Sunday, September 13, 2009

Take The Health Test!

This is just a quick test to help you evaluate your current habits and determine the areas which may need improvement in order to gain a healthy lifestyle, more energy and stamina, and the ideal weight for your body.

It only takes a few minutes to examine what you are doing and how it affects your overall health. Choose the answer which best describes your situation, and we will provide some simple suggestions to help you feel better every day! Remember, this test is confidential and just for you. In order to gain the most benefit, it is important to answer truthfully, so no need to cheat yourself...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Calabacitas - Fresh and light vegetable recipe

Back by popular demand!

Calabacitas means "little squash" in Spanish, and is a variety of summer squash. With all the fresh vegetables available and the abundance of zucchini and various other types of squash in season this is always a big hit. Everyone always loves the fresh taste and the combination of flavors with these vegetables. This is a normally served as a vegetable. Add some black beans and chicken breast it becomes a complete meal. This could also be the perfect vegetarian dish, leaving out the chicken of course.


Preparation time 30 minutes

Serves 6 as a vegetable, 4 as a main dish

3 small yellow squash - chopped
3 small zucchini - chopped
Or 6 small any variety summer squash - chopped
1 red or green bell pepper - chopped
1 1/2 cups canned or fresh corn
1/2 cup diced green chilies
1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, jack cheese or manchego cheese

1. Saute the onion and olive oil until the onion is slightly wilted.
2. Add the remaining chopped vegetables and saute 10 minutes or until the vegetabes are slightly cooked through.
3. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
4. Place the vegetable mixture into the baking dish.
5. Top the vegetable mixture with the shredded cheese.
6. Bake at 350 degrees until the top is browned. (approx. 30 min)

For a complete one dish meal: Add one can black beans that have been throughly rinsed, and 2 cups cooked and chopped chicken breast. Bake as instructed above.

For a vegetarian dish just leave out the chicken.

For more healthy recipes go to

Thursday, August 6, 2009

10 Exercises to a higher metabolism

10 Exercises - 3 Times per week

Re-shaping & Sculpting through Resistance Training
Frequency: 3 times per week – total body workout
Duration: 3 sets each per muscle group, 12-15 repetitions. Shouldn’t take more than an hour
Intensity: Challenging but not so difficult that you can’t finish
Variation: Change the exercise from time to time even though you are still working with the same muscle group. We’ll have everything you need to do this.

Getting Started
Beginning the resistance program is going to be very similar to beginning your cardiovascular program. You will start very slowly as we teach you how to perform each exercise so that you will not hurt yourself. As you watch your body change, you’ll become stronger, and enjoy your success along the way.

Acclimating to your new Strength and Resistance Program
In the beginning you may feel a mild form of muscular soreness, especially if you have not worked with resistance training previously or it’s been awhile. This is especially true in the first few weeks, and every time you change routine or increase the weight. Your body is feeling some shock from the demands of this type of training. Be aware of the difference between muscle soreness and joint pain, and if you feel a sharp pain stop immediately. If your not sure what is causing the pain it’s best to stop the exercise. A little soreness is okay, but you should not be so sore that you have difficulty with movement.

We have designed this program to target each muscle group. With each exercise we have listed the muscle groups you will be working. You will begin the program using the largest muscle groups first. However, you will also be working other muscles at the same time.

This program should only be done a maximum of 3 days per week.
You’ll get the best results if you give your body a chance to rest in-between workouts.

Avoid the mistakes
In addition to detailed instructions on how to perform each exercise, we have included common mistakes to avoid. Normally mistakes are made because people try to use too much weight, try to work too fast through the movement, or need to be reminded about engaging their stomach muscles.

It is okay to start with no weight, at least long enough for you to be comfortable with the movement. Once you start using weights, you should be able to complete 15 repetitions comfortably before increasing the amount of weight. When you are ready, it’s best if you increase only to the next size available.

