Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Meal Planning - Make Life a Little Less Stressful!

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a request to join a weekly meal planning group on FaceBook.  I had never heard of such a thing but was curious to see what it was about so I accepted the invitation.  To my surprise, it has become a very useful and engaging tool to make my life a little easier when it comes to the "What's for dinner?' dilemma.  Basically the group members set out to post their weekly dinner menus on the message boards to help eachother get ideas and also actually sit down and plan out the week's meals.  It has become such a great thing in my household.  Not only does it make life easier in the planning department but it also saves me money at the same time.  Now when I go to the store I actually have a list and know what I need to get before hand which causes me not to buy things I won't use.  I am amazed at how much money I was wasting on things that were not getting eaten or forgotten about.  I just love this idea and it is a great way to experiment in the kitchen and try new things.

Implementing a meal planning strategy into your life doesn't have to be a big chore.  You can go as big and elaborate as you want and plan out all your weekly meals or use it as a general guideline.  For my weekly dinner plan I just simply write down the title of seven dinner recipes I want to make for that week. I then write down which cookbook the recipe is located in and the page number it can be found on and thats it.  The day before I want to go shopping I go through my recipes to see what ingredients I need and viola.....I am set for the week.  Super simple...super easy and such a time and money saver.  One of the things I like about being a part of the FaceBook group is that it is a great place to get ideas and new recipes or even share some of your own.  The group is also a great way to help you stay motivated to keep up with meal planning.  It is easy to say you want to start meal planning, maintain it for a couple of weeks and than fall back into old habits.  With the group it makes it fun to stick with the meal plan and constantly have a fresh pool of ideas.

Does dinner time stress you out on a weekly basis?  Give meal planning a try and see how stress free dinner can be! Have any tips or tricks to share?  Leave a comment and let us know!      

Friday, March 21, 2014

Springtime Recipe! Israeli CousCous with Chick Peas, Brussel Sprouts and Asparagus

Spring is finally here and while the weather outside might still be a little frightful, the menu for spring is starting out with a wonderful bang!  Springtime always signifies the arrival of some of my favorite greens and veggies, especially asparagus.  I always get excited when I start seeing this wonderful crop hit the farmers markets in my area.  So to celebrate that spring is finally here and that the weather will start to change very soon I thought it would be a good time to share a wonderful springtime recipe with you all using some of springs best bounties.  I hope you enjoy!

Israeli CousCous with Chick Peas, Brussel Sprouts and Asparagus

Ingredients: 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts 1 medium bunch of asparagus (about 20 spears) 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas rinsed and drained 2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous 2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced 1/2 cup grated Parmesan salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut Brussels sprouts in half, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20-22 minutes. Cook couscous according to package instructions, and chop asparagus and steam. Once the sprouts, couscous, and asparagus are finished, combine in a large bowl with chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Stir together and serve immediately.

I discovered this recipe in Health Magazine and it was a real hit.  I hope you enjoy it and share.  What are some of your favorite springtime recipes?  Think spring...it is here and the warmer weather is on its way!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Winter-Proof Your Skin - 3 Ways To Moisturize Your Skin Naturally

Dry skin and winter seem to go hand-in-hand.  Where you find one you will likely find the other.  This time of year can be brutal on your skin and can leave many damaging effects behind if you don't moisturize and protect your skin from the harsh elements of winter.  There are so many different options available to moisturize your skin with these days it can be hard to know what to use and how often to use it.  Plus when you consider some of the harsh chemicals and dyes that are put into most of the mainstream lotions and body butters it is no wonder that our skin goes a little crazy and gets all dried out.  Our skin is the largest organ on our body and it absorbs everything it touches within seconds making what you put on your skin vitally important not only to the health of your skin but to your over all health as well.  So, it only makes sense to put something that will not only nourish your skin but that is also safe, natural and not cause any unhealthy side effects.  Listed below are some natural ways to winter-proof your skin this winter and quite possibly for the rest of your life.  These alternatives are 100% natural, affordable and effective.

