Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Exercise of the Week: Lateral Lunge

 Forget the adductor machine!

This exercise works the butt, hips, legs, and both the inner and outer thighs.

Tip: Stick your butt out so you're able to sit into the movement.


Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips (a). Take a big step to the side with your left leg, then push your hips back, bend your left knee, and lower your body until your left knee is bent 90 degrees (b). This should take two seconds. Push back to start. That's one rep. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

There are No Accidents!

Photo by Matthew Siegfried

"Appreciate everything and everyone. Look upon every experience you've ever had, and everyone who's ever played any role in your life, as having been sent to you for your benefit. In this universe, which was created by a divine, organizing intelligence, there are simply no accidents."

--Wayne Dyer

Re posted from Mind Body Green

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pumpkin and Shiitake Risotto with Crispy Sage

Photo by Claudine

Women's Health Magazine published this recipe in preparation for Halloween.
I was eager to try the Dry-Fried Tofu and Pumpkin Curry but didn't think too much about the Pumpkin and Shiitake Risotto with Crispy Sage recipe on the next page.
I decided, I was buying ingredients anyway, so why not?!
I was completely and utterly blown away - absolutely delicious!

Note: If you can, try buying shiitake mushrooms at a local Asian market like Mitsuwa. Not only do they tend to be less expensive, but they'll be much fresher.

Pumpkin and Shiitake Risotto with Crispy Sage

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes

5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup olive oil
8 sage leaves, plus 2 tsp minced fresh sage
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
3/4 cup plus 4 tsp shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Heat broth in a saucepan until boiling, then keep at a simmer on the stove top.

2. Heat olive oil in a saute pan until hot but not smoking. Add sage leaves and fry until crispy, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.

3. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the sage oil to a 3-or 4-quart saucepan and discard the rest of the oil. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until translucent but not browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice is glistening and coated with oil, 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and wine; cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 cup broth and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring, until liquid is evaporated after each addition and until rice swells but is still al dente, 17 to 18 minutes.

4. Add pumpkin puree, 3/4 cup cheese, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring, until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide risotto among 4 bowls and garnish each with 2 fried sage leaves and 1 teaspoon cheese.

Makes 4 Servings.
Per serving: 240 cal, 7 g fat (2 g sat), 34 g carbs,
680 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 9 g protein

Exercise and the Brain - Shape Magazine

4 Ways Working Out Changes the Human Brain for the Better
By:  Charlotte Andersen
Re-posted from Shape Magazine.

Getting your sweat on does more than just tone the outside of your body —it also causes a series of chemical reactions that help with everything from your mood to your memory. Learning what is happening in your brain can help you use it to your advantage.

A smarter brain. When you exercise you are stressing your body's systems. This mild stress starts a chain reaction to repair the damage by causing your brain to generate new neurons, especially in the hippocampus—the area in charge of learning and memory. These denser neural connections lead to a measurable increase in brain power.

A younger brain. Our brains begin to lose neurons starting at about age 30, and aerobic exercise is one of the few methods proven to not only stop this loss but build new neural connections, making your brain operate like one much younger. And this is beneficial regardless of age, as research shows that exercise helped improve cognitive function in the elderly.

A happier brain. One of the biggest stories from the past year is about how exercise is just as effective for relieving mild depression and anxiety as medication. And for more severe cases, using exercise in conjunction with anti-depressants produces better results than the meds alone.

A stronger brain. Endorphins, those magic chemicals revered for causing everything from the "runner's high" to an extra push at the end of a triathlon, work by inhibiting your brain's response to pain and stress signals, ergo making exercise less painful and more fun. They also help your brain become more resistant to stress and pain in the future.

So how is it that with all of these great benefits only 15 percent of Americans report exercising regularly? Blame one last trick of our brains: our inherent dislike of delayed gratification. It takes 30 minutes for the endorphins to kick in and as one researcher put it, "While exercise is attractive in theory, it can often be rather painful in actuality, and the discomfort of exercise is more immediately felt than its benefits."

But knowing this can help you conquer the instinct. Figuring out how to work through the initial pain reaps benefits far beyond looking good on the beach next summer.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Holstee Manifesto

Pumpkin Waffles

From Rodale - another quick yet delicious recipe for a healthy on-the-go breakfast.

Photo: John Kernick
5 egg whites
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup low-fat soy milk
1 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Coat a nonstick waffle iron with cooking spray. Preheat according to the manufacturer's directions.
2. Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the soy milk, pumpkin, honey, oil, and vanilla just until blended. Gently fold in the egg whites until just combined.
4. Spoon 1/2 cup of batter on the bottom grids, covering two-thirds of the grids. Close the iron and bake according to the manufacturer's directions.
5. Using a rubber spatula, carefully remove the waffle from the iron. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Sweet (Low-Fat) Treat

Chocolate Chocolate Brownie Cups

Recipe from Devin Alexander's THE MOST DECADENT DIET EVER!
Copyright © 2008 by Devin Alexander published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House Inc.

