Bfit - Fitness by Brenna

Eight Ways to Reset Your Mind…Without Meditating

There is no doubt that meditation benefits many.  For some, however, the task may seem daunting or difficult to keep stillness.  With the help of ideas from The Chopra Center in Carlsbad, here are eight ways to de-stress and practice mindfulness that are different from meditating.  Mindfulness is an act of being engaged in the present, in a non-judging manner.

  1. Take a Nature Walk:  Nature helps to get away from technological distractions such as computers, phones and television.  Your attention can focus on surroundings of vibrant colors, different sounds, plants and animal life.  Take note the sensations your body feels before, during and after the hike and if they change along the way.  Find new places to explore in Outdoor Guides.
  2. Gardening:  You can simply go into your backyard or patio to get in touch with nature!  The act of getting your hands in the dirt and touching the plants is an act of mindfulness that will calm the mind.  Take it deeper into the present and note the sensations of touching the dirt, different colors of the plants, how your stress levels feel and the sounds of digging into the dirt or the crunching of leaves.
  3. Get Out Your Coloring Book!  Yes, just like you did when you were a child!  You get to be creative, keep focus (read:  mindful) by staying within the lines and relieve stress.  There are coloring books geared toward adults, too!
  4. Dance:  Try dancing to your favorite music at home or take a class.  Let your body feel the beat and move as it wants.  If you take a class, your mind will need to be completely focused on what you are doing…giving you little opportunity to think about anything else.
  5. Mindful Exercise:  Any type of exercise can be mindful.  It just requires one to be present and focused on what is happening in the body:  sensations, awareness of movement, the breath and attention to form.  If you take a class such as yoga, tai chi or Pilates, the experience may be enhanced with the instructor guiding you through the movements to keep you in good form and present in the moment so your thoughts have little opportunity to wander.
  6. Yoga:  One form of mindful exercise, yoga uses the body as a focus which enables the mind to be calm.  Try these five poses to do in the morning, from MindBodyGreen.
  7. Play an Instrument:  Instruments are another creative outlet that can bring mindfulness to your day.  You don’t need to be experienced and some instruments including the drum, gong and chimes allow you to play away!  Focusing on what you will do and how you will play allows the mind to stay present and focused on the activity.
  8. Watch a Sunset:  Another encounter with nature, just seeing the sunset can make all of one’s cares and worries leave the mind.  Look at the colors, where light reflects and the sensations you feel in your body as a result.

Beyond Workouts: Recovery is Just as Important

When workouts are a consistent part of our lives, recovery can sometimes be overlooked.  Recovery not only allows the body to rest but also to rebuild and get stronger.  Without it, there may be a battle with diminishing returns as well as decreased enjoyment during and from workouts.  The following article from the American Council on Exercise covers the types of recovery, active and passive, along with the hows and whys of each.

What do you do for your recovery?  Post it here!

Foam rolling is one method for muscle recovery.

Autumn Has Arrived!

Whie Bean Chili


After a seemingly never-ending heat wave in San Diego, we have a day of rain and a slight chill in the air.  It feels like autumn!  This puts me in the mood for warm, stew type dishes.  One of my favorite ways to make stews, both for it’s convenience and intricate flavor, is with a crock pot.  By taking a few minutes to add the ingredients in the morning and letting the meal slow-cook throughout the day, I can enjoy the day (or leave the crock while I go to work) and come home to a meal that tastes delicious, not to mention like I have spent hours working to perfect the combination of spices.  Win-win-win: time saver, tasty food and healthful!  Using the crock pot is also a perfect way to impress guests when entertaining because the meal is sumptuous yet you don’t need to spend the whole time in the kitchen.

This recipe for Slow Cooker White Chili is turn-of-autumn nourishment.  The cauliflower thickens and adds, instead of calories, additional nutrition.  Spiciness is balanced well with the tartness of the lebne.  Add a touch of lemon juice and it’s perfection.


Slow Cooker White Bean Chili


2 chicken breasts and 4 chicken thighs, skinless
1 bad dried cannellini beans
2 poblano peppers (or green bell peppers), chopped
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 quarts low-sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
1-1/2 Tablespoons(T) ground cumin
1 T chili powder
3/4 cup lebne (or Greek yogurt)
2 teaspoons sea salt
lemon wedges, for garnishing


Arrange chicken in bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.  Top with beans, peppers, onion, broth, cumin and chili powder.  Cover and cook on low until bean are very tender and cauliflower falls apart, about 10 hours.  To serve, ladle into bowls and top with yogurt, sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.  Serves 8-10.


Heavy Weights? Yes, Please!

