How to Stay True To Your Exercise Goals When You Celebrate

This month is my birthday month and I like to celebrate all month long. Ok, I am an attention hound and it is great to have a whole month in which to ask for and get attention. And I milk it! However, if I am not carefully all that good food and fun times can go right to my waist without a second thought. Here are some tips to stay on track even when you are celebrating.

Image of friends having  fun together at a party

Plan ahead. Its important to think about your eating and drinking patterns when you are scheduling events. Planning ahead helps keep you aware of how much and when you consuming calories.

The basic equation on weight loss is:
Calories in need to equal Calories out in order to maintain weight. Usually, we see this broken down into daily caloric needs, however it doesn’t have to be a daily calculation it can be a time thing. So if I know I have an event coming up I can plan to cut back on my caloric needs a few days in advance knowing I am going to eat a few more calories during the event.

It is important to plan for fitness. I like the pay it forward idea from above. If I know I have a weekend getaway or a late night and I am not going to be able to workout the following day or days I can workout harder the week or so before. This allows me to burn more calories going into the party keeping my basic equation (above) on track. It is important to keep in mind this is not a green light to over consume calories after each workout because it was really hard!

Finally, have a great time. As with anything it is important to consider moderation – not only in what you eat and drink – but also in your workout schedule. There will be times when working out may have to take a back burner and that’s ok. It doesn’t become a problem until you realize your workouts haven’t seen the front burners in a long time. Follow the 80/20 rule. Eat and exercise well 80% of the time and plan that about 20% of the time things will come up, you’ll be caught off guard, or you’ll have to focus your attention on something else.

Happy Celebrating – I know I’ve had a great month – the best one of the year!

Why Fat Is Important in Our Diet & Selecting Good Fat Choices – Eating A Balanced Diet Before and After Your Workouts

Let’s talk fat. I think we have finally gotten away from blaming this big hitter for all our woes. Fat is important. Fat caloric values are worth twice the fuel the other two contribute. No wonder we store it so well. When our bodies are overfed we store fat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, our bodies are amazing! They know we are feeding to get ready for something, so they hang onto the fuel. Fat helps us feel satisfied, full longer, and it gives us more bang for the buck when it comes to energy. As with carbohydrates we need to make smart choices about our fat intake.

Our bodies need fat to function, many of our vitamins need fat to be absorbed, so it is important to choose wisely and make sure to get the right amount and types of fat in your diet.
Here are some examples of good and bad fats taken from Heathcastle.com

The “Good” Fats
Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Nuts including peanuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios, avocado, canola and olive oil are high in MUFAs. MUFAs have also been found to help in weight loss, particularly body fat. Click here for more weight loss nutrition tips.

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Seafood like salmon and fish oil, as well as corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Omega 3 fatty acids belong to this group.

The “Not so Good” Fats
Saturated Fats
Saturated fats rise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs and seafood. Some plant foods are also high in saturated fats such as coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.

Trans Fats
Trans fats are invented as scientists began to “hydrogenate” liquid oils so that they can withstand better in food production process and provide a better shelf life. As a result of hydrogenation, trans fatty acids are formed. Trans fatty acids are found in many commercially packaged foods, commercially fried food such as French Fries from some fast food chains, other packaged snacks such as microwaved popcorn as well as in vegetable shortening and hard stick margarine.

Food As Fuel – Eating A Balanced Diet Before and After Your Workouts

How many of you see food as an enemy? Something to be controlled? Food and health go hand in hand, and with all the choices out there, its no wonder we are confused.

First let me qualify this loudly: I am not a nutritionist. Today’s topic will cover basic stuff. With that said, confusion about food is usually the most common complaint I get, and I would be doing a disservice if we did not touch on it.

Whether you are a recreational weekend warrior, an athlete, or a self-proclaimed couch potato you have probably thought about food. Am I helping or hurting my progress by putting this in my mouth? Common concern. Talking with a registered dietitian, a nutritionist, or your health care provider can help answer this question more clearly.

Let’s break down food. Food is simply fuel. We need it to function. From our food choices we derive the nutrients and minerals our bodies need to function well. We classify food into two basic categories: Macro and Micro nutrients. Macronutrients are Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats. Micronutrients are smaller, like vitamins and minerals.

When we exercise for a period of time we need to replenish our bodies. Its smart to eat a small meal about 30 minutes before your workout and another one within 45 minutes of finishing a workout. Try to get a mix of carbs and protein and look for foods which allow you to do activity after without causing you digestive problems. Following your workout is a great time to add simpler carbs in allowing your muscles to suck up glucose and re-fuel for your next workout.

