Tags Posts tagged with "Lisa Steuer"

Lisa Steuer

by -
0 1990
An exterior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier

By Lisa Steuer

You’ve most likely heard of this movement. After all, there are HGTV shows dedicated to this idea, and tiny house neighborhoods and associations are popping up around the country. More and more people are becoming attracted to the idea of downsizing and living more simply.

An interior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier
An interior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier

To be considered “tiny,” these houses are typically between 100 and 400 square feet. And while some people can’t imagine living in such a small space, others are attracted to tiny houses for many reasons. For instance, tiny houses cost much less to purchase — typically between $30,000 and $60,000, on average — and with such a small space, it’s much cheaper to cool and heat.

“So there’s a significant money savings that allows people to live a lifestyle that they want to live,” said Tim Tedesco of Stony Brook, who built a tiny house that he is selling. “So this allows them to live a lifestyle that they want to live while having their own place. They’re sacrificing space, but at the same time, they’re living a more minimalistic lifestyle.”

Tedesco, who does custom furniture and interior work with his company Tedesco Home Renovations, built the house entirely by himself in about four months. The outside of the house has solid cedar siding, giving it a colonial look, and there is natural cedar trim around all the windows. The house is 18 feet by 8 and a half feet wide and is on wheels. The house, once sold, will need to be moved to a location, since only the building is for sale and not the land.

“With such a small house, you can spend more on the items that you’re purchasing, like the siding,” Tedesco said. “If you’re building a tiny house, you don’t need as much and you can buy high-quality stuff. That’s what I did mostly on the house — buy better stuff, but less of it.”

The tiny house trend
is getting bigger.

In fact, the only used item on the entire house is the front door, Tedesco said. It’s an antique door with a full brass handle, adding even more to the unique, older look to the house.

Once you walk in the front door of Tedesco’s tiny house, you are in the living area with the couch on one wall. There is a staircase that goes up to the loft on the other wall. Under the staircase, there’s storage space. The living room contains a built-in desk underneath two windows, giving a view of the outside when you’re sitting at the desk.

An exterior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier
An exterior view of a local tiny house. Photo by Wendy Mercier

In the back of the house is the kitchen and the bathroom. The kitchen has small-sized stainless steel appliances. There is a decent-sized utility closet in the back that could be used for additional storage or could be used to fit a stacked washer and dryer if the owner wishes. The house has hardwood floors, LED recessed lighting and a high ceiling that makes it feel even bigger when inside.

While there is ample storage space, according to Tedesco, the owner would most likely have to own fewer things, downsize or maybe rent a storage unit. “It forces you to be selective with what you choose to have in your daily life,” Tedesco said.

The sleeping loft is above the kitchen and the bathroom, and has solid windows for walls. “So if you’re lying up there and open the blinds, you can see the trees and it’s really beautiful. You feel like you’re almost outside,” said Tedesco, who added that a couple could live in the house comfortably.

“As far as having another person in there, space is not really an issue as long as you have enough storage for clothing and personal items. You just have to work a little bit harder to downsize on your personal items. Some people have an easier time than others,” Tedesco said.

In fact, many people who are attracted to the tiny house movement like the idea of owning less.

“People just want to have less and be able to enjoy their life more,” Tedesco said. “I’d rather spend my money on experiences rather than stuff.”

At the time of this interview, the house hadn’t yet sold, but there were interested potential buyers.

“I’ve gotten over a dozen calls in the past two weeks about it, since I listed it for sale. I didn’t list it for any website; it’s Facebook and word of mouth, and I’ve been getting calls about it.”

So, if considering a “tiny” lifestyle, there are decisions to be made, but many advantages to gain.

by -
0 756

Medical experts offer ways to stay on top of mental health

By Lisa Steuer

While the holidays are typically viewed as a happy time, the season can also bring many challenges and stresses that aren’t as common during the rest of the year.

When it comes to the holidays, the combined influence of lack of sunlight as well as the stresses of the holiday season can result in poor mental and emotional health, said Dr. Laura Kunkel, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

“The media makes it seem like a very happy time … and then people wind up feeling guilty if they’re not happy,” said Kunkel.

One stress that people face during the holidays is getting together with family members with whom they may be estranged from or not get along.

“It’s important for people to be mindful of when they’re going overboard to please others, and the holidays particularly puts people at risk for this if they have a pattern of wanting to please others,” said Kunkel. “People should kind of step back and be mindful to their own physical needs and take care of their health during this time and recognize when they might be giving too much.”

A particular challenge that some people may face during the holidays is how to deal with family members with addiction. “Sometimes I recommend that people go to a public place to have a holiday dinner, rather than in someone’s home, and obviously make sure that the person with addiction has transportation.”

When it comes to the holidays, the combined influence of lack of sunlight as well as the stresses of the holiday season can result in poor mental and emotional health. — Dr. Laura Kunkel, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Stony Brook University School of Medicine

People who have lost a relative or someone close to them can find the holidays particularly painful.

“One way to kind of let the grieving process go quickly is to talk about the person and to talk about the memories, and even though it may bring up tears, it’s part of the healing process,” said Kunkel.

For someone who has lost a child, however, it can be quite different. “Old customs may be too painful, and there might need to be some changes,” said Kunkel, adding that some people suffering such a loss choose to travel during the holidays, for instance.

