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.

Seven Tips That Make Dieting Strategies Work

1. Drink Your Water

It’s important to stay well hydrated on a diet. I often hear that people can mistake thirst for hunger. Is this true? The jury is still out, but the next time you get a hunger pang, drink a glass of water first. If you really are just thirsty…problem solved. If you are really hungry, the water will help to fill up some of your stomach space so you won’t scarf down a bag of chips. Tip: Water may be the most boring beverage on the planet, so add a bit of flavored carbonated water to jazz it up. I like La Croix.

2. Remove Sugar

If you want to lose weight, you have to remove the SUGAR. Sugar makes it easy for our bodies to store fat. Removing sugar out of your life is a tried and true way to shed and keep off the pounds. Tip: Sugar is found in many forms, so if you’re trying to reduce sugar intake you also have to stop eating the foods that act like sugar in our bodies. Whether you put a spoon full of table sugar in your mouth or chomp on a bagel, the effect is the same. For a complete list of these foods, http://www.olsonnd.com/what-foods-that-act-like-sugar/

3. Eat Smaller Portions

We love “super-size”! It makes sense, right? More food for your buck. When it comes to a good value maybe, but when it comes to good health, “super-size” is the enemy. Be mindful of the amount of food you consume at every sitting. Tip: use smaller bowls and plates for your portions. It will look like a lot of food, and it will be just the right amount. When possible, use a scale, and when eating out avoid anything with the words “all-you-can-eat” and never “super-size” anything unless you are going to share it with at least four or more people.

4. Eat Your Vegetables
Vegetables are superstar foods. Not only are they low in calories, they are high in fiber. Vegetables are a great replacement for rice, pasta and other starchy foods during weight loss. Non-starchy vegetables are the best selection for weight loss; they include asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumbers, field greens, spinach and more. Tip: Eat your veggies first to fill up most of the space in your stomach.

5. Get Enough Protein
Protein is the best fill-me-up food. It’s more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats because it keeps you feeling full for longer. Protein also helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning. Tip: Include healthy proteins like lean meat, sugar free yogurt, cheese, nuts, or beans into every meal and snack.  If your choice is a carb or a protein, go with the protein.

6. Limit Late Night Snacking
Dangerous snacking occurs most often after dinner, when you finally sit down and relax. Snacking while reading or watching TV is one of the easiest ways to throw your diet off course. If you are going to snack, make sure it is a low-calorie snack like fruit, low-fat cheese or a sugar free yogurt with a serving size of no more than 100 calories. Tip: Brush your teeth right after dinner. This is your signal that eating is done for the day.

7. Get Moving
Regular exercise is an important part of effective weight loss. It helps to control your weight by using excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat.  Enjoy your exercise routine whatever it may be; sports, a trip to the gym, bike riding, walking, household activities, yard work, or work-related tasks — all are beneficial. Tip: Do some kind of movement EVERY SINGLE DAY, even if it’s just for 5 minutes while you are watching your favorite show. Make a game out of it. Every time your favorite character says his catch phrase do 10 jumping jacks, or 20 sit-ups, or 5 squats, or whatever.

All You Need Is The Right Tool – 9 Best Kitchen Tools for Healthy Food Prep

imagesCAI5SIDKOne of the most effective ways to stay on track with a diet is to COOK AT HOME. But there’s more to a healthy kitchen than a well-stocked fridge and a pantry full of pre-portioned snacks.

My husband can fix almost anything. His favorite saying is “all you need is the right tool”. This is true when it comes to cooking healthy too. How you prepare and enjoy your meals matters almost as much as what you’re eating. The following are must-have items that will help turn your kitchen into a weight loss machine:

 

1. Food processor

You can purchase a mini or full-size processor for chopping or shredding vegetables, fresh herbs, and nuts with ease. It will also puree and let you sneak vitamin-rich cauliflower, broccoli, squash, and sweet potatoes into sauces and spreads or even soups. Whip up healthy hummus, pesto, and marinades, too. You can also try a handheld blender; they work well for smoothies.

