Over the holiday season, millions of Americans gain anywhere from 2 to 7 lbs. In fact, the one or two pounds people gain during the holidays tends to stay with them for life. So, how do you avoid holiday weight gain? Lean muscle is the secret to keeping your metabolism firing to burn fat all day long. People who are active are more likely to maintain their weight during the holidays.

Here are some tips for keeping weight off during the holidays:

  • Physical activity. It’s a fact, people who are more active are more likely to maintain their weight during the holidays. This year, park farther away from the entrance to the mall and get a nice walk in and take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator. This year, instead of being the wallflower at all those holiday parties, get on the dance floor and dance your a$$ off! Dancing burns off those extra calories you’re consuming. Just 30 minutes of dancing burns about 150 calories. So crank up the tunes and get your body moving!
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol can be a major source of hidden calories. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, almost as much as fat (9 calories per gram) and nearly twice as many calories as a gram of carbohydrate or protein (4 calories per gram). Just one apple martini has 235 calories and almost 12 grams of sugar! Stick to a flavored vodka & soda or a light beer. Drink plenty of water! In fact, for every drink you have, drink at least 1 extra glass of water. Water will help your body metabolize the alcohol and may counteract some of the dehydrating effects of alcohol on the body such as that almost inevitable next-day hangover. No matter what, ALWAYS have a designated driver!
  • Limit soda and other sweetened beverages. These drinks add extra calories, too. Simply put, they are drinks high in fat and/or sugar. A can of soda, for example, has 150 calories and 42 grams of sugar! An 8 oz. glass of egg nog has about 220 calories! It would take about an hour of ice-skating to burn off that nog (220 calories burned per hour). Personally, I love light egg nog but have made the switch to Rice-Nog, it’s delicious and only 80 calories per serving. However, H2O is always the best choice!
  • Schedule holiday celebrations at normal meal times. Celebrations outside of normal meal times encourage people to pile on snacks which always mean extra calories. This one isn’t always easy to follow with all the events and holiday parties, it’s the holiday season and we’ll all splurge on tasty treats. Try to use good judgement, do your best, and don’t stress over it.
  • Choose foods with fewer calories. Foods with fewer calories for their size make you feel fuller sooner. Reach for those celery sticks and stick to lean protein snacks like shrimp or turkey slices. I absolutely love traditional stuffing unfortunately, just ½ cup of this delectable treat requires half an hour of shoveling snow (195 calories burned per 30 minutes). Since I live at the beach I’d have to shovel sand and I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. Now, I opt for brown rice stuffing which saves 100 calories per serving. Just a little discipline goes a long way.
  • Use smaller plates. The bigger your plate, the more food you can pile on it, which means you’ll be more likely to overeat. Using smaller dishes may actually help you eat less. Using a smaller plate “tricks” your mind to think that you are eating the same amount of food as you normally do when you will probably be eating less than you normally do. Try using a salad plate for your entrée. Eating less at each meal can save hundreds of calories saved each week. Remember, it’s the little changes that make the biggest differences!
  • Eat a healthy snack beforehand. You’ll be less likely to eat a lot of fattening food at parties. Try an apple with almond butter or a protein shake with a small piece of fruit like a pear or an apple. One medium-sized apple contains 5 grams of fiber and only 80 calories, they’re great to stave off that sweet tooth. Or, grab my new favorite protein treat the PowerCrunch Bar, a healthy snack that tastes like dessert! My picks for protein powders are ProtoWhey, MyoFusion, and Elite XT.
  • Weigh yourself weekly. Weekly NOT daily! It’s the holidays and we’ll all splurge on tasty treats just don’t stress over it. Just try not to overdo it and if you do, get right back on the track the next day. If you notice the needle on the scale creeping up a bit, create a plan of how you’ll get back on track when the holidays are over.
  • Get plenty of REST! Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, stress, moodiness, and the inability to be your best. With all the holiday parties and late nights it’s easy to skimp on sleep but give yourself the gift of sleep this holiday season. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and you deserve it!
Don’t be a statistic! Get FIT, boost your energy, and shed pounds this holiday season by participating in a fitness class (i.e. yoga, SPX Pilates, TRX, Kickboxing), go to the gym, or just head out for a walk in the crisp winter air! NOW is the perfect time to get a jump on that New Year’s Resolution.

