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“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
-Stephen R. Covey

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Upper Body Strength Exercise- Push/Pull Interval

Once again here is a great way to use the exercise resistance band-

Under Construction...

This weekend I am going to work on revamping the daily challenge. Please check back Monday for more info and tips.

Until then try this fun exercise-

Sissy Squats (these suckers are one of my favorites. They seem easy at first, but soon you will know exactly what body part they are working:). Do 2-3 sets of 20 reps.

I don't know if sissy squat is the correct term for these. It is just the name I was taught.

Stand with feet hip width apart and your heels elevated on the ends of dumbbells or a block of wood. You just need it so your heels are a few inches off the ground.

Squat down so you can grab your ankles with your hands.

"Glue" your chest to your thighs. If your chest leaves your thighs you are doing it wrong.

Lift your hips to the ceiling as you lengthen your knees. Remember chest stays connected to your thighs. Basically you should be folding forward at this point.

Lower your hips back down so you are in the starting position.

You should feel this working your thighs.

If this doesn't make sense let me know.


Friday, February 5, 2010

More on Cereal and Sugar Content

Here are some tips to help you make better cereal choices-

Total carb-to-sugar ratio should be no less than 4:1. (i.e. If total carb line says 24g the sugar value should be 6 g or less.)

Even better, look for cereals with a 6 or 7:1.

Look for the "5 and 5" rule- Less than 5 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber.


Be a Label Reader-

When you walk down the cereal isle it is pretty easy to spot the sugar filled cereals...or so you may think. Don't be fooled by advertising!

I am assuming most of us know how to read food labels.

If not you can check out this website to help you learn- http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/consumerinformation/ucm078889.htm

I am usually a faithful food label reader. But I admit that sometimes I see something that looks healthy and throw it in the cart. It isn't until I get home that I really do the research and realize I have been tricked.

For example I occasionally like to buy Kellogg's Smart Start cereals. I know they aren't the most healthy choice (they taste way to sweet to not know this), but they seemed safe.

Although this cereal can claim 5g of fiber per serving it is "lightly sweetened" with 8 different sweeteners. According to the book Eat This not That by David Zinczenko this is more than any other cereal found in the supermarket. To go further, Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Trix, Froot Loops, and Cocoa Pebbles all have less sugar per serving. Granted Smart Start does have more nutritional value than these cereals, don't forget that it comes with a price.

I am sure you have seen the commercials for the Special K diet on tv. If you look into the details the reason it can work in terms of weight loss is because you are eating so few calories. But when it comes to making your calories count, Special K is NOT the way to do it. Take a look at te ingredient list for this one-


It doesn't even have any whole grains in it.

If you are trying to eat healthy try these cereals instead-

Quaker Oatmeal Squares (10g of sugar compared to the 17g in Smart Start)
Cheerios- It is a classic for a reason. Here you get low sugar, low calorie and a decent amount of fiber. Add some blueberries if you need a little more sweetness. BTW...one pint of blueberries (the normal container you purchase blueberries in) contains only 160 calories, 18g of sugar (all natural here!), and 10g of fiber, plus tons of antioxidants.
Multi-Grain Cheerios- Only 110 calories and 6 g of sugar per serving. Plus these are delicious.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Keep your Body Guessing-

Once you have figured out your daily calorie count I want you to try this little trick...

Say you are supposed to have 1400 calories a day, meaning you should take in 9800 calories a week. So instead of dividing those calories up into 7 days of 1400 calories each try eating 1200 calories one day and 1600 the next. Then try 1300 calories, followed with a 1500 calorie day. Just make sure you are at 9800 calories at the end of the week.

Apply this same idea to your workouts. Have some killer workout days mixed in with more moderate exercise. Just be sure to reach your calorie burn for the week.

Not only will this keep things more interesting it will also help you to fight the dreaded weight loss plateau.

When Life Throws a Curveball

Need a little reminder to keep you on track...

When you realize that what you're doing is really a lifestyle change and not a "program" or diet, it will empower you like never before. Making this transition in your thinking means there is nothing to quit. You can't quit a lifestyle like you quit a diet. Injuries, illness, job issues, family commitments all come and go and constantly change. And a program or diet is easy to lose track of when a big life "trauma" comes along. But if you're focused simply making healthy choices most of the time none of these obstacles will hold you back. Sure, you'll have to adjust your approach and try new things. You'll experience setbacks and have to regroup. But that's life. And it's always within your grasp to live it healthfully if you choose.

--Michael Scholtz, MA, Biggest Loser Club fitness expert

Daily Challenge #10--Go to BED!!!

