of Hallmark movies!)

  1. Be Holiday Smart: The holidays happen. Every single year. So, know what makes you anxious. What causes you stress? Long lines? Consider online shopping. Cooking a huge meal? Consider a potluck. You don’t have money? Make homemade gifts. Be honest. “I don’t have money for an elegant party dress this year.” Take the mystery out of it. Invitations every other evening? Say, “no” (see below). These small changes can make a big difference.
  2. Say no. You don’t have to attend every party, every activity. If the dread of going to an event outweighs the actual joy of going, then opt out. Simplify your schedule. Prioritize. Stay at home, order a pizza, and watch a movie with the family. Finding balance is key. (And it’s okay to be honest about it, too. “I’m overwhelmed and need a night at home watching bad TV.” Who won’t understand that feeling?)
  3. Stick to the middle. The periphery of any holiday party is a virtual landmine of high-sugar, high-fat foods. Indulge in the holiday flavors, but mindfully. Pay attention to what you’re eating. If you’re within arm’s length of the food table, it’s more likely you’ll snack and not listen to your body. Heavy holiday foods can end up making us feel lethargic and unwell.
  4. Remember the magic of tradition. Eating our favorite family recipes shouldn’t weigh us down with guilt. You’re not “cheating” when you eat these foods. You’re celebrating tradition and history. Prepare these foods with your grandma, aunt, mom, or children. Talk about what these flavors mean to you. Enjoy them!
  5. Stay hydrated! Often, we mistake hunger for thirst. Drink sparkling water with berries or lime. Drink lots of water. But be beverage aware as holiday drinks can pack on lots of unwanted sugars and calories. Make sure your host doesn’t cap off your drink (the never-ending glass of wine). Listen to your body.

    volunteer

  6. Volunteer. Giving and volunteering are powerful ways to engage with the community’s needs. Help your children organize a food drive for a local shelter. Instead of playing “Secret Santa” at work, have a book drive for a local school. There are so many powerful ways to bring meaning back to the holidays. 
  7. Pile them on …  the veggies and fruits. This time of year, our immune system takes a hit, not to mention our digestive system. Keep those fruits and vegetables coming (but steer clear of too many creamy sauces). A great holiday snack is cut-up vegetables and yogurt dip. Eat the vegetables and fruits before piling your plate with everything else. This will help keep you balanced.

    pumpkin.roasted

  8. Pay attention. Pay attention to signs you might be over-stressed: change in sleeping and eating habits, exhaustion and fatigue, digestive issues, headaches, dizziness and more. So stop, listen to your body, and make some changes.
  9. Say, “Thank you.  Gratitude is a fundamental part of happiness. Gratitude is appreciation for the things we have (health, family, a job, a meal) and acknowledging them. Taking the time to reflect, not live on automatic, on the gifts of this life will help you 

I am grateful for you as a reader. I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I love – information about nutrition and exercise.

5 Tips to Improve Your Body Self Esteem from NYC Registered Dietitian

Celebrate World Kindness Day and a Month of Gratitude, Starting with You

joy

Yesterday, November 13, was World Kindness Day. This month memes abound about gratitude. Kindness and gratitude are two things we can never over-indulge in.

That said, I know so many people who forget to be kind to themselves, to be grateful for the bodies they have. In a world that pushes unrealistic body image ideals in every media, every form, it’s really hard to build a better body self-esteem. Advertisements, movies, TV shows, billboards, pharmaceuticals … all form part of a billion-dollar industry that promotes body anxiety and hate. We are taught to feel shame. And both men and women buy into it.

And with the holidays coming up, there’s no end to articles and headlines about how to keep holiday weight off, avoid extra calories, and guilt, guilt, guilt. That last one is particularly effective. 

So, here’s what I propose this holiday season for you. Indulge! Indulge in family, tradition, flavors, and friends. Celebrate your body and the beautiful things it can do: hold a hand, go for a walk, dance, hug someone you love. 

Here are 5 tips to start to celebrate you, your body, your beautiful self.

