PIYO exercise DVD video set review

PIYO cover photoPIYO is the new craze in no-impact exercise videos; it’s described as combination of cardio, yoga and Pilates, although I can only recall one Pilates exercise in the entire set. The three DVD’s include lower body & buns, upper body, sweat & drench (cardio), core, and strength & sculpt. The distinction between each workout video is unclear because some of the same moves are in each video. The repetition of many of the exercises are both good and bad. It’s good because I’m mastering some of the moves, but the bad part, is that it’s not as fun when you’re doing the same thing over and over again.

 The instructor, Chalene, is cheerful and motivating, but she’s not always accurate when explaining what the movement is. For example, she’ll say “rest,” when she means “child’s pose,” or “reverse” when she means “cow pose.” She also calls a side plank with a twist, a “PIYO pike,” which is confusing. I frequently have to stop to look at the video to see the movements to understand what she really means.

 I bought this set because I wanted to do more yoga, which it offers, but there’s no advanced yoga poses and not enough variety. I was also disappointed that there wasn’t enough stretching exercises, or even a separate stretching video, since I want to work on flexibility. All in all, they are fun, short, challenging workouts, and despite my criticisms, I rate it a “B” and recommend PIYO.

Want more good stuff? Check out my other website: http://www.thehighfivediet.com


Cold-brewed tea is better

Chocolate Pu erhI don’t drink coffee, not only because it’s too acidic, but because, over time, I’ve become allergic to it. I like hydrating first thing in the morning by having tea, but I don’t have much time to wait for the kettle to brew, or the hot tea to cool down, so I usually heat double-filtered water in the microwave for 30 seconds, and then add the tea bag to the warmed water. So, I got excited when I found out that I can just pop the tea bag in cold water, no other steps. “This method has been found to reduce the caffeine content and is said to reduce bitterness and improve the aroma…” (1). Cold-brewed tea may even have more antioxidants, because water that is too hot, can destroy some of the wonderful powers of tea (1).

  1. Source: Greger, M.D., Michael. How Not to Die. Book. New York: Flatiron Books. 2015 pg. 387.

photo: one of my favorite teas

If you eat sea salt, you may be deficient

best sea saltI stopped eating iodized salt years ago because I read that sea salt is less processed, has more minerals, people tend to consume less because it’s thicker than regular salt, and I think it tastes better (1). Iodine is added to table salt so most people get plenty of iodine, “a mineral essential for thyroid function…” (2). You don’t have to worry about being iodine deficient if you eat seafood, drink dairy milk (which I don’t recommend), or consume seaweed. You don’t need much though. “Too much iodine can cause excessive thyroid gland activity.” A good rule of thumb for eating is, a little of this, and little of that.



  1. Zeratsky R.D. Katherine. “What’s the difference between sea salt and table salt?” Web blog post. Mayo Clinic.  4 May. 2016. Web. 2017, 23 Jul. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sea-salt/faq-20058512
  2. Greger, M.D., Michael. How Not to Die. Book. New York: Flatiron Books. 2015 pgs. 409-410.

How many calories in chicken skin

chicken drumstickWhenever I pick up a rotisserie chicken, I remove the skin, even though it’s the tastiest part. The reason why we’re advised to remove the skin is because it’s mostly fat. If you’ve ever wondered how many calories you’re saving from removing the skin from a chicken breast, it’s 50 (1). If you eat four pieces of chicken breast meat with the skin, that’s an additional 200 calories; now, that’s a lot!

  1. Source: “The Truth Behind 6 Big Food Myths.” Consumer Reports, On Health. Apr 2017. Page 8. Print.


Want to know all the facts on how to lose weight and keep it off, with low-calorie delicious dairy-free recipes, all in one book? Go to http://www.thehighfivediet.com and check it out.

P.S. I know this is a chicken leg, but it’s the only photo I could find with the skin on since I buy skinless chicken breasts.

Don’t sniff your food. It can make you fatter!

IMG_3547I sometimes joke that just being around food makes me gain weight, whether or not I eat it. Surprisingly, there might be some truth to this. Just smelling food can make you fatter. In a study with mice, those that couldn’t smell the fatty food they were eating, didn’t get fatter. Seems crazy that this can be true in humans, but, there are connections between “…the smell system and regions of the brain that regulate metabolism…” (1). We aren’t mice, but “humans who lose their sense of smell….often become anorexic…” (1). We don’t know why this is, “….perhaps the lack of smell tricks the body into thinking it has already  eaten…” (1).  Before you run to your doctor to kill your sense of smell, don’t, this can increase a hormone called noradrenaline, which can increase the chances of a heart attack (1).

With this knowledge I’m not going to sniff food I’m not going to eat, and I might plug my nose if I eat something fattening.

Source: Sanders, Robert. “Smelling your food makes you fat.” Web blog post. Berkeley News.  UC Berkeley. 15 Jul. 2017. Web. 2017, 13 Jul. 2017. Retrieved from: http://news.berkeley.edu/2017/07/05/smelling-your-food-makes-you-fat/

add’l sources:




Tea can harm your health

taking a tea breakI kept getting a cold every few weeks, which is odd because I’m a healthy weight, eat clean, and exercise consistently. My doctor ordered blood work, and the results revealed that my iron levels were low, which surprised me because I eat a good portion of iron-rich proteins in the form of chicken, fish, eggs, or turkey, daily, and I make sure to have steak or lamb once a week as previously advised by my doctor to get more iron.

