Simple Portion Control

Happy 2015! A brand new year is a chance to wipe the slate clean and start again.  A chance to make new goals and a plan to reach them. Do you want to lose weight, become healthier and more fit, challenge yourself with something you need to prepare for? January is a great time to start.

21 day fix

This year my goal is to lose the holiday weight that crept on.  It’s much harder to do now that I am older.  I need a definite portion control plan. For the next three weeks, I’m using Portion Fix to help me cut the junk and eat the right amount of nutrients without overeating. Portion fix is a system to help you cut back on the calories without actually counting calories (which I hate). It used to be part of an exercise program called 21 Day Fix, but you can buy the containers seperately now (Yay!) The concept is simple, it’s just a series of containers that are colored according to the types of food you eat.  Green is for veggies, purple for fruit, red for protein, yellow for carbs, blue for healthy fats like milk and cheese. orange for salad dressings, seeds etc. and teaspoons for oils and nut butters.  You get to eat certain amounts (containers) of each type of food depending on your weight and if you want to lose or maintain your weight.

The very cool and helpful thing I discovered is that Pinterest is filled with recipes using this concept.  If you just search Pinterest with the phrase “21 day fix”  you will find tons of information and recipes.  You can make your own board and pin the recipes that appeal to you.  It makes cooking dinner pretty easy.  I have tried to keep lunch simple by buying some lean meats and canned veggies.  Then I just filled the containers, mixed the meat and veggies so I can microwave them at work and take another container of my favorite fruits. Breakfast is usually a protein shake for me, but you can find a lot of breakfast and lunch recipes, as well as snack ideas on Pinterest too. Here’s a link to follow my board if you’d like to.  I may even try to create a few of my own recipes or change the ones I try.  I’ll keep you posted.

Do you have any 21 Day Fix recipes to share?  Put a link in the comments!
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Weight Loss; Slow is the Way to Go

 

Who hasn’t settled in to watch at least one episode of “The Biggest Loser”? We are impressed at weigh-in by the huge weight loss numbers earned by the leading contestants. We feel sorry for the poor guy or girl who only lost a pound or two and stands crying on the scales.

healthyweightloss

 

 

 

 

 

 

As much as the networks would like us to believe it, this is far from reality.  In real life, slow and steady weight loss will bring you health and success in the end.  Here’s why.

  1. Extreme weight loss actually lowers your metabolism.  Severely restricting your calories makes your body think it is starving and it slows all your metabolic processes down.  When you increase your calories (and you have to eventually), you gain the weight back.  Sometimes you even gain MORE than what you lost originally.
  2. Extreme weight loss tends to burn muscle instead of fat.  Muscle is what burns calories, so refer to number one for what will happen.
  3. Severely restricting your calories can leave you dehydrated, and fatigued. It’s hard to get all the nutrients you need when you cut calories to the bone so you may be left malnourished as well.
  4. EWL can be detrimental to a host of your organs.  It puts stress on your heart, can cause gallstones and affect your brain processes.  The lack of nutrients can mess with your neurotransmitters, which can lead to depression.
  5. If you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs (like calcium) it will take them where it can get them (like from your bones) leaving you at risk for things like bone density problems.

So what is healthy weight loss? The American Council on Exercise recommends one to two pounds per week. No one should restrict their calories to less than 1200 per day. In order to lose those one or two pounds per week, you need to combine calorie reduction and burning extra calories through exercise to make a 500 to 1000 calorie deficit per day.  3500 calories equals one pound.  If you lose weight slowly, you will be doing it by changing your lifestyle (doing something you can sustain over time). You will be much more likely to be able to keep it off.  Here’s a calorie calculator to help you figure out how  many calories you should eat to lose weight the healthy way. Here’s a link  to some videos to give you ideas to easily eliminate a few hundred calories per day.

Have you ever lost a lot of weight only to gain it back?  Have you lost weight and been able to keep it off?  Leave a comment and tell your story!
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Weight Loss Without the Weirdness

Counting calories annoys me.  It’s time consuming. It’s a lot of guesswork. It’s tedious. If  I stop for any length of time the weight starts creeping, creeping up. Who’s with me? I’m not into deprivation diets. I’m not going to eat cabbage soup for a month. South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers…. they are all hard to stick to for any length of time.  So what’ s the answer?

