Archive of ‘Fitness’ category

Welcome to my fitness category. Come to this section when you need a little inspiration and motivation. Everyone needs a little encouragement now and then. My hope is that I can provide just the quote, story, workout, tip or trick to help you get up and moving even when you don't want to. I will share stories of trials and triumphs that are bound to inspire you and brighten your day. In addition, I'll share some easy, creative, family friendly ideas for workouts, healthy everyday living and incorporating fitness into even the busiest of lives.

Enough is enough!

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You heard me! Enough food, enough alcohol, enough missing workouts, enough overindulging! As much as I love the holidays, I’ve had just about enough of all the “side effects” of the holidays and I am ready to move on. Enough is enough!

Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love the holidays. Time with family, decorations, special outings, children home from school, sitting by the fire, baking to my hearts content, enjoying another glass of wine, another special meal. The problem as you can clearly see is that it just goes on and on! I just want to scream, make it stop!

Luckily for people like me, when I’ve had enough, I’m done. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes longer for me to be done the I would like, especially when our holidays turn into family vacation like now. And, it usually happens smack dab in the middle of the vacation. Being done that is.

In fact, it hit me hard while in Disneyland noshing on a pretzel shaped like Mickeys head. I thought, man I feel like crap! I had developed a “potbelly” which I somehow felt proud and ashamed of at the same time. I mean, I had really done it up good right! For the girl who has a hard earned flat stomach to be sporting a “pot belly” things have gotten way out of hand. My clothes are tight, I’m bloated like a pufferfish and I haven’t had a bowel movement in what seems to be a month (TMI I know!)

I know what your thinking, I just described you or wow, what a cow! Fortunately for me, I don’t get caught up in a lot of self loathing. I believe that beating ourselves up for our past “sins” is not only a waste of time, but is also self defeating. I guess that’s why I find the fact that I’ve developed a “pot belly” almost humorous. Rather than be disgusted by myself, I’d prefer to revel in all the fun I had while I make my plan of attack to combat this newly formed body part.

The important part of course is making a plan quick and getting on it even quicker. Tomorrow is a new day and it’s great day to start fresh right! As I write this I’ve already developed a clean eating plan, put my workouts in my day planner and set up a goal to get me back to my personal best. I know this seems like a lot, but I do this all the time for myself and others so I’m good at it. If it seems overwhelming, here are some guidelines to help you get started.

• Design goal – something that is manageable and measurable.
• Practice the “3 P’s” – plan, prep and portion control your food. Make out a menu, come home and prep and portion it out. This will make for a successful week of eating. When coming off super poor eating like mine, focus on clean protein and veggies with lots of water to clean your system out and restart your metabolism.
• Journal your food and exercise. Journaling will keep you on track and honest.
• Write your workouts in your calendar and stick to it!
• Reward yourself! Not with food of course, your not a dog! Buy a new workout top, get a massage etc.

Hope that helps a bit. I know that I personally have to have a plan to gets things moving and keep myself accountable. If this doesn’t work for you, do yourself a favor and invest in a trainer or find a workout buddy that will help keep you accountable. You owe it to yourself to look and feel your best in the new year. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up for your past offenses. Complaining about the past won’t change the past and will only fill you with self loathing and regret. Tomorrow is a new day and another chance to go for it!

Prep For Success!

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As a trainer, I hear excuses all the time. It’s just part of the business. When it comes to health and fitness, the excuses are endless. The most common ones of course surround the topic of working out and diet. And of all the excuses, the one I hear most often covering both areas, the tireless, “I don’t have time.” People give this excuse for not working out and for not eating right. I’m guessing these same people give that same excuse in a lot of areas of their life. Let’s face it, it’s a “one size fits all, excuse.”

To say “I’m not falling for that one” is an understatement. I’m as busy as the next person and rarely if ever use that excuse. I truly believe that if you want something, you find and/or make the time. I guarantee you that these same people would find time for a night out or other fun activity. These same people seem to have no difficulty fitting in pedicures, shopping and lunch dates.

If you really don’t want to work out or eat right, then at least own it. Your an adult, it’s your right. However, if you want to workout out and eat right and are busy like the rest of us you can do it with the right preparation and planning. Like with most things, the more organized you are the better all around. The same goes with food. A little planning and prepping can help you go from out of control to in control in the eating department and is by far the best way to lose weight.

