Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Life has been taking me for a ride a lot lately, with a cold followed up in less than two weeks with a summertime flu-like virus! But more importantly, I received news that an old college classmate lost his battle with Cystic Fibrosis this past weekend.

Cystic Fibrosis a genetic disease with a life expectancy of only 35 years old. Josh died at a heartbreakingly-young 31 last Friday. Cystic Fibrosis was the charity of choice for our chapter of Delta Sigma Pi in college, as one of the chapter's founders died from the disease; and it is the charity of choice for the Saint Peters Playgroup that I run, as one of our little guys has CF as well. My MOPS mentor from last year has a son with CF who's an amazing 44 years old - thanks to a double lung transplant.

So if you're thinking about it, check out the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - 90% of the charity's donations go towards research, care and education programs, so please consider making a donation today, and write it off your taxes next year. When Josh was born, life expectancy was still in the teens, and thanks to this Foundation, the life expectancy has increased from 32 to 35 years old just since 2000. It's a worthwhile cause that literally saves lives.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wii Workout

My MIL purchased a Wii for my stepdaughter and the family has, of course, been playing around with it.  I'd heard all about how using a Wii was a workout, and I'm happy to report that it's true! 

When you purchase a Wii, it comes with Wii Sports, a game package that includes Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, Golf and Boxing.  Holy Crap!  Any of these will get your heart rate up if you let it!  Boxing especially wore me out.  Now, the young kids, you know the 9 and 10 year old gamers, play less dork-like, and just stand there and move the controllers.  But us adults, I find, really get into it, using our full bodies to simulate hitting a tennis racket or trying to knock out our spouse.  If you're doing it right, you'll find yourself sore the next day!

My two year old son, whom I don't really let play, loves to pretend he's playing, so much so that it's become a morning workout for me.  (Which is helpful since I'm still on doctor's rest from Stroller Aerobics.)  We do about 45 minutes of Wii, with my son holding a second, unactivated controller, imitating me while I play tennis and baseball.  Both of which I'm terrible at, but I keep trying.  I'm pretty good at the bowling, though, I bowled a 201 this morning.  That has never come close to happening in real life!

So, I strongly recommend that you start putting money aside, and look into investing in a Wii for your family.  Wiis are expensive, and if you want to play with a second person, you have to invest in another controller and nunchuck, sold separately, of course.  Seriously, we have about $330 in gaming equipment, but if I consider that i'll play it for about 45 minutes each day, I actually get more use out of that than a gym membership!  Ha!  And if it gets the whole family off the couch, it's ten times better than a gym membership.  

And if you already have a Wii, I'd love to hear from you and what your favorite games are!  And has anyone tried the new Wii Fit?  Could make an already cool machine even cooler!

Friday, June 13, 2008

15 Sneaky Ways to Exercise

Thanks to Debbie, who shared this on the FitMommas of St. Peters message board today. Great Ideas!

15 Sneaky Ways to Get Fit
By Jillian Rowley

When you're a mom, it's tough to find time to exercise. But with a little creativity, you can squeeze in a workout without overhauling your busy schedule. Don't believe us? Check out these brilliant suggestions.

Stock your trunk
Feel like you spend your life in the car driving your kids from one activity to the next? Try storing a pair of sneakers and a jump rope or resistance bands in the trunk. Next time you find yourself waiting for your daughter's ballet class to let out or your son to finish his piano lesson, you can get in a quickie workout.

Dance every day
Every morning, turn on the stereo and get your kids energized for the day with a 10-minute dance session in your living room. Not only will they love learning how to do the Twist and the Electric Slide, but you'll break a sweat and burn a few calories.

Have the babysitter come early
Having dinner plans means you have even less time for yourself, right? Not always. The next time you and your spouse have a dinner date, ask the sitter to come an hour earlier. While she watches the kids, use the first 30 minutes to exercise and the rest to get gorgeous. Remember, working out before a big meal helps rev up your metabolism and makes you more likely to eat healthier.

Take a walk at naptime
Don't just sack out on the couch while your little one naps in his crib! Once or twice a week, strap him into the stroller instead -- the vibrations from being on the move will help him fall asleep quickly while you take a power walk around the neighborhood.

