Spring “Cleaning”

Spring Cleaning

With spring in the air, many of us are planning some spring cleaning to dust off the cold damp winter and breathe life into our houses for the brighter and warmer months ahead. Cleaning and preparing for the spring and summer can be great ways to get moving, so don’t get bummed if you have a whole day of organizing and cleaning ahead of you and can’t get to the gym. I myself don’t like cleaning too much, but I love a clean house so I guess it’s a necessary evil. Although I have to admit, I do sometimes feel like all I do is clean, fold, and put away laundry as well as load and unload the dishwasher. Anyway, a 150-pound woman doing these activities for 30 minutes can burn the following amount of calories.

  • Sweeping/Mopping ~120 calories. Crank up the tunes and dance around for a little more burn
  • Cooking ~100 calories. Just make sure that you don’t snack while you do it or snack on fresh cut veggies instead of cheese, chips, and bread
  • Shoveling Snow ~200 calories. I haven’t had to do this for a couple of years, but those of you that do are getting a pretty good workout
  • Gardening ~125 calories. Just don’t forget sunscreen.
  • Scrubbing the Bathtub ~130 calories. Plus everyone likes a clean bathroom.
  • Washing Windows ~125 calories A great arm workout
  • Ironing: ~80 calories. Ironing can be a full-body workout.

While you’re planning the spring cleaning of your house, don’t forget to spring clean your body. Shorts and tank tops are just a few short months away, or a few weeks for those of us in the south, and we don’t want to be left hiding in those sweatshirts and mom jeans for the summer. Here are a few tips to help you with your spring cleaning efforts.

1. Get Rid of the Junk: Do you have a bunch of junk food in your pantry that keeps calling your name? Just get rid of it. You don’t want to put that stuff in your body anyway so go ahead and throw it out. Really…Your body is not a trash can…Just because you bought it in a moment of weakness doesn’t mean you have to eat it. If you feel bad about throwing away food, then you can donate unopened items to a local food bank, but they don’t really need the junk food anyway. So, I’m releasing you of the guilt. Just throw it away.

Also, there are many ingredients added to processed foods, especially the ones that claim to be diet foods, that you don’t want to put in your body either. I try not to by packaged processed foods, but when I do buy food that comes in a package I am looking for products that have the least amount of ingredients. If I don’t know what’s in it, I don’t eat it. Of course, there are many people who claim that they don’t have the time or the inclination to read labels on everything they eat. They just want to eat it and that’s fine. However, if you are a regular reader of my blog you may at least have a sinking feeling that just because it’s on the shelves of your local grocery store in a pretty package doesn’t mean you actually want to eat it or give it to your kids.

If you’re trying to limit processed foods, but are having a hard time cutting back I’m going to give you a list of the top 9 ingredients to avoid, what they’re used in and why they’re bad. If you have any food items with these ingredients in your pantry you may want to consider getting rid of them too.

  1. Artificial colors are chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color. They are linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity, and headaches.
  2. Artificial flavors are cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors. They are linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma and can also affect enzyme levels, RNA, and thyroid.
  3. Artificial sweeteners like Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal®, NutraSweet®, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda®, and Sorbitol are highly processed, chemically derived, zero-calorie sweeteners found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving. They can negatively impact your metabolism and some have been linked to dizziness, hallucinations, headaches, and even cancer.
  4. Benzoate Preservatives like BHT, BHA, TBHQ are compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid. They can affect estrogen balance and levels and may result in hyperactivity, angioedema, asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors, and hives.
  5. Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) is a chemical that boosts flavor in many citrus-based drinks, it basically keeps the citrus from separating. It increases triglycerides and cholesterol and can damage the liver, testicles, thyroid, heart, and kidney.
  6. High Fructose Corn Syrup is a cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar. It sustains freshness in baked goods as well as blends easily into beverages to make them sweet. It isn’t easily metabolized by the liver and it can predispose the body to turn fructose into fat as well as increase the risk for type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer.
  7. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer in restaurant food, salad dressings, chips, frozen meals, soups, etc. It may stimulate the appetite as well as cause headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensations and difficulty in breathing.
  8. Olestra is an indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked. It inhibits the absorption of some nutrients and is linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding, and incontinence.
  9. Shortening, Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils are industrially created fats used in more than 40,000 products in the US because they are cheap ways to stabilize substances that would normally be liquids at room temperature. They contain high levels of trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol contributing to risk of heart disease. It’s also important to note that unless a food has 0.5g or more of trans fat then it will not be listed in the nutrition information, but the oils themselves have to be listed in the ingredients. If you have 5 or 6 servings of something that has no trans fat on the label, but hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients then you still may be getting over the recommended maximum of 2g of trans fats per day.

