Welcome to the Biggest Loser - Turlock's 12 Week Weight Loss Challenge.

Biggest Loser Turlock begins a new 12-Week Individuals Challenge on January 7, 2014! You’re making a commitment to lose weight, and we’re looking forward to supporting you along the way. Check in on our blog often for weekly results, mini - challenges, and tips to help you stay on track and lead a healthy lifestyle!

Monday, February 28, 2011

How Drinking Water Affects Weight Loss & Health

I have been told over and over again that drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day of water is essential, not only for good health but to aid in weight loss as well. Despite being told this, I continue to struggle with drinking enough water to keep myself hydrated. So, to give myself some extra motivation I decided to find out the real facts about how drinking water can wash away a little extra fat.

Water and Fat Metabolism
Your liver is the organ that metabolizes fat. Here fat is metabolized into usable energy for the body. This is the process of burning fat and is the key process for losing weight. When you don’t drink enough water it is actually your kidneys that suffer. Your kidneys are always busy filtering waste products from your blood and they require good hydration to work properly. When you are dehydrated the kidneys slow down and the liver has to pick up the slack. This means that the liver has to work to rid your body of toxins and is too busy to metabolize fat, thus fat metabolism slows down and you lose less weight.

Cycling Water in Your Body
When you first start drinking more water you will be running to the bathroom all the time. But just because you are peeing all the time does not mean that the water coming out is the same water you just put in. In fact what is happening is your body is ridding itself of water it has been storing for some time. This cycling of old water for new is a very important flushing process and will leave your body rejuvenated. And the good news is that eventually your body adjusts to the new amount of water being consumed and the frequency of bathroom visits goes back to normal.

Water Improves Skin Complexion
Drinking enough water also improves the condition of your skin. Water helps to flush impurities from your skin and keeps the skin cells “plump” so that wrinkles and sagging areas diminish. Who wouldn’t want that ?

How much water do you need to drink?
Well, the minimal amount an average adult should drink in a day is eight 8-ounce glasses. If you are an overweight person you should drink another eight ounces for every 25 pounds of excess weight you carry. You should drink this water throughout the day, not all in one sitting. Some experts have said that cold water is absorbed by the stomach faster and might enhance fat burning, but really as long as you are drinking water it doesn’t matter how warm or cold it is. Also, if you dislike the taste of water try adding a slice of lemon or lime to it for flavoring instead of adding empty calorie drink mixes.

So off I go to get a big glass of refreshing water. After writing and reading all the pros of drinking enough water it just seems like a no-brainer.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Paint-By-Number or Masterpiece: Restrictive vs Healthy Eating

by Michelle May

There is a harmful idea virus that has become so widespread, so ubiquitous, that it is accepted as normal. It has subtly integrated itself into our beliefs, our thoughts, our language, our behavior and our reality. It’s so pervasive that it has become “conventional wisdom” and almost no one questions it.

So What Is This Idea Virus?
It is the belief that restrictive eating is healthy eating. It usually starts with information about nutrition or weight management that mutates into rules and restriction. But the blurring of the line between healthy eating and restrictive eating is the difference between a work of art and paint-by-number. Either way, you end up with a nice picture—until you get up close to take a look.

Healthy Eating vs. Restrictive Eating
In Charge vs. In Control
Nourishment vs. Diet
Fuel vs. Calories
Quality vs. Points
Healthy vs. Skinny
Aware vs. Preoccupied
Conscious vs. Consumed
Mindful vs. Vigilant
Information vs. Dogma
Guide vs. Rules
All foods fit vs. Good or bad
Balance vs. Perfection
Variety vs. Temptation
Moderation vs. Deprivation
Choosing vs. Earning
Deciding vs. Rationalizing
Flexible vs. Rigid
Hunger based vs. By the clock
Comfort vs. Portion sizes
Physical Activity vs. Penance
Effortless vs. Willpower
Trust vs. Fear
Learning vs. Failing
Self-acceptance vs. Condemnation
Enjoyment vs. Guilt
Pleasure vs. Shame
Freedom vs. Bondage

The main reason that this virus is so powerful is that it has a built-in protective mechanism: the underlying belief that people who are overweight are incapable of handling freedom or choice. This belief ensures the survival of the virus because when you try to restrict yourself (or others) it actually leads to more cravings for the foods you’ve labeled “bad.” When you finally “give in,” you’re more likely to overeat, proving that you are incapable of handling freedom or choice leading to more restriction.

