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Focus Point of the Week: Healthy Alternatives

October 23, 2016

Written by: Paige Whitmire, RD, LDN

Most people think of eating healthy as having to give up their favorite foods, but that is not the case.  Healthy foods can still have great taste and texture; it’s a matter of finding substitutions and alternatives that work.  This week’s Focus Point will compare meal options to help show you how a small change can make a big difference.

Here is a great comparison between a typical sweet and sour chicken and fried rice recipe and a healthier sweet and sour chicken and cauliflower fried rice option:

 Typical recipe                                                                         Homemade recipe

Sweet and Sour Chicken Entrée (3oz)

380 calories

46 grams carbohydrates

12 grams protein

14 grams fat

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken (3oz)

225 calories

16 grams carbohydrates

21 grams protein

5 grams fat

Fried Rice (1 cup)

455 calories

71 grams carbohydrates

10 grams protein

14 grams fat

Cauliflower Fried Rice (1 cup)

115 calories

11 grams carbohydrates

9 grams protein

5 grams fat

Totals: 835 calories, 117g carbohydrates, 22g protein, 28g fat Totals: 340 calories, 27g carbohydrates, 30g protein, 10g fat


As you can see, the difference in total calories, carbohydrates, and protein are significant, and you are eating the same amount of food, leaving you feeling just as satisfied.

Here are some helpful tips to remember, both when eating out and at home:

  • Fried, au gratin, crispy, scalloped, pan-fried, sautéed or stuffed foods are high in fat and calories. Instead, look for steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached or roasted. The difference between grilled chicken (3oz = 135 calories) and fried chicken (3oz = 275 calories), as well as steamed vegetables (1 cup = 25 calories) and sautéed vegetables (1 cup = 115 calories) is truly significant.
  • High-sodium foods include those that are pickled, in cocktail sauce, smoked, in broth or in soy or teriyaki sauce. Limit these items. For example, look for grilled salmon (3oz = 50mg sodium) instead of smoked salmon (3oz = 665mg sodium) on the menu.
  • Have gravy, sauces, and dressings served on the side so you can control the amount you eat or skip them completely.
  • Even if they aren’t on the dessert menu, many restaurants can offer you fruit or sherbet (1 cup of sherbet = 215 calories) instead of high-fat pastries and ice creams (1 cup of ice cream = 375 calories).

As the holidays approach, it’s easy to give in to temptation.  Instead of avoiding your favorite treats, prepare them yourself by using recipe substitutions.  Try some of these swaps in any recipe for the same great taste and texture:

  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas for 1 tablespoon butter or oil (try this swap with our Chocolate Banana Applesauce Cake recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt for 1 tablespoon sour cream or mayonnaise
  • 1 cup evaporated skim milk for 1 cup heavy cream

As you can see, small healthy alternatives can greatly improve the calorie and nutrient breakdown of the foods we eat.  Try the recipes provided in this Focus Point sometime soon and enjoy!


Copyright 2011 Fitness Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.

Focus Point of the Week: Kettlebell Training

October 16, 2016

For over 300 years, kettlebells have been one of the most effective strength and conditioning tools available. When used correctly, kettlebells are appropriate for people of all ages and fitness levels, and have been proven to improve strength, power, endurance, mobility, and back health.

One of the greatest benefits of kettlebell training is that it consists almost entirely of total body exercises. Many workout techniques (and a lot of gym equipment) are designed to isolate and focus on specific body parts. Kettlebell training exercises the whole body at once. The quick, coordinated movements improve strength, power, and explosiveness: skills necessary for almost any athletic endeavor, and useful for activities of daily living.

While most people think of Kettlebells for strength training, they can also provide a great aerobic workout. In a recent study conducted by the American Council on Exercise, participants performed a twenty-minute interval-based snatch workout. Participants burned approximately twenty calories per minute, totaling an astonishing four hundred calories burned during the workout!

It’s important to acknowledge that kettlebell training can improve your back health through corrective exercise and resistance training. Here’s why:

  • Kettlebell exercises strengthen the glutes.Often, people with low back dysfunction exhibit “gluteal amnesia,” meaning they do not properly use their glutes. If the glutes are not functioning properly, the low back does work that our glutes are intended to perform.
  • Kettlebell exercises stretch the hip flexorsWeak glutes are often associated with tight hip flexors. Kettlebells can be used in a number of ways to stretch the hip flexors.
  • Kettlebells develop back endurance. According to spine expert Dr. Stuart McGill, improved muscular endurance of the back reduces the odds of back problems. Exercises such as the kettlebell deadlift, hip swing, and snatch improve the endurance of your back muscles.
  • Bracing is superior to “hallowing” for spinal stability McGill describes bracing as symmetric stiffening of all the muscles surrounding the spine without hallowing or pushing out the abdominal wall. Kettlebell training teaches you to “brace” through your core while performing all movements.

