Wednesday, April 4, 2018

It's Easy Being Green..."

Happy April! 

We’ve had three full months to figure out if we want to try or toss our 2018 resolutions! This year, I decided NOT to make any specific resolutions, but to look back on the healthy practices that have worked for me in the past, and see what I can add this year.

In 2010, I wrote about a supplement called CLA. I’d been taking it for a few years and had seen benefits. I’ve continued to take it twice a day and have seen a reduction in belly fat first hand. When I have forgotten it or switched to a less potent brand, I notice a real difference. You can read about how CLA works in , “Hit The Road Fat…”

In 2013, I decided to try taking Apple Cider Vinegar every day. So many articles, both pro and con, have been written about the drink, but I still see benefits from it, so I’ll continue along that path.
 Check out the benefits I have seen in “Cider House Rules…”

Then in 2015, I started meditating on a regular basis. This, by far, is the best thing I’ve done for my overall stress level and well being. It has helped me better deal with situations, people, life events and my own trepidations. And now, there are so many new options. There are books, apps, and videos to teach you meditation. There are even classes in some cities where you can participate in group meditation.
But as I said in the blog, you can do it on your own. Read about it on Fitness Barista in “Let’s Talk About Stress Baby…”

So this year, I’m continuing these practices. 

However, with the flu so rampant this season, I also decide to try adding additional “greens” and healing herbs and spices to my daily routine. My family jokes that I’m adding to my “voodoo” and ask, “What is this witchcraft?”  But really, I’m using ingredients that you probably have in your spice cabinet.

The one addition is the individual packets of dried greens. The ones I use are called “Greens On The Go” from ITWORKS. I had ordered them a while ago, but never got to trying them. The blend has quite a few ingredients that you can find listed on their website, but I like that there’s broccoli, kale, blackberry, beets, blueberry, strawberry and spinach listed in the powdered packets. It’s got an orange flavor to it that is surprisingly good. (Even though my husband calls it “Swamp Juice”!)

 -Greens supplements are the powdered remains of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that have been either freeze or light-dried, so the end product is essentially calorie-free or very low-calorie. 

-Additionally, greens supplements will often contain a wide variety of ingredients, so sourcing the ingredients for the supplement isn’t limited to what can be easily pressed and juiced.

-Greens are know to boost energy levels, prevent chronic disease, reduce inflammation and brighten skin.

-Because they are in a powdered form, the nutrition is highly concentrated and you get more bang for your buck.

-The powder is easily absorbed into your system, so they get to work quickly. 

-And, most of all, they’re convenient: you should be eating whole fruits and vegetables, but sometimes you can’t get it all in. This is an awesome alternative/addition!

I mix it with my apple cider vinegar and add extra powdered turmeric and cinnamon. I shake it up and drink it in the morning right before I work out. I don’t want to jinx it, but, so far, so good! (After having pneumonia twice last year, I’m hoping this keeps me healthy).  
My daughter knows one of the distributors and her kids drink the greens, too. She calls it “Hulk Juice” which I’m sure encourages her boys to partake!

It could be a placebo effect, but I don’t think so. With everyone around me at home and work sneezing, coughing and feeling yucky, I’ve had only mild sniffles and sneezing.
My resolution every year is to feel the best I can, and if these little additions can help, I’ll keep at it!

What practices, foods, supplements, workouts have you added to your year?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Secret Formula....

Anyone who knows me can tell you I have trouble sitting still for long. I have the attention span of a puppy, and can usually be found whirling from room to room at home, or back and forth across the store at work.

     So when it comes to my workouts, you are not going to find me slogging miles on the treadmill or repeating the same set of exercises over and over. On a good day, I can usually only last about 10 minutes on a cardio machine. I’ve always loved circuit training and fast paced fitness classes, but had to create my own combo to put the two together. It’s fine for a while, but sometimes you just need the motivation of a class full of people to push you a little harder.

      Enter my new favorite workout: Formula Total Body at The Fitness Formula in St. Louis’s Central West End.

 They offer both classes and personal training. The staff of instructors, trainers, and physical therapists have a wealth of experience, enthusiasm and  fun (yes FUN) that I don’t see in many of the chain boutique fitness studios. Each class is a little different based on the instructor, but the Formula Total Body classes all incorporate interval training with machines and weights. 
The intensity is based on your heart-rate and all exercises are modifiable, so everyone trains at their own pace.

