I Have A Confession

I’m ashamed to admit this, but I too am afraid of eating bananas. The other day I was faced with a dilemma: Do I eat the yummy looking banana sitting on the kitchen counter or do I go for a peach in the fridge, because it’s lower in calories? What I really wanted was the creamy banana-ey goodness, but the peach seemed like a wiser option. Then I thought to myself, “Dani, what would you tell a client who came to you with this question?” I would say go for the freaking banana if that’s what you want! They are both fruits! And so I did. And it hit the spot.

Maybe you’ve never heard of this hole bananaphobia thing and maybe you think I’m crazy, but lots of women believe that bananas are “bad” for you. Since the Atkins and South Beach Diets became popular there’s been an onslaught of diet gurus telling people that bananas are the devil, because they are high in sugar and high in calories. Some people even believe that you can eat a banana in the afternoon, but not in the morning and definitely not before bed. This is ridiculous though! A regular sized banana (not one of those gargantuan embarrassing looking ones) has about 150 calories, and is loaded with potassium, vitamins B and C, and fiber. It’s not like you’re making the choice between a peach and a piece of red velvet cake. It’s a freaking banana! Have one!

I want to know, what foods are arbitrarily off-limits to you?

Ask Dani – 200 Calories or 240 Calories?

I couldn't resist this pop-tart kitty picture. Sorry.


Dear Dani,

My friend and I were arguing this week about what’s better for you to eat: A 200 calorie pop-tart for breakfast or a 240 calorie egg sandwich on whole-grain bread. I said that the sandwich was a better option, since the stuff inside it is better for you, but my friend swears by eating as little calories possible to lose weight, and therefore the pop-tart is a better option. Help me prove her wrong please!

Thanks, Fighting Friends

Dear Fighting Friends,

Sorry to say this, but your friend is wrong. Just because something has fewer calories doesn’t mean it’s better for you to eat and it doesn’t mean that it will help you lose weight. It is true that the formula for losing weight is calories in vs. calories out, but not all calories are the same. Pop-Tarts are loaded with sugar and refined flour, which means that when they enter your body they get absorbed way too quickly, and because of that you’re hungry (and most likely sluggish) an hour later. And that means you’re going to end up eating something and then not only take in your lower calorie pop-tart, but something else on top of that too. Had you just had the egg sandwich, which is full of whole-grains, fiber, and protein you would have been satisfied for at least 3 hours. Plus, because your body absorbs those kinds of calories a lot slower you would be using more of them for energy.
So, sorry friend, I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to lose weight, make sure that your calories are coming from good sources, even if it means eating more of them.

4 Ways To Break Through Weight Loss Plateaus

Weight loss plateaus are frustrating. You feel like you’re doing everything right – watching your portions, eating 6 small meals throughout the day, doing your cardio and weight training, staying active, and making good choices when eating at restaurants, etc. – but for some reason, all of a sudden, bam, you’ve stopped losing weight. You have no idea what else you could possibly be doing to lose more weight and you feel like you’re stuck. Now what?

First figure out if you’ve really hit a plateau. It’s only a plateau if 3 things are happening: You haven’t dropped any pounds on the scale, you haven’t lost any body fat, and you haven’t lost any inches. The scale isn’t the only indicator that you’re losing weight. Sometimes you might be going down in inches, but the scale doesn’t move because you’re replacing body fat with muscle (and muscle weighs more than fat). So, if one of these things are happening then you haven’t really hit a plateau.

But if you truly have hit a plateau here are a few things that may shake things up a bit:
1. Food Diary – Start writing down everything you eat and see if maybe you’re eating more than you realize. Sometimes when people lose weight they get comfortable and take it as permission to get a little lax. Maybe you’re giving yourself permission to eat more than you should be.

2. Change up your workout – Your workout routine should change every 4-6 weeks. The body adapts to exercises and needs to be challenged. You can change the kinds of exercises you do, repetitions, sets, or all three. I give all my clients interval workouts, because it keeps the heart rate up throughout the entire workout and the little bursts of cardio will cause you to burn at least 150 more calories per workout. I suggest doing three exercises in a row and then follow that up with a 60 second all out sprint, then rest 2 minutes and begin again. Keep this up through your entire workout.

