Nutritious and Fit

Diet, Fitness, and a Healthy Attitude

Vitamin D

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend!

As I mentioned before, I attended the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Boston at the beginning of the month. Aside from the hundreds of expos that I visited, the best part of the weekend was Dr. Holick’s lecture on Vitamin D. He was an amazing speaker and extremely knowledgeable. He’s a well-known dermatologist and has done countless research on varioius topics including Vitamin D. He has also seen first-hand the impact Vitamin D can have on the immune system and overall health while treating both humans and animals by replenishing their vitamin D levels. The following are my typed-notes from the lecture:

Getting Your Vitamin D

  • Sunlight provides longer lasting Vitamin D levels than supplements
  • Your skin, with the sun’s help, makes most of your body’s vitamin D
  • Glass blocks the UV rays from the sunlight to your skin, preventing your skin from making vitamin D
  • Your skin cannot make vitamin D in the winter unless you live far enough south- Atlanta, GA or below
  • 30SPF or higher sunscreen decreases the synthesis of vitamin D by 99%
  • Your skin can only make vitamin D outside between the hours of 10AM and 3PM
  • When you’re outside and your skin gets a light pinkish color, thats equal to 20,000iu of vitamin D
  • You only need 5-15minutes in the sun without sunscreen on arms and legs- always protect your face

Vitamin D Deficiency

  • Those with darker skin are at greater risk
  • Causes- obesity, increased sun protection, decreased milk intake
  • Associated with muscle strength and disorders- fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis
  • Associated with mental conditions- dementia, schizophrenia, depression
  • Associated with increased risk for cancer, Type 2 diabetes, CVD, high blood pressure


  • Treatment for those with deficiency- tanning beds, supplements: 50,000iu weekly for 8 weeks
  • Maintenance for those who were deficient- 50,000iu once every 2 weeks
  • 1000iu daily is not enough for the general population- should get at least 1500-2000iu a day
  • Toxicty is possible, but it’s much more out of reach than previously thought: you can have up to 10,000iu a day for 3 months without reaching toxicity
  • Vitamin D2 and Vitamind D3 supplements will raise blood levels of D equally
  • Blood level goal: 30ng/mL

Pregnancy, Infants, Children

  • There is NO vitamin D found in breastmilk
  • Risk for preeclampsia is greater for those who are vitamin D deficient
  • Pregnant women are recommended to get 1000iu-2000iu of vitamin D a day
  • Pregnant women who have adequate levels of vitamin D are less likely to need a C-section
  • All infants and children need at least 400iu a day
  • A common symptom of vitamin D deficiency in infants is night head-sweating
  • Pregnant women with a deficiency are more prone to vaginitis in their 1st trimester
  • Deficiency is associated with infertility, low birth weight, and poor birth outcomes


  • Even though vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, you do not need to eat fat with it
  • Vitamin D can be considered a hormone because your body makes it
  • Mushrooms have the ability to make Vitamin D when UV rays are absorbed like our skin does
  • Vitamin D has been associated with better immune responses- a theory as to why flu season hits around February is that people’s immune systems are lowered due to inevitable vitamin D deficiency

Hope this information was helpful and interesting! Visit to learn about his book The Vitamin D Solution and about Dr. Holick himself.

Next post: my new work-out plan and how it’s going so far.


11/29/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition | Leave a comment


Summer is here!! I don’t know about you guys but one of my favorite things to do in the summer is grill outside and have BBQs!! Now, of course there are times where I don’t mind splurging, but if I plan to do it often, I try to make it healthy! Here some ideas that I use to replace the typical fat-filled fiesta!

Turkey burgers or sausage- taste great on whole wheat buns!

Kabobs-  place chunks of chicken breast (or shrimp for sea-food lovers) on skewers along with alternating pieces of onion, green bell peppers, and pineapple. Put kabob on a piece of tin foil, pour some BBQ sauce on it (I love Sweet Baby Ray’s), wrap it up, and stick it on the grill!

Fish Filets- my new favorite is Mahi Mahi! You can find it cheap and tasty at Trader Joes! I seasoned mine last night with some salt and pepper and another seasoning I found called Key Lime Fiesta!

Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich- grill some chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce and some slices of pineapple and slap them both on a whole wheat bun with some lettuce and tomato!

Shrimp and Broccoli- toss broccoli in extra virgin olive oil and your favorite seasonings, place on tin foil and grill it til the broccoli is browning. Do the same thing with the shrimp and throw on the grill half way through cooking the broccoli. Serve with sweet potato, which you can wrap in tin foil and also put on the grill.

Mixed veggies- chop your favorite veggies and either toss in extra virgin olive oil and favorite spices, or you can toss with your favorite marinade or BBQ sauce, wrap them in tin foil, and grill up!

Light beer!!!! Mich ultra and MGD 64 are the 2 lightest. Miller Lite is also a good choice- I heard somwhere that it’s the least amount of calories for the most alcohol content (not that I’m endorsing lots of drinking!!- it’s just an interesting fact haha)

Have an amazing and safe summer! 🙂

06/19/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition | 1 Comment

nutrition cleansing/detox

Hey everyone! So sorry I haven’t been writing! I know I keep saying that, but this time I’m going to definitely be able to start writing more because I graduate in a week!

I recently had a friend ask me to take a look at a nutrition cleansing system for her. I took a look at the site and sent her an email with  my thoughts. She asked me to not reveal the name, but my feelings on it will apply to all cleansing systems so I thought I’d share the email with you guys:

Hey girl!
Ok so I finally took a look for you.
I don’t want to tell you what to do, so this information is just meant to offer you what I know so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.
It worries me that they don’t say much about what it’s in each product on the website; I can’t really give a complete review of it without that.  I can tell you that what they are saying about fasting and cleansing isn’t true. Many alternative medicine followers and spiritual leaders live by it and believe it to be beneficial for different reasons, but scientifically it isn’t necessary or safe. Our bodies are self-cleansing, so if you feel that you have built up “toxins”, you can simply change your diet to help rid yourself of them. Fiber and antioxidants that you get in fruits, veggies, and whole grains will help. The fiber helps rid your digestive tract and colon of dietary “toxins” and antioxidants counteract the free radicals that are caused by environmental pollutants that may harm your body. Both fiber and antioxidants can be found in everyday foods and so you don’t need a cleansing system to do it. That’s why I feel this would be a waste of money, but since you didn’t buy it that doesn’t really matter. 
As far as safety is concerned, the only products that worry me are the ones that are basically laxatives. While taking those, your body isn’t absorbing the nutrients that the rest of the system claims to provide. The rest of the products, such as the meal replacement shakes, seem like any other system so they are probably OK (like I said, it doesn’t say much about what’s in them so I can’t know for sure). Other than the laxatives, the only safety concern I have is that you would be losing weight too quickly and not eating enough, thereby starving yourself. 
As far as the claim to lose weight goes, losing weight too quickly isn’t good because once you stop the system, you will most likely gain it all back immediately and maybe even more. Losing weight is much more effective when done slowly (about 2 pounds a week), because then you are slowly changing habits at the same time, and it will become natural for your body to weigh less. This makes it much easier to maintain the weight after losing it as well. It’s also important to work out, including strength training. This is because when you lose weight, you’re not just losing fat, but you also lose muscle leaving more room to gain fat when you stop dieting. If you strength train, this can be prevented. If you do gain weight back plus more because of losing weight too quickly and not building muscle, it will be much much harder to lose it again.
In my opinion, if you’re going to use the products, I would recommend making up your own, healthier system. Other than the laxatives, certain individual products of the system might be beneficial, and safe, to add to your diet, like the meal replacements. I don’t know what the calories, fat, carbs, and protein are in the shakes, but if they are low in cals and fat, and high in protein they would be good after work-out snacks. If they are slightly higher in calories (like above 250), I’d recommend consuming one for breakfast and maybe one for lunch, but then eat a healthy dinner of actual food and 1 or 2 healthy snacks throughout the day (and I dont mean those “snack” pills on this system). I don’t recommend the laxatives at all. Even using the system this way, you will still lose a significant amount of weight (I’m assuming; like I said, I don’t know what it’s in the shakes), so I’d also recommend strength training like I mentioned before.
Again, this info isn’t to tell you what to do, just to keep you informed so that you can make your own decision. Hope it helped!


