Healthy Slimming Sugars (do exist)

Nina ShantelWe are all well-aware of the “bad” sugars that cause inflammation and weight gain, like table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, lactose (from milk), and sugar substitutes. But there are good sugars that contribute to improved gut bacteria, weight loss, and better health. These good sugars are glucose and fructose, found naturally in fruits and vegetables. I’ve never heard of anyone who got fat from eating too many berries or zucchini. Who binges on mangos or kiwis?

While you may see fructose or glucose on an ingredient list, that’s not quite the same. You don’t want to eat foods that have been tampered with to make a food sweeter. In other words, you don’t want to consume juice, since the fiber has been stripped out. The goal is to eat the food in its whole natural form.

So, when your sweet tooth is craving chocolate, it may be a magnesium deficiency. Make yourself a frozen banana sorbet, whipped with unsweetened almond milk, and topped with walnuts and cacao nibs. Healthy, carbohydrate-friendly, whole plant foods, don’t make us fat, they feed us nutrients and give us energy. Don’t just eat them, embrace them.

Photo: Me, doing lat pull-downs at the gym, before COVID-19.

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slide (to burn calories & get stronger)

If you don’t have floor sliders, but you have a smooth floor, such as wood flooring, you just need socks. This fun, calorie-burning workout targets the lower body, core and abs (I even threw in some cardio and a triceps exercise for you). Go at your own pace, and work at your level. Some of these moves are advanced, so keep practicing.

P.S. If you were wondering what my shirt says, it’s a drawing of a cat 🐱, with the words: “check meowt.” Let me know which exercise was your favorite, and which one was the most challenging

Youtube mistakes (why you don’t have views, subscribers, and longer watch time)

Even though my blog is about health and fitness, I figured that some of you post YouTube videos, and would be interested in increasing your engagement. Below is my list of the 13 biggest mistakes that YouTubers make to explain why they aren’t getting enough views, subscribers or longer watch times. (Play the video above for all the details)

13 mistakes YouTubers make

#1. Thumbnails that are unprofessional, or don’t represent what’s in the video

#2. Demanding likes and subscriptions at the beginning of the video

#3. Not having an appropriate background

#4. Wearing offensive or distracting clothing

#5. Leaving in distractions, such as outside sounds, people, or pets

#6. Poor quality lighting

#7. Poor audio quality

#8. Speaking too quickly, or too slowly, or the pace of the video is off

#9. Not showing off your personality

#10. Not making the video entertaining

#11. Rambling

#12. Not providing enough information

#13. Neglecting to add a video, or a playlist, on the end-screen

Let me know if you agree, and if there are other YouTube mistakes you think I should have added to this list.

You can find my YouTube channel by searching for “Nina’s Nutrition and Exercise Videos” on YouTube, or click the YouTube icon, under Social, towards the bottom of the page, on my website

Or, just click this direct link to YouTube

If you enjoy my videos, make sure to subscribe, and tap the bell to receive notifications when I publish a YouTube video.

Want to get your advice real quick

I want to get your advice. The videos from my blogs are getting very few views, so I wasn’t sure why. Let me know the reason, so I can fix the problem. Please write to me right away so I can start working on it. I appreciate your help!

Nina Shantel, certified trainer & strength & conditioning coach, blogger, author of the High-Five Diet, Slimming Dairy-Free Smoothies & Dessert, Food Tracker for Healthy Weight Loss, and Weightlifting Record Book

The (weird) strategy that builds strength

Bobby Cox lifting weights

For those of you who like to lift heavy because your goal is to increase muscle mass, those heavy weights might be the reason you’re NOT gaining size. This is what happens when you choose weights that are too heavy:

“You reduce the time under (mechanical) tension because you’re forced to use momentum to cheat” (1).

You’re unable to lower the weight with control, which reduces your time under tension aka TUT (1). Less TUT = less growth and less strength.

You’re using other muscles, which reduces tension on the very muscles you are targeting (1).

Another sign of lifting too heavy is pain. I know that you don’t want to lose muscle mass, and I’m a fan of increasing weight, but at some point, you’re going to be at a point of no return.

Regression, lowering weight, is an actual technique to re-build and grow. Try lifting lighter weights, and really concentrate on lowering the weight, slowly, with control, for three seconds.

Try doing isometric holds. If you’re doing a shoulder lateral raise, you hold the weights at shoulder height for 1-8 seconds. If you’re doing a bench press, hold the weight at the bottom for a second or two.

Take no more than five-minute breaks during your workout (1).

These techniques build strength and size, which reduce the likelihood of injury. After four to six weeks of lifting lighter weights, you might see larger muscles, and be able to lift even heavier weights than before. Keep in mind that strength is not linear, it ebbs and flows. Listen to what your body tells you. Leave the muscle-head mindset in the trash, where it belongs.

Photo: Bobby Cox, master trainer in Washington


  1. Source: Tumminello, Nick. “The Most Effective Muscle-Building Strategies. Best Splits, Sets, Reps, Tempos, and More.” TNation. Jul 27, 2020.

Four best hamstring exercises

These four hamstring exercises, are my top favorites, because they are extremely effective at strengthening the core, the back of the legs, and lifting the butt. Let me know which one was your favorite.

Eat 2 tsp. to lose weight


There are no particular foods, or food combinations, that can trigger your body to burn fat. Eating lemon, cinnamon, ginger, honey, or apple cider vinegar, or tossing them altogether, will not cause body fat to shrink.

People keep searching for the easy miracle for weight loss because they have convinced themselves that conventional methods, exercise and calorie reduction, won’t work for them. Yet, exercise and calorie restriction, works for everyone, if consistent, and isn’t stopped.

Only when people accept the fact that their bodies burn fewer calories than they are consuming, and make changes, will weight loss become a reality

Photo: I wish chocolate burned fat.