When you’re going through your pantry also consider the season. There are some foods that are warming in the winter months like quinoa, wild rice, cinnamon, almonds, cumin, ginger, mustard greens, etc that you might not want to buy much more of in the coming warmer months. Instead, you may want to switch to cooling foods like amaranth, broccoli, citrus, berries, melons, apples, cucumbers, asparagus, cilantro, etc. If you have the grains, spices, or nuts that are more suited for the winter then check the expiration date and either freeze them or push them to the back of the pantry for the summer.

2. Find A Buddy or Buddies: Studies have shown that an accountability partner will make your results even better. Find a friend, a coworker, or even your spouse that will go with you on this journey to cleansing yourself of your bad habits and getting healthier. You can help keep each other on track with workouts, food logs, menu creation, and any other hang-ups that you know you’re going to run into. If you know that you’re going to meet your friend at the gym you’ll be less likely to skip out.

3. Make an Action Plan: Breaking a bad habit and beginning a good one is as much a mental process as it is physical. You have to be aware of what’s going on around you and inside your head in order to succeed. Having a plan will help you in your journey.

  1. Food Plan and Log: My success in my food plan has been primarily because I sit down once a week and plan out my menu. You need to put menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation on your calendar like appointments that can’t be broken. This will set you up for long-term success. Once you get into a good habit these things will become second nature.
  • A food log helps me stay consistent. I have to submit this log to my coach every week in-season and every two weeks off-season to make sure that I’m staying on track. A food log also helps me be able to look at what habits lead to my late night cravings or other mistakes that I could make.
  • My food plan also makes my food log a little easier. I decide what we’re going to have for dinner every night for a week and I make my shopping list based on that menu. I talked about a particularly successful week in a previous blog so I’m going to link to it now. http://onebuffmama.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/the-importance-of-meal-planning-and-preparation/
  1. Workouts: Exercise also needs to be on your calendar like appointments that can’t be broken. If you don’t, then something will come up. This is where having a buddy will come in handy. Knowing that you are going to meet your friend at the gym for a class or a workout then you will be more likely to not miss it. If you aren’t sure where to start for workouts then there are several things that you can do.
  • Oxygen magazine has lots of great workouts in every issue that can be revamped for beginners to the more advanced, for those with a gym membership to those that work out at home. You can take turns with your friends coming up with good ideas for workout programs so you’re not always having to make one up yourself. I used to get lots of ideas from Oxygen and I would make up my own programs, but I eventually joined Savage because I liked the ease of already having the program design done for me.
  • I also have an online program that will give you a new workout program every month for those that want something already done for them, as well as a system of accountability. I explain more about that in another blog. http://onebuffmama.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-beginning-of-one-buff-mama-online-workout-programs/
  • If you need more one-on-one accountability or someone there making sure that you are using the right form then you may want to find a local personal trainer to help get you started and keep you motivated. There are also smaller group boot camp type workouts that will also help keep you accountable.

There are lots of different ways to help you break a bad habit and create a good one, these are just a few. I will be beginning the Health Coach Training Program with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in the next couple of weeks. I’ve already learned so much while preparing for this course and I know I will learn a lot more in order to equip you with the information that you need to create a healthier life for yourself and your family.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.