Even though I can’t reveal the name of this particular system, they are mostly the same. This one is actually better than most because it does provide nutrients instead of having you completely fast and cleanse your colon. I don’t endorse this one because it does contain laxatives, preventing your body from absorbing the nutrients it would otherwise provide.  Your body does not need to detox or cleanse because it does it on its own. As far as losing weight goes, the bottom line is that you lose weight when you burn more calories than you consume, so of course you are going to lose a lot of weight on these systems. But I promise, you will gain it right back when you stop the cleansing. Not only are these systems not healthy for you, but they are a waste of money. As I said in the email, just eat lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and also drink a lot of water. No need to spend a lot of money and risk your health in order to look beautiful, because you already are! 🙂

Have a good weekend!

05/01/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition | Leave a comment

local produce

Hey everyone! This one’s going to be a short one. Just wanted to briefly talk about my opinion of locally grown fruits and vegetables vs. organic. I personally prefer locally grown for several reasons. Aside from the fact that heading to the local farmer’s market is a unique and fun experience, the produce is much more fresh than if you buy it from someplace that had it imported.  Not only does it taste better when its fresh, but it’s also more nutritious. Organic farms are hard to come by because it is so expensive to get certified, so the produce often has to travel extremly far distances, losing some of its nutrients and also adding to environmental pollution from the transportation. Organic farms are also extremely labor-intensive, causing the workers to have a hard time with medical and physical problems. Since many of these workers also don’t have health benefits due to the expense of the farming, they often have to suffer instead of getting treated.  Other benefits of purchasing locally-grown produce are that it stimulates your local economy and will help out your community and the farmers within it.  Many of the small family owned farmers are using less and less pesticides, so you might as well forego the organic certified produce and buy the local produce for its added benefits.

Many grocery stores sell locally grown produce in certain sections of their produce department if you can’t get to a farmer’s market, but I found a few links that could help you find one if you’re interested. The links I found are for farmer’s markets in NJ, near Philly, and in NC, since as far as I know, these are the areas that my readers are currently in. If anyone else reads this and wants information on their area, please let me know!

New Jersey


North Carolina

03/11/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition | 2 Comments


It’s a popular thought that snacking between meals is a bad thing, but it’s actually a good thing if you choose the right ones! Eating small healthy snacks between meals will keep your metabolism going and also keep you from being too hungry by the time your meal comes which will help you to not overeat. A snack consisting of protein and glucose is perfect for keeping you satisfied! Keep in mind that a good snack shouldn’t be more than 150-200 calories, and try not to over-snack between meals.

I like to be creative with my snacks, but some typical ones that I always keep around are fruit, yogurt, and cottage cheese.  I love to mix the fruit with either the yogurt or cottage cheese. Only half a cup of low-fat cottage cheese has 15g of protein, so it’s a great way to get lean protein and keep you full until its time for your meal. Yogurt and fruit is also a good snack combination, and I usually add wheat germ to it too. That adds some more protein as well as other important nutrients. Sometimes I add granola or nuts too. In summer, I love to add blueberries and wheat germ to non-fat vanilla yogurt for a yummy and healthy treat! Another good idea is apple and peanut butter.

Always try to choose snacks that don’t have high fructose corn syrup because it will spike your blood sugar causing you to be even more hungry later, and to keep it healthy choose snacks with no trans-fat or  hydrogenated oils, and little to no saturated fat. Make sure to look in the ingredients list for the hydrogenated oils- just because it says 0g trans-fat doesnt make it true! A good peanut butter option is JIF’s new natural peanut butter. Skippy is good too, and neither requires stirring or refrigeration, but JIF has less palm oil and other ingredients. The less ingredients, the better so if you don’t mind cold peanut butter that you have to stir, go for the typical natural peanut butter because the only ingredient involved is peanuts. My favorite yogurt is Dannon Light and Fit because it has no fat, very little calories, and no high-fructose corn syrup.  Just look in the ingredients list for every product you buy to make sure there is no high-fructose corn syrup and no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil.

