Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Squeezing Exercise Into Your Insane Schedule

This post is dedicated to my sister who has three young boys, a career, and is also a “Suzy-Homemaker”. She requested this topic, so I’ll do my best to cover it well!

First, let me begin by recognizing the fact that all of you readers have a lot of different situations that make it difficult for you to squeeze exercise in. There is no one-size-fits-all fix to the problem of having no time. So, while I will make suggestions and try to help you all brainstorm ways to integrate more activity into your life, know that you have to change your mindset before you can change your schedule to fit exercise in.

In order to have to time to exercise, you must make time. It is just like money! Sure, I have enough money for a freezer to store food; but I do not have enough money to go to a rock concert. That sounds silly doesn’t it? A freezer costs a lot more! The difference is that I see a need for the freezer and I value what that money will buy me. At this point, I just don’t want to put money towards tickets to go to a rock concert because the value of it isn’t that great at this juncture. Now, transfer the same idea to time. We all have 24 hours in each day and we have to decide what to do with those hours. It is up to YOU!

Another important piece to this puzzle is that you have to want to exercise. You will always find a reason to not exercise if you do not want to. I know that my sister, for instance, will run any time she gets the chance! If she didn’t really want to exercise, she would find something to fill that small block of time that opened.

Now that we’re all in a good mindset, let’s talk about ways to cram some activity into your day! Do you not have 30 continuous minutes that you can devote to exercise? Here is an example of how to sprinkle exercise throughout your day. Meet Jane! Jane wakes up every morning five minutes before she needs to start getting ready for work. During those five minutes, she does one set of as many push-ups as she can, completes 30 jumping jacks, then does another set of as many push-ups as she can. During her morning conference call, she stands up and walks in place for 20 minutes. When lunchtime arrives, she is swamped with work so she continues to work mostly through her break while eating at her desk. However, she escapes from her office building for a ten-minute walk before her lunch break is over. At the end of the day, she needs to stop at the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk. She parks as far away as she can and jogs up to the front of the store, takes one lap around the store, picks up her milk, pays for it, then walks back to her car. After serving her family dinner, they let the dishes sit (hey, it never killed anyone) and go outside for a friendly game of tag. After about 30 minutes it starts to get dark, so they go back inside and everyone pitches in to clean up. Later, while the kids are getting ready for bed, Jane pulls out her free-weights and does about ten minutes of strength moves. Finally, after the children go to bed, Jane has filled her day with activity, even though she had a jam-packed day.

Jane’s day was just to give you examples of how you might be creative and fit activity in wherever you can. With today’s schedules, you really have to be creative! Even though your life may be very different from Jane’s, use her story as a way to start brainstorming on how your day could be different!

Here are some general tips for fitting more activity into your day:
1. Make it a family affair: play a sport, go for a walk, or do something active together.
2. Never look for an up-close spot wherever you are parking!
3. Know that 10 minutes of continuous activity is enough to achieve a disease-fighting benefit. You could sprinkle 10-minute walks throughout your day to achieve the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity.
4. Take the stairs, always! Elevators are great if you are using crutches, a wheel chair, or are carrying something very heavy. Otherwise, do you really need to ride the elevator? If you’re traveling up a lot of flights, it is okay to take breaks, or compromise by riding the elevator halfway. Before you know it, you’ll be able to climb up the whole way!
5. Be active while watching television: use free-weights, do push-ups or crunches, do jumping jacks, or just walk in place!
6. Never sit for more than an hour! Get up at least once per hour and walk in place for a few minutes.
7. Wear a pedometer. You’ll be surprised at how much more you will walk with one on as you’re always trying to get your step-count higher!
8. Consider exercising/going for a walk during your lunch hour.
9. Rather than calling your co-worker who is a few cubicles away, get up and go talk to him/her. Every little bit helps!
10. Increasing your exercise intensity can make-up for lacking time to do a longer workout. For instance, a fast paced, 20-minute run may burn a similar amount of calories as a slower 40-minute run.
11. Plan ahead for exercise. At the beginning of the week, look at your planner and decide when you can make time for it.

