KEBABS: HEALTHY FOOD ON A STICK

Corn dogs, ice cream, and lollipops aren’t the only foods you can eat on a stick. There are also kebabs, a Middle Eastern import. In the US, kebabs are food (usually meat) cooked over a grill or in the oven on a stick or skewer made of wood, bamboo, metal, or, in some cases, a branch of rosemary, lemongrass, or other woody, flavorful herb. Our Chef Laurie Wolf has even put veggies and dessert on skewers to go with the delicious lemongrass chicken and shrimp-asparagus main dish recipes presented here.

Lemongrass Chicken Kebabs

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

8 stalks lemongrass, or 8 metal or wooden skewers
3 large boneless chicken breasts cut in 1- to 1½-inch chunks
2 lemons, sliced
8–12 whole mini peppers, poked through with a skewer if using lemongrass stalks
½ cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon finely chopped bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt
8–12 lettuce leaves (romaine, Boston, or red or green leaf)

1. Preheat the grill.

2. Place the chicken, lemons, and mini peppers on 8 lemongrass stalks or metal or wooden skewers, alternating to your liking.

3. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, and salt. Stir well.

4. Grill the kebabs until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Wrap the chicken and peppers in the lettuce leaves and serve the sauce on the side. (Eating the lemon slice is optional.)

Serves 4. Per serving (2 kebabs): 307 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 108 mg cholesterol, 167 mg sodium, 457 mg potassium, 25 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 1g sugar, 42 g protein

Curves Complete: Enjoy 1 serving for lunch or dinner on Phase 1 or 2 with 1 fat exchange and ½ starch exchange.

Shrimp and Asparagus Kebabs

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

40 large shrimp (about 2 pounds), peeled and cleaned
20 spears asparagus, sliced in 1- to 2-inch pieces
16 scallions, cut in pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
4teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup salsa

1. Preheat the grill.

2. Arrange the shrimp, asparagus, and scallions on 16 skewers. Brush with the oil and drizzle with the lemon juice. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
3. Grill the kebabs until the shrimp are cooked and the asparagus are just tender. Serve with the salsa.

Serves 4. Per serving (4 kebabs): 276 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 280 mg cholesterol, 628 mg sodium, 642 mg potassium, 14 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 34 g protein

Curves Complete: Enjoy 1 serving with 1½ starch exchanges for lunch or dinner on Phases 1 and 2.

Note: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Grilled Eggplant and Plum Tomatoes

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes

1 medium eggplant, cut into chunks
6 plum tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
Pinch of salt
8 basil leaves, shredded

1. Preheat the grill.

2. Thread the eggplant and tomatoes on 8 skewers. Brush with the oil and sprinkle with the oregano and salt.

3. Grill the kebabs until the eggplant is cooked and tender and the tomatoes are soft and browning. Top with the basil.

Serves 4. Per serving (2 kebabs): 106 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 84 mg sodium, 524 mg potassium, 11 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 2 g protein

Curves Complete: Enjoy for lunch or dinner on Phase 1 or 2 with 1½ protein exchanges and 1 starch exchange.

Note: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Grilled Skewered Fruit

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

½ fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large banana, sliced and brushed with lemon juice
1 mango, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
1 tablespoon light agave syrup
2 tablespoons fresh mint, shredded

1. Preheat the grill.

2. Place the pineapple, banana, and mango on 8 skewers. Brush with the oil and sprinkle with the

innamon.

2. Grill the kebabs until golden brown and tender.

3. Sprinkle with the coconut, drizzle with the agave syrup, and top with the mint.

Serves 4. Per serving (2 kebabs): 143 calories, 5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 mg sodium, 294 mg potassium, 27 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 19 g sugars, 1.5 g protein

Note: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

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IMPORTANCE OF CIRCUIT TRAINING FOR WOMEN

Even if you don’t need to lose weight, you might not be physically fit. Bone density and heart health are just two concerns that are particularly important for women, regardless of their relationship with the scale. And the kind of circuit training offered by Curves provides weight-bearing exercise for strong bones and cardio for a healthy heart.

