Archive for: weight loss

Tame the Flame

poisonivy

Today is one of those glorious days that every Mainer pines for after a very brutal winter.  Azure blue sky, a light breeze and balmy temps make it easier to forget frigid wind chills and frosty windows.  Of course, you can’t have warm days without a few pesky annoyances like biting bugs, blankets of pollen and an occasional skirmish with other nasty irritants.  While my healthy lifestyle has slain my seasonal allergies, I still seem to battle with poison ivy and oak.  After a weekend of gardening, mowing and brush hauling, a nice itchy rash has developed on my calf.  Maddening to say the least as it has been inching its way up my leg despite my best efforts to keep it at bay.  While I apply the calamine lotion, it reminds me of how our bodies adapt and overcome all sorts of inflammation. 

Grillin’ and Chillin’

burgers

This weekend we Mainers were able to enjoy a glimpse of summer with warm temps leading to lots of outdoor time.  A long awaited change as it was less than a month ago that our last patch of snow melted off the front lawn.  It’s also a time when I get to shut down the kitchen and swap indoor cooking for outdoor grilling.  My husband, Mark, takes command of our meals for the better part of the summer.  From beefy burgers to savory shish kabobs, there’s something about cooking outdoors that just makes everything taste better.  And, no, it’s not because he’s a better cook than I am — at least not that I will ever admit!  While the array of cuisine that can be concocted from al fresco cooking ranges runs the gambit, the core of most grilling centers around meat, pork, poultry or fish.  Maybe for good reason. 

Butter Me Up!

butter

Growing up in the “Dairy State” of Wisconsin, cows reign supreme and dairy products are mandatory staples: a fact I had forgotten when I left home and began my professional career.  The memories came flooding back, however, when I attended one of my dad’s Rotary meetings.  Here sat 40+ local business, academic and government leaders appropriately dressed in suits and ties.  It seemed like a typical business luncheon until the waitstaff brought out beverage trays loaded with tall glasses of whole milk and bowls stacked with creamy pads of butter.  Each leader studiously drank his or her glass and generously slathered butter onto warm rolls without a bit of concern over the inevitable milk mustaches and extra calories.  That experience got me thinking about how we often give up things in our lives that may be pretty good for us after all.  

Clean Plate Club

science-picky-eaters-vi

When I was a child, I was a very finicky eater.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table staring at an uneaten sandwich and a bowl of chicken soup for what seemed like an eternity.  My siblings had long since cleaned their plates and were outside playing while I felt imprisoned by slimy noodles and sandwich meat.  I pleaded with my mother that I was full and showed evidence of my compliance by the empty glass of milk on the table.  Later, she caught onto my little ploy by keeping the milk out of reach until my meal was consumed to her satisfaction.  Even as adults, we all have foods we choose to avoid for one reason or another — even those foods that are really good for our health.  Maybe it’s time to rethink your “no” list.

Unstoppable

Brian Stoltz and Mario Cicconetti

Have you ever gotten yourself into a really good habit?  A habit or a routine that was so good, it made you feel unstoppable — like nothing and no one could get in your way?  Maybe you crushed basic training, aced your college finals, completed a marathon, or landed a huge account at work.  You felt driven, focused, determined and king kong!  Then, for whatever reason, you slipped, lost all of your gains and went back to old, destructive habits.  Isn’t it funny how we quickly we forget our potential?  Maybe it’s time to recalibrate, reload and refresh your efforts to achieve your goals.  An easy place to start is with a simple secret weapon especially if you are ready to stay on track with your weight loss goals!

The Power of Focus

patriots

While I’ve never considered myself a fanatical football fan, I did grow up in Wisconsin where every Sunday a mandatory migration occurs away from weekend chores to sanctum sanctorum itself…Lambeau Field.  Since my Packers collapsed during the playoffs (ugh!), I was pleased to find my second string team ready for the task.  It was especially gratifying watching a rookie’s determination to intercept a pass in the last 26 seconds of the game securing the Patriot’s Superbowl victory.  In his post-​​game interview,  Malcolm Butler said the play was all about focus and preparation.  While you may not find yourself in the middle of a clutch play of that magnitude, focus and preparation can get you to your goals faster that you may think.

