Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Warm Workout

Winter Warm Workout

Winter Warm Workout by choicescoach featuring a bomber jacket

Don't let the cold put you in hibernation mode.  During cold weather it seems harder to get up in the morning and even harder to make it to the gym.  Make sure you have the right gear in your wardrobe to make it a little easier to get out in the cold.  

Dress for the weather.  If you normally wear your workout clothes straight to the gym, then layer up and change your shoes when you arrive.  Running shoes are made for ventilation which is great while you are running, because it helps keep your feet cool and dry.  However, running shoes are not made to keep your feet warm or to keep moisture from coming in. Wear your warm snow boots or hikers to the gym, and change into your athletic shoes when you are ready to warm up. There are tons of cute snow boots this season with fleece or faux fur lining to keep your feet warm and dry. If you don't have a good pair, then shop the sales. Can't find snow boots you like?  I might be able to help you with that. Here are my picks:

Aside from keeping the feet warm, you can trap in more body heat by layering up. Start with your dry-fit garments. Then layer on a sweatshirt, fleece pants, a down bomber jacket, and gloves. (Athleta is promoting a big sale right now, up to 60% off, so stock up!). As your body warms up at the gym you can peel off the excess layers until your down to the layer that keeps you cool and dry.

Cold muscles don't want to move. They simply aren't ready for it until you warm up. The warm up does a few things that are not to be bypassed.  A good warm up lasts 8-10 minutes and includes any easy cardio of your choice (walking, jogging, elliptical, etc.).  It gets the heart pumping and the lungs breathing heavier in preparation for a tougher workout. The blood pumping faster heats up the muscles and joints, making them more elastic and ready for exercise without injury. Also, the lungs breathing heavier means more oxygen, and more oxygen always means burning more calories. We definitely want that!

After the body is warmed up it is time for the workout! I have designed the following workout to hit all the major muscle groups. It is a hybrid workout drawing on basic strength training, circuit training, body weight training, Pilates, and barre techniques. The goal of the workout is to burn calories, strengthen the core, and tone the arms, legs, and glutes. The workout will probably take you about 30-45 minutes. All you need is one set of dumbbells, an exercise mat, and a chair or bench.  You can easily complete this workout at home since it doesn't require much space or equipment. I'm including a written format and video demonstrations for your convenience. As a reminder, always warm up first. 

Note: Always check with your doctor before embarking on an exercise program. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Choosing The Right Yoga Pants

Yoga Pants To Flatter Every Body

Yoga Pants To Flatter Every Body by choicescoach

Choosing the right pair of yoga pants is like choosing the right pair of jeans. The wrong pair will highlight everything you would rather hide.  However, the perfect fit will accentuate your assets and minimize your insecurities.

The first step is choosing high-quality, athletic fabrics that add compression. Compression will hide a world of sins. This doesn't mean buying cheap pants that are too tight and looking like a stuffed sausage. Compression has to do with the quality of the fabric and the placement of the seams so that you get that sucked-in effect.  The second step is making sure the pants pass the butt test. That means that when you bend over in your downward dog you aren't mooning the entire class or showing off your new lacy thong.  It doesn't matter what size you are.  The wrong fabric can become sheer when stretched in downward dog.  If it doesn't pass the butt test, then it shouldn't be worn to the gym. There are lots of brands to choose from, but my go to pick is Athleta.  Their pants have great quality fabrics, excellent compression, and they always pass the butt test.

The final step is choosing the right pants to flatter your body.

Straight pants

Straight pants are the most universally flattering for most body types.  They add length to short legs and minimize hips creating a long straight line.

Revelation Pant |

Flared leg pants are best for long legs.  They create curves and shape for bird legs and boyish figures too.  Stay away from this style if you have large hips.  It will only make them look bigger.

In Fusion Pant |

To minimize the appearance of large thighs choose a straight cut with a loose fit.  This will create a nice long line from the hip to the ankle without accentuating the thighs.  Stay away from large prints.  Choosing details like pockets or prints at the waistline will draw the eye up away from the thighs.

Zebra Chaturanga™ Tight |

To add shape to bird legs you can play with horizontally striped prints on the lower half.  Horizontal stripes make everything look bigger, so women with larger thighs beware.

Flare Chaturanga Tight |

Camouflage the appearance of cellulite by choosing dense, small prints in medium to darker colors. Stay away from lighter colors on bottom, because the light will pick up each dimple like a spotlight.