While I’m not a nutritionist, I’ve had plenty of practice at eating right for daily living, fitness and competition. I believe that anyone can eat for their best and most fit body if they really want to and it really isn’t that hard, it just takes a little prep. I prepare all my food for the week on Sunday to ensure that I’m not without a snack or meal throughout the week and have an opportunity to make a bad choice. We make bad choices when we are hungry! In other words, I set myself up for success!

For a successful week of eating, make a menu, make a plan, cook and portion out your food. I just finished prepping my food for the week and am feeling in control, healthy and know that my week of clean eating is going to make me lean and mean for whatever comes my way. This weeks menu includes, fresh strawberries already washed and portioned, snap peas, hard boiled eggs, fresh tilapia with Brussel sprouts, nuts (pre-portioned,) and some healthy protein bars, just in case. What’s on your menu?

“Fuel Your Fitness!”

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I just returned from the World Fitness Convention in LA. As a fitness professional, it is by far one of the most favorite things I do all year long. It motivates, inspires and most importantly recharges me to be the best I can be. Life is hard and even the best of us gets tired, bored, unmotivated and stale. Therefore, I make it a personal goal to find ways to keep me fresh and motivated. In other words, I find ways to “fuel my fitness.”

Being a fan of words, I love the phrase, “fuel your fitness.” It’s short and to the point, while still having I so much meaning. It’s speaks to fueling your fitness in a physical and mental sense. Let’s face it, in order to be truly fit, you must have both of these things. The right fuel for your body and the right motivation for your mind.

So if you have been working on getting fit for a while, then you have probably figured out how important the right fuel is. If you are struggling to meet your goals, then you are probably lacking in this department. Without making this blog about food, let’s just say “food is king.” If your diet isn’t right, then your goal is not in sight! In other words, you can work out like a freak but you will never realize your full potential until your get your diet in line.

Again without making this particular blog about diet, (I’ll do that in a future blog or you can read past blogs) one of the best things you can do if you are really lost in the diet department is track your food. Most people think they are eating healthier then they really are. Putting it down on paper or better yet on your computer or other device will put things in perspective. Numbers don’t lie! Want to know where you really stand with regards to calories, protein etc. then track it. My favorite tool is a free app called myfitnesspal.com

As important as your food is, if your not motivated then it will feel like you are “stuck in quicksand!” Fueling your fitness is about finding your passion. What is driving you to be fit? What type of activity inspires and motivates you?

I competed in my last figure completion in 2012 and people often wonder if I’m preparing for another and if not, why not? Well the truth is, while I enjoy the process of getting ready for competition, I don’t exactly enjoy the actual competition. It is expensive, stressful, scary and time intensive. What I found is that I love working out to look my best, but I don’t exactly need to show off my hard work. As outgoing as I am, I’m not comfortable in 5 inch heels and a tiny bikini on stage. However, I never say never, so if I feel inspired in the future, watch out!

The bottom line is that you need to find what motivates and inspires you and then run with it. If working out with a partner motivates you, then find a great gym buddy. If competition is your thing, then “get your game face on!” If reading about fitness inspires you, then read on. Whatever it is, find it and go with it. If you are feeling uninspired, then look for inspiration. If you really want to “fuel your fitness,” just look around you because inspiration is everywhere and here for the taking for those that are motivated to get fit and be better.

Following my fitness convention I’m fired up to get back to my “lean and mean” physique. While I work out more than the average person, I know I can do better and therefore am re-evaluating what’s next for me. Not wanting to let my new found enthusiasm slip away, I’ve already found a new workout partner to add intensity to my workouts (It’s fun working out with others that share your intensity!,) I’ve also added an extra day with my trainer, I’ve re-evaluated my diet (I’ve been a little lax this summer) and I’m working hard to rehab my tennis elbow so I can move my tennis game up to the next level.

If you want to “fuel your fitness” too, then I challenge you to take out a paper and pencil and jot down some ways to move your fitness to the next level. You don’t have to come up with several things like I did (I’m a little type A that way!,) just come up with one positive change. Join a local Boot Camp, add another day of cardio, take a Zumba class. Whatever gets you excited and gets you moving – just do it!

Get With The Protein!

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Sometimes it seems as though I’m “called” to write. Actually, more than I have time for. Usually it’s because I’ve been talking to a client about a particular topic, have read something that has peaked my interest or I have strong feelings about something (more often than not.) I love to write, hear others views and share my own. If I can have a positive impact on my clients or another persons life as it relates to health and fitness, life is good.