The more I research and read, the more I am convinced that portion control is the way to go. You can eat the healthiest food on the planet, but if you eat too much of it, you are STILL going to gain weight, slowly but surely. We eat about 100 to 300 calories more or less than we need everyday. If on most days we are going over, we can gain 10 to 30 pounds each year. That’s a lot. Our obesity rate in the US tells us we are usually overeating. We do this without realizing it.

What if we could change some of our habits so that we could usually eat 100 to 300 calories less than we need on most days? By year’s end we would have lost 10 to 30 pounds! The really good news is..you can do this and not really notice that you are eating less.  It just takes some practice. Click here to get four free videos I made that will teach you how to “trick yourself thin” using some pretty common sense behavior changes. Don’t worry, they’re short, easy to understand and easy to put into practice.

mindless eating

To really dive into the subject, the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, PH.D. is a great resource. I found it on amazon.com.

 

 

How Hormones Affect Your Fat Burn

One premenstrual day, after snapping at my kids and my husband for the umpteenth time, I paused and thought about how much my hormones affected the way I felt and acted.  If you are a woman you know this to be true.  But did you know that your hormones affect how you store and burn fat? No? Get ready to be surprised.

hormones

Your body swims in a hormonal soup all the time.  These hormones affect what’s going on inside your body all day long.  Usually when we think about hormones, we think about sex hormones (Estrogen, testosterone and progesterone) but those are only part of the equation.

Two major hormone players in your body are insulin and cortisol.  These two have a lot of say over how your body stores, releases and burns fat.

 Insulin– If insulin levels are raised too much, fat is more likely to be stored when you are eating more calories than you should, and less likely to be burned when you cut back on your calories.

Cortisol– High cortisol levels combined with high insulin levels will block fat from being released for burning and will cause the body to hold onto stored fat. If you become insulin resistant through poor eating habits, you now enter a catch 22.  If it affects your brain it makes you feel hungrier. If it affects your muscles it leads to muscle loss and keeps fuel from getting to your muscles.  Now you are fatigued and perform poorly. So you eat too much because you’re hungry all the time, burn fewer calories because you have less muscle mass (which burns more calories than fat) and are programmed to store more fat and burn less of it.

Hey! How is that fair?

Now a word about Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone; these hormones affect how you burn and store fat as well.  If women are low on estrogen and, it causes them to burn less fat and store more, especially belly fat.  If men are low on testosterone it has the same effect. When women hit menopause this is why they tend to gain weight.

 How to fight itpants

Thankfully, there is a way to combat this hormone/fat assault on your well being and pant size. With the right combinations of food, you can reverse the hormone fat accumulation trap.

  • First, stay away from meals that are a combination of starch, sugar and fat. These meals raise insulin levels. Raised insulin levels can lean to insulin resistance and start the more hungry, less muscular downward spiral.  Combine this with stress which raises cortisol levels and it multiplies the weight gain.
  • Do eat meals that are a combination of protein sources and vegetables.  This will produce a minimum of insulin. You will feel fuller for longer periods of time.  Plus you will crave less junk food and feel more energetic.
  • Manage your stress with plenty of sleep, exercise, meditation and other forms of stress management. This will keep your cortisol levels at bay.

If you want to read about two specific eating plans to battle the hormones check out this article on belly fat. Then get to the farmer’s market!

 

 

Do You Really Need a Detox Diet?

There has been a lot of buzz in recent years about detox diets. Usually they look something like this..very low calorie, a meal replacement drink or juicing, maybe some kind of cleanse, and supplements.  The big question is do they really work?

There are lots of opinions on them, but according to medical doctors nutritionists and registered dietitians, there is no hard and fast evidence that they work.

1. Extreme limited calorie detox diets can be harmful if they cause you to lose muscle mass, lower your blood sugar too much or create an electrolyte imbalance.

2. Your liver is the organ in charge of detoxifying your body.  It is designed to be self cleaning.  Your job is to feed your body healthy food on a regular basis so your liver can do its job.

3. Doing a  detox diet can trick people into thinking it’s okay to go back to an unhealthy diet once they have “detoxed”.  Concentrate on eating a healthy diet year round.

Here’s are some more common sense ways to detox:

Drink more water, drink less alcohol, stop smoking, eat more plants, eat less animal based food, eat less processed food, and last but not least..exercise!

What is your opinion on detox diets? Post your thoughts.

info condensed from IDEA Fitness Journal, October 2013

 

Nutrition Tools: E Diets.com

Changes and transitions; we are going through a lot of those at my house lately.  My oldest daughter finished college and she’s working full time and living in Pittsburgh.  She’s planning a Fall 2014 wedding and we are currently making plans for that happy occasion.