I’d love to hear how you squeeze exercise in! Please share ways that you interject activity into your day!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Eating Out With Less Calories

I must admit that my husband and I love eating at restaurants. As much as I love to cook, I also enjoy eating food that someone else cooked. It is great to just relax in a restaurant with a nice atmosphere and chitchat about whatever comes up. Plus, I just enjoy trying different cuisine and having time away from the kitchen at home. However, as we all know, eating out can often be detrimental to healthy eating. So what should you do if you love to eat out? Here are some helpful hints!

1. Skip the appetizer and watch that breadbasket. Appetizers are rarely healthy and can really pack on the calories. Have the server only bring enough bread for each person at the table.

2. Look for the words “grilled, baked, or broiled”. Avoid foods that are fried.

3. Share your meal or plan to take half home. If you plan to take half home, go ahead and ask for a box when you order or receive your meal. Place half of your meal in the box before beginning to eat so that the temptation to pick at your food past your full mark is removed.

4. Consider subbing vegetables for French fries. It may be hard to order it, but chances are, with some good seasoning, you’ll be fine with your vegetables when they arrive. This will save you a lot of calories and add plenty of nutrients to your meal.

5. Ask that butter be left off of your food. Restaurants put butter on everything! I know because I was a waitress while in college so I saw this first hand. One of the restaurants where I worked poured butter on every steak. You need to ask about this and then request that it is left off. If your steak shows up “glistening”, send it back and ask them to try again. You are the customer and you’re paying a pretty penny, so don’t feel bad about doing this if you asked up front and they did not comply. Remember to ask that butter be left off of your vegetables. If you feel like you really need something on them other than seasonings, ask for olive oil instead of butter.

6. Be mindful about what you’re drinking. With free refills, you may end up drinking several glasses of regular coke or sweet tea. These calories add up fast! Stick with calorie-free drinks. If you are choosing alcohol, try a light beer or dry wine and limit yourself to one.

7. Watch the sauce! Creamy and buttery sauces can make any grilled, healthy sounding meal a saturated fat nightmare! Two ways to handle this are, 1. order it without the sauce, or 2. order the sauce on the side and drizzle it. I feel confident that you won’t feel cheated if you drizzle a small amount on your food. You’ll have the taste with several hundred less calories.

8. Ask for whole grain whenever possible. Many restaurants are now offering whole grain breads, pasta, and rice. Take advantage of this whenever possible.

9. Ask a lot of questions and don’t be shy! You’ll never know everything that went into the dish you’re about to eat. However, you can be as proactive as possible. You’ll never know if butter comes on your food if you don’t ask. If you are wondering...just ask!

10. If you are eating out several times each week, consider swapping out at least one of these meals for something you made at home. Eating out is fun and enjoyable; however, the more often you do it, the more hidden fat and calories you will be eating!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Easy, Healthy Meals For One or More

As requested by my college running buddy, today I am going to talk about creating an easy, healthy meal. These are meals that can easily be made for one person, or can suit a family.

First, some tips:
1. Stock your cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer with commonly used ingredients so that you aren’t met with the hassle of running to the store at the last minute.
2. Try to stock up on items when they are on sale and certainly when you can also attach a coupon to that.
3. Planning meals is sometimes a pain, but is instrumental in helping you to actually have a dinner on the table. This can be done once per week and really doesn’t take that long. If you have a family, try having everyone pick one or two meals for the week.
4. Purchase a cookbook that features easy and healthy meals to reduce boredom of eating the same foods over and over. Here are some that I like:
a. Simple Suppers by Cooking Light
b. Easy Dinners Healthy Recipes by Better Homes and Gardens
c. The One-Armed Cook by Cynthia Stevens Graubart and Catherine Fliegel, R.N., C.C.E.
d. Food Made Fast Weeknight by William Sonoma (Some recipes may need modification to make them healthier.)

Some meal ideas:
(Ingredients needed are bolded, click on links for coupons!)

1. Throw a chicken breast(s) in a bag with a marinade that you picked up at the store before leaving for work or the night before. When dinner time arrives, put the chicken in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook instant, whole-grain rice and throw some steamfresh vegetables in the microwave. Spray your rice once or twice with a butter spray and add some garlic powder.

2. Star cooking instant, yellow rice. Meanwhile, put a 14.5oz can of black beans in another sauce pan with only 1 T of its sauce. Add a few sprinkles of dried cilantro, a dash of red pepper seasoning, and 1 T of lime juice. When the beans are heated and the rice is ready, top your rice with the beans and enjoy.

