Fitness Resources

Month: October 2017

Salmon Tacos

Food for Thought



By Mary Saph Tanaka, MD, FAAP

Salmon Tacos

2 6-ounce salmon filets

8 corn tortillas

1 lime, cut into wedges

olive oil

Mexican Spice Marinade

1 t ground cumin

1 t dried onion

1 t ground oregano

½ cup of fresh cilantro

To prepare the fish: Mix all the spices in a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cut the fish into ½-inch cubes and place into marinade. Let sit in refrigerator for 1 hour. When ready to cook, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Remove the fish from the refrigerator and place in the pan. Cook for 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fish has cooked through.

Serve with warm corn tortillas and mango black-bean salsa.

Mango Black-Bean Salsa

2 small mangoes or 1½ cups of defrosted frozen mango

1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained

¼ medium onion (any color), finely diced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

½ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped

juice of 1 lime

If using fresh mangoes, peel the skin and slice off the fruit on either side of the seed. Cut mangoes into small pieces, approximately the same size as the diced peppers and onions. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, and serve with tacos.

Do Ketogenic Diets Work for Athletes?

by Sanna Delmonico, MS, RDN, CHES on Aug 23, 2017

Food for Thought

Question: What do you think about a ketogenic diet for athletes? Does it really improve performance?

Answer: A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, usually including less than 50 g of carbohydrate per day (Paoli 2013). Carbohydrate, which is stored in the body as glycogen, is the preferred fuel for muscle and the brain. When this fuel isn’t available, the body turns to fat for energy and produces ketosis. The theory is that since we store much more energy as fat than as glycogen, athletes have a reliable, steady source of energy if they burn more fat, and this should improve performance.

The ketogenic diet is successful for treating epilepsy in children and some adults and has shown promise for weight loss and type 2 diabetes (Chang, Borer & Lin 2017; Paoli 2013), but in the long term, this diet has risks. It increases the threat of kidney stones, elevation of blood lipids and bone fractures. Because it is low in fiber, it also leads to constipation (Retelny 2015).

Research shows that over time, an athlete on a ketogenic diet becomes more efficient at burning fat. That adaptation takes at least 3–4 weeks, during which the athlete feels fatigued (Burke et al. 2017; Chang, Borer & Lin 2017; Volek, Noakes & Phinney 2015). Benefits may be greatest for endurance sports requiring prolonged submaximal effort, including running and cycling, and perhaps also for field sports (Chang, Borer & Lin 2017; Volek, Noakes & Phinney 2015). On the other hand, a study of race walkers found that while a ketogenic diet led to more efficient fat-burning, there was no benefit to athletic performance. The higher-carbohydrate diet resulted in improved performance (Burke et al. 2017).

More research is needed to clarify potential benefits and risks for athletes on a ketogenic diet. The positions of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine are that current evidence doesn’t support the use of ketogenic diets to improve athletic performance (AND 2016).

Anyone considering a ketogenic diet should keep in mind that decreasing carbohydrate intake also decreases intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals from beans, whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruits. Before starting this diet, it is wise to discuss it with a doctor and meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD/RDN) to make sure nutrient needs will be met.

Emotional Eating Begins Early

by Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP on Aug 23, 2017

Food for Thought

Emotional Eating: Parents Pass It On to Their Kids

A tendency to eat for emotional reasons—such as when worried, annoyed or anxious—is an important contributor to excess weight gain. While emotional eating is a known cause of obesity, what turns people into emotional eaters is not as well understood.

Norwegian researchers set out to better comprehend this relationship by asking a cohort of parents to rate the frequency of certain parental feeding practices (like giving a child something to eat to make him feel better when he’s upset) and children’s eating practices (like eating more when angry). According to the study, published in the April 2017 edition of Child Development, the researchers found that parental emotional feeding of young children was highly related to emotional eating in the children as they got a bit older.

In other words, emotional eating often begins in childhood, at least partly in response to a parent’s tendency to be an emotional feeder. In the study, the kids at greatest risk for emotional feeding scored high in a measure of “negative affectivity”—that is, they experienced higher-than-average levels of sadness, fear, anger and frustration and lower degrees of “soothability.”

Parents learn early on that food can be a calming agent. As an act of love and empathy, they offer food (usually highly palatable, high-sugar/high-fat foods) to soothe a crying baby, a fussy toddler or an upset school-aged child. The child feels better and begins to associate that sensation with eating food. This can start a cascade of emotional feeding and emotional eating. Parents can break the cycle by making a concerted effort to help children identify more useful ways to cope with stress, such as journaling, meditation, brief bouts of exercise, or talking with trusted family members or friends.