One of the reasons that this idea virus is so successful at replicating itself is that it initially appears to be beneficial to its host so many people will intentionally seek out. For many people that promote health, wellness and weight loss, “lifestyle change” and “healthy eating” have become euphemisms for “you’re going to be on this diet for the rest of your life.” The virus is so subtle and so ingrained that they usually don’t even realize that restriction is at the core of their message.

How is this Idea Virus Spread?
You are most prone to this virus if you’re overweight (or think you are). Everybody else that has the virus tries to give it to you in an effort to help you (or sell you something). It takes the form of rational suggestions, loving advice and even harsh criticism.
The idea virus spreads vertically through advertising, television, magazines, books, the Internet and medical research. It is propagated by marketers, models, celebrities, reporters, experts, bloggers, researchers and legislators. It then spreads horizontally from doctor to patient, dietitian to client, friend to friend, wife to husband and parent to child. This virus is also swiftly moving from the United States to the rest of the world.

How to Cure This Virus
Take a close look at the “picture of health” you’re painting. Is it constrained by rigid lines and someone else’s choice of colors? Or does it express your individuality, your preferences and your lifestyle? Choose now how you want to create your work of art. Here are some specific steps to rid yourself of the “restrictive eating is healthy eating” virus.

1. Diagnose the virus. Filter everything you read, hear and say by asking, “Is this restrictive in nature?” (You might be surprised when you start to notice just how pervasive it really is!)

2. Begin to monitor your little voice. (This virus is sneaky so it may be helpful to journal so you capture the real essence of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings and choices.) When you notice restrictive eating thoughts from the second column above, gently replace them with true healthy eating thoughts from the first column.

3. The virus may have you convinced that you are incapable of managing your weight without rigid rules. Find role models, health care providers and non-diet approaches that don’t propagate the virus. With time, support and new tools you can do it!

4. Use nutrition information as a tool not a weapon. Remember, all foods fit into a healthy diet.

5. Make the healthiest choice you can without feeling deprived. All foods fit using balance, variety and moderation.

6. Let go of the belief that you need to eat perfectly – that is the virus talking. Accept that you’ll sometimes regret certain choices you make – that is part of healthy eating. When you don’t get caught up in guilt and shame, you’re able to learn from your experiences.

7. Repeat this often: “It’s just food and I can learn to trust and nourish myself without restriction.”

8.Discover joy in creating your own masterpiece!

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award-winning author of Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don’t Work. Find additional articles and resources at http://AmIHungry.com/.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

When the Weightloss Hooneymoon is Over

You lost five pounds the first week. The enthusiasm got you to the second week and you lost four pounds again. How is it then that now, in the first half of the second month, you’ve lost only three pounds? Nothing’s wrong with you. But, at this point, it’s official: the weight loss honeymoon is over. And now the real work of dieting begins.

While the medical community recommends a loss of no more than two pounds per week, most people disregard the advice. They want to lose weight faster. And many do lose faster in the first few weeks of their weight loss journey but, as time goes by, the pounds are harder and harder to drop.

Initial Weight Loss

Some of you lose weight so quickly in the beginning because your calorie deficit is so extreme. Let’s face it, if you go from eating 2500 calories a day and sitting on the couch for 12 hours to eating 1600 calories a day and with light activity, you’re going to see major results at first. After all, your body is missing more than 1000 of the daily calories it needed to maintain your starting weight.

But, more importantly, your quick weight loss may have been largely due to water weight. Excessive intakes of sodium and carbohydrate cause water retention, and so when you start to eat more nutritionally balanced meals, you may lose pounds of water, not fat. And if you have reason to sweat, we’re talking even more water weight gone.