If you decide to purchase handheld dumbbells, we suggest 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, & 15 lb or 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, Kg weights for women and 8, 10, 15, 20, 25, & 30 lb or 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 Kg weights for men.

It is very important to engage the abdominal muscles as you perform each exercise.
If you start to feel discomfort in your lower back it’s probably because you’re not engaging the abdominal muscles. The best way to do this is by pulling the belly button into your spine.

Concentrate and pace yourself
Each exercise has the potential for momentum to take over. When you start to fatigue it’s common to try and finish faster. It is better if you push yourself as much as possible but work in a slow and controlled manner. Take a break if you need it; pause 15-30 seconds and then complete the set.

This exercise program is great for beginners that are just starting a strength training program and do not have access to exercise equipment. Adding weights to each exercise will create a more challenging program, also suitable for more seasoned athletes.

You will perform 3 sets of each exercise. A set consists of 15 repetitions. By the time you have reached the 12th repetition (rep) you should feel challenged. You will move from an upper body exercise to a lower body exercise, performing 1 set of 15 reps each, moving back and forth until you have completed the 3 sets of 15 reps each.

If you get too tired and can’t continue, just rest a few seconds and try to complete the set.

Each exercise should be a 4 count movement. 2 counts up and 2 counts down.

Let’s get started! We’ll help you build muscle, increase your metabolism, and develop a lean body.


CHEST MUSCLES – also working back, shoulders, abs & arms.

Find a wall that will not break under pressure.

The correct way:

Starting position: Facing the wall, place your hands at should height, and a little wider than shoulder width on the wall. Keep your hands on the wall as you take one to two steps backwards. Your body should be in a straight diagonal line. Legs should be locked, but be careful not to hyperextend at the knees. Engage your (abs) abdominal muscles. Think about pulling the belly button to the spine. Your back should not sway. Lead with your chest. 15 Reps – You can do it!

v Lower your chest towards the wall. Push back up to the starting position. 2 counts towards the wall, 2 counts back. When you are at the bottom of this movement your wrist should be directly below your elbow and your elbows should not go any further than your back. 1 set of 15, then move to Exercise #2, Wall Sit.

v Mistakes most people make: Sway back, very important to keep the abs engaged, don’t let your back sway in or out, keep your body in that straight diagonal line. Also don’t lead with your nose, lead with your chest.

Additional info about push-ups. This is a great exercise because it works a lot of muscles. This version is one of the easiest, but push-ups can become very difficult mostly due to the fact that you are working with your entire body weight. As you become stronger we will be increasing the level of difficulty to provide you with more of a challenge. This is also a great exercise because it’s one you can do almost anywhere, and all you need is your own body weight. Most people don’t like them because they are hard, but they are also very effective.


Gluteus Maximus (butt) & Quadriceps (front thigh) – Also working hamstrings (back thigh)

Find a wall that will allow you to place all your body weight on it. A closed door will also work.

The correct way:

v Stand up against a very sturdy wall or closed door. Position your feet just slightly wider than hip width apart. Lower your body into a seated chair position with your back up against the wall supporting you. Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle, as well as your hips. Your knees should not go past your toes. Abs are engaged and shoulders are touching the wall.

v Hold this position for 30 seconds. Place your weight on your heels and don’t let the heels come off the floor. Keep your toes pointing forward. As you get stronger we are going to add time and place some weights in your hands. Eventually you’ll be up to 1 minute. Hang in there you can do this!

Mistakes to watch out for: Sway back. Keeping your abs engaged will prevent this. Think about keeping your entire spine up against the wall. Placing the weight on your toes, this can hurt your knees so be sure to keep all your weight on your heels. Rounding the shoulders. When you begin to fatigue you may want to lean forward, but keep the torso upright and the shoulder blades on the wall. Return to wall push-ups until you’ve completed 3 sets of both.

Additional info about this exercise: This is a great exercise because again all you need is your own body weight, and a sturdy flat surface to lean on. There are a several variations of this exercise and as you progress we’ll introduce different ways to perform this, and provide you with additional challenge.


