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Carbs

 

bildeI hear ALL the time, “I am not eating carbs”, or “I am cutting carbs”.  Carbohydrates are one of the biggest misconceptions people have around health and fitness.  There are so many fad diets that preach no carbs.  Yes, if you completely abstain from carbs, you will lose weight.  Guess what, it will all come back, and then some.  You’re body needs carbs, it is fueled by carbs.  Don’t fall into this gimmick of no carbs.  Like everything in life, there is not an easy way out.  No magic pill.  Instead of dropping carbs all together and labeling them all bad, lets look at what carbs really are, and use that information to make better choices.

 

There are 2 types of carbohydrates, hopefully this will give you the tools you need to make better “carb” decisions.

 

Simple Carbs

Foods that contain simple carbohydrates include table sugar, products with white flour, honey, milk, yogurt, candy, chocolate, fruit, fruit juice, cake, jam, biscuits, molasses, soda and packaged cereals. Despite the fact that simple carbohydrates do not contain enough essential nutrients, some food that fall under this category such as fruits and milk may still be good for you.   In addition because of the lack of Simple Carbs digest quickly and make you hungry faster.  Diabetics and pre-diabetics should stay away from simple carbs.

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs act as the  body’s fuel and due to their complexity, they take a little longer to digest, they don’t raise the sugar levels in the blood as quickly as simple carbohydrates and keep you full longer.   Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in vegetables, whole-meal bread and cereals. Examples of foods that contain complex carbohydrates include spinach, yams, broccoli, beans, zucchini, lentils, skimmed milk, whole grains and many other leguminous plants and vegetables.

 

 

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Bottom line- Carbs are NOT created equal!  Complex Carbs  give your body the fuel that it needs to have a good workout and to be full until your next meal.   Your body needs these good carbs.

Should You Work Out When You Are Sick?

A couple weeks ago I woke up with the with a  sore throat, tired, dragging… just not feeling great.  During the winter, with the kids getting sick and what not this happens occasionally.  I feel a cold coming on, but I continue to work out, and it seems like the cold never really takes off.   It may be a less intense workout, or a little bit of longer rest periods between sets, but I ALWAYS feel better after I workout.  It’s not for everyone, but I know people struggle with the “do I” or “don’t I’s” when they are sick.  For me it is DO because I (and that’s a BIG “I”) feel like it helps me fight off my cold.

There have been studies done and moderate exercise while being sick has not been proven to increase or decrease the length or severity of a cold.  It’ s up to you and your body.

So, here are the general rules about working out when your sick:

  • Never workout with a fever
  • Take the intensity level down
  • Rest more between sets
  • If it’s above the neck and you feel ok then go for it
  • If it’s below the neck SKIP IT!  If you feel any bronchial tightness, DO NOT WORKOUT!!!!!!!!
  • Don’t workout if you are achy
  • Take a anti-bacterial hand sanitizer with you to the gym! Be polite for Gods sake!

 

Fitness Failure

Fitness failure.  Surveys have shown that more than half of all new exercisers quit their program within the first six months.  With the holidays coming up the failure rate is even greater!

Adopt the following methods to avoid fitness failure:

  • set a series of realistic short-term goals
  • include exercise and diet variety
  • workout with a partner
  • develop a backup plan
  • don’t “celebrate” with food. YOU ARE NOT A DOG food is NOT A TREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I like to workout alone and a lot of people do but  a “fitness” buddy it’s a great idea especially during the holidays.  Just someone you can check in with every week  to hold you accountable and talk you down from the junk food ledge.

The other thing to remember is just because it’s the holiday’s does not give you a free pass to be totally and utterly glutenous!  Remember your health!  Once you use that excuse it becomes easier and easier to use that excuse and before you know it the holiday devil on your shoulder has won and you have gained 10 pounds :0

And remember DO NOT SKIP WORKOUTS during the holidays!

OH and for goodness sake DO NOT say “it’s the holidays and I will make it my News Years resolution to take it off!”

 

Halloween Survival Guide

With Halloween here, a lot of people are going to be torn between the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.  It doesn’t have to be a struggle as long as you are prepared.

So here is some Halloween survival tips:

  • Don’t go into the actual night hungry.  Fill up on veggies and protein so you don’t let your hunger get the best of you.
  • WORK OUT-  workout hard on Halloween!
  • Buy candy to hand out that you DON’T like.  Don’t buy your favorite candy, that is just a recipe for disaster.
  • If you are handing out candy make a bowl of popcorn to munch on so that candy doesn’t call your name as loud.
  • Chew gum while trick or treating or handing out candy that way the mindless eating can not occur.
  • THINK before you eat.  It happens all to many times, you eat one piece and without thinking and before you know it there is a mound of candy wrappers in front of you and you have no idea how they got there.
  • After Halloween, put the candy out of sight.  Don’t put it in the very front of the pantry or on the kitchen counter and for gods sake don’t feel guilty about throwing it away.

