Blog: FITGirl Training

Women and Heart Disease

Activity Level Predicts Heart Disease in Women, by Joy Keller at IDEA Fitness Journal.

As a member of IDEA Health and Fitness Association, I have access to articles that impact women's health and our society. After reading Keller's article (select the link above for the full article), I wanted to share it with you.

Based on a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (2004; 292 [10], 1179–87), "New research suggests that a woman’s level of physical activity is a better sign than body weight of existing coronary artery disease and future heart problems." I find this idea astounding for several reasons:

1) Women tend to worry more about our weight than how much we move.

2) Until recently, society focused on overweight and obese individuals as being more subject to heart disease, but not so much those in the normal body weight category.

3) Moderate activity levels can really help lower occurrences of cardiovascular disease.

There you have it, we really don't need to workout like crazy to achieve heart healthy results. Moderate exercise (walking, taking stairs instead of an elevator, or completing household chores) accumulated throughout the day for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week will make dramatic overall health improvements.

It's important to keep in mind, if you're looking to increase cardio-respiratory endurance or lose weight, the guideline is different. According to the National Trainer's Association, it is recommended that we exercise 20 to 60 minutes, three to five days per week and reduce 500 to 1,000 calories per day through diet and exercise. It is also recommended that we complete strength training  and stretching two to three days per week.

As we age our bodies tend to become less flexible. If at all possible, it's best to stretch on a daily basis. With that said, if you don't know how to stretch effectively, it's best not to stretch at all to reduce the chance of injury.

Please feel free to tell me what you think of this post and ask questions. I'm all ears!

Give it ALL

This made me smile thinking of how terrible I look and smell (gross) post-workout . . .

Give it your ALL today. You won't be sorry!

If you still look pretty after a workout, you didn't workout hard enough!

Stress Less


How Exercise Can Help You Master New Skills

How Exercise Can Help You Master New Skills, by Gretchen Reynolds at the

Reynolds' article discusses the details of a study conducted on humans using exercise and a "squiggle test" to better understand "motor memory" in the brain. The study suggests that regular "exercise appears to improve the brain's general ability to remember" and, if you want to remember a skill or task you've recently learned, exercising immediately after mastery is key.

Thinking on this news it occurs to me . . . in situations of mass-learning, I have always gravitated toward going for an intense run immediately afterward. Most recently, after completing a two-hour physiology exam I came home, jumped on the treadmill, and ran faster than I had ever run up to that point. In my situation, the stress, anxiety, and uncomfortable feelings caused by the long-term sitting is more likely the reason for my need to run, but I do not recall whether it helped my memory of the ideas learned. Nonetheless, many women have commented over the years that long distance running does help workout problems or situations playing on the mind.

What experiences have you had with exercise and occurrences of increased memory? Please share them in the comment section below.

Choosing a Sugar Substitute

Stumbling across this article in the New York Times discussing the safety concerns of the various sugar substitutes on the market,  I thought it might be something readers may be interested in discussing.

After reading the article (see the link below), it's clear that drinking sugar-laced sodas and juices lead to weight gain. However, the jury is still out on what long-term side effects sugar substitutes such as, saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose, have on human health. Beyond the scientific molecular analysis of each substitute, I liked the advice at the end of the article "The better solution to protect health: Eat and drink less sweet stuff."

While I agree with this advice, the reality for many women is that it's difficult to adhere to when experiencing hormonal shifts. Cravings set-in when we least expect them and, most often, we react and reach for something sweet. Based on this article, reaching for a diet soda is not the worst answer short-term. Personally, I enjoy a diet coke now and then.  I try to steer clear on a regular basis because I experience symptoms of withdrawal such as headaches.

My go-to sugar substitute is honey because I enjoy the sweet taste and smooth consistency. The idea that there are natural remedy components that may help prevent cancer and heart disease, ease sore throat and cough, and contain probiotics are also helpful. What are your go-to sugar substitutes?

Doubts by the Teaspoonful, written by Kenneth Chang at the New York Times. "Despite decades of use and tests, many people have lingering concerns about the safety of the options available — mainly saccharin, aspartame and sucralose — with choices often based on hearsay, mythology and whim." Sugar Substitutes



Ever feel like your kicking your own butt exercising, but still can't figure out why you're not losing weight? It happens to almost every woman during her lifetime - for some of us, it happens OVER AND OVER!