3. Sprinkle Cajun seasoning on chicken breasts and then grill or bake them. Add your chicken to a whole grain bun with lettuce, tomato, and mustard. This is very tasty with a salad or frozen vegetables.

4. Heat 1 T of olive oil in a pan. Add tilapia and then sprinkle with a little bit of lemon pepper seasoning. Squirt some lemon juice on your tilapia and then flip them halfway through cooking. While your tilapia is on the stove, add some Smart Balance to some whole grain bread, sprinkle a little bit of garlic salt, and stick it in the oven at 400 degrees until it is toasted. You could also do this in a toaster. Enjoy frozen vegetables with this!

5. Purchase low sodium Asian sauce (William Sonoma has a great one, but I’m sure there are plenty of much cheaper varieties at the grocery store!) and drizzle over salmon. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Boil or steam baby carrots and sprinkle cinnamon on them. Add a piece of whole wheat bread and you have yourself a meal!

Thanks to Jenny, from Southern Savers, for some of these coupons!

I would love to hear any of your favorite fast meals! Please post your favorite in the comment section!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Star Trac eSpinner: Erin’s Review

I discovered a new piece of equipment called an eSpinner, in the gym of which I am a member. The equipment is a spinning bike with a computer that allows you to follow many different types of “solo spinning classes”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with spinning, it is basically a cycling class taught in gyms where everyone uses a stationary bicycle and takes a virtual ride together. There is only one of these eSpinners, which is probably due to its high price tag of approximately $4000. You would think I would never have a chance to give it a shot unless I sat around in line for a few hours. The truth is, I can pretty much get on it any time I want. Why is that? I wondered what it was all about, so I gave it a shot.

Day 1: On my first attempt at using the eSpinner, I wasn’t too familiar with the settings, so I just chose to connect my iPod and sort of create my own class. I happen to have a folder of music on my iPod for fast runs that contains a lot of fast paced, energetic music. I used that folder and when the music was fast, I pedaled fast. When the music was slow, I increased the resistance on the bike and took myself up a virtual mountain. I loved making it into an interval workout and enjoyed my music. By the end of this workout, I was totally hooked!

Day 2: The next time I tried the eSpinner, I chose to follow a video class. The man on the bike who I was watching took me through a spinning class. I was able to watch my cadence on the screen and see how it compared with the range that I was expected to be in for the “class”. Cadence is really synonymous with revolutions per minute (RPM). If I had remembered to bring my heart rate monitor, I could have watched that on the screen as well! Based on my age, the machine calculated an expected heart rate range for me while I was working. That was really cool and I hope to use that next time. The machine also kept track of my calorie burn, which I would assume is pretty accurate considering it was taking my weight, activity level, and age into account. I think it would be even more accurate if it had my heart rate. The negative part of this ride was that the music stunk! A little man on a bike isn’t enough to push me! I need some rockin’ music to get me moving. At one point, I even heard nutcracker music….what???? Another issue that I noticed was that the guy who was leading the “class” had very poor form when instructing on stretches after the workout. So, I really don’t see myself using this portion of the eSpinner too often or ever!

Day 3: On my third try of the eSpinner, I plugged my iPod in and selected the “Create Your Own Workout” option. I chose to do a strength workout and I also remembered my heart rate monitor. With this workout, I listened to my own music; however, you can watch the television on the screen if you choose. Words scrolled across the screen to signal me about what move to make next and how fast or slow I should go. The cadence and heart rate range was easy to see just below the instructions, which kept me on target. This particular workout was my favorite as I got to listen to good music, and I had some guidance about what to do with my workout.

Overall, I am really happy with this new piece of equipment at my gym. I plan to use it on a regular basis and would definitely place it in my home gym if I had the money and space! So why am I the only person that ever uses it? Who knows! I imagine that people who have never taken a spinning class before may be a little afraid to give it a try. If you're one of those people, just get on it and give it a shot. What is the worst that can happen? Here are some pros and cons:

1. Fends off boredom, as there are a ton of different workouts on the machine.
2. It allows you to take a spinning class if you are never able to make to an actual class.
3. You can use this machine no matter what the weather!
4. There are startup/setup tutorials that show you how to properly set the bike up for your comfort and avoidance of injury.
5. This eSpinner can give you a killer workout, if you let it!