Take that big first month number in stride. And prepare to have a piece of humble pie.


Because of your quick start, you may have come to expect a repeat performance of those results week after week. But that’s simply not realistic. Still, you’re not alone. Studies show that women almost always set their weight loss goals way too high, and then go on to lose much less weight than they expected. But there's a twist! The well-adjusted women realized they felt better with any amount of weight loss, and so they chose not to be dissatisfied with their below-goal results. They simply adjusted expectations and carried on. What else can a reasonable person do?

Long-term weight loss is just that: a long-term goal. The experts knew what they were talking about when they set the recommendation to an average of ½ to 2 pounds a week. Some weeks you’ll only lose a pound and other weeks you’ll lose three. Relax. This is supposed to be about a lifestyle change, so don’t set your short-term expectations too high.

By Carolyn Richardson and Mary Hartley, RD

Monday, February 14, 2011


Put You Love To The Fitness Test!

Sure it might be tempting to eat an entire box of chocolates, splurge on a romantic dinner or skip the gym in favor of a movie this Valentine's Day, but you don’t have to let your love life derail your plans to get fit this year. With these workout ideas for couples, you and your partner can spend quality time together while you stay on track to reaching your goals in February and beyond.

The Benefits of Exercising with Your Partner
The two of you may be at different fitness levels and have different goals, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise together. There are plenty of reasons to give it a try:

Safety. With someone else watching your form and being there to spot you when you need it, you’ll exercise more safely than if you were alone. Besides, who cares more about your safety than your soulmate?

Quality time. Couples spend most of their time apart due to careers and other responsibilities. Instead of hitting the gym alone, plan a workout time that fits both of your schedules. You’ll reach your fitness goals, without sacrificing that one-on-one time that every partnership needs.

A common interest. Add exercise to your list of shared interests and hobbies. The possibility for new, unique activities is endless and keeps things exciting. You can never have too much in common.

Motivation and support. Getting encouragement and praise from your partner is one of the best motivators. It’ll help both of you remain consistent and take care of one another.

A deeper bond. Exercise produces chemicals in the brain that evoke feelings of happiness, reduce stress, and also increase arousal and libido. Several studies show that men and women who exercise regularly report better (and more frequent) sex with their partners.

Respect and pride. Taking care of your body and your health shows the person you care about that you want to be your best for them—and that you want to be around for years to come.

Balance. In many couples, one partner tends to favor cardio (typically women) while the other tends to favor strength training (typically men). By working out together you can balance your workout program to include more of both. Let your partner teach you about the areas of fitness you’re unsure of and be open to new fitness experiences.

Wondering how working out as a couple might work in the real world—especially when you’re both at different fitness levels? Here are some great ideas to get you started:

• Sign up for a class together. While a class like salsa dancing is perfect for couples, other classes will work just as well. Consider trying something new that interests you both: martial arts, an indoor climbing clinic, yoga (including Partner Yoga), 5K training, adult swim lessons, or other sports.

• Do cardio that allows you both to work at your own intensity level. Group classes like Spinning (indoor cycling) allow each participant to cater the workout to their fitness level, meaning that you both get the workout you want—easy, challenging, or somewhere in the middle.
Do cardio side-by-side. At the gym, simply pick two cardio machines next to each other and work towards your individual goals. You’ll be together but can each work at your own speed, intensity, incline and resistance level.

• When walking or jogging outside, try intervals. If you are a slow jogger and your significant other is faster, intervals will be perfect for both of you. Work at one partner’s faster pace for a few minutes, and then recover at the other person’s slower pace. Intervals are also a great way to improve your fitness level and speed over time. Before you know it, you’ll both be able to work at the same pace together.

• When strength training at the gym, "work in" (switch places) with one another between sets. About 90 seconds of rest between sets is beneficial anyway. So while you rest, your partner can complete one set of the exercise. Switching the weights to your own level is quick and easy to do on most machines. Another time-saving option is to use dumbbells, so that you don’t have to constantly add and remove weight plates when switching between sets.

