Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Are there some things in your repertoire of culinary habits you simply cannot kick?  For me there are three: coffee, chocolate and wine  I flat out refuse to give those three up.  Fortunately, each one is linked with some health benefits!!

So what to do to make them more savvy?  Here are some healthy options for gratifying your taste buds without sacrificing your waist line.

Black coffee is not something I can tolerate.  When I was a vegan (a four month flirtation) I trained my buds to get past the bitter taste.  After a year of drinking it straight black, my tummy said...yeah, we need to do something about this.  So I re-introduced half n' half.  I'm the kind of gal that REFUSED to put chemically enhanced creamers into my hot beverage, no matter if they were creme brulee flavored or otherwise.

I wanted to get away from dairy and I recently discovered a chocolate hazelnut non-dairy milk.  I am in heaven every time I sip my morning joe!!!  It's so delectable.  Where to find this amazing beverage?

Whole Foods will sometimes carry the small four pack of this product, but I have to order it from Amazon.  I made it super easy for you...just click on the link.  Here's a link to Pacific Foods site for more information:  http://www.pacificfoods.com/our-foods/nut-grain-beverages/all-natural-hazelnut-chocolate-non-dairy-beverage-1

When I need some chocolate, I try to opt for dark chocolate instead of milk.  The taste has grown on me and now I actually prefer it.  My go-to for my fix is Lindt's Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt...hello lover!!
For four squares, which I reserve only for special needs, there are 190 calories, 13 fat grams and 24g of carbs.  I usually enjoy two squares at a time and certainly not everyday.  Moderation is key here.  Because it's not overly milky or sweet, two squares does the trick!  I stock up on these bad boys at Target!

And finally for wine, I absolutely love Our Daily Red.  It's an organic wine.  Organic wines are free from all the nasty 'cides' that their counterparts endure.  If you have ever had a negative reaction to wine (blotchy red spots on face, etc) that is mostly due to sulfites.  Guess what....organic wines do not have 'em!!  It's a pure wine and there are many out there for you to choose from!

As with everything, moderation is key.  But the key to success is knowing how to be savvier about your selections!  

If you tell yourself  'I can't, I can't, I can't' you may find yourself over indulging because you feel deprived.  Deprivation does not get you back into your skinny jeans.  Being savvy will!  Don't give up, just find ways to enjoy the things you love without a guilt trip!

What do you love?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reform yourself

I have been taking reformer classes since the beginning of the year and the transformation is undeniable.  This AMAZING workout engages your core with every move.

At first glance, the reformer looks like a torture device...and honestly, it feels like one at times.  The most important element while working on the reformer is keeping your back 'imprinted' on the carriage (that's the part their feet are on in the picture above) when doing work that keeps you on your back.  My trainer goes around to each student and tries to get her fingers underneath our backs.  If she can slide them under, we're not fully engaging our core.  If she cannot get them underneath, she compliments us and tells us we are 'very strong'.  No one EVER used to tell me I was strong!  It's better than being chic ;-)

What this class has done for me in three months, no other form of exercise has been able to do.  Also, I'm so excited to get strapped into my reformer and challenge my core to 'up' the tension.

The reformer works on a series of different colored tension springs.  During various exercises, the tension is adjusted.  I'm not always willing to push myself to the max and my trainer can usually tell.  But on days when I'm kicking my own booty, she'll up my tension.  

These moves appear to be simple enough, but such is not the case.  It's all about control.  When lowering yourself from a supported shoulder stand one is not allowed to simply PLOP down.  You lower 'one vertebrae' at a time.  This works your core as if you were preparing to be punched in the gut by a crazy fool.  It's insane.  Also, not every move uses the strap.  For our challenging days, we'll keep one leg in the strap and one out.  We move our legs simultaneously (i.e. we'll do the lower half of a snow angel) with one leg out of the strap.  OH MY GOD!!!  It's torture.

So aside from getting a killer core, this form of exercise also provides some of the most sensational stretches.  I feel like a bowl fully of jelly after some workouts.  It's almost better than a massage for some muscles.

The classes are usually not included in most gym memberships.  I pay $25/class at my gym.  It may seem excessive, but I have never felt so lean and strong.  It's worth skipping a few pairs of shoes, etc.
I do not have a single bad report about the reformers.  They're also great for seniors, folks with physical therapy needs and people looking for something new in their workout.  You do not need to be incredibly flexible or limber.  All you need is some extra cash and an open mind.

