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

The featured blog for the first week in April is Carrots N Cake.  Tina writes this blog from her home in Boston, Massachussets.  She originally started it as a personal journal to keep her focused on healthy eating and exercise.  The blog caught on and has a large readership.  She also recently secured a book deal based on her blog.  What I like abou this one is the variety of fitness and food info. you can find on here.  It’s vast!

She’s got weekly meal plans, weekly workout plans, a half marathon training guide and treadmill workouts.  She has 30, count ’em, 30 different blog categories.  The cool thing about them is they are health and fitness based, but there’s more that gives you a peek into Tina’s very busy life.  You can check out “Boston” where you get a glimpse into the excitement of Boston Marathon day and what it’s like at “Local 149” a downtown eatery where Tina and her husband head for date night. Click on “Home” and you can follow along while Tina updates her home office.

This is a blog to go back to again and again, because you will always find something new to motivate you in your fitness journey.  Check out Carrots N Cake and tell me what you think.

Online Fitness Coaching: Tackling Food Pushers

This is the third post in my online fitness coaching series to help you overcome common obstacles to regular exercise and good nutrition.

Obstacle #3  “When I go to functions with family some people push me to eat more than I know is good for me.”

We all have a food pusher on our family tree or in our circle of friends.  It goes something like this:

Food Pusher “(Insert your name here), what else can I give you to eat?”

You “Nothing, (insert food pusher’s name here), I’m full.

Food Pusher  “Oh, you can’t be full yet.  Don’t you want more mashed potatoes?”

You “No thank you, I’m good.”

Food Pusher “How about some more roast beef?  You don’t want me to have to throw all this good food out do you?”

You “Really, it was great, but I can’t eat another bite.”

Food Pusher “Well, make sure you save room for a BIG piece of cake later.  It’s your favorite and I made it especially for you!”

You (Sighs)

Food Pushers usually mean well.  Food equals love to them.  The more food they cook for you= the more love they have for you.  The more food you eat= the more love you have for them.  I’m sure you are spotting the problem here.  Here are nine tips to help you navigate this minefield of food and emotional connections.

  1. Be honest about your weight loss efforts.  Tell your family or friends that you have decided to really watch the amount and kinds of food you are eating.  You can tell them it’s doctor’s orders if that takes the pressure off you.  Then ask them to help you by respecting your refusals on seconds and desserts.
  2. Eat slowly and enjoy your meal.  While you do that, the food pusher has offered everyone else firsts AND seconds.  By the time you finish it will be clean up time and the pressure to eat more will be lessened.
  3. Eat smaller portions of your regular meal.  Take a little bit of everything.  During the chaos of the big food dishout, the food pusher won’t notice.  Then take a small portion of dessert.  If Food Pusher asks why say,” I’m so full from that wonderful dinner!”
  4. Use stealthy stall tactics.  When asked to take seconds or dessert, again exclaim that you are really full from the wonderful dinner and you would like to wait till later.  Later may never come and Food Pusher may never notice.  He/she may have moved on to someone else by then.

Some food pushers are of the “misery loves company” persuasion.  They feel better about overeating if you are overeating with them.  These folks are often more persistent in their offers.  Here’s some tips for them.

  1. If you are asked repeatedly to take seconds say, “I couldn’t possibly eat another bite right now.  If you are offering doggie bags, I would love to take some home.”
  2. Just offer a polite, “no thank you” without an explanation.  Sometimes these can be shot down easily by the food pusher and that could leave you scrambling and eventually giving in.
  3. Apply the broken record technique.  Apply the tip above as many times as necessary.
  4. Bait and Switch:  Answer repeated offers for seconds or desserts with a question about the kids, the grandkids or an upcoming trip that’s planned. Be very interested in the response.  Your attention= love too!
  5. Bring a healthy side dish or dessert to share with everyone else. Combat unhealthy food pushing with healthy food.  It may turn out to be the most popular dish at the event!

