Apr 012013

PLU code applesDid you know those annoying little stickers on the fresh produce that you purchase in your local grocery store are called PLU codes. It stands for Price Look Up code. If you know what to look for, those numbers can tell you a whole lot more about the fruit or vegetable than just the price. In fact, by simply reading the PLU codes, you can tell if the fruit or vegetable was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilizers, fungicides or herbicides. Here is what to look for; if there are four numbers in the PLU, this means that the produce was grown conventionally or ‘traditionally’ with the use of pesticides. If the PLU contains five digits and starts with the number 8, that item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. If there are five numbers and the PLU starts with a 9, this tells you that the produce was grown organically and was not genetically modified. The next time you are in the produce section take a minute to look at the PLU code on your fresh fruit and vegetables so you know exactly what you are about to purchase. For more information, nutritional statistics, purchasing and storing tips on fresh fruits and vegetables check out these 2 links: Fruit Facts & Helpful Tips and Veggie Facts & Helpful Hints

Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy!  ~ Tanya

Mar 212013

portion distortionIt is no secret; if we eat more calories then we burn off we will gain weight, if we eat less – we lose weight! It is all about the portions and serving sizes or as I like to say the “Portion Distortion!” You can ‘Super Size’ just about everything today. Here are some scary statistics on portions 20 years ago vs. portions today!

* 20 years ago: 140 calories, 3″ in diameter
* Today: 350 calories, 6″ in diameter

Spaghetti & Meatballs
* 20 years ago: 500 calories, 1 cup of spaghetti, 3 small meatballs
* Today: 1,025 calories, 2 cups of spaghetti, 3 large meatballs

French Fries
* 20 years ago: 210 calories, 2.4 oz serving size
* Today: 610 calories, 6.9 oz serving size

I recently read an interesting study; the results showed that even knowledgeable nutritionists and experts tended to exceed standard serving sizes when using bigger plates, bowls or utensils. That makes sense if you think about the above portion sizes and the fact that 20 years ago dishes were a good 2 inches smaller! The most obvious way to avoid ‘Portion Distortion’ is to measure out everything you eat. Good for you if you can do that – otherwise one of the best tools for estimating a proper serving size is your hand.  Although it is not 100% perfect, it does provide a rough estimate!   Best of all – it is customized to fit your needs, for example … continue reading

Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy! ~ Tanya

Feb 252013

cardioWhen it comes to exercise; you can achieve the best results and become a fit and healthy you, when you incorporate the 3 exercise components into your fitness routine; resistance training, aerobic or cardiovascular exercise and flexibility or stretching.  Of the 3 components, cardio is the most common, especially among women.  But whether you are a man or a woman, the American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 5 or 6 days per week to maintain good cardiovascular health.  Studies have shown that for the general population even if you have to break up the 30 minutes into 5 or 10 minute blocks you will still receive positive health benefits.  So lack of time is not an excuse and you can start a cardio program simply by walking.  Experts recommend 10,000 steps per day which equals 5 miles. Though that sounds like a lot, it is doable with some simple changes in your every day routine.  It is a good idea to invest in a pedometer to see how many steps you actually take.  To get to that 10,000 step mark try these easy tips and watch your steps add up:  park in the back of the parking lot, instead of using drive throughs get out of your car and walk inside, always take the stairs, when possible walk to a co workers office instead of sending a text or email and go for a brisk walk at lunch time!

If you are a more advanced exerciser try varying your cardio intensity throughout the week.  I like to break up cardio exercises into light, medium and high intensity days to avoid burn out and over training.  Light cardio intensity is great when you want to do cardio right after a strength training session.  Otherwise for maximum benefit alternate medium and high intensity days with your strength training days.  Change up the intensity with these cardiovascular activities;

High Intensity Cardio – 20 to 30 minutes
Alternate intense work intervals w/ recovery intervals using any kind of cardio (for example: 1 minute sprint than 2 minutes of jogging or walking and repeat)

Medium Intensity Cardio – 45 to 60 minutes
Activities such as general exercise classes, running, treadmill, elliptical, bike

Light Intensity Cardio – 30 to 90 minutes
Activities such as walking, easy jogging, yoga, Pilates

To ensure you receive the maximum benefit from your cardiovascular training it is a good idea to vary your routines, intensity and equipment!  Give it a try for a month and you’ll be amazed at the results!  Of course always begin each session with a warm up for 8 to 10 minutes and end with a full body stretch and cool down!

Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy!  ~ Tanya

Feb 042013

February is all about having a Heart. Nearly 50 years ago February was designated “American Heart Month” by an act of Congress; while over 1,700 years ago, so the story goes, the kindly Bishop Valentine defied the then Roman Emperor’s ban on marriage and was martyred on February 14th around 270 A.D. thus giving birth to Valentine’s Day. The long and short of February; this is the month to address matters of the heart. So I’ll cut to the chase, how healthy is your heart?

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and most Americans are not physically active enough. AHA and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend that all adults (ages 18 to 65) should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week to gain any health benefits. It is really a lot easier than you think when you incorporate a couple of these suggestions into your daily routine.

