Tips from a Trainer on Keeping Kids Healthy

October 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Healthy

By: Susan Howard


This is my tater tot series part two, furthering the inquiry about how to keep your child at a healthy weight and give them habits for years to come.

Never tell your child to eat everything on their plate.

Teach them to listen to their body’s natural cues of hunger and fullness.  Let them be in charge of taking inventory as much as possible.

Fill their plates with tons of colorful nutritious options and then let them decide how much of what they eat.  Our pediatrician, Dr. Liddy, told us kids will self regulate if given the chance.  Isn’t that what you ultimately want?

When they are out of the house you aren’t going to be there telling them to finish their veggies.  (Unless they are still in the house after college, which seems common these days, but is a different story.)

Teach them about what food does.  Brandy is tireless in explaining that protein builds your muscles, milk helps your bones get strong, carbohydrates gives you energy and veggies help give you vitamins to see, and keep you feeling good.  It doesn’t have to be too complex simple stuff like that broccoli has fiber in it so you can poop.  Then they understand what a balanced diet is and why they need it.

Take them to local farmers markets, farms, and berry picking spots.  Teach them that food doesn’t come from a package, it comes from the ground or a pasture.  Allow your children to have a connection with what real food is.  No it’s not in a Twinkie wrapper.

Plant a garden, herbs is an easy one to start with, and let them help.  My daughter loves dirt and worms and being a little pioneer toddler, she’s a regular Laura Engles. She also now loves basil, parsley, and rosemary, and can pick it right off the vine.

Cook with your kids.  Start with something easy that involves a lot of stirring and pouring.  There is a fun recipe that is basically penne pasta, veggies and cheese in a muffin tin, super easy pasta muffins.

Make healthy foods flavorful.  Take a cooking class, buy a new cookbook, watch the Food Network.  If your kids aren’t eating it, up your game.

Limit excessive television watching.  One of my clients just told me her house rule, if the sun is out no television.  I like that because it seems to encourage kids to take on the day be active.

Inquire about the hot lunch program at your school.  Be involved and try link fresh produce with the cafeteria.  It is a battle worth fighting for.



Heath and Fitness: Habits

April 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy

By Susan Howard, Personal Trainer



Habits are often thought of in a negative way.  Something to be kicked…smoking, nail biting, boozing, getting that sugar fix…the list goes on and on.

We poor mortals are victims of our habits.  Unconnected to our repetitive behaviors, we simply must continue acting them out.  How did it all begin?

Well let’s break it down.   At one point way back when, you felt anxious (or tired or bored) and you turned to sugar, which relaxed you, or gave you a momentary burst of energy.  Now that action has imprinted itself as something to help you fulfill that void.  Then you become addicted to the substance, and at this point you don’t even really need a reason to turn to the habit. The habit becomes the cue.

Our brains are so overwhelmed, sifting through constant stimuli to decipher what is important and what isn’t.  Once something becomes a true habit our brain goes into cruise control and doesn’t even need to think; it just repeats itself.

Knowing that we like patterns, that familiarity is comfortable to us…why not use this to our advantage?   Create a routine to workout everyday (if possible the same time of day).  Put out your shoes and clothes the night before, get your same water bottle ready, all of it.

At first it will take thought.  But ultimately it will become such a ritual that you may not even remember doing it.  Your brain goes into autopilot.  Then when you miss it, you will crave it.  Like a junkie.

So….I want you to have a nasty habit, a dark little secret you partake in at the crack of dawn, something that makes you jittery if you skip using it even once.

The gym.


Are You SURE You Don’t Want to Workout?

February 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Healthy

By Susan Howard, Fitness Ghuru

Often I hear clients complain about not having time to workout, which translates to not wanting to workout.  I have been training long enough to know that people are only going to do what they want to do.

Why don’t people want to workout?  Why not?  It’s because they forget how awesome it feels.  How incredible it is when your body burns through that ATP, lungs take in oxygen, the adrenal glands release epinephrine, endorphins kick in, the heart rate raises up and the blood is pumping.

