Alexandra Williams

Author Archives: Alexandra Williams

8

Exercise, Food, Weight Loss & Menopause (and Water for People): Notes From the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute:

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

What are some of the important upcoming fitness trends? What does the latest research indicate is the “best” way to get and stay healthy? Can someone really give you a cold or are you taking the cold from them? And what do menopause and HIIT have in common?

Kymberly at IDEA PTI West 2013At the recent IDEA Personal Trainer Institute, which Kymberly and I attended (and spoke at), we covered a variety of topics relevant to you and your fitness goals. At past fitness conventions we’ve listened to speakers who are so cutting-edge that they are called quacks…until their information turns out to be accurate and helpful.

So put on your “duck” shoes and let’s waddle through some of the information and posts we gathered from a number of presenters and colleagues. Read the linked posts so that you can be fully ahead of the rest of the gaggle (is that what they call a group of ducks?).

 

From “Boosting Your Immunity” with Teri Mosey, PhD
* For every thought you have, you release a chemical that goes to the rest of your body. What do you think happens to your body with repeated thought?
* Ninety percent of your thoughts today are the same as yesterday’s.
* We have a second brain, called the “enteric” brain.
* We have more brain cells in our stomachs than in our neo-cortex.
* Every 7-10 years we are physically a new person.
* You are the age you think your body is (I’m 39. I’m 39. I’m 39. I think I can. I think I can.)
* Most of us are too acidic and need more alkaline. Cancer cells grow in acidic space.
* Habitual coffee drinkers are more prone to osteoporosis and have become too acidic.
* You know what the Standard American Diet is – S.A.D.!
* 3-minute or poached eggs are anti-inflammatory; once the yoke is hard, it’s pro-inflammatory.
* Our emotions are not from the brain, but produced at the cellular level.

Kymberly wrote a post about falling – fears and injuries – from a full-day session she attended, which has some very helpful information.
* Thirty-three percent of older adults fall every year.
* Women break arm bones; men break their heads.
* People use the A.S.H. strategies to maintain balance (you have to click the link to know what ASH stands for)
* You need more core work.

Getting brekkie with fitness colleague Pamela Hernandez at IDEA PTI West

Getting brekkie with fitness colleague Pamela Hernandez at IDEA PTI West

Our FitFluential colleague Pamela Hernandez wrote an excellent post entitled Fit Tips from IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West about two philosophies she sees in the fitness industry – one is to stick to traditional, government-recommended standards, while the other emphasizes just getting people to move a little more. As a person who embraces technology, Hernandez welcomes its further blending with fitness. Oh, and she liked our session on social media. Twitter Shout Outs to her for that!

In the post Breaking the Barriers to Exercise, Jacquie Scarlett expounds on the need to make exercise more approachable to the average person. In one section she states, “The fitness industry is not designed to meet the needs of the sedentary population because the fitness industry’s idea of exercise is too high.”
Jacquie’s post really makes us wonder what it would take to get you to like exercise if you currently don’t.
* Is rolling a ball across the floor considered exercise?
* Do you think exercise is different than daily movement?

menopauseHayley Hollander gave a workshop on programming for peri- and post-menopausal women.
* When our hormones are out of balance, we end up with excess cortisol.
* Excess cortisol causes us to eat more (among other not fun things).
* We need to do exercise that doesn’t exacerbate the amount of cortisol in our system.
* Meaning…High Intensity Interval Training
* High Intensity does not mean High Impact, so jumping until your uterus falls out is not necessary!

On an unrelated note, while you’re not jumping (unless it’s for joy), exercise your right to help me with a water awareness campaign I’m participating in please. BLANCO America is supporting a “Water for People” campaign via Pinterest. I believe water inequality is one of the most reprehensible and avoidable human conditions in the world today. Everyone deserves access to potable, pure water. Feel free to Like my pins while you’re there. That’s the spirit!
Oh, if you view this video before May 30, BLANCO will contribute a dollar for every view to “Water for People.”
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0ogoIOCeos&feature=player_embedded[/youtube] Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google++Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

Have a Clicky, Fit day!

22

What’s Beautiful? Health at Any Age

Alexandra Williams, MA

How do you define beauty? Does it have age parameters? Size parameters? Is one skin shade preferable to another? Is your mental image tied up with the word “skinny?” More importantly, is your self-image affected (probably negatively) by your wish to be beautiful, even though that term is so nebulous that it can differ from person to person, and culture to culture?