And in the age of social media, try to focus on the moment at hand instead of constantly checking your phone and looking at what everyone else is doing.  “Put the media down and enjoy with the people who are there,” said Kunkel.

In addition, after the hubbub of the holidays, people tend to feel empty and bored in January, Kunkel added. “January is a good time to make sure your social calendar has things set up.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder

It is estimated that 10 million Americans are affected with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and that another 10 to 20 percent may have a mild case of SAD, which is a type of depression that is related to the change in seasons and lack of light. Anyone can be affected — those with a history of depression and even those without. Here are five tips from Ramin Parsey M.D., Ph.D., chair, Department of Psychiatry at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

  1. Get plenty of exercise.  Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood.
  2. Keep up with social activities. When you’re feeling down, it can be hard to be social, but making an effort to connect with people that you enjoy being around can give you a boost. Staying connected to friends and loved ones can offer support and give you something else to think about other than the weather.
  3. Keep on the bright lights. Light therapy is often used to treat SAD, and those lights mimic the natural outdoor light, which appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood. Also think about opening the blinds or sitting closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
  4. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule. Melatonin, a hormone that controls the natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours, could fluctuate during the shorter winter days, causing disruptions to sleep patterns and mood.
  5. Speak to your health care provider. Your doctor can make the proper assessment and give you an accurate diagnosis. He or she can also recommend the right form of treatment.

by -
0 739

Your guide to a healthy winter

By Lisa Steuer

It’s easy to become sedentary and gain a little extra weight during the winter. After all, the frigid temperatures tend to keep us indoors, there are holiday parties with goodies that tempt us and an extra weight gain can simply be hidden under a few more layers of clothing.

But if you take a few steps toward your health and fitness this winter, you can lose or maintain your weight and then be prepared to be in your best shape when the warmer months hit yet again. Here are some tips to keep you on track this winter.

Plan it out
Each Sunday, take the time to look at what you’re doing the week ahead. Plan out what days you’ll work out and what the workout will be. Scheduling them in like appointments may just become habit and make you less likely to miss them. Plus, prepare your healthy meals for the week on Sunday to save time and make it easier to stay on track during the week. For a simple guide to food prep, visit www.fitnessrxwomen.com and search for the article “10 Tips for a Quicker and Easier Food Prep.”

Work out — no excuses
Living a fit lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to miss out on sweet treats at holiday parties and other gatherings. If you know you’re going to be indulging in a few extra calories one day, be absolutely sure to get in a workout that morning so you don’t feel too guilty about it.

Eat beforehand
Before a party or gathering, have a satisfying but healthy snack like a protein shake or fruit like a banana so that you don’t attend the party starving and end up making poor food choices due to being so hungry.

Fill up on veggies
When you go to a party, go right to the veggie tray and fill up.

Stay away from eggnog and other high-calorie drinks
If having alcohol at a party, try a glass of dry red wine or vodka with cranberry. Liquid calories can add up extremely fast. If you do drink alcohol, make sure you’re also drinking plenty of water.

Experiment with healthy baking and cooking
A lot of times, with a few simple substitutions, it’s easy to cook and bake healthier without sacrificing taste. For example, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference if you use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on lean chicken tacos. Visit www.fitnessrxwomen.com for tons of healthy, easy and delicious meals and desserts that won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out on your favorite foods.

Fitness classes
Taking fitness classes can help keep you motivated, and you may even meet new friends who can help inspire you to get to class. The instructor running the class can help, too. Let him or her know your fitness goals for the winter, and they can probably help give you that extra push and also offer suggestions to help you meet those goals.

Work out at home
When it’s cold and snowy, you may be more likely to make excuses to stay home and avoid the gym. Instead, invest in a few simple items that don’t take up a lot of space but allow you to get a good workout in right in your living room — dumbbells, a medicine ball, exercise bands, etc. Try fitness DVDs and free on-demand fitness videos (if you have cable, go to the on-demand menu, select Free On Demand, then Sports then Exercise Sportskool).

Have an incentive
Check out www.dietbet.com and the app, which has games where players bet as little as $30 to meet a specific weight loss or fitness challenge within a specific time frame, and the winners split the pot. You can even start your own game and challenge your friends.

Sign up for a 5K
This will force you to get up and moving! Plus, meeting a challenge you never thought you could do is an indescribable feeling.

Don’t be so hard on yourself
If you overindulge a little bit over the holidays, don’t beat yourself up too much. The good news about getting fit and healthy is that you can always get back on track. Put it behind you, recommit yourself, have a goal and then get to work getting it done.

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For more fitness tips, recipes, training videos and print-and-go workouts that you can take with you to the gym, visit www.fitnessrxformen.com and www.fitnessrxwomen.com.

by -
0 898
A PRAAT dog serves as a reading assistant at a local library. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

By Lisa Steuer

It is quite obvious that people love their pets. In fact, 62 percent of U.S. households contain a pet, and about $45 billion is spent on pets annually, according to Pamela Linden LMSW, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor in the Occupational Therapy program at Stony Brook University.

