How I Derailed My Career & Discovered My Life

Written by: on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

detour as it relates to lifeMy latest blog post for Maria Shriver: enjoy!

Nothing is impossible!

Written by: on Sunday, February 26th, 2012
Fortune cookie with Nothing is Impossible fortune

So important to remember: you can do anything you set your mind to!

I just love this picture: It reminds me that anything is possible—if we just set our minds to it. Sure, it’s easy to be daunted by the challenge before us (e.g. getting our butt out of the house to do a run or go to the gym; lose the weight—for good; finally start living the life we want to live [instead of the one others create for us]…the list goes on).

But visualize the success you want to have, every day, and that success can be yours. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!

Half-Empty or Half-Full: How Your Outlook Affects Your Health

Written by: on Friday, February 24th, 2012
Optimists/Pessimists Sign

Only you can choose the path you want to follow.

What’s your worldview? Are you an optimist or a pessimist by nature? Do you always expect good things to happen or are you waiting for the other shoe to drop? Our mental attitude affects how we interact with others and how we respond to events and the comings and goings in our daily lives. Remarkably, our mental attitude also affects our health and well-being. How we feel, not only mentally but also physically, is significantly impacted by what has been termed our “internal guidance mechanism”.

Back in the 1960s, a plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz wrote Psycho-Cybernetics, a groundbreaking book that has been continuously in print for

Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

The pioneering self-help book.

almost 50 years. Psycho-Cybernetics, one of the original self-help books, popularized the idea that the subconscious part of our mind is a goal-seeking mechanism. Maltz famously compared the subconscious to a guided missile, stating that the subconscious would do exactly what it is programmed to do. If you want to achieve a goal, Maltz proposed, visualize its successful completion. Visualize yourself driving that red sports car. Visualize the fun you and your family are having on your trip to Hawaii or Italy. Visualize living in your beautiful home. Provided that the instructions are clear, your subconscious will go to work to cause your goal to manifest in your life.

This wasn’t mumbo-jumbo. Maltz was a scientist and made a very strong case for his theory, backed up by decades of interaction with his patients. Since then, of course, hundreds if not thousands of self-help gurus have sprung up, publishing books, giving seminars, and being interviewed in broadcast media. Maltz, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Emmet Fox, and Ernest Holmes were the originals, the pioneers who promulgated the concepts and precepts of taking charge of your own life.

Glass Half Empty/Glass Half Full

Start looking at life with a more positive outlook—and you'll be happier overall.

In terms of health, attitude is critically important.

How do you respond, internally, if a nearby co-worker coughs or sneezes throughout the day? Have you noticed that if you think that you, too, are going to get sick, that in fact you do? But others, exposed to the same environment, do not. Is it possible that these others paid no attention to the ill co-worker, that they did not internalize the notion that they were being exposed to contagion? Such a scenario is not necessarily true, but it is possible. The conclusion could be that our thoughts matter. As Earl Nightingale, one of the pioneers of the personal development field, famously stated, “You become what you think about”.

So what should we do? Think happy thoughts all day long? Not really. But it is important to remember that attitude counts. If we are more frequently seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, it is possible that we are going to have a more productive, more successful, more fulfilled day. And, unbeknownst to us, our subconscious mind will build on those successes and help to bring us more success, personal growth, happiness, and well-being.

The 6 Best Pre- and Post-Workout Foods

Written by: on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
Chocolate milk good workout snack

Who would have thought this childhood fave would turn out to be so good for you?!

If you ask most people what’s the best pre- or post-workout meal or snack, they’ll probably mention sports drinks, protein powders, protein bars, and anything but plain old food.

Well, this is continually being proven wrong by researchers, sports nutritionists, and exercise specialists.

The latest research by McMaster University professor Stuart Phillips shows that the top foods for athletes—and regular exercisers—are:

1) Chocolate milk: offers post-workout water, protein, electrolytes, and carbohydrates—and not to mention, it tastes good too! According to Phillips, chocolate milk helps rehydrate your body after exercise and recharges damaged muscles. For these reasons, it’s far superior, he says, to water and sports drinks when it comes to post-workout recovery.

