Make February a Great 28!

Starting tomorrow, I will be sharing a healthy habit each day for the entire month of February.  Challenge yourself to include each activity in your day.  If you take the initiative to complete each idea, you will have made it a “Great 28”!  If you come across an idea that you’re already used to doing, be creative in trying to think of something new.  If you struggle thinking of a replacement, email me at

The idea for a Great 28 is to try something different or out of the ordinary each day, and gain knowledge of simple ways to stay healthy in the process.  Good luck!  And feel free to email me or leave comments to let me know how you’re doing!!  Here’s to February being YOUR Great 28!

Simple Fish Tacos Courtesy of Melissa!

This one HAS to be good.  And I know that because I got it from the best cook I know! 😉  Enjoy!

Serves 4 (2 tacos per person)
Preparation time:  15 to 20 minutes
1 pound tilapia, defrosted if frozen and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup tomato salsa (your favorite kind)
1 lime, juiced
1-3 dashes hot sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
8 small flour tortillas
1 bag pre-shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup fat free sour cream
Put olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot add fish, salsa, lime juice, hot sauce and salt and pepper. Stir to mix fish with sauce. Fish will break up into smaller pieces as it cooks and is stirred. Reduce heat to medium.  Cook the fish mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the fish is cooked through turn heat to low and keep warm.
Dampen a couple of sheets of paper towels and wrap the tortilla shells inside. Place on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute to warm up shells.
Make the taco by filling a tortilla shell with 1/8th of the fish mixture, the coleslaw mix and the sour cream.  Enjoy!
Analyzed Nutritional Data per Serving from
7 grams
1 gram
0 grams
15 mg
631 mg
Total Carbohydrate
54 grams
    Dietary Fiber
1 gram
1 gram
15 grams

The 3 Key Factors in Getting Closer to a 6 pack

With spring and summer creeping closer, wouldn’t it be nice to have a flat stomach this year at the beach?  It seems like a ton of people set goals to trim down their waist and get lean for the summer months.  Unfortunately, most of them didn’t get the memo that doing a trillion sit-ups won’t bring them any closer to their dream of a six pack.  In this post I will share the three key factors in attaining that beach body.
#1 Proper Diet
I know, I know, this is exactly what you DID NOT want to hear.  Unfortunately it’s true, don’t count on transforming your stomach and losing inches from your waist if you’re not watching what you eat.  While turning your diet completely around may seem unrealistic, at the very least you need to become aware of the flaws in your diet and make some positive changes.  Cut down on the bad carbs if you can’t cut them out completely.  Stop eating carbohydrates after dinner.  Make sure you’re eating often enough (eating every three hours will help speed up your metabolism).  Cut down your portion sizes if you feel like that would help.  Finally, consider logging your food online for a day just to see how many calories you are accustomed to eating.  Chances are, seeing that number will spark an effort to make some changes.
#2 Cardio
One of the most overlooked factors in attaining that goal of a flat stomach is cardio.  Yes, cardio.  I know it sucks, but how do you think you’re going to lose the fat that’s currently hiding your six pack potential? Add an extra hour of cardio to your weekly workout routine.  Once this becomes the norm add some more.  Make sure you’re switching up the type of cardio you do.  If you’re used to going to the gym and heading straight for the treadmill or track try a spinning or kickboxing class instead.  If you prefer the cardio machines then challenge yourself to pick a different program.  Try the random, or interval program on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical.  You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes in your workout.  
#3 Crunches, Not Sit-Ups
One of the biggest misconceptions in the realm of fitness is that sit-ups will get you a flat stomach.  If you have something or someone holding your feet down while you’re completing your set of sit-ups then you are actually working your hip flexors more than your abs.  Rather than full sit-ups, consider trying smaller crunches.  Focus on curling up with a smaller range of motion so that the top of your abdomen get closer to your belly button.  Try curling up at an angle to include your obliques in the exercise.  Finally, consider things like hanging knee raises or reverse crunches to hit those lower abs.
The most important thing to remember is that crunches will only strengthen your abs.  Working alone, they will not get you that beach body physique.  However, it is important to build strength.  Not only will strengthening speed up your metabolism, but together, with a proper diet and cardiovascular exercise regimen, it will be the factor that matters most after you shed the fat!

Another Healthy Recipe from Food Network: Fajitas! Olé!


Marinating chicken and peppers and onions in a highly flavored marinade and then grilling gives it all the flavor without fat. A spiced creamy yogurt sauce and avocado sauce wrapped in a corn tortilla with fresh cilantro keeps the fajitas healthy and fresh tasting.