When I begin training a new client, I’m careful not to overwhelm them with information. I believe that they need to feel comfortable and confident if they are going to continue on their journey to fitness and health. However, if they are eager to learn and ask questions, I’m always happy to pass on my knowledge. A newer client to me (has probably done about 12 sessions with me thus far) recently shared that she had visited a nutritionist as she wasn’t feeling very good (exhausted and weak.) she further shared that the nutritionist had told her that she was not getting enough protein. She is a vegetarian.

As a trainer, I often work in connection with several other professionals including, nutritionists, doctors and physical therapist. We don’t alway agree. In this case we do! Low protein, especially in women is by far the biggest problem I see amongst my clients. Women especially really seem to be confused when it comes to protein intake, especially as it relates to weight loss. Statistically, 1 in 3 women are not getting enough protein.

While my client is a bit unique since she is a vegetarian, I’ve seen meat eating women that are far below what they need in the protein department. HEAR ME when I say, protein is the ticket to a healthy body, good energy, good sleep, muscle recovery and most importantly weight loss.

The American Dietetic Association’s RDA (recommended daily allowance) for protein is 0.36g per pound of bodyweight. This would mean that as a bare minimum, a 180 lb. male only needs 65 grams of protein per day to meet requirements. One thing to note is that these requirements are based off of sedentary individuals.

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (N.S.C.A.) recommends that active people consume 0.4g to 0.6g per pound of bodyweight with as much as 0.8g for a competitive athlete. What is important to note is that with a higher overall activity level the requirement goes up.

People that are aiming to lose weight should aim for their target weight in grams. In other words, if you are trying to get to a body weight of 120 lbs. then you would aim for 120 grams of Protein. This of course means reducing your fat and carbohydrates at the same time. I can tell you personally from my years of dieting for competition that if you want to lose weight and look lean, protein is the ticket!

Now I know what your thinking, how am I going to eat that much protein? Well, if you have been seriously lacking in the protein department, then the task of getting enough can seem daunting. Remember, baby steps! Increase your protein a little everyday until you hit your numbers. In addition, look for ways to get your protein in without eating 6 chicken breast a day. Add a protein shake for a quick easy to swallow snack. It’s easy to sip and packs a good amount of protein.

If you plan out your day, getting your protein becomes easy. You should have protein at every meal and every 2-3 hours. That’s 5-6 portions of protein a day. A portion is about the size of you Palm. If your eating chicken, that’s more than 20 grams. Here’s what a typical day of protein for me looks like.

Sample diet for weight loss/muscle growth:

Breakfast: 1 cup of egg whites with veggies and low fat cheese. Greek yogurt and coffee.

Snack: scoop of Protein.

Lunch: chicken breast and grilled veggies.

Snack: non-fat cottage cheese with blueberries.

Dinner: salmon, veggies and green salad.

Snack: casein protein scoop.

Approximate protein = 150 grams.

Since my activity/fitness level is high, I take in a higher level of protein (I.e., more than my body weight in grams.) Protein not only helps you lose weight, get lean and feel good, it also helps keep you full and makes you feel good. People fill up on so much junk that there blood sugar is constantly bouncing around causing their mood to do the same. Protein will make you feel full, keep your blood sugar stable and prevent you from reaching for undesirable snacks. So if your looking to get strong and lean, feel good and fuel your body for a busy life, ” get with the Protein!”

 

Think Past Dinner!

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Being a “type A” personality, people always ask me how “I do it all?” Full time career, kids, stay fit, blog, cook, play sports, keep a house etc. I’m constantly teased with funny nicknames like “Martha” for my outward appearance of having it all together. Trust me, looks can be deceiving!

I’ll admit, I’m pretty on it. I’m a freak about time management and organization and that alone puts me ahead of the game. I believe that where most people fail these days is in the kitchen. Cooking for yourself and/or a family is hard work. If you don’t have a plan, you are in trouble. That is why I always “think past dinner.”

What do I mean by “think past dinner?” Well, simply put, I’m always thinking about how far the meal I’m cooking can go. Can I get two meals out of it, lunch tomorrow, leftovers for another dinner? If I’m grilling chicken, can I just add a few extra breast to the grill to throw on a salad the next day. In other words, I make my meals work for me!

When I cook protein, I almost always cook more than I need for one meal. For example, if I’m cooking a steak for my hubby and salmon for myself, I cook extra of both and then split it up into small lunches for myself throughout the week. That’s called “killing two birds with one stone!” Being busy means always thinking about what is ahead of you and how you can prepare for it. If I know my week is going to be crazy (like most weeks,) I plan for it. With two teenage boys who are rarely home (but still expect to eat,) my husbands late work nights, my evening team tennis etc. we are gone more than we are home. Therefore, if I can make a meal that will do “double duty,” you better believe I’m doing it.