Marla tries on wedding dresses.

My youngest daughter is heading to college in a few week.  My house is tossed up. Things for a dorm room are being stored in the basement.  Marla’s room is in transition to a guest room.

New guest room

Soon I will be heading back to my full time job teaching middle school P.E. I hope to also be working toward starting to see a few clients as a Certified Personal Trainer.  With all theses transitions happening, it could be easy to get sidetracked in regards to healthy eating.

Lucky for us, we started subscribing to e-diets a few months ago.  E diets is an affordable (we had a Groupon so it only ended up costing about $30.00 for the year) subscription, sending you healthy menus, ingredient lists and recipes.  You can choose from several diet types.  We chose “clean eating” but there are other options, like Paleo, vegetarian and Mediterranian. E diets sends you a PDF menu each week. For each day of the week you receive a recipe for one meal (entree and side) plus a grocery list of items you will need to buy.  We usually make one or two of these meals each week.  Some of them are pretty labor intensive, but some are really easy. I haven’t found one yet that hasn’t been delicious.

If you try e diets, let me know how it goes for you.  It certainly is helping us to make our life transitions.

Online Fitness Coaching: Sugar is the New Fat

There has been a lot of buzz lately about added sugar. It seems to be replacing fat as the bad guy in your food. Why should you be concerned about this? Do you know what happens to your car when you put sugar water in your gas tank? It doesn’t work correctly. The same thing happens when you put too much added sugar into your body.

Your body needs specific nutrients to perform at peak levels. When you eat too much added sugar, it causes a spike in blood sugar levels. This is followed by a crash. When you have a crash your body is telling you, “I’m hungry!” You didn’t feed me the nutrients you need. The sugar is not cutting it!” Your body wants nutrients. If you continue to feed it junk it can’t use, it will signal you to feed it something else. The more junk you eat, the more food your body will want, trying to get the nutrients it craves. See the problem?

How much sugar is too much?

According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day. That’s 100 calories or about 6 teaspoons. Men should have no more than 36 grams. That’s 150 calories or about 9 teaspoons. The good news is that the sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables are good for you and part of a healthy diet. No need to limit those.

Since most Americans eat WAY to much added sugar, here are some tips for reducing the amount you consume:

  • Limit sugary drinks such as soda, tea and juice. Water is the best drink choice.
  • Cut back on sugary breakfast foods. Check the nutrition facts label and remember, if your cereal is changing the color of your milk, it’s probably loaded with sugar.
  • Check ingredients. If sugar or or sugar type ingredients (high fructose corn syrup, honey, etc.) are in the first five, avoid it or at least eat sparingly.

I just finished a 7 day “no added sugar” challenge I am doing with Slimkicker It’s almost impossible to limit your added sugar intake to 0. Sugar is added to everything in our society. I have been able to keep it to about 12/15 grams per day. I did not feel deprived and I loved the added benefit of not feeling hungry all the time. I did have to consciously make different food choices and it does take some effort. Happy to report that a nice flat stomach has made the effort worthwhile!

Here’s a sample of what I ate for one day to give you an idea of how YOU can cut back on the amount of added sugar YOU eat. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Breakfast: Shakeology 7 grams added sugar OR Whole grain sandwich thin with one teaspoon peanut butter 3 grams added sugar

Snack: Snack bag of grapes 0 grams added sugar

Lunch: Grilled pork loin, orange, 10 Tostitos corn chips 0 grams added sugar

Snack: 1/2 Pure Protein Bar 2 grams added sugar

Supper: Spinach dinner salad with grilled chicken strips, walnuts, feta cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. 2 grams of added sugar.

Water to drink for each meal and snack.

Total added sugar for the day: 11 to 15 grams

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Online Fitness Coaching: Featured Blog of the Week

This week’s featured blog is another of my favorite foodie blogs.  Eating Bird Food is a labor of love for Brittany Mullins.  Her story is inspirational because she changed over to a healthy lifestyle as a college student and has continued her healthy ways ever since.  She wants to help others eat well and stay active.

She has great recipes (with colorful photos).  Her latest blog is a review of a restaurant near her home in Richmond, VA.  I like her writing style.  It kind of makes you feel like you are sitting in her living room having a chat. You can also follow her wedding plans in progress along with all the recipes and healthy eating advice.

