The Saturday Smoothie – Tips for Better Health Today

fitnessDo you feel like you just might need to lose a few pounds?  That’s ok!  Many of us feel like we’re not as fit as we once were, and we want to help you do something about it!  But what’s the best way to get started?  Sometimes it feels as if it’s tougher to lose the extra flab in your fifty’s than it did a decade ago (is it my metabolism?).  Use these 7 proven strategies for getting back into shape and helping you lean down.

Just Tell Me What Foods I Need to Eat!

There’s so much information out there for what you should eat, what you shouldn’t, why gluten is bad, and why we need to cut our sugar consumption.  Do you ever wish that someone would just tell you which foods to add into your diet to promote better health?  Well now you can! Learn what foods you should eat, why you should eat them, and how they’ll help support long term health and longevity.

I Swear I Used to Touch My Toes, What Happened!?

Does it take you a while to get started in the morning, or do you find that you’re not quite as flexible as you were a few years ago?  Well to get started on increasing your flexibility, take the easy self assessments to figure out which body parts need the most help.  We think you’ll love these because they’re simple and can be done at home.  You can gain more flexibility with as little as 5 minutes of practice per day!

Take a Deep Dive Into Nutrition

Have you ever wanted to go a a little bit deeper on the nutritional side?  Are you someone who likes to understand exactly what’s in the food you’re eating?  But fruit and vegetables doesn’t have nutrition facts!  Well guess what, now they do.  Use this tool and it will tell you exactly what’s in the food you eat.  We love it because it will even give you recommendations on which foods to eat based on your diet and lifestyle.

Brain Fog?  That Can’t Actually Be Real, Right?

Have you ever parked the car, gone shopping, and then couldn’t remember at all where it was parked? How about forgetting where you put your keys, or taking out the trash on trash day.  Our brains and our diets are intimately connected, find out what may be causing the cloudiness and lack of mental alertness so you can address it head-on.

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A Couldn’t-be-Simpler Home Gym for Bad Weather Workouts

By Janet Luhrs,

Will you do it if it’s super, ridiculously simple and you don’t have to get in your car and drive anywhere?

I know what it’s like. You’ve worked all day and by the time you’re ready to go home, it’s dark and drizzly. You’re not going to go for a run outside, and on top of that, you’re tired and all you want to do is go home.

But then your little voice of guilt comes over your airwaves, whispering “go to the gym! Go to the gym!”

Don’t you hate it?

So how about if you DO go straight home and do a little workout there? Huh? How about it?

I’m coming to your rescue and simplifying things once again. 

Here’s my little secret for today: you don’t need a bunch of expensive, bulky home gym equipment to do your workout. You don’t even need a spare room. I’m talking really simple – and really effective.

Here you go! 

  • Exercise Mat: this is the place to start to build your home gym, as you will use this for warm up, workout, and cool down. Roll this out in front of a laptop and you have endless yoga, Pilates, and other workouts at your disposal. 
  • Kettle balls: Yes, they did seem like quite the rage not too long ago, but these amazingly versatile guys are going to be around for a long while and are well worth the investment. They can take you through a whole body workout. Remember, you don’t need a whole rack of different weights, just 2 or 3 pairs should do it for you. Check out this helpful buying guide to choose the right ones for you.
  • Foam Rollers: These are the best for self-myofascial release for triggering pressure points, kneading out knots, correcting muscle imbalance, and for injury prevention. You will see an increase in flexibility and blood flow as well. Learn more about the techniques here.
  • Tubing or bands: These allow for endless resistance training and take up waaaay less room than a full weight set and also easily tuck out of the way. You can make your own with basic supplies from the hardware store if you are a real DIY’er. These come in various thicknesses and sizes for your individual needs. You can work your whole body.
  • Battle Rope: This requires a hallway or long room, but you could attach it to the back of your garage and extend it out the door. We mention it here because battle ropes add variety to your workout and there are loads of exercises you can do with them. They work your whole body and get your heart rate up at the same time.
  • Suspension training System: You have heard of TRX and Jungle Gym systems and for good reason. Priced from $50-$150, you can challenge every major muscle group with a suspension training system, and you can easily make your own with basics from the hardware store. Check out these instructions for making and setting up a system.
  • Plyo-Box: These are essential for power and explosion training and cardio-blasters. Plyometric workouts are unbeatable for serious calorie burning, so don’t skip on this box. You can build your own or purchase for minimal investment.