  1. Write it down. This change from “feeling frumpy” to “feeling like a Goddess (or God)” usually won’t happen overnight. So, take the time to write down five things you are thankful for about your body: your smile, how fast your hands can type … anything. Gratitude breeds gratitude. Each week, add to the list. It’s amazing how many beautiful things you’ll find.
  2. Re-evaluate your relationship with food: Take a mental note of how you talk about food, how you approach meals, your grocery store choices. You might be surprised about how much negativity, and guilt, you feel about food. Dr. Linda Bacon writes in Health at Every Size, “When asked what came to mind upon hearing the words ‘chocolate cake’, Americans were most likely to connect it with ‘guilt’ while the French connected it with ‘celebration.’” Americans are hard-wired to see food as the enemy, which, in turn, dominoes into low body self-esteem. How can we change how we view food?
    1. Make mealtime sacred, a time to nourish yourself, a time to share with family, friends, or sit and reflect on what’s on your plate and how it’s going to make you healthier.
    2. Honor family tradition and history by making baklava, latkes, lefse, roasted lamb, and other traditional foods. Teach your children, nieces, or others that you love how to make your favorite family recipes. No counting calories!
    3. Make eating decisions made based on nourishment and health, NOT guilt and punishment.


  3. Be mindful of what you are teaching your children. The relationships you have with food and your body are passed onto your children. Break bad mental, and verbal, habits. Don’t say disparaging remarks about your body … ever. Move the conversation from fat-thin, to healthy-unhealthy. Censor yourself and change the way you speak about yourself. This will take practice. But soon, it will become habit.
  4. Selfie beware! Okay. Social media, fashion magazine, TV, and Hollywood-beware. How often do you see someone with bedhead and fuzzy teeth taking a selfie? Right. Social media is a cesspool of lies. (Sounds pretty harsh but true). Photoshopped models on magazine covers don’t do much to help us get a real sense of what real bodies look like. So … step back from social media, turn off the TV, ditch the magazine subscriptions and start interacting with real live people with real bodies who have bed head, morning breath, and probably love handles and are actually doing pretty great!
  5. Get moving! The best way to love your body is to use it. Go for a walk. Play tag with your kids. Start a lunchtime walking group at the office. Join a weekend hiking group, sign up for the public pool, or just lose yourself in a museum all day. Exercise is the best way to start to love your body. It’s never too late to start moving.

When discussing kindness and gratitude, begin with yourself and the beautiful things you have to offer this world. You are uniquely and wonderfully you. Give thanks for that because I don’t doubt so many others do!

Best Food and Exercise Ideas to Help Manage Stress from NYC Registered Dietitian

Post-election and Pre-holiday Stress Management Ideas

Election years have become times of increasing stress … for everyone. Stress, it appears, is uniquely bi-partisan. The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted the 2016 Stress in America Survey to determine how elections play a role in people’s level of stress. And, no surprise, elections play a big role in people’s levels of stress. 

Regardless of political views and how you voted yesterday, it’s likely you, or someone you care about, is experiencing a significant amount of stress today. Add to the fact the holidays are coming, which are often a time of high-level stress – financially and emotionally – I wanted to start November off with a blog on how to manage, and hopefully reduce, stress.

Moreover, for some reason, stress and being busy and not having time have become markers of status, bragging points. They aren’t. Over an extended period of time, chronic stress can lead to chronic illness, plaque buildup in arteries which leads to heart disease, lowered immunity which can lead to cancer and many other illnesses. 

 

Stress management is critical for health. Stress is anything but status. Here are 7 nutrition and exercise tips to manage stress.

  1. Recognize the symptoms. Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies. Many of us recognize stress in our behavior, but don’t realize our bodies are responding, physically, as well. Everything from headaches to stomach pains, muscle pain to sleep problems, fatigue to a drop in sex drive, are all physical symptoms of stress. 
  2. Beware of Social Media! In the 2016 stress survey, election-related stress is more prevalent among social media users. Walk away from Facebook and other social media. Turn off the news. Limit your information to reading articles from two solid sources.salmon
  3. Feed your brain to reduce stress.
    1. Leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula) are chock full of folate. Folate helps the body produce serotonin and dopamine, our stress-reducers. So, too, are foods with Tryptophan (turkey, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and eggs).
    2. Omega 3 is essential for brain function. Salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseed oil are jam-packed with omega 3-fatty acids to keep your brain healthy.
    3. Hello complex carbohydrates! Please, please burn any diet book that tells you to steer clear of complex carbs. Our brains need glucose to function. For only taking 2% of our body mass, our brains use up 50% of the glucose. The key phrase is complex carbs … so, yeah, put down the Pop Tart. Fill up on quinoa and whole-grain breads, whole-grain rice and pasta and fruits and vegetables.
  4. Steer clear of the glossy packaging. Oh, it is so so tempting. It’s easy to grab a bag of chips, cookies, or crackers. It’s hard to resist those monster-sized cinnamon rolls and store-bought muffins. Diets high in refined sugars damage the brain – as they stimulate inflammation and oxidative stress as well as lessen the body’s regulation of insulin. There’s a high correlation between diets with too many refined sugars and depression. Eating clean is the healthiest alternative. 
  5. Go Pro! Biotics. (Okay. That was pretty bad). Really, though, gut health is mental health. 95% of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in our gut. Prebiotics and probiotics help keep the GI tract (gut) healthy which, in turn, lowers stress and anxiety.dark.chocolate
  6. Chocolate! Dark chocolate (not milk or white) has anandamide. Anandamide is a pain blocker. Indulge on a few squares after dinner. 
  7. Run away from your problems. Walk it off. Join a yoga class (which is amazing for meditation, mindfulness, and taking things down a notch). Go play in the park with your kids. Create a play list and move to it until it ends. Exercise increases blood circulation to your brain, helping improve your mood. Depression and anxiety are energy vacuums, and it’s easy to fall into a vicious cycle of feeling down, not wanting to exercise, then feeling worse.walk.fall

