Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Eat your veggies

You know that eating healthy includes eating fresh veggies. But sometimes just because you know you should do something, doesn’t make it easy to do.  I personally think everyone should be eating a stupid amount of veggies, but you definitely want to get at least 5 half cup servings of veggies a day

Why eat your veggies? For many many many reasons, but here are a few compelling reasons for loading up your plate and snack drawer with things that grow in the ground.

  • Vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to operate. Plus they are a great source of fiber! Studies show that those who eat a diet rich in fresh produce have a lower incidence of disease such as cancer, cardiovascular issues and stroke.
  • Eating fresh veggies can help you control your weight. Vegetables are naturally low in calories and most are virtually fat free. So eat them first thing at a meal to eat less calories overall.
  • Eating veggies will make you feel good. When you eat whole foods (unprocessed food), your body responds well, your skin glows and your systems work like they should.

5 servings of vegetables might seem like a hard pill to swallow or get into your schedule. But it’s actually very easy if you make sure to have a serving at every meal and snack. Here are a few simple ways to get your daily quota without blinking an eye.

  • Breakfast:
    • Throw some peppers, zucchini and broccoli in your morning omelet
    • Make a tasty smoothie with a bunch of baby spinach and kale, your favorite fruit and unsweetened almond milk (you won’t even be able to taste the greens…I promise)
  • Lunch:
    • Top your sandwich with actual veggies (forget the sad piece of lettuce and tiny sliced tomatoes…they don’t count). Add cucumbers, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, etc.
    • Hit the salad bar and load up with all colors of pre-cut vegetables including dark leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, turnips, peas, cabbage, you get the picture…lots of veggies.
  • Dinner:
    • Load your spaghetti sauce (or any sauce for that matter) with tons of veggies. My favorites are broccoli, zucchini, onions, and mushrooms.
    • Make stir fry with lean meat and lots of veggies such as cabbage, carrots, broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms and celery.
    • Steam your favorite veggie and have it on the side…have lots on the side…so much so that it looks like it’s the main course
    • Eat a side salad before dinner to eat less
    • Make an old school vegetable soup with lots of chunky veggies and for some “oomph” add some potatoes.
  • Snacks:
    • When you go to the salad bar for a salad, get lots of pre-cut veggies for to much on when you get hungry
    • Make sure to have cut up carrots, broccoli, peppers, celery, jicama, etc for crunching and dipping in low fat protein packed dips like hummus.
    • Steam a bag of veggies (frozen veggies are just like fresh…as long as they aren’t in sauce)
    • Get a pre-cut veggie tray and eat off of it (often)
 So what counts as half a cup? Besides the obvious measuring techniques, keep these easy to remember tips close at hand:

·         5 broccoli florets
·         6 baby carrots
·         1 large handful of raw greens (spinach, lettuce, cabbage)
·         1 large stalk of celery
·         ½ large ear of corn
·         6 bell pepper strips

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Get your portions under control...

In a culture where more is great and super-sized is even better, most of us see a healthy portion of chicken (3 oz) and a small plate of pasta as a snack. But our heaping plates and tall orders are causing us to become WAY bigger people as well. It’s time to retrain our brains and stomachs to eat appropriate and healthy amounts of food.

 I find the following comparisons helpful (if some of the objects seem a little out of date or you don’t know what they are (i.e. check book, CD), look them up

  • ½ cup pasta or rice= a small fist or light bulb
  • 3 oz cooked meat= a deck of cards or two iPhones stacked
  • 1 muffin= large egg
  • 1 bagel=a can of tuna
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter= a golf ball
  • 1 pancake=a CD
  • 1 oz cheese=2 dice
  • 1 apple=a baseball
  • 1 cup cooked veggies=a baseball
  • 1 baked potato=a computer mouse
  • 1 tablespoon butter, margarine, mayonnaise=a poker chip
  • 1 brownie=dental floss dispenser
  • 1 cookie=2 poker chips
  • 1 piece of cake=deck of cards
  • 1/2 cup ice cream=light bulb
  • 1 cup french fries= a baseball
  • 1 slice pizza=2 dollar bills
  • lasagna=baseball
  • sub sandwich=a checkbook
You might be surprised at the actual portions that we all should be eating. It’s definitely a change in thinking and eating. But eating in this way will not only help you become or maintain a healthy weight, but can help improve your grocery budget not to mention your eating out spending. When a restaurant serves you a bowl of pasta with 3-5 servings of pasta (and they will), eat your portion and save the rest for later!
People, we just need to change our way of thinking...more is not always better and super sized is just plain worse. If you don’t feel comfy eyeballing your serving sizes, check out these printable portion reminders by clicking here. Armed with these tools there's no reason for us to overeat!
Extra Tips!
  •  Eat from a desert plate instead of dinner plate. Filling a smaller plate will trick your brain into thinking that you’re eating more, not less.
  • Buy sectioned plates with two small sections and one large section. Fill the large section with veggies and the two smaller sections with protein (meat) and starches (rice, pasta, potatoes)
  • Do not eat straight from the bag. Portion out a serving size,  put it on a plate or whatever and close the bag up and put that thing away!
  • Split a meal-half the size equals half the calories
  • Get a kid’s meal (some kid’s meals are still super-sized, so watch it)

Enjoy your healthy portions!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

4-minute workout that's as good as 60-minutes on the treadmill??

