Eggplant Chips

Eggplant is not high on my list of foods I should make sure to eat, However these were delicious! Plus after we ate the first batch the second took about 10 minutes. Quick, healthy, and easy. What’s not to love.

From the kitchen of my friend Claudia …

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • Salt &pepper 

You can also add other spices – chili powder, turmeric, etc. 

The Cooking Part …

Cut the eggplant into small thin pieces. Coat in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or so. I also like to broil instead of bake to get the crunchy option. However, make sure you pay attention. Broiling on high makes it really easy to burn them very quickly. 

Double Up – Weekend Warrior Workout

A little bit of cardio, a little bit of strength. Get your workout on this weekend. Improve your mood, self confidence, sex life, and get more done on your to do list … all by taking care of you.

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

Warm Up Moves

  • 10 Sweepers
  • 10 Imaginary baseball bat swings – alternate sides and pay attention to rotation
  • 10 High Kicks each leg- alternate legs, keep back tall, and core tight
  • Runners lunge to front and to each side. Hold 3-5 sec each leg & position

Cardio Set

Do 2 sets of the exercises below for 30 seconds each movement

  • Power Burpees
  • Plank Clocks to each side
  • Rocket Girls
  • Side Plank Drops
  • Lateral Squat Shuffle
  • 1-leg 4 square hops

Strength Set

Do 2 sets of the exercises below for 10 repetitions each

  • Medicine Ball Squats with contra lateral over the should lifts (med ball or dumb bell will work)
  • Single leg lunge kick through – right leg
  • Frog jumps
  • Single leg lunge kick through – left leg
  • Table top lift with side plank rotation

Repeat both exercise blocks above 2 times each and stretch. Enjoy the feeling of finishing your workout today!

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!

Walk Yourself Strong

When your body feels tired and overwhelmed, do not skip your workout … just shift your intensity. Try a walking workout with a strength set for a full body workout while controlling your intensity levels.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.


Get to Walking …

This weekend’s workout is about getting a full body workout while walking. For this workout you can use items you can use body weight or you can use anything might find on the trail (like rocks and heavy branches), in the park (jungle gyms are great), or carry some rubber tubing with you. I have included some youtube videos using the rubber tubing. If you are inside – like in the mall – you can use your body to wrap the tubing behind for the low row and bend at the hip and step on it for the reverse flys if you cannot find solid structures or doors to hook it to. For the pushups you can you use any height, just make sure the structure or item you pick to work off is stable.

Begin by walking at a fast pace. After 2 min add the 1st strength interval in. Complete 10 repetitions of each exercise and then continue walking for 2min. Add the intervals in between walking sets until you finish the strength items. You can finish the walk or do a 2nd round.

Kbands Training

Strength Sets

  • Walking Lunges (alternate)
  • Push Ups (if not able to do them on the floor, do them on a wall)
  • Squats (knees over your ankles and behind your toes to keep your knees safe)
  • Reverse Flys
  • Backward Lunges (alternate)
  • Chest Flys
  • Signal Leg Squats (10 each side)
  • Low Row

Using Rubber Tubing …

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!

Cream Cheese, Cucumber, and Pepper Snacks

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

Get as much of each as you want to eat

  • Crisp Cucumbers
  • Cream Cheese
  • Bell Peppers
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper

The Cooking Part …

  • Slice the cucumbers
  • Slice the bell peppers
  • Spread a little cream cheese on each cucumber slice
  • Top with a pepper or two
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Eat and enjoy!

The Home Gym: Full Body Strength & Cardio Fun

When it comes to working out the thing that matters is – You Do It. Here’s a workout you can do at home, at the gym, or in the park.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

Warm Up Moves – 10 of each

  • Forward Arm Circles
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Elbows up and back with core rotation – like the self defense move
  • Backward Arms Circles
  • Air Squats with diagonal frontal arm raise
  • Super Slow Center Wood Chops

Cardio set 1 – 1 minute all out

  • Treadmill – 70-80% THR (not sure how to find your target heart rate? Read Here)

Full body Set 1 – 1 min each movement

  • Diagonal Lunge Back – Alternate legs
  • Side Lunge – Alternate sides
  • Diagonal Lunge Front – Alternate legs
  • Lat Pull Downs with Rubber Tubing – (need some tubing? Try KBands)
  • Butt Drops with push up in between – Think push up, flip to supine, drop butt, flip back prone and push up, lots of rotation with this one, keep your core tight and form good.

Free Athlete and Fitness Training

Cardio Set 2 – 1 min all out

  • Bike (spinner if you have access) – 75-85% THR

Full Body Set 2 – 2 sets / 10 reps each movement. Move all the way through set before repeating.

