Breathe new life into your healthy habits and make the most of your fitness routine
You’ve been good. You’ve been very, very good. You’ve been working out regularly, eating right and including snacks like almonds into your daily routine. You deserve a reward! How about one that won’t take you off-track of your healthy lifestyle, but one that actually reinvigorates your good habits?
How about three? In the finale of our Life Squad series, our experts share tips that will spark new life into your eating and fitness routines to make the most out of your hard work, and carry you through summer with ease, flavor and satisfaction.
Led by actress, author, host of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and busy mom Alison Sweeney, the Life Squad team includes Seamus Mullen, award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author; Keri Gans, registered dietitian and nutritionist; Ashley Borden, celebrity personal trainer and fitness expert; and Joy McCarthy, Canadian holistic nutritionist.
Spring clean your eating routine-and your pantry, from Keri
This is the perfect time of year to spring clean your kitchen like you do your closet: get rid of the things in your pantry that might be holding you back from achieving that next nutrition goal, and replace them with Keri’s top pantry picks! Check out the video above for her top five, as well asways to change up your diet while setting you up for success in the future.
Keri’s Top Pantry Picks:
Beans: This versatile and nutritious food should be a mainstay in any pantry. Dried or canned, beans are widely available in a variety of styles, but more importantly they're rich in fiber and protein, which helps fill you up at meals.
High-fiber cereal: I believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but you may wind up skipping it if you don't have an easy-to-make option available.
Almonds: Also available in a variety of forms, almonds contain protein (6 g), fiber (4 g) and 35% of the daily value of vitamin E per one-ounce serving to keep you satisfied and energized! A pre-portioned snack bag of whole natural almonds allows you to snack at a moment's notice without the risk of overeating. Also keep almond butter and sliced or slivered almonds around for other snacking, baking and cooking uses.
Canned tuna: Hungry for lunch, but the fridge is empty? Pull a 3-ounce can of tuna (packed in water) from your cupboard, and enjoy 16 grams of protein and only 70 calories.
Extra-virgin olive oil: Whether broiling, sautéing, grilling or roasting, you need this kitchen basic. I suggest transferring olive oil to a spray bottle; this way, you spritz instead of pour the oil, which will save calories.
Some other ingredients to keep on hand: brown rice, balsamic vinegar, whole-wheat couscous, whole-wheat pasta, tomato sauce (no sugar added), whole grain crackers, canned artichokes, popcorn, low-fat mayonnaise, olives and pickles. These items can help season and supplement recipes or snacks whipped up at the last minute, without throwing your healthy eating routines out the window.
SPRING BONUS: Keri’s Travel Tips
Spring break and summer vacations often means lots of travel, whether by plane, train or automobile. Keri says, don’t let the inconvenience of travel derail your healthy habits. Try Keri’s travel tips to stay on track with eating right:
- Remember to bring snacks with you! You don’t want to leave it to chance that nutritious snacks will be available at the airport or a gas station. Pack whole fruit, string cheese, almonds and dried fruit to keep from arriving at your destination hungry and cranky.
- Stay hydrated. Make sure to drink water while traveling, especially by air. Thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger if you are dehydrated.
- Visiting with friends or family who don’t share your healthy lifestyle choices? No reason to stress about it -- simply offer to prepare some meals during your stay, and when you’re food shopping, stock up on some of your healthier favorite foods and snacks.
Fresh spring herbs and vegetables help make lighter recipes flavorful and satisfying—from Seamus
Whether they’re popping up at the local market or out of your own garden, fresh herbs are the key to satisfying seasonal eating, according to Chef Mullen. The range of flavor fresh herbs add to dishes is key in satisfying any palate, and keeping you on track with your fitness goals.
