Exercise through Gardening

I’ve been getting a ton of exercise through gardening the past couple of weeks.  With temps soaring well into the upper 90’s here in the Kansas City metro the bulk of my heavy lifting has been carrying water to thirsty plants.  Carrying five gallon buckets and watering cans filled with water is a great way to build up strength and endurance.  There’s also been lots of raking, pulling, plucking, trimming and grooming that comes along with early season gardening.

Exercise through Gardening

Exercise through Gardening

WebMD credits gardening with burning 200-400 calories per hour.  Pulling, pushing, bending, lifting and reaching are all activities that you might do when gardening so there is a lot of room for activity.   To up the benefit you can opt for a hands on approach to your garden.  Water by hand instead of using sprinklers.  Mow with a reel mower or non-self propelled mower.  Rake, till and shovel by hand rather than using powered options.  Anything you can do to get more hands on will give you a calorie-burning boost.

Exercise isn’t the only benefit you’ll get with gardening.   The availability of fresh, home grown food is obviously one of the biggest boons to having a garden.  Gardening can also provide an amazing boost to your overall well-being by contributing to your sense of accomplishment.  I’ve found that tending to my plants has even been relaxing and therapeutic for disengaging from the stress of a busy day.

Last year was my first real foray into the world of gardening on my own.  There have been ups and downs.  There was hard work that yielded little result for some crops.  There were also victories in the form of sacks and sacks of produce.  So much so that it was given away to feed others which I found incredibly rewarding.

This year things are going well.  The heat seems to have drastically accelerated production over last year.  There are tomatoes on every plant and even scores of tiny cucumbers starting to pop up.  I am waging a tense battle with horn worms munching on the tomato plants and have resorted to a light spraying of Bt as of last night.  The heat has nuked the strawberry plants, but hopefully they will rally if the temp gets back down to normal or we get some much needed rain.  The peppers are a bit sparse, but I don’t seem to have much luck with peppers at all.  The herbs are flourishing, though cilantro has already decided to bolt.  I’m already looking forward to picking and enjoying those first veggies.  Until then I’ll continue to enjoy my exercise through gardening and all the benefits it has to offer.

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

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This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Is Everything in Moderation a Lie?

Is Everything in Moderation a Lie

The idea of eating in moderation has been getting a lot of flak in the media lately.  Much of the recent news has been based on a paper written by researcher Michelle R. van Dellen, et al.  at the University of Georgia concluding that “moderation messages are unlikely to be effective messages for helping people maintain or lose weight.”  You can read the abstract of the study here to get more on the gist of the paper.  I was immediately irritated when I started to read the news given that I had just recently declared how content I was with using moderation as way of life for my own weight loss and fitness journey.

Is the idea of everything in moderation a lie?  I don’t think so, but I can see the validity of some points presented in the study.  Basically it all boils down to the fact that moderation is a fluid term that is wildly subject to interpretation.  What I consider moderation may be laughable to you and vice versa.  Advocating for moderation doesn’t really provide any guidance and that can be a negative if your perception of moderation really isn’t very moderate at all.

Since the everything in moderation approach doesn’t provide any structured direction for eating or exercise it may leave people confused about what to do.  For me, moderation means not stressing out about heavy exercise activity, opting for lighter, less stressful workouts and eating less junk, while still allowing for a balance of treats if I am in the mood.   I can do this because I have a good idea after a lot of years of trial and error what works best for me.  For you, moderation may look totally different and include more or less activity and more or less restrictions on your eating.  If you don’t have a good sense of what works for you the idea of everything in moderation may totally steer you in the wrong direction.

Why is this a big deal?  Every week (actually more like every day) the media latches onto some type of study relating to nutrition, fitness or wellness and spins it into a catchy, controversial or attention grabbing story.  This in itself is no surprise, but what is bad is the myriad of mixed messages it sends to people who are in desperate need of clear, informative and truthful information and guidance instead of sensational bullshit.  If sticking to the idea of eating in moderation keeps you from eating a box of donuts then moderation is working for you in some way.  If you read a news story that says eating in moderation doesn’t work and then get confused about what you should be doing you haven’t really been helped at all.

