Recipe of the Month! [Tuna]

Tuna Salad

There once was a time I couldn’t even stand the smell of tuna once the can was cracked, but those days are long gone. Now, I love tuna. Tuna melts, tuna salad, plain tuna, you name it.

I grew up eating whatever type of tuna my dad mixed up, which typically consisted of white tuna, celery and a whole bunch of mayonnaise.

Now that I’ve been to school, studied nutrition, and been focused on a healthier lifestyle, I can’t stomach mayonnaise on anything.

So I substitute his 2 tbsp of mayonnaise for 3 tbsp of Greek yogurt instead! It tastes, in my opinion, even better. Instead of making the tuna taste too sweet, it gives it a little tang which goes nicely with the celery.

Photo Jun 11, 1 55 56 PM

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Greek yogurt – I typically use plain Oikos or Chobani
  • 1 can of tuna – I typically go for white, dolphin safe tuna

*Note: I make the entire can at once and eat it over the course of a few days, as it lasts just fine in the refrigerator!

Looking for more nutrition facts on this recipe:

celeryoikos nutrition tuna

*For nutrition information, just look at the labels! Or, this website is super helpful in helping calculate calories and macros. [CalorieCount.com]

So all in all, this is a pretty light snack. Throw it on some whole wheat bread if you want with a slice of Swiss cheese for a more satisfying tuna melt. Or do it like I do – straight from the tupperware container with a little bit of pepper!

Photo Jun 11, 1 55 26 PM

Hope you like this substitution. It’s healthier and just as delicious. If you don’t like tuna, give it a try anyway to mix up your diet. Enjoy!

Dear Coach: Losing Weight

Clients: You’re lucky you’re so skinny/toned/small/etc/etc/etc……..
Me: It’s not luck!!!


As a personal trainer, I think it’s really important to be able to relate to my clients when it comes to fitness goals. Most of my clients assume I’m just one of those special, lucky people who are naturally thin and fit without even trying – one of those extremely blessed people who can eat literally anything they want, as much of it as they want, and not gain a pound. But that isn’t me. While my weight loss total wasn’t over the top or as significant as most, it still counts and it certainly gave me insight on how difficult it is to lose weight!

When I was a senior in high school, I gained about ten pounds. Part of this was travelling abroad and experiencing Spain’s diverse foods to the fullest and part of it was not continuing to exercise when my team sports seasons ended. A big part of this was being social all summer with my friends, going out for ice cream every chance we got before jetting off to college.

My freshman year of college at UMass Amherst, I gained even more weight. The “Freshman Fifteen” is real people – especially at a school like UMass where the dining is delicious and all you can eat. Not to mention that if you want it to be, the drinking scene can be heavy.

By the time I was heading into sophomore year of college (I transferred to Gordon at this time), I was over 135 pounds. I had never weighed more than 120 in my life. I’m not extremely tall, about 5’6″, so 135 is on the upper end of an average weight. But I was clearly not muscular, not toned, and definitely not fitting into my old jeans.

That spring, I really took to the gym and started eating healthier. I lost about 5 pounds over break and came back feeling awesome about it. So that summer, I decided to forego all ice cream excursions and dedicate myself to getting my cardio in every week. It wasn’t just one thing I changed, but my whole lifestyle. I slowly cut out junk food to the point where I didn’t even crave it anymore. The gym became a haven where I could de-stress and love the work my body could do. The roads of my town became my treadmill and I revelled in making it farther and farther on each run.

By the time I went back for my junior year, I lost all the weight I had put on and then some. I fluctuated between 115-120, but continued my healthy eating habits and exercise routines. Maybe losing 15-20 pounds doesn’t sound like much. But it was a lot to me! I could see the difference and feel the difference physically, emotionally, and mentally. I had more energy, was happier and more focused, and I felt more confident and motivated in other aspects of my life.

Photo Jun 20, 6 52 52 AM Photo Jun 20, 6 53 52 AM

[After freshman year of college (2011) I was at my heaviest (left photos). Most notable is the weight in my face (chubby cheeks!) and arms. Right photos are 2014 and 2012 respectively.]

Photo Jun 20, 6 55 34 AM Photo Jun 20, 6 57 34 AM

[Again, left photos are all 2010-2011. Right photos are 2012 and 2014. Again, the weight in my cheeks and arms is most notable, but I also lost quite a few inches around my waist and stomach.]

No matter what your fitness goal is, it’s important to do it for YOU and only you. Be determined and love yourself. Give yourself the credit you deserve when you get closer to your goal. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen over night. Surround yourself with people who understand what it’s like – what it’s like to strive toward your goal, what it’s like to slip up and fall off track, what it’s like to lose motivation and get down on yourself, what it’s like to crave dessert, what it’s like to feel your body burn during your workout, what it’s like to achieve that goal.