When I am at my best I feel strong.  Being static makes me feel lazy and like there are no possibilities.  Energy equals more energy.  Kind of like you get what you pay for, or you reap what you sow.

So why don’t people want to workout?  Because they haven’t found the thing they love.  Here are a couple photos from a hike and a run I took last week.  Embracing my true spirit up in the mountains.  I stand in awe of these moments in that I wonder why do I have to beg people to get moving, to commune with nature, to be who they truly are?  WE ARE MOVERS!  We are supposed to move.  It shouldn’t be that big of a bummer to run in beauty and feel powerful. It’s amazing. It’s out there. It’s your day. Take it.


griffith park hike


Pitch Your Old Stuff

January 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy

By: Susan Howard

A client of mine lost about ten pounds last year and is holding strong to her new fighting weight.  “I am done,” she exclaimed.  “I am tired of gaining and losing the same ten pounds.  This time is the last.”  There was something very definitive about how she pronounced the end of the games she plays with her weight.  She is tossing away that habit.  Gone.

Another client who is now down a full clothes size was going through her closet realizing a bunch of stuff doesn’t fit -it’s too baggy.  “Give it away,” I tell her.  “I know,” she laments.  “But what if I gain it back, then I’ll have nothing to wear?” Exactly. First of all, the old stuff is probably out of style, and either way it fits the old you -not the one you are becoming.  Also, if you are frugal like I am and hate to spend money, then it could serve as an extra incentive to keep the pounds off.

Allow yourself to change, make changes, and then step into the new version of who you’ve become.

Creating new habits takes effort, making little decisions each day that culminate into a larger metamorphosis.  Only by exorcising your old self can you clear a space for the new you to be born.  Can I get a Hallelujah?

Let’s stay open and also take charge of 2013.  It is all inside you to have -whatever year you decide.  Make a choice and stick to it, be unwavering, be fierce.  You got this.  Now go get a garbage bag and throw out your old stuff or, even better, donate it.

A question to you the reader: have you been successful at losing weight and keeping it off?  If you have, let me know what worked in your transformation by commenting below.


Peace out.


Bye Bye Super Size

August 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy

By: Susan Howard

I love my wife, so when she asks her health obsessed trainer (that’s me) to pick her up a Mc Flurry from McDonald’s, I comply.  She is breastfeeding twins after all and who am I to deny her? She keeps it together, it’s the least I could do.

Newsflash: apparently there is a Rolo Mc Flurry that has been added to the fast food giant’s list of high caloric items.  I drive through and order my Rolo Mc Flurry and before I pull away am asked by the voice on the intercom, “Would you like the snack size?”  “What, uh yeah I want that.”  Just then in that exact moment I saw a small flickering light at the end of our country’s obesity epidemic.

Snack size means small, a reasonable portion, a snack, a treat.  If you recall in the 2003 documentary Super Size Me, the staff had been trained to try and up sell items costing merely a quarter more for two times the amount.  Now, in 2012 I was asked if I wanted a SMALL at McDonald’s.

Yes, yes I do.

Upon further inspection of the menu there is a list of items under 300 calories.  Yes I am still at the Mc Donald’s drive through window.  On that list includes the egg mc muffin which I have long told clients is a win, if you can bypass the belly busting hash browns.

Was it Paula Deans Diabetic scare?  Michelle Obama’s awesome arms?  Did someone in corporate just start to feel bad for helping to make our children super sized with a Sponge Bob toy, chicken nuggets, a wink, and a smile?  Maybe they just felt so ultimately dumb being singled out as promoters of obesity.  Even with the charitable work Ronald Mc Donald House has done, it’s definitely overshadowed by the Big-Mac-eating-coke-a-cola-drinking-XXL-children of our generation.

I try and keep an open mind and while I am not saying Mc Donald’s is the new Whole Foods, any flag waving in the breeze of wellness makes me smile.  You deserve a break today.

Yoga For Tight Guys

This is Move One in a series of moves that I will be showing you so you can do cool yoga poses even if you are tight.

