Thursday, April 30, 2009

Like Apple Pie? Try this Yummy Shake Before Your Next Workout

My coworker friend, Rob Neff, has been following the blog and as you can see from his picture, he's a active athletic person. He loves to race his bike outdoors in the mud! And biking in the mud takes a lot of energy! He shared this shake recipe with me for all of you to try. I really love apple pie so I can't wait to try it myself!

Apple Pie Shake
Try this before your workout to give you the stamina to challenge yourself.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/3 cup organic canned apple pie filling
  • 3 tbs crumbled whole wheat graham crackers

Nutrition: 245 calories, 21.5g protein, 37g carbs, 1.5g fat

Rob recommends this shake for fast-digesting protein and branched-chain amino acids found in whey to fuel your body for your workout and increase blood flow to your muscles to workout longer. The shake also has slow-digesting carbs (apple pie filling and crackers) for long-lasting energy, which prevents insulin level spikes. Insulin spikes actually slow the fat burning process.

This shake is a great option for you and in his words "super yummy!" Give it a try and tell us what you think.

For more smoothie recipes, check out my February post. And if you have a recipe you'd like to share, send me an email.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Read This: Weed Through the Media Hype About Swine Flu

Are you overwhelmed by the swine flu pandemic media hype? Dr. Mercola sent out a special alert article today, which includes a 10-page overview on the swine flu details to sort through the mixed messages. His articles are very thorough, but a quick scan can give you the basics.

It seems the conventional media is overreacting and I'm taking normal precautions to stay healthy and prevent illness.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert Joins Quick Bite to Share Her Insights

I want to introduce you to my personal trainer, Stephanie Lee, who I've been working with for over 3 years. When I was looking for a solution to prevent my back pain, my chiropractor suggested I hire a personal trainer to help strengthen my core muscle group. I watched the personal trainers at my gym to look for a trainer that was professional and focused on their clients. I spotted Stephanie and the rest is history!

Stay tuned...Stephanie is working on upcoming articles to share her insights and fitness expertise to help motivate you to keep working hard. In our culture we're always trying to find the fountain of youth. Exercise is a cornerstone of longevity and good health.

Stephanie has worked at some of the top fitness facilities in Chicago, helping her clients achieve their personal fitness and health goals. With a B.S. in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training from the University of Charleston and professional certifications such as Certified Personal Trainer, she also has expertise in pilates and pre/post natal exercise.

One of the great things about having a personal trainer is having a personalized workout. Balancing this expense in your annual budget for 5-10 or even 15 sessions is so beneficial because you can make the most of every workout! She creates a unique workout for me, considering my goals and works with my current fitness levels. Then, I do it on my own and ask her questions the next time. I bring the hard copy with me to the gym with her notes so I can remember the moves. We workout together spread out through the year so I can get fresh, challenging routines.

Another client, Jill Rorem, of Chicago, came to her after gaining 60 pounds during her pregnancy to get a major overhaul. Jill says "with a more gradually vigorous exercise regime, coaching on diet and outside exercise suggestions, I have lost the baby weight and look and feel better than I did before I got pregnant!"

I'm very excited to have her join the blog.

Questions about your fitness goals?
Let her answer your questions in upcoming posts. Give her a call (773) 742-9480
or email.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Busy Week Ahead? Say No to the Frozen Entree! Try this Tasty Enchilada Casserole

To follow-up on my previous post of making black beans in the slow cooker, I thought you'd like to see another way to use the homemade beans.

So many times, I see my coworkers heating up their frozen entree and I look at it and feel sorry for them because...A - they are not appetizing and B - it's processed food typically high in sodium and filled preservatives. Not to mention frozen entrees are expensive per-meal compared to home cooked. My casserole was about $1.25 per serving!

I had an appointment after work tonight and I knew that I would be home late. So last night, I made a huge, tasty Enchilada casserole with my cooked black beans. The casserole makes 8 servings and for 2 people that's 4 meals. This meal is kid-friendly and I have to say Aaron loved it! We had reheated the casserole tonight with leftover vegetables and sliced mango. Then I packed the remaining servings in entree containers (pictured above) to pack a complete meal for lunch. Here's how...

