Calorie-Pinching Pizza

When you decide to live a healthier lifestyle, one of the hardest things to do is giving up your favorite foods.

pizzaWho doesn’t love pizza? Some families make a night of it – a special event to be shared by the whole family and maybe a movie to go with it. Who wants to give up on all that fun?

With a little innovation, you can still enjoy your favorite foods without sacrificing on flavor. Whenever I crave pizza, I throw some of my favorite ingredients together on a tortilla shell and slide it under the grill. Not only is it super quick and easy to make, it’s healthier and I’m not clutching my bloated belly and reaching for the Tums about half an hour afterwards.

Ingredients

  • 1 wholewheat tortilla shell
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 oz black olives
  • 1 oz skim milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1 sprig of fresh basil – sliced (chiffonade)

Preparation

Place your tortilla shell on an oven-proof pie dish or plate. Slice the tomatoes and spread out evenly on your tortilla shell. Top with black olives, basil and cheese and throw under the grill until the cheese has melted.

There are so many ways to prepare this pizza. Sometimes I make a sauce or sometimes I will mix the herbs with a little olive oil and fry that up with thick slices of tomato just for a few minutes to get them started or if I’m using lots of different vegetables, as the cheese will melt faster than they take to cook.

This recipe is the super-slimmed-down version. So go ahead and experiment and don’t let the black olives put you off if that isn’t your thing. Choose your favorite ingredients and if you’re a meat-loving pizza connoisseur, try substituting grilled chicken breast for pepperoni.

This baby, if you can finish it all, weighs in at about 330 calories, which leaves you lots of room to add more cheese if you wish. Considering your average pizza joint pie will set you back by as much as 1000 calories, this is a much more pleasing option.

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Sexy Arms Workout Using Exercise Balls

Sexy, sculpted arms are the envy of just about everybody, which is why we’ve put together this demanding arm workout.

sexy arm workoutThe beauty of this workout is that you only need two pieces of inexpensive equipment both of the spherical type – a Swiss ball and a medicine ball!

How do you choose the right size ball for you. For Swiss balls, it depends on your height:

  • Height = 4’6″ to 5’0″ –> Ball Size = 45 cm
  • Height = 5’1″ to 5’7″ –> Ball Size = 55 cm
  • Height = 5’8″ to 6’1″ –> Ball Size = 65 cm
  • Height = 6’2″ to 6’7″ –> Ball Size = 75 cm

Medicine balls are a great piece of equipment to have and are used primarily for strength training. The weight can range from 1 lb to 30 lb. If your workout is more of a cardio workout, then you will want a lighter ball. If you’re trying to increase strength, then a heavier ball would be necessary. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that “the ball should be heavy enough to visibly slow the motion, but not so heavy that control, accuracy or range of motion are lessened.”

For this workout you will want a moderately heavy medicine ball.

Swiss Ball Push-ups

Get yourself into a push-up position with your legs on a Swiss ball – thighs for beginner, shins for intermediate, or feet for advanced on the Swiss ball. Perform as many push-ups as you can till failure and try to beat this number for each set.

Medicine Ball Curls

This exercise imitates a close-grip barbell curl and isolates the bicep muscle nicely. Stand with the medicine ball in both hands in a lowered position in front of you, palms facing up. Flex your arms up for a bicep curl, lower and repeat. 10 – 16 reps.

Overhead Triceps Extension with Medicine Ball

Sitting on your Swiss ball and holding the medicine ball, raise it up above your head and bend your elbows back so you’re holding the medicine ball behind your head. Next, extend your forearms straight up to work the triceps and repeat for 10 – 16 reps.

Medicine Ball Toss

Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, grab the medicine ball in both hands and toss it above your head, then catch it and toss it back and forth four times, then repeat. This is one rep. Perform 12 – 16 reps.

Medicine Ball Slam

Starting in the same position as the Overhead Triceps Extension exercise, with a forceful motion bounce the ball on the ground, then catch it and return to your starting position to repeat for 24 reps.

Stand with your feet parallel and knees slightly bent. Pull the medicine ball up and back behind your head (without over arching your back), and forcefully throw the ball down to the ground as hard as possible. Catch the ball on the bounce up from the ground and repeat.

Front Raises

Holding the medicine ball in both hands down by your thighs with feet shoulder-width apart, raise the ball up to shoulder height, hold for 3 seconds and repeat for 16 reps.

Start standing with the medicine ball between your hands and your arms straight in front of your thighs. Lift your arms, keeping them straight but not locked, up to shoulder height. (Remember to keep your abdominals tight and your back straight). Slowly lower your arms down to your waist and repeat.

Once you’ve worked through this circuit once, return to the beginning and repeat for a total of 3 to 4 times. You can perform this workout twice a week.

Eating Stress-Free Burns more Calories

Having trouble losing weight and can’t figure out why? You might be engaging in stressed-out eating.

eating on the runWhat is stressed-out eating?

If you eat on-the-go while you’re in a hurry or running between meetings or classes, then you’re setting yourself up for extra poundage. The slower you eat, the faster you metabolize the foods you ingest.

It’s time to slow things down, relax and enjoy your food.

Monitoring your eating speed can also help you identify your relationship to food and emotional eating. This is where diet journaling comes in handy. By keeping a journal of your eating habits, you can help re-establish a healthy relationship with food.

You’ve seen those people who just wolf down their food without even tasting it or perhaps, even chewing it. Well, not only do you put an incredible drain on your digestive system and lose some of the nutrients from your food, but you set yourself up for weight gain.

