After growing, giving birth and nursing three babies, I came to appreciate my body in a whole new way extending far beyond what it had done for me physically in my running career. I enjoyed (most) every minute of being pregnant and the sweet months of new motherhood following. With each pregnancy, I allowed myself to step away from my type-A training schedule and expectations of how quickly I should be bouncing back in both athletic ability and appearance. These physical and mental respites were a blessing that helped keep me healthy, happy and centered.
What wasn’t a blessing were the progressively worsening issues I experienced as a result of these big babies, average weight over 9lb pounds! Embarrassing problems like incontinence and bladder prolapse related to pelvic floor weakness and dysfunction and, to a lesser degree, Diastasis Recti, a muscles separation in the abdomen that can contribute to mommy pooch. My doctors were pushing surgery, but I was scared and unsure, so I researched ways to self-correct with specific exercises and have been feeling great for years. I recently discovered the team up between Natalie Hodson and Dr. Monique Middlekauff, a specialist in pelvic floor dysfunction, to create a 30-day program called Abs, Core & Pelvic Floor. This easy-to-follow, at-home program includes many of the things I did and LOTS more, and I am excited to recommend it! Read on to get the details! Continue reading →
The plain truth is, as we get a little older, it’s harder to make muscles and convince them to stick around, especially in the abdominal area. The potential for maximum muscle mass lasts until the 30s, after that it’s a small gradual decline in mass month by month, year by year. Gasp, experts say a sedentary lifestyle can result in a 3 to 5 percent decline per decade! This loss of muscle is often replaced by a little extra padding around the middle or “muffin top,” even if you are in good or reasonable shape overall. Plus, the hormonal changes brought on by peri-menopause or full-on menopause don’t help matters much.
The quest for a flat mid-section or six-pack abs in middle age or older shouldn’t be about rocking a bikini or turning heads at the gym, although I guess these are nice side benefits – but, haven’t we moved past this ego feed?! Instead, appreciate what a strong core through functional fitness can do for your daily living. Strong abs help improve balance, stability, back strength and posture, and, in my opinion, can make you feel and look 10 years younger. A strong core also lessens the chance for injury from actual exercise or random stupid stuff, like twisting the wrong way while holding a bag of groceries, keeping up with your kids, or even playing with grand kids. Read on to get the tips on How To Age Proof Your AbsContinue reading →
Oh, we all have those days when the dreaded bloat is out of control. Personally, sometimes my tummy can stick out more than my butt. I’ve reduced my family to tears of hysteria (and fear) on more than one occasion by sticking out my distended middle as far as humanly possible – I look like a skinny 6-month pregnant woman or have an awful basketball sized tumor! Maybe it’s too much salt, not enough water, low fiber intake, that time of the month . . . or all of the above. I think we can all agree that being bloated and retaining water is not only an uncomfortable feeling, but also a self-confidence shaker – even though we all know that by eating healthfully, this gut grief not a lasting situation. Can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’ll share pictures of me taken within a short period of time — before dinner and already bloated (left) and feeling fabulous early one morning (right)! .
Rather than staying swollen up like a balloon, you can stop the suffering and get on the path to that slim and trim you with my Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie. Packed with all sorts of healthy ingredients that promote healthy digestion and hydration, this green smoothie recipe is also very light, so you don’t have to fret about overdoing the liquid calories.
For under 120 calories, you get a 20-ounce glass of goodness that has no added sugar, progresses you towards your daily fiber needs, and even has a touch of protein from the dandelion (surprise!) It’s also rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin K.
Here’s a rundown on the ingredients and how they can tame your tummy troubles.
Cucumber: Not only is this veggie is loaded with water (95% to be exact) which helps improve hydration, it also is a good source of a flavonoid antioxidant called quercetin that help reduce inflammation and puffiness – that’s why we have all long-loved to put slices over our eyes.
Coconut Water: High in potassium and other electrolytes, this watery juice from inside the coconut helps to flush sodium out of the body and restore healthy hydration levels. For convenience, I love to have this Coconut Water Powder on hand.
Banana: Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps manage fluid levels in our bodies and can assist in shedding salt-related water retention. Also, this dietary fiber in this popular fruit keeps things moving along in your digestive system.
Ginger: This root is a wonder when it comes to health benefits, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, migraine relief and more. It also contains an enzyme that optimized the absorption of proteins and Lessing protein-related bloating and gas in the process.
Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens (as well as the root) are a fantastic detox food that cleanses the liver, flushing toxins and excess water out – perfect if you have lots of water retention. Dandelions have a surprising amount of protein for a “green” and even more calcium than spinach. You can also use the greens (mainly found in the early spring) in salads or sautés or reap benefits from drinking a dandelion tea or taking a dandelion root extract or supplement.
Planks can be compared to eating your veggies or brushing your teeth. You don’t have to like doing it, you just need to get the job done — and it only takes a few minutes per day. Just like vegetables or proper oral hygiene, planks are a great way to look good, feel good, improve your overall health — and attract new friends! Ha ha!
Holding the plank position may look like child’s play, but don’t let the simplicity of this no-equipment, body-weight exercise give you a false sense of bravado.
Planks are hard and humbling. I’ve seen planks that can make grown men and women cry. Recruit a friend to make the pain more fun!