Have you had to deal with a food pusher?  What were you faced with and how did you handle it?  Comment below.  Your advice could help someone else in their exercise fitness and nutrition journey.

 

Online Fitness Coaching: A Sample Clean Eating Day

In my last post I outlined 10 online fitness coaching tips to get you back on track after the holidays. Here’s an example day of clean eating to give you some ideas on how to apply some of those tips.  I didn’t go hungry!

Breakfast: Shakeology made with 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 1 tsp. mint extract, 1 c ice

36 0z. of water

Morning snack 1/3 cup of raisins.

Lunch: Roasted potatoes with broccoli, carrots and beef broth

18 oz of water

Afternoon snack: One large orange. Oooh it was good!

4 0z. of baked haddock with dill and lemon juice, steamed broccoli and frozen carrots

10 oz. of water

Evening snack: Pure protein bar. 20 grams of protein.

Hope this jumpstarts your clean eating after the holidays!

Nutrition for Stress and Anxiety

We all deal with stress in our lives and we all experience anxiety from time to time.  Did you ever stop and think about good nutrition for stress and anxiety?  Believe it or not, it does make a difference. Your mind and body are intricately connected.  What you consume can make a difference in your stress and anxiety level.

 When I started my first teaching job, I was super busy.  I stopped eating well and started reaching for what was handy (usually junk).  It didn’t take long for me to begin to feel stressed and anxious.  My self confidence plummeted and I didn’t know why.  As I look back now, poor nutrition was a big part of the problem

According to Rosehaven Cottage Kitchens, complex carbohydrates (like you find in whole wheat bread) will produce seratonin during the digestive process.  Those are the feel-good chemicals your brain uses to communicate.  Seratonin tells your brain to feel happy.  If your brain lacks it..not as happy.

Other nutrients your body needs to make you less anxious and stressed are things like vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid and vitamin D.  Highly processed “junk” foods lack these nutrients.

Eating foods high in these nutrients will help to lower your stress and anxiety level.  A nutritional supplement like Shakeology also contains complex carbs and most of the above vitamins and minerals you need to lower your stress and anxiety levels.

So the next time you are feeling stressed and anxious, think about what you have been putting into your body and make some positive changes!

My Plate.gov is Full

My pyramid is gone and Michele Obama has ushered in my plate. It’s a simpler way to keep track of of your nutrition at each meal. It’s still color coded and it still says basically the same thing. It’s just repackaged. I think this version will be a lot easier to use and the visual may help with America’s portion distortion. When I took a look at it (myplate.gov) it seamed like all the blocks were pretty much the same size. The vegetable and grain plate wedges were a little larger than the protein and fruit plate wedges. The dairy is smaller and in the shape of a glass to the side of the plate. Note that half of your meal should be made up of fruits and vegetables.  Fats, oils and sweets are not part of the plate.  This means they should be used sparingly. Vegetables loaded up with butter and sauces are missing the point.  So are fruits covered in sugar and syrup.  Half of grains should be whole grains.  The white stuff alone won’t cut it.  Filling half your plate with french fried and ketchup and calling it veggies, well, you’re just fooling yourself.

The moral of the story is use the plate as a reference along with your common sense and it should help you to eat a more nutritios, more balanced meal.  Now who is going to make a million dollars manufacturing kid’s “My Plates” to sell to the public??

Fast Food and Fitness

My daughter had an interview at a fast food restaurant. The interviewer pointed out the store manager and regional manager during the process. Both were (if I were guessing) obese. I wondered if the company attracted overweight employees, or if employees became overweight while they worked for the company. The perverbial chicken (nugget) or the egg (breakfast sandwich). It started me thinking that these fast food establishments are missing a golden opportunity. Why not offer employees and managers a wellness/fitness program through the company? There would be numerous benefits, but the one that comes to my mind first is that it would be awesome advertising. What if you walked into your local fast food place and all the people behind the counter were fit and healthy looking? Wouldn’t that make you less afraid to eat more of the product? What if they could point you to the healthiest food choices because they were making those choices themselves? Maybe the big fast food restaurants should start thinking seriously about some quality wellness programs for their workers. It would be great advertising.