Written by Jennifer Billings, BS, CPT
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The MOST Important Meal of the Day

BREAKFAST! It’s not just the most important meal of the day it’s actually my favorite meal of the day. Breakfast is the fuel that keeps our minds and bodies running throughout the day. We’ve heard how important breakfast was since we were kids and if you have kids, I’m sure you do everything in your power to get them to eat breakfast every day. Well, how often do you heed that advice?

With our hectic schedules, it’s easy to stop by the nearest Starbucks®  grab a cup of coffee and a bagel, a muffin that’s loaded with fat and calories or, skip breakfast altogether. Well, I can tell you that a cup of coffee and a muffin (or bagel) does not count as a nutritious breakfast. A Caramel Macchiato has a whopping 270 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 34 grams of carbs and we haven’t even added the calories from the bagel or muffin. A reduced fat blueberry muffin had 450 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 86 grams of carbs. So, if this was what you had for breakfast this morning, you’ve just ingested 720 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 120 grams of carbs!

Many people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, this is not a good strategy since you are more likely to gain weight than lose it. Breakfast skippers tend to eat more than usual or make unhealthy choices at their next meal. These people often reach for unhealthy, high calorie, sugary snacks before their next meal to silence their growling bellies. People who eat a well-balanced and nutritious breakfast are more likely to be successful in losing body fat and maintaining a healthy weight than those who skip it.

So, you ask, “How is eating breakfast good for weight loss?” Think of it this way, you have been asleep for 6 to 8 hours so, your body is in starvation mode and your metabolism is very slow when you first wake up. Not eating for an extended period of time, as we do when we are sleeping, causes your metabolism to go into slow motion. Eating breakfast within the first 30 minutes of waking revs your metabolism back up, gives your body the boost of energy it needs to start your day, and increases your bodies’ fat burning ability. Skipping breakfast or any other meal for that matter will only slow your metabolism down. So, if you are trying to lose weight, you want to keep your metabolism running fast.

Let’s face it, when we think about breakfast visions of warm, fluffy pancakes with sausage links, a giant banana-nut muffin, a big bowl of Cap’N Crunch®, or an omelet stuffed with cheese and bacon usually come to mind. Well, as tasty as those things are they do not make up a healthy or nutritious breakfast. Stay away from white breads, pastries, muffins, and sugary cereals because they digest quickly and spike your blood sugar level setting you up for a crash. Bacon, sausage, and cheese are loaded with fat and calories so you should avoid these as well. A combination of lean protein and fibrous carbs will satisfy your hunger and keep you full and focused.

What exactly is a healthy and nutritious breakfast? A healthy breakfast should have a combination of lean protein, complex carbs preferably from whole grains, and a healthy fat. Some sources of lean proteins include eggs or low-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt. I love Voskos® and Fage® plain non-fat Greek yogurt. Protein powders (i.e. whey or soy) from your local nutrition shop can also be used as your protein source. I use MyoFusion® and Elite 12 Hour protein powders because they each have a great blend of protein and taste delicious! Complex carbs include oats or oatmeal and whole grain breads or cereals. Oatmeal is a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, iron, and magnesium it is also a good source of protein and fiber. Healthy fats include nuts and nut butters, flax seeds, and avocados.

A good example of a healthy breakfast would be 3 to 4 egg whites, ½ cup of oatmeal, with a tablespoon of ground flax seeds and ½ cup of fresh blueberries. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and provide an excellent source of vitamins C and E. My breakfast consists of ½ cup of oatmeal, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 scoop soy protein powder, and ½ cup of almond milk with cinnamon and stevia for sweetening. I cook the oatmeal and chia together then add in the protein powder, almond milk, cinnamon, and stevia. I look forward to my breakfast every morning! If I’m running short on time, I blend my protein powder, ½ cup of oatmeal, splash of almond milk, water, and ice together and have my breakfast to go!

If you prefer cold cereal for breakfast, make sure to read the label and choose one that lists whole grains as the first ingredient with no added sugar. Uncle Sam® and Kashi® Go Lean cereals are great options as they are both high fiber and low sugar cereals. If you’re thinking of grabbing one of those breakfast or energy bars, keep in mind that they are not as healthy as they seem. Make sure to read the labels as many are high in sugar and fat.

If a traditional breakfast isn’t your thing consider having a whole grain tortilla filled with chicken breast and veggies, a baked yam sprinkled with cinnamon and a lean ground turkey patty, or non-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries and a handful of natural (low sugar) granola, these are all good choices for a nutritious breakfast.

