A healthy lifestyle blog by ACE Certified Group Exercise Trainer.

The Breakfast Debate

Most health, diet, and fitness books and websites will all recommend eating a healthy breakfast to support weight loss. Depending on who you ask, there are conflicting opinions and studies on this. (Read this article for a quick synopsis). Other studies have determined that eating breakfast has no effect on weight loss and may in fact cause weight gain. So, what's a person to do?

My personal opinion is this- I recommend that most people eat a healthy breakfast as part of their daily routine.

Why? Your body has been fasting for 8 -10 hours overnight, sending your metabolism to a nice slow pace for conservation. Several people wake up hungry and eating a healthy breakfast with a balance of protein, carbs, fat (and don't forget fiber) can set the mood for healthy eating and curb starvation pangs for the rest of the day. 

Now some people argue eating breakfast makes them hungrier for the day. Well, yeah, if you eat cereal chock-full of 20g of sugar like Raisin Bran (yes, this cereal is bad for you!), you will feel hungrier an hour later. But if you eat an egg, piece of plain whole grain toast,plain oatmeal, or low sugar cereal with unsweetened milk, you probably won't experience that annoying blood sugar spike. Making sure you have fiber also helps feel fuller longer. Eating a muffin the size of your head will indeed result in hunger pangs an hour later as well. It's all about what you choose to eat!

There are some folks that are adamant about NOT eating breakfast. Lets say for example, you are one of those people who hate eating breakfast, so you typically don't. Or perhaps you are someone who ate a ginormous dinner the night before and you simply don't "feel hungry" for breakfast. So this describes you and you typically skip breakfast, do you find yourself starving at midmorning or lunch time? Does this sudden hunger attack lead to stuffing yourself?

If so, you should probably reconsider eating breakfast. If you end up reaching for donuts in the break room, downing half a jug of coffee creamer, or consuming a 1,000 calorie lunch, you probably aren't coming out ahead by not eating breakfast (even if you think you are!).

On the other hand, if you find that you can still stay on track with your personal calorie targets and healthy meal habits for the entire day, despite not eating breakfast, than by all means do your thing!

It's just that there is typically an association of behaviors - typically people who don't eat breakfast are more overweight. Typically people who do eat breakfast are at healthier weights. This doesn't mean one causes another but the behaviors are associated. Something to think about! 

My fav breakfasts:

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt (sweetened with stevia or fruit) with chia seeds
  • Egg white scramble (spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, egg whites)
  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter
  • Plain Oatmeal with half apple cut in chunks and cinnamon (all microwaved together to cook apple)
  • High protein/fiber cereal w unsweetened almond milk
  • Nonfat cottage cheese w a tbsp no sugar added jam

Foodie Friday: Pork, White Bean and Kale Soup

I tried this recipe and it is really yummy! I like it with a little tabasco/hot sauce in it as well. I simmered a little longer than recommended because I felt like the wine still seemed pretty strong, but other than that, I made as is. Hope you like it!

PS. A lot of people have never tried Kale. It looks like extra crinkly lettuce in the produce section. Some find it "bitter" but if you remove the veins, that seems to help.

Here's the recipe from Eatingwell.com.

6 servings, about 1 2/3 cups each Active Time: 40 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika, preferably smoked
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped (about 8 cups lightly packed)
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed (see Tip)


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring once or twice, until no longer pink on the outside, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs, leaving juices in the pot.
  2. Add onion to the pot and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, paprika and crushed red pepper (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and tomatoes, increase heat to high and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Add kale and stir just until it wilts. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is just tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in beans, the reserved pork and any accumulated juices; simmer until the beans and pork are heated through, about 2 minutes.


Per serving : 262 Calories; 6 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 45 mg Cholesterol; 26 g Carbohydrates; 25 g Protein; 7 g Fiber; 627 mg Sodium; 1024 mg Potassium
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 starch, 2 vegetable, 2 lean meat

Tips & Notes

  • Tip: While we love the convenience of canned beans, they tend to be high in sodium. Give them a good rinse before adding to a recipe to rid them of some of their sodium (up to 35 percent) or opt for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties. (Our recipes are analyzed with rinsed, regular canned beans.) Or, if you have the time, cook your own beans from scratch.

Why Barre Workouts ROCK

Barre workouts are basically ballet-inspired toning routines (but don't be fooled, you won't be prancing in a tutu- these workouts are HARD).

