An Easy At-Your-Desk Exercise for a Flat Belly

Train your belly to be flat & fight constipation with this move you can do at your desk.
If you sit for a long period of time, you may notice your digestion is not as good as when you’re active.
Try this helpful digestion aid:
1. Suck in your stomach as far as you can, then stick it out as far as you can–
2. When you breathe out, push the air out of your stomach, so it makes it flat and deflate like a balloon.
3. When you breathe in, allow your stomach to expand like a balloon being blown up.
4. Repeat 20-30 times.
This small exercise helps digestion, gets your blood flowing, and exercises your abdominal muscles.  You’ll prevent muffin-top bloat from constipation and you’ll activate your abs, training them to stay contracted and tight, rather than loosey goosey!
Looking for other Flat-Belly Moves?
Try these!
The Reverse Plank (with optional kick)
The Plank: Be sure to read directions so that you ensure you do the exercise correctly to ensure a flat tummy!

A Top Takeaway from the New Dietary Guidelines

 

Well, they’ve finally arrived! The much anticipated updated 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released by the USDA, and to say they’re controversial would be a massive understatement. We have had many lengthy conversations with several of you, and with many of our clients discussing food politics and its’ role in the guidelines and that we’re not in favor of some of the guidelines as a result (we definitely think the guidelines should have gone further with red meat and sugary drinks, just to name a few). That being said, today we want to focus on the positive –some great takeaway messages that we all can benefit from.

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The good news is that the guidelines are supported by the most current research and can be used to promote weight loss and fight disease– and with 117 million Americans (half of our population!) overweight thanks mainly to diet and inactivity, we all can benefit from tips for getting and staying healthy!

 

Many of you know from reading our blogs that one of the most critical parts of our morning routine is something that we’ve done ever since we were in high school; when we wake up in the morning, we immediately hydrate with a huge glass of water (20 ounces!). This is one of the most important and energizing pieces to our morning—and if we don’t do it, we end up feeling like we need a boost all day. This is such a part of our routine that we actually crave our morning water. We’ve watched our clients get the same energy-boosting benefits when we have them take advantage of our recommendation to do the same and we always encourage others to do this too!

 

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And while we’re happy that the guidelines suggest cutting back on sugar, we really feel the guidelines should have been specific and suggest what we always recommend—switching from sugary beverages to water, seltzer or other unsweetened beverages. After all, research shows that when we drink calories our brain doesn’t seem to get the signal that we received calories, and we eat just as much later in the day as we would have had we not ingested anything at all. Drinking calories and then eating as if we didn’t get any? This isn’t pretty for our waistlines!

 

Since staying hydrated is critical (every process in the body takes place in water and water helps our bodies to function optimally; staying well hydrated is important to both physical performance and mental cognition) recommending water, sparkling water or seltzer should be a no-brainer! Not only are these hydrating options calorie-free, when it comes to getting healthy and shedding weight, they are superstars since they help to fill the stomach and also prevent mistaking thirst for hunger, along with so much more!

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And sure, we’ve all heard that we need to drink more water, for many reasons, including for weight loss, but this just doesn’t seem to motivate people to do it in lieu of other bevvies. If you’re looking for a little motivation to drink water instead of another drink, we get it—flavor talks! We’re all for jazzed up water—a.k.a. sparkling water– and it counts as water! We personally are obsessed with sparkling water! It makes a great alternative to sugary beverages or high-calorie alcoholic beverages. One of our favorites: Arrowhead Sparkling Raspberry Lime (featured above!).
And if you want more motivation to drink water (especially if you’re looking to shed a few LBs)—check out these neat motivating tidbits of information that will inspire water sipping over other sugary or calorie-containing beverages. We now officially have our water in hand and ready to sip… 🙂

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• Added sugars account on average for almost 270 calories, or more than 13 percent of calories per day in the U.S. population. As shown in Figure 2-9, intakes as a percent of calories are particularly high among children, adolescents, and young adults.

• The major source of added sugars in typical U.S. diets is beverages, which include soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, and flavored waters (Figure 2-10).

• Beverages—excluding milk and 100% juice–account for almost half (47%) of all added sugars consumed by the U.S. population (Figure 2-10).

• Americans should get less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.