1. Unlike a class, there is no one to tell you if your form is getting poor, which could lead to injury. When a person becomes fatigued, this can easily happen.
2. There is no comradery like there is in a live spinning class.
3. Some people may find it difficult to push themselves.

Have any of you tried a new piece of equipment, or this one? I’d love to hear about it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Part III Getting started with an exercise routine: Strength Training

Any well-rounded exercise routine will include strength training as one of its components. The problem with this is that so few people know where to start or what to do. Here are some suggestions for getting started.

The best way to get started would be to find a personal trainer with a good educational background. Of course this isn’t financially possible for everyone. Just about anyone can become a personal trainer, so it is important that you check him or her out before just jumping in. Two excellent certifications are by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). This does not mean that trainers from other backgrounds aren’t good or knowledgeable; however, these two associations have the best reputation. If you are already a member of a gym, I would suggest finding out which trainers are certified through these associations and then keep an eye on them while they’re training others. If they are doing any of these things, move on to someone else:

1. They fail to correct their client's form.
2. They are talking on their phone or texting.
3. They aren’t giving their client undivided attention.
4. They are giving their client a lot of nutrition information (beyond the basics) without being a registered dietitian.
5. They push supplements sold at the gym.

Whether or not you have this opportunity to do a little observing, make sure you talk to him or her before signing up. You want to make sure that you click with that person and that they support your goals and interests. You’re paying a lot of money, so make it worth it! Although you could continue with a trainer forever, you don’t have to. Once you learn some basics, you may feel that you want to go out on your own with your new knowledge.

If you do not have access to a personal trainer, as many people do not, consider a few other options:
1. Use a video at home such as “The Firm”.
2. Visit or subscribe to their magazine. They have some good ideas about at-home exercises and do a good job of describing how to do the exercise. They also make sure to point out common mistakes and how to avoid them.
3. Sign up for a group strength training class where the teacher usually does a good job at helping you with form.

Lastly, let me leave you with a few tips!
1. Never do strength training with the same muscle group two days in a row. Give your body 48 to 72 hours to rest that muscle group. The abdominal muscles are NOT an exception to this rule!
2. Begin each session with a light, five minute warm-up.
3. Start with multi-joint exercises and then move to isolations. For instance, a chest press involves moving two joints; however, a bicep curl only moves one joint and isolates the bicep.
4. When doing squats, lunges, or anything of the like, never…NEVER let your knees stick out further than your toes. I see this mistake a lot!
5. Don't lock your joints when performing an exercise.

Unfortunately, there are limitations to this blog in that I can’t train anyone over the internet. However, if you have questions, please leave it in the comment section!

Check back tomorrow for a Thursday extra! I'll be telling you about my experience with a new piece of exercise equipment!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fat Part II: The Good

Fat sometimes gets a bad reputation, but I am here to tell you that it is a good and essential part of your diet. About 20 to 35 percent of your calories should come from fat; and the idea is to get most of that from healthy unsaturated fats. Today, I’ll be discussing what healthy fat is and which foods you can get it from.

Basically, any unsaturated fat is healthy. The only exception is trans fat, which is technically an unsaturated fat. You will not always see the good unsaturated fat listed food labels; however, calculating it is easy. Subtract trans fat and saturated fat from the total fat. Your answer from that simple math equation will give you the amount of unsaturated fat that is present in a serving. Sometimes the food label will breakdown fats into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, which are both good for you!

Generally you will find unsaturated fats to be in oils, avocados, cold water fish, nuts, nut butters, and flax seed. Salmon, mackerel, halibut, and sardines are examples of seafood that are high in unsaturated fat. Remember that the wild varieties are going to be much more rich in healthy fat than farm-raised. Unfortunately, wild fish is more expensive, but my advice would be to stock your freezer when it is on sale. Olive, peanut, and canola oils are the best to choose from. Olive oil is great for sautéing, lightly pan frying, and dipping bread. Peanut oil is great for deep frying, not that I’m recommending this. Lastly, canola is fine for frying but also great for baking.