Everything in moderation may not be the best advice for your particular situation so if you’re struggling to make progress seek help.  Whether it’s your doctor, a personal trainer or a registered dietitian, find a professional who can sit down and discuss what’s going on with you.  There is no one right approach to weight loss and nutrition so getting guidance from a professional is a great first step to getting on the right path to finding what works for you.

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

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This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

The New Nutrition Facts Label

Have you seen the new nutrition facts label from the FDA?  On May 20, 2016, the FDA finalized a new version of the nutrition facts label for packaged food and there are lots of positive changes coming to consumers as a result.  While the general format is still one we are all pretty familiar with there is some new and different data being presented on labels that will hopefully help consumers make more informed food choices.

new nutrition facts label
From the FDA website

What’s the same on the new nutrition facts label

The general format is basically the same one we are accustom to seeing.  Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, protein and vitamin info is all listed like normal.

What’s different on the new nutrition facts label

The serving size is now listed in bold.  The serving size has also been updated to reflect more realistic portions, i.e. a 20 oz. bottle of soda is now shown to be a single portion, as is a 12 oz. can.  Packages that are larger than a single serving, but could potentially be consumed as one serving, will show dual columns of info, one for an individual serving and one for the whole package.

The calorie count for a serving is now shown in larger, bold text.

Added sugar must now be declared under the carbohydrate stats.

Daily value information has been updated to reflect newer scientific research.

Specific nutrients listed have been updated to reflect the addition of vitamin D and potassium in this section.  Vitamins A and C are no longer required to be listed.  Nutrients are also listed as an actual amount and a percentage now, rather than just a percentage.

Why I like it

Added sugar
Ever since doing Whole30 I have been keenly aware of added sugar. It lurks in the strangest things from chicken stock to pasta sauce and nearly everywhere in between. I have lamented it’s inclusion on many occasions. Added sugar can be a bit tricky because there are so many different ways it shows up. It can be listed as sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, lactose, maltose and this isn’t even a complete list. With so many ways for it to sneak into the ingredient list you really had to play detective to make sure you knew what you are getting. The added sugar section will now help you quickly identify whether additional sugar has been added to a product above what is there naturally.  In my opinion everyone wins with this update (except the sugar industry who seems very angry over this change).

Serving size
Sure, you can mathmatize any current package to see just how many calories and nutrients you are eating when you go over the single serving portion, but not everyone has the time or inclination to do so.  Making serving sizes more realistic, along with providing nutritional information for entire packages when it’s likely to be eaten in a single serving will help everyone make choices based on a broader picture.

Overall I think the changes to the the new nutrition facts label will be very positive.  A more informed consumer will have the power to make smarter decisions.

Please note – Info provided within this post may not include or reflect all the specifics on the new nutrition labels.  I make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy of the information posted here.  If you want the full scoop straight from the source be sure to check out the FDA’s website regarding Labeling & Nutrition.

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

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This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Zoodle Pie for Meal Prep Monday

Meal Prep

Zoodle pie, my take on spaghetti pie, has become a new favorite for meal prep in our house.  The simple substitution of zoodles (zucchini noodles) for regular pasta provides a big dose of veggies in a tasty and easy dish.

Since I’m just starting to get back into meal prepping again I’ve been looking for fast and fun things to make.  I also wanted to try totally new meals that we’ve never had before.  Zoodle pie definitely fit the bill.  The prep is a little intensive, but once you get the zucchini spiralized and squeezed out the remaining steps go pretty quickly.

I’ve been making various versions of spaghetti pie for years, but for this particular recipe I took inspiration from Pioneer Woman’s Best Lasagna Ever recipe.  I made the actual recipe for Christmas dinner so I knew it was already a winner.  My favorite part about the recipe was using cottage cheese and eggs rather than ricotta because I think ricotta can be a little bland. The cottage cheese/egg mixture really helps hold the zoodles together well in this dish.
Zoodle Pie

Zoodle Pie

Serves 12

Ingredients
3 medium zucchini + 1/2 tbsp salt
32 oz. cottage cheese
3 eggs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb Italian turkey sausage
1 24 oz jar sugar free pasta sauce

Preheat over to 350 F.

