Saturday, December 21, 2013

Things Nobody Really Tells You About Working Out

As we draw ever closer to 2014, many people are going to start out on their fitness journey come January 1st. If you're one of them, welcome to the nut house. We're happy you're here and we'll teach you the secret handshake later.

Whether this will be the first time you're going to set foot in a gym or whether you're coming back from a hiatus, here are some things that you may not know or have forgotten. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fabulous Fitness Related Gifts for the Fit-Gal in Your Life - Part 3

I won't lie to you guys, I'm super excited playing "elf" this year. I've finished almost all of my Christmas shopping and have organized a super fun event for the family come Christmas Eve. Now all that's left is the hot cocoa fueled wrapping party! Party of one, so nobody sees their gift early!

I've got some more gift ideas for you all, happy to "present" the under $100 list! Ho ho ho :D

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fabulous Fitness Related Gifts for the Fit-Gal in Your Life - Part 2

Christmas is just ten days away!!!!!!

Wracking your brains trying to figure out the perfect fit-gift for one of your lucky friends or family this year? I can totally help with that. :)

**Pro tip: make sure the recipient will be into your fitness related gift, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings! I was on the receiving end of a fitness related gift many years ago when I wasn't into it, and it took me a while to get over it. :)

I went ahead and broke this list down by price point. I've got 5 under $20, 5 under $50, and 5 under $100, and 5 that are "money isn't an object" items for fun.

If you missed the $20 list, you can find it here. Now, it's time for the under $50 list!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fabulous Fitness Related Gifts for the Fit-Gal in Your Life - Part 1

Hello all!

With Christmas coming up, I thought I'd share some of my picks for fitness related Christmas gifts this year. Whether you need a gift idea for a white elephant exchange at work, a gift for a friend, or for a loved one.

**Pro tip: make sure the recipient will be into your fitness related gift, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings! I was on the receiving end of a fitness related gift many years ago when I wasn't into it, and it took me a while to get over it. :)

I went ahead and broke this list down by price point. I've got 5 under $20, 5 under $50, and 5 under $100, and 5 that are "money isn't an object" items for fun.

First up is our under $20 list.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

[DIY] Build your own full-body workout!

Ahh exercise programming, the stuff trainer's and fitness fanatic's dreams are made of.

Have you ever walked into the gym and realized you have no idea what you're going to do? Maybe you've heard of "f*ckarounditits" and want to avoid it. Perhaps you're ready to embark on a fitness journey and can't afford (or just don't want to pay for) a trainer to help get you started. Whatever the reason, you ought to know the basics of planning a routine.

For the sake of simplicity, I'll take you through three simple steps you should take when planning a full-body workout.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Flying this holiday season? BYOL!

Writing to y'all from Louisiana today. It has been an awesome vacation so far and we've only had one full day here in Baton Rouge. The getting here wasn't too bad, two flights and a three hour layover in Houston. What made our travels that much better was I packed lunches for us. We went the entire day, 4am to 4pm, without buying airport food.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Perks of Being a Fitness Chameleon

Style is a heavy word, it carries a lot of connotations. When you find something you like, you stick to it, it becomes your style. But what if you like a lot of different things, can "chameleon" be a style?

In the fitness world, it seems that most people have one or two things that they really really love, and they do only those things. That's where we get terms like meathead, cardio bunny, yogi, marathoner, swimmer. But what happened to cross-training?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Maple Butternut Squash & Parsnip Soup

I received my first CSA delivery yesterday! Same day that I received my protein powder restock shipment, it was like Christmas on a random Wednesday in November. :)

One of the items I elected to receive in my CSA delivery was parsnips. I've had them a few times before and never really learned how to cook with them. So I gave it a shot last night and came up with some incredible soup (Dr. Boyfriend's words, not mine) that I think you all will really love.

Mmmmm, soup!
This soup was inspired by a soup my mom sometimes makes in the fall, a butternut apple soup with a lot of heavy cream in it. I received the parsnips, looked at them, realized I really had no idea what I wanted to make with them, remembered I had a butternut squash in my fridge from the farmer's market a few weeks ago and decided "soup, soup is a great idea."

