Congratulations! You've Decided to Get Focused and Get Fit!

Welcome to Alexis Martin's "Get Focused, Get Fit" blog! I hope this helps you set attainable goals and more importantly, REACH your goals! Check back regularly for updates and new helpful hints to stay on track!

Thanks for putting your health first,
Alexis Martin

Friday, January 29, 2010

Salad, healthy or not?

It looks like everyone is getting pretty food savvy, but are you watching what you put into your food preparation as much as the main ingredient?

Let's take salads.  Salads are full of lots of brightly colored veggies, right?  Right, but are you dumping cheese, croutons, tortilla chips, salad dressing, bacon bits, etc. on top?  If the answer is yes, you've just sabotaged your salad!!

Adding all those tasty little treats, your salad has gone from healthy to possibly fatter than a Double Double from IN & OUT!

When making or ordering a salad make sure you leave all those things off!  Your salad should consist of lots of FRESH vegetables, possibly a protein, like chicken or fish and just 2 TBSP or LESS of low-fat or non-fat dressing.  By the way, I don't mean batter fried chicken, either!

The best salad dressing in a bottle is either low-fat spray dressing or Newman's Own Light dressings.  There are lots of brands, just read the label to get the most natural ingredients with the lowest calories.  I like Newman's Own Light because there are a ton of great flavors; I actually think I've tried them all!  My favorites are the Asian or Cranberry Walnut.  When using bottled dressing, make sure you read what a portion size is and MEASURE!

Another great dressing is fresh lemon juice!  Its tart & tangy and adds great flavor to salads.  Also, I love Balsamic Vinegar & Oil, just be careful not to drown your salad in oil, again-MEASURE.

A trick I've learned is I measure out my oil, vinegar or lemon into a large bowl; I add fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano-whatever or I'll add dry seasoning, like Mrs. Dash and squish it all together.  I let it sit while I wash and chop my veggies. Then I add my salad greens and toss the greens with my dressing mixture.  Then I add my extra veggies and toss again and VOILA! You have a restaurant style salad with homemade, low fat dressing!

Another great salad is adding blueberries, raspberries, strawberries & mandarin orange slices on top of greens.  I use a fruit based dressing and toss.  Sometimes I'll add feta or goat cheese & even slivered almonds or walnuts.  Its light, fresh and always the hit at dinner parties!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quick and Simple Ways to Work Out at Work

Not getting your 30 minutes + of exercise everyday?  Here are some quick & simple ways to work your workouts into your hectic day!


While a regular workout routine is an essential part of reaching your weight-loss goals, there will be times when your job or family obligations get in the way of exercising. Although Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of the South Beach Diet Supercharged, recommends a daily 20-minute exercise routine — alternating days of interval walks and days of core-strengthening exercises — he suggests that even on those days when your schedule is crammed, you try to get in a five- or ten-minute walk or simply incorporate more movement throughout the day. After all, some exercise is always better than none. If you can’t find time for fitness before or after work, here are seven tips to help you squeeze fitness into your workday.
  1. Park farther away from the office, or get off public transportation at an earlier stop.
  2. Take the stairs, especially if you have just a few flights to climb. (If you don't have to take the stairs, go up & down them anyway!
  3. Go for a walk during lunch. If you bring your lunch to work, use the time you save buying lunch to take a walk around the block.
  4. Walk over to coworkers’ desks when you need to chat with them or deliver messages rather than using e-mail or the phone.
  5. Instead of meeting friends in the office or over lunch, meet to take a walk instead.
  6. Use your headset or cell phone and walk around while talking on the phone.
  7. Stretch occasionally while sitting at your desk or leave a light pair of weights at work and do some upper-body exercises.
  8. Once you are home, take a walk around your neighborhood after dinner.  Get your spouse, family or a friend to walk with you.  This is a great time to get to know what is going on in everyone's life!
If you still can't figure out how to get moving, you are trying really hard NOT TO DO IT!  Put that effort into trying to get in your 30 minutes & you'll always find time!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Changing it up with Interval Training!