You will be hard-pressed to find any other training tool that offers as many benefits as the kettlebell. Be sure to talk with your trainer about incorporating kettlebell training into your program. As always: be safe, have fun, and train hard!


Copyright 2011 Fitness Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.

Focus Point of the Week: Eat a Balanced Breakfast

October 9, 2016

Make no mistake… breakfast is king! That’s right: just as our parents have always said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether you are trying to decrease body fat or just make it through the day, breakfast is an important step that should not be ignored.

There are numerous reasons why breakfast is so important. For starters, breakfast helps to set the tone for the day by refueling your body and providing essential nutrients. Research has shown that eating a balanced breakfast can increase metabolism and decrease our desire to overeat. Not to mention, breakfast can improve mood, help control stress, increase the effectiveness of your exercise program and reduce your risk for lifestyle related diseases.

Eating a balanced breakfast is not always easy. Due to busy lifestyles and demands on our time, we often resort to grabbing a quick, easy bite to eat that is often high in calories and low in nutrition. If this sounds familiar, it is time to get real and make a change. Doing so requires that you practice a little “mind over mattress”. Rest assured, the positive benefit of getting up 15 minutes earlier to eat a nutritious breakfast far outweighs the benefit of that extra time in bed.

Once you have made the decision to develop this new habit, it is time to consider what you should be eating. A healthy breakfast should leave us feeling satisfied and provide us adequate energy to start the day. To meet this objective, breakfast needs to be a combination of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and a small amount of fat. Choose whole grains (toast, bagel, English muffin, oats), lean proteins (eggs, ham, powdered peanut butter), low-fat dairy (Greek yogurt, low-fat milk, cottage cheese), fruits, vegetables and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado).

Below are two examples of what a balanced breakfast can look like:

Mexican breakfast burrito made with 1 medium whole-wheat tortilla, 2 scrambled eggs with ½ cup cooked vegetables, sprinkle of reduced fat cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon avocado, and 2 tablespoons of salsa paired with a piece of fruit (480 calories, 65 grams carbohydrate, 26 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 7 grams fiber).

Fruit smoothie made with 1 cup frozen fruit, 1 (5.3oz) container Greek yogurt, 1 cup low-fat milk, 3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter and a handful of spinach (365 calories, 55 grams carbohydrate, 33 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 10 grams fiber).

This week, focus on eating a balanced breakfast every morning and get your day started right!


Copyright 2011 Fitness Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.

Focus Point of the Week: Rowing

October 2, 2016

By: The One on One Team

When we bring an object closer to our body, we are typically performing a “rowing” motion. Whether to open/close doors, get the lawn mower started, or bring our grandchildren in for a hug, rowing is necessary for our activities of daily living. This week’s Focus Point will discuss the value of the row and teach you how to perform it correctly.

Similar to the lat pulldown, rows strengthen the shoulder and back muscles, but with a horizontal pull towards the chest.  As well as playing a major role in correcting the rounded shoulder posture associated with too much sitting, rows also help stabilize the spine.

Different variations of the row will slightly change the emphasis of the exercise. For example, seated rows allow you to focus on the movement itself, TRX (or inverted) rows require your entire body to be engaged, and single arm rows are great for working rotational stability.

No matter what row variation you are performing, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Start with the arms extended and shoulders pulled down and back.
  • Initiate the pull with the shoulder blades coming together, not the elbows pulling back.
  • Do not arch the low back at any time.
  • Maintain a neutral neck position; do not allow your head to drop or “gooseneck”.
  • Pinch the shoulder blades together at the top of the pull.
  • As you return back to the starting position, be sure to control the weight down, do not let it drop.

With good form, the row can be perfect for either corrective exercise or intensity. This is why the row is great for anyone’s program!  Talk with your trainer about which rowing variety is appropriate for you.


Copyright 2011 Fitness Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.

Focus Point of the Week: Accountability

September 25, 2016

By: Bruce Burke

Although we mostly think of accountability in terms of being held accountable, it is also about holding others accountable. Participating in a system of accountability can be extremely rewarding and ultimately helps to ensure success in all facets of our lives.

With a reliable system in place, we can receive the support and motivation necessary to change habits and realize our goals. Unfortunately, many of us shy away from addressing accountability issues due to fear of failure. After all, if no one knows what we are trying to accomplish, no one will know if we fail. Others insist on single-handed combat as they work toward their goals…whether it works or not. Perhaps our ego will suffer no damage, but are we really happier? Are we really moving ahead? Too often the answer is no.

So how do you become accountable? Here are some suggestions:

  • Use personal reminders (calendar, email, planner, etc.) to detail and keep track of your goals, strategies and commitments.
  • Set deadlines and share these with others.
  • Request formal mentoring with a supervisor, colleague, friend, family member or personal trainer! Ask them to periodically check-in with you and your progress.