BACK MUSCLES – also working arms

You will need some weights for this, you can use one pound cans until you purchase weights. The back muscles are very strong; you will progress to larger weights quicker in this category.

The correct way:

v From a standing position place your feet close together. Place a dumbbell on the outside of each foot. Bending forward, engaging your abs, reach down and grasp the weights in your hands Take on large step back with one foot, lift the heel of the foot that is in back so that the foot is flexed and you are up on your toes. Placing the foot in the back will help you keep the core stable. You’ll be leaning forward during this exercise.

v Keep your knees slightly bent and your torso parallel to the floor; pull the dumbbells up to the sides of your chest using your shoulder blades to assist with pulling action. Your elbows are going to go past your back and you’ll feel like your trying to squeeze your shoulders blades together. Elbows stay very close to the body through the entire movement. You’ll be in a bent over position keeping the foot in back, and flexed the entire time.

v In a controlled motion take the dumbbells back towards the floor but not touching the floor. It’s a 2 count up and a 2 count back down. Complete 15 reps and move onto bridging.

Mistakes to watch out for: Sway back – Make sure you keep your abs tight and your back flat. It’s easy to let your arms do the work for you. When you are pulling the weights up past your back make your shoulder blades work more and really think about squeezing those shoulder blades together as if you are trying to touch your elbows behind you.

Additional info about this exercise: How many times do you see people all hunched over and look like they have terrible posture? This exercise will help strengthen the muscles that are close to your spine and it will help with you maintain better posture. There are many different variations of this, and again it’s one of those that can be done almost anywhere.


HAMSTRINGS – back of the thigh – also working gluteus maximus (butt)

The only thing you need for this exercise is the floor.

The correct way:

v Lie down on the floor or on a mat with your entire spine touching the surface. Place your hands next to your hips. Place the bottom of your feet flat on the floor so that your knees are bent. Feet are not more then hip width apart, and knees stay fairly close together.

v Lift your buttocks (glutes) off the floor, pushing with your heels while keeping the entire foot on the floor. It’s a 2 count to the top of the position hold the position at the top for 2 seconds and the a 2 count lowering the pelvis back to the floor. As your lifting up be sure to squeeze your glutes.

v Repeat for a total of 15 reps and then return to the Bent Over Row until you have completed 3 sets of each.

Mistakes to watch out for: Keep the abs engaged at all times during this to protect your low back. Knees – Keep track of your position, you want your knees to either stay together or just slightly apart. Feet –Very important to push off from the heel, keeping the entire foot on the ground. Keep your toes pointing forward, and try to keep them no further then hip width apart.

Additional info about this exercise: This has been around for a long time; you’ve probably seen it in some aerobic classes. It’s a good one because it targets the glutes and the hamstrings at the same time, and again one of those that can be done anywhere. If you need a little more challenge in this area try putting your feet on a chair instead of on the floor. You can also hold at the top of the position for longer periods, or hold at the top and squeeze in very small motions for 8 reps before returning to the floor.


SHOULDERS – front of the shoulder (posterior) and middle of the shoulder (medial) - also working arms

It would be great if you had some small weights to start, but it’s okay to start with no weights, or use 1 pound cans that can be held in your hands easily. In the near future it’s a good idea to purchase some 3lb weights for this exercise.

The correct way:

v Standing with your feet hip width and your knees slightly bent. Engage your abs, and take one step back with your dominant foot, and flex the foot so that you’re up on your toes. Make sure you are standing tall and not arching your back, shoulders and chest should be lifted.

v Hold your hands at your sides grasping your weights in each hand if using them. You should start with a slight bend in the elbows, slowly raising the weight directly in front of you with your palms facing the floor. Go up to shoulder level if you can, pause at the top of the position for 2 seconds and return to the starting position in a controlled motion. Think about lifting from the elbow to the shoulder. Nothing else on your body should be moving except the shoulder.

v Repeat this for 15 reps and then move onto squats with a side step

Mistakes to watch out for: This seems like a simple little exercise. Often I see people trying to muscle more weight then they can handle properly. Back – Keep your abs engaged. We have placed your foot in back to give you more back support. This helps keep you from arching, and slumping. Lift – Often, people try and lift the weight with their hands, using momentum.