What's Beautiful? Me!Kymberly and I were invited to be part of the sponsored “What’s Beautiful” campaign by Under Armour and FitFluential (in this case, this means we are being sent free Under Armour apparel to wear for the challenge). I cannot speak to Kymberly’s goals or reasons for accepting the invitation (her internet is down, so her post is a-coming), but I took them up on it because I want my midlife Boomer voice to be heard when it comes to determining what beauty is.
Essentially, Under Armour has an 8-week campaign for women who want to create a goal or challenge, and we document our progress. A few of the women can win prizes, and I like winning, but my actual motivation is to show as many women as possible that beauty is not confined to the first half of the lifespan. In truth, I am acutely aware that the previous winners are all young, which either means only young women can win…or no older women are doing the challenge. So, Boom, Alexandra Quixote here to tilt at the windmill!

My video should enlighten you beyond belief, so please watch it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLEzjE7pHDI[/youtube]

If you didn’t watch this very short video (why didn’t you?), then you don’t know that I believe beautiful to be health-related. As I put in a tweet today, if you are healthy, confident, happy, have energy, friends, and are kind, you are truly beautiful. Nothing at all related to age.

That being said, I want to ask your help. For the What’s Beautiful campaign we had to choose a goal. I chose to hike up the steep, winding road that goes from the city below, up near the top of the mountain where I live. You can simply follow my progress by hitting the Follow button on my What’s Beautiful profile (you might have to sign in via Facebook), or if you want to climb your own personal hill (sure, it can be metaphorical), then please join my team “Up Yours: Hill, That Is” so we can encourage each other and share our progress. I plan to hike approximately 7 miles, going from bottom to top, then back down (where my car will be waiting for me). If you want to join my “Up Yours: Hill, That Is” team, you can choose whether you want to hike up an actual hill or overcome an obstacle that’s between you and better health. I especially welcome Boomer women (and their daughters).

IMG_3352

The more color, the more fun. Proven by research…that I made up

Late last year I did a different What’s Beautiful challenge (unofficially; I didn’t compete) entitled Challenge Yourself to a Healthier You, and I hope you read it. I won’t tell you what challenge I picked for myself, but I will say that I did accomplish it and realized that I am Awesome and Amazing in the process!

The official description of this year’s What’s Beautiful campaign: a community and a competition to redefine the female athlete. Under Armour invites YOU to aim high and declare a goal in their What’s Beautiful competition. Complete challenges and share your journey; join teams if you like for additional challenges, support and motivation.

Please click the link above to follow my What’s Beautiful profile, as well as the one to join my Up Yours team. With your help and encouragement, I will get to the top! More importantly, all the exercise will keep me healthy and beautiful for the next 50 years. If you don’t agree, piss off! Wait, maybe I should have said “Up Yours!”

After the hike back down the Pass

 

Before the hike up the Pass

Before the hike up the Pass

What is your definition of beauty?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tote that bale, lift that load, and climb that hill to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google++Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

10

Food and Recipes from Thailand and Natural Products Expo

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Do you like organic, fresh ingredients? Do you like to bake or cook? And please say you like Thai food.

Fruits of Thailand

Fruits of Thailand

In March we spent 3 days at the Natural Products Expo West, then went to Thailand for 3 weeks. We should just rename March as “Delicious Food Month.” We want you to have a delicious April, so we have some pictures and recipes of a few of the sweet dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai coconut pancakes w/ veggies on top

Thai coconut pancakes w/ veggies on top

Coconut Pancakes (not the same as U.S. coconut pancakes)

2 cups coconut milk (we like Native Forest from Edward And Sons)
2 eggs (we can’t all shop at my son’s chicken coop, so we recommend Happy Egg Co. and Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs)
1 ½ cups rice flour
3 Tbsp. glutinous rice flour (available at Asian markets)
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup corn or green onion

Mix the flours, salt and powder. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, coconut milk and sugar. Pour the batter into the dry ingredients and whisk together. Heat a poffertje pan (also known as abelskiver pan to medium high, then add just a drop of oil to each depression. Pour in batter and drop a pinch of the veggies on the top of each pancake. Unlike poffertjes, Thai coconut pancakes do not get flipped. When the center looks cooked (they should be a bit soft), remove the pancakes using a chopstick.

* If you don’t have this type of pan, you can use a crepe pan and make these crepe-style.