For example, this week I grilled up extra chicken breast marinated in cilantro and lime. I used some of the chicken for dinner in a yummy Thai pasta. I then chopped some up for a healthy salad for me the following day. I knew I would be out the next night, so told my boys that they could make chicken quesadillas with some of the chicken for dinner (an easy and quick meal for boys) and then later in the week I actually had enough chicken leftover to add to my Mediterranean kale salad (on my site) for an entree salad. Now that’s making your food work for you!

Last week, I wrote a similar article about cooking meals ahead of time. Because I know this is where families fail, this blog is simply an expansion of last weeks. Do yourself and your family a favor and next time you are cooking your families Sunday dinner, throw on some extra chicken, toss some extra salad (I make a big salad and split it up into small containers,) chop up some extra fruit and veggies and pack them away for another day!

If you are like me and worry about what your family is eating while your away or you yourself find yourself grabbing the quickest, not so healthy thing you can find when you are rushed, plan ahead and the next time you are in the kitchen spend a few extra minutes and think past dinner!

When life gets crazy, just cook!

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While I’m not really a traditional person in the sense of roles within the home, I do prefer to do the cooking and like to provide for my family in this arena. That’s not to say that I have a problem with them fending for themselves as I believe that the best lesson I can teach my kids and husband for that matter is to do for themselves. However, after last week I have to admit that I’m suffering from a bit of “meal guilt.”

You see, last week was crazy in every sense of the word. We had just returned from a long and glorious vacation, we all returned to work . I had two tennis games, one tennis drills practice, doctor appointments for both boys, driving lesson for one boy, driving test the next day, a surprise birthday pastry, and tons of other errands. I was only home two evenings all week and was exhausted. Therefore, it was all for one and one for all in the meal department. I personally ate a lot of egg whites. However, that doesn’t exactly appeal to the rest of my family.

Because this week looks equally crazy and I don’t want my family to starve, I’ve decided to do what I’m famous for when life gets crazy and cook! Following my morning coffee, I set out to prepare meals and snacks that can be eaten all week long and everyone will like. From snacks to dinner, I came, I cooked and now we will all eat!

First, to satisfy my boys that hunger for a quick breakfast, I prepared my yummy and healthy banana bread. For the chocoholics in the house, I made double chocolate brownies. For snacks, I pre-measured non-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit, cut up Celery to be eaten with high protein Greek cream cheese or peanut butter. I also stocked the fridge with my favorite “light and fit” Greek yogurt in a variety of flavors.

For dinner, I’m catering to my boys as once again I will be out several nights playing tennis and I want them to have something yummy to eat. I’ve pre-made a huge casserole of my healthy chicken enchiladas which are on my blog. They will be delicious and only get better as leftovers. Because the way to my husbands heart is meatloaf, I’ve made a lean meatloaf which he will get at least a couple of meals out of. I will top the week off with a light and yummy chicken Parmesan which again makes great leftovers.

For me, I am grilling up some fresh salmon (yes you can re-heat salmon!) which I will eat alongside veggies or throw on a nice green salad. I eat my fish the first part of the week to ensure its quality. I am also grilling a bunch of chicken breast that I will treat the same as my fish and eat with veggies for a nice lean meal. I am roasting Brussels spouts, portabella mushrooms and zucchini as my veggies this week. The key to quick and healthy meals is ensuring that you prep healthy ingredients ahead of time so you never have an excuse to not eat your best.

In addition to my large pre-cooked meals, I have made sure that I have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, portable protein shakes and snacks ready to go. I also bought a lean turkey roast from Costco which is great as a snack of meal. In case I run short on meals, I always make sure that my freezer is packed with healthy proteins such as grilled chicken, fish and beef.

With a little good planning, you can keep up with your busy life while not blowing your diet or starving those you love. So when life gets crazy, just cook!

Kettle Bell Drop 10

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Looking for a workout to challenge your whole body? Look no further than a kettle bell workout. These seemingly simple pieces of iron challenge even the most fit. While they can be a little intimidating since we are not use to “throwing” things around, with a little practice, anyone can use them. Best of all, you only need one for this fun and heart pumping workout. While this workout is highly challenging, you can tame it a bit by decreasing the reps, lightening the bell and even changing the moves if needed.

