IMG_1747Have you ever run a marathon in your life? There are usually two answers to this question, depending on the person. One answer might be, “Yes, I have run one or multiple marathons and I can’t wait to run another!” The second answer might be, “Are you crazy? Why would I willingly put my body through the stress and pain of running 26.2 miles?!” The running community tends to be a strong, goal oriented group of people with Type-A personalities who love to challenge themselves in a physical sense, learning to push their body to its limits. Although running (or endurance training) is not suited for everyone, it is my preferred “vice.” Running helps me to clear my mind of worry or anxiety that I may feel towards the future or unknown. It allows me to release my stress and float on my “runners high,” knowing and trusting that everything will work out the way it is supposed to and everything happens for a reason. Many people have never experienced this runners high, however once you do, I promise you will never want to go back. I strongly encourage a long run or two and then you can let me know how you feel afterwards. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I regret going on that run.” It’s even better if you live in a climate where you can run outdoors. I love being outdoors and running along the mountain trails or alongside the ocean at the beach. The photo above is of me 1 day before the LA Marathon 2015 – excited and ready to take on the challenge. 

 

IMG_1696I ran varsity Cross Country and Track in high school, but never committed to any races longer than a 10K after that. In November 2014, I was selected among hundreds of applicants to be a part of Team Nutribullet to run and train for the LA Marathon 2015 stadium to sea. I was so excited and committed myself to putting my energy and focus into training and running my first marathon.

Over the next 5 months, we trained as a team with weekly speed training drills and long distance runs over the weekend (starting at 5 miles and increasing all the way to 24 miles towards the end of training). Speed training was at night during the week and endurance training was every weekend early in the morning, along with additional 5-10 mile runs we were required to do on our own time during the week. Strength training was also encouraged at least 2 times per week, as well as a yoga or pilates 1 time per week (flexibility and stretching class). This training schedule required discipline, strength, perseverance and so much more. Eating properly and adequate sleep are two key factors in maintaining a healthy, injury free body. This photo describes what marathon training consists of, in a nutrition facts style format. I love this!

 

As a Registered Dietitian, I know how to nourish and fuel my body properly. However, when you are training for a marathon, it is difficult to keep up with the high calorie requirements because your body is burning so much more fuel throughout the day. I highly recommend small, frequent meals because you will be hungry every 2-3 hours anyways, and overconsumption of high density foods can lead to weight gain (even with marathon training). Sometimes people overestimate the calories that are burned during a workout, and therefore consume more calories (i.e. pizza, double cheeseburger, etc.). You can treat yourself here and there (in moderation), but let’s not overdo it. Staying fueled properly throughout the day is important to maintain your lean muscle mass. Do not make the mistake of “packing too many calories in” only around your workout (in the afternoon for example) because this will lead to increased body fat composition (the opposite of what you want as an athlete or marathon runner). Here is an example of my nutrient consumption during marathon training:

 

IMG_1691Breakfast: Greens protein shake (i.e. 1 cup spinach or kale, 1 cup mixed organic berries, ½ banana, 1 tangerine, 1 scoop plant based protein powder, 1 tbsp. hemp seeds, 1 tbsp. raw unsalted almond butter, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 6-8 ounces of unsweetened almond or coconut milk.

 

IMG_1481Mid morning snack: Steel cut oatmeal (1/2 cup dry or 1 cup cooked) with ½ cup organic strawberries, ¼ cup raw unsalted walnuts or almonds, 1 tsp. cinnamon (cooked in water or unsweetened almond or coconut milk).

 

Lunch: Grilled chicken sandwich: 3 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast on 100% whole wheat bread or Eziekel 4:9 bread (or gluten free bread if needed), with ½ of an avocado, spinach leaves, chopped veggies (i.e. onion, cucumber, tomato), and 1 tbsp. hummus or mustard spread.