But what many people may not realize is that these animals could be positively impacting the pet owner’s health, and that emerging research shows that therapy and comfort animals could have a place in therapeutic and trauma settings. Currently, a lot of the research on the health benefits of pet ownership has to do with the bond between the animal and its owner, Linden said.

“There’s a book by Meg Daley Olmert called ‘Made for Each Other’ and the whole book is about oxytocin — and that’s why we bond with others, including other mammals, like dogs,” said Linden. “A lot of it has to do with the gazing and the staring, so studies have been done, especially one interesting study that measured oxytocin levels in both the human and the dog after gazing— oxytocin levels raised for both of them,” resulting in good feelings not only for human, but for the dog, too.

Pella, of PRAAT, visits the children cancer ward at Stony Brook Hospital. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden
Pella, of PRAAT, visits the children cancer ward at Stony Brook Hospital. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

Linden’s hope is that more people will be motivated to understand the role of pets in our lives. She developed the first social work internship with Patchogue Rotary Animal Assisted Therapy, a not-for-profit organization in Patchogue that screens, trains and supports human-dog teams that visit individuals in schools, hospitals and hospice facilities. Linden hopes to work with PRAAT to research the effect that comfort animals have on people who are already sick.

In addition, Linden is the faculty advisor for Stony Brook University’s first Animal Assisted Activity student club anticipated to begin in spring 2016. So far, more than 150 students have signed up for the club, which has goals to help provide education about animal -assisted therapy while partnering students with organizations like PRAAT and local shelters to help prepare dogs to become adoption-ready.

Linden pointed out that people often get confused between service animals, therapy dogs and comfort animals. Service dogs are protected by law, are allowed anywhere animals typically aren’t allowed and have been trained to perform special functions, like open doors, push buttons and retrieve objects for people with visual impairments, for instance. A comfort dog has been trained to visit hospitals, nursing homes and similar places to provide comfort to patients, and a therapy dog is an animal used by a licensed health professional to achieve a therapeutic outcome.

“I’ll give you an example [of a therapy dog],” said Linden. “As a social worker, I’m working with someone who is grieving. And they’re either too numb or too emotional to process the grief. I might bring in a dog with a therapeutic goal of bridging between the client and the therapist by doing those behaviors that we do— you can snuggle up to a dog, pet it, stare into the eyes and have your oxytocin kick in and relax.”

Physical, Psychological and Emotional Benefits

Although the research is limited, studies have demonstrated the healthy benefits of pet ownership and companionship. Linden shared the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits:

Hans, of PRAAT, provides comfort to students during college exams. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden
Hans, of PRAAT, provides comfort to students during college exams. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

• Physical: Pet owners have fewer minor health complaints and have greater levels of exercises and physical fitness. Studies have found that pet owners had reductions in some common risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as lower systolic blood pressures, plasma cholesterol and triglyceride values.

“People experience a decrease of blood pressure talking to pets. Blood pressure decreases for people with normal pressures and those with hypertension when watching fish in a standard aquarium,” said Linden.

• Psychological: Studies have found that pet owners enjoy better well-being than non-owners, and that pet owners have greater self-esteem and tend to be less lonely.

“People find comfort in talking to their animals. People walking with their dog experience more social contact and longer conversations than when walking alone — pets stimulate conversations between people,” Linden said. “Companion animals can help people to laugh and maintain a sense of humor.”

She added that Children with ADHD and defiant disorders exhibit significantly less antisocial and violent behavior than a matched group that did not involve animals.

• Emotional: Companion animals have been shown to alleviate anxiety. Stony Brook brings dogs in during exam time to help relax the undergraduate students.

“Any discussion regarding pets should include the notion of responsible pet ownership — ensuring that their physical, medical and emotional needs are met. This requires adequate financial resources and time to devote to caring for the pet,” added Linden.

by -
0 1401

By Lisa Steuer

In the 1990s, low-fat food products lined the shelves. Consumers believed that choosing a product with a low-fat label was essential for optimal health and fat loss. But today, experts say that a low-fat diet can be detrimental — as food that has the fat removed can instead be high in sugar and calories to make up for the lack of fat.

“The whole low-fat phase was problematic because people substituted refined carbohydrates, and that is a huge problem,” said Dr. Josephine Connolly-Schoonen, Ph.D., RD, the executive director of Stony Brook Medicine Nutrition Division and author of “Losing Weight Permanently with the Bull’s Eye Food Guide: Your Best Mix of Carbs, Proteins, and Fats.”

So with so many diets out there today, which work best for weight loss and health? Here is Connolly-Schoonen’s input.

Going Gluten Free
Gluten is a name for proteins found in wheat, and some common foods that contain gluten include pasta, bread, flour tortillas, oats, dressings, cereals, sauces and more. Go to any grocery store these days and you will most likely find a “gluten-free” section. And while people with Celiac disease cannot eat gluten because they will get sick, many people who aren’t allergic to gluten are touting the weight loss and health benefits of going gluten free.

But if you don’t have a gluten allergy, is it necessary or nutritionally wise to go gluten free?

“I think that many people are gluten intolerant and can benefit from a gluten-free diet,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “But, [it should be] a high-quality gluten-free diet — foods that never had gluten. So your starches are going to be from potato and rice and quinoa, not from gluten-free bread and gluten-free pasta.”

