Keen on Quinoa

imageMarch is National Nutrition Month so I’d like to turn the spotlight on one of the world’s most powerful foods. If you haven’t heard of this super food yet get ready to indulge in a perfect plant protein loaded with phytonutrients. Quinoa pronounced ‘keen-wah’ is the grain-like seed of the goosefoot plant native to South America. Amazingly, quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids making it a complete protein that supports the growth and repair of our body tissues. Therefore this super food is optimal for healthy hair, skin, nails and muscles. Each serving is packed with 9 grams of protein per cup making quinoa a great protein choice for fitness fanatics, like myself, and those who enjoy the vegetarian lifestyle. In addition to protein, this super seed is a terrific carbohydrate source loaded with insoluble fiber which aids the body in the elimination process and helps control hunger. People who suffer from celiac disease need not fear because quinoa is gluten-free and easy to digest. The magnesium found in quinoa relaxes blood vessels which wards off high blood pressure and heart disease as well as diabetes. As if you needed any more reasons to make friends with quinoa, it’s chock full of vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and copper – just to name a few. So stop being intimidated by this tiny, nutty grain-like seed and add some well-rinsed quinoa to water, simmer and in less than 15 minutes you will be enjoying an antioxidant-rich food touted by the ancient Incas as “the mother of all grains.” *Enjoy*

Artichoke & Parsley Quinoa Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 (9-oz) package frozen artichoke hearts-thawed
1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and thyme; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add artichokes and sauté about 2 minutes. Add broth and quinoa then bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 18 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed.
2. Remove pan from heat and stir in parsley, lemon rind, lemon juice and salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Your Best Booty Workout

Ok ladies, let’s be honest…when it comes to our bodies the booty is a major concern. More and more women are turning to plastic surgeons for implants and injections in their backsides….OUCH! Yet the look most women are aiming for is not Kim K. You don’t eat junk so why would you want any in your trunk? What I believe we all long for is a firm, curvy, perky booty that is dimple free. Now I do know a few genetically blessed women who rock the perfect derrière all day, every day and they haven’t hit the gym since 5th grade dodgeball class. I myself did not receive that blessing and have had to work hard to sculpt and maintain my glutes. My personal training clients range in age and shape yet the two most common issues I hear are “my bottom is too flat or too fat.” What many people don’t realize is that they are literally sitting on a mass of potentially substantial muscle. Achieving that tight, toned bottom is absolutely possible for every woman with good old-fashioned hard work. In an effort to better understand the process for attaining your best booty let’s start with a brief anatomy lesson. Our backsides contain three primary muscles: gluteus maximas, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Glute max is the largest of the three as well as the largest muscle in the entire body, but it will only develop that way with precise exercise techniques.  As I said, you won’t achieve your dream booty by sitting on it so get started with these killer exercises: Squats, lunges, deadlifts, leg press, cable kickbacks, step ups, floor bridge and donkey kicks.  In addition, perform strength training moves that develop the entire posterior chain which includes the lower back down to the ankles.  Using proper form and performing the correct number of sets and reps while using the appropriate weight is crucial to your booty-building success. Email Me Today to sign up for my 30 minute beautiful booty workout.  And if all else fails, buy yourself a nice pair of flap back pocket jeans, crank up some Destiny’s Child Bootylicious and shake what your momma gave ya!

Fridays = intense glutes and ham training Get it g

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Feeling Sore? Blame DOMS!


Personally, I love the feeling of muscle soreness I experience the day after a heavy training session. It lets me know that I targeted those muscles precisely and challenged them to grow. When we engage in an exercise with increased duration and/or intensity or when we employ new movements that are unfamiliar to our bodies, DOMS sets in. DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and its symptoms include muscle discomfort, fatigue and decreased flexibility which occurs between 24-72 hours following an intense workout. DOMS is caused, specifically, by eccentric muscle actions. An eccentric contraction occurs when the muscle is trying to shorten but is being forced to lengthen. Releasing your forearm back downward following a bicep curl is an example of an eccentric movement. Contrary to popular belief, delayed onset muscle soreness is not the result of lactic acid buildup, which subsides within 60 minutes. It is the microtrauma to the muscle created by exercise that causes DOMS and ultimately those microscopic tears make the muscles rebuild even stronger.

