Category Archives: Fitness Tips

You Can Get Active

In addition to National Mediterranean Diet month, May is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Surely you’ve heard the obesity statistics, but just to refresh your memory, in the past 30 years childhood obesity has doubled among 2-5 year olds and tripled among 6-11 year olds. Not only are children not eating healthfully, they are also not living an active lifestyle.

To help out on the activity front, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has implemented a science-based national education program called We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition). The program helps children ages 8-13 stay at a healthy weight and they offer materials to help caregivers and families encourage children to become more active.

we can program nih

Although the end of May is almost here, it’s not too late to celebrate physical activity. Here are some tips to get your family moving:

  • Take a family walk after dinner.
  • Have a dance party with your kids.
  • Park farther away from the entrance of  a store.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator  and race your kids to the top!
  • Acknowledge family efforts with non-food related activities like a day at the zoo or park.

Check out the We Can! website for many more tips!

What does your family do to stay physically active?

Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote the We Can! program or the NIH. All opinions are my own. 

Photo Credit: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Snow Day Workouts

It’s a snow day in New York City! (For many of us at least.) Take advantage of the day off and the snow to burn some calories without going to the gym. Here are some snow-related activities and the calories per hour you’ll burn doing them*:

Shoveling Snow 408 calories
Snow Shoeing 544 calories
Ice Skating 150 calories
Cross-Country Skiing (moderate effort) 544 calories
Downhill Skiing (moderate effort) 408 calories
Building a Snowman 285 calories
Having a Snowball Fight 319 calories
Making Snow Angels 214 calories
Sledding 476 calories

*Calories burned are based on a 150-pound person

What are you doing on this snow day?!

Energetic Juniors Fitness Tips

Bonita Porte's energetic juniorsThe following fitness tips are from certified personal trainer and former Olympic athlete Matthew McClain-Trobridge for Bonita Porte, founder of Energetic Juniors.

1. Become a Good Sport Using Clever Motivation. A great trick to motivate kids is to do a best out of three games challenge, but only allot enough time for two of the three games. The perfect scenario here is to win one game and lose the other without throwing the game overtly. Your child will get a great feeling of accomplishment for his or her hard-earned win, but the loss does not let them off too easy, so handicap yourself accordingly. The taste of a win flanked by the sting of a loss will often motivate children. Plus, if there is only time for two of the three games, then tomorrow can be the tie-breaker! Now your child has a good reason to be more active the next day!

2. The Mini-Challenge. A great thing to do with kids who have a surplus of energy is to create fitness based mini-challenges throughout the day. It can be a very simple challenge, such as challenging each other to a wall sit contest. The winner gets to pick a favorite side dish for dinner or gets to play an extra 10 minutes of video games. Just remember that your child needs to win and lose, or else he or she will lose interest in the challenge quickly!

3. Don’t Bounce. When you stretch, try hard not to bounce. I used to do it myself when I was a young gymnast, and I didn’t find out until years later that I was literally wasting my time! When you bounce as you stretch, you limit the tension on the muscle in seconds — which in turn limits the effectiveness of the stretch. In extreme cases, bouncing while stretching can even damage muscle tissue! Instead of bouncing, try to focus on breathing in deeply and breathing out even deeper. As you exhale, reach into your stretch further and repeat. Now hold it for 30 seconds.

4. It’s All in the Tunes. Having an exercise routine is key — at the very least it helps keep you on track on the days you would really rather just sit and drink tea! On those days when you just don’t want to go to the gym, you can psyche yourself up with music (like many athletes do). All you have to do is pick a song that you know you won’t get tired of, and make sure it has a fast beat — about140 beats per minute or more. (You can also use a slower beat as long as you can double the tempo (hip hop is usually around 80-90 beats per minute, so you should work out at double that speed).) The music is your mental motivation for the workout, while your program guides you through the exercises you need to accomplish.

Superstar athletes like Michael Phelps use this technique to the max by making a certain song a part of their routine during competition. The routine is used to tune out distractions prior to the competition, and can also help an athlete sync his mind and body together in order to perform better.

5. Chart Your Progress. You know what I miss? Those shiny stars in kindergarten that you earned for doing something awesome like tying your shoes correctly. Well, that child-like need to feel rewarded for small accomplishments doesn’t need to disappear when you get older. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, make yourself an old-school star chart to visualize your progress. To do this, you’ll want to divide your long term goal into equal small pieces. The trick is to be sure that each step is harder for you, but not unrealistic because you don’t want to fail.

Now give yourself a star when you accomplish the smaller goal. When this works, people often become addicted to getting the star — just like in grade school. This is extra motivation that doesn’t cost you anything, and if it helps you to do more and sit less, then I’d say, “Bring on the stars!”

How do you motivate your kids to exercise? What’s your g0-to workout song?