Downward Dog

Come onto your hands and feet putting yourself in a V position, butt to the sky on a decline with your feet low, hands high (you could also put your hands on a stair).  Lengthen your legs and offer your chest through your arms towards your thighs.  Take your feet wide apart if you are super tight.  To work your back, bend your knees and straighten your spine.


Meanie Trainer Makes a Retraction

July 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy

By: Susan Howard

I fear I was a bit negative in my last blog, telling you, the reader, that if you want to eat a nacho you’d better go climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to burn off all that extra calorie intake.  I feel bad, truly I do, for making food the enemy and asking you to have boundless will power.  And for basically being a meanie.

So this time I thought I would give you some positive tactics to stave off weight gain while still having a life.

  1. Start your day with eggs.  Protein at the beginning of the day helps to keep your glycogen levels even throughout the day, so you are less likely to crave sugary treats.  Hardboiled egg whites are best, 17 calories each, but whichever way you like is good with me.
  2. Order a starter salad at meals.  Studies show people that order salad are 20 percent less likely to overeat during the meal.  Also this can help you not eat the entire breadbasket, since you know a salad is coming.
  3. Pace.  Fidgeting, toe tapping, and standing are all calorie burners.  Want to stay trim?  Drink too many espressos and jitter away.
  4. Play.  Go in your backyard or to the park and play with your little ones or your big ones: Frisbee, catch, tag.  “You’re it.” “No, you are.”
  5. If you’re hungry, drink water first; you may be thirsty.  People tend to be dehydrated, plus your skin will glow.
  6. Clear your house of nutrient-void junk you don’t want to eat.  You can take yourself or your kids out for a special treat, but gallons of ice cream need not reside in your freezer.
  7. Use garlic, fresh herbs, shallots, ginger, whatever spices you like to tempt yourself to eat green vegetables.  Once they turn bright green stop the cooking so they are nice and fresh, don’t let them get all brown and mushy.
  8. Take walks.  Create a walking or bike riding habit.
  9. If you take in too many calories one day, so what.  Just try and get back on track.  Go to Whole Foods and spend too much cash on a bunch of healthy options for the next day.

10. Give thanks.  Appreciate your body for what it is. Show off the parts you love and make peace with the squishy parts -it’s all you.


Workout: Push ups (try to do 6 sets of 10)

10 Incline (hands on stairs, feet on ground)

Rest for 30 seconds

10 Flat (hands and feet on ground)

Rest for 30 seconds

10 Decline (feet on stairs, hands on ground)

Rest for 1 minute

Repeat 2 more times for a total of 6 sets.


Burn 500 Calories Now!

June 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy

By: Susan Howard


After over a decade of touting the benefits of working out for weight loss, I have come to realize that, unless you watch your diet, true weight loss will be an uphill battle.

Diet. I hate that word and I hope I am never on one.

As I use it here, I merely mean “calories in.”

Here’s why just exercise won’t work:

I’ll bet you aren’t going to celebrate finishing a big project at work by running a half marathon with your colleagues, but you might go to happy hour at TGI Fridays and slurp down three strawberry margaritas -1150 calories. (Many of their entrée items tip the 1000 calorie scale as well.)

In the middle of a huge fight with your significant other, you aren’t likely going to go on a 50-mile bike ride to console yourself, but you may eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk -1200 calories.

If you are feeling bored, lonely, tired, or any other emotion really, you probably won’t swim five miles, but you may very well eat a plate of chicken nachos at Baja Fresh -coming in at a whopping 2020 calories.

Point being this: it’s easier to unconsciously consume a large amount of calories, but likely you won’t accidentally burn a bunch. You aren’t going to turn around and say oh shit I just hiked for five hours; I was so angry, how’d that happen?

With restaurants and fast food chains serving such hugely portioned, high caloric fare, nobody’s got your back. (But me of course.) We as a nation are more obsessed with thinness, yet we are fatter than ever and growing. With Venti Cookie Frappuccinos coming in at 800 calories, Starbucks has become a malt shop disguised in a coffee suit.

The next time you are bummed out, down and out, out and about, falling down that slippery slope of food hell, grab a number and do a triathlon instead. Remember you got to pay to play.