• Beverages account for almost 20 percent of total calorie intake. Within beverages, the largest source of calories is sweetened beverages, accounting for 35 percent of calories from beverages.

• Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks that are less than 100% juice, can contribute excess calories while providing few or no key nutrients.

• Beverages are not always remembered or considered when individuals think about overall food intake. However, they are an important component of eating patterns.

• One of the major recommendations in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugars to no more than 10 percent of total calories—or 12 teaspoons per day–based on a 2000 calorie diet. A 12-ounce soda packs in about 150 sugar calories and 10 teaspoons of added sugars—nearly all the sugar you need in a day!

So here’s what you need to do to save calories and get healthier: Drink water! People often forget how many calories and sugars are in beverages. They watch what they eat—not what they drink. Sparkling and still water are terrific options for people seeking simple, natural refreshment who no longer want the added chemicals in diet soda.

• Drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages is one of the easiest ways to meet the recommendations to limit added sugars because sugar sweetened beverages are the leading source of added sugars in the U.S. diet.
• Replacing one 12-oz soda with water each day would cut some 50,000 calories from the diet and about 75 cups of sugar in a year!
• Half of all kids and adults in the U.S. drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage every day. Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages total about 170 calories—equal to more than 10 teaspoons of sugar. (Johnson/Neuhouser)

• Sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading source of added sugars in the U.S. diet. Americans currently average about 23 teaspoons of added sugars per day—some 365 calories from sugars alone. (Johnson)

• Some 47 percent of added sugars in the U.S. diet come from sugar-sweetened beverages. (Neuhouser)
• Keeping tap or bottled water on hand and accessible is an easy way to remind yourself to drink calorie- and sugar-free water in place of sugary beverages.

• Replacing just one sugary beverage per day with water is a small step that can equal big calorie savings and may be a dieter’s best ally.

Haven’t seen the guidelines and want to check them out? See them here.

 

Sources:

1. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015.8th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government
Printing Office, December 2015. Available at: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/
2. Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health.” A Scientific Statement from the
American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009;120:1011-20.

3. Neuhouser M et al. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Science Base Chapter: Food and Nutrient Intakes, and Health: Current Status and Trends. 2014. Available at: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-BINDER/meeting7/docs/DGAC-Meeting-7-SC-1.pdf

4. Popkin, Barry M., Kristen E. D’Anci, and Irwin H. Rosenberg. “Water, Hydration and Health.” Nutrition reviews 68.8 (2010): 439–458. PMC. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

The Nutrition Twins work with Nestle to help people get more water.

Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

 

Growing up as athletic kids with an overprotective mom, we knew when to let her know when we were feeling sick and when not to.  After all, on one hand, if we were sick in her household, she was even more doting than ever.  She wanted us instantly better so we had a bell next to our bedside, and any time we rang it meant tons of love and attention, homemade soup, OJ… you name it. 🙂

But on the other hand, if she thought we were sick or heading that way, there was no sports practice, no splashing around in the chilly creek, etc., until we got better.  And even though she followed the golden rule–if you feel it in the neck and above, exercise is OK and if it’s below the neck, exercise is out, she still wondered if it would make us sicker if she allowed us to exercise even if we only felt it from the neck up. 

5 Steps to a Bullet Proof Immune System

Our clients frequently ask us this too.  So, should you work out if you’re feeling sick? After all, a light to moderate workout may  make you feel better…

Answer:

Mom was right.  Use the “neck rule”: If your symptoms are above the neck (think sneezing, running or stuffy nose, sinus pressure, etc., then breaking a sweat is considered safe.

  • Even 20 minutes of exercise may make you feel better.  The key however, is to listen to your body–and realize that you may not be up for your typical level of exercise intensity.

 

  • Try speed walking for 20 minutes, which may make you feel better.  If your sinuses are clogged, exercise may open up your nasal passages and taking some deeper breaths from the exercise may be helpful, too.

 

  • Yoga increases blood flow and lowers anxiety.  If you feel fine jogging, it acts as a decongestant, too.

 

  • Skip endurance training or high intensity training.

 

  • If exercise makes you feel worse, stop.

 

Symptoms below the neck? If you have flu-like symptoms like body aches, nausea or vomiting or chest congestion and other symptoms, working out should be tabled and you should be chaired–or in the bed. 🙂

 

 

Remember, research shows that those who exercise regularly tend to get sick less frequently.  And exercising helps to boost immunity. (Just remember that exercising too much and too intensely can do just the opposite.).