Beat the Blahs

boxing

Typically, I am an early morning workout advocate.  I love getting outside, pumping fresh air through my lungs and starting the day like Rocky training to take on Apollo Creed, minus the raw egg cocktail, of course.  Lately, as the temperatures seem determined to linger well below zero, my mornings are a bit less inspiring as I’m more inclined to curl up on the couch with a warm cup of tea.  Hardly a rousing way to start the day, I’ll admit.  The good news is that I rally quickly and make it a priority to get a good workout in even if it is indoors on the treadmill next to the wood stove!  Often, winter takes its toll on our fitness intentions and there may be a very good reason for it.

Put on your Skinny Genes

jeans

We have a new family who just moved in next door.  They are from California so our harsh Maine winter is beginning to take it’s toll.  Fortunately, they love to entertain and to cook.  Those traits gain them big points in our neighborhood.  Unfortunately, the daughters are half Greek and make a decadent baklava.  Needless to say, I’m spending the better part of the New Year on the treadmill!  Actually, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions and fad diets or exercise programs that are unsustainable for most folks by February.  It may sound bland, but consistent exercise and a balanced diet are always the best long term approach to good health and weight maintenance.  There may be other factors in play, however, that may help you revamp your resolutions once and for all.

NikkiFitness Two-​​Week Resolution Kick-​​start Plan!

  • January 2, 2015
  • Military Workouts
  • Comments Off on NikkiFitness Two-​​Week Resolution Kick-​​start Plan!
Slimnastics

It’s here. 2015. To make sure you can accomplish your strength, cardio, toning and weight loss goals (not to mention those awesome, feel-​​good endorphins), follow my plan.

Visions of Sugar Plums

Christmassleigh

It is a Christmas Eve tradition for my nephew, Lorenzo, to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, so every time I think about that captivating poem, memories of the past five Christmases we’ve spent together fill my heart.  From sledding down a mountainside to ice skating on a crystal clear lake to getting stuck in an assortment of ice, snow and sleet storms, all of our Christmas adventures have one thing in common — precious time spent together.  This year, we’ll have to rely on technology (as so many families, especially our military do) to bring us together.  So, I appreciate your indulgence in sharing this Christmas message along with a few fun tips to help you enjoy some holiday cheer wherever you are this year. 

Sleepin’ Like Santa

Santa2014

While the rest of the world may rationalize away this season as a homogenized, hectic and hassle-​​filled holiday, I, on the other hand, confess my allegiance as an unapologetic, unabashed, unrelenting fan of Santa Claus.  That’s right, I love that rosy cheeked big boy with all the toys…which may explain my obsession with all things Christmas, especially the perpetual parade of holiday movies that re-​​rack every December.  From the quintessential struggle of a family man finding purpose in “It’s a Wonderful Life” to a reluctant father whose fate intersects with misfortune in “The Santa Clause,” I’m certain I can recite every line by heart.  What’s interesting about both of these men is that they find themselves at the end of their tether and something magical happens that changes their lives and the lives of the people they love forever.  The good news is that your change of fortune may be easier to attain than you believe.  

How to Power Down

man_sleeping

I come from a long line of bargain hunters and deal-​​makers which is why I’m not getting much sleep this time of year as I scour the internet for the end-​​of-​​the-​​year bargains like I did last night.  It seems that beyond the traditional black friday bargains, stores are constantly enticing us all with deep discounts and slashed prices on items that we previously never needed but now can’t afford not to buy!  While this logic makes perfect sense to self-​​confessed shopaholics like myself, it also has some unintended consequences beyond a ballooning credit card bill.  A season overloaded with Christmas gift shopping lists, catalog-​​stuffed mailboxes, holiday party crammed schedules, and the crush of crowds traveling this time of year, long days inevitably lead to short, sleepless nights.  If you’re having trouble catching your ZZZ’s, check out these five simple tips to power down before you have to gear up again.

Beyond the Bird

wildTurkeysCrabOrchard

With the Thanksgiving holiday upcoming, chances are you’ve got a lot on your plate to do, that is, before you have a lot on your plate to eat!  For most, Thanksgiving is a great time to get together with family and friends, eat too much, and move too little.  While I don’t begrudge your well-​​deserved R&R, taking too much time off from your workout regimen and healthy eating habits can take its toll.  Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to stick with your program, keep inflammation at bay, and reduce injury.