How much should you eat in a day? Daily, women can take in about 1600 to 1900 calories and dudes should have about 1800 to 2200. This all depends on size and activity levels.  How do I burn 500 calories, you ask? Don’t take them in. (If you do it will cost you one hour running on the treadmill.) There, they are gone.


Take a 30 minute walk after dinner, with your family, or a friend. You will digest your food better and it will set a great example for your kids. Make it a nightly ritual.



March 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy

By: Susan Howard

3 day cleanse to lose weight

Hello, I am an LA based trainer and I talk about all things healthy.  I took a blogcation, but am happy to be back writing for the site.

I am starting my first official 3-day cleanse.  I picked Fresh Pressed Juicery because they deliver to your house daily, making me feel at least that the juices are SUPER fresh.  I picked 3 days, because it was the shortest amount of time.  The nice thing is, if I am still hungry after drinking my six juices a day, then I am allowed to cheat by boiling broccoli and cauliflower and then drinking the water as a broth.  Thanks Fresh Pressed, you are really spoiling me.  I can drink that or my own urine.

I am on my 48th hour of no caffeine, and standing strong.  Even still, I have already messed up my pre cleanse routine by drinking a Mojito.  I thought about getting a soda water with a splash of cran.  I even pictured myself ordering that at the swank beachside hotel bar my family and I went to on Saturday, but then the word Mojito came out.


What am I so attached to? I expect in the coming days I will learn just that.  The real reason I wanted to try this cleanse was to figure out what I am not willing to let go of and why.  Is food more emotional than physical?  What do I expect from it?  What does it really give me?

I love to eat.  Goodbye food.  I will miss you.  Come back soon.



Spring Forward

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Healthy

By: Susan Howard

So I’ve been thinking about depression and all the funny tricks our minds can play on us
and I have come to realize what a lie these feelings often are.
How dumb our brains can be and how susceptible we are to the littlest things.

Recently a large box of cookies and brownies were kindly sent to our house. Being the staunch fitness guru that I am well,
actually I broke down and tried a few, okay several. Having weened myself way down from sugar I can attest to its effects
from a fairly clean slate.
Soon after eating that delicious caramel brownie, I felt bummed. Not just mad at myself for eating junk, but bummed altogether.

SUGAR, like alcohol, spikes up your insulin giving you a high, but soon after the shock it drops you down– way down.

After my brownie hangover I was left feeling like I can’t get anything done or even if I do who cares?

It’s hard to be mean to poor sugar, we associate it with such happy times–birthdays, weddings, divorces, family gatherings, family leavings.

Also our country has been trained to love sugar.

It’s in our breads, our cereals, even our canned veggies.

Did you know that when the canning industry sends its products to America it adds sugar to OUR batch.

We are the international sugar consumers! Even if we don’t mean to be it’s hard to avoid.

This being said, if it’s your birthday have a little slice of cake or share a dessert with a friend, just don’t let the sugar fest last too long
or you might be asking yourself what are birthdays really for anyway. Why was I born? Who am I? I think I should nap.

I do not mean in this ramble to be making light of those truly dealing with clinical depression, but I do believe the choices we make effect our everyday.

You’d think we’d learn, myself included. I am here to remind us all.


I love to celebrate the warm weather with something light and delicious. So easy and yummy, check this one out.

Cucumber Salad

Two Cucumbers
A small piece of Ginger (powdered could be okay too)
A little clove of garlic
1/2 Lemon
2 scallions
1/4 cup Soy Sauce

Peel and slice up your cucumber into little circles. Mince ginger and garlic together, put little sprinkle of lemon juice on top to take the edge off.
Thinly slice scallions after chopping off tops and ends. Throw the whole thing together in a bowl, toss the soy sauce in (if you are watching your sodium you could use low sodium soy or swap it out with vinegar)
Put the juice of the lemon on top and then let it rest in the fridge for a half an hour or so.

Then eat.

Great side dish with a turkey sandwich, or grilled chicken and rice

Bring it!!!


Susan Howard Fitness