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Eat Your Veggies (and don't forget the eggplant!)
By Carol LeBeau
1/27/2014 11:38:02 AM


–FULL BIO
 
The headline on the recipe read “Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Bake.”  The dish was among several on a page in one of those women’s magazines at my nail salon.   
 
Eggplant doesn’t do much for me one way or another, so I nearly passed it by. Thankfully, I didn’t turn the page before taking a quick glance at the rest of the ingredients. Roasted tomatoes, bell pepper, basil pesto and Parmesan cheese mixed with whole wheat fusilli. Hmmm. It actually sounded pretty good as I ripped the recipe from the page. (With permission!)  Not only that, it was super-easy…15 minutes prep time!   
 
What the heck…a little eggplant wouldn’t kill me, right? Truth is, the health benefits of the eggplant are numerous since it contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals.  I had no idea, but the vegetable that’s least vegetable-like, contains Nasunin, a phytonutrient that provides high concentrations of antioxidants and can protect against cell membrane damage and improve blood circulation.  
 
The iron, calcium and fiber it provides are all essential parts of a balanced diet. And eggplant contains only 35 calories per cup.  It has a hearty taste and texture similar to meat (maybe more like tofu?) and eating eggplant can be made enjoyable even for those with an aversion to consuming anything healthy. (Think eggplant parmigiana?  Roasted eggplant?) 
 
I did a Google search and the number of eggplant recipes is practically endless. I’d just like to leave you with one recipe that’s become part of the regular meal rotation at my house. It’s a great vegetarian option and trust me, you won’t even miss the meat!
 
Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Bake
(serves 6)
1 lb. eggplant cut into cubes
1 lb. small tomatoes (2”diameter), halved
1 lg. red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 onion
8 oz quinoa rotelle (ancient Harvest is good brand) or whole wheat fusilli (or any whole grain pasta of your liking)
¼ c. basil pesto (already made up in the refrigerator section at the grocery store)
4 Tbsp chopped, fresh basil
¼ c. finely grated Parmesan (I LOVE Parmesan, so double this ingredient!)
 
1. Heat broiler. Arrange eggplant, tomatoes (cut side up), bell pepper and onion on large baking sheet coated with olive oil spray. Coat vegetables with olive oil spray and season with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Broil, stirring vegetables (except tomatoes) halfway through cooking, until tomatoes are slightly charred and giving up their juices and remaining vegetables are golden brown and tender…about 6 minutes for tomatoes and 18 minutes for eggplant, bell pepper and onion.
2. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare pasta per package directions. Drain and toss in bowl with broiled vegetables, pesto and 2 Tbsp of the basil. Spoon into shallow baking dish (about 2 qt.) and top with cheese.
3. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp basil.
 
Enjoy this healthy and hearty version of comfort food with a salad and grainy bread.
Hot Fitness Trends for 2014 (Fartleks are back!)
By Carol LeBeau
1/20/2014 3:05:44 PM


–FULL BIO
 
My fondest memories of childhood revolve around swimming – winters indoors at the family “Y” and summers in the outdoor city pool through the Amateur Athletic Union age group swimming program.  
 
Even more than the actual competition, I loved the workouts. Socially fun and physically challenging, I was blessed with coaches who worked hard to motivate my teammates and me to reach our full potential as young athletes.
 
One of the most fun and creative swim workouts I recall used a training technique called fartlek.  (Now imagine poor Coach Meyers as he announced the next set would be “fartleks” to a bunch of immature 12-year-olds!)  
 
Actually, when it comes to fitness, the funny-sounding word is nothing to snicker about. Fartlek, a Swedish term meaning “speed play,” is a form of interval or speed training that can be highly effective in improving speed and endurance.
 
Coach Meyers would blow the whistle and we’d swim 100 percent effort in short spurts. The next whistle meant slow and easy for a minute or so. We’d repeat the process until exhaustion set in. There’s no doubt, fartleks made me a faster swimmer. (And after all these years, it still makes me smile.) 
 
Well guess what?  Apparently, what’s old is new again. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, high intensity training tops the list of hot fitness trends for 2014. They no longer use the term, “fartlek,” but the principle remains.  
 
The popular fitness routine has evolved and is now called high intensity impact training (HIIT)… still focusing on short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by short periods of rest. Fitness experts and devotees claim the technique yields twice the results in half the time.
 
Shannon Fable, with the San Diego-based American Council on Exercise, says the growing trend makes sense for fitness buffs with busy lives. She says HIIT is a regimen that meets needs in the time they have available.”
 
HIIT (fartlek!) workouts have been around for years, but thanks to intense workout programs such as CrossFit, P90X, Insanity, TurboFire and Tabata training, more and more fitness fanatics are turning to the practice to get fit.
 