Maple Butternut Squash & Parsnip Soup (serves 4), ~1.5 hours

1 small butternut squash (middle of the bottom row)
6 parsnips (upper left corner)
1 med-large apple (upper right corner)
1/4 cup Grade A maple syrup (some people always buy organic, I always buy Grade A)
3 cups of Ginger Miso broth from Trader Joe's

Preheat oven to 400ºF
Cut butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, peel and cut into small cubes (mine were all about 1in or smaller)
Slice the parsnips into thin rounds
Core and cube the apple
Combine butternut squash, parsnips, and apple in a nonstick baking pan and toss with maple syrup until combined
Roast veggies (& fruit) with syrup for 40 minutes
Remove tray from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 min
Transfer contents of tray to a food processor with metal blade attachment and blend for 5 min
Pour 1 C of the broth in through the "chute" in the top of the food processor 1/4 C at a time
Blend until you don't see any more chunks, another 5 min
Pour into a med-large saucepan and keep over medium heat, add another cup of broth immediately, stir
Once the broth has been incorporated, add remaining cup of broth
Cover and reduce heat to med-low for 15 min, stirring occasionally

Nutrition Info (I got this by entering the ingredients into MyFitnessPal) per 349g serving
154 calories, 37.4g carbs, 0.5g fat, 3.2g protein

You can serve this soup as a side… or make it into a meal by adding a protein source and another veggie!

I added turkey bacon and roasted romanesco broccoli (roasted at 350ºF with EVOO and garlic salt for 30 min)

I was extremely pleased how the soup turned out and how the rest of dinner turned out last night. Lance was equally impressed, he complimented me on my choice of components for the meal and was waxing poetic about how the textures and flavor profiles interacted with one another throughout the bite. I'll make a foodie of him yet. ;)

Til next time my fit friends!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

WTFitness: Running with Asthma

Hello all! I was originally planning on using my extra hour to sleep in, but I sprung out of bed fresh as a daisy today and wanted to blog instead. I'd like to talk about something that I'm have unique experience with, running with asthma.

I have asthma. Allergy induced and exercise induced. My airways close up quickly in reaction to several different triggers. I can't do much about the allergens, but I am able to work on the exercise triggers. I grew up thinking that my chronic illness prevented me from being able to run. I had to use an inhaler in PE class at school, which kids made fun of me for, or I could go inhaler-less and sound like Darth Vader, which would also lead to kids poking fun. In any event, running was never a fun thing for me to do and I would avoid it whenever possible.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

5 Simple Moves for a Butt that Pops in Yoga Pants

Ahh fall. The season of pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice anything... and yoga pants.

It's considered to be more socially acceptable to be wearing your gym gear in your everyday life. Who among us hasn't rocked an oversize sweater with yoga pants tucked into boots? Blame Pinterest if you must...but there's tons of cute ways to rock yoga pants or other leggings while out and about.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Easy TJ's Tortilla Soup

Hey y'all, happy Thursday!

The World Series started last night, anyone watching? I'll be honest, I didn't. I'm not a huge fan of either the Red Sox or the Cards, I guess I'm going Cardinals because they're in the National League?

In other exciting news, I mentioned on Facebook that I was trying Body Combat class. It was a blast! High-energy music (perfect because I totally forgot headphones yesterday), a good hour of cardio, a little strength shoulders were burning from throwing over 1200 punches!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

15 Minute Plyometric Circuit

I met up with one of my girlfriends for a walk yesterday, trying to get in that cardio thing, and I was way early.

For those who don't know, I hate being late. Hate it to the point that I'm often accidentally 20-30 minutes early because I've allowed so much extra time for being stuck in possible traffic but still get there on time. Since I was already in workout clothes, I figured I'd just do a quick circuit instead of goof off on my phone for the 25 minutes I'd have to wait until the scheduled meeting time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up - Outdoor Yoga and a Baby Shower

This weekend was a kind of a reset for me. The 12 week cut is not really going as I anticipated... I had forgotten how hard (physically and mentally) it is to lose fat. I took a break from it all this weekend and really ate whatever looked good, didn't count calories, and didn't work out intensely. I have to say, it felt good. :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Can You Train While Tired?

We all know that we're supposed to be getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night. (Right??) That's the number that's been thrown at us in school, our doctor's office, magazines, the news, etc. But how many of us really make sleep a priority? I've been known to get less than 4-5 hours of sleep on occasion. I try to not make it a regular thing, but it happens.


When you get less sleep than you ought to, you feel a certain way the next day. Your eyes have a hard time staying open, your ability to concentrate goes way down, your limbs feel heavy, everything sounds kinda fuzzy (that last one might be one of my quirks, but that's the one that drives me nuts)... It's just not a great time. But what affects can sleep deprivation have on your training?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crossfit Style KB Workout and Carrot & Leek Chicken Stir Fry

Yesterday was one of those "get things done" days, I completely embraced Monday.

I think doing laundry, a crossfit style workout in my kitchen, roasting a leg of lamb, making chicken stir fry, and kicking butt at work qualifies as a strong start.

3 ways I like to start Monday off strong
1.) do a household chore, you start the week off having accomplished something
2.) work out, endorphin rushes on Mondays are better than any others :) (debatable?)
3.) cook at least one big meal so you have leftovers, saves you time later in the week

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Farmer's Market Haul

Do you ever wake up in the morning and come to one of those realizations that you wish you could have come to sooner?

