Monday, June 27, 2011

Diet- Friendly Summertime Coffee Drinks

Iced Capp? Iced Coffee? Frappuccino? Iced Mocha? No matter what your choice, it still spells one thing....loads of calories and most of them from fat!

So, how can you enjoy your favourite gourmet drinks without all the empty calories? I have a couple recipes today to help you enjoy those ‘treat” drinks.  These will taste so good that you’ll swear they aren't good for you but they are! The protein powder not only curbs hunger pangs but adds that metabolically active ingredient...PROTEIN!

I have a couple different ones I use, they are both quite flexible in terms of milk that you use, but once you try them you can work out what suits your taste buds or time frame best.  Play around with them to develop the taste you enjoy, without the calories!

If you just want to wet the whistle, try pouring cold coffee over ice!  Add a little sweetener if you must but I like it straight up!

Vanilla Iced Coffee

-sugar-free non-fat vanilla yogurt
-non-fat milk (or almond milk, rice milk or soy milk – vanilla flavoured, if you prefer)
-instant coffee crystals
-vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder

Directions: You’ll start by spooning sugar-free, nonfat vanilla yogurt in an ice cube tray and freezing it into cubes overnight.  Then you’ll add them to a blender with a splash of milk, a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals, and a scoop of vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder. Lastly, just sprinkle on some cinnamon to add a little fat-burning kick. If you want to cut down on the caffeine, just use decaffeinated instant coffee instead.

Quick Iced Mocha or Vanilla Coffee

-ice cubes
-1 cup non-fat milk, almond milk, soy or rice milk (can use vanilla flavoured milk for more of that vanilla flavour)
-instant coffee crystals or 1 c strong cold leftover coffee (I make extra to use for iced coffee!)
-1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder (for mocha) or vanilla
-cinammon and/or stevia (sweetener) to taste

Directions: Throw all the ingredients in a blender or good shaker cup and give it a good shake or until you see it has thickened. Pour into a tall glass and sip away! Easy to prepare and no chore to drink (about 200 cal and 25g Protein).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oats Aren't Just for Breakfast!

No, I am not finished extolling the virtues of the humble oat.  I assume you all got the picture on how good they are for you, but have you ever thought beyond the breakfast bowl?

Today I am going to give you one of my favourite ways to serve oats (and it's not a breakfast food!)

Oat Pilaf
2 tbsp oil
1/2 c chopped onion and/or green onion
1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper, mushrooms, celery and/or zucchini (opt) or any leftover vegetables
1 1/2 cup oats (not the instant variety!)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c vegetable stock, chicken stock, tomato juice or water (may need a pinch of salt if you use water)
1/4 c chopped parsley
1/2 tsp ea basil and oregano (or to taste)
Saute the onion and other veg in the oil until tender.  Mix the oats with the egg and add to the onion mixture, cooking and stirring until the grains are dry and separated. Add liquid and seasonings; simmer uncovered, stirring a few times until the oats are swollen and tender, about 5 min. 

Goes well with an egg dish.  I particularly like the leftovers for breakfast!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Underrated Oat

Besides your morning bowl of oatmeal, have you ever thought much about the humble oat (other than a staple for William Wallace aka Braveheart)??? 

Oats: so pale, so small, and so easy to ignore. Some people look at a bowl of oatmeal and say, "blah!" Others gaze upon a lumpy mush of hot oats, with steam clouding their dreamy eyes, and sigh, "ahhh…" Are you an oat-lover? Here's why you should take the oat oath and eat more of these oh-so-wholesome whole grains.

Oats boast an impressive nutritional profile. Modest oats hide their impressive virtues inside of those unassuming little hulls. One cup of oats provides 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. Fibre is a multitalented nutrient, protecting us from any number of potential health problems (see the next several oat benefits!). Eat one cup of oats and you'll rack up nearly 70% of your daily needs for manganese, a mineral that helps enzymes in bone formation. You'll also get good helpings of vitamin B1 and magnesium. (That is impressive!)

Oats fill you up. For all that nutritional intensity, one cup of oats will only cost you 147 calories. But it's not the calories in oatmeal that fill you up - it's the fibre. In addition, the grain falls on the low end of the glycemic index (GI), which is a ranking of how carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels. When you eat oats, your body will digest and absorb them slowly, keeping you feeling full, controlling your appetite, and delaying hunger pangs. (Gotta love that benefit!)