5 Steps To Cleanse Your Body, “Detox” and Recharge

Even as registered dietitians and certified personal trainers, we love a good celebration and having fun as much as anyone, but we’re not gonna lie, we’re a bit relieved that some of the holidays and many of the social gatherings are slowing down a bit so we can all (us included!) get back on track. After all, everyone feels better after losing the extra party LBs, bloat and heaviness that most feel after too much indulgence.

 

And we’ve got just the tips to get your mind and your body immediately on the healthy train! Remember, during this time, the last thing that you want is something high in calories and heavy; it will only dig you further into a hole. Instead bring an abrupt end to the discomfort from overindulging that you’re feeling (feeling bloating and heaviness anyone?) with wholesome, nutrient-packed foods, i.e., your new besties.

 

What you really need are foods that are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants, potassium, water and fiber, but low in calories and sodium. They’ll immediately get your mind and body back on the healthy track as they hydrate you and flood your body with nutrients to help to neutralize damaging particles while flushing out bloating culprits, like salt.

 

Before we help you to choose those amazing foods, if you really want to kick start your health, we highly recommend also doing these three things:

 

1. Cut out sugar and artificial sweeteners for a week. The goal is to reset your “sweet” taste buds. By limiting very sweet flavors your taste buds will “reset” themselves as they lower their perception of sweetness. Steer away from sugary drinks, snacks, and treats. Allow fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth—and you’ll be amazed by how well it works! When you go back to sugary foods, you’ll need less sweet flavor to satisfy you. Plus, if you saw our New Year’s Resolution article you know that refined sugars typically add a lot of calories without nutrients, contributing to weight gain—and they also often increase cravings. They seem to weaken the immune system too by reducing your white blood cells’ ability to destroy bacteria.

 

If you really need something sweet, try foods like these that are naturally sweet (no sugar added!):

 

o Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream  (140 Calories)

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o Comfort Food Reinvented Inside Apple Pie (80 Calories)

o Skinny Homemade Strawberry Mint Ice Cream   (40 Calories)

 

2. Cut out alcohol. Although generally, a glass of wine can be healthy, while you are cleansing your body, we suggest avoiding it. Not only does it provide calories without nutrients but during the cleanse you’ll be restoring your liver and asking it to detoxify alcohol gives it an extra burden.
3. And for the love of veggies, don’t go on a starvation diet! Diets that are 1,000 calories (and less) simply backfire. They are not sustainable, don’t provide enough nutrients or protein to keep your lean muscle tissue and they are so restrictive that it’s impossible to keep them up for long. When you return to normal eating, you’ve lost muscle—and lowered your metabolism—and weight gain is inevitable! Ahh!

 

Follow these 5 Steps to Cleanse Your Body:
1. Go for foods that are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They help to neutralize toxins and prevent inflammation and damage caused by overdoing it on less-than-healthy toxin-creating foods and drinks. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods actually help to revitalize cells (think vegetables, [especially brightly colored, but all work—and the more the better! After all they are 80-90% water and provide potassium and fiber], fruits, beans, fish).
Anti-inflammatory/ Phytonutrient-Packed Recipes:

Colorful Detox Salad: Chockfull of vegetables that mop up free radical damage, this low-calorie salad is great for detoxifying and fighting inflammation

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Crispy Cran-Mango Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts are superstars when it comes to fighting damage and inflammation. Cranberries and mangos are phytonutrient powerhouses too.

Veggie Flush Salad: Light and refreshing, beets have nutrients which help detoxify the body by purifying the liver and blood. A powerhouse trio of asparagus, a natural diuretic; fennel, which relieves gastrointestinal ailments to get your tummy feeling flat; and kale, which plays a role in both phases of the liver’s detoxification process, will have you feeling rejuvenated in no time.
• Check out our book The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure for a 10-day Weight Loss Jumpstart and Detox Plan and more than 100 delicious healthy recipes like thisNutrition Twins Veggie Cure

 

2. Include water and potassium-rich foods (and drinks) that are low in sodium. This is a potent combo that restores normal fluid balance and flushes out bloat and puffiness. Why is this combo so magical? Fluids help to flush out your system while potassium helps to counterbalance sodium. (Go for vegetables [all of them, especially green leafy veggies] and fruits).

