Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You Can Do It!!!

Every now and then, everyone needs some motivation...

7 Fitness Myths, Busted

We have all heard different myths and wive's tales about diet and exercise.  On Yahoo this morning, I found this article about some very common fitness myths...you should check it out...have YOU been working out based on these myths??

7 Fitness Myths, Busted

By Lisa Collier Cool

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get fit in 2012? The fitness resolution is a perennial on the top 10 list of the annual promises we make to ourselves, just after the all-time winner “lose weight”.

If you haven’t moved many muscles since high school gym class, you might not be up to speed on fitness myths, a stubborn bunch that just won’t die. A dose of reality right about now might strengthen your resolve.

Here’s a rundown on the seven top evergreen exercise myths that you’ll probably hear but can safely ignore:

1.  No Pain, No Gain

Maybe this one took on a life of its own because it rhymes and is so easy to remember. Forget it. If an exercise causes pain, you’re either doing it wrong (a session or two with a personal trainer can set you straight) or you’ve already managed to hurt yourself.

Be sure to separate pain from muscle soreness, which comes on after you tax a lax muscle and will wear off in a few days. Actual pain can mean that you’ve exhausted a muscle or torn a ligament. If what you’re doing really hurts, stop.

2.  Stretching Before Exercise

The idea here is that stretching before and after you exercise can prevent injury while you’re working out and muscle soreness afterward.

While stretching does promote flexibility (something you should strive for as an element of overall fitness), a study published in British Medical Journal found no scientific evidence to back up the notion that stretching before a workout reduces injuries or that stretching before and after can prevent muscle soreness.

3. Exercise Speeds Metabolism for Hours

While partly true--your metabolism does amp up during exercise and for a few hours afterward--the truth can be a big disappointment: the number of calories you can expect lose thanks to the afterburn is negligible, only 20 extra ones for the whole day according to one study.

But (and this is a really big “but”) you may be able to set your metabolism on high for hours after your workout if you can exercise intensely enough to reach the top of your VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in during exercise) and continue at that high level for 45 minutes. A tough prescription, but if you can manage that, a recent study found that you could burn as many as 190 extra calories in the hours after exercise.

4. Crunches Lead to Sixpack Abs

Sure they will as long as you also get rid of any belly fat that obscures your abdominal muscles. While crunches strengthen muscles, they won’t burn off the fat in your belly.

To flaunt your newly crunched abs you’ve got to trim the fat via diet, cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. And, of course, for crunches to work, you’ve got to learn to do them right.

5. Running on a Treadmill is Easier on the Knees

Sorry, but it is the running itself that stresses the knees, not the surface you’re pounding.

To ease the impact on your knees, experts advise varying your aerobic activities: mix running with riding a stationary bike or using the elliptical machine at the gym.

6. Ice Eases Muscle Pain

Applying ice to a sore muscle can numb it so it feels better, but a new review of evidence from 36 earlier studies concluded that icing doesn’t help heal muscle tears and can actually reduce muscle strength and power temporarily. This makes it a poor strategy for football players and other athletes who are itching to return to the action immediately after icing.

The researchers suggested that it is okay to ice sore muscles provided you don’t go right back to exercising. And they noted that more study is needed to learn more about the effects of icing, but this will be tough to accomplish since, for comparison purposes, there’s no placebo that feels like ice.

7. Using Exercise Machines is Safer

If you know what you’re doing, using machines at the gym can help you get the most out of your workout. But first the machines have to be correctly adjusted for your height and weight by a savvy coach or trainer. Otherwise, you’re as vulnerable to injury and as you would be if you were doing the same type of exercise with free weights or without any devices.

Nor is an expensive gym membership essential to get in shape, since jogging gives you a great cardio workout, while investing a pair of dumbbells to use at home helps with strength training.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Small changes that can help you lost weight!

I have found yet another AWESOME Yahoo article today...check it out...there are a few SMALL changes that you can make in your daily life that will help you lose those unwanted pounds :)


Experts Reveal: 15 Small Diet Changes for Big Weight Loss

By SHAPE magazine

Make 2012 the year you ditch the diets and start living in a healthy way. Try any one of these small, expert-approved tips for big (and healthy) changes.

Drink water with lemon to rev up your metabolism.

1. Jackie Warner: Drink water with lemon: You already know drinking water is good for your overall health, but fitness expert, celebrity trainer, and star of "Personal Training with Jackie: 30 Day Fast Start" Jackie Warner has a tip to take it up a notch in the weight-loss department. She recommends drinking 3 liters of water with lemon each and every day.

