Claire Kowalchik

Going on vacation doesn’t mean you get to take a vacation from your healthy lifestyle—at least not a significant one. Unfortunately, temptation greets you everywhere, whether it’s the ice cream and pizzerias along the boardwalk, the cotton candy and caramel corn at the county fair, or pina coladas and margaritas at the resort hotel. The lure to splurge is great, and willpower under the influence of fun and frolic can be a little challenging. Here are several tried-and-true tips to keep you faithful to your healthy eating goals while allowing a touch of indulgence.

Don’t skip breakfast
You’ll get the brightest and most energetic start from a breakfast that combines protein with carbohydrates, such as a vegetable omelet with whole wheat toast or nonfat plain Greek yogurt (higher in protein than regular yogurt) with fruit and a sprinkling of nuts. It will keep you feeling satisfied longer and offers a steady supply of energy throughout the morning.

Be smart about snacks
You already know that eating a snack between meals prevents you from getting too hungry and overeating at lunch or dinner. When you’re on vacation and on the go during the day, carry a snack in your purse. Having one handy will help prevent you from diving into the ice cream shop or the pizza parlor when hunger strikes. A perfect option is one of the Curves Snack Bars. If it’s a hot, sunny day and you simply crave a cool treat, opt for a fruit popsicle, or frozen yogurt topped with fruit, over higher-calorie ice cream.

Dine wisely
When dining out, choose a meal with lean proteins (chicken, fish, beans or tofu), lots of vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid fried foods, high-carb entrees, and dishes made with cream sauces or lots of cheese. Share a meal with a friend or family member, especially if you select a menu item that’s a little higher in calories and fat than you might otherwise eat. If no one at your table is willing to share, ask your waiter or waitress to divide the meal and put half in a doggie bag before she brings your food to your table.

Indulge judiciously
Okay, you are on vacation, and it’s only fitting that you relax—just a bit—your tight rein on drinks and desserts, the empty-calorie but full-of-pleasure indulgences. “If you want to have a special splurge on vacation, you can plan for it and stay on track with your weight-loss goals,” says Darcie Anderson, Curves nutritionist. “Phase 2 of Curves Complete allows 400 combined calories of snacks throughout the day, and occasionally, you can enjoy all those calories in one delicious indulgence.”

If celebratory cocktails call to you, Anderson suggests making a wine spritzer with sparkling water, wine, and a splash of fruit juice. “You can have two for the same caloric impact as one glass of wine,” says Anderson. “This is a refreshing way to stretch your drinks out over the evening.”

Move a little more
For all of your efforts at calorie control while you’re on vacation, you’re likely to consume a few extra. “Try to find creative ways to get in more steps, or try a new activity,” advises Anderson


Use Flavored Vinegars to Enhance Vegetables

By Ali Struhs

When you think of vinegar, your great aunt’s canned pickled beets probably come to mind, but vinegar is so much more than a pickling ingredient. Introducing flavored balsamic vinegars! These vinegars, like red pepper or pear can add a gourmet and delectable twist to your vegetables. Lisa Talamini, a Registered Dietician for Jenny Craig, suggests adding infused vinegars to vegetables and salads, and even meat or fruits for new bursts of flavor. “My two favorite food pairing strategies are to either enhance a flavor or contrast one,” she says.

At just 10 calories per tablespoon, this is one flavor enhancer that counts as a free! There are countless flavors of vinegars, from chocolate to raspberry, meaning there are countless ways to add flavor to every vegetable. Here are just a few ways to upgrade the taste of your veggies with infused vinegars.

Resist the ranch
Try an exotic flavor combination of grapefruit flavored balsamic vinegar on a fresh salad. Drizzle this refreshing vinegar over a salad of sliced tomatoes, hearts of palm, and sliced radishes.

For another twist, make your own vinaigrette by combining 1 tablespoon of raspberry-flavored vinegar and 1 teaspoon of heart-healthy olive oil with a touch of dijon mustard and drizzling on an antioxidant-rich spinach and strawberry salad.