Spiralize the zucchini and place into a colander. Sprinkle with 1/2 tbsp. salt and leave to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse gently and squeeze excess water out of zoodles. Place zoodles on a towel and roll up, gently squeezing excess water out as you roll. Set aside.

Mix the cottage cheese, eggs, 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, garlic and onion powders, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper until well combined. Set aside.

Brown Italian turkey until cooked through and crumble. Mix with entire jar of pasta sauce.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Ladle approximately one cup of meat/sauce mixture into bottom of pan and spread evenly. Top with 1/2 of the zoodles, spread evenly. Top zoodles with 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture, spread evenly. Spread another cup of meat/sauce mixture evenly over cottage cheese mixture. Spread remaining zoodles evenly and top with the remaining cottage cheese mixture, spread evenly. Spread all remaining meat/sauce over the top. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 c. Parmesean cheese on top.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until top is browned.

Water content in the zucchini may cause excess moisture in this dish. If dish looks a bit too wet after 45 minutes you can continue to bake for another 15 minutes, tenting the top with foil to prevent excess browning if necessary.

This zoodle pie is excellent right out of the oven, but for meal prepping I suggest refrigerating overnight and cutting it the next day. I found that it was easier to cut equal portions when it was chilled and firm.

What are you including in your meal prep this week?

Follow my Meal Prep Pinterest board for prep ideas, planning and tips:


About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

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This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Slowly Getting Back to Normal and an Anniversary

Slowly Getting Back to Normal Things are slowly getting back to normal after having surgery. The pain is fading, the incisions are mending, the tiredness is being replaced by more energy. Now that things are moving in a positive direction I am looking to get back into the swing of my normal routine.

This healing process has given me a lot of insight into the amazing capabilities of my body. At first I was worried that I would devolve into a gooey mass during recovery, but I definitely did not. Once I gave myself permission to chill out, not stress about activity, not stress about food and just take care of myself by resting a big weight was lifted off me. While some people extol the virtues of getting right back into their regular exercise and eating patterns as soon as possible after a something like this, I just wasn’t feeling that at all.

After having experienced the recovery process for myself I have an even deeper appreciation of how different everyone’s bodies are. Maybe some people feel like they can pop into the gym for some heavy lifting a couple weeks after surgery (definitely not recommended at all), but for others it may take weeks and weeks to feel good enough for any activity. And you know what, that’s totally okay! I will definitely be able to use this experience when working with clients who are going through similar situations.

Getting back to normal for me means getting back on track with my 500 mile goal for 2016. I really put that goal on the back burner with everything going on and I feel like it’s time to step up and make it happen. Meal prepping also fell by the wayside and getting back in the kitchen will definitely be a good way to help me transition back to eating a bit more healthy.

In other news, today marks the five year anniversary of Former Fitness Flunky! When I created Former Fitness Flunky I set out on a mission to share my own story and educate and inspire others. It’s been an interesting endeavor. The internet continues to expand daily as a great weight loss resource for help, advice, support and really bad information too. I didn’t realize until well into becoming a personal trainer just how difficult it could be to fight against the unhelpful and even potentially dangerous information and ideas that persist regarding fitness, exercise and diets – stuff that proliferates like wildfire. Over these years I’ve found my own niche that I’d label as “moderation”. No crazy dieting, no crazy fitness routines, just a focus on sustainable changes that positively impact weight and overall fitness. I’ve tried to share this idea of moderation as much as possible over the past five years as I truly believe it’s the key to lasting success. My ideas, style and approach may change with time, research, new discoveries and my own experiences, but for now I am going to stick with what I see working. I’m going to keep on sharing what I know in hopes that it inspires someone (or many someones!) to make positive changes.

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

Sign up for the Newsletter

This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. Please be advised that this does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.