Waiting for fresh coconut pancakes

Fresh coconut pancakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky Rice with Mango and Coconut Milk

Fresh sticky rice with mango and coconut milk - 40 baht (less than $2)

Fresh sticky rice with mango and coconut milk – 40 baht (less than $2)

1 cup sticky (glutinous) rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 mango cut into bite-size pieces

Don’t use a rice cooker, as the result won’t be quite right. You can use a steamer, but I’m going to share the quicker version using a microwave. Soak the rice in a glass bowl in warm water for 10 minutes. The water should come just over the rice. Cover and microwave for about 3 minutes. Stir fully and cook another 3 minutes. If it’s done, all the rice should be translucent. Pour ¾ cup of the milk over the rice and stir just to mix. Put the mango on top and pour the remaining ¼ cup over the top.

 

 

Coconut Crusted Peanuts with Kaffir Lime Leaves
We discovered this snack at a local market and became big fans. As we didn’t have a chance to get the recipe, we will turn you over to a wonderful version by chef Robert Danhi, a Beard nominee for his Asian cuisine cookbook.
 IMG_2313

 

 

 

Thai Iced Tea and Iced Coffee

Identical twins are NOT the same – Alexandra prefers vanilla; Kymberly, chocolate. And we both spent a lot of time taste-testing the Thai versions of iced tea (Kymberly) and iced coffee (Alexandra).
The tea is a combination of black spiced Thai tea, condensed milk, evaporated milk and sugar. We found out that the recipe changes as you travel around Thailand, but this is essentiallly it. As to the coffee, just switch out strong coffee for the tea, and eliminate the sugar! If you want to take the easy route, Taste Nirvana makes a bottled version of both, and they use coffee beans from Chiang Rai (we saw those for ourselves) and tea leaves from Chiang Mai (we went there too)!

We worked hard to find the best Thai iced tea and coffee

We worked hard to find the best Thai iced tea and coffee

 

 

 

 

Thai food

Thai food is enjoyable in many forms!

If we wrote about ALL the great food we found in Thailand or at the Natural Products Expo, this would be a book, not a blog post, so we’ll stop here for now.

Kob Kuhn Kah which means “thank you” in Thai (this is the female version, which we happen to be). Koh Hai Cha-roen Ar-harn – Enjoy your meal.

Show your good taste by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above. Then go have some salt fish or shrimp in a leaf or a blue sweetpea drink. 

20

Growing a Fit Child: It’s Graduation Day

Alexandra Williams, MA

Our friend MizFit (Carla) had a post recently about waiting at the bus stop so she could wave good-bye a second time to her daughter. That got me to thinking about my eldest child and how I used to wave good-bye to him at the bus stop, back when we lived in Oregon.

Now he’s graduating from high school, with plans to move across the country to go to a university that has 22 science majors for him to choose from. I put him on that bus 13 years ago to start him on the journey to get him prepared for now. I cried a little back then because he looked so small inside that big bus. And I will cry at his ceremony because he looks so big.
In between my crying jags, I hope I’ve taught him how to live a healthy, rewarding life that’s full of purpose and joy. Those of you who are parents will have your own definition of what that means, but the things I can point to include:

* He doesn’t drink soda, and he knows the difference between healthful and unhealthful foods
* He gets plenty of sleep (boy, does he like to sleep)
* He knows how to make people laugh, which will help him in work and social situations
* He knows how to be a good host to guests, and has excellent manners
* He believes exercise is part of life; it just is
* He is becoming more confident about taking risks
* He has seen me act like a dork in public (a lot) and it’s now somewhere inside his brain that you don’t need to wait around for approval; you have to approve of yourself
* He knows the value of money, how it works, what it can (and cannot) do
* He drives safely (I believe) and wears a seat belt
* He is beginning to appreciate his younger brother for what he can do, rather than railing against what he cannot
* He can be trusted with money (although he can’t ever seem to find his own iPod cord)
* He eats when he’s hungry, not because he’s lonely or bored or because it’s there
* He writes thank you notes and is gracious
* He chooses friends wisely

Hmmm, I’m his mom so I could make a really long list. But my son isn’t a list; he’s so much more, just as your children are more than you imagined and hoped for! And no matter how much I exercise and make my heart strong, it will never be big enough to hold all the love I have for him.

I”m going to share a cute story that demonstrates that he “gets” how nutrition works. When we moved to Santa Barbara to be nearer my sister, he was 12. Kymberly took him to the grocery store with her. When they came back with bags full of prepackaged, processed food (she’s not like that anymore), he turned to me and said, “Mom, I love shopping with Auntie Kym. She buys food. You buy ingredients.” I laughed so hard and still smile whenever I think of that.

Earlier this week, my son gave me a gift – he came to my kickbox step class and brought his girlfriend. He knows I love exercise. He knows I love teaching. He knows I’ve wanted him to come to a class so I could show him off. I love having a job where my kid can come.