Core strength, balance and flexibility are just some of the benefits you’ll gain from practicing a plank – plus, you’ll stand taller, straighter and prouder! Who am I to judge if you want to pull up your shirt to show off new found abs and obliques. In addition to the abdominals, other muscle groups used include those in the back, chest, shoulders, and neck. Getting into the plank position helps to loosen up hamstrings (lordy, I need that) as well as calves and arches of the feet. Planks also demand concentration and a focus on balance to keep from toppling over, especially in some of the advanced variations.
Being able to hold an abdominal plank for two minutes (with good form) is an indicator of good fitness. Remember to tuck in rear end push belly button up, keeping a straight line from the top of your head to the back of your heels. Try my 5 Minute Plank Workout either in the morning or at the end of your next gym session. It’s just 5 minutes so no excuses, plus you’ll love the results after a few weeks! If you can’t hold the planks for the recommended amount of time, just lower into a resting position until ready to tackle the next one.
Or, try the whole five minutes at once, no variations to break it up — just go for it!
Also, I wanted to tell you to save the date! Prevention Magazine’s third annual R3 Summit is returning to Austin on Jan 15-16. I’ve been the first two years and can’t wait to go back to this health and wellness conference to learn new ways to take action when it comes to my health and happiness ((R3 = Revive, Refresh, and Reinvent).
R3 is an award winning 1 ½-day long experiential event taking place this year at ACL Live at Moody Theater. Guests enjoy a wide scope of wellness workshops, fitness classes, tastings and health and beauty consultations – there is something for everyone and keep an open mind because you may discover something amazing that you never thought was for you – last year I was blown away by the Reiki healing and the artistry of the women doing henna tattoos.
But, you know I was also all about the clean eating demonstrations and meeting the celebrity chefs. I also “competed” in a wild tuna cook off!
Confirmed speakers for the 2016 R3 Summit in Austin on Jan 15-16 are:
Dr. Travis Stork -Emmy®‐nominated host of the award-winning talk show, The Doctors, and a board-certified emergency medicine physician
Lizzie Velasquez -motivational speaker, author and activist, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story
Chad Sarno -culinary media spokesperson for Whole Foods Market and VP of Plant-Based Wellness of Rouxbe Online Culinary School
Monica Pope -James Beard nominated Houston Chef and Restauranteur, Top Chef Masters
Mary Joan Cunninghman – #ThrivewithMS
Dr. Mark Hyman – nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate
Save $20 on a weekend pass by using discount code PVNR3AUFORK at check out on the registration site. If you’re going to be there, let me know so that we can plan a meet up!
One of the perks of finding a really good vanilla protein powered likeBowflex French Vanilla Fitness Shake is that it can be the body-making base for so many healthy recipes – everything from whips, ice creams, baked goods (like my protein donuts) and more! Of course a smoothie is a smart way to use protein powder and my EnlightenMINT Mint Protein Smoothie will leave you with a whole new understanding of light, bright smoothiliciousness while enjoying a full feeling that won’t fatten you up (just 200 calories following the recipe).
In addition to the Bowflex French Vanilla Fitness Shake mix, this EnlightenMINT Mint Protein Smoothie features bits of frozen banana, pineapple, kale and fresh mint leaves. It’s so good, you’ll want do double the recipe to share with a friend.
Here’s how you make it: Add 10 ounces of water to blender jar along with one scoop French Vanilla Fitness Shake powder, 3 oz. frozen banana (about 1/2), 2 oz. frozen pineapple, one kale leaf torn in shreds and 6 mint leaves. Process until smooth, adding ice to desired consistency. Serves 1.
Eating enough protein not only helps slim you down and fill you out in all the right places! That’s right, you can build a better bod by making sure you’re getting 25 – 30 grams of protein and EVERY meal and supplementing with protein-rich snacks throughout the day and at bedtime if you are an athlete or lead a very active lifestyle. Eating enough protein helps create a feeling of satisfaction after meals and keeps sugar crashes away. Research shows that adequate protein at meals starting in the morning can lead to weight loss and management. And, most of us runners, CrossFitters, weight-lifters and other fitness aficionados know that protein after an intense workout is a MUST to support the body’s ongoing growth, repair, and maintenance of its skeletal muscle groups. And, for those of us over 40 years old, it helps fight off Father Time at a time when muscle mass is allegedly supposed to be diminishing.
So, I’ll let you know one of my stay lean secrets. I’ve been drinking Bowflex French Vanilla Fitness Shake all summer and into the fall – it truly is one of the best-tasting protein powders I’ve ever had straight from the shaker bottle. Just put a scoop in with ice and water and give a good shake. It’s has a creamy and rich taste without the addition of anything but water, but you can add one of the Boosters designed for specific purposes:
The fitness shake on its own (not the smoothie recipe) has only 125 calories per serving and 15 grams of the highest quality proteins. In addition you get 5g prebiotic fiber, only 5g sugar and 16 potent antioxidants including acai, goji, pomegranate, mangosteen, spinach, kale and more. It is also lactose free, soy free, low sodium and low fat, whahoo! So nutrient dense, the Bowflex French Vanilla Fitness Shake makes a great meal replacement once a day to drop a few pounds quickly and safely (check out the success stories). For those of you who need more food to fuel your warrior day or want to build muscle, I suggest adding the Peanut Butter Protein booster (+10g) for sustained energy and some extra quality calories.