• Stretch together. Assisted stretching has major benefits for your flexibility. Giving your partner a gentle tug or soft push in one direction can be helpful—just don’t overdo it.

• Enjoy the great outdoors. Create a more active lifestyle together by picking up new hobbies. While these may not always count as traditional cardio or strength training, every bit of activity you do will benefit your body and your health. Geocaching, hiking, canoeing, tossing a football, recreational cycling, rafting, camping, and just enjoying a nice, leisurely walk at the end of the day—all of these beat an evening in front of the TV.

• Change it up. Try your partner’s exercise ideas just as you want them to try yours. If you have trouble agreeing, compromise. Do your walking routine on one day, and your partner’s upper body strength routine the next, for example. Be open-minded, but keep your partner’s needs (fitness level, goals, comfort level) in mind too.

By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor

Friday, February 11, 2011

Create a Meal Plan Using MyPyramid

Visiting a dietitian is one of the best ways to demystify nutrition and figure out what to eat. But if that’s not an option for you, getting specific tools to change your daily diet just got easier. You can now create a personalized meal plan simply by going to MyPyramid.gov. Because it’s administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), consider the site your tax dollars at work and take advantage of it for free. Using interactive tools, multimedia presentations and print materials, you can create a meal plan based on the USDA’s dietary guidelines.

Find Your Calories
Find your daily caloric requirements to lose, gain or maintain your weight at Calorie Count and keep that number handy. Then go to MyPyramid.gov and start by clicking MyPyramid Plan on the sidebar under Interactive Tools. Enter your age, height, weight, and level of physical activity to get MyPyramid’s estimate of your daily caloric needs to maintain. MyPyramid doesn’t allow adults to eat less than 1600 calories a day, which makes sense because they’re going for a lifelong eating plan.

Case in point: A 29-year-old woman, who we’ll call Jane, is 5’9”, weighs 169 pounds but would like to weigh 145 pounds, and has a light activity level. According to the MyPyramid Plan, Jane needs 2200 calories a day to gradually move to a healthy weight, but the CalorieCount tool gives her 1,639 calories a day to lose one pound a week. At MyPyamid, fiddle with the data at the “Edit Profile” button to get your desired calories, but don’t worry about an exact match. This is mainly an exercise in finding the right foods.

Plan Your Meals
MyPyramid Plan points you towards a balanced diet with the correct number of servings from the food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and beans, milk, and oils. They provide specific daily goals for each food group, given in ounces and cups, listed at the top of the graph. For instance, at 2200 calories, Jane needs 7 ounces of grains, 3 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk, 6 ounces of meat or beans, 6 teaspoons off oil, and 290 calories to use for extras all in one day.

As you enter what you plan to eat, MyPyramid Plan gives you feedback about what is missing as the day goes on. For those who need additional information about what to eat, the site explains this and even offers a worksheet to help you plan meals. To see the food groups needed at each calorie level, check out this chart.

Plan Your Week
Take the liberty to complete a week’s worth of meals according to the recommendations given. That is the best way to peg how to follow MyPyramid Plan. When you meet your requirements for the food groups, your diet analysis at Calorie Count will be just right, and by logging your food each and every day, you are bound to learn how to eat right.

And now that you know, walk the walk. Knowledge is power and in this case power to be healthy. Remember a healthy weight starts with a healthy plate.

By Carolyn Richardson and Mary Hartley, RD

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

SuperBowl Overload?

Feeling a bit bloated today after all those high calorie snacks that you indulged in against your better judgement? Don't beat yourself up... instead read on for 25 ways to get back on track NOW!

25 Ways to Get Back on Track Today
Don't Give Up on Your Goals!

Not long ago, you were energetic and determined to start your healthy lifestyle. Starting with enthusiasm and hope, you watched your food intake diligently, exercised like it was going out of style, and even avoided the temptation that seemed to lurk around every corner. You were confident that you were going to reach your goals once and for all!