These workouts are designed to give you a long, lean dancer-like physique (without having dance experience), and are becoming quite popular these days. While all barre workouts differ slightly in structure, most methods incorporate exercises done at a ballet barre (you can use the back of a chair at home) combined with elements of ballet, Pilates, and yoga.  Barre exercises rely mainly upon one's bodyweight for resistance, and the moves challenge your core stability and balance. The nice thing about these exercises is that it's a low-impact option to get a little cardio and sculpting all in the same hour.

I am excited to start teaching Barre classes with Brenda Curtright, owner of The Dance Center, here in Grants. Brenda teaches Monday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 - 7:30 pm and I will be teaching Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:30 - 10:30 am, beginning on Oct. 29. We also offer a Saturday morning class at 8-9 am.

For a Barre class, all you need is yourself in comfortable clothes, a pair of LIGHT handweights (think 2 - 5 lbs) and a yoga mat. Workouts are done without shoes. You may buy special barre socks, but they aren't required.

If you are interested in trying it out, let me know! Our first evening class has a wait list, but get your name on there soon to get in!

Goal Setting and Reflection

I am currently in week 3 of my Fall 8 Week Tabata Bootcamp for women. My participants are doing really, really well - majority are making it to classes and doing their at home workouts. So I thought what better time than now to make sure we all have specific goals in mind and that we are staying on track to meet those goals.

So for my Bootcamp Girls or anyone else who may be on the path towards a healthier fit self, I challenge you to complete the homework below:

(Visit Maria Kang's website for her "No Excuse Program" and more info on goal setting)
  1. Find a journal, notebook or something to write down some goals.
  2. Write 3 very specific goals. Nothing vague, like "I want to get fit." Goals should be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and include a Time frame. Examples: I want to fit into old jeans, I want to run a 5k, I want to lose 20 lbs or 10 inches. 
  3. Tape these goals to your mirror on your vanity or bathroom or tape somewhere in your closet where you will see it everyday.
  4. Set a date that you want to reach these goals. A birthday, a trip, upcoming event, etc. If you don't already have a special date in mind, you can create one. For example reward yourself with a boudoir photo shoot or a pamper day if you meet your goals. This date should be around 8-12 weeks from now.
  5. Write positive affirmations, quotes, photos, or create a moodboard (See my example below). Place these random places - screensaver on your phone/computer, your mirror, the fridge, your car, etc. Stay positive!
  6. Weigh yourself/measure every week or every other week. You won't know if you are on track to meet your goals unless you measure periodically.
  7. Make a habit of posting your thoughts/progress/inspiration on your favorite social networks - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. The more open you are about your fitness goals, and the more people who know about it, the more likely you are to hold yourself accountable. If you are the type of person who really prefers privacy, join my private Tabata Bootcamp Facebook group where the posts are only visible to other women in the program with similar goals.

Fall Favorites

With the Fall Season in full swing, I thought I'd highlight what I'm loving most these days!

Old Navy Active Wear - I purchased some running tights, cold weather running top, and compression top. Love, love love!

I also ordered two pairs of Nike sweatpants from Thredup.com, a gently used clothing site. These were only $11 each and I had a $10 credit.

On the fashion front, I have been enjoying my new Miche shell, the Misty, with navy canvas, camel leather. I also bought some Kardashian mascara from Ulta for only $9 and love it! No clumping and great coverage.

If you get a chance, stop by Sonic and try their Red Button coffee. Sooooo good! Links for all items below!

Fall Favorites

Beware of the Restaurant Salad

When you are out at a restaurant or even a fast-food place you may be tempted to order a salad off of the menu, thinking it must be a healthier option than the sandwhich or burger or steak, etc. This is not always the case, and in fact many salads at restaurants contain over 1200 calories!!! If that's the case you might as well go for the burger!

Most of the danger in salads lies in the dressing - they are often packed with calories and fat, and many have more than 1500 g sodium, which is the max one should have in the entire day! You must also beware of the toppings.


Here's some things to look out for when ordering a salad:

Crispy vs. Grilled - Always go for the grilled chicken instead of crispy. It will save you calories and fat grams

Croutons & Bacon Bits & Tortilla Chips - These add calories to your salad but no nutrition. Bacon bits are artificial too. Just opt to keep these off your salad. If you want a crunch, try adding a tbsp of raw nuts (not the candied kind!). Nuts have fat, but a healthy kind of fat.

Too Much Cheese - Don't smother your salad in cheese. If you must have some, try just a tablespoon of low-fat cheese sprinkled on top. A little goes a long way. Feta cheese can be a great flavor boost on a salad, but make sure you use just a bit.