Here are some “better” choice candy.  Using the word “better” when referring to candy is kind of an oxymoron because candy is full of sugar and not good for you .  PERIOD!

  • Eat the dark chocolate (72% or more Cocoa) – the only candy I truly advocate.
  • Mini candy bars – less is more when it comes to candy
  • York Peppermint Paddies – 3 minis have 150 cal and 3 grams of fat
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Peanut M&M’s (snack size bag) – at least it has protein and more likely to fill you up

NOW keep in mind besides the dark chocolate, I don’t believe any of these are good for you or should be consumed in large quantities.  I however am realistic in thinking that the majority of people will eat candy this Halloween no matter what I say or believe.   Keep in mind that sugar is highly addictive and makes you more hungry.  Once you eat candy, your body craves more.

While I give you the better alternatives to binging  out on candy, here are the effects that sugar has on ones body:

  • Can decrease growth hormone (the key to staying youthful and lean)
  • Feeds cancer
  • Increases cholesterol
  • Can weaken eyesight
  • Can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children
  • Can interfere with the absorption of protein
  • Causes food allergies
  • Contributes to diabetes
  • Can contribute to eczema in children
  • Can cause cardiovascular disease
  • Can impair the structure of DNA
  • Can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children
  • Contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infection (infectious diseases)
  • Greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)
  • Contributes to osteoporosis

What are you going to have to do to work off that candy? Great question. Here are some quick stats from qcheakthnews.com:

  • 5 miniature Milky Way chocolate bars, 190 calories | 28 minutes of a zumba class
  • 4 miniature Snickers chocolate bars, 170 calories | A brisk walk with the dog for 50 minutes
  • 7 miniature Three Musketeers chocolate bars, 170 calories | Swim for 22 minutes
  • 3 miniature Twix chocolate bars, 150 calories  | Run at a moderate to strong pace for 10 minutes, or jog for 20 minutes
  • 20 pieces of candy corn, 150 calories | Hit the stair climber  for 25 minutes
  • 1 piece of licorice, 70 calories | 25 minutes of yoga
  • 1 Fun Size M&M packet – Plain or Peanut90 calories | 10 minutes of bike riding
  • 1 piece pumpkin pie (1/8 of 9-in pie), 180 calories | 1.8 mile walk or 3600 step

Are you Logging?

If you have been reading my blog you know I am a HUGE logging your food and workouts advocate!  I feel it’s important for newbies just starting out on their journey and for veterans.   I believe your journey starts first and foremost with how you eat, how much you eat, when you eat and what you eat.

It’s funny, well not really “funny” in a ha ha ha way, but funny in an ironic way.  People say they are doing “everything” they can to loose weight and they have hit a “plateau” or “don’t know why the weight isn’t coming off.”  In reality they are NOT doing everything it takes.

It takes:

  • eating right
  • exercising
  • logging
  • measuring your food

If you are going to take the time to exercise and  eat “right” (which are the harder steps) then why not take that extra little step and measure and log your food and exercise?!?!?!?!?  TOTALLY don’t get it.

Why I feel it’s so for those just starting out:

ALL the time I hear  “I don’t really eat that much” or “I watch what I eat”   If that’s the case why are you overweight?  Why are you struggling?  The point of logging is to make you aware and accountable.  If you log everything and eat within the calories/calorie deficit then there are no questions and no excuses why you shouldn’t be loosing the weight.

Why it’s important that veterans log:

We get complacent.  Period.  We think we are eating the serving size but over time it becomes more and more.  I still log to get me back on track.  We condition our bodies.  We gradually start eating more and our bodies gradually start needing more.

People are “food spoiled” and have the mentality of “I don’t wanna”.  It’s really not that hard to log.  If being healthy and loosing weight is important then take the time to do it!

There are tons of free food logging phone apps and websites few of my favorites are:

Daily Burn is one of my favorites because not only can you log online they also have a smart phone  app and a smart phone bar code scanner app so you don’t even need to type in the words.  They have an EXTENSIVE food and workout data base!  It syncs with the web site so if you log on your phone it updates on the computer.