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Everyone travels…whether it’s for business, pleasure, a much needed vacation or a spontaneous weekend away. At some point, we all depart from the comfort of our own homes. It could be a quick trip to the next town for a business conference or it could be a 3-month backpacking trip halfway around the world! No matter what type of travel it is, there is one thing that is certain; our normal routines get thrown out the window making it difficult to stay fit and healthy while traveling.

 

If you usually work out in a gym, you might not have access to any equipment or machines. If you usually take long adventurous runs in your neighborhood, suddenly you no longer have a familiar route to follow. If you usually prepare your own meals, you suddenly may not have access to a kitchen or fridge. Your regular sleep patterns are usually thrown off because from taking a red eye or landing in a different time zone. When we travel, nothing is familiar which again makes it difficult to have any sort of routine. But, stay positive! I have some great tips to keep you healthy and fit while on the road.

 

I am here to encourage you that you CAN make exercise and eating healthy part of your “travel routine,” but it just takes a little bit of planning ahead. I know it is difficult to plan oftentimes because much of it is out of your control when we are traveling. However, here are a few of the tips that I use when I travel:

 

IMG_2087_2Rule #1: Pack snacks for the airport/plane

Your flight might be delayed, or you might be sitting on the runway while something is being checked out… and when hunger calls, you need to answer. The food in the airport and on the plane is usually packed with added calories, preservatives, sodium and fat; which can pack on the pounds quickly if you travel regularly.

 

Snack ideas:

  • Raw, unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, etc.) You can make your own trail mix by mixing 2-3 of these nuts with dried cranberries, raisins or figs. Eat about ¼ cup serving at a time.
  • Tosi super bites (with chia and flaxseeds – great source of anti inflammatory omega 3 fatty acid)
  • High fiber cereal (eat ½-1 cup, dry in a zip lock bag). Crunchy cereals that are high fiber, low sugar and contain some protein are a great option (i.e. Kashi Go Lean, Kashi Crunch, Kashi Heart to Heart, Nature’s Path Flax plus, etc.)
  • Turkey’s jerky, salmon jerky or beef jerky (I like the Trader Joe’s brands because they contain no nitrates, no preservatives, MSG, no artificial colors or ingredients).
  • Whole wheat pretzel thins
  • Kale chips (I highly recommend making your own if possible because many of the store options contain added cheese, salt and fat)
  • Dry packaged plain oatmeal (you can always add hot water to this in your hotel room and have it for breakfast or as a snack)
  • Portable fruit (if you’re able to fly with it) such as apple, pear, peach, banana, orange, pluot, tangerine, etc.
  • Granola/Protein Bar: Think thin, KIND Nuts and Spices, STRONG and KIND, Luna Protein, Lara bars, Go Macro bars, etc. These bars are lower in sugar, higher in protein, and lower in saturated fat (the unhealthy fat) then most of the other bars out there.
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DeterminationHappy New Year! Each year thousands of people make a list of “New Years Resolutions” most of which include something related to losing weight and/or joining a gym. Resolutions are things that you want to change and resolve to do better. The difficult part is that many of these resolutions are created unrealistically, which results in a loss of momentum, a feeling of defeat and thoughts of “I’ll just throw in the towel” by the end of January. We start the year feeling excited for change, but in reality, we as human beings are creatures of habit and ‘change’ is not a comfortable feeling.

 

Change is defined as the act or instance of making or becoming different. The obstacle is that people like to stick to what they know and trust. Change can bring on thoughts of worry and anxiousness, followed by a long list of “what if” questions. Making the decision to change (yourself or something about your lifestyle) is the first step in the right direction. Once you commit to change (mentally), your body will follow (physically). Many people are scared of failure, but don’t be! I love the saying, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” Stay confident and believe in yourself. Success can mean many different things to different people. However, I view a sign of success as taking a leap of faith and allowing change to occur in your life. You have to be prepared for it and accept it with open arms, but when you do …there is endless opportunity.