If you have access to one, get on it and start challenging yourself.  Your body will thank you for it!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fat pants

Today is a monumental day...I'm back in my skinny jeans!  I'm sharing this news because I was able to pack away my 'bigger' gal pants and dust off the jeans I NEVER thought I'd get back into.

Truth be told, I can zip the damn things (WHOO-RAY) but at this point in time, sitting still presents as a challenge.  So they're my standing only, skinny jeans.  At least I'm going in the right direction, finally!  I'm happy with small accomplishments!

I had a come to Jesus moment when, this time last year, I was in one of my favorite retail stores.  I was asking the, extremely polite, sales girl for a larger pant size.  I was pushing a 12.  For me, this is not a healthy sign.  I'm usually a 6.  But there I was, crying in size 10 pantaloons realizing their sizing stopped at 14.  What was I going to do if I sized out of the store?!?!?!?  Qu'elle horror!  The sales gal just stood there trying to offer me the next size and a box of tissues.  I bet she was thinking, "Quit your cyrin' and get to moving."  Maybe I'm projecting, but it was a sad moment for us both.

I could always rely on Spanx to (temporarily) size me down (for an event or two).  But Spanx are not meant to wear all the time.  Maybe some gals sport them regularly and I certainly do not judge.  Those knickers are simply awful, despite helping shape our behinds/muffin tops/back fat/thighs, etc.  I would not be a happy Sally if I had those suckers on all the time.  Girdles are extinct...and for good reason!

So with the realization that I was only two sizes away from being extremely limited with my shopping choices and ruling out Spanx and as an appropriate solution, I had to walk the plank with my eyes wide open.  It was time for me to pull my head out of the sand and get my pants to a single digit number once again.

You'd think that humbling shopping experience would be motivation enough, but the straw that broke this former pudgy girl's spirit has to do with a certain British wedding.

April 29th, 2011 might be a sensational memory for the Duchess and Duke (and the rest of England), but for me it was the day I quit.

I watched as this stunning creature emerged from her carriage and I was BLOWN away.  Her body was rockin' and she looked radiant in her McQueen gown.  Just like every other women watching the circus...er, wedding, I naturally compared myself to her.  I busted out my wedding dress and nearly became suicidal when I realized I could not zip it.

So to re-cap I was (rapidly) sizing out of my favorite shop and I couldn't fit in my wedding dress.  You may be saying, what's the big deal about the wedding gown...it's not like I would ever wear it again.  Right you are, but that's not the point.  The writing was so clearly on the wall!!!! I looked pretty darn good on my wedding day (see below) and since having married the man of my dreams, I was letting myself slip into marital bliss.  Trouble was, my bliss was otherwise known as FAT!  I had become comfortable and threw caution to the wind.

That was last year. This year on Kate and Wills first year anniversary I will be slipping into my dress, zipping it up and breathing with ease!  Take that married life!  You will not claim yet another (comfy) victim.

By Hilda Burke

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Positive not punitive!

When you were a kiddo how many times do you remember hearing, "You'll like this when you grow up"?  I'm not referring to spirits, although remembering my first sip of my dad's beer was enough to make me question his taste buds.

What I'm referring to are healthy foods!  My mother used to take me to the health food store and pick out things like Papaya juice and 'Oaties O's' (the healthy alternative to cheerios).

Most of my friends were drinking apple juice and eating Cherrios.  I was quite envious, at the time.  My mother did not allow me to eat overly sweet cereals or juices.  She diluted apple juice with water when I was at an age when that was all I wanted.  We did not have soda or things like 'Hawaiian Punch' (there's a blast from the past).  At the time I thought I was being punished.  My mother was attempting to install positive food choices.  She was being positive, not punitive!!

My mother was trying her best to make sure we were not hyped up on sugar, like many of our friends.  Sugar and kids can be a crazy combination.  My mother was not trying to suck out all the fun in our lives, she was trying to get us (I have a partner in crime that I call brother) used to food that was not doused in sugar.  I'm 33 years old and still do not have a single cavity...thanks mom!

A friend of mine is trying to ween her little guy off of milk.  It's not as easy as she had hoped.  He isn't buying the almond milk for milk.
You may be asking, what's so bad about milk?  Milk is used for growth - be it human or animal.  We, as humans, are the only species that continue to drink milk beyond infancy.  What the dairy industry has done to cattle (and humans) is absolutely deplorable!!