Caramelize your veggies
Rather than just tossing a mix of vegetables in only olive oil and then roasting in the oven, try adding a flavored vinegar also. Red pepper balsamic vinegar adds a summery vibe to roasted vegetables. Just toss washed and cut squash, broccoli and cauliflower florets, red onion, and carrots in a mixture of flavored vinegar and fat free cooking spray and spread evenly on a pan. If you have extra time, you can put the veggies and vinegar/cooking spray combination in a zippered bag to marinate in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook, bringing out even more flavor. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees, or on the barbeque in a grilling pan, if weather permits, until the vegetables are tender and caramelized.

Drizzle on steamed vegetables
Steamed or microwaved veggies don’t have to be bland. Make a balsamic vinegar reduction sauce to drizzle on top of steamed asparagus, broccoli, or green beans. To reduce the volume of vinegar into a sauce, cook the vinegar in a sauce pan on low heat until desired thickness. Various flavors to try include fig, raspberry, or mango!

Not just for veggies
Vinegar can also be added to unexpected food, like fruit, meat, and even pancakes! Talamini recommends trying violet balsamic vinegar on top of our Classic Waffles. Reduce the vinegar down by cooking it on low heat, creating a vibrant, floral “syrup” to top Jenny Craig breakfast menu items, such as Blueberry Pancakes or Classic Waffles.

If you’re making a meal on your own or serving guests, she also suggests vinegar is a great addition to many cuts of meat. Peach balsamic vinegar is the perfect glaze for a roast tenderloin, or to balance the smoky flavor of salmon grilled on a plank, baste it with a pomegranate balsamic.

Additionally, you can get your get your chocolate fix by drizzling chocolate balsamic over fresh strawberries and serving with plain nonfat yogurt.


Claire Kowalchik

Have you hit a weight-loss plateau? Are you getting bored with your same old, same old workout routine? Maybe you simply find yourself craving a challenge. “These are all good opportunities to make a change in your routine and do a harder workout,” says Megan Johnson, Senior Manager for Programs and CurvesSmart®. “You should always be pushing yourself to your fullest potential when you workout, but sometimes you might need an extra little push, and a change in workout intensity can do just that.”

Step it up
If you’ve been following the traditional Curves plan—twice around the circuit, three days a week—you have many options to choose from to help raise the quality of your workouts.

Dance, box, or strengthen your way to greater fitness. 
Turn up the heat by throwing your hips into the Dance and Tone class,* suggests Johnson. Or add in a fourth weekly workout through Body Basics,* or the Boxing Class*. Each of these classes builds on the traditional Curves Circuit by incorporating strength exercises, dance steps, or boxing moves between each of the machines.

Reap the benefits
And what do you get for all that extra sweat? “If you’ve hit a weight-loss plateau, boosting the intensity of your workouts or of your overall week’s routine will help you jump off that plateau and begin to lose weight again or tone up faster,” points out Johnson. “Mixing it up and/or raising the bar erases boredom, and it bestows important health benefits—stronger cardiovascular fitness, which translates to better heart health and greater endurance for all of life’s activities.

Plus, the challenge of a more intense workout and the accomplishment of meeting that level of intensity/challenge is something you’ll feel really good about. And who doesn’t enjoy a little boost in self-esteem every now and then?

*At participating locations only.

Slow Down and Eliminate Distractions while Eating

By Staci Amend and Ali Struhs

Are you always finished with your dinner before everyone else in your family, or do you find yourself eating on the go for nearly every meal? Do you rush through dinner while checking emails or watching television? Distracted and unconscious eating may actually be harming your weight loss goals. Studies show that distracted eating may lead to weight gain. Plus, are you really savoring that fresh salad with vegetables you gathered from your garden alongside your favorite Jenny Craig dish?

It’s time to slow down, turn off the distractions and practice some mindful eating behavior strategies.

What is mindful eating?
Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. Just as if you were to stop and smell the roses, stop and notice the vibrant red of the tomatoes on your salad, or the aromatic summery smell of the char on your Jenny Craig Turkey Burger.

Mindful eating is especially important for those on a weight loss journey. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full. “Eating more slowly allows for the natural feedback systems within your body to let you know you’ve had enough — and it enables you to more fully experience the act of eating with all your senses,” says Lisa Talamini, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Jenny Craig.