To find out more about Energetic Juniors and how to help your child or teen become more physically fit, check out

Exercise Your Way to a Happier You

As you know, exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It also helps you feel good, which is an added bonus. Today, guest blogger and TrainerDiva Elena Ciccotelli will fill you in on why exercise is such a mood-booster.
Nowadays it’s sometimes as simple as taking a pill to help improve your mood. Instead, take control of your attitude by exercising your bad mood away!

Studies have shown that when you finish an intense 30 minute workout, the after effects are as potent as any medication the doctor can give you. When you exercise, your body naturally releases adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, also known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters, located in your brain, control various functions in the body such as appetite, sleep, memory, learning, body temperature, mood, behavior, and muscle contraction. In other words, when these neurotransmitters are activated, your body functions at an optimum level.

For those of us who do not get relief from prescription medications, exercise can be a natural alternative. Think about the last time you completed a grueling workout. How did you feel? Besides feeling sweaty, more often than not, after you have accomplished a seriously intense workout, you will feel an immediate sense of pride which is extremely rewarding. At the same time, exercise promotes stress relief, which is a phenomenally healthy and productive way to prevent depression and anxiety.

Exercise not only helps your mood, but it also helps prevent chronic illness, such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. The list is endless. The chemicals released inside your body during and after exercise help prevent these illnesses from getting the best of us.

So the next time you feel blue, or like you would rather stay in bed then face the world, take control and make a choice to feel good. It’s as easy as getting your weights out and kicking your negative mood to the curb! Chances are, you’ll feel better in no time.

Elena M. Ciccotelli is the Founder/CEO of TrainerDiva, Inc., an in-home personal training company that serves the Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey Region. To start looking and feeling ten years younger, set up your trial session today with a certified TrainerDiva personal trainer.

The Number One Secret That Burns More Fat

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, I encourage my clients to follow a healthy diet (as in daily intake, not restriction) and exercise plan to stay in good physical shape. The goal of nutritioulicious™ is to help you eat healthy food that also tastes good, but unfortunately I’m not a fitness expert, so my services in that department only go so far. Lucky for me, I know a fabulous personal trainer who can give you the guidance I can’t. TrainerDiva Elena Ciccotelli is here to help you burn fat without sacrificing delicious food!

The Number One Secret That Burns More Fat

By Elena Ciccotelli

As we embark upon our 2010 fitness resolutions many of us are weighing in. It’s happening right now all across America. Can you hear it? The resounding thud of countless resolution-ers all stepping onto the dreaded scale, surveying the damage, and facing the music. Sound familiar? Of course it does, because we’ve all been there! But before you go running to the nearest treadmill for an hour sweat-a-thon, remember that weight training sessions are a much more effective fat burner than cardio. Here’s why.

Muscle is much more metabolically active, burns more calories, than fat. Therefore, when you spend more time on a weight training routine and less time on a cardio regiment, you are building more lean muscle in your body. This will ultimately help you burn more calories at rest. Did you know that one pound of muscle burns up to 50 calories at rest? This means you can burn up to 50 calories while doing absolutely nothing! Let’s say you added 10 pounds of muscle to your body. In one week you will burn an extra 3,500 calories just by sitting on the sofa. Not too shabby! Even better, the extra 3,500 calories you just burned is equal to one pound of fat.

However, don’t expect the number on the scale to drop drastically at first. Many of us weigh ourselves on the scale to determine our success rate. But ironically, weighing yourself on a scale is not the best way to measure improvement in health and fitness levels. In fact, just using this method of measurement will discourage you when you find out that your weight has not changed significantly since you started weight training. What the scale doesn’t tell you is that while your weight has not changed, your body fat to lean muscle mass ratio has probably changed. Muscle tissue takes up less space in your body than fat, therefore the volume or size of one pound of fat is much larger than one pound of muscle tissue. This explains why you may have dropped a few inches around the waist, chest, and legs but your weight remains the same.

So before you judge yourself too harshly or resign yourself to just eating celery sticks and tuna for the start of 2010, make sure you include weight training into your exercise program. Also, be sure to get your body fat percentage and size measurements of body parts (i.e. waist, hips, thigh, etc.) taken in order to get a more accurate baseline analysis. Just remember: inches always come off before pounds and before long you’ll notice the waist in your jeans getting a bit loose.

Elena Ciccotelli, TrainerDivaSince 2008, Elena Ciccotelli has been helping busy professional women feel empowered, lose weight and improve their quality of life. Her personal training sessions focus on total body resistance exercises, weight training, and stretching to safely achieve faster results and remain motivated. Ms. Ciccotelli is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College and a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer through the American Aerobic Association International & International Sports Medicine Association (AAI/ISMA). For more information, contact TrainerDiva, Inc. at