Thursday, December 31, 2009

Win free books in January

Hope you all have fun party plans and a list of New Year's Resolutions. This is the first year in longer than I can remember that I didn't have any resolutions - I can't push myself with fitness goals, I eat anything I can keep down so the dietary goals are gone (I inhaled a Wendy's double stack the other day, my boys were shocked and then they laughed and laughed), and I'm too tired to be productive with my writing. Wow. Sob story, eh? I really am thrilled to be expecting and I figure growing a beautiful baby is a wonderful goal this year. Please share some of your goals. I'd love to dream with you.

I'm hosting a fun giveaway of books throughout the month of January on my book blog -

Here's a list of what you could win.

January 2nd - 101 Gourmet Cupcakes by Wendy Paul

January 4th - Where the Wind Blows by Caroline Fyffe

January 6th - Guided By Him…to a Thinner, Not So Stressed-Out You by Julie Morris

January 8th - Chickens in the Headlights by Matthew Buckley

January 9th - Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena

January 11th - Altered Plans by Rebecca Talley

January 13th - My Son, John by Kathi Macias

January 15th - Discipline Me Right by Mary Simmons

January 16th - The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts

January 18th - Counting the Cost by Liz Adair

January 20th - Methods of Madness by Stephanie Black

January 22nd - Altered State by Gregg Luke

January 23rd - A Tapestry of Spells by Lynn Kurland

January 25th - Women of Virtue by Jodi Robinson

January 27th - Torn Apart by Diony George

January 29th - All the Stars in Heaven by Michele Holmes

January 30th - Love Your Body by Brooke Parker

I wish I could enter!

Have a wonderful New Year,


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let's Get it Started

The New Year is a-coming. Are you armed and ready with your resolutions? Every year I repeat my number one goal – improve my health and lose a bit of weight. If you share this goal, may I make a suggestion? Try strength training.


When you add strength training you bump up your metabolism and burn fat and calories even when you're reading stories to your babes. 

“Exercisers who added a total-body resistance routine lost more than twice as much body fat and four times as much belly fat as those who just did cardio workouts.” (i)

Unlike dieting, where you often see drastic weight loss that is put back on quickly, you’re less likely to regain lost pounds with strength training. It’s hard for your body to maintain dense muscle so you keep your fat-burners revving.

Here are the essentials of effective strength training:

1. Lift on each major muscle group twice a week. You can follow my blog to insure you're covering each muscle group or you can create your own schedule. My website – - has a strength training guide and You Tube videos to help you get started. You can choose to do an all-over body workout twice a week or split upper and lower body and lift four days a week, whatever works for you. If you’re short on time, one day a week will show improvements in muscle strength and density therefore increasing your metabolism.

2. Lift slow and controlled. Two counts up, four counts down. Going slower on the down (lowering or eccentric) part of the move increases strength without increasing size. Very important for women who want to increase metabolism, functional strength, and looked toned. Don't rush through the moves or you're wasting your time. Focus on each rep and make it count. It is much more effective to do four reps correctly rather than rush through twelve.

3. Good form. Head in alignment with spine, shoulders down and back, abs in, bum tucked under. It's been proven that having good posture will make you look ten pounds lighter and facilitate quicker weight loss.

4. Challenge yourself. Don't use too light of weights. Many women fear they will bulk up from strength training. It's really hard to do that without testosterone or eating a lot of extra calories. You may weigh more if you strength train (muscle weighs more than fat) but you will be a smaller size and look immensely better - that to me is worth a higher number on the scale.
Strength training will make you look and feel thinner, but only if you lift heavy enough weights to challenge your muscles. By the end of an eight to ten repetition set the muscle you are working should be exhausted. Using light weights and lots of repetitions will make you feel tired and sore but it won't improve muscle density or strength and therefore won't increase your metabolism or make your muscles look nice and sleek. I recommend women begin with at least ten-pound weights and then work up as they increase in strength. If you're on a budget, buy exercise tubing, it's inexpensive and you can alter the resistance just by changing your grip.