Add your laptop and stream some workout DVDs. With this equipment, you have endless workout options so you’ll never get bored. As you can see, all of these take up very little room. You can store them in a pull out bin under your bed and viola! You have an instant gym. Even if you are not into DIY, purchasing all of the above is less than about $200, or check out Craigslist and get them for less.

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Bust Through The Excuses for Skipping Exercise This Season

The cold, wet weather and tempting call of cozying up by the fire with a sweet treat make this a tough time of year for your fitness regimen. There’s a near endless list of excuses for skipping exercise and ignoring the nutritional parameters you’ve placed on your diet. However, with help, you can bust through and continue your workouts and a healthy diet during the holiday season, without missing out on the fun!

It’s too cold.

Sure, it’s probably too nasty outside to motivate you to go for your daily walk, but there are plenty of things that you can do (without going to the gym) that constitute a great workout. Do repetitions of going up and down the stairs, use a dining chair for body lifts to work your arm muscles, and other body-weight exercises. If you do have access to a local gym, consider hiring a personal trainer to get the accountability and encouragement you need to stick with your workout plan.

Errands and traveling have filled up my schedule.

“I don’t have enough time” is an excuse you can use year-round, and even though the holiday season is busier, it’s still an excuse you can bust! There are lots of ways to sneak some exercise into your holiday hustling and bustling. As you do your holiday shopping, park your car further away from store entrances to force yourself to walk more distance. Enlist your family members for a fun activity, such as skiing, ice skating, or snowball fights.

Those holiday treats are just too tempting.

We get it; part of the fun of the holiday season is all of the special treats! While splurging a little is okay, take care not to overdo it. Some tricks to help you get through the season more healthfully are:

  • Hit the veggie platter more than the dessert table.
  • Eat a healthy meal before a party, so you’re less likely to fill up on treats.
  • Pay attention to your portions, and don’t go back for seconds.
  • Drink a glass of water with every alcoholic beverage you consume.
  • Fit in a 30-minute workout before getting ready for a party to improve your metabolism.

And try these healthier holiday treats instead of the sugar-ridden ones!

I’ll wait for New Year’s.

Don’t wait for January 1st to start your fitness plan! Now is a much better time to start, so that you don’t have to start at ‘0’ to work off all of the sugar and fat you’re likely to consume over the holidays. Also, you’re more likely to stick with something you don’t start as a New Year’s resolution – since most people don’t keep those anyway.

Good luck!

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Bad Weather Fitness: Bringing the Outdoors Indoors

As much as we love and are committed to outdoor fitness and have a lot of the best gear to continue out there even in bad weather, we have to admit that sometimes, some days it is just better and even safer to find an indoor alternative. We have some creative ways for you to take the outdoors indoors and still experience somewhat of an outdoor activity and practice some of your favorite outdoor skills in the worst of conditions, for bad weather fitness.

  • Climbing Gyms: These places are pretty cool and not just for experienced genX and millennial rock climbers. Climbing gyms offer classes and introductory sessions for complete newbies. They provide a safe environment with a wide variety of skill levels and trained staff to teach you the, ahem…ropes (sorry, couldn’t resist!). You will be safely harnessed and belted with top-roped climbs up to about 60 feet or so. Top rope climbs have a carabiner secured to a ceiling bolt with the rope running through it. Some gyms also have the option of bouldering which is done closer to the ground with safety crash pads and doesn’t require harnesses or ropes. Standard gym clothes, not too loosely fitting are just fine. If you start to get into it, some good rick climbing shoes will be your first purchase.
  • Ice-skating: Yes, pretty old fashioned, but it is a great workout and appeals to people of all ages. Skates are rented, so the only gear you need to have are your typical cold weather gear and perhaps a pair of knee pads. You are sure to get in a great cardio workout!
  • Run the Rain Forest! Well, ok, indoor arboretums or conservatories is what we are talking about. Most major cities have an indoor botanical garden or conservatory and if it is not too crowded, you may be able to sneak in a power walk! Check out this list of the top 10 indoor gardens in the world and also the top botanical gardens and conservatories in the US. Check out your local or regional parks department for a list of public and private conservatories in your area.
  • Skiing! Yes, indoor ski parks are growing nation and worldwide. If you just can’t wait until there is enough real powder near you, check this out. Some of these have manufactured snow, others are actually snowless! You will be surprised at how many indoor ski parks there are and one just may be bear you.