During my personal journey with health and fitness, I found nutrition to be the last dangling piece of the pie that I still had to figure out. When I was a group fitness instructor, I taught 4 to 5 - 1 hour workout sessions per week. During each workout I exercised at the top of my exertion level, but still gained weight. It didn't take long to understand that my body was used to that level of exercise, so it was time to figure out that missing link of how to eat right.

Starting with a food journal, I wrote down everything I ate each day and guessed at what my caloric intake should be. I lost a few pounds, but quickly reached a plateau - THE PLATEAU . . . sucks, right?! I ended up putting the free app  "" onto my phone (it works on the computer, too).

First, it struck me that I had either been eating too much or not enough - like a ping-pong ball bouncing all around the room. All you do is fill in the blanks on the app how much you want to lose, your weight, and a few other pieces of information about your lifestyle and activity and it calculates what your caloric intake should be each day, how much of each vitamin and nutrient you need, including fat and sugar - ta da!!

Once I started using the app to keep track of my calories, I started paying attention to which vitamins I regularly missed or wasn't getting enough of (potassium, iron, and vitamin A). From there, I started Googling foods to fit my needs. By keeping track each day and planning my meals ahead-of-time, it became easy to start choosing foods that had the right nutrient balance for me. As a result, I lost all the weight I was trying to lose and it was EFFORTLESS! NO MORE STARVING OR DENYING MYSELF FOODS. Most importantly, I felt good, more energetic, less fatigued, and no more cravings.

My best advice if you're struggling with weight loss and nutrition is to give myfitnesspal a try to see how it works for you. If you exercise regularly and use the app, IT WILL WORK FOR YOU. What do you have to - only the stuff that jiggles, right? :)

If you're using myfitnesspal or know of a better one, please share your comments. I'm looking forward to hearing about your personal journey with nutrition!

The Tide Will Turn

Just when we feel like giving up, something changes.


Motivation to Achieve

I love this motivational quote because it places no boundaries or expectations on how to be successful, it just asks us to make the decision to "try."

What do you think?



Don't Give Up

Starting a new fitness routine is tough, but finding the courage to be the change is tougher. I always tell my clients to give themselves a couple of weeks to adjust. Within those first couple of weeks, the body is working hard to get the muscles moving and the brain is busy comprehending the moves. No one is perfect, but taking the first few steps to start moving is well worth any obstacle. Don't give up!


Don't give up, the beginning is always the hardest.



Dear friends:

As you may know, I am a certified personal trainer. I possess an understanding of the functions of the body and its dietary needs, such as the six essential nutrients, nonessential nutrients, and sports nutrition, I am not yet a certified nutritionist. While I will be sharing some recipes and explaining my personal cooking strategy for making healthy meals at home, this page will also include healthy recipes from Chef Ron.

Chef Ron's Mission: "I love to teach people about food and cooking, and about living a healthy lifestyle through eating properly. By knowing food and cooking for yourself, you can avoid preservatives and the toxic man-made ingredients from prepared foods and fast-food restaurants. Also, you can live healthy and support your local farmers by visiting farmer's markets and stores that carry foods from local producers." To learn more, go to

Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil

I have put in two methods of incorporating basil into this recipe, you can do both (dried and fresh), or increase one or the other based on what kind of basil you have available.  Of course, I prefer fresh basil, which should always be added towards the end or it will become bitter.  You can also skip the milk and increase the chicken stock, but the milk will add richness.  One last thing, you can add other herbs to this recipe such as rosemary and thyme, fresh or dried for an entirely different flavor.

3#            Plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

8 TBSP      Olive oil

3 TBSP      Fresh Garlic, minced

1 TBSP      Dried Basil

1/4 tsp      Dried crushed red pepper (or more, but watch the spice level)

2 cups       Whole Milk

4 cups       Chicken stock or canned low-salt broth

6 TBSP      Fresh Basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Transfer tomatoes and any accumulated juices to food processor. Using on/off turns, process until slightly chunky.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds (do not burn!). Stir in milk and dried basil, allow to steep on low-heat for 10 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes and dried crushed red pepper. Add chicken stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until soup thickens slightly, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm soup over medium-high heat before continuing.) Stir in fresh basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Optional: Serve with fresh homemade croutons or crostinis.