  • Butters.   Butters are generally found in solid form, are plant based and commonly consist of mango butter, cocoa butter, avocado butter and shea butter.  Butters offer a high degree of protection and moisturizing effect as they are slower to absorb into your skin.  When searching to purchase an all natural moisturizing butter make sure to get it from a reputable source to be sure that no additives or other chemicals are put into the butter.
  • Oils.  Over the years oils have become a very popular way to keep skin moisturized.  Some examples of skin moisturizing oils are; olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, castor oil and avocado oil.  When looking for the perfect moisturizing oil to use on your skin make sure to look for 100% organic oils to ensure you aren't putting any highly chemicalized oils on your skin.  Oils are slightly easier for the skin to absorb than butters and offer great moisturizing effects and are extremely affordable as a little bit goes a long way.
  • Combination of Oils and Butters.  This is a great option for anyone that wants to get a little creative and tailor the recipe to suit your skin type.  It will slowly absorb into your skin and leave it feeling so soft and protected.  If using coconut oil, the addition of butter helps to stabilize the consistency of the oil making it more durable for warmer temperatures.  A blend to try out is: 12 tablespoons of Shea Butter, 4 tablespoons Plant Oil such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil or any plant oil of your choice.  5-10 drops of essential oil of your choice.  With a high speed mixer blend the shea butter and plant oil together until you reach desired consistency.  This will take several minutes.  Once desired consistency is achieved add essential oils to mixtures and put mixture into an airtight container.  Label accordingly and enjoy!

Finding the right natural moisturizer that works best for you may take some trial and error but the efforts are well worth it.  Your skin will feel amazing and your immune system will thank you for nourishing it without all sorts of chemicals and dyes.  Have fun with the combinations and enjoy your soft winterized skin.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Winter Fitness: Getting a Great Workout Outside During The Winter Months

Winter time.  It's cold outside, constantly snowing and the wind can be to much to handle at times.  When I think of winter I think of hot cocoa, warm fires, good books and staying inside where it is nice and warm.  I know I am not alone in this thinking.  There are days where I find it very difficult to bundle myself up in dozens of layers to go outside and enjoy what this time of year has to offer, but I must admit that I am always very thankful I took the time to do these activities once I am there and in the midst of doing them.  There is something about the crisp fresh air and beauty of the snow that is quite refreshing.  It breaks up the monotony of the winter months and has some great healthy fitness benefits too.  Listed below are a few great outdoor activities that are not only a lot of fun to do but also offer up a great workout as well.

  1. Ice Skating - Ice skating is all about balance, balance and more balance.  Much like a ballet dancer has to practice for hours en pointe to learn how to balance, an ice skater must learn the fine art of balancing their entire body on two tiny blades and some how look gracefully and stay upright.  This outdoor activity can be a great group or family activity to do during the winter and can offer up a pretty good work out.  Ice skating at a steady pace for one hour can give you a great leg work out as well as work on your core.  It can also burn up approximately 460 calories per hour!  Not bad for playing on the ice.
  2. Sledding - It might not seem like sledding would offer up a very good work out but consider this.  While you are sledding down the hill you are using your core muscles for balance and steering and climbing back up the hill is comparable to a hard core stair climber workout or squat workout.  Trekking up and down the hill for an hour can really target your glutes and legs and burn up approximately 362 calories per hour.
  3. Cross-Country Skiing - If you want a full body workout that targets your arms, legs and core this outdoor activity will deliver.  Cross-Country Skiing not only serves up a great cardio workout but is also very calming and serene.  This outdoor activity will burn enough calories in one hour (approximately 572 per hour) for you to be able to enjoy a nice hot cocoa when you make it back home!
  4. Snowshoeing - Of all the activities listed on this list this one not only burns the most calories in one hour but is also one of the simplest to learn.  If you know how to walk you are well on your way to knowing how to snowshoe.  This particular activity offers up an excellent cardio workout and can burn up to approximately 650-700 calories per hour going at a moderate pace.  