Oats may help reduce cholesterol. Among all grains, oats have the highest proportion of soluble fibre. This gel-like fibre transits your intestinal tract and may help trap substances associated with high blood cholesterol. Studies show that people with high blood cholesterol who eat just 3 g of soluble fibre per day can reduce their total cholesterol by 8% to 23% (ahem...remember that one cup of oats yields 4 g)!

Oats are diabetes-friendly. For the same reason that the fibre in oats helps to stave off hunger, it also helps to steady the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. People with diabetes especially benefit from this awesome oat trait. Most people need about 26 g to 35 g of fibre per day, but those with diabetes need upwards of 50 g. A fibre-filled bowl of oats can provide some of the much needed nutrient. Just be sure not to tip the balance by adding too much sugar or other blood glucose-spiking toppers to your oats. (Try using fruit, cinnamon or use fruit flavoured yogurt to help sweeten it up)

Oats support healthy digestion. The insoluble fibre in oats scrubs through the intestines, moving food along and helping to prevent constipation. Also, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) who follow a diet higher in fibre and lower in total fat may experience fewer symptoms of GERD (such as heartburn).

Oats can shield your skin. At some point in human history, someone discovered how nice it felt to apply oats to dry, itchy, irritated skin. Moms have been stirring raw oats into hot baths for generations to soothe children's chickenpox symptoms, and many people make DIY facial masks by blending oatmeal with yogurt and honey. The starchiness of oats creates a barrier that allows the skin to hold its moisture, while the rougher fibrous husk of the oat acts as a gentle exfoliant. (I have been doing this for years and it does make great facials!)

There is so much more to oats than oatmeal! Oats are an affordable and nutrient-dense food that can be used in many ways. Beyond the breakfast bowl, oats can be added to cookies, breads, pancakes, or stuffing; sprinkled atop fruit cobblers or crumbles; plopped into a smoothie to boost its fibre and bulk; and ground to make flour for baking. Anywhere you need a little texture, a little extra oomph, turn to oats. And oatmeal itself comes in several varieties (i.e., slower-cooking steel-cut, old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick "instant" oats) and can be dressed with fresh berries, bananas, honey, seeds, or nuts.

If you choose to buy oats in bulk, only purchase as much as you could eat in two months time, after which the oats are more likely to spoil. Store in an airtight container tucked away in a cool, dry, dark spot in your cupboard.

Despite all of oats' virtues, not everyone should eat them. If you have celiac disease, be warned: Though oats may not be completely off-limits, some oat products are contaminated with wheat. Check with your doctor  before deciding to try oats or oatmeal and make sure to read the label.

Dr. Johnson, in the first English dictionary published in 1747, sarcastically dismissed oats as:"a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.'  Fortunately, the entry did not go unchallenged, since John Boswell, a [Scottish] writer wrote this riposte:
"Which is why England is known for its horses and Scotland for its men."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time for Managing Your Time?

We all have those days when we can't possibly add one more thing to our "to do" list, let alone fit in a workout. 
Perhaps your child wakes up with a fever, your boss calls you in to the office early for an emergency meeting, your best friend calls with a personal crisis or one of your pipes bursts.  Whatever the reason, you suddenly find your self with five new tasks that weren't on the original "To Do Today" List - and not enough time or energy to get it all done!

I know.  It happens to me too.  (you may have noticed the abscence of the blogs for the last 6 weeks...)

Two things have helped me (it applies just as much to exercise as many other things (time management, that is).  Ask your self these 2 questions...
  1. Do I really need to do all these errands today?  I ask myself this question a lot.  It seems as the day goes on, I find myself adding more and more to my mental "to do" list.  Sometimes I have to step back and take a good, hard look at what I'm trying to accomplish.  Oftentimes, I realize that many of those tasks can wait.
  2. Am I really buys - or am I procrastinating?  Sometimes we come up with things to keep us from working out.  What is filling your day? Are you talking on the phone a lot?  Watching television?  Get off the phone, turn off the TV and MOVE YOUR BODY.
 "My to-do list is so long that it doesn't have an end; it has an event horizon." - Craig Bruce

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fat Shedding Foods

You've seen the infomercials just like we have--and they're particularly insane this time of the year. And of course we're all familiar with the various fads out there: slashing carbs, eating a super low fat diet, drastically reducing calories, etc. The list can go on forever.

But are there true foods that can help us shed fat?