 

MotivatePeople specifically don’t like change in regards to their eating habits. You might have been raised on a farm eating meat and potatoes, or you might have grown up eating vegetarian for cultural reasons. Each of you has your own genetic makeup and background, which has made you who you are today. Accept that and embrace it! Oftentimes people will order the same entrée at a restaurant even when there are 200+ menu options. Again, we are creatures of habit and we like to stick to what we know.

 

 

 

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Nutribullet trainingWishing you happy and healthy holidays!!  Although this winter season is filled with JOY, it can also be bogged down by stresses that challenge our daily routines. For example, our morning yoga class is replaced by a drive to the post office to send out holiday gifts, or our evening cardio/strength training class is replaced by an extra errand and the tail end of holiday shopping. We all have our own obstacles to face, so it’s important to incorporate an exercise plan that can fit into your schedule and lifestyle, even during the busy holidays! Exercise can actually help to reduce stress, while increasing energy, motivation and those “feel good” endorphins that keep you positive and happy!

Photo (above) is of my Team Nutribullet (marathon training team) buddies and I dressed up for our Santa Monica/Venice 10K race. Feeling festive with our “happy feet!” 

I have created a few quick workouts that focus on high intensity interval training (HIIT) to boost your metabolism also known as EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption). This is great news because your body will burn additional calories and fat even after your workout is complete (and you’re sitting at your desk for example), for up to 12-24 hours.

Please note: Consult your physician before trying this workout. If you’re a beginner to running or exercise, perform each interval no harder than a moderate effort level. Go at your own pace and walk the recovery intervals. Add a few extra seconds to your recovery intervals if you don’t feel fully recovered before starting the next cycle.  Stick with the first workout listed below. You can add more as you build your exercise base and cardiovascular capacity.

Listen to your body, and if you’re having aches and pains, slow down and focus on stretching and yoga to help lengthen and strengthen your muscles and balance out your body so you don’t pull any muscles. The Bryan Kest power yoga is one of my favorite ways to keep my muscles lose and aligned.  You can even do it while traveling which is convenient.

Here is a great example of a workout schedule and how you can incorporate HIIT into your weekly routine:

  • Perform HIIT 2 days per week (i.e. Tuesday and Thursday)
  • Perform Yoga 1-2 times per week (i.e. Wednesday)
  • Perform longer distance easier effort runs 2 days per week (i.e. Monday and Saturday).

Holiday HIIT Workout #1: Level 1 (introductory)IMG_1287

Don’t skip the warm up! Start by walking for 2 minutes and increasing your pace to a brisk walk, then a light jog (i.e. where you can still hold a conversation) for a total warm up time of 5 minutes.

Stretch or foam roll for 5 minutes to make sure all of your muscles are lose and ready for the workout. Increase the treadmill incline to 1.0-2.0, which is equivalent to the natural incline on most roads. Then, begin the workout below.

  1. Run at a sprint pace (hard) for 30 seconds
  2. Recover with 90 seconds of very easy jogging or brisk walking
  3. Repeat steps 1-2 eight to ten times (total of 16-20 minutes)
  4. Cool down by walking for 2-3 minutes after the last interval

Total Time: 25-30 minutes

Photo (above): FitSugar.com
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KIND 2Have you tried the new STRONG & KIND protein bars? I had the pleasure of working with KIND to assess the nutritional health benefits and breakdown of these bars, long before they were out in stores. It was fun coming across them at Trader Joe’s this week while doing my weekly grocery shopping. They were pleasantly displayed front and center at the check out register. The STRONG and KIND protein bar is very unique because it is gluten free, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), low glycemic index, high fiber and high in protein, but does not contain any whey or soy (which is the primary protein source used in many protein/snack bars on the market). You might be wondering where the protein is coming from.  Well, KIND always sticks with it’s motto of adding whole, natural ingredients that you can see and pronounce, and along with it’s natural source of protein (nuts and seeds), KIND has added a well balanced plant based pea protein.