½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg whites
2 cups sugar in the raw
½ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet), divided
Butter-flavored cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly mist 2 12-cup non-stick mini-muffin tins with spray.
In a large mixing bowl, using a sturdy whisk or spatula, mix the applesauce, vanilla, egg whites and sugar until they are well combined. Add the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir the mixture until it is just combined and no lumps remain. Working in batches, fill each cup until it is just barely full. Sprinkle about one fourth of the chips evenly over the brownies in each of the tins. Bake them for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry (a few crumbs are okay).
Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow them to cool 5 minutes. Using a butter knife, gently lift the brownies from the muffin tins (if they are sticking, gentle run the knife around the edge of each cup). Allow them to cool another 10 minutes. Repeat with the second half of the batter and the remaining chips.

Because they are so low in fat, stick them in the freezer once they cool. They'll stay fresh and they're great right out of the freezer.

Makes 48 brownie cups; 24 servings.
Each serving (2 brownies) has: 109 calories, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, <1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, trace fiber, 139 mg sodium
Traditional brownie cups (2 brownies) have: 260 calories, 3 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 165 mg sodium

"You Are NEVER too Pregnant to do Handstands on P-Bars!"

Thanks CrossFit Gymnastics for a great title and photo!

CrossFit Gymnastics

Take Every Other Step

Photo Courtesy of Rob Hammer

Next time you're running the stairs or just climbing them up to your apartment, take every other step.

You'll burn more calories - up to 90 extra an hour - than if you climb the stairs one by one, according to a new study at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

"You use bigger muscle groups when you skip a step," lead author Jinger Gottschall, Ph.D., says. "Since these muscles require more energy to be active, you'll end up burning more calories."

- Published in Fitness Magazine February 2011

Train Like a Ballerina

Photo by Stacey Mark

Inspired by Black Swan or just want to sculpt a ballerina's body?
Look no further than Ballet Beautiful. Mary Helen Bowers trained Natalie Portman for her performance in The Black Swan; and she can train you!
For more ballet-inspired workouts, visit: Barre: This Week's Grobby.

Never be sorry, for what made you smile!

Never be sorry,  - for what made you smile.

Gymnast Alyona Aikina

You Only Need 3 Things to Get Fit

Re-posted from SmashFit.

Your fitness is only as complicated as your make it, but it boils down to a few key ingredients. There are only a few things you absolutely need to get started, and these are the top 3.

1. You need to want it. Badly.
You need to be able to see that what you give up (wrong foods, bad habits) will pay you back 10-fold and more in how great you'll look and feel.

2. You need determination.
Things won't always be easy or work out the way you want them to. It's the nature of the beast. So you have to be prepared to try it again, and another way, and again, until it works out.

3. You need patience.
It takes time to reshape the body, re-train muscles, shed layers that have been there for years, and get the body adjusted to new movement and nutrition. But do the right things long enough and your body will have no option but to respond.

Once you have these, then building your body will just be a matter of time... and patience.

A big thanks to: Heather Frey

Founder of, Fitness X-pert for the TV show Miami Moms on NBC Miami Nonstop, CPT, Writer, Artist, Fitness Model, National Figure Competitor

The Ballerina Project

I absolutely love these images.
Dane Shitagi effortlessly combines the beauty of dance with the beauty of the city.

How Happiness Affects Weight Loss

Heard of fake it till you make it?
Turns out, having a positive outlook before losing weight increases your chances of actually getting fit.
1. Choose your words wisely.
2. Be mindful when exercising.
3. Fake it until you feel it. 

Cherry Tomatoes

Taken by: Claudine at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oatmeal Banana Flax Muffins


I'm always on the lookout for quick, healthy, and above all, easy breakfast ideas; mostly because I'd rather spend those extra minutes in bed. These oatmeal, banana, flax muffins, courtesy of Peanut Butter Fingers and Shape Magazine fit the bill perfectly. I make them ahead of time, freeze, and pop in the microwave in the morning. Add a hard boiled egg, a piece of fruit, or top with peanut butter and you're set. 

¾ c. whole wheat flour
½ c. old fashioned oats
¼ c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. ground flax seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 egg white
2 ½ tbsp. canola oil
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 small banana, mashed
½ c. milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with six paper muffin cups. Combine whole wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, flax seeds, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together egg white, oil, vanilla, banana, and milk. Gradually mix flour mixture into egg mixture until batter is combined. Divide the batter into the six muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes.