South Beach Food and Wine Festival

The South Beach Wine and Food Festival started as a small food tasting event at Florida International University and over the past 12 years, has grown to include wines and dishes prepared by major celebrity chefs. The event has become so large that that had to move the venue to South Beach and the Food Network became a sponsor. All of the money that is made goes to FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.



One of the events in the SOBEWFF was the House of Mandela Wines at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Hotel. This event was Nelson Mandela’s daughter and granddaughter introducing their personal collection of wines from their vineyards in South Africa for the first time. They are not out for sale yet and won’t be until April and the 65 guests that purchased tickets to the event were the first people to ever try it. Tukwini Mandela, his granddaughter and Makaziwe Mandela, his daughter were both there and they sat down with the guests and all had South African dishes made by Head Chef Micah Edelstein. FIU students working the event don’t getto  formally attend the events but they are allowed to taste the amazing dishes. This was by far one of the most interesting events in terms of the food, since the dishes were South African in origin and every course was made to be paired with one of the Mandela’s wines.


Pictured above is the Four Story Hill Poussin, Hoenderlewer Peri Peri, Chakalaka, Pap, Celery-Ver Jus prepared by Chef Richard Gras. Picture below is the Koeksisters-spiced Pastry Dough with orange Custard, South Africa Rooibos Ginger Honey Sauce & Greek Yogurt Ice Cream and South African Coffee Chocolate Bonbons prepared by Chef Antonio Bachour.

Special thanks to Andrea Lacayo, a student at Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. To read more on this wonderful event, please visit


Yoga Starters

I LOVE yoga, it’s one of my favorite practices. Some people tend to be a little intimidated by it but it’s not as scary as you think! I have been practicing for about a year and I can promise you, I am no pro nor am I very flexible. If you want to try yoga but are fearful that you’ll embarrass yourself (which you won’t), here are a few poses to try out!

Seated Pose- Keep your back straight, shoulders back and squared. Palms facing up if you are open to energy flow or palms facing down if you need grounding.

Downward Dog- This pose on all fours making an upside down V. Fingers should be spread and you should be pushing your heels to be flat onto the mat. Your weight should be well-distributed on your feet and hands. Also, your shoulders should be squared and away from your ears. If you are unsure about your pose, start in a plank and bring yourself to a Downward Dog. This will insure that your feet and hands are the right distance apart.

Upward Dog- If this is too much, you can bring your knees to the ground. Make sure you keep your shoulders back, and square. Do not let them crunch up to your ears.

Pigeon Pose- This is a great hip opener. Start this pose by keeping your upper body straight and your shoulders square and back. To go deeper into your stretch, put your head on the ground over your knee and stretch your arms forward. You can also make your bent leg into more of a right angle if you need a deeper stretch.

Warrior 2- Make sure the knee stays above the ankle and your arms are in line. Keep your drishti (focal point) on your finger tips and keep your body straight by pulling your hips in and not letting your butt be too far out. To go deeper into this pose, slide your back foot farther back, keeping your knee above your ankle.

Warrior 3- This is a great balance pose. Try to keep your arms and back leg in a straight line (if you can. As you can see, mine isn’t perfect). 

Triangle Pose- Make sure to keep your shoulders stacked and your arms in a straight line. To go further, slide your feet farther apart, keeping your shoulders stacked.

Tree Pose- This is another great beginner’s balance pose. When placing your foot on the opposing leg, make sure you either place it above or below your knee, never on it. 
Savasana (Corpse Pose)-
Best advice for this pose? Relax!

If you are still unsure about yoga, try going to a class at your gym where you have a membership to feel out the classes before getting one at a studio.


P.S.- Props to Nicole Gianfalla for taking the pictures 🙂

Green Juice

I’ve noticed lately on just about every social network I have, that Green Juice or Green Juice smoothies are the newest fad. But why? What are they? I took some common questions that I and others have had, and did the research.

photoWhat is Green Juice?
Green juice is juice made out of your dark green vegetables.

Is Green Juice better than fruit juice?
It is. Your green vegetables contain a lot of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Magnesium which help with Calcium absorption. The Chlorophyll in your vegetables, which gives them their green pigment, has a Magnesium atom at its center which helps regulate Vitamin D and Calcium deficiency. Opposed to your fruits, which are still healthy for you but also contain a lot more sugar.

What vegetables should I put in my Green Juice?
There are tons of recipes out there for you to use. One thing to keep in mind is that you should always rotate the greens you’re using. Plants carry a trace of alkaloids (which in small doses is okay) and you don’t want the same alkaloids to build up in your system.

