May 29, 2024

Holiday Party Know-How by Helen Agresti, R.D.

5  Ways to Control Calorie Intake at Holiday Parties

1.  Be a smarty before you party.  When we go all day without eating or skip lunch prior to a party, this usually leads to unhealthy choices throughout the remainder of the day.  Make time for a cup of soup, small salad with vegetables and black beans or a few whole grain pita slices with hummus.

2.  Choose foods with power! Foods that contain a high content of protein, fiber and water (fish, lean meats, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables) have the highest satiating power.  Simple carbohydrates and high fat foods (cookies, cakes, breads, and cheeses) have a lesser effect on our sense of “fullness.”

3.  Give yourself 20.  Practice good portion control by waiting 20 minutes in between visits to the buffet table.  This gives our bodies time to recognize the satiating power of the food we just ingested.

4.  Hydrate and deflate.  Beer, wine, and sugar-laden drinks are high in calories and have zero nutritional value.  Naturally, the more we drink the more we visit the restroom.  For every alcoholic beverage, drink one glass of water.  Staying hydrated will decrease the likelihood of headaches, fatigue, and feeling bloated the next day.

5.  Do yourself a favor and enjoy the flavors.  Socialize away from the food.  Mindless eating often occurs when we’re engaged in conversion and food is close at hand.  Always eat sitting down and enjoy your holiday meal

Helen Agresti is a Registered Dietitian with Professional Nutrition Consulting, LLC.  She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and 5 children.  For more Nutrition advice and healthy recipes follow her on twitter @HelenAgresti and on the web

Triathon Tip: Running fast off the bike by Mark Kleanthous

Competing in triathlon takes specific training.

See listed 4 of my best tips for running fast off the bike:

1.  A back-to-back session is your best way to stimulate running fast and effortlessly straight after a cycle ride.
A threshold bike which should be very hard @ 95%+ and take 30-55 minutes on the same course each time to compare changes in fitness. Choose flat courses where you will not need to stop and keep your heart rate high all the time, on hilly courses your heart rate goes high then drops too low on the downhill’s for this type of session. Many people run faster after these sessions. By running very fast for 400 after the bike it should make the actual race pace seem a lot easier.

Ironmate suggests 2×400 2×600 1×800 2×600 2×500 2×400 = 5,800 m

Short recovery between each interval should only be 20-30 seconds so you only partially recover to simulate race conditions.

2. Pushing a slightly bigger in training also helps. The idea is when you run off the bike in a triathlon it is much easier. However, this should not be done at the end of a bike to run session during a race.

3. Cadence running also helps. What stops you running fast after the bike is length of stride so to overcome this increase your stride with a shorter cadence. Part of your drills should include shuffle cadence high leg turnover but short strides, it takes a while to get good at them, but not many people do them, just like one legged riding on the turbo to improve economy.

4. Refrain from drinking fluid the last 5 minutes of the bike. Another problem with not being able to run fast straight after the bike is drinking in the last 5 minutes of the bike or in the first few minutes of that run, this only puts more stress on your body resulting in you slowing down or taking a lot longer to get going. Another quick note: don’t drink unless you are thirsty in the final 10 minutes of the run because this fluid will not be absorbed until you have crossed the finish line and can slow you down.

Mark Kleanthous has competed in more than 450 triathlons and has competed as an elite and recorded some of the fastest T1 & T2 transition times overall. Mark Kleanthous has competed in triathlons for 30 consecutive seasons and crossed the finish line in more than 450 triathlons including 35 ironman events. He is the author of The Complete Book of Triathlon Training and is a full time sports and nutrition coach. Mark can be contacted via his web site

Should You Consider Exercising at Home? By Crystal Reia

Is working out at home for you? With lots of benefits, it just may be the right choice for your healthy living plan. Here’s a few benefits and challenges to consider:

Benefit: No travel time! Get your workout done with little or no equipment at all! You do not require a large space to get in a great workout. There are so many wonderful and challenging full-body exercises you can do right in the comfort of your own living room. For minimal expense and the most bang for your buck, I suggest a few pairs of dumbbells, a stability ball and a yoga mat! Easy peasy!

