Quick Lunch…Veggies Included

img_5009Broccoli, Artichoke and  Roasted pepper salad with red onion. And Toasted pita wedges

This salad came together quickly one day when my pantry and fridge were nearly bare. I searched the shelves and came up with this little gem of a salad.  Now, I make sure to keep these ingredients on hand.


Add in these veggies in any combo to suit your tastes about 3-4ish cups total: (I do like a big salad)

Frozen chopped broccoli  (fresh is always great, but we are talking fast from the pantry/freezer here.)

Marinated Artichoke hearts drained  1 tbsp marinade reserved.

Roasted red peppers from a jar, drained well

Red onion, raw (or as pictured I had roasted red onion from a previous meal)

Toss  veggies together with 1 Tbsp of  artichoke marinade, 1-2 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar, freshly ground salt and pepper.

Pita wedges go well with this. I really really  really like pitas. My favorite are these  They are also available at BJ’s club and Walmart.

To make this a full meal, top with tuna or salmon from a single serve pouch, or leftover protein from last nights dinner. (A great habit is to prepare extra protein and veggies to use for quick meals)

Major in the Majors and Minor in the Minors

“Big rocks first!”img_5007

We have arrived at the traditional time of year where everyone desperately seeks leanness. And so, many a diet are put to the test. Some of them work for a time, they eventually fail. This leaves the January dieter feeling inadequate and guilt ridden.

Are some rules more important than thers when it comes to maintaining leanness?

In a word, yes.

What if…… you could sort out the successful habits from the less significant minor rules?

This is where ‘majoring in the majors, and minoring in the minors’ comes in.

The major rules: make these a habits a non-negotiable for life:

1. Eat Protein: 1g per pound of ideal body weight.
2. Commit to two servings of Veggies minimum, mid day, every day. Have five or more servings every day.
3. Resistance Train: consistently every week.  Learn to do it safely and effectively.
4. HIIT: (High Intensity Interval Cardio) over steady state cardio twice per week. High intensity means 90% effort or better for 20 seconds, followed by a significant rest period (80 to 100 seconds) to allow adequate recovery to perform at 90% or more effort every interval.
5. Portion control: Eat in a slight calorie deficit if you are trying to lean out. Calorie deficit means 85-90% of baseline. Any less and muscle will be lost leading to a decrease in metabolic rate. If you don’t know your baseline calories, a decent estimate is Body Weight x 12 for moderately active people. If you are not active use 11.

Minor rules:
1. Drink H2O: aim for Gallon per day
2. Carbs and Protein: Eat an easily digested (low in fat) meal before and after workouts. The energy in your system will make your total calorie burn significantly greater than training on empty.
3. Fiber 25-35g/day

No matter what your approach is, (low carb, paleo, Keto, low fat, gluten free, macro plans etc.) these habits can be applied to any diet plan, because they have been proven to spare lean mass while shedding fat.

They key is to be consistent and patient and give it time. This is not a fad diet, it is a lifestyle approach. Statistics prove that rapid weight loss leads to rebound weight gain. 

If you are unsure of how to progress, inquire with me about Health Coaching. As a Mom who raised four children while maintaining exceptional health and fitness, I am giving back and sharing my real life tested strategies. I avoided the 10 pound weight gain per decade, and am proud to say I am more fit in my 50’s than I was in my 20’s.

Make 2017 the year wher you stopped dieting.

Comfort Food For a Cold and Blustery Day

The way I prepare meals has evolved over years. As a younger mother, I was all about learning the family recipes from my mother and mother in law. There was a good deal of comfort food especially in the colder months. Often time those recipes were detailed and very heavy.

Over the years, I devised some of my own cooking skills to be lighter, and simplified. The reasons for this was that I did not have time between driving kids to sports, and helping with homework to prepare the comfort meals of my youth. Along the way, I also realized that it became easier to log my food with simplified recipes. I have been logging my food  almost continually since 1999. (Food journaling is a topic for another day)

Below is a simple recipe I came up with, on a cold and dark day, when I was wishing for the smell of my mothers Italian cooking.

This dinner is very light but feels hearty. It delivers on flavor, and comes together quickly.