3. Take inventory - Thing about the past few weeks and see if there’s been any extra stress, anxiety, or anything else that might be tripping you up and leading to some sort of sabotage. Are you being as consistent with your workouts and eating as you think you’ve been? The best way to do this is to journal.

4. Persevere – Whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep at it and eventually you’ll start to see some movement again.

One last thing… This may be some advanced brain food, but think of the plateau as an opportunity to regroup. You need to check in with yourself every now and again to see if what you’re doing is really helping you. Without the plateau you might go through your routine without ever thinking of how you’re really feeling. Maybe what you really need is to simply change things up. Stop and look around for a minute. A plateau is a doorway to something new.

** Get more of these tried and true tips, plus a detailed weight loss plan when you join my 12-week weight management group. Email me for more info!

Beat It or Eat It – Pancakes

Breakfast is by far my most favorite meal of the day. I love everything about it. The foods, eating a meal after waking up hungry, and that it’s like baking mixed in with cooking. And did I mention the foods? Pancakes, waffles, french toast, frittatas, omelets, bagels, cereal (I always say that if I had to live in one aisle of the supermarket forever that it would be the cereal aisle), etc. The possibilities are endless. I even love breakfast for dinner. Seriously, I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. I will just tell you that my love for pancakes is true. Cereal is going to come and cereal is going to go, but my love for pancakes is true, and I will love pancakes till the day I die. For real. Sadly though, I don’t indulge often enough, because like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little girl and little girls don’t get to have 600 calorie breakfasts. So, I’ve resigned myself to sneaking a taste or two off of my husband’s plate, since he is a 6’1” man that can have his pancakes. But boy is it a happy day, because I just found a healthier recipe for yummy blueberry pancakes that will give me the chance to eat my pancakes in loving peace off of my very own plate.

Beat it:
3 Regular blueberry pancakes (with 1/4 cup maple syrup): 530 calories; 128 of those calories are from fat; 14.17g fat; 750mg sodium; 96.66g carbs (!!!); 1.5g fiber; 32g sugar; 9.39g protein

YUM!


Eat it:
Berry Good Pancakes
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups blueberries

1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
2. Whisk eggs, cottage cheese, milk, lemon zest and vanilla in a medium bowl.
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in blueberries.
4. Moisten a crumpled paper towel with canola oil and use it to lightly oil a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium heat. Spoon on about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook until bottoms are golden and small bubbles start to form on top, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Lightly oil pan between batches. (Adjust heat as necessary for even browning.) Serve hot. (Yields 6 servings – 3 pancakes per serving)

Ready for the stats? Each 3 pancake serving is only 233 calories; 3 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 630 mg sodium; 41 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 11 g protein. AMAZING! And if you use sugar-free syrup, you’ll be adding only 25 calories!

Can’t wait for Sunday!

Week 3 – 12 Weeks To A Stronger, Sexier, More Confident You

Hope you’re still hanging in there! Only 8 more weeks to go! This week we’re going to continue with the same exercises only we’re going to ramp things up a bit by turning it into a circuit. That means you’re going to move from exercise to exercise with only 15 seconds of rest in between. At the end of the last exercise (which means the end of the circuit) you’re going to rest 15 seconds and then begin from the top and complete the circuit a second time. For optimal results do this workout 3 times this week, allowing at least one day in between for resting the muscles. Try and get some cardio in on the days that you’re not doing this workout. And remember to give yourself 2 days of complete rest as well.

Circuits are a great kind of workout to do if you’re trying to lose weight, because it helps keep your heart rate up the entire time, which means more calories burned!