You have probably heard about omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA and EPA are simply specific types of omega-3 fatty acids. They are all wonderful for your heart and are extremely important for brain development in children. If you have had difficulty raising your HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) or lowering your LDL (the bad cholesterol), then consider discussing consuming more omega-3 fatty acids with your doctor. There is also evidence that these fats help to decrease the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease (note that there is some conflicting evidence in this area). In addition to warding off disease, these fats can also help to decrease inflammation in your body, which possibly means less arthritic pain.

Any type of fat is good for a host of reasons as well. Fat in your diet is essential for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and allowing you to feel full. In your body, fat cushions your bones, provides insulation and energy, plays a role in immunity, and helps to produce hormone-like compounds. These are just some of the roles that fat plays. As you can see, fat is essential, but you have to be sure that you’re eating the right types!

If your doctor has recommended fish oil, click here for a coupon. Go to the "healthcare" category. Here is an even better one!

For a $1 off olive oil, go here. Thanks, Jenny from Southern Savers!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Novice or Experienced: How interval and repetition training can work for you!

Interval and repetition training have many benefits and can be a part of an exercise regimen that takes you to the next level. Recent studies show that people who do this type of training lose weight, decrease their risk for disease, and help to decrease abdominal fat more so than when people only take part in endurance activities. So, even if you like how much you weigh, but can’t seem to get that belly in shape, keep reading. However, don’t expect perfection because genetics plays a role in body shape! The other exciting benefits you can achieve by adding these types of workouts into your routine are increased VO2max, running speed, and anaerobic tolerance. In a nutshell, you become a better athlete! (If anyone is interested in learning about VO2 max and anaerobic tolerance, leave a comment because I would be glad to do a posting on this.)

You’re probably wondering what interval and repetition training are! Interval training is a type of workout that includes short bouts of high intensity activity followed by recovery periods. The amount of time you spend in your working and recovery phases should be equal and that exact time is really up to you. You may want your working intervals to last for 2 minutes, or maybe five. During the working phase, you should be working as hard as you can, but it may take several workouts to get use to this type of training. Keep in mind while you’re huffing and puffing through your working phase that your recovery is coming soon!

Repetition training is very similar to interval training; however, it typically involves even shorter working phases (30 to 90 seconds) that are followed by longer recovery periods. The work phase to recovery phase ratio should be 1 to 5. For instance, if your working phase lasts for 30 seconds, your recovery phase should last about 2.5 minutes. During those short working phases, you should be working so hard that you couldn’t keep it up any longer once your time is up. If you can run 7 mph for one minute, then you should aim to run faster when you’re only aiming for 30 seconds.

Now that you know the basics of repetition and interval training, keep in mind that your workouts don’t have to be “super structured”. This post was meant to give you the general idea of how these workouts work, but don’t be afraid to mix it up! Maybe you want to do some long and short working intervals within the same workout. Maybe you start out aiming for 30 seconds of work, but find you can keep up your speed for 45 seconds….great! The idea is to push hard for a short time and recover so that you can do it all over again!

Interval and repetition training should really only be done about once per week as they are considered a difficult workout. You should start this workout with a 5 to 10 minute, easy warm up, aim to complete at least 5 to 6 working phase intervals, and then cool down for at least 5 minutes. You can do this with virtually any type of cardio-respiratory exercise, such as running, stair climbing, biking, or swimming.

Disclaimer: Before you begin any kind of exercise program, you should consult with your doctor. However, if you are elderly or have any physical limitations, you should also discuss intense exercise with your physician to make sure that it is okay for you to do.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Part II of Getting Started With an Exercise Routine: How to Stick With It

To be successful, first read Part I of this series! Remember to JUST DO IT, but to take it slow! Also, I would like to recommend an article that I just read in Shape magazine. It is in the March 2010 issue on page 42 and it is entitled "running out of excuses". It is just a short article about a woman who took baby-steps as she started a running program. I found it motivational; and there are plenty of other great articles in the magazine as well!

So getting back to the issue at can you stick to this new plan? For many years, scientists have studied the behaviors of people who exercise and those who do not. They found that many factors contribute to one’s success or failure. Here are a few tips or suggested topics to consider when starting up your routine.