Then certain tragedy struck! You ate an extra piece of birthday cake. Realizing you had “blown” your diet, you ate another and another and couldn’t get it together the next day either. Or worse, you missed one workout, and that turned into a whole week away from the gym. After that, your momentum to start over again was gone, and your gym bag hasn’t left the closet since.

Every time you misstep on your healthy journey, you have two choices: to keep walking backwards, which will surely take you even further away from your goals; or to accept your lack of perfection as normal and forgivable, and take not one, but two positive steps down the path that brings your closer to the future you want.

If you’re reading this, you might have been walking backwards for a while. But instead of waiting for the next day, week, month or even year to overhaul your habits, start TODAY. And start small. You can’t go from the recliner to running or from burgers to Brussels sprouts in an afternoon. But you can do one, two or even a handful of small things that will help you regain your momentum for healthy living.

When you feel like getting back on track is overwhelming, try one (or more) of these small steps each day.

1. Try a short workout. Even five minutes is better than nothing. For ideas browse our video library or workout generator.

2. Try a new recipe. Cooking healthy foods can be fun and it never has to be bland.

3. Eat a healthy breakfast. Your morning meal sets the stage for the rest of your day, so start if off right! Get lots of breakfast ideas here.

4. Drink your water. Try to aim for 8 cups each day and you’ll feel the difference!

5. Look at Motivational SparkPages. Seeing how others overcome similar struggles and obstacles can be a great source of motivation.

6. Track your food today. No matter how it adds up, you’ll learn from it.

7. Update your SparkPage. It’s a visual way to track your ups and downs, but also your progress.

8. Share your goals. Whether you post them on the Message Boards or share them with a friend, you’ll be more accountable.

9. Exercise for 10 minutes. Jump rope, march in place, or do some crunches. Small amounts do add up to something big!

10. Find a buddy. Get support from friends, whether you need someone to listen or a mentor to give you ideas and encouragement.

11. Take a walk. Don’t worry about how long or far you go—just get out there!

12. Create a motivational collage. Include pictures of your goal and reasons why you want to get there.

13. Go shopping for some healthy foods. Use this shopping list for ideas.

14. Check the nutrition facts before you go out to eat. That way, you can make an informed choice.

15. Ride your bike. Even a leisurely ride has benefits for your body and mind.

16. Work in the yard. Gardening and yard work is a great way to add activity to your day.

17. Take the stairs. Even if this is the only thing you do all day, you’ll feel stronger for it.

18. Rack up those SparkPoints! You earn them for every healthy task you do on the site—talk about motivating! Aim for a certain milestone, such as 100 points, and then reward yourself with a SparkGoodie!

19. Listen to an inspirational song. Better yet, make a playlist of them so you can turn to it whenever you need a boost.

20. Re-start your SparkPeople program. Sometimes it’s easier to get back on track when you have a clean slate.

21. Measure your portions. It’s a simple way to learn how much you’re eating.

22. Eat a piece of fruit. Even if 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables sounds impossible to you, one is doable.

23. Slow down during meals. You’ll be less likely to overeat and more likely to enjoy your meal.

24. Play! What kids call “play,” we often call “exercise.” Play a sport, a game, or use the playground equipment to bring the fun back into fitness.

25. Learn something new. Sometimes simply taking a quiz or reading an article about nutrition, fitness, or health can change your mindset and get you back on track.

In tennis, losing one point isn’t the end of the world. It happens to the best of them. In fact, if you can consistently win a few more points that you lose, you may end up in the hall of fame. With healthy eating and exercising, as long as you’re consistently out-stepping your steps back, you’re ahead of the game. If you expect perfection (and many of us do), you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and guilt.

You CAN get back on track today. Even if you’re moving slowly, you’ll be moving in the right direction!

-- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor & Health Educator

4 Healthy Eating Strategies

Follow four smart eating strategies that celebrities follow and swear by.