Additional info about this exercise: There’s nothing better then perfectly shaped shoulders. Men love the look of strong shoulders, and women love the look of lean and shapely shoulders. As with the others this can be done almost anywhere with or without weights. If you find yourself somewhere with no weights just hold up at the top position for a little longer. You’ll feel challenged.


QUADRICEPS – Front thigh - also working glutes and hamstrings

You won’t require anything other than a solid surface for this exercise. .

The correct way:

v Begin with your feet shoulder width. Toes are facing forward. Engage the abs; stand tall with your chest and shoulders lifted, so that the torso is erect.

v Slowly bend your knees and push your rear end back, while taking a side step to the right side on your way to sinking into a seated chair position. Keep your knees over your ankles. Keep the knees in line with the toes, making sure not to let the knees swing in or out. While on your way to the seated chair position it should feel like someone is pulling a chair out from under you as you are on your way down to sit. When your thighs (quads) are parallel with the ground you’ll dig your heels into the ground and push yourself back up to the starting position, and repeat the movement to the left side.

v Repeat for total of 15 repetitions. It is not necessary to perform 15 reps to the right and to the left. Return to the front raise until you have completed 3 sets of each.

Mistakes to look out for: It is important with this exercise to concentrate on your knees to keep them from going to far forward, you have to think about this or you’ll be off balance. Also concentrate on your heels. At the top of the movement if you think about setting yourself up to push yourself back up with your heels you’ll perform the exercise correctly. After the first couple of reps, check your toes and make sure they are not pointing out to the side. Also important to keep those abs engaged, this will keep the torso erect.

Additional info about this exercise: This is a powerful movement and will get your heart rate up. This is also one that can be done anywhere.


BICEPS – Front of the upper arm – This is an isolated muscle group, you should only be working the bicep.

For this exercise you will need some hand held weights or start with some one pound cans so you can feel the movement. If you don’t use any weight you should not feel challenged at all.

The correct way:

v Stand with your feet hip width apart, take one step to the back with your dominate foot and flex that foot so that your up on your big toe. Grasp weights in your hands with your palms facing up to the ceiling, and your elbows are just forward of your rib cage and resting there. This should simulate holding a tray away from your body. Abs are engaged, torso is erect.

v Slowly using the 2 count movement lower the weight down to the side of your thighs. Make sure to extend all the way through the elbow.

v Bring the weight back up using the 2 count movement proceeding no further then your heart, then lower the weight again, back down to the side of your thigh. Be sure not to let the arms drop to the bottom, keep the movement controlled both lifting up and returning. Repeat 15 times then move on to the Tricep

Mistakes to watch out for: With this exercise I could write a book about the mistakes. In the gym setting we see people almost 100% of the time trying to use too much weight. Most the time they are working everything but the bicep. As explained earlier, this is an isolated exercise so only the bicep is working. Nothing else should move except the elbow. If you find yourself rocking, concentrate on engaging the abs. Watch out for the wrist movement; remember nothing but the elbow moves with exercise. Be careful not to let momentum take over, it’s slow and controlled.

Additional info about this exercise: Whether you know this or not you work your biceps everyday. We carry a lot of stuff with us throughout the day, groceries, kids, briefcase, and the list goes on. This is one of the reasons why you will probably need to work with weight from the beginning in order to challenge this muscle group. If you’re traveling you may want to use the gym or consider an exercise tube which is light weight and easy to pack.

TRICEPS – Back of the upper arm – This is another isolated muscle group, only the tricep muscle should be working. You’ll need a weight or an object that you can hold onto easily with both hands that weighs at least 3 pounds.