I haven’t named him here because I am a protective person about his identity, but you get to admire his massive handsomeness (all from me, of course, even though he looks just like his dad) in these photos.

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve taught my kids the link between health and happiness. I’m happy my son is moving on to start the next phase of his life. I’m sad that my son is moving on to start the next phase of his life. And I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be.

What are the things your children do that make you proud?

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for writing about my kid, unless you count 18 years of having him around!
His cute tux is a rental. My cute outfit is from Aventura Clothing. And thanks to my sister, who let me take over our blog so I could write this.
19

Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks?

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Do you know of any eating or exercise tips for me? I want to lose at least 10 pounds in 4 weeks. Should I work out even more than 2 hours a day 2 times a week? Lovette, CA

Need Instructions for Jumping Jacks?

Kymberly: Losing 10 pounds in 4 weeks is a big goal, but doable … if you are willing to either work hard and change your eating habits ooorrrr….. take some drastic measures. Let’s check out those drastic measures first, since they are easier. First, cut off as much of your hair as possible. Next, go nekkid (since most people wear clothes when assessing weight usually via a scale). Lastly, embark on some crazy diet. So that about wraps up the bad and popular advice that meets the goal. (Readers – don’t say you never thought of these approaches! We hear of them all the time!)

Alexandra: It’s reasonable, sustainable and realistic long-term to lose 1.5 – 2 pounds per week if you combine intense cardio with resistance training and a nutritious diet. So it will be hard to lose 10 pounds in such a short time. I think you’ll be happier, more motivated, and more successful if you focus on improving your eating and exercise. The weight will drop off more naturally that way.

Eating: Choose foods that are close to the ground. By this I don’t mean, “Oh, I dropped my bag of chips”; I mean the fewer ingredients the better. Even if you eat the same amount in weight/ volume, the healthier foods will tend to have fewer calories. So, enjoy a bowl of strawberries rather than strawberry jam on toast. Move most of your food intake toward the first part of the day. And eat breakfast! (Read all about it!)

Exercise: You can do low intensity movement (below 60% of your maximum Heart Rate, which means about 3-5 on a scale of 1-10) , moderate intensity (60-80% of max HR; 6-8 on 10-scale), or high intensity (80-90% of max HR: 9 on 10-scale). Most people feel comfortable doing low and moderate intensity, yet decidedly uncomfortable at high intensity. It’s a time-saving choice if your joints and current level of physical ability allow you to try high intensity once or twice a week.

Kymberly: Lovette, we made this video just for you (and anyone else we can corral) about the difference between low, moderate, and high intensity cardio levels. Feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Really. Now.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daIX0pFSqVM[/youtube]

Alexandra: One little side note (as opposed to “snide,” which I would never use with anyone unless it’s my sister) is to differentiate between high intensity and high impact. Many high intensity moves are also high impact (i.e., jacks, burpees, running), but if you’re like me (one reconstructed soccer knee and two big-headed kids pushed out that tiny birth canal), you don’t like high impact. So you can always do high intensity in the pool, on the elliptical or even on the step or large stability ball!

Go forth. Move and Lose. Eat. Rinse. Repeat.

Kymberly: As for your question as to whether you need to work out more than twice a week to drop this weight in this time frame. HAYUL YES!  Skip the part about 2 hours per session, but you need to get busy at least 5 days a week.  Include both strength training and aerobic workouts.

Readers: Who has successfully lost and kept off 10 pounds? How? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

Photo Credit: Creative Commons: Mike Schmid

24

Be Heart Healthy

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

In celebration of National Women’s Health Week, we will share some heart-healthy information and nutrition tips. Men can read and take this advice too!

In our previous post we wrote about the benefits of humor for staying healthy. Today it’s all about heart health. It’s almost dinnertime, so food is on our minds. Before we talk about the Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds I just ate, you get to take a quiz. What is the difference between these two hearts?

 

 

The answer is…Nothing. They are both healthy hearts. Bet you were tempted to say something about the plate colors or the size of the hearts, eh? It was a trick question because the hearts are made of almonds, and the American Heart Association (AHA) just certified the Whole Natural, Roasted Salted, Low Sodium, Sea Salt, No Salt and Honey Dijon flavors as heart-healthy.

Here’s some professional nagging from Alexandra, and if you’re one of her university students, you have to listen in case this makes the quiz – “Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., which is distressing, because so many of its causes are preventable. For example, who ate breakfast today? And was it from food close to the ground or was it processed into oblivion?