Here are some ideas for pre and post workout snacks from www.fitsugar.com

Five pre-workout snack ideas:
1. Half a chicken, turkey or lean roast beef sandwich on whole-wheat bread
2. Low-fat yogurt with a sliced banana
3. Low-fat string cheese and 6 whole-grain crackers
4. Hard-boiled eggs, yolks removed and replaced with hummus. (Check out my own recipe here!)
5. Skim milk blended with frozen fruit to make a smoothie

Five post-workout replenishing meal ideas:
1. One or two poached eggs on whole-wheat toast
2. Bean burrito: a whole-wheat tortilla filled with black beans, salsa and reduced-fat cheese
3. Stir-fried chicken and vegetables (try pepper, zucchini and carrot) over brown rice
4. Whole-wheat pasta tossed with chicken, broccoli and eggplant
5. Whole-grain cereal or oatmeal, with milk and fruit (such as a sliced banana)

The Power Of Protein – Good Protein Sources: Eating A Balanced Diet

Protein is what your body uses to build muscle among other things. Another needed source of fuel, protein can help you feel full longer. This means that eating foods high in protein, usually means you won’t eat as much.

Snacks such as; apples with peanut butter, cheese and crackers, cottage cheese and a fruit or vegetable can go a long way helping you reach your nutrition needs and keep your hunger at bay. Protein is especially important if you are trying to gain weight or muscle mass. If you are considering supplementing protein, read labels and research companies as many have long ingredient lists which may contain items you don’t want to be eating.

It is also important to understand how much protein you really need. The RDA recommends .8g/kg of body weight. If you are an active person you may want to pump that up to 1.2-1.8g/kg of body weight. Many people think they need a bunch of protein especially if they are looking to build mass, however the body only uses what it can so supplementing too much protein for your activity level will just result in excreting the extra, so that expensive supplement becomes very expensive pee. You also need to be cautious of too much protein because it can cause problems and place your kidneys under stress to rid the body of toxic ketones. As the kidneys do their work you risk dehydration because the body will need more water to do this.

Protein is needed for many body functions and is an important part of a balanced diet. Take care to get your protein from good nutrient dense sources and be aware of consuming too much.

Why Eating Carbs is Important – How To Choose Good Carbs In A Balanced Diet

Are you fighting carbs? Please don’t. Our bodies need carbs, they are the backbone of our fuel source, however carbs come in varieties.

When choosing foods look for complex carbohydrates. These are things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, brown and wild rice, and some cereals. When choosing breads look for fiber content, make sure that a slice has at least two or more grams of fiber. This helps ensure you are eating true whole grains and not one that has been colored to look like wheat. When choosing cereals look again for whole grains, but watch your sugar counts, aim for food with less sugar. Limiting our intake of simple carbs is an excellent idea. Please, read food labels and nourish your body with the complex carbohydrate fuel that it relies on for energy.

indian spice
Here are some ideas on good carb choices:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Wheat Breads
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Grains
  • Cereals
  • Beans

Eating A Balanced Diet

Choosing healthy foods can be confusing. Especially when we are so removed from where our food comes from and how it is grown. It is important to start with the basics and learn how to balance your diet.

Food can be confusing. I advocate a diet without labeled foods (whole foods) and eating an abundance of colors (fruits and vegetables). If you must read a label, choose a small ingredient list (listed from most to least). Try to avoid processed foods with long ingredient lists, especially if the majority of the list you cannot pronounce, and those full of artificial flavors and colors.

Fat and carbs are not the bad guys, they are simply fuel for our bodies. Protein has a nutritional benefit; however, it can cause problems if taken in great quantities. An educated consumer has the means to make wonderful food choices each day. We have a plethora of foods available to us, more than at any other time in history. Educate yourself about food so you understand what you are putting in your body, because you are what you eat – for better or worse.

In the next few weeks we’ll look at carbs, protein, and fats individually so you’ll have the tools you’ll need to make educated food choices

Losing Weight The Healthy Way

Here is how healthy weight loss works. Extra weight is just fuel you’ve put into your tank and didn’t use up. You consumed extra calories without burning them.

Calories(kcal) in MUST EQUAL calories out to MAINTAIN your current weight. This means if you want to lose weight the healthy way you must figure out how to create a deficit. In other words calories in MUST BE LESS THAN calories out to LOSE weight.

We can cut our food intake or increase our daily calorie needs (movement or exercise). To lose weight the healthy way create a plan which combines the two. By limiting food calories and adding more exercise to your daily routine it is easier to create enough of a calorie deficit without compromising your energy or health.