5. Don't waste your time. Anything that focuses on a small muscle group (i.e. inner or outer thigh exercises, forearm exercises) is a waste of your time (unless you're ten percent body fat and training for Ms. Olympia). You cannot spot reduce - which means you can't work a certain spot on your body and burn the fat off of it. You can strengthen the muscle, but fat burns off all over your body and everyone has spots where fat loves to hang out. Don't waste time on a lot of ab curls either. It's good to do stabilization ab work to have a strong middle, but curls have been proven to be ineffective. Also, don't waste your time with a lot of expensive equipment. No matter what you see on television, most of those machines are a waste of money. All you need is a set of hand weights or bands and some good shoes so you can go on a walk, run, or bike ride.

Make strength training one of your top 2010 Resolutions. Your body will love you for life.

(i) “10 Flat-Belly Shortcuts” by Alyssa Shaffer, Prevention Magazine, December 2009.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pushups - Love or hate 'em?

I've been annoyed lately with the pushup. Every aerobics class I go to the instructor demands pushup after pushup. In the weight-lifting room everyone's slugging through chest presses and more pushups. Now don't get me wrong. I love pushups. They're a fabulous and challenging exercise. What annoys me is the overuse of the chest muscles. All day long women hold babies, type on the computer, do dishes, clean the toilet (yuck) and we lean forward - stretching the back muscles, rounding the shoulders, and strengthening the chest (the purpose of the pushup). If we don't balance with some effective strengthening of the back we're going to have horrific posture.

So by all means do your pushups. They're great. But don't forget to strengthen your back with seated rows, bent-over rows, and reverse flys and to stretch your chest (my favorite is to place both hands on an open doorframe and push my chest through the door). Strengthen your back, improve your posture, and you'll look and feel great.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Interval Workout

With little time to exercise and far too high of treat consumption, intervals are a necessity for me this holiday season. It's possible to burn the same amount of calories in twenty minutes doing an interval workout as you would doing a steady-paced workout for forty minutes. But that's not all. After an interval workout your body burns calories at a higher rate for almost twenty-four hours. Also, there's been research that shows participants who included two-three interval workouts a week lost five times more body fat.

An interval workout basically means that you alternate pushing hard and going back to a moderate pace. Basically anything you can do that will increase your heart rate and get you breathing hard (add an incline, up the intensity, increase your pace). The key is to make your body work hard then give it a small break while you catch your breath. I like to time my intervals so I know I'm getting the best workout possible. I do one minute sprints followed by two-three minutes of jogging or I do a thirty seconds sprint, thirty seconds walk, thirty seconds jog. I repeat the intervals at least 4-7 times. You can time them however you like or you can just go on rating of perceived exertion and push yourself until you want to quit and then back off until you're ready to go again. I find the timing works well for me because I wouldn't go again!

How do you like to pace your interval workout? Have you personally seen the effectiveness of intervals?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flat Abs

I think most ab machines are a complete waste of your time. How dare I make such a claim when there are hundreds of ab products out there?

All I can say is the fitness companies are giving the public what it wants. Everyone is screaming for flat abs, so of course there are going to be products sold to meet that demand.

Here's the truth: Most of us have nice abs under a layer of fat. You use your abs all day long as a stabilizer and one of the best ways to train your abs to be flat is to think about holding them in throughout your day. But until we lose that fat on our abdomen with a sensible diet, challenging cardio, and effective weight training to increase metabolism, a million ab curls won't make our abs flat.