HIIT and Tabatas

Workout for Me

Tabatas are another form of HIIT, which I talked about in one of my earlier blogs. Basically, you perform 20 sec of intense exercise followed by recovery for 10 sec. You repeat this pattern for a total of 4 mins and rest on the 5th. You can do 4 tabatas in a row for a very vigorous 20 min workout as long as you begin with a good warm-up and end with a cool-down. You can even break your workout into 5 min increments that you do throughout the day. Of course, if you wear heels and a suit to work, this is not practical, but for others this is a good way to get a workout in during small amounts of free time.

With tabatas, you can mix it up with the number and type of exercises that you do. You can do one exercise for all eight 20 sec bursts of activity in one 4-min session and try to compete against yourself either increasing the reps or at least keeping the amount of reps the same. Then switch to other exercises for the other three 4-min sessions. Or, you can do 4 different exercises, each for two of the 20 sec bursts in a row.

Here is a good tabata workout from Oxygen Magazine using explosive movements of body weight exercises only:


Here are some examples of tabata workouts that I explained above. They can be done with body weight only or a set of light dumbbells (DB):


Here is a Glossary of the exercises in case you are not familiar with some or all of them:

DB Squat with Neutral Press- Hold DBs at your side with palms facing in, squat down and then rise up pushing through your heels not your toes, curl DB up to your shoulders and press up, keeping your palms facing in

Speed Skates– bound side to side, touch the trail leg behind you. Bend front leg and touch the floor with same hand as trail leg. Bring chest up and bound to the other side.

Walking plank – start on hands and toes in a plank position with hands together, walk both hands to the left one step then back to center, and to the right one step then back to center

Cross Body Triceps Touches- begin in a plank position on hands and feet. Alternate bringing knees up towards opposite triceps in a rapid motion.

Pogos– Without locking your knees but using primarily your calves, jump straight up and down like you’re bouncing on a pogo stick.

Squat Knee Lifts– Squat then lift right knee in front. Squat again and then lift left knee.

High Plank Rear DB Flye– start on hands and toes in a plank position with hands holding onto DBs (hexagonal DBs will work better for this one so they don’t roll out from underneath you, from the plank position perform a rear-delt flye with one arm focusing on pulling shoulder blades together, return to starting position and repeat using same arm for recommended time. Use the other arm for the next time period.

Mountain Climbers – Begin in a plank position on hands and feet. Alternate bringing knees up towards chest in a rapid motion.

High knees – running with knees high (about waist height), can be done in place or moving forward

Bicycle Crunches– lay with your back on the ground with shoulders and feet slightly off the ground, bring your right elbow and your left knee in toward each other, then switch sides, this should be done quickly like you are pedaling a bicycle

Rapid Squat– perform a squat rapidly, but don’t come all the way up to a standing position. Alternate touching ankles and knees as quickly as possible, if using DB alternate them from ankle and knee heights. Push up through your heels and make sure that your toes do not go past your knees.

Bench Dips– Sit on the very edge of a bench with your feet straight out in front of you and your palms on the bench at your sides. Lower yourself down until your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle then raise yourself up until your arms are fully extended. If you find it difficult to do dips with your legs straight then bend your knees and bring your heels closer to the bench.

Questions? Comments? Please let me know.

Thank you,


Kicking and Screaming

I initially decided to compete in bikini competitions and join Cathy Savage Fitness to force myself to eat better. The idea of paying monthly for a program that would eventually lead to me walking on stage in nothing but a skimpy sequin covered bikini and 4 ½ inch stripper heels really forced me to watch what I ate. But it was not easy. I felt like I was kicking and screaming internally the whole time. It was uncomfortable. My body was so used to eating junk and trying to make up for it by over-exercising that the idea of eating whole clean foods and exercising less was just painful. I had moments where I had will-power of solid steel and others where I buckled under the weight of a feather and dove head-first into a box of chocolates.

Even though many of you have no desire to step on a competition stage, you have probably felt similar to me in your journey to better health. Being able to take a step back and analyze why you are sometimes able to say no to the most tempting treat that will make you fold at others is key. Don’t just beat yourself up for giving in to the whole box of Girl Scout cookies. Take a moment to truly look at your cravings and analyze why you did. It usually goes a little deeper than just because that box of cookies was there.

I truly believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Our bodies, when they are functioning properly, are capable of so much. We even have advanced systems that make us capable of even more when we sense that we or someone we love is in danger.