A former champion bodybuilder, Rich Barretta has helped sculpt the bodies of celebs like Naomi Watts, Pierce Brosnan and Naomi Campbell. At Rich Barretta Private Training New York City, he offers personalized programs, including target-training methods and nutritional guidance. Barretta shares the four rules for healthy eating that his clients swear by, which you can easily adopt.

Healthy eating strategy # 1: Cut back on booze
If drinking is a big part of your social life, your waistline may suffer. Not only is alcohol loaded with carbs and empty calories, but people tend to make bad food choices when they're buzzed. A couple sugary cocktails can easily add up to a thousand calories (half of the average person's daily need), so Barretta advises avoiding alcohol altogether. If you are going to indulge, opt for a glass of wine or slim down your drink with smart swaps like trading tonic for club soda.

Healthy eating strategy # 2: Just say "no" to fried food
"Grill it, bake it, broil it, steam it, just don't fry it," says Barretta. Frying something perfectly healthy, such as chicken, takes away nutrients, while adding fat and calories. Plus, by eating fried foods at restaurants that still use trans fats, you run the risk of raising artery-clogging bad cholesterol and lowering fat-clearing good cholesterol.

Healthy eating strategy # 3: Avoid carbs at night
There's no need to deprive yourself of carbohydrates, but you should be conscious of when you eat them. By consuming high-carb foods (potatoes, rice, pastas and breads) early in the day, you have more time to burn them off. At night, carbs are more likely to go unused and be stored as fat. Barretta's smart eating rule of thumb: Stick to lean protein and veggies after 6pm.

Healthy eating strategy # 4: Choose unprocessed foods
We all know that fresh unprocessed foods are better for us, but often reach for processed products out of convenience. While it's challenging to cut out processed foods entirely, there are certain ingredients Barretta suggests you steer clear of, including high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, white flour and processed sugar. Your best bet is to shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, where you'll find fresh meats and produce.

By Alla Byrne, Shape.com

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

5 Ways to Survive the Superbowl

Little known fact is that Americans will consume more calories on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day except Thanksgiving. The biggest culprits are cheese dips, fried wings, greasy pizza, beer and sodas. On this one day, most people will consume more than twice the amount of food they need to eat. The average individual will eat close to 3000 calories from kickoff up until the Lombardi trophy is handed to the winner. To burn that amount of food, you would have to vigorously shovel snow for 8 hours or run an entire marathon (26 miles) at 6 miles per hour. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the day but avoid adding inches to your waistline. And at the end of the article, another follows with great lower cal football food recipes!

Don't go hungry If you go hungry, trust me, you will definitely over eat. So don't go on an empty stomach. Have something healthy before you leave for the party.

Get your own plate If you eat from the large communal serving tray, you will always eat more than you should. You will simply not be aware of how much food you are eating. The mentality of eating from a common plate is that we are all a team and everyone is helping. So get your own plate. You will know exactly how much food you are eating and it will be easier to stop when its time to stop.

Go Green Eat those fresh fruits and vegetables, they are good for you. Fill your plate with the foods from the veggie platter. I love fruits and vegetables because they are so nutrient dense, full of fiber and they make you feel full. One more thing, please don't drown your veggies in the fattening dip.

Watch the Drinking This applies to both Alcohol and Soda's there is no nutrient value in these drinks and it's so easy to over indulge when it comes to drinking. So, set your limit before you go to the party.

Everything in Moderation It's not about how miserable you can make yourself. Super Bowl Sunday is about enjoying the game, the commercials and the company of your friends. When it comes to food, you can enjoy a greasy pizza or deep fried wing if your heart desires, it all amounts to how much you eat it. It's really simple, don't eat like its going out of style, you will only regret it later. Besides you will eat again tomorrow right?


Healthy Superbowl Recipes

25 Super Bowl recipes to make your game-day party delicious and healthier.
We all know that Super Bowl Sunday is not just about the game—it’s about the food. But pass on the store-bought snacks and take-out food—they’re loaded with fat and sodium. Try our easy Super Bowl recipes for healthier homemade chips and dips, like Chile Con Queso and Chile-Lime Tortilla Chips, which pack less than half the calories and fat of traditional versions of Super Bowl favorites. Or try our healthier Boneless Buffalo Wings recipe, chili recipes and dessert recipes so you can still enjoy all your favorite Super Bowl party recipes. Regardless of who wins the game, you’ll score points among your fellow fans with these healthy Super Bowl recipes.