 

2. Knives

Any smart weight loss program will call for plenty of vegetables, and a sharp knife will make all that cutting, chopping, and slicing much easier. Make sure you have a chef’s knife, a slicer, and a paring/utility knife, plus a sharpener (dull knives make prep work far less enjoyable). Armed with these, you can start your week off with containers full of red pepper strips, celery stalks, carrot sticks, and insert your favorite veggies here ____ for easy snacking. Embrace your inner Top Chef!

 

3. Downsize plates and glasses

Average plate sizes seem to be getting bigger and bigger. The bigger your plate, the more likely you are to load it up with food. Replace your 12-inch dinner plates with 9-inch salad plates, and then fill them up with high-fiber, low-calorie greens and beans plus smaller portions of healthy carbs and meat.

When it comes to glasses, Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab researchers found that individuals pour more of a beverage into short wide glasses versus tall narrow ones http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/.  I always tell people not to drink their calories, but if you want to have a morning OJ or a Friday night cocktail, choose a taller, narrower glass (think Tom Collins instead of rocks). But for water, choose the biggest goblet you can find: Many people mistake thirst for hunger, so staying hydrated can help you avoid needless snacking.

 

4. Salad spinner

This kitschy tool lets you simultaneously wash and dry your greens. Spinach and lettuce will last longer if stored dry.

 

5. Mini zip-close bags or small tupperware type containers

Use them to hold individual servings of nuts, dried fruit, granola, cheese, and other easy-to-gobble items. There is nothing worse than mindlessly eating handful after handful right out of the bag, and before you know it consuming 100’s of calories in an otherwise healthy snack.

 

6. Oil mister

These gadgets allow you to add just a spritz of heart-healthy oil without overdosing on fat. Think avocado oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil. Mist veggies prior to roasting them, or add some flavor to salads. You should also keep your pantry stocked with nonstick cooking spray, which allows you to whip up everything from scrambled eggs to chicken breasts without butter or oil.

 

7. Micro plane grater/zester

Use this tool to grate small amounts of flavorful cheese into soups, salads, and more. It will also zest oranges, lemons, and limes which can pack in a lot of flavor without adding any calories.

 

8. Slow cooker

If you don’t like cooking but love coming home to a house that smells delicious, this is the tool for you. I am not a great cook… ask any of my friends, but I can rock a slow cooker. It’s hard to screw up any meal when a crockpot is your tool of choice.  Slow cookers can turn basic ingredients such as chopped vegetables, chicken, broth, and spices into low-fat, down-home comfort food. And if you have a hot, delicious meal waiting for you, you’ll be less likely to open the fridge and mindlessly snack while you wonder, “What should I make for dinner?”

 

9. Spices

A fully stocked spice cabinet lets you add flavorful, calorie-free punches to food. You’ll save on fat and sodium, too. Staples include:

Basil for pasta and veggies

Bay leaves for flavoring stocks, sauces, and stews

Cayenne pepper (red pepper) for a spicy kick

Cinnamon for hot cereals such as oatmeal or in baking

Crushed red pepper flakes to add heat to spaghetti, soups, sauces, marinades, and meats

Cumin for chili or Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern foods

Dill for fish or potatoes; mix with low-fat yogurt or sour cream for a vegetable dip

Garlic powder for any recipe that calls for garlic flavor

Oregano for tomato-based sauces as well as stews and vegetables

Rosemary for lamb, chicken, potatoes, stews, sauces, vegetables, and fresh breads

Rubbed Sage for chicken, turkey, stuffing, and pork chops

Thyme for hearty roasted or baked dishes as well as vegetables

Self-Compassion Keeps Us From Eating The Entire Pie

Learning girth control takes practice, and overindulging during a meal can trigger a downward spiral of unhealthy eating. Unfortunately, part of dieting is falling off the wagon every so often, but depending on how people view themselves, one incident of busting a grub can be the beginning of the end. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Negative self – thoughts may lead to even more pigging out after blowing your diet, as a way to cope with feeling upset about over eating. I sometimes fall into this category, and I call it the “go big or go home syndrome”. This is deciding to eat the entire pie because I think I ruined my diet by eating one slice.

I’m not big on talking about studies, because it seems like there is a study out there for everything and every angle. For every study that says black, there are two more that say white. However, this one is very compelling.