If you always make sure to keep the following items in the house, you’ll always be set to have a good snack on hand:

  • fruit
  • non-fat yogurt
  • low-fat cottage cheese
  • almonds
  • low-fat granola
  • natural peanut butter
  • wheat germ

Mix and match these items, pairing them so that you get a little bit of protein and a little bit of glucose for a healthy and satisfying snack between meals!

03/04/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition | Leave a comment

Dining Out Healthy

I get a lot of questions about food and how to eat healthy, but probably the most common concern that I find among people is the big dining-out dilemma. Everyone wants to be healthy, but who wants to sit at home all day every day? Certainly not me! I hear all the time “Yes, I’ll go out to eat, but can we go somewhere healthy?” Or “I can’t get dinner with you because I’m trying to be good”.  Thinking this way can be very discouraging because virtually no one is going to avoid restaurants for their entire life! If you have the knowledge, which most of you probably do and just don’t realize it, you can eat healthy ANYWHERE! Granted, there are times when I just HAVE to have that cheeseburger and fries, which I’ll let myself have every once in a while, but most of the times I eat out I at least try to not order the worst thing on the menu. The choices I usually make aren’t necessarily as low in fat as when I cook at home, but I almost always stay away from the real high fat ones, which will be anything fried or creamy. It really can be that simple!

When you cook at home, it’s easy to make something that tastes great but is healthy because you can buy all your own ingredients and make substitutions like low-fat cheese and lean protein. That’s why people get so anxious when they go out to eat, but as long as you follow these guidelines, there’s no reason to fret! Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts to follow while dining out, and remember, if you go out and decide not to follow the guidelines, it’s not a set-back! It’s only one meal and the rest of your healthy diet will have much more of an impact on your health than that one meal that you had on your birthday!


  • Fried foods– anything that is fried, whether its chicken fingers, french fries, or those fried green beans at TGIF’s!
  • Creamy foods– Alfredo is one of the most fattening items on any menu, but also cream-based soups or other creamy sauces are high in fat. This also includes salad dressings like ranch, honey mustard, etc.
  • Caesar salads– WORST item on ANY menu (possibly tied with alfredo); A lot of people think they are being good, but I’m pretty sure it is actually more fattening than a big mac at McDonalds… yikes!
  • Red meat– while these do provide important nutrients like protein, iron, and B vitamins, they also are high in saturated fat (“bad” fat) so you want to consume these in moderation. If you don’t eat a lot of saturated fat on a regular basis, feel free to order your steak. Only eat about half since restaurants supersize the portions and make sure it comes with veggies!
  • Cheesey dishes– cheese is another source of saturated fat, so you want to be careful how much you eat and since restaurants tend to overdo it, it might just be best stay away from these while you’re out


  • Grilled chicken- chicken is already a lean source of protein and grilling doesn’t add any extra fat or calories!
  • Salads with oil-based dressing– choose salads with lean protein and oil and vinegar or vinaigrettes and no fried crispies or tortilla chips, and of course no bacon! The oil may have some fat, but much less and much healthier fats than the thick dressings like ranch.
  • Shrimp– steamed, broiled, boiled, or sauteed; excellent source of protein and very low in fat
  • Pasta with oil and garlic or tomato-based sauces– if there is an option for whole grain, great! If not, it’s ok. It’s still full of nutrients and low in calories and fat. Even the oil and garlic- it has fat, but it’s mainly unsaturated fat and much better than the saturated fats that creamy sauces provide. Try for a pasta dish that has veggies in it too!
  • Fish– grilled or baked; great source of lean protein and full of those healthy omega 3’s!
  • Crab or lobster– without butter and steamed, sauteed, or broiled; so good mixed into a tomato or oil and garlic sauce on pasta, among other things!
  • Veggies– steamed or sauteed; great side dish to any of these lean protein options
  • Baked potatoes– sweet potatoes are the better option, but both sweet and white potatoes, baked, are low in fat; eat the skins for extra nutrients and some fiber!
  • Brown or wild rice- another good side dish
  • Broth-based soups- minestrone is one of my favorites and usually low in fat; choose any vegetable, chicken, or seafood soup without cream and your set!
  • Black-bean soup– another favorite of mine! Black beans are a great source of protein and fiber and even though it is thick and seems creamy, it’s usually not! Panera Bread has a great version!