But if all that intensity isn’t for you, no worries The list of trendy routines for 2014 includes everything from ancient yoga practices to new twists on personal training. Also scoring high in the New Year – fitness programs for older adults and children’s exercise programs. 
 
So pick out a workout plan that sounds fun to you and let’s all get moving in 2014!
Tips to Start and Stick with your Fitness Program in 2014
By Carol LeBeau
1/14/2014 10:40:11 AM


–FULL BIO
 

I used to think personal trainers were for someone else. Not me. I’m motivated to work out on my own, thank you.  I don’t need some guy with six-pack abs watching my every bicep curl.

Well, last year that all changed when I realized I needed help. Following multiple surgeries, I had developed aches, pains and muscle weaknesses that only seemed to get worse the harder I pushed on my own at the gym. Even swimming left me with a stiff neck and knot in my back.

Frustrated, I asked for advice from one of my fit friends.  His recommendation? You guessed it – a personal fitness trainer. Desperate, I took his advice and called Bret Smith a credentialed instructor and the owner of the “Move Strong Studio” in San Diego.  
 
Bret quickly assessed my situation and gave me simple, corrective exercises I could do at home. After several sessions with “my” personal trainer, I began to feel better, stronger and happier as my aches and pains subsided. Because of Brett’s personal attention and expertise, I’m grateful to be back hiking, biking and swimming strong.  
 
As I’ve gotten to know Brett, it’s clear he’s more than a fitness trainer. Not only is he knowledgeable on all facets of health and fitness, he’s a wonderful (but gentle!) motivator! (Go check out his website at www.movestrongstudio.com!)
 
So, as we begin a new and (hopefully!) healthier new year, I asked Brett to share some of the tips he gives his clients to help them start and stick with a fitness program.
 
Here are Brett’s Top 10 Tips for looking good and feeling great in 2014:
 
1. Just Get Moving! Starting a new fitness program can be daunting with all the "have to's" and all that information can lead to overload.  The simple and best way to start is to just get moving and increase your general activity level throughout the day.Taking a walk after lunch or dinner; taking the stairs instead of an elevator; standing while on the phone or when someone walks into your office; parking a little farther than your destination – little things that can add up and make a big difference in helping you move and feel better.
 
2. Have an Accountability Buddy. This will help you stick with a plan.  You and your workout buddy both promise to not let the other skip a workout.  This buddy may be a friend with similar goals to yours, a family member, co- worker or even a fitness professional who will motivate you to stay on track.
 
3. Choose Activities You Enjoy. And do them! Again and again! Nothing will short- circuit your workout plan faster than a boring, non-eventful activity. Even if it's completely new, but sounds interesting, you're more likely to stick with something you enjoy. Don't be afraid of trying a bunch of things to see what connects with you.
 
4. Pick the Pro especially if you're just getting started, unsure or just unaccustomed to having regular activity in your life. Investing in a Certified Fitness Professional can get you off on the right foot helping you build a solid foundation, focus on your goals and prevent injury. Word-of-mouth and referrals from trusted family and friends is best way to find the best pro for you.
 
5. Set Your Goals! Write these ideas down and be specific. How many pounds? Dress size? Body fat percentage?  Whatever it is, get it down on paper. Then post the goals, completion date and workouts completed to date in places you see regularly. Consistent reinforcement is key to your success.
 
6. Be Relentless in your dedication to succeeding. Set your schedule. Stick with it. No excuses.  Make your workouts as important as showing up for work, being with your family or having fun.
 
7.  No 4-Letter Words!  Banish the CAN’T’s, DONT's and WONT's from your vocabulary. It may take some self-talk and gentle reminders but focus on what you CAN, WILL and WANT to do. One step at a time.
 
8.  Prepare For the Journey. Consider your new undertaking as the journey of a lifetime. As you and your journey grow, you'll explore new and exciting ways to stay happy, healthy and fit along the way. One of the highest rates of success in sticking with a fitness and wellness plan is sharing it with a group, partner, friend or spouse. Be part of a team and see how everyone benefits.
 
9. Make it Social. We are social creatures and one of the highest rates of success in sticking with a fitness and wellness plan is sharing it with a group, partner, friend or spouse. Make them part of Your Team and see how everyone benefits.
 
10. Ignore the Hype. If you are easily influenced by the hype of a fad diet or latest fitness gadget, stop and ask two simple questions. For whom? For what? These programs and equipment promise you success with little time or effort.  The truth is, it takes time, work, dedication and determination. No diet or a trendy gadget will change that. There are no shortcuts to success...only detours and u-turns if you fall prey to the hype.