It is easy to see that these winter time activities can have some high impact on your cardio workout goals as well as being a lot of fun.  As far as weight loss and fitness goals are concerned there are few workouts that compare to the overall workout you can get from outdoor activities during the winter.  It is a great change of pace from just going to the gym and the fresh air is wonderful for your lungs and immune system.  So even though it is tempting to want to stay inside and hibernate during the winter I encourage you to instead get bundled up and get outside and try a few of these activities out.  Not only will your body thank you but it just might make winter more enjoyable and fun.

New Star Health Solutions is now offering a 11-Day Winter Detox Program that would go great with these outdoor activities.  It would be a great way to start off 2014 in the right direction.  Check it out and see what it can do for you!  Make this winter work for you so you are ready to rock in the summer!  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Staying Motivated to Exercise in the Winter

As the temperature outside continues to drop and remind us all of what time of year it really is, it is important to remember to stay motivated and keep up with our exercise routines even when we want to hibernate.  It can be so difficult to want to get outside and exercise or hit the gym when there is only limited daylight hours and it is so cold and snowy.  So how can we stay on track without boring ourselves to tears through the winter months?  If you are having trouble staying on track here are a few tips and tricks to try out:

  1. Invite a friend.  It has been said that an exercise routine is much more enjoyable with company, and I agree 100% with that!  Not only does inviting a friend help keep you motivated and interested longer but it also will help hold you accountable to actually exercise.  Try inviting a few close friends to join you in your activities or even try forming your own exercise or walking/running group.  It is much easier to stay focused and in the groove when others are along for the ride.
  2. Change up the routine.  Easy enough. So, why is this so hard for some of us to follow?  Because we are creatures of habit.  We get into a routine, we like it, stick with it for a while and than get bored, bored, bored.  Exercise soon becomes a cumbersome chore and soon you find yourself laid up on the couch curled up with your favorite blanket waiting for spring.  Change up your routine to keep it engaging and interesting.  Take a hike, go snow shoeing, skiing, ice skating, or sledding.  What ever it takes to mix things up and keep you interested and going is the main focus.  Don't let boredom be what holds you back.
  3. Mix up indoor and outdoor activities.  As much as I like the gym and the workout I can get from there it is also essential to get outdoors and get some fresh air.  After being cooped up inside all day during working hours it is refreshing to go burn off some calories and use our muscles outside.  Try to incorporate at least a couple of times a week some outdoor activities in your routine to keep things interesting as well.  Your body will thank you, your mind will thank you and so will your lungs as they are invigorated with tons of fresh air.   
  4. Take a class.  Have you always wanted to check out the new yoga or pilates place down the road but just never got around to it?  Now is the perfect time to check out some of your communities exercise classes.  They are offered at all different times and days throughout the week so it shouldn't be to difficult to find one that will fit into your schedule.  Not only will it be fun but you will also get to meet new people.  It's a win-win situation!
  5. Find a source of inspiration.  Nothing motivates us more than finding a good source for our inspiration.  Maybe it is a goal you set for yourself to meet, a personal mentor, a favorite quote, a vacation you are planning or you just want better overall health.  What ever your motivation is, it can become an instant inspiration to help you stay focused on maintaining your health and fitness goals.  Keep a journal, or make up an inspiring pin board filled with beautiful pictures and motivating quotes and put it in a highly visible place to remind you of your goals and to help keep you on track.
Listed above are just a few tips to help get you through the winter time blues when it comes to staying motivated to exercise.  Actually, these tips can be used anytime throughout the year but I find them especially helpful in the winter when I don't necessarily want to do much besides sit by the fireplace.  Try a few out and see what best suits your needs and goals.  The reward - Great health!

