I love starting my weekend with a trip to the farmers market. I may start the day overwhelmed by my to-do list, but everything slows down as I start to walk past the tables of vibrant produce, local honey, and artisanal breads and cheeses. Connecting with your food and those who produce it makes you pause, breathe, and appreciate the great gift of real food. You know you’re doing something better for your body and planet by going fresh and local.
However, you can’t take for granted that everything at your local farmers market is good for you and the planet. Supporting your local farmers market can provide better quality produce and be beneficial to the environment and local economy. However, it is not a guaranty that the produce is free of pesticides, meets safety standards, or that the product is actually from a local source. If you’re not taking the opportunity to get to know your farmer you may not be getting what you bargained for. Here are some questions to ask at your next (or first) farmers market visit.
Farmers Markets in all 50 States Accept Food Stamps and EBT
DO YOU USE PESTICIDES?
Not every local farmer grows organically. Those who do so often proudly display their USDA organic label. If you don’t see the organic label, you need to ask how they spray and fertilize their crops. Some farmers use all organic methods but simply do not have the resources to obtain the organic certification. Others may use conventional methods of pest control and fertilization. If it is a fruit or vegetable on the Dirty Dozen list, make sure to choose organically grown produce.
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR LIVESTOCK?
Local and grass fed seem to go hand-in-hand but you can’t assume that is the case. Cows and chickens may still be eating grain due to cost and land availability (or even junk food!). They may also still be getting things you don’t want in your food, like antibiotics. Organic eggs may be the best protein choice at the farmers market. They can be used in a variety of ways and can be less expensive per serving than organic beef. (more…)
Posted on June 3, 2022 by Pamela
If you’re new to the gym this spring you’re quickly figuring out that fitness has a language all its own. You have the bootcamp class going for AMRAP while the guy at the squat rack is bragging about his one rep max. As you rest before attempting the next set of dips, another woman asks to “work in” on the assisted dip machine. She asks you, “Is it chest and tri day for you, too?”.
You stare at her thinking, “Are my triceps supposed to have a special day?”.
Workout splits, or how often you work a particular muscle group, can be one of the most confusing parts of a new strength training regimen. With the emphasis on high intensity programs in gyms and online training programs most people are training every muscle, every workout. The idea of a workout dedicated to just upper body or a specific muscle group seems foreign, even outdated, but making sure a muscle has adequate rest and attention is key to creating the physique you really want. Whether you’re new to the weight room or thinking about your first figure competition, there is a split that is right for you! (more…)
Posted on March 11, 2023 by Pamela
We need 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. It’s a great goal but it can feel unattainable for many people. If you’re new to exercise, jumping from zero to 30 minutes EVERY DAY can feel as daunting as being asked to run a marathon. This is especially true if you have no idea where to start or what to do for those 30 minutes.
Even for experienced exercisers there are days with back-to-back meetings or when the alarm doesn’t go off – again. Exercise can get pushed off the plate to balance out the daily demands on our time. With the holidays upon us, time for workouts becomes even more precious and scarce then usual. Rookie or pro, we can all fall into the “all or nothing” trap.
By the time I drive to the gym, I’ll just have to turn around and come right back. If I can’t get my whole workout in why even bother?
I can’t walk on the treadmill for FIVE minutes, how am I supposed to do 30? Where am I even going to find 30 minutes in my day?
New Book Preview: What You Can, When You Can
If the “all or nothing” mentality is holding you back from getting your daily workout, I’ve got good news for you. The latest research says our minimum dose of exercise may be lower than we once thought. A recent study in the journal Lancet looked at exercise patterns and life expectancy of over 400,000 men and women. They found that as little as 15 minutes a day provided health benefits and reduced all cause mortality. (more…)
Posted on November 25, 2022 by Pamela
Did anyone happen to see the Today Show story on FitBit users who claim the device made them gain weight? I missed it when it originally aired, but it was topic of discussion during an IDEA World Fitness session called Best Practices for Integrating Devices and Apps with Your Clients.
More and more people are using technology to assist them on their fitness journey. In fact, session facilitator Patrick Jak shared that 10% of U.S. adults wear some kind of activity tracker, and that estimates say by 2023, 500 million people will be using fitness apps on their smartphones. An activity tracker or food log app like MyFitnessPal can be a great help in getting more active or facilitating fat loss. The problem is, as with any fitness tool, they are only effective with consistent and correct usage.
If you’re one of the 10% with a FitBit, Fuelband, VivoFit, or a dedicated MyFitnessPal user, but you aren’t seeing results, take a look at these common operator errors: (more…)
Posted on September 26, 2022 by Pamela
Have you ever used beans as an oil replacement or meat substitute in vegan cooking? As my diet has evolved from the vegetarian who didn’t eat vegetables to the clean eating personal trainer I am today, I’ve learned that beans are for more than just chili.
Black beans can add moisture to brownies, muffins and pancakes, or make a great burger. Chickpeas can be a great stand-in for chicken in a deli-style salad, or they can take the place of eggs in scrambles and breakfast tacos. (more…)
Posted on August 18, 2022 by Pamela
I don’t like crunches. They hurt my neck. No matter how hard I focus on keeping my eyes up and my chin off my chest, I still feel my neck is getting more of a workout than my abs.
That’s why crunches don’t appear often in my (or my clients’) workouts. I don’t ignore the core however. It is the foundation of our body and functional movement. I just choose to train it other ways.
There are plenty of non-crunch techniques to help you develop your core. If you have low back issues or simply don’t want a pain in the neck, try one of these ways to build a strong and stable core.
1. Planks: I love ab holds and high planks, but they can get boring after awhile. Once a client can maintain an ab hold for 60 seconds, I move on to more challenging plank variations. To take your plank to the next level, try one of these.