Dressings - Many places list the calories of their salads without the dressing. Try and pick a dressing that is less cream-based and more oil based. I try and go for vinaigrette instead of Caesar or ranch. The dressing alone can add 200+ calories to your salad. You should always ask for it on the side. You can also try dipping your fork in the dressing, then picking up salad and eating it (versus pouring the dressing over top of the salad). This helps you eat less dressing and still get the flavor.

Processed Meat - Salami or similar processed deli meat can add a lot of fat and preservatives to your salad. Shrimp/seafood is also a high-fat meat and should be used in moderation.

Candied nuts and dried fruit - Both of these seem healthy, but candied pecans, walnuts, almonds, have a lot of sugar, as do dried cranberries. Go for raw nuts instead and only a tablespoon. A little goes a long way!

Iceberg Lettuce - This type of lettuce is not nutrient dense like other dark leafy greens. Choose spinach, romaine, kale or other dark green lettuce over iceberg.

Salads to Stay Away from (Salads with over 500 calories or more than 9 g fat):

  • Chili's Southwestern Cobb Salad - Has 1080 calories (and that's before you add dressing!).
  • Wendy's BLT Cobb Salad - Has 50 grams of fat or the equivalent of two Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers
  • Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad - Has over 1300 calories and 90 grams of fat!!! YIKES!
  • Taco Bell's Chipotle Steak Salad - Deep frying a tortilla and using it as a salad bowl defeats the purpose. You are better off ordering hard shell tacos.
  • Applebee's Grilled Shrimp & Spinach Salad - Over 1,000 calories! Order the Weightwatchers Salad instead.
  • Olive Garden Grilled Chicken Salad - 850 calories and 64 g fat
  • Sonic Crispy Chicken Salad with Ranch - 40 g fat and lots of sodium
  • McDonalds Bacon Ranch Salad with Crispy Chicken and Ranch - 600 calories and 40 g fat.
Other ways to be prepared
  • Download a calorie counter app like My Fitness Pal and you can look up nutritional info on a menu item for many restaurants. Do this in the car on the way to the restaurant or before you go, so you already know what you will be avoiding or ordering.
  • When in doubt, stay away from: Caesar Salads, Anything with the word Crispy in it, Bacon Salads, Seafood Salads, Creamy Dressings, Southwestern Salads. All of these are typically unhealthy.
  • Order dressing on the side. Always.
  • Opt for plain old olive oil or ask for a lemon to squeeze over your salad instead of dressing.
  • Only use half the dressing they provide.

Healthy Lunch Ideas

Not having a plan for lunch is like a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off. Before you know it, that unsatiable hunger has set in and you are in the drive thru at the McDonalds attempting to order a semi-healthy wrap only to find out the sauces and crispy chicken result in a 600 calorie meal anyway. So what's a busy girl to do?

The best option for success during lunch time is to plan your meals ahead. Know what you will be having every. single. day. 

I will share some of my go-to recipes for lunch. Of course dinner left-overs are always an option, but for our family we rarely have leftovers, and if we do my husband takes them to work, so I am always scrambling for quick healthy lunch ideas!

Rachel Beller
12 hard-boiled egg whites
3 hard-boiled egg yolks
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise (canola/olive oil-based preferred)
1 tablespoon deli mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Optional: 1/2 cup fresh chopped red onion or Chives
Grate eggs into a bowl. Mix in light mayonnaise, mustard and optional onions/ chives. Top with paprika. Enjoy!

Lunch: 3/4 cup (160 calories, 17 grams of protein) OR 1 cup (214 calories, 22 grams of protein) 

Snack: 1/4 cup (53.5 calories, 5.5 grams of protein)

Skinny Mom's Kitchen
Mason Jar Salads (from Skinny Mom's Kitchen Blog)
The key to mason jar salads is in the assembly of the ingredients. To keep the lettuce crisp you have to keep it separate from the dressing or other liquid. Also, you need to make sure the jar is completely dry before you start filling them. I add this tip because more than likely you will wash your jars or ingredients prior to using so there might be a chance of moisture. Give the jar a quick wipe with a paper towel and completely dry all ingredients before you start to assembly.
Layers should go like this.
  1. Bottom layer is dressing or other wet ingredient. Again, this is key. You need to keep the dressing away from the lettuce to keep it from getting soggy.
  2. Second layer needs to be a hearty vegetable like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. Think about veggies that would taste good marinated in dressing. You will need a good amount of these vegetables to keep the dressing and lettuce separate.
  3. Third layer is proteins or grains. This could be eggs, beans, rice, quinoa, pasta, etc. Next add the lettuce or greens.

Last you would add seeds or nuts. Sample Salad- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar dressing, grape tomatoes (sliced in half), hard-boiled egg, crumbled bacon, sunflower seeds, and baby spinach.