 "Adding the lemon helps to detoxify the liver and metabolizes fat, so this can speed up metabolism by about 33 percent," Warner says. "That burns about 100 extra calories per day!"

Listen to your hunger.

2. Kathy Smith: Listen to your hunger: Even if you can't fully change your diet for the better, one simple way to lose weight is to eat just a little less. And the easiest way to do that is by listening to your hunger. Kathy Smith, creator of the "Ageless with Kathy Smith" DVD line, says to eat slowly, savor every bite, and pay attention to when you begin to feel full-otherwise you can consume more calories than your body needs at each meal.

"When you get the signal that you've had enough, sprinkle salt on the rest of your plate to avoid nibbling on the leftovers, " Smith says. "Those little bits of calories can add up quickly over the week."

Don't buy diet food.

3. Jennifer Cohen: Don't buy diet food: Jennifer Cohen, Weight Watchers' spokeswoman and author of No Gym Required, warns to not just choose foods because they're marketed as "good for weight loss." Instead, choose what foods you're going to eat based on their nutritional value and health benefits. By eating healthy foods that are rich in nutrients, you're sure to lose weight pretty effortlessly.

"Before you plan a shopping trip or order out, look up the nutritional value of the foods you're considering and ask yourself if your list matches up with your needs and goals," Cohen says.

Eat a salad for lunch every day.

4. Mandy Ingber: Eat a Salad Every Day: Can losing weight be as simple as eating a salad for lunch every day? Mandy Ingber, the creator of Yogalosophy and celebrity yoga instructor to Jennifer Aniston, Kate Beckinsale, Ricki Lake, Brooke Shields, and Helen Hunt, thinks so.

"Replace your lunchtime meal with a large salad loaded with healthy greens," Ingber says. "If you are a meat-eater, add some lean protein. Load your salad with avocado, nuts, and all sorts of veggies that add color to your meal."

Eat on a schedule.

5. Nicole Nichols: Eat more regularly: In order to lose weight, you should never let yourself get too hungry, says Nicole Nichols, fitness expert and editor for SparkPeople.com, who was recently named America's "Top Personal Trainer to Watch" by ACE and Life Fitness. In fact, waiting too long between meals can encourage overeating later.

"So plan for one to two snacks a day as needed, and you'll likely eat less and avoid binges later," Nichols says.

Start juicing...drinking vegetable juice, that is!

6. Tara Stiles: Start juicing: And by juicing, we mean drinking fresh vegetable juice! Tara Stiles, the founder and owner of Strala yoga studio, personal yoga instructor to Deepak Chopra, and author of the best-selling book Slim Calm Sexy Yoga, says that juicing is the best thing she ever did for her health.

"Cucumber, kale, carrot, ginger...it is so good for you, gives you so much energy, and actually tastes good!" Stiles says. "The coolest side effect is that I stopped craving sugar and salts! Just like that, without trying. Amazing!"

Always carry almonds with you.

7. Kristin McGee: Always keep almonds on hand: We all know what it's like to be out on-the-go, totally hungry with no healthy options in sight. That's why Kristin McGee, a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor whose clients include Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Christine Taylor Stiller, LeAnn Rimes, and Bethenny Frankel, recommends packing an Altoids-sized container of raw almonds with you at all times. A small portion of any raw nut helps to keep your blood sugar stable.

"The perfect portion size of about 22 almonds, 15 cashews, or eight walnut halves will fit in one, and studies have proven that people who eat nuts weigh less and eat less overall," McGee says. "The belly-slimming monounsaturated fats are excellent, and each type of nut has great benefits-walnuts have omega-3s and almonds are high in vitamin E. Plus, a little Altoids tin can fit in a purse pocket anywhere, so there's no excuse!"

Add psyllium and flaxseed into your diet.

8. Jari Love: Add psyllium and flaxseed to your diet: Very rarely do you get advice to add to your diet, but that's exactly what star of the new "Get Extremely Ripped: Revved to the Max" DVD, Jari Love's easy diet secret is. She swears by psyllium seed husks, which are high in belly-filling fiber, and flaxseeds, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, for helping her stay at a healthy weight.