For more information on chocolate milk, click on (full disclosure: this site, recommended by Phillips, is sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada—but it’s actually quite informative and packed with good information—why I’m okay with linking to it. They’re also sponsoring the giveaway at the end of this piece…and free stuff is always good!)

steel cut oats

Try steel cut oats: they take longer to cook (about 30 minutes) but have double the fiber of rolled oats!

2) Oatmeal: contains carbs, fiber and B vitamins (which are key for the breakdown of carbs into glucose and energy in the body—among other things).

Oatmeal, with protein-packed almonds, is the perfect pre-workout meal (particularly if you’re exercising in the morning). I also like to add dried cranberries, zest from a lemon, cinnamon (which helps control blood sugar), and a drizzle of agave nectar into mine. Just had a bowl this morning!

3) Salmon: rich in protein, iron, vitamin B12 (critical for healthy nervous system functioning and making blood cells) and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain function, reducing inflammation in the body, and normal growth and development.

My favorite way of cooking it: Marinate it in a little lemon juice and spices (try O&Co Salt & Herb Mix for Fish, $8.50;, drizzle with olive oil, and cook covered at 400ºF for 20 minutes. Shut off the oven, take off the cover, and let sit in the warm oven for another 15 minutes.

4) Blueberries: high in carbs (key for energy) and free-radical-fighting antioxidants (more free radicals are produced in the body during exercise).

I like to add frozen blueberries to almond milk and blend up with a frozen banana and some agave nectar—the perfect fuel-up smoothie!

grilled salmon

Did you know? Salmon is rich in selenium, a free-radical busting antioxidant.

5) Sweet potatoes: chockfull of iron (which helps your body produce oxygen during exercise) and antioxidants beta-carotene as well as vitamins C and E.

Don’t have the patience or time to cook them in the oven? Simply puncture a few times with a fork and cook them on high in the microwave, on a paper towel or plate, for 4 to 5 minutes.

6) Yogurt: high in calcium (important for strong bones and muscle contractions) and energy-boosting vitamin B12. Look for yogurts with little to no added sugar and gut-busting lactobacteria or acidophilus (healthy bacteria that helps digestion).

I love Greek Fage (pronounced “fah-yeh”) Total 2% yogurt with granola (for carbs and taste) and a tiny bit of honey mixed in.

There’s no Gatorade on Phillips’ list, no packaged protein bars, no fruity gummy chews.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ll probably still stick these into my bike “bento” snack pack ( for races because they’re so convenient, but the important take-home message from Phillips’ research: you don’t have to spend a lot of money on processed sports foods at other times.

Real food is still your best bet.

[Read more…]

3 Gorgeous Hair Products I Swear By

Written by: on Thursday, February 16th, 2012
girl in exercise clothes

Use the right products for your hair—and you will get results.

I’m not a “hair” person: I like easy hairstyles that don’t require a lot of effort—and can be easily pulled back when I’m working out. And I generally don’t like using products; if I do, I typically don’t rave about them. But I have to say I LOVE these products (I’ve just started using them over the past couple of months and my hair hasn’t looked better)—why I wanted to share them.

BlowPro Blow Up Root Lift Concentrate

Just spray on wet hair, then blow dry.

Blow Pro Blow Up Root Lift Concentrate: Packed with vitamins and protein from almonds and milk (and free of sulfates, parabens, and artificial fillers), this good-for-you spray adds volume. Plus, it makes your home blowout look smooth and silky (and I swear it makes my blowout last too, although no where on the packaging does it claim this!). $21;



It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Hair Product

Love to swim? Then you'll love how this product protects your hair.


It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product: I spray this on before I put on my swim cap to do my laps in the pool. It helps protect my color and leaves my hair silky soft afterward (not dry and rough as my hair was before I started using this). Plus, it helps detangle my four-year-old’s long, wavy strands! $11.95;



Kim Vo Brilliant Luster Hair Glaze

You'll get salon-worthy shine with this home hair product.