Complete 50 reps of the following Kettle Bell moves:

  • 50 alternating single arm kettle bell swings’
  • 50 kettle bell swings
  • 50 squat and press
  • 50 kettle bells cleans – 25 per arm
  • 50 kettle bell snatches – 25 per arm

Take a breather and then repeat dropping the reps to 40 each and so on!

Don’t let food rule you!

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So I recently started training a lovely young mother who came to me wanting to lose quite a lot of weight. Not unusual. I meet people all the time who want to lose weight, have lost themselves in their busy lives, have put everyone else first and themselves last. Not unusual, but common for women.

I’ve only met with her once, but right away I could tell she was serious and was excited to start her journey. While she can only train with me one time per week, she was obviously no less serious than someone training three times per week and quickly began to ask for my assistance, guidance and motivation with regards to food, cardio and exercise on her own. I’m happy to oblige.

Like with most clients, I asked her to simply track her food for the week so that she can see what she is actually consuming. In her excitement, she not only tracked her food, but began to really pay attention to how much she is consuming and restrict her calories. While I believe in “baby steps” and not over restricting, I supported her efforts and will continue to offer my assistance. She’s eager and I don’t want to squash her efforts in any shape or form.

One of the best parts of my job (there are many) is when a client discovers something on their own that I know will aide them in their journey. Because things only really make sense when you experience it on your own right? Therefore, I was delighted when this new client described a weekend outing where she went out to dinner and drinks and “was impressed that she could be completely satisfied, have wine abs not completely destroy her hard work.” In other words, she made it about the experience, not the food.

I’ve been preaching this message for years! In a world where “food is king,” we put too much focus on food and not enough on what really counts, like the outing itself, the company we are in and the activity we are engaged in. Therefore, I was delighted to hear one of my clients get this all on their own. She realized that she could still have a great time without over indulging.

If you want to be successful when it comes to meeting your health and fitness goals, check your priorities and don’t leg food rule you. Food is only as powerful as you allow it to be. However, if you totally deny yourself, you will likely give in and over indulge. Therefore, you for good, not perfection on the food front, allow yourself to be human and most importantly, make social situations about the people, not the food.

Time Out Your Technology!

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I don’t have a lot of pet peeves, but if I were to name one of them, I’d have to say it’s people who are addicted to technology. You know who I’m talking about, heck you might be one of them. That person who has to check their phone every few minutes, talks and text while they drive, post their every move on Facebook and is endlessly taking selfies or posting to Instagram, (I still don’t know what Instagram is!) and talks on their cell phone ridiculously loud in any and all public settings. It drives me crazy!

Don’t get me wrong, I like my iPad as much as the next person and am thankful for e-mail for work and business. However, even with my more modest use, I sometimes wonder if it’s too much. I check myself often to ensure I’m keeping my use in check. I also, never talk on my phone in public places as I feel that others shouldn’t have to listen to my personal conversation, I never talk/text and drive, believe that nobody wants to know my every move on Facebook and think that selfies are just a little weird.

I’m sure I’ll offend some by this posting, but honestly is that text, phone call or status update so important that you are willing to sacrifice your kids, husband, family, friends, free time and general ability to socialize? I don’t know how many times I see moms talking on their cell phones while they ignore their little ones. Just today, while dropping my kid at the skatepark a small child almost walked out in front of my car because his mother was wrapped up in a cell phone conversation. Even as she grabbed his hand, she never put down her phone! And then there are the moms that walk ahead of their children talking away while their kids are doing who knows what behind them – pay attention!

I know I’m older than some so maybe cell phones weren’t so big when my kids were little. But I’d like to think that paying attention to my kids is and was more important than chatting away on my cell phone. Studies have shown that children that are talked to from the time they are babies (or even in the womb) grow up to be smarter and have way better communication skills. Maybe that’s why my boys won’t shut up!

As parents, we are supposed to be role models. We tell our kids not to text and drive, however, we (not me) do it constantly in front of them. When I pick up my kids from school, it’s the parents that are on their phones while driving, not the kids! What kind of message are we sending? And is it my imagination or do way too many kids these days lack communication  skills? Way too many are down right rude and disrespectful. I personally think that technology has a lot to do with it.

What is most disturbing to me is people who bring their cell phones to the gym. As a fitness director, I spend my days telling people to get off their cell phones. We have a “no cell phone” rule at our club out of courtesy for others actually trying to work out and relax. But honestly, the fact that we have to talk to so many people about this and that many have a problem when we politely ask them to refrain is downright disturbing.