“I love to combine different herbs together-- like cilantro, basil and mint—to give a bright finish to a dish.” In fact, Seamus’ Snap Pea Salad (see video!) has all the flavors of spring, along with the crunch and nuttiness of almonds for a delicious dish that won’t derail your workout routine
Seamus says salad doesn’t necessarily have to mean lettuce! Create your own signature, seasonal salad with the freshest veggies from the market, a combination of fresh herbs, and bright dressing of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Follow these tips to bring out the most flavor from every ingredient:
- Roasting almonds brings out their intense nutty flavor. Simply spread on a baking sheet and pop into a 350 degree oven or toaster oven for 7-10 minutes; chopping the almonds first can help this process go faster.
- To toast sliced or slivered almonds, heat a skillet to medium-high and add almonds; cook, tossing regularly to prevent burning, for 4-5 minutes or until highly aromatic. Allow almonds to cool before adding to the salad.
- There's no need to chop up your herbs, simply tear the leaves by hand at the last minute—this brings out the most flavor. Most herbs have soft stems that can be included also. Woody stems—from thyme, rosemary, etc.—should be discarded.
- For the longest shelf life, store fresh herbs in the refrigerator wrapped loosely in a damp paper towel and sealed in a plastic bag.
Click here to see our active chef offer his on-the-go snacking solution for his favorite outdoor activity.
Bounce on this: amp up your spring and summer fitness routines—from Ashley
Now that your fitness routines are in place, it’s time to mix them up to make them work harder for you! Ashley says the best and easiest way to do this is add a new piece of “equipment”—depending on your gym or your geography, this could be a pool, a hiking route, or actual equipment, like a rebounder—one of Ashley’s favorites.
Your gym may have a rebounder, or you can bring one home and use it inside or outside, if the weather suits. Every member of the family—in any range of ability—can use it successfully and have fun.
First of all, it’s easy—just bounce! Check out the video above for Ashley’s instruction for the “Health Bounce”—a surprisingly effective way to engag your muscles and get your heart rate up. Then alternate arm lifts, front and side, to work upper body muscles and really rev up your metabolism! It’s said the rebounder engages every muscle in your body—and if you look at Ashley, that includes the muscles that make you smile!
Check out the video to hear Ashley talk about her favorite piece of equipment, and visit her website for more information on what to do with one. Now JUMP!
Don’t forget about stretching—click here for Ashley’s favorite stretching tip.
New habits complete your healthy lifestyle routines—from Joy
Being happy and healthy isn’t just about exercise and eating right—Joy says starting some new lifestyle habits can bring all of your hard work full circle, and make you feel great from the inside-out.
Dry Skin Brushing & Moisturizing
A quick daily habit to feel invigorated and vibrant is to dry brush your skin every morning before you shower, and then moisturize after you shower. Joy says dry skin brushing stimulates the lymphatic system to aid the body in the elimination of waste. Using a natural bristle body brush, start with your feet, lightly rubbing the brush in a circular motion towards the heart and work your way all the way up to your neck. Spend more time where your lymph nodes are such as behind your knees, in your armpits and your neck. Then, after you shower, follow with a light and rich moisturizing oil, like almond oil.
Get a Daily Dose of Vitamin G
Do you get too much screen time and not enough green time? What Joy calls “vitamin G” is a daily dose of nature, which can help you feel great. Take advantage of the warmer weather and aim to get at least 20 minutes of outdoor activity every single day!
Dive a Little Deeper into the Life Squad
About Alison Sweeney
Alison Sweeney is busy juggling the roles of hosting NBC’s hit reality series “The Biggest Loser,” playing Sami Brady on NBC’s Emmy Award winning daytime drama “Days of our Lives,” and author of several books including her first novel “The Star Attraction,” in addition to her roles as producer, director, wife and mother.
Sweeney, who is hosting her twelfth consecutive season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” leads the hit reality series in transforming the lives of show contestants and television viewers worldwide. Sweeney’s previously released book, “The Mommy Diet,” revealed the “diet” of nutrition, fitness and self-care that women can follow to look and feel fantastic – before and during pregnancy, and after giving birth. Her recent novel, "The Star Attraction," gives a glimpse into the world of Hollywood amidst a fun tale of romance. Her next novel will be released in June.