“Using mindful eating awareness techniques that will naturally and enjoyably slow you down enables you to move from a distracted to more conscious eating style,” said Talamini.

Think about these tips for slow, distraction-free eating.

Craving or hunger?
First, make sure you understand the difference between real hunger and a craving. Hunger is physiological, such as your stomach growling, headache, tiredness, not food-specific). Cravings are more psychological, like the urge to eat something very specific like chocolate, and sometimes associated with negative energy or emotion. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry, or are you just bored, angry, lonely, or tired? If it’s more emotional than physical, consider riding out that urge with a tactic like drinking a glass of water, going for a walk around the block or engaging in some other short term activity. If you’re actually hungry, sit down and slowly, mindfully eat something.

Take a break from the screen
Distracted eating can lead to overeating, since you’re not paying attention to how much you’re eating and when you are beginning to feel satisfied. Put your phone down and turn off the TV and turn away from your desktop, laptop or tablet.

Plate your food
Just because you can microwave your dinner in the container doesn’t mean you should actually eat out of the plastic dish. Instead, try plating your food on a dinner plate as if you would a meal you prepared yourself. Consider using a placemat and a cloth napkin to make your meal even more mindful.

Check in with your emotions and body sensations
Before you take a bite, take a breath and then a sip of water to signal the start of your meal. Chew each bite carefully, and pause for a bit between bites. Notice…the tastes, textures, aromas. This will automatically slow your rate and help you know your “state.” Pay attention to how each bite brings you closer to satisfaction. Ask yourself, “Am I still hungry, am I feeling stuffed, or am I feeling just satisfied enough?”

Appreciate your food
Stop to think about the ingredients in each food. Consider everything that went into your meal—from the farmers who grew the vegetables to the cows that produced the milk. What did it take to grow and harvest the strawberries on your cereal? What did it take to get the strawberries to the market?

4 reasons why you should try circuit training

Between your kids, your work and your friends we all know how difficult it can be to slip a workout into your busy lives! Every time you skip exercise you can be sure your body will be there to remind you it’s been a while since your last training.

How to include exercise for your health?

The good news is it only takes 30-minutes to get stronger and healthier. At Curves we believe in circuit training – a 30-minute full body workout incorporating strength training and cardio exercises.

Here are 4 benefits you can get from circuit training!

Help prevent osteoporosis

Here are a few startling facts about this bone disease, courtesy of the National Osteoporosis Foundation:

  • Roughly one in two women over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
  • Post menopause, estrogen plummets, you lose its protective effect on bone health, and the rate bone loss increases. You can lose up to 20 percent of your bone density in the 5 to 7 years after menopause.

Circuit training combines weight-bearing exercise with strength training, and both have been shown to stimulate bone growth, improve bone density, and help prevent osteoporosis.

Help prevent heart disease

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among women, and we know that cardio workouts—walking, running, cycling, and so forth—boost cardiovascular health.

So too does strength training.

Several studies have shown that regular resistance training helps lower resting blood pressure, raise levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower blood triglycerides. Give heart disease and diabetes a one-two knockout punch at Curves where each 30-minute circuit delivers both a strength and cardio workout.

Help lift depression

Women are twice as likely as men to suffer depression say experts at the Mayo Clinic. Circuit training can provide relief. Many studies have shown that aerobic exercise and resistance training individually and in combination can improve mood, boost self-esteem, reduce tension, increase energy and help lift depression.

Be happy. Get on the circuit.

Enjoy community and friendship

We seek out friendships and we nurture them for the emotional and practical support we find and that we give back. Relationships enrich our lives and are important to our mental and physical health.

Friends lift us when we’re down, motivate us toward accomplishment, and champion our success. Working out side-by-side with other women on the Curves circuit engenders friendship and all of its gifts.

On the Curves circuit, you will be welcomed and embraced, and that sets you up for success at achieving all the health benefits circuit training makes possible.

Are you ready to give circuit training a try? Book today your free no obligation consultation at Curves!



by Claire Kowalchik

If you had to pick just one type of workout to help you sculpt your figure, choose strength training. It burns calories, builds lean muscle, and boosts a confidence from which you will radiate beauty.