If you’re not sure how something is made, ask!  Just make sure whatever you’re ordering is either grilled, baked, steamed, sauteed, boiled, or broiled- NOT FRIED! Once again, even though sauteeing foods involves oil, it involves much less than deep-frying, and doesn’t have the batter that fried foods come with. A little bit of oil is ok because it provides healthy fats which your body needs for important functions.  Also keep in mind that while these things are the healthier options on menus, it is important to realize that the portions given are usually more than one serving and you should cut it down by about half, especially if you are trying to lose weight and not just maintain it. The best piece of advice I can tell you is to eat slowly and stop when your not hungry anymore!

Well now that I made myself hungry talking about all those yummy foods, it’s about time for dinner!

Happy eating everyone! 🙂

02/23/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition | Leave a comment

my new favorite online fitness tool!

I found this new website, thanks to my one of my best friends! It’s called My Fitness Pal.  It’s great for keeping track of your daily diet and physical activity to help you stay on track, and you can also post statuses on your progress for your friends and diet-buddies to see!

I love this as a food log to track my diet! I’ve often found with websites like these that they don’t have all the foods that you eat listed and you have to keep entering them in yourself, but I put in my diet today, and found everything in the database!

The physical activity log is a little more difficult, at least for people like me who use work-out DVDs to get their work outs in because it doesn’t have DVDs listed for you to add to the log.  The good news is that if you have an estimate of how many calories you burned, you can type it in manually. For instance, I did Walk Away the Pounds 2 mile walk by Leslie Sansome and Level 1 of Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred today to ease back into my work-out after being sick all week. I looked up walking at 4 miles an hour in the exercise database and saw how many calories that burns. Since the Walk Away the Pounds work-out involves much more activity than just walking, I estimated by adding some calories to the given amount.  For Jillian Michael’s DVD, I looked up circuit training, and put in the amount of time the work-out lasted. I didn’t feel as though this was a correct amount either because their term “circuit training” is too general and not specific enough to my actual work-out, so I added a few to make it an even 200 calories burned instead of 180.

My Fitness Pal is also a great website because it asks for your goals and your measurements and determines how much you should be eating and how many calories you should burn every day.  It helps you be sure that you are losing weight in a healthy way by showing you how much you need to eat in order to lose the healthy amount each week (1-2 pounds) and allowing you to see if you’re not getting enough or if you are getting too much. 

You can also adjust your goals for the percentages of each macronutrient (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) for those of you who have particular goals in mind and have a good understanding of the concept. For those of you who are new to the idea of this, it’s best just to stick with their recommended amounts on the website for now; they are healthy amounts and will give you great results!

To introduce you to the idea, the standard recommendation is that at least 50% of your total daily calories should come from carbohydrate, about 15-20% from protein, and about 20-30% from fat to get a balanced diet. To figure out what percentages of these you are getting, you must first know how many calories there are per gram of each of those. Carbohydrate and protein are 4 calories per gram and fat is 9 calories per gram, so  you multiply that number by the number of grams you’ve eaten and divide that by the total calories. For example, my total calories according to My Fitness Pal was 1,864 calories and my carbohydrate intake was 285g. I multiply 285 by 4 and get 1140 to know how many calories of carbohydrates I ate. Then you use that to find the percentage–> 1140/1864= .61 or 61%. So 61% of my total calories came from carbohydrates. 

Keep in mind when looking at the goal percentages on My Fitness Pal, that your intake won’t be exactly right on. They are great guidelines, but don’t worry if your given goal is 55% carbohydrate and you got 57%. As long as you are in a healthy range, you’re right on target! My Fitness Pal also increases your daily calorie goal by the amount you burned during physical activity. Don’t feel pressured to eat that much more; exercising tends to increase your appetite so doing this allows you to eat more if you are in fact still hungry, but you don’t have to eat more if you aren’t.

I apologize for not posting very often lately! It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but I’ve done some brainstorming so now that my life is calming down, I’ll be able to post more regularly.