A new one I just discovered and am loving is freeworkoutlog.com

myfitnesspal

Calorie Counter

There is NO excuses.  It couldn’t be easier to log what you eat. If you are really doing everything you possibly can to be healthy, loose weight, get back on track… whatever it is… you should be logging and be honest!

I CHALLENGE all of you to start logging your food daily!

Restaurant Survival Guide

We don’t go out to eat that often, but with the weekend coming up, and seeing people’s Facebook posts, I realized HOW much people eat out.  This isn’t bad per say… it’s the decisions that people make from the menu that isn’t so great.   I know that just because you have made the commitment to be healthy, doesn’t mean you are dead and should eat naked chicken and rice cakes!  I also know people going out with family and friends will look at the “unhealthy” decisions that those people make and wonder why they “can’t” eat that, be envious or even angry.  The unhealthy choices that your family and friends are making probably mean they are themselves unhealthy.  So, you are actually the victor and should take pride in ordering healthy! Be weird!

There is almost always healthy options at restaurants.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Ask questions like

  • How is that cooked?
  • Is that cooked in oil?
  • Can I get sauce on the side?
  • Can I substitute the french fries, baked potato, or any other side for a veggie or fruit?

If you know where you are going before hand, Google the restaurant menu, and plan what you are going to have.  GO PREPARED!  Share your meal decision with your spouse, friend, or family member so that when you get there, they know your plan, and it will be harder for you to change to an unhealthy options. This make sit harder to back out. Accountability.

A lot of restaurants have nutritional information on the menu, but you can almost always find nutritional info online!

Here are a few restaurants that have an amazing health-ified menu

General rules of thumb

If you go to a restaurant unprepared, and they don’t have the nutritional info, and you don’t have a smart phone to find the nutritional info, here are some rules of thumb:
  • Look for things like the word “grilled”.
  • Sauces are generally not a good option- request sauce on the side.
  • Salads are NOT necessarily a good option. The crap they put on it can be just as unhealthy, and the dressings are ridiculously full of empty calories and fat.
  • If you go to Mexican food, get the Fajitas, cooked in light or no oil, and the corn tortillas.
  • Another tip at Mexican- if you MUST eat the chips, eat the little broken ones at bottom of the basket.  They are small. You are eating less, but feeling like you are eating more.  NEVER refill the chip basket!
  • If you go to Chinese, get the steamed rice, and get something with veggies and no sauce.  Stay away from the egg rolls. 🙁
  • Fish is usually a good option, just as long as it’s broiled or grilled, and has no sauce.
  • If your going out for breakfast, almost all restaurants will let you order an omelet or eggs with just egg whites or egg beaters.  An egg white veggie omelet with very little or no cheese is good!
  • Also for breakfast, stay away from the hash browns or potatoes!  Get a couple pieces of wheat toast, butter on the side.  Then, add a little of the butter yourself. If they do it, they slather the toast up!

One final tip

When you’re full, stop eating. Actually, stop eating a little bit before you are full. Better to “waste” a little food, than stuff yourself. Enjoy eating out, but don’t regret it afterwards.

Getting Kids To Eat Healthy

With our kids going back to school, it’s harder to guide them on how they eat.

1 in 3 children are overweight or obese.  YES, let me say that again 1 in 3 children in America are overweight or obese! WOWZA! that’s insane and scary.   I believe there are several contributing factors to this insane epidemic:

  1. School lunches– The school lunches are DISGUSTING! They are processed and unhealthy!  Pack your childs lunch and snacks instead of letting them buy school lunch.  Now, realistically kids like to buy school lunch with their friends, so maybe look at the lunch menu for the next month and sit down with your child and find the healthiest lunch and let them buy on that day.
  2. Education– Children are not taught to make their own healthy choices or taught portion control.  They are just told “NO you can’t eat that”.
  3. CLEAN YOUR PLATE– We all heard this growing up and we have all said it to our children. In the past I was one of those parents . NO NO NO NO.  Now it drives me crazy when I hear parents say this.  Look at it this way, as adults when we are full we stop eating (or at least we should).  There are days when our kids are just not as hungry.  We are teaching them to eat EVERYTHING and eat it even if they are full.  Teach them to eat their veggies first then the rest of the meal and if they don’t finish… they don’t finish.  Let them make the decision as to when they are full!
  4. Activity–  With TV, video games, and all the technology kids have these days,  their activity level  has dropped drastically.  Kids used to walk to school, play in the yard, and ride bikes.  Nowadays it’s unsafe to let your children roam free.  It’s up to us as parents to get creative with the amount of exercise our kids get.  Enroll them in a martial arts class (which is dual purpose, exercise and self defense), hiking with the family, try dance classes or gymnastics.  ALSO as technology can be bad, it can be good too.  My 12 year old will do the exercise mode on Dance Central for hours.  Get creative and encourage them!
  5. Role model–  We as parents need to be better role models for our children.  They see what we eat, and naturally pick up our bad habits.  If you eat healthy they will too.