Here’s a few good ingredients to start off with: Kale, Spinach, Lettuce (the dark green parts) and a Green Apple.

So, after my research, I found my way to a vegetarian restaurant and tried it for myself. And loved it! The flavor I had was kale, avocado and banana. In conclusion, I think this fad is well deserved. If you are going to start drinking green juice, I would only do it as often as you would drink fruit juice.

Happy Green!

Real People, Real Fitness: Daniel Tinajero

Powerlifting is a competition or sport involving three tests of strength: the bench press, squat, and two-handed dead lift. The difference between weightlifters and powerlifters? Powerlifting tests absolute strength as the bar is moved a distance in a relatively uncomplicated manner, making these events the heaviest in terms of poundage. Daniel Tinajoero is a sponsored Professional Powerlifter out of Orlando, Florida, and was chosen for Real People, Real Fitness because of his involvement in this very intense sport (and his awesome two-page spread in Power Magazine!)

FLTTH: What got you interested in becoming a powerlifter? How did you get started?
DT: As a child, I spent a lot of time outside playing sports and doing other high intensity activities such as acrobatics, making obstacle courses, etc. I started gaining interest in being more muscular and athletic in the 8th grade in the year 2000. I had only a few weeks in the “weight room” in middle school, but it was enough to spark my interest in the iron. When I started high school, I enrolled in a beginners weightlifting class as an elective. The teacher, Tony Bolyard, was also the head coach for the boy’s weightlifting team. Reluctantly, I was finally talked into competing for the team. I was able to win first place in the first competition with only having about 6 months of experience in the weight room. I knew right away that this was something I would excel at and my competitive nature left me with no other option than to pursue being the best. I give Coach Bolyard most of the credit for nudging me into deciding to compete, but it was only a matter of time before I would have sought out the thrill of competing. I competed four years in high school weightlifting, with the main moves being the benchpress, a powerlifting movement, and the clean and jerk, an Olympic move. After high school, I knew that I wanted to continue competing in strength sports, but I had a very big decision to make: I could either choose to train for powerlifting or Olympic lifting. I knew that to be the best in one, you cannot train to be the best in both. It is simply unrealistic due to the nature of the moves being so different. I had a conversation with a close friend John Land, and the conclusion of that convo led me into the powerlifting world. It seemed much more exciting and the possibilities are much broader in the world of powerlifting. I did a small local meet in my junior year of high school that consisted of two out of three of the powerlifts, and I wouldn’t compete in my first full powerlifting meet including the squat, bench and deadlift until after graduating in 2005.

FLTTH: How much could you bench press, squat and dead lift when you started? How much can you now?
DT: As a novice to powerlifting, I had a lot of experience with the benchpress from my high school weightlifting days, but I had little experience squatting and deadlifting in the same manner as powerlifters. I believe early on, my best lifts were a 365lbs squat, 335lbs bench, and 455lbs deadlift at about 160 lbs body weight. To this date, my best raw lifts are 605lbs squat, 435lbs benchpress, and 655lbs deadlift. My best lifts equipped using powerlifting suits include a 900lbs squat, 700lbs benchpress, and 725lbs deadlift. All of these numbers were done roughly at 201lbs body weight.

FLTTH: How often a week do you have to lift to keep the strength you have now? How often to become stronger?
DT: I am always pursuing strength, so maintaining is never really a focus. I will train differently at different times of the year, but the amount of days stay between 3-5. When I’m  training my heaviest, I will sometimes lift 3 or 4 times a week to help contribute to recovery. During lighter phases of the year, I am able to add in a 5th day to hit neglected weak areas.

FLTTH: Does your weekly exercise routine also include cardio? Why or why not?
DT: I do not include cardio solely. It can be quite detrimental to strength gains and recovery. There is no need in my sport, and I tend to stay fairly low in body fat. That is not to say that some of the work that I do doesn’t conditioning, but I don’t focus on a cardio specific workout.

FLTTH: What does your diet consist of? Do you have dos or don’ts that help or hurt your lifting?
DT: There aren’t really any “don’ts” in this sport, but there are certainly plenty of things that are a must. High calorie is essential to maximizing strength and recovery with getting lots of each nutrient. Your diet needs plenty of healthy fats to help with joint health and cholesterol regulation. Carbohydrates fuel the muscles and give you the energy to keep going on for the next workout. Protein is a vital nutrient in specifically rebuilding the muscles between workouts. So essentially, you need to get lots of each of these in appropriate quantities that is unique to your own body. You have to experiment and see what works best with your body. Having said all of that, I try to keep a natural, clean approach to getting these nutrients in. of course, I have plenty of sweets cravings, but I make sure to get in the good food first, and then I can eat whatever I want after.