Today, I signed up for a CSA box. I have wanted to do this for SO long, I don't know why I waited. My co-worker was telling me about one she found, there's a drop off location less than a 5 min walk from our work building, I've been way disappointed with the quality of the veggies in the supermarkets around my place, and I already spend way too much time underneath fluorescent lighting to be shopping for my food underneath them a few days a week.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Muffins


Please excuse my brevity this morning, I spent most of last night running through a corn maze trying to escape a chainsaw wielding zombie, got home around 2am, and then got up at 6am to drive someone to the airport. My first two cups of coffee were enough to get me back home safely after a drive to San Francisco and through my mini-baking sesh, but I can feel myself slowing down. A long nap is in order before football starts. :)

How do some fall-flavored superfood based muffins sound? 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

10 Tips for a Healthier Work Lunch

When I first started my "get healthy" journey, my lunches were the first thing that I started improving. Breakfast was hard because it was at the beginning of the day and this was still at a time when I didn't think I *had* to eat breakfast. Dinners were with family and they weren't about to start changing... so lunches were up! I thought y'all might find some of these handy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


One thing that ACE is big on is SMART goals. I mean... who wants a dumb goal, right?


I know, I'm sorry.

SMART is an acronym for everything a goal should be. I'll give you two examples and let you guess which is the SMART goal.

A.) I want to exercise more and increase muscle tone.
B.) I want to exercise at least 3 times per week and lose 5lbs in 10 weeks.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

WTFitness: DOMS

All about the DOMS. You're not acquainted with our friend (HAH!) DOM? Let me paint you a picture.

You and your gym buddy get to the gym, you're totally stoked. They ask you if you wanna hit the treadmills...


So you guys hit the weights.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Medicine Ball Circuit and Pumpkin Cookies

Hey y'all!!! Fall is so officially here. It's getting colder out and I am so freakin excited. Fall is my favorite season, football, baseball playoffs, I get to wear my boots, baking...hence the pumpkin cookies. :)

All that is great, but the baked goods can take a toll if you're not careful. SO, I'm giving you a workout along with the cookie recipe.

The Medicine Ball Circuit. I did this yesterday and it was pretty intense. I've never really had sweat drip into my eyes before...or inhaled sweat into my nose... that was interesting and gross.

Anyways! All you need for this workout is a medicine ball, kinda like the one I got at Goodwill a few weeks ago.

Gotta love a workout that's light on equipment, right?? :D
Your moves: thruster, russian twists, burpee jacks, uneven push-ups (from your knees or toes), and pass-through lunges.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Foam Rolling Basics

Foam rolling. Love it or hate it, it's good for you!

You may have seen some of these cylindrical things lying around your gym and wondered what they were. Maybe you've seen someone using one, maybe you saw someone using one and they were almost in tears and it gave you pause. That was my first experience with a foam roller. I saw a huge muscular dude using one and he looked like he was cutting onions, scared me away from them for a few months.

Eventually, I got curious enough to try it myself and got hooked. I now have two of my own.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

PB Pumpkin Protein Balls

The weather is getting colder, we're starting to get to that time of year when we get to eat squash on the regular! Well... some of us eat it year round, but now it's seasonal-ish!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Introducing the #FitGalDailyDigest

I had originally started doing this for a few friends on Facebook (Ladies! This post is for you!!!)...but it kind of became a really really fun thing for me to do, so I'll continue on with it!

When I posted Part 1 of Finding Your Weightloss Numbers, a few friends asked about a sample meal plan. As a Health Coach (and in studies to become a Personal Trainer), I am not qualified to write out a meal plan, that's something that should be left to nutritionists and registered dietitians.

But what I can do is show you what I eat on a day to day basis to give you an idea what kind of fuel goes into my body.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Finding your weight loss numbers - part 2

Like I said last time, the idea of calorie balance is greatly over simplified. How much you eat is important, but what things you're eating is important too!

I think I've spoken before about the three main macronutrients (macros); carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

carbohydrate (carb): the body’s preferred energy source, dietary sources include sugars (simple) and grains, rice, potatoes, and beans (complex); stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver and is transported in the blood as glucose1
fat: an essential nutrient that provides energy, energy storage, insulation, and contour to the body1
protein: a compound composed of a combination 20 amino acids that is the major structural component of all body tissue1

Each of these different macronutrients plays a different role in the body.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Figuring out your weight loss "numbers" - part 1

Gaining and losing weight it a matter of calories in vs calories out, we've all heard that. But, knowing and internalizing are two very different matters.