"Take your psyllium husks and flaxseeds, put them both into a Ziploc bag, and shake it up," Love says. "Keep this mixture in the fridge and add a tablespoon to each protein shake you drink throughout the day. This will help to keep you regular and give you those extra nutrients you need."

Add protein to every meal.

9. Andrea Metcalf: Add protein to every meal: Whether it's meat or a vegetarian protein like tofu or beans, Andrea Metcalf, a healthy lifestyle expert and author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Weight Loss Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain-Free Body, says that protein at every meal is a must for keeping away those hunger pangs. "Eat protein with each meal to stave off cravings," she says.

Drink alcohol sitting down.

10. Fit Chef Katy Clark: Don't drink alcohol standing up: Here's a simple rule to follow whenever you're at a party or a happy hour: don't stand and sip! That's the advice of Fit Chef Katy Clark from season 7 of Food Network Star. Calories really add up when you're drinking alcohol, so be extra mindful of each drink, she says.

"I found that I grab a drink because that is the expected party behavior, and I use my drink as a buffer and will just take sips to look busy, even though I'm not really enjoying it," she says. "Instead, I drink cocktails and wine during great sit-down, relaxed moments. And at the party, I stand with bubbly water or nothing in my hand so that I can give out better hugs!"

Watch out for carb serving sizes.

11. Linda LaRue: Watch your carb serving sizes: While carbohydrates are great for energy, it's easy to eat way too many if you're paying attention. Fitness expert and creator of the total-body core training system The Core Transformer Linda LaRue recommends to keep portions in check-especially when you're eating out.

"Remember that a recommended carbohydrate serving-such as pasta, pizza, bread, or rice-is 1/3 to 1/2 cup. That's the size of a golf ball or mouse," she says. "Most restaurants give you three cups of pasta. That's the equivalent of six carb servings!"

Choose Greek yogurt over other types of yogurt.

12. John Dull and Michele Collier: Choose Greek Yogurt: Everyone thinks of yogurt as a pretty healthy snack choice, but all yogurts are not created equal, say the creators of the "Supreme 90 Day" system John Dull and Michele Collier. In fact, many yogurts-including low-fat varieties-are loaded with sugar.

"A better choice is Greek-style yogurt," they say. "They have more protein per serving and very little sugar. Try adding fresh fruit for an added treat!"

Skip the mayo and choose mustard instead.

13. Dr. Lynn: Swap mustard for mayo: Swapping mustard for mayo is a no-brainer. But using spicy mustard is even better, says Dr. Lynn Anderson. This is because hot spicy mustard amps up the metabolism by creating a heat effect in the body, she says.

"To increase metabolism and curb appetite, drink a glass of water mixed with a tablespoon of hot spicy mustard just before dinner. Not only will you increase your metabolism, but mustard seeds are a good source of antioxidants and omega-3s!"

Ditch the sugary drinks for good.

14. Fred DeVito: Ditch sugary drinks and sodas: Fred DeVito, co-creator of the "Exhale: Core Fusion" DVD series recommends ditching sugary drinks of all kinds-including regular sodas, diet sodas, and high-calorie coffee drinks.

"Eliminate sugary drinks and diet soda, which can trigger your craving for sweets," he says. "These beverages are loaded with unwanted calories."

Experiment with new recipes.

15. Lisa Hubbard: Try new recipes: Who said healthy eating has to be boring or bland? Lisa Hubbard, star of the "Element: Total Body Pilates with Mini Ball" kit, recommends firing up your creative juices in the kitchen by investing in a new cookbook and trying new healthy recipes!

"Pick-up a new cookbook and experiment," Hubbard recommends. "Gear towards weight-loss types of recipes."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Lose Weight All Day Long

Yahoo has had a TON of good fitness articles lately...here is another one that I really enjoyed!!


How to Lose Weight All Day Long

By The Editors of Prevention

Timing your workouts and meals may be the secret to your weight loss success

Understanding and working with your body's natural hunger and sleep rhythms will vanquish cravings, increase energy, and help you lose more weight.

It's not just what you eat or how much you exercise that matters; it's the timing of each component that is the true secret to weight loss success. Research shows that our bodies' inner eat-and-sleep clocks have been thrown completely out of whack, thanks to all-day food cues and too much nighttime artificial light. The result: You're caught in a "fat cycle": a constant flow of hunger hormones that makes you prone to cravings. By tuning in to your body's natural eat/sleep schedule, you can finally say good-bye to your belly.