FLTTH: What is your routine for cutting weight before a competition?
DT: Disclaimer: The way that I cut weight for a meet is not advisable to anyone looking to lose weight. This is not a method for losing fat, nor keeping weight off. I will start my process about 4 days away from weigh-ins for competition. On this day, I will overload on foods with carbohydrates and sodium. Also important, I will consume a minimum of 2 gallons of water up to 3 gallons. For the next 3 days, I will drop the carbohydrates and sodium levels to a minimum and continue with the high water intake to help flush out electrolytes and other nutrients that contribute to water retention. Usually, I can keep my sanity with less than 20 grams, but I cannot go without carbs completely. At about 20 hours out, if I am still way over my weight class, I will start to sweat out the remaining water weight via sauna or hot tub. Once I weigh-in, I will pack it all back on as fast as possible. This will include lots of carbs, water, and high electrolyte sources such as Pedialyte and/or Gatorade.

FLTTH: What advice would you give to someone trying to become a powerlifter?
DT: The biggest piece of advice I can give to aspiring powerlifters is listen to your body. A lot of guys get the “more is better”, and they lose sight of capabilities of the human body. To maximize gains, one must feed plenty, rest plenty, and respect the body as a whole. This means getting a disciplined grip on diet, sleep routine, and lifting schedule to allow for max recovery.

Any questions for Daniel? Comment below or email me at

Happy lifting!

Real People, Real Fitness: Brooke Neilson

Brooke Neilson is an American performer who belongs to Valencia College’s Valencia Dance Theatre, the only college in Florida that has its own dance company. She practiced gymnastics for 15 years, acrobatics for 5 years and has been dancing for 4 years with Valencia College. Brooke specializes in both Ballet and Modern dance as well as being well-balanced in Jazz and Hip Hop. Below, you can see her on the far right in Valencia College’s 14th Annual Choreographers’ Showcase.

Being a professional dancer is one of the most physically taxing careers out there, which is why Brooke Neilson was chosen for this segment of Real People, Real Fitness.

FLTTH: How many days a week do you dance? And for how long?
BN: I dance 6 days a week. My normal classes are about an hour and 15 minutes. I have 2 classes a day. We also have other rehearsals for shows that not only the company performs but also for other choreography classes

FLTTH: What kind of toll does it take on your body?
BN: It is a very tiring sport especially with the commitment we have to make to each and every dance. As long as you take care of your body, you can dance for a very long time. However, some kind of injury and body aches are inevitable. Achy knees, tendonitis in your ankles, feet, toes are all possibilities not to mention a twisted ankle or worse, a broken bone are all very possible. An injury for a dancer can end your career permanently.

FLTTH: How do you take care of yourself or recoup from that?
BN: Dancers live in sweats. This keeps our muscles warm constantly as to not tear or damage our muscles.
Tiger balm is also a dancer’s best friend! It’s basically a natural icy hot for your sore muscles.
Eat! Eat! Eat! Your body needs proper nutrition to recoup and also to give you energy to perform. You do not sit in a dance class so you must be ready to bust your butt and prepared to take on any challenge thrown at you by your instructor.

FLTTH: What does your diet consist of? Are there certain foods that are “dos” or “don’ts” for you?
BN: My diet consists of protein, carbs, fruits and vegetables. BREAKFASTS ARE A MUST! Dos are: oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, fruit, any sort of protein in the morning is great as long as you have a carb with it. Dancers love BACON! Turkey and/or ham with cheese make a good sandwich if you’re not big on breakfast foods. Nuts and crackers are always a good snack, some times cereal (depending on the sugar content). It’s typical for any athlete to eat every 2 hours (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner). For lunch and dinner I usually have either red meat, chicken and/or fish with a salad or some kind of greens. Pasta is also good for the night before a big show to keep you going.
Don’t: any kind of excessive sugar! Fruits have a natural sugar to get you going but they don’t last long energy wise. My biggest weakness is salt so when I’m dancing I am always aware of my salt/sodium intake. If I can help it, I try to never eat anything out of a package, I always go organic. Also, when I get a salad, watch the kind of dressing you get.  Salads and greens are really healthy for you and can help you lose weight, but the salad dressing is just extra unnecessary fat that your adding to it. I always get mine on the side so I can control how much of it I eat. I, personally, am not much of a sweets person so I don’t normally do dessert but I feel it’s necessary to indulge every once in a while. Lastly, absolutely NO SODA!! Water, water, water. Save the Gatorade/ vitamin water for after your work out but never before or during a work out.

