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paleo diet

Staying on Track during the Holidays

Staying on Track during the Holidays

Stay on track through the holiday season.  Learn how to enjoy yourself with holiday treats and still improve your body composition.  

My Fitness Journey

My Fitness Journey

My Fitness Journey

How Refine YOU Started

I have had a lot of clients, friends and family interested in why I started Refine YOU and what Refine YOU is all about. Well, here it goes…

My journey in health and fitness really begins years and years ago. I am one of those people who has ALWAYS had to be careful with my activity and nutrition. I have always struggled to maintain a healthy weight and body composition and because of this I had an interest in fitness early on. I was a trainer, fitness instructor and enjoyed hitting the gym at an early age. I worked in physical therapy part-time while going to school. During this time, there were some people close to me in hospitals with serious health issues. This fueled my interest in medicine and my career as a physician assistant with a degree in health sciences.  

I am one of those people who has ALWAYS had to be careful with my activity and nutrition.

I began my physician assistant career in Emergency Medicine for 5 years then switched to orthopedics.  In my 16+ years as a physician assistant, I have seen and taken care of people of all shapes, sizes and personalities. One thing that has always struck me to the core, is how all these people could really make a difference in their lives if they would only make the right choices. Everything we put in our bodies and everything surrounding our bodies can affect our health short and long term. Many diseases and disorders are preventable by simply eating healthy and maintaining a healthy body composition. I have been passionate in helping my patients understand that their health starts with them and the choices they make.

Personally, throughout the years, I have always been active and working out in one way or another.  Weight training, step aerobics, spinning, half-marathons and marathons, interval training, etc. I do this to maintain a good body composition but I also really enjoy working out. It is my “me-time.” Time for me to just do and not think. It has, in a way, become a mental release for me.  

About 3-4 years ago (after having 2 children) I got to the point where I was doing high intensity workouts 5-6 days a week along with eating clean and low carb. It worked initially to get the baby weight off and then it backfired.  

About 2 years ago I noticed my energy levels plummeting, I was hungry ALL time and my cycles were off (big time) but my blood work and hormone levels were normal. Not wanting to go on hormone pills for cycle regulation, I ended up having a uterine ablation. This helped that problem, but I still felt tired and hungry all the time. Then, I started to gain fat. Yep! My clothes were getting smaller and not fitting despite all my healthy eating and working out.  

Something was wrong.  I went back for more bloodwork and this time my testosterone was LOW. I was offered a prescription for hormone cream which I was not going to use. Sometimes healthcare providers like myself can be the worst patients. I knew what the problem was. I had, in the back of my head, thought about what the problem was… but I was in denial. I was in denial until the lab result was right in front of my face.  

Sometimes healthcare providers like myself are the worst patients.

I did a lot of research, looked at a lot of studies and looked at a lot of programs and techniques. With my knowledge in healthcare and fitness I came up with a plan I could follow.  I took before pictures and went for it. 14 weeks later, I was shocked! I felt like a completely new person! No joke! I couldn’t believe how great I felt! Even though I wasn’t focused on the fat loss, my clothes were fitting again! I finally took after pictures and just couldn’t believe it! The pictures speak for themselves. I began thinking about how much of an impact this had on me and my life and had to share it with others! Refine YOU was born!  

My emphasis is to Refine YOU, Mind, Body, and Spirit. This program is a game changer on the inside and out. Emotionally, physically and spiritually.  

It is truly all about regulating your hormones. Your hunger hormones, insulin, cortisol and all the sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, etc.). Working smarter not harder to target stubborn fat, increase your energy levels and stabilize your hunger.  