Getting enough sleep is so important! I don't need to go over all the benefits...you are well aware. So your challenge for today is to get 8-9 hours of sleep tonight. Begin winding things down about 30 minutes prior to actually going to bed so you can calm your mind and thoughts.

Taking care of your body is so much easier when you aren't tired!

....Sweet Dreams....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More Veggie Ideas...

Have you fit in any of your vegetarian meals in this week?

Here is an easy one if you are still needing some ideas-

Homemade Marinara Sauce
(I started making my own sauce a few years back. There is no comparison. I will never go back to the bottle stuff. Plus it is so easy!)
Makes 4 cups
Prep- 5 minutes
Cook- 30 minutes
2 TBSP olive oil
1 med onion chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and diced
1 can (28 oz) whole or diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 tsp Italian seasoning (or 1/2 tsp dried oregano plus 1/2 tsp dried basil)
1 tsp sugar**
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black peper
1 lb whole wheat pasta
1. Heat oil in med size saucepan over med-low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes and their liquid, tomato sauce, dried herbs, sugar, salt and pepper,. Using clean kitchen scissors, cute tomatoes into bite-size chunks in pan.
3. Bring sauce to a simmer over meium-high heat, then reduce heat to med and simmer 20 minutes (the longer you can cook the better). Meanwhile, in a large pot of lightly salted water, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain pasta and serve topped with marinara sauce.
Load with all the cooked veggies you want!
Per 1 cup Marinara-
148 calories
7 g fat (1 g sat)
3 g protein
17 g carbs
3 g fiber
690 mg sodium
0 g cholesterol
**If you prefer a sugar-free version, repace the 1 tsp sugar with 1/4 cup peeled, chopped carrot stirred into the oil along with onion and garlic. For a spicier sauce, add 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes before simmering.

Daily Challenge #9---LUNGES!

I am a fan of the lunge because you can work your legs with little to no equipment.

As ALWAYS be sure to use correct form. Your front knee should NEVER push forward over your toes. Legs should be at a 90 degree angle at the bottom of the move. Pay attention to the form in the pics and videos.

Beginner- 2 sets of 10-15 reps each leg.

Starting Position

Drop your back knee straight down trying to create a 90 degree angle with both legs. Slowly stand back up.

If new to lunges you can use a bar or other item to help you with balance.

Intermediate- 4 walking lunges equal one rep. Do 10 reps total. Rest 1 minute and repeat.

Advanced- 2-3 sets of 16 lunges (8 each leg).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Counting Calories Continued...

Hopefully by now you are more aware of what you are eating. Or at least questioning your food choices. Maybe you have even made a few changes.

I want to continue talking about counting calories...

The concept of counting calories is pretty simple. Yet, as noted earlier, most of us underestimate how many calories we consume. Here are a few tips to help make your counting more accurate and more practical-

Measure your food. Take the time to learn what a half cup of pasta or a cup of cereal really looks like. Do you know what 3 ounces of meat looks like?

You hear often you should eat off smaller plates. Not only does this force you to eat smaller portions, research has shown that people make bigger errors in calorie content (underestimating) when the portions are bigger.

Create 400 calorie meals. We are creatures of habit. Most of us eat the same things over and over again. Figure out which 10 meals you eat the most and make sure they are under 400 calories per serving. Make the neccessary changes to make these meals healthier. There is a new diet book out called the 400 calorie diet. I haven't yet looked at the recipes but essentially the idea is to eat 400 calories 3-4 times a day depending on your caloric need. I think it is a fantastic idea and makes counting calories simple.

Snacks need to be planned out. There are a lot of extra calories that creep into our diet without us even realizing it. If you are going to eat snacks make sure you have budgeted them into your daily calorie count. Remember a little extra this and that makes a big difference.

Let me know if you have any questions so far.

We will further this discussion by talking about how to not only count your calories but to make your calories count.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Daily Challenge #8--The Plank

The plank is a common core exercise so I am sure most of you are familiar with it. But before you take this challenge I want you to go over the form to make sure you do it right--for the sake of safety and to make sure you get the most out of it.

If you haven't been exercising much PLEASE do this on your knees.

If you take the exercise to your toes be sure you have the strength to support your lower back.

Here are some body cues-

Keep knees soft, not locked out.

Body stays straight. Don't sag your back or stick your rear in the air. (Just like the lady in the video)

Think of squeezing your booty, and tucking your hips forward (towards your belly button)

Pull your belly button up into your spine.

Use a deep slow breathing pattern. Think of wringing the air out of your stomach like you would water out of a sponge. Follow through with a deep inhale.