Our body usually tells us if it is hungry, thirsty, tired, or in need of something. It is designed to repair itself while we sleep, if we get enough sleep. If we don’t, then we try to make up for the lack of energy with external stimulants like caffeine that stimulates our adrenal gland or sugar to give us an extra boost. If we are craving something it’s usually because our body is in need of something. I’m not saying we needed to eat that whole box of cookies that I talked about before, but we were missing something that caused us to reach for the easy fix.

For me, I found that I was most likely to give in to cravings when I had restricted my carbohydrates from healthy fruits like apples and berries as well as starches such as sweet potatoes, oats, whole grain breads, and others. I also found out that I really had to make sure that I was drinking water throughout the day because when I didn’t get enough I mistook my body’s thirsty signal for hunger and ended up eating too much. Another factor in my evening cravings was waiting too long between meals. If I don’t eat every three hours during the day, I will get the evening munchies.

As I am preparing to start the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Program, I am learning that there are a lot of complicated factors behind helping someone get to true health. A vegetarian or even vegan diet may do wonders for some while others may start to wilt away with no meat. Some can do well with very little starchy carbohydrates while others will feel like they have completely lost the wind in their sails. Someone who grew up eating lots of diary and is from a long line of healthy dairy consumers may not feel as well when they cut dairy from their diets due to dairy’s calming and soothing effects, while someone else will feel a lot better due to the lower allergen response, less mucus development, and intestinal distress caused by diary in some.

Some cravings are also caused by addictions. Sugar and caffeine are two of the most addictive legal drugs that we can get our hands on. If you are not getting enough sleep, water, or good nutrients to give your body the energy it needs to get through the day then you will be more likely to grab for a caffeinated drink. Caffeine stimulates your adrenal gland to give a false “fight or flight” response to give yourself a temporary burst of energy. Of course, that will wear off and then more external stimulation is needed to get through the day. Unfortunately, continuously stimulating your adrenal gland can cause it to stop working or require more and more caffeine to get the desired response. Many of us know how addictive caffeine can be because we have had pretty good headaches when we don’t have our morning coffee.

Sugar is also addictive and can be a very bad habit to break. Someone who consumes a lot of sugar can find it very hard to cut it out cold-turkey. If you are trying to cut down on sugar, but are having a very hard time breaking the habit, try switching to less blood-sugar spiking alternatives, like brown rice syrup on top of a rice cake. You will still get a little bit of sweetness, as well as some trace minerals from a whole food source. Just don’t go too crazy with it, it is not a low-calorie food. The point is to wean yourself off of a sugar addiction.

As you can see, weight loss and the road to true health is a lot more complicated than just calories in vs calories out. Also, sometimes when we start putting good nutrition into our body (ie not nutritionally deficient “diet” food) because we’re trying to get healthier, we might get discouraged because it takes a while to start losing weight. You really just have to have faith that your body knows best. We may have the vain motivation of looking good in our swimsuit this summer, but our bodies are taking those essential nutrients and putting them to work to repair what it deems most important, like lowering cholesterol, lowering your blood pressure, helping your body fight against allergens, helping your joints, fighting against inflammation, etc. Fat loss will eventually come if we persist with our healthy habits.

Unfortunately, when we try to add these unhealthy foods back into our diet because we are feeling discouraged or need that external stimulation then we kind of derail our body’s attempt to fix itself. We either end up starting all over or taking many steps back. However, that doesn’t mean that if we have a bad day, then we have to give up. We just start out taking our time and know that we are in it for the long haul because we’re worth it.

I’ve heard this analogy several times so I’m going to share it. If you’re driving your car along and get a flat tire, it can be very frustrating especially if it makes you late to an important appointment. However, you’re not going to get out slash the other three good tires and then abandon your car completely. But, this is what we do when we feel frustrated that we didn’t lose as much weight as we expected or get sidelined and give in to a craving. We just kick all efforts to be healthy aside and dive into whatever comfort food is available. Instead of saying, “Oops, I messed up. I’m going to pick myself up, move forward, and figure this out,” we say, “Oops, it’s only Monday and I already messed up. I guess I’m going to forget about dieting this week and start next Monday.” Then we proceed to eat anything and everything in site that we know will give us instant gratification but will only leave us feeling lethargic. Believe me, I’ve been there and done that. It doesn’t help at all.