Ask Dad to run errands
"The key to finding time to exercise is to look at your schedule and find a few tasks that you can assign to your husband," says Julie Morgenstern, a professional organizer and author of Time Management from the Inside Out. "Maybe it's having him pick up the kids from daycare or going to the bank and post office." A good place to start: Every Sunday afternoon, have Dad take your little ones to do the grocery shopping while you hop on the treadmill, go for a jog outside, or head to the local pool to swim some laps.

Plan around playdates
Ask around at your child's preschool and you're bound to find another mom who wishes she had more time to exercise as well. Then set up a playdate schedule: One week, you host the playdate so the other mother can exercise for an hour; the next week, she watches the kids so you can use the time to hit the gym.

Play T-Ball before pizza
If you're like most families, you probably order pizza or Chinese food at least once a week. The next time you're waiting for your food to be delivered, get the whole family outside for a pickup game of touch football, softball, catch, or even tag.

Start a video library
Buy a few inexpensive, 30-minute workout videos to use while your child is napping or right after he goes to bed. To keep costs down, borrow tapes from your local library, see whether your video store has any used videos, or check out sites like,, and

Pump some iron
"Women don't realize that just five or 10 minutes of strength training provides enormous benefits to their muscles, boosts their metabolism, and reduces their future risk of osteoporosis," says fitness expert Kathy Smith. Every other night, while you and your family watch television, use 3- or 5-pound weights to do three sets of 10 biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, and chest flies.

Cheer on the move
Don't just sit in the bleachers or on the sidelines during your child's soccer and basketball games. Instead, walk the perimeter of the field or court as many times as possible. If you find it too distracting to walk while you watch, try to slip in some yoga moves while no one's looking.

Use your lunch hour
If you work, make your lunch break your designated time to exercise. "My company has an on-site fitness center, so I try to hit the gym for a 30-minute workout three times a week. On those days, I bring my lunch and eat at my desk," says mom Sara Schmid, of Atlanta. If you don't have a fitness center nearby, keep a pair of sneakers under your desk, grab a coworker, and climb up and down the stairs in your building.

Enlist the kids
Need a fitness buddy? Look no further than your child! Most community YMCAs offer "Mommy and Me" swimming or yoga classes, many big cities have stroller-walking programs, and any yard is big enough for an impromptu obstacle course. "When the swim class I take with my 12-month-old son ends, I hand him to my husband so I can squeeze in 15 minutes' worth of laps," says Lynzi Ziegenhagen, of Baltimore.

Window-shop before you buy
Even if you know exactly what you want, always do two laps of the entire mall before you buy a thing. Not only will you burn calories, but you'll also find out who's having the best sale.

Tone and tighten around the house
Doing little exercise moves throughout your day will leave you with strong, shapely muscles. Try calf raises while you iron, leg lifts when you're washing dishes, and deep squats and lunges as you feed your toddler lunch in his high chair.

Get up earlier
It's true: The morning is often the best time for moms to fit in an uninterrupted workout. Just once a week, set your alarm for 45 minutes earlier so you can ride your bike, practice yoga or Pilates, or go running and start off the day refreshed.

How to Create a Home Gym
We're not talking about spending thousands of dollars on a treadmill and other high-tech gear. "Believe it or not, you can get a full-body workout by buying just a few inexpensive pieces of equipment that you can use in your TV room," says Sue Fleming, director of physical education at Riverdale Country School, in the Bronx, and author of Buff Moms-to-Be. Check out Fleming's suggestions for getting fit on the cheap.

Dumbbells. If you're a beginner, buy 3- and 5-pound sets of weights. Use them to strengthen your arms, chest, back, and shoulders. ($10 to $20)

Resistance bands or elastic tubing. These provide great resistance for leg and arm exercises. ($15 to $25 for a set of several bands)

An exercise step. Use a sturdy, hard plastic step or bench with a slip-proof rubber covering for toning moves like squats and lunges, in addition to heart-pumping cardio workouts. ($25 to $50)

Fitness ball. Strengthen your abs, back, and lower body with the help of this oversize plastic ball. It's also good for safely modifying moves when you're pregnant. ($30)

Copyright © 2006. Reprinted with permission from the November 2006 issue of Parents magazine.
© Copyright 2008 Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chili Dogs without the Heart Attack

(It has taken two days worth of attempts to get this online!  And it hasn't been computer problems, but life problems, like a terrible two year old, and a "honey, I need" husband!)