 

Orange-Lime Sparkling Refresher 5 calorie citrus refresher helps to banish bloat and get you feeling light after indulging in heavy holiday foods.

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Ginger and Carrot Slim-down Smoothie: Potassium rich cantaloupe and apples round out the phytonutrient-rich ginger and carrots to make this an ideal beverage to restore normal fluid balance

Detoxifying Green Tea Smoothie:  Packed with potassium and water plus phytonutrients to neutralize toxins, this refreshing smoothie is delish.

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Mint “Detox” Drink: Among many great ingredients that help to flush bloat, it’s got mint–we like to think of it as a peace maker in the body 😉 It eases indigestion and calms the stomach, likely by improving the flow of bile through the stomach, which helps to speed and ease digestion. Thanks in part to it’s anti-inflammatory antioxidant rosmarinic acid, it “calms your insides” to ease the havoc inside your body!

Slimming Raspberry-mint “Detox” Spritzer: Raspberries and lime make this a drink a potassium winner, and at only 8 calories, you can drink it all day long and flush away bloat without the calories adding up!

Lemon Mint “Detox” Drink: Lemon, mint and ginger flood the body with potassium to flush bloat and restore normal hydration status

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Skinny Green Smoothie:  Only 61 Calories, add this to your list

Rise & Shine Weight Loss Smoothie:    Only 156 Calories, kick start your day with this

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3. Focus on foods packed with fiber; they’re naturally low in calories. Fiber prevents constipation, keeping your regular. After your body extracts nutrients from food, fiber (think all vegetables, fruits, and high-quality carbohydrates like oatmeal, quinoa and beans) helps to rinse out the remains– waste and toxins from your colon to give you a flat stomach.

 

Chickpea Burgers: Beans are ideal when it comes to boosting fiber; this flavorful burger makes a great fiber rich lunch or dinner.

Chickpea Burger

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili: With quinoa, black beans, kidney beans, peppers, and tomatoes, this meal makes a great fiber-rich lunch or dinner to flush wastes out of the body.

 

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding: With fiber powerhouses pumpkin puree and chia seeds, this treat packs in a whopping 17 grams of fiber! Plus, the pumpkin and chia are both great for fighting inflammation with their potent phytonutrients
4. Go for the veggies with especially powerful detox capabilities. Fennel, bok choy, beets and kale are rock stars when it comes to detoxification. They are some of the few foods that play a role in both phases of liver detoxification.

 

Here are a few recipes to help you get your fill:
Kale, Quinoa and Edamame Superfood Bowl (featuring kale)

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Chunky Sweet Potato Kale Chili (super easy, featuring kale)
Spiced Ginger Citrus Quinoa: (featuring fennel):

Beets with Feta and Walnuts: (featuring beets)
5. Sweat yourself clean! Skin is the body’s largest organ, and sweating is a great way to help the body with its’ healthy, natural elimination process. Make a goal to sweat daily since this is one way your body eliminates metabolic breakdown products and excess salt.
Hello Slim & Rejuvenated! 😉

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4 Surefire Ways To Get to The Event Bloat-Free

Here are our favorite tricks that we ALWAYS use before heading to a BBQ, a pool, the beach, or an event where we need to wear a LBD (i.e. the “Lil’ Black Dress”). Of course, as registered dietitians and personal trainers, these are based on science, but keep in mind that these are the tricks that don’t just look good on paper– they really work!  So we just have to share them! You’re welcome! 😉

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1. Wake up and immediately drink 16 ounces (or more!) of water

  • This will wake up your digestive tract—and get things movin’on out 😉 Buh, bye leftovers from last night that that are lingering in the colon. (This works like magic for us 😉)
  • It will help to flush bloating salt and water along with it.
  • It will prevent dehydration and give your body what it needs for its’ chemical reactions to make energy to start your day.

 

2. Get your sweat on! Do some form of cardio for at least 15 minutes.

  • This really gets your intestinal tract going to get things moving out of your colon. Ah-hem, yes, we mean, you’re preventing constipation and the gut bulges that come with it! (If you run, like we often do, you probably know how well this works!)
  • You’ll get rid of the little layer of “puff” right beneath your skin as you sweat out a little salt.
  • You’ll activate your muscles so they look toned and tight at the event.