· Exercise can be as simple as walking, if you are just beginning a fitness routine – start slowly and always listen to your body

· Progress from walking to an easy jog or hills if you are outside

· In the gym be sure to vary the cardio equipment you use

· A great way to really increase the intensity of your cardio workout is to incorporate plyometric training or short bursts of high intensity training, try step ups, box jumps, lunge jumps or jumping jacks

· Remember to incorporate both strength training and cardio to get the best possible results and to keep your heart healthy year round

· Other things that you can do to keep your heart healthy include; monitoring your blood pressure, keeping your cholesterol & blood sugar in check and of course eating healthy

For the more romantic matters of the heart we have Valentine’s Day. Gifts to ones sweetheart such as chocolate, flowers or cards became popular in Victorian times and remain so today. A gift of chocolate on Valentine’s Day not only says “I love you,” but now research shows that it may have real heart healthy benefits! In fact studies have shown that it contains antioxidants & flavonoids that help to lower blood pressure & bad cholesterol. Plus dark chocolate also contains serotonin, a natural mood-boosting anti-depressant and it stimulates pleasure-inducing endorphin production. To be considered true dark chocolate it must be made of at least 65% cacao. European chocolates typically contain the highest amount of the beneficial flavonoids. Even with all the health benefits of dark chocolate – remember, all things in moderation. Just so you know here are some nutritional facts.

· 5 Dove dark chocolate pieces (40 g): 210 calories, 13 g fat

· 4 Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares (43 g): 220 calories, 17 g fat

· Lindt Excellence dark chocolate (40 g portion): 220 calories, 17 g fat

Keep your heart healthy this February and all year long!

Be Fit! Be Healthy! Be Happy!


Jan 242013

“How does the weight I’m lifting translate for different equipment and exercises?”  For example barbells, dumbbells and cables?”

Hi Richard –
Great Question!  Thanks for sending it in!  Next time you workout use these tips to determine your weight!

1.  A good rule of thumb is to double the weight of your dumbbells when switching to a barbell. For example:
Dumbbell Chest Press – 60 pounds
Barbell Chest Press – 120 pounds

2.  When working with stability devices it is a good idea to slightly lower your normal weight, at least for the first couple of times.

3.  Unfortunately cables are a little trickier because of the various pulley systems. When working on one cable machine double the weight of a single handle exercise when using a bar or rope.

4.  Up your weight when you can comfortably complete 2 extra reps in your final set.

Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy!  ~ Tanya


Jan 242013

Sent in from Roxie Schwan

This is one of Roxie’s favorite after workout snacks! It’s so yummy you will forget it’s healthy! With plenty of protein, fiber and iron, it packs a great nutritional punch and when you make it in a parfait glass the presentation is perfect for a healthy dessert or afternoon snack! The kids will love it too!

8 oz of plain yogurt (Greek if possible)
1/2 cup uncooked ready to eat oatmeal
2 tbsp of ground flaxseed
1/4 cup of strawberries
1/4 cup of blueberries

Mix the oatmeal and flaxseed
put 4 oz of yogurt in a parfait glass
layer 1/2 of the oatmeal/flaxseed mixture
layer 1/2 of the strawberries and blueberries
repeat the layers and chill in the refrigerator until serving

Nutritional Content:
Calories: 288
Fat: 6 grams
Fiber: 8 grams
Protein: 30 grams
Iron: 6 mg
Cholesterol: 0

Enjoy your “Power Protein Parfait!” Thanks so much Roxie!

Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy!  ~ Tanya

Dec 072012

1 part Vodka
1 part Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Juice
1/2 part Sprite Zero
1/2 part Triple Sec
Splash of lemon juice

Pour over ice – shake and pour!
Makes 1 Cosmo

Be sure to purchase the diet cranberry juice not the light, you’ll be amazed at the calorie difference!

Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy! ~ Tanya

Remember A Healthy Lifestyle & Exercise Go Hand in Hand!
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Dec 032012

Great for the Holidays and a perfect “Old World Italian Dessert!” It is my Grandmother’s recipe! You can always double the ingredients and make more!

3 eggs
½ teaspoon anise seed or extract (optional)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups flour (all purpose)
½ cup butter, margarine or oil, melted (1/4 pound)
¾ cups sugar

Beat eggs & sugar. Add cooled melted butter or margarine, and vanilla and anise. Sift flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture. Batter will be stiff enough to be dropped by spoon. Batter can be refrigerated to be used at a later time. Makes 30 pizzelles. Bake in pizzelle iron for approximately 30 seconds or until crisp.

Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy!  ~Tanya

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Here’s what our members say …

Dec 022012

The holiday season is here and it is truly a wonderful time of year with family and friends. However, it can be challenging to keep up with our normal routines, it seems like there are more and more gatherings, get togethers and events with more and more food, tasty treats and libations. Top that off with the fact that studies show there is a 15 to 20% decrease in exercising during November and December and all it takes is 180 additional calories everyday between Thanksgiving and New Years to gain 2 pounds. As far as exercise goes, do what you can even if it is only 10 or 15 minutes, it all counts. Remember shopping, dancing, decorating and all the running around we do this time of year burns calories too. To help with all the foods and parties, I have put together a top 10 list of ways to avoid over eating this holiday season – check out the list. My favorite is to use salad or dessert dish instead of larger dinner sized plates!

10. Pay attention to portion sizes
9. Say ‘No Thank You’ to seconds
8. Eat slowly and savor every mouthful
7. Never go to holiday parties or events hungry, skipping meals to save calories generally back fires because you are more likely to over eat when you are famished
6. Check out the food selection and eat only what is special, you can have chips & nachos any time
5. Drink a big glass of water before meals
4. Chose fruit desserts, frozen Yogurt or sorbet instead of cakes, cookies or ice cream
3. When cooking dinner always prepare extra for healthy, ready to eat meals so you’re not tempted to get fast food or take out
2. Offer to bring a healthy snack, appetizer or side dish
1. At parties or buffets use a salad or dessert dish instead of a larger plate

With just a little bit of planning, it is really not that difficult to maintain and not gain during the holiday season! I’d love to hear your favorite – just send a reply below!

Happy Holidays! Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy! ~Tanya

Healthy Eating & Exercise make a great combo!
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