Note: These free tips are great and may be all you need. If you think you might like some more individualized help to live the healthy lifestyle, fill out this form and I will be in touch to help you get started!
Americans get woefully little fiber in their diets. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, you need to find a way to incorporate healthy fiber into your meals and snacks. No, that doesn’t mean those giant, sugar filled “high fiber” bars. Here’s why you need more and here’s how to get it.
The Benefits of Fiber
Keeps your cholesterol down. Soluble fiber blocks the absorption of cholesterol in to your bloodstream.
Helps maintain a healthy weight. Isn’t it worth adding more to your diet just for this reason alone?
Stabilizes blood sugar levels. Blood sugar level spikes and crashes contribute to fatigue and the “fuzzy headed” feeling. Bleh!
Keeps you regular. Yes let’s talk poop here. Less bouts of diarrhea and constipation. I’m for that
Keeps your bowels and colon healthy. Fiber helps you avoid Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and hemorrhoids. I’m for that too. Who wants either one of those!
Lowers your risk of heart disease (see cholesterol above).
May help prevent certain types of cancer. Breast, colon and prostate cancer have been linked to low fiber diets.
Gives you healthier skin. Fiber helps flush toxins from the body. Let’s all get some glowing skin!
Gives you more energy. Toxins, be gone!
Lowers your stroke risk. Fiber helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels that can lead to stroke.
How much fiber is enough? The national Fiber Council says healthy adults should get 32 grams per day.
Whenever you’ve had a stretch of time where you feel “sugared out”, a great way to get back on track is to plan 3 days of no added sugar in a row. After a 3 day break from added sugar, your body will not crave it (it’s addictive, but that’s a whole other post) and it will be much easier to stay away from excess amounts of it. “What is she talking about?”, you may ask. And what is the difference between added sugar and natural sugar?
Natural sugar is the kind of sugar that occurs naturally in foods, such as the sugar in fruits and veggies or the ones in dairy products. Added sugar is processed sugar the manufacturer adds to packaged and processed foods.
The obvious added sugars are found in sugary treats like donuts, cakes and cookies. But did you know there are added sugars in almost all processed and packaged foods to up their flavor appeal? Here’s a list of foods that include added sugar that you may not be aware of:
Canned or jarred pasta sauce
Ketchup and other similar condiments
Breads (even whole wheat), rolls and other bread based products
Gluten free packaged snacks
Energy drinks (they are chock full of sugar)
Almost all canned food
Sweetened yogurt (this includes fruit on the bottom)
Refined (white) flour and products made with refined flour
So…now you know what to stay away from. What should I eat? How should I plan for the three days?
First, pick three days in a row where eating 0 added sugar would be the easiest. For me, this is three workdays in a row, i.e. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Weekends are out because an unexpected get-together with friends or family can quickly derail all my best laid plans. I also have much more control of what I will eat for lunch because I pack it ahead of time. Can’t eat what I didn’t bring!
Second, throw out or at least make it extra hard to get to any “added sugar” snacks in your home.
Third, get online and search for low sugar or no sugar breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas. You’ll need at least three of each meal idea and nine snack ideas. If you’re a Pinterest person, make yourself a board titled “no sugar meals” and pin your favorites.
Fourth, make a grocery list that includes ingredients for your nine meals and nine snacks you have planned out. Also stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, raw nuts etc. in case you need a little extra something.
Fifth, drink plenty of water during these three days. You should have at least 64 ounces of water each day. My suggestion is to drink ONLY water. Three days is not that long to go without some other type of drink. If you have to have coffee, drink it black and no sweetener in your tea. Okay, Stevia if you have to, but nothing else!
Once you are done with your 3 days with no added sugar, keep track of your grams of sugar on food labels. Men should have no more than 37.5 grams and women should have no more than 25 grams daily. Will you stay under every day? Probably not, but the more days you can hit that goal, the better you will feel!