  • Med Ball Squat with Contra lateral over the shoulder lift
  • Single Leg Lunge with right leg kick through
  • Frog Jumps
  • Single Leg Lunge with left leg kick through

Cardio set 3 – 1 min all out

Cross Trainer – 70-80% THR

Core Set – 3 sets / 10 repetitions. Do full set then rest & repeat

  • Plank Set:
    • Alternating Knee Outside Elbow
    • Alternating Knee to Center
  • Alternating Table Top Lifts with side plank rotation
  • Plank Single Toe Rolls

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!

Body Weight and Machine Cardio Blast

Ready to hit the gym and need to let go of some steam? This workout will blast through any stress you have hanging around. You’ll leave feeling strong, powerful, and ready to take on the world.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

Workout Warm Up Movements – Do 10 to each side

  • Arm Circles
  • Elbows Jabs (up and back) with core rotations – pay attention to pulling the bellybutton toward the spine and allowing movement through the torso without straining the spine.
  • Diagonal Front Arm Raise with Unweighted Squat – knees over ankles & butt back, like you are using a porta-potty at a music festival and determined not to touch any surfaces or soil yourself 🙂

Body Weight Set 1 – repeat the list 3 times for 30 seconds each movement

  • 180 Jump Squats
  • Froward / Backward Jumps
  • Leg Overs
  • Lateral Walking Pushups

Machine Set 1 – 1 minute as fast as you can

Treadmill Hill Climb – set incline at level high enough to maintain your target heart rate at 60-70%

Body Weight Set 2 – Repeat the list 3 times for 30 seconds each movement

  • Power Burpees
  • Plank Clocks to each side
  • Jumping Lunges
  • Side Plank Drops
  • Lateral Shuffle
  • 1 Leg 4 Square Hops

Machine Set 2 – 1 minute as fast as you can

Cross Trainer / Elliptical – Set level to maintain 60-70% target heart rate

Body Weight Set 3 – Repeat the list 3 times for 30 seconds each movement

  • Oblique Crunch Right Side
  • Center Sit Ups
  • Oblique Crunch Left Side
  • Boat Pose 30 Second Hold
  • Quadruped Knee to Opposite Elbow – Alternate sides

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!


Quantify All Your Movement Using Metabolic Equivalents (METs)

Want to know an easy way to count all your movement? Try using METs. These are metabolic equivalents and they help you determine how hard you are working when you do movement.

A MET is an absolute value used by exercise physiologists to help us understand how much work is being expended by any given activity based on how much oxygen you are using to complete the activity.

The measurement is based on your weight. Once you have determined your personal value based on your weight and oxygen needs, you can then determine all sorts of caloric values for a number of activities. This helps you count all the household chores, shopping, activity at work, play, and daily living activities you do everyday toward your exercise goals.

You can find the caloric burn of things like sleeping (.9 METs) or working at my desk (1.8 METs) to things like vigorous exercise and high intensity workouts.

When we think about moving for mental health and brain function lots of things count. It does not have to include an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment. It is a simple as standing up and sitting back down 10 x right now or marching in place while swinging your arms, ok that one may be a little hard, but not expensive! It really is just the mindset that I have to move everyday. Movement IS medicine.

As you exercise you help build the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the part of our brains active in memory formation. During periods of high stress the hippocampus is damaged by glucocorticoids (stress chemicals in the body) and as a result does not function as well. Research shows that those with mental health disorders related to emotional dysregulation may be operating with a smaller hippocampus. Physical exercise has the benefit of increasing brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Increasing BDNF is a factor in neuroplasticity and helps build the hippocampus, thus increasing your ability to regulate your emotions, focus, and remember. Not so bad for something so free, huh?

Movement for mental health doesn’t have to be hard … it just has to be done.

Resources

Want a quick and easy way to see how hard you are working? Check out the Compendium of Physical Activities

Want more info on METs? National Public Radio just did a story on using METs to reach your fitness goals: Read the NPR story here.

Interesting in calculating your own activities? Check out this calculator to help you determine your calories burned: MET Calculator

Read past blog posts on METs and using them for cardiovascular exercise. 

Free Athletic Training

Get Moving: The links between physical exercise and psychological states

Ever wonder why it is so hard to exercise when you are feeling stressed? When you are feeling depressed? After experiencing a trauma? My research showed that when the nervous system is overwhelmed it is harder to workout, but that just exposing yourself to more exercise helps you get over the initial barriers you are experiencing.

This week, in the last of the series on self regulation, we are going to talk about exercise and movement. For many exercise is something extra they must do every day, but in reality movement is part of what regulates your body throughout the day. 

It starts with breathing. As you breathe you regulate your sympathetic and para sympathetic parts of your nervous system. You do this through what is known as heart rate variability. Many of us who work in the exercise and health care fields use this number to understand how healthy your cardiovascular system is, however in my world of somatic psychology I can also use it to program movement to help you change your psychological states. This manipulation of your physical system allows for another option to change how you feel without the same level of concentration changing your thoughts may take. 

