314-432-6103     10407 Clayton Rd, St. Louis MO, 63131


So You Want to Spot Reduce?

So You Want to Spot Reduce

By Randy Leopando, CSCS, FMS
Director of Personal Training

Besides launching millions of sit-ups, leg lifts and torso twists, the desire for a toned and taut physique has sold a long line of exercise devices. Countless inventions, such as vibrating belts and ”gut-busting” contraptions, have claimed to miraculously tighten and tone our trouble spots.  But the miracles we were expecting never materialized, and our ”spots” remained ”unreduced.”

What’s wrong with spot reduction?

Where did we go wrong? In our efforts to tone our bodies we neglected the most important factor: fat. Exercises such as crunches or leg lifts improve the tone and endurance of the muscles, but they don’t burn fat. When we do exercises that elevate the heart rate, such as bicycling, walking or aerobic dance, the body will draw upon its fat stores for energy.

Alternative solutions

An exercise program that combines aerobic activity and strength training is the key to changing the shape of your body.  In addition to burning calories through aerobic activity, strength training will increase the amount of muscle, which burns even more calories, even at rest. But many people shun the idea of intensive exercise, scared off by the idea of five-mile runs, barbells or aerobic classes.  Thankfully, any aerobic activity that elevates your heart rate can help you burn fat and take off unwanted pounds. Many experts recommend doing at least three sessions of 20 minutes of aerobic activity per week. Ideally, for long-term weight control, you should engage in at least four sessions per week, for 45 minutes each time.

For instance, these enjoyable alternatives to traditional aerobic exercise are effective fat burners:

  • Mountain Biking
  • Road cycling
  • In-line Skating
  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Boxing
  • Cross-country Skiing
  • Swimming

Remember to choose an activity because it interests you, not because it is touted as a great workout.  A few things to keep in mind when starting any new activity:

  • Don’t start out too hard or too fast or you may injure yourself or quit before enjoying any benefit.
  • Always concentrate on enjoying yourself, rather than on what a particular exercise might do for you.
  • Keep your exercise comfortable and only increase intensity after your body becomes accustomed to new activity levels.

Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially if you’re over 40, or have cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or a family history of heart disease. To determine what your target heart rate should be, ask a NutriFormance trainer to calculate the numbers – all we need is your age and resting heart rate.

A final word about toning exercises

Just because exercises like leg lifts and crunches won’t budge the fat does not mean they are not beneficial. Unlike some aerobic activities, these exercises can strengthen and tone specific muscles of the body.  The best way to shape up is to incorporate strength and toning exercises with aerobic exercises. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to looking and feeling better.

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Tempeh Tacos

serves 4// active time 20 minutes, total time 30 minutes

Tempeh is a high-protein, high fiber soy product traditionally used in Indonesia. It has a satisfying texture and rich flavor that pairs well with a side of black beans and guacamole/salsa as taco toppings.


12 oz package tempeh (refrigerated section at Schnucks, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods)

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 red bell pepper

1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil

12 corn tortillas

1/2 cup cilantro

1 orange, cut into segments



  1. Cut tempeh into short strips and place into a shallow tupperware.
  2. Mix soy sauce, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and salt in a small bowl and pour over tempeh. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. While letting tempeh marinate, slice bell pepper, onion, and garlic, and stir-fry in a large skillet with 1 tsp olive oil.
  4. Remove veggies and place in a small bowl. Coat same skillet with remaining olive oil and pan-fry strips of tempeh, about 2-3 minutes each side or until crispy.
  5. Warm tortillas in the oven at 200F wrapped in foil or in a dry skillet or wrapped in paper towel in the microwave.
  6. Build tacos: scoop tempeh strips and vegetables onto heated tortilla and top with orange segments, and cilantro.
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Zucchini Noodles Al Dente

Serves 2// total time 15 min

This light version of an Italian classic is made with zucchini noodles, which can be peeled into ribbons from top to bottom with a vegetable peeler or using a hand-held spiralizer. The noodles take on the flavor of whatever dressing is used and can be tossed single bowl for easy clean-up!


4 zucchini, spiralized or shaved into ribbons

2 roma tomatoes

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced olives

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

freshly squeezed lemon

salt and pepper to taste



Toss all ingredients in bowl and mix well with tongs. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

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Cauliflower pizza

serves 3-6// active time 30 minutes, total time 1 hour

This non-traditional, yet highly flavorful, pizza-style dish is made with a cauliflower, ground almond and chia seed crust. Top the crust with your favorite toppings and enjoy this healthy meal any night of the week. Serve with a side salad and a vinaigrette dressing.