So while foods that are naturally gluten free are generally healthy, those who are not gluten-intolerant should be wary of processed foods that have had the gluten removed, as there now exists a big market and opportunity for companies wanting to take advantage of the gluten-free trend — and products such as “gluten-free cookies” may not necessarily be nutritionally sound.

“In my practice, I’ve seen many people benefit from gluten-free styles of eating, but using whole foods, not processed gluten-free food … A slice of gluten-free bread is rather small and has the same or perhaps a little bit more calories than regular bread,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “Foods that are naturally gluten-free are quite healthy and I really do think people may benefit from a gluten-free style of eating, but it has to be natural.”

The Paleo Diet and Going Vegan
The idea behind the paleo diet is that we should eat as our ancestors or “cavemen” ate, including meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, and excluding processed food, grains and dairy. And while many people have reportedly lost weight on the diet, some argue that the paleo diet does not necessarily follow what our ancestors ate, and there is now a market for processed paleo bars and drinks.

But Connolly-Schoonen says the concept of consuming fewer processed foods is a good one to follow, especially when it comes to sugar-laden beverages.

“With the advent of the high fructose corn syrup, it became so cheap to make sweetened beverages … that have the equivalent of 17, 19, 20 packets of sugar in them, and we genetically cannot handle that.”

In addition, some people choose to go vegan or vegetarian for a variety of reasons — moral, health or a combination. Both vegans and vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry, while vegans also do not use other animal products and byproducts, such as eggs, honey, cosmetics, and more.

“I don’t think you need to be a vegetarian to be at your optimal health, but there is a lot of research over an extended period of time showing that vegetarians, more than vegans, who eat a high-quality vegetarian diet — so no Snickers bars — do quite well in terms of decreasing the risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, and there really is a lot of research behind the vegetarian diet to support that,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “Vegan diets could be healthy, but it’s much more challenging to make sure that you get all of your micronutrients.”

Juicing Up
Juicing is still considered healthy in moderation and as a quick way to get antioxidants. But when you use a juicer, the juice is extracted from fruits and vegetables, leaving behind a pulp that is often thrown away. In addition, this strips the fruit of its fiber but leaves the sugar.

“Even if you’re juicing vegetables, you’re still getting the sugar … and making the sugar much more highly available,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “And most people are more satiated when they chew their food.”

In addition, many people subscribe to the idea of doing juicing “detoxes” or “cleanses” every so often — which have found to be not really necessary, as we already have a natural detoxification system that occurs in our livers. In addition, any sort of diet that deprives one of nutrients is never a great idea. Instead, work on supporting your body’s natural ability to detox.

“If you have an unhealthy gut environment, you’re taxing your liver’s detoxification system. So first you want to have a healthy gut environment, which means lots of fiber and a good source of probiotics,” said Connolly-Schoonen. “Then you need to support your liver’s detoxification system with a wide array of micronutrients, which is going to come from a wide array of whole foods like protein, fish, lean meats, beans and then your vegetables, fruits and nuts.”

The Bottom Line
Instead of following a super strict diet, you may want to simply remember Connolly-Schoonen’s “two key factors” for healthy nutrition: quality and quantity. In terms of quality, choose foods that are less processed — lean proteins like chicken and fish, a huge variety of vegetables, beans, nuts and olive oil for healthy fats.

Once one works on the quality of foods in his or her diet, “it’s been my experience that patients can then much more easily work on moderating the quantity,” she said. “Once you’re eating whole foods and you’re mixing your quality proteins and fats, it becomes much easier to manage your appetite.”

Does this mean you can never have dessert again? Not at all.

“I tell patients if you’re eating ice cream, it should be real ice cream made from whole milk fat and real sugar. You shouldn’t get artificially sweetened products,” she said. “When you want chocolate and you want ice cream, have the real stuff. And that you should be able to include in your diet, maybe not every day, maybe a few times a week — it all just depends on how active you are.”

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For fitness tips, training videos and healthy recipes, visit www.fitnessrxformen.com and www.fitnessrxwomen.com.

by -
0 1241
Maria Raheel, instructor at LISUP, strikes a pose on the board. Photos by Michael Chinnici

By Lisa Steuer

While surfing on Long Island is not extremely common, stand up paddleboarding is more popular than ever in the warmer months — and the good news is that you don’t need to be experienced to get started.

Long Island SUP is just one of the local companies with introductory classes featuring certified instructors, rentals, tours and even fitness classes on the paddleboard. In operation for the last 10 years, LISUP offers paddle boarding on Fire Island and in Smithtown and Patchogue.

Owner and instructor Joe Funaro was a surfer and a life guard, and also does windsurfing and kitesurfing — so getting into paddle boarding was a natural progression for him, he said.

“Surfing on Long Island is very difficult because the weather conditions have to be perfect to surf – it has to be a north wind at low tide,” said Funaro. “Stand up paddleboard surfing, because there is a paddle, enables you to surf smaller waves.”

At LISUP, first-timers typically start with the introduction to stand up paddle boarding class before coming back to rent boards and venture out on their own. In addition, like many other paddleboarding companies, LISUP also offers yoga/paddle fitness classes. More and more yogis are taking their practice to the paddleboard and the water because it creates more instability, making your core work harder.

