The waist training controversy…

Today I want to talk about a “fitness fad” that is happening right now, that is actually a throwback to Victorian times…WAIST TRAINING or cinching or corseting. I will start off by saying I am completely against this and pretty much any other fitness fad that is unhealthy, unrealistic, or dangerous. The human body comes with an internal corset of muscles called the TRANSVERSE ABDOMINALS or TVAs. These muscle are deep in the body and provide shape, support and strength for the entire core and trunk. These muscles are necessary for total body strength and health, as well as for proper posture, alignment, stability and spine mobility. What waist training is doing is restricting the use of those super important muscles by squeezing the torso tightly whereby you can not engage them yourself. The effect being a seemingly smaller waist…but a totally weak core and with that the potential for injury to your back. I am reading all of these articles about Jessica Alba and the Kardashians wearing corsets after having babies to quickly bounce back to an even tighter middle than before having babies. It’s CRAZY. ‘

These celebrities are paid millions of dollars in endorsements and royalties to wear these products and promote them, whether they are healthy or not! They also have the money to hire chefs and nutritionists and trainers to make sure they get back to pre-baby body as quickly as possible, regardless of how unhealthy it may be. It is a temporary fix and they are not telling you the whole story. You should not wear a waist trainer while exercising or sleeping…but so many women are. This is dangerous.


You need to be able to engage your own muscles while lifting weights or running or whatever form of exercise you choose. You need to create strength not weakness. It is not a support to wear a corset. It is restrictive to your breathing and to your body’s natural movements. I know I am standing on a soapbox, but as a professional in the fitness industry, I can not stand by silently. This is not opinion. This is physiological fact. The other issue is that these products proclaim that they help to burn belly fat. I’m sorry to tell you, but You can not spot reduce fat. If you have fat around your midsection and you wear a waist trainer, all you are doing is pushing that fat up and down…exercise and a healthy diet reduces fat all over the body!

You may sweat a lot in the area you are squeezing with a corset, but all you are losing is water, not fat. Body shape is determined mainly by genetics. If you don’t have an hourglass figure, it’s not likely you will get one naturally. To get the physique you long for, it takes hard work and dedication to a fitness regimen and a healthy balanced diet…not a magic pill or a magic corset. There is no “quick fix” that actually works for the long term. These fads come and go, but what has stayed tried and true is healthy eating and consistent exercise…it might take longer and may be more difficult, but that is what works!

Vanessa Lynn Campos is mom to 2 boys, Kai and Rocky.  Her interest in fitness began at age 15, having been a dancer, cheerleader and soccer player.  She studied dance at Beijing Dance Academy in Beijing, China and the London Contemporary Dance School at The Place in England. Her professional opportunities also included working with internationally acclaimed dance photographer, Lois Greenfield, who featured Vanessa in her 2007, 2008, and 2013 calendars.  Her professional fitness career began in NYC in 2002.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa, aka Extreme Clean Eating Disorder?

I want to take a moment to introduce a serious, but important topic – Orthorexia Nervosa, or otherwise known as ‘Extreme Clean Eating Disorder’. We all do our best to eat healthy, or ‘clean’, whatever it is we want to call it, but there is a point where the obsession can cause one to overly restrict their diet to a point when there are serious health implications.

More and more every day I see people posting and commenting on just how confusing this whole healthy lifestyle thing can be. The determination of what foods are healthy and which foods are bad for the human body seems to fluctuate with the tides. One month coffee is deemed healthy, the next it is bad for our health. The same can be said for a multitude of other foods and drinks. Despite the ever-wavering evidence for and against the benefits of some foods, the common factor has always been that eating healthy is good for all humans and animals. However, Dr. Steven Bratman termed the phrase orthorexia nervosa in 1997, claiming that the obsession with eating healthy can actually lead to poor overall health. People in this situation can be so scared of certain foods that they are restricting their diet to where they are not getting the nutrients they need. They are either restricting to too little calories overall and/or over-restricting certain foods or types of foods (both of which can lead to malnutrition), and/or they restrict themselves from social situations, which can also have negative health effects. This of course would be the extreme side of this. If someone doesn’t go out for with their friends for one night but instead stays in, eats healthy, and exercises, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they may have orthorexia nervosa. It’s about the obsession, and how much it is consistently impacting their health in a negative way. A very interesting and eye-opening interview with a psychologist and two registered dietitians on this topic can be listened to here.