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nutrition and Fitness Education Starts With Our Kids

We all know that childhood obesity is on the rise in alarming numbers.  It is no surprise to us when we hear about this day after day but what are we going to do about it?  It is up to us as the adults to give the next generation the education and support they need to learn how to make healthy choices.  To choose to exercise instead of watching 3 hours of television.  To choose the fruits and vegetables over the highly processed foods.  All of these things are learned habits from watching us.  We are the ones doing the grocery shopping and bringing the unhealthy food choices into our homes.  Fighting the childhood obesity epidemic that is running rampant through our nation starts at home.  Not in the schools or through some government program but in our own homes and making our own choices.  It is extremely difficult for some families to be able to afford good quality healthy foods and maybe that is where a different type of assistance program can be born.  But ultimately we still have to make the right choice to put the healthy foods into our grocery cart.  We still have to chose to get up and be active and we still have to chose to want to be healthy.  Are you ready to do your part?  Are you ready to help teach the next generation what good health really looks like?  I know I am!

New Star Health Solutions - Health and Wellness Coaching with Jessica Knorr

Monday, December 2, 2013

Is Holiday Weight Loss Possible? YES! 5 Tips for Success

With the passing of Thanksgiving last week the holiday season is in full swing.  The turkey coma has subsided and the Christmas parties and celebrations are starting to fill up our calendars.  It is a time of great happiness and joy as yet another year wraps up but for some it can be a stressful time and a time for gaining weight.  So with all the temptations and stress around, is it possible to actually lose weight during this time of year?  The answer to that question is of course a resounding YES!  Not only is it possible but it can be quite easy with a little bit of fore thought and planning.  Try out a few of these tips to ward off the bulge during this season of temptation:

  1. Do not skip regular meals.  As tempting as it may be to skip out on your regular meals so you can indulge in the bad stuff it will likely backfire and cause you to eat double what you normally would have.  You will only fool your body into thinking it is starving and end up consuming far more than you had intended.  Instead focus on having three smaller meals loaded with lots of fruits and vegetables and leafy greens.  This will give your body what it needs while still allowing you to indulge a little bit with all the holiday goodies.  Remember, moderation is key.
  2. Stay hydrated.  Make sure you are drinking lots of water.  This will help you feel full longer and also keep your immune system functioning properly.  It is especially important to keep hydrated in the winter when we are exposed to all the indoor heated air and cruel weather conditions.  Not only will your waistline thank you for keeping hydrated but so will your skin and hair.
  3. Try making your favorite snack in a healthier version.  This can be a fun experiment that gives you a chance to try out some new foods.  Try swapping out rice krispies for quinoa in a recipe that needs some crunch or try adding honey or agave nectar to your recipe instead of sugar.  Play around with the recipe and find what works for you but most importantly have some fun in your kitchen playing with food.
  4. Maintain a regular exercise routine.  As with any time of year having a regular exercise routine is vitally important to not only lose weight but to maintain good overall health.  This time of year is the perfect time to try and form a walking group or maybe to find a gym partner.  Having a group or partner to exercise with is very helpful in staying motivated and staying on track.  It also makes the word exercise seem a little more fun when you are joined by some friends.  
  5. Practice Moderation.  I know it can be tempting to hit that dessert tray one more time before you head back to your office, and that the cookies in the break room are just calling out your name.  As a person who has an extreme affection for all things chocolate I can understand this temptation but I also understand that a little bit goes a long way.  Moderation is key.  It doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of the things that are tempting you but it does mean taking one bite at a time and truly tasting and enjoying your treat and walking away once you have had a few bites.

Losing weight during the holidays doesn't have to be a struggle.  If you find you are struggling you could try to keep a food diary to not only log in what you are eating daily but to also work out any feelings you may be experiencing that could be causing stress in your life.  As a health and wellness coach I can also help you reach your goals not only through the holiday season but for the rest of your life.  If you would like to learn more about the types of programs that I offer please check out my website New Star Health Solutions .  I have many options available and work with clients to help them create simple actionable steps that have real lasting results.  It is a life changing experience and a way to create a perfect life balance.  If that sounds like something you want and need to achieve than lets talk!  New Star Health Solutions