The Workout:
Week 3

The Playlist:
- Warm-up
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/intro/id325808192?i=325808197 (The XX – Intro)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/finally-woken/id253350362?i=253350737 (Jem – Finally Woken)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/they/id253350362?i=253350371 (Jem – They)

- Workout
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/well-thought-out-twinkles/id167387718?i=167387804 (Silversun Pickups – Well Thought Out Twinkies **This guy’s voice is mesmerizing. Yeah, it’s a guy!)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/time-to-pretend/id264720008?i=264720018 (MGMT – Time to Pretend)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tear-you-apart/id91431035?i=91431082 (She Wants Revenge – Tear You Apart)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-ghost-inside/id353032605?i=353032615 (Broken Bells – The Ghost Inside **I don’t know what it is, but this song makes me want to move)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/steady-as-she-goes/id205202916?i=205203291 (The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes)

- Cardio
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/heartbeats/id205108007?i=205108010 (The Knife – Heartbeats **Love the beat. This is my go-to pole dancing song.)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/lights-out/id278671865?i=278671971 (Santigold – Lights Out **Another one that makes you just want to move)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/help-im-alive/id307592236?i=307592238 (Metric – Help I’m Alive)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/filthy-gorgeous-original-radio/id23208853?i=23208838 (Scissor Sisters – Filthy Gorgeous)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/big-girl-you-are-beautiful/id219949350?i=219949383 (Mika – Big Girls You Are Beautiful **Play this one twice, because big girls are beautiful – you heard the man!)

- Cool Down
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-believe-in-you/id270788190?i=270788198 (Cat Power – I Believe in You)

** Combine this with my 12 week weight management program to maximize your results. Leave a comment if you’d like some more info.

Week 3  12 Weeks To A Stronger, Sexier, More Confident You

Hope you’re still hanging in there! Only 8 more weeks to go! This week we’re going to continue with the same exercises only we’re going to ramp things up a bit by turning it into a circuit. That means you’re going to move from exercise to exercise with only 15 seconds of rest in between. At the end of the last exercise (which means the end of the circuit) you’re going to rest 15 seconds and then begin from the top and complete the circuit a second time. For optimal results do this workout 3 times this week, allowing at least one day in between for resting the muscles. Try and get some cardio in on the days that you’re not doing this workout. And remember to give yourself 2 days of complete rest as well.

Circuits are a great kind of workout to do if you’re trying to lose weight, because it helps keep your heart rate up the entire time, which means more calories burned!

The Workout:
Week 3

The Playlist:
- Warm-up
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/intro/id325808192?i=325808197 (The XX – Intro)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/finally-woken/id253350362?i=253350737 (Jem – Finally Woken)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/they/id253350362?i=253350371 (Jem – They)

- Workout
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/well-thought-out-twinkles/id167387718?i=167387804 (Silversun Pickups – Well Thought Out Twinkies **This guy’s voice is mesmerizing. Yeah, it’s a guy!)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/time-to-pretend/id264720008?i=264720018 (MGMT – Time to Pretend)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tear-you-apart/id91431035?i=91431082 (She Wants Revenge – Tear You Apart)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-ghost-inside/id353032605?i=353032615 (Broken Bells – The Ghost Inside **I don’t know what it is, but this song makes me want to move)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/steady-as-she-goes/id205202916?i=205203291 (The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes)

- Cardio
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/heartbeats/id205108007?i=205108010 (The Knife – Heartbeats **Love the beat. This is my go-to pole dancing song.)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/lights-out/id278671865?i=278671971 (Santigold – Lights Out **Another one that makes you just want to move)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/help-im-alive/id307592236?i=307592238 (Metric – Help I’m Alive)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/filthy-gorgeous-original-radio/id23208853?i=23208838 (Scissor Sisters – Filthy Gorgeous)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/big-girl-you-are-beautiful/id219949350?i=219949383 (Mika – Big Girls You Are Beautiful **Play this one twice, because big girls are beautiful – you heard the man!)

- Cool Down
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i-believe-in-you/id270788190?i=270788198 (Cat Power – I Believe in You)

** Combine this with my 12 week weight management program to maximize your results. Leave a comment if you d like some more info.

Enthusiasm is Contagious

“Having enthusiasm is contagious. Not having enthusiasm is also contagious.”