FLTTH: The performing world is known for dancer’s having eating disorders, what are your thoughts on this? Have you ever felt pressured to lose weight?
BN: The dancing world is very critical and harsh on you, your body and mind. You get hired, fired, promoted based on your looks. Our body is our instrument and it’s the only thing that we have to “speak” with; express ourselves, if you will. With it being a dog eat dog lifestyle, there comes some extremists. Same as any other sport like weight lifting, biking, even baseball with the use of steroids, for example. Dancing is just like any other sport, you are judged on how you look, and some times some people think that bulimia and other eating disorders are the way to go. Although the dancing world has gotten better about these kinds of things, it still exists.
I have never felt pressured to lose weight. I have always been active my whole life and have been very lucky to be born into a family with good genes and eating habits.

FLTTH: What are some things you do to stay in shape when you aren’t dancing?
BN: When I’m not dancing, I do activities to help strengthen and maintain the muscles I developed during dance. I mostly swim and do lots of yoga. Neither of which are harsh on the joints and they elongate my muscles so as to not bulk me up as my muscles tend to do because of my height, genes and the amount of gymnastics I’ve done in the past. Another good exercise is spinning or walking, not running (thought running is good cardio, it is harsh on the joints).

FLTTH: What is advice that you would give to people trying to get in shape through dancing?
BN: My advise to people trying to lose weight is that diets don’t work. If you eat properly and regularly as well as do some kind of exercise like I’ve previously stated. But eating healthy will only get you so far, you MUST be active in some way. It’s good for your body, mind and soul.

Have any questions for Brooke? Comment or email me at

Must Haves for Fitness at Home

There are several “at home” fitness plans out there, but most forget to tell you that you need equipment. From my personal experience, if I don’t have the equipment I end up not doing that work out. To be successful in “at home” fitness and to get the optimal exercise, you may need to invest a few bucks in what I call the “must haves”.

Resistance Bands
-Why are they used? Resistance bands create tension no matter which direction you move, versus weights which create tension when gravity is working against you.
-Where are they used? I see resistance bands in just about every “at home” work out regiment. You can work every muscle on your body if you ise them correctly. Click here for an example.
-Where can I get them cheap? Try here!

-Why are they used? Weights are used to create more muscle tone by making your muscles work harder. They are great for upper body work outs, squats and lunges.
-Where are they used? Everywhere! Sometimes your own body weight isn’t enough to work your muscles. Click here for an example.
-Where can I get them cheap? If you aren’t looking for anything too heavy, look here!

-Why are they used? To give your hands, feet and tush a cushion during yoga or even other exercises.
-Where are they used? In any yoga and pilates class. They are also great for doing floor exercises at home. Find some examples here.
-Where can I get one cheap? Look here!

Get your fit on!

Misconceptions on Metabolism

Growing up naturally skinny, I’ve heard a lot of different statements about my metabolism.
“Girl, you could burn through that entire cake.”
“Her metabolism is so fast, she can eat whatever she wants.”
“If I had a metabolism like yours, I wouldn’t have to diet.”

The misconception that I commonly see is that people think that having a high metabolism means you can eat whatever you want. How can I put this? No. Nope. NICHT! 沒有.Nej. ノー. Not today. Not ever.


Your metabolism isn’t about calories, it’s about chemistry. Your metabolism is a series of chemical reactions within cells that help sustain life within their organisms (humans, animals, etc.). These reactions make it possible for organisms to grow, maintain their structures, reproduce and respond to changes in their environments. If the chemistry happens quickly or effectively, THAT is when you have a high metabolism. The speed of your metabolism (also known as your metabolic rate) is what determines how much food is required to sustain the organism. Metabolism does have to do with how your body converts food into fuel, but it’s not all about that.

So, what decides my metabolism?