How is the 30 minutes + of exercise going? Are you doing it? Hopefully the answer is yes, so here is a suggestion to change things up a bit. Try interval training! Don't know what that is? Well, basically, take what you are doing and increase the intensity for short periods of time, then return to your normal pace. Example: If you jog for 30 minutes at a steady pace-jog a little faster than normal for 1 minute then walk 1 minute, jog then walk, etc. You'll basically be walking 15 minutes and jogging 15 minutes, but you'll notice you'll sweat more than normal! You can also walk 1 minute, jog 1 minute, run 1 minute and repeat. As your session goes by, you may notice you are getting more tired than normal, don't stop, just increase your low interval time (walk for 2-3 minutes) then jog or run for 1 minute. The goal of interval training is to increase your ability to exert yourself for longer periods of time and recover quicker. Its great training for your heart, lungs and waist-line! You can do interval training on stationary equipment, riding a bike, walking, jogging, swimming, weight lifting, pretty much anything you do, so try it out! It also makes the time go by quicker!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting Fit & Staying Healthy

You may be feeling energized & great or you may be feeling tired and fatigued.  If you are feeling great, keep up the good work also, try and increase either your exercise time or the intensity of your workout!

If you are feeling fatigued and tired, make sure you are eating enough, cutting too many calories will not help you lose weight, it will only make your body store fat and burn lean muscle.  Also, don't over do the exercise to the point you are getting hurt.  If you are really sore or physically tired, let yourself rest, its not worth it to get hurt, believe me, I know, I have hurt my back, feet, elbows....everything!

Keep up the good work and STAY AWAY FROM THE BROWNIES!!!

If you NEED a sweet fix, have a chocolate, peanut butter smoothie!  Its sooo yummy and filling!  Recipe below:

1 scoop protein powder (chocolate flavored)
1-2 TBSP peanut butter (natural, unsalted)
1/2 banana
1/4 c raw oatmeal
ice
8 oz. low fat milk or soy (or 4 oz. milk, 4 oz. water)

Be careful, my smoothie is 341 calories, this is a meal in itself!  If you aren't careful, it will be a lot more!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let's Mix It Up!

Are you feeling better, do you have more energy?  Are you feeling stronger, are you losing weight or noticing you are getting more toned?  These are the things you should be evaluating to see if you are doing enough to make a change or maybe doing the right things.

If you answer yes to these questions, fantastic!!!  Your efforts are paying off!  If you answer no, maybe we need to take some time to see how we can improve on what you are already doing.  If you answer no, it doesn't mean quit, it means, let's figure out what will make your physical and mental effort worth while!!

If you need help with exercise, food, schedule, anything, let me know!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting Tired and Fatigued?

I hope you had a great week and you are all getting into a routine of making clean food choices, exercising and feeling energized.  If you are feeling fatigued, you may not be getting enough calories or the balance of proteins, carbs &  fats you are consuming is still a bit off.  If you are getting hungry frequently-quicker than every 3-4 hours, or maybe you aren't getting hungry, your calories may be off.

Look at your journals and review what you ate on the days you felt great and what you ate on the days you haven't felt so good.  You may notice the "bad" days were really busy, maybe you didn't sleep well and maybe you didn't eat enough protein.  Try to repeat the "good" day(s) and see if you really do feel better!  If not, let me know and we can evaluate what you are eating and come up with some sample menus to follow.

Also, if you're hungry at the end of the night, I like eating a light yogurt or low fat cottage cheese with maybe some chopped nuts or a few (2-3) Ak-Mak crackers (stone ground crackers).  You could also add a little fruit, like blueberries!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday...did you survive the weekend? Also, what am I drinking??

Yes, we all look forward to the weekend, but when you are on an exercise & eating routine, the weekends can be really hard!  So many temptations, so many distractions, so easy to get lazy & soooo many excuses available!!  Getting through can be tough, but when you get to Monday, you'll either feel triumphant or guilty.  Either way, don't give up, its time to renew your vows you've made to yourself, its time to be proud of sticking to it, or time to pep talk yourself back on schedule.

On to another subject...  Now that we've been keeping track of our food, cleaning up our eating, its time to evaluate what we are drinking.  Are you drinking 8+ glasses of water every day?  If not, try and start your morning with a tall glass of water, it'll get your thirst buds working.  Also, try not to drink it all at once.  Keep a bottle at your side all the time and sip, sip, sip!

Are you drinking a lot of coffee, tea, sports drinks, juice, soda?  If you normally drink a lot of these, try and replace some of your servings with water.  Since we're tracking our calories, you don't really want to  DRINK your calories, you should EAT them.

