Cardio Interval Basics


I hope you’re well on your way to a healthier you. I know tracking your food tends to be a little more time consuming at first but once you get used to what everything is worth, it’s actually pretty easy. Like I said last week, calorie counting is not completely necessary as there are great foods that are higher in calories and a food tracker really can’t take that into consideration. Your ultimate job is to become comfortable to the actual value of food and go from there. Have fun with your food. Try new recipes and don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut with the same old foods everyday.

But enough about that, let’s tackle the next topic at hand: the wonderful world of cardio. I must say for me, boxing and kickboxing is by far the greatest interval cardio I’ve come to love and hate. I only hate it at times because it hurts so good and it’s always a challenge. I am tired after a burst of punching and kicking no matter what, then I have a minute to rest and it’s back at it again. It’s been almost four years since I started and I still find benefit it in. Plus, it’s a great stress reliever. I bring up boxing because I think interval training is one of the most effective ways to get your cardio done in a timely manner on top of increasing your cardiovascular endurance with each burst of speed.

I guess my point with all of this is you have to find what works for you. I know some people do better in a class setting. There are many gyms nowadays that include a lot of free group exercise classes in their membership fees. They have cardio, step, boxing, dancing, spin and many other options to get your heart rate up. The nice thing about classes is you don’t have to think, just do what the instructor says and they are typically 45 minutes to an hour which to me is a good length of time on average to spend at the gym (I would say 90 minutes is a good goal, and that means the time you walk in and change to the time you walk out.)

If you aren’t comfortable working out with others and would rather do your own thing, then cardio machines it is. First, you have to find what works best for you.  I always tell my clients, if you are able to run, run. Walking isn’t going to do you any good unless it is all you are capable of doing for one reason or another. I would say my go to cardio machines are the treadmill, stair climber and every once in a great while, the row machine. When it gets nicer, I will hit the pavement again and start running outside. There will be some 5ks and possibly a duathalon (run, bike, run) in my future.

So now let’s get down to some ideas as far as what you can do once you find your cardio of choice. Going back to those intervals I was talking about earlier, I would start wherever you are somewhat comfortable. Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a good tool to use when gearing up for your cardio sessions. RPE is a scale from 1-10 (1 being you’re laying on the couch watching tv and 10 being on the verge of passing out from exhaustion). When you complete your session, a good place to be on the scale is around a 7 or 8. You should be tired once you are done. If you aren’t, something needs to change the next time you get moving.

Interval Challenge #1
Sprint 1 min, Jog 30 seconds… Repeat 10 times through. You can play with the speed and figure out what works for you and how you feel according to your RPE. You can also scale it back and jog/walk if that works better for you to start out. I try to bump my speed up a little bit for each sprint. The important thing is getting your heart rate up and giving it enough time to almost recover only to bring it back up again. The quicker your recovery, the more you are able to endure.

Interval Challenge #2
These will be longer intervals, so your faster interval can be a bit of a quicker pace since your recovery time is longer.  Think 1 min sprint, 3 min recovery… I would try to jog the whole recovery time if possible.  You can do anywhere from 5-10 sets of these intervals.

5k Challenge
The last challenge would be to use some kind of program to help you prepare for a race of your choosing. I think it’s a great idea to sign up for goals because you then have something to work towards and also something to hold you accountable. I ran a 10k this past fall that I completely prepared for by using a program.  I used and found a program that worked for me and my schedule. This way I had structure to my runs and also a goal to work towards. I found it very helpful and it definitely kept me on track. There are a lot of “couch to 5k” programs out there, you just have to find one that complements your schedule and routine. These programs will include different kinds of runs. Some will be tempo runs, some will be longer endurance runs where you find a steady pace and hold it for the duration and you’ll also incorporate some cross training as well.

Remember, these workouts (except if you’re training for an actual run) don’t necessarily have to be on the treadmill. I’ve done stair climber and row intervals and really felt the fatigue throughout the workout. It’s a great idea to change it up to keep things fresh and keep your body guessing. You are also less susceptible to overuse injury.