People who exercise a lot, and who have more muscle need additional iron, so I do fall into that category, but having such low iron levels still didn’t make sense. After doing some research, I learned that the tannins in tea, and I drink tea all throughout the day, hinders iron absorption (1). So, now I limit tea to 16 ounces (one large glass), in the morning, and eat a tangerine or orange with one of my afternoon meals. (Iron supplements can be toxic since it builds up over time (1).

I would have never thought that drinking tea was the reason I kept getting sick and why my injuries from running and tennis were taking so long to heal. This is a good reminder that even healthy foods can be harmful in excess.


*Want to learn more about nutrition? Order my book at http://www.thehighfivediet.com  


Sweet Sweat Waist Trimmer Review

sweet sweat waist trimmer

I’ve seen many women at the gym wearing these waist trainers, and they swear that their tummies are smaller because of it, so I decided to buy it and see if it worked for me. The concept is that when you sweat, it pulls water out of the skin, and removing this water by sweating, will flatten your stomach. When fitness competitors do a show, they deplete their water intake, which does, in fact, make them look much thinner. My stomach never sweats, and I do retain water, so I thought, this product might actually make my abs look better.

 To use the product correctly, you are supposed to smear the lotion, which comes with the elastic belt, onto your stomach and lower back. The waist trimmer stays put with Velcro, but I don’t like the ingredients in the lotion, and just wearing the belt makes me sweat, so I don’t think the lotion is absolutely necessary. With the belt snuggly around your waist, you can then workout. It should only be worn during exercise, and for no more than two hours.

Since I have a short torso, I purchased the smallest size, but even though it’s comfortable, it bunches up and forms rolls on my back and makes my belly look really big when I wear it, so I only wear it when I’m exercising at home. The belt does make my stomach and lower back sweat, but it doesn’t make my stomach look any flatter or smaller.

My recommendation is that, if you want to make your stomach look instantly slimmer, don’t buy this, because, wearing it adds bulk. If wearing it, will motivate you to work out longer or harder, or add more cardio, then, get it; it’s not expensive. If your gym is really cold, you might want to buy this product, because it keeps you warm, even before you start exercising.

If you want to lose body fat, the smartest thing is to make permanent dietary changes. You can use my methods and make my favorite recipes from my book at http://www.thehighfivediet.com


Should I eat a lot more protein to lose body fat?


BBQ chicken

The body burns more calories digesting protein than fat or carbs, because it takes more work to break it down, but how much protein a person should eat depends on their activity level, age, and if they have kidney disease. More protein means more calories, and we’ve been told that in order to lose weight, we need to eat fewer calories, so then what?

You do want to keep the amount of calories in check if you want to lose weight, and protein calories can really add up fast, so when adding protein to your diet, chose lean protein, and cut down on other fats and carbohydrates.

But then there’s the matter of how much protein, and is more really better? The RDA is only .8% per kg of bodyweight, which is like one serving of steak or fish at a restaurant, but that’s a minimum requirement for health, so most people need more than that, but most people eat MUCH more than that.

A small study with 39 people showed that twice the amount RDA of protein resulted in fat loss, but three times the RDA, did not result in body fat reduction. So more lean protein, but not an excessive amount of protein, on a calorie deficit diet, in addition to exercise, will result in more fat loss, according to this study (1).

If you’re worried about eating too much protein, the good thing is that a healthy person’s body naturally gets rid of the excess protein, which means, it’s not stored as protein, but gets converted to fat if you don’t burn it off. In other words, it’s not toxic if you eat more than can be absorbed. Because protein is not stored, you should eat smaller portions of protein with each meal, or snack, frequently throughout the day.

You can use this on-line calculator to determine the range of protein for you: http://www.calculator.net/protein-calculator.html

  1. Source: Mohr, Dr. Kara. (2017) “Can you really lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously?” [blog post]. Girls Gone Strong. Retrieved from:  https://www.girlsgonestrong.com/blog/fat-loss/can-you-lose-fat-and-gain-muscle-simultaneously/


Interested in learning more about nutrition? Go to http://www.thehighfivediet.com

Make your own slimming tea

Any way to cheat the system to lose weight, and people tend to open up their pocket books, but some of these weight loss teas have dangerous chemicals and can cause diarrhea (gross). Studies have shown that vinegar reduces belly fat, but don’t exceed two tablespoons of vinegar a day, and never drink it straight (it could burn your throat).

To make your own slimming tea that’s safe and effective, due to the addition of apple cider vinegar, I created this recipe.

I use this Good Earth’s “Sweet and Spicy” because it has a good flavor and contains a bit of stevia, which balances out the sour vinegar. The finished product kind of tastes like light apple cider, but without carbs or calories.

To make this simple recipe:

  • steep 2 tea bags steep in very warm water for 5 minutes
  • pour 1 tsp apple cider vinegar over ice
  • add filtered water to make 16 liquid ounces

Sip and enjoy!

For more healthy beverages, order my dairy-free cookbook from http://www.thehighfivediet.com


Best fruits that are low in carbs

Smashed Banana Oatmeal

“…Berries are the healthiest fruits…offer potential protection against cancer…boost…the immune system…and may help you live longer” and what’s even more amazing is that they are low in calories and carbohydrates. If they are picked at their freshest, they’re sweet, and will satisfy a sugar craving.

I eat berries every day, but since fresh organic berries can be expensive, I buy frozen blueberries and raspberries and add them to my smoothies and oatmeal.

Photo: oatmeal with pomegranate seeds

Source: Greger, M.D., Michael. How Not to Die. Book. New York: Flatiron Books. 2015 pg. 289.

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