Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Better BBQ

Next week is the Fourth of July and that means that the BBQ season is in full swing. Those fun filled get-togethers with tons of food and friends are a fantastic way to celebrate the great weather and spend time with family and friends, but they can really do damage to your waist-line.

Two weekends ago, my husband Nate and I went to a BBQ on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night…totally fun, but challenging to eat right. For instance, a typical plate can be well over 1,700 calories, 86 grams of fat (26 of them being saturated), 357 mg of cholesterol and 3,508 mg of sodium. This is what that plate would look like: a hamburger on a bun, a bratwurst on the side, a brownie, potato salad and baked beans. Now separately, those things are not the worst foods in the world, but pile them all high on a plate and devour them in one sitting, and it’s a calorie catastrophe.

So what’s a BBQ goer to do? Just follow these simple tricks to keep your heart and waistline healthy throughout the summer.

  1. Choose the right meat. If you have a choice, choose grilled chicken, turkey burger or very lean hamburger (93% lean). You will get a great protein pump without the all the calories and fat (especially saturated fat) of the fatty burgers and brats.

  2. Don’t fill up on bread. Stay away from rolls and buns. Generally, these are made with refined, white flour anyway, so they can pack in the calories without providing an ounce of nutrition…just say no.

  3. Fill up on grilled or fresh veggies. They are low calorie, fiber-filled and nutrient packed.

  4. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit salad. Again, it’s nutrient packed and much lower in calories than the typical baked goods.

  5. Only eat what you really really want to eat. If you LOVE baked beans, have a little bit…not spoonful after spoonful…but get a nice little taste (like ¼ cup) and be satisfied. If it’s brats that you drool over, have a half of one for your “meat” and call it a day.

  6. If you’re staying away from carbs all together, a BBQ should be easy for you...meat and veggies…make it your mantra!

  7. Bring something to the party that you can nosh on without guilt: think veggie tray.

The lighter way to eat at a BBQ.

Check out this tasty, healthy and very full plate!

  • Grilled chicken breast

  • Grilled asparagus (10 spears)

  • Fruit Salad (1/2 cup)

  • Baked beans (1/4 cup)

  • Coleslaw (1/4 cup)

  • Chocolate chip cookies (1 cookie)

For all of that…including a cookie treat…it’s only about 550 calories, 15 grams of fat (5 saturated), 159 mg cholesterol, 509 mg sodium.

So go forth and enjoy your next BBQ!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Best time of day to work out

So what time of the day should you work out to get the most out of exercise? There isn’t an easy answer. Some people are morning people, some are night owls, but consider the pros and cons of morning, afternoon and evening workouts and then decide when works for you and do it!

The perks of morning workouts

• Working out in the morning can jumpstart your day and fill you with energy
• Research has shown that people that workout in the morning stick with their exercise routine more so than people who work out later in the day
• Working out before work/meetings/school/the kids are up means more time for the family and evening activities
• You don’t have to worry about “something coming up” and not make it to the gym later…you workout is done!
• Starting the day off right with exercise sets you up for a day of good healthy decisions

The challenge of the morning workout

• The snooze button…need I say more?
• Getting enough sleep is very important to your health, so if you aren’t able to get to bed early enough to get at least 6 hours of sleep before you get up to work out, you might want to consider another workout time.
• Your body temperature is at it’s lowest, so you need to warm up a bit longer than usual (10 minutes or so) to prevent injury

The perks of lunch workouts

• Working out before you eat lunch revs up your metabolism and can set you up to succeed with healthy choices during those heavy craving hours between 2 and 4 in the afternoon.
• Getting work friends to work out with you can help you be accountable

The challenge of the lunch workout

• Work gets busy…so sometimes the workout gets put on the back burner along with your lunch break

The perks of an afternoon workout

• Research has shown that you have between 4-5% more strength and endurance during the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. This can mean that you can workout harder and longer at that time
• Injuries are less likely to happen in the afternoon because your body temperature is at it’s highest and your muscles are already warm

The challenge of the afternoon workout

• Unless you stay at home, have a flexible work schedule or don’t work the typical 9-5 job, working out at this time may be impossible

The perks of a night time workout

• Some people are just more energized at night and so working out is more conducive after dinner

The challenge of night time workouts

• Working out 4 hours or less before bed time can disrupt your sleep
• Life happens and you might not be able to workout in the evenings because of family commitments or unexpected plans

Basically, you know yourself and what will work for you body and your schedule. Get into a habit that is right for you so that you will stick with it! Put it on your calendar and get your body moving!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Getting my veggies in!