Chicken Thighs with Eggplant and Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 medium to large eggplant
Olive oil nonstick spray
4-5 cloves of garlic sliced thin
8 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
Smoked Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 (15-16oz.) can fire roasted diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp tomato paste (I like to buy this in a tube so I don’t open a whole can for 2 Tbsp)
1 tsp. each dry Basil and oregano
1. Cut eggplant into 3/4 inch cubes, lightly salt and set aside.
2. Spray a cast iron or nonstick skillet with olive oil nonstick spray, and Place over a medium flame.
3. Add garlic and sauté just until soft, and remove from heat. Season chicken with salt and fresh ground pepper, and place in skillet. Return skillet to medium-high heat and sear chicken on both sides just until lightly golden. Remove chicken.
4. Add rest of ingredients and bring up to a boil.
5. Carefully nestle chicken in skillet, lower heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes.
6. Serves 4, One serving is two thighs and 1/4 of the tomato eggplant mixture.
7. Optional: serve with rice, pasta, or crusty French bread. Add a leafy green salad to complete the meal.

*picture above is before the simmer time.
Macros: For 5oz. chicken and 1/4 of the tomato eggplant sauce: protein 42g, carbs 30g, fat 10g, fiber 11g.

Frantic Food Anxiety and Sesame Cookies

Frantic Food Frenzy

 Food can foster family and community. Food can be joyful. Food can make you feel good. But—food is not love… Food is food. 

Look on the web and you will find many methods to manage holiday temptations. But consider this, copying someone else’s diet is like trying to fit into your best friends jeans. They look great on her, but not so much on you.

We have all read countless tips, like ‘eat a big salad at home…yeah, right. That big salad with dry tuna does not get me in the party spirit, nor prevent me from wanting amazing party food. Instead, of focusing on what you shouldn’t do, try this instead. Take a moment to be grateful. Now, consider if you are stressed, and if you are using food to self sooth.

Embrace this: What you do the majority of the time, will impact your progress more than what you do once in a while. The most effective strategy then, is to be consistent, because being too restrictive will lead to a binge and being too indulgent will make you feel guilty.

If an over indulgence happens, just make peace with it and move on. The next day have some extra water with lemon. Then just eat normally. Falling into the trap of over indulgence followed by severe restricting is the opposite of consistency.

Look for your personal middle ground, the place where you can wear your clothes comfortably and yet not feel deprived. Make a conscious effort to stay there. Remember not to be too restrictive, too little is always followed by too much. Now, you still have to be somewhat restrictive, because to maintain your middle ground you get everything you need, and some of what you want.

“To maintain your consistency, your middle ground, you get everything you need, and some of what you want”

Please don’t obsess about all the little food rules. Pick your own rules, and be consistent. If you are looking for direction, check out my 4P Plan for suggestions.

Judy’s 4 P’s  

Protein:   Consume some protein  at every meal.  This should average out to the size of your palm in thickness and area.  About 4 palms worth a day.

Pump:     The hands down most effective way to keep your body burning calories like a wood fired pizza oven is to pump iron. (Like you know…heavier than your designer handbag)  The stimulus will keep your metabolism in burning mode.

Prime:    Prime yourself with water all day long, every day.  A well hydrated body digests and more efficiently.  At social events, try alternating water and cocktails.

Plan:       Have a plan in place where you allow yourself one treat per day.  It could be a special adult beverage or a little sweet that you covet.  Make it special, and savor it.   There is no reason to overdo it because you will have some more the next day if you want it. Decide when and where you want that treat, then have it and stop.  By having it you avoid the cycle of deprive-binge-deprive again-binge more.  That just leads to self-disgust.  Let’s face it; overindulging always makes us feel like shit the next day. Having a treat is the best of both worlds. Enjoy yet still have be in control.

Finally, find your joy in non food activities, and remember to always be grateful and kind.

Below is one of my mother’s old Christmas cookie recipes

Sesame Cookies (Family Recipe) 

Cream the following with a mixer:

  • 1/2 cup shortening or butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Add in:

  • 2 tsp milk or cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Roll into finger width snakes and cut into 2 inch pieces. Dip in a milk bath and roll in sesame seeds. Bake on greased  cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.


Respect Your Efforts…Clint Eastwood says so!



Last week I asked our  tribe about their fitness challenges in December. The response was split between making time to train, eating moderately and staying motivated.