The Dr. that coined the term orthorexia, was affected by a tragic case where a vegan blogger had died as a result of this disorder. Her heartbreaking story can be read about here. She had been diagnosed with anorexia, but resisted the diagnoses and help because she didn’t feel that it fit her situation. She didn’t fear about being fat or obsessed with being skinny; she was obsessed with eating healthy. This unfortunately ultimately led to her untimely death due to malnutrition.

This is why I at least want to start a conversation about this and make people aware – because it is a real thing, and it does happen, and I care about the lives of women. Again, I also understand how confusing the health and fitness world can be and I see the confusion in some of the questions and posts.

There are also people who support the uptake of these fears by society, and this can be equally damaging. I won’t point any fingers or name names, however a popular blogger who tends to shame others’ food decisions is discussed in the interview mentioned above. What I will say is that people shouldn’t be constantly scared that what they are putting in their bodies, and their families bodies, is toxic. This can be psychologically harmful. They should be informed and educated on how to read labels, how to choose more healthy, less process items, but not that everyday food items are toxic. It’s all about balance and people need to know that that.

Not everyone is going to agree with me and that’s OK. I get that not everyone has to agree on everything all of the time (what a boring world that would be). But I thought I would post this in the hopes that it would be eye opening to some. Some of you who, like me, sometimes feel ashamed at some of the food choices that you make. Also, I believe that it is important for this topic to me more aware of and understood. If you, or someone you know, please seek help from an eating disorders specialist. Since the time of Kate’s death, the concept of orthorexia has become much better known, and there is help out there.

Thanks for reading!


Felicia Newell, BScAHN, MScAHN(c), RD(c)

Official NEM Nutritionist

For the past several years, Felicia has been working at a university research centre with a focus on food security (Food Action Research Centre), and has taught university level nutrition courses. Her passion lies in working toward a future where everyone has access to enough affordable, healthy, safe and culturally appropriate food, that is produced, processed and distributed in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways. Felicia has recently published a paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health titled, ‘Is the Minimum Enough: Affordability of a Nutritious Diet for Minimum Wage Earners in Nova Scotia’.

Facebook page:

Instagram: @felicianewellnutrition

Baked Snack Chickpeas

If you miss eating Cornuts, you will love Baked chickpeas. Here’s a recipe provided by one of our No Excuse Mom Group Leaders in Elk Grove, CA – Hazel Blandon! Find your NEM workout location here!

1. Open cans, drain & rinse.
2. Place on towel to absorb remaining water. Put on cookie sheet with parchment paper in oven at 375* for 40 mins. or until crunchy depending on your oven.
3. Take out chickpeas and coat them lightly with coconut oil.
4. Prepare to create different flavors by separating them into 3 bowls. The amount of seasoning/ingredients is dependent on your preference. Here is what Hazel used in the three bowls below:
First bowl: honey and cinnamon.
Second bowl: shaved parmesan cheese with minced garlic, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper.
Third bowl: garlic powder, onion powder sea salt, red pepper flakes, chipotle peppers, & cumin.