CLICK HERE to look at all the recipes or try the Boneless Buffalo Wings below...

Boneless Buffalo Wings

Even though boneless Buffalo wings are made with healthy white-meat chicken, they're usually deep-fried and drenched in hot sauce laced with butter. The solution: chicken tenders are dredged in seasoned whole-wheat flour and cornmeal, pan-fried in only a small amount of oil and then drizzled with a tangy hot pepper sauce. With a fraction of the fat, calories and sodium, these boneless wings are reason enough to throw a party.

8 servings (2 "wings", 1/2 cup vegetables & 2 tablespoons dip each) | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes


Spicy Blue Cheese Dip
•2/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
•2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
•1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
•1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Wings & Vegetables
•3 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
•3 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Frank's RedHot, divided
•3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, divided
•2 pounds chicken tenders, (see Ingredient Note)
•6 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
•6 tablespoons cornmeal
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
•2 cups carrot sticks
•2 cups celery sticks

1.To prepare dip: Whisk sour cream, blue cheese, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2.To prepare wings: Whisk buttermilk, 2 tablespoons hot sauce and 2 tablespoons vinegar in a large bowl until combined. Add chicken; toss to coat. Transfer to the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

3.Meanwhile, whisk flour and cornmeal in a shallow dish. Whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon hot sauce and 1 tablespoon vinegar in a small bowl; set aside.

4.Remove the chicken from the marinade and roll in the flour mixture until evenly coated. (Discard remaining marinade and flour mixture.) Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon cayenne.

5.Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken, placing each piece in a little oil. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and chicken, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Transfer to the platter. Drizzle the chicken with the reserved hot sauce mixture. Serve with carrots, celery and Spicy Blue Cheese Dip.

Per serving : 256 Calories; 10 g Fat; 4 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 83 mg Cholesterol; 12 g Carbohydrates; 31 g Protein; 2 g Fiber; 353 mg Sodium; 248 mg Potassium
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 3 1/2 lean meat

Tips & Notes
•Make Ahead Tip: The chicken can marinate (Step 1) for up to 1 hour.
•Tip: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.
•Ingredient note: Chicken tenders, virtually fat-free, are a strip of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of the chicken breast, but they can also be purchased separately. Four 1-ounce tenders will yield a 3-ounce cooked portion. Tenders are perfect for quick stir-fries, chicken satay or kid-friendly breaded “chicken fingers.”

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The WALL-SIT Challenge

This week's mini challenge is physical...but something you can all practice through-out the week in preparation because the challenge will take place at weigh-in next Monday! Beginning at 4:00pm, and repeating again every 20 minutes...

Anyone that wants to participate will line up together against a wall in our gym as we yell Ready-Set-Go! Each person will take on the wall sit position (See below), and the person in each challenge to hold their wall sit the longest wins! You have up to 7 chances to win!. If you enter at 4:00pm and don't win, you can hang around and enter again at 4:20, or 4:40... ! See the prizes in the Mini-Challenge box on the left of the page! Practice on your lunch break at work, as you watch TV at night, or while your oatmeal is cooking in the microwave in the morning!

Wall sits are a challenging way to develop your leg muscles. You also do them in almost any space, provided it has a wall. Stretch your legs before you start, especially your quadriceps.

• Lean your body against the wall at a 45-degree angle with your back to the wall.

• Bend your legs and slide your back down the wall until your legs are at a 90-degree angle, bent at the knees. It should look like you're sitting on an invisible chair. Hold the position for as long as you can.

• Your first attempt at a wall sit will be difficult. You might be able to hold the position for only 30 seconds. With practice, you'll be able to hold the position long. Your legs gradually will get stronger and leaner.