Well, there are--sort of. Weight loss programs often focus on cutting nothing but calories, regardless of where those calories are coming from. That's not how I roll on any of my Fit and Foxy Eating Plans.  I am about focusing on quality. I hate the concept of virtually eliminating any macronutrient, but love the concept of doing so with certain types of macronutrients.

Licorice, candy, cookies, cake, etc--those are carbohydrates. And they're all junk. On the other hand, oatmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, vegetables, fruits, etc are also carbs and they couldn't be any better.

Likewise, butter, shortening, animal fat, and margarine are all junk fats, whereas fish oil, flax, olive oil, and avocados are all fantastic for you.

See the point? By switching the focus from just overall quantity to the quality of the nutrients consumed will help shed body fat--and, yes, we're saying a calorie isn't a calorie isn't a calorie (2000 calories from oil is much different than 2000 calories from fruit and vegetables).

So go back to the basics, focus on the simple, non- packaged foods, and understand that doing so will not only ultimately help you shed fat, but it will also drastically improve your health, how you feel, your energy, skin, mood, and so on and so on.

 Here are 3 rules to keep in mind: cartoon!
1. If a food has a cartoon on the package, put it back. (Trix are for Kids!!)

2. If you didn't find it on the perimeter of the store, put it back. (The exception to this is the bakery department in the supermarket...thought you'd sneak that one in???)

3. If the ingredient list is so long it reads like a Shakespeare novel, put it back! The less ingredients, the better. (need I say more???)

"We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons." ~Alfred E. Newman

Thursday, March 17, 2011

7 Healthy Habits for Heartburn Sufferers

Heartburn is not only painful but can be plain annoying!  We all get it at some point in time, some people just seem to suffer more with it. 
Over-the-counter antacids and prescription medications are the most common treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)  .It is a complaint I hear from clients quite frequently so I thought it would be prudent to offer some suggestions to wean yourself off those antacids (not good to use long term!).  By following these steps on a daily basis you can minimize or eliminate those annoying gastro problems.  Regardless of how bad your GERD symptoms are, successfully fighting it requires some changes in lifestyle -ranging from the food you eat to the clothes you wear.

If you stick to them every day, these seven habits may help minimize GERD symptoms.
  1.  Small, frequent meals (yes, the right kind of snacking is GOOD!) - A very full stomach can cause the valve between your stomach and esophagus to relax, pushing stomach acids back up into the esophagus.  Eat several small meals throughout the day rather than the standard 3 big meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Don’t make that last meal too late, though: Eating close to bedtime can trigger symptoms as well.)
  2. Avoid "trigger" foods (check out my blog recipes or my recipe books - good food doesn't have to be boring and tasteless!) Be it chocolate or caffeine, certain foods and drinks are notorious for exacerbating GERD symptoms.  The list includes spicy foods, fatty red meat, French fries (and other fried foods), citrus fruit, raw onion, tomatoes, butter, oil, peppermint, chocolate and caffeine.  I am not saying you should avoid all of them, but take note which ones may cause problems for YOU!
  3. Back off the Alcohol (heavy sigh...) - Alcohol is a bad idea for most people with GERD, especially if you drink too much, or on a regular basis. Alcohol relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which lets stomach acid creep into the esophagus.  A 1999 study showed that those who imbibed more than seven drinks per week were the most likely to have heartburn.
  4. Shed some Pounds (you knew I would work that in there somewhere...didn't you???) - Excess weight can contribute to heartburn and acid reflux. A 2003 study of more than 10,000 people found a strong link between GERD symptoms and body mass index (BMI). Obese people are nearly three times more likely than people of normal weight to have heartburn and acid reflux.  Experts aren’t exactly sure why. Excess abdominal fat may place pressure on the stomach, but it may also cause chemical or hormonal changes that make the body more susceptible.
  5. Loosen those Waistbands (closely related to #4... smile...) -  Much like excess belly fat, clothing that's a tight fit around the midsection can push against your stomach and force acid into the esophagus. Sure those pants look great, but is it worth it? If you have heartburn, skip belts, waistbands, hosiery and undergarments that may be too tight or, if the shoe fits...refer to #4!
  6.  Heads Up while you Sleep (ok...c'mon, you KNOW what I'm talking about...)- Avoid eating before bedtime and elevate your head six to eight inches while you sleep.This position doesn’t necessarily reduce the frequency of acid reflux, but research shows it helps stomach acid drain from the esophagus more quickly. One study reported a 67% increase in acid clearance time.
  7. Quit Smoking (need I say more??) -  We know that smoking damages your heart and lungs. But what about your digestive system? Yep, that too. Nicotine, like alcohol, may worsen GERD symptoms by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, which causes stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.  Smoking also causes bile salts to migrate from the small intestine into the stomach and reduces the amount of saliva you produce. (Saliva helps flush stomach acid out of the esophagus). Combine smoking with any of the other above mentioned habits and you get a double-whammy of possible sympton triggers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wearing the Green