“We call it yoga fusion because we are fusing both disciplines… so there are a lot of Pilates moves in it, there’s a lot of yoga in it, and then there’s core strength,” said Funaro.

Paddleboarding itself is not too difficult to learn – it’s harder to understand the wind direction, said Funaro. On the North Shore, for example, the wind is pushing you away from the beach toward Connecticut, while on the South Shore, the wind is pushing you in toward shore.

And while injuries are not too common, it’s important to be aware of your environment when paddleboarding and to look out for boats. If a boat creates a wake, “that wake is similar to somebody running through a stop sign; you’re not expecting that,” he said.

Plus, another way to ensure a safer paddleboarding experience is to simply go to a place like LISUP that has certified instructors and areas they already use for paddle boarding, rather than attempting to go out by yourself. “We have our locations to rent the boards because those areas we know best as far as what’s under the water,” he said.

The popularity of paddleboarding continues to grow, and there are also more long-distance races popping up, said Funaro, who has done a race around Manhattan. He has also paddled to Connecticut and Fire Island among others, and also offers paddling tours to those places as well, in addition to sunset paddling.

LISUP offers paddle boarding until October. For more information, visit www.longisland-sup.com.

Get on board
In addition to LISUP, here are a few more local stand up paddleboard companies:

  • Step Into Liquid Stand Up Paddle Board Long Island: Cold Spring Harbor. Contact: 516-302-6852.
  • Epic Paddle Boarding: Various locations. More information: www.epicpaddleboarding.com.
  • Huntington Stand Up Paddle Board: Huntington Harbor. More information: www.huntingtonsup.com.

Get healthier before the season ends

By Lisa Steuer

Summer is in full swing. Ideally, you would have started working toward your summer body a few weeks or even months ago. But if you still have some progress to make, here are some last minute steps to get in better shape before summer ends.

Increase water intake. Leave a full 24 to 32-oz water bottle by your bed every night, and when you wake up in the morning, immediately drink that as you get ready. During the night your body hasn’t taken in much liquid, so it’s thirsty in the morning. Drinking water immediately in the morning gets your systems running and can aid in fat loss. You’ll also find that it’s very energizing. In addition, increase your water intake throughout the day, aiming for a gallon. Stay away from soda and other sugar-laden beverages.

Drinking water immediately in the morning gets your systems running and can aid in fat loss.

Eat a healthy breakfast. This can set you up for eating healthy the rest of the day. Try Greek yogurt with fruit, an omelet with veggies, or throw some fruit, natural peanut butter and almond milk in the blender for a delicious smoothie you can take on the go.

Prepare your lunches for the week every Sunday. Being prepared is one of the most important keys to success when it comes to health and weight loss. An example of a meal you can easily make in bulk: 4 oz. of lean ground turkey or chicken, one-fourth cup of quinoa, and one cup of veggies like broccoli. Bake the broccoli in the oven while making the quinoa and meat on the stove, and before you know it you’ve got a week’s worth of healthy lunches.

Replace your morning coffee with green tea with lemon at least a few times a week. While black coffee is healthy, the cream and sugar that often accompanies coffee is full of calories. Green tea has zero calories, contains antioxidants and has been shown to aid in fat loss.

Order smart at restaurants. It’s not as difficult as one may think, especially because many restaurants now have healthier menu sections. As a basic rule, look for words on the menu like grilled, baked or broiled and stay away from anything fried or breaded.  If possible, view the menu online before you go so that you’re prepared.

Increase cardio activity. Try to do something at least five days a week. Schedule a run every morning or a walk every evening. Go for a bike ride or swim laps. Sign up for a new and different fitness class each week. Just get out and get moving!

Have fun experimenting with new recipes. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Experimenting with new recipes can help keep you motivated. Try out healthy swaps— for instance, more often than not, you won’t even notice the difference when you swap out sour cream for Greek yogurt. Check out fitnessrxwomen.com for some great ideas.

Green tea has zero calories, contains antioxidants and has been shown to aid in fat loss.

Be active during downtime. While at home watching TV, do some crunches, planks, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc. Do some squats while you’re heating something up in the microwave. Get creative!

Cut down on sugar, alcohol and sodium. It’s OK to have a treat once a week or so, but you may find that when you cut out sugar and alcohol, you’ll feel much better anyway. When a sweet craving strikes, try a small piece of dark chocolate or a chocolate protein shake. And while we do need some sodium in our diet, too much will lead to bloating.

Track your food intake with a food log or app like My Fitness Pal. You may be surprised at how much you’re actually consuming without realizing it.

Sign up for a 5K that occurs in the fall. It will keep you on track this summer and help motivate you to stay active. Even if you’ve never done a 5K before, it’s a great way to challenge yourself. You’ll feel amazing when you cross that finish line after all your hard work!

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For more fitness tips, training videos, healthy recipes and print-and-go workouts that you can take with you to the gym, visit www.fitnessrxformen.com and www.fitnessrxwomen.com.

The Metabolic Reboot Smoothie, pictured above. Photo by Lisa Steuer

By Lisa Steuer

Contrary to what some may believe, there are many tasty ways to eat healthy. Whether your goal is to lose weight or improve your well being, smoothies are a great and easy option.

Making a smoothie — when you blend ingredients together — is different from juicing. When juicing, the juice is extracted from fruits and vegetables, leaving behind a pulp that is often thrown away. In addition, this strips the fruit of its fiber but leaves the sugar.