So have fun, try these different ideas out and see what you think. Take it from me, cardio is not always fun but you just have to get yourself started and you’ll feel great once you’re done. I always feel accomplished when I go for a run and have a good pace time or do a sprint interval session where I was able to increase my speed each time without fail. Just gotta get after it and push yourself out of your comfort zone. There is no point of doing any type of cardio if you feel the same way ending your workout as you did at the beginning. You should be sweaty, you should be tired, and you should feel the burn in those lungs that will get better over time when you are able to build some endurance. Consistency, like anything in the fitness and weight loss world, is the key to your success.

Nutrition jump start tips…check.
Basic cardio interval ideas…check.

Next up… one of my favorite topics: resistance training. In the next couple weeks I will get you comfortable in the weight room. I know it’s probably the most intimidating place, and the area where people need the most help (which is a big reason Personal Trainers have job security), and that’s where I come to the rescue 🙂  I will keep it simple and give you all the tools to get yourself comfortable with a weight training program. Have a week full of positive attitudes and new cardio workouts!

Nutritional Baby Steps


Well, January is more than halfway over.  New routines should be starting to fall into place and some lifestyle changes you’ve always wanted to make should be in the process of being accomplished.  With that said, I know that there have more than likely been both good days and bad.  Your ducks might not always feel like they are in a row but positive baby steps through all of this is what matters the most.

The ducks I’m talking about are all the aspects of your journey that need to be in place and on point (most of the time) in order for you to see the results you want to see.  When I talk to new clients, I always touch on the three components that I think are the most important: nutrition, cardio respiratory exercise and resistance training.  Over the next couple of posts I will break these down for you and give you some nutrition advice, effective cardio workout suggestions and resistance training programs.  I know I have touched on all of these before but I have a lot of ideas in my think tank to keep you motivated and keep your workouts fresh and fun.

Hands down the most important part of your journey is your nutrition.  I have learned first hand that I can workout five to six days a week and still gain weight because of what I’m consuming. This is by far the hardest part of the whole process.  I think most people can learn to tolerate the physical exercise, it’s the eating part that is tied so closely to your highs and lows in life.  Some people eat to live, most people live to eat.

So let’s just go back to the baby step concept.  Let’s break it all down and then build it back up into happy healthy changes that you can stick to long term.  So here’s a few questions to ask yourself and the most important thing is to accept your current eating for what it is and be honest with yourself.

1. Do you track your food? It’s important to have a starting point.  I don’t think calorie counting is necessary forever but I do think it gives you an idea of what you’re consuming.  It’s amazing how many people have tracked their food for a week and realized they were eating way too much.  Calories aren’t always the most important because there are good foods that are high in calories but are actually quite good for you.  So give yourself a week to track EVERYTHING you’re eating.  Like I said, be honest with it all and know that the bad habits you may currently have are going to be changing for good.

2. Where are your calories coming from?  Are you a carb junkie or is sugar your kryptonite?  Do you avoid all green foods or do you hate the sweet taste of fruit?  There are a lot of people that probably stay under their caloric daily goal but they still can’t seem to lose weight… chances are it’s the foods you’re consuming or not consuming depending on what it is.  Remember, veggies are pretty much free foods…if you’re hungry, they are great foods to turn to, not crackers or cheese.

3. When do you find yourself eating?  There are so many emotions that people tie to food.  When we are sad, we eat, when we are stressed we eat and when we are happy, we eat. Become aware of your triggers and what your biggest temptations are.  I am not asking you to change all of these at once but simply be aware of them.  Awareness and acceptance, like any addiction, are the first part of the whole healing process.  If you drink four sodas a day, try to cut it back to one.  If you tend to be a late night snacker, try to make a good choice and eat a healthy snack.  Little changes in habits are better than no changes at all.

4. How often do you eat?  Do you eat three larger meals a day or are you more of a grazer?  You kind of have to figure out what works best for you.  The latest is five smaller meals throughout the day so you don’t ever feel too hungry which typically leads to binge eating.  Portion control is typically one of the harder things to get control of.  How much are you eating? Do you feel satisfied or absolutely stuffed when you’re done with a meal?  Just some thought provoking questions to asks yourself.  Whatever answers you come up with, try to come up with some possible solutions.

So start with those questions and start making a list of all the things you’d like to change.  I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again, it is a process, it will all take time.  Crash diets will only temporarily fix the problem.  Fix the problem for good by doing it the right way.