Ha ha ha
Calorie is a term used to refer to the amount of energy required to heat one gram of water by one degree celsius. Check out that high school chem rising to the surface.

So, what does that mean in terms of your health?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Great (3/4) Cross Country Roadtrip: Tempe to Baton Rouge

In order to get from Tempe to Austin... we drove 16 hours in one day. It was nasty, we knew it was going to be a suck-fest, but we also knew this was one of the last (if not the last) year we'd be young enough to handle that much car time. So we pushed on and drove from about 6am until half past midnight (there's a 2 hour time change) making it all the way out of Arizona, across New Mexico, and a little over 2/3 of the way across Texas.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Great (3/4) Cross Country Roadtrip: San Jose to Tempe

Lance and I set out on our roadtrip on Sunday at about 5am. We had gone to the Giants game on Saturday night with my family and watched the Giants beat the pants off the Pirates, it was a great game. It was also a game where they handed out some truly heinous Giants themed hats. Proud to have one of these suckers!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Itty Bitty Fitbit

Hey guys and gals!

Proud new Fitbit owner. I've only had this little guy about half a week and I'm already in love. For those who don't know, the Fitbit is a fancy pedometer. It counts your steps, how far you travel per day (estimate given in miles), estimates how many calories you burn, and counts the flights of stairs you climb in a day. Very handy info if you're trying to change your bodyweight or keep it where it is. :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's in your kitchen?

Part of the fit lifestyle is keeping your kitchen well stocked.

That means lots of fruit, veggies, grains, legumes, and lean proteins. Some goodies too, but lots of the healthy stuff.

Come along with me, we'll tour my kitchen real quick.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sweet Potato Egg Scramble

Morning everyone.

When I was growing up, I remember having some pretty incredible egg scrambles for breakfast on the weekends. In a previous lifetime, aka when he was a teenager, my Dad worked for Coco's in the kitchen. He has always made some of the best egg breakfasts, including one I will never forget which had rice, green peppers, and cream cheese inside an enormous egg scramble.

Eggs have experienced a resurgence in my diet as of late and I've been really enjoying making huge skillet brunches on the weekend to power myself and Dr Boyfriend through some monstrous workouts.

Here's a quick snap of today's skillet.

Sorry Dad, this one may have topped green peppers, rice, and cream cheese.

Sweet Potato Skillet (serves 3), ~25 minutes

1 large sweet potato (7 in long by 2 in diameter), diced

1t garlic&onion seasoning (or 1/2t each)
1T dried parsley

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2oz Cracker Barrel Mediterranean Herb cheese, diced
1 bulb of green onions (about 4 stalks), sliced

Heat EVOO in skillet, add diced sweet potato and seasoning when the oil has started to ripple, cook until browned, about 10 min
Add halved cherry tomatoes, cook an additional 2-3 minutes
Add eggs and cook until desired doneness, another 8-10 minutes
Remove from heat and fold in diced cheese
Garnish with green onions

Nutritional Information (I got this by entering the ingredients into MyFitnessPal)
Per serving: 399 calories, 17g carbs, 21g fat, 30g protein

Since I am running out the door for a workout and this recipe was lightish on carbs, I paired this enormous scramble with some butter&honey grits. So, freakin delicious!

This new recipe and blog layout is all for me today, I'm off to Gold's!

Let me know in the comments:
What do you think of the new blog look?
Will you try this egg scramble??

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Home Gym Workout

Hey everyone!!

I just finished one of the best 30 minute at home workouts that I've ever cooked up, so I'm a little endorphin happy.

I've got a few really awesome things going on in my life that I wanted to share!

First, work has slowed down a bit, now we're almost back to normal with just a few moments of panic. Kind of an ideal situation, those few moments keep me super engaged throughout the day.

Second, I've been killing it in the gym lately! I set new 1-RM PRs for squats (165lb) and deadlifts (205lb). Always hungry to improve on form and stack on more plates!!

Third, I've started participating in an Instagram challenge called #yogratitude. I highly recommend joining in if you're an Instagrammer who is into yoga! I get to practice at least a few minutes each day, snap a pic of the chosen pose for the day and post what I'm grateful for. It's a wonderful exercise in physical and mental fitness. Namaste <3

Check out that camel pose!!! It's been kinda neat being able to see myself in these different poses and finding areas where I can improve.

Last bit of awesome news.... Dr Boyfriend and I are planning a two week roadtrip! The kicker? We leave on the two-year anniversary of our first date. How insane is that?!

The roadtrip marks the start of my training for the 10k, so we'll be running/sightseeing in all the cities we visit across the US!

Anyways, I know you're all curious about that workout I mentioned. So, without further ado...

The Home Gym Workout!