We are all fearfully and wonderfully made and are meant to feel and function like fine-tuned well-oiled machines. If we can get past all the junk, then we will finally realize that fact. I really wish I could say it’s easy, but you know it’s not. It’s worth the time and energy that you’ll spend figuring it out though.

I’m going to leave you with this excerpt from an article By Dr. Stanley S. Bass, ND, D.C., PhD

Perhaps the greatest misunderstanding in the field of nutrition is the failure to understand and interpret the symptoms and changes which follow the beginning of a better nutritional program. A remarkable thing happens when a person improves the quality of the food she consumes. When the food you ingest is of a higher quality than the tissues from which the body is made, the body discards the lower quality tissues, to make room for the higher quality materials to make healthier tissue. During this process of regeneration, lasting about 10 days to several weeks, the emphasis is on breaking down and eliminating lower quality tissue. The vibrant energy often found in the external parts of the body, the muscles and skin, moves to vital internal organs and starts reconstruction. This movement of energy produces a feeling of less energy in the muscles, which the mind interprets as weakness. At this time, more rest and sleep is often needed, and it’s imperative to avoid stimulants of any kind which will abort and defeat the regenerative process. Remember, the body isn’t getting weaker, it’s simply using its energies in more important internal work rather than external work involving muscle movements. With patience and diligence, a person will soon feel more energy than before. By ingesting higher quality foods, the body begins a process called “retracing”. The initial focus is on eliminating waste and toxins deposited in the tissues. However, the process creates symptoms that are often misinterpreted. For example, a person who stops consuming coffee or chocolate may experience headaches and a general letdown. The body begins discarding toxins (caffeine or theobromin) by removing them from the tissues and transporting them through the bloodstream. However, before toxins are passed, through elimination, they register in our consciousness as pain, in other words, a headache. These same toxins also stimulate the heart to beat more rapidly, thus producing the feeling of exhilaration. The letdown is due to the slower action of the heart which produces a depressed mind state. The symptoms experienced during “retracing” are part of the healing process! They are not deficiencies. Do not treat them with stimulants or drugs. These symptoms are constructive, even though unpleasant at the moment. Don’t try to cure the cure. The symptoms will vary according to the materials being discarded, the condition of the organs involved in the elimination, and the amount of available energy. They can include: headaches, fever/chills, colds, skin eruptions, constipation/diarrhea, frequent urination, fatigue/sluggishness, nervousness, irritability, depression. The symptoms will be milder and pass more quickly if one gets more rest and sleep. Understand that the body becomes healthier by eliminating wastes and toxins. Had they remained trapped in the tissues, eventually they would have brought illness and disease, thus causing greater pain and suffering. “The body is becoming healthier by eliminating toxins” Finally, don’t expect to improve your diet and feel better and better every day, until you reach perfection. The body is cyclical in nature. Health returns in a series of gradually diminishing cycles. For example, you may begin eating better and start feeling better. After some time, you experience a symptom such as nausea or diarrhea. After a day, you feel even better than before and all goes well for a while. Then you suddenly develop a cold, the chills and lose your appetite. Without the use of drugs, you recover from these symptoms and suddenly you feel great. This well-being continues for a time until you break out in a rash. The rash flares up, but finally disappears, and suddenly you feel better than you’ve felt in years. As the body becomes pure, each reaction becomes milder and shorter in duration, followed by longer and longer periods of feeling better than ever before, until finally you reach a level plateau…vibrant health.

From Dr. Ina Nozek, DC, MS, Clinical Nutritionist

If you are experiencing any “cleansing symptoms” such as headache, nausea, fatigue, irritability, etc., make sure you are hydrated, take an Epsom salt bath, or rest if possible. You should start to feel better over the next couple of days.

I hope this helps you understand why you feel like your body is kicking and screaming in revolt at your new attempt to be healthy. Questions? Comments? Let me know.