I always tell my clients that I certainly did NOT always look the way I do now. And I still have fitness goals I want to achieve. There is a reason I always refer to your fitness journey as a journey, and it’s because you’ll never be “done”. Even when you achieve your goal, there’s always another one to strive for, or at least maintain.

I was really discouraged when I finally realized I had put on 20 pounds and could barely do a push up or run a decent mile. But I’m glad I went through that journey because it’s allowed me to relate to all my clients who have weight loss goals and struggles. I can get personal and honestly say, “I’ve been there, I GET IT.” It’s hard, and it takes time and dedication, but it’s a day to day process. We’ll get there.

  

 [Present. 2015]

-Coach A

What’s IN & What’s OUT (of season)

So, clearly it’s full on summer at this point. Everybody (hopefully) has been having bbq’s, enjoying the beach, and picking farm fresh berries…. or have you not been taking advantage of all the delicious, fresh foods that are currently ripening up perfectly this “in” season? 

Do you even know which fruits and vegetables are in season right now?

Do you know even what it means for a product to be “in season” or not?

For you to take full advantage of this delicious, ripe season, you need to know what I’m talking about here!

A food that is “in season” means that product is being harvested naturally and can be bought fresh in markets. A product can be bought out of season, but that would mean it’s not being bought within its natural harvest season.

Does that matter? Yes, on several levels!

First and foremost, eating what’s in season is more cost effective for you. Naturally harvested products tend to cost less than products harvested out of their natural seasons due to artificial growing methods or shipping costs.

Additionally, taste matters! A product bought in season tastes fresher than one bought out of season. An out of season product is either grown at a hothouse, which is a mostly glass building specifically used for growing out of season foods, or shipped from somewhere around the world. Both of these methods can affect the taste since Mother Nature didn’t get a chance to properly nurture the food, and the food must be frozen ASAP to prevent rotting.

Finally, by eating what foods are in season, you are provided with tastier variety all year long! Most people don’t even realize that the fall and winter seasons yield natural crops, just as the spring and summer yield a nice variety. 

Some examples of foods that are IN season at different times throughout the year include:

Fall – cranberries, squash, apples, garlic, grapes, figs, mushrooms, celery, cauliflower.
Winter – citrus, kale, radishes, turnips, leeks, celery, cauliflower, kiwis.
Spring – grapefruit, green onions, kiwis, lemons, onions, scallions, strawberries.
Summer – chickpeas, corn, gooseberries, green beans, pea greens, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, most berries.

So go ahead! Eat some berries this week! Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are bound to be bright, juicy, ripe, and delicious because they’re all IN season right now!

I’ll be sure to post some DELICIOUS berry recipes for you to enjoy, so check back later this month 🙂

Macros

Macronutrients, commonly referred to as macros, are the nutrients we eat in large quantities that provide us with energy. There are three types of macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and fat.

The first macronutrient is the carbohydrate. Carbs are commonly believed to be the enemy when it comes to weight loss. This is not true! As someone who exercises, carbs are an essential part of your diet. Carbs serve as the main fuel source when our muscles are working hard. If you don’t provide your body with carbs, it will breakdown other chemical compounds (like protein) to use as a fuel source, which can hinder your ability to achieve weight loss or weight gain goals.

There are, of course, some carbs that are better than others. Good carbohydrates mainly fall in the class of vegetables and fruits. Most people don’t even realize these healthy foods are actually carbs. Eating multigrain or whole wheat options when it comes to bread and rice is better than eating white. Similarly, oatmeal or bran cereals are healthier carb choices than colorful cereal brands. Carbs to avoid include pastries and desserts, sodas and artificial syrups, and thick and doughy white breads or grains.

The next macronutrient is protein. Meals or snacks that contain protein are great choices to feel satisfied for longer amounts of time. This ensures that snacking or overeating is kept to a minimum, and intense hunger won’t strike as often between meals.

Eating all your protein in one meal is not as effective to your diet as getting your protein in smaller portions throughout the day. Since eating high protein snacks in small portions throughout the day is ideal, try a handful or two of trail mix in a Greek yogurt and later on have hummus with vegetables. Don’t just limit your protein intake to dinner like most people do. Eating two hamburgers for dinner and calling that your total protein for the day is not going to help your body get to your set goals. In fact, doing that may hinder you from reaching your goals because you then force your body to process excess protein. Eating too much protein at once can cause your body to have a higher nitrogen balance and work harder to expel the waste.

Aside from lean meats, like chicken or ground beef, foods that are healthy and good sources of protein include eggs, Greek yogurts, legumes (such as beans and peas), hummus, and a variety of fish (salmon, trout), so try to mix things up!

The last macronutrient is fat. Don’t be scared by this! Fat should also be an essential part of your diet. There are such things as “good” and “bad” fats. Fats you want to avoid are usually solid at room temperature, like butter. These are the fats associated with poor cholesterol levels and higher risk of heart disease.