Equipment needed: a removable pull-up bar (like this one from Iron Gym, this is the one I have), a resistance band, and a jump-rope! Basically, you need everything in the photo below.

Yeeeeeeek... I could stand to vacuum.... 

The moves: pull-up (any variation you're comfortable with), dips, bent-over resistance band row, resistance band squat

Here's a video demonstrating a few pull-up variations. First is the strict pull-up, second is a chin-up, third is a parallel grip pull-up, fourth is a negative pull-up where you jump to the top of the pull-up and lower yourself slowly.

Here's a video demonstrating a few dip variations. First is dips with your knees bent, second is dips with straight legs, third is dips with elevated legs.

Lastly, a video demonstrating the rows and squats.

The Workout
Warm-up: some jumping jacks, the Pilates 100, walking around the block, jogging up and down some nearby stairs... anything to get your body warmed up and limber.
Pull-ups: 3 reps of your chosen variation
Dips: pull the bar off of your door and do 10 reps of your chosen variation
Rows: 10 reps
Squats: 10 reps
Rest for 30 sec to 1 minute and start again with the pull-ups! You'll repeat this cycle three more times for a total of 4 sets of each exercise. Remember to hydrate!

After you've finished the work above, it's time for cardio. Bring your jump-rope outside to a hard surface, like your driveway, and don't forget your phone/timer! Set your clock for 5 minutes and start jumping! Take breaks as needed, you're not competing against anyone but yourself.

All told, you'll spend about 20-30 minutes going through this workout and you won't regret it! It's a fun and fast-paced workout.

Well, what did you think? Did you try it? Will you?

I'm interested to hear what you thought.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nomming My Way Through July

I was looking through my phone recently and found a BUNCH of food photos that were too pretty/yummy looking to not share with y'all. So, without further ado...

What did Jillian eat in July?

Super easy to make at work and has a high protein content, very important to me.
Kashi Go Lean Original - this has the best protein content of any cereal I've tried
Vanilla whey protein shake - gotta have "milk" with your cereal ;)
Fresh sliced peach - peaches are my absolute favorite fruit! I have a peach cobbler in place of birthday cake on my birthday each year.

World's greatest avocado! Look at that teeny weeny pit!
 I made, and ate, a lot of guacamole in July. It was awesome! I made fresh from scratch guacamole, I had some premade guac from Trader Joe's, and I had some guac that you make with the premixed seasoning packets you buy in the grocery store. Lance and I had it on eggs for breakfast, on chicken for dinner, Emily and I had it with baby carrots at the beach. You cannot go wrong with guac!

I had half of two different flavors of cupcake. S'mores (right) is my alltime favorite, but I had to try the Banana Split (left) too!
 Mom did bring in cupcakes to work on my birthday. They were delicious. Banana Split cupcakes were so tasty, way better than I expected.

Mmmmm, more unhealthy food. :)
 I ended up celebrating my birthday for almost a week this year. My birthday was on Tuesday, I celebrated with my family on Wednesday, concert on Thursday, company Giant's game on Friday, beach with Emily on Saturday, Giant's game and dinner with girlfriends on Sunday.... it was so much fun! It also kept me really busy, so I deprioritized my diet a little and let myself eat whatever sounded good at the time. I kept it healthy for the most part, but when you're at the Giant's game, you need a hot dog and garlic fries.

This is a recreation of what Emily made to bring to the beach!
 Back to work on Monday! I was feeling full from everything I had eaten the day before, so I kept lunch super light and recreated what Emily had made us for lunch on Saturday. She has an absolute killer dressing recipe that I've been copy-catting ever since. Maybe if we ask her nicely, she'll let me share it with y'all.

Mid-afternoon treat
 My snacks tend to be very fruit based. This was an awesome one that was just a large peach, half a cup of fresh blueberries and then a tablespoon of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Drenched Cacao Nibs. So...darn...good.

One of the fussier snacks I've ever made.
 This was a "fancy" snack I made for myself at work. Fage 2% + a cup of raspberries, each raspberry was stuffed with one of those chocolate covered cacao nibs I mentioned above, and a half cup of pomegranate arils. Such a fancy-pants snack and it was sooooooooo good. Best part? It only took 5 minutes to make. Woo!

This might be a future recipe on the blog.
This guy was a pre-workout breakfast that I made over the weekend. It ended getting me through an hour and a half long lifting workout. I took Dr Boyfriend to "my" Gold's and we ended up spending way longer working out than we normally do.

I might do this on a regular basis, I take so many pretty (I hope??) photos of the food I eat...but never share them with you guys. What do you think of that idea?

How do we feel about that big breakfast in the last photo, do you guys want that recipe?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WTFitness - EGCG, that compound in Green Tea

EGCG - those four letters you hear in combination with green tea; it's supposed to be a miracle substance, right?