There is nothing like St. Patrick's Day for bringing out the beer drinker in you!
However, most beers have 110 to 160 calories in each 12 oz bottle. And some beers have more than 300
calories in a single 12 oz bottle.  Yikes...that’s a lot of calories!

With St. Patrick’s day right around the corner, I thought it would be a timely reminder that alcohol is NOT going to help you lose weight, not unless you want to be wearing the effects of the green beer for a while longer!

In fact, alcohol works against you two ways:
1. Alcoholic drinks are often packed with calories. Not just beer, but mixed drinks, too!
2. Alcohol slows down your metabolism, which forces your body to store more fat.

By all means, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green... just avoid the alcohol if you can help it.

If you want to drink something green...try Green Tea...or one of my favourites...

Green Smoothie!Green smoothies consist of 3 basic ingredients: greens, fruit and water. Have fun experimenting with a wide range of varieties of both the greens and the fruit in order to reap the most benefit. You may be surprised to find that the simple combination of greens and fruit is quite delicious.

Here's what you need...
• 1 bunch (2 cups) spinach or any other dark greens
• 1 cup strawberries
• 1 banana
• 1-2 cups water
In a high speed blender mix the ingredients until smooth.

Nutritional Analysis: This single serving equals: 199 calories, 1g fat, 47g carbohydrate, 10g fibre, 6g protein.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 Minutes to a Healthier YOU - Reduce Fat Intake

Reducing your Fat intake can be easier ( and tastier) than you think...
The way you shop, cook, and prepare foods can really impact your fat intake. It may take a bit of discipline at first, but after a few weeks you'll have formed a new habit with very measurable benefits to show for it. Here are a few simple tips...
  1. Substitute some or most of the oil/butter in cake and muffin recipes with unsweetened applesauce
  2. Read labels...look at some of your favourite packaged foods...if there are more than 5 or 6 grams of fat per serving (and some of those serving sizes may be quite small, so be sure to read that info as well), then look for a lower fat version. For example, fat-free ham, lower fat cheeses, skim or 1% milk,
  3. Cut down on your fatty favourites.  If burgers and fries visit your menu more often than once a week, just cutting out one of those meals will save you a lot of fat calories and a fat belly!
  4. Love your meat?  Cut off the visible fat and remove the skin on poultry before cooking...the tempatation is thus eliminated! 
  5. And....Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday....
Avocado and Pea Guacamole

Although avocado are one of the "good fats", you can still have too much of a good thing!  Your Super Bowl party guests are sure to gobble this tasty dip right up, even though it's lower in fat than the real thing! Serve with baked tortilla chips (or take some whole-wheat or corn tortillas and slice into wedges with a pizza cutter and toast in 250F oven) and lots of cut-up fresh vegetables. Yields: About 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/3 cup store-bought medium-hot salsa
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 chopped tomato 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (Or cilantro paste)
  • pinch of salt (if you must)
  • garlic, hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  1. In food processor (with knife blade attached) or blender, puree peas until almost smooth; set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, with fork, mash avocado. Add peas and remaining ingredients to mashed avocado; stir until evenly mixed. Cover and refrigerate if not serving right away.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

10 Minutes to a Healthier YOU - Reduce Sugar Intake

If you are anything like me, you have a sweet tooth.  I know many "experts" say to cut out sweets and sugar entirely, but I find I that if I make adjustments to favourite recipes (cutting down the sugar and/or replacing it with fruit), I can still have my cake and eat it too (so to speak!). 