While juicing is still considered healthy in moderation, having a fiber source with your healthy drink is important, said Shoshana Pritzker, RD, CDN, who owns Nutrition by Shoshana in East Islip. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller for longer, is good for digestion and helps control blood sugar.

Still, many people turn to juicing-only type diets in order to “cleanse.” However, this is not really necessary, Pritzker said.

“You have a liver and a kidney that do a phenomenal job at making sure your system is clean and healthy, so there really is no way to detox better than what your body does already on its own,” said Pritzker. A better option, instead, is to focus on filling your diet with plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to keep you healthy and your system running smoothly.

The kind of smoothie you make can be dependent on your goals. For instance, add green tea to a smoothie to help boost your metabolism if you want to lose weight. Or make a health blend with antioxidant-rich ingredients like blueberries. “Overall, you should just be looking for a healthy blend of ingredients you like. Because if you don’t like it, you’re not going to drink it,” said Pritzker.

Making the Perfect Smoothie
Like any healthy meal, the ideal smoothie should contain all three macronutrients: protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. For protein, you could use a scoop of protein powder, non-fat dairy milk or non-fat yogurt (either Greek or regular, depending on your personal preference); the healthy fat could be fish oil, flaxseed, peanut butter, nuts, coconut oil or even an avocado (“You can’t even taste it. It makes it really thick and creamy,” said Pritzker). And your complex carb could be a high-fiber cereal or granola. A smoothie that contains all three macronutrients could even work as a meal replacement.

In addition, if you’re concerned about your fruit going bad before you get a chance to use it, give frozen fruit a try, as it’s just as healthy as fresh fruit (just check the label to make sure it contains no added sugar). “The only thing you want to stay away from is canned fruit,” said Pritzker. “Canned fruit is usually kept in syrup.”

Here are three smoothie recipes Pritzker shared. For more recipes, visit her website at nutritionbyshoshana.com, where you can also download a free smoothie recipe e-book.

Metabolic Reboot Smoothie: Makes 1 serving
Ingredients:
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 fresh avocado
1 cup chopped kale
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 – 1 cup brewed green tea, cooled
Ice
Directions:
Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Antioxidant Power Smoothie: Makes 1 serving
Ingredients:
1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
1 apple, cored and cubed
1/2 frozen banana
1 tablespoon flaxseeds or ground flaxseeds
1/2 – 1 cup water or milk of choice
Ice (optional)
Directions:
Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

PB & J Breakfast Smoothie: Makes 1 serving
Ingredients:
6 ounces plain, nonfat, Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/2 cup fresh or frozen purple grapes
or strawberries
1/2 cup dry oats
1/2 to 1 cup milk of choice
Ice (optional)
Directions:
Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For fitness tips, training videos and healthy recipes, visit www.fitnessrxformen.com and www.fitnessrxwomen.com.

by -
0 1116

By Lisa Steuer

Getting into shape after giving birth can seem like a challenge. You may have gained a little more weight than you ever have before, you are not feeling your best, the baby is up all night and your to-do list has increased dramatically. But with the right support and plan of action, it is possible to not only lose the baby weight, but to get in even better shape than you were before giving birth.

Fit4Mom
One organization that is helping many moms get into shape is Fit4Mom, a franchise with more than 1,300 locations nationwide, said Britney Pagano, mom of two and founder of Fit4Mom Long Island.  In fact, many Long Island moms have lost 70 or 80 pounds with the program, according to Pagano.

Fit4Mom Long Island classes are held at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, Heckscher Park in Huntington and Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon. There are also classes in Nassau. For the full schedule, visit http://nassauandsuffolk.fit4mom.com. Stroller Strides, which is Fit4Mom’s most popular program according to Pagano, is a “Mommy and Me” type class. The children sit in strollers while the moms go through a 60-minute stroller-based workout that combines intervals of cardiovascular and resistance training. The nationally certified class instructors incorporate songs and activities to keep the kids entertained.

But Fit4Mom is more than just fitness classes, said Pagano. It’s about connecting moms, making friends and finding support. In addition to workouts, there are playgroups and monthly moms-night-out events.

gal-getting-ready-w“A lot of moms have told me that our program specifically has really saved them from postpartum depression because it’s given them something to do,” said Pagano. “It was helping them lose weight and meet friends, and they didn’t have the guilt of leaving their child in someone else’s care so that they can do something for themselves.”

Tips for Success
In addition to attending Fit4Mom classes like Stroller Strides, here are some other tips for getting your body back after baby:

Consult your doctor.
Before you start any kind of fitness program, be sure to check with your doctor. He or she knows your individual situation and can advise you when it’s best for you to return to being active. In addition, your doctor may be able to suggest a personalized approach for you.

Find a little time when you can work out during the day.
Once you get the OK from your doctor to work out and do any kind of cardio activity, get in a few minutes here or there doing squats, push-ups, crunches, high knees, other bodyweight or cardio moves or a fitness DVD, even if you can only do a few minutes at a time. You don’t have to do the workout all at once for it to be effective. Just find the time when you can. Visit www.fitnessrxwomen.com/life-health/fit-moms for tons of at-home workouts for moms and more tips.

