Reasons you may or may not think stretching is ESSENTIAL to your health

Stretching is often overlooked in health, wellness, and fitness. Most people want to become stronger, or increase their endurance but ignore flexibility. In order to become fit, stronger or faster you have to be able to move well! You also need to sustain those movements without leading to injury.

Whether you are an athlete or live a less active lifestyle, stretching is crucial for your muscles. By increasing your flexibility and mobility it can help you avoid muscle imbalances and prevent injuries.
If you’re active, you’re prone to developing tight muscles and in turn limited range of motion. This then results in joint pain, muscle strains, and chronic injuries.

If you are not very active, sitting at a desk or hunched over looking at your phone leads to tight muscles. Chest, back and hamstrings which make it more difficult to extend your leg while walking, getting dressed or other functional activities.

Your muscles contract throughout the day- that keeps happening over time and puts pressure on nerves and bones. Most people just live with nagging pain and tightness. When I am stretching clients I am relieving tension, not usually pain. Tension does subside in time after consistent stretching sessions, or self stretching.

SO MANY BENEFITS OF STRETCHING!!:

1. Flexibility- without stretching or flexibility to maintain range of motion, the muscles shorten and become tight. When we need them for activity they are weak and unable to extend.

2.Posture- poor posture causes chest muscles to shorten and tighten, back muscles lengthen and weaken. This “ hunched” posture affects your blood flow and nerves.

3. Injury prevention- there’s increased blood supply and oxygen to muscles and joints allowing greater nutrient transportation and improves circulation of blood throughout the body.

4. Improves sleep- it activates your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your rest and digestive functions.

5. Increased energy- increased blood flow and circulation to the extremities leads to higher energy levels.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SEE RESULTS:

Studies saw significant increase in flexibility in one month, and showed changes after only 3 weeks! They also found that consistency is more important than the number of weekly sessions.
It does take discipline!

If you wanted to get stronger- you would do strength training or lift weights.
If you want to improve your endurance- you might start walking ,biking or running.
Flexibility is no different, we can’t expect to improve it by tacking on 5 minutes of stretching after a workout.
It needs the attention to see results to carry over to the rest of your life!

As we get older we actually end up with less range of motion because we do less. We also spend more time sitting down.

The time spent sitting tells your body it only needs to work in a limited range, that the hips only ever need to be roughly at 90 degrees and it’s normal for the hip flexors and low back to become tight and limited, the upper body to hunch and the shoulders to round. You get “good at” that poor posture. Your muscles naturally tighten up to protect yourself from damage.

This posture causes your chest, pectoral and bicep muscles to shorten and tighten. This also puts pressure on your posterior( back) muscles. This poses a negative effect on your neck and upper back causing tension headaches.

Range of motion or flexibility and strengthening exercises are key to improving posture!!
This can be difficult for some because we need to spend the time overcoming all the damage we have already done from years of sitting!

Turkey Sausage Greek Burgers

Turkey Sausage Greek Burgers

Ingredients
1 pound of ground turkey sausage
1 egg -beaten
¼ cup of feta cheese
1 tsp of dill seasoning
¼ tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of garlic powder ( or minced garlic)
1 cup of finely chopped spinach
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
Optional ingredients- cucumber, chopped olives, red onion

Preparation:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey sausage and beaten egg.
2. Add in the feta, seasonings, spinach, and mayonnaise. Combine well.
Shape into 4-5 burger patties.
3. On medium to high, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Cook the patties for 4-5 minutes, flip and cook the other side.
4. These are also great on the grill! Serve on a lettuce wrap with cucumber and tomato. You can also use a tzatziki dill dip.