Within a half hour of rising and before you eat breakfast, do 20 minutes of cardio. Research has found that exercising before breakfast may help you burn fat more efficiently. If you can get outside, even better. Early morning sunlight helps your body naturally reset itself to a healthier sleep/wake cycle (regular indoor lights don't have the same effect).

6:55 TO 8:55 AM: DRINK UP.

Before every meal, drink two 8-ounce glasses of water. Research shows that people who drank this amount lost 5 pounds more than nonguzzlers.


The alarm clock also wakes up ghrelin, the "feed me" hormone made in your stomach. Ignore ghrelin and your body will produce even more, eventually making you ravenous. To suppress ghrelin's effect, eat a mix of complex carbs and protein, such as eggs and whole grain toast, within an hour of waking.


Ghrelin begins to rise again a couple of hours before lunch. It turns off when you chow down, particularly on carbs and protein, so have a small combo snack, like blueberries and Greek-style yogurt.


Galanin, another hunger hormone that makes you crave fat, rises around lunchtime. However, dietary fat causes you to produce more galanin, which then tells you to eat more fat. Instead, fill up with complex carbs and protein, such as chicken-vegetable soup or black bean chili.


Instead of hitting the vending machines, find a quiet place to grab a few Zzzs. (Hint: Your parked car is the perfect impromptu sleep pod!) Just set an alarm--15 to 20 minutes will energize your body without affecting your ability to sleep at night.


Need a boost? This is your last chance to have a cup of joe. Drinking coffee after 4 PM disturbs circadian rhythms and can keep you from falling asleep at night.


Now's the time to do your strength training, plus any additional cardio. This is when your body temperature is highest, so you're primed for peak performance. In one study, subjects who worked out in the late afternoon or early evening built 22% more muscle than morning exercisers.


To ensure you don't wake up hungry in the middle of the night, add a serving of healthy fats, such as flaxseed or fish oil, to your meal. If you're a wine drinker, pour a glass now. Drinking later can delay dream (REM) sleep, waking you frequently during the night.


Enjoy a carb-based bedtime snack, such as a serving of low-fat frozen yogurt. Nighttime carbs create tryptophan, which helps your brain produce serotonin. This feel-good chemical triggers your body to make melatonin, the sleep hormone.

9 TO 10:30 PM: POWER DOWN.

Step away from digital devices, including the TV. They emit a blue spectrum of light that's even more disruptive to sleep than regular bulbs. Do something calming--read, take a bath--in dim light so you're ready to nod off when you hit the sheets.

9:30 TO 11 PM: GO TO SLEEP.

Crawl under the covers at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, even on weekends. Having a regular sleep-and-wake schedule helps you fall asleep faster over time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Preparing for the week!

So yesterday morning (which was Sunday), I took the time after my workout to prepared my meals and snacks for the week!  It took me a couple of hours between chopping, cooking, portioning, and planning...but it was worth it.  Last week I not only ate healthy because of prepared meals...but I also saved $25!

Here is what my food for the week consists of:
  • Eggs with spinach, mushrooms, peppers and either hot sauce or salsa for breakfast
  • Qunioa with chicken for lunch...And I may add some salsa or other veggies depending on the day
  • Plus I made CLEAN pasta for dinner last night, so I have leftovers for one evening this week!
  • SNACK PACKS!  I have cleaned, chopped and portioned celery, grapes, and carrots for the week

And I of COURSE have my daily Shakeology and my fancy Brita Bottle so that I can drink TONS of water (I have been averaging 80 oz each day)!

What do you do to help yourself stay on track throughout the week????

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

So if it isn't obvious...I love spicy food!  I will put hot sauce on pretty much EVERYTHING.  Anyway, one of my favorite things to eat is buffalo chicken pizza...but if you buy it from a pizza shop it is SO unhealthy!  So I made my own recipe :)  Enjoy!

FIRST...preheat your over to 400 degrees...it can heat up while you are getting everything else ready!

I started out with 3 boneless, skinless chicken tenders.  I prefern chicken tenders over chicken breast because they are smaller and MUCH easier to work with...I cube the chicken and toss it into a small skillet with some Season All and pepper...I add some chili powder later!

While the chicken is cooking, I cut up my veggies!  On this pizza I put celery and green onion...yum!            

Next I get my tortilla shell ready!  I love using tortillas for mini pizzas because they are the perfect size for one person...I put some Frank's Red Hot Sauce on the tortille, then sprinkle on chopped celery and green onion...