 

3. Watch this move below. It’s the hook, line and sinker for your bloat-free belly. Your stomach will look so much tighter! It’s crazy cool! 🙂

Tammy learned this move after she first gave birth to her twins. This activates your stomach muscles and it trains them to stay right and tight—rather than just hanging out like most of us (yep, us too– so this is a good reminder for us!) let our stomachs do when we are just standing around.

 

What to do:
Step 1. Activate the muscles in your stomach by simply standing with your back against the wall and placing your hand on your stomach.  Squeeze your abs, pulling your belly button back to your spine.  Breathe out as  you do it.  Think of your stomach muscles acting as a zipper and zipping the stomach in nice and tight from the bottom up. Your hand should feel your abs move back towards your spine.

Step 2. Remember, as you squeeze your abs towards your spine breathe out. Hold your abs tight for several counts and then release. Do this at least 15-20 times. You may feel this in your back too, that’s OK, and it’s part of the strengthening and toning process and actually is a sign you’re doing it correctly.

Step 3. Now that you’ve activated the muscles, do this on your way to the event—and even at the event! What we love is that no one will even see what you’re doing, but they will see tight abs and a flat stomach, oh yeah! 🙂

 

4. Eat a breakfast that is high in fiber and protein. The fiber will help you to feel satisfied by filling up your stomach and assisting your digestive tract in making sure everything keeps moving along to prevent constipation and bloat while the protein will keep you satiated.  Stay away from super heavy breakfasts that will weigh you down and make you feel heavy.

Try these:
Mini Frittata Muffins or Veggie Frittata Bites with a piece of fruit
3 Ingredient Blueberry Pancakes

For Smoothie Ideas that fit the bill, check out this and remember if you don’t add a protein source to your smoothie, you’ll want to add one, like nonfat Greek yogurt or eggs.
Orange Muesli

Cherry Muesli
And consider drinking this Cucumber Blueberry Water Flush (or something similar) during the day and at the event!
We’re dying to hear how our favorite bloat-free tricks worked for you! Please leave a comment below and let us know! Also, for bonus tips to stay bloat free at the event, check out these!

An Easy Exercise for Great Glutes

Reverse Lunge with Knee Lift

Beautify and Gluti-fy your Rear-view!

I admit it; I (Lyssie) have become a bit obsessed with bettering my rear-view. It all happened after I had to work on a writing project virtually 24/7 at my desk. I literally felt like my rear end took a hit and was sagging! If you’ve felt this way, I have great news, I quickly turned it around– and you can also with two simple moves! One you can even do anywhere without anyone even knowing!

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First, here’s the move you can do even in the grocery store line (I sure have been! 😉 ) :

  1. Simply squeeze your butt cheeks together, hold for three seconds and release for a moment.
  2. Complete 10 Repetitions to wake the glutes up.
  3. Then squeeze one butt cheek at a time holding each just for one second, just to activate the muscles, each on their own.

Now your glutes are warmed up (and you’ll notice they’ll start to be a bit firmer too (woohoo! 🙂 ) and you can try this move below (and above) that Tammy is demonstrating, it’s the ultimate Butt Blaster! 🙂

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Reverse Lunge with Knee Lift

Ultimate Booty Blast
Lunge Back Left Leg
Knee Up Left Leg
Repeat 10 times
Switch legs
Complete 3 Sets
Here’s how:

  1. Standing straight with your abs tight and engaged, lunge back with your right leg. Keeping your chest up, allow your left leg to bend until it is 90 degrees (the top of your leg should be parallel with the floor).
  2. Keeping your core engaged, push the ball of your foot into the floor to press yourself back towards standing position as you lift your right knee up to hip-level. Allow your arms to come up as you lift your leg.
  3. Pause for a moment with your right knee bent at 90 degrees and then step back into a lunge with your right leg, again allowing your left knee to bend to 90 degrees.
  4. Repeat this movement for ten repetitions with the right leg lunging. Then switch legs so that your left leg lunges back and the left knee lifts.
  5. Complete 3 sets with each leg.

Do this every other day and kiss buh-bye to a lazy-looking behind!