-Genes: Pretty straight forward, what you get from your parents. If they have faster metabolic rates, odds are that you will too.
Age: Your metabolism slows about 5% every decade after you turn 40.
Gender: Men tend to have a higher metabolic rate at rest than women do.
Weight: When you are overweight, your metabolic rate is actually higher. The extra weight on the body causes it to work harder just to sustain itself. This is why it’s easier to lose the first few pounds when you start eating a balanced diet as well as exercising.
Exercise: The more often you exercise, the more often the mitochondria in your muscle cells are using ATP. Therefore, the more reactions you use, the more that need to be made.
Body Mass Proportion: Muscles involve more chemical reactions then fat which means that the more muscle you have over fat, the higher your metabolic rate.
Diet: Having a balanced diet means that you are providing the body with everything it needs and limiting what it doesn’t need. When the body gets what it needs and gets it often, it can carry out every chemical reaction within the cells knowing that it will get more sustenance soon. When you don’t eat a balanced diet and don’t eat often, the body slows down its reactions required to help sustain you because it doesn’t know the next time it will get sustenance, aka, slowing down your metabolic rate. This is why it is advised that people eat small, nutritious meals often.

Be educated!

Weight Loss Advice

Getting my degree in Dietetics and Kinesiology, I get A LOT of questions from friends, family and strangers about weight loss and the best way to do it. Here are a few key pieces of advice that I give them.
weight loss advice

1. Don’t get on the scale every day. Most people healthily lose 1-2 pounds a week through eating a balanced diet and exercising. By weighing yourself every day, you’ll only see a fraction of a pound difference and that can cause you to get discouraged. I suggest weighing yourself once a week or bi-weekly.

2. Don’t obsess over the number. Muscle weighs more than fat and optimal weight loss happens through a good diet and exercise (and by diet I don’t mean a diet, I mean what you eat). This means that you will be losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time which can cause your weight to be different then your goal weight. I suggest investing in how you look and feel. This goes along with “Skinny vs. Healthy”.

3. It’s not just about calories. I often encourage people to use MyFitnessPal as a way to track their diet. This is a great tool for counting calories, but a lot of people make the mistake of counting the calories and nothing else. You also need to pay attention to the grams of fat, sugar and sodium that you are consuming.

4. Even girls need to lift weights. A lot of sites tell you how you need cardio for weight loss, but don’t stress how important weights are. Don’t get me wrong, you DO need daily cardio, but would you build a house with only one tool? No, you would use many, and that’s where weights come in. Using low weights in high reps is one of the best ways to slim down, or high weights in low reps for bulking up.

5. Don’t compare yourself. It’s hard not to, but don’t. Everyone has different body types, muscle tones, diets and metabolisms. Your body will never look exactly like someone else’s, but that doesn’t mean your body can’t look great.

6. Be in the right mind set. For me, anger or frustration is a great fuel for running, but that causes me to hold onto that anger so that I can continue to have that power for running. Don’t do that! Trying to make your ex jealous or wanting to look great at the beach is great for initial motivation, just make sure that you shift that energy as you become more dedicated to bettering yourself.

7. Be clean in all aspects of your life that you can control. I mean your apartment, your car, your desk at work, your backpack for school, your fridge, under your bed, in your shower, etc. Have your life as together and neat as you can make it, because then everything else will flow and it makes you less stressed. I struggle with this when it comes to keeping my car clean. But when my car is organized and not cluttered, I feel relieved, and then I don’t have an excuse to not go to the gym.

8. Eat vegetables! No seriously, if you don’t like them you should start.

Hopefully this advice helps you out. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or email me at

8 Week Boot Camp- Week 1-5

Hello All! I hope everyone enjoyed their relaxing holidays, because all of that lying around and eating is over.

I present to you (drum roll, please) The 8 Week Boot Camp! For those of you who are thinking about Spring Break, it’s about 8 weeks away depending on where you go to school. I’ve split the plan into two parts, and here is your first one. The best part about this plan is that if you subscribe to the blog, each day you will get an email of the workouts for that day, how to do them and other fantastic information that will ultimately help you become healthier. And to prove how great it is, I will also be doing the 8 Week plan, because there is nothing I would make you do that I wouldn’t do myself!

Click on the picture. Make it your desktop background, print it off, whatever you need to do!

workout week1-4plan

Good luck!

Avocado-Yogurt Dip

Ever sick of plain, old guacamole? Try this healthy dip revamp! It’s great with vegetable sticks or chips
*Prepare the night before for optimal taste*

3 ripe peeled avocados, seeded and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper (include the seeds)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth or a consistency you like

How to Survive Resolutionists at the Gym

bikramThe three worst times to go to the gym are as follows:
1. Any time from 5pm-7pm, when people are getting off work.
2. On a Monday.
3. The month of January.

