WASTED CALORIES

There are a few things that I have learned during the past few years that have changed my life with regards to fitness and nutrition. One of the most important life changing ways of thinking for me is to eat consciously, especially when it comes to the bad calories and junk foods.

I guess I am somewhat of a control freak… just ask my husband. So when it comes to eating, I give myself a cheat day. As a stay at home mom, control is somewhat of a luxury, as most of my day is filled with the chaos of kids. I CAN control my food, however. So, I choose a day to cheat. Lately, it has been once or twice a month, but it can change as plans change. Sometimes it may be as often as once a week.

All week, I stick to eating healthy and eating about 1400 calories. I try not do not deviate at all, not even a bite, because I know that soon I can eat whatever I want.

Today was my cheat day. I love Costco Pizza, and I have been looking forward to it all week. So when I got to Costco this afternoon and ordered my pizza, I couldn’t wait to “dig in”. As I ate consciously and paid attention to every bite, I began to realize that this pizza had probably been sitting under the heat lamp for sometime. I asked myself, as I always do when I am cheating, is this the best pizza I have ever tasted? The answer was a clear NO… not even close. I had eaten at least half of it, but threw the other half away. There was no way I was going to waste my cheat day and all those bad calories on a mediocre slice of pizza.

If I am going to eat junk food or something truly decadent, it better be the absolute best thing I have tasted. I make it count, and I don’t regret it because I know that I really enjoyed what I have just consumed. The other day was not my cheat day, but my husband brought home a few slices of red velvet cake that one of his employees had made. I took one taste to see if it was worth saving for my cheat day. This cake was THE MOST AMAZING CAKE I have ever tasted… and I know cake!

I decided that I didn’t want to refrigerate it for a few days, because it would definitely lose that freshness. I ate all three slices right then and there. Best decision I have ever made. No regrets, no guilt. Now I just need to figure out how to get another one of those cakes!

Even if the cheat day strategy sounds crazy to you, and is not suited to your lifestyle, eating consciously must be a part of every diet. Don’t be the one who sits in front of the TV and polishes off a bag of Doritos, and then wonders where they all went.

If you are going to eat junk food, make sure it is out of pure indulgence and delight. Make sure it is your most favorite food that you may only get once and awhile, or you have a serious craving for something specific. However, if you start to eat and it isn’t absolutely delicious, don’t waste the calories on something that isn’t the best… i.e. old Costco Pizza, stale cookies, wilty french fries, overcooked anything. You get the point.

Conscious Eating: mentally choosing what and how much food you eat and being in a conscious state, right before, during, and right after you eat.

Detoxing Your Body While Losing Baby Fat

I am so excited to welcome Mansi as my guest poster this week. Read on for realistic tips and strategies for detoxing and losing fat.

 

Two days back, while having my usual fruit salad I wondered what could be the difference between fasting and dieting, since I call my monthly detox diet a “fruit fast”.

Just to bring things into perspective, let me tell you, I’m not allowed to fast and considering my present weight, dieting is something I don’t need.

“Fasting is where you shun all kinds of food items and eat only once a day, but in dieting the food items in every meal are restricted to a few basic ones.”

When I think of days like Ramadan, Lent, Yom Kippur, etc. I realize that there is a spiritual element associated with fasting. But that’s not the case with dieting.

We do it just to lose weight.

However, I do it to flush toxins out of my body every month. Beginning each month with a clean slate feels amazing.

That brings me to the nine months of pregnancy, where you get a free ticket to eat whatever you want and are exempted from any kind of judgment on your weight or shape. That’s certainly a bliss.

Although, my source of worry is the toxin build up in the body.

Ideally, one should wait for a 6 month period to begin the postpartum weight loss schedule. And that does make sense. After all, breastfeeding helps you lose weight too.

Still, we want to work on dropping pounds from the day one and get back the body we once owned.

So ladies! Sit tight, for I’m about to tell you three simple steps to get there without having to compromise on your baby’s nutrition or your own health.

Step 1: Get Real

Yeah, you heard me! Get real!

Gulp in this fact that you will not get your pre-pregnancy body back in the exact same measures, unless you are Kim K. So, are you?

I knew it.

Hence, do not push yourself physically or mentally. Keep calm, because what might not happen in 6 months postpartum, will happen in the coming year when you’ll be running around the house to feed your toddler.

Step 2: Go for a Fruit Fasting

As I already told, that’s my personal detox ritual. I stuck to this one after having tried a lot of others like the lemonade detox or green smoothies which always, just always left me craving and lethargic.

How I fruit fast every month, for three consecutive days –

  1. Take fresh seasonal fruits and cut them into cubes. The colorful the platter, the better.
  2. Sprinkle a little salt for taste.
  3. Poke in fork, smell each cube and relish it.
  4. If I feel thirsty, I go for coconut water, which is again detoxifying and nourishing. Plus, it does wonders for my skin and hair. I completely avoid milk or any kind of fats during this time.
  5. I also make it a point to drink at least a big glass of pomegranate juice or ABC miracle drink.

