Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Ready Abs

It's summer time in the northern hemisphere, which means, no matter what your age, you want to look good on the beach, poolside or lakeside.  Needless to say, a flat belly goes a long way towards making that look as impressive as possible.  Besides the obvious diet and cardio portion of the plan, here is a little routine, done at least 3 times a week, that will certainly aid in the quest for a flatter stomach.

Ab Circuit -Perform this circuit once and repeat. **** Remember to push the small of your back into the floor or ball at all times...it encourages you to hold your abs tighter and protects your lower back! 

1. Ab Cycling              10-15 ea leg          

2.  Reverse Crunch  (pull knees towards your chest)   15 reps

3.  Swiss/Stability Ball Crunches        15 reps

4.  Side to Side Ball Crunches       8 ea way
 (alternate twisting from side to side as you come up) 

5.  Leg Raise and Lower              10-15 reps

6.  Ball Plank (can be done from knees)          30-60 sec

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dried Fruit for Snacks

Do you often wonder about whether eating dried fruit is a good or bad thing?  Here is a query I often get....
Q:  I have quite the sweet tooth!  Is eating dried fruit a good idea for a sweet snack or do you have other suggestions?
Although dried fruit is packed with nutrients and fibre, it is also packed with calories.  For example, just a 1/2 cup of raisins contains 250 calories, the same number of calories found in 3 apples or 8 cups of fresh grapes!

In addition to the high calorie content, dried fruits can also be difficult to chew, sticking to teeth and dental work.  If you can eat small amounts of dried fruits, then this is certainly better than eating candy.  Or, instead of basing your sweet snacks on dried fruit alone, try adding them to other snacks like nonfat yogurt, trainl mix or healthy cereal.  1 cup of Special K with 1/2 cup nonfat milk, topped with 50 raisins also has 250 calories and no fat, but offers you calcium and protein in addition to being an excellent snack or breakfast.

To save yourself even more calories, swap the dried fruit for fresh fruit, which is more filling, lower in calories and equally as sweet and nutritious.  Because of their high water content, you can eat a lot more fresh produce for the same amount of calories!  Yee ha!

Get Fit and Foxy: Dried Fruit for Snacks

Get Fit and Foxy: Dried Fruit for Snacks

Monday, June 14, 2010

To Eat or Not to Eat Pre-Cardio

Cardio on an Empty Stomach???
This is a question that is constantly put to me.  Have you been told you'll burn more fat if you do cardio first thing in the moring before breakfast, when your blood glucose is low? 

While research shows that exercising after an overnight fast does increase the amount of fat used during exercise - especially when the exercise is performed at very low intensity - it does not burn more calories, which is what's really important for fat loss. 

According to a number of health experts and other research data, fasting decreases our ability to sustain a given exercise intensity compared to eating breakfast first.  So what does this mean??? It means you'll burn fewer calories when fasting...so eat some breakfast to burn more calories!!!

"I'm feeling so good. I feel like a million bucks. I'm focused, I'm alert, I'm zippy and top of my game.. I've never felt better! I'm sharp as a tack right now. And what's weird is that I didn't get a good nights sleep last night. And they say that's the most important thing..Or is it breakfast they said?..That's the most important meal of the day, breakfast...yes. And then it's 'i' before 'e' I know that..Um.. diamonds are a girl's best friend. Dog is a man's best friend.. What was I talking about?..Oh that's right, that I feel great and I'm at the top of my game. And it's odd because I didn't get hardly any sleep last night. And, they say that's the most important thing."  -Ellen DeGeneres

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Diet Dilemma #6

DILEMMA:  You love to nibble while you're watching television.
The Devil says:  "You've eaten so healthfully all day, you deserve a tasty reward.  Besides, those American Idol finalists sound so much sweeter with a big bowl of ice cream."
The Angel says: "Forget it.  Finish the day on a wholesome high note by snacking on 1/2 cup of grapes."
The Voice of Reason says:  "Compromise by having one scoop of low-fat ice cream mixed with a cup of sliced strawberries."
The Solution:  When you're watching TV, the part of your brain that keeps track of what you're eating tends to nod off.  You can snack worry-free by noshing on low-calorie bites like bell pepper strips or carrot sticks.  For higher calorie foods, compensate by portioning out what you plan to eat and don't go back for seconds.  Purchase individual-sized bags of chips and cookies (or make your own single-serving snack packs by spooning out a handful or two into small plastic bags).  If ice cream is your weakness, pump up the volume by adding fresh fruit, or buy a little dish that's no more than 4 ounces (or use a teacup).  Consider that your treat cup.  Eat whatever goody fits in that, and if you're still hungry afterward, go back for more fruit.  Then you can hit the sack feeling both satisfied and saintly.

Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your own living room by people you wouldn't have in your home.-- David Frost

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Diet Dilemma #5

DILEMMA:  You're meeting a bunch of friends for happy hour drinks.
The Devil says:  "You don't want to be the dork sipping a diet pop while everyone else is having fun, do you?  And go ahead, eat those nachos - they'll keep you from getting smashed and doing something foolish."
The Angel says:  "The safest way to keep your diet and your dignity intact is to stick with that virgin drink and skip the nachos, fried mozarella and other fatty snacks."
The Voice of Reason says:  "Sure, it would be nice to unwind with a glass of wine.  Grab a handful of peanuts to keep your stomach from growling until you can persuade everybody to hit the bistro next door for a real dinner."
The Solution:  Ordering a light beer or wine is a smarter choice than a fruity mixed drink, and not only because beer and wine are significantly lower in calories.  If you pick something sweet, you'll probably gulp it down right away and then order another.  Limiting your alcohol intake may also help you make better dietary choices:  Researchers have found that alcohol triggers an increase in galanin, a compound in the brain that makes you crave fatty food.  And though nuts are caloric, they're a healthy choice.  Peanuts contain good fats and protein, so they'll take the edge off your hunger.  Have a few and you won't be running on empty when fat bombs such as fries and other deep-fried nibbles arrive.  And if it looks as if dinner is still several hours away, scan the menu for substantial light bites such as baked potato skins topped with salsa.

"Only Irish coffee provides in a single cup all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat." -- Alex Levine

Friday, June 4, 2010

Diet Dilemma #4

DILEMMA:  Tonight's business dinner is at a hot, new restaurant.
The Devil says:  "The corporate credit card is out.  All bets are off!  Get the foie gras, a porterhouse steak and dessert, and don't leave any leftovers."
The Angel says:  "Hey, remember how hard you worked out this week?  Why ruin it all with one meal?  Order a salad and grilled fish and savour a scoop of sorbet for dessert."
The Voice of Reason says: "You hardly ever get to eat at a restaurant this amazing, so order whatever you want.  But stop eating before the discomfort of a bloated belly outweighs the pleasure of the fabulous tastes."
The solution: You can also save up the calories from your daily treats and use them all one meal.  The trick is to stop at the first sign of fullness.  Put down your fork now and then and rate your hunger on a scale of one to five, with five being the fullest.  If it's a three, eat a little more and reassess.  If it's four or five, you're done.  Ask the waiter to take your plate away so you don't pick at it while everyone finishes.

“In eating, a third of the stomach should be filled with food, a third with drink, and the rest left empty.”  - The Talmud

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Diet Dilemma #3

DILEMMA: An office birthday party/event
The Devil says: "Yay! Cake from your favourite bakery!"
The Angel says: "Yesterday was someone else's birthday, tomorrow's a baby shower and next week we will celebrate when the copy machine gets fixed.  There's always going to be a reason to chow down on cake.  Join the party, but stand by the veggie platter or chat with pals instead of gobbling the goodies.  Your pride in passing up temptation will more than make up for the momentary thrill of indulging."
The Voice of Reason says:  "This cake is your favourite and you don't eat it very often.  Why don't you just have a small piece and skip sweets for the rest of the day?"
The solution:  Deciding to spend your daily treat calories on something you love makes sense.  Before you splurge, have a quick dialogue with yourself, asking if it's worth giving up other indulgences for.  If the answer is a resounding yes, go ahead and enjoy without any guilt.

“Birthdays are nature's way of telling us to eat more cake.” -Anon

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Diet Dilemma #2

DILEMMA:  Finding a healthy lunch at the cafe/restaurant or cafeteria.
The Devil says:  "Ah, the smell of the french fries, the lure of the melted cheese...it's been a tough morning and dinner is a long way off, so you'd better fill up now."
The Angel says:  "I'm sure you'll make a healthy choice because you know that weight gain can increase your risk for a number of illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and maybe even cancer.  So march straight to the salad bar and load up on leafy greens with fat-free dressing."
The Voice of Reason says:  "The last time you had only a salad for lunch, you were looting the Snickers stash by 3pm." 
The Solution:  Order the salad, but add a few pieces of grilled chicken (or other lean sources of protein such as beans, salmon, eggs, tofu) and an olive oil dressing, which stays with you longer than the fat-free stuff.  Then grab an apple and a part-skim cheese stick or yogurt parfait to snack on later.  The all-or-nothing approach to eating can leave you either overstuffed or underfed; instead expanding your definition of lunch to include and afternoon nosh can keep you on a healthier track.

I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.  - Erma Bombeck

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Diet Dilemma #1

DILEMMA:  You need to grab a quick breakfast!
The Devil says:  "Look...there's Tim Hortons!  It's fast and it tastes great, and the sugar will give you an energy burst."
The Angel says:  "Keep driving, you can do it!  Swing by a store for fruit and low-fat yogurt.  The calcium and the vitamins will help start your day off right."
The Voice of Reason says: "A doughnut would taste delicious, but you will regret it an hour from now when your blood sugar takes a dive and you crash face-first into the keyboard."
The Solution:  Have the fruit and yogurt, but make it feel more indulgent by sprinkling on a few chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts.  Breakfast is supposed to jump-start your energy and keep it going for a few hours, and a load of fried, sugary dough isn't up to the job.  A bite that combines energizing carbs with satisfying protein, such as low-fat dairy with fruit, is an ideal choice.  Other filling options include 1 or 2 slices of whole-wheat toast with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or skim milk poured over a heaped cup of cereal (look for one with fewer than 150 calories per cup - or use low-fat granolas that have similar calories per 1/2 cup, less than 6 grams of sugar and at least 4 grams of fibre per serving).

“Rather go to bed supperless, than run in debt for a Breakfast.”

   -Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard's Almanac