Kim Vo Hair Brilliant Luster Glaze: If you’ve ever had a clear glaze (also called a gloss) put on your hair at a salon to give it shine, you’ll love this at-home botanical-based version for a lot less. It gives hair radiance and helps enhance your color. A must-try! But, for best results, follow the directions as to how to apply and how long to leave on. $24;

Skip lunch/coffee with a friend … and try this instead!

Written by: on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
images of two feet on a walking path

Next time you get together with a friend, make it a point to walk outdoors

Today I was supposed to have lunch with an acquaintance of mine—and instead, she suggested we go for an early morning walk in a local park. It was a great idea! Instead of sitting and talking over food, which studies show can sometimes result in you eating more than you want, we walked…and talked, despite the drizzling rain outdoors. And not only did I feel great afterward as I got fresh air and exercise, we also traded tips and advice about life with kids. So next time you’re supposed to have lunch or coffee with a friend, take it outdoors. You’ll feel invigorated!

Wow! A truly amazing success story…a must watch

Written by: on Wednesday, February 15th, 2012


The Flat Abs, Firm Butt, Strong Legs Workout: Try It!

Written by: on Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
flat abs on fit woman

Consistent strength training—and cardio—will help transform your body.

If you’re looking for a good workout to get you toned from head to toe, this is it (and it’s just the first in a new series of workouts being featured here). Created by New York City-based Equinox trainer Katherine Roberts-Hill, it’s meant to ease anyone into a total body workout. She created it for me as I needed a not-too-difficult workout to start on after having a baby about 10 weeks ago. I’ll be adding this to my cardio (elliptical and swimming) workouts. Keep me posted on your progress (I’ll be keeping you posted on mine)!

Disclaimer: You should have your doctor’s okay before starting any exercise program—and if you have questions about any of these moves, ask a trainer at your gym for help. If you feel pain or discomfort, STOP. Do not continue exercising and work with a professional before starting up again. We want people to get fit—not hurt!

How often to do it
This is the first workout for 2 weeks. Try to get in 2-3 workouts each week. It should take 40-50 minutes with a warm up and 15-20 minutes of cardio. Choose 7 exercises each time (you can mix it up).

Prior to the warm-up, do myofascial release on your legs with the use of a foam roller (from $11.95 at To see how to do this, watch this video >

Workout Plan

Squat to Shoulder Press – 2 Arm  Strength  3 15-20 20 lbs  –
Lunge – Forward  Strength 3 15 30 lbs 75%  60 sec
Squat – Front with Barbell  Strength 3 20 20 lbs 75%  60 sec
Chest Press – Incline Dumbbell  Strength 3  –
Supine Triple Flexion to Extension – Alternating Leg  Strength  –
Abs – Backstroke  Toning 3 20
Side Iso-abs with Crunch  Toning 3 15 30 sec  –
Lat Pulldown – Standing (Free Motion)  Strength 3 15 40 lbs
Stability Ball Pull-Over  Strength 3 20 15 lbs

Cool Down

The cool-down should consist of some light walking and stretching for about 5 minutes.

Reps:  15-20 Sets:  3
Weight:  20 lbs
To start:

  • Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, feet pointing straight ahead.
  • Start with dumbbells at shoulder level, palms facing forward.

  • Perform a squat as deep as you can (A).
  • Squat up to starting position; perform a shoulder press (B).
  • Lower weight slowly, then repeat.



Reps:  15 Sets:  3 Intensity:  75%
Weight:  30 lbs Rest:  60 sec
To start:

  • Stand in proper alignment with hands on hips.
  • Place feet straight ahead and shoulder width apart.

  • Draw lower abs inward toward spine (activating the deep stabilizing mechanism).
  • Step forward and descend slowly by bending at the hips, knees and ankles (A). During the descent maintain weight distribution between the heels and mid-foot. Don’t allow feet to cave inward or shift outward. (Knees should be between first and second toes.)
  • Perform downward reps slowly and concentrate on the descent and the alignment of your body. Only descend down as far as you can maintain optimal alignment, keeping upper torso erect. (Leaning forward can injure the spine, knee, and ankle.)


Reps:  20 Sets:  3 Intensity:  75%
Weight:  20 lbs Rest:  60 sec
To start:

  • Stand with feet pointed STRAIGHT AHEAD with a barbell placed comfortably on the top back of shoulders (A). Be sure to position your head up over shoulders and shoulders in line with hips (i.e., neutral spine).