Enchilada Casserole
Serves 8

  • Cooking spray
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 pound ground lean meat (pork, turkey, chicken or beef)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cup cooked black beans
  • 16 oz mild enchilada sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese mix
  • 8 oz can sliced black olives, drained
  • Low-fat sour cream, to serve

  • Preheat skillet or dutch oven on medium. Chop onion and peppers.
  • Drizzle pan with olive oil and cook onions, peppers and garlic. Add ground meat, crumbling the meat as you cook it. Add spices through salt and pepper. Cook through until meat is brown and no longer pink. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Coat cooking spray in a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Spoon 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish. Reserve remaining sauce. Line 6 corn tortillas in an even layer, overlapping to fill gaps.
  • Spoon black beans on the tortillas in an even layer. Add cooked meat on top of the beans. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Layer remaining 6 corn tortilla, overlapping to fill the gaps.
  • Pour reserved enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheese and sliced olives.
  • Place casserole in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut into 8 equal servings.
  • Serve with sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, and sliced avocado, if desired.

Store the leftovers in the individual servings to help with portion control and saving time for future meals on busy days.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pull Out the Slow Cooker for a Low Maintenance Way to Cook Dried Beans

When I was little, my mom used to make pinto beans from dried on the stove top. They had to be cooked for HOURS and you had to watch it. A couple months ago, I discovered this method of cooking the beans in the slow cooker from reading Cooking Light and now I've taken to the next level.

Beans are very nutritious and have a buttery, earthy flavor. They are high in fiber and are a good source of protein so they are an affordable meat substitute. I like to cook brown rice and keep it on-hand in the refrigerator with the beans, stored in separate containers. If you're working late or busy with the kid's activities, it's very convenient to have a versatile food like cooked beans ready to go.

This method has two, low-maintenance steps:

  1. Rinse and soak overnight in water (pictured above)

  2. Slow cook on Low for 10 hours, which takes only a few minutes of prep.

    Try using cooked black beans for quick tacos with avocado and sour cream, tostadas, on top of brown rice with a bit of cheese, black bean and rice burritos, or as a side dish to grilled meat. Store the beans in a large container (pictured above).

Slow Cooker Black Beans


  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 bay leaves


  • Sort and wash beans; place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 hours. Drain.

  • Combine beans, broth, and remaining ingredients (through chile) in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 10 hours. Discard bay leaves. Serve.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Natural and Healthy Stress Relief Ideas

Heightened stress is a major byproduct of the economic downturn. Whether you're worried about paying bills, finding a job, or you're stress is mounting high because you have more responsibilities at work with less staff. Many people turn to unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol, spending too much money at the mall on things you don't need, binge eating, or isolating themselves from others. Yet, these only add to your stress because of the negative consequences.

Yesterday, my project deadline shrank by 4 weeks on top of an already growing workload. My stress level hit the roof, but then my coping skills kicked in and now I'm feeling better 24-hours later.

When your body feels stress you may feel short of breath, tense, unable to focus because you feel overwhelmed. To combat these feelings before they get out of hand, think about healthy outlets to manage the stress and see the difference.

Healthy habits such as adequate sleep, hydration, exercise, strong relationships with family and friends, can help manage stress.

  • Sleep for 8-hours: sleep deprivation effects your ability to concentrate, creates hormonal imbalances that regulate your metabolism, and prevents cell restoration. Getting a good night's sleep means you can feel energized and even gain a fresh perspective.

  • Make time for a workout: a natural stress relief is exercise because of the post-workout energy high, helping you relieve stress and even prevent depression. The bonus is that exercise helps regulate your sleep as well. For me, spin class helps me sweat it out and I come back to the office from my lunchtime workout feeling energized, refreshed, and like I gave something to myself. Not into hardcore workouts? Try stretching, taking a walk, or yoga. Studies show that people that take breaks are MORE productive at work.

  • Relaxation rituals help buffer the workday stress: Try reading a book/magazine, listening to a podcast or music, knitting, or crossword puzzle at the end of the day. I ride a commuter train to/from work and this alone time helps me unwind and detach from the office stresses. By the time I walk in the door at home, my mind is free and clear to quality time with my husband.