Do 3 sets of this exercise with 1 minute rests inbetween-

Beginner- Do this for the 10 counts that are done in the video.

Intermediate- 20-30 seconds

Advanced- 45 seconds to a minute (if you are doing the exercise correctly this will be very challenging)
Counting Calories

Despite all the diet strategies out there, weight management still comes down to the calories you take in versus those you burn off. Forget the fad diets. You have to create a healthy eating pattern that will stick with you for life.

Calories: Fuel for your body
Calories are the energy in food.

Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are the types of nutrients that contain calories and are the main energy sources for your body. The amount of energy in each varies.

Calories per Gram-
Carbs and Protein=4


Alcohol= 7

Regardless of where they come from, the calories you eat are either converted to physical energy or stored within your body as fat. These stored calories will remain in your body as fat unless you use them up, either by reducing calorie intake so that your body must draw on reserves for energy, or by increasing physical activity so that you burn more calories.

So how many calories do you need? Of course this is different for everyone. It also depends on whether you are trying to maintain, lose or gain weight.

You can plug your information into this calculator to get a very rough estimate of your caloric needs- http://www.ahealthyme.com/topic/calneed

In general if you are trying to lose weight you will need to cut your calories back somewhere between 1200-1600 calories a day. I will discuss this in more detail in a later blog post.
The problem is counting calories in real life is hard, confusing and usually we don't do a very good job at it. Research has shown that most people underestimate how many calories they consume. These mystery calories are what make the numbers on the scale go up and up.
But this doesn't mean that you shouldn't take the time to figure out you daily calore intake. It just means that you will have to use other tools to keep you on track. For today start keeping a food journal. Even if you are not trying to lose weight a food journal can be very enlightening. Keep track of what and how much you are eating. And figure out how many calories you consumed at the end of the day. You can just use a notebook or if you perfer there are tons of on-line programs for tracking calories. We will discuss where to go from here tomorrow.

Nutrition Training--Becoming Aware

Learning to eat healthy is a key component to reaching your goals. You have to learn how to correctly fuel your body with the right foods. Many problems with eating healthy stem from either a lack of knowledge, lack of awareness, and definitely lack of desire. But since you are reading this blog I am assuming the desire is there.

To start off I am going to focus on helping you become more aware of the foods you eat.

The next time you sit down to eat your meal I want you to ask yourself a few questions-

What food group makes up the bulk of my meal?

Am I consuming healthy whole grains?

Are there any veggies (besides potatoes or corn) on my plate?

Do I have any idea how many calories are sitting in front of me?

Do I know what a portion of meat, pasta, or veggies should look like? How many portions am I consuming?

Is this meal high in salt? Fat? Refined Carbs?

After answering these questions how would you answer this next one?--

Is this meal healthy?

Were you able to answer the questions or are you not sure?

Once you become more aware of what is on your plate you can start to make the necessary changes you need to create healthier meals.

This week I will be sharing basic nutrition tips with you. Hopefully by the end of the week you will have the tools to create a healthier plate.

Daily Challenge #7--Eat like a Vegetarian

My challenge to you today is to plan 2 vegetarian meals for the week. I am not against meat, but I do think most of us consume way too much. Cutting out meat every now and then is a great way to cut some calories and fat. But be sure that you don't just substitute with extra carbs. Instead look for recipes full of veggies. Here is a great minestrone soup to get you started. I will post more vegetarian tips and meals throughout the week.

Minestrone Soup
6 servings
275 calories per serving

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 can green beans (drained)
1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1 (14.5 ounce) can no salt added stewed or diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 1/2 cups cubed potatoes
32 oz. (1 quart) chicken broth (get the less sodium kind)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup elbow macaroni
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Saute onion, celery, and carrots in olive oil for a few minutes.

2. Add beans, cabbage, tomatoes, tomato paste, potato, stock, garlic, parsley, and salt to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for approximately 1 hour until vegetables are barely tender.

3. Add pasta, and simmer for 30 minutes more. Correct seasoning, and serve hot with grated cheese.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Daily Challenge #6--Relax

Find a quiet place for 5 minutes.

If you can lie flat on your back. But it will work if you need to sit.

Close your eyes.

Pay attention to your breath.

Notice the areas of your body that your breath touches.

Place your hands on your belly and start to feel your breath move deep into your stomach so your hands rise and fall with each breath.

Start to slow your breath down on both the inhale and exhale.

Listen to your breath. Forget your worries.

Let your breath release any stress or tension you are holding onto.

Enjoy 5 minutes of total relaxation!

Here is a video to walk you through it if you prefer-

This one is a relaxation exercise. Close your eyes and listen to the ladies voice.