Amazing Gifts! Most Free!

Written by: on Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Smiling child in the snow

Look around and you'll find many things, like a child's smile, to be thankful for...that don't cost a dime.

Here’s a link to my most recent blog for Maria Shriver:


How to Fuel Up For Cold Weather Exercise: 10 Must-Know Facts

Written by: on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
woman skiing downhill

Exercise is an excellent way to warm up in the winter! Aerobic workout can increase your metabolism by 7 to 10 times above the resting level. This warmth helps you survive in a cold environment.

If you’re a winter athlete, you want to pay careful attention to your diet. Lack of fluids and the right food can take the fun out of your outdoor activities. Here, tips to stay at the top of your game.

Staying Hydrated in Winter

Some need-to-know facts about getting enough fluids during the cold-weather months:

1.) Cold blunts the thirst mechanism; you’ll feel less thirsty despite significant sweating and may not “think to drink.” Winter athletes (especially those skiing at high altitude) need to consciously consume fluids to replace the water vapor that gets exhaled via breathing. When you breathe in cold dry air, your body warms and humidifies that air. As you exhale, you lose significant amounts of water. You can see this vapor (“steam”) when you breathe.

2.) Dehydration hurts performance. Failing to drink enough fluids is a major mistake made by winter athletes. A study comparing hydration of athletes who skied or played football or soccer, reported the skiers had the highest rate of chronic dehydration. Before a competition, 11 of the 12 alpine skiers showed up dehydrated. (Some winter athletes purposefully skimp on fluids to minimize the need to stop for a bathroom break, but this affects how well they do.)

female skier drinking water outdoors

Exercising women need at least 8 – 12 glasses of water a day during the winter months.

3.) Room temperature water is best. Don’t drink icy water (i.e., from a water bottle kept on your bike or outside pocket of your backpack), unless you’re hot. Cold water can cool you off and give you the chills. A better bet: an insulated water bottle or a bottle filled with a hot sports drink then covered with a wool sock to help retain the heat.

4. Layering up helps you sweat less. Sweaty clothing drains body heat. As the weather becomes “tropical” inside your exercise outfit, strip down layer by layer. You’ll stay drier and warmer. Simply taking off a hat is cooling; 30 to 40 percent of body heat gets lost through the head.

What to Eat to Stay Warm

You need adequate pre-exercise fuel to generate body heat—why you want to eat the proper foods before you ski, run outdoors, or embark on any outside activity in extreme cold.

5.) Eating not only provides fuel but also increases heat production (warmth). Your body wants fuel to “stoke the furnace” so it can generate heat. (It takes about 30 to 60 minutes after you eat for your body to generate about 10 percent more heat than when you have an empty stomach.)

energy bar

Always carry a snack (or two)—like an energy bar—with you when you're outdoors exercising.

That’s why it’s important to always carry emergency food (such as an energy bar) with you in case you slip on the ice or experience some incident that leaves you static in a frigid environment. Winter campers, for example, commonly keep a supply of dried fruit, chocolate, or cookies within reach, in case they wake up cold at 3:00 a.m.

6.) A drop in body temperature actually stimulates the appetite and you experience hunger. That’s why if you become chilled during winter exercise (or even when swimming, for that matter), you’ll likely find yourself searching for food.

Also note that changes in brain chemicals (particularly in those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD) increase carbohydrate cravings and the desire to eat more. To limit winter weight gain, stay active! Exercise helps manage health, weight, and the winter blues.

bowl of oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts

One of the best foods for winter athletes? Oatmeal with nuts and a little dried fruit.

7.) The best winter recovery foods are those that chase away chills, replenish depleted glycogen stores, and rehydrate your body. Best bets: warm carbohydrates with a little protein, such as hot cocoa made with milk, oatmeal with nuts, lentil soup, chili, and pasta with meatballs. The warm food, added to the thermogenic effect of eating, contributes to rapid recovery. Eating cold foods and frozen fluids, on the other hand, can chill your body.

8.) Your body uses a considerable amount of energy to warm and humidify the air you breathe when you exercise in the cold. For example, if you were to burn 600 calories while cross-country skiing for an hour in 0° F weather, you might use about 150 of those calories to warm the air.  (In summer, you would have dissipated that heat via sweat.)

woman running in the snow

Always layer up when running or doing any outdoor exercise in the winter.

9.) If you wear heavy clothes, you’ll burn a few more calories carrying the extra weight of skis, boots, heavy parka, snow shoes, etc. (The Army actually allows 10 percent more calories for heavily clad troops who exercise in the cold.) If you’re a runner, however, think twice before chowing down: the weight of your extra clothing is minimal.

10.) Shivering is an involuntary muscle tensing that generates heat.

When you first become slightly chilled (such as when watching a football game), you’ll find yourself doing an isometric type of muscle tensing that can increase your metabolic rate two to four times.

As you get further chilled, you’ll find yourself hopping from foot to foot and jumping around. This is Nature’s way to get you to generate heat and warm your body.

• If you become so cold that you start to shiver, these vigorous muscular contractions generate lots of heat—up to 400 calories per hour. Such intense shivering quickly depletes your muscle glycogen stores and drains your energy. This is when you’ll be glad you have emergency food with you!