  • Prioritize and simplify: evaluate the stressful situation to identify the critical issues and how they are dependent or related. From there, you can simplify and prioritize steps to take next so you can make a plan to tackle the challenge. Map these steps to a timeline and find way to simplify so you can do more with less effort and time. You may need to ask your coworkers or friends for help.

  • Spend time and hug a loved one: make time for a coffee chat, phone call, or dinner visit to laugh and feel connected to someone else. Humans respond positively to human contact. A genuine hug, laugh, or conversation goes a long way to make you feel like you can get through the stress.

The bottom line is that your health can suffer from the effects of long-term stress. Balancing a healthy lifestyle is among the best ways to combat the stress.

Now, tell me some of your healthy stress relief tips.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kitchen Herb Gardens Brighten Your Dishes and Saves You Loads!

Picture this... You're at the store and you spot those small plastic containers of fresh herbs and then have sticker shock from the price for the little amount of herbs! Sometimes, I get it home and I don't use it all because I only used a small amount for a dish. save money and have fresh herbs available, plant your own Kitchen Herb Garden. I live in a small urban condo, but every spring, I plant herbs in small pots on my balcony. When you have your own herb garden, you will use what you need because pruning encourages the plant to grow.

For less than $20 you can start your own garden and have enough herbs for the entire summer and fall. Fresh herbs are great for...

  • Tabouleh Salad - bulgur wheat salad with cucumber, tomato, lemon, garlic, olive oil, and lots of parsley and mint leaves.

  • Pesto sauce for pasta - use fresh basil and parsley in pesto - see my recent post for recipe and pesto menu ideas.

  • Roast chicken - use thyme, parsley, and oregano - see my recipe.

  • Chili - throw in fresh chopped cilantro just before serving and offer extra for people that want more.

  • Scrambled eggs - try a delicate combination of fresh oregano or tarragon with shredded parmesan cheese or fontina.

  • Garlic & cheese bread - spread roasted garlic cloves on french bread and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley and place under the broiler for 2 minutes.

Getting Started - What You'll Need:

  1. Decide which herbs you want to grow based on your food preferences
  2. Potting soil
  3. Seed packets or starter plants
  4. Enough pots for each herb you will grow
  5. A sunny spot in your home (try a western exposure window sill or patio).

It will take about a week before the seedlings to grow and another 3-4 weeks to start picking your first herbs. Try your local garden store for starter plants for rosemary and other herbs that take longer to grow. Be careful to pick off the start of flowers off the tips. When they go to "seed" they turn the herb to a bitter flavor.

For more good ideas and tips on planting your own Kitchen Herb Garden, check out this April 2009 Cooking Light article (photo courtesy Cooking Light).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Try this Energy & Time Saving Idea this Weekend

On the weekends, I like to do lots of prep work and cooking ahead to make the work week easy for dinners. And I get an organic produce delivery shipment so I get plenty of fruits and vegetables that I need to use.

Roasting is one of the best ways to enjoy vegetables because it deepens and sweetens the natural flavors. This weekend when you do your larger grocery shopping trip, think about items you can roast to get ready for the week for quick side dishes.

Roast one time, all at once to save you time that day and the upcoming week. The bonus is that you're saving energy because you're making use of the oven once. You will have to watch your cooking times, but other than that, it's really easy.

In this picture, I have three different trays going in my 450 degree oven. I also line my cookie sheets with foil and coat with cooking spray so I don't have to clean up the mess in the end!
  • Roasted mixed root vegetables (potato, carrot, celery, parsnip, turnip, sweet potato, etc): makes a great side dish for leftover chicken, pork chops, or even soup. Chop veggies about the same size for even cooking. Mix with a drizzle of olive oil, garlic, and herbs like dried oregano, parsley, and salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes and stir, then place back in for another 15-20 until tender.
  • Roasted beets: great for salads during the week. Wash and pierce with a fork. Drizzle unpeeled beets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Depending on size, check them if they are fork-tender 45 minutes. They may take up to 90 minutes if the beets are large. When cooked, let cool. Peel with a the tip of a spoon. Slice and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Roasted garlic heads: mash for for salad dressing or a great flavorful addition for pizza, pasta, or spreading on toasted bread. It's best to cook 2-3 heads at once. Cut the top off the heads. Place on a foil-lined pie plate and cook until slightly bubbly 35-45 minutes. Let cool. Push the roasted cloves from the skin from the bottom. You may need to peel the cloves. It will be messy. Store roasted cloves in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Also, try roasting tomatoes with breadcrumbs or zucchini and bell peppers for something different than steamed vegetables.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Asparagus: Making the Springtime Vegetable Easy and Fresh