The correct way:

v Sit on a chair that has a straight back. Keep your head up, abs engaged, and place your feet on the floor. Place the weight in both hands and lift it up over your head with your arms fully extended (elbows straight).

v Keep your arms close to your head and lower the weight to just below the back of your head with your arms bending at the elbow.

v Return to the top of the position using the same motion, extending through the elbow. While returning to the top of the position keep the weight headed to the ceiling. Keep the abs engaged through the entire motion. Repeat 15 times and return to the bicep curl until you have completed 3 sets of each.

Mistakes to watch out for: Most of the time I have to assist people in keeping the arms close to the head. By the time you reach this exercise you are not only reaching the end of the workout but you are getting tired, so the elbows want to swing out to the sides. Concentrate on keeping them close to your head, so that they brush by your ears with each movement up and down. Hang in there and complete all three sets, you’ll be glad you did.

Additional info about this exercise: Many of my clients complain about flabby arms, and this is the area they want to see improve. This exercise is really targeting the tricep and you may feel a slight burning of the muscle early in the set. You will need a weight to perform this exercise or a resistance tube also works well.

EXERCISE #9 – Standing Calf Raise

CALVES – An isolated muscle group

The correct way:

You’ll be using a wall again, so find one that is sturdy enough to support your entire body weight.

v Begin by facing a wall, stand back from the wall about 35-40”. Lean forward, arms completely extended, hands on the wall, and yes, abs engaged. Your body should be in a diagonal line, your knee’s are locked, and your head is up.

v Raise up on your toes using the 2 count motion and pause at the top position for 2 seconds then return to the starting point with a 2 count motion back down.

v Repeat this 15 times and return to the bicep curl until you’ve completed 3 sets of the bicep curl, tricep extension and this calf raise exercise.

Mistakes to watch out for: Again as always keeping the abs engaged is important so that you don’t arch or cave in at the low back.

Additional info about this exercise: Although you may feel like you use your calves in everyday movements this exercise is the least performed and can really benefit by being stronger. After all who doesn’t want shapely calves!! Be careful with this one in the beginning. I’ve made the mistake of making people so sore it does become difficult to walk, it was unintentional of courseJ If during this exercise you start to feel too much burn in the calves then reduce the amount of reps or only perform 1-2 sets. But you need to work up to 15 reps and 3 sets. Also important to stretch the calves many times a day. This can prevent arch pain called plantar fascitis.

EXERCISE #10 Crunches

ABDOMINALS – An isolated muscle group

All you need is the floor for this one.

The correct way:

v Lie down on the floor with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet flat on the floor. Pull your navel into your spine, here we go again, engaging those abs. This should draw your low back as close to the floor as possible.

v Place your hands behind your head and rest your head in your hands. Make sure you have a space between your chin and chest.

v Pull yourself up off the shoulder blades using the 2 count motion and hold for 2 seconds at the top of the position. Return to the floor using the 2 count motion and then right back up again. Repeat this 15 times, and then move on to the oblique exercise.

Mistakes to watch out for: Make sure you are pulling yourself from the top of your chest. Many times we see people pulling from the chin. Your head should be completely rested in your hands.

Additional info about this exercise: Another muscle group that we all want to see improvement with. People think if they do 1000 crunches a day they will have a “6 pack”. Unfortunately 2000 a day won’t do that for you, but getting rid of the fat on top of those muscles will.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Acidic Foods And Why They Will Help You Lose Weight!

Acidic Foods and the Glycemic Index

By Kathy Mondragon, Scandinavian Diets Director of Nutritional Services

Basically, the presence of acids slows down the emptying of the stomach and digestion. As a result, carbohydrate in the food is digested slower, resulting in significantly lowering the glycemic index of the meal/food. A surprisingly small amount is effective. For example, the glycemic value of your meal can be reduced by approximately 30 percent by adding just 4 teaspoons of vinegar to your salad. Here is a list of acidic foods to include while following the Scandinavian Diet.