One of the many struggles to life fit and healthy is giving up all your old favorite standards.  Most of us grew up on a typical American diet, which back in the day wasn't as terrible because we moved more and didn't consume quite so much.  But today, we're fairly sedentary and have grown accustomed to super-sized portions.  And we think we can't eat foods that are traditionally bad for us.  So here's a new column feature of how to enjoy old favorites, but a bit healthier than we're used to.  By no means am I saying these are healthy meals you should eat everyday!  But there are ways to incorporate the tastes of your youth without killing your waistline (or, yourself!)

This week, I was really wanting a chili dog!  Talk about a heart attack on a plate!  Hot dogs are a hot bed of who-knows-what - anyone remember the Dan Ackroyd/John Candy classic "The Great Outdoors?"  I love that movie, and one of my favorite lines is Dan Ackroyd's character's description of what a hot dog is made of.  Unfortunately, it's not fit for family reading, but it's not pleasant!  And Chili!  The only thing that keeps chili from killing you on the spot is that it's loaded with fiber if you're smart enough to eat it with beans.  

So how can you enjoy a chili dog without the heart attack?  First off, replace your regular funky dogs with turkey dogs.  Yes, turkey is now the Great Imitator, being manufactured into some of your favorite foods to offer up a healthier alternative.  Now, the quality of turkey dogs varies, and unfortunately, you definitely get what you pay for.  No off brands here, buy the good stuff, and you'll be justly rewarded.

Second, (you should know what's coming here), give turkey chili a try!  My favorite no-brainer choice here is Chili Man's Turkey Chili with Beans.  Found at every major grocery store, and is a significantly healthier choice than most commercially made chilis.  And opting for chili with beans gives you more fiber than you'll know what to do with at one time (that's actually a bit of a warning!  Drink Up!)

You can forgo the extra carbs by opting to go bunless, but if that's just not cutting it for you, pick up some 100% whole wheat hot dog buns.  They make whole wheat hot dog buns, hamburger buns, tortillas, english muffins - at this point, there's no excuse for any refined white flours in your life!  Top off your chili dog with some shredded 2% Fat cheddar cheese, and you've got yourself an American classic that won't give you a coronary!  Add some baked potato fries and some fruit-flavored water, and you have a satisfying new take on an old classic!

Now, let's be clear - this is not a health-food meal.  Hot dogs and chili have various chemicals and fillers, not to mention the sodium.  However, this is about reinventing old favorites, so that when you are feeling like you just can't take another grilled chicken salad, you don't find yourself at Sonic, ordering not only their chili dog, but also a batch of chili-cheese fries and a mega-soda!  

Monday, June 2, 2008

Healthy Snack of the Week

I'm still struggling with tiredness, but at least my nausea is coming to an end.  And I'm trying to develop some regular Blog features, making it easier for me to think of stuff to write about everyday.  And my eating habits for the past week inspired my first column feature!

Healthy snacks can be tough, because most marketed snacks come in small bags or packages, and contain more calories, fat and sodium than most of us need in one short sitting!  So I'm going to feature easy to make snacks that are healthy for you!  Keep them around the house or in the fridge at work and hit them up first before heading to a vending machine!

This week's snack is something I ate almost every day last week - Apples and Peanut Butter!  Apples are so good for you - loaded with soluble and insoluble fiber and vitamin C.  Research shows that apples lend to a healthy heart, lungs and, ahem, colon.  I tend to like crunchy, sweet varieties, like Pink Lady, Gala or Fuji.  My hubby and stepdaughter will only eat tart Granny Smith.  Try a few different varieties out to find your favorite - they are definitely not all the same!  

As for peanut butter, I can only advocate a natural, organic peanut butter, not the good, old fashioned Jiff or Skippy we all grew up on.  That stuff is loaded with trans fats and "stabilizers."  Natural peanut butter should only have two or three ingredients on its label - peanuts, oil and salt.  When you open up your first jar, do not be alarmed.  Natural PB separates, and it needs to be stirred up at first, then stored in the fridge to stay firm.  But the taste is all there!  And despite the high fat, peanut butter is good for you!  The fat is Good Fat, and will help reduce your risk of heart disease.  And it's loaded with protein.  Just keep your servings to no more than two tablespoons, as fat is fat, and PB is high in overall calories.  

So slice up an apple this afternoon, and take them for a dip in some peanut butter.  Yummy!