Next up: how to get the most out of your cardio sessions.  Until then, happy eating!

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash


A guest post from our customer Gloria:

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

1 medium spaghetti squash (Brewer’s Organics)

2 tbsp butter

1 small onion, sliced thinly (Brewer’s Organics)

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese


Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds.

Bake in microwave:  Place in baking dish with about 1/4″ of water, covered with saran wrap and microwave  for 10-12 minutes or until soft.

Bake in oven:  Place on a cookie sheet (on a silicone sheet) and bake for 45 minutes or until soft.


Preheat the oven to 375*.


Saute the onions and butter over medium heat, until the onions start to caramelize.  Add salt, pepper (and any other preferred seasonings) to taste.


Scrape out the squash with a fork and put in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Mix in the onions, ricotta and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.  Butter a baking dish and add the mixture to it, topping with remaining mozzarella cheese.


Bake for 15-20 minutes until it starts to bubble and turn golden brown.



You can change up the flavor by substituting different cheeses like a sharp cheddar but I tried this out along the lines of a more Italian, creamy flavor.   You could also prepare this the night before and then just pop it in the oven to bake it.

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Sea Salt


A guest post from our customer Holly:

A warm bowl of soup has helped take my mind off the sub-zero Milwaukee temperatures, but whether you live in Milwaukee or in San Diego, split pea soup is comforting, filling, healthy (AND mostly organic, if you include Brewers Organics veggies).  It is a perfect dish for lunch or dinner (or snack-time if you are like me).  This soup is perfect with fresh baked French bread (which I made in my bread machine).  Also, any smoked sea salt with work in this recipe, but I prefer Alder wood smoked sea salt.



1 lb bag organic split green peas (rinsed and picked over)

1 qt organic chicken stock OR 1 qt vegetable stock

1 qt water

3 large carrots, chopped finely

1 large yellow onion, minced

1 small yellow onion, chopped medium

1 large smoked ham hock OR add ½ tsp smoked sea salt (Alderwood preferred)

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. smoked sea salt (Alderwood preferred)



Bring the peas, small, medium-chopped onion, stock, water and ham hock (if appl.) to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour.  If not using a ham hock, add an addtl. ½ tsp smoked sea salt.

Add carrots, minced onion, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, pepper and 1 tsp smoked sea salt.  Cook over simmer an additional 20-30 minutes or until peas have broken down.

Remove ham hock (if appl.) and cool.  Remove any meat, chop medium, and add to soup.  Enjoy!

pea soup

Health & Fitness Tips for 2014!


A guest post from our customer Ashley


Happy New Year everyone! This always seems to be the time for ‘out with the old and in with the new’…new goals, new changes, making new habits and breaking old ones. Though I strongly believe there’s no better time than the present to set goals and reach them, I’m always happy to see new faces at the gym trying to make changes in their life at the start of a new year.  What I don’t love to see is those faces disappearing after a month or two because they didn’t get the results they wanted as quickly as they thought they would.  Remember, weight gain doesn’t happen overnight…for most, it has probably taken months or even years.  Weight loss works the same way.  It’s not a quick fix and it takes time, conscious thinking and energy to see the results you want.  So buckle up and get ready for the long journey ahead…it won’t be easy but you will be so happy you stuck with it and made changes that will affect you for the rest of your life.


I guess I would like to start off 2014 with a few tips to help you stay on track for the long haul.  I am just like everyone else…the holidays come, the parties start and the cookies are constantly tempting me.  I am ready to start the year off on the right foot and not allow these unusual habits in my life to continue.  Here are some of the things that have helped me along the way with setting new goals and getting motivated again.


1. Set both short term AND long term goals.  I find it easiest to stay in the present moment.  Weekly goal setting is very important.  There is never a week that goes by that I don’t know what I’m going to be doing when…workouts included. If I set ‘appointments’ for everywhere I have to be during the week, I’m more likely to go because I do what I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it.  Plan ahead for yourself.  Figure out what works for you and your schedule and be realistic about it.  I have come to learn that there is always time in your life for the things you want to make time for.  If the gym is somewhere you want to be at some point during each day, then figure out when that is and make it happen. 