– Fortune cookie

You know, in Spinning there’s a concept that if you try really hard to push the pedals on a hill it’s more likely that you’ll be fighting them than actually succeeding at making them go round. It will actually be harder than if you relaxed your body and just went with the rhythm of the cycle. Instead, you’re supposed to relax your shoulders, back, and elbows, and make yourself heavy in the saddle (seat). When you do that, it almost seems as if the pedals have a mind of their own and your body ends up having more energy to power through. By tensing up you only sap your body of any power that it has, because it seems that you’re fighting to push the pedals forward, but what you’re really doing is fighting against them.

It’s the same with weight loss and living a more balanced and positive life. The more you complain about working out and eating healthier, and the more you tell yourself that you’ll never feel good about yourself the harder it will be to actually get there. You need to embrace it and run right through your challenges and not go around them. You’ll find that success breeds success and that you’ll get nowhere fast by complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. Look towards the future and know how great you will feel after you struggle a bit to get there. That kind of happiness is priceless and is worth any pain you might have to suffer now.

Beat It or Eat It – Strawberry Margarita

Beat it:
Ok, I know I’ve said it so many times, but I love summer! And what goes better with a hot and humid day then a nice cold drink? A nice frosty cocktail, that’s what. And what’s the best icy alcoholic beverage? A margarita! Problem is, it’s easy to down way too many extra calories when you’re sipping something so sweet and so good. And don’t forget, the tipsier you are the less likely you’ll be to watch your calories. So, instead of chugging your way to an extra 340 calories, 67g carbs, and 17g sugar, try this slimmed down version…

Eat it:

No guilt!

- Half a 2-serving packet (about 1/2 teaspoon) sugar-free strawberry powdered drink mix (try Crystal Light or something similar)
- 6 ounces diet lemon-lime soda
- 1-1/2 ounces tequila
- 4 frozen unsweetened strawberries
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 cup crushed ice or 5 to 8 ice cubes
- Optional garnish: lime slice

1. Combine powdered drink mix with soda in a glass and stir to dissolve. Pour mixture into a blender. Add all other ingredients to the blender, and blend at high speed until nice and slushy.
2. Pour into a margarita glass and, if you like, garnish with a slice of lime. (Yields 1 serving)

This 10oz. drink has only 125 calories, 0g fat, 24mg sodium, 7g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g sugars, 0g protein. How awesome is that!

Week 2 – 12 Weeks To A Stronger, Sexier, More Confident You

If you took the initiative to do this workout last week then I want to say that you’re awesome! The only way to losing weight and getting in shape is by doing what you gotta do to get there. If you found it challenging that’s ok. You always want to feel a bit challenged when you’re working out, because that’s the only way you’ll get better at it. I promise that within 2 weeks you’ll start seeing results in your ability to execute these moves. Things are going to get easier and become second nature. You won’t believe that you ever thought it was difficult. Just remember that consistency is key, so if you’re being wishy-washy with your workouts then your results will be wishy-washy too.

This week we ramp up the intensity a bit by increasing each exercise to 2 sets. You’re going to complete each exercise twice with 30 seconds of rest in between each set before moving on to the next exercise. The idea is increase your endurance, because you can only build strength and tone up if you have the stamina to tolerate the movements. The entire workout will last only 30-40 minutes (which if you think about it is shorter than an episode of Lost or Sex and The City – not too bad!).

Do this workout 2-3 times this week, allowing at least one day in between for your muscles to recover. On days that you are not doing this workout do 30-40 minutes of cardio. Rest is as important as working out, so make sure to give yourself 2 days of complete rest.