So don’t despair with the yucky weather outside, there are options that will see you through the worst of it and keep you in shape for your favorite outdoor activities.

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Fun Ways to Get Moving

From what I hear, a lot of people over age 50 don’t get very excited about a daily trip to the gym. Let’s face it, very few people of any age like that picture. But a healthy exercise routine doesn’t have to mean heading to the gym to spend an hour on the treadmill – in fact, that’s a very imbalanced and rather unhealthy routine. It’s better than nothing, but won’t really help you build strength, flexibility, or balance for your whole body.

There are plenty of fun ways to get moving, but here are a few of my favorite stand-out methods…

  • Dancing: What better way to enjoy movement than to exciting music? Dancing requires plenty of movement to work up a sweat, while improving your muscle tone, fine-tuning your motor skills, and engaging your mind to remember the steps. Most cities have dance studios with group classes, which you can take weekly, year round.
  • Video Games: Yes, I said it! Using video game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii for your daily fitness can actually be a good idea, if you use them with fitness (and not couch potato-ing) in mind. The Wii has handheld controls and games for indoor movement, such as tennis and golf and more.
  • Hula Hooping: Looking for a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to trim your tummy? Hula hooping is a great idea! Not only does the movement and combination of moves work your muscles from legs to abs and arms, it is a quick calorie burner and can be done from your own living room.
  • Playing Games: You probably love your grandkids to pieces, and can’t get enough time with them… and you don’t need to sacrifice time with them to work out. A great way to enjoy your grandchildren and exercise is to play active outdoor games, which they already love. Capture the Flag, Tag, Red Rover… there are a bunch of fun games that don’t require any (or just a few) supplies and are fun for you and the kiddos.
  • Tai Chi: Gentler than martial arts, yet movement-rich, Tai Chi is an excellent way for seniors and people of all ages to meditate while moving. It might not be as fun as Capture the Flag, but it is great for reducing stress, keeping muscles limber, improving your balance, and moving constantly for a good workout.

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Quick Exercises You Can Do from Your Desk

With the advances we have made in healthcare and senior fitness (and let’s face it, the political changes), more and more of us are working into our 60s and even 70s. This isn’t the time to debate this massive change from the good ol’ days when we retired at 55. However, for those who are still working, it’s important to maintain a workout regimen to heal the effects a desk job will have on your body.

Specifically, there are several fantastic exercises you can do from your desk, so you don’t have to take time away from loved ones and your after-work social calendar to stay fit. Here are a few favorites…

Tricep Dips & Raises

Placing your hands on the front corners of the seat of a (non-rolling) chair, move your rear end forward so that it is suspended above the ground. Make sure your feet are far enough in front of you to provide clearance between your rear and the edge of the chair, but not too much causing your back to arch. Lower your body to a couple of inches above the floor, bending your elbows. As you straighten your arms to rise, focus the force through your hands. Repeat several times.

Chair Push-Ups

Again using a stable, non-rolling chair, face the chair and put your hands on both sides of the seat. Set your toes in a position straight behind you, so that your body makes a straight line from shoulder to ankle. Slowly bend your arms, keeping your elbows at your sides, so that your chest moves toward the chair. Push back to the straight-arm position to complete the push-up. Keep your abs tight and engaged through the movement. Repeat.