To relieve the symptoms of DOMS try RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. In addition, OTC anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen will decrease the swelling and pain. Stretching during your warm-up and cool-down as well as massage are other effective methods in combating the inflammation and discomfort associated with DOMS. Yet, my motto is: if it hurts, it worked. The next time you experience DOMS, smile through the pain because your workout challenged your muscles to transform. Job well done!

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Stop Comparing Yourself and Start Being Yourself


Over the course of a day each one of us is estimated to have 60,000 thoughts. Whether or not those thoughts are positive or negative is completely up to you. Inevitably, some percentage of your thoughts may drift towards worry, insecurity, sadness and so on. In an effort to fulfill our lives we sometimes find ourselves comparing our lives to that of others. Whether your goal relates to fitness, career, relationships or other personal achievements (big or small) it’s likely that you will encounter someone who has already attained that dream for themselves. How they got there and whether or not they will stay there is to be determined. Yet, you find yourself slightly green with envy that another person appears to have exactly what you want. It’s completely normal to have these thoughts, as everyone and I mean EVERYONE does. You may look at someone like Oprah Winfrey and assume she has it all because of her successful career, fame and fortune but believe it or not there may be something you have that she desires – be it a peaceful paparazzi-free life or a lean, toned physique. Understanding and respecting the various attributes and life circumstances that each individual has turns envy into inspiration. The person who “has it all” becomes your friend and role model. You can learn from them and look up to them. Yet, in order to achieve your goals you must quickly shift your focus back to yourself. Focusing your attention within and keeping a positive “can do” mindset will set you on the path to attaining your deepest desires. Every person is on this Earth for a very specific reason and each day we are living the journey to fulfillment. You have the power to control the thoughts within your mind therefore the next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else – STOP. Realize your worth and your true potential. You can achieve much more than you ever dreamed of so start thinking positive, leave your insecurities behind and start being your true, beautiful self – someone special that only YOU can be!


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Rise and Shovel! Your body will thank you.

Those of you who know me well realize that I aim to workout, in some way or another, every single hour of the day. I skip a step every time I am climbing the stairs and my bottom has not touched a toilet seat, including those in my home, since 2010…instant squat and hold! With that being said, I am suiting up for a pre-training workout at my house this morning that is guaranteed to torch calories and strengthen my cardiovascular system. The leisurely days of snow angels and sleigh riding are over. Time to own it at everything you do. Don’t let the blizzard get you down. Bundle up, grab a shovel and you can burn 400 calories in one hour! Of course the amount of calories you burn can vary depending on your weight, how quickly you shovel, the weight of the snow and how long you rest between “sets.” Just remember to bend your knees and keep good form as you would while exercising in the gym. Shoveling is truly a great full body workout that helps you blast fat and strengthen muscles without really thinking about it. Ok, you are definitely thinking about it, so pop that iPod in your pocket and get moving to your favorites jams. Here is my shoveling playlist:

Right Now – Rihanna ft. David Guetta
Suit & Tie – Justin Timberlake ft. Jay Z
Beautiful You Are Remix – Deborah Cox
Lost – Frank Ocean
Stellar Club Mix – Daddy’s Groove
Work – Kelly Rowland
Nobody’s Business – Rihanna ft. Chris Brown
Hot Tottie – Usher ft. Jay Z
The Storm – Tiesto
Fire Burning – Sean Kingston
Cashin Out – Cash Out
Poetic Justice – Kendrick Lamar ft. Drake (great cool down song)

While you’re at it, shovel for your elderly neighbor down the block. Fit life + charity makes the world go ’round.

*Happy Shoveling to all My Fit Friends*

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Beware the Snack Attack

Although I hate to admit it, even as a fitness competitor, there are days when I just can’t seem to stop snacking. It’s as if my stomach is a bottomless pit and I am ruled by an insatiable hunger that just won’t seem to let up. For the most part my overindulgences consist of nuts, dry-roasted edamame and of course my absolute weakness – peanut butter. While it’s better to snack on these types of foods over candy and cake,  let’s face it – too much of a good thing is still too much. The simple scientific rule of weight loss states that in order to lose weight you must create a calorie deficit. Therefore if you consume more calories than you expend, whether those calories come from clean foods or processed foods, your body will store additional fat. And unless you are a bear about to hibernate for the winter I highly doubt you want to store extra fat on your body. So how do we manage these instances of overeating?

For starters, it’s important to recognize that overeating, on occasion, is something that everyone has done during the course of their lives; it doesn’t matter who you are. We are humans that are hard-wired to eat for survival and when we are not eating purely for survival we are eating for a number of other completely normal, human reasons. Understanding why we overeat can help us to overcome the dreaded snack attack and take charge of our health and fitness goals.