A quick story about our dad, who just lost about 50 pounds – After coming very close to being wheelchair-bound, our dad decided to lose weight. His health problems were due to a lack of activity and overeating. He significantly changed his diet and has stuck to it. For breakfast he has almonds, fruit, his coffee (he’s 83 and isn’t planning to give that up), and cereal (not the kind that comes in primary colors). So to us, having our dad “back” is associated with these foods, so you bet we’re almond fans! And how is a story of our dad relevant for National Women’s Health Week? He has three living daughters whose hearts would be healthy, yet broken, if he died due to preventable causes. So do what our dad did – but sooner!

* Get regular exercise (aim for 20 minutes a day if you’re currently doing nothing).

* Cut the high-fat, high-sugar, highly processed foods that you don’t absolutely love out of your diet. If we tell you to cut them all out, you won’t do it, so just cut out the ones you don’t love.

* Focus on protein and carbs that are close to the ground – meaning you can identify their origins. And healthy fat should be part of a healthy diet too.

Why Blue Diamond Almonds? Well, besides the AHA heart-healthy certification, don’t they make you think of skiing? We’re both blue square intermediate skiers who have done a few black diamond runs, which makes us Blue Diamond Girls, right?
Anyway, follow the path (or ski run) to a healthy heart. Move More. Eat Less. Eat Better. Feel Better. By the way, cats and dachshunds like the Whole Natural Almonds. This was discovered when they interfered with the photo session!

Ella has discovered the almond trail

Follow the Almond Brick Road!

Where does this trail lead?

Goodness rests inside a healthy heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you eat for breakfast? For a healthy snack? What are you willing to give up?

Join us for a Tweetchat on Monday, May 21, 6 pm PST/ 9 pm EST, using the hashtag #BlueDiamond. We will be discussing hearts, health and food. Probably no discussion of our dad.

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.

33

Healthy Cereals for Every Taste

By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Alexandra:  My sister and I thought we’d share some cereals that are made of simple, healthful, real ingredients after the news that has come out this past week about all the crap found in industrial foods (literally; I just read a report about chicken crap in packaged chicken). What we like on our taste buds may differ, but we can certainly agree that what goes in our bodies should be worth eating!

If you’re one of my UCSB students who isn’t eating a proper breakfast before class, you had better read this post – Ahem! I’m going to put a whole bunch of enticing words together in a long sentence to explain my first cereal recommendation: Blueberry hemp, quinoa, amaranth, chia ancient grain gluten-free, vegan, free of refined sugar, non-GMO granola cereal by Purely Elizabeth. Whew. I’m exhausted. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But I tried it at the recent Natural Products Expo West (NPEW) anyway and loved it. Some granolas are too “cardboardy” for me or they taste like I’m being punished for having a Pop-Tart in the mid-70s, but this one was super-fly! Oh, I don’t eat granola plain; I always have it with vanilla yogurt.

We met the delightful Annelies of Attune Foods (she’s a social media pro and poet) and she sent us some cereals to try. I ordered the Erewhon Rice Twice (four ingredients total)  thinking my younger son might like it. “Might” was the wrong word – he ate the whole box in 2 days and I never actually got to try it. He took me at my word when I said it was for him! With my older son in mind I got the Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice with Mixed Berries. I don’t go for cereals with berries, but I was desperate for something sweetish one afternoon and tried some. Joke’s on me because I liked it. And… the cereal that I was sure I’d love wasn’t actually me after all. The Uncle Sam Honey Almond  has wheat berries, almonds, flax seed, and honey – all ingredients I like – yet I preferred the two Erewhon cereals. No moral to this story, but I do hope you’ll try new things! Especially cereals that are non-GMO!

I’m going to put in a mention here of the PB Granola from Pure Bliss Eats because I really “get into it.” To find out why I have that comment in quotation marks, you’ll have to watch this Granola, Yogurt & Cookie Monster video till the end!

Now I’m turning this over to my sister, who is slowly coming to realize I’ve been right all along about eating foods with recognizable ingredients!

Kymberly: When we were growing up, our mom bought only the non-sugary, “healthy” cereals and she made us eat breakfast every day. (Thanks mom!) No Sugar Pops for us, (until college when I went on a sugary cereal rebellion rampage). Maybe that is why I grew up to appreciate good cereal and value breakfast. For decades I have happily started my day with cereal and just the right amount of milk poured at the last minute to keep the cereal crispy. Cereal connoisseurs, you know what I’m talking about. So imagine how tough it’s been to read all the news about carbs–especially cereal–not being the ideal way to start the day. I am doing well about adding more protein to my morning. (Guess what? Kay’s Naturals offers a line of protein cereals if you are going low carb). But I was not ready to say good-bye to one of my fave food categories. As well, I am trying to make more socially conscious, long term healthy food decisions, maybe like many of you. Fortunately cereal is the perfect way to END the day. Squeee!