From Clean & Delicious Blog
Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

Jamie Eason's recipe and one of my go-to favorites. These can be made ahead and kept in the fridge or frozen. Heat them up, or eat cold. Eat them on top of a salad or alone. Truly an easy way to get quick protein.

2 lbs. ground turkey 90/10 or better
3 egg whites
1 cup quick cooking oats
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dry yellow mustard
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chipotle pepper spice
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp garic powder
1 diced onion
2 diced celery stalks


Preheat oven to 375 and spray muffin pay with some cooking spray (or coat with a little olive oil). Mix all the ingredients in one large bowl until well combined.  Roll the mixture into balls and place each one in the muffin pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Makes 12 muffins.


Chicken Salad- Calories: 369; Carbs: 24; Fat: 13; Protein: 38; Sodium: 756; Sugar: 15
3 oz cooked chicken breast, 2 tbsp nayonaisse or greek yogurt, ¼ c celery, served on lettuce of your choice 1 c. melon or grapes, 10 almonds

Soup & Salad – Cal 109; Carb 22; Fat 0; Prot 4; Sodium 681; Sug 12
2 cups low sodium, broth-based veggie soup with a tossed salad (2 c greens, 5 cherry tomatoes, 1 tbs dressing)

Mexican Chickpea Salad (serves 3) - Cal 213; Carb 22; Fat 11; Sod 389; Sug 2
Dice up a Roma tomato, some cilantro, 1/4 red onion if you like, add some lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper and a can of chickpeas.

Tone it Up Chickpea Spinach salad – Cal 288; Carb 33; Fat 15; Prot 8 Sod 406; Sug 1
Half can of chickpeas, 2 cups spinach, and a lemon juice/olive oil dressing.

Pizza QuesadillaCal 239; Carb 17; Fat 12; Prot 22; Sod 1038; Sug 1
A low carb tortilla or wrap, add 1/4 c of tomato or pizza sauce (I just use Hunts Pasta sauce from can), 1/4 c low fat mozzarella shredded, about 6-10 turkey pepperoni, and spinach if you like.

Peanut Butter Banana roll up – Calories: 250; Carbs: 50; Fat: 2; Protein: 11; Sodium: 445; Sugar: 25
Low carb wrap, 1/2 banana slices, and drizzle with agave. Add a few dark chocolate chips.

Avocado, cottage cheese, tomato – Cal: 428; Carbs 29; Fat 39; Protein: 20; Sodium: 413; Sugar: 4
Half an avocado sliced, add 1/4-1/2 c low fat cottage cheese, tomatoes, and salt & pepper. I add a bit of lime or lemon juice to keep the avocado from turning and give it a little kick.

Open Face Tuna Melt- Cal 362; Carb 18; Fat 8; Prot 49; Sod 806; Sug 1
Mix can tuna in water with low fat or olive oil mayo, salt, pepper, and celery salt. Top on a slice of wheat, add a slice of skinny 40 calorie cheese and a tomato slice. Heat on skillet. Yummy.

Greek Salad – Calories: 342; Carbs: 24; Fat: 24; Protein 10; Sodium 600; Sugar: 13
Mix a cucumber sliced, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, red bell pepper diced, with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper, top with feta. Eat on top of bed of lettuce or put in a wrap or pita pocket.

Deli Turkey salad- Calories: 406; Carbs: 29; Fat: 25; Protein: 12; Sodium: 744; Sugar: 18
Add a few slices of turkey, some sliced apples, berries if you have them, and walnuts or pecans to a bed of lettuce. Serve with a raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Spring Rolls- Calories: 372; Carbs: 50; Fat: 2; Protein: 36; Sodium 975; Sugar: 6
Cook up 2-3 oz tofu or frozen cooked chicken. Get rice paper wrap, and dip on a plate of water. Set aside. Add lettuce or spinach, veggies of your choice (cucumbers, cabbage, carrots). Top with tofu or chicken, 1 squirt sriracha chili sauce or tabasco, and roll. Dip in soy sauce or sriracha. Make 2-3 rolls for lunch.

Salmon Salad Open faced SandwichCal 270; Carb 28; Fat 6; Prot 28; Sod 613; Sug 10
3 oz. canned salmon, 1 tsp. light mayo, 2 tsp. lemon juice, ½ chopped celery, ½ cup chopped bell peppers, 1 slice whole-wheat bread, arugula, red onion. Mix salmon and; add the rest. Place salmon mixture on bread for an open-faced sandwich; top with arugula and red onion.