Copyright:  Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, December 2011

Nancy Clark, MS RD offers nutrition consultations to casual exercisers and competitive athletes at her private practice located at Healthworks, the premier fitness center in Chestnut Hill MA (617-795-1875). Her popular Sports Nutrition Guidebook and food guides for runners, cyclists, and soccer players are available at See also

10 Get-Fit Gifts (with special money-saving deals!)

Written by: on Monday, December 5th, 2011
Stay-healthy holiday gifts

The best gifts are those that help make you healthier and more fit!

These are just a few things I love that would make perfect presents (for you or a friend) this holiday season.

pair of women's snowshoes

You can burn about 400 calories an hour snowshoeing


1.) GET MOVING! I have a pair of these LLBean Winter Walker Snowshoes ($109; and absolutely love them. They make their way through deep snow with ease, making them perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors or just wants to get fit.

DEAL: FREE shipping plus FREE $10 gift card with any $50 purchase


L'Occitane Hand Cream

Absorbs quickly and moisturizes even the driest of hands!

2.) STAY SMOOTH My hands have been SO dry lately from parched indoor air and frequent washing, I couldn’t wait for Santa to bring me a tube of L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream ($26; I bought one myself. It contains shea butter (of course!), honey and sweet almond extract, and vitamin E along with jasmine and ylang-ylang. (Works on tired feet too!) Makes the perfect stocking stuffer!

DEAL: Free shipping on orders over $25


The Silver Diva Necklace

You can have this imprinted with whatever saying you want.

3.) BE INSPIRED This Mother’s Hands Birthstone Necklace ($68; is actually on my Christmas list this year. Love the fact that you can have any motivating phrase you want stamped on this sterling silver necklace, although I’m going to keep the one that’s here (“A mother holds a child’s hands for awhile & their hearts forever.”). In the center: a Swarovski crystal birthstone.

DEAL: Use code MSLDEC for 15 percent off 


Anti-fatigue mats for kitchen, laundry and bath

These have been tested to reduce leg fatigue by up to 60 percent!

4.) FEEL GOOD I have one of these Imprint Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mats (on sale now for $54.99 for 20” x 36”; in front of my kitchen sink as it makes standing less of a chore, particularly after a tough workout. Also love that they’re eco-friendly and made from non-toxic materials, important in a home of three kids! Makes the perfect gift for a cook and an athlete.

DEAL: $5 shipping on all orders

Pedometers from Striiv

Probably the coolest pedometer I've ever seen!

5.) GET FIT How cool is this Striiv Pedometer ($99;! It highlights the typical pedometer stuff (in a sleek design): steps, stairs, calories, distance. But the more you walk, the more you can donate to a charity of your choice, achieve goals with every step you take, and even play games. Anyone who is looking to get fit will LOVE this!

DEAL: Order through and you’ll get FREE SUPER SAVER SHIPPING.


Heart Rate Monitor for Bikes

Love the big, easy-to-read displays on this bike monitor...

6.) STAY STRONG This is a one fabulous deal! Get a Polar CS500 or Polar CS500 Tour de France Bike Mount Heart Rate Monitor for 44 percent! off the original price (was $319; now $179 for a limited time; A perfect gift for a triathlete—or yourself!

DEAL: Enter code POLAR500 to get the special rate and FREE shipping.



Under Armour Cold Gear Colorblock Compression Leggings

Available in six different trim colors.

7.) BE WARM I love going out for a run on a brisk, sunny winter’s day—as long as I’m layered up. These Under Armour Coldgear Colorblock Compression chafe-free Leggings ($59.99; are the perfect way to keep legs warm. Plus I love the addition of some neon color!

DEAL: Free shipping; enter code UAGIFT 



Avocado of the Month Club

Get up to a year's supply of good-for-you food.

8.) EAT RIGHT Add Avocado of the Month Club to your Christmas list and you’ll get three (or more, depending on what you select) months of avocados (full of good-for-you fat) plus a bottle of avocado oil ($194.95 for 3-month membership;

DEAL: FREE SHIPPING, but if you join Oprah’s Avocado of the Month Club on, you’ll get a 3-month membership for $110.


Radiation-busting cell phone case from Pong

Reduces cancer-causing cell phone radiation by up to 95 percent.

9.) STAY SAFE I have one of these Soft Touch Pong Cell Phone Cases ($49.99 each; and am buying some for my friends for the holidays. Why? It’s the only cell phone case proven in numerous studies to reduce cell phone radiation. Comes in a variety of colors and styles; I have the hot pink one!

DEAL: There’s no deal on this one; but I feel so strongly about it that I included it anyway.



plastic bag dryer from Gaiam

You will use this simple countertop gadget over and over again.

10.) DO GOOD I have one of these Countertop Bag Dryers ($20;—and love it! I can re-use my Ziploc snack bags (saving them from the landfill)—and even use it to dry my water bottles (although you have to make sure the weight is balanced on two sides so it doesn’t topple over). Everyone should have one in his/her kitchen!

DEAL: 20 percent off and free shipping; use code FESTIVE or FRIENDS11.