  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, about 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded if desired
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2-pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • 2 orange and/or yellow bell peppers, quartered, seeds removed
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup fat-free Greek Yogurt
  • 12 corn tortillas
1. Put the cilantro, lime juice, broth, scallions, garlic, jalapeno, honey, and salt in a blender, puree until smooth. Reserve 2 tablespoons; do not wash out the blender.
Put chicken breasts in a medium bowl and the peppers and onions in another. Divide the remaining cilantro puree evenly between the chicken and the peppers and onions. Toss well to coat the chicken and vegetables and let stand, at room temperature, for 30 minutes.
2. Add the avocado, 1/2 cup water, and the reserved 2 tablespoons cilantro sauce to the blender. Puree until smooth and season with salt. Set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a small skillet set over medium heat until hot. Add the cumin and coriander and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour the spices over the yogurt and set aside for the flavors to blend. Stir before serving.
4. Preheat a grill for medium-high/direct heat cooking. Oil the grill grates. Grill the chicken and vegetables, turning, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, about 5 to 8 minutes for the vegetables and 12 to 15 minutes for the chicken. Let chicken rest 5 minutes. Place the tortillas on the grill until just warmed through, about 30 seconds.
5. To assemble the fajitas: slice the onions and peppers into thin strips and then slice the chicken. Place some peppers, onions, chicken and cilantro in a tortilla topped with the spiced yogurt and the avocado sauce.
Copyright 2010 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved
Nutritional analysis per serving: (2 fajitas)
Calories 347; Total Fat 8g (Sat Fat 1g, Mono Fat 3g, Poly Fat 1g) ; Protein 31g; Carb 37g; Fiber 5g; Cholesterol 66mg; Sodium 157mg

Get Fit Physically AND Mentally: The Advantages of Yoga

Many times, when we think about physical fitness we think of strength, cardiovascular endurance, and body mass index as the defining factors.  While these things do play a part in being physically fit, we cannot overlook the importance of flexibility.
Proper stretching should be done after every strength and/or cardiovascular workout we complete.  Stretching after a workout will help prevent injury and decrease muscle soreness in the days that follow.  However, a few minutes of stretching after every workout, alone, may not be enough to create noticeable gains in our flexibility.
Consider adding a yoga class to your weekly workout routine.  The benefits you receive will make it well worth your time.  Increasing your flexibility can help you achieve your strength and cardio goals more easily.  Yoga will also help you achieve better core strength and balance.  You will be surprised at the strides you can make in just a few short weeks.  
In addition to physical rewards, yoga offers us the opportunity to enhance our mental health.  It is a form of meditation that allows us to focus on improving our bodies and minds.  Like other forms of meditation, yoga takes some getting used to.  It is far from easy at the start, but like anything, gets easier with practice so don’t give up!
The idea that yoga is just a routine of simple stretches strung together is a massive misconception.  I can tell you in all honesty that the first time I took a yoga class I glanced around the room to find that I was the only one sweating bullets with a look on my face that implied I had suffered an unexpected hernia.  It was not what I expected at all.  Previously considering myself “fit”, I realized then and there that I still had a lot of work to do if I wanted to possess the total package.
Check with your gym to find out whether or not they offer yoga classes.  If you are in the Columbus area and looking for classes consider checking out The Yoga Factory in Westerville or The Tracey Gardner Method in New Albany, which emphasizes hot yoga.  Whether you try it at a fitness center or in your living room, I suggest adding at least one day of yoga per week to your workout routine.  Improving your flexibility and expanding your balance of mind can truly get you one step closer to achieving your goals both inside and outside of the gym.

Which Way to the Gun Show? Part 3 (Shoulders)

Now that you’re ready to roll with the big guns it’s time for some shoulders exercises.  Try these five exercises out and see what you think!
#5 Upright Row
This exercise can be done with a barbell, as shown above, or with dumbbells, a resistance band, or the cables.  Try different ways to give your muscles a different type of workout.  Make sure you’re raising the weight all the way up to your chin and that your elbows are staying higher than your hands as you raise them up and out to the sides.
#4 Lateral Raise
This exercise isn’t easy but it’s great for strengthening the shoulders.  Make sure you choose a weight that is appropriate.  You should be able to complete 12-15 repetitions correctly and feel challenged at the end.  This exercise can also be performed with a handle on the cables.  If you decide to try cable lateral raises attach the handle to the low end of the cable and grab it with the hand that is furthest from the machine.  This will allow for a larger range of motion.  Keep the weight light enough so that you can keep your arm straight while you’re extending it.  Complete your sets one arm at a time if you’re using the cable for this one.

#3 Front Raise

This exercise can be done in a variety of ways. Try it with dumbbells or with both hands on a medicine ball, weighted plate, or barbell. No matter what you are using, the key here is to hold your abs in tight and refrain from swinging your body. Stand with your back up against a wall to prevent swinging if necessary. If you choose to try front raises on a cable machine face away from the machine and pull the cable through your legs. This will allow a full range of motion.

#2 External Rotation

Strengthening the muscles in your rotator cuff is an important way to prevent shoulder injuries. The exercise shown above can be completed with a resistance band, light set of dumbbells, or on a cable machine. It can also be completed sitting or standing. The important thing is that you keep good posture and keep your elbow close to your body. After you’ve completed a set of external rotations turn around, leaving the handle in the same hand, and try a set of internal rotations pulling the band or weight across your body instead of away from it. Keep your weight light on this exercise to avoid working the deltoids more than the muscles in your rotator cuff.