Last night for dinner, with my brothers and step-mother's house, we needed a quick vegetable side dish to go with fish and brown rice. Luckly, my mom had asparagus in the fridge. I made this simple dish in 10 minutes and it was tasty! My brother was skeptical, but he asked for a second serving.

Asparagus is the classic springtime veggie. It's one of the first vegetables to shoot up in the garden in the spring. Asparagus is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in vitamin A, C, fiber, protein and calcium.

This method, blanching keeps the spears bright green and crisp-tender to maintain their nutritional value. Try this with salmon, white fish, steak, chicken, ham, or italian dinners.

Asparagus with Lemon (serves 4-6)

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Lemon
  • 1/2 tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Fill a deep medium-sized skillet with 1-inch of water.
  • Rinse asparagus. Bend the tough ends at the bottom of the spear until they snap off. What remains is the tender spears.
  • Place the spears in the water. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the water and place 2 slices of lemon on top.
  • Cook on medium until the water simmers softly. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes until the spears are bright green and fork tender.
  • Drain the liquid and reserve the lemon for serving for people that want more lemon. Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

That's it! It's very simple and fresh.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reduce Ashthma Symptoms the Natural Way: Exercise

Asthma is now affecting 20 million Americans. I've had asthma my entire life. When I was a kid I had severe symptoms including major attacks. I remember in many doctor's visits being told that the steroids found in inhalers, the traditional asthma controlling treatment, increase your chances of osteoporosis. My doctors have always told me to combat this tendency that I should exercise regularly to oxygenate my blood. I have always remembered this and maintained a consistent exercise schedule.

Today, I prevent attacks with maintenace non-steroid medication and I rarely have to take my emergency inhaler. I have increased my aerobic endurance with high intensity exercise. About 3 days per week, I do aerobic training with indoor cycling or jogging on the treadmill and my other 2 workout days I reserve for strength training. In the last 18 months, I have increased my aerobic endurance and reduced my asthma symptoms significantly. I could never run before without wheezing or tightness in my chest, but now I have stamina. I religiously use my heart monitor to manage my zones, which experts say is the only way to really know where you are while you're exercising.

This week, Dr. Mercola, health researcher and physician, sent out a video and article about the natural ways to reduce asthma symptoms. He suggests that asthma patients can increases their Omega-3's and vitamin D, while reducing Omega-6's (plant-based oils). He emphasizes that asthmatics who exercise actually increase their maximum ventilation, which is lower due to the condition, and increase their maximum heart rate. Exercise is the natural way to optimize your metabolic health, where insulin management is a key element.

Clearly, this is another reason to exercise, especially for asthmatics!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On the Road Again...Don't Leave Home Without These Travel Essentials

I spent the evening packing for my trip tomorrow. I'm going back home to see my family in Northern California. I used to travel all the time for business. These days, I hardly travel, but I have my packing routine to a science! When I'm on the road, I pack things that I can use to keep my healthy lifestyle in check. Here are a few tips that may help you on your next trip, whether your going business or pleasure.

Meals & Snacks/Carry-on:
  • Refillable, durable water bottle empty the bottle before you go through security and you can wash the bottle throughout your trip, fill up at water fountains, and save lots money on buying bottled water at the airport.
  • Non-perishable snacks like dried fruit and individual packaged trail mix (shown above) are great because they don't spoil and it's better than buying an expensive or unhealthy snack. Granola is another good idea. You can always find yogurt on the go so you can top it with granola for a quick breakfast.
  • Individual packed wet wipes are great for cleaning your hands after a flight or when there is no soap in public restrooms. I like natural, non-drying varieties.
  • Your iPOD filled with energizing music for workouts is a good idea. I also make sure it's synced with podcasts and fully charged the night before.
  • Meal for flight - don't forget to pack a nutritious meal. I go for a sandwich or salad with fruit. I use disposable containers so I don't have to bring them back with me. Or try these ideas.