- Stability ball plank: Place your forearms on a stability ball and toes on the ground. Hold for up to 90 seconds.
- Plank slides: I love Valslides for core work! Place one Valslide under each hand while in high plank position. Alternating pushing arms forward and back, about 6 inches away from your body, for 12 reps per side.
- Body Saw: Take your plank to a new level by keeping your forearms on the ground but place your feet in suspension trainers that are hanging about 10 – 12 inches from the ground. Move forward and back for 10-15 repetitions. (more…)
Posted on July 28, 2022 by Pamela
For those of you looking to get off the diet roller coaster, get back to the basics, and develop a balanced and sustainable lifestyle to get you feeling your best, health coach and personal trainer Pamela Hernandez has released an ebook just for you: The 4 Keys to Real Fitness.
Pamela Hernandez is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ACE Certified Health Coach (who is also a long-time partner of DietsInReview.com) with a thriving practice in Springfield, MO, where she is the owner of Thrive Personal Fitness. We spoke with her about her no-frills, easy-to-follow guidelines to a healthier, happier life, and how her personal life experiences support her clients.
“I’ve always wanted to help empower women,” says Hernandez. “Fitness gave me the strength and confidence to pursue my dreams. I want other women to feel strong and capable of doing anything they wish.”
No matter the age or experience level, Pamela has found four essential components to fitness success, which she describes in her new e-book. These elements aren’t groundbreaking, “but when they are applied with the right mindset they work every time.” (more…)
Posted on July 2, 2022 by Katie McGrath
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I think it’s important to set a goal when it makes sense to do so, not based on a random date on the calendar. Not everyone is ready to change her life on January 1. Yet, even I get caught up in the frenzy of renewal and excitement that comes with the change of the calendar.
According to Time.com, losing weight is one of the top resolutions made – and broken. Why? Because we pin our hopes on an outcome we can’t directly control. We become frustrated when the scale doesn’t budge and we give up. We forget about the other benefits healthy weight loss strategies can bring.
The scale is actually the worst judge of our progress in our fitness journey. I have clients who have dropped 1-2 sizes while the scale only changed a pound or two in the process. Not only did their shape change, they also started feeling all the other benefits of focusing on fitness (and not how much they weigh).
This year, instead of the big “New Year, New Me” proclamation, I want you to take it one step at a time. I want you to pick ONE resolution that is SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relative, Time-Based) and focus on improving your health, not pounds lost. If you focus on doing the right things for your body it will often show up in your shape. You’ll also feel better by focusing on the things you can control. Here are some ideas to get you started. (more…)
Posted on December 18, 2022 by Pamela
When we think of cardio, running is often the first thing that comes to mind. Running is a great form of exercise, however, it isn’t the right solution for everyone. From beginners who haven’t built a base of strength yet to those with arthritis, high impact movements like running aren’t a good fit.
Cardio, by definition, actually means “from the heart.” Therefore, from an exercise perspective, it is anything that gets your heart rate up. This means there are plenty of low- or no-impact activities you can do to accomplish this goal. Make cardio easier on your knees while still benefiting your heart with these five moves.
Walking is a great form of cardio that we already know how to do, but you have to do it briskly or find a way to push yourself. The heart is a muscle and, like your biceps, gets stronger only with challenge. Make your walk more challenging by increasing the incline on the treadmill or wearing a weighted vest on your outdoor walks.
Dance lets you sweat and de-stress. Have you seen the transformations on Dancing with the Stars? If ballroom isn’t your thing, try a hip-hop or swing class. You can always crank up your favorite tunes and get crazy in your living room. (more…)
Posted on October 29, 2022 by Pamela
What’s not to love about eggs? They are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to cook. Despite their former bad wrap, they are actually a nutritional powerhouse with good fat and the vital nutrients vitamin D and choline. They seem like the answer to everyone’s breakfast protein problem.
Until you simply can’t look at another egg.
Burnout happens. But you still need to start your day with a breakfast that will stay with you and keep your willpower strong as you stroll past the donuts in the break room. Here are five breakfasts with plenty of protein and where eggs aren’t the star. I guarantee they will fuel your long run or keep you from hitting the vending machine before lunch.
Cottage Cheese: This dieter’s staple found popularity for good reason – one half-cup has 16 grams of protein! Sprinkle with some milled flaxseed and your favorite fruit (I hear kiwi is awesome) for a heartier-than-it-looks morning treat. You can even use it to make these breakfast brownies.
Protein pancakes: The eggs are hiding in many varieties of this fitness staple, but you’ll never know it. Try my Vanilla Coconut Protein pancakes. Make a big batch on the weekend and reheat throughout the week for a quick breakfast. (more…)
Posted on September 24, 2022 by Pamela
Eating out as a vegetarian who says no to dairy (most of the time) is a challenge. That’s why I don’t do it often. But fast food can be a necessary evil on a busy day of errands, if I forget my lunch, or if I’m traveling. While chain restaurants are being required to post calories, calories don’t provide the whole story. Lower calorie options can be loaded with sugar and lack protein, leaving you unsatisfied and headed toward a blood sugar crash.
Eating healthy on the go means being prepared and doing your research. It helps to have a go-to list of preselected options so you can grab and go. Try these fast food finds to make eating on the go a little healthier.
Denny’s Fit Fare menu: At IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West, I had the privilege of having breakfast with Kymberly and Alexandra from FunandFit.org. When Denny’s, which was across the street from our hotel, was suggested I was skeptical. I was pleasantly surprised however by their Fit Fare menu. Since they serve breakfast all day, try the Veggie Skillet. With egg whites, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and potatoes it has 20 grams of protein and only 330 calories. While it may not be as fast they do offer take out service. (more…)
Posted on August 21, 2022 by Pamela