And, I of course, made the mistake of doing all three. Now, I have nothing against people wanting to be in shape. I think it’s fantastic. And if you are one of the many who started as your New Year’s Resolution, keep going! But, for the rest of us who exercise regularly all year, this can be a very frustrating time. So I have compiled a list of ways to survive these crowded times at the gym.

1. Be Time Conscious: If you’re in a rush to exercise and then run home or if you have plans you need to get to, you might want to skip the gym or workout from home. Around this time of the year, it’s better to give yourself a large amount of time to get all of your workouts done or you might become frustrated.
2. Have Patience: Everyone, including their mother, brother-in-law and three best friends, are at the gym trying to get fit for the Spring and Summer months. YOU WILL have to wait for a machine. In the meantime, do a workout while you wait like in place lunges or squats.
3. Be Kind: People who are at the gym or either Regulars or Resolutionists. This means that they are either irritated with the crowded-ness of the gym or they are self-conscious about their lack of knowledge. A little kindness can go a long way, whether it be someone letting you use the machine they’re on or ensuring that someone is comfortable enough to come back.
4. Have a Game Plan: When you’re heading to the gym, figure out what it was that you want to work that day. That way, if one of your machines isn’t open, you have a few back up options that you can do in the meantime.
5. Reschedule: If the time you go is too packed, see if you have another window of time in your schedule and try to go then.

Good Luck!

Garlic-Parmesan Popcorn

This recipe is a perfect revamp to a classic snack! And still healthy too.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup unpopped popcorn
1 teaspoon of salt
(you can substitute the items above with microwave popcorn and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder)
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then remove saucepan from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Warm vegetable oil in a large, deep pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. When oil is hot, add unpopped popcorn, cover pot, and cook 1 minute. Continuously slide pot back and forth over burner until popcorn begins to pop. Continue cooking and shaking pot until popping subsides, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and transfer popcorn to large serving bowl.
Pour butter-garlic mixture over popcorn, sprinkle with Parmesan and cayenne and toss to coat. Season with salt and serve
*If using microwave popcorn, pre-mix the cayenne pepper, parmesan and garlic powder. After popcorn is done popping, immediately pour into bowl and toss mixture until all pieces are coated.

Enjoy! -Meaghan

Fitness for the Busy

syd-5aerlntueyg1b1urwbro_layoutOver Christmas break, my family and I were watching TV and a commercial for a new miracle drug to help people lose weight came on and I stated “or they could eat right and exercise like everyone else.” That’s when my cousin’s wife looked at me and said “that’s great in theory, but for some of us it’s hard to find the time.” So I began to think about how much time it takes to exercise. When I first started getting serious about my fitness, I dreaded going to the gym unless I was with a friend. It just seemed like it took SO much of my time. In reality, it’s probably the shortest thing you can do in a day and to prove it, I timed myself doing some different exercises.

Running 3 miles- 45 minutes (at my absolute slowest)- About 300 calories
Walking my dog- 20-45 minutes– About 65-141 calories
Zumba class- 55 minutes– Average from 300-440 calories
100 jumping jacks- 1 minute and 32 seconds
100 crunches- 1 minute and 14 seconds
50 lunges (25 each leg)- 1 minute and 14 seconds
25 squats- 53 seconds

I won’t sugarcoat it for you, getting into the groove of working out can take some time, especially if you’re busy. Personally, I used to have a 35 hour work week, college courses, church, a dog, spending time with my parents, siblings and four best friends and not to mention finding time to sleep. Did I do squats in the break room at work? Absolutely. Did I do crunches while watching Law and Order. You bet! Did I run before NFL Sundays? Always. Do I sound crazy? Most likely. But you have to be crazy to look crazy good.


Morning Hunger

“If you don’t wake up starving in the morning, you’re doing something wrong.”

This advice was given to me from my ballet professor when she was explaining to us how to eat before and after ballet, and I have to say it’s 100% true. Before the class, I have never been much of an early breakfast person; I can eat a full meal at 10 am but not much before that. Then I started doing ballet at 7:30am twice a week and found myself vigorously eating before and after each class.

If you’re not hungry in the morning, you may be eating too much late in the night. Start with something small like a banana or oatmeal and work your way up from there as you get a bigger appetite.

Moral of the story: eat your breakfast, kids.