I hope that simplifies choosing the right yoga pants to flatter your shape.  Questions and comments from readers are always welcome.  I would love to know what your favorite brands are in active wear!

Fit > skinny,


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Introducing Fitness and Fashion

Looking Fabulous for Brunch!  In the West Bottoms of Kansas City

Low Calorie Eating is officially changing over to Choices Coach. When I explain the changes that I'm making it will all make sense.  I am so excited to tell you that I am going to start blogging more about fitness and fashion. I've devoted many a blog to the subject of low-calorie eating, and I'm almost finished with my book (Coming Soon!). I will continue to write about food, but I am going to add on more information about my other great loves. It just makes sense to write about fitness, since I'm a personal trainer. Duh! I've been a little slow on this one.  Fashion, on the other hand, has been a great love in my life since I was a little girl.  It just makes sense to incorporate this part of me into my blog. More on that in a minute.

I'm a personal trainer, so why haven't I posted much about my workouts?

Like I told you in a previous post, I have lost 30 lbs. over the past year.  I didn't really blog that much, because I was too busy doing. Working out like a beast takes a lot of time and devotion. Now that I'm much closer to my goal weight I can make time to share some of my workouts with you.  I write workouts all the time for clients and for the classes that I teach at The Yards Athletic Club.  I can't wait to start sharing them with you, so we can start achieving results together.

Why fashion.....?

My love of fashion is nothing new.  It's just new to this blog.  All through high school I spent countless hours sketching fashion designs.  I constantly said I was going to be a fashion designer. Fast forward a bit. Later I studied fashion design classes at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, MO while I was working on my masters. Once I finished school I started an online clothing boutique called Everything Chic. Several years later I became a buyer for Payless Shoe Source.  I love shoes, but I wasn't really cutout for the corporate world.  After quitting Payless, I worked for a boutique and a gym until I could figure things out (Ginger & Maryann and Body Boutique, respectively).  Thus, a trainer I became.  That's the short version.

.....Why now?

Now that I have lost so much weight I realize how much an influence fashion has on feeling good. A workout can change your mood, and so can your outfit.  Your clothing can also tell a lot about how you feel about yourself and your body.  No matter where you are towards reaching your goals you can dress in clothes that flatter and fit your body.

Choices Coach will be about all three of my passions: fashion, fitness, and food.  My goal is to coach better choices in all three areas to complete the overall picture of looking and feeling your best. Subscribe by e-mail, and never miss a post.

Fit > skinny,


P.S. Check back Tuesday! The post will be about choosing the right yoga pants to flatter your shape.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Under 200 Calories

One of my favorite things about the holidays is pumpkin desserts.  I indulged in my mom's delicious, homemade, gluten-free pumpkin cake roll over Thanksgiving.  I have no idea how many calories that was, but it was worth working out a little harder from now until Christmas.  Since I can't eat that everyday, I became inspired to turn my morning oatmeal into a pumpkin pie spiced, low-cal confection.  It's no pumpkin cake roll, but it's still pretty darn good.


1 Plain Instant Oatmeal Packet
1 Tbsp. Country Pumpkin Butter (I used Dickinson's brand.)
1 tsp. White Chocolate Morsels
1/4 cup water, boiling
Pumpkin Pie Spice, season to taste ( I used 2 dashes.)
2 Tbsp. Whipped Topping (optional)


Mix the pumpkin pie spice and oats.  Then add the pumpkin butter and white chocolate morsels.  Add most of the boiling water and mix.  The boiling water will melt the white chocolate.  Mix until it's creamy.  I like my oatmeal to be the consistency of cookie batter.  If you don't like it that way, then add more boiling water.  If you accidentally add too much water you can cook it for 20-30 seconds in the microwave, and it will thicken up.  Let the mixture sit for a minute so that the oats have time to absorb the water.  Top with the whipped topping, and enjoy!

Total Calories 195

  • Fat 6g
  • Carbs 32.5g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Sugar 12g
  • Protein 5g

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful I've Lost 30 Pounds

Thanksgiving is a time to feast and reflect on what you are thankful for, and I am thankful that I have lost 30 lbs. over the past year......Oh yeah, I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my safety, my shelter, and all of the other important things in life, too.  Let's get back to what this blog is really about though, weight loss/management.

How did a person that is a low-cal blogger/personal trainer/health coach even have 30 lbs. to lose in the first place?