#1 T Pushup

T Pushups are not for the faint of heart. This is an advanced exercise for your shoulders chest and core and should be done with a set of light dumbbells to emphasize your shoulders. This exercise can also be done from your knees if you aren’t ready for the real thing. Either way, the key is to keep your core tight and keep your arms straight as you raise your hands (or dumbbells) off the ground. 

Which Way to the Gun Show? Part 2 (Biceps)

Time to hit the biceps!  It is important to make sure you are working your muscles evenly.  Even if you don’t enjoy doing what seems like a million curls for your workout, it’s a necessary evil if you’re working on your triceps regularly.  You must work that opposing muscle group (in this case your biceps) to stay on track with total body strength and stamina.  Below are some creative ways to work your biceps…
#5 Standing Cable Curls
Cable curls can be performed sitting or standing.  In this video they are being completed with a straight bar cable attachment.  They may also be completed one arm at a time with a handle.  If you feel like you have one side that is substantially stronger than the other I would suggest curling with one arm at a time. This will prevent you from neglecting your weak side.
#4 Reverse Barbell Curls
The overhand grip used in this exercise is what makes it different from a standard barbell curl which is performed with your palms facing up.  As with every curling exercise, the key here is to keep your back straight and isolate your biceps.  If you feel yourself arching your back or swinging your entire body to get the weight up you need a lighter bar.  To prevent this from happening try standing with your back against a wall.
#3 Concentration Curls
First and foremost, sorry for the annoying music in this video.  It was the best demo I could find.  Concentration curls are one of the most efficient exercises at isolating the biceps.  From this position, it is difficult to get any other muscle group involved in curling the weight up.  Preacher curls are similar but are often performed with a barbell rather than dumbbells.  If you want to try preacher curls at home try kneeling down with a stability ball in front of you.  Rest your elbows on the front of the stability ball and pick up a barbell or set of dumbbells and curl all the way up.  Lower the weight back down and repeat.
#2 Incline Curl
To make this exercise more challenging for your core consider doing it on a stability ball instead of a bench.  If you choose to try it on a stability ball make sure that you are not sitting straight up or lying flat, but somewhere in the middle of the two with your abs engaged.  You’ll know when your positioning is right when your abs start to burn! 🙂
#1 Lying Cable Curl
Sorry again for the music.  The key to this exercise is keeping your elbows in close to your body and keeping your back flat.  If you feel yourself arching your back the weight is too heavy.  The last thing you want is to turn these exercises into “total body” curls.  Isolate your biceps as much as possible to get the most out of these exercises.  This particular exercise can also be performed on a bench rather than the ground.  If your gym has a machine that allows you to do low rows with a cable, try completing a set of lying cable curls there on your biceps day.

Which Way to the Gun Show?

Welcome to part one of a three part series on the best ways to work your arms and shoulders!  I’m going to start with my top five triceps exercises that can be done at home or in the gym using only your body and a set of dumbbells.
#5 Dumbbell Skull Crushers
If you don’t have a stability ball or a bench these can be done lying on the floor.  Make sure that you’re isolating those triceps by hinging at the elbows and not allowing your upper arm to swing or drop.  Once you’ve got this move down, try turning the dumbbells horizontally and bringing them across your body to your opposite shoulder.  Do one side at a time and be sure to hinge at your elbows.  Now you’re isolating a different part of the triceps and practicing muscle confusion in the process!
#4 Bench Dips
Try this exercise with your feet flat on the ground and your knees at a 90 degree angle before you try it as it’s shown in the video above.  If it seems easy with your feet flat and knees bent, straighten out your legs and keep your feet on the floor.  If it still seems easy, go ahead and elevate your feet to allow for a deeper dip and larger range of motion.
#3 Overhead Triceps Extension
Overhead triceps extensions can be completed sitting or standing.  Try it both ways and see what you think!  Remember to choose a heavier dumbbell than you would usually work with as you are using both hands to lift it.  A weight that makes it tough but not impossible to complete 12-15 repetitions correctly is what you’re looking for on all of these exercises.  To make this more of a core workout try sitting on a stability ball rather than a chair.  Remember to hinge at your elbows and keep those upper arms stationary to isolate the triceps.
#2 Plank Hold with Triceps Kickback
This is a challenging way to work your core and your triceps at the same time.  If this is too advanced for you right now, start from your knees.  If that seems too easy try lifting one knee up and performing the kickbacks with your opposite arm.  Another option is to hold yourself up on your forearms rather than your hands.  This is no beginners exercise, but keep at the modifications until you gain enough core strength to try the advanced version.
#1 Diamond Pushups
By bringing your hands close together during your pushups you are able to work your triceps more than your chest.  Diamond pushups are not easy!  If you don’t have great upper body strength start from your knees and work up to your toes.  You may also do these against the wall or at an angle with your feet on the ground and your hands on something elevated like a picnic table.  Each of these modifications are great ways to start gaining enough strength in your triceps to do a regular diamond pushup.  Try a few of the modifications out to see where your starting point is.