Saturday, December 29, 2012

Men lie about yearly goals. So do women.

Don't you love the new year? So many polls on what was, what is, and what will be.

The information today comes from Mindbloom, which  issued its annual Life Improvement Pulse Report and discovered that men are projecting that their careers (31%) followed by relationships (20%) and health (17%)will be the most important life areas in 2013.

For 2013 women are projecting it will be their health (29%), followed by careers (18%) and relationships (17%).

But here's the rub: the same survey showed that what people say and how they behave throughout the year are different.

In last year's survey,  men cited their career as their most important life area for 2012, yet when Mindbloom looked into the actions that men took in 2012, it discovered that men placed a higher priority on conducting acts first to improve their relationships, then health, and finally their career.

In addition, while men kicked off 2012 with a focus on their careers, they finished the year having checked off more relationship-oriented actions, such as: 'say I love you,' 'schedule a date night,' 'check in with my parents' and 'give someone a smile.'

Men did place a top priority on taking actions related to their careers, including 'clean out my email in-box,' 'write a to-do list,' and 'add a connection to LinkedIn.' However, they preferred actions for health improvement over their career. The most popular health improvement actions included focusing on things like drinking water, exercising regularly and taking a walk. The least popular life areas men focused completing actions in 2012 was in finances, followed by lifestyle, creativity, and spirituality.

What women said they wanted in last year's survey and what they did in 2012 were also at odds. In the 2011 survey, Mindbloom found that women said their health was their most important life area, followed by their careers and then relationships. 

Their behavior was a little different: yes, they did a lot for health and careers, but relationships lost ground to an interest in improving their creativity. To be more creative, women focused on accomplishing acts like trying a new recipe, taking a photo or listening to music. The least popular life areas women focused on completing actions in 2012 was in spirituality, followed by finances, relationships, and lifestyle.

So while the poor guys are out there trying to make a love connection, the women appear to be exploring their own creativity.  Hmmmm.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass that all along to you. Here's the press release if you want to read the entire thing, and see how folks say they are going to adjust their life for 2012.

Really easy tips for cutting fat but leaving in the flavor

It's no secret to anyone who reads this column or San Jose Fitness Examiner that I'm a big fan of the American Council on Exercise (ACE).  

As we head into the new year, ACE has developed a quick, healthy holiday cooking video  to help you prepare seasonal favorites and avoid those two extra pounds.
Here are some of ACE’s recipes and cooking tips for compromising fat and not flavor:
·         Use whole grains: You don’t have to sacrifice enjoying rolls and stuffing during the holidays. Instead of choosing white bread, opt for whole grain products. Check out ACE’s kale, apple and chicken sausage whole grain stuffing recipe for a traditional stuffing alternative you and your guests will surely love.
·         Reduce Sodium:  This season comes with its fair share of hearty, warming soups. However, these often contain high sodium levels. You can still enjoy your favorite bowl of soup if you cook it with a low sodium broth. Lower your sodium intake while maintaining a quality taste, and start your holiday meals with ACE’s Spicy Sweet Potato Soup. Can we link to these individual recipes
·         Throw on the feta: Everyone loves cheese, but we all know it’s high in fat. Substitute regular cheese with feta; it’s lower in fat and makes your dish look pretty and festive. Serve up ACE’s green bean and almond salad with feta and cranberries for a delicious side that’s sure to be a hit.
After maintaining flavor, indulge without overstuffing:
·         Listen to Your Body: It takes about 20 minutes after eating for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s satisfied. When there is a spread of holiday dishes in front of you, this message may be even more delayed. Be sure to listen to what your stomach is saying before taking another serving of stuffing.
·         Use a smaller plate: You can still enjoy all of the holiday foods that you like, but portion size is key. To ensure that you’re not taking more than you need of one dish, use a smaller sized plate. You can always go back for more, but once that oversized serving is on the plate, you can’t put it back.

Stress: deal with it or pay for decades

A recent situation caused me so much stress that I was almost incapacitated. I came across this transcript of a podcast from  U.S. Department of Health & Human Services HealthBeat which served as an important reminder.  I'm passing it along for others who may be in the same situation.

We all experience stress at some point. There are interpersonal stressors, like arguments. There are overloads. I have too much to do and no time! And there are network stressors that happen around you. Researchers reviewed the National Study of Daily Experiences to see how people react to stress, and how that affected long-term health.