Were your parents emotional feeders? Are you? How do you cope with triggers to eat? What other strategies do you use to help your family cope with stressors? Send your responses to Sandy Todd Webster at

10 Minute Bicep Workout

August 18, 2015

The biceps brachii and the brachialis are the two main muscles responsible for bending the elbow. When these muscles are strong, they allow you to easily pick up, pull and carry objects. They even help you lift up your own body weight, as in the case of performing chin-ups. Repeat this circuit two to three times to fully challenge the biceps.


  • Mat
  • Barbell
  • Squat rack or Smith machine
  • Dumbbells

Incline Bar Chin-up

10–15 repetitions

With a narrow-width underhand grip (i.e., palms facing toward you), hold onto either a barbell placed in a low position in a squat rack or on a bar locked in place in a Smith machine and position the body at a 45-degree angle from the ground. Keeping the feet planted on the floor, perform biceps-focused chin-ups by pulling the chest up to meet the bar.

Bar Curl

10–15 repetitions

Holding a barbell in the hands with the palms facing forward, stand tall with the feet underneath the hips, knees slightly bent and the abs engaged. Curl the bar up toward the shoulders, keeping the elbows close to the sides of the ribcage.

Alternating Bicep Curl

10–15 repetitions

Holding a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing the sides of the hips, stand tall with the feet underneath the hips, knees slightly bent and the abs engaged. Curl one dumbbell at a time up toward the shoulder, allowing the palm to rotate to face the front of the shoulder; keep the elbows close to the sides of the ribcage.

Plank Hammer

10–15 repetitions

Assume a plank position on the hands and toes (or hands and knees, if needed). Place each hand on top of a dumbbell in this plank position. While keeping the abdominals engaged and the spine and neck in alignment, perform an alternating hammer curl with the arms. Keep the elbows directly underneath the shoulders, even when curling. Work on keeping the hips fairly still and avoid rocking them side-to-side.

Reverse Curl

10–15 repetitions

Holding a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing away from the front of the body, stand tall with the feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and the abs engaged. Without moving the upper arms, bend the elbows and curl the dumbbells as close to the shoulders as possible. Emphasize the eccentric portion of the action by slowly lowering down the weights.

Sabrena Jo


SABRENA JO ContributorSabrena Jo, MS, holds 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry, where she has successfully developed continuing education and educational videos, and served as a speaker at fitness conferences nationwide. She is a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer and a long-time ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach. Sabrena holds a master’s degree in physical education from University of Kansas.

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The 7 Worst Foods for Heart Health


In the United States, heart disease kills more people than any other cause. But here’s some good news: There’s a lot that you can do to lower your risk of heart disease. In fact, seven of 10 risk factors for heart disease are things you can control. While you can’t control your age, genetics and gender (men are at higher risk), you can significantly lessen your probability of heart disease by not smoking, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, and controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar (the last four risk factors are closely tied to what you put in your mouth). By rarely consuming seven of the most damaging foods for your heart, you’ll significantly lower your risk.

Keep in mind, however, that just because certain foods are bad for your heart, it doesn’t mean that you can never eat them. If you eat an antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy diet with health-promoting foods (like fruits, vegetables, pulses, lean poultry, fish and whole grains), occasionally eating a food that isn’t good for your heart won’t increase your risk of heart disease. As with all foods, the dose makes the poison. Would you gain weight from eating one small piece of chocolate every day? Not likely. What if you ate a whole bag of candy every day? Probably. The same is true for the worst foods for your heart—the role they play in your overall health depends on the overall quality of your diet.


1. Deep-fried Foods

Deep frying creates trans-fats, a type of fat known to raise the bad (LDL) type of cholesterol in the body, while simultaneously lowering the good kind. This means that all-time American favorites like French fries and fried chicken are a double-whammy for your ticker. Not surprisingly, fried foods have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease in a number of studies. Deep-fried foods often contain saturated fats and are high in salt, as well, which can also increase one’s risk of heart disease.