I am so happy and excited about this 7-week program which I named The FAST ATTAINABLE TRANSFORMATION-FAT Loss Program. It is a transformation because it changes your body to use fat for energy and not carbohydrates for energy. It combines carb-cycling, intermittent fasting, quality cardio workouts utilizing HIIT (to target fat loss) and strength workouts (to build lean muscle). It is a jump start to a lifestyle change and not a quick fix. No more yo-yo dieting, cleanses or omitting everything in your diet. It is not realistic to think that you are never going to have the foods you enjoy. This program teaches you how to work in what you enjoy occasionally and strategically so they work for you and not against you.  

My clients are having amazing results from this program and if you have the dedication to stick with it for the 7 weeks you will too! LETZGO!

 

Spaghetti Squash Casserole Recipe

Spaghetti Squash Casserole Recipe

Spaghetti squash has gained a lot of popularity through recent years as a great alternative to high-calorie, and high-carb pasta. You’ll see a lot of these pop up in stores as it is harvested in early fall and surprisingly keeps well for months in cool storage.

This veggie contains vitamins A and C, which prevents cell damage, manganese, a mineral that helps with bone growth and fiber which helps lower cholesterol. Additionally, one cup of plain spaghetti squash is only 42 calories! This is one of my favorites and my clients love it as well!  

If you think spaghetti squash is a bit bland… think again! This recipe from Well Plated has some kick to it! I have substituted edamame noodles and chickpea noodles in this recipe during times when I cannot get spaghetti squash. I personally avoid dairy so I typically do not add the cheese in the recipe and instead just sprinkle some on the top. This recipe is 193 calories per serving, has 10g fat, 8g carbs, 2g fiber and pairs great with a salad or steamed veggies. It’s also a great dish to bring to pitch-ins or prepare for a family who needs help with a meal because this dish is even better as leftovers the next day.   

 

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yields: 6 servings

 

Ingredients:

1 small/medium spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound (93% lean) ground turkey

1 small red onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, cored and diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes with Italian spices, drained

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasonings of choice (or a mix of oregano, basil, and thyme)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (reduce to 1/4 teaspoon if sensitive to spice)

1 cup freshly grated part-skim mozzarella or provolone cheese, divided

Chopped fresh parsley or basil

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  • Place in a shallow baking dish, cut-side down, then pour 1/2 cup water into the dish, around the squash.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the flesh of the squash is easily pierced with a fork.
  • When cool enough to handle, pull the squash strings out of the squash’s center with a fork and transfer to a large mixing bowl. The squash strings should look like spaghetti.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high.
  • Add the turkey, onion, bell pepper, salt, and black pepper.
  • Cook, breaking apart the meat, until meat is browned and the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the drained tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Let cook until most of the liquid from the tomatoes has cooked off, about 4 minutes, then add the reserved squash.
  • Cook and stir until most of the remaining liquid has cooked off, about 1-2 minutes
    more, increasing the heat if needed. Stir in 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese. There may be some liquid remaining in the pan.
  • Lightly coat a deep 8×8-inch baking dish or 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
  • With a slotted spoon, scoop the squash mixture into the pan in an even layer, discarding any excess liquid (some in the pan is OK—just not too much).
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, then return to the oven and bake until the cheese melts, about 5-10 additional minutes.
  • For an extra-golden-brown top, place the casserole under the broiler for a few minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley and/or basil, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Healthy Tips & Recipes for Tailgating

Healthy Tips & Recipes for Tailgating

Are you ready for some Football?!

Football season is here which brings gatherings with family and friends and football tailgating fun!

With this fun comes some challenges. It’s hard for most people to be around a table of food without, you know what I am talking about... grazing. You are picking and eating all day long and before you know it you have eaten two day’s worth of food (which is typically not the healthiest food either).

I’ve put together a list of tips and recipes to enjoy a healthy, great tasting tailgate all football season long.