Don't forget to keep your eye on the chicken!!

Once the chicken is done, toss it in some more hot sauce (if you want to...I love it with lots of hot sauce!)...Then put it on the pizza.  Top off the pizza with a little bit of fat free mozarella cheese!

Pop it in the oven for about 12 minutes or so (or as long as you would like...depending on how crunchy you want the tortilla and how melted you want the cheese :)

And voila!!!

Enjoy! :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

23 Adult Truths

Happy Friday the 13th!  Friday the 13th is always a lucky day for me...I closed on my house on Friday the 13th! 

Instead of a fitness post today (though one may still come later), I am going to post an email from my Mom.  I totally agree with everything on this list!  What about you???


23 Adult Truths

1. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8.. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind-of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call..

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay.

17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Positive Affirmations

Well, today is day 4 of the challenge that I am partaking in...and I LOVE it!  Having the support of a group of lovely Turbo ladies makes getting up at 4:45 and pressing play SOOOO much easier...I love you girls!!!

We had an assignment earlier this week to write down 3 positive affirmations on post-it notes and post them somewhere that we will look everyday...and we are to say them out loud EVERY TIME we see them.  I decided that in this post I would explain why I wrote what I wrote...

I am not fat. 
I can be really hard on myself sometimes.  I look in the mirror and I don't see what everyone else sees and I sometimes feel like I am fat and gross.  NO MORE THINKING LIKE THIS!  I am NOT fat...And saying it every day out loud is starting to help me realize it.

I am going to finish everything that I start.
I am one of those people that will start something and go full force for a few day...then something happens and I quit...or I start making excuses as to why I CAN'T do it.  Well newsflash...excuses won't get me anywhere.  No more doing things half-assed.  I am going to FINISH everything that I start from here on out.

I did everything in my power and do not feel guilty about what happened.
This is a hard one for me to wrap my head around.  As you know from numerous earlier blog posts, I lost my Aunt Karen in May of 2011...and with her death I experienced a lot of guilt.  I did not go and visit her in the hospital during her final days, and I was away on a trip (well on my way home) when she actually passed.  I didn't get the chance to say good-bye or tell her how I felt.  My Aunt and I talked every Tuesday night and the week before she died I was very short with her on the phone because I was shopping.  So what makes me feel so guilty?  There are the thoughts that have run through my head...and the thoughts that result in my guilt...I should have not gone to Chicago, and spent her final weekend by her side.  I should have talked to her that Tuesday night.  I should have been more persistent and MADE her go to the doctor.  I should have invited her to my house.  I should have introduced her to my dog.  I should have visited her more often...
I know that she would not want me to feel guilty...she was proud of me and knew that I did everything the way that I did for a reason.  She did not want me to see her die...she did not want me to see her suffer.  If she did, she would have asked for me.  Things happened the way that they did for a reason, and I did everything that I could do...I do not feel guilty anymore.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Timeline for Better Sleep

I found this on Yahoo! this morning and thought that it was worth sharing.  I can honestly say that I have changed MY habits this week and I feel MUCH more rested...just by simply SKIPPING snooze, working out EARLY, and only having 1 cup of coffee!  Enjoy :)


Timeline for Better Sleep

Think the solution to your fatigue is an earlier bedtime? Getting enough sleep is important, but it’s also the quality that counts—and there’s more to it than just a comfy bed. Also complicating things: As you get older, your sleep patterns change, making it harder to fall (and stay) asleep. But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be sleep-deprived. You can improve your slumber without tacking on hours in bed—and it’s not hard to do.

Every little habit—from what you eat and drink to when you exercise and watch TV—can impact your sleep. Here’s a sample day that shows you what you can do to get the best zzz’s possible. (Adjust it for your wake and sleep times.)

6:30 A.M. - Skip the snooze button

It’s tempting to turn over and squeeze in an extra 10 to 15 minutes of shut-eye when your alarm goes off, but doing that can actually make you more tired. “You spend so much energy going back to sleep and waking up again that you don’t get any additional deep sleep,” says Kathryn Lee, RN, PhD, professor and associate dean for research at the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing. And you’re more likely to wake up groggy. “So you’re using more energy but not sleeping more to make up for it.”