Vinegar (all types, including balsamic, red wine, white wine and rice vinegar)
Dill pickles
Green olives
Lemon & Lime juice
Pickled or marinated fish & vegetables

Some of these foods may contain added sugar, so always check the ingredients on the label. To be sure there’s no hidden fat, sugar, salt and preservatives, prepare your own salsa, marinades and salad dressings. Here are just a few simple ideas:

Add vinegar, lemon or lime juice to dressings, marinades or sauces.

Include a side salad with an olive oil and vinegar, lemon or lime dressing in as many meals as possible. Try this for a quick and easy salad dressing: 1 part olive oil, 3 parts lime juice, 1 part vinegar. Add mustard powder, garlic and other favorite spices.

Add fresh-squeezed lime juice to your favorite salsa or guacamole.

Flavor water and tea with lemon.

Drizzle balsamic vinegar over steamed vegetables.

Squeeze a fresh lemon or lime wedge over fish and shrimp dishes.

Add lime juice and mint to fresh fruit salad.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What is the Glycemic Index and how will it help me lose weight?


The Glycemic Index is a measure of all foods that contain carbohydrate, such as potatoes, corn, fruit, flour, pasta, sugar, breads, rice, and legumes.

The Glycemic Index was developed by research scientists and dietitians at the University of Sydney, Australia.

GI is short for Glycemic Index, an index or list of foods that have been ranked from 0 to 100, based on the impact they have on blood sugar levels after eating. Basically, the GI measures the speed that foods are broken down by the body to form glucose. High GI foods break down more rapidly than low GI foods. Low GI foods help you feel full for a longer period of time. The GI includes carbohydrate-containing foods like vegetables (potatoes and corn), fruits, pasta, rice and bread. It does not include foods that provide protein such as meat, chicken or eggs.

Are you still asking yourself what all this means, and how it will help you lose weight? It’s not really a simple answer, but it is easy once you understand.

Log on to the Scandinavian Diets website at . Membership is free. Click on the health library where you’ll find helpful articles and a complete guide to low GI choices.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Exercise will make it all come together!
It’s a big statement, but it’s true. Exercise alone has so many health benefits, it can help everything from a bad mood to the long list of illnesses, and it is the key ingredients to successful weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.
If you follow any healthy diet you will lose weight. Weight loss is 90% driven by the amount of food you consume. Calories in versus calories out is the key to weight loss. If you exercise while you are dieting the difference in your shape will make you very happy when you look in the mirror. Adding exercise will also allow you to burn even more calories.
Exercise is a form of burning energy. The definition of calories, also known as the kilo calorie is another word for energy. We need energy to fuel our body, and we need to burn excess energy to keep our bodies in a healthy balance. To many of us are consuming more energy, aka calories than we are burning.

Exercise alone provides many health benefits, and is the key to successful weight management!

Exercise will help you burn excess calories, even when after you’re done!

Basic components to exercise: aerobic, resistance/strength training and stretching!

Get the most from your workouts, know what your heart rate should be!

Re-shape and sculpt a new body through resistance training!

Gain flexibility, obtain the appearance of long and lean muscles through stretching!

Set goals, find a buddy, make it a habit!!!!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to cut back on sugar

Follow the Scandinavian Diet guidelines for eating the right foods. Your sugar craving may indicate you’re not getting enough nutrients. Eat all the recommended servings of fruits, vegetable, grains and protein and you will be less likely to supplement your diet with sugar. Following are just a few ideas.

  • Avoid fruit drinks and bottled teas – Did you know they can contain 20 to 30 grams of sugar per 8 oz serving. Most bottled drinks are 32 plus ounces.

  • Eliminate soda – Soda contributes more sugar to our diets than any other food. Did you know that people who drink large amounts of soda can develop kidney stones!

  • Eat healthy snacks – As boring as this sounds it will help keep your blood sugar levels stable so that you won’t be searching for sugar.

For more helpful hints on how to cut back on sugar please visit the health library at our website at