1/4 cup chia seeds                                                                                                                              3/4 cup water

3/4 cup ground almonds or almond meal
1 head cauliflower
2 tsp dried oregano
sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

1 onion, sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 green pepper, sliced
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
1/4 olives, sliced
chiles flakes, to taste


To make the crust, combine together the chia seeds and water and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Next, clean and roughly chop the cauliflower. Place the pieces of cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until it has a fine rice-like texture.

Measure out 3 cups of the cauliflower and place into a large bowl. Add the ground almonds, oregano, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast (if using). Other flavorings, such as garlic and/or onion powder can be added to the crust if you like.

Make a hole in the center and add in the Chia mixture.

Using your hands, combine the ingredients and shape into a rough ball. The mixture will obviously not resemble a traditional flour dough.

Next, place the mixture onto a baking tray and press into an even flat crust — making sure that the sides of crust are the same thickness as the middle, otherwise they will burn more easily. If desired, the crust can also be shaped into individual pizzas.

Bake the crust for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. At this point, the crust could be used as is, but it won’t be firm enough to lift with your hands. For a firmer crust (which we recommend), carefully flip the crust onto the back of another baking tray that has been lined with a clean piece of parchment. Next, carefully lift or slide the crust back onto the same baking tray and then gently and slowly remove the parchment paper from the top of the crust. Place the tray back into the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or so.

Assemble the pizza: Top with your favorite toppings or use the ingredients listed above as inspiration.

For this particular combination of ingredients, it is best to cook the ingredients first. To do this, heat a large fry pan over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and dry-sauté for a minute and then add the mushrooms and let cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, or until most of the moisture has evaporated. Next, add the green onion and let cook for another minute or so.

No matter which vegetables or ingredients you use, keep in mind that they will not really get cooked in the oven. So if they you want them cooked once the pizza is done, you will need to do so before you add them to the pizza.

Lastly, mix together the pizza sauce and sun-dried tomatoes (if using). The sun-dried tomatoes just add a bit of depth and richness to the sauce.

Next, spread a thin layer of the sauce onto the crust and top with the vegetables, sliced olives and chile flakes. Bake the pizza for another 5 to 10 minutes, just to fully heat the crust and toppings through.

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Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

serves 4 // less than 30 minutes

This veggie burger is quick to prepare and is packed with quinoa, black beans, nutritional yeast, and spices- it’s a winning meal for both taste and nutrition. Top with ketchup or mustard, sliced avocado and tomato, and serve on a whole grain bun or on top of mixed greens. Roasted sweet potato fries make a great side.


1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (dry goods health section at Schnucks, Dierbergs or Whole Foods)

1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. 1/4 cup dry makes 1/2 cup cooked. Feel free to make at least 1 cup dry to add to salads and lunches later in the week.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients using hands or a fork to mash beans and thoroughly mix. (This should form a paste-like mixture that is easy to shape into patties.)Divide mixture into four equal balls, and form each into a patty between 1/4- and 1/2-inch thick.
  3. In a medium oven-safe saucepan over high heat, cook patties in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil for 1 minute on each side, or until lightly browned.Transfer the saucepan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve patties on whole-grain buns or over fresh greens with desired toppings.
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Curried Coconut Quinoa w/ Greens & Roasted Cauliflower

serves 4 // total time 40 minutes                                                                                                   Quinoa, a complete protein, is the base of this hearty sweet and spicy dinner bowl.


Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or olive oil

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Sea salt

Curried coconut quinoa with greens

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon curry powder of choice (optional)

1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk

½ cup water

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine mesh colander

⅓ cup raisins

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

4 cups baby spinach or 1 bunch kale, leaves torn from stems

Optional garnishes: 2 green onions, chopped, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes



Roast the cauliflower: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, cayenne pepper and a light sprinkle of sea salt. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes on the middle rack, turning halfway, until the cauliflower is tender and golden on the edges.

  1. Cook the quinoa: In a large pot with a lid, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is turning translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, turmeric, curry powder and cardamom and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the coconut milk, water, rinsed quinoa and raisins. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the pot from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Stir in the salt, vinegar and greens (if you intend to eat this dish as leftovers, I recommend storing leafy greens separate from the quinoa, as the greens don’t reheat well). Divide the quinoa into bowls and top with roasted cauliflower. Garnish with green onions and red pepper flakes if you’d like.
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Better Breakfast Sample Meal Plan

Breakfast: Oatmeal Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Greek Yogurt Topping (see the recipes on the blog at www.nutriformance.com)

Mid-morning snack: Peanut butter and Banana

Lunch: Whole Wheat Lunch Meat Wrap (Whole wheat tortilla – chicken breast, spinach, hummus, and cheese) with salad (2cups greens and 1 cup of – 1/3 each broccoli, tomato, and cucumber) with 1T of vinaigrette dressing.