Long term goals are the prize.  The weekly goal setting helps you keep your eye on that prize.  Make sure you know exactly what you want out of all your hard work.  Goals are made without worrying about being judged by someone else because they are your own.  You are the only one that can live the life you want.  Sit down and take time to figure out what kind of life that ideally is.  It’s an exciting process and I highly recommend writing these goals down and showing them to your biggest support systems.  They will help give you an extra push to stay on track and cheer you on along the way.


2. Tackle one eating habit you’d like to change at a time.  If you don’t hydrate yourself enough, work on getting more water in one week.  Do you have trouble with too much snacking?  After getting on track with drinking more water, try to incorporate snacking less throughout the day.  Are you a carb or sugar junkie?  Hydrate, snack less and try to fill up on good carbs and less sugar.  It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by all the changes you need to make with your eating habits.  There’s no point in trying to take them all on at once knowing full well you’re not going to be able to be successful with each one at the same time.  This is a process remember? 


 Make eating changes that are going to last a lifetime not just be a temporary fix.  What’s the point of eating a certain way knowing full well this is not a forever way of life.  With that said remember there are always going to be holiday parties and birthday parties to pull you away from the proper eating habits you’ve grown accustom to…that is okay.  If you have the proper groundwork in place already, those days aren’t going to phase you long term. 


3. Variety is a good friend to have.  No one wants to be a one trick pony.  It is great to try and do a lot of different things to keep your body guessing.  Throughout my week there are at least four different kinds of workouts I enjoy.  Weight lifting, boxing and kickboxing, yoga and usually some kind of pilates or barre class.  I love being able to switch things up and have new activities to do each day.  The same old routine will become just that…old.  Find activities you enjoy and find a way to incorporate them into your week. 


4.  Find accountability.  Whether it may be a personal trainer or a workout buddy, do what you have to do in order to keep yourself on track.  I am a personal trainer and I have personal trainers that I work with each week to keep me going.  I always used to think that personal trainers were a luxury when in fact, they are an investment that are worth far more than the money you spend to see them each week.  I find them motivating, inspiring and they always push me outside of my comfort zone.  I would not be where I am today without them.


 I also have workout buddies that I love to sweat with…it’s fun, gives me one more reason to show up and make the commitment and it’s pretty cool to have people in your life that are after the same things. 


I can’t wait to start this new year off with a bang.  I’m going to bring the workouts, the recipes and the fun to help you with your goals and aspirations.  I can’t wait to see what the year has in store for me…time to work hard, play hard and continue to grow into the person I want to be.  I’ll leave you with you one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies…  ‘It’s supposed to be hard, if it wasn’t hard everyone would do it, the hard is what makes it great.’  It’s not always going to be easy but the hard will be what makes it all worth it in the end.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Sherry & Garlic


A guest post from our customer Michelle:

Mmmm Mmmm Mushrooms!

I am sharing a delicious recipe for marvelous mushrooms for which I yearn from time to time. It is great as a side dish or on top of hamburgers or steaks.

In the past, I was always afraid of cooking mushrooms. Somehow, tales from my youth taught me that every so often, someone chooses the wrong mushroom in the forest and that’s the end of everything. As an adult, I am more trusting of mushrooms, especially since I do not pick my own. Brewers Organics provides great, trustful mushrooms for all!

Marvelous Mushroom Recipe

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced or crushed

1 lb baby portobella mushrooms (also called baby bellas or crimini)

1 Tablespoon sage

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup cooking sherry

1. In a pan, heat olive oil, then add garlic, mushrooms and sage. Saute until the mushrooms are tender or about 5 minutes.

2. Sprinkle with salt or pepper, according to your taste.

3. Add the cooking sherry and cook for about 3 more minutes.

4. Eat!


Trying to get my 4 and 6 year old kids to try cooked mushrooms is a bit of a battle to say the least. Enticing them with facts helps a little:

-A mushroom is a body of a fungus.

-Mushrooms were once considered magical by Egyptian pharoahs.

-In ancient Rome, mushrooms were believed to give warriors god-like strength.

Calling mushrooms “little umbrellas” or the mushroom caps “car wheels” almost works, but if your little ones are not as impressed with eating them as much as playing with them, you are not alone. They’ll come around in a few (or many) years like I did. I love them now!