If you have ever searched the Internet for “Weight Loss”, then you know there are a number of foods that help you lose weight, better known as superfoods. The biggest problem with these superfoods is that people don’t know different ways to prepare them and end up getting bored eating the same ol’, same ol’. Below is a list of common superfoods that are linked to creative ways to eat them that doesn’t bust the belt!

Salmon: Lean source in protein and a better alternative to red meats. Also filled with Omega-3s!
Blueberries: One serving offers 4 grams of fiber and will only set you back 80 calories.
Avocados: Filled with monounsaturated fats, avocados can quiet hunger.
Oats: Rich in fiber and they boost your metabolism. They also make you less hungry throughout the day.
Potatoes: Rich in resistance starch, potatoes can help your body burn fat.
Black Beans: Filled with 15 grams of protein per serving, black beans are a great substitute to fatty meats.
Broccoli: This fiber rich, cancer fighting food is less than 30 calories per serving.
Brown Rice: This fiber packed rice is a lower-energy food so you feel full faster.
Grapefruit: This fruit can lower insulin which also lowers your fat storage.
Kidney Beans: These beans offer more that 5 grams of protein and fiber per serving.
Almonds: Rich in healthy fats, this is a great snack for runners.
Green Tea: 5 cups a day will help you lose twice as much weight. The antioxidants will also boost your fat and calorie burn.
Bananas: Great snack before a workout and great for runners, bananas are filled with resistant starches.
Quinoa: This whole grain will help you stay full longer.
Garbanzo Beans: Great source of protein, fiber and healthy fats.

Click on these pictures for some recipes!

salmon   blueberries  avocados  oats  potatoes
black beans  broccolli  brown rice  grapefruit  kidney beans

almonds  green tea  bananas  quinoa  garbanzo

Dukan Diet- Phase 2

For Phase 2, you are allowed to add vegetables every few days (if you want to lose 3 more pounds, eat them every 3 days). Below is a list of what was added.


-Green beans
-Carrots, beetroot and artichokes can also be included occasionally

My favorite way of consuming these vegetable was by juicing. I am an avid juicer and nothing sounds greater to me than having green juice for breakfast. This phase is where your weight loss begins to plateau since your metabolism is adjusting to your new and lighter weight. This is the phase that people tend to find themselves in for a long time, depending on how much weight they’re trying to lose. It is also challenging for non-vegetable lovers that are tired of eating strictly meat from Phase 1.

Important Nutrients for Vegetarians

According to Vegetarian Nutrition, a dietetic practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, no matter what type of vegetarian you are, there are 5 nutrients you need to make sure are present in your diet.

Vegetarians should consume a variety of calcium sources so they can meet daily requirements. Studies have shown that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than their non-vegetarian counterparts.

Dairy products are a rich source of calcium. If dairy products are not included in your diet, adequate amounts of calcium can be obtained from plant foods. Here is a list of vegetarian-friendly sources of calcium:

  • Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese*
  • Fortified soymilk or rice milk
  • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals
  • Calcium-fortified juice
  • Calcium-set tofu
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Beans
  • Almonds and almond butter
  • Sesame seeds and sesame butter (tahini)
  • Soybean nuts

Vegetarians should consume a variety of iron sources. Consuming a good source of vitamin C (citrus fruits, orange juice, tomatoes) at each meal increases iron absorption.

Sources include:

  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Soybean nuts
  • Dark green, leafy greens
  • Beans
  • Enriched breads, rice and pasta
  • Eggs*
  • Peanut butter

Protein is found in most plant foods as well as animal foods. Your body will make its own complete protein if a variety of foods and enough calories are eaten during the day.

Vegetarian sources of protein include:

  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Soy products
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs*

Vitamin B12
B12 is found in all foods of animal origin, including eggs and dairy products. An adequate intake of vitamin B12 is generally not a concern for vegetarians who eat some dairy products or eggs. Strict vegetarians or vegans, however, may need to supplement their diet by choosing a fortified breakfast cereal or by taking a vitamin B12 (cobalamin) supplement of no more than 100 percent of the Daily Value.

Vegetarian sources of B12 include:

  • Vitamin B12-fortified foods including nutritional yeast, soymilk, meat analogs and ready-to-eat cereals. Be sure to check the label.
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs*

Vitamin D
Few foods are naturally high in vitamin D, but dairy products are fortified with vitamin D in the United States. People who choose not to eat dairy products and who do not receive exposure to sunlight on a regular basis may wish to consider taking a vitamin D supplement of no more than 100 percent of the Daily Value.