Bone strength and density
After menopause, women can lose up to two percent of their bone mass each year. When you consider that many women live well into their 80s, that loss can be crippling. A study by Tufts University showed that “strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70.”

But what if you’re only in your 30s or 40s? You’ve got plenty of time to worry about bone health, right? Not really. Young women who exercise regularly achieve “greater peak bone mass” than those who do not; that peak generally occurs when you’re in your 30s.

What kind of exercise strengthens bones?
Weight-bearing exercise, or that which causes you to work against gravity, and resistance training, are the best kinds of exercise for strengthening your bones. Examples of weight-bearing exercises are weight lifting, climbing stairs and dancing. The Curves circuit is full of these types of exercises, which are all completed in just 30 minutes.

Exercising for a healthy heart
Exercise can improve and maintain heart health in many ways. Perhaps the most obvious is that it helps us maintain a healthy weight. But it can also help lower our cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which are important for a healthy heart.

The American Heart Association tells us that being physically active is paramount in preventing heart disease. In fact, they recommend “at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes.” This is exactly the kind of workout that Curves circuit training can provide.

Staying fit is vital to living a long and happy life. But doing so doesn’t have to dominate your lifestyle. Just 30 minutes a day is all it takes to make health a priority in your life.

HIGH HEELS: HOW HIGH IS TOO HIGH?

At what height do high heels start to cause significant foot and ankle pain and even damage, inhibiting your stride and even your desire to work out? The answer, says A. Holly Johnson, M.D., a self-described “occasional” high-heel wearer and foot and ankle specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, depends on the answerer. “Some women simply cannot tolerate 1-inch heels, and there’s a subset of women who actually feel better in 1-inch heels. It really depends on the person. My rule of thumb: If it hurts, it’s too high.
Crave a little height without the hurt? Here’s Dr. Johnson’s Rx:

Pick platforms.
“The number one complaint high-heel wearers have is pain in the balls of their feet, because when you’re wearing stilettos, that’s where all the weight of your body falls—on your forefeet and metatarsal heads,” says Dr. Johnson. “When you wear platforms, you’re still getting height, but you’re allowing more of your foot to bear the volume of your body.” Less pain, still a height gain.

Choose a platform stiletto.
If Carrie Bradshaw is your style icon and stilettos are a non-negotiable must, pick a stiletto with a forefoot platform. “The heel may be 4 inches,” says Dr. Johnson, “but the forefoot platform reduces the height you’re requiring of your feet to 3 inches. And that represents an improvement!”

Go for peep toes.
“Open-toe shoes have more room in the forefoot,” says Dr. Johnson. “If you’re prone to hammer toes or bunions, narrow toe boxes are not your friend.”

Size up.
“Most women wear shoes that are too small by at least a half a size,” says Dr. Johnson. “So next time you buy a high heel, upsize by at least a half-size or even a whole size, then place a little pad in the forefoot so that your foot doesn’t reach the end of the shoe. What you’re doing is making the toe box effectively wider—and the experience of wearing the shoes far less painful.”

4 WAYS TO FEEL YOUR BEST AFTER BABY

At the end of your pregnancy you got this amazing little person who has your nose (or eyes) and has totally increased the joy in your life 100 percent. But we can be honest here. For a moment, we can put that joy and happiness to the side and admit it would be awesome if our little bundles of love could come without adding little bundles to the sides of our bellies. And underneath our butt cheeks. And also along the top parts of our arms.

And just in case you’re starting to wonder whether any other new moms get shaky when they just hear the word “bikini,” the answer is “Yes, we do.” Fabulous. We are united in the problem; lets move on to the solution.

The weight came on in a span of nine months. So it is physically impossible that the same weight could go away overnight. We all want to wake up one morning and — poof! — feel as cute as we did pre-baby.

Here are some tips and tricks for feeling your best while you are in the process of getting acquainted with your body post-baby.

1. Put on lipstick
This sounds easy, because it is. It’s hard in the early post-baby days to find time to take care of yourself, but you can always squeeze in a few minutes to put on some lipstick, run a brush through your hair and tell that woman in the mirror she’s on the right track (because you are)!