  • Draw your belly button inward toward your spine (from the start position).
  • Descend slowly by bending at knees and hips (B). Maintain weight distribution between mid-foot and heels. Don’t allow feet to cave inward or shift outward.
  • Push up through the feet extending the ankle, knee and hip joints while weight is evenly distributed between heels and mid-foot. Don’t allow weight to shift toward toes. (Knees should track over the second and third toe.)
  • Perform downward reps slowly, concentrating on proper alignment of body.
  • Descend as far as you can control. Partial squats should progress to full squats as you get better at this exercise.
  • Note: This should be back loaded (on the shoulders with a barbell). If it is too difficult to do, use 2, 15-lb dumbbells.



Reps:  20 Sets:  3
Weight:  12.5 lbs each hand
To start:

  • Lie on bench with feet straight and flat on the ground.
  • Position dumbbells, arms fully extended, over lower part of shoulders, not the head.

  • Draw belly button inward toward your spine.
  • Slowly, lower your elbows out and down, maintaining wrist position over the elbows (A).
  • Continue to lower the weight until your upper arms are level with the shoulders.
  • Move elbows up and in toward center to return (B). This will create a triangular motion. Wrist should maintain a neutral position. Keep dumbbells over wrists throughout entire exercise.



Note: Maintain proper posture, as the weight is lowered. DO NOT allow your head to “jut” forward.
To start:

  • Lie with back flat on the ground, knees bent 90°, and place hands on the ground by your side (A).
  • Activate core with a drawing in and pelvic floor contraction.

  • Lift BOTH legs off the ground.
  • Extend one leg into triple extension.
  • Simultaneously alternate each leg from flexion to extension (B), keeping head relaxed on mat while maintaining good upper body posture.



Reps:  20 Sets:  3

To start:

  • Maintain good posture throughout the exercise with shoulder blades retracted and down, good stability through the abs, and neutral spine angles.

  • Begin in a crunch position (shoulders slightly off the mat), ensuring that spine is ‘long’ and not excessively rounded. Hands are to the side, palms facing up (as shown).
  • Perform a backstroke motion with one hand (A), while holding the crunch.
  • Return hand to the side and alternate sides (B), once the backstroke motion has been completed.



Reps:  15 Sets:  3
Duration:  30 sec

To start:

  • Make sure you’ve done a quick warm-up prior to doing this exercise.

  • Take the top arm, place the hand behind the ear (A) and rotate elbow towards ground (B). Ensure body line is straight, visual gaze is straight ahead and shoulders and trunk rotate.
  • Repeat for desired number of repetitions.



Reps:  15 Sets:  3
Weight:  40 lbs

To start:

  • Adjust cable arms as shown.
  • Stand in squat position (facing Cable Cross), knees bent, maintaining good posture with arms outstretched. Grasp handles (A).

  • Brace spine by drawing your lower abdomen in.
  • Start movement by pulling elbows into side of body (B), maintaining proper posture.
  • Check alignment and positioning and repeat press.
  • Squat deeper or adjust back from Cable Cross if weight stack touches at end range of motion.
  • Variations: Try various grip positions, Single arm alternating.



Reps:  20 Sets:  3
Weight:  15 lbs

To start:

  • Adjust the column toward top and place stability ball in front of column.

  • Hold the triceps rope above head with straight arms, sitting on stability ball facing away from the machine (A).
  • Engage abs, and roll body and arms out parallel to the floor (B).
  • Pull arms back over head to starting position.




Water: The Amazing Performance Enhancer

Written by: on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012


female biker drinking water

Drink water before, during, and after exercise to make sure you're getting enough.

Water is truly a performance enhancer. When a star U Conn basketball player took the advice of his sports nutritionist Nancy Rodriguez, RD, and started drinking enough to consistently void light-colored urine [what everyone should be aiming for], he was amazed at how much better he felt all day. Unfortunately, too many athletes overlook the power of this essential nutrient. Perhaps it’s your turn to give water a try? This article offers tips to enhance your water IQ, optimize your water balance, and help you feel and perform better.