For example: Cut 500kcals from your daily intake (about two 20-oz bottles of soda) and increase your exercise by 300kcals per day (30-60 min of activity depending). This creates an 800kcals deficit per day. If you could do this 5 days a week you would expend an extra 4,000kcals per week. To lose a pound of fat you must burn 3,500kcals. So under this plan you should be losing at least 1 pound a week.

Some words of caution.
Food is not the enemy – load up on nutrient dense foods (foods with low calories and lots of vitamins + nutritionist). Healthy weight loss is approximently 1-2 pounds per week. It took time to put the weight on it’ll take time to take it off. Do not cut your calories too low. Less is not always more. See a nutritionist for help. Not eating enough will put your body in conserve mode. This backfires on weight loss because instead of letting go of calories your body will slow functions down to conserve calories. You won’t be getting the workouts because you are likely to be more tired and possibly more sick. This is not where you want your healthy weight loss program to be.

Obesity Rates Are Rising

Many people are trying to lose weight. This is no surprise as more than 60% of our population is overweight and obesity has become one of the top health concerns, even surpassing smoking. But unlike smoking, weight gain may not have been 100% personal decision.

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

First, food company marketing budgets are huge. Companies spend a lot of money figuring out how to sell their products. Small, local farmers selling non-patented things like vegetables don’t stand a chance in the marketing arena. However, we still have choices, and we need to make good choices about what we eat.

Second, we are busy people. Many have been removed from their food supply for more than a generation and have no idea how or where their food is grown or created. Until recently I had no idea you could make cheesecake in your own kitchen! We’ve been duped by our trusting nature giving away power in our food choices just because it was packaged good, tasted close enough, and was easy. Unfortunately, these choices have allowed us to take in extra calories without expending more – ta-da extra weight.

Third, portion sizes are bigger than ever before. This portion growth happened over time and many have no idea what a good portion size is anymore. This portion distortion causes us to overeat just because it the food is sitting on our plate.

The above reasons aren’t so you can blame big industry, your job, or restaurants for extra weight you carry. Instead look at them as educational tools. Now that you know these problems are contributing – how are you going to change your eating choices?

How To Lose Weight With Healthy Eating

Fresh Fruit

In my last blog posting I talked about some reasons obesity is rising in our country. Although, these are not meant to be excuses for extra pounds it is helpful to understand how we got to this point so we can make better choices now.

Understand that marketing is a business meant to make money both for companies represented and the marketers. When looking at products look beyond packaging – even if it has fruit on the package it doesn’t mean it is really in the food contained within. Pay attention to how the packaging caught your attention – was it a commercial, a reward, a celebrity, a promise? This will give you insight into your own buying behavior and allow you to step back from habitual choices. Become an educated consumer.

Learn how to eye ball portions sizes. Split your meal when it arrives putting anything above a portion in a takeout box. This will allow you to maximize your money and keep your waist line under control. In addition, begin to put extras on the side so you can control how much goes on. For example, salad dressing and condiments can add calories quickly, but if you put them on the side you can dip your fork with each bite for plenty of flavor and a lot less calories in your belly. Blacken, bake, broil, steam, and grill your meats and veggies. Treat yourself to fresh, in season, fruits instead of baked and smothered desserts. Add veggies to your sandwiches and burgers.

Basic portion sizes are: Meats – the size of your palm
Cheese – a pair of dice
1 cupped handful – 1/2 cup
Both cupped hands – 1 cup
8-oz drinks – your fist

Aim for a balanced plate each meal – carbs, protein, and fats. Reduce your meat portion and add an extra veggie or fruit instead. Eat a rainbow of foods with each meal. The more colors on your plate the more nutrients and vitamins you are getting. Try these tips to lose weight with healthy eating.

How to Eat Healthy While On Vacation

Eating healthy may be a challenge at home during your regular routine. So how, you ask, am I suppose to eat healthy while on vacation out of my routines? Its not as hard as you think.

First, be prepared. Plan for your needs. Be the one to bring the raw veggie plate with a healthy dip. Or bring a fresh fruit desert.

Second, eat small portions. I for one love summer BBQs and potlucks but instead of taking heaping spoonfuls of all my favorites I just take a small bite sized portion. I can always have more if I want it but keeping it off my plate usually keeps it out of my mouth.

Third, go whole food. Look for items that are as close to their natural state as possible. The less processing foods have the better for you!

Finally, follow the 80/20 rule. If 80% of your choices are healthy options the other 20 can be less than ideal. The trick is to keep this rule in action consistently over time. So don’t panic if one day is off just remember to make it up the next day.

Healthy eating starts with choices you make every meal. Don’t get discouraged and keep coming back to your goals and habits. If you can make small changes that last a lifetime you are on track to reach your goals. Just remember fitness and health are daily things and keep moving forward!