5 Tips to Staying Healthy at Tailgates

  1. Stay away from the table. It is as simple as that. Don’t stand next to the table the whole time. Stand away from the food so you are less likely to mindlessly pick up food and eat it.
  2. Keep a drink in your hand at all times. This drink should preferably be water. If it contains an adult beverage, try to stick with those that have less carbs and sugar like light beer, spirits and wine.
  3. Limit yourself to one plate.  
  4. Bring a back-up. Bring something that you can eat as a back-up in case there are not any good choices available. This could be a protein bar, jerky, nuts, etc.  
  5. Bring a healthy choice as your contribution. Bring a dish that is a healthy, delicious, option that you can eat if there are no other good choices available. (Keep reading for a few great recipe ideas!)

Your tailgate doesn’t have to be full of greasy, high calorie snacks. Try one of the below recipes I’ve personally made or check out the ones I found on Pinterest and enjoy guilt free!

Healthy Recipes for Tailgates

Nut Butter Apples

You’ll need:

A bag of your favorite variety of apples

Your choice of nut butter

Organic granola

Slice and arrange your favorite variety of apples on a tray or plate. Melt your favorite organic nut butter (almond butter or peanut butter) in the microwave until melted. Pour the nut butter over the apples and drizzle some organic granola over the top.

Bacon Wrapped BBQ Chicken Bites

You’ll need:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes (approx. 1 in)

Half Pound of bacon cut into thirds

½-1 cup BBQ sauce

Toothpicks

Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. Wrap each piece of cubed chicken with a small strip of bacon. Secure with a toothpick and place on your baking sheet. Brush BBQ sauce on top. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Lettuce Chicken Tacos with Avocado

You’ll need:

Head of Boston or butter lettuce

Two avocados

1 pound boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes (approximately 1 inch)

Mexican or poultry seasoning

Your choice of salsa

Wash and separate a head of Boston or butter lettuce. In a small bowl, mash the flesh of two avocados with a fork until creamy and spread this on each piece of lettuce. Add one tablespoon of avocado oil to a skillet on medium heat. Add cubed chicken breast with your favorite Mexican or poultry seasoning sprinkled on top. Sauté while turning frequently to prevent burning for 5-8 minutes or until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink in the middle. Put the chicken onto the lettuce wraps and top with your favorite salsa.

Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad - This black bean and sweet corn quinoa salad is one of my favorite sides to make for high carb days. Every time I make this even my kids can’t get enough! It’s got a kick to it and can be served cold or warm. I will also use the leftovers and add chopped grilled chicken breast and some shredded lettuce as a chopped salad mix.

Paleo Slow Cooker Meatballs in Marinara Sauce – A pitch in isn’t complete without some meatballs. These are easily made ahead of time and make great leftovers.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites – A spicy side to be paired with Paleo ranch dressing and some celery!

Almond Crusted Baked Zucchini Crisps - These are just as addicting as a bag of potato chips, but are much better for you! They are baked and coated with almond flour instead of fried and covered in breadcrumbs. These baked zucchini crisps taste absolutely delicious.

Taco Soup - Taco soup packs a punch and is one of my go to recipes for a tailgate. Always a crowd pleaser especially on those colder days at the field!  

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms - These Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms taste just as good as they look! Stuffed with cheese, onion and sausage you get a kick in every bite.

By following these tips and recipes, you’ll be sure to have a healthy and fun football season. Interested in getting more healthy living tips, exercises and recipes delivered to your inbox? Sign up for my newsletter today and get a free guide on how to maximize FAT loss.

7 Tips to Avoid Injuries

7 Tips to Avoid Injuries

Hello everyone!

I wanted to bring up a subject that has, unfortunately, came into focus for me these past few weeks and that is an injury. Ugh! I have been pretty busy, to say the least, and despite only running 2-3 days a week my foot started hurting. I backed off a bit, thought about it, and whoops! I realized the last time I bought running shoes was the end of November! I typically replace my running shoes about every 4 months or so. So yes, I am now not running at all and focusing my cardio on the bike and modifying my strength workouts until it gets better.  