So check out Eating Bird Food and add it to your favorite foodie blogs!

Online Fitness Coaching: Weekend Proof Your Nutrition Plan

This is my second post in a series of online fitness coaching tips to overcome some of the most common obstacles to regular exercise and healthy nutrition.

Obstacle #2:  “I do great all week. Then I blow my exercise and nutrition plan on the weekends.”

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  We work hard all week long preparing healthy meals, getting our daily workout and staying away from sugary treats.  Now here comes the weekend…family get-togethers, dinner out with friends, a holiday here, a special event there.  Monday morning comes.  We step on the scales while we peek through our hands.  Then we cringe because those two pounds we worked so hard to lose last week are back again…and sometimes they bring a friend or two!  Grrrrr! I’ve collected tips from the blogosphere at sites like Fitness Magazine, Mark’s Daily Apple, and Healthy Affordable Weight Loss.  I have also added a few of my own to help you through the minefield of the weekend.

  1. Stop the all or nothing thinking that surrounds the weekend.  Yes, you overate while you were out with your friends.  That’s no excuse to wave the white flag and binge all weekend.  Get back on track at the next meal.  Get up and move around.  You will feel better and burn off some of that overindulgence.
  2. Set a goal that 4 to 5 of the seven meals you eat from Friday evening to Sunday evening will be made at home with health in mind.  For the other two or three…..
  3. Eat a healthy snack at home before you head out for any “eating outing”.  That includes dinner out, holidays, weddings etc.  If you are not starving when you finally get your food, you will make healthier choices and eat less.  If you end up with big portions, take it home in a doggie bag for later.
  4. Plan ahead.  You can find online menus for almost any restaurant you go to.  Pick out a healthy menu option before you leave.  It can be fun to research the place you are going to eat before you get there.
  5. Be the first to order.  That way you won’t be negatively influenced by someone else’s meal choice.  Plus if you go first, you could positively influence someone else!
  6. Don’t linger at the table after the meal.  Suggest an after dinner walk or activity that doesn’t involve food.   If you don’t have any control over when you leave, order a low cal drink and sip away.
  7. Limit your alcohol consumption.  Alcohol lowers your blood sugar, which triggers eating.  Alcohol contains empty calories.  It also lowers your inhibitions. That will make it harder to say “no” to those tempting snacks and desserts present at your social activities.
  8. Build fun active-ities into your weekend.  Not everything you do should revolve around sitting and eating.  Hubby and I love to ballroom dance, so some weekends center around dance lessons, practices or dances. It’s fun, it’s social and it burns calories.  You may not be a dancer, but find something else you love to do that gets you moving on the weekends.

With these nutrition and exercise tips plus a little practice, those extra pounds and their friends will stop dropping by your house on Monday morning.  Do you have some tips that help you stick to your plan on the weekend?  Comment below!

 

Blog of the Week: Skinny Taste

It’s week number 2 and this week’s featured blog is Skinnytaste.com .  This blog has loads of low fat recipes that can help you keep on track when you are trying to eat healthy.  One feature I like is the Weightwatchers point system that is part of the recipes.  If you are using the points system, you could easily find a variety of dishes you could make.  There is a really easy to use index of recipes on the left side of the home page.  It’s called the recipe box (clever).  Of course there are loads of great pictures.  Gina, the author, is also and accomplished photographer.  You should definitely put Skinnytaste into your blog reader!

Help yourself to Gina’s Bio below:

“Gina Homolka is the author, recipe developer, and photographer of Skinnytaste, which features low fat, family-friendly, healthy recipes. She started Skinnytaste back in 2008 in an attempt to help her stay healthy, experiment with creating skinny recipes, and develop her photography skills to expand her own background as a digital photo retoucher.
On Skinnytaste, you’ll find healthy dishes that don’t sacrifice any of the flavor that can be found in their full-fat origins.  Gina knows all the food she prepares for Skinnytaste is tasty and satisfying, because after all, this is the same food she cooks on a daily basis for her friends and family, and they are some of her toughest critics!
Skinnytaste recipes have been featured on sites such as Glamour.com, Gourmet Live, The Kitchn, Finecooking.com, Fitness Magazine, More Magazine, Country Living, and was the winner of the SHAPE Magazine Best Healthy Eating Blogs 2011, The Homies: Best Home Cooking Blog for 2011 . Gina was born and raised in the suburbs of Long Island, NY.”

from Skinntaste.com “about me”