David Almeida is a professor of human development at Penn State.

“People who reported being emotionally reactive were 30 percent more likely to report chronic health conditions 10 years later.”
People were more reactive to interpersonal stress that involved their family. If you’re feeling stressed…
“Get away from the situation. Try to take a break. And, if possible, engage in some sort of physical activity.”

The study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Learn more at

Monday, December 17, 2012

Angeles Burke shares 3 great anywhere, anytime exercises

Didn’t your trainer teach you any manners? A guide to the unwritten rules of working out in a public gym

I'm not much for recommending books I haven't even read yet, but we're headed to the most dreaded month for gym rats: January. 

Gyms across the country are swarmed with newcomers each January. As any regular gym-goer can attest, the first few months of the year bring out all kinds of newly inspired fitness fanatics, many of whom could use a lesson in gym etiquette.

The following preview of a book crossed my desk and I found myself shouting, "YES!"  Sounds like a great book to pre-order and have on hand as a coping mechanism....or perhaps to place strategically around your own favorite fitness haunt.
Bombarded by inconsiderate behavior at the Manhattan gyms she frequents, attorney and long-time fitness buff Lori Pines put down the dumbbells and wrote The Little Book of Gym Etiquette: A Handbook for Dealing with Annoying People at the Gym (January 2013, $8.95).

Pines addresses the culprits of “gym rage" among the regulars, and point newcomers to six helpful rules of gym etiquette:
1. Don’t be a slob
2. Don’t be a hog
3. Don’t be a space invader
4. Don’t be a super-talker
5. Don’t be a grouch
6. Don’t be an exhibitionist 
“This is a topic every gym-goer has thought about at some point,” says Pines, who is tired of seeing empty water bottles litter the gym floor and listening to loud phone talkers barely breaking a sweat on the stationary bikes.

In The Little Book of Gym Etiquette, she cites the “3 C’s” everyone should know before a gym workout: be clean, considerate and cheerful. Following these three simple rules will, according to Pines, keep everyone in the gym satisfied.

With satirical descriptions and hilarious illustrations, Pines pokes fun at stereotypical offenders—the slobs, hogs, space invaders, super-talkers, grouches and exhibitionists—while simultaneously promoting  fitness and encouraging readers to be accommodating.

“Let’s face facts—it isn’t easy getting to the gym. You have to walk or drive there, change your clothes, psych yourself up for the pain and exertion, and then clean yourself up and change your clothes afterwards,” Pines writes. “The last thing we need is a further deterrent to getting to the gym. That’s why there is nothing more annoying than having to deal with people who don’t know how to behave there.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fitness Gift Guide: Galactic Romance dance-themed apparel

Longing for a trip to Hawaii? Win one.

There's still time to enter the Eat Well, Be Well Holiday Giveaway presented by Spa Week and famed nutritionist, Keri Glassman.

Running on until the end of the year, this exclusive giveaway will gift a lucky winner with the perfect post-holiday package that will aid in creating a smooth healthy diet and lifestyle transformation.

Seriously, isn't that what we're all longing for about this time of year?  The prize is  an incredible three part nutrition and wellness giveaway. Begin with the ultimate Be Well Package from Kalani, an oceanside retreat in Hawai’i where the winner and guest will enjoy a Six Night Stay for Two in an Eco-Friendly Bamboo Cottage, complete with three healthy meals daily, full access to more than 50 yoga and Hawaiian culture classes, two spa treatments and one half-day adventure to the winner’s choice of Hawaiian cultural site.

Once the winner returns from this life-changing retreat, he/she can conveniently stay on course courtesy of the Eat Well Package from Keri Glassman, which includes a personalized nutritional counseling program, three-day supply of Nutritious Life meals and two autographed copies of Keri’s new book, The New You (and improved!) Diet. Last but not least, the winner can relax body and mind at his/her choice of over 7,500 spa and wellness locations across North America anytime of the year with a $175 in Spa & Wellness Gift Cards by Spa Week®.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Javorskie Lane's inspiring weight loss transformation

As part of its continuing series "Outside The Game," Yahoo! Sports recently spotlighted Miami Dolphins' rookie fullback Jorvorskie Lane, whose decision to get healthier has not only given him a second chance at his dream, but has also made him a role model for his family.