I usually do a 3 days, no added sugar challenge right after New Years Day. If you would like to join me this year go to my Facebook page, Sue Kauffman Fitness and like the page. I’ll be posting links to resources you can use and we will be supporting each other during the three days.
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Sometimes you have to try to make it healthy with what you have on hand. A few days ago, we were low on groceries so I had to scrape together a meal with what was in the fridge and pantry. Here’s what I came up with.
We had fresh low sodium mozzarella left over from Margarita pizza. We had cherry tomatoes that are always on hand for salads. I had fresh basil growing in my garden.
I used 1/2 cup of fresh mozzarella, 6 cherry tomatoes cut in two and 3 to 4 fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces.
Put the cheese on a plate, put in in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it begins to melt. Lightly press the tomatoes into the cheese and cook for another 10 seconds. Press the basil into the cheese and enjoy!
This is one serving of protein or 2 servings of healthy fat and 1/2 veggie (if you are a 21 day fixer)
Would you like some help to eat right and lose weight? Healthy meal planning templates will help you eat the right foods in the right amounts. Learn more!
I’ve been a health and fitness girl from the time I picked up a hockey stick in 9th grade. My hubby was a high school athlete, but was never into exercise and healthy eating as an adult until a stent at age 40 made it really important (to say the least). For the last 13 years, we have been trying to eat right and exercise regularly. It’s great to have a fitness partner right in my own house!
So when Extend Nutrition asked me to try their protein bars and write a review, it was only natural that Bob and I try them together and tell you what we think. When they came in the mail, I was excited to have a new nutritious snack to try. Extend sent six bars and three different flavors. We were able to each try three different kinds to see which flavor was our favorite. We are always looking for convenient nutrition.
The letter that came with our bars explained that all Extend Nutrition products (they also make drizzles and shakes) are designed to stabilize your blood sugar for six to nine hours. This would “improve performance during physical activity and enhance muscle recovery post-exercise.”
We decided to put those claims to the test! Bob took one along to work to eat before he worked out with his trainer. He wanted to see if it would get him through his workout without running out of steam. I tried one before my most grueling workout. Usually after a day of work and a session of “PiYo Drench”, I am totally spent. I wanted to see if I would feel differently after snacking on an Extend Nutrition Bar instead of my usual snack of peanut butter and raisins.
Bob’s report: “I took an Extend Nutrition Bar along to work and ate it at 10:00 a.m. before my workout. Usually I eat a banana as my pre-workout snack. I ate the cookies and cream flavor. It tasted about the same as some other protein bars I have tasted in the past. I liked the flavor. My trainer put me through a pretty intense workout at 11 a.m. I felt good throughout my workout. I wasn’t hungry again until 1 p.m. When I eat a banana, I usually get hungry again before it’s time for lunch.”
My report: I planned to eat my bar an hour before my “PiYo Drench” workout. I’m a personal trainer and I had a client coming at 4:30 p.m. I was going to eat my bar about 4:20 so it would be totally digested by 5:30 when I would start my workout. My client showed up a little early so I only ate about half of it before she came and had to eat the other half a lot closer to workout time. I ate the Mixed Berry and it turned out to be my favorite flavor. It didn’t have the protein powder taste that some other protein bars I’ve tried have. My workout went well and fatigue wise I felt much better than during a usual Thursday night workout (usually I start out tired and just get more tired). After my workout I didn’t feel as spent as I usually do on a Thursday night either. The only advice I have is make sure you eat your bar an hour before workout. During the “beast mode” series (trust me, it’s intense) I felt a little nauseous. That was my fault for eating and then working out right away.
I also found some other good uses for Extend Nutrition bars. You can eat one after you drop your daughter off at college at suppertime and make it home without starving (after she ditches you to have supper with her new roommates!) They also make a great breakfast before you go somewhere like a meeting or church so your stomach doesn’t growl at inconvenient moments!
You can find Extend Nutrition Bars at Walgreens and CVS. You can also order them from Amazon.com or order directly from http://www.extendbar.com Here’s some nutrition info. that compares Extend Nutrition Bars to other name brands. The best choice looks pretty obvious!