     It’s total body, one-hour, heart-rate based interval training using free weights, kettlebells, TRX, sandbells, boxes, and a variety of machines, including the incline trainer, Versa Climber and a water rower.

-The incline trainer is a treadmill that goes up to an incline of 30%. You can walk or run at your own pace, adjusting the incline. Even at lower speeds, you burn more calories but avoid injury risk. 

-The Versa Climber is a low impact machine that simulates what I describe as crawling up a wall without the fear of heights. It uses both your arms and legs in a kind of cross-crawl pattern, strengthening your inner core and balance. 

-The water rower gives you the feeling that you’re actually rowing on the water. The low impact, smooth, rhythmic, and meditative movement of water rowing works 84% of your muscle mass during one exercise while lengthening contracted muscles. 

-The mix of free weights, TRX, kettlebells, sandbells, med balls and jump boxes build strength & power, define muscle, and build bone density. While the machines help build your cardio endurance.

     The daily workout mix is posted as you walk into class on a whiteboard. You have an idea of what’s coming, but the instructor leads you through the workout. Dividing into groups and teams, you alternate strength work and cardio throughout the class.  As I said before, the workouts are different every day, but they all move smoothly between sets. Some switch quickly and repeat, others are longer and fewer.
   They incorporate the MyZone Fitness tracker, so your name, heart rate and level of work show up on the screen in class, encouraging you to push a little harder to get into a higher zone. It's not mandatory, so if you're not into the numbers, you can still take the class and push at your own pace.

     My favorite days are the one-minute intervals, switching from cardio to weights every 3-6 minutes. (It speaks to my short attention span). For those who like to get a little distance on the treadmill, rower or climber, some classes use longer intervals. Some days you use all of the equipment, other days it’s more kettlebell or TRX. But each workout hits all of the muscle groups without overtraining.

Best of all is the support you get from the instructors and owners. They will be your biggest advocates, keep you accountable and cheer your successes.  My husband has been training with both of the owners and they constantly assess his progress, modify his workout to fit specific needs (he had knee replacements a few years ago), and update and revise his workout program. All with a sense of humor and tough love. 

They are located at 4630 Lindell Blvd in St. Louis, 63108.
Phone is 314-696-2700 or you can email them at
Your first class is free and you can sign up on their website at:

     If you live in or near the Central West End, it’s right in your backyard. But it’s worth the drive from all over STL, especially now that summer is almost here. Because after a great workout, who doesn’t love a healthy lunch or dinner at a CWE restaurant patio?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

"Got to Keep On Walkin'...."

I’ve always enjoyed going for a walk, but never really saw it as a exercise.  It’s worked to clear my head, diffuse my anger, and give me a healthy glow, but over the years it’s been kind of an add on to my “real” workouts.

But this spring, my husband and I moved out of our house in the suburbs to an area of the city that is infinitely walkable, and I feel healthier now than I have in years.

I’ve always liked exploring when I’m visiting a new city. After visiting Chicago, New York, or even cities out of the country, I’d always expect to gain weight from all of the foods that I try. But, because of all the walking, I usually come out even when I get home.I never made the connection that maybe it’s because I was walking so much !

I’ve already written about my Fitbit obsession, and this move has taken it to a new level. The move itself involved cleaning, packing, running bags of clothing to donate and lots of stairs. I thought I’d hit my highest step goal then.

However, moving day brought a lot of surprises. My storage closets are on the other side of my building, as is the trash bin, so it’s quite a few steps back and forth just for that.  

And once we are home, we don’t have to drive to all of the places I used to go daily. The grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, bars and shops are all walkable. I now justify getting a Jeni’s ice cream cone by the fact that it’s 1,000 steps each way walking , so I must burn off at least some of the calories!

The best part is that we live one block from Forest Park in St Louis. I had been to the park before and driven by many times. I had driven to it’s museums, zoo, and theaters, and went to specific events, but I had never actually walked through the amazing landscape and pathways!

And as much as I still love my gym workouts, the health benefits of walking are many! Harvard researchers note :

It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.

It helps tame a sweet tooth. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.

It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.

It eases joint pain. Several studies have found that walking    reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.

It boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.

So grab your fitness tracker, lace up your shoes and get out there. No equipment needed. Even a daily walk around the block can boost your health and clear your head, so why not give it a try?