It is generally accepted that people who exercise for intrinsic reasons, are usually the ones who stick with it. This means, you exercise because you want to, not because you feel like you’re being judged if you don’t or because your spouse wants you to. Beyond this, exercising because it makes you feel good, lifts your mood, keeps you healthy, or gives you general enjoyment are also characteristics of people who stick to an exercise routine. So take a minute and ask yourself why you want to exercise. What will it do for you? What do you want it to do for you? What kind of results are you hoping to achieve. When you ask yourself the previous questions, if you find that your motivation is not intrinsic, start trying to brainstorm ways that exercise can benefit your life rather than someone else’s happiness.

After taking a little look into why you want to exercise and how it will benefit you, let’s make some goals! This is really the fun part, in my opinion. Achieving your goals can be so uplifting and keeps you moving. Your initial goals should be short-term and attainable, but should also be challenging. Remember, your goal doesn’t have to include running a 5K or swimming in some event. They can be of that nature, but it may just be something like, “I will be able to walk from my house to the Smith’s house without having to take a break by the beginning of next month.” Your goal(s) should focus on what YOU want to achieve.

Now, let’s talk about what happens down the road. Maybe you have accomplished a goal or two and then you stumble upon a road block that derails your progress. When you are embarking on a new exercise regimen, you hate to think that your plans may fall apart one day and your progress is halted. However, you are really better off to go ahead and start brainstorming about these possible events and how you will handle them. Accepting that they will happen and that you can come out on the other side with your exercise plan intact will help you to continue with your new lifestyle.

For example, let’s say you have an exciting vacation planned. You and your spouse are going to St. Lucia to enjoy some R&R on the beach. Before you go, you pack all of your workout clothes with the best intentions of exercising the whole time. When you arrive, you eat, drink, relax, and repeat all week long. The whole way home you are mad at yourself for never slipping on your workout shoes and think about what a failure you are. Now, you come back to reality and you’re a little tired on your first day back at work, so you skip your work out. Before you know it, you have skipped the entire week. Each day that goes by makes you little less likely to hit the gym. What if you had planned to just give yourself a break while on vacation? What if you told yourself that you had been working diligently and this was your week off? Then, you could have planned how you would ease yourself back into your exercise routine when you returned. For instance, you could have remembered that last time you went on vacation, you were tired when you returned. So, instead of planning to exercise at the level that you were before you left, what if you planned to walk on your lunch break for 10-15 minutes? Then the next day, go back to your routine if you’re up to it, or allow yourself a few more days of that short walk. By only expecting a little from yourself when you return, you’re making the likelihood of following through so much better! Also, by not expecting yourself to pound the pavement on your vacation your thoughts shift from “failure” to “planned break from exercise”. Of course, you don’t have to take a break if you don’t want to, but the idea is that we need to be realistic with goals and expectations. If we are more realistic, we are more likely to exercise rather than to call ourselves failures and continue to sit on the couch!

I don't want the idea to be conveyed that we shouldn't expect much from ourselves either. Keep in mind that there is a balance, as there is with everything. Aim high and push the limits, but also be realistic and give yourself a break sometimes. We can't expect ourselves to be perfect all of the time, but it is important to challenge yourself too. Happy exercising!

...stay tuned for Part III: Getting started with strength training...
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Fat: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Part I: the Bad and the Ugly

Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet and it has many important roles in keeping us healthy. The tricky part is deciding which fats are good and which are bad. I hope this post will help you to decode which is which!

I will go ahead and discuss the bad fats first just to get those ugly guys out of the way! The first bad fat that you need to be on the lookout for are saturated fats. By law, they are required to be listed under the “Total Fat” category on food labels. This type of fat can be easily converted into cholesterol, which builds around the walls of the arteries and veins. While you can easily spot this on food labels, it is helpful to know which foods are the biggest offenders. Foods that fall into this category are whole milk, cheese, butter, eggs, fat back, baked goods, and ice cream.

The other fat that we need to be on the lookout for is called trans fat. This type of fat is man made and was created to increase the shelf-life of foods. Unfortunately, we found that it actually decreases the shelf-life of humans. Back to the drawing board, food manufacturers! Because of the hype about these fats doing damage to our bodies, some food manufacturers are working to reduce or delete the trans fat from their foods. However, it is still out there and we need to watch for it. Culprits of this type of fat are baked goods, margarine, and processed foods. Again, trans fat is, by law, listed under “Total Fat” on the food label.