So, enjoy the evening with a stress-reducing meal. Have roasted turkey sandwiches with arugula salad drizzled with olive oil and caramelized walnuts. For dessert, melt dark chocolate and dip strawberries in it. And, really, if you’re just needing a pizza and beer, that’s okay, too. It’s about balance and knowing what to give your body on a regular basis.

So, here’s to a stress-reduced November!

personal.trainer

7 Tips to Progress Your Fitness Program from NYC Registered Personal Trainer

Are These Habits Getting in the Way of Progress?

personal.trainer

“I go to the gym all the time, and nothing happens.” This complaint isn’t uncommon for personal trainers to hear from clients.

Going to the gym a few times each week to do the elliptical or ride a bike is a great way to keep active. The gym can be a great way to disconnect. I often see people going with friends to talk and catch up. Many read a book or their phones when working out. There’s really nothing wrong with this. It’s healthy from both a physical, and mental, standpoint. 

However, real change in cardio vascular health or body composition can only come from progressing your fitness program. 

Here are 7 tips to progress your fitness program, whether it be weight training or aerobics, to see real change in your cardio vascular health and/or body composition.

  1. Be mindful of your exercise. I’ve discussed mindful eating on the blog a lot. The same applies to exercise. We’ve got “multitasking” ingrained in our brains. It makes us feel like not a second has been wasted. Think quality, not quantity. This is, perhaps, why I love yoga. Yoga, however “still” it may seem, is a grueling exercise in mindfulness. For yoga to be effective, you must be aware of your body position, muscles. Today, when you head for the gym, put Dostoyevsky away and pay attention to your body.

    yoga

  2. Make a plan. Progression, in any field, any area, depends on thoughtful planning. For those trying to cut sugar out of their diets, they take logical steps to reduce it. The same goes for exercise. What is the logical progression? Where do you want to take your body next?
  3. Get uncomfortable. This isn’t the same as “no pain, no gain”. “No pain, no gain,” has been an exercise mantra for years now. And it’s completely false. It can be not only unsafe for your body but completely demoralizing. That said, if you’re stuck in your comfort zone of exercise and aren’t pushing yourself, your body won’t change either. It’s hard to bite those exercise habits that feel so good.

    yoga

  4. Progress your workout. As said above, we’re creatures of habit. And change, for anybody, can be discouraging. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The change is under your control. You can change the number of reps you do, the weight, the intensity or speed, the duration and types of exercises. Other options are to change the type of resistance (from bands to free weights), the position of the exercise you’re doing, or even by adding balance (a ball, foam roller, or inflatable disc). Small changes can make a big difference to progress your fitness program.
  5. Hire a personal trainer. Gyms can be daunting. A personal trainer will not only find ways to fit exercise into your life and help create a fitness plan with you, but she will also help keep you accountable. She’ll work to find the best ways for you to progress.

    exercise.distracted

  6. Hydrate! Our hearts and cells need water. And lots of it. Cells need water to synthesize energy. If we’re dehydrated, our heart has to work extra hard to pump our blood. Drink before you exercise, while you exercise, and after you exercise. This will reduce risk of cramping, will keep you feeling invigorated (and ready for one last rep), and can help you regulate your body temperature.
  7. Eat well. Exercise without appropriate nutrition can be devastating for your body. Take the time to nourish yourself. Take the time to care for yourself. 