The study (Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: The implications of treating oneself kindly) looked at 84 college women who were asked to participate in research where they had to each eat a donut, and then they were offered one piece of candy. 31% of these women were on a diet, but each group was made up randomly.

After eating the donuts, researchers encouraged self-compassion by telling the first group that even though they may feel guilty, they should not be hard on themselves. Everyone eats unhealthy from time to time, and there is no reason to feel bad. The second group was told nothing, no words of encouragement, nothing.

Both groups were then asked to taste one piece of candy, but the candy bowls were left in the room after the researchers left. Guess which group chowed down on the most candy? The group that was told nothing and given no words of compassion ate more additional pieces of candy. Did they feel like they already blew it, so they might as well really blow it?

Self-compassion can buffer us against negative self-feelings in all sorts of situations. When we are kinder to ourselves by showing self-compassion, we become less self-critical when we blow our diets (or even dealing with other stressful life situations). A little self-love will help us to cope with negative feelings about our weight by NOT gobbling, gorging, and guzzling everything in site. Self-compassion is caring. Caring about making healthy choices not harmful ones. If that doesn’t work, embrace the inner Dalai Lama where self compassion = happiness.

 

Understanding Why Protein is Important to Weight Loss

Protein, protein, protein.  It seems like so much advice out there tells us to eat more protein if we want to lose weight.  This is actually great advice, but some of the articles make my eyes glaze over with all the technical reasons for WHY.

 I recently read an article on Fitbie.com that explained the ins and outs of protein, and you don’t have to have a masters in nutrition to understand it. 

 At any given moment, even at rest, your body is breaking down and building up protein, says Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, nutrition and exercise researcher. Substitute the word “muscle” for “protein,” and you quickly understand just how dynamic your body is, and how your muscle content can change considerably in the course of just a few weeks.

 Muscle doesn’t come just from pumping iron.  Muscle buildup is triggered by eating protein. In fact, every time you eat at least 10 to 15 grams of protein, you trigger a burst of protein synthesis. And when you eat at least 20 grams, that period of synthesis lasts about 3 hours—and that means even more muscle growth.

 Here’s a quick look at what those numbers translate into when they actually hit your plate.

 20-30 Grams of Protein

1 4-ounce ground beef patty

1 large chicken breast

1 4-ounce sirloin steak

1 large egg vegetable omelet with 3 strips bacon

20 large peel-and-eat wild shrimp

1 haddock fillet

1 6-ounce pork chop

1 6-ounce serving tempeh

10 to 15 Grams of Protein

1 fruit-and-yogurt parfait with granola

2 medium carrots with 1/2 cup hummus

3/4 cup chili con carne

1 serving spaghetti with meat sauce (10 ounces)

1 pouch chunk light tuna

1/2 cup oatmeal with 1 cup 2% milk

12 ounces low fat chocolate milk

6 ounces Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp peanut butter on whole wheat

 Most people end up eating the majority of their protein at dinner. That means you might be fueling muscle growth for only a few hours a day, probably watching TV before you go to bed. The rest of the day, you’re breaking down muscle because you don’t have enough protein in your system.

The single most important diet upgrade for people who want to lose weight is to eat protein for breakfast.  More on that in my next post.

Your FIT Plan

Eat protein at all three meals, which can include meats and eggs or other options such as cheese and milk. If you can boost your protein intake to between 0.5 and 1.0 gram per pound of body weight, this will preserve your calorie burning muscle mass. That means aiming for approximately 20 grams of protein at your main meals, with options like a chicken breast, a hamburger, or a fillet of fish. For each snack, eat at least 10 to 15 grams of protein, such as two hard-boiled eggs, an order of rice and beans, or even a classic peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread. And when in doubt, reach for milk or cheese.

 When it comes to snacks, we don’t usually carry around a grilled chicken breast, and the best sources of protein—fish, meat, dairy, and beans—aren’t quick and convenient to eat. When you’re on the go or too busy to cook, reach for one of these great “grab and go” protein snacks: 

Jerky

Raw Almonds

Protein Powder

Hard Boiled Eggs

String Cheese

Yogurt

Cottage Cheese

 Make a commitment to include protein in EVERY SINGLE MEAL, and you will start to really preserve your calorie burning muscle mass.

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