Isn’t it true that we make purchase decisions based on a combination of the following:

  • taste
  • price
  • allergies or food sensitivities (gluten-free, peanut-free, or soy-free, for instance)
  • social or political beliefs (Non-GMO, locally sourced, organic, company donates to causes, sustainability)
  • value system (vegan, vegetarian)
  • nutritional or health value

So at some level what tastes deee-lish to me and meets my criteria may not be relevant to you. What is key to note is that NO MATTER WHAT drives your cereal shopping decisions, you will find you have lots of options today that did not exist even three years ago. If you wanted an organic, no-sugar cereal, for example, you had to sacrifice taste, price or variety at some level.

Not no mo’! As we sampled our way through the NPEW, talked with company reps, read ingredients, met company leaders, we revamped our whole awareness of what is out there waiting for all of us! Good stuff that is good for you and good for the planet. Some of what I tried and liked:

Attune Foods‘  Uncle Sam Toasted Whole Wheat Berry Flakes & Flaxseed  (10g fiber, less than 1g sugar, 7g protein) With Attune’s cereals, what you see is what you get– no hidden or mystery ingredients. Great mixed with Nature’s Path Love Crunch Premium Organic Granola if you like a hint of sweetness. Every bag of Love Crunch you buy, Nature’s Best will donate an equal amount to food banks in food or cash up to $1 million. (Non-GMO)

We met the CEO of Kind (on the shuttle bus one morning, of all places. You never know who’s sitting next to you at these gigs) and found him to be dedicated to making a positive corporate difference as well. I tried and enjoyed his Kind Maple Walnut with Chia and Quinoa (Non-GMO and Gluten Free even though I have no gluten issues.)

I also love hot cereal. Bring it on hot or cold, in yogurt, with lactose free milk, with a milk substitute (See our review of milk and milk substitutes) or as a crunchy snack on its own. So I tried Bob’s Red Mill Cinnamon Raisin Granola which does well hot or cold.

If you want an organic option to Honey O’s or Cheerios try Cascadian Farm Organic Oats and Honey Granola Certified Organic cereal.

And a spiffy insider tip if you like blueberries–throw in some OMG (Organic Meets Good) Maqui Berry Antioxidant Powder for both the anti-oxidant benefit and for the double-down blueberry taste.

If you take a trip down the cereal aisle of your favorite grocery store you will find many other healthy options missing from this very short list. And that’s the point! Skip the stuff that lists “sugar” as the first ingredient and look elsewhere. You will find something to meet your cereal wish list without any sacrifice. Snack on!

Disclosure: 1) We received free samples from most of the above listed companies as the sole compensation for this post. All opinions are strictly our own. 2) Kymberly is now going to make a big bowl of cereal for her evening snack.

12

Family Fitness: 3 Products that Help

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Long, long ago, in a galaxy right inside our mailbox, we received a number of items related to family fitness. We tested them out on our kids, pets, and students, and the following three look like winners!

First up is a book for younger kids, entitled “Wallie Exercises.” We’ve been sent kid fitness books before that were either so “preachy” or “lesson-y” that we had to scrape the gackle off our tongues before politely setting them aside. But this book does a good job of being upbeat and (somewhat) indirect about the need for kids to get out and move. The counselor side of me likes that the author, Steve Ettinger, who is also a personal trainer, emphasizes that kids need to choose the type of activity that’s right for them. Two other appealing factors: Ettinger gives exercise descriptions in the back of the book, and he acknowledges that exercise can be hard and not always enjoyable.
Book info: Wallie Exercises

Fudoo Food Board

Second on the list is a board game called Füdoo that helps kids older than 3 learn about healthy living. There is a board, magnets, handbook and marker in the set. I was looking for the mom that comes with it to explain the rules, but it would seem we are to learn the rules all by ourselves. The pictures on the magnets are appealing, and I like that the kids get to have control over the action. I also like that it involves the parent and the kid, so it’s definitely a family game. Double score: kids get their parents’ attention while learning good food habits. Of course, the implication is that the parent will be educated well enough about nutrition to be able to help the kid, but I guess parents who buy the game are going to be motivated to eat well or they wouldn’t get the game in the first place, eh? My one concern? Small parts. Not for the kid’s sake – for mine! When my kids were really young, I hated dealing with all the tiny pieces. But you may be more organized than I was back then! One main draw for me: the inventor, Sarah Vinch, has the tag line “Eat! Drink! Move! Think!” which is very holistic, and fully describes the four parts to the game.
Game info: Füdoo