Limit coffee to 2 cups (caffeinated) with low-fat or non-fat milk or soy.  Stay away from powdered or processed "creamers" and sweeten coffee with Stevia (a natural sweetener w/0 calories), Splenda or Nutrasweet.  If drinking de-caf, you can drink a little more.

If you drink tea, try and replace regular black tea with green or herbal tea.  If its herbal (caffeine free) this can also count as your water!

Juice is very high in sugar, so I would recommend you eat your fruits and not drink them.  If you love OJ in the morning, its okay, but make sure you eat something with it like egg whites, toast, oatmeal, almonds, etc.  The sugar will make your blood-sugar spike if it isn't consumed with protein & fat.

Finally, do you drink a lot of Sports drinks or soda?  Sports drinks were made for athletes that are working at a anaerobic level (which means breathless), so unless you are sweating profusely, stay away from sports drinks.  Very high in sugar and calories!  If you get light-headed during your workouts, have a sports drink available to sip, but also drink water.  You shouldn't be drinking them regularly or drinking them in place of water.

Now for soda.... there is nothing good in soda and even if its diet, can cause our bodies to retain water and fat.  If you must drink it, drink diet, but only drink 1 per day.  I'm not talking about a 32-ounce gut buster either!!  One can per day!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Stick to your guns over the weekend!

"Its the weekend and we always go out to dinner!  What do I do????"

If you are going out to dinner, plan ahead!  If you know where you are going look at their menu on line and pick low cal foods ahead of time so you know what to eat when you get there.  If you can't do that, ask how fish, chicken, meat and/or veggies are prepared.  Most places will grill with no oil if you ask and they'll steam veggies.  If not, just try and leave some food on your plate, don't clean it!  If you have a salad ask them not to put cheese, croutons or dressing on the salad, ask for the light dressing on the side.  You can also ask for lemon or oil & vinegar as dressing.

If having cocktails, try to limit your alcohol consumption to 1-2.  Its calorie dense and lowers our inhibitions which causes us to over eat!  Best alcohol?  Vodka, scotch, tequila with soda water, diet tonic or on the rocks.  Another option is red wine, even though its higher in calories, its good for your heart.

If none of these options work and you over do it, get back on track with your next meal and get extra cardio in.  You definitely don't want to undo all the hard work you've done and sacrifices you've made!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Low Cal Yummy Recipe Its Quick & Easy too!

I thought I'd share a recipe with you that I just made for dinner for tonight.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare and is ready to eat in 30 minutes.

Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit -Healthy Style!!

First you have to buy the box of chili mix, I get it at Vons where all the packet items are near the tomato sauce.

I pretty much follow the directions on the packet, but I use the following ingredients:

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 pkg- Jennie-O Lean ground turkey
1 15 oz can unsalted diced tomatoes
2 8 oz cans unsalted tomato sauce
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
1 15 oz can unsalted pinto beans
1 15 oz can unsalted black beans
1 15 oz can low sodium kidney beans (couldn't find unsalted)
1 15 oz can unsalted whole kernel corn

I use the entire spice packet, 1/2 the salt packet, a pinch of the cayenne packet and only 1/2 the masa flour packet (all packets in chili kit).

1 cup serving:      253 Calories, Fat 7.13 g, Carbs 28.6 g, Protein 17.45 g
1.5 cup serving:  397 Calories, Fat 11.2 g, Carbs 45 g, Protein 27.4 g

There are 11-1 cup servings in a pot and 7-1.5 cup servings in a pot.  I sprinkle diced onion on top and 1 ounce (1 Tbsp) of pro-biotic monterery jack cheese on top or skim mozarella which adds about 50 more calories.

Skip the bread or corn bread and have a small crunchy salad on the side, or better yet, top your lettuce greens with the chili for a different version of taco salad!!  Then you don't need dressing, maybe just some salsa, hope you like it!



After eating it, I must say it was a little bland, so I added Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy seasoning and it was great!!  (you can even ask him!)  Just try not to add salt, you don't want to get puffy :).



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Keeping Accountable to Myself

Something to think about:  Its easy to think we are "doing enough" to reach our goals, but are we REALLY? Or are we just fooling ourselves?

Now that we're all getting more "food savvy" we all have a better idea of how to change our habits to get healthy.  If you have changed your eating habits and are now eating fewer calories & more nutrient rich foods, you will lose weight!  How much depends on how much you should eat compared to how much you were eating before.  Woohooo!