Sweeney resides in Los Angeles with her husband Dave, a California Highway Patrol officer, and their 8-year-old son Ben and 4-year-old daughter Megan.
For more information on Sweeney’s tips for health, wellness, fashion and personal anecdotes, follow her on Twitter here or at @Ali_Sweeney.
About Keri Gans
Keri Gans is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, spokesperson and media personality with a private practice in New York City. She is the author of “The Small Change Diet,” (Gallery, March 2011), a weekly blogger for Shape.com and US News & World Report’s Eat + Run. Keri is a past spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a past president of The New York State Dietetic Association.
The Huffington Post voted Keri one of the top 35 Nutrition & Diet Experts to follow on Twitter in 2011 and 2012. She is also the proud winner of the New York State Dietetic Association’s 2010 Media Excellence Award and 2006 Emerging Dietetic Leader Award.
Keri lives with her husband Bart and four-legged son, Henry, in New York City and East Hampton and is an avid yoga practitioner. She can be found at www.kerigansnutrition.com and followed on Twitter here.
About Seamus Mullen
Seamus Mullen is an award-winning New York chef, restaurateur and cookbook author known for his inventive yet approachable modern Spanish cuisine. In August 2011, Seamus opened his first solo restaurant Tertulia in Manhattan’s West Village, which was awarded two stars from The New York Times, three stars from New York Magazine and was a finalist for one of the industry’s highest honors, the James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant.
Seamus has appeared as a finalist on Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” in 2009, and was a regularly featured judge on the James Beard Award-winning Food Network series “Chopped.” In 2012, Seamus released his “Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better,” (Andrews McMeel) and currently contributes to SURFACE Magazine and Panna, an iPad video cooking app.
Most recently, Seamus opened his restaurant project El Colmado, a tapas and wine bar at Gotham West Market, a new food hall in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. Learn more about Seamus at www.seamusmullen.com; Like Seamus on Facebook here, and follow him on Twitter here.
About Ashley Borden
Ashley Borden is a globally recognized fitness and lifestyle expert and consultant. Borden’s ability to customize her training system, coupled with her sharp wit and candor, suits many types of the high-profile clients she has worked with including Christina Aguilera, Chelsea Handler, Mandy Moore and Ryan Gosling, to the likes of New York Yankee Nick Swisher and UFC Champion Matt Hughes. Borden also works as a master trainer with fellow trainers and coaches.
Women’s Health named Borden a top “Body Transformer” in 2011, one of only six trainers in the country, and Women’s Health UK just named Borden among their "A-Team" as one of the seven best personal trainers in the world. Her tips and techniques are regularly featured in publications such as InStyle, Vogue, Elle, Allure, Departures, and the Los Angeles Times, and most recently she can be seen on "The Doctors" and Hallmark's "Home & Family." She is also an advisor for Livestrong.com and Fitness magazine.
About Joy McCarthy
Joy McCarthy is a Canadian certified holistic nutritionist (CNP, RNCP), founder of the hugely popular healthy living blog JoyousHealth.com and wellness clinic Joyous Health, where she consults a global community of clients and teaches workshops. In addition to being the author of “JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting,” she is also a faculty member at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. If that weren’t enough, Joy is also an international speaker, and a featured nutrition expert on Global TV’s “The Morning Show” and CBC’s “Steven & Chris,” which also airs on ABC’s Live Well Network.
Joy regularly contributes her health expertise to many North American publications, television and radio shows, and often get’s to indulge in her love of amazing food by writing restaurant reviews.
The co-founder of Eat Well Feel Well, Toronto’s first integrated nutrition and yoga program, Joy lives a life rooted in balance, love and healthy living, all common themes of the 6 week course.
Joy lives in Toronto with her two adorable kitties and husband Walker.