Thanks to Yahoo! for allowing the story to be shared here.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

A standout running back at Texas A&M University, Lane was switched to the fullback position after ballooning up to over 300 pounds during his senior year following the death of his grandfather. After a subpar senior season, mostly due to his weight gain, Lane went undrafted and for two years Lane found himself working as a furniture deliveryman. However in 2012, he got a second chance when his former college coach signed with Miami Dolphins and helped him turn his life around.
In the segment, Jorvorskie gives insight into to his life changing diet and how his family have show their full support. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Athleta opens in Silicon Valley - preview event Tue Dec 4. 2012

Athleta is opening a store in Valley Fair - whew, just in time for Christmas.  The store is located near Sephora, on the first floor of the massive shopping center. 

According to the company, the store will feature a broad assortment of apparel for run, yoga, gym/training, swim, hike/explore and everything in between.  The Valley Fair store will offer a personalized styling service, uniquely tailored to individual athletic pursuits and style with Performance Stylists, complimentary hemming, kiosks that link directly to the website offering customers access to additional product and sizes, free fitness classes and in-store discounts for fitness professionals.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Telling people to exercise isn't working. So why does the fitness community just do it louder and more often?

According to a terrific article in today's New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope, "Only 3.5 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 do the minimum amount of physical activity recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services: 150 minutes a week of moderate activity."


She also says that when it comes to self-reporting, about 40 percent of Americans say they never exercise, a stat that has remained steady for decades.

Double wow.

I found Pope's entire article, "Updating the message to Get Americans Moving," a great read, and would encourage you to check it out.

We talk more about fitness, do it less

My first takeaway from reading it is that over the past 10 years, there seem to be 100 times more blogs and magazines and fitness gurus and tv shows that all talk about how easy it is to exercise.  And yet, it changes nothing. The same percentage of people are still inactive.

So the gurus, tv doctors, gyms, fitness instructors say it louder, in even more brain-numbing terms, and in more places.  

There are people who "do" fitness, and people who "don't do" fitness

The other thing it brought home to me is how stratified our country has become in terms of health and fitness. I'd venture to guess that among my friends, fewer than 20% would report they never exercise.

Some of that probably reflects that I live in Silicon Valley with a high percentage of active adults. More likely it also reflects that people who are active hang out with others who are active. 

I'm a slug compared to most of my friends who are busy running marathons, biking for fun, and hiking for weekend pleasure.  I'm more about yoga and stairs and my PowerPlate machine. In any case, it's not about how or what, and I digress.  

Read her article.  I like that she actually says out loud what fitness people seem to ignore: telling people to work out, telling them exercise is good for them, giving them easy tips is "clearly not working."

Heart attack or holiday indigestion? Two apps and a short code to keep on hand.

Here's a note that came over the wires from  

The info seems appropriate as we head into Thanksgiving and the holiday season.

It recommends three apps that can help aid choking dinner guests, decipher if overindulgent guests require emergency medical attention or find the nearest ER with the shortest wait time:
  • iTriage Health: Created by two ER docs, iTriage helps you answer the questions: “What medical condition could I have?” and “Where should I go for treatment?” Great for helping determine whether chest pain is a heart attack or post-turkey indigestion.
  • CPR + Choking: Developed by University of Washington educators and doctors, this app offers instant videos on how to perform CPR and aid a choking victim.
  • ER Texting short code “4ER411”: Consumers text “4ER411” and receive an immediate response with wait times at nearby participating hospital ERs and urgent care centers. (Editor's note: It doesn't look like ER Texting has a nationwide network of providers, so if you download this, it seems worthwhile to check it out ahead of time and be sure there are clinics near you.)
ER Texting provides texting services to hospitals and urgent care facilities that want to post emergency room wait times and allow consumers to access those times via text message. The firm's clients include: Miami Children’s Hospital, Adventist Health System, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Metrowest Medical Center, Lawrence General Hospital, Park Ridge Health, The Hospital of Central Connecticut and Shawnee Mission Medical Center.  