Exercise Gear:

  • Sneakers for touring around and you can jog or walk anywhere in the hotel treadmill or city sidewalks.
  • Resistance band doesn't take much space and you can do lot of different exercises in a small space with a band. Check these band exercises out for ideas.
  • Exercise clothing I pack 2 sets of exercise gear and socks and bring linen spray to freshen them. You can use hangers to let them dry after your workout.

Checked Luggage:

  • Sunscreen is essential for protecting your skin. I pack it every time and make sure it's not too old so it is still effective.
  • Vitamins help you keep your energy. You may be getting less restful sleep at a hotel or simply being exposed on planes and public transportation to germs so having your vitamins with you is a good idea.
  • My heart monitor is small enough to pack and I don't exercise without it.

If you have more travel ideas and essentials please send me an email. I'd love to hear them!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Make Pesto in Minutes and Try It Three Ways

Ready for fresh, lighter spring flavors? Making pesto takes a few short minutes in a food processor or blender and can freshen up your quick meals for the new week. Pesto is nutritious containing vitamin A & C from the fresh herbs and lemon, and heart-healthy monosaturated fat from the olive oil.

I made this pasta Saturday before our condo showing when Aaron and I got back from errands. We had limited time for lunch since we had to get the house "show-ready" and squeeze in lunch. This healthy lunch was made possible by a bit of creative thinking and using items I already had on-hand. Here's how I did it. You can too!

  • First Meal: Make Pesto & Spice Up Steamed Veggies - Add it to cauliflower, green beans, or roasted potatoes, then store in the fridgerator in a resealable container (shown in the picture)

  • Second Meal: Whip Up Chicken-Pea-Pesto Pasta - cook the pasta and frozen peas at the same time. Recipe below.

  • Third Meal: Spread Pesto on a Turkey Vegetable Sandwich - Instead of mayonaise, smear leftover pesto with smoked turkey and spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes on whole wheat bread or wheat pita.

Pesto (Makes approx. 1 cup prepared sauce)


  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves (pull off leaves from the stems)
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pinenuts)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Need: food processor (preferred) or blender

Fill a medium bowl with cold water. Add parsley to the water and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and set-aside. Pull basil and parsley leaves from the stems.

Add all ingredients in the food processer, except for the olive oil. Process until smooth and well-mixed. Through the "shoot" (removeable opening of the food process), while the food process is running, slowly drizzle olive oil. Process until combined.

Tip - for extra lemon flavor add grated lemon peel where the essential oils are in the lemon.

Chicken-Pea-Pesto Pasta (15-minute meal) - Serves 2


  • 6-8 oz cooked chicken breast (or chicken thighs, shredded roast chicken)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3-4 oz whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 1/4 cup pesto sauce


In a medium saucepan, bring water up to a boil. Add salt to the boiling water and add pasta. 5 minutes later, add frozen peas to pasta and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes until pasta is al-dente. While pasta is cooking, reheat chicken. Cut chicken in bite-sized pieces. Drain pasta and peas in a strainer. Add pasta, peas, and chicken to hot pot and stir in pesto sauce. The heat from the pasta while warm the sauce and the meal is ready to be served.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This Breakfast Has Me California Dreaming...

I'm leaving to visit my family in California in a few days and it's all I can think about because my breakfast was inspired by my home state flavors.

I was using up my sauteed mushrooms and avocado from last night's dinner and it turned out well. Try this breakfast out for something different. I'm going to the gym later this morning so I thought it would be a great preworkout breakfast to give me long lasting energy.