How do we manage this? Because in January nobody wants to feel regret, tight clothes or the urge to crash diet.

I am NOT not going to suggest some unreasonable meal plan, or a long list  of rules.

Just do this: Love and accept yourself.

Because when you affirm your self acceptance every single day, two outcomes happen. The first is you are more likely to minimize your indulgences, and second, if you do indulge, you are still recognizing that it doesn’t change you.

“Your value as a person is not dependent on your diet/exercise compliance” – share this

Clint Eastman once said:

“Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self respect leads to self discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power. ~ Clint Eastwood

Turn this into a daily affirmation:

I respect my efforts.

I respect myself.

My efforts and self respect give me power.

The take home point is this:

Let go of feeling guilty for not having the perfect month. Know that you are doing your best, because when you do your best, what ever it is, it is good enough.

Love yourself enough to want to practice your healthy strategies.

If your time is short and you want to get in some exercise. Look at my complimentary December exercise  plan in the exercise section of the Gratefulfitnessny.com web site. This plan is intense but it only takes 5″ after warm up. If you are unclear on any of exercises, contact me.

Always be grateful, and be kind to yourself.


“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs”

That is great, except in the month of December. How many Decembers have you actually stayed dedicated to your exercise plan?

I get it.

As Moms wives sisters and daughters, we can get bogged down with holiday preparations. And before we know it we have lost our consistent exercise routines.

Could you commit to doing a 5 minute minute workout at home daily in December?


My inspiration for 5 minute workouts came from the book Mini Habits, by Stephen Guise. The message of this book is that “mini habits” can help us to create lasting habits, based on the fact that a mini habit is more likely to be done more consistently than an overwhelming time-hog habit. Often times people do more, but the key here is that you only have to do the mini habit, in this case a 5 minute workout.


I am sharing my 5 minute per day exercise plan for December. This plan can be done anywhere with no equipment.

Five Minutes. Period. Most of us waste more than that daily on social media.

An interval timer app (I prefer Tabata Pro) on your phone is helpful, but you could get away with the second hand on your watch.



december-madrush-5-minute-workouts-sheet1 download

A return to my purpose: My journey that has no end

Recently I concluded my bodybuilding career. Preparing for a bodybuilding competition can be compared to prepping for a wedding day. It is NOT normal fitness. During competition prep, there is an end point, and a goal. That goal being to bring the best ever physique to the stage, conversely in normal  fit living there is no end.   

I have been approached  and discussed show prep with ladies who have said they just want to look show ready. This is dangerous,
I will talk more on that at another time.

The “competition body” is not  meant to be sustainable.  It is what I call a borrowed body.  Why do I bring this up? Because it is analogous to losing weight for an event, only to rebound after the event.  Because once a goal is met, the person is lost.  Goals expire, but your purpose does not expire. Bodybuilders experience this too just like newlyweds after the wedding and honeymoon.  I can vouch for both of these situations. 😉


And so the only lasting goal is your purpose. I have made a commitment to return to my purpose.

What my purpose is not:

  • My purpose is not to be stage lean. 
  • My purpose is to be a fit example to women of all ages.  
  • My purpose is to be living proof that women can live a healthy enjoyable life,  with a strong lean body and mind well
    into every decade.

My purpose does not make me live in such a rigid way that I do not enjoy life. Wine and amazing foods are part of my enjoyment. Hello . . . I am Italian and married to a Cuban, therefore we are bred to love great food and drink!

I am ready enjoy that with my husband. Enjoying great food and wine while maintaining a fit moderately lean physique can coexist. The key is to be consistently moderate. The key is NOT to party hearty and then follow up with some crazy restrictive short term plan.That kind of living is exhausting. That kind of living evokes self shame. 

Because no one wants to be around a rigid militant dieter who probably is a closet indulger anyway.  The challenge is learning to enjoy in moderation. Because consistency is always healthier than extreme restriction followed by extreme indulgence.  

Follow me on my journey that has no end. Along the way I will share what works for me. I don’t preach diets. I am not an expert, yet I have 55 years of fit living experience to share. I am not part of any MLM and I do not endorse any particular plan.  

I welcome your comments. 

Thank you and have a fit day.