Ali Vincent to compete in her first IRONMAN

It's one thing to lose weight and get fit, and another to stay there and continue to improve. The following announcement crossed my email today, and I have to say, "Way to go" to Ali Vincent, the winner of "The Biggest Loser"  season five and the competition's first female winner.
Now, five years later, she's making good on the promise she made to herself and fans across America. At the time, Vincent said she would either be married with kids or have completed her first IRONMAN.
On November 25, Ali is making good on her promise and competing in her first IRONMAN competition at the Ford IRONMAN in Cozumel, Mexico. The race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run.
Since winning the weight-loss competition show, Ali has dedicated her life to spreading the message of health and fitness and, as part of that, hosts LIVE BIG WITH ALI VINCENT (the Live Well Network).
Vincent started training at the beginning of 2012 using an online program, but discovered her busy life needed a more tailored approach. Since June she  has been working with Coach Sonja Wieck.
Her experience will be shown an episode of LIVE BIG WITH ALI VINCENT that will air in early 2013 on the Live Well Network.
“While I’m anxious to tackle the biggest physical challenge of my life, I’m excited to share the experience with my Live Big fans,” said Ali.

RECIPE: Roasted candied sweet potato casserole from The Biggest Loser
RECIPE: Spinach salad with pear and pomegranate from The Biggest Loser 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fitness with your dog made better: Dog-E-Glow and Thank Dog iPhone app

Two fitness products for people and their dogs have come my way that are worth a mention - Dog-E-Glow and Thank Dog! Bootcamp (a mobile app). I'll likely be including them in holiday articles on San Jose Fitness Examiner, but space constraints and format there make it easier for me to tell the longer story here.

Cardio with your dog: Thank Dog! iPhone app

Thank Dog! Mobile is an app developed by Metova, Inc. for iPhone/iPod touch. This health and fitness app goes for $.99 and allows users to enjoy a challenging program of cardio and strength training, plus dog obedience training, all at the same time.  

It is created by the people who run the Thank Dog! Bootcamp facility in LA, which incorporates nine dog commands. The mobile app includes only the four most basic: heel, sit, down and stay.

Having no dog to train nor to work out with, I didn't try it out but I like the idea. Here is a description from the company:
The cardiovascular parts of the program benefit both dogs and their owners, making both physically tired and mentally stimulated. Included are a variety of heart rate boosting activities, such as jogs, sprints, high knees, wide steps, and more. At every step, users are encouraged to go at their own pace, substituting activities of lesser or greater difficulty whenever appropriate.

Safer nighttime dog leash: Dog-E-Glow

Dog-E-Glow is a line of LED-lit collars and leashes that are cute and practical. The company sent me one of each to test, and I took the leash to a party where pets were included. After dark, I put the leash on on of the dogs and took her for a walk.

Totally cute.

Everyone was oohing and ahhhing and talking about how much they disliked walking their dogs in the winter because it's so dark, and difficult to be seen. The LED lights on Dog-E-Glow remain steady, or blink on and off.  Priced under $30 each, I could have sold a half a dozen right there at the party. I figured I knew what I was buying all my dog friends for the holidays.

Then the bad news.  While the leash worked as promoted, the collar wouldn't work with the batteries included, even with the backup batteries included.  It was a new collar in the sealed package, so it's not that I got some demo model. I was apparently sent a collar that would have gone to a customer.

In any case, a new set of batteries got me set up but after two days of testing, the built-in off/on button stopped working. The lights would go on, but to turn them off, I had to unscrew the battery case and remove the batteries.  After doing that once or twice, I had pretty much ruined the small screw that held the battery case closed. 

We all know things like this happen, and the company has online customer support which I did not use.  Instead, I emailed the contact who sent me the samples and in addition to an apology, and the assurance this rarely happens, was told that any time the product doesn't perform the policy is to replace it.  

I'd still give it as a gift, but now consider it more a novelty than a product built to last. 

Here's the PR info on the Dog-E-Glow
Dog-E-Glow has 12 illuminated stylish designs apart of their Fashion Collection and 48 NCAA Division I Universities LED logo designs in their Collegiate Collection available in matching LED collar and leash sets including the following product highlights:
  • Collars & leashes are seen up to 1,000 feet away for maximum visibility
  • Medium and large sizes with all leashes 6 feet in length 
  •  Collar and leash lights are visible when turned on in a steady, flashing or off mode
  •   Weather resistant 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Drinking cold water for better workout performance

An article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition presents interesting information about a study conducted by Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix, Arizona. The upshot is that there are significant benefits to drinking cold water during an intense workout compared to room-temperature water.