Emotional Eating – Oftentimes when we are feeling sad or anxious we turn to food as a way of comforting ourselves. Yet, once the binge has commenced we end up feeling even worse about ourselves for our out of control eating. In addition to feeling blue or stressed we may now feel self-pity and our bodies become sluggish and bloated…not a good time.

“Bored Hungry” – This is a type of emotional eating but rather than negative feelings causing “hunger” its inactivity. The best way to quickly overcome instances of being “bored hungry” – GET BUSY! During your downtime go for a walk, read a book, call a friend or schedule a session with your personal trainer. Whatever you do please stay out of the kitchen.

One must identify whether or not they are eating out of hunger or whether another factor is coming into play. If you are following a stringent fitness and nutrition program, it is likely that you need to refuel. Don’t deprive yourself to the point you need to consume half your cupboard to feel satisfied again. When something triggers a sudden, ravenous hunger, it is likely that you are not hungry at all, you are simply using food for other reasons. Here are some helpful tips and tricks for kicking the snack attack habit:

1. Eat Consciously – sit down while you are eating and make sure it is the only thing you are doing at that moment. Doing so will help you feel more fulfilled.
2. Keep a Food Journal – this is a terrific way to determine when your next meal will be and what your portion should look like.
3. Eat Clean – nutritious foods like vegetables and lean meats contain fiber and protein which make you feel full. On the other hand, processed foods, especially those that are sugar-laden, fuel your appetite and actually make you more hungry.
4. Remove External Cues – watching Food Network is fun but staring at delicious food all day embeds food into your brain, often causing you to crave that delicious pasta dish that Giada just whipped up. Also, stocking your house with endless amounts of food and spending lots of time in the kitchen can definitely lead to overeating.  Take the focus off of food and your snack attacks will diminish.

Finally, even if you follow all the pointers I’ve provided, there is a good chance that you will overindulge in the future, as will I.  And guess what –  IT’S OK.  You are human and sometimes you just want to eat and you should. Enjoy your food and following your splurge don’t beat yourself up, get right back on track and continue living the healthy, fit lifestyle you desire.

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Quitting is not an option when you hire a Personal Trainer

For many people 2013 marked the year that they would take charge of their health by developing a regular fitness and nutrition regimen. Yet as the month of January quickly passes, oftentimes the new years resolutions begin to fade. The excitement of the holidays is gone and we return to our daily grind. With that can come a myriad of excuses that only work to hinder those once promising commitments we’ve made to ourselves. The notion that one does not have the time or energy to address their health and make positive changes in their daily lives is, quite simply, a lame excuse. Like most things in life, optimal health and wellness is not something that comes without effort. One must commit to an active lifestyle while nourishing their body with wholesome foods. When these positive changes are made and implemented diligently, changes in one’s physique, energy levels and mood can be seen. All too often, people do not allow ample opportunity for these transformations to take shape and they become frustrated and discouraged. The idea is to stay focused on your health and wellness goals and soon enough you will see and feel the great benefits of your resolution. Do not allow anything to stand between you and your desires. You can and will make the time to exercise and prepare clean meals. Persistence is key and when you commit to never quit, each years resolution will become a lifetime commitment that you won’t regret.  The road may not be an easy one especially for someone who does not know how to begin a fitness and nutrition routine. Yet no one has to do it alone. Personal trainers and weight loss coaches are trained to assist people in reaching their goals by developing a customized health plan that, when closely adhered to, guarantees successful results. Those who enlist the services of a personal fitness trainer are much more likely to witness strong health transformations as opposed to those who opt to go it on their own. Personal trainers are fitness experts who not only formulate a thorough plan of action but also work to motivate and inspire their clients to achieve their ultimate level of health. When you schedule weekly workout sessions with a personal trainer you are making a solid commitment to implement an exercise plan and it is highly unlikely that you will miss those scheduled sessions. On the other hand, those who decide to casually “hit the gym” after work without a concrete plan will, many times, decide that they are too tired, hungry or busy to workout once 5:00pm rolls around. Personal trainers will not only help you reach your resolution of losing 10, 20 lbs or more, they will train you in a personalized way that enables you to function better in your daily life. As NJ’s premier fitness trainer my ultimate goal each day is to assist clients of all ages in reaching their health goals. For more information about my services or to schedule your free health evaluation, you can reach me directly at 201-370-1710. Remember: quitting is not an option when you hire a personal trainer.