2. Hit the gym
One workout is not going to get you back to your pre-baby fitness level, but one workout will get those glorious mood boosters called endorphins pumping through your system. And one workout helps lead to another and another. The absolute best way for new mothers to get in shape is in an understanding, supportive environment that gets the scheduling pressure of life with a newborn. Curves has a 30-minute total body workout that will fit into your schedule and help you get your sexy back on a schedule that’s right for you and your baby.

3. Set goals

Once you are back in the swing of your workouts, set attainable goals that you can celebrate. Don’t fall into the trap of making huge, sweeping “I wanna fit in the jeans I wore back in high school” goals. Start with “I want to feel stronger in my legs,” or “I want to make it up and down the stairs in my house for a day without feeling out of breath.” When you achieve these small, yet important, goals you will get a dose of that confidence you need to feel your best again.

4. Talk about how you feel
Tell your husband, partner, best friend—or even just your mom—what you’re dealing with in your head. Their responses might surprise you. They probably see all the strength you’re showing day in and day out with balancing your life and new motherhood — and haven’t even stopped to notice whether or not you are still sporting maternity jeans.

When you see no one else is holding you to impossible standards, maybe you can lighten up on yourself too!

3 MENTAL TRICKS TO BEAT SUMMER WORKOUT EXCUSES

Here’s the scenario: from the first moment you step out your front door on summer mornings, you’re hot. Hot on the way to your car. Hot on the way from your car to work/your kid’s camp/a meeting/an appointment/a lunch date with Brad Pitt.

Oh wait, that’s not Brad Pitt—that’s just your husband. You’re so hot you are delirious!

After spending an entire day wondering if people can actually see the back sweat that’s pooling between your shoulder blades, the last thing you want to do is willingly subject yourself to an activity that will generate more heat and sweat. However, that is exactly what you need to do!

Consistency is the key to long-term life change. If you have set a goal for yourself and you want to reach that goal then you must keep moving forward day after day. Even when it’s hot. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even if some days it feels like a baby step forward. Even after you face the cold, hard truth that Brad Pitt will not be waiting at the end of your workout like a leprechaun who hangs out by the rainbow.

Stay tough and you will stay on track! Here are three ways to turn up your mental game when Mother Nature turns up the heat.

1. Find a workout partner who will hold you accountable.
This is the number one way to stay focused on your workouts. Whether it’s a friend you bring to Curves or a friend you’ve made on the circuit—she should know your goals and how to tell you ‘No way!’ if you happen to suggest that the two of you go for a margarita instead of a workout.

2. Write down your goals.
This might sound hokey, but it works. If you carry your goal around with you on a piece of paper tucked in your wallet, or even just on a note that’s in your phone, in the moments you feel like bailing from a workout you can return to your original goal and remember why follow-through is so crucial.

3. Get in a bathing suit once a week.
Here it is—your excuse for squeezing in some pool time this summer. If you get in a bathing suit at least once a week then you will see the awesome progress you are making (and you’ll get compliments from others on that progress, too!) and that will help you stay motivated. Don’t feel like you are physically in a place where you want to be in a bathing suit in public? That’s nothing to be ashamed of! You can pick out a swimsuit online that you would love to wear next summer and keep that image in your mind as motivation to stay on track.

A little mental toughness goes a long way. With some practice, even in the dog days of summer you will find yourself staying strong and showing up regularly for your workouts.

If you aren’t yet a member at Curves but want to check out our circuit workouts, find a gym near you. We change women’s lives every day, why shouldn’t yours be next?

THE 10-STEP PLAN THAT WILL KEEP YOU ACTIVE FOR A LIFETIME

By Elizabeth Frates, M.D.
Elizabeth Frates, M.D. is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, Director of Wellness Programs at the Stroke Research and Recovery Institute at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and member of the Curves and Jenny Craig Science Advisory Board

What’s your reason for working out? To slim down for swimsuit season or an upcoming reunion? Get in shape for your summer adventure vacation? Maybe you simply want to fit more easily into jeans that seem to have tightened up over the winter. Great! Grab onto whatever goal gets you moving.