This brings up the topic of injury prevention. The most common types of injuries from exercise are muscle strains, sprained wrists and ankles, shoulder injuries, tendonitis, shin splints, back strains and injuries and knee injuries.

Here are 7 tips on how to prevent overuse injuries and injuries while exercising.  

  1. For beginners, make sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise regimen and ease into it! For everyone, especially those over the age of 45, you should be evaluated by your physician before starting. Nothing good will come from someone who has not exercised at all in years and going to a high intensity class or crossfit gym. Choose a reasonable activity and start out at a lower intensity and shorter amount of time. See how you feel during, after AND the next day.  A little soreness is okay but more than that means you overdid it and you need to decrease the level.
  2. Warm-up, Cool-down, and stretch or use a foam roller. Prior to any workout you should warm up for about 5-10 minutes doing something light like jump rope in place, a brisk walk or light jog.  After your warm up get some stretching in or use a foam roller for at least 5 minutes. After your workout, do a 5-10 minute cool down with a few stretches.  
  3. Have some variety in your workouts. Don’t do the same thing or work the same muscle group every day. Alternate between cardio and strength days. On strength days, work different muscle groups so you have at least 2 days of rest. Don’t do legs 3 days in a row. For your cardio workouts, vary your activity. There are so many things that you can choose from: swimming, biking, walking, running, dancing, boxing, the list can go on and on! This variety prevents the overuse injuries like tendonitis, shin splints and muscle strains.  
  4. Use the correct form. Make sure you know what you are doing and using the correct form especially with strength training. I see so many people in the gym that really don’t know what they are doing with these weights. Protecting your joints and your back is KEY and good form is a big part of this. You can strain your back by your posture being off just a little bit. You can tear cartilage in your knees and shoulders if you are not careful. Work with a trainer at first to ensure you are doing things correctly or make sure you see a demonstration of the exercise before performing it yourself.  
  5. Use the right equipment. For strength training, if you are a beginner, using the machines at a gym would be better to start out with. They are very user friendly and allow less room for error.  Then advance to some free weights as you get stronger and are used to the exercises. Your equipment also includes what you bring to the gym and what you are wearing. Don’t wear jeans and loafers to work out in. Don’t wear pants and long sleeves outside in 80 degree weather. Make sure you have breathable clothing and wear supportive SHOES. For runners, you should be replacing your shoes every 300-500 miles. (Time just got away from me, that’s all!)
  6. Support your workouts with your nutrition. Make sure you have plenty of water to stay hydrated during your workouts. You should also be eating enough to fuel your body. If you are working out too hard and not eating enough, you will break down muscle and be more prone to injury.  This can also cause too much stress to your body and this will affect your hormones negatively. I can go on and on about hormones and how important they are in our health, but bottom line, we want to keep our hormones regulated. Eating the right foods is also very important. Certain foods can cause an inflammatory response in our bodies: dairy, gluten, processed foods, etc. Eating a healthy diet with enough protein and carbohydrates on strength days is needed to build lean muscle and prevent muscle breakdown.  Eating lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat is good for cardio days to promote fat loss or maintain low body fat. This is how the clients in my program get such good results, this is called carb-cycling.  
  7. Listen to your body. With weights, if it hurts or starts to hurt, don’t do it or talk with a trainer to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly. With cardio, if it starts to hurt, take a few days off or do something different. Make sure you are warming up and stretching. Taking days off can be difficult to do for those of us that really enjoy exercise. If you don’t take care of it right away, you will end up making it worse and you will be down and out for a longer period of time.  

Injuries, no matter how careful you are, can happen. If you follow my tips, you will hopefully be able to avoid them no matter your fitness level. If you’re ready to make a lifestyle change for a healthier and more fit you, let’s chat. Email me at kim@refineyou I specialize in working with members from all different backgrounds. Each member of my program gets customized feedback from me to optimize their health! What are you waiting for? LETZGO!