 

Pea ProteinBenefits of pea protein:

  • Hypoallergenic: many people develop intolerances to whey or soy protein over time, resulting in a bloated, uncomfortable feeling and other stomach issues
  • High in BCAA (branched chain amino acids) which aid in muscle building, decreased body fat and increased satiety, and energy during workouts
  • 100% vegan (plant based with no added ingredients), gluten free

 

 

The STRONG and KIND protein bar  provides a bold and savory taste versus the sweet taste (coming from yogurt or dried fruit) found in other KIND bar varieties. I tasted the roasted jalapeno, and the honey smoked BBQ varieties and loved them! It is a great pre workout snack or travel nutrition (on the go) for people of all ages and gender.

 

KIND 3There are so many protein bars and snack bars on the market, which makes it very difficult for consumers to know which one to buy. The problem with many of the snack and protein bars on the market is that they are high in saturated fat, which will contribute to increased LDL (bad cholesterol) and therefore increase your risk of heart disease. Other snack bars are too high in sugar, or processed ingredients such as preservatives or fillers for longer shelf life. If a product is lower in sugar, then it is usually higher in salt (i.e. take out one poison and replace it with another).

 

The reason I love KIND is that is always stays true to it’s motto of using ingredients that are natural, that you can see and pronounce. They work hard to find a perfect blend of low sugar, low salt, high fiber and low fat (saturated fat) and include heart healthy monounsatured fats.

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RunningHow many of you are athletes, active exercisers, or just “weekend warriors” when it comes to working out? Well, no matter which category you fit in, it’s critical to get in your post workout nutrition to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost, carbohydrates for glycogen storage, and high quality protein for repairing and rebuilding muscle.

 

Your timing post workout is of great significance. The 30-minute “recovery window,” is the most important time to get quality nutrition in, which will help to build lean muscle and burn fat. It is not only about timing, but also what type of foods you choose to nourish your body with during this 30-minute window. The key is a mixture of protein, whole grain carbohydrates (all natural, not processed or refined carbs) and a small amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti inflammatory to the body.

 

Many people are not hungry right after they workout, especially if it was a strenuous cardiovascular or heavy strength training exercise day. In this case, a protein shake is your best bet because you can blend whole fruits and/or vegetables and protein into a portable drink that is quick, easy and nutritious.

 

Pea ProteinTo the right you will see a picture of my favorite post workout protein shake. I perfected this homemade recipe after mixing multiple smoothie creations. It includes 8 ounces of Silk unsweetened Almond milk, 1 scoop pea protein, 2 tablespoons ground flaxmeal, 2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt, ½ of a frozen banana, ½ cup organic frozen blueberries, a handful of walnuts, ½-1 cup organic spinach leaves, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 2 pitted dates (optional). Add 2-3 ice cubes and blend to make it cold and refreshing! You’ll feel great and re-energized!

 

I love this shake because it contains a great source of plant based protein, fiber and antioxidants (from the fresh fruit), omega 3 fatty acids (from the flaxseeds and walnuts), green phytonutrients (from the spinach), probiotics (from the Greek yogurt) and delicious sweetness without the added sugar (from the cinnamon and dates). This shake yields a high nutrient value, with low calories to allow you to stay within your calorie allowance for the day!

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_E0A4198Have you heard of EPOC, also known as exercise post oxygen consumption? This is informally called the “afterburn” or the measurable increase of oxygen intake following strenuous activity intended to erase the body’s “oxygen deficit.”

This oxygen dept quantifies anaerobic energy expenditure, particularly as it regards lactic acid/lactate metabolism. In recovery, oxygen EPOC is used in the processes that restore the body to a resting state and adapt it to the exercise just performed. EPOC also fuels the body’s increased metabolism from the increase in body temperature which occurs during exercise.

High intensity interval and resistance training in particular are important for total body toning, increase of lean muscle and simultaneous loss of subcutaneous fat. The combination of both anaerobic and aerobic exercise is ideal for increased EPOC and can raise your total calorie burn for 12-38 hours post workout. Therefore, you will be burning two or three times as many calories while at rest post workout. In response to exercise, fat stores are broken down and free fatty acids (FFA) are released into the blood. The more lean muscle you have, the more metabolically active your muscles will be.