Once you’ve accomplished that goal, what next?

You know that a lifetime of activity is key to a lifetime of good health and happiness. For a long-term goal, you need a long-term solution. And that solution is to identify your internal motivation to move. Internal motivation is a powerful force that, when tapped, can keep you committed to healthy behaviors for life. To help you find and use your intrinsic power, I’ve developed this 10-step process.

1. Define your personal mission statement.
Ask yourself: What were you put on this earth to do? The answer might be to raise a family, be an innovator or writer, or perhaps more broadly, to live a loyal, compassionate, honest life. If you find it difficult to define your mission statement, consider how you want your friends and family to think of you, or look at your strengths and think about how you want to use them in this life. These explorations may lead you to your mission.

2. With your mission in mind, make a list of your priorities.
What’s most important to you right now? Your relationship with your husband, your children, your children’s health, your work, your health, taking care of a parent, perhaps serving a higher power? List your priorities and number them in order.

3. Examine how physical activity supports your priorities and mission.
Perhaps regular exercise gives you energy and endurance to accomplish your priorities at work or at home. Maybe you feel more alive after physical activity and that enhances your relationship with your spouse or your children. Maybe you notice that after a workout you have great ideas. Like Albert Einstein who finally put together the Theory of Relativity when he was taking a bike ride, maybe you have flashes of brilliance during your walks, which helps you brainstorm solutions to problems. Knowing that regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce the risk of mortality and the risk of recurrence from breast cancer, lower blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity in muscle cells, which helps control blood glucose, and reduce the risk of our nation’s greatest killer—heart disease—might be information that helps you connect your exercise to your life’s priorities and mission.

4. Bring in the fun factor.
Recall a time when exercise was fun, when it engaged and excited you—school sports or walks by the lake with your grandmother, hula-hooping or hopscotch when you were a girl. Think about a time when you were truly enjoying physical activity. Were you alone, with a good friend, with a group? If you cannot recall a time when movement was fun, then imagine how moving could be fun. Dancing to loud music in the middle of the afternoon? Skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding?

5. Identify what made it fun. What was engaging, invigorating, or exciting about that activity?
Think about the rewards that you felt internally. Maybe the walk around the lake was calming. Perhaps you liked being on a team or felt pumped to have set the goal of doing a 5K for breast cancer and accomplishing that goal. Perhaps you felt energized when you were done, or maybe you simply liked the way you felt when you were moving.

6. Link the fun factor and the internal rewards to your priorities and mission.
For example, when you feel calm and relaxed after exercising, you are at your best and are more productive at work and a better mother. Feeling refreshed and upbeat after a mid-morning workout can give you just the energy that you need to accomplish the rest of your goals (home or work) for the day. If your priority is to be a loving mother, then perhaps the internal reward of feeling connected with your friends after finishing the Curves circuit or feeling stronger due to your tough Jillian Michaels moves might allow you to tackle a difficult conversation that you need to have with a co-worker or tackle the lines at the grocery store with greater ease and grace. Regular exercise is correlated with an increase in self-esteem and mood and these internal rewards can translate to a more fulfilling day. Try to connect how your exercise and the internal rewards from it can empower you to accomplish your priorities and fulfill your mission statement.

7. Now set some SMART goals.
You need to figure out how you are going to get those rewarding internal feelings from exercise that you like, love, or enjoy. What makes sense for you now? Goals with a purpose are ones that are likely to stick and to facilitate change. If the goal is to attend Curves because you want to feel stronger and improve your balance so that you can keep up with your kids or grandkids, this goal is likely to be a compelling one that will help propel you into your car and to your local Curves. Once the goals are in place, it is important to set up opportunities for success and triggers that will help

you get there, because even the most motivated among us need a little nudge every now and then. Make your plan Specific, Measurable, Action oriented,Realistic, and Time-sensitive (aka SMART).