The workout:
http://bit.ly/12wks2

The Playlist:
- Warm Up
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/jackals-vipers-in-envy-man/id261403046?i=261403593 (Jackals and Vipers – In Envy of Man Part 9)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/jackals-vipers-in-envy-man/id261403046?i=261403646
(Jackals and Vipers – In Envy of Man Part 10)

- Workout
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/loser/id19820272?i=19820274 (Beck – Loser **None of the words make any sense, but I love this song!)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/family-affair/id328629?i=328605 (Mary J. Blige – Family Affair)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hysteria/id314261338?i=314261453
– (Muse – Hysteria)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/here-it-goes-again/id81285385?i=81285361
(Ok Go – Here It Goes Again)

- Cardio
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bandits/id305499589?i=305499594 (Buck 65 – Bandits)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/howlin-for-you/id370968823?i=370968869
(The Black Keys – Howlin’ For You **I absolutely love this band! Just discovered them and I play them on repeat)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/technologic/id263279298?i=263279797
(Daft Punk -Technologic)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/gone-daddy-gone/id152471339?i=152471414 (Gnarles Barkley – Gone Daddy Gone)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bamboleo/id553662?i=553568 (Gipsy Kings – Bamboleo **In the summer while Spinning in my studio I like to open up all the windows and blast this song. That’s how I know summer is really here.)

- Cool Down
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/too-afraid-to-love-you/id370968823?i=370968916 (The Black Keys – Too Afraid To Love You)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-story/id250112717?i=250112772 (Brandi Carlile – The Story **This one gives me chills. I love to listen to it while I’m running up the steep hill in the park. Makes me feel like anything is possible)

** If you want to really change your lifestyle and lose weight, combine this with my 12 week weight management program. Leave a comment if you d like some more info.

10 Simple Ways to Rev Your Metabolism

this picture has no connection to today's post, but I thought it was awesome

Obviously working out will help boost your metabolism, and you’re still going to need to do it, but here are my top 8 are ways to help move it along:

10. Have sex – Experts say that people burn an average of 300 calories per hour having sex. What a nice added perk!

9. Drink water – When you’re dehydrated your metabolic rate slows down to help conserve your energy, so make sure to drink more to keep it moving strongly.

8. Fidget – Ever meet someone who seems like they move and speak a mile a minute? Aren’t they usually pretty thin and lean? It’s pretty hard to be bouncing off walls like that with so much extra energy and not lose weight. Tap your fingers, shake your foot, bounce your leg, pace back and forth. Believe it or not, but all this extra (and EASY) activity really boosts your calorie burn for the day. I’ve read things that say that you can burn up to 350 extra calories per day just by doing this simple little thing!

7. Clean your own damn house – It’s nice to have the luxury of having a cleaning lady or housekeeper, but think of all the extra calories you’ll burn just by doing it yourself. Look at taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, picking up your kids’ toys, and doing the dishes as opportunities to move more and lose more.

6. Get a pedometer – Aim to take 10,000 steps per day. You’d be surprised at how addicting this little gadget can be. You’ll see only 7,000 steps one day and want to beat that number the next.

5. Walk like you’re late – Even if you don’t have to be somewhere, pick up the pace when you’re walking as if you are. When we were dating my husband used to make fun of me for being the slowest walker ever (in all fairness, he’s 6’1” and I’m 5’1”, so it’s a bit harder for me to keep up with him), but since getting our dogs and having to walk them every day I’ve become the speedy one and he lags behind. Whenever I feel myself slowing down I remind myself to act as if the dogs were there.

4. Set a timer – Make sure to move around for at least 5 minutes every hour. It’s easy to sit for hours on end and not even realize the time going by. Especially if you work at a desk job!

3. Get a pedometer – Aim to take 10,000 steps per day. You’d be surprised at how addicting this little gadget can be. You’ll see only 7,000 steps one day and want to beat that number the next.

2. Sleep – Studies have shown that people who get less than 4 hours of sleep for an extended period of time have slower metabolism. Aim to get 7-8 hours for the best benefit.

1. Have breakfast - You should be eating at least 100 calories within the first hour of waking up. When we sleep our bodies go into efficiency mode, which is why our heart rate and breathing rate slow down (which means our metabolism slows down). By eating within the first hour of waking you’re signaling to your body that it’s time to wake up and speed up for the day. If you wait till lunch to eat your body will stay in this efficiency state and it will be too late to catch up.