Instead: If you want to make a heart-healthy version of French fries, spritz them with a healthy oil, like olive or avocado oil, and then bake them. Here are some recipes to check out: Skinny Avocado Fries, Roasted Tarragon Sweet Potato Fries and Carrot Fries. And instead of frying your chicken, beef or tofu, dip them in egg whites, use a shake-and-bake bag and toss them in the oven to bake. For stir-fries, use a small amount of avocado oil, olive oil or canola oil and keep the heat on low.



2. Fast Food

It’s no secret that fast food is rarely healthy food and, in fact, can have a negative impact on the heart. That’s because the majority of fast food items are fried, high in salt (which can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for a heart attack) and high in sugar and calories (which can lead to obesity and diabetes and increase the risk of a heart attack), all of which put a strain on the heart.

Instead: At the beginning of each week, plan your meals in advance, focusing on lean proteins, pulses, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, eggs and low-fat dairy products. If you’ve planned and know what you’re going to eat in advance, it’s much easier to avoid making quick, last-minute fast-food pit stops when hunger strikes. When you do go to fast-food restaurants, choose healthier options whenever possible, such as grilled chicken breast sandwiches, salads, and bean and salsa wraps.



3. Margarine

Once believed to be better for your heart than butter because it’s made from plant oils, margarine has since proven to be the true villain when it comes to heart disease. That’s because trans fat is created when the plant oil is processed and made into a solid. Trans fats are associated with a 34% increase in death, a 28% risk in death from coronary heart disease and a 21% increase in risk of cardiovascular disease.

Instead: To avoid trans fat, choose a soft spread that doesn’t contain the word “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredient list.



4. Processed Meats

Processed meats include foods such as bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, cold cuts and cured meats. Harvard researchers found that those who eat processed meats daily (50 grams—that’s less than 2 ounces!) have a 42% higher risk of heart attacks. Researchers speculate that it may have to do with the extremely high levels of sodium and preservatives found in processed meats.

Instead: Limit processed meats to once a week, as researchers speculate this would pose only a small risk. Choose beans, eggs, fresh fish, poultry and lean red meat as an alternative.


5. Salt

Found in most packaged foods, chips, canned products and condiments, and added at the table and during cooking, salt intake has climbed in most people’s diets to a whopping 4,000 mg a day. This is significantly more than the recommended 2,300mg maximum, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which combined data from more than 100 studies. The researchers concluded that there would be 1.65 million fewer deaths each year if average sodium intake was closer to 2,000 mg per day, and reducing sodium intake to 2,300mg daily would prevent 10% of deaths related to cardiovascular disease.

Instead: Use flavor-enhancing techniques to replace salt when you can—sprinkle spices, squeeze lemon and use flavorful vinegars. Limit packaged foods to once or twice a week, and read labels to determine the sodium content of foods so you can either limit them or choose no-salt-added or low-salt alternatives.



6. Sugar-sweetened Drinks

Sugar-sweetened beverages contribute more added sugar to the typical American diet than any other source. Sugary drinks are particularly harmful because they have a high glycemic load, contribute to inflammation, and raise blood glucose levels, blood triglycerides and small, dense LDL particles (which are much more dangerous than light, fluffy LDL particles), all of which increase the risk of heart disease. A large, two-decade-long studyinvolving 40,000 men found that those who had one sugary drink per day increased their risk of having a heart attack or dying of a heart attack by 20% compared to men who rarely drank sugary beverages.

Instead: Choose water, seltzer or unsweetened beverages. If you have a hard time drinking unflavored water, get creative and spritz lemon, orange or lime into your water, or try these water infusions: Watermelon Cucumber ACV Detox Water Infusion, Vitamin C Infused Water and Pineapple, Lemon Ginger Detox Drink.



7. Baked Goods

Pies, cakes, cookies, donuts and other baked goods can be especially bad for the heart because they contain both saturated fat (found in butter and other full-fat dairy products) and trans fat (found in partially hydrogenated oils used in vegetable shortening, margarine, packaged snacks, coffee creamers and fried foods). They can also raise LDL cholesterol levels, while also lowering HDL (the good) cholesterol levels. These treats also are high in sugar, which intensifies the damage they can do to the heart.

Instead: Choose healthier dessert options that don’t contain trans fat (make sure ingredient lists don’t contain the words “hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” and are very low in saturated fat. Here are some tasty treats to try at home: Chocolate Drizzled Granola Balls, Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Guac-Chocolate Mousseand  Skinny Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

The Nutrition Twins
THE NUTRITION TWINS ContributorTammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse (“Lyssie”) Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, share a passion to teach people how to eat healthfully and exercise so they’ll have energy to live happy lives. The twins have been featured as nutrition experts on Good Morning America, Discovery Health, Fox News, NBC, Bravo, CBS, The Learning Channel, FitTV, Oxygen Network, and Fox & Friends. They co-wrote The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty, The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop A Size & Get Healthier with Simple Low Sodium Swaps. The twins are both ACE Certified Personal Trainers, and members of the American Dietetic Association and several Dietetic Practice Groups.