I would like for you to keep an important fact in mind. When a food contains less than half of a gram of trans fat per serving, the food manufacturer can list it as ZERO grams. You might say, “If it contains less than half a gram, do I really need to be concerned?” I would say, “YES!” Let me explain why. First of all, remember that this is per serving. Do you always eat just one serving? I know I don’t always limit myself to what is listed as one serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, and you tend to do that all day long with foods that contain just a little bit of trans fat per serving, it really adds up. Unfortunately, studies are showing that just a few grams daily can negatively impact your risk for disease. I wouldn’t expect you to never let trans fat touch your tongue, but the idea is to be aware of it and avoid it as much as possible. So how will you know if a food contains trans fat? Look at the ingredient label. If “partially hydrogenated oil” is listed, then your food most definitely contains trans fat! Ingredients are listed from most abundant to least abundant, so that will also give you an idea of how much is in there.
...stay tuned to learn more about healthy fats!...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yummy, Healthy Snacks

Snacks are an important part of healthy eating because going long periods of time between meals can really be detrimental to your metabolism. The key is to eat small snacks that are satisfying and healthy. I thought this would be a good post for a Friday because most of us grocery shop over the weekend. So if you want to plan for some great healthy snacks next week, here is a list of ideas:

*****Top Dietitian Approved Snacks*****

1. Greek yogurt mixed with fresh strawberry slices and low-fat granola. (This
is currently my favorite! The plain yogurt is lower in sugar and quite
tasty if you mix fruit with it. If you live near a Publix, be sure to try
some Greek yogurt for free by going to this website
If not you do not live near a Publix, here is a coupon. If your grocery
store doubles coupons, this will be worth 60 cents. (Thanks Jenny, from
Southern Savers!)

2. Peanut butter (1-2 T) spread on a toasted whole wheat English muffin or
bagel thin

3. A small handful of almonds and a piece of fruit. My favorite is Emerald’s
cocoa roasted almonds and they often go BOGO at the grocery store!

4. Peanut butter (1-2 T) of and apple or banana.

5. Hummus dip (2 T) with raw carrots, green beans, peppers, and/or whole
grain cracker such as wheat thins or triscuits.

6. Low fat popcorn. Conveniently enough, they make 100 calorie packs for this.

7. A ½ cup of whole grain cereal.

8. A whole grain granola bar.

9. Grapes (15) and one ounce of cheddar cheese made with 2% milk.

10. Low-fat cottage cheese (1/2 cup) and pineapple and/or strawberries.

**Slightly less healthy snacks that won't blow your calorie budget**
You may wonder why these items made it into this category. These foods fall into one of the following categories: made with enriched white flour, higher in sugar or saturated/trans fat than desirable. Remember to keep serving sizes

11. Graham crackers and peanut butter.

12. A chocolate chunk or turtle chex bar. This snack may help to satisfy your
sweet tooth without going overboard.

13. One ounce of pretzels.

14. Trail mix made with peanuts, almonds, pretzels, raisins, and FEW M&Ms.

15. Dried fruit.

Feel free to share your favorite healthy snack! Have a wonderful week and see you all on Monday!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Part I of Getting started with an exercise routine: JUST DO It-but realistically