Am I saying you should give up all ab exercises? No. I'm just saying to focus on losing the extra fat and train your core with effective exercises like plank, side plank, bicycle, captain's chair (lifting knees while suspended in the captain's chair), and crunches on a ball (amazing that adding the ball makes crunches effective, but it does because of the instability of the ball). You don't need to spend a lot of money or a lot of time on your abs. Five minutes a few days a week will be enough to give you good core strength and make those abs beautiful when those last few pounds come off.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Balancing Act

From a new tip out of Prevention Magazine - Balance on one leg to improve core muscles. (i)

I love any opportunity to work my core without doing sit-ups. Here's how it works. When your body is unstable, your core muscles engage to keep you from falling. If you concentrate on holding them tight it will be even more effective.

So how do you take advantage of this instability? Do one-legged squats or add a glute press or knee lift to your lunges. Use a Bosu ball or wobble board for squats and lunges. Stand on one leg while you do upper-body moves or hold a light weight overhead when you do lower-body exercises. I also balance on one foot while brushing my teeth, cooking, or getting ready in the morning (not a good idea while applying mascara).

Any other ideas for throwing yourself off-balance?

(i) "10 Flat Belly Shortcuts" by Alyssa Shaffer, Prevention, December 2009.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love Your Body by Brooke Parker

Brooke Parker's first book, Love Your Body, has just been released. Brooke is an amazing dietitian. I've had the opportunity to listen to her speak. Her positive attitude and real-life approach made me believe I could be healthy and happy.

Here's a little information about her book:

Are you tired of dieting and feeling unsatisfied with your appearance? In this book, registered dietitian Brooke Parker shares secrets for developing a positive body image and creating your own customized eating plan. You'll also learn how to replace negative thoughts about yourself with positive, motivational thoughts.

With the tools you master in Love Your Body, the scale, the media, and your "skinny jeans" will no longer have the power to determine your mood or your life!

Topics include:

-Finding a New Relationsip with Food

-Honoring Your Hunger and Fullness

-Finding Your Own Healthy Balance

-Creating Healthy Expectations

-The Inner Dialogue

-Put an End to Worry

-Your Body is a Gift

-Eliminating the Physical Triggers

-Destructive Thinking Styles

-Pampering Activities

..and many more

Brooke Parker is a registered dietitian. She graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Dietetics. She currently works for USU's Student Health Center providing nutrition support for the entire student body. She specializes in Eating Disorders and has worked with this clientele for 8 years. She is passionate about helping women overcome eating disorders and body-image issues.

Brooke and her husband live in northern Utah with their three young children. She loves being a mother and all that comes with it. She also enjoys gardening, family vacations, reading, golfing, and snow skiing.

Brooke will be signing copies of Love Your Body at The Book Table in Logan, Utah - Friday, December 4th from 6-10 p.m.

Buy link for Love Your Body -

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I used to be a rah-rah. Yes, many years ago I donned a too-short skirt and my pom-poms and cheered my team to victory. Back in the days when cheerleaders wore cheerleading uniforms that covered all their sides. Our group of rah-rahs firmly believed we were supporting our team, their good luck charm. In our minds we were selfless creatures holding up the sidelines for the greater good.

To get you in the spirit of cheerleading, I have a couple of challenges for you today.

#1 Challenge – Be someone’s cheerleader.

How can you be someone’s cheerleader? Look outside yourself. It’s easy to find someone who needs a lift and make them feel good about themselves. It could be your child, spouse, sibling, neighbor, friend, or co-worker. Opportunities abound to build someone’s self-esteem. Kind words will never come around to bite you. Quite the contrary. You’ll find as you encourage and lift others your feelings of self-worth and happiness will improve.

#2 Challenge – Identify the person who cheers you on. First tell them thanks and second internalize their words.

I have been blessed with an amazing mother who truly believes I can do no wrong. Everybody deserves someone like that in their life. I hope you all have someone who makes you feel better about yourself. Many of us have the tendency to dismiss anything positive said about us. We blush and change the subject. It’s important to be humble, but at the same time you need to feel good about yourself or you won’t be able to accomplish all the good you could. Internalize the compliments you receive and use them to make yourself a better person, use them to make your corner of the world a better place.

You don’t need a short skirt to cheer your team on. Get out there and make someone feel good today.