If you are trying to lose weight, but you were already eating close to your recommended calories, you'll have to dedicate more time to cardio to lose.  Remember, to lose just 1 pound of fat you have to cut out and burn 500 calories extra EVERY DAY.  So, if our goal is to lose 2 pounds a week, guess what, you have to burn 1,000 calories every day EXTRA!  That means getting in enough exercise to burn those calories.

How much can you lose in 30 minutes of cardio?  Between 100-300 calories.  If you are walking briskly, you burn about 100-150, if you run, ride a bike (agressively), do step aerobics, spin, rowing, eliptical machine, stair stepper, etc. you can burn up to 300 calories.  But you have to get your heart rate up high enough to make you sweat.

Hmmm, if you do the math, to burn 500 calories you have to do about 1 hour of cardio and to burn 1,000 calories you have to do 2 hours of cardio!!!!!!! Yikes! But remember,  you can't just keep cutting calories out of your diet either or you'll sabotage your efforts. So make your cardio time count!  Don't waste the time by kinda working and push yourself.

 By the way, men burn more calories faster than women, so you guys are lucky, you are probably burning more than what I stated above.  But it does depend on your level of effort.

Man, who has enough time in the day to dedicate THAT much time to cardio!!!???? Yeah, no one, but that is why staying on target and not fooling ourselves into thinking we're being good is sooo important.

So, Plan the Work & Work the Plan!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Food Tip

FOOD TIP:  If you eat at Subway, their low cal menu is great as long as you don't add cheese or mayo!  Also, just because a foot-long is only $5, if its too much for your calorie intake for one meal, don't eat it! Buy a 3 -6 inch (depending on our calorie needs) or buy the foot long and eat 1/2!  Save the other 1/2 for another meal.  Also, skip the chips, cheesy or white bread and soda.  Stick with water and eat a baggie of cut up veggies as your "chips".


Monday, January 11, 2010

Day One!

Just a few reminders:  start your food journal, start your daily cardio workouts (at LEAST) 30 minutes and think clean eating!  Also, drink at least 8-8 oz. glasses of water each day.  Water will help your kidneys function better, get rid of stored up toxins and help metabolize food better which promotes.....WEIGHT LOSS!  So ditch the diet drinks, sport drinks, etc. and drink water.

Also, when reading the posts, make sure you read everyone's comments.  Gil's daughter, Corinne posted an easy breakfast recipe.  I tried it today and its delish!  She also gave the nutrition facts so you don't have to figure it all out!  Check out the new website link too, great recipes that are low cal, low fat, balanced and EASY!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Start Getting Fit Today!


If you haven't started journaling your food, you should start.   The hardest part is STARTING!  I know it sounds daunting, but it really isn't.  We all have habits, good & bad,  and the only way to create habits is through repetition.  The journal will become part of your daily routine as long as you start and make yourself stick to it.  Same with exercise, we can make it a habit, but it takes time and effort!  I've read it takes 21 to 40 days or times (not sure which is accurate) of doing something to make it a habit.

Also, to be successful, you have to have a plan.  If you haven't set goals yet, take a minute and at least set some goals for this first week.  My first goal last week was to clean out my fridge and pantry and get rid of junk I love, also known as "trigger foods".  Foods that I can't resist, can't control the amount that I consume once I start to eat it and foods that lead me to other bad habits.  My second goal was to get prepared for good, clean eating.  I went to the store and stocked up on fruits, veggies, chicken, fish and turkey.  I washed, cut, prepped and cooked for the week.  By the end of the week, I felt better and had more energy!

So, get ready, get set & go!!!!  Good luck and may the best fitness mind-body commitment win!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Eating Breakfast & using Protein Powder

Yay!  We are on our way to being leaner, toner, healthier and hopefully HAPPIER people!!  Thank all of you for committing to the challenge, but more important, for committing to yourself!  I've gotten lots of great questions from you and I will be answering them here on the blog so you all get the information.  Please leave comments and other questions on the blog so we can all learn and grow.

I noticed when accessing my food and activity journal, the public can't review my personal journal entries, so at the end of my postings, I'm going to add them.  They will probably make each posting a little long, but I'll put a heading where they start so you don't have to read them if you don't want to.