7:30 A.M. - Exercise

Not only does it give you a shot of energy that’ll help you power through the day, but exercising in the morning may also decrease levels of stress hormones, making it easier for your body to wind down and fall asleep faster, says Scott Collier, PhD, director of the Vascular Biology and Autonomic Studies Laboratory at Appalachian State University. In a recent study led by Dr. Collier, people who got 30 minutes of moderate exercise at 7 a.m. (compared with 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.) significantly improved the quality of their sleep that night, spending 75% more time in deep sleep.

11:00 A.M. - Take a breathing break

“If you don’t take time to stop during the day, falling asleep is harder. Why? When you finally try, you lie awake thinking about all of the things you haven’t had a moment to ponder,” says Diane Renz, LPC, a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado. It’s kind of like slamming on the brakes of a fast-moving car and all of the junk in the back flying forward. So once or twice a day, close your eyes and take three slow, deep breaths.

1-2 P.M. - Cut out caffeine

“Caffeine is a stimulant that lasts in your system for 4 to 7 hours,” says Lawrence Epstein, MD, chief medical officer of the Sleep HealthCenters, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Make sure that by the time you’re going to bed, the stimulating effects have worn off. Coffee isn’t the only culprit: Tea, chocolate and soft drinks also contain levels that can affect your sleep.

3 P.M. - Go outside

Getting out in natural afternoon light (30 minutes is ideal—even if it’s cloudy) helps reset your circadian rhythm so that you’ll wind down easier when bedtime rolls around, says Donna Arand, PhD, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio. (It’s also energizing.) If you can’t exercise in the a.m., use this time to squeeze in a brisk walk.

7 P.M. - Eat dinner

Your body needs at least 2 hours (3 for a heavy meal) to fully digest food. Eat too close to bedtime, and it’ll be hard for your body to wind down since you’ll still be working on digesting. Try to eat dinner on the earlier side, and the same goes for drinking alcohol. “Alcohol makes you sleepy at first, but causes you to wake up as it wears off,” says Nancy Collop, MD, director of the Emory Sleep Center and President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

10 P.M. - An hour before bedtime, have a proteincarb combo snack

Your brain needs the protein to produce melatonin and serotonin, chemicals important for sleep, and the carbs help your body absorb the protein, says Dr. Lee. A few good healthy snack options: peanut butter and whole-wheat bread or peanut butter and crackers, or 1 Tbsp hummus in a mini wholewheat pita.

10:30 P.M. - Thirty minutes before bedtime, start your wind-down routine

“A lot of sleep disturbance happens because we don’t give our bodies a chance to transition from a fast-paced day,” says Dr. Renz. This can be as simple as taking off your makeup and washing your face under dim lights or doing something relaxing like reading or meditating. “This signals to your brain that the day’s over and it’s time for sleep,” says Dr. Epstein. Shut down your computer, too, since surfing the Internet and sending emails stimulates your nervous system, making it harder to unwind.

11 P.M. - Get into bed, breathe and stretch

Taking a few deep breaths and doing a light 30-second stretch (try sitting up and reaching toward your toes) will help you relax once you’re under the sheets, says Dr. Collop. It’s OK if it takes a little while to fall asleep (up to 20 minutes is normal). “If you’re out like a light the second you hit the pillow, it means that you’re sleep-deprived,” says Dr. Renz.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Ok, so I LOVE a good buffalo chicken salad...But I have started a CHALLENGE with some lovely ladies.  This challenge will last 12 weeks and will push not only my fitness levels, but also my mentality and my DIET.  So, so satisfy my buffalo chicken salad craving, I made up this simple, SIMPLE recipe (and yes, it is really THAT simple)...

So I start with a defrosted chicken breast.  I like to cube the chicken BEFORE I cook it because it cooks a lot faster and then you don't have to worry about burning your hands while you try to cut it while it is hot!

I add a little bit of Season All just for taste...

While the chicken is cooking, I go ahead and put together my salad!

I buy the spring mix from the local grocery store and add my own red peppers, yellow peppers, and mushrooms...it looks yummy even WITHOUT the chicken!

After the chicken finishes cooking, it is time to spice things up a bit!!

I add some Frank's Red Hot to the chicken while it is still in the skillet and then toss it around until all of the chicken is coated.  You can add as much or as little as you want, depending on how spicy you want it to be.  I like mine to be REALLY spicy, so I don't hold back with the hot sauce!

Once you do that, just put the chicken on the salad!

I usually top it off with 2 tbsp of fat free ranch dressing :)

See I told you it was easy!  Not to mention it is REALLY yummy :)