So you haven’t pounded the pavement in ten years, or maybe you’ve never been a regular exerciser. It can be difficult to know where to begin, how much to do, or who to turn to for advice. Let’s first discuss how to jump in and get moving!
The best advice when you are getting started is to really just go for it. You don’t have to do too much reading or have a lot of knowledge to get outside and start putting one foot in front of the other. So often people say to themselves that they will start exercising when it gets warmer outside, or when it gets cooler outside. Sometimes the thought is that they are too busy and when things calm down, they will start exercising. Let’s remember what our dear friends from Nike suggest…..JUST DO IT! Life will always be busy and the weather is only perfect for a few months out of the year depending on where you live.
Now that you are ready to get started, don’t fall into one of the biggest pitfalls of exercise. It is easy to get so excited about this new lifestyle and body that you’re going to have that you want to get out there five to seven days per week. More is better, right? Let’s just bring that down a notch! There are several reasons to start off slow and steady! Any time you ask your body to do something that it is not used to, your muscles experience injury. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you are experiencing more than the typical sore muscles after exercise. Microscopic tears occur in your muscles, which cause delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is a normal, expected, and healthy side effect from exercise. However, you must let your muscles heal and recover! Hence the reason for not exercising every day when you are just getting started!
Even though we would like to think that if we start off with a bang and make exercise a daily habit, we’re more likely to stick with it, this is usually not the case. Changing a lifestyle takes time, energy, heart, and dedication. Be realistic and ask yourself, “how many days can I truly commit myself to exercise?” Although failure is a part of life, you want to start building confidence and feel that you are being successful with your new routine. Starting with two days per week of exercise may be right for you. It may even be that you feel that one day is all you can truly commit yourself to. Both of these options are perfectly fine and will help you to easily be successful and avoid over training and injury that is beyond the typical DOMS.
So what are good exercises to start with? The answer is easy! Start with something that you enjoy! Make exercise fun, not punishment! Ride your bike, go for a walk, swim, or go hiking. The possibilities are endless! Just remember, slow and steady wins the race. There is always time to become faster and increase your endurance in the future.
….stay tuned for Part II – How to stick with your new routine…

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dramatically lower your grocery bill while still eating healthy!

One of the common complaints I hear from people who are trying to eat healthy is that eating well is too expensive. It is true that some foods that we think of as being nutritious or low in calories/fat do cost more money. However, there is hope! Here are ten tips to help you satisfy your taste buds and keep your body happy while not emptying your wallet!
1. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in-season. This will not only be cheaper, but also insure that you are getting the freshest and best tasting produce. It is also wise to shop produce that is locally grown!
2. Look for excellent sales on chicken breasts, lean red meat, and fish. Don’t just buy enough for the week! Stock your freezer so that you can enjoy lean meat and healthy fish at a great price.
3. Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables when they are on sale. Frozen fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious and can be a fast and inexpensive way to get more produce in your diet. Don’t forget to bring your coupons so that you can really get an awesome deal on those sale items!
4. Look for BOGO deals! You can often find your favorite healthy cereals and breads on a buy-one-get-one deal. When this happens, use coupons to lower the price even more. Remember to stock up and freeze your bread.
5. Don’t be fooled by large discount stores. Although Wal-Mart and other wholesale stores do have regular prices that are lower than supermarket regular prices, you will almost always do better at regular supermarkets. Why, you ask? Wal-Mart has “Everyday Low Prices”, meaning that things don’t go on amazing sales! At supermarkets, as long as you are shopping the sales, prices go much lower than the “Everyday Low Price” at Wal-Mart!
6. Designate one night per week as “vegetarian night”. Legumes are a very inexpensive food from which you can get a nice variety of nutrients including protein and fiber! Start experimenting with new recipes and you may just be surprised at how yummy this can be!
7. Invest in a salad spinner and start buying fresh greens. I did this about a year ago because I was so tired of buying bagged salad that went bad quickly, or was already bad when I opened it. I figured that I was spending the same amount of time weeding through the bag to salvage any good lettuce that might still be there as I would to clean lettuce leaves and spin it to remove excess water. Fresh greens are about half the price of bagged salad, so it doesn’t take too long to make up the price of the spinner. Plus, I found that much more of my fresh romaine lettuce was edible than what I was getting in the bag! Lastly, the fresh stuff lasts longer than the bagged!
8. Pick fruits and vegetables at a local farm, or grow your own! Having your own is a great way to teach children a great skill and makes them more likely to eat fruits and vegetables. If you don’t feel that you have the time or green thumb, visit your local farmers’ market.
9. Remember that although we want to keep the grocery bill low, sometimes we have to pay now or pay later. Sometimes you have to weigh your options because an item that is a lot healthier but a few pennies more may be worth it. Eating well over the years will lower your risk of being on expensive medications, paying copays for frequent doctors visits, and even lower the possibility of expensive procedures and hospital visits.
10. Be sure to stay tuned to my blog. Sometimes the “low calorie”, “low fat”, or “organic” options aren’t the best choices anyway. Why spend extra cash when the better nutrition is in the regular product!