I’m done with my three weeks of 21 Day Portion Fix. I’m now on maintenance. So far, I’ve lost five pounds and my hubby has lost seven. He’s not even really a fixer. He just counts his calories and eats what I cook for him in the evening. So I think we will keep going. Because if it’s not broken, don’t fix it! Yikes, that was a really bad pun.
Here’s a recipe I came up with myself. I love stir fry and this is all “fixed” up to be a healthy meal for two (there I go with the bad puns again, sorry). if you are a fixer, this is worth:
1 red, 1 orange, 1 1/2 green, 1 yellow
You will need:
1. Cut the beef into bite size pieces
2. Stir the soy sauce and coconut oil together in a medium bowl
3. Add the beef to the soy mixture and marinate. I marinated for about 30 minutes.
4. Rinse frozen broccoli in colander with warm water
5. Mix rice and water in microwave safe bowl and cook in microwave according to package directions
6. Stir fry beef on medium high heat until no longer red
7. Add broccoli and stir fry until heated through
8. Add brown rice and stir fry briefly until mixed
9. Season to taste with onion powder and garlic powder and serve
Since becoming a personal trainer, I hear this from many of my clients: “I know what I should do. I know what I should eat. I know that I should exercise regularly but I just don’t do it. I don’t know how to stay motivated.” When it comes right down to it YOU are the only one who can make the choices for a healthier lifestyle. The trick is to take the “willing mind” and turn those thoughts into actions.
First and foremost, if you are eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle you will not be able to change overnight. If you think about it, you probably got to that point gradually (perhaps over a number of years) and you won’t go the other way in a heartbeat.
Pick your one most unhealthy habit. Maybe you drink soda at every meal. Work on changing that habit gradually. Should you pick a “give up soda” day and quit cold turkey? NO! You will probably feel deprived, give up in a few days, beat yourself up for failing and not try it again for months. Instead, pick the meal that you could most easily swap out a soda for a glass of water, and then do it. Don’t change anything else about your diet until you start noticing results from that action. Now, swap another soda for water and repeat. Write down what results you are seeing (more energy, a small loss on the scale, better sleep). Refer to this list if you start to waver.
Add some exercise. If you are a total couch potato, are you going to go to boot camp? Again, NO. Add some light exercise. Fifteen minutes each day is fine. Walking is fine. The important thing is to set that time aside and DO IT. When it starts feeling easier and when you start seeing benefits, add a little bit more.
If you mess up, that’s all it is. The next day you get a clean slate and you get back to business. It is not time to give up and go back to the “old you”.
Get someone else to hold you accountable. Tell them what your goal is and ask them to check in with you at regular intervals. It’s a lot harder to blow off your workout and eat six donuts if you know you will have to tell your accountability buddy it happened.
Try something new. It’s always fun to try something different and it can keep you motivated. Find a cookbook full of healthy recipes. Cooking Light’s Complete Meals in Minutes is a great place to start. Ever tried Yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, kayaking or circuit training? The list could go on and on. Sign up for a class or find a good DVD. Just remember to build up to this kind of exercise (see #2)
Make it social. Share your experiences (both successes and setbacks) with others. Find a workout partner, post about your journey on Facebook or on your blog, start or join a support group, take some healthy meal prep lessons. There’s nothing better than getting healthier except making new friends while you get there.
Challenge yourself. You may not think you will be able to ever do a push-up from your toes or run a whole mile, but if you take it one step at a time you CAN! When I did 90 days of P90X the thing that motivated me the most was seeing my ever increasing number of repetitions on my chart as the days went on. Check out challengeloop.com to find a challenge that will keep you going!
Research shows that if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. If you trade that ONE soda for a glass of water and continue for 30 days, you will soon wonder why you ever wanted a soda. Before you know it, you won’t want any other beverage but water and all that soda and extra calories will be a distant memory.