If you try this out, remember not to mix sweet fruits like banana with sour ones like orange and grape, as these interfere with each other’s digestion and end up producing more toxins.

Step 3: Boost the detox and weight loss

I pride myself in calling a yoga devotee and practice it five times a week. Working out regularly would not only make you fitter but would also aid in the elimination of toxic substances.

Here, I’m listing five yoga poses that specifically work towards this.

Pose 1: Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanmuktasana)     Wind Relieving Pose

  1. Begin by lying down on your back. Keep your arms on your sides and body relaxed.
  2. Slowly lift up one leg and bring your bent knee close to your abdomen. In an attempt to do so, if your other knee bends a little bit, it is okay.
  3. Now, raise your arms to hug your bent knee and bring it closer to your chest. Hold your breath and this position for 5-10 seconds. Exhale and release.
  4. Repeat the above steps with the other leg too.

Benefits other than detox – reduction in belly fat

Pose 2: Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) Cobra Pose

  1. Lie down on your stomach and relax till you are able to breathe normally.
  2. When you are comfortable, fold both your arms to place your hands just below your shoulders.
  3. As you inhale, push down the floor and lift up your torso in air like a snake. Remember to keep your toes lying flat on ground with soles facing up.
  4. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, exhale and release.
  5. Perform it twice every day on an empty stomach.

Benefits other than detox – toned back and stronger arms

Pose 3: Half Lord of fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)Half Lord of fishes Pose

  1. Sit with your legs stretched out in front, back straight, shoulders relaxed and arms on the sides.
  2. Fold your left leg and rest your left foot beneath your right hip.
  3. Now fold your right leg and place your right feet close to your left hip. Your sole should lie flat on floor with knee pointing upwards.
  4. Twist your upper body towards left and try to grab hold of your right ankle with your right hand. Feel a stretch on your right abdomen. Enhance this by taking your left arm back to touch your back.
  5. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds. Exhale and release.
  6. Repeat it on the other side too. Practice it twice every day.

Benefits other than detox – disappearance of love handles

Pose 4: Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)surya-namaskar-sun-salutation

Sun salutation is an intense yet incredibly helpful sequence of 12 yoga poses. It is not possible to list all its steps here, so follow this link for complete steps and breathing technique.

Benefits other than detox – a full body stretching and strengthening workout in 5 minutes

 

Pose 5: Corpse Pose (Savasana)Corpse Pose

This is a relaxing and rejuvenating pose which helps eliminate all the ‘mental’ toxins which get accumulated inside our minds. All you need to do is lie down on the floor in a relaxed position and focus on your breathing. Turn your head towards a side, close your eyes and relax.

Must practice – Bellows breathing or Bhastrika pranayama

This breathing technique cleanses up sinuses and helps exhale toxins out from the respiratory system. However, those with migraine or blood pressure issues should not perform it.

Initial position: Sit in a comfortable position, either cross legged or on a chair. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Bend your elbows to bring your fists closer to your shoulders. This way your fists face up the sky and elbows towards the floor.

  1. Inhale deep on a count of 3 and raise your arms in the air spreading your fingers apart.
  2. Now exhale in a short quick bursts on just one count and forcefully bring your hands back to the shoulders making a fist.
  3. Do this 20 times in a row. Discontinue immediately if you feel light headedness.

Well, that’s all for the postpartum detox – A diet you can follow and a fast you are allowed to do, plus a simple yoga workout to leg up your weight loss plans.

Try them out and let me know how it felt.

 

Author Bio:

Hi! I’m Mansi, an ashtangi at home and an Editor at an online health magazine. Dabbling with health and fitness news is my work while playing around with poses and poetry my passion. Reach out to me at @iam_mansi or add me to your Google circles and stay in touch.

 

October – Think Popping Popcorn!

Yep, October is also popping popcorn month. Did you know popcorn counts as a whole grain? One serving of whole grains equals three cups of popcorn.

Popcorn is the only type of corn that pops. Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. When harvested, popcorn is dried so that it contains between 13.5-14% moisture, the amount it needs to pop. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard outer surface, the hull, which has just the right thickness to allow it to burst open when enough pressure builds inside.

As the kernel heats up, the water expands, creates steam, and cooks the starch inside, turning it into a liquid mass. Pressure builds inside and finally it reaches a point that breaks the hull open. The contents inflate and spill out, cooling immediately and forming the shape we know and love.

Here is a super cool web site all about popcorn: http://www.popcorn.org/. You can watch popcorn popping in super slow motion at the Popcorn Board’s Web site And check out more fun facts, trivia and recipes while you’re there!

October-Think Pasta!

The next October fact is about pasta. October is also Pasta Month. We eat a lot of pasta, and I only buy whole wheat or whole grain varieties to sneak some extra nutrients and fiber into our meal. Todd is not a huge fan of whole grain noodles, and the kids don’t know any better, but since I am the pasta boss, we are sticking with whole grains!