How Acceptance Has Helped Keep Me Motivated

How Acceptance Has Helped Keep Me Motivated

When we accept the way things are, the better they seem and the better we can handle them. In turn this will make us happier in the long run.
By “accepting” certain situations I am not referring to accepting and ignoring them, rather accepting them and working towards dealing with them with a positive attitude. We CHOOSE what we do in life, whether we like to admit it or not. Not making excuses is part of that. Personally I have had many stressful situations to deal with, just like everyone else.
Years ago I finally accepted that I was obese and I was the only one that could fix it. For a long time I blamed others, thought my life was “unfair” and wondered why me? I made excuses and didn’t take responsibility for my actions. Things could have been different but they weren’t, life happens sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. The one thing that I have learned is that we always have 100% control over our response to these events. By adapting a mindset of constant improvement we can look for the opportunity in every situation. We can always learn something!
I accepted the idea that I would leave my career in Physical Therapy to start my own business inorder to follow my passion in nutrition and fitness. It was a major decision with lots of risks but once I made it I felt comfort.
Accepting my divorce took time, counseling, support from family and friends and strength. Our family learned how to adjust with the new living situation, along with the other emotional changes. Knowing that it was final I was able to move forward. I met one of the best guys and couldn’t be happier!
Today I accept the fact that I need to exercise on a consistent basis, choose healthier foods, and resist temptations to maintain my weight loss and be the healthiest that I can be.
There will always be challenges that arise, acceptance doesn’t necessarily make it easy. Divorce happens, along with deaths, financial issues, and family and friends moving away. However they all make us stronger!

Accepting the TRUTH has helped me overcome the negative feelings towards them. What obstacles have you encountered and how have you accepted them?

I Don’t Settle for Weight Gain As The Norm

I Don’t Settle for Weight Gain As The Norm

We all go up and down on the scale. One issue is the scale keeps going up and up and not really coming down as much as we want. For many reasons I occasionally still struggle with my eating, I can fluctuate 2-4 pounds from week to week. I know there are many reasons that the scale can creep up pretty quickly, sometimes without even realizing how much. I would also tell myself that is where my weight should be-until I realized it was just an excuse!

Recently I have been up 2 or 3 pounds. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal however I have definitely been eating some things that I typically don’t. I have been giving into “cravings” a little too often. Just allowing myself a little more sugar or extra fries has made a difference.

The most important lesson is that I know this is not my “normal” weight and I have to be more cautious. I don’t, I can’t let those 2 or 3 pounds become 4 or 5 gained pounds. Getting my act together will get those couple of pounds back off. As I talk with various clients I see this happening too often. We don’t think 2,3, or 4 pounds is a big deal, we tell ourselves that I will start after this weekend and it will be fine. Most of the time we have difficulty getting back on track which causes more anxiety and less motivation.

A couple of reasons that I notice why this happens:

1. Eating more than usual or eating certain things you may have been trying to avoid
2, Not weighing yourself often enough- or ever
3. Starting a new program with motivation and slowly losing it
4. Becoming more lax in your eating habits~ having just a couple of bites or just a taste of something. Those add up!
5. Continue to eat a small cookie, or have a handful of chips.
Most “cravings” are represented by our emotions. They are often stronger than our self control.

DO NOT let a couple of pounds discourage you- get right back on track where you should be. This also improves your self control, you feel better, and are more motivated to keep going!!

Crustless Pizza Casserole

Crustless Pizza Casserole

Ingredients

  • 4 links of chicken Italian sausage-diced
  • 2 bags of riced cauliflower
  • ¼ cup of cream cheese
  • 1-2 cups of marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup of ricotta
  • ½ cup of mozzarella 
  • 20 slices of pepperoni
  • Toppings of choice- olives, banana peppers, green olives, parmesan cheese, hot peppers

Preparation

  1. Microwave the cauliflower rice for 4 minutes and squeeze out the excess liquid. Let it sit and cool.
  2. In a large skillet, cut up the sausage links and cook them on medium for 3-4 minutes. I used fully cooked sausages. 
  3. On medium-low heat, slowly add in the sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. Add in the cauliflower and combine well.
  4. Line or spray  a baking dish with non stick foil. Spread a layer of cream cheese on the bottom. 
  5. Pour the mixture from your skillet into the baking dish and top with pepperoni slices, banana peppers, olives or additional topping that you prefer.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and broil for 5 minutes. 