If you’re feeling like you’re in an exercise rut, like you’re not improving, change things up. Be mindful of what you’re doing. And bump it up a notch to progress your cardio and body composition.

walktoschool2

5 Reasons to Celebrate Walk to School Day

Build Community, Movement Mindset, Health and Safety One Step at a Time

walktoschool2

Today is Walk to School Day, something most of our grandparents would laugh about. A friend’s grandma, for instance, grew up in North Dakota. She remembers she and her sister would hold onto their little brother’s hands so he wouldn’t get lost in the snow drifts during winter. The girls wore tights and dresses, walking in sub-zero North Dakota temperatures.

Extreme? Definitely. And probably not the safest thing to do. But this was in 1924, and there were no such thing as “snow days.” But the mere act of walking to school (or biking) goes beyond “toughening up” for those snow days. (Probably uphill both ways.)

The freedom to walk to school (or bike) is all about community.

Walking, and biking, to school are ways to promote healthier habits, detect problem spots (traffic and safety) in neighborhoods, and build community. So, instead of just making it once/year, make walking and biking to school a year ‘round commitment.

walktoschool3

  1. Develop a movement mindset. Kids need regular physical activity to grow, strengthen their bones, build strong joints, improve flexibility and mental health. How much is regular physical activity? You’ll be surprised to know that The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 60 minutes of physical activity every day for children between the ages of 6 – 17. 
  2. Get a common goal. Get the children’s school to start a walk-a-thon during the month of October. Raise funds for better school sports equipment or something activity-centered. What a fun way to keep exercise on the brain!
  3. Promote safety. Children must wear helmets when riding a bike. Teach them how to use the bike lanes and/or sidewalks when they can. Teach them necessary hand signals and that traffic signals, too, correspond to bike riders. Teach children to look both ways before crossing the street.

    walktoschool6

  4. Minimize risk. Criminal Minds ruined parents for life. We see predators at every corner. In an age of over-information, over-reporting, there is a definite gap between our perception of safety and the reality. That said, I’m not recommending you send a five-year-old to walk alone to school. There are ways, though, to walk and ride to school and minimize risk. Start a neighborhood walking club where parents take turns accompanying the younger children to school. Create bicycle trains – where there’s a meeting point and everybody rides their bikes together. Take back your streets … together!
  5. Make it a community effort. Show your local politicians and city planners the need for lowered speed limits, bike paths, sidewalks, and traffic signals. Go to city council and school board meetings. Start a petition. Make muscle-powered transportation more visible, and viable. Get involved!

The freedom to walk, or ride, to school is a privilege, though it shouldn’t be. We can change the way we view our car-centric society, one step at a time. And by doing so, we’re creating a community of healthier, more active, children. 

Get moving. Get biking. Get involved in Walk to School Day. And wear out those shoes!

veggie.sandwich

8 Nutrition Tips for Vegetarians or Want-to-be Vegetarians from Registered NYC Dietitian

Celebrate Vegetarian Awareness Month

veggie.sandwich

Not too long ago, vegetarianism was considered a radical choice. We’ve all had family members – mostly grandmothers and great grandmothers – who balked at the idea of becoming vegetarian. Some of my clients have shared how defensive others get when they mention they’re a vegetarian, as if their food choices were a challenge to family tradition. It’s not uncommon, especially in smaller cities or more rural areas, for vegetarians to struggle.

People choose to be vegetarian for many different reasons: moral decisions about not wanting to harm animals or the environment, health reasons, food intolerance issues, religious or cultural reasons, among others. Whatever the reason, the lack of support from family and friends, and even a lack of support from establishments (schools, the workplace, local restaurants and supermarkets) make the choice to become vegetarian challenging. Luckily, we’ve made a lot of headway. Going “veg” isn’t as radical as it was once considered. 

Not all vegetarians are the same. Vegans are people who don’t use or ingest any animal products – not even wearing silk or leather, or eating honey. Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products in their diets. Lacto-ovo vegetarians include dairy products and eggs in their diets. And finally pesco-vegetarians include fish in their diets.

There’s so much misinformation about what being a vegetarian is and how vegetarians receive adequate nutrition – from what seems like a very complicated diet. But I’d argue that everyone has challenges to meet dietary recommendations. They’re just different for vegetarians and meat eaters.