Let’s take your weekly Curves workouts: Decide on the days and times that you can realistically go. Then set yourself up for success with triggers such as getting dressed to exercise before you drop the kids off, or packing your workout gear and taking it with you each day so you can go straight to Curves before you go home. Prioritizing your workout and putting it into your calendar like an appointment helps you to follow through with your plan. If you have a phone that sets alerts, those alarm sounds act as triggers to keep you focused on your goal. If you have an exercise buddy attending Curves with you, then a quick text letting each other know that you are on the way will also serve as added incentive.

8. Enlist a support system.
This could be your Curves buddies, a friend, sister, or partner. Get people that you love and cherish on your team and talk with them about ways they can support you. Ask them to join you at Curves or after your workout. Or have them check in with you to see how you’re doing—how you’re feeling, what changes you’ve noticed since you’ve been working out. It’s not that you can’t do this alone, but we’re wired for connection. Overall, our internal motivation is to live well and thrive, to feel like we’re connecting and flourishing. Your friends and family members can help you see how your Curves workouts are helping you to live out your mission statement and your priorities.

9. Self-monitor.
One of the terrific benefits of Curves is that it is set up to keep track of your workouts. When you check in to see you how did last month, ask yourself how you feel. Are you more energized? Are you sleeping better? Are you more focused during the day? Is your overall mood improved? How is your stress level? How are your clothes fitting? How is your body feeling when you move? Are you feeling stronger? Then take a moment to reflect on whether or not you are fulfilling your priorities and your mission statement. It may help also to keep a log. For example, rank your stress level and energy level from 0 to 10 and see how those levels correspond to how active you are on a daily basis or weekly basis. What’s the fun level of your workouts? If it’s dropping, think about what you can do to raise it. Maybe you need to invite a friend or try one of the new Curves classes. Your Curves Coach can help you keep accountable to your SMART goals that you co-create together.

10. Go back and check on your mission statement and priorities.
Each month or each week, you can check back in with step 1 of this 10-step cycle. Is your exercise plan helping you achieve your priorities and be the person you want to be? If the answer is yes, terrific. If the answer is no, then go back through the steps to remind yourself what makes physical activity fun for you and figure out how you can pump that fun into your exercise plan.

HOW TO MAKE EXERCISE A PRIORITY

If you find yourself falling short of your fitness goals or just can’t find the motivation to stick with a program long enough to get results, it may be time to make exercise more of a priority in your life. Making time for exercise may not seem important when you have stress to worry about, family obligations to take care of, and what seems like a never-ending to-do list. However, investing just a little bit of time towards your health and well-being can provide you with a big return on your investment. And, it’s hard to regret a great workout!

Use these tips to make exercise more of a priority on even the busiest of days:

Make a small commitment for big results
Your commitment to a healthy lifestyle won’t feel like much of a commitment when you consider that it only takes 30 minutes to get a great workout at Curves! Just get into the habit of heading to your nearest Curves location three or four times a week — that’s just 90 minutes to two hours out of your entire week. Considering that you probably spend two hours watching TV, surfing the web, or checking social media on any given day, your commitment to fitness is just a fraction of time in your weekly routine.

Schedule your workouts like an appointment
If you’re good at keeping appointments and maintaining a calendar, just plot those workouts into your schedule as if they were an appointment with yourself! Think of these as gentle reminders to get that workout in during a busy day. As you get into a routine of scheduling your workouts, you’ll find it easier to stick with your program for weeks and months on end. Just choose a time that is convenient for you and plan out your week accordingly.

Pick your prime time
Do you prefer to work out first thing in the morning or do you have more time and energy in the afternoons? Make sure you’re choosing a time that works with your lifestyle and schedule so you are less likely to skip the workout altogether! Making exercise a priority may require really considering when your “prime time” for exercise really is. If you’re not a morning person, don’t force it! Choose a time that you can actually look forward to breaking away and breaking a sweat.

Set up a rewards system
If you’re just starting a new fitness program or you need some motivation to get back into shape, set up your own rewards system so that you can keep reaching your goals and earning your way to success. Treat yourself to a spa day when you stick with your routine for four weeks straight or buy new workout clothes as you drop a size after a month or two of sticking with your regimen. Choose something that really inspires you to keep pushing ahead so it’s easier to make exercise a priority.