Let’s face it, kids are picky.  They don’t want to eat things that are different, green,  or funny looking.  I get that.  At some point, all three of my girls have gone through that phase.  In reality that’s how kids eat… in phases.  At one point they eat anything and everything.  A month later they eat nothing that doesn’t end in Macaroni and Cheese.

I am a mom of three girls and I am totally realistic, I know that  getting them to eat only raw foods or homemade foods is not going to happen.  But there are tons or “replacements” for the foods your kids love!  Yes even Mac and Cheese!

Teach them how to order in a restaurant or pick the healthier desert.  Don’t deprive them of “fun” things, but teach them that there are “fun” health alternatives.  It’s up to you to open their minds.  I know that I do not want my girls to have the same weight struggles that I had my whole life!  Also, it’s ok for them to have unhealthy food, but teach them about moderation and it’s ok occasionally.

 

S0, here are some replacement foods and ideas that I tried to teach my children:

  • YOGURT- Instead of high sugared yogurt like go-gurt and danimals  try a greek yogurt like Chobani.  My kids like to add a little granola or kashi go lean crunch.
  • GOLDFISH- Instead of the regualar goldfish crackers try Annie’s. They are organic and yummy.
  • PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY-  Instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, try organic peanut butter and agave or honey.
  • CHIPS-   Instead of Doritos or Cheetoos,  Pop Chips or Veggie Straws
  • KRAFT MAC AND CHEESE- Instead of Kraft, use Annie’s mac and cheese. Again, organic and much better.
  • SYRUP-  Agave nectar is a MUCH better alternative to syrup and just as sweet.  You can also use agave nectar as a replacement for sugar.  I use it in my Oatmeal instead of sugar.
  • CEREAL- Whole grain waffles and agave nectar.  Cheerios are also a better alternative than those junky sugar filled cereal.  To make it sweet, add a little agave and fresh strawberries on top.
  • CANDY- Celery with peanut butter and raisins.  Or one of my kids (and mine) favorite is a banana sliced down the middle with some peanut butter inside.
  • FRUIT SNACKS-  I know I call me captain obvious but how about real fruit?

Here are some other good snacks and meal ideas:

  • Go organic whenever possible!
  • Processed foods are full of fillers, empty calories, and leave your children hungry again very quickly!
  • Give your child a little baggie of nuts or trail mix.  Nuts fill them up.  I send them with little baggies of nuts for nutrition or snack inbetween breakfast and lunch so they can make it until lunch and be energized and not be hungry.  It’s hard to learn when your tummy is growling.
  • Stay away from soda and juice!  Give them Vitamin Water or water enhancers (without a bunch of ingredients that you can’t pronounce).  My family loves Mio.
  •  Also keep in mind just because it says “low fat” or “fat free” doesn’t mean its healthy.  Generally, those things are replaced with artificial ingredients and fillers and they do not have any nutritional benefits.  Not to mention your kids are going to get hungrier faster.

What your child eats, effects how they learn, think, their energy level, and how they develop.  We owe it to our children to teach and guide them how to eat healthy and how to make healthy decisions!  Let me enforce that fact that it is so important that we teach our kids how to make their own healthy decisions! Teach by example. Your children WILL mimic you [with bad habits, and good ones].

 

Abs

A friend of mine recently asked me about my ab routine, so here it is.

First of all, I LOVE doing abs!  It’s my favorite body part to train.  If I could, I would do abs every day!  But, I know if I did it really wouldn’t help me, and my muscle fibers would not have time to mend, so I don’t :(.

Now, what is the main problem that people have with their mid section?  That top layer of fat, right?  Well, you can do 5 million abs exercises a day for the rest of your life and never get the results you want.  What really burns that extra layer of fat is CARDIO.  So, while you  have a ROCKIN 6 pack from your doing your 5 million ab reps a day,  you will never be able to see it under that layer of fat.

SO,  I do a ton of  cardio.   Abs don’t need to be trained more than 2-3 days  a week, with at least a day of rest in between.  I do cardio, then  I do abs 3 days a week with another body part, so I don’t do as many ab exercises those days.  Then I do JUST abs, one day a week.   I do 4 sets of about 4- 5 different exercises.  This takes a long time, so it’s not for everyone!  Most people don’t have that much time, nor do they desire to spend that much time so scale it back and just incorporate abs twice a week with either less sets  and more exercises or more sets  less different exercises.  But when you do make it count!  Concentrate on your abs. Pretend you are trying to get your belly button to touch your spine. Slow controlled movements holding each rep for 2 seconds with a controlled release.  Less is more!  Form and control is better than fast uncontrolled reps.