 

Low Carb and High Carb for FAT Loss-Mark Sisson's recent blog

Low Carb and High Carb for FAT Loss-Mark Sisson's recent blog

I have been following Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple for years. If you haven’t heard of him, he is pretty big in the “paleo, primal” world. His methods fall into the consistent low-carb lifestyle for most people. For maintenance, stay low-carb at least 80% of the time. For weight loss, very low-carb initially and low-carb pretty much all of the time. As far as workouts, he encourages mostly body weight exercises and sprinting occasionally.   

This will work… but it takes a lot of patience and sticking to it without falling off the rocker. How many of us can say we are patient? How many of us get frustrated if you don’t see results right away? Unfortunately, we live in a society where we just can’t wait. If we are working hard for something we want fast results.  

A healthy body is not one that weighs less. You need to have a good body composition which takes into consideration body fat percentage AND lean muscle. More muscle will make you weigh more, so looking at the scale is not the way to go. Muscle is more dense than fat.  It takes up less space than fat.

More importantly, the more lean muscle you have the better your metabolism is. This helps your body burn more calories. The more muscle you have, the stronger you are and the healthier you will be as you age. We aren’t getting younger. More lean muscle supports your joints and bones and puts you at lower risk for injury.  

In my opinion, the best and most efficient way (for us impatient people) to maximize fat loss while building lean muscle is to combine nutrition with exercise. Could you lose fat without exercise, yes! It is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, stress, sleep and other factors. But to target the stubborn fat or accelerate fat loss, you need to burn the fat. To gain lean muscle, you have to hit the weights. Plain and simple? Not really.

Your nutrition needs to support your activity. You can’t go low-carb all the time and spend 5-6 days doing high intensity workouts. Your body can’t take it. You will push your body to the limit. If you do not have enough fuel for your muscles and you will put your body into too much stress. Stress will increase your cortisol levels and will put you in fat storage mode and not fat burning mode. It happened to me, and it will happen to you.  

The answer? Exercise enough to build muscle and burn fat without activating your body’s stress response AND eating enough to support fat burn and muscle gain. To do this, you carb-cycle.  

With carb-cycling, on cardio days and rest days you eat a diet lower in carbs, higher in fat and enough protein. We want to deplete our glycogen storage tanks and force our body to go to fat for energy and not carbs for energy therefore, burning fat.  

On strength days, you eat a diet higher in carbs, lower in fat and enough protein. We want to give our muscles enough glucose (carbs) and protein to build lean muscle. On the other hand, we do not want to eat too much because then we end up storing these carbs as fat. We also have to watch the fat intake on these days, because if you eat higher in carbs AND higher in fat, you will store more in fat. The carbs you eat on strength days, especially within a few hours of your workout, will be sucked up immediately by your muscles and work for you, not against you.  

Higher carb days are also great for our spirit. Eating low carb all the time doesn’t allow us to enjoy some of the foods we like. There is no fun in feeling like you are depriving yourself of things you enjoy. This leads to frustration and failure to stick a program for the long haul. Carb-cycling allows you to occasionally enjoy foods that are higher in carbs and having those carbs work for you, not against you.  

I am really glad Mark Sisson recently addressed this issue with his followers with this article. So many eat low-carb all the time and workout way too much. This will mess with your hormones and puts too much stress on your body and causes your body to store fat not burn it… the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. I don’t encourage the high intense, CrossFit type of workouts all the time, because they are a good source of injury and quite frankly, you don’t have to work out that hard.

My clients do some effective cardio 2 times a week with 2-3 strength workouts per week. These workouts in conjunction with carb-cycling target fat loss (even the stubborn fat around your midsection) and allows you to gain that muscle that is so good for your health!

If you are looking for a program that will give you the results you never thought you could get AND be able to stick with long term, then The FAST, ATTAINABLE TRANSFORMATION-FAT Loss program is for you. It is a 7 week online program that, when followed, can get you results!

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out my testimonials and before and after pictures on my website to learn more.