Healthy Recipe: Steak Salad

 

My family loves this steak salad in the summertime. It’s cool on a hot day and tastes delicious!

Ingredients:

Sirloin steak (about 3 ounces per person)

One bag of Dole hearts of romaine lettuce

One bag of Dole spring mix

One box cherry tomatoes

One container of feta cheese

Your favorite low fat or low calorie dressing. I like Kraft Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette

Directions:

Cook steak on grill to your desired doneness.  Cut into bitesize pieces and cover with foil. Toss lettuce, halve the cherry tomatoes and add to lettuce.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and toss.  Add the steak and toss again.  Dress with your favorite dressing.  Serves four.

Childhood Obesity

I am a teacher and it is contract time.  Lately it’s been stressful.  The federal government is not required to balance its budget and has accumulated an enourmous deficit.  State governments and local school districts are required to balance budgets. States are tightening their belts and education is on the chopping block this year.

Last week our school district voted to cut all specials from the elementary school in order to lessen an 8 million dollar budget deficit.  “Specials” include Art, Music and Physical Education.

Art and Music are bad enough, but Physical Education in an era when childhood obesity is a problem we hear about almost daily in the news?  When the percentage of overweight adults stands at 65% and the obesity rate for children stands at 25%?  When study after study shows that students who participate PE on a regular basis score higher on the standardized tests that the federal government requires for No Child Left Behind?  Really?

It’s hard enough  to beat back the media messages of junk food and sedentary entertainment.  If we don’t have the 30 minutes, twice a week to counteract those messages, how will we ever ingrain the love of a healthy lifestyle into our younger generation?

That’s why this website has become even more important to me than ever before.  This is where I will continue to get the message of exercise, fitness and nutrition to you through great information and exercise and nutrition programs that I believe in.  YOU can make a healthy lifestyle a priority for you and your family even if the government does not.

What are your thoughts on cuts to physical education in public schools around the country?

Healthy Breakfast Foods. Eat Them!

Are you one of those people who skips breakfast?  Do you tell yourself it will help you lose weight?  Do you tell yourself you just don’t have time? Well, stop it already! You are doing the nutritional equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I’m sure you have heard that before, but maybe you just aren’t listening.  Your body has had no food (and no nutrients) all night.  You need to “break your fast” in the morning.  If you don’t, you are running on an empty tank.  Your blood sugar will be low, your brain won’t function properly and you will be mentally sluggish.

Now here comes midmorning and you are starving!  You will eat anything to cut the growling in your belly and you usually do.  That donut someone left in the staffroom, those Famous Amos Cookies in the vending machine or that high calorie breakfast burrito you ordered when someone ran around the corner to get coffee.  Now you have filled up on empty sugar and simple carbohydrate calories.  This fills your belly, but these are nutrient poor  foods.  Your body is still hungry because you didn’t feed it the fuel it needs.  You only gave it empty calories.  Gain you spell WEIGHT GAIN??

Here’s a better idea.  Eat a breakfast that includes complex carbs and protein.  This will give your body what it needs to power you through the morning.  You won’t be starving by 10 a.m.  If you are a little hungry, try some high protein light snacks like nuts or cheese to get you through until lunch.  You will now have the energy and mental clarity to work productively through your day.

Short on time?  Prepare a nutritious breakfast a night ahead.  Have the whole wheat toast and the peanut butter laid out on the counter.  Hard boil an egg you can eat with your whole grain cereal and skim milk.  That’s not going to add big blocks of time to your morning and think of the nutrition and health benefits.  If you want something quick and easy to fix that has lots of nutrients you need for you crazy day, check out Shakeology.  I drink this stuff every day and it only costs about $4.00 per meal.