Iron-rich, green tropical smoothie

iron-rich green smoothie for anemia

Iron deficiency is a big problem for a lot of people, and most of the green smoothies I’ve tried taste like grass, so I created a green smoothie that’s not only tasty, but also rich in iron and vitamin C.  It’s a wonderful, refreshingly sweet breakfast drink, or a mid-day healthy treat.

Iron-rich green tropical smoothie

  • 1 medium banana, frozen
  • ½ cup pineapple, frozen, diced
  • 1 cup almond/coconut milk, unsweetened
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1 tsp coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Plain or vanilla protein powder, unsweetened (optional. Note: if you don’t add protein, add a dash of salt)
  • Handful of washed fresh spinach

Add ingredients in the order above into a medium-sized blender cup, and blend for about 15 seconds. Stir with a spoon, and drink slowly. Enjoy every last drop.

315 calories  (+ protein powder calories, if using)  45 grams carbs

Have you fallen for this lie?

virus picture from CDC

Misinformation, alternative truths, misleading, misspoke, conspiracy theories, those are nicer words, for lies. The media needs to stop sugar-coating what some public officials and kooky doctors say. Call it what it is: lies. There are crazy people out there, those that have an agenda, and those that will do and say anything to keep their job, or to gain power or money.

People have a right to the truth because it affects personal and financial health. Lives are at stake. The Coronavirus is NOT a hoax. 150,000 US deaths and over 4 million cases of infection, are proof it’s real, and that doesn’t even include the numbers of dead or sick, around the world 🌎 Shut-downs are proof it’s real. Pandemics are real. Viruses are real. Fake news is dispensed through dark money to allow the wealthy and corrupt to get richer, and cover up their crimes.

For every person that refuses to wear a mask, this allows the virus to win and keep spreading. For every outing and every gathering, this keeps stores shut down, and increases the death toll. We are repeating the mistakes of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which took over 50 million lives and lasted 2 years. Do your part so we can resume a life of travel, work, fun and dining. There is no “COVID cure” at this moment, and probably won’t be for a while, so we all need to wear masks 😷 , socialize electronically, and only go out for exercise, and essentials like food and medicine. This is what’s required to slow the spread. What you do, and don’t do, affects everyone.

I had to quit coffee and tea to save my looks & health (it wasn’t the caffeine)

iced coffee

The first sign that something was wrong with me, was when I noticed my feet turned gray whenever I stood up, or exercised, so I wore socks. Then the half-moons near my nail-bed moved down my fingernails and disappeared completely, so I painted them. The five doctors I saw had no idea what was wrong with me. The several sets of tests showed that I was perfectly healthy. Lots of hairs fell out of my head, daily. After I lost half of my locks, I started freaking out. I called my doctor and told him what tests I wanted: calcium, iron, protein, vitamin D, B vitamins, kidney, heart, liver, A1C, cholesterol.

I received the blood and urine test results, which were not-at-all-clear, and I didn’t receive a call from a doctor or a nurse. Most of the results looked like they were in the acceptable range, but other results looked really low, as-in, not good.  I spent hours of my own research on-line to decipher these test results, and the result is that I have anemia, which is low iron. This explains all the weird things that were happening to me, and why I no longer had enough energy for long workouts. Even though I spent several weeks researching how to increase iron levels naturally, I wanted expert advice.

After completing an online medical form, I was able to receive a Teladoc appointment through my insurance company, which is a free phone call from a doctor. He recommended an iron supplement daily, taken with orange juice. Since the side effects from iron supplements can include stomach pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, black teeth (1), trouble breathing, rash, headaches, back pain, seizures (2), and the list continues; the last thing I wanted to take was iron in pill, or liquid form.

Iron supplements can be hazardous, and should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision, with frequent follow-up tests. “When taken in excess, however, iron is far more dangerous than most prescription medications. As few as 10 ferrous sulfate tablets (total of 600 mg elemental iron) can kill a small child (3).”

Anything that’s synthetic can negatively affect the human body. I searched for, and found, a certified organic, iron supplement in pill form, entirely from vegan whole foods. The human body has a hard time getting rid of excess heme-iron, from animal products, which can mean, high iron levels. You don’t want low iron levels, and you don’t want high iron levels either. The good news is that humans can eliminate excess non-heme iron, from non-animal foods, found in plants. So, I felt completely confident and comfortable taking the vegan, whole food supplement with iron every morning, until I ended up with hives all over my body. They didn’t just itch. They burned. Those little bumps felt like bee stings.

While I don’t know for certain that the iron supplements caused the outbreak of hives, I stopped taking the iron supplements, and the hives have, so far, disappeared. Since there are other natural ways to enhance iron absorption, other than supplementation and eating meat, I stopped drinking coffee and tea entirely after learning that the tannins and polyphenols, substantially reduce iron absorption from foods. Everything I’ve read recommends drinking coffee and tea separately from meals, but I’ve decided to eliminate coffee and tea entirely, as an added precaution (I don’t want to lose any more hair!).

I’ve also been adding raw spinach, ginger and a touch of honey to my smoothies to increase my iron levels. The other thing I’ve been doing is making sure to do, in addition to eating vegan foods that contain iron, is to pair that meal with a food containing vitamin C with every meal, like red bell pepper slices, orange slices, tomatoes, and cooking on a cast-iron skillet, when possible, which boots iron absorption. My feet are looking much more normal, I see some hairs growing back on my head, and I’m waiting for the half-moons to reappear on my fingernails.

The bottom line is that, pay attention to what is going on with your body. Do your own research. Try to go the natural route first, if possible. Don’t drink coffee or tea with any of your meals, and, if you’re anemic, you may want to eliminate coffee and tea altogether.



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