When making commitments, setting goals and creating systems of accountability, the key is to be realistic. Less is more when it comes to goal setting…don’t set yourself up for failure. When you commit to being held accountable to something, make sure you can follow through. Success breeds more success!

Holding others accountable is also important and can be extremely rewarding. It not only shows you care, but allows you to participate in another’s success. Helping to hold others accountable starts by simply asking them if you can help. If a friend, family member or colleague is struggling with an issue, offer to help hold them accountable to their action plan. If they want your help, you must then follow through consistently. If you commit to doing it…do it!

For this week and moving forward, reflect on what you are trying to accomplish in all areas of your life. Are you satisfied with your progress? If so, great! Keep moving forward. If not, consider creating a system of accountability to keep you on track. Also, think about those who count on you to provide mentorship and accountability and be sure you are keeping up your end of the bargain.

Copyright 2011 Fitness Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.

Focus Point of the Week: Pace

September 18, 2016


Pace is an often overlooked training variable that can be manipulated to increase/decrease intensity, both within your training session and the individual exercises themselves. The pace of your training must be deliberate and consistent with your goals. Additionally, tempo of repetitions and rest time between exercises should be determined prior to your workout.

For body transformation and performance enhancement, the ultimate goal of each session is to get as much quality work done as possible. This means progressively limiting rest between exercises and increasing the pace of the entire workout. As your fitness increases, the amount of rest needed between sets will naturally decrease. Accordingly, you will accomplish more work in the same amount of time, making your time spent at the gym more effective.

So how do you know if you are training at an appropriate pace? Although your fitness level and goals ultimately determine pace, your training should be as vigorous as possible while still allowing you to feel good when you are done. In order to ensure a safe and effective workout, remember to never compromise form for the sake of pace.

A great way to intelligently increase your pace is to use active rest and recovery strategies. Instead of sitting on a bench after a tough set, try doing some stretches, corrective exercises, or unloaded work. As your fitness improves, your active rest can become more challenging. This will lead to more work being done, more calories being burned and increased EPOC.

Below are some other strategies you can use to challenge yourself through manipulating pace:

  • Workout with a friend or in a group setting. You will naturally push yourself more when working out with others.
  • Give yourself an allocated amount of rest time between exercises or sets using a stopwatch.  As your fitness level increases, decrease your rest time.
  • Time yourself to see how quickly you can get through a set with perfect form. Attempt to ‘beat the clock’ as your fitness progresses.
  • Slow down the tempo of an exercise (i.e bench press). This increases the time under tension for your muscle fibers, increasing the difficulty of the exercise.

For this week and moving forward, be deliberate with your pace. If you are slowing down or speeding up, it must be happening for the right reason. Appropriately push your pace and get the most out of your time-spent training!

Copyright 2011 Fitness Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.


5 Things The Prize Club is NOT

September 15, 2016

1. The Prize Club is not a diet.

Instead, we help our members improve their health by teaching broad concepts, and then allowing them to apply those concepts as they see fit.

The program is for people who want to change their health habits. For many, this is a simple but challenging task. Old habits are hard to break, but we can succeed with the right motives, a strategy, and accountability.

2. The Prize Club is not a weight loss program.

Only about half our members have weight loss goals. However, the program’s “one day at a time” approach is useful for people with weight loss goals. By focusing on making one healthy choice at a time, members succeed in initially losing weight and keeping it off long-term.

3. The Prize Club is not a “touchy-feely” support group.

It’s easy to perceive the program as “touchy-feely” because of the emphasis on community. The sense of community The Prize Club provides is powerful and often makes the difference between success and failure. The group dynamic helps members find inspiration, support, and ideas from advisors as well as other members.

We recognize that everyone has varying levels of comfort in a group setting. For this reason, members are not required to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. All that matters is that they’re successfully meeting their health goals and enjoying the process.

4. The Prize Club is not a “one-size-fits-all” program.

Unlike most wellness programs, The Prize Club is individualized to each member’s goals and lifestyle. We have very few requirements. Again, we teach broad concepts and then allow members to create their own strategies under our guidance.

This approach has proven to work. Everyone has different challenges that prevent them from meeting their health goals. The “one-size-fits-all” approach is too stringent and not specific enough to help people change their habits.

5. The Prize Club is not a “one and done” program.

The program helps members create a healthy lifestyle for the long-term. It takes time to successfully change habits and the process doesn’t end after the initial six-week program.

The Ongoing Membership provides continued support and inspiration after the initial program has ended.  This membership provides access to our discussion-based alumni meetings, the forum, Prize Club workouts, and other One on One events.

To learn more about The Prize Club, go to or contact Paige Whitmire (