Monday, December 8, 2008

Feeling frazzled? Experts say exercise will help

Exercise nourishes your body, mind and spirit.
We all covet a toned, sculpted body with strong bones, muscles and joints. We all desire reduced risk for conditions that speed aging, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and colon and ovarian cancers.
Here’s something else: when we exercise we are more mentally fit.
“The connections in the brain fire at a much more rapid rate in individuals who are physically fit than in those who are not,” notes David K. Spierer, Ed.D, assistant professor in the Division of Sports Sciences at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus. He's also the author of "Get Firefighter Fit."
Regular exercise reduces depression, anxiety and stress (which speeds aging by damaging your DNA). It also fills emotional needs because it’s time away for yourself from family and work responsibilities.
It’s so important, in fact, that doctors are actually beginning to write prescriptions for it, Spierer says.
Maybe that’s what we need. Women tend to put their responsibility to others in front of their responsibility to themselves, says mother of three Rosemary Peterson, MD, director of the St. Joseph Heart and Vascular Center.
Does that mean you need to join a gym, sign up for a marathon or upend your entire life?
Nope. Turns out we all just need to listen to that song my kids keep playing over and over -- Sacha Baron Cohen’s “I Like to Move It” from the Madagascar soundtrack (sorry, it’s stuck in my head too). Exercise is effective even if you only do it in 10 minute chunks.
Next time you hesitate to work in a workout, keep this in mind:
“The philosophy of aging that I believe is absolutely true is we don’t quit playing because we get old, we grow old because we quit playing,” said orthopedic surgeon Joshua Johnston, MD, with Franciscan Medical Group at a recent women’s health festival in Tacoma, WA.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fitness Me In Workout Series # 8

Cardio Cooking

The busy holidays are upon us. That often means less time to work out, despite our desire to look hot at those holiday parties. Here’s a workout that targets trouble spots along with a quick, healthy and easy recipe your kids will love. The recipe is courtesy of the Meal Makeover Moms ( It makes 6 servings.

Chicken Pot Pie Bundles

• 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
• 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
• 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• Pinch of black pepper
• 1 cup all-natural chicken broth
• 4 teaspoons cornstarch
• 3/4 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
• 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
• 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
• 12 egg roll wraps (NOT the smaller wonton wrappers)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Shake your booty to some groovin’ music as you assemble your ingredients. Also, in a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth and cornstarch until well combined.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, do some plie squats. Try for 3 sets of 10-16 reps, shaking your legs or dancing in between for 30 seconds. HOW TO DO THEM: place feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and point toes out. Squat and hold before coming up.
3. Add 1 more tablespoon of oil and the garlic, and cook 1 minute more and keep your hips shaking.
4. Add the chicken, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile work those outer thighs with side leg lifts. Try for 3 sets of 10-16 reps with the dance breaks in between. HOW TO DO THEM: Extend one leg out to the side, holding at the top for a count of 3. Start with feet hip width apart and knee of supporting leg slightly bent.
5. Add chicken broth/cornstarch mix to the skillet, along with the peas and corn, and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue to simmer and stir gently until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Keep on dancing through the end of step 6.
6. To prepare the bundles, use a nonstick muffin pan with 12 medium-size cups. Gently place 1 egg roll wrapper into each cup, letting it extend over the sides. Place a generous 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture into each wrapper. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly on top. Bring the corners up and over the top of the filling, pressing and folding to seal the edges together (it doesn’t have to be perfect!). Brush the remaining oil on top of each bundle.
7. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, do standing circles. HOW TO DO THEM: Grab a kitchen towel, place your hands at either end of it and raise it over your head. With feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent, tighten your abs and slowly draw a circle over your head (keeping towel held taught overhead). Then circle the other direction. Make sure the movement comes from your upper body, not your hips. This strengthens your abs and the sides of your back. Do 8 reps in each direction.
8. Keep those dancing shoes on as you set the table, then give yourself a nice stretch and a pat on the back for being such an excellent multitasking mom!

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 bundles): 380 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated), 650mg sodium, 48g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 24g protein, 80% vitamin A, 20% iron

Check out the original recipe at

Grocery Day

Let’s bump up that cardio today. I’m not a fan of the cold and wet, so I did this inside the store. This can easily be done in a department store as well. For exercise No. 6 you’ll want a coat or long shirt on.
1. In lieu of a cart, grab one of those carry around baskets (we’ll get to the cart later, so don’t worry if you’re getting lots of stuff). Walk around the perimeter of the store for 4 minutes.
2. Grab the first couple of items on your list. Then walk up and down each aisle of the store (this is a good way to find sales you didn’t know about too). Each time you hit a vacant aisle, pick up the pace.
3. Now swap the basket for a cart. Walk around and grab a couple more items on your list. Then do walking calf raises down one aisle. Walk normally down another aisle, then repeat. HOW TO DO THEM: Each time you take a step raise up onto your calf. It’s good to do this one holding onto a grocery cart as you go (just for balance, don’t put any weight on it).
4. Walk around and do some more shopping. Each time you come to a new aisle, tighten your abs until you are halfway down it.
5. When you are finished loading your cart, do 1-2 more laps around the perimeter of the store.
6. In the grocery line, tighten your bum for counts of 20 until it’s your turn (or even while your groceries are being scanned).

1. Walk for 4 minutes
2. Speed walk down vacant aisles
3. Walking calf raises
4. Tighten abs for half of each aisle you enter
5. Walk store perimeter
6. Butt crunches at checkout

Play Day

Here’s a fun exercise you can do with your kids to get them into the holiday spirit from the State of Missouri Department of Health. You can find more ideas at

Act out the following fitness song using the tune for “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Sing, ““On the first day of fitness, my trainer (or mommy) gave to me…”
It’s a good idea to write these on a piece of construction or notebook paper and tape it up prior to starting to help keep track.
Here are the items:
12 jumping jacks
11 raise the roofs (squat and stand raising arms)
10 knee lifts
9 side stretches
8 jogs in place
7 jabs/punches
6 kicks to the front
5 hula hoops
4 jumping ropes (imaginary rope)
3 muscle poses
2 scissors (feet apart then cross in front, feet apart
then cross in back)
1 stork stand (balance on one foot)

Cleaning Day

We’re back to mopping that floor. I don’t know about you, but mine seems to get sticky about 5 minutes after I’m done with this chore. To cut down on that frustration I try and make it a fun task.
1. All right – you know the drill. Get those tunes going and shake it as you get your supplies ready. Get a little crazy with your dancing as you mop the first area on your floor.
2. Now as you mop squat and hold for as long as you can, making sure you keep your abs tight and back straight. Stand, step back, and repeat as you clean a new area. Try for 3-6 sets.
3. Now we’ll pick up the pace and intensity with those squats. Squat, then come up and lift your right leg out to the side. Hold the mop in your left hand and mop to the side as you squat. Do 8-12 of these and then switch sides. Repeat.
4. Now let’s do some abs. Hold the mop with both hands in front of you so it’s in line with your belly button. Stand with feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Rotate your torso to one side, then the other. Repeat. That’s one rep. Take a step back and repeat. Do 10 reps with the steps in between.
5. Go back to dancing and finish up.

NOTE: I rewet and twist out my mop in between each exercise.

Here’s a little inspiration from YouTube:

Groggy Day

Here’s a video from You Tube that you can use to pick up your energy level:

Legal junk/Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice or care of medical professionals. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, or exercise program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.