October 1 is World Vegetarian Day, and in October we celebrate Vegetarian Awareness Month. Whether you’re a vegetarian or are considering moving toward a vegetarian diet, there are some nutritional challenges you need to be aware of. Here are 7 nutrition tips for vegetarians or want-to-be vegetarians.

  1. Know why you want to make this choice. If it’s to lose weight in order to avoid certain foods, it might not be the best route. Vegetarianism shouldn’t be considered a crash diet. 
  2. Change from an animal-based diet to vegetarian diet slowly
    1. Cut red meats out of your diet first. 
    2. Try one new recipe each week. 
    3. Start experimenting with vegetable-based proteins (beans, lentils, chick-peas) in your sauces and soups.
    4. Take a cooking class or get some books out of the libraries. Being a vegetarian in such a meat-centered community takes extra study to insure you get the nutrients you need.
  3. Make a list. What do you usually eat for meals and snacks? Now, investigate healthy vegetable-based substitutes for the meat products in your list.

    peanutbutter

  4. Protein, protein, protein matters. One of a vegetarian’s biggest challenges is getting enough protein. A complete protein provides the eight essential amino acids (nine in children) our bodies need every day. Proteins create the nuts and bolts (amino acids) of every cell in our body that are necessary for almost all biological processes. There are some phenomenal plant-based complete proteins: soy beans and tofu, hemp, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and micro algae.  Incomplete proteins in plant foods can be mixed together to create a complete protein. Grains, cereals, nuts, or seeds can be combined with dried beans, peas, lentils, peanuts or peanut butter. And you don’t even have to eat them together … at the same time. The proteins from these foods go into the protein pool in our bodies where all the amino acids combine as needed throughout the day. Biology is phenomenal.
  5. B12, calcium, iron and fatty acids are must-haves for good nutrition. These nutrients are found in dairy products and meats. Vegans, especially, are at risk for not getting their fair-share of B12 and might need a nutritional supplement or nutritional yeast. Many plant foods, such as tofu, dark leafy greens and some legumes, are excellent sources of calcium. Some foods are fortified with these nutrients, so be on the look out!

    garbanzos.dish

  6. Take soy off the black list!  Soy is a great source of protein, good fats, calcium, and iron (see above). You can use Tofu (extra firm) in pasta sauces and vegetarian chili recipes. Add soybeans to salads and soups.  Use soy beverages (unsweetened) for pancakes, oatmeal, and smoothies. That said there is good research out there to support that isolate soy protein is problematic. It is processed and added to foods. Read the labels.
  7. Vegetarian processed foods are still processed foods. I call them Frankenstein foods, those foods that have a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. The market abounds with “veggie burgers”, fake chicken, and other products that pass themselves off as the veggie version of the meat. These products are often jam-packed with sodium and aren’t healthy options.
  8. Get an appointment with a registered dietitian to support you and help you create a meal plan that gives you the adequate calories and nutrients you need. This is especially important if you’re transitioning from a meat-based diet to a vegetarian diet.

Now there are many Websites and organizations that support vegetarians with tips and recipes. Thug kitchen is funny, irreverent, and is like tough biker gang goes vegan. Other useful websites are the Mayo Clinic’s vegetarian diet pyramid, and the Vegetarian Resource Group. 

The more you know, research, and learn about vegetarianism, the less restricted you will feel. This will help you on your road to becoming, or continuing to be, a vegetarian.

father.healthybbq

8 Easy-to-Follow Tips to Increase Your Fruit and Vegetable Consumption:

More Matters For Your Health

father.healthybbq

When I create an individualized meal plan for my clients, oftentimes they’re shocked, and intimidated, by how many fruits and vegetables they should be eating. Most Americans eat way less than what’s recommended. In general, the American diet includes too many processed foods and too few fruits and vegetables.

But going from zero to at least half a plate chock-full of fruits and/or vegetables EACH MEAL can be overwhelming. Also, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. (Broccoli … again?) 

In September (and year ‘round) #MoreMatters. It’s a month to bring awareness of the deficit of fruits and vegetables in most people’s diet. Today, I want to dedicate the blog to how you can increase your fruit and vegetable consumption with these 8 easy-to-follow tips. As a registered dietitian, it’s my job to help you make the healthy choice the easy choice.