Leg Raises

You can do this one right from your office chair. Sit up straight and extend your legs out in front. Keep your ankles together as you raise your legs as high as you can. Hold at the top for five seconds, then slowly lower them to the starting position. Repeat.

Click here for more great desk exercises.

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5 Simple Exercises to do…anywhere!

By Janet Luhrs,


In our high tech world, gear-crazy-gotta-have-the-latest-new-gadget, we sometimes overwhelm ourselves when it comes to working out.

Sure, you can go online and find all kinds of complicated fitness plans, workout regimes, and specialized gear and equipment to use at the gym or at home.  But if any of the above also requires intricate instructions, planning and a professional guide, well then, perhaps things have gotten just a bit too complex. 

We have simplified it for you with these 5 simple exercises that can be done just about anywhere because they are super easy and don’t require equipment:

  • The Low Belly Leg Reach targets your lower abs like few other exercises can! While lying on your back with your knees bent at 90 degree and stacked over your hips, crunch as you lift your shoulders. Hold and inhale for 4 seconds, exhale as you extend your legs to 45 degrees, hold again for 4 seconds and feel the squeeze in your low belly. 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
  • Split Drops target your hamstrings, glutes and give you added cardio benefit. Perform this one with explosive movement for full benefit. Starting position is with your feet together and then jump off both feet, landing in a split squat, one foot in front, one in back. This is not a simple lunge exercise. Jump back to the landing position and that is one rep. Continue 20 times.
  • Triceps dips and pushups on a bench or chair work those arm muscles that all of us wish were stronger. For triceps, sit with your knees bent and hands flat on the bench alongside of your hips. As you lift your hips off the floor, your weight should shift backwards so you feel the challenge in your triceps. Bend at the elbow and straighten 20 reps. Switch to the traditional pushup pose and knock off 20 of those! Alternate Triceps and pushups for 3 sets total.
  • The Warrior III works on your balance, core, and challenges your muscles all up and down your legs. Make sure to keep your core engaged and your thigh, hips, and toes of the raised leg aligned while keeping your back as straight as possible. It is one of the more challenging yoga poses, try it and you will see why!
  • Crab Walks really work your lower back, shoulders, and core. Make sure to hold your back straight and not to dip. This one has it all and can be done anywhere.

So, give these 5 a try and you will hit most of your major muscle groups. Let us know how you do!

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Simple Tips for Weight Training Success

By Janet Luhrs,

I want you to take a minute to think about something really important. You probably already know this, but as we age, unless we keep up a regular program of resistance training – our bodies and muscles turn into marshmallows.

And that’s not good for a lot of reasons. So here are some basic motivational reasons for you to start or continue your weight training plan:

  • Muscle loss as we all get older is inevitable. A simple weight training plan not only fights that loss but can even reverse it and dramatically slow down the aging process.
  • As you strengthen your muscles, you draw oxygen and nutrients from your blood, which improves your cardio-vascular health.
  • Strong muscles also directly contribute to healthy blood sugar levels, preventing diabetes and providing weight control success.
  • Keep in mind some of these tips and workout ideas and you will be on your way to resistance training success!
  • All weight training is more effective and prevents injuries if you do a short cardio warm up to start. Simple 10 minutes on the treadmill or an easy run around your block should do it. Alternatively, jumping rope or jumping jacks works just as well.
  • Good technique and form prevents injuries and makes your movements and work more effective.  One or two sessions with a personal trainer will give you the basic education you need. This blog covers some of the reasons and questions around good form.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed with the huge variety of weights and equipment you see at gyms. You can do full body resistance training very simply with your own body weight. Check these out!
  • Try a simple fitness app such as Hot5 with tons of 5 minute video workouts so you can get down to business and workout without having to plan and devise a workout yourself.

The following workout is basic and covers the major body parts. It is a great example of where you can start on your weight training plan. For the exercises below, pay attention to your form, and perform 15-20 reps and 2-3 sets of each exercise.

All of the links included in this post are to assist you with a bit more detail as you learn more about weight training. Don’t let this information overwhelm you. Instead, use it to clarify your questions.