Melting the Miff-Worthy Muffin Top

Melting the Miff-Worthy Muffin Top
by Jules Rosenthal

As women we tend to fiercely and frustratingly hold on to belly fat. The dirty truth is that you are only going to banish that belly fat by changing two things: diet and exercise. There is a myth that 1,000 sit ups a day or 7 minutes of planks a day will help get you the fab abs you dream of. But PLEASE don’t get frustrated when these things don’t work. Surely you are getting a stronger core but nothing will change to the naked eye (and the naked abs) unless you tighten up the diet; lose the refined carbs, focus on high fiber and low sugar foods to beat the bloat and to tone the tummy down. Hydrate. Do not eat processed foods. Avoid refined sugars. Avoid, pasta, rice, sugar and white flour. I am constantly saying to my clients, “you cannot out-train a bad diet”. Your body reflects the hard work you put in as well as the fuel you use. To melt the muffin top means eating smart and training smart. Now that you have the diet, it is time to train smart.

I have been asked many time by many people to only focus on the core in my personalized workouts for them. My response is always the same. In order to focus on your core, I am going to give you a challenging full body workout each time we meet. Muscle burns fat three times faster than fat, so muscle building is the most effective way to burn all over fat (let me repeat, “ALL OVER FAT”. You cannot spot burn or spot train; we lose and gain proportionally head to toe so training head to toe is most important to burn and build efficiently). That said, it is important to train the core outside of balance exercises and full body exercises.

Here are a few of my favorite muffin-top targeting moves that are important to keep as part of your routine.

Plank: The plank is a perfect way to engage the deep transverse abdominal muscles. These are the deepest in the core and act as a girdle as they hold everything together (read; tighten). Be sure to keep the head straight and aligned wth the shoulders, hands directly under the shoulders, spine straight, hips square and as flat a position as you can.

side plank
Side plank: The side plank will also hit the TVA in addition to the obliques or also affectionately known as the love handles. The same principles apply here as the regular plank– you want to be as straight and aligned as possible.

Reverse crunch: This is really about control. The reverse crunch is a move that will target that mean muffin but also helps the upper abs as well. The key here is to go very slowly and remember that you don’t have a large range of motion, so focus on really pulling that navel in towards the spine. Lie down with legs fully extended and arms to the sides of your torso, palms on the floor.
Raise your legs (bent) so that thighs are perpendicular to the floor and feet become parallel to the floor. Pull the belly in towards the spine and push it into the floor as firmly as possible. Lower slowly.

russian twist
Ball twist: This oblique trimmer and balance enhancer is a great way to whittle the waist. Holding a medicine ball or dumbbell in your hands, twist from side to side, keeping the back straight. it is important here to move from the torso, not from the shoulders. For an added challenge, lift the feet up off the ground.

squat to press
Squat to press rotation: More and more research is showing that full body moves, not ab isolating ones, are partly responsible for the trimming the waist line. This one targets the legs and shoulders and really tightens that mid section. Start with weights in your hands and lower into a squat, leaning back into your heels, drawing the belly in and the pushing the bum out. As you raise your hips, pushing up from the heels, push the dumbbells over your head, turning your torso to the right side by using your midsection muscles to turn. This is a fluid movement. Lower the weights and repeat the movement, this time turning to your left.

plank pull in
Plank with a pull in: Here is an advanced version of your basic plank that will be sure to hit the right spot. Begin in a standard plank. From here, slowly pull the right knee in towards the right elbow touching the two if possible and holding for a full second. Then do the left side.

Try out these muffin top melters but remember: they are not magic! Without a sensible diet, full body strength work and cardio, that tricky tire is going to stick around so be sure to keep your routine (not your tummy) well rounded!