  1. Start with one. One apple, one pear, a plate of carrot sticks each meal. Just one addition is a great start to increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. Add at least one fruit and/or vegetable each meal, or, better yet, add one fruit and one vegetable each meal. For fresher fruits and vegetables, find out what’s in season and shop accordingly. This keeps things interesting and these in-season choices are usually less expensive. 
  2. You don’t have to see it … for it to be there. Call it the Sixth Sense Vegetable trick!  Add shredded carrots, pumpkin, and zucchini to your spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, and stews. Stick broccoli and cauliflower in the blender to thicken your sauces as well. Blend up your favorite in-season fruits with yogurt for a smart, and delicious, breakfast smoothie. Make frozen fruit pops for an early fall treat. And there’s still time for watermelon slush (Kids especially love anything food item that is called “slush”.)

    salad.veggies

  3. Get cauliflower creative! Some new trends are cauliflower crust pizzas and substituting rice and potatoes for this cruciferous favorite. Or, try a creamy cauliflower sauce instead of sour cream. What can cauliflower not do? Well, be green. But that’s okay. It’s lighter than our carb favorites and packs a high-fiber, high antioxidant punch. 
  4. Frozen works! Frozen fruits and vegetables have just as many nutrients as fresh fruits and vegetables. Research has found that there’s not a discernable difference between fresh and frozen corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries, and blueberries. Though I always recommend to buy in-season, satisfying that berry craving in winter isn’t out of the question. Plus, it can keep your palate motivated to bulk up on fruits and vegetables. No excuses!
  5. Start the day with berries or fruit on cereal or in your oatmeal. Make a habit of having fruit first thing in the morning – a cut-up banana or handful of berries. 
  6. Keep it easy! Save time and prepare things ahead of time, keeping cut up fruit and vegetables in the fridge for a quick snack – making it just as easy to snack on fruits and raw vegetables as potato chips. Have hummus, yogurt, peanut butter, or guacamole on hand for a dipping treat.

    watercress-2148629_1920

  7. Think in colors! Variety is the spice of life, and the key to good health. Make sure you get the colors you need: purple, green, orange, red, blue, yellow … and lots of them in your meals. The more variety, the healthier you will be! Plus, they add pizazz to an otherwise boring plate. Add crunchy red cabbage to an arugula and strawberry salad. Add chunky bits of mango or frozen strawberries to your favorite spinach salad. Mix and match and make the colors pop!
  8. Shop smart. Stay away from those inner aisles in the grocery store. They’ll suck you in with dazzling packaging and health promises. The healthiest way to shop is the parameter of the store. If you buy canned vegetables, rinse them out a couple of times because of the high salt content. Nutrition label literacy is key to making healthier choices.

Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake doesn’t have to break the bank or turn your eating habits upside down. These 8 easy-to-follow tips can help you get healthier and help get you to make smart snack and meal decisions (one vegetable, one fruit at a time!)

personal trainers

6 Reasons to Hire a Personal Trainer from New York Registered PT

What Can a Personal Trainer Do For you?

cyclist.senior

Personal trainers are for Hollywood A-list stars, supermodels, and athletes, right?

Wrong.

There’s a lot of mythology around what personal trainers do and who should hire them. Plus, fitness apps abound, everything from do-good while exercising Charity miles to Fitbit (your own portable personal trainer). 

What can a personal trainer do for the normal people out there? When should you hire a personal trainer and make it worth your time and money?

  1. Personal trainers are an investment for retirement. Retirement can be tricky. Active retirees are more likely to live longer, healthier lives. After 30+ years of work, some retirees are at a loss as to how to remain active. There are four pillars to every senior exercise program. Being fit as a senior is simply the difference between independent living and assisted living. It can also improve common symptoms that come with age, like arthritis while keeping aging muscles and immune systems young. A good personal trainer will assess individual needs, create a personalized exercise program, and set goals to keep you motivated. All this will keep you more active and healthier. 
  2. Personal trainers are guides, creating personalized programs that fit into YOUR life. So many clients of mine have signed up for expensive gym memberships, arrived, ready to tackle the world, and pretty much gotten lost in the machines. Gyms can be intimidating places. A personal trainer can help you feel more comfortable at the gym or find ways for you to exercise in your daily life. In my experience, my clients who have to go out of their way to exercise simply don’t. A personal trainer will find ways to get you moving and exercising every single day.personal trainers
  3. Personal trainers are great for short-term goals. Do you want to run a marathon? Compete in your first triathlon? Or, are you simply trying to get ready to dance with your daughter at her wedding or take your family hiking to the Grand Canyon on your next vacation? When you have a finite goal, hiring a personal trainer is a smart thing to do. They keep you motivated and on track, setting reachable goals. 
  4. Personal trainers are great for when you hit that wall. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. It’s hard to push past that five-mile mark when running. Oftentimes, my clients don’t know how to push their bodies further. A personal trainer is a great ally when it comes to pushing you beyond your limits (safely) and getting you to the next level. 
  5. Personal trainers are teachers. The best trainers explain why your personalized exercise regime will help you reach your fitness goals AND they will teach you how to do them well, reducing the risk of injury, increasing their effectiveness. Form, posture, and technique are critical to a successful exercise program. 
  6. Personal trainers help develop life-long habits. By learning techniques and finding ways to make movement part of your daily mentality, you will develop healthy exercise habits.