Cinnamon Raisin Bread~ With Almond Flour


Almond Flour Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs + 1 “flax egg”( 1 tablespoon of flaxseed in 2 tablespoons of water) or 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup of coconut oil- softened 
  • 4 tablespoons of butter-softened 
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 tsp of almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • ¼ cup of coconut sugar, honey or protein powder -optional
  • 2 cups of almond flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp  of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp of ginger- optional but helps the bread rise
  • ⅓ cup of raisins

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In  a mixing bowl combine the coconut oil, butter, and extracts. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a hand mixer until “fluffy”. This will make the bread a little less dense. I usually beat them for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Pour the eggs into the wet ingredients. Combine the flour, sugar,  baking soda and powder, ginger,  cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar.  Add half of the raisins and mix well.
  3. Pour batter into a 9×5 loaf pan lined with parchment paper or sprayed.  Swirl in additional cinnamon and the remainder of the raisins. 
  4. Bake for 35 -40 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. 

I Didn’t Lose Weight By “Entitlement” Eating

   I Didn’t Lose Weight by “Entitlement” Eating!

I didn’t lose weight by eating what I want, when I want or exercise when I feel like it, and neither will you. Weight loss (and maintenance) is hard, some things just are! I still struggle, not as much as I did when I first started my journey but like most things in life I am improving and becoming stronger at it each day. At first I felt that same sense of entitlement, almost resentful that I couldn’t eat “like everyone else”.  I choose not to eat like everyone else, 70% of americans are obese and unfortunatley that is the norm. If I told myself now that I deserve a treat because it’s the weekend or I ate every time I was stressed, I WOULD NOT BE SUCCESSFUL! 

We all do a little whining about losing weight and not being able to eat what we want because we feel left out or deprived. I spend a lot of time talking with clients, doing research, READING LABELS, and paying attention to what I am eating myself. I don’t have all the answers but I do have many resources and proof of what works for long term weight loss!!  Imagine how much progress you can make by changing your attitude towards getting healthier!

“Some of the time I get to do what I WANT and the rest of the time I do what I HAVE to do”. 

How I learned to change my attitude and keep my weight off for over 20 years:

  1. I finally accepted that  I wanted ( and needed) to lose weight more than I wanted the food! :  When I thought I should be able to do what I want it usually meant I was  going to eat pizza and have dessert like everyone else. However what I really WANTED was to be healthy and reach my goals. That was worth more at the end of the day. It’s difficult to watch others eat what they want when you are choosing salads, and skipping the french fries but it’s not only about the food that we WANT is it? 
  1. I had to get over feeling sorry for myself:  I guess this ties into “fitting in”. I often felt excluded and embarrassed that I couldn’t eat what my family and friends were eating. As a teenager I felt that others around me were telling me I had to lose weight and judging my decisions.  Today as an adult I am successful because I am choosing to make healthier decisions on my own and not self sabotaging. 
  1. I acknowledged the benefits and consequences of entitlement eating: 

No matter what we choose we have to give up something. It’s not a huge sacrifice when you consider the benefits.

BENEFITS OF EATING WHAT YOU WANT:     CONSEQUENCES OF EATING

WHAT YOU WANT:

                                                                              

  *It’s fun for a couple of minutes                * feel bloated 

    *Comforting briefly                             * lack of energy             

                                                                          * depressed or feel bad about it

                                                                     * no weight loss/ possible gain

                                                                    * clothes fit tighter

CONSEQUENCES  OF SAYING “NO”:        BENEFITS OF SAYING “NO”:

*you have make some sacrifices                 *lose weight

                                                                      *feel good and have more energy

                                                                 * sense of pride and self control

                                                                 * less risk for obesity & diseases

  1. I wanted it bad enough! : When I made the decision that I was ready to lose weight for good I was very focused on my goals. It makes it easier to resist temptations. I know when I skip the bread and make substitutes for some of my favorite foods that it’s totally worth it. I feel good about my decisions and I don’t feel deprived, and it also shows on the scale! 