Now I will challenge you! Post the one unhealthy habit you would like to change here. What is your plan is to change it? Tell me. Putting your goal and your plan in writing makes it real and that’s motivating too!
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
This week’s post was going to be a review of my new Fitbit Flex, but something else has has become a priority in my brain these days. I am officially a member of the sandwich generation. You know, we’re the ones who have been taking care of children and now need to take care of aging parents as well. Over the last five years, my mother-in-law has been facing declining health. It’s been due largely to osteoporosis. She has fallen three times in the last five years. In those falls, she has broken each humerus and her pelvis (twice).
Right now she is in a nursing home working hard to get better so she can come home from her latest fall. Her days are filled with physical therapy, doctor’s appointments and pain.
According to the National Osteoporosis foundation, 60% of adults age 50 and over are at risk of breaking a bone due to osteoporosis. Preventing this quality of life robbing disease includes eating foods (or taking supplements) that contain Calcium and Vitamin D as well as Magnesium, Potassium, and vitamins C and K.
Exercise is REALLY important too. You need three types to keep your bones working like they should. You need weight bearing exercises, strength training, and balance, posture and functional exercises.
Weight bearing exercises are what we usually think of as aerobic exercise. Running, dancing, hiking and tennis are just a few examples. Strength training is exercise performed with resistance. Body weight exercises, free weights, weight machines, resistance bands all are used to strength train. Balance and posture exercises will help with preventing falls. Functional exercises are designed to mimic movements you need for activities of daily living. Having more strength, stamina and balance during ADL will prevent falls that lead to broken bones.
People (especially women), the time to make these adjustments to your lifestyle is NOW. Don’t wait. Many times the first symptom of osteoporosis is a broken bone. By then, it may be too late to keep this disease from stealing your quality of life.
Are you like Jared? Did you go on an all Subway diet and lose a ton of weight? Are you like the biggest loser contestants who spend weeks at “the ranch” with nasty personal trainers, medical supervision and all day exercise? Maybe you have special food delivered to your door every day that is perfectly balanced in calories for scientific weight loss. No? Didn’t think so.. not me either.
I’m not even like the Beachbody success stories who pick a workout program and 90 days later have gone from fat and flabby to ripped. Throughout my adult life, I have been about the same size (give or take 10 to 15 pounds). At certain times in my life, I find myself needing to lose a few pounds. I’m guessing maybe there are more people like me out there. I am never going to win one of those contests or be on TV because I have always tried to eat healthy, exercise and live a balanced life.
If you are one of those people (or would like to be one), I’ll share what I do to maintain my weight and lose it when I need to. My rule of thumb is “take care of little problems before they become big problems.”
1. Weigh yourself frequently. You don’t have to be obsessive about it. Pick one day each week and weigh yourself. Have a ten pound window, five pounds below and five pounds above your ideal weight. If your weight is outside the window on either end, it’s time for you to get to work..
2. I use Lose It to keep track of calories and exercise. I try to keep calories in and calories out balanced. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle.
3. I eat three meals a day and two or three snacks a day. I eat very little bread, pasta, or wheat based foods. I mainly eat lean meats along with fresh or frozen fruits and veggies. I’m not a fanatic about “no wheat” or “no grain” in my diet, but I try to keep it to a minimum.
4. You will hardly ever find me in McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King or Starbucks. You will seldom find me in the middle isles of the grocery store. Processed foods are not really foods to me. They are full of all the things you should avoid. You won’t find me buying lunch in the cafeteria of the school where I teach, but that’s another story…
5. I almost always drink water. I have a water bottle with me at work each day and I carry one to my workouts. I will drink ice tea or hot tea. I can’t remember the last time I had a soda. If I want one (or a piece of cake, or a cookie etc., etc.) I will have it, but it’s a treat, not an everyday habit.