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Weight Training for Weight Loss

March 25, 2015

As a female in the exercise science field for the past 12 years, I have learned a thing or two about the importance of weight training. When the end goal is weight loss (or pretty much any end goal), a weight-training program is a must.

Let’s get real. Sure, you can cut your calories in half, or spend your morning or evenings doing cardio to lose some pounds, but I can promise you both will not last nor will they give you a healthy looking and functioning body.

When it comes to weight training for weight loss, it is important to put a few key points out there. First, you will not get BIG from lifting weights. You get “big” from overconsumption of energy (calories), which can be converted into fat or muscle based on the types of foods you eat and the exercise you do. Second, you can lift more than you think—and you should (with the help of a spotter, if necessary). And finally, if weight training is done properly you will likely be sore the day or two after your workouts (especially if you are new to resistance exercise). This is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, and it is a normal response to weight training. Be sure to stretch, drink plenty of water and incorporate sound nutrition to help your body recover quickly between workouts.

Here are five key points to keep in mind while working toward your weight- or fat-loss goals. After all, weight is just a number and doesn’t say a whole lot about your body. I’m 5’2” and weigh about 135 pounds, while my mom is 5’2” and weighs around 113 pounds—the biggest difference is the amount of muscle we each have. Keep that in mind as you work toward your goals.

1. Lift heavy weights. I have trained a lot of individuals over the years and I cannot tell you how many have sold themselves short. You won’t get results lifting the same weights you’ve been lifting (if you’ve been lifting). You have to go up in weight. Increase weight and you’ll increase your strength and muscle mass. Increase your muscle mass and you’ll increase your metabolic rate. Increase your metabolic rate and you will burn more calories. Burn more calories than you consume and you will lose weight. If you want to lose weight and not look “skinny fat,” you need to lift HEAVY weights.

2. Intensity. You don’t have to spend more than 30 to 45 minutes on your weight workouts. In fact, you could cut this down to 20 minutes. I love training with my powerlifting friends, but I do NOT have the focus or the time to lift weights for more than two hours. The key is to work hard throughout the entire workout, minimizing rest and keeping your heart rate elevated.

3. I want you to fail. If you want your body to change, you have to push past your comfort zone. You can’t expect results doing the same thing you’ve always done—that’s called insanity, right? So when I say I want you to fail, I mean I want you to have to rest. I want you to not be able to finish that last rep or two, because you picked up the heavier weights. By pushing your body out of its comfort zone, you are forcing it to respond and to change. Your body has to use energy to repair and recover. Make your body work for you, and don’t be afraid to fail.

4. Do supersets and hybrids. A superset involves doing two or more exercises that target the same muscle group, back to back with minimal rest in between. For example, doing a set of 12 heavy squats followed by a set of 12 heavy lunges is a superset. A hybrid involves combining two or more movements into one movement. Combining a squat with a shoulder press or a lunge with a squat followed by a lunge are examples of hybrid exercises. Incorporating these into your weight-training workouts can increase the intensity of your training, which is ideal for losing weight.

5. Circuit Training. Circuit training is a great way to get in multiple exercises. You can focus on your upper body, lower body, or total body, all while keeping the intensity up. Of course, you still want to focus on using heavy weights. Below is a sample total-body, circuit-training workout. Move quickly from exercise to exercise and rest for a minute at the end of each round. Don’t be afraid to rest during a set, recover quickly, and then get back after it. 

Weight training circuit


Squat + Curl

squat and curl

Push Ups

push up

Dumbbell Row + Fly

Dumbbell Row and Fly

Bench Step Ups

bench step ups

Lunge + Front Raise

lunge and front raise

Renegade Rows

renegade row

Incline Dumbbell Press

incline bench press

Bench Dips

bench dips

Plank Shoulder Touches

plank shoulder touches

Ultimately, weight-loss occurs due to a combination of factors—sleep, nutrition, mindset and physical activity all play key rolls in initiating and maintaining weight-loss. Be sure to check in with a physician before jumping into a weight-training regimen and don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is the point at which growth and change occur. Aim for three total-body, circuit-training workouts a week. If you decide to split your workouts, try to do two workouts focusing on your upper body, two workouts focusing on your lower body, and one total-body workout per week. Remember, these workouts can be as little as 20 to 30 minutes—the key is keeping the intensity high.