seniorexercise

Creating individualized workouts, setting personalized goals, keeping you accountable, and teaching clients the most effective exercises to do to reach those goals aren’t things you can get on an App. Hiring a personal trainer can have some powerful, long-term effects. Remember, though, to ensure your trainer is certified from one of these organizations: ACE (American Council on Exercise), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), ISSA (International Sports Science Association), or NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). 

bowl-of-fruit

4 Easy-to-Follow Tips to Make Time for Breakfast from New York Nutritionist

Don’t Skip Out on Breakfast

bowl-of-fruit

For some reason, and as often as we read, hear, and even say, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” the idea is still met with skepticism. Breakfast continues to score pretty low on many people’s priority list. 

It’s normal. We’ve become a sleep deprived society, thanks, in large part, to poor sleep hygiene, more work demands to complete in less time, and the enticing world of electronics. Naturally, skipping out on breakfast to sleep in an extra fifteen minutes is too tempting.

Moreover, with the focus on getting out of the house (or getting the kids out of the house), packing lunches, making sure you’ve got your presentation for work ready, among the thousands of things that steamroll us in the morning, life can distract from the recognition of hunger. Many clients tell me they are not hungry in the morning. Breakfast can become difficult.

The biological reality is that, however, we need breakfast. Our bodies have been “fasting” for the last seven hours and need nourishment. Our brains need nourishment to work. To kick start our brain power, breakfasts should have fat (nuts, seeds, avocadoes, whole eggs), protein (fatty fish, nuts, dairy products, lean meats), and carbs (whole-grain breads, cereals, steel cut oats, quinoa). 

We’re not magical beings, though. And mornings will, most likely, always be busy. Just as you schedule meetings and doctor’s appointments, why not find a way to schedule breakfast? 

strawberry-yogurt

Here are four easy-to-follow tips to make time for the most important meal of the day. 

  1. Who says breakfast has to be … breakfast? Leftovers are a hit in my house for breakfast. Heat up last night’s lasagna, or a bowl of soup for the morning. It’s a great way to use up leftovers and save time (brain time – what’s for breakfast, and prep time).
  2. Plan ahead. Try some easy, fast-and-friendly recipes that you can prepare ahead of time. 
    1. Overnight oats can be prepared the night before. In the morning, add cut-up fruit and nuts for a quick, nourishing breakfast. Or go instant! (Not the pre-packaged kind). Buy instant oats. For every tablespoon, add a half a cup of water or milk, a pinch of salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Serve with cut up fruit and a drizzle of honey. Five minutes!
    2. Make your favorite muffins (pumpkin, pear oatmeal, strawberry bran). Muffins from the store are basically cupcakes. Homemade muffins can use ½ the amount of sugar called for in the recipe and still pack that craved-for-sweet flavor without losing nutritional value. 
    3. Wrap up leftovers (black beans, chicken, cheeses and more) in a whole-wheat tortilla for a yummy breakfast burrito.
  3. Eat … later. Instead of eating in the midst of the morning flurry, plan to get to work fifteen minutes earlier and enjoy your breakfast there. Or, after the kids are out, sit down at the table, be mindful of the food you are putting into your mouth. Ten minutes of quiet eating can fill more than your stomach. It can fill your soul.
  4. Learn to listen to your body and its cues. With so many distractions, we often put our biological needs last. STOP. Stop. Take the time to listen and pay attention. Observe. Proceed. 

September is officially #BetterBreakfastMonth. Starting in World War I, the US Government urged citizens to eat a better breakfast. The need to stop and consider our breakfast habits holds true eve more today. Nourishing your body after a night is essential to start the day right. 

bagel