“Good” fats are in foods like avocados, seeds (like flax), almonds, pecans, yogurt, and fish like salmon. These fats help keep your cholesterol levels healthy! The best part about “good” fats is that if you are conscientious of the protein and carbohydrates you consume as mentioned above, these fats are, for the most part, already included in your diet and you don’t need to add them. Eating eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and the other sources mentioned above all contain the “good” fats you need.

A fourth, but no less important, component to any healthy diet is water. Water is crucial to all of our body’s functions and most people don’t even drink it! Water helps us stay alert, energized, and helps every other body process stay normal. When it comes to diet, most of the time when we feel hungry, we are actually just thirsty. Try to have at least 8 glasses per day, or more, depending on how much you are sweating during your workouts, how active you are, your size, and other health considerations.

Try cutting back as much as possible on drinking carbonated sodas, as they contain empty calories, lots of sugar, and have no nutritional value. Even juices that you think are healthy, like orange juice, should only be had in light moderation, since they contain lots of sugar and empty calories. To see more reasons on why you should drink more water, refer to this article here.

Now that you have more knowledge on what essential nutrients your diet should consist of, try to incorporate a variety of the good foods mentioned above into your daily meals. Eat responsibly and see how smoothly your body will function when it’s getting what it really needs.

Running on the Beach

Let’s be honest, the only place we really want to be in the summer is on a beach. For you fitness freaks out there, that doesn’t mean you have to just lounge lazily in the sun and snack all day long. You can get a great workout by running in the sand, and it can be as relaxing or challenging as you want!

Running on the beach provides a couple of options for your workout. Running closer to the water’s edge, especially during low tide, offers wetter and more compact sand to run on. This makes it easier to navigate along your run and offers an enjoyable, smooth ride for you to enjoy on the ocean’s edge.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, running in the softer, looser sand provides more resistance. In fact, it takes more energy and work to navigate through looser sand as your tendons and muscles adjust to the unnevennes of the terrain. Running in looser sand is a bit like running hills, requiring you to generate more force and work harder overall.

Running in sneakers versus running barefoot also allows you to control the intensity of your run. Running in shoes on the beach is perfectly fine, especially if you’ve had injuries like plantar fasciitis or achilles tendonitis. The sneakers will continue to provide your feet the support they need on the unpredictable terrain sand offers.

While running barefoot allows your feet to follow through their full range of motion, it can irritate the chronic conditions mentioned above, since the muscles are stretched more and are not being supported by the proper shoes. If you choose to go the no shoes route, beware of doing too much mileage, too soon. The harder surface could result in injury if you aren’t used to it. Additionally, beaches are typically littered with sharp shells and often times, glass or other litter. Beware of this risk if you decide to run barefoot.

Harder sand or softer sand, in sneakers or not – either way, if you’ve never run on a beach before, start slow. Begin with a short 15 minute jog and slowly increase your time as the weeks progress. Your legs and feet will need to adjust to the work they’ll be doing in the sand, and your body as a whole will have to adjust to the higher energy demands running on sand requires.

For me, running on the beach is the most relaxing workout there is. Waking up early before the crowd arrives while it’s still silent but for the sound of wind and waves is one of the most peaceful times to appreciate what your body can do. So give it a try! Go for a quick little jog on the coast and see how renewed you feel after running behind such a glorious canvas!

Dear Coach: More Favorites?

Dear Coach, Got any more fun favorites to share?

-Fitness Fan


Fitness Fan,

There are always more things to like when it comes to fitness! Here’s a couple more of my favorites (and not so favorites)…

-SPORTS BRAS! Is this a weird thing to love? I love that I can buy them for $5 at TJMaxx. I mean really? I’ll take 10….

-CORE! I LOVE ab exercises. One of my favorite feelings is when my abs are sore from a previous workout and just me laughing even makes the muscles ache a bit.

IMG_4503-LEGS! Strength training my lower body is a fave. I love squats. Sumo squats. Squats with overhead press. Goblet squats. Front squats. I love it.

-SUMMERCan I count a season as a favorite when it comes to fitness? Well I am. Spring (and summer) is my favorite time to year be exercising outside.  The temperatures are perfect, everything is coming to life again.  After all the snow is gone, you have a much greater appreciation for how the sun feels on your skin and how you can actually start to sweat again because you’re finally thawing out after a long, cold winter!  Who could pass up that view?!

Dislikes: 

-HEADPHONES. I’m always yanking the wire out of my ear or iPod by accident and disrupting my gym flow. Although I found a great pair that hooks into my ears so they stay in place, I still can’t stand the feeling of ear buds in my ear when I start to seriously sweat.

What do you think?  Have a different question for me? Comment!

-Coach A