•  You don’t have to drink plain water to get adequate water into your body. All fluids count, as do foods that have a high water content:

Coffee 99.5
Lettuce 96
Tomato 95
Lowfat milk 90
Broccoli 89
Oatmeal 84
Lowfat vanilla yogurt 79
Ice cream 60


• Water is a major component of the cells in muscles and organs; about 60 percent of a young male’s body weight is water, as is about 50 percent of a young woman’s body weight.

Water is essential for proper functioning of our metabolism, the biochemical reaction by which our bodies get energy. Your body simply cannot function without sufficient water, as noted by the fact that athletes die from dehydration. Your body also needs water to moisten food (saliva), digest food (gastric secretions), transport nutrients to and from cells (blood), discard waste (urine), and dissipate heat (sweat).

Different body parts have different water content. For example, blood is approximately 93 percent water, muscle is about 73 percent water, and body fat is about 10 percent water. Water constantly moves between the inside and the outside of cells. In fact, about 4 to 10 percent of your body water gets replaced every day with “fresh” water.

Note: Bioelectrical impedance (BIA) methods of measuring body fat actually measure body water. From that, a formula estimates the ratio of water to muscle and fat. Hence, if you use a Tanita Scale or Omron device, be sure to maintain adequate hydration. If you’re dehydrated, you’ll end up with an inaccurate (higher) estimate of body fat.

woman running in a race

Did you know? When muscles burn glycogen (long-term fuel), they release water to prevent dehydration—important during races.

Your body produces about 8 to 16 oz. (250-500 ml) water per day during normal metabolic processes. During a marathon, a runner’s muscles can produce that much water over 2 to 3 hours. When muscles burn glycogen, they simultaneously release about 2.5 units water for each one unit of muscle glycogen; this helps protect against dehydration.

Coffee is a popular source of water. Although once thought to have a diuretic effect, current research indicates coffee (in amounts normally consumed) hydrates as well as water over a 24-hour period. That is, after drinking coffee, you may urinate sooner, but you won’t urinate more than you consume. Army research on caffeine and dehydration confirms coffee (iced or hot) is an acceptable source of fluid for athletes, even during exercise in the heat. Hence, coffee and other caffeinated beverages such as tea or cola do count towards daily water intake.

An increased concentration of particles in your blood triggers the sensation of thirst. If you’re a 150-pound athlete, you’ll start to feel thirsty once you’ve lost about 1.5 to 3 pounds of sweat (1 to 2 percent of your body weight).  You are seriously dehydrated when you have lost 5 percent of your body weight.

Body water absorbs heat from the working muscles and sweat dissipates the heat, keeping you from overheating during exercise and in hot environments. The evaporation of a liter (about 36 ounces) of sweat from the skin represents a loss of about 580 calories.

To determine how much water you lose when you sweat, weigh yourself (with little or no clothing) before and after an hour of hard exercise with no fluid intake. The change in body weight reflects sweat loss. A one-pound drop in weight equates to a loss of 16 ounces of sweat. A two-pound drop equates to 32 ounces—that’s one quart. Drink accordingly during your workouts to prevent that loss!

sweaty woman working out

Body water absorbs heat from the muscles when you work out—and sweat dissipates that heat.

When you sweat, you lose water from both inside and outside the cells. The water outside the cells is rich in sodium, an electrolyte that works in balance with potassium, an electrolyte inside the cells. Sweat contains about 7 times more sodium than potassium, hence sodium is the more important electrolyte to replace during extended exercise.

Most athletes who lose more than 2 percent of their body weight  (3 lbs for a 150-pound athlete) lose both their mental edge and their ability to perform optimally in hot weather. Yet, during cold weather, you are less likely to experience reduced performance, even at 3 percent dehydration. Three to 5 percent dehydration does not seem to affect muscle strength or performance during short intense bouts of anaerobic exercise, such as weight lifting. But distance runners slow their pace by about 2 percent for each percent body weight lost by dehydration. Sweat loss of more than 10 percent body weight is life threatening.