6. I work out at least six days a week. Two or three days of weight training and two or three days of cardio. On these days, I get my heart rate up and work up a good sweat. The other days are lighter workouts or “recreational” workouts. These are things like yoga or stretching, a walk or a hike in the woods, a bike ride or ballroom dancing. This is a habit and a regular part of every day. If I am not feeling well, injured, or I am too busy to work out, I skip it, but it’s not ever an excuse to quit. I just pick it up where I left off the next day.
7. I try to get a good night’s sleep every night. I don’t always get the seven hours my body needs per night, but I try. On weeknights I head to bed a 10:30 p.m. On the weekends I try to be there by 11:30 p.m.
8. I try to meditate at least once a week, read books of a religious or spiritual nature and try to stay centered mentally and spiritually. I also try to balance work, workouts and fun time with family and friends. If one area gets out of balance, it can throw the other areas out of balance as well.
9. I am lucky that I don’t have to take any kinds of medications. Because of this, I focus my energies on preventative medicine. I eat good, nutritious food, I exercise regularly, I stay strong mentally, spiritually and socially, I see my chiropractor every four weeks and I get bloodwork, mammograms, colonoscopies and other preventative screenings. Hopefully, I won’t have to start any long term medicines anytime soon!
There is no magic pill, there is no perfect diet or workout that brings you instant weight loss or instant health. It’s small lifestyle changes added together and continued over time that will bring fitness that will last a lifetime.
Want to get started? Try at least one of the nine steps above, just one, over at least a four week period and see what happens. Reply here and let me know how it goes!
The biggest hurdle for most people when trying to stay on the healthy nutrition and exercise path is to stay motivated. Having a group of friends to keep each other accountable is a great idea. It’s even easier to do now that we can stay connected via e-mail, facebook etc. Here’s ten ideas to challenge the people in your accountability group.
1. Seven day water challenge: For 7 days, drink your height in water. I’m 64 inches tall so I would drink 64 oz. of water each day.
2. Seven day low sugar challenge: Women should limit added sugar to 24 grams per day. Men should limit added sugar to 36 grams per day. Check the nutrition facts label for sugar. It you are eating fresh fruits and veggies, those are natural sugar. You don’t have to count it! Yay.
3. Thirty day points challenge: Use a 1 pt. multiplier for light exercise, 1.5 pt. multiplier for moderate exercise and a 2 pt multiplier for intense exercise. Multiply the time you exercise by the intensity multiplier. Keep track of your points each day. The person with the most points at the end of 30 days is the winner. You can compete individually or in teams of varying sizes.
4. Virtual Race: Use the same multiplier as in #3 above. One point equals one mile. Plan a race from one point on the map to another. First person or team to the designated finish line is the winner. You could race to a favorite location. My group raced to Key West, Florida! It got me motivated to plan a real trip there for this January.
5. Where in the world?: This is a cute one for the summer when everyone is traveling. Make a logo or mascot for your group that can easily be packed in a suitcase. Whenever a group member takes part in an active event while they are out of town, they take a photo and share it with the group. Add a description of what the activity was.
6. Share one healthy recipe each week: Challenge members to submit a healthy recipe they have tried. The group can vote for their favorite. You could even plan an event where everyone brings a healthy dish with recipes to distribute to group members.
7. Enter an event together: Try a 5K, a Warrior Dash, or a bike ride for charity. If you don’t all live in the same place, you can enter where you live, compare notes and post pictures for each other using e-mail, facebook, twitter etc.
8. Pick an exercise (sit-up, push-up, burpees, miles run/walked etc). Keep track of the number of these exercises you do for seven days. Person or team who does the most is the lucky winner!
9. Thirty day weight loss percentage challenge. Keep track of the amount of weight you lose for thirty days. The person who loses the highest percentage of his/her body weight is the winner.
10. Seven day NO (pick two junk foods, like soda and chips) challenge. Group members check in each day to talk about how they are doing and the benefits they are experiencing.
Fitness challenges can keep your group motivated to reach ultimate goals of losing weight, gaining strength and getting healthy. Do you have any fitness challenges you have had success with? Please share them. I am always looking for new ideas.