Avocado-Mushroom and Smoked Mozzarella Breakfast Burrito (serves 1)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sauteed cremini (or Potabella) mushrooms
  • 3 slices avocado, light salted
  • 2 tbs shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
  • 8-inch flour tortilla
  • 1 tbs salsa verde
  • Preheat skillet on medium heat.
  • Crack eggs in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and whisk with a fork.
  • Coat skillet with cooking spray and add eggs. Scramble.
  • Warm sauteed mushrooms (in the microwave for 30 seconds)
  • Warm tortilla (in microwave for 25 seconds). Add avocado slices on tortilla, then layer with mushrooms, scrambled eggs, and top with shredded cheese.
  • Add salsa verde or hot sauce, if desired.

This breakfast is really easy and the combination of the buttery avocado and the smokey cheese is great with the eggs in the morning. After eating this breakfast, I was able to run longer, both in mileage and time. It is a great power breakfast!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Make the Most of Your Personal Training Sessions

In these economic times, consumers are holding off on non-essential big ticket items like buying houses, cars, and electronics. Personal training sessions can fall under this category. But, working out with a personal trainer has a lot of benefits especially for people need to shake up their routine and access their current fitness goals. I've seen many discount promotions at my gym lately to motivate gym-goers to take advantage. As a budget-minded gal, I think about getting the most value from these workouts.

Now, might be the right time to take advantage of the special offers! But, before you do, consider these tips to get the most benefit from your personal training workouts....

  • Be honest: Before you meet with your personal trainer, be honest with yourself and tell him/her your realistic fitness goals, past injuries, and insights on what motivates you.

  • Do-It-Yourself-Workout: Ask your trainer to create your personal workout so that you can do it alone without your trainer there. Some workouts require complex machines or two-person moves that you can't do on your own.

  • Be a student of your workout: Get the proper form and tips on the moves while your trainer is with you and remember them for when you're on your own. I still pull these out even two years later.

  • Ask for homework: My trainer is great about emailing me the link to my personal workout that I keep on-hand for future. It shows pictures and instructions for times when I'm on my own.

  • Schedule the sessions 1 or 2 weeks apart: This way you can do the workout routine on your own and ask your trainer follow-up questions the next time you see them. You'll be more likely to remember these moves long-term if you do it yourself right your session.

  • Mix it up: Between my personal training sessions, I mix up the workouts and do them on my own.

Please email me your tips that have worked for you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

8-Week Countdown to a Summer Body

It’s April 1 and in the United States, the official kickoff of the summer season is Memorial Day weekend, which this year is May 23-25. There are 8 weeks to prepare to unveil your summer body. This picture is from my favorite place in the summer, Lake Oliver, where my in-laws live. In Chicago, we have long winters and that means wearing lots of layers! Shedding the winter layers is gradual, as the weather improves, but wearing a swimsuit can be scary when you're covered up for most of the year!

This year, I’m trying something new – realistic goals and positive thinking, instead of negative-reinforced thinking. After all, swimsuits come in all sizes and styles! Who says you have to wear a teeny bikini to feel good about yourself? Instead of putting pressure and constantly telling yourself "I need to lose 40 pounds to get in a bikini," try to rewire your internal language.

The language we communicate to ourselves either out loud or internally is powerful! Why not activate that power into something positive. Try focusing your language on something positive like "I exercise X times per week" or "Today, I met my goal and ran X miles or X minutes without stopping."

Why not focus on fitness or health goals instead of just pounds on the scale. If you follow the basics - nutrition, hydration, sleep, fitness, and positive attitude, the rest will take care of itself and you will feel confident that you focused on good health and wellness.

Examples of positive, realistic action language that you can adopt to feel confident this summer:
  • "My goal is to work out X times per week" - put in the calendar
  • "My goal is to increase my aerobic endurance so I can run/bike/walk longer at a more intense pace" - try a heart monitor and use it every time you exercise and ask a professional to help you use it properly for heart rate zone training.
  • "I fuel my body with healthy balanced meals and snacks to give me the stamina and energy to work, play, and workout" - notice how your body reacts when you nourish your body with complex carbs, lean high-quality protein, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats.
  • "I have a strong, balanced body" - Think about your mix of activities such as aerobic and strength-training activities to balance your body.

Try some of these and make some statements of your own and LIVE it. Who else will, but you!