Most of all, keep it simple, get strong, and be healthy!

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Keeping Fitness Simple Keeps it Fun!

By Janet Luhrs,

Don’t you hate it when you really, really want to get to the gym, or go for a hike or long walk – anything – but your crazy, complicated life gets in the way? I know how it is. Sometimes I can let months go by and all of a sudden I realize I’ve totally fallen off of my workout routine. But when too much time has passed, we all know what’s next – it’s almost impossible to get your lazy rear off the couch. So try something that’s worked for me – keep your workout simple. 

First of all, check your complex attitude at the door. Are you always striving for the perfect conditions, or the perfect set? Do you feel compelled to hit all body groups on a regular schedule each week, week in and out?  You may be a workout perfectionist and that attitude may be killing your joy.

Here are some suggestions to keeping your focus and fitness simple and enjoyable:

  • Keep your gym or weight training regime to less than 10 exercises. This reduces the pressure to hit it all and keeps your ability to succeed. Check out this great YouTube video for a simple, 15-minute full body workout! 
  • Be flexible. You don’t have to stop working out just because you leave town. Here are a few simple exercises that you can do anywhere, any time with no equipment.
  • Another of my favorites is the classic 7-Minute workout that I read about in the NY Times several years ago. You can now get the app and do it anywhere.
  • Make sure your workout schedule fits your life and your personality.  If you are not a morning person and find yourself dreading your morning workout, change up to after work.
  • Involve your significant others. If your relationships are strained and you are spending incredible amounts of time at the gym or running, then consider including your family in your workouts.
  • Change things up and get explosive. Plyometrics are high intensity movements that push up your heart rate as well as challenge major muscle groups. Ditch some of your regular routine and adds these for something new to spice it up!
  • If you are not seeing results, check your diet. It is said that getting fit is 85% diet, so if you are working out faithfully 3-5 times each week and not seeing results, your nutrition plan may be too complex. This one is just for 28 days to jump start things. Let us know what you think.

There is no one right way to get fit.  Having a plan that is sustainable for YOU and YOUR life is the key to success. The task is to choose what works for you and to stick with it. Let us know what you do to keep your workouts fun and simple and get out of the doldrums.

Don’t worry, be happy, and get fit!

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5 Daily Workouts and Workout Sets to do in 30 Minutes or Less

We are all striving to enjoy life and simplify things a bit, right?  Well here are some great, full body workouts that can be done in 30 minutes or less.  Do yourself a favor and work one or two of these workouts into your weekly routine and free yourself up to get out there and play. While all of these plans have the option to purchase DVD’s to follow along, it is not necessary.

  • The Perfect 30 minute workout by Craig Ballentine. This metabolic resistance training routine builds muscle and burns fat and is easy to adopt at home. All that is required is a pair of dumbbells, a bench, and utilizing your own body weight. Prevent injuries and keep correct form by familiarizing yourself with some of the moves such as Bulgarian Squats, Split squats and dumbbell incline presses.
  • The Total Body 30 minute workout featured in Fitness magazine teaches you to work several muscle groups at once while also elevating your heart rate to boost your metabolism. This workout has 3 plans for beginner, intermediate, or advanced athletes.
  • The 30 minute workout Routine featured on Web MD utilizes short-bursts of high intensity moves to spike up your heart rate while working major muscle groups. The only change I would suggest is to add in a few more high intensity moves into about every 3 sets of the strength training sets. This is key to cardio training.
  • The 30 minute total Body Burner Workout from BeFit GO on YouTube is great to add to your mobile device and do it from home or take with you to the gym. The mix of strength training, core work, and cardio blasts pumps you along with some great workout music.
  • Blast Calories and Build Muscle in 30 minutes with this routine from Shape magazine. All that is needed is two pairs of dumbbells, a jump rope, and a suggested rowing machine. However, if you do not have access to the machine, you can substitute the rowing segments with Plyometrics, a run around the block, or any other cardio blast activity.

That should give you plenty of variety to keep you moving and challenging your body for weeks!  Let us know workouts that work for you in 30 minutes or less.

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