Lifting heavy weights is beneficial for the body. Some, especially females, might fear that they will “bulk up” by doing so. However, this is far from the truth. Heavy weights can increase muscle strength and definition but not bulk up a female because females do not have the testosterone levels needed to create huge muscles. Males, on the other hand, will likely add size when weight training due to their testosterone levels.

As a personal trainer, I have encountered numerous women who are hesitant to weight train. Visions of female body builders with muscles popping out of their clothes and a more masculine look come to mind. Not only is this far from the truth but strength training is necessary for females who would like to increase metabolism, develop leaner bodies, avoid injury and preserve bone density. Below, a few common questions answered…

What happens to muscle as we age?
• After age 30, muscle mass decreases at a rate of 10% per decade. That’s 1% every year!
• If we lose muscle mass, our metabolism slows; we are also at greater risk of decreased bone density and thus osteoporosis.

Why should I strength train?
• Preserve muscle mass.
• Preserve and build bone mass, decreasing risk of osteoporosis: just two strength training sessions per week is shown to dramatically cut fracture risk in  postmenopausal women!
• Increase metabolism: the body will burn more calories at rest.
• Strengthen and develop muscle shape.
• Prevent loss of skin elasticity (i.e., less “sagging”).
• Increased ease performing activities of daily living.
• Decreased risk of injury and enhanced athletic performance.

Will I get bulky from lifting weights?
• No! The body will typically become trimmer and shapely.
• Most women do not have the testosterone levels required to build bulk.
• Female body builders with bulky muscles spend hours each day lifting extremely heavy weights and may take steroids.

How does weight training sound now? Hopefully, these facts ease any concern. I believe the benefits are too numerous to skip this component of a fitness program. Adding strength work to your workouts is necessary if you would like to reap the positive outcomes listed above. Contact me at to start a basic strength training program today!


Fit Girl Pic

Quick and Easy Curry

The weather in San Diego has been cool and stormy the past couple of days…perfect for a nourishing, warming meal.  This curry dish is simple, quick and flavorful.  The variations that can be made might leave curry a staple in your cooking repertoire.  Try using different vegetables or proteins for a change of pace.  I prefer to keep it grain free, making it more of a stew, but another option would be to serve it over quinoa or wild rice (ok, so it’s still grain-free since quinoa is a pseudo-grain and wild rice is actually a grass).  I have also been known to serve it over Shirataki or Sea Tangles Kelp noodles (both grain-free).


Coconut oil or butter to sautée
½ onion, chopped or in slices
1 inch  fresh lemongrass, sliced crosswise
1 inch fresh ginger, chopped finely
1 tbsp. curry powder
1/3 cup coconut milk (I prefer Natural Value brand  because there is no guar gum or other additives)
1 cup water
Vegetables including sweet potato, carrot, leafy greens such as Swiss chard or spinach and cabbage
White fish such as sea bass or halibut (could use shell fish or chicken)
Sea salt, to taste


Brown onion, ginger and lemongrass (and stalks of the greens, if using greens with tougher stalks) for 5 minutes in oil or butter, stirring occasionally.  Add curry powder and continue to stir for 3 minutes.  Add coconut milk and water and potatoes, if using.  Bring liquid to a simmer and cook potatoes for about 3-5 minutes before adding other vegetables and fish.  Continue to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until fish and vegetables are cooked.  Add sea salt, to taste, if desired.


So yummy and warming I could even eat it for breakfast!


Should You Go Organic?

“Dirty Dozen” Pesticide Offenders


Published in an article in the Price Pottinger Nutrition Foundation Journal (1) these are the top 12 “worst offenders” in the world of pesticide spraying.  When faced with a choice to spend extra money on organic groceries, these are the priority.  Generally, thinner skin vegetables and fruits, skin that may be eaten or vegetable greens that have no skin are those that you want to purchase organic.  These produce choices tend to retain the most pesticide (think grapes, spinach and berries).  Vegetables and fruits with thick skin that is not consumed are ones on which you can save money and purchase conventional (e.g., bananas and oranges).


Buy Organic!


1.  Peaches

2.  Apples

3.  Bell Peppers

4.  Celery

5.  Cherries

6.  Nectarines

7.  Strawberries

8.  Kale

9.  Lettuce

10.  Imported Grapes

11.  Carrots

12.  Pears


“Clean 15” = Conventional Okay


1.  Onion

2.  Avocado

3.  Sweet Corn (but make sure it’s not genetically modified!)

4.  Pineapple

5.  Mango

6.  Asparagus

7.  Sweet Peas

8.  Kiwi

9.  Cabbage

10.  Eggplant

11.  Papaya

12.  Watermelon

13.  Broccoli

14.  Tomato

15.  Sweet Potato



1.  Where to Spend on Organic and Where to Save.  Price-Pottinger Journal 2009:  Vol. 33, No. 3.  P. 14.