As I type I'm cooking up a super healthy, full of veggie stir-fry. The thing I love about stir-fry is that you can throw in virtually any leftover veggies and it works. Right now, I've piled on the broccoli, snap peas, carrots and celery from veggie tray leftovers and am adding some of my own zucchini and of course water chestnuts for some crunch. I also had some leftover chicken breast that I'm sautéing in cooking spray and a tsp of sesame seed oil for flavor. In planning on stirring it all together with some lower sodium teriyaki sauce and serving over brown rice (pre-made from Trader Joe's). Voila! A way to get in multiple servings of veggies. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Natural Energy Boosters

The summer heat, crazy vacation schedules, office craziness, an on-the-run diet and lack of exercise can really cause a dip in energy levels. So what’s a person to do to get a bounce back in their step? There’s a lot you can do…check out these natural energy boosters without the caffeine, sugary energy drinks, drugs or naps!

  1. Exercise for energy. Contrary to popular belief, exercise doesn’t make you tired, it actually builds energy within your body at the cellular level. So get off the couch or skip the nap and take a walk, run, swim, lift weights, play Dance Dance Revolution, whatever it takes to move your body. Just 10 minutes, can give you the boost that you need. So while waiting for dinner to cook, burst into some jumping jacks, take a speedy walk to a co-workers desk instead of e-mailing her or run the stairs at lunch. Just get moving…even if you don’t feel like it (especially if you don’t feel like it!)
  2. Eat for energy. You might get a quick energy boost from that handful of M&Ms or a chocolate chip cookie, but you will crash and burn just as quick. So fuel your body to keep you energized all day long. Eat healthy carbs such as whole wheat crackers or oatmeal, tons of veggies and fruit and remember to always eat protein with every meal or snack. Think almonds, tuna, chicken, turkey, walnuts, natural peanut butter and tofu. Think of your body as an engine and you are providing high grade gasoline when you eat well.
  3. Drink for energy. Ditch the “energy drinks,” caffeinated beverages and cocktails and drink water…a lot of water…at least 64 oz a day. One of the major symptoms of dehydration is fatigue, so when you are feeling tired or sleepy, especially in the middle of the day, chug a glass of water.
  4. Breathe for energy. Literally, take a breather. Just sit and take 5-10 deep breaths. Stress can cause us to fatigue mentally and emotionally which can manifest as physical exhaustion…so take a seat, inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly and completely.
  5. Sleep for energy. Studies show that getting less than 6 hours of sleep leaves us WAY less than 100% not only mentally and physically but energy-wise as well. So get at least 7 hours of sleep and really shoot for 8 for optimal energy. Also, going to bed and waking up at the same time every night and day will help with energy dips. Sweet Dreams!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hotel workout

So I'm in a hotel that calls an old treadmill a "fitness facility." So what's a workout addict to do without free weights and barbells? Oh so much!

Check it three sets of each exercise for 30 seconds (10 second breaks in between) before moving on to the next exercise. Tack on a couple mile run before or after and you won't miss a beat in your workout routine!

Single leg lunges
Push ups
Jump squats
Dips off chair
Side planks
Quick feet
Wall sits
Walking planks


Monday, June 4, 2012

Staying fit while on vacation

It’s summer and that means it’s time for vacations! Whether you’re heading to the beach, mountains, lake, historical sites or grandma’s house, you don’t have to ditch your fitness routine and throw your hard work out the door.

Make it a priority to be active on your vacation and come home and pick up your fitness routine where you left off…maybe even fitter than before you left! Here are several easy and some family friendly ways to take your workout on the road to stay healthy and happy!

  • Take a hike and burn 405 calories per hour!

  • Go for a ride…on a horse, that is…and burn 171 calories per hour

  • Ditch the car and briskly walk everywhere possible while burning 297 calories per hour

  • Have some time on the green planned? Make sure to carry your clubs and burn 414 calories per hour.

  • Canoe down a river and burn 306 calories per hour

  • Burn 270 calories per hour by taking a bike to your destinations

  • Learn to surf and burn 207 calories per hour

  • Take a dip in the pool, lake, river or ocean and burn 414 calories per hour

  • Mountain bike up and down awesome hills for a burn of 576 calories per hour

  • Take to the slopes and ski off 594 calories per hour

  • View what’s under the sea with a snorkeling excursion and burn 360 calories per hour

  • Workout in your hotel room using what they provide (chairs, tables, beds, etc.) for pushups, dips, sit ups, lunges. Check out this workout and burn between 500-600 calories per hour!

  • Take your workout to a park or beach and burn 600 calories per hour. Check out this outdoor workout circuit.

  • Sign up for a fun run or race to compete in your vacation city

Happy travels!