Oooh, molecules. Source

Epigallocatechin gallate is a potent antioxidant that is touted for it's anticarcinogenic properties. It has also been linked to weight loss, a boost in energy, lowered LDL (the bad cholesterol), and has been linked to lowered risk of heart disease.

Green tea Kit Kats! Not the best way to get the health benefits of green tea... but fun! Source
Sounds amazing, right? Should you take a green tea supplement? You could if you wanted. I think it's much more pleasant (and cost effective!) to just drink a cup or two of green tea than to pop a pill. But if that's what you're into, you should ALWAYS check with your doctor.

An example of what a green tea supplement might look like. I am in no way recommending you take one! Source
Full disclosure, I can't get the text for the article "Avoidance of bioflavonoid supplements during pregnancy: a pathway to infant leukemia?", but the title suggests that you might want to avoid green tea supplements and other bioflavonoid supplements while pregnant. I realize that the title is worded that way in an effort to be inflammatory and sensational, but I would so not take that chance.

EGCG has also been shown to block certain drugs, including one that treats cancer. EGCG binds to the receptors of the drug in your system, rendering it useless against the disease it is fighting. Yet another reason to consult your doctor before starting a green tea supplement!

Another example of what a green tea supplement might look like. Source
So, now that I've terrified you about the supplement (sorry), how the heck does this EGCG stuff supposedly prevent cancer? Kind of in the same way that it can block drugs. The EGCG compound binds to a substance called urokinase. I know, another weird word.

Urokinase is in your bloodstream and in your extracellular matrices, the exoskeleton type structure that provides structure to the animal cell since it lacks the rigid cell wall found in plant cells. Research has shown that elevated expression levels of urokinase are related to tumor malignancy, and metastasis by extension. Metastasis means the cancer has spread, or metastasized.

So, when EGCG binds to urokinase, it blocks the expression. Less expression of urokinase means (theoretically), that cancer shouldn't be able to grow. Hurray!

Bonus points for a beautiful teapot like the one above! Source
Is it proven? No. Is it a good reason to enjoy some green tea throughout your day? Absolutely. Just watch out for that caffeine content. An 8 oz cup of green tea clocks in at about 24-40mg of caffeine. A normal 8 oz cup of brewed coffee (not espresso) has between 95-200mg of caffeine. That's a big difference, but I find that green tea has such a light taste that I drink it so much faster than I would coffee.
One of my favorite green teas

I'm a huge fan of drinking my green tea "black" or "green" as it were. (hah?) I've seen people put sugar in their green tea and I've had it with honey. Green tea and honey is a delicious combination, but it completely horrified the tea-purist who was introducing me to green tea... so watch out for that.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments! Do you drink green tea? What's your favorite? If you supplement, which one do you use and what have your experiences been with it?

If you want to read some more:;jsessionid=gQEtCJHSjMJzafdyIMOt.2

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Glycemic Index versus Glycemic Load

This post has been a work in progress for a while. I learned the difference between glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL). After being informed about glycemic load, I was instantly disappointed in a number of people I followed through various forms of social media for touting GI and completely eschewing certain foods because of a high GI value.

On somewhat of a side note, the idea of ignoring or completely eliminating a food or food group bothers me on a fundamental level. Mostly because it leads to a restrictive way of approaching food and health by extension. That restrictive mindset is where a lot of people, myself included, develop unhealthy relationships with food.

Like this lady, who looks like she could use a biscuit. Who am I to judge, maybe she has Celiac disease.
Back to GI vs GL.

We're all aware that certain foods affect our blood sugar more than others, yes? E.G. you eat a candy bar, we'll make it a Snickers, and your blood sugar levels skyrocket and you start running around and aroundandaroundandarounduntilyoucrash. That food greatly increased your blood sugar levels. Another example, you eat a small banana (6-7in) and feel a lesser energy boost, but still enough to get you through the afternoon at work but with no awful crash. That food moderately increased your blood sugar levels.

According to (and it pains me to say I could not find a better source of info on GI content of the following), the average GI of a Snickers bar is 55 and the average GI of a banana is 52.

At this point, I imagine you sitting back in your chair, papasan, whatever, and looking at the screen thinking "ummmmmmmmmmmmmm......those two numbers are the same and now I want a Snickers."

Au contraire my dear dear friend. Hold onto your socks, I'm about try blowing them off.

glycemic index: a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0-100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels 
glycemic load: a measure of glycemic response to a food which takes into consideration serving size
GL = (GI* Xg carbs per serving)/100

If we apply that to our Snicker's bar and our banana... we find that a Snickers bar has a GL of 19 and our small banana has a GL of 12.