Quick tip 1:  Take a favourite recipe and reduce the sugar by 1/4 to 1/3...even doing it gradually so your sweet quotient lessens. 
Quick tip 2: Use dried fruits or some dark chocolate and reduce the sugar so you still get some sweetness but with added fibre and nutrients.
Quick tip 3:  Use fruits like bananas, strawberries and applesauce to not only add sweetness but to replace some of the moistness that is lost when you cut down the fat and oil you use in recipes (more on that tomorrow!)
Here is a quick sweet treat as an example:

Ginger Oatmeal Cookies

I find this cookie delicious, and I think it would be a very nice "clif bar" type base. Try adding dried apricots, dried plums, or dried nectarines to make a heftier snack. I love these cookies! 
  • 1 1/2 jars baby food (with bananas) (I'm not kidding!)
  • 1/2 cup molasses (great for iron, but if you don't like it, use honey or brown sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c whole wheat flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour)
  • 2 c oats
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • dried fruit, if you like
Mix and bake at 350 F, 10-15 minutes. The above makes 21 cookies at 50 calories a pop.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

10 Minutes to A Healthier YOU - Exercise are have decided to incorporate some heart-rate raising exercise into your have no equipment and little time and post're broke.  No problem (darn...there goes all the excuses!)...I bet you have a body and I bet you have access to stairs, a step or a little plastic stool for reaching into cupboards...(gotcha!)

Here is how it works....either go up and down the stairs, or step one foot at a time onto a step or stool (just alternate which foot goes up first every round) -

1 round = 30 sec of going up and down (speed will depend on your fitness level), then 30 sec of rest*

WEEK             1        2       3        4        5         6     
ROUNDS         5        7       8       9       10       10

TIME (in min)   5       7       8       9       10       10

*If you are fitter, you can rest less and step/climb for longer 

So, what are you wating for can fit this in anytime and just about anywhere!

Want some other 10 min cardio ideas?  Try these previous blogs...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

6 Tips for Starting a Fat Loss Program

Okay...the New Year is in full swing and you are ready to embrace a healthier lifestyle.  Maybe you don't necessarily want to change your life around completely, you just want to start to make some changes and lose a few pounds in the process.  Well, follow the tips below and you will find "making changes" not to be all that intimidating :
  1. Reduce sugar intake: Many studies have associated sugar to higher calorie consumption. When you consume something sweet, you will simply want to eat more. Moreover, sugar consumption leads to the excretion of chromium from the body. Chromium is what helps the body to form calorie burning lean tissue.
  2. Reduce fat intake: Higher fat intake leads to obesity. Ideally only 25% of your calorie intake should be from fat, and even that fat should be non-saturated. Most processed foods fall into the ‘saturated fat’ or 'trans fat' category, so it would be best to avoid them.
  3. Drink lots of water: Drinking water is very effective for weight loss. Usually people mistake thirst for hunger and tend to overeat. Next time you feel like grabbing a snack, go drink some water first.  You may find you weren't hungry at all...just thristy! Drinking water also adds volume to your food, thus making you feel full faster. Water is also necessary for the proper distribution of nutrients in the body.
  4. Exercise: Exercise is necessary for faster weight loss. Exercising regularly will help you burn more calories and keep the lost weight away. This doesn't mean spending hours on a treadmill or at the gym. Start with a 10-15 minute session, thrice a week and gradually increase it to 20-30-minute sessions, and build up the intensity, or how hard you work, in that time.  (stay tuned for a couple of quick 10 minute workouts tomorrow!)
  5. Strength Training: Most people will be involved in cardio and aerobics exercises as part of their weight loss program. Another form of exercise, strength training, is also quite effective for weight loss. Strength training helps to build more muscles and boosts the body’s metabolic rate, which leads to faster weight loss. So, make sure to incorporate some resistance work into your program. (stay tuned for a couple of quick 10 minute workouts tomorrow!)
  6. Increase fiber intake: Increasing your fiber intake helps you curb hunger. Increased fiber in your food is more filling, thus making you feel fuller. Fruit, whole grain cereals and vegetables are high in fiber. Avoid eating processed foods, as they are low in fiber and high in calorie content.

    Just incorporating these tips (even one at a time) in your daily life will help you lose weight - the more tips you follow, the faster you will see results.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Missing the Junk Food?

You've started the New Year off on the right foot...but those nagging FEED ME! pains has you looking longingly at those "forbidden foods" is a tip to help turn down the volume on your hunger pangs....

Fill your diet full of healthy nutritious food!  Don't obsess about how much you should be eating or the foods you are missing. Instead, spend your energy thinking about what you should be eating.