A healthy and nutritious breakfast is the best way to start the day. Eating breakfast improves your thinking ability, keeps you focused, and helps prevent obesity. The morning meal is the fuel that keeps us running throughout the day. Try it for a week and see how much better you feel. Let me know, I love feedback!

Jennifer Billings, BS, CPT
Fit Chica Fitness
SPX Fitness Trainer
TRX Suspension Instructor

Reduce Muscle Soreness and Pain with Vitamin C & E

According to research conducted at Tufts University, taking Vitamin E before a workout helps reduce pain and inflammation that after an intense exercise session.

Reuters Health (04/23/2002) – A dose of vitamin E may ease that stiff ache some of us feel after a bout of exercise, according to the results of a study in healthy men. The study’s authors believe the vitamin acts as an antioxidant, mopping up the damaging byproducts of a strenuous workout. While the very physically fit may not need extra vitamin E after exercise, “if you are one to experience a great deal of soreness and fatigue after a workout–especially those people who do not always exercise habitually–vitamin E might be of benefit to help combat soreness and exercise-induced stress,”said lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Sacheck, of Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. Exercise is one of the healthiest activities possible, but even exercise has its down side. As the body increases its use of oxygen, byproducts of oxygen metabolism–called free radicals–can do damage to muscle tissue. This damage can result in soreness and fatigue after strenuous exercise.

Additional studies show that a combination of both vitamins C and vitamin E combined work extremely well in reducing muscle soreness and pain in the joints post workout. One of my clients swears by this protocol.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis and is a strong antioxidant. Research on vitamin C shows that it may have important effects in reducing pain and inflammation secondary to exercise. In one study 400 mg daily of vitamin C reduced post exercise pain and inflammation. In another the use of vitamin C increased recovery from demanding exercise.

Vitamin E: As well as being an antioxidant, vitamin E, has been demonstrated to reduce exercise induced muscle damage and muscle damage pain in arthritic patients. As shown in studies, both vitamin C and E are important in treatment of arthritic conditions, possibly by reducing oxidative stress. And both of these vitamins are also helpful in reducing muscle soreness secondary to exercise.

What supplements do you take to help ease muscle soreness after a tough workout?

Testimonial for TRX Training

I take pride in working with my clients, developing a personal relationship, and helping them achieve their goals. Read what one of my satisfied clients has said about my TRX classes!

“So there I was, at the WRONG end of my closet…not good. I’m turning 40 this year and am actually excited about it.  But, it was time to admit that I can’t fight Father Time forever. It was time to stop spending six months getting in shape and then letting it all go until those pants no longer fit, only to start all over again. I needed direction but couldn’t afford a personal trainer. Does that sound like an excuse? Not good enough? Well, I have two little kids and erratic work hours, making it really difficult to attend evening classes. That’s 0 for 2 so far. Did I mention I’m a night owl and HATE getting up in the morning to go to the gym? Three strikes. So that was it, right? Not so fast; all these excuses didn’t change the fact that I had three pair of pants (including the “mom” jeans) that fit me. Then, there were those two little kids at home who needed a good role model, not someone who would just keep buying new pants while ending up sick and frail before her time. Speaking of time…JUST IN TIME, Clarita found Jennifer Billings and TRX! No one and nothing else in this world could get me to the gym at 6:00 a.m.; but, just three classes a week for two months have me back at the right end of my closet! YAY!! I’m also stronger than I’ve been since my 20’s. The best part is that TRX is included in my Personal Best monthly dues! Am I using too many exclamation points? I can’t help it. Personal Best is the only gym in the South Bay that doesn’t charge extra for TRX. Since there are only 5 students per class, it’s really like having a personal trainer. Besides the fact that Jennifer is totally fun (EVEN at 6:00 a.m.!!), the small classes allow her to tailor the workout for those “extra special” areas. So, what are you waiting for?” 

Kara C.

If you are interested in getting in shape, working with the TRX, or just getting some information, send me an e-mail at jenniferb@dolphitness.com. If you would like to purchase your own TRX, click here or on the banner below:

TRX Boot Camp Classes at Personal Best

Jump start your metabolism while sculpting long, lean muscles using the TRX Suspension System. The TRX is a unique training tool that provides endless exercise options for all fitness levels using your own body weight and gravity as resistance.