Get out and go for a walk.
Get outside! Get the stroller and bring baby along for a ride.

Work on building your at-home gym.
Since you may find it hard to get to the gym, there are a few items that are fairly inexpensive that can help you get a good workout right in your own home. Resistance bands, a medicine ball, dumbbells, a jump rope and a stability ball are a good start.

Listen to your body.
If your body is telling you that you need to sleep, and the baby is sleeping, then you should sleep, too. If your energy is lacking, it’s all the more reason to get into a good fitness regimen, because this can help your energy levels, said Pagano.

Fuel up.
You won’t be able to get back in shape if your diet is not in check. Make sure to take care of yourself with a balanced diet: drink plenty of water, eat plenty of fruits and veggies and get your protein. Pagano encourages her clients to find the one day a week where they can get to the grocery store — when there is someone to look after the child — and use that day to plan out all the meals for the week. Chop up all the vegetables and fruit and put into single serve bags. “This way, during the week when hunger strikes, you just have to look in the refrigerator and everything is already done and prepared for you.”

Make time for yourself.
“A lot of times, especially with new moms, we kind of get lost in that and taking care of the baby,” said Pagano.  “But make it a priority to take care of yourself.”

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For more fitness tips, training videos and print-and-go workouts that you can take with you to the gym, visit www.fitnessrxformen.com and www.fitnessrxwomen.com.

by -
0 3050
Inferno Roadside Grill serves up a juicy cheeseburger in Mount Sinai this season. Photo by Lisa Steuer

By Lisa Steuer

A few years ago, most people would have defined a “food truck” as a vehicle parked on the side of the road that primarily sells hot dogs and is mostly appealing for the convenience it offers.

But today, many food truck operators around the country — and now, Long Island — are specialists in their profession. They are experienced chefs who have worked in kitchens for years, have food management experience, or who grew up learning about and appreciating mom’s authentic cooking. They are restaurant owners, wedding and party caterers and seasoned cooks and bakers who all have at least one thing in common — a passion and love for food and cooking.

Burgers by 25A
Patrick Trovato, a graduate of Port Jefferson high school and a current resident of Miller Place, has operated the Inferno Roadside Grill food truck since 2011. Located in Mount Sinai in the Agway parking lot, the Inferno Roadside Grill has built a following solely through word of mouth, said Trovato. Menu items include burgers, grilled chicken wraps, wings and more, and Trovato said he buys all the ingredients every morning, including the beef, which is ground fresh.

“I’ve only been able to do two things in my life — sales and cook,” said Trovato, who previously owned a New York City restaurant with his father and also worked in insurance.

You can spot Patrick Trovato’s truck, Inferno Roadside Grill in Mount Sinai this season. Photo by Lisa Steuer
You can spot Patrick Trovato’s truck, Inferno Roadside Grill in Mount Sinai this season. Photo by Lisa Steuer

Eventually, Trovato decided to leave the insurance industry and go back to his passion of cooking. He purchased an old camper for $500, and it took about four-and-a-half months to transform it into the food truck that exists today. Trovato did all his research, remodeled it, installed a commercial kitchen, made sure he met the proper codes and opened with help from his business partners — his girlfriend, and his friend Kevin, who owns Smithtown House of Vacuums.

“People can’t afford to risk or lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to open a restaurant. So the food truck is a small capital investment, comparatively,” said Trovato. “With a food truck, you can just be great at one thing. … A food truck just lets you be a specialist.”

The Inferno Roadside Grill is open year round, Monday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., weather permitting. This snowy winter, however, made it rough — from Thanksgiving through March, Trovato was not able to be open for a full week.

Looking forward, Trovato plans to open the Inferno Roadside Grill restaurant in Sound Beach by summer. The restaurant, which will be located at 245 Echo Avenue, will have the same menu currently available on the truck, expanded to include specialty “regional” burgers — burgers that are popular in different parts of the country — and possibly a Southern-fried chicken menu. When the restaurant opens, the truck will remain in operation, but the menu will most likely be pared down to strictly burgers and fries, while the other menu items will still be found at the restaurant.

“I have a special sauce on my burger,” said Trovato.  “When you take the fresh ground beef that’s been seared, seasoned, and you add the fresh crisp lettuce, tomato, onion, then you add the sauce, it’s a really unique flavor profile.”

Puerto Rico on Long Island
Roy and Kathleen Pelaez opened their Island Empanada restaurant in May 2011. There are now two locations, in Medford and Ronkonkoma, and two years ago the Island Empanada food truck opened.

Previously, the truck operated during the week, from May through October, off William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, but at press time, the location for this year was not yet determined. The Pelaezes also bring the truck to different events all over Suffolk and Nassau, including fairs, festivals, private parties and even weddings.

“We’re very unique,” said Roy Pelaez. ”And the food is Puerto Rican style, and there’s not a lot of Puerto Rican restaurants on Long Island.”

His mother and father were both born and raised in Puerto Rico. His wife, Kathleen Pelaez, works as a social worker in addition to working in the restaurants, and his daughters — one of whom is getting her master’s degree and the other her bachelor’s — also help out when they can.  “My mom taught me [to cook] and I was able to then teach the other cooks at both restaurants,” said Roy Pelaez, who also worked in and managed restaurants for more than 20 years before opening his own. “It’s the same food that I made in my kitchen, and I was able to just expand the menus to feed a larger amount of people, so it’s really home-cooked food.”