The farmers hook the cows up to machines and tug away at their udders.  What happens is sores develop around the udder and the machine keeps pulling away and opens the sores.  Thus allowing puss from the sore to drop into the same container as the milk!!!  (Go ahead and re-read that last sentence just to make sure you did so correctly)  So, may I offer you a nice glass of puss with your milk?

Check out this article from PETA - http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/dairy-industry.aspx

I'll wait....no seriously....read it....see I didn't go anywhere, I just found some more cute baby pics....ok, now that we've got that cleared up I'll continue.

Not only is milk not necessary it's down right disgusting.
Had I been raised as a vegan or vegetarian as a youngster I would not know any different.  That would be so completely amazing!  Babies eat what their parents (or care takers) GIVE them.  By not allowing your little one to grow up on sugar, dairy, meat, whatever...they'll never know life with it!

I love to see little ones devouring fruits and veggies.  I love seeing kids asking, "is this healthy?"  BRAVO!  Our society is producing over indulged children with parents who are more concerned with being their friend rather than their parent.  We have parents with despicable eating patterns (fast food for breakfast/lunch/dinner) and they're passing along their habits.

Don't be afraid to challenge the 'norm'.  Don't eat what everyone is eating.  Please be a savvy foodie and educate yourself about what you're deciding to put into your body or anyone else's, if you're a savvy mommy or daddy ;)
God gave us the most wonderful gift of all...life.  We need to safe guard it and make sure we're nourishing our bodies with what He provided - fruits and veggies.  I hate to say it, but the FDA does NOT have our backs.  They have our wallets.

Side note about the YouTube clip - I do not condone giving babies lemons or other sour fruits, but this video was simply hilarious.  You or your little one may have similar (initial) reactions to new foods, but don't worry it won't kill you.  You may just make a super funny face.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's about time!!!

What can you get done in 30 minutes?  I'll tell you what I can do in thirty minutes:
-watch an episode of 'Say Yes to the Dress'
-google the words 'Snooki's love child' and read the countless number of articles speculating the future of Jersey Shore's sure demise
-hop in the car and drive to Starbucks for an Americano (that's a hot beverage, not a hot Italian import)
-think of new blog post
-catch up with friends (and mother) on the phone (sometimes more than 30 minutes, truth be told)
-throw a ball for my poodle (which she would rather I spend all day doing)
-take a shower

The list could go on for a blog that would read as a mini novella.  My point -- thirty minutes is not a long time.  I'm going out on a limb and guessing most of you reading this (kudos to you for having higher IQ's!!) would agree that thirty minutes is really just a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things.

Guess what you can do, everyday, for thirty minutes and improve your health -- exercise!  For example, thirty minutes of walking everyday helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.  I hope it goes without saying, being a savvy foodie AND exercising go hand in hand to help improve your health.  I do not condone downing a Big Mac, french fries and a coke and then justifying it by saying, "Well I walked for thirty minutes so I'll be fine."  Fine is the last thing you'll be if that's your normal way of being.

The hardest part, for me, is actually getting my behind TO the gym.  I read a weight loss success story of a women who struggled with the simple act of getting dressed FOR the gym.  To bypass this obstacle she slept in her workout wear and then when her alarm rang (at 5:30 am)  all she did was brush her hair and teeth and she was ready to head out for the gym.

Ask yourself this, once you're engaging in your workout routine (be it, walking, running, weight lifting, stair climbing, whatever) is it still challenging to press on?  I usually join a class that goes for an hour so I just put myself in the middle of the room and throw my 60 minutes to the wind and get a great workout.  Sure, I have those moments when I think....THIS SUCKS!!!!  But my life would suck if I weren't working out, that's for sure!

I just got my 6 month body measurements done today.  While this savvy foodie had some moments of (what I like to call) 'eating like an idiot'...I was nervous and wanted to put it off for another month.  To my pleasant surprise my weight and percentage of body fat both decreased and my muscle mass has increased.  I'm stronger, leaner and more flexible.  My fabulous trainer told me, "Those of us who frequent the gym are stronger than 90% of the rest of the population who don't work out at all."

This squirrel is my inspiration

Well smack my (smaller) butt and call me happy!!!  What's another 30 minutes of exercise?