Mind & Body as One

Lots of people talk about the mind – body connection and how important is is to your health. To me there is no separation. If we want to know if you are stressed we would look at your cortisol levels in your saliva, depressed check out your blood serotonin levels, how well you are absorbing the nutrients you need to make the neurotransmitters to feel content, pleasure, calm, and control your impulses (physical and thought based) we could examine your feces. 

The body and mind do not have a connection point. They are one thing. The mind just has the ability to abstractly consider your experiences and decide what you would like them to mean. This ability gives the impression that the body is separate from the mind, but the mind has nothing to make meaning of if it does not have the body experiences to decipher. Understanding this oneness helps make more sense of our need for movement to regulate our emotions. 

My Research Findings

When I was doing my doctoral research, it was hard to find the bridges to understanding how our physical health intersects our mental health. There were studies with some longevity looking at how aerobic exercise helped depression, anxiety, bi-polar, and even schizophrenia. We could see how exercise impacted stress levels and anecdotally I heard many stories of people who were helped by regular exercise. However, so many people struggle to work out it was hard to understand how psychological struggle was associated with lack of exercise when we know how helpful it is. Turns out there is correlation between how physically stressed your system is and how hard it is for you to exercise. In my research I found that those who struggled with panic disorder (that feeling like you are having a heart attack, going to die, cannot breathe, and are so scared that you cannot think. Sometimes even feel as though you are losing your mind) is the hardest disorder to get enough physical exercise to meet your needs. Problem is, physical exercise is what helps metabolize the chemicals out of your system and decrease your feelings of panic and stress. As the cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones rise in the system, they feed the symptoms creating a self fulfilling cycle of increasing stress levels. Thus making it harder and harder for the person to physically exercise.

Anxiety and Stress

For the person without panic, but with anxiety and stress overload, struggling to exercise is often linked in a similar fashion just not at the same level. It is hard to motivate and get out the door when your physical system is already so tired and feeling overwhelmed. People will describe feeling heavy, lethargic, slow thinking, or in contrast “tired but wired”. As a result exercise seems too hard and it is much easier to grab a substance to unwind or sit and watch TV. 

Depression

Depression is similar but different. In a depressed system every thing feels hard to manage and the body is very fatigued. It is a similar stress on the physical system, but depressed, a different manifestation of difficulties. When feeling depressed we often struggle to see the point of doing anything. People describe feeling heavy, lethargic, overwhelmed, increased sensitivity to pain, and inability to take care of basic living tasks. These make getting on the treadmill pretty darn hard. 

Kbands

How to Help Yourself Start Exercising

One thing interesting from my research was the fact that the more substance use disorder diagnoses someone had the more likely they were to exercise and the less likely they were to buy into barrier beliefs to accomplishing the tasks of working out. What they told me was, they had to move – they’d lost their license and had to ride bikes, walk, and “there isn’t much to do in jail”. As a result they were exposed to movement regularly and therefore saw and felt the benefits and kept the habit going while they could. As a result of their insight it became apparent that exposure was important to helping others begin the process of working out regularly. Enter movement specifically designed to help mental health diagnosed disorders – depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobia, bi-polar, ADHD. I routinely prescribe physical movement along side traditional therapy interventions because the research is pretty clear, exercise helps. It teaches us a lot about ourselves. 

The research links between physical movement and mental health is growing. There is more and more research coming out everyday looking at how the physical system changes as a result of our thinking and how our thinking is changed by our movements. 

So today, just move. Take a moment, get out of your chair or bed and walk around. As you move the body notice what movements might feel good. Based on your current mental state do you want to move slow or fast? Do you want to be close to the ground or jumping? Do you want to be “quiet” in your moments or “loud”? Move slow or explosive?

Use your inner awareness of your current mental health state to determine what movement would be best for you right now … Now go do that.

Metabolic Core

Ready to get your ab workout on. This one will exhaust your core and leave you feeling strong – ready for any challenges you might face.

Workout Basics and Warm Up

To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.

This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.

Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.

Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work.

When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.

If you are unclear about a movement, look it up. There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.

Metabolic Core

Do 2 sets of 15 reps for each exercise below. I have included video clips of each since the names alone can be confusing.

  • Egg Rolls
  • Ninja Get Up
  • Side Lying V Up
  • Prone Knee to Elbow (Wide)
  • Forward / Backward Crawl
  • Suicide Press Ups
  • Plank Toe Rolls – 1 set of 15 each
    • Double Legs – 15 total
    • Single Legs – 15 for each leg

Finish Strong

YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.

Words of Caution …

Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.

As always have a fun living in your body today!