Vegetarian sources of vitamin D include:

  • Eggs*
  • Vitamin D-fortified soymilk, cow’s milk, orange juice, and ready-to-eat cereals

*Not all vegetarians eat these items.

Need more information? Check out for lots of great nutrition facts!

Oven-Fried Catfish

This recipe is simple, light and great for a summer afternoon. And you can’t beat that it is less than 300 calories!

-1 cup low-fat buttermilk
-4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
-2 1/2 teaspoons salt-free Creole seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed
-Vegetable cooking spray
-Lemon wedges

1. Place 1 cup low-fat buttermilk in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; add 4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets, turning to coat. Seal and chill 20 minutes, turning once.
2. Remove catfish fillets from buttermilk, discarding buttermilk. Sprinkle catfish fillets evenly with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt-free Creole seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
3.Place 3 cups crushed cornflakes in a shallow dish. Dredge catfish fillets in cornflakes, pressing cornflakes gently onto each fillet. Place fillets on a rack coated with cooking spray in a roasting pan.
4.Bake catfish fillets at 425° for 30 to 35 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Serve catfish fillets immediately with lemon wedges.

Note: For testing purposes only, use The Spice Hunter Cajun Creole Seasoning Salt Free. Also, since this recipe is higher in calories than most, pair with a low-calorie side like baked vegetables or a salad.


Green Juice

I know I have talked about green juice smoothies, but you get the benefits from green juice faster than you would a smoothie! Try drinking it first thing in the morning or on an empty stomach.
-Handful (or two) of spinach
-1 celery stalk
-1 cucumber
-1/2 a grapefruit (Can substitute for a lemon. Try an apple if these options are too bitter)
-1 tbsp. of silken tofu
-Cheese cloth

1. Peel your grapefruit and cut the white end and leafy top off of your celery stalk.
2. Cut your celery, cucumber and grapefruit into smaller pieces and put in blender.
3. Mix it up!
4. Get a piece of cheese cloth and hold it over a glass. Pour green mixture over cloth to drain the juice into the glass. If it is moving slowly, try using a spoon to push the juice through.

Voila! To mix up this recipe, you can add broccoli, parsley and protein powder instead of tofu. This could also be made easier with a juicer.


Bloomberg Big Gulp Ban: For or Against?

“Certainly the Bloomberg Big Gulp ban is not going to solve obesity, but you know what? It’s a good baby step,” sugar researcher Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco.
-¥À³The ban puts a limit on sodas over 16 ounces being sold in restaurants, sporting venues or events, movie theaters and fast food establishments but New York residents are still able to buy it in grocery stores and gas stations. Is this ban the government taking over your diet? In my opinion, no. I can understand where people become upset and feel that this is encroachment onto their personal rights. But what about the Seat Belt Law? Wasn’t that put into place because of lack of personal responsibility? Many will argue that the Seat Belt Law was put in place to keep people safe but let’s look at some of the health problems soda causes.
Harmful Soda

Is this ban not keeping you safe from some of these health problems? Is it not potentially saving taxpayers money by saving a load of health problems? If someone told you all of the impacts on your health that can incur from drinking soda, before you tried it, would you drink it anyways? For most of you, probably not.

So let me know your opinion, are you for or against the Bloomberg Big Gulp Ban? For more on the topic, read up on it here

The Salty Six

saltshakerIn honor of National Nutrition Month, the American Heart Association is educating people on the six most common high-sodium foods and how their excess sodium can lead to heart disease and stroke. Here are the Salty Six and how you can limit them.

1. Bread and Rolls: Per serving, these aren’t high in sodium, but they are things that you probably eat a lot of daily. Eating too much bread and rolls throughout the day can lead you to go over your daily allowance of sodium.
2. Cold Cuts and Cured Meats: A 4 ounce serving could be your daily recommended serving of sodium. Cut down on these numbers by getting low-sodium options and limiting your intake.
3. Pizza: Just one slice is about half of your sodium intake! Try adding more veggies to your next pizza, with less meat and cheese.
4. Poultry: Choose wisely when it comes to poultry products since most are high in sodium. Also, be conscious of how you prepare your poultry dishes and limit your sodium use.
5. Soup: Most soups contain over half of your daily recommended consumption of sodium. Try limiting your intake or choose products with lower sodium.
6. Sandwiches: Sandwiches and burgers, especially from restaurants, are usually more than 100% of your sodium consumption.

Limit those Salty Six!