Mid-afternoon snack: Greek yogurt with granola

Dinner: Grilled Salmon with brown rice and grilled asparagus

Post-dinner snack: Homemade Fruit Popsicle (Blend together your favorite smoothie mix (banana, pineapple, strawberry, Greek yogurt, 100% fruit juice) pour it into a popsicle tray and let freeze)

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One & a half minute Egg Sandwich


  • 1 whole wheat English muffin or sprouted grain
  • 1 egg
  • Cooking spray or oil & paper towel
  • 1T milk
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Small handful of chopped fresh spinach or just under 1/4c of thawed & drained frozen spinach
  • Optional additions: cheese, deli meat, hummus, avocado, spinach


Spray microwave safe bowl with cooking spray or drizzle oil and use paper towel to spread around. (hint: use bowl that has same size circumference at bottom as the English muffin).  Place 1 whole grain or sprouted English muffin in toaster. Crack 1 egg and add milk scramble with fork and then add spinach, salt and pepper. Scramble. Pour egg mixture into greased microwave safe bowl. Cook 1 minute in microwave (may need 1.5 minutes). Slide egg onto English muffin, add your additions, and enjoy!

The ease of this is in that while the toaster is working so is the microwave and you just slide the egg out of the bowl onto your toasted English muffin.

Also freezes well (prep once, eat breakfast for the week)

Great for active individuals & athletes to start their day.

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Oatmeal Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Greek Yogurt Topping


  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • *Mix-ins – pumpkin puree, blueberries or whatever else you like for pancakes!

Topping (makes enough for 2-3 pancakes)

  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt.
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (or more if you like)
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup (more or less to taste)


  • Mix the oats and milk together in a bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes to soften.
  • Add egg, flour, sugar, baking soda cinnamon and any other mix-ins that you would like. Stir to combine.
  • Lightly spray non-cook skillet and place over medium heat. When skillet is hot, pour 3-4 tablespoons of batter onto skillet. Flip when batter starts to bubble.  Cook until both sides are lightly browned.  Makes 5-6 medium sized pancakes.  Store leftovers in air-tight container and reheat leftovers in the toaster oven or on stove-top.
  • Top with greek yogurt topping or fruit and enjoy!
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October – Better Breakfasts

BREAKFAST OF A CHAMPION – Start your day off right!


  • Health Benefits
    • Healthy weight
    • Decrease cholesterol
    • Increase energy/ increased metabolism
    • Increase cognitive function
  • Break the Fast tips
    • Eat within 30 minutes-1 hour of waking up
    • Metabolism starts to slow after this time frame to conserve energy for the day
  • Breakfast provides a solid foundation for your entire day
    • Increase energy
    • Allow metabolism to work at its fullest for the entire day
      • Burn more calories overall
    • Reduce hunger throughout the day by preventing afternoon blood sugar crash
      • Non-breakfast eaters tend to eat more, less nutritious foods throughout the day
    • Helps people to make more balanced food choices at other meals
  • Ideal Healthy breakfast looks like: (should be the same size as lunch and dinner not a smaller meal)
    • Grain – Oats, Toast, Bagel, English muffin
      • Give us that lasting energy to get through the morning – the brain and central nervous system only function on glucose from carbs
    • Protein – Peanut butter, Eggs, breakfast meats, beans, Greek yogurt
      • Keeps you feeling full for an extended period of time
    • Fruit/Vegetable – Spinach, peppers, tomato, pineapple, orange, banana
      • Provide proper vitamins and minerals for a more healthful diet
  • If you aren’t hungry for breakfast when you wake up…
    • Still need to get something in – turning food into a liquid in the form of a smoothie is an easy nutritious way to get a solid breakfast in.
      • Pineapple, banana, strawberry, Greek yogurt, juice or milk
    • If you wake up late and don’t have time to put together a full breakfast
      • You can make a quick nutritious breakfast even if you only have a couple minutes.
        • Smoothie, larabar with fruit, bagel with fruit, hard-boiled egg with fruit
      • Breakfast doesn’t have to mean breakfast food….
        • Nutrients are nutrient – if you don’t like breakfast foods you can still get a solid start to your day with ANY sort of food that you prefer.
          • PBJ for example
      • If your breakfast is within an hour of a workout..
        • You want to eat a carb only meal for the quick energy needed to avoid low blood glucose during a workout.  Also, to digest the food out of the stomach. Protein, fat, and fiber slow digestion (normally great, just not before a workout).
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