I know Jackie, I know
So, while the GI of certain foods can be important if you're diabetic or if you've been informed by your doctor or a nutritionist to watch that specific number...the rest of us are better off paying attention to the GL of a food since it actually takes into consideration the amount of that food we're eating.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this next photo as well as the accompanying text...

instagram: @itsjillianmcl
Glycemic load of a food looks at the way A SERVING of a particular food affects your blood glucose. Glycemic index looks at the amount of food that contains a standard 50g of carbs. 1 serving of carrots has a GL of 1.3, the GI of carrots is 16. 50g of carbs in carrots = 1lb of carrots. Are you eating 1lb of carrots?!?! 🐰

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Breakfast Burritos for Two

Happy Saturday everyone!

Know that feeling when you're about halfway through a cup of coffee and realize you don't know for sure if you've got breakfast supplies? You kind of shuffle to the fridge and open the door with your eyes half shut, hoping against all hope that you managed to leave yourself enough ingredients to make a killer breakfast because... let's face it... you're kind of starving.


I'm happy to say I squeaked by again this week. WOOHOO!

I had mine with some tortilla chips to add back in a few carbs, I'm working out in a bit and need the fuel! Side note, how rad are those pants?!

Breakfast Burritos for Two, serves 2 (10-15 minutes)
1 T Smart Balance
4 large egg whites
3 jumbo egg whites
3 jumbo eggs
1/2 container of Garden Highway Pico de Gallo (you can find it at Safeway)
1/4 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 medium haas avocado
4 La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Tortillas

Melt Smart Balance in a pan over medium heat.
Add eggs and scramble with a spatula, cook until desired doneness
Take off heat and add pico de gallo and cheese
One quarter of the egg mixture goes on each tortilla and then you divide avocado slices evenly amongst the plates

Super easy, super delicious!

Nutritional information (got this by entering all the ingredients into MyFitnessPal)
Per serving: 525 calories, 31g carbs, 29g fat, 45g protein

When I make this again, I think I'll leave out the cheese. I'm finding myself liking it less and less in dishes. By itself, I could probably eat it by the pound. But with eggs, I'm starting to not be a huge fan. Leaving the cheese off this recipe changes the macros as follows: 470 calories, 31g carbs, 24g fat, 42g protein.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8

Good morning y'all! I have to ask, is there better night's sleep than the one you get after setting a squat PR?

Hurray! (I track my workouts electronically with Fitocracy) Seeing that little green star when I was done felt so good.
What's the deal with that 5th set? Well dear friends, that's when I fell on my butt in front of a large group of people. Sounds embarrassing, but I promise it isn't. I no longer feel embarrassed when I go down to the floor and am accompanied by a 145lb crash. That's precisely why I squat in one of these babies:

Ours is red, but that's besides the point. The point is, I have all those amazing safety rails in place for no reason other than to fall safely. Falling while holding something that weighs more than you is terrifying the first few times, but you learn to trust your equipment. After speaking with Dr. Boyfriend, yes I would have ideally had a spotter...but I absolutely detest spotters. Especially random people in the gym who will grab onto the bar and half-lift it for me while screaming "ALL YOU, ALL YOU".

So I squat in a cage. I feel that my rigid iron "spotter" does a way better job of keeping me safe than another person would. Sure, people approach me in the gym offering to spot me (which I still think is a little bizarre), but a simple "no thank you" is all I ever need.

Apparently, this is a Japanese proverb. I had totally chalked it up to Muhammed Ali. Epic fail on my part.
Like I said before, I was embarrassed the first one or two times that I fell. When I say embarrassed, I felt so down on myself and felt like the people around me in the weight room thought so little of me that I had to leave that area of the gym immediately. Now I know better.

I fail lifts on a regular basis. I've learned that failure means a multitude of different things; I'm not ready for that weight, I didn't sleep enough last night, I didn't eat enough today (this one affects me most), I haven't eaten enough this week, my mind is otherwise occupied...  Point being, I've failed enough times now (and seen enough people fail their lifts) that I now accept it as a regular part of my training.

How you react to failure says a lot about you as a person. Do you want to be the person who sits there, staring at the bar, beats themselves up and then gives up? Or do you want to be the person who sits there for a second, stands up, resets the bar, and then goes on to smash their PR? I'd rather be the latter, I was the latter last night. Let me be the first to tell you, it feels good.

Moral of the story: be safe and don't give up!