One example of superior workout results in the study: nearly 50% of participants who drank cold water  improved in the broad jump test and 51% in the bicycle time-to-exhaustion test. 

If you're not familiar with Athletes' Performance, it's a go-to facility for elite professional athletes from the NBA, NFL, MLB, Olympians etc. 

Using hydration bottles from Thermos with vacuum insulation technology,  the results of the study showed that drinking cold water (40° F) significantly mediates and delays the increase in core body temperature during exercise.

If I understand the abstract correctly, as we work out, and the body temperature rises, we are more likely to get dehydrated, which affects performance.  Drinking cold water delays that rise in body temperature.  Hence, performance is not hampered by heat-related stress that leads to fatigue and other negative effects.

Some other highlights from the study:

  • A rise in body temperature was delayed 45 minutes while drinking cold water as opposed to just 15 minutes for those drinking room temperature water (75° F)
  • The longer you work out, the more important drinking cold water becomes. The study results strongly demonstrate that the benefits of cold water hydration for core temperature increase as the length of the workout session increases (reaching its highest difference at 60 minutes).
To keep water at the recommended 40°F during workouts, start with cold water from the refrigerator (or tap water with ice) and keep it cold in a hydration bottle with Thermos brand vacuum insulation technology, which will keep drinks cold for up to 12 hours.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Holiday fitness gifts recommended by American Council on Exercise

It's unusual to me that trade and professional associations would make product recommendations, but such it is in a world where media, content and marketing have all become important in the social eco-system.  ACE, the American Council on Exercise sent out the following holiday gift ideas for people who love fitness.  I respect ACE a lot, and if they say these are good fitness products, it's worth passing along the info.

As they say, Cyber Monday will be here before you know it.

·         Calorie counter:  The next generation of the standard pedometer, a fitness tracker like the BodyMedia® FIT can help keep track of how many calories are burned throughout the day, how many steps taken, and the duration of sleep every night.  The package consists of the BodyMedia FIT Armband, designed to be worn up to 23 hours a day to provide an accurate assessment of calories burned, and the online Activity Manager, which stores all of the fitness data gathered and allows the user to set unique goals, monitor progress and more.  It’s even Bluetooth enabled to allow the user to view his or her fitness data on a smartphone on the free mobile app. 
·         Heart rate monitor: Using a heart rate monitor is an excellent way to measure and track the intensity of a workout by seeing where you are in relation to your target heart rate zone.  Polar produces a variety of monitors that can meet the needs of almost any exercise enthusiast, and they are one of the most recognized names in the industry.  Whether you just want to monitor your heart rate, or you also want to keep track of calories burned and other vitals, there’s a monitor on the market to meet your needs. 
·         Interval timers: High intensity interval training (HIIT) is an effective way to exercise that consists of bouts of high intensity exercise followed by short rest intervals.  Using an interval timer can help easily and effectively maximize your HIIT workouts by keeping track of how many seconds you need to spend on each interval and rest in between.  A good option is the GYMBOSS® Interval Timer and Stop Watch, which can easily be clipped onto an armband, waistband or belt.  The timer allows you to set the number of rounds, length of time, and whether you want it to vibrate or beep to alert you to move onto the next round.   
·         Fitness apps: No matter what smartphone your intended recipient has, purchase a gift card that will allow him or her to download a few of the many excellent workout apps available on the market.  Fitness apps can help you track your caloric intake and workouts, remind you to exercise, or even provide you with workout programs to follow while on the go.  The Bootcamp® Challenge App, created by ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor Lori Patterson, features three 18 day programs for beginners, intermediate and advanced workout fans that can be customized according to the equipment you have on hand. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Check out the World Pole Dancing Championships

Friday, November 9, 2012

Girls night out: Low cal cocktails fit the bill

Over the holidays, showers, book clubs and girls night out take on special festivity. If you're hunting for some low calorie ideas for cocktails, take a look at these from Voli Light Vodka.