Buffalo Chicken Soup~ Slow Cooker

Buffalo Chicken Soup~ Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • ¼ cup of cream cheese-softened 
  • ¼ cup of blue cheese
  • ¼ cup of FRANKS hot sauce- or more to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced 
  • 4 stalks of chopped celery
  • 2 large carrots-diced
  • 1 bag of riced cauliflower-cooked with excess liquid squeezed out ( microwaved for 3 minutes)
  • Rotisserie chicken or 4 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
  • Crumbled blue cheese and shredded cheddar cheese for topping
  • A 10 ounce can of crushed tomatoes-optional

Preparation

  1. In a large sprayed pan, sautee the celery, onion and carrots for 5 minutes or until softened. In a sprayed slow cooker, combine the chicken broth, cream cheese, blue cheese,  hot sauce, and celery and carrots. 
  2. Shred the rotisserie chicken. Add the cooked riced cauliflower and the chicken into the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. 
  4. Top with crumbled blue cheese and/ or shredded cheddar cheese. 

**This is also great served with the almond flour biscuits!

Steak & Pepper Pizza~ With Almond Flour Crust

Steak & Pepper Pizza~ Almond Flour Crust

Ingredients

  • FOR CRUST:
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup of cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups of almond flour
  • 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
  • Optional ingredients for crust-shredded cheese, garlic powder, seasonings of choice, parmesan or flax seed
  • TOPPINGS:
  • 1 pound  of Shaved steak
  • Mayonnaise 
  • ¾  cup of shredded Mozzarella, pepper jack or cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup of banana peppers

Preparation

FOR THE CRUST:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine cream cheese, butter and eggs in a mixing bowl. Add the baking soda and slowly add in the  almond flour ½ cup at a time. Add in the apple cider vinegar and any other seasonings that you might be using. Combine well.  

2.  Let the dough  sit for about 30 minutes for best results. While you wait, cook your shaved beef in a pan on the stove top until it is no longer pink. 

3. Spread the dough in a rectangle on the baking sheet. You will probably have to wet your hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Bake for 10 minutes.

4. Remove the crust from the oven and spread a thin layer of mayo on the crust. Top with the cooked shaved beef, cheese, and peppers. Put it back in the oven on broil until the cheese is bubbly. 

Why I Am Practicing Gratitude For A Healthy Lifestyle

              Why I Am Practicing Gratitude For A Healthy Lifestyle

 Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of 2020, I am starting with a positive attitude for this upcoming year. I have done a lot of reflecting on all the good things that came out of the past year.

GRATITUDE is the quality of being thankful as well as possessing a readiness to share appreciation for people, or things, and especially yourself! It’s all about taking time each day to think about the positive things in your life. It doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the negative situations-you’re simply choosing to reframe your perspective and focus on the positive. 

This leads to many physical and mental health benefits including:

  • Enhanced positive emotions and behaviors, such as happiness, appreciation, patience, and empathy
  • Fewer toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, and regret
  • Better sleep
  • Improved energy, decreased stress, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar control

If 2020 has taught us anything it is appreciation and gratitude!

 * My biggest accomplishment was publishing my first book, “My Weight Loss Journey: Losing over 120 Pounds and keeping it off”. This was also therapeutic for me, which is what I needed. 

* We also took advantage of the large amount of space in our basement and turned into an amazing workout area for my Pilates reformers, dumbbells, kettlebells, mats, etc! We put in new flooring and painted. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

* I also was able to post some Reform with Rachel youtube videos for clients and anyone really could do at home. We all know how important exercise is at this time. 

* I learned a lot about technology! I also incorporated virtual training sessions for my clients via Zoom, and actually still use it.

* I was able to spend a lot of time with my kids at home, even though schooling was a bit challenging for my daughter and also  figuring out a workspace. I was glad I was able to help her the best I could.

I encourage you to focus on your own personal accomplishments and positive aspects of 2020!