Challenge: You may not know where to start at home? What exercises should I do to get the best workout? There are many exercise DVD’s available and free videos on YouTube and the internet to help get you started. There are many personal trainers who will also come to your home! It is such a great service and convenient. A personal trainer will take the guess work out of the equation and teach you wonderful workouts you can do at home.

Benefit: Privacy. Many people feel shy or overwhelmed at the gym. They would rather workout in the privacy of their own home. They may not like crowds or just may feel hesitant to try new exercises that they do not know in front of others for fear of doing it wrong or looking silly.

Challenge: It can be easy to get distracted and forgo a workout at home. The TV, couch, children, spouse can all be distractions. We tend to put our family first of course! A great way to get around this is to either do your workout when they are not home, or involve them in your activity! There are so many options. Take your family biking, walking, hiking; get them off the couch! WiiFit can be a fun way to get moving and get children involved, if you find they are too sedentary, or join a sport together! Your community has so much to offer in the way of fun sports! Ultimate Frisbee, Dodgeball, Baseball, Volleyball… so many to choose from! Think outside the box!

Benefit: No Monthly Fee/Less Expensive. As mentioned above, you do not need a bunch of fancy equipment to get a great workout. There exists an endless number of full-body no-equipment moves you can do. Even heavy cans of food can be substituted for weights at home. A chair can be substituted for a bench etc.

Challenge: Motivation. Some people find it hard to go it alone or get up the motivation at home for their next workout. Asking a friend or family member to join you can help and is free! If your friend is coming over for a workout, you will be less likely to skip it! Hiring a personal trainer to keep you accountable and on track can also help. It might be a little more money to hire somebody to come in, however it is worth it if you are the type of person who needs a trainer knocking at your door to ensure you get in your workout.

By: Crystal Reia, Personal Trainer
Owner of Your Health-Your Choice

Ask A Pro by Julie Mulcahy

Question: I’m a new runner and it feels great! However, my friends tell me that I’ll ruin my knees and should choose a different workout. Is this true? –Tina, San Diego Ca.

Answer: Running does not ruin your knees for the following reasons:

Running promotes cardiovascular fitness, helps manage weight and improves overall leg strength. Weight bearing activities, such as running, can also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Running also improves energy, mood and total fitness capability.

If running did ruin knees, most marathon/Olympic/elite runners should have knee problems as they run the most miles. Research has not shown that to be true.

However, running with improper form and technique or over training (in any sport) can lead to not just knee problems, but other injuries as well. See a health care professional if you need guidance.

Also important to note is that in my experience, I have seen many clients who have knee problems that I believe stem from a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Being overweight puts additional pressure on knees and other joints of the body, which may cause problems. Again, running is excellent for weight management.

In general, running helps promote health and fitness, which I believe is always a good thing

Julie Mulcahy M.P.T is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 19 years experience in sports medicine and orthopedics. Julie is also busy mom of 4 children and a marathon runner. She may be reached by email or @PTrunningmomof4

Ask A Pro by Maggie Ayre

Question: What is a healthy way to introduce competition to my 7 year old daughter?  Do we keep score, reward winning etc?  -Carol from New York City.

Answer: By the age of 7 some children thrive on competition and show great enthusiasm for sports where there is a chance to beat an opponent or the opposing team. You’ll see 7 year olds coming out of swimming lesson proclaiming; “I was swimming the fastest” or finishing a game of soccer; “we beat them, we got 4 goals to their 3.”

Other 7 year olds have no interest in the competitive side of things and are more interested in perfecting their ability.  They are more likely to make comments such as; “did you see me dive?” or “I did a fantastic pass.”

By the age of 7 I suspect your daughter understands the concept of competition. Schools introduce the concept through playing games such as Duck, Duck, Goose where children race each other around a circle, or Tag where you are trying to be the last person tagged. All these seemingly “just for fun” games have educational elements to develop skills and introduce the concept of competition. It may be worth talking to your daughter’s teacher to find out what games they play at her school.

By all means introduce the concept of more structured competition but if she’s not interested then my advice is not to push it. Time spent perfecting her skills without worrying what other people are up to will stand her in good stead for winning future competitions when the time is right.