Strong Defense, Part II

(Ohio National Guard photo by Cpl. Daniel Eddy)

Like most football fans around the country, I took some time out of a busy weekend to catch some college and professional football games.  Since I married a Buckeye, please forgive the indulgence when I brag on his favorite team for a moment.  On Saturday night, the Buckeyes dominated one of their top rivals, Michigan State.  Now, the biggest challenge here is that Mark’s parents and brother are Michigan State alumnus.  Fortunately, the family enjoys healthy competition and,win or lose, everyone appreciates a good competition.  The Buckeyes knew their opponent well and despite a more seasoned challenger, this young and agile football team stuck with their game plan and executed it nearly flawlessly.  This season, it’s good to know your opponents well and have a strong plan to keep you and your immune system in the game.

Strong Defense

flag-yellow

Over the weekend, we experienced our first snow of the season — yikes!  While the harsh weather stripped most of the remaining leaves from our trees, we have a pear tree outside of our front windows which remains in defiance of the looming winter weather.  Despite the storms, its leaves have yet to turn and all of its fruit remains on the branches.  That proved to be a sleep wrecker last night as the blustery winds caused it to sway against the bedroom window knocking us awake at unfortunate regular intervals.  This morning it got a much-​​needed trim and hopefully a gentle nudge that it’s time to hunker down.  Like nature, we all can get a little out of sync when the seasons change especially when we’re not prepared.  Here are three simple ways to put up your best defenses against winter and beyond. 

How to Score in Every Sport

royalskauffmanstadium-lg

Autumn does more than usher in a change in season, for sports enthusiasts it’s the best time of year to catch grid-​​iron action one day and the crack of the bat the next — all the while the swoosh of the net rivals the slap of the puck for your attention.  No matter your sport, staying in optimal condition before, during, and after the game is always a winning formula. Check out what some professional athletes are doing this season to get back in the game.

How to Crush an Epidemic

Taking-off-apronREV

Even though Maine has a short summer, it makes up for it in a spectacular color show when the leaves change.  It’s a double edged sword, however, as leaf raking too quickly turns to snow shoveling.  Most of us experience the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall (Autumn).  Defined seasons aren’t arbitrary either as they are driven by our earth’s rotation.  Or so you’d think.  Our society has created a slew of other “seasons” like allergy, cold & flu seasons.  This fall has ushered in even more buzz words like outbreak, contagion, and virus creating what feels like “fear season.”  So, I say it’s time to turn the calendar and crush epidemics with a new weapon that may just surprise you.

Gut Check

Gut Check Obstacle Course

Have you ever heard that expression, “I had a gut feeling”?  Maybe you’re about to make an important decision and you stop to do a “gut check.”   For those of you in combat situations or as first-​​responders, you may find yourselves going with your “gut instincts”.   The phrase “gut check” is even defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “an evaluation or test of a person’s resolve, commitment, or priorities.”  Merriam-​​Webster calls it “a test of courage, character, or determination.”  It’s no accident that our gut seems to have the ability to guide us through challenging situations.  You may be surprised at just how important your gut is to your physical stamina, mental sharpness and emotional health.  

Sports Nutrition — A Game Changer

  • August 28, 2014
  • Diet & Nutrition
  • Comments Off on Sports Nutrition — A Game Changer
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)

As summer winds down, I’m noticing an interesting trend that has developed over the past few months — my pension for all things water-​​related.  From swimming to kayaking to paddle boarding, I’ve been on a mission to stay on or in the water as much as possible.  I now officially have the SUP (stand up paddle board) addiction!  Put me on the water with a paddle in my hand and I’m content for hours.  If you haven’t checked it out, SUP-​​ing is an awesome full body workout engaging your core for balance, increasing flexibility, upper & lower body strength and decreasing stress…seriously, is there anything more calming than dipping your paddle into a clear, tranquil lake or the invigorating rush of catching the surf?  My newly discovered passion has made me even more aware of how to tweak my nutrition to keep me on the water as long as possible this year. 

Crushing Cortisol

smile

Last weekend I returned to my parent’s home for a reunion with my mom’s family.  We spent our days relaxing by the lake, talking up a storm and laughing until our sides were about to split!  It took a couple of years for my mom to pull off this reunion as everyone’s schedules and circumstances were decidedly chaotic and stressful.  I’m sure my family will agree that it was one of the most fun times we’ve had together in a long while. In fact, any stress we may have carried into the weekend was quickly diminished.  When I left on Monday, everyone looked relaxed and happy.  It made me realize that stress can take its toll on all of us and yet there are simple ways we can all crush it.