1 ½ oz Voli Lyte Vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice
Glass: Martini
Garnish: Sugar / Orange peel
Method: Shake and strain
Approx. Calories: 82

1 ½ oz Voli Lyte
2 oz Club Soda
2 Lime Wedges
Glass: Rocks
Garnish: Lime
Method: Serve over ice
Squeeze and drop limes into drink and stir
Approx. Calories: 74

1 1/2 oz Voli Espresso Vanilla
Top with club soda
Glass: Rocks
Garnish: Espresso Beans
Method: Build over ice and stir
Approx. Calories: 81

2 oz Voli Orange Vanilla
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz of Apple Cider
2 Dash or Bitters
Dash of Cinnamon
Glass: Martini
Garnish: Dash of Cinnamon
Method: Add all ingredients.
Shake and Strain
Approx. Calories: 127

Description: Description: cid:image011.jpg@01CD9581.30108040
2 1/2 oz Voli Lyte
1/2 oz Olive Juice
Dash of Tabasco Sauce
Glass: Martini
Garnish: Olives
Shake and Strain
Approx. Calories: 123

1 oz. Voli Lemon
½ oz. Chambord
Dash Mole Bitters
Glass: Champagne Flute
Garnish: Blueberry
Shake well and stain
Approx. Calories: 110

Low-calorie entertaining for the holidays: Cocktails

If you're looking for light, low calorie ways to entertain over the holidays, the dilemma of what to serve for drinks come to mind. 

The folks at Voli Light Vodkas, which has about 1/3 fewer calories than other vodkas, sent along these recipes for cocktails that fit the bill and are elegant to boost!


1 1/z oz Voli Raspberry Cocoa
2 oz Cranberry Juice
Lime Squeeze
Glass: Martini
Garnish: Raspberry/Blackberry
Method: Shake and strain
Approx. Calories: 110

1 ½ oz Voli Original
Cut green pepper
1 oz Lime Juice
1 Stevia packet
Handful of Basil
Glass: Martini
Garnish: Basil on top
Salt and Pepper rim
Method: Shake and strain
Approx. Calories: 100

1 ½ oz Voli Espresso Vanilla
½ packet Sweetener
Glass: Shot / Martini
Garnish: 3 Espresso Beans
Method: Shake well and strain
Approx. Calories: 85

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to turn Black Friday shopping into a mini-workout

Sure, you can sit at home and shop online over the holidays, but for many of us, it's all about the fun of mixing it up with the crowds and finding on-the-spot specials in the malls. 

With that in mind, the team from online training portal put together fitness tips from trainer Ilyse Baker for your shopping adventure. 

Black Friday Workout tips to keep you fit while you shop: 

These workouts can be logged in to your FitOrbit app on your Smartphone straight from the store to keep you on track – even at 4 a.m.

Waiting-in-Line Calf Workout: Calf raises are discreet enough to try while you’re waiting in line, but effective enough to give you a mini-workout. All you need to do is stand straight with your feet about hip width apart and rise on the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the floor.
Shopping Squats: While you’re standing outside the dressing room, waiting in the never-ending line for the register or staking out the perfect parking spot, bend your knees slightly to complete a squat and target curves. 
Embrace the crowds: Although Black Friday means a crowded mall or store, park the car further away and walk whenever you can. Although you don’t realize it, walking from store to store can be a great workout. If you’re feeling exceptionally excited about Black Friday shopping, try jogging from your car to the mall for a burst of pre-shopping energy.
Shopping Bag Arm Workout: As your arms become filled with purchases, even out the weight in each hand and lift the bags up and down when waiting in line or deciding between purchases. 

If you're not familiar with FitOrbit here's what their team sent: For less than $2 a day, FitOrbit delivers personal trainers and individual fitness and nutrition programs online. All members get a full lifestyle package, including a smartly personalized workout regimen, a realistic meal plan, plus 24/7 standby support. Members get to choose a real, certified trainer whose personality and approach mesh with theirs. 