Kelley Vargo
KELLEY VARGO ContributorKelley Vargo, MPH, MS, CSCS, ACE Health Coach is a recent graduate of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University where she received her MS in Exercise Science with a concentration in Strength & Conditioning and her MPH in Communication & Marketing. Ms. Vargo has contributed content to Discovery Health as well as the ACE Fitness Journal. She is a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, Delta Omega Public Health Honors Society, and a Metabolic Effect Instructor. She enjoys sharing her passion and energy with others, helping them create healthier and happier lives. Follow Kelley on twitter @kelleyvargo or contact her at or

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The Key to Healthy Aging

September 18, 2017

September is nationally recognized as healthy aging month, a time to focus on encouraging personal responsibility for health and well-being in all dimensions of life (physically, socially, mentally and financially). There may not be a tangible fountain of youth that promises eternal life and continuous health, but we hold more power than we may realize in the daily choices we make and the habits we adopt and maintain throughout our lives.

Living an active and balanced lifestyle that includes a combination of aerobic, muscular strength, and flexibility exercises helps ward off a range of diseases, slows the rate of muscle tissue loss and improves activities of daily living. Here are some of the cardiovascular and cognitive benefits that come with living a healthy lifestyle.

The Cardiovascular Benefits

The heart and lungs naturally experience a reduction in efficiency and strength over time; this is especially true in sedentary populations. With advancing age, the heart must work harder to accomplish the same amount of work, both at rest and during activity. Resting heart rate also declines at a rate of one beat per minute each year (Murray and Kenney, 206). Similarly, the lungs lose some of their ability to supply adequate amounts of oxygen to the working tissues and organ systems. Regular exercise, however, helps increase systemic blood flow and oxygen supply.

Becoming and remaining physically active and incorporating aerobic exercise (walking, aquatics, cycling, etc.) can lower and control blood pressure, which reduces the overall stress on the heart. Activity also can help lower cholesterol levels and prevent atherosclerotic build up in the arteries. Further, individuals who remain active reduce their risk of all-cause mortality and premature death from preventable diseases. So, while you may not be able to outlast Father Time, you can certainly walk far enough ahead that it makes it difficult for him to catch you.

The Cognitive Benefits

The brain is a truly remarkable puzzle. In fact, modern medicine could study the brain indefinitely and still not learn everything there is to know about its mysterious network. The brain is continually changing in size and functionality. Typical age-related changes include a decrease in brain weight and size (not significant, but still a reduction), network size and blood supply. The aging brain also experiences memory loss, a decrease in inductive reasoning skills and mental acuity, a decrease in spatial awareness and the development of balance issues.

No one is immune to changes in the brain, but exercise and physical activity (along with proper diet) significantly slows the rate of cognitive dysfunction. Think about it in these terms—what’s good for the heart, is also good for the brain.

Overall, exercise improves memory, enhances thinking and problem-solving skills, boosts brain supporting hormones, enhances blood and oxygen flow to the brain, acts as a natural anti-depressant and stress reliever, and it improves focus, allowing you to concentrate on difficult or challenging tasks. In short, keep on your toes to keep the mind sharp.

The Truth of the Matter

Exercise is and will always be one of the primary keys to living well across the lifespan. We cannot stop or reverse the circle of life, but we can influence how we experience that journey. And it’s never too late to start making healthy choices to better your future.


Murray, R. and Kenney, W.L. (2016). Practical Guide to Exercise Physiology . Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.

Learn a holistic approach to working with active agers that goes beyond the physical aspects of movement. In addition to incorporating appropriate modifications, the ACE Senior Fitness Specialist Program explores building rapport, behavior change, motivation and adherence, and nutrition. 

Dr. Erin Nitschke
DR. ERIN NITSCHKE ContributorDr. Erin Nitschke, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist & NSCA-CPT, is a Health & Human Performance college educator and fitness blogger. She has over 14 years of experience in personal training, education, and instructional design. To Erin, being fit means finding an equilibrium between all dimensions of wellness. Erin is personally and professionally dedicated to teaching students and clients how to achieve such balance through learning and focused skill development.

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