Well, let me explain that before you decide that I have lost all credibility.  Life happened.  Stress overtook me.  I suppose I let it overtake me or, rather, consume me.  I kind of gave up on myself for awhile.  My wake up call was a picture.  It's always a picture.  My face looked fatter.  I didn't recognize myself anymore.  There were a lot of tears.  There was a lot of self-loathing and shame. When I was almost done feeling sorry for myself I decided to do something about it.  Over the past year I have recorded my calories on the Lose It! app.  I can't say that I did it religiously, but I can definitely tell you that when I stopped tracking I hit weight loss plateaus.  I also increased my workouts tremendously.  On average, I worked out 6-8 hours per week.  At this point, I may have lost your interest.  You may be thinking, "Eight hours!?  Ain't nobody got time for that!!!!"  I can't resist an opportunity to quote Sweet Brown.  Please stay with me, folks.

Does it help that I am a personal trainer? Of course.  Does it help that I work at a gym part-time, as well?  Of course.  Does that mean that you can't do the same?  No.  However, it may be more realistic to shoot for 5-6 hours per week.  Think of the time that you spend on leisurely activities like watching TV, reading, etc.  You get 24 hours in a day.  Let's do the math for a super busy schedule:

 8 hours sleep
 1 hour shower & get ready
 10 hours work/juggling kids
 2 hours traffic
 2 hours food prep/eating
+1 hour TV or Workout (How about combining both?)
 24 hours

Sounds exhausting.  It's hard.  I get it.  What's also hard is living in an unhealthy body.  It doesn't have to be an hour per day everyday.  It could be split up however you please.  I tend to workout 2-3 hours on both Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1 hour on Saturday or Sunday, and 30-50 minutes on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I always take a minimum of one day off for recovery.  If you haven't been exercising at all, then focus on trying to exercise 30 minutes per day.  Even just 30 minutes a day can dramatically improve your overall health, and impact/prevent diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

I am still working out at least 6 hours a week, and I am now 5-10 lbs. away from my goal weight.  I haven't blogged in quite some time, but I'm back.  You have goals.  I have goals.  I want to help.  Let's embark on this journey together.  Over the next several weeks I am going to be adding some exciting changes to my blog.  I'm going to be changing the look, logo, and name.  I will be adding fitness tips, workouts, and motivation.  In addition, over the next couple months I intend to finish my book that I have been teasing for years.  I'll let you know when it's finished.

I'd love to hear from you about your fitness/weight loss journey.  What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fast Food Breakfast 400 Calories & Under

For Breakfast I try to stay within a range of 200 to 400 calories. I am sure you have probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That doesn’t mean that it has to be a huge meal, especially if you are not that hungry first thing in the morning. If you start the day with a 200 calorie breakfast, then you can certainly afford to have a mid-morning snack within your calorie budget. Be aware of your calories on beverages. They can really add up in juices, whole milk, and high-calorie coffee drinks.

Coffee is a beverage that seems to polarize people. Most people either love it or hate it. As a trainer I acquired a taste for it, because it was the only way I could get up on time for a 5:30 a.m. appointment with a smile on my face. If you are not a coffee drinker, then I would suggest subbing in one of the following beverages in place of coffee:


Unsweetened Green Tea 0 (Top Pick!)

Coffee with 2 Tbsp. Half & Half 41

Coffee with 1 Tbsp. Non-Dairy Flavored Creamer 37

Coffee With 2 Tbsp. Non-Dairy Flavored Creamer 72

8 oz. Skim Milk 91

8 oz. 1% Milk 105

8 oz. 2% Milk 122

4.5 oz Chocolate Skim Milk 90

8 oz. Original Soy Milk Light 60

8 oz. Vanilla Soy Milk Light 70

8 oz. Chocolate Soy Milk Light 90

8 oz. Original Pure Coconut Milk 80

8 oz. Original Almond Milk 60

8 oz. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk 40

8 oz. Vanilla Almond Milk 90

8 oz. Chocolate Almond Milk 90

8 oz. Orange Juice Light 50

4 oz. Orange Juice 55

8 oz. POM Pomegranate Juice Light 75

8 oz. Big Train Fit Frappe Protein Drink, prepared (Assorted Flavors) 60 - 70

8.25 oz. Muscle Milk Light (Assorted Flavors, Lactose Free) 100

11 oz. EAS AdvantEdge Carb Control Shake (Assorted Flavors) 110


Breakfast Fast Food

Burger King

Quaker Oatmeal Original 140

Small Iced Coffee 80

Total Calories 220


Quaker Oatmeal Maple and Brown Sugar 270

Small Iced Coffee 80

Total Calories 350


Sausage Burrito 290

Small Iced Coffee 80

Total Calories 370


Breakfast Muffin Sandwich: Egg and Cheese 220

Small Iced Coffee 80

Total Calories 300


Breakfast Muffin Sandwich: Ham, Egg, and Cheese 260

Small Iced Coffee 80

Total Calories 340


Breakfast Muffin Sandwich: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese 250