Check out a class in action:

Classes meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Sign up online by clicking below:

Inner Thigh Exercises

Someone sent me an e-mail after coming across my website, they wanted to know what exercises they could do to tone their inner thighs. With Summer just around the corner I thought it might be nice to share this with all of you. 
Inner thighs are always difficult to target by themselves. It is important to do other leg exercises which target the surrounding muscles i.e. quads, hamstrings, glutes. Lunges, squats, 1 legged squats, leg press, leg extensions, hamstring curls, etc.  are great for creating lean and sculpted legs. If you are at a gym, using the seated abduction/adduction machine is always a nice addition as well.
Inner thigh pull: Attach an ankle cuff to the low pulley on a Freemotion or other machine which allows this. While standing, put the cuff on the ankle closest to the machine, set the weight to the lowest level to start then move your leg in front of and across your body do 10-15 reps, 3-4 sets on each leg. This is a slow and controlled movement. Make sure you hold on to the machine firmly as you do this exercise. Play with the position of your feet throughout maybe flex your toes for one set and point them for another. As you get more advanced, you can add weight but always ensure that your form or posture does not suffer. This is a small and controlled movement so heavy weight is not necessary.
Inner thigh presses: Grab a stability ball and lie on the floor, put the ball between your knees keep your hips on the floor and squeeze the ball repeatedly (little presses/pulses) keeping tension on the ball, repeat 20-30 times, 3-4 sets.
Inner thigh leg lifts: Grab a pair of 2 to 5 lb. ankle weights, lying on your left side ensuring that your head, shoulders and hips are aligned. Use your hand to prop your head up, cross the right leg over your left and place your right foot on the floor. Now lift and lower the left leg (this is a small movement) 20-30 times then, without stopping, keep the left leg lifted and make small circles 10-20 times forward then 10-20 times backward. Repeat on the right side. Click here for a video of this exercise.
Stair crosses: If you have stairs nearby, stand sideways at the bottom of the stairs holding on to the railing for balance. Put your right foot on the first stair and cross your left leg over the right to get to the next stair. Continue till you reach the end of the stairs. For added resistance, you can add 2 to 5 lb. ankle weights.
Plie squat: Stand so that your feet are shoulder width apart with your toes turned out like a ballerina. Now, come down into a squat keeping your chest and shoulders lifted throughout the exercise, do 10-15 reps, 3-4 sets. As you get more advanced, grab a 10-30 lb. dumbbell and hold it lengthwise as you squat. You can also use a barbell, I just prefer a dumbbell.
There are several other exercises that target not only the inner thighs but the legs and glutes as well. These are just a few. Repeat these exercises a few times a week and watch those inner thighs get stronger and more toned.
xoxo-Fit Chica

TRX Booty Camp & TRX Goddess Abs at Heart & Pole

TRX® Suspension Training® What is TRX? TRX stands for Total Resistance EXercise. TRX Suspension Training helps you build total body strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability for people of all ages and fitness levels.

TRX Booty Camp Tuesdays and Thursdays (8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.) Sculpt your legs and tighten your tush with this fun and challenging workout. TRX Booty camp will help you tone your abs and strengthen your upper body. Alternate between functional exercises using your own body weight and gravity for resistance and cardio blasts to burn tons of calories and get you in the best shape ever!

TRX Goddess Abs Tuesdays and Thursdays (12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.) If you’ve ever seen a statue of a powerful Greek or Roman Goddess, you’ve probably noticed their finely chiseled abs. This workout focuses specifically on those abdominal and oblique muscles to give your core that extra challenge. No more muffin tops here! With this class you’ll soon have those Goddesses envious of you!

TRX Boot Camp Classes at Personal Best in San Pedro, CA

Jump start your metabolism while sculpting long, lean muscles using the TRX Suspension System. The TRX is a unique training tool that provides endless exercise options for all fitness levels using your own body weight and gravity as resistance. The design of the TRX allows you to transition fluidly from exercise to exercise and helps you increase your overall body strength, while improving balance, flexibility, and endurance. In this class, we will alternate between functional exercises and cardio-intervals to burn loads of calories and build a strong, stable core. All levels welcome. 

Spaces are limited so you receive personal attention. Only 2 spots left for February so sign up today!!

Classes meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.

Two ways to sign up!
Sign up online by clicking below:

Located at: 643 W. 6th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731 

Or, send me an e-mail: jenniferb@dolphitness.com