Adequate fluid intake can reduce problems with constipation and urinary tract infections. But, there is no research to back up theories that excessive (meaning more than the normal amount) water intake will improve weight loss, remove toxins, or improve skin tone.

Best advice: drink in response to thirst. No scientific evidence supports the rule that you should drink eight glasses of water a day [although that’s often a good rule of thumb to aim for], so you can simply drink in response to thirst. You can also monitor the volume of your urine. If your urine is scanty, dark, and smelly, you should drink more! If you have not urinated during your work or school day (8:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.), you are severely underhydrated.

water pouring out of a plastic bottle

While bottled water is more convenient, it may not be any better for you than plain old tap.

Is bottled water better for you than tap water? Doubtful. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, nearly half of  bottled waters come from municipal water supplies—not from the mountain streams pictured on the labels. This suggests standard municipal tap water is high quality. Rather than spend money on bottled water, turn on your tap! This will help stop the flood of 95 million plastic water bottles that get discarded each day, of which only 20 percent get recycled. Drink plenty of water—but think “green.”

Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD Feb 2012 

Enough with the noise, already!

Written by: on Monday, February 6th, 2012
woman standing in silence

You don't need to be on a gorgeous beach like this to be silent; you can have five minutes of noise-free peace in your own living room.

As I lay in bed this morning, snuggled under my down comforter up to my nose while the frost lay on the ground outside, I prayed for a little more silence before the day’s craziness began.

The sun had yet to come up and the morning was quiet—kids still asleep, no alarms buzzing off, no phones ringing, yet. (And no, I did not immediately get out of bed to exercise—as I intended to do; I was quite happy to ensconce myself in my covers!)

It struck me, though, how little time we have in silence these days. We wake up with a jolt to alarms or music or our phone ringing or vibrating (or a baby crying, which is the case with me these days). We spend most of the day

Party in My Crib 3:00 am onesie for babies

This is my reality these days, my baby waking up at frequent times during the night, which means I have to enjoy every moment of silence I can get!

with smartphones connected to us at every moment—even by our beds—offering plenty of sound options (apps, music, different ring tones, and more!); at work in meetings, talking to people; in the car with the radio on; watching TV at home. We never have to be quiet anymore. In fact, so many people are seemingly afraid of silence, needing to be at home with the TV or music on…background noise as we so often call it. I even find it hard to be in the car a minute or two without reaching for the radio control knobs. And I know I’m not alone.

We need to try to relish silence more—particularly as our world becomes even more full of noise. I’m not saying we have to be monks, abstaining from all our electronic gadgets and toys and living in noise-free harmony, but there are some things we can do to help clear our heads of the cacophony of sounds from our daily lives. The end goal: bring more silence into our days to help reduce the stress and anxiety that we shoulder—and give us time to just think already!

1) When you’re exercising outdoors, leave your iPod at home. I remember the first time I ran outdoors without music; it was early in the morning and it was so invigorating and inspiring. I actually thought about different things while listening to the birds chirp (imagine that!). Next time you go for a walk, run, or bike ride, take time to listen to nature. (It’s safer this way, too, as noise prevents you from being 100 percent attentive to what’s happening around you—and can result in accidents.) I also think this is one of the reasons I like swimming: there is silence in the pool other than the noise my hands make when they cut through the water. But let’s be honest, though, I cannot live without my tunes on the treadmill or elliptical; I’d be bored out of my mind!!

2) Get the TV/computer out of your bedroom. You’ll find that you may get to sleep more quickly—and sleep more soundly—as a result. (Studies also show that the flickering of TV or computer lights—if you use either before bed or fall asleep watching TV, as some people do—actually interferes with our ability to sleep deeply.)

3) Allow time in your day, regularly, for silence. I truly believe this is one reason why meditation is so powerful when it comes to keeping your body healthy. It’s not just about clearing your mind; it’s about doing so without noise.

4) Give yourself permission to shut off your smart phone. Just put it away; that way, it won’t vibrate every time a new message or text comes in; it won’t ring; and it won’t tempt you to check it every couple of minutes. This is a simple solution to the noise of being “wired” 24/7.

For better health, let’s all take more time for silence. It may be just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to taking care of our bodies!