Tag Archives: healthy habits

Ninja Niblets: January 19, 2012

19 Jan

A few quick niblets and tidbits to get you going this week.

Awesome Workout Songs To Add To Your Playlist

What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger) by Kelly Clarkson – I’m seriously obsessed with this one, it is so motivational and really gets me pumped!

International Love by Pitbull

Good Feeling by Flo Rida featuring Sia

Super Bass by Nicki Minaj

Mr. Know It All by Kelly Clarkson

Fitness Magazine: Calorie Cheat Sheet

Do you really know how many calories you’re eating? Or what you think is only 100 calories is probably much more than that. This quick cheat sheet from Fitness Magazine divides up some popular foods into categories of 100, 250 and 400 calories. You’d be surprised at how quickly things add up.

Shape Magazine: 8 Reasons to Lift Heavier Weights

Lifting weights is an essential part of working out and just as beneficial and sometimes more so than cardio work. Women especially veer away from weights thinking they’re going to bulk up and look like a guy. Not so. Our muscles can only get so big since we don’t have testosterone, so don’t worry about looking like the hulk. Instead, weightlifting will give more benefit to your cardio workout. If you have good, strong muscles, you will burn up to 100 calories more in the next 24 hours after a cardio workout. It also helps prevent injury and osteoporosis. Grab a dumbbell and get curling!

Fitsugar: Motivational Quotes

Feeling the blahs today? Don’t feel like getting your workout in? Try flipping through this photo gallery of motivational quotes. I bet by the end, you’ll be out the door running to your kickboxing class!



Here I Go Again…

16 Jan

I apologize for not posting the last several days, but I was on vacation. To celebrate my mom’s upcoming 60th birthday, we took a family trip to San Francisco, a city I had never previously visited. I really loved the city on the bay, it was gorgeous. What surprised me though was how many runners were around. I’m in good shape and live at high altitude, but the San Francisco hills were killing me just walking around. Yet, I probably saw about 100 runners throughout the weekend including around 60 on Saturday alone in groups.

Normally when I go on vacation, I take my workout stuff with me, but since this was a short trip and I was trying to conserve precious luggage space, I chose not to. One of the pluses and minuses to going on vacation is eating out a lot as well. I love to try new cuisines and restaurants, but now that I eat fairly healthy most of the time, it was draining. By Saturday morning, I was done eating food and wanted to run. I longed to join the runners I saw out on the Pier 39 boardwalk. I was so incredibly jealous that they were running, and I was walking to breakfast! Wow, just a few years ago, I would have had the thought “those people are crazy, thank goodness I get pancakes soon.”

We got back later yesterday, so this morning I woke up to go for a run. I told myself if I could do 10 miles then I was going to sign up for the Colorado Springs Super Half Marathon on February 5th. I haven’t run over 4 miles since the marathon in October with one six-mile exception two weeks after the race. I’ve been so busy and the holidays were crazy, I stuck to 3 – 4 mile runs on the weekend.

Well, it felt awesome to run today. I was so grateful to be out on a windy, but otherwise lovely day. I didn’t look at my Garmin or care what time I was clocking. I just wanted to run and run and run. The last 1.5 miles were a challenge. My body was a bit angry. First I put it through several miles of walking San Francisco’s hills, but then I took it out for 10 miles after a 3 month rest. But I manage to plod through and finish my 10 miles.

I’m sore and tired from being out of practice, but I feel great. I am definitely signing up for the race. I’m not looking to PR and most likely won’t, but I am looking forward to getting back into long distance racing. I love that high and that feeling once it’s done. It is truly glorious.

So just a few years ago I would have jumped at the chance to go out to a restaurant. Instead, I’m dying to run 13.1 miles. Half marathon in 3 weeks? Bring it!

5 Changes to Make This Week

3 Jan

Three days into the new year, thousands are off and running with their new years resolutions to lose weight and get fit. Right about now, they are flocking into gyms across the country with brand new workout clothes, a huge cup of coffee and a breakfast of oat bran and other foreign foods inside them. Today’s goal is probably something extremely unrealistic like run 10 miles in 30 minutes. That seems to be the trend with resolutions involving weight loss and fitness: extreme and unrealistic.

Instead, I suggest we do some small changes this week. In my previous post I offered ideas on how to change your life slowly and make realistic goals in order to keep that resolution and make it a success. So let’s take 5 steps this week to change your life. It may not be dramatic, but it will add up over the upcoming weeks. More importantly, at the end of January, you’ll still be practicing these small changes while the other people’s new gym clothes stay wadded up at the bottom of their closets.

1. Add Greek yogurt and one piece of fruit to your diet every day. Whether you incorporate yogurt with blueberries for a breakfast treat or a snack, or have an apple when the afternoon lull hits, try adding these two things to your day. Apples have a lot of fiber that will help keep you full and the sugar will give you a boost when you get tired. Greek yogurt is full of protein and healthy bacteria to keep you full longer and keep your tummy happy.

2. Add some extra steps to your day. Everyday you go somewhere this week, park in the furthest spot in the parking lot. At the office, grocery store or out running errands, you can add some extra steps to your day by parking further. It gets you in the habit of walking more. Try and incorporate a 20 minute walk three times this week. Use your lunch hour or duck out after dinner to get it in.

3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They aren’t lying. If you eat breakfast within 30 minutes of getting up, it jumps starts your metabolism for the day. Eat something in the morning. If you’re not used to eating in the morning, it will be hard to start this habit. I used to never eat breakfast and the thought of food made me sick in the morning. Start with something small like a piece of toast with some peanut butter or the cup of yogurt with fruit I previously mentioned. Those things are healthy, gentle on your stomach and will keep you full.

4. Make one healthy substitution with your food. Switch out one thing that you eat that is unhealthy for a healthy item. Just one thing, you don’t have to clean out the whole pantry, start small. A recipe calls for sour cream, try Greek yogurt instead. You chow down on potato chips, try using almonds or low sodium peanuts instead. These small substitutions don’t affect the flavors of your food, but save a lot in calories and fat.

5. Cut one junk food portion by one fourth. If you eat ice cream every night or eat a bag of chips every day, try cutting the portion by one fourth. Measure it out ahead of time so you’re not tempted. One fourth won’t freak you out into thinking you’re deprived, but it gets you in the habit of starting to cut back on portions. It’s gradual so you won’t feel it, but it can really add up over the course of a week.

Try these 5 small steps. I guarantee you’re not going to be in any “pain” this week from food deprivation, but it really will start to make a difference. If you want to change your life, start with small changes.

How to Avoid the Dreaded Holiday Weight Gain

4 Dec

The holidays—one of my absolute favorite times of year. I love everything about the time period of Thanksgiving through Christmas. I fully embrace the Clark Griswold style of decorations—more is better. I love the parties, the radio station that plays nothing but Christmas music 24/7, the awesome movies and I even love the horribly, ugly holiday sweaters. But, one of the things I most love about the holidays is the food.

This is the time of year when everyone lets their diets and healthy habits (if they had them to begin with) go to hell and load up on