The final item is for kids 5+ and adults, and is exercise-related. My main reason for liking the GetFitSu card game is that it has lots of exercises on the cards that I can use in my own classes! Yup, it’s all about me! Also, no equipment is needed. The inventor, Matthew Poster, is a formerly out-of-shape dad who wanted to create a fun way to get fit for (and with) his kids. I don’t quite understand the instructions, so shall use the cards in my own way, but my confusion is balanced out by the fact that Matthew does short videos for each of the exercises, so you can view any that don’t make sense. You can literally toss these cards into your purse or bag and work out almost anywhere, anytime. Maybe don’t do the ball exercises with high heels, though!
Card info: GetFitStayFit  For lots more ideas on family workouts, subscribe to Matthew’s YouTube channel as well. (While you’re there, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel too?)

Readers: What family fitness products do you enjoy? And don’t say Twinkies!

We were not compensated for talking about these products; we just like them and are sharing our opinion!

36

Healthy School Lunches

We bring you a guest post today, compliments of two young men who have been members of a nutrition club, study nutrition, and haven’t had soda in over a year.

Miles Rouzer, with additional research by Willie Pate
Seniors at Dos Pueblos High School

Now that school has started back up, I am here to offer some advice to those teens who might be struggling to keep their resolutions about eating more healthfully, especially at school.

tangerines

Now THAT'S a mad grip of tangerines!

But this isn’t about trash-talking school lunches, because I want this to actually be read in less than four hours. Teens actually do want to eat food that’s good for them, not just pizza, chips and sodas every day. So…what are some good things to pack as a snack or lunch?

The absolute best thing to bring is a mad grip (aka a handful) of tangerines! Not only are they delicious and nutritious but you can waste some precious minutes of class time in an attempt to peel off the skin in one whole piece!

A nicely rounded healthy lunch would look something like this:
* peanut butter and jelly (from the local farmer’s market) mashed between two pieces of whole wheat bread (makes one heck of a fine sandwich)
* banana
* Planters NUT-rition mix
* finish strong with a delicate cherry pie LaraBar

If you want to be known as a gourmet chef, try this one out for size:
* the night before cook up a batch of quinoa and a vegetable medley of some sort (stir fry also works, and I actually prefer it), then just microwave that goodness at school or carry a microwave to school in your backpack – LOL
* those Juicy Juice boxes go great with this
* a snack with this could be a Zbar, which are actually really dank (translation: awesome)

HUMAN healthy food vending machine

Everything looks good when it's in a vending machine

Another lunch that I make quite often:
* turkey jerky for snack
* turkey sandwich, with turkey from your local deli of course, with some fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Feel free to add homemade bacon to this. Just kidding! Unless you do that kind of thing…
* some apples, which helps get your body enough fiber without making you have to eat that horrid “fiber sticks” old-person cereal instead of Cap’n Crunch in the morning
* lastly, there are some interesting pouches called Mashups Squeezable fruit that you can eat to get a straight injection of healthfulness

fruit puree Mashups

A bit like a fruit smoothie, but not exactly

I know that many people think teens just eat junk, but we actually like stuff that’s good for us too. Except shrimp; I hate shrimp. And here’s a little hint for adults – if you put healthy stuff into the school vending machines, that’s what we’ll eat. And we are also concerned about our future. I bring this up because I found out about a cool company called H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending (helping unite man and nutrition). It’s a company that places healthy vending machines in schools (and other places) and gives 10% of the proceeds back to charitable causes that fight obesity and malnutrition. Some of the snacks they sell are mentioned above, so you know it’s regular food that kids eat. Some of the snacks were definitely not me.

Anyway, I hope parents are reading this too, so you’ll know to buy us healthy food for us to pack in our lunches.
Giveaway: Thanks to Healthy Vending, we have one sample pack of healthy snacks to give to one lucky reader. Named in Entrepreneur Magazine as a “Top 100 Brilliant Company” and in Forbes Magazine as one of “America’s Most Promising Companies,” they are on a mission to put healthier food options in front of consumers. For your chance to win the sample pack pictured here, put a comment below and (if you’re on Twitter) send out a tweet mentioning this giveaway via @healthyvending. Let us know in the comments that you’ve sent the tweet. If you want to find them via Facebook, they are at H.U.M.A.N. Health Vending. Contest ends midnight PST, Friday, Jan. 20. We’ll notify the winner on Saturday, Jan. 21.