Answers to your questions:  What should I eat for breakfast?
Answer:  There are lots of things to eat!  I eat quick and easy stuff because I'm running out the door to the gym, so I'll give you some quick foods and some cooked foods.  Oatmeal (not flavored packets) is great.  I buy Old Fashioned, scoop 1/3 to 1/2 c into a bowl, add water and nuke for 1 minute.  I add protein powder (vanilla) and lots of ground cinnamon.  Sometimes I add dried or fresh blueberries, cranberries or raisins.  I also eat a fat with it so either add lite, plain soy milk (or 2% milk), or eat a serving of almonds.  The protein sweetens the oatmeal enough for me that I don't have to add more sweetener.  If I don't mix it w/protein, I'll add 1 Splenda.

Another great fast breakfast is Fiber One cereal.  The Original is the best for us, but tastes like sticks :( .  So I eat Fiber One Honey Cluster cereal w/Soy (it tastes great!).  It has 51% of my daily fiber needs, its slightly sweet but doesn't have a lot of sugar and fills me up.  The biggest bonus is I get a whole cup!  Most cereal portions are less than a cup.  If you don't like Soy milk, 2% milk would be great for the fat content.  You can also add blueberries (sm. handful), strawberries(3-5), or 1/2 a banana.  I'd stick to berries over bananas though, but once in awhile thats okay.  You should also try Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 cereals.  Their bread is not my favorite, but the Sprouted Flax cereal is good hot or cold, sprinkled on yogurt or eaten dry with blueberries.  It also has more protein than most cereals and is high in fiber!

When I want hot food I make EggBeaters.  I've tried lots of egg substitutes and EggBeaters tastes like real egg.  I'll cook 3/4 to 1 cup of this and its only 30 calories per 1/4 cup as opposed to an egg which is 75 calories for one!  Not to mention the high cholesterol and fat in an egg.  If you don't like EggBeaters, eat egg whites (4-6 is a serving) or 1 whole egg mixed with 2-3 egg whites.  Cook with Pam spray (butter flavored is good) and not butter or oil.  I'll eat this with one corn tortilla, a 1/4 cup of beans (no fat, low salt-Safeway brand is the best for canned) and 1-2 tbsp of salsa. Or eat the eggs with a slice of whole grain toast with sugar-free jam.  www.HungryGirl.com also has great quick egg recipes, check them out!

What is protein powder and what do I buy?
Answer for what to buy:  First & foremost buy what tastes good.  If it tastes bad, you won't use it.  I use Protozyme vanilla and chocolate.  It tastes great!  But I cannot get it anymore so I will soon be on the hunt for a new powder.   My best recommendation is to go to Henry's or a nutrition store and ask what tastes good.  I prefer soy or egg based protein, whey is hard to digest unless its processed well (Protozyme is whey based).  Also, look for a protein powder without sugar or carbs.  If it says "Meal Replacement" its actually a MEAL, not just protein.  Meal replacements are fine, but many are high in fat and sugar and lots of other junk.

Answer for what is protein powder:  Protein powder is a food supplement that helps you meet your protein intake requirement for the day.  If you write down what you eat, 9 out of 10 times you aren't getting enough protein.  Protein builds muscle and helps metabolize sugars & fats in your body.  Protein also helps (along with fiber) you feel full.  It also has a lot of amino acids and vitamins we need.  I like it because its quick, easy, tasty and helps me not crash or get jittery.  I use chocolate to make smoothies with just water and ice or a little bit of milk and I use vanilla in my cereal, oatmeal and fruit smoothies.

Hope this helps!!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Here is food journal help!

I thought I'd look for an on-line food journal, and after trying a few, I think FitDay is the easiest.  I still think keeping a written journal is more convenient, but what I like about the FitDay journal is it lets you set goals, keep a "thoughts journal", add body measurements and helps you track the percentages of protein, fat, carbs, etc. you are consuming.

I've made my journal public, just click on the link "Alexis' Food & Activity Journal" and it will take you to MY journal and you can start your own.  Don't worry, you don't have to make it public, but if you want me to check it, add me as your friend and I'll be able to look at it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome

Welcome to the "Get Focused, Get Fit" Blog.  I hope this becomes a useful tool to help you reach your fitness goals.  Please make comments on the Blog content as well as add any suggestions regarding resources you've found to be helpful.  Also, please use this blog to vent, brag or critique!  Don't get frustrated and don't hold your frustration in, if we all share, we will be successful together!
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