One of the most effective ways to introduce your daughter to competition is to take her to the park by herself and set up an obstacle course. How quickly can she complete it? Can she beat this time? This also works in the swimming pool, with ball skills etc anything where she has to cover a distance or complete the task a particular number of times and can be timed.

You could also sign her up for a team sport. Most will include training sessions, for developing skills, with mini-competitions for putting them into practice to beat the opposition. Definitely use rewards. But divide your rewards into three; reward for effort, reward for ability and reward for success in competition. Without the first two the third will be far harder to achieve.

Maggie Ayre is the UKs leading Fitness Coach for Young People.  As well as one-to-one and small group nutrition and fitness work with teens she has developed Nutrition and Fitness Plans specifically for teens ( and the 3G Program designed to be run at schools as part of the PE curriculum.  She also offers mentoring for PE departments on how to re-engage teen girls with PE and has recently published her third book; “Nutrition for Exam Success – A Parent’s Guide” which is now available as a Kindle and paperback at Amazon.

Ask A Pro by Mollie Millington

Question: Should I be doing weights (specifically, what exercises?) or cardio to lose inches in my lower body? –Michelle, Phoenix AZ.


Answer: Both! Generally, participating in both weight-training and cardio will help tone up your lower body (and actually, will tone up your entire body.) Keep in mind however, genetics also play a large part in determining our overall body shape. Finding an appropriate, healthy and sustainable balance between lifestyle (food intake and exercise, for example) and genetics will allow you to lose all-over inches.


To lose inches, try squats, lunges, calf raises and leg press. Consider also adding Vibration training (using a VibroGym or Power Plate machine) into your gym routine to help tone up. As with adding any new mode of exercise, be sure to obtain professional guidance to learn the best options (duration, frequency, intensity) for your capabilities, along with any safety information. Also, remember to include cardio for 30 minutes 2-3 times/week for an overall calorie burning result. Finally, to lose inches be mindful to control portion sizes when eating. Consider enlisting the aid of a fitness professional for basal metabolic testing to outline how many calories you burn in a day without exercising. From there you’ll be able to monitor your caloric intake more exactly.


Mollie Millington is a London-based personal trainer, available for in-person and virtual training. Mollie may be reached at, as well as via @PTMollie on Twitter.


Ask A Pro by Tera Busker

Question: What is a “Bosu Ball?” What’s the benefit of a Bosu Ball and how can I utilize it in my gym workout?  -Chad in Boise, ID.

Answer: The BOSU ball, which stands for” Both Sides Up”, is an extremely effective fitness tool that can be utilized for a wide range of training purposes. It’s essential to seek guidance from a Fitness Professional to learn how to use this fitness tool safely. When used correctly, the BOSU ball can be used to increase flexibility, enhance balance, boost speed and take your strength to the next level. Because you can use both sides of the BOSU (rounded side facing up or rounded side facing the floor), your exercise and fitness options are endless.

When incorporating the BOSU into your routine, take things slowly and perform all exercises with purpose and good form. Because the BOSU really challenges your balance, your muscles, especially the core, will be working overtime. Start off with incorporating the BOSU into standard exercises like squats, pushups and planks. Stand on the rounded side of the BOSU when you do squats and place the BOSU flat side up and hold onto the sides while doing pushups and planks. If you are a beginner to incorporating stability challenges into your workout or you have balance issues, try standing on the BOSU (always round side up) while performing exercises like shoulder presses, bicep curls and side raises. As always, obtain medical clearance before beginning an exercise program.

Tera Busker is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Fitness To Go, an exclusive In Home & Private Studio Personal Training Service based out of Roberts, WI.

Ask A Pro by Tera Busker

Question: I want to workout with my spouse. What’s a workout we can do together? –Diane, Carlsbad California.