Jules Rosenthal played sports though wasn’t always an athlete until she found where were greatest strengths were: running, weight training and coaching. She also had a short career in the culinary arts before changing course and earning her MSW in 2005. Not too shortly thereafter, though, the lure of the fitness called again, and she returned to the health-world by getting her ACE certification in 2009. Jules resides in the Boston area — she is a No Excuse mother of two, licensed clinical social worker, avid runner/fitness freak and made her vision come true when she started her own personal training company, Ripped by Jules in 2013.
Facebook Page:

5 Top unknown Roadblocks

5 Top Unknown Roadblocks that you MAY be experiencing now.
by Diane Kazer

What if I told you: FAT IS NOT YOUR FAULT? If you’ve tried weight loss programs, but failed, it’s probably not YOU. Twinkie eating couch potatoes aside:


This article is for you who busts your ‘assparagus’ to earn your dream body, are fed up with doing everything ‘right’ and still not there. Let’s make this article fun! There’s enough scienc’y conflicting terms out there to make your head spin, so let’s get to the TRUTH:


#1 ROADBLOCK – BLAME IT ON THE HORMONES! Let’s talk about 5 that are CRUCIAL for fat loss.

1) THYROID is responsible for metabolism, and when it’s low, fat loss is an uphill battle. Over 20% of Americans have a sluggish one! Thyroid hormones stimulate fat-burning; they’re anti-aging and keep leptin levels low.

2) LEPTIN – Released by fat cells, this is the bodies signal to stop eating. Diane calls it the “leave it hormone”. When thyroid and leptin levels are diminished, the body has no “stop eating!” signal.

3) INSULIN – 1 in 2 American adults are ‘borderline diabetic’ from insulin resistance, that’s brought on by:

 Overeating (esp carbohydrates)
 Skipping meals (esp breakfast)
 Coffee (esp on empty stomach)

The results? Glucose can’t be used as fuel, gets stored in fat cells instead, expanding our ‘waste’ line. In men, testosterone converts to estrogen = cue man boobs. In women, it converts estrogen to testosterone = cue infertility, hair loss and PCOS. WE WORK WITH MORE CLIENTS ON THIS ISSUE than anything else. Once blood sugar stabilizes and hence insulin, function is restored and fat runs away through the bowels!

3) CORTISOL – Under stress, this hormone is released in the body and says ‘store fat’. Elevated cortisol imbalances sex/sleep hormones, slows metabolism, roller coasters blood sugar, inflames the gastrointestinal and immune system, all of which = fat loss failure. I know…sounds evil huh? It’s not a ‘bad’ hormone, just bad when imbalanced…and we see this in 99% of clients we test.

5) MELATONIN – This hormone tell us when to sleep and keeps us asleep. When low, our body doesn’t rest properly and won’t repair adequately. 7-9 hours of sleep is CRITICAL, and between 10pm and 6am is optimal.


#2 TOXICITY – We live in a toxic world. Today we’re exposed to 80,000+ chemicals, which our bodies say ‘How do I get rid of these aliens?’ and stores them in the liver, our detox organ. Nearly everyone we test has a congested liver, and toxins must be stored somewhere. “So, hey, let’s hide in fat cells to protect nerve tissue”, and WALA = fat is here to stay.
CLEAN LIVER = OPTIMALLY FUNCTIONING BODY = better equipped to burn fat.

Toxins also intercept ‘text messages’ in the body including hormones responsible for weight loss. Triclosan is found in cosmetics, which blunts thyroid hormone and = headaches, depression, weight gain due to hormone imbalance. Xenoestrogens confuse hormone levels, and in case of Low T or low estrogen, taking exogenous hormones, will likely make you fatter, especially with a clogged liver and insulin resistance. Check your personal care products for safety:


#3 DIGESTION – 80% of our immune system lives in our gut. Americans are constipated; we ‘go’ every 2 days vs 2 TIMES per day. If we can’t remove waste, we BECOME waste. 75% of us house perma bad bugs, which cause cancer, eat our nutrients and create inflammation (cue cortisol) and infection (drain the immune system). All of these add up to an inability to lose fat effectively. FIX IT:

#4 Immune System – Protecting you from viruses and bacteria, it’s closely linked to all other parts of the body. When it’s not functioning properly, it attacks healthy tissue (auto-immunity), spikes cortisol (fat storing hormome), and drains the adrenals (sex, sleep and sex hormones halt), resulting in inflammation, which makes fat loss nearly impossible. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is THE most common we see today, affecting 1 out of 10 women, with estimates as high as 5 out of 10 going undiagnosed due to improper testing. Why? Unfortunately, insurance companies see no value in antibodies or have WIDE ranges in determining a ‘healthy’ TSH. Lab tests anywhere from .25-8 is considered ‘in range’, where we say, in Functional Medicine, that OPTIMAL is between 1-2, and anything outside of that is a cause for action, ie your body telling you it needs help. Even the top endocrinologists today will only test 3 thyroid hormones (TSH, T4, T3) when there are 6 critical markers to explore the health and functionality of the thyroid – TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 and 2 thyroid antibodies. MORE ON THIS IN OUR NEXT ARTICLE ON THYROID HEALTH & AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASE.


#5 BRAIN – What we eat affects our mood; food is mood! Amino Acids come from healthy proteins we eat, and we only benefit from them if our stomach has enough acid and enzymes to further break them down into neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, which regulate anxiety, depression, immunity, motivation and energy levels. BOTTOM LINE = If these are off, you’re heading straight to the kitchen for foods, alcohol, coffee, drugs that will elevate your mood. The majority of our clients are doing a poor job of breaking down food, which is an insult to the amazing food you pay extra for, for higher quality. Let’s ensure it’s being used right, shall we?

There are 11 systems in the body, and like a soccer game, if you’re 1 man down, the rest of the players have to work harder. Fat loss is no different. When has there ever been a better time to get every player working their best to win your dream body?

Diane has healed thousands of clients worldwide via detoxification, digestion and hormone harmony, customizing the experience based on lab results, and client symptoms and goals. During this 12 week Challenge, No Excuse moms ONLY get 1 Complimentary 15 min consultation with Diane, visit to schedule! 


No More Excuses 12-week Challenge

In 12 weeks our goal is to transform. In The No More Excuses Diet it takes 3 days to bust excuses, 3 weeks to develop habits and 3 months to transform. Will you see results sooner? Yes. But, if you want to make lasting change, break up achievable short-term goals into quarters. Just like in business, seasons and even a child’s growth, you cannot expect change to happen rapidly. This is not a quick fix. This is the beginning of a true lifestyle change. By July 2015 our goal is to be in a different place physically, mentally and spiritually. So start your engines! Let’s get started!

1. Do you need to sign up officially somewhere? NO. Just sign up to our newsletter as you will get updates, tips and advice weekly. Click here to sign up.

2. How do I get access to the downloadable calendars and charts? To learn how to create an Action calendar click here. For the blank calendar template (print 3) click here.  For the progress chart click here.

3. Do I need to follow all the ‘rules’? No, they are guidelines. Adjust to your capabilities.

4. Do I need The No More Excuses Diet Book to join? No, but it is highly recommended as it provides education about meal structuring and calorie/macronutrient calculations. It also has home workouts (with illustrations) and troubleshooting techniques. It is available wherever books are sold including Target, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million and Amazon (in ebook/hardback).

5. It’s past April 6th can I still join? You can join at ANY time. Get your calendars and progress charts ready, take a before selfie, start hashtagging #nomoreexcusesdiet and get started!

6. When does the 12 weeks end? June 28th! Our goal is to rock confidently in swimsuits on July 4th!

7. What are the Guidelines? SEE BELOW:


Please make sure you subscribe to our newsletter (it pops up when you enter the website). You can also hit ‘subscribe’ after clicking onto one of our current challenge newsletters including (please click):
Newsletter One
Newsletter Two


How does your posture measure up?