The Pelaezes opened the food truck to make attending festivals and other events much easier for them.

‘Long Island is behind … the rest of the country. Food trucks seem to be sweeping the nation right now. You can really get some good food — inexpensive, hand-held, quick and easy. And now, Suffolk and Nassau are starting to see it, and restaurant owners and entrepreneurs are trying to jump on it.’ — Roy Pelaez of Island Empanada

Since opening two years ago, the truck has done well, said Roy Pelaez, and even though the truck does make things easier, it is still a lot of work, he pointed out. “People just think they’re going to get a food truck and make a million dollars. It doesn’t work like that,” he said. “But the expenses are different.  … I don’t have the big utility bills.”

The Island Empanada restaurants include 26 varieties of empanadas, and the truck includes the 12 most popular varieties, as well as rice, beans, sweet plantains, potato balls, and flan for dessert.

“Long Island is behind a little bit the rest of the country. Food trucks seem to be sweeping the nation right now,” he said. “You can really get some good food — inexpensive, hand-held, quick and easy. And now, Suffolk and Nassau are starting to see it, and restaurant owners and entrepreneurs are trying to jump on it.”

The Mobile Bakery
Jess Kennaugh, owner of Blondie’s Bake Shop in Centerport, found her love for baking at a young age. “It was what I did for fun after school,” she said.

Then in high school, her first job was at A Rise Above Bake Shop in Huntington, her hometown. Kennaugh eventually went away to school, got a master’s degree in education and planned to become a teacher.  “I just always kept going back to the bakery. I couldn’t shake it.”

Blondie’s Bake Shop and the truck, which is used solely for events like fairs, weddings, caterings, etc., both opened in December of 2011. “I knew that food trucks were becoming more popular in the city and in places like Austin and D.C. and San Diego.  So I figured that it was only a matter of time before that happened on Long Island and I wanted to be a part of it.”

The truck has a full commercial kitchen, and in addition to the regular baked goods found in the bakery, there are waffles made to order on the truck — with berries and whipped cream, or chicken and waffles, for instance — as well as grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and even a “macaroni and cheese grilled cheese.”

“It’s restaurant quality food in a laid-back atmosphere,” said Kennaugh, about the appeal of food trucks. “It makes fancier food more approachable.”

At the shop, the most popular item is a lemon berry scone, said Kennaugh, but on the truck a favored item is the s’mores pie — which is a little individual pie with a graham cracker crust, chocolate pudding and toasted marshmallow.

“I think the people can get a sense of our enthusiasm for our product,” said Kennaugh. “I have a really young, excited, creative staff, and that energy is contagious. And I think our product is quality; it’s really thoughtfully made and I think that shows. “

Compared to the bakery, the items on the truck are “a little more indulgent.”

A dinner plate prepared by Roy Pelaez of Island Empanada. Photo by Steve Mahoney
A dinner plate prepared by Roy Pelaez of Island Empanada. Photo by Steve Mahoney

“At the bakery, we sell granola and yogurt and egg sandwiches, so there are ways to get around splurging on what you’re going to eat,” said Kennaugh. “The stuff on the truck is much more indulgent — cheeses and bacon, and we really kind of go crazy with ourselves over there.”

This will be Blondie’s third season. And while Kennaugh was still working on the truck’s schedule at the time of this interview, she said she’s hoping she’ll have the truck out three or four days a week through the last week in October.

“We’re pretty excited because we’re being sought out for private events and more obscure events,” she said.

The Mobile Chef
Steven Mahoney of Amityville has operated his mobile catering business, Iron Mobile Chef, for two years.

“I’ve been in the food industry my whole life, since I was a little kid making pizza,” said Mahoney.  He owned a pork and gourmet food store for about 10 years, and also worked as a private chef on the East End of Long Island for about four years before getting into the food truck business.

“The food truck is a new, fun thing — it’s really great,” said Mahoney. “I did a lot of off-the-premise catering before I had the truck, and now it’s just like an extension — a kitchen I bring everywhere.”

Mahoney attends private parties and events as well as festivals all over Long Island, so the truck never stays in the same place. For bigger parties, Mahoney will bring a staff that includes family members to help out — brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and more. “It’s like a mom and pop store on wheels,” he said.

The unique aspect of Mahoney’s truck is that the menu varies wherever he goes, depending on what’s wanted or appropriate at the particular event. “I can go from hot dogs and hamburgers to lobster tails and filet mignon,” Mahoney said. Items like Philly cheesesteaks and sausage and peppers are usually made for fairs, for instance. At the time of this interview, Mahoney had just finished doing a breakfast party.

“These awesome chefs that are dying to open their own place and they have a passion for cooking and it’s just a little too expensive to get their own restaurant — it’s like their dream come true, but a little bit cheaper,” said Mahoney, about the rise in popularity of food trucks. “It’s a lot more work than a restaurant, but if you have the passion for it, that’s what makes it worth it … I love it and I enjoy what I do. I can work 16-, 17-hour days … and I really love it.”

For those interested in renting Iron Mobile Chef for an event, Mahoney can be reached at (516) 351-5176.