Here are a few of my favorite ab exercises:

Take your time concentrate on your abs and DON’T FORGET TO BREATH!

Stability Balls Crunch- Once you have done this for a while, try it weighted. I use weights or a elastic band

Bicycle Kick Crunches

Reverse Crunch

Roll UP

Plank

AB Toning Wheel   Yes I said it.  I don’t normally use gimmicky products, but it I do like to do it once in a while to change things up.

These are just a few.  When training abs don’t neglect obliques and sides.  Training the entire core is essential!

Try this amazing app.  It is beyond awesome for training abs!  I recommend starting on easy then working your way up unless you have done some serious ab training.

Also what you eat can directly effect  your abdominal region.  Stay away from transfats, they are the worst!

Eating foods like these help burn that stubborn belly fat in reality ABS ARE CARVED IN THE KITCHEN:

  • black beans
  • sunflower seeds
  • peanuts/nuts
  • green tea
  • yogurt
  • bananas
  • fish
  • whole grains
  • dark chocolate
  • avocado
  • flaxseed
  • olive oil

My Top 10 Workout Tips To Get You Started

When I first started working out, and trying to live healthy, it was just so overwhelming and I was going in it blind.  I had no idea where to start.  I knew I should do cardio, but for how long?  How high of intensity?  I was so lost.  So, I have put together my top 10 workout tips that I wish I would have known when starting out.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

In no particular order:

  1. Do not start working out 7 days a week and restricting massive calories.  SLOW DOWN.  Start off gradually, and work your way up!
  2. 3-4 days a week,  high intensity, 20-30 min workouts are a good way to start.
  3.  Never work out the same body part two days in a row – your muscle fibers need time to repair
  4. Cardio workouts burn calories WHILE your doing the workout while strength training and lifting weights continue to burn calories hours after your done working out.
  5. Do not workout until 30 min after you have eaten and do not eat (especially carbs) 30 min after
  6. Switch it up… If you find yourself plateauing, then you need to switch up your workout.  Example:  Instead of doing cardio before strength training, do it after. Change the exercises you are doing – if you are always using a cable, switch to weights.
  7. EAT YOUR PROTIEN
  8. Don’t over do. Burnout is a serious thing.
  9. Eating not enough calories is as bad as eating too many.  If you are not eating enough, your body will burn lean muscle and not fat.  That is BAD!
  10. Less is more.  If you can do 100 reps of a particular exercise, that’s to much.  Add weights or some kind of resistance (like a band or cable).

 

Healthy Replacements – Dinner

Note: This post is part 3 of 3, on healthy replacements for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Here are some popular unhealthy (or less healthy) foods and healthier replacements. I implement most of these in my eating habits.

Dinner

Less Healthy More Healthy
pork chop-breaded pork chop lightly seasoned and bbq’ed
chicken with sauce chicken with bbq sauce
spaghetti brown rice, steamed veggies and a little bit of chicken mixed together
hamburgers salmon or turkey patty on a whole wheat bun
steak talapia or salmon
tacos corn tortilla with some fresh salsa and some kind of fish/ or sliced up chicken breast
rice Quinoa or cous cous
noodles sweet potato fries
baked potato baked sweet potato

When in doubt eat a sweet potato 🙂

My weaknesses

  • chocolate
  • ice cream
  • buttered popcorn

I replace them with

  • low fat brownies – I REALLY like Betty Crocker.
  • fat free ice cream – Bryers has the best fat free ice cream IMO
  • light/fat free popcorn

Note:  I always have fruit or veggies before every meal, and try to drink a large glass of water before I eat.  I feel more full, and that way it insures I am eating more of the good stuff and getting my water in.  Every meal I have protein, and rarely ever eat carbs for dinner. Lunch is generally my larger, more high caloric meal.

One more tip

It sounds weird, but I always eat a healthy snack right before dinner… raw veggies and hummus, carrots, nuts.  This causes me to not eat as much at dinner, specially since my larger meal is lunch, I don’t need a big dinner.

A healthy dinner plate should be 1/4 Lean Protein, 1/2 Low Glycemic Carbs, and 1/2 Salads or Veggies.

What are some of your unhealthy dinner or guilty pleasure choices that I can help you replace with a healthier version?