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

Ok...you are have decided to incorporate some heart-rate raising exercise into your life...BUT...you have no equipment and little time and post Christmas...you'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 now...you 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"....here 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!