Small Iced Coffee 80

Total Calories 330


3 French Toast Sticks 224

1 oz syrup 120

Coffee with 2 creamers 46

Total Calories 390

Egg & Cheese Crossan’wich 300

Coffee with 2 creamers 46

Total Calories 346



Dunkin' Donuts

Egg White & Cheese Wheat Muffin 250

Vanilla Iced Latte Lite 90

Total Calories 340

Egg & Cheese Wake-Up Wrap 180

Vanilla Iced Latte Lite 90

Total Calories 270

Bacon Egg White & Cheese Wheat Muffin 290

Vanilla Iced Latte Lite 90

Total Calories 380

Bacon Egg & Cheese Wake-up Wrap 210

Vanilla Iced Latte Lite 90

Total Calories 300


Egg White Veggie Flatbread 330

Vanilla Iced Latte Lite 90

Total Calories 420


Glazed Munchkin 70

Vanilla Iced Latte Lite 90

Total Calories 160


Einstein Brothers


Turkey Sausage Egg White Salsa Sandwich Thin 230

16 oz. Iced Nonfat Latte 90

Total Calories 320

Egg White Asparagus and Mushroom Thin 280

12 oz. Nonfat Cappuccino 90

Total Calories 370

Fruit & Yogurt Parfait 230

12 oz. Nonfat Cafe Latte 100

Total Calories 330





Egg McMuffin 300

Large Non-fat Iced Latte w/Sugar-free Vanilla Syrup 60

Total Calories 360

Egg White Delight  250

Small Non-fat Latte  90

Total Calories 340 

Sausage Burrito 300

Small Non-fat Cappuccino w/Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup 50

Total Calories 350

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal w/ Brown Sugar 290

Medium Non-fat Iced Latte 60

Total Calories 350

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal w/o Brown Sugar 260

Small Non-fat Latte 90

Total Calories 350


Apple Cinnamon Walnut Oatmeal 270

Small Non-fat Iced Latte 50

Total Calories 320


Fruit & Yogurt Parfait with Granola 150

Medium Iced Latte 100

Total Calories 250


Snack Size Fruit & Walnuts with Dip 210

Small Non-fat Latte w/Sugar-free Vanilla Syrup 80

Total Calories 290




Jr. Breakfast Burrito 260

Espresso Shot 5

Total Calories 265



The calorie content in Starbucks drinks certainly runs the gamut, because there are numerous options. If you do not find your favorite drink listed, then please take the time to look it up on the Starbucks website.

Spinach & Feta Egg White Wrap 280

Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte 100

Total Calories 380


Petite Vanilla Bean Scone 140

Tall Non-fat Latte w/flavored syrup 150

Total Calories 290


Perfect Oatmeal w/Brown Sugar 150

Tall Non-fat Caramel Machiato 140

Total Calories 290


Marshmallow Dream Bar 210

Grande Iced Skinny Latte w/sugar free syrup 80

Total Calories 290


Perfect Oatmeal with dried fruit, nut medley, & brown sugar 390

Espresso 0

Total Calories 390


Reduced-fat Turkey Bacon, Egg White, Cheddar Sandwich 320

Tall Skinny Iced Latte w/sugar free syrup 60

Total Calories 380


Fruit Cup 90

Tall Non-fat flavored Latte 150

Total Calories 240


Banana 90

Tall Non-fat Caffe Mocha 170

Total Calories 260


Greek Yogurt & Honey Parfait 290

Grande Skinny Iced Latte w/sugar free syrup 80

Total Calories 370


Dark Cherry Yogurt Parfait 310

Tall Skinny Iced Mocha 70

Total Calories 380


Strawberry Blueberry Yogurt Parfait 300

Tall Skinny Iced Latte w/sugar free syrup 60

Total Calories 360


Vanilla Almond Biscotti 150

Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte 100

Total Calories 250


Double Chocolate Biscotti 150

Tall Skinny Mocha 110

Total Calories 260


Caramel Macchiato Biscotti 170

Tall Non-fat Caramel Macchiato 140

Total Calories 310


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Best Gluten-Free Products

I recently decided to go gluten-free for many reasons.  One of those reasons is that I have had troubles with arthritis in all my joints.  Apparently gluten is bad for inflammation.  Also, I read Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Way Back to Health by William Davis.  In the book Davis cites empirical research studies that show that the hybridized wheat of today is bad for our health and may be partly responsible for the obesity epidemic.  I highly recommend reading the book.  If you don't have the time or interest in reading the book, then just read all the reviews on Amazon.  The testimonials are very compelling.