Fitness professionals and veterans

Veteran’s Day is on Nov. 12, and the American Council on Exercise sent out a reminder to fitness  professionals that they too can make an impact on the lives of our service members and their families.  Here are some ACE recommended ways to give back this Veteran’s Day:
Pledge to Joining Forces: The collaboration between ACE and Joining Forces continues to raise 1 million fitness training service hours, and any donation is welcome.  Whether it’s an hour of personal training, a small group training package, or access to group fitness classes, all of the time will help service members and their families lead a healthy lifestyle. For more information on how to donate, visit   
 Enroll in continuing education: ContiningEd classes are available to provide guidance on working with service members who have just returned home, and may be recovering from an injury. For example, the Healthy Minds/Healthy Bodies curriculum provided through ACE focuses on training veterans who have spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and/or post traumatic stress disorder, among other ailments. 
 Share the opportunity: Personal training is one of the fastest growing careers in the U.S., and a prime opportunity for service individuals returning from duty and military spouses looking for career options.  Many organizations offer financial assistance and military discounts for those interested in pursuing a personal training or group fitness instructor certification.
For more information on ConEd courses and certifications, visit

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spirit of Children seeking donations to make hospital stays less scary

There is a nice article on by my colleague Nicole Thompson about Spirit of Children - The organization needs donations, so if you have a heart for these matters, consider them. Here's what Nicole wrote:

"Since 2006, Spirit of Children has supported Child Life departments to make hospital stays less scary for kids and their families and touches hundreds of thousands of pediatric patients each year by providing both fun and funding to hospitals at Halloween and all year long. Spirit of Children enables hospitalized children to celebrate Halloween ... read more on 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Zagat Releases 2013 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants Guide; Voters Name State Bird Provisions Top Newcomer (via PR Newswire)
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Zagat announced the results of its 26th annual San Francisco Restaurants Survey today. The new Survey covers 1,636 restaurants based on the combined opinions of a record 15,502 diners. The iconic burgundy guidebook was released today after the 2013 San Francsico (sic) Restaurants guide was recalled three weeks ago (oops!). Ratings and reviews are also available for free across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile.
Noteworthy Newcomers: The people have crowned State Bird Provisions in the Fillmore as this year's Top Newcomer, earning an extraordinary 27 for its American food on Zagat's signature 30-point scale. Rubicon alums Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski are behind this hot spot that's "spinning heads" with "clever" "small plates." Flying behind State Bird on the Top Newcomers list are AQ Restaurant & Bar in SoMa, Rutherford's Alex Restaurant, the Italian Redd Wood in Yountville and Park Tavern in North Beach, all with a food score of 25.
Winners: Gary Danko, the "truly American classic", again pulls a hat trick winning Top Food, Top Service and Most Popular. Toques off to chef Thomas Keller, who runs the No. 2 restaurant in the Bay Area (the French Laundry). Both Gary Danko and the French Laundry win nearly perfect 29 food scores. Sierra Mar in Big Sur's Post Ranch Inn wins for Decor (helped out by that knockout view of the Pacific Ocean), while the Mission's Bi-Rite Creamery, offering "phenomenal" "organic" "creamy" "goodness", wins Top Bang for the Buck with a 28 Food score, albeit average tabs hovering around $7. The Cheesecake Factory is San Francisco's Most Popular Chain – a new category in this year's guide.
Best Values: While many of the city's top restaurants come with a sizeable price tag, the new guide includes 917 restaurants that offer a dinner with one drink and tip for less than $35 and 593 places that offer a meal for less than $25. Lunches typically cost 25–30% less.
Habits and Preferences: Bay Area diners report eating out an average of 2.9 meals per week vs. the 3.1 national average. The reported average tip is 18.6%, which is tied with Seattle for the lowest among major U.S. markets and below the national average of 19.3%. When asked to rate San Francisco's overall culinary diversity and creativity, diners awarded their restaurants a 27 and 26 respectively, out of a possible 30. Comparatively, hospitality only received a 19 – not surprising since service remains the dominant complaint (cited by 56%), followed by noise (22%) and prices (7%).
Favorite Cuisines: When asked to name their favorite cuisines, diners said Italian (24%), followed by French (15%), American (13%) and Japanese (13%). But in examining the overall Food scores by cuisine, we find that diners awarded the highest scores to French restaurants (23.89 on Zagat's 30-point scale), followed by Japanese (23.74), Mediterranean (23.67), Californian (23.66), Thai (23.62) and Italian (23.47).
This year's winners in key cuisine categories are:
American (New) - Gary Danko (Fisherman's Wharf)
American (Trad.) - Ad Hoc (Yountville)
Barbeque - Buckeye Roadhouse (Mill Valley)
Burgers - 900 Grayson (Berkeley)
Cajun/Creole/Soul -Brown Sugar Kitchen
Californian - Erna's Elderberry (Oakhurst)
Chinese - Mingalaba (Burlingame)
Continental - La Foret (San Jose)
Dim Sum - Yank Sing (SoMa)
Eclectic - Della Fattoria (Petaluma)
French - Marinus (Carmel Valley)
French (Bistro) - Bistro des Copains (Occidental)
Indian - Ajanta (Berkeley)
Italian - Seven Hills (Nob Hill)
Japanese - Kiss Seafood (Japantown)
Med./Greek - Kokkari Estiatorio (Downtown)
Mexican - La Victoria Taqueria (San Jose; Redwood City)
Middle Eastern - Saha (Nob Hill)
Peruvian - Pasion (Inner Sunset)
Pizza - Cheese Board Pizzeria (Berkeley)
Sandwiches - Fatted Calf (Hayes Valley; Napa)
Seafood - Passionfish (Pacific Grove)
Spanish/Basque - Piperade (Downtown)
Steak - Cole's Chop House (Napa)
Thai - Sea Thai Bistro (Mult. locations)
Vegetarian - Millennium (Downtown)
Vietnamese - Slanted Door (Embarcadero)