Who wants to work out for only 4 minutes but get the benefits of a 60 minute workout? I bet everyone just yelled “ME!”... or at least silently thought it. We are all busy people, so this type of workout is perfect for people on the go or those who want to take their conditioning and body to the next level. Interval training has been thought of for years as the most efficient way to burn fat and increase cardiovascular fitness. Recently, a specific form of interval training has received much deserved attention: Tabata.
The Tabata protocol was named for Dr. Izumi Tabata who studied the routine which was  developed for the Olympic Japanese speed skating team.  Dr. Tabata and his team found that those subjects who engaged in just 4 minutes of the protocol improved their maximum aerobic capacity by 14% and their anaerobic capacity by 28% whereas those who did “traditional” exercise (running at 70% aerobic capacity for a total of 60 minutes) only improved their aerobic capacity by 9.5% and had NO improvement in anaerobic capacity. Click here  to view the abstract of the study published in the journal “Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise.”
 Hum…now which would you rather do…4 minutes or 60 minutes…hum…
Okay, so here’s the deal. A Tabata interval is made up of 20 seconds maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated for a total of 4 minutes (or 8 cycles of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest). You can do Tabata intervals anywhere with most any equipment (or none at all) to add some spice to your workouts or as your total workout on busy days when you only have 4 minutes to spare. The important thing to remember is that during those 20 seconds, you had better be working at maximum effort to reap the most benefits.
I often do “Tabata Tuesday’s” in my classes or with my personal training clients. Yesterday was no exeption. In the evening, I had a group of women that crushed this hardcore workout so I thought I’d share it. It’s a total of 8 exercises, so with warm up and cool down it’s a good 40 minutes of intense workout. Also, since it’s a total drag to watch a clock, it possible download some kind of Tabata App (I love Tabata Pro; it plays over my music and it’s to annoying).  Please notice that I have alternated a strength exercise with a cardio exercise so as not to burn you out (totally).

Warm up with a 5 minute jog
Tabata Exercises
1.       Walkout Pushups
2.       Sprints
3.       Tricep Dips
4.       Butt Kicks
5.       Wall Sits
6.       High Knees
7.       Walking Planks
8.       Jumping Jacks

Cool down with stretches
 Happy Sweating!
As always, if you have a health concern or haven’t exercised in a while, be sure to take it easy at first and of course consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise routine

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Exercise Excuses Busted!

We have all had our battles with the ominous, and sometimes very convincing, exercise excuse as to why we can’t get our bodies moving. But let’s face it…most of them are super lame (notes from your doctor and emergencies excluded). Check out these all too common excuses and why they shouldn’t cross your lips…or your mind…ever again.

1. I’m too tired to work out.

Being “too tired” or tired at all is a reason TO exercise! Exercise has been shown to boost energy levels for up to two full hours after your work is done. Plus, as soon as you start to get your body moving, you get your blood flowing and heart rate up which makes it almost impossible to be sleepy. Next time you are feeling the need for a nap instead of heading to a workout, try the workout first, and then see if you’re still sleepy…bet you wont be!

2. I’m too busy to work out.

Let me translate this excuse: “Exercise is not a priority in my life.” Let’s call a spade a spade, people. If you have time to watch TV, sit around at your kid’s soccer practice, wait for the cable guy, etc, you totally are not too busy to exercise. You don’t have to get to the gym for a great workout. Try this easy-to-do workout that you can do virtually anywhere.

Also, studies have shown that people who get up and work out before their day begins have a higher chance of sticking to a workout than those who workout at other times during the day…so set your alarm 30 minutes early and do a body good!

3. I’m too sore from yesterday’s work out to work out.

Sounds like you got a great workout that really challenged your muscles…yippee! But if you don’t move your body when you are sore, you will become more sore. In fact, a study done at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has shown that those who do a light work out the day after a hard workout experience less soreness. So get off the couch and get those sore muscles moving!

4. I never see the results that I’m looking for, so why bother working out?

If this is your go-to excuse, we should probably take a good hard look at your expectations. For instance, if you are a 5’4” woman who is expecting her body to transform into a runway model’s body, then of course you will never reach your “goal.” Exercise should make you look and feel YOUR best. So don’t compare yourself to others.

Also, if you expected to work hard in the gym for 2 weeks and drop 20 lbs, that is also not a realistic goal. Looking and feeling your best requires a commitment to your body through exercise and eating right.

Lastly, let’s remember that exercise is not just about looking good; it’s about what you are doing for your body in both the short and long term. The benefits of exercise are vast and include the following important internal results that you won’t be able to see on your frame:

• Regular exercise prevents chronic disease such as heart disease and osteoporosis

• Exercise helps lower high cholesterol and blood pressure

• Exercise can prevent type-2 diabetes

• Exercise promotes better sleep

5. I’m too stressed and not in the mood to work out.

Lame! Exercise has been proven time and time again to help decrease stress and improve mood. Physical activity causes the brain to release various “feel-good” chemicals that leave you feeling more relaxed and happier than when you began your exercise. Exercise can also help prevent depression…so get that body moving to be a less stressed and happier you!

So next time you are too [insert your excuse here] to exercise, get over it and get your body moving!