My own testimonial is that when I initially went gluten-free for three weeks I lost 4 lbs.  I didn't make any other changes to my diet or exercise.  I wasn't counting calories or even focusing on eating healthy.  I had plenty of meat, cheese, and nuts.  Yet I still lost weight.  I also didn't have any major flare ups in my joints during that time.  After week three was over I decided to cheat a little bit.  I had some gluten in the form of Crab Rangoon (I'm yearning for a gluten-free version!).  The next morning I woke up with the inflammation in all my joints again. 

With that lesson learned I went another four weeks without gluten.  Unfortunately I had another weak moment and had Beef Wellington appetizers from Cosco (Please tell me if you ever find gluten-free puff pastry!).  Again I woke up the next morning with all the joint pain.  It wasn't worth it.

10 Symptoms of Gluten-Intolerance

I realize that going gluten-free might seem like a daunting or even impossible task.  For me it was a relatively easy transition.  As I have mentioned before my husband, Carl is Celiac (which is even worse than gluten-intolerance).  Since I already have to read labels to make sure I don't poison him it isn't hard to do it for myself.  We have been married for five years, and we have tried numerous gluten-free products.  Some are good and some are not.  Instead of telling you all the products that aren't worth the money I would rather focus on the positive.  I have compiled the following list of some of our favorite gluten-free products:

Hormel Pepperoni and All-Natural Deli Meats
Boar's Head All-Natural Deli Meats
Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Brown Rice Pasta
Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta
Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta (Recipes)
Conte's Gluten Free Spinach & Cheese Ravioli, Cheese Raviolli, and Gnochi (Frozen.  They have many other products that I haven't tried yet including pizza and pierogies! Available Online!)
R.P.'s Pasta Co. Linguini and Fettucine (Refrigerated)
Classico Pasta Sauces (The Alfredo is also gluten-free!)
Sonoma Gluten-Free Flatbreads by Donatos (Frozen)
Deli International Pizza (Frozen)
Freschetta Gluten-Free Pizza (Frozen)
Mama Mary's Gluten-Free Thin Pizza Crust
Canyon Bakehouse Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia, Sandwich Bread
Schar Par-baked Baguettes, Sub Rolls, and Ciabatta Rolls
Rotella's Sandwich Bread
Udi Sandwich Bread, Hot Dog Buns, Hamburger Buns, and Bagels
Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Bisquick and Dessert Mixes (Recipes)
Chebe Cheese Bread Mix (Cheese sold separately.  I haven't made these in a long time.  Sorry, Carl.)
Enjoy Life Soft Baked Cookies (Free of wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, shellfish)
Grandma's House Gluten-Free Apple Pie (Frozen)
Alexia Potatoes (Frozen)
Selected Wolfgang Puck Canned Soups (Not all are gluten-free.)
Selected Amy's Canned Soups and Frozen Entrees (Not all are gluten-free.)
DePuma Frozen Gluten-FreePasta (I haven't tried this yet, but I'm including it in the list b/c it looks AMAZING!)
Glutino Pretzels & Bagel Chips
Stax (Pringles are not gluten-free.)
Blue Diamond Hazelnut Thin Crackers (They have other varieties, but we like the Hazelnut kind.)
Van's Gluten-Free Crackers
Chex Cereal (Make sure it's the Gluten-Free!)
Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour, Rice Flour

Additional Resources:
Gluten-Free Product Reviews from fellow blogger and Kansas City girl, Marissa Carter

Hopefully you will be able to find these gluten-free products in your local supermarket in the health foods section or within the rest of the store.  If not, then you may have to purchase them online.  I also highly recommend requesting them through your local supermarkets in hopes that they will stock them for you.  Just remind them that they are missing sales.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease!


P.S.  Please include your own delicious gluten-free finds in the comments!

about Sara

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On-site Personal Training & Nutrition Coaching in the Kansas City metropolitan area. I offer personal training at your home or work site. I also offer personalized online nutrition plans and corporate wellness programs. Contact me at with any questions.