Tech at the Table: San Francisco continues to be among Zagat's most tech-savvy U.S. markets, with 67% making reservations online, while 25% call the restaurant. Forty-six percent of respondents have a restaurant-related app on their smartphone, while 14% are posting on social media when they arrive at a restaurant. And while 87% of surveyors say it is "ok" to take photos of food or companions, 58% consider it "rude and inappropriate" to talk, text, tweet or e-mail when at the table.
Hot and Trendy: Surveyors have named the Mission (Namu Gaji, Wise Sons) as the neighborhood with the best restaurants this year. Valencia Street has been particularly hot of late (Abbot's Cellar, Amber Dhara, Farina Pizza, St. Vincent Tavern & Wine Merchant, Tacolicious, West of Pecos, Wo Hing General Store), while there's been a rise of tequilerias throughout the Bay Area (Comal, Copita, La Condesa, Mateo's Cucina Latina, Nopalito, Mosto at Tacolicious, Rumbo Al Sur).
Survey Details: The Zagat 2013 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants Survey was edited by Cynthia Kilian, with local editor Meesha Halm. Zagat's scores and reviews of San Francisco restaurants are integrated across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile. Guidebooks ($15.95) will be available wherever books are sold.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chefs Mazar and Corcos from 'Extra Virgin' share Tofu Tiramisu recipe

Wow! I haven't tried this recipe since I'm off sugar these days, but it looks very yummy and I wanted to pass it along.  If you try it, send in a review.

The recipe comes our way from celebrity chefs Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos who are about to debut the third season of Exrta Virgin (on Cooking Channel November 7, 2012).
The celebrity duo says, “House Foods Tofu works really well with the Tuscan cooking style that incorporates a very simple list of ingredients and flavors.  Our craft is to enhance the taste of the food by making the most of a small number of this small number of fresh ingredients.”

Tofu Tiramisu
Created by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, stars of Cooking Channel’s show Extra Virgin

2 cups brewed coffee
1 (14 ounce) package House Foods Organic or Premium Tofu Medium Firm
1 cups sugar plus 3 tablespoons, divided 
5 eggs, separated 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
14 ounces hard lady fingers
2 tablespoons cocoa
Shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

Add 3 tablespoons sugar into hot coffee and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool.

Drain and add Tofu Firm to a food processor; blend until completely smooth (about 1 minute).

Add egg yolks and 1-cup sugar in a bowl and whisk until fluffy and light yellow in color. Whisk in the tofu until smooth and well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt with an electric hand mixer until they reach medium stiff peaks. Fold into the tofu mixture.

Dip the ladyfingers into the hot coffee and lay them into a single layer in a 9x13 glass-baking tray. Make sure you don’t completely soak the cookies, as you want to retain some crunch. Spread a layer of the tofu on top, and dust lightly with cocoa powder. Repeat layering with cookies, tofu, and cocoa powder. Garnish the top of the cake with shaved dark chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 3 hours so the flavors can marry.

Serves 8