In response to dietary guidance urging Americans to include more whole grains in their diets, manufacturers have introduced nutritionally enhanced pasta varieties such as whole wheat, whole grain and pasta fortified with omega-3 fatty acids and additional fiber. Some varieties of whole grain pasta can provide up to 25% of daily fiber requirements in every one cup portion. There are now more options than ever for consumers to enjoy healthy and economical meals the whole family will love. Enjoy these pasta recipes.

I recently wrote an article for The Greatist on the benefits of choosing whole wheat pasta. Here are some of the highlights.

Whole wheat doesn’t contain a single magical nutrient that fights disease and improves health, but it’s the entire package that’s important. Eating at least three one-ounce equivalents (1/2 cup of whole wheat pasta counts) of whole grains per day can reduce the risk of several chronic health conditions including cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, cancer, and digestive issues .

The main difference between white and whole wheat pastas lies in the processing.  Whole wheat contains 3 parts of the grain— the bran (the outer layer and protector of the grain), the germ (the actual seed embryo that sprouts into a new plant), and the endosperm (the largest part of the grain providing the food source and energy for the plant).  During the refining process, the nutrient-rich outer bran shell and inner germ layer are removed from the grain, as the wheat is heated until they fall of, leaving white pasta with just the starchy endosperm.

The bran and germ are home to the vitamins, minerals, appetite-squashing f fiber, protein, and healthy fats, so even though the stripped down white pasta has a longer shelf-life, and therefore  may be cheaper , the process robs the wheat of almost all of its health benefits, leaving a nutritionally weaker noodle.

Although some nutrients, including iron and B vitamins, are added back during manufacturing, making the product “enriched”, these represent only a fraction of what is removed from the grain.

Whole wheat pasta may take time to catch on; so many restaurants don’t yet have a whole wheat noodle option. (And Italian restaurants may never embrace whole wheat pasta), but the pasta aisle at the supermarket is filled with noodles having all sorts of different shapes, sizes, colors, and ingredients.  And from a nutritional standpoint, this is great news for shoppers as another opportunity to add whole grains to the menu.

True whole wheat pasta will list 100 percent durum whole wheat flour as the first or only ingredient. And check the front of package for “100 percent whole-wheat,” or look for products that contain the orange WHOLE-GRAIN stamp.

Getting used to the taste of whole wheat pasta may take a little time, as it often has stronger flavor and a grainy consistency. Cooking time is key with whole wheat pasta, so it doesn’t get too gummy— be sure to follow the directions on the package. But with the right sauce or topping, adding whole wheat pasta is an easy way to enjoy a healthy meal and sneak those whole grains into the diet.

There are 1,440 Minutes in Every Day: Schedule 30 of Them for Physical Activity

Fall is the best time of the year, especially in Arizona. For us it means getting back outdoors after being cooped up during the long, hot summer. It’s time to pump up the bike tires and get moving.

But fall can also be a confusing time of year when it comes to health and fitness. Summer is over, so there is no need to obsess about fitting into that bikini or those shorts. Halloween is right around the corner, which can be a diet disaster with all those treats and goodies around.

 

Then in almost a blink of the eye it is Thanksgiving, which we all know is the biggest eating day of the year. But who just pigs out on Thanksgiving? Our leftovers usually last at least a week.

 

Before you know it, you are going to a Christmas party every weekend, and now it is time to start that New Year’s Resolution to lose those 10 pounds you may have just gained since October.

 

Sound familiar? Well, since it is the beginning of October, there is time to put another plan into action to change that all too familiar course of eating and dieting mayhem.

 

There are 1,440 minutes in every day. Schedule 30 of them for physical activity! Starting today.

 

First, let’s define physical activity. The definition may surprise you.

 

Physical activity is any form of exercise or movement that uses energy. Some of your daily life activities—doing active chores around the house, yard work,—are examples. I don’t know about you, but my vacuum must weigh 100 pounds, and my heart really starts pumping when I push that thing around.

 

To get the benefits of physical activity, include activities that make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels really start pumping.

 

If you haven’t been active in a long time, choose something you like to do. Many people find walking helps them get started. Before you know it, you will be doing more each day.

If you feel like you don’t have the time, start with 10-minute chunks of time a couple of days a week. Walk during a break. Dance in the living room to your favorite music. It all adds up.

Start by doing what you can, and then look for ways to do more. After a few days or weeks, build up your activities—do them longer and more often.

Pick up the pace. This is the easiest way to kick it up a notch, because it doesn’t require an extra time commitment, when you may already be pressed for time. Walk faster, add a jog, squeeze your butt while you walk—anything that changes the intensity.

If you get in the habit of physical activity now, you can enjoy the next few months of the year, even indulge here and there, and start your new year off with a resolution that has nothing to do with losing weight.

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button