It’s no surprise to me of course that those people that are on their phones at the gym are often the ones that don’t really work out (hard at least.) Working out is like sleep. If it’s disturbed, it is no good. Work outs, like sleep should be steady and have a rhythm so that you keep that metabolism humming along, kind of like sleep. Excessive rest periods and workouts don’t mix.

Most importantly, as much as the gym can and should be fun, people go their to get their “sweat on” and escape. Therefore, the last thing they want to hear is  someone yapping on their cell phone! So do yourself and others a favor and get off your phone. I promise that your workout will be 100% more effective and rewarding. Your mind and body will thank you and so will others. Your phone should never even be of a fitness floor.

While technology can be fun and useful, it can also be addictive, disruptive and unhealthy. If it is taking the place of regular communication with your kids and family, disturbing others, disrupting your regular activities and taking your precious time, then you may want to make some changes. I  personally put a limit on computer and video game use for my kids, made a “no cell phones upstairs” rule and limited my on iPad use in my family and have noticed how much more we interact.

And when it comes to workouts, if you really want to get fit, leave your technology behind. Your body and health deserves a break from frivolous conversations. And if that phone call is really that important, than at least be courtesy to take your personal phone call off the gym floor and make it quick! Put your workouts, family and friends first because at the end of the day they are really all that matters.

Don’t Be Fooled By That Salad!

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If I hear one more person on a “diet” tell me they are eating salads, I’m going to scream! Mostly because these same people are not losing weight (and are often actually putting it on,) are miserable and hungry all the time, but also because I thought most people knew better than to fall for the old “salads are diet food” myth.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about “getting your greens.” However, most people that eat salads are not focusing on the greens but all the stuff that goes on the salad. And let’s face it, the yummy stuff that we all love on salads is what’s getting us into trouble.

I was recently reviewing one of my clients diet with her during her personal training session as she was frustrated with her inability to lose weight. She said, “I’m eating salads every night, I don’t know why I’m not losing!” I proceeded to ask her to tell me what she puts on her salads all the while adding up the calories on my iPhone App, myfitnesspal.com. While her salad had many healthy items on it, at the end of the day, the total calories were well over 800! No wonder she wasn’t losing weight.

Consider: A chicken Caesar salad at Chili’s (loaded with salad dressing, croutons, cheese, and chicken) will set you back 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat. You could eat a good portion of steak and two Healthy sides for well under that calorie count. I say, “where’s the beef!” I mean, you’ll be consuming way more nutrients, fewer calories and less fat. And I’m sure you are going to enjoy chewing on that steak much more than that bowl of “rabbit food.”

It’s the fixings that make the difference when it comes to salad calories. If you’re going to pile on the croutons, creamy dressing, cheese, bacon, avocado, mayonnaise-rich prepared salads (like coleslaw), meat, nuts, fried chicken strips, and wonton strips, you might as well order a double bacon cheeseburger and fries.

I’m sure if most people were given the choice, they would choose a nice piece of meat over a salad any day of the week. And trust me, those people are likely losing more weight than the salad eaters. Stick with protein and put your greens on the side for a diet friendly meal that will make you lean and mean.

If you are a lover of salads, at least change those salads into the diet friendly meals that they should be. For a healthy salad, start with a variety of colorful veggies, fruits, beans, and mixed greens. When possible, opt for dark, leafy greens like arugula, spinach, and fresh herbs. (The darker the leaf, the more nutritional goodness it has.) Then, pile on grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, cabbage, broccoli, jicama, scallions, mushrooms, red bell peppers, roasted vegetables, or your other favorite vegetables.For an entree salad, add lean protein like grilled chicken, shrimp, or hard-cooked egg. Top off your salad with a small amount of avocado or chopped nuts to add some healthy fat.

The biggest reason why salads go bad is because people pile on salad dressing that is full of fat and calories. Why ruin your beautiful salad now? There are several super healthy and low calorie dressing options on the market. Read labels and measure out your dressing so you don’t go overboard. I won’t buy any dressing with more than 35 calories per serving.For a lower-calorie salad, dress with a tablespoon or two of light vinaigrette or salsa, or a flavorful vinegar (like balsamic) along with a little heart-healthy olive oil.

So while I’m not a huge salad eater, when I do eat a salad, I do it right. In fact, I had one for dinner tonight using a yummy kale and radicchio blend topped with chicken breast, feta, sunflower seeds and low cal dressing, right on my calories, but most importantly packed with lean protein. If you love salads, go for it, just make sure you are careful and stick to the right toppings. Otherwise, go for the beef!