Healthy Vending sample pack

Do You Want to Win All This Healthy Food?

If you’re a student, what are some healthy foods you pack for your lunches?

Photo credits: norwichnuts, RevolutionFoods, healthyvending

Nominate Alexandra Williams for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!Nominate Alexandra Williams for a social media award in the Shorty Awards

Congratulations to Emily at Family and Live in Las Vegas, the winner of the healthy snacks sample pack.

23

7 Reasons to Start Getting Fit Now

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Are you new to exercise? Don’t exercise but are considering it? Not really considering it seriously, but know you should make a change? Some people (not you, of course) might think that December is the worst month for starting a get-fit regimen. But those people are wrongity-wrong. It’s quite possibly the best month, for these reasons:

1. No-one else is at the gym. People are all out shopping and eating on the run, which means you can run on the treadmills and ellipticals without having to wait. And the gym trainers will be more available to help you figure out how those totally confusing computer programs work on the machines. Yeah, I’ve been teaching for over 25 years, but still do not know how to program the cursed treadmills. Damn things buck me off every time – video to prove it! * * (Stay posted for that video in a future post)

Less crowded in December

Eenie Meenie Miney Mo - December is the Way to Go

2. It’s cold in December. Exercise makes you warm. Just ask our friend Scott over at Your Inner Skinny. He lives in the part of Canada that no-one goes to on purpose, and it’s currently -42C, which is something like -3,956 in Fahrenheit. So get moving, you’ll warm up. Hug sweaty Canadians! Then steal their down parkas.

Cold, but Happy

It's Hug a Canadian Day at the North Pole

3. It’s the gifting season, and what better gift is there than making yourself healthier, which means you’ll probably live longer, and your kids will have you around for a long time, and you’ll be able to do stuff with them without getting exhausted, and your insurance will cost less, and you’ll feel and look better and you’ll get so strong and energetic that you’ll have the strength to read this very long, “make your high school English teacher crazy” run-on sentence.

4. Your stress levels will go down. Yup, exercise reduces stress. Even if you’re “downright out of shape,” as this Mayo Clinic article states. Holiday Season = Stress Hits the Up Elevator. Exercise = Stress Hits the Down Elevator. So basically, if you are a fan of higher math like I am, that means December will be just as relaxing as the beach in July once you start exercising.

Enticing beach scene

Climbing That Tree Counts as Exercise

5. You can get a good spot in the group exercise classes before the New Year’s crowd gets in the room. And everyone is in a festive mood, so they’ll be even more welcoming than usual. Instructor ad right here – professional group fitness instructors are always welcoming, and they set a good example for “their” students, so in truth you’ll be welcomed year-round. But they’ll share their eggnog and smile when they ask your name in December.

6. You will avoid the somewhat unrealistic (cough, cough) expectation that you can get fit on the morning of December 31st in time for the evening’s party. Much more realistic (as in “not really”) is to start a wee bit sooner. Since you can safely sustain a weight loss of 1 ½ to 2 pounds per week, if you start today you will be about 6 or 7 pounds lighter by New Year’s. If you’re thinking, “Hey, my goal is 35 pounds. What good is 6 or 7,” my answer is this – you’ll be 1/6th (oh, crap, math again. Yes, I estimated) of the way there. But, your outlook and how you feel will be 75% of the way there, because research (our BFF) says that you will start to view yourself as an exerciser, which means your habits will change to meet that self-image. In straight-talk, that means you’ll feel like a total hottie at the party. That is way cool!

magic fitness transformation

Just Lift the Word "After" Over Your Head 10 Times A Day to Look Like This

7. You will save money. You will have more energy. You will look better. You will feel better. You will meet a lot of cool people. Your math skills will improve. You’ll get an end of year tax deduction…One of these may be false. Hint: Exercise makes you smarter, so it’s actually quite possible your math skills will improve. For example, I was going to write 10 Reasons, but got bogged down when I carried the 1, multiplied the 0, subtracted the junk food, added the Lycra and Voila!!!, ended up with 7 Reasons!

Remember December as the month you did the Zoom Zoom for your Boom Boom! If you come to Santa Barbara, we’ll even let you into our classes for free!

Dear Reader: What reason to start exercising now would you add to this list?

Photo credits:Creative Commons: IRRI Images, 1987porsche944, Ben McLeod

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