Proper posture involves many muscles working in conjunction. The structural alignment from top to bottom should be ears over the shoulders, shoulders over the hips and the knees over the ankles, with the weight spread evenly across both feet, all toes and both heels. There are many postural deviations, that are actually quite common. They vary in severity and can lead to further problems in the body if left unresolved. Some common examples are:

1) Over-pronated feet (flat feet):Over-pronation adds stress to the foot, tightens calf muscles, and can internally rotate the knees. Over-pronation often leads to Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Tendonitis and/or Bunions

2) Forward hip tilt or LORDOSIS or anterior pelvic tilt: overly arched lower back, caused by the pelvic bones tilting forward, due to tight hip flexors, often from sitting for most of the day. As you walk, tight hip flexors prevent the glutes from firing/activating, which forces the hamstring muscles to become overworked and excessively tight. If you have tight hamstrings, the root cause may be tight hip flexors and an anterior pelvic tilt.

lower cross

3) Hunchback or KYPHOSIS: excessively curved upper back, shoulders rolled forward, tight chest muscles and weakened and loose upper back muscles. This is one of the most common issues because of our generally sedentary lifestyles, with desk jobs and sitting at computers much of the day.

upper cross

4) Head jutted forward: Have someone take a photo of you in profile; your earlobes should be located directly above your shoulders. Sitting at a computer for hours at a time daily can be the cause of this as well. Muscles in the back of the neck become tight, along with the upper trapezius and levator scapulae (upper back muscles).

forward head

These 4 common posture problems are just scratching the surface of posture as a very important fitness topic. Another extremely important element when discussing posture is the deep core muscles, the transverse abdominals. These muscles are your body’s natural internal corset, which supports your structure and help to align your vertebrae. With proper core engagement (navel to spine and spine elevation), you can begin to alleviate back discomfort and to strengthen the other muscles that work in conjunction with the core for total body control. With good posture comes greater lung capacity, the appearance of confidence, height and even “lengthening” or thinning of the torso…you can “lose” a few pounds simply by standing straighter. Another wonderful benefit to maintaining good posture is proper exercise form, which make whatever exercises you are performing more effective and efficient. With a conscious effort and time, you can change the way you hold your own body.

With my own clients, I suggest setting a “posture alarm”, on your phone or computer or your oven timer…. something that can ping and give you a reminder to make postural adjustments and take a moment to focus on how you are sitting, standing, doing day to day activities. Making this conscious effort daily soon will create a habit and in time, poor posture will be uncomfortable, you will find yourself making unconscious adjustments without the reminder, and you will feel and see a change in how you carry yourself and how exercise affects you. So, now, take a moment to adjust…ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over heels. Spread your feet, feel all 10 toes and both heels on the floor. Pull your navel to your spine and send your energy upward, breathe into your ribcage, maintaining the navel to spine connection…then relax and feel the difference. I hope this helps you reach the next level of success in your journey to fitness.

Perfect Posture!

Vanessa Lynn Campos is mom to 2 boys, Kai and Rocky.  Her interest in fitness began at age 15, having been a dancer, cheerleader and soccer player.  She studied dance at Beijing Dance Academy in Beijing, China and the London Contemporary Dance School at The Place in England. Her professional opportunities also included working with internationally acclaimed dance photographer, Lois Greenfield, who featured Vanessa in her 2007, 2008, and 2013 calendars.  Her professional fitness career began in NYC in 2002.
For fitness videos, subscribe to her YOUTUBE.

3 struggles guaranteed to happen in 12 weeks.

There are 3 Things that are guaranteed to happen when you S.T.R.I.V.E. (the troubleshooting stage) for change, you will fail, you will be uncomfortable and you will plateau. In the book, The No More Excuses Diet, there are 3 cycles (S.P.E.E.D. – S.T.R.I.V.E. – S.C.O.R.E.)

Read on to get ready for this 12-week journey!

1. You will FAIL. So many people don’t start because they fear failing. Most often, that fear stems from years failing at fad, fast and highly-restrictive dieting. Some couldn’t resist not eating their favorite foods, others allowed stress get the better of them, many had a very unrealistic approach to dieting, etc. So let’s get this straight.