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Tis the season for candy apples and pumpkin carving.  This year’s world record went to Ron Wallace of Rhode Island who grew a massive 2,009 lb. pumpkin for which he was awarded $15,500 at the Topsfield Fair.  For those of you who recently went pumpkin picking, you may be wondering what to do with the contents of your jack-o-lantern masterpiece. Before tossing the gooey, stringy pumpkin seed/pulp mix let’s consider the benefits of enjoying those precious seeds…Pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, healthy fats and my personal favorite nutrient, muscle-building PROTEIN.  Roasted pumpkin seeds make an easy, healthy snack at home or on the go.  Here’s a great recipe for all to enjoy:

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Contents of your pumpkin

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fine Sea Salt Crystals


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 325*.
  2. Add the contents of your pumpkin to a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water to remove all pulp.
  3. Bring 3-4 cups of salted water to a boil and cook seeds for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the seeds in your colander and blot dry with a paper towel.
  5. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet, drizzle lightly with EVOO and sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt.
  6. Gently mix the seeds on the sheet using your hand and spread out into an even, single layer.
  7. Bake the seeds for 12 minutes then remove from the oven and stir to mix, making sure to spread out into an even, single layer before baking again.  Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  8. Add more sea salt if desired and snack away!
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For those of you who are new to the various methods of cardio training, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  There is a great debate as to its benefits or lack thereof yet I can personally attest to the amazing changes I’ve witnessed in my physique and energy levels by regularly partaking in this interval technique.  The concept is quite simple, HIIT involves mixing frequent bouts of high energy cardio with slower, easier activity for recovery.  Researchers have found that people who engage in HIIT burn more calories in less time as compared to those who exercise at a moderate steady pace.  This type of training has been proven to burn fat more efficiently…something we can all use with the holidays fast approaching.  Remember, when you exercise with great intensity your body burns fat both during and after your workout.  In addition, “HIIT it” and your heart will thank you because high-intensity intervals can greatly improve cardiovascular health.  Just be sure to tailor the workout to your fitness level.  Keep in mind that this type of interval training isn’t just for runners; HIIT can be done on a treadmill, track, bike, elliptical or even while jumping rope.  The work interval should be strenuous – whereas you may be able to talk a bit during this period but you certainly cannot sing.  The slower interval should also be challenging while still allowing you to catch your breath and recover.  Your intervals should last anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes.  For optimal results your total HIIT session should fall within the 25 – 45 minute range for beginners.  High intensity training can be strenuous on the body therefore it is best to engage 2-3 times per week allowing yourself a full 48 hours rest in between HIIT sessions.  You can (and should) still workout during this time but do so with lower intensity to avoid overtraining.  The great thing about this interval training method is that it is ever-changing therefore you won’t get bored with your workout and the time spent in the gym or at the track will seem to go much more quickly.  Mix it up with high intensity interval training and have some fun with your cardio sessions!  Here is an example of HIIT on the treadmill for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels:

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Baked Salmon with Yogurt Dill Sauce

Many people have told me that they are reluctant to cook fish at home because they have difficulty creating a seafood dish that is both simple and flavorful.  This recipe is super quick and easy and produces a restaurant-worthy dish that will delight your taste buds.  More importantly, it calls for a minimal amount of all-natural ingredients and is loaded with nutrients to fuel and replenish your body.

As you may know, salmon is a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids which help fight heart disease, assist in proper nervous system and brain function and may protect against certain types of cancer.  Salmon also contains an abundance of easily digestible proteins along with numerous vitamins and minerals which are essential to good health.  If possible, choose wild salmon over farm-raised as it is free of antibiotics and chemicals.

Salmon is a strong, oily fish that is best consumed just once per week due to its high fat content.  For those of you who don’t enjoy the pungent flavor of this fish on its own, my Greek yogurt and fresh dill sauce is the perfect compliment…

Baked Salmon with Yogurt Dill Sauce

4 wild salmon filets

1 cup plain Greek yogurt (preferably 0%)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Rinse the salmon filets in cold water and pat dry.
  2.  In a small bowl combine the yogurt, mustard, dill and parsley then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. With the skin side down, place the salmon filets in a baking dish and top with the yogurt herb mixture.  Spread the sauce evenly over each filet.
  4. Bake at 450 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.  Garnish with dill sprigs and serve immediately.

*Enjoy & Be Well*

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