In the 1800s in England, there was a man who developed a dieting system that required its participants to chew each mouthful of food for 40 times before swallowing. Now, this is the extreme, but by chewing your food slowly and thoroughly, you start the digestive process and relax the stomach to receive the food. This helps in the breakdown of the food and ensures you’re getting all the nutrients you can from your meals.

It’s important to be relaxed when you’re eating, because when you’re stressed out, you stimulate the hormone cortisol which is responsible for unsightly and unhealthy midriff weight gain. To your body, stress is stress and when it senses something is wrong, it will secrete cortisol hormone, which slows down your metabolism and tends to store what you’re eating as fat. It senses danger and that means famine. Digestion can even come to a complete stop, resulting in bloating, discomfort and constipation.

Here are some pointers from the book Slow Down Diet from Marc David:

  • Worrying about fat increases fat. Anxiety about weight loss causes your body to put fat on and retain it.
  • Slow down, relax your mind! This will burn food more efficiently if you breathe in more oxygen. So relax and take deep breaths while eating.

Here are some additional tips to help you get in the mood for food:

  • Take a look at the French, who have turned dining into an art form and whose lunches usually last for hours and hours.
  • Try reading a book or sharing your meals with family and friends with some relaxed conversation.
  • Create a comfortable atmosphere by lighting candles, laying the table and maybe even placing a vase of flowers on the table to instil calm.
  • You don’t have to dine out at a fancy restaurant to create the ideal mood for dining, just a few simple things like lighting and music can make all the difference.
  • Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer. If you’re watching an intense show, that stress will transfer to your body and it will sense that stress and your metabolism will slow down.
  • Breathe and savor each morsel.

By employing a few of these tips, you will re-establish a healthy relationship towards food and develop healthy habits towards eating.

Ballet Barre Exercises for Toned Legs

A new fitness trend is hitting the gyms and it involves a few ballet moves, a little strength training and of course, cardio all wrapped up into one.

ballet barre exercisesI’ve been looking for a new way to work my legs as I’ve hit a plateau and now that I’ve built up a good foundation and have some tone to my legs, ballet barre exercises seems like the perfect transition.

Ballet barre exercises are easy to perform because all you really need is a chair for support, good posture and breathing technique – you can do these anywhere, anytime – even as at work, when it’s time to get up and stretch those legs.

Ballet Barre Workout

Ballet Warm-Up

  • Demi Plié
  • Grand Plié

Tendu from first – standing sideways to the bar or chair, slide your foot out in front, pointing the toe. Return to center and slide the foot out to the side, etc. Repeat for 10 times, finishing with a holding position to increase flexibility and balance. Here arabesque works well and it incorporate the most muscles from your arms right down to your lower back.

  • Front, point
  • Side, point
  • Back, point
  • Repeat for 8 to 10 times
  • Arabesque

Switch sides and repeat on the opposite leg.

Barre Exercises

  • Start in fifth
  • Developer Front Right Leg
  • Switch Legs
  • Developer Back Left Leg
  • Switch Legs
  • Developer Side Right Leg
  • All the way around Front, side, to back left Leg
  • Repeat for 8 times
  • Arabesque

Switch sides and repeat the sequence, starting with your left leg and facing in the opposite direction. Repeat this exercise two to three times each side. Don’t forget to add the arms into this workout, sweeping up, forward and side, moving with the legs, working the torso and helping maintain your balance.

This is a good place to start. You can increase this workout by adding any ballet sequence. Make sure you maintain your posture and you’re not tilting forward or backward with the high leg lifts. Keep your core strong and your breathing consistent.

Combatting Diet Crabbiness

Dieting can wreck havoc on your nerves and cause mood swings, especially in those in-between-meal moments.

diet crabbinessThat is why eating several small meals spread out throughout the day is a good idea to help manage these mood swings and keep your blood sugars level.

Mood swings are caused by fluctuations in serotonin levels in the brain, which often occur when someone hasn’t eaten or is stressed out. Research out of the University of Cambridge is now showing that these same regions of the brain affected by serotonin levels are the same regions of the brain that control anger.

Although reduced serotonin levels have previously been implicated in aggression, this is the first study to show how this chemical helps regulate behavior in the brain as well as why some individuals may be more prone to aggression. The research findings were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Researchers altered the diets of the people participating in this study from serotonin-depleted days with no tryptophan to placebo days with normal amounts of tryptophan. This protein, tryptophan, is needed for the production of serotonin. Reactions to this manipulated diet were scanned via MRI images and notes were taken on behavioral changes, particularly in facial expressions.

“Using the fMRI, they were able to measure how different brain regions reacted and communicated with one another when the volunteers viewed angry faces, as opposed to sad or neutral faces.”

The MRI showed regions of the brain that were affected by low serotonin levels to experience weaker signals that control emotional responses to anger.

The subjects of this study were pre-screened to determine their normal response to anger and aggression. Those who exhibited higher levels of anger were affected worse by the lower levels of serotonin and the absence of tryptophan in their diets.

Dr Molly Crockett, co-first author who worked on the research while a PhD student at Cambridge’s Behavioral and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (and currently based at the University of Zurich) said:

“We’ve known for decades that serotonin plays a key role in aggression, but it’s only very recently that we’ve had the technology to look into the brain and examine just how serotonin helps us regulate our emotional impulses. By combining a long tradition in behavioral research with new technology, we were finally able to uncover a mechanism for how serotonin might influence aggression.”