I have failed countless times in the last decade. You will have days when you skip a workout, when you splurged on a donut, when you didn’t eat enough, when you didn’t sleep enough – in fact, sometimes, that day turns into a week – and at this point, why not give up, right? You feel like a failure.

Whatever you do, DO NOT STOP. Re-write your short-term goals – make them more achievable – dedicate yourself to three days of successful follow-through and keep going. You can stop in 12 weeks (not fully of course, just rest and start striving for bigger goals again) so right now, keep trucking – even when you feel defeated – keep going! Even the most perfected of perfect people are not perfect (lol).

2. You will be UNCOMFORTABLE. In order to grow, you must be challenged, so focus on running a little harder, eating a little healthier and challenging yourself a little more What does this mean? It means you will need to be mentally conscious of what’s going on a daily basis because in order to change, you must create change and break some habits. Some of these old habits is running at an 12-min mile pace (or just walking fast), eating mostly processed ‘diet’ foods and not prioritizing rest and sleep.

Being uncomfortable also means being sore, struggling with naysayers and bringing your own meals to work lunch meetings. You are about to change your life and in order to do so you need to CHANGE!

3. You will PLATEAU. Our body is made to adjust and there will be a point when you will stop making progress. This can happen 6 weeks in, for those who are too extreme/restrictive in the beginning, it could even happen within 3 weeks in! Remember, it’s not a matter of IF you will plateau, it is WHEN. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, Remember That! However frustrating stalling in progress feels, know that you got there because you have made progress! So, what do you do?

Go Back to #2.

You need to get uncomfortable again. Run faster, lift heavier, change up your macros/calories, try a new exercise, extend your duration – whatever you do, just do something DIFFERENT. And, don’t expect your progress to change instantly. It will always take at least 3 weeks to notice change.

So let’s get this straight:

This journey will not be easy. You will fail, be uncomfortable and plateau – you WILL get frustrated, annoyed, angry, upset and discouraged…but DO NOT GIVE UP.

I repeat.

Do NOT give up.



Chicken Stuffed Manicotti

Hi NEMs! 

Are you ready for another great recipe?  Well here it is!  CHICKEN STUFFED MANICOTTI!

One of our San Diego No Excuse Moms Calista Mejia who I met earlier this year is sharing this yummy recipe with us.  🙂


But first, let’s get to know our fellow NEM Calista and her adorable family…

calista family

  • How many children do you have and their ages?  
    • One little love-bug, she is 5 ½ …though she practically BEGS for a little sister!
  • How did you get involved with NEM?  
    • I first heard about Maria back when her strong, yet controversial “What’s your excuse” image was posted online back in 2013…I was immediately inspired, as that’s about the same time I began my fitness journey. I requested to become a member of the NEM Facebook page shortly thereafter and loved seeing these extraordinary mothers, balancing their health & wellness along with all of their family & other responsibilities in life. I became more engaged with NEM just this year, when Maria posted about her upcoming book & the 12-week challenge in mid-January. I was also fortunate enough to assist & meet other NEMs at Maria’s booth at the LA Fit Expo in February as well.
  • When do you find time to workout?
    • I don’t “find” time…I make it. Plain and simple. Just like, I don’t “find” time to eat breakfast, lunch & dinner each day…I make the time because it’s at the top of my priority list.
  • What is your favorite workout?
    • I honestly don’t know how I can pick just one favorite. I consider myself a ‘fitness enthusiast’ – so to me, the more variety, the better. I feel like there is always more to learn, to try, to experience… and I don’t want to ever get bored or burnt out with exercise. I love weight training, yoga, hiking, running (especially along the beach here in sunny San Diego!), pilates, & outdoor bootcamps.
  • How do you stay motivated?
    • Motivation, that’s a tough one for many of us. Even for those who have implemented fitness into their routine & live a healthy lifestyle. There are good/easier days than others…but mainly my motivation comes from inside (intrinsically), as it should…whereas some have ‘extrinsic’ motivation (doing it for someone else, or just to look good in an outfit…outside reasons). I truly enjoy exercise.