If nutrient-rich fruit, vegetables, and whole grains aren't making frequent appearances in your diet, your body is going to miss them and loudly ask for more fuel. Same goes for lean proteins and healthful fats. Once you feed yourself better, and your body gets past the initial junk-food withdrawal, your taste buds will start to crave the healthy stuff.  

 Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.

~Doug Larson

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Secret to Successful Resolutions (Part 2)

On average only about 20% of us keep our New Year's resolutions. Unfortunately, some of the biggest failures are found in fitness resolutions. But don't let the statistics get you down. By following the tips from yesterday and today, you'll be better equipped to fall into the successful 20% category.

7. Reward yourself with each milestone. If you've stuck with your resolution for 2 months, treat yourself to something special. But, be careful of your reward type. If you've lost 5 pounds, don't give yourself a piece of cake as an award. Instead, treat yourself to something non-food related, like a professional massage, a facial or a manicure.

8.  Ask friends and family members to help you so you have someone to be accountable to. Just be sure to set limits so that this doesn't backfire and become more irritating than helpful. For example, if you resolve to be more positive ask them to gently remind you when you start talking negatively.

9. Limit your number of promises. You'll spread yourself too thin trying to make multiple changes in your life. This will just lead to failure of all of the resolutions.

10. Test your flexibility: Realize that things change frequently. Your goals and needs may be very different in April then they were when you made your resolution in January. Embrace change, even if that means that your resolution is altered.

11. Keep a journal: A journal helps you recognize your positive steps and makes it harder to go back to the same old habits.

12. Don't go it alone! Get professional assistance (gee, I just happen to know somebody who could help with your fitness and nutrition resolutions...) Everyone needs help and sometimes a friend just isn't enough. Sometimes you need the help of a trained professional. Don't feel that seeking help is a way of copping out. Especially when it comes to fitness! Research studies have shown that assistance from a fitness professional greatly improves people's success rate.

I hope these tips help you to succeed in being one of the 20%!

"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential." - Ellen Goodman

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Secret to Successful Resolutions (Part 1)

Did you have a New Year's Resolution? Well, if you're like most people (88 percent according to a GNC poll), you have at least one resolution. And, if you are like the majority of these promise-makers, your resolution is probably related to health and fitness. According to GNC, 55 percent promised to eat healthier, 50 percent resolved to exercise more, and 38 percent wanted to lose weight.

While resolutions are well-intentioned, unfortunately most people fail at keeping them. With all the hype surrounding these promises, it's easy to get caught up in it without really taking them seriously.

We live in a throw-away society and even our resolutions, I'm afraid, are not immune. However, especially for promises that include improving our health, it's in our best interest not to take them lightly.

So, what's the secret to successful resolutions? While you can't wave a magic wand and make your resolution come true, there are some easy steps to take that will make easier to fulfill your promise to yourself.  Today we will look at 6 of the 12 tips:

1. Choose an obtainable goal. Resolving to look like a super model (ooops, sorry if I blew your illusions!) is not realistic for the majority of us, but promising to include daily physical activity in our lives is very possible.

2.  Avoid choosing a resolution that you've been unsuccessful at achieving year after year. This will only set you up for failure, frustration and disappointment. If you are still tempted to make a promise that you've made before, then try altering it. For example, instead of stating that you are going to lose 15kg, try promising to eat healthier and increase your weekly exercise.

3. Create a game plan. Write a comprehensive plan. All successful businesses start with a business plan that describes their mission and specifics on how they will achieve it. Write your own personal plan and you'll be more likely to succeed as well.

4. Break it down and make it less intimidating. Rather than one BIG end goal, dissect it into smaller pieces. Set several smaller goals to achieve throughout the year that will help you to reach the ultimate goal. Then, even if you aren't able to reach your final goal, you will have many smaller, but still significant, achievements along the way. For example, if your goal is to complete a 10K race, your smaller goals could be running a 5K in less than 30 minutes, or, adding upper and lower body strength training to increase your muscular endurance or running 2km with a personal best completion time.

5. Make contingency options: Don't assume sticking to your plan will be smooth sailing. Plan on hitting bumps along the resolution road and be prepared with specific ways to overcome them. What will keep you from skipping your workout or stop you from having a cigarette? This may mean seeking help from family or a professional, writing in a journal, etc.

And, the last tip today and one of the most important ones:6. Give it time: Most experts agree that it takes about 21 days to create a habit and six months for it to actually become a part of your daily life.

Tomorrow...6 more tips to help you succeed this year!