PS - if you were curious what the rest of my workout looked like...
Barbell Squat
Warmup - 8 reps at 65lb
Working - 1 set of 6 reps at 135lb, 3 sets of 6 at 145lb

Seated Leg Curl
4 sets of 8 reps at 152lb

Seated Leg Extension
4 sets of 8 reps at 91lb

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift (with dumbbells)
4 sets of 6 reps with 30lb DBs

Stairmaster Intervals (10 min)
Alternate 40 seconds of a very fast climb with 40 seconds of a very slow climb.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why it's Good to be the Birthday Girl and Why You Shouldn't Go Nuts with Dark Chocolate

Hello all!

I've been celebrating my birthday this last week and it has been a blast! My actual birthday was on Tuesday, I celebrated my birthday with family on Wednesday, I went to the Counting Crows concert on Thursday, my company outing to the Giants game was on Friday, Emily and I went to the beach yesterday (there will be another post about that), and we're going to the Giants game today!

Birthday cupcakes at work! I wanted to try banana split (left) and also have my all-time favorite s'mores, so I had half of each

My new food scale!

Ingredients for a huge grilled salad at my parent's place

The beautiful America's Cup Pavilion where Michelle and I got to see The Wallflowers and Counting Crows

Our amazing seats at the Giants game

Our post-workout feast on the beach! Tomato & mozzarella salad, smoked salmon, steamed baby carrots with guac, berries, an assortment of smoked meat (not pictured), and some amazing birthday cupcakes (not pictured)
All of that was just so amazing, thank you to all my family and friends who are responsible for making me feel so lucky and loved.

I'm sure you can imagine that with a week like this one, it was a little difficult to track what I was eating and make it to the gym on a regular basis. I tried to stay as active as possible, didn't beat myself up about not being able to exercise, and I didn't pay too close attention to what I was eating. I tried to keep my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks as healthy as possible. But dinner, I allowed myself to go a little nuts.

It was great, but it's not sustainable, so back to the norm (on tomorrow/Monday) for this girl! Which should be easier with the food scale that Lance gave me!

[food scale]

Using this food scale will make it soooooo much easier for me to determine just how much of my beloved treats I'm eating, like dark chocolate. (smooth and fluid transition, whaaaaaaat?)

I can imagine some of you sitting there like "ummmmmmmmmmm, dark chocolate has antioxidants and is a health food, I thought I could eat as much as I wanted...."

As do most of us.
Well, yes and no. It's a double edged sword. Yes, dark chocolate has antioxidants. Yes, dark chocolate is a great indulgent treat. Yes, there has been a study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) that says dark chocolate can lower blood pressure. But there's also the small matter of the fat in dark chocolate, namely that half that fat comes from saturated fat.

Um... what?
Saturated fat is something to be consumed in moderation and it's in a surprising amount of stuff. Meat contains saturated fat, cheese contains saturated fat, chocolate contains saturated fat. Saturated fat is the type of fat that is solid at room temperature, making it a popular choice (along with trans fat) for manufacturers who sell prepackaged foods that might sit on the shelf for a while. Fat will go rancid after a period of time, so food manufacturers like... Nabisco.

Nabisco is responsible for Oreos, and I am not here to argue that you should never eat Oreos because I think that Oreos are absolutely delicious and I do have one or two from time to time. Oreos can sit on the shelf for a long while, maybe on your shelf and not on the supermarket's shelf, but if those cookies go rancid, Nabisco will catch a lot of hell and the brand would suffer. So they cram them full of these resilient fats to postpone that awful reality as long as possible.

So, why is saturated fat  supposedly bad for you? This is where the research is divided. Some say that saturated fat does not increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, or heart disease. Some say it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. But you do have to view these claims and realize that when you're restricting saturated fat, you're replacing it with other macronutrients, including different types of fat. You can find abstracts for other studies on saturated fat and cardiovascular disease here and here.

Your best bet? Don't cut out saturated fat, but don't over consume it either. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (last published in 2010) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend getting less than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fat. Assuming you're on a 2000 cal diet, that means 22.2 g of saturated fat per day. We'll call it 22 g for the sake for whole numbers. Assuming you're into Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate (because it is available almost everywhere), you can have 1 2.6 oz dark chocolate bar per day since it clocks in at 21.4 g of saturated fat.

That's great! 2.6 oz of dark chocolate sounds amazing.

I hear ya buddy
Yes and no. 2.6 oz of chocolate should be enough to satisfy the chocoholic above, but that is assuming you don't consume any other sources of saturated fat. That means no meat, no cheese, full fat dairy, butter, etc.

Oh good, I'm suggesting a sliding scale. Ugh.

Consider the fact that a serving of dark chocolate is 1 oz. That gives you 8.2 g of saturated fat (again, assuming Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate, each chocolate will have different numbers). That's just over one third of your daily recommended allowance of saturated fat! You can totally work that in, right?

You can indulge in dark chocolate, daily if you want, but you have to remember to work it into your nutritional plan for the day.