Answer: Working out with your spouse can be a fun way to spend time together and get a great workout all at the same time! First of all, find an activity that both you and your spouse will enjoy. Just because you like running on the treadmill, doesn’t mean that they will also find it entertaining. A great way to workout together is to do “partner exercises.” During partner exercises, you will challenge and encourage each other to do your best.
A few examples of partner exercises are:

Medicine Ball Squat Toss: Stand a few feet across from your partner. Toss the med ball to your partner. When they catch the ball, both of you squat at the same time. Repeat for 10-15 reps

Partner Pushup: Face each other in the pushup position. Do 1 pushup and when you are both in the “up” position of the pushup, reach towards your partner with opposite hands and high five each other. Repeat for 10-15 reps.

Horse and Plow Tow: Place a resistance band around your partner’s waist while you hold onto the handles. Have them face away from you and start running. They will be “towing” you as you follow behind them keeping resistance on the band. Once your partner had “towed” you for 50 feet, trade places. Try 4-6 sets of this exercise.

Mirror Exercises: Face your partner and have them pick an exercise for both of you to do together. Without them telling you what you are going to do, mirror their actions. This type of training keeps you “on your toes” and adds variety.

Tera Busker is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Fitness To Go, an exclusive In Home & Private Studio Personal Training Service based out of Roberts, WI.


Ask a Pro by Tera Busker

Question: What exactly is a fitness-plateau and what’s the best way to get off a fitness plateau? –Dan, Baltimore.

Answer: A fitness plateau happens when your body no longer continues to progress. It is a stall you experience in your weight loss, endurance or strength goal. A plateau can be very frustrating! It is more or less a way of your body saying “I’m bored with this routine.”

The best way to “jump” off a fitness plateau is to shake things up! It’s time to take your workouts to the next level. It’s time to try a new style of strength training or cardiovascular exercise, as well as to review your food intake.

To shake up your strength training routine: try circuit training during which you move from one exercise to the next without rest, or by adding in cardio intervals in between each strength training set. Using tabatas is also an effective method to jump start results again. Consider working in some heavy lifting to your routine. Also consider trying different body splits into your strength routine, for example upper body/lower body or working muscles according to their function, for example push/pull.

To freshen up your cardio: Try doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or schedule one new fitness class each week like spin or dance class. Learning a new sport is also a great way to get off a fitness plateau. In addition to learning a new sport skill-set, you’ll meet new training partners. Doing so, allows you to feed off others energy and push yourself harder than you would when working out alone.

Don’t forget about your diet! Fitness is only one part of being healthy. To continue to make strides towards your goals, make sure your nutrition isn’t stalling as well. Eating the same thing everyday slows your metabolism and can also keep you from progressing. Try a recipe exchange with friends, host a cooking party to exchange meal ideas or sign up for a cooking class at your local community center. Go to your local farmers market to find foods that are “in season” and choose produce from all colors of the rainbow.

Tera Busker is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Fitness To Go, an exclusive In Home & Private Studio Personal Training Service based out of Roberts, WI.

Ask A Pro by Mollie Millington

Question: I’ve been steadily gaining weight in my midsection for the past 6 months. My doctor says I’m in the midst of menopause. What exercises can I do to tone up?  -Angela in Madison, WI.

Answer: Since you’ve been cleared from your doctor in regards to hormone concerns, toning up and losing inches off your abdomen requires three different actions.

To tone up, do resistance training (lifting weights). Your local gym will provide professional services to teach you how to use the weight lifting machines. Be sure to take advantage of this offering, so you know how to safely set-up the machines and operate them correctly and effectively. Resistance training increases metabolism, and also helps increase bone density. Perform resistance training 2-3 times each week.

To lose inches, add in cardio (at least 30 min of walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, dancing, etc) 2-3 times a week. Cardiovascular exercise helps control weight gain, as well as strengthening your heart and lungs. Cardiovascular exercise also helps maintains mobility.

Nutrition plays a critical role in reducing weight gain and improving overall health. Be mindful of appropriate portion sizes, empty calories (for example, drinks with no nutritional value and sugary foods) and try to maintain a set meal schedule. Your body begins to expect fuel when you eat regularly. Skipping meals forces the body into starvation or panic mode and slows down your metabolism. A good start is to adopt the 80-20% rule. If you’re eating healthily 80% of the time, you can reward yourself the other 20%.

By London-based personal trainer Mollie Millington. Mollie may be contacted via or @PTMollie on Twitter.