…and now for Calista’s awesome recipe!

final pic


  • 14 pieces manicotti pasta tubes
  • Tomato sauce of your choice (I used Delallo Roasted Garlic)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 12.5 oz can of premium white chicken in water – drained (I use Trader Joes)
  • ½ cup “riced” cauliflower
  • 2-3 cups fresh spinach – chopped
  • ½ cup artichoke hearts – chopped
  • 6 oz container of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt (I use the Fage brand)
  • ½ cup, ricotta cheese – low fat
  • 4 oz lite shredded mozzarella cheese (I use Trader Joes, pre-shredded)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper


  • Pre-heat oven to 375.
  • Boil manicotti tubes for 5-6 min, do not overcook or they could break! Once done, set aside to cool.


  • You could definitely use cooked chicken then chop it up…I just try to save some time and it’s quick and easy to use the canned sometimes.
  • To ‘rice’ cauliflower, I cut off a few florets from the head and put into a mini food processor. Pulse a few times to get a ‘rice-like’ consistency and then measure out ½ cup.
  • Frozen spinach would work for this as well…just thaw & drain out moisture first…measure out to your liking – maybe about a cup.

In a 9×13 baking dish, pour in your tomato sauce – just enough to cover the bottom.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients for the filling. Once combined, scoop the mixture into a large plastic zip lock bag, squeeze out all the air & zip shut. Snip off the end about an inch or so from a bottom corner of the bag.

Hold a manicotti tube securely in hand to prevent it from breaking, then slowly begin to pipe the filling inside – it’s best to fill from both ends to make sure each tube gets filled all the way without air pockets. Don’t overfill, to ensure you have enough for all 14 tubes. If you have extra filling afterwards, go back & add a small amount to each. Place all into baking dish. If you choose, you can pour some additional tomato sauce on the tubes – I chose not to so I could measure out my own amount of sauce afterwards.

Cover lightly with foil & bake in oven for 15 minutes.

Plate & spoon tomato sauce on each one, then garnish with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese (optional) and a pinch of julienned basil (optional).

Serves 3 (4 tubes each) or 4 (3 tubes each, with 2 leftover).

calista card pic


Calista Mejia


**Nutritional Info per Manicotti Tube (based on the products used):

  • 125 calories
  • 2g fat
  • 231mg sodium
  • 15g carbs
  • 11g protien


Well NEMs, I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Don’t forget that if you have a recipe you’d like to share on our website, please email me at: 😉

Meeshie LOGO w Maddox - website

No More Excuses Campaign! (how to join!)

If you resolve RIGHT NOW to drop your excuses, you have already passed the first test in being part of the No More Excuses movement. Many of you have seen the powerful, uplifting and inspiring pictures streaming on Facebook recently and here’s your chance to tell your story in the same motivational voice. CLICK HERE for a DROPBOX of over a hundred images of No More Excuses Photos!


1. Take a fun and powerful picture
2. Post it over THIS TEMPLATE. Here are the PSD and JPEG files
3. Bullet point your excuses, reasons and successes!
4. Include your name (over the url: )
5. For all you photoshop savvy people here’s what you need to know:
Caption Font: Dirty Ego
Bullet point Font: Arial Narrow
Red Color: f62c25
Blue Color: 40a7bf
6. When you post please be encouraging and say words like,
“My reasons are bigger than my Excuses”
“If I can do it, so can you”
7. Hashtag #nomoreexcuses (and #mariakang if you want!) so we can keep tabs of your beautiful photos and possibly share also! And please don’t forget to include so people can find more info about our various No Excuse groups and official book!
8. Lastly, send me an email of the jpeg pic titled you FIRST and LAST name at so I can add to our official Dropbox of campaign images.

How to create a white background? Watch this simple photoshop tutorial HERE>
If you have any questions, please email us at