IMG_1472Fun Fact: Good news! Your body will burn 25-50 calories per 1 pound of lean muscle per day.

 

It is not always the number on the scale that indicates your health. It is important to learn about your body fat % because muscle weighs more than fat and has much greater health benefits. Below is a reference guide for healthy and unhealthy body fat percentages. I encourage you to get your body fat tested to see where you are, and set S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and can be achieved in the designated time frame) goals. Your goal should be to have a lean, toned body, not just a “skinny body.” Individuals with a skinny body and higher body fat percentage are known as “skinny-fat” which is unhealthy, in comparison to someone who weighs more but their added 5 pounds of weight is all lean muscle.

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The weather is heating up! It’s bikini time…aka time to get in shape! There is a lot of pressure to be “thin,” from the media, especially living in Los Angeles and Hollywood – “the movie capital of the world!” However, many people that are “rail thin,” might also be nutrient deficient or lack muscle mass.

Healthy strong muscles give shape to your body (which is a good thing)! People who maintain muscle mass while losing weight look and feel better. Muscle tissue allows for proper movement and contraction of muscles, and stabilizes the body in motion. When muscle mass declines, strength, stability and mobility suffer. The scale is the most commonly used device to measure weight, however it doesn’t take into account muscle mass or bone density, therefore it is not the best indicator of overall health.

You don’t need an expensive gym to get into shape. I train many of my clients using resistance bands, a core medicine ball or stability ball, free weights, jump rope and a foam roller! Exercises that use your own body weight can also be a challenge and enhance your balance. Small muscle groups are important to help stabilize your large muscle groups.

 Here are a few pieces of “workout equipment” that I recommend you buy for an “at home or outdoor” workout:

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As a certified yoga instructor, Joey Soto is often asked about meditation. Her yoga students ask what it is, why they should do it, and how they can get started. “Yoga” in traditional Hinduism involves inner contemplation, a system of meditation practice and ethics. Yoga is so much more than performing the physical postures we are taught in yoga classes. The true purpose of practicing yoga is to achieve a state of meditation and a deeper self-awareness. Meditation can help you become mindful of your exercise and nutrition habits, as well!

 

What is meditation?

Meditation is stilling the fluctuations of the mind through pointed focus. Think of moments when you find yourself in a clear and relaxed state of mind where the external chatter seems to quiet. Perhaps it’s when you exercise (run, walk, bike), soak in a bath, listen to music, or relax on the beach. This enjoyment is rooted in a state of meditation. Through meditation, our mind moves from the actively thinking state (beta), to a slower more creative state (alpha), and then to a meditative state of relaxed attention and healing (theta).  Slowing the mind through meditation has numerous benefits!

 

 

Why we do it?

Research shows that we benefit from meditation in numerous ways:

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I was recently with my family for the Christmas holiday in Lake Tahoe. When I got off the airplane, we stopped at a Starbucks…(of course because I had been up since 4:30am to catch my flight Christmas eve morning). However, there was a store called “Complete Nutrition” right next door to Starbucks. Anything with the name “nutrition” in it draws my attention! So, of course I stepped into this “compete nutrition” store instead to browse around and see what products they had.

 

It was great! There were many different supplements and sports enhancement (pre and post workout) vitamins and shakes. One of the employees walked over and gave me a taste of the “Vanilla bean SMART Smoothie” and I was hooked! It wasn’t too chalky or too sweet. Smooth and only mixed with cold filtered water.

 

I always make S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and can be achieved in the appropriate time frame) with my clients when starting a nutrition or fitness plan. If the goals are not “SMART” then they are oftentimes not achieved. We all need accountability, so setting goals with this criteria makes it more likely that you will succeed and follow through with them as planned. However, the S>M>A>R>T smoothie stands for a little something different.

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