Some ideas for my future posts are:

  • tips on dining out
  • exercise routines: time-savers, abs, office work-outs, cardio
  • lunch, dinner, and snack ideas
  • information on high fructose corn syrup, whole grains vs. refined grains, and good vs. bad fats

I will also be posting recipes soon too!

  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas
  • Winter Vegetable Soup made with black beans, sweet potatoes, zucchini and more
  • Low-fat brownies

Let me know if there’s anything you want to see me post about!

Goodnight! 🙂

02/18/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition, physical activity | 1 Comment

Good morning!

I just ate breakfast, and thought I’d start my day with a new post.

For breakfast, I love cereal! I always choose one that’s high in fiber and low in sugar.  It can be tough finding one with low sugar, but it’s important because spiking your blood sugar early in the morning can make you hungry all day long.  Make sure to look for something that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup because chances are if it does, it has way too much sugar. I love Trader Joe’s mini-wheats and Kashi has some good options too.

Other great breakfast ideas are oatmeal, eggs, and whole-wheat english muffins or toast.  When I eat oatmeal, I use the old-fashioned oats so that I can flavor it myself. Brown sugar and cinnamon is really good, and I also love to add fruit like fresh banana or blueberries.  I like to make my oatmeal this way for a couple reasons. One is that it’ll be less in refined sugar and less processed.  My biggest reason is that it allows me to have variety and the added fresh fruit adds lots of vitamins and antioxidants.  It’s just as easy to make, I still put it in the microwave like you do with instant, and I get to experiment with all different flavor-adding ingredients! 

On the days that I know it’ll be a while before I get to eat again, I make sure to eat something that will keep me full longer than cereal will.  My favorite thing is to scramble 1 whole egg with 2 egg whites and put it on top of a whole wheat english muffin.  It’s full of protein and has fiber so you’ll be sure to stay full until you can eat lunch! When making breakfast food like that, make sure to use butter-flavored cooking spray instead of butter and if using butter on your toast, try something light. My favorite is Smart Balance light.

That’s all for now! Make sure to take a look at my Recipes page because I added a new one. It’s baked whole-wheat penne and it’s low in calories and fat and high in protein and fiber.

Have a great Wednesday! 🙂

02/03/2010 Posted by | diet and nutrition | Leave a comment

my journey

Hi again! For my second post, I thought I’d tell you a little more about me and how I came to be the healthy, well-rounded person I am today:

I wasn’t always so healthy! In high school, I was told by my physician that I had high cholesterol and high lipids! At only 17 years old and 115 pounds; I couldn’t believe it! This is when I gave up fast food on a regular basis, and my blood work went back to normal, however this was not the end of my struggle.  The following year, I went away to college and of course gained weight.  It’s been said that the mythical  freshman 15 is in reality only about 7 or 8 pounds, but I actually gained at least 20.  That summer, I lost almost 25 pounds, and my interest in nutrition had come about full force. Throughout the rest of college, even though I did gain about 6 pounds back, I managed to keep most of it off through eating sensibly and being physically active when I could.  During these years, I was never completely happy with my body.  Sure, I was no where near fat, but I was insecure regardless. After college, I went away to graduate school, and had a complete attitude turn-around. I’m not sure when my complete turning-point was exactly, but all of a sudden, instead of being insecure, I decided that it wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t have the perfect body. I was not fat, I had some great qualities, and I was able to accept the qualities I was once self-concious about as part of who I am. I decided that I would eat healthy and work out because it made me feel good, and not because I was worried about my body image. Without even realizing it, I was eating healthier than ever (with of course the occasional splurge), and working out more than ever! I found a great work-out system that fit to my schedule and my needs, and before I knew it, I was a whole size smaller and in the best shape of my life! Although I feel great about the fact that I got in shape, my attitude-change was even more liberating. Even with all the stress of graduate school, work, and my many other obstacles, I’ve been able to find happiness. It is such key to be happy with yourself, because when you are, all the other mountains you face suddenly seem like small hills that you are able to climb with ease.

I hope this blog and my story will inspire you to realize that you are amazing and beautiful no matter what and to aim for a healthful and happy life!

Take a look at my links page for links to help you get started, and keep checking back here for more tips and suggestions!

02/01/2010 Posted by | Attitude, diet and nutrition, physical activity | Leave a comment