The myth of bulk

Many women eschew strength training for fear of building bulky muscles, but science shows that most of us have too much estrogen and too little testosterone to achieve bulging biceps and strapping thighs. At Curves, your goal on the strength training machines is to work hard—yes—but also quickly in order to boost the cardio and calorie-burning effect of each exercise. The Curves Circuit provides both a strength and cardiovascular workout for an optimal balance of muscle-building and calorie-burning.


The truth of thin

Another common workout myth is that cardio is a more effective workout for weight loss than strength training. While it’s true that an intense cardiovascular workout like running burns a big batch of calories, research shows that resistance exercise keeps your metabolic fires burning for up to 72 hours after your workout due to the energy your body expends in recovery and repair of the micro-trauma that your muscles incur.


Then there’s the increase in resting metabolism that comes with increased lean tissue (aka, muscle), so even when you’re lying on a lounge chair by the side of the pool, you burn more calories than your previous less-muscular self would have done. Researchalso shows that as strength training builds lean tissue, it reduces body fat, including the adipose tissue that can form in the abdomen of sedentary individuals and can contribute to health issues.


More lean muscle and less body fat equals a thinner figure regardless of whether or not you lose weight (how great is that?). A pound of muscle takes up considerably less space than a pound of fat, so it makes perfect sense that as you gain muscle and lose fat, you will slim down.


The strength of self-esteem

Strength training builds confidence in many ways, and when you feel good about yourself, you stand taller which makes you look thinner. More importantly, when confidence shines through, you feel and look your best, and the people around you respond in positive ways.


So how does strength training build confidence? Think about it. It’s an accomplishment to complete any and every workout that requires you to push, pull, or lift weight. With greater strength, physical activities become easier—everything from opening a jar of marinara sauce to going up and down stairs to returning a serve in a tennis match. And when you see the result of toned—but not bulky—arms, abs, and legs, and a slimmer figure, you’ll feel good about you. And that’s beautiful!

5 Exercises that are Easy on Your Joints

By Ali Struhs

Are your knees feeling sore after hitting the pavement in jogging shoes? If you have joint pain, either from a past injury, extra weight, or another issue, you don’t have to dread lacing up your sneakers. You can still exercise! Instead of pounding your joints with high-impact workouts, try low-impact and joint-friendly exercises that get your heart rate up, burn calories, and tone muscle. From swimming to sweating in a spin class, try these 5 low-impact exercises that are easy on your joints.

Get in the water
Whether it’s the adult swim session at your neighborhood pool or a water aerobic class at your gym, dive into the water! Swimming laps or water aerobics are both excellent exercises for sore joints, since water workouts are non-weight bearing. Working out in the H2O not only conditions your heart and lungs, but it also improves muscle strength and flexibility.

Strike a pose
Your joints will thank you if you add yoga to your fitness routine. Yoga is a timeless exercise! Yoga burns calories, improves flexibility, and tones muscle through stretching and strengthening poses. It’s also a way to scorch stress through deep breathing exercises and meditation, making it a total mind-body workout that is also easy on your joints and great for all fitness levels. Bonus: new research shows yoga may help your aging brain as well!

Go to the gym
Instead of pounding the pavement and going home with sore knees, head to your local Curves. The joint-friendly circuit machines can help you get your heart rate up and burn major calories. The 30 minute routine encompasses strength training, cardio and stretching for a well-rounded workout.

Walk it out
Walk, hike, or snowshoe to get moving! Your dog will thank you, too! It can be any season of the year, because as long as you move your legs, you’ll be burning calories. Try going for a walk after work and enjoy the sound of chirping birds and the smell of fresh cut grass for a stress-free workout that is easy on your joints and that you can do every day. On the weekend, take your whole family on a hike. The varying incline will get your heart rate up. Just be sure to pack enough water to stay hydrated!

Try two wheels
If you haven’t pedaled a bike since you were a kid, now’s the time to hop on two wheels again. Start with just a quick ride around your neighborhood. Make this low-impact exercise fun and take your kids on a park path to a favorite picnic spot. Don’t forget to always wear a helmet! For a more intense exercise, try a spin class at the gym. This indoor cycling class features an instructor and heart-pumping music that takes you on a ride through inclines, speed bursts, and recoveries to get you dripping sweat.