Tag: lose weight

Granola Bars – Friend or Foe?

Granola Bars – Friend or Foe?

Ingredients like caramel, chocolate, and marshmallows may be must haves in candy, but these sugary, high fat ingredients have found a new place to hang out— It’s time to take a closer look at that granola bar wrapper.

Granola bars are a great on-the-go snack option for busy people, athletes, and lovers of the outdoors. The word granola may conjure up thoughts of healthy oats, grains, and nuts all nicely molded into an easy to eat bar. But snackers beware— the seemingly innocent bars may have a shiny wrapper bragging about being an excellent source of this or that, but what lies beneath may be an over-processed nutritional mess.

While brands like Quaker Oats and Nature Valley may be the kings of the granola bar supermarket isle, they typically rank low in the hierarchy of good nutrition. Containing as many as 25 ingredients, 12 grams of sugar, and sugar-filled ingredients— like a chocolate sheath— these babies can be almost as bad as eating a real candy bar (a Twix Bar has the same amount of calories and sugar).

Similar to candy or cookies, many of the bars have high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to weight gain, and insulin resistance, hydrogenated oils, which can raise bad cholesterol,  and monosodium glutamate (MSG), which may increase feelings of hunger and is linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Grains and Nuts and Fruits, Oh My!

The number of granola bars on the market has exploded over the past few years, and with the focus shifting to healthier ingredients it’s easier than ever to choose a healthy— or at least healthier— option.

But reading the nutritional information is key to making the best choices, and the more recognizable the ingredients, the better. Many granola bars are fortified with vitamins and minerals, and while fortification is not a replacement for eating a well-balanced diet, it can help to make up for lacking  nutrients. Look for bars that are high in fiber (containing at least 5 of the 14 recommended grams per day), which will help keep that full feeling for longer, and may even help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol.

When looking for a healthy option, double check labels. Try to find bars that have less than 25% of the calories from sugar and 3 grams of fat or less.

While many pre-packaged granola bars can be nutritional land mines, choosing a simple granola bar packed with nutrients and fiber will be more satisfying than a bar loaded with fat and sugar. Ingredient lists full of easily identifiable choices—like oats, grains, fruits, and nut— is a good sign. And make sure that whole grain—not sugar—is the first ingredient listed.  Calories should come in at 100-175 for a single serving (which for many bars is around 30-40 grams—visualize two 9-volt batteries). When a bar has quality ingredients, it should easily pass the label test. And for the best hand-picked ingredients, homemade granola bars are an easy, cost effective way to go.

Grocery Store 101 – Healthy Eating Starts Here

Grocery Store 101 – Healthy Eating Starts Here

I have come to realize that I am a grocery store check-out line snob. I know, it sounds shallow, but when I am at the grocery store checking out, I always like to see what everyone else is buying and compare it to what I have in my cart. Of course I feel like I am the “winner” each time, because my cart is loaded with healthy, real food. Told you it was shallow.

I love going grocery shopping, and I take a lot of pride in buying healthy stuff. And, yes, when the mom in front of me or behind me has a bunch of “crap” in her cart, I feel superior (and shallow).

As moms, there are so many things that we feel we can’t control, but grocery shopping is one of those activities that we have complete control over. We get to choose exactly what we want to buy, exactly what we want our kids to be eating, which also carries a lot of responsibility.

Some months ago, I was having a lot of anxiety about all the junky snacks my kids were eating. I was 100% responsible for my anxiety, because I had started to buy little treats at the grocery store. As my kids were eating Popsicles for breakfast, I knew that I needed to regain control.

I threw out all the crap, and on the next grocery trip I only bought healthy options. Snacks consisted of fruits, cheese, and healthy cereal.

On that fateful shopping trip, as I stood at the check out line, I felt really proud of my choices. I think that is where the whole snob thing started, because I looked around at what others were buying and kind of felt sorry for them, and all the crap that they had in their carts.

When I got home from the store, the kids rushed over to the bags to see what kind of snacks I had bought. Much to their disappointment, they saw nothing snacky looking. But guess what? A few hours later, my daughter asked if she could have some grapes. My son snacked on some pieces of cheese without a single complaint.

It is time for you to become a grocery store checkout line snob. Here is my challenge to you. For the next month, every time you go grocery shopping follow the guidelines below. Compare what you are buying to the person in front of you, and make sure that you are the “winner”.

You and your family can’t eat crap if it is not there!

· First fill your cart by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, where fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish are usually located. Avoid the center aisles where junk foods lurk.

· Stay clear of most pre-packaged foods. Especially ones that have labels touting low fat, no trans fats, low carb, etc.

· Stay clear of foods with cartoons on the label that are targeted to children. If you don’t want your kids eating junk foods, don’t have them in the house.

· Avoiding foods that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

· ALWAYS eat a healthy snack before you go grocery shopping. If you have a full stomach, you will not be tempted to buy junk.

In Training – Your Best Fit Self

In Training – Your Best Fit Self

I wanted to title this post “The Best Weight-Loss Program”, but I knew that once people started reading it and realized that it was not a magic pill, they may move on to something else.


If you want to lose weight, the best way is both the easiest and the hardest:

Change your lifestyle

Changing your lifestyle boils down to changing your habits. Changing habits can take time, but once you have new habits, a healthy and fit lifestyle will fall into place fairly easily.

You must develop healthy eating habits. If you instead change your lifestyle and how you approach food, then you’re looking at a long-term plan for health and easy weight management.

 

Think about your habit forming period like you are in training. This training is not going to last forever, but it is critically important to set the groundwork for living a fit and healthy life. During this training period you will need to do a few things that you may not want to do and may not have done in the past; however, you will only need to do these things while you are in training. Set a goal for 30 days… that’s it.

 

Yes – you do need to record everything you eat and keep track of your calories every single day.

Yes – you do need to do some type of physical activity every single day.

Yes – you do need to eat healthy every single day by adding lots of fruits and veggies into your diet.

Yes – you need to clear out ALL of the junk foods from your house.

It all comes down to calories. If you eat 100 more food calories than you burn each day, you’ll gain about a pound a month. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you slowly but surely will lose weight.

1. Figure out how many calories you should be taking in to maintain your current weight. Here is the easy way to figure it out:

For sedentary people: Weight x 14 = estimated cal/day

For moderately active people: Weight x 17 = estimated cal/day

For active people: Weight x 20 = estimated cal/day

 

(Note: Moderately Active is defined as 3-4 aerobic sessions per week. Active is defined as 5-7 aerobic sessions per week).

 

2. Adjust your physical activity to match or out burn the calories you take in every day. Please see the Activity Calorie Calculator 

 

3. Make Smart Food Choices by choosing your foods carefully to maximize nutrition while minimizing calories.

Let me help you with the details. Check out my blog for a variety of information on exercise and nutrition. Email me anytime with questions. Musclemommy@ gmail.com.

How Not to Quit

How Not to Quit

I started thinking about the many classes and events that we have enrolled the kids in over the years. Swimming lessons, tennis lessons, karate, gymnastics, soccer, t-ball, animal camp, kids’ dash, Spanish camp, and choir.

Some of the classes were great from the start and continued to be fun for the duration of the class schedule. Some of the classes started out horrible. During my daughter’s first swim class she cried the ENTIRE 30 minutes. The next class she only cried for about the first 10 minutes, and by the third class she couldn’t wait to get in the pool. Some classes started out great but went downhill after that. And finally, some classes they complained about the entire drive there, but when they got into the class they had a blast each and every time.

One common thread among these classes is that the kids were never allowed to quit going – no matter how much they complained. A life lesson to instill responsibility and commitment. This is one of those non-negotiables that my husband and I have created for our kids – no quitting.

Every parent has their own non-negotiables for their kids and family. You know, those “rules” or ideas about behavior that you will not budge on…ever.

So, now to my point. As we hold our kids to certain standards like not quitting, we should also hold ourselves to the same kinds of standards, especially when it comes to health and wellness.

When you start a new health and fitness regimen, you are sure to experience what my kids experienced in their different classes.

Some parts of your new routine will start out great and stay great. Those parts are easy to stick with.

Some things will start out great and then go downhill after the newness and motivation wears off. These things may or may not continue to be a part of your routine. If an activity becomes so dreadful that it causes you to skip your workout all together, then get rid of it. If it is just something that is not as “fun” or easy as something else, stick with it.

Other activities will be horrible at the start. These are the activities that you want to be sure and stick with for at least a month, as they may turn into your favorite. After my first spinning class, I thought I was going to vomit, but I kept going back to give it a fair chance. Now I go three times a week, and I would love to be a spinning instructor.

Lastly, you may complain (or make excuses) before you exercise, or feel like complaining because you feel a little deprived in your menu selections; however, if you hold yourself to a non-negotiable standard and go exercise and eat healthy, you will feel fantastic each and every time!

Opportunities, Failures, and Mistakes – 3 Goal Setting Realities

Opportunities, Failures, and Mistakes – 3 Goal Setting Realities

Setting goals can be inspiring, exciting, overwhelming, and a little scary.  The path to achieving those goals can be extremely rewarding, overwhelming, and a little scary. Whatever you goals, here are three concepts that may help along the way.

#1 – You will never feel 100% ready when an opportunity arises.

The number one thing that holds people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready. In other words, they believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity. Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth.

The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch our comfort zones, and ourselves, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.

Just remember that significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and development will come and go throughout your lifetime. If you are looking to make positive changes in your life you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.

#2 – All people posses dimensions of success and dimensions of failure.

Trying to be perfect is a waste of time and energy. Perfection is an illusion.

All people are multidimensional. Powerful businessmen, polished musicians, best-selling authors, and even our own parents all have dimensions of success and dimensions of failure present in their lives.

Our successful dimensions usually encompass the things we spend the most time doing. We are successful in these dimensions because of our prolonged commitment to them. This is the part of our lives we want others to see – the successful part that holds our life’s work. It’s the notion of putting our best foot forward. It’s the public persona we envision as our personal legacy.

But behind whichever polished storyline we publicly promote, there lies a multi-dimensional human being with a long list of unprofessed failures.

#3 – Every mistake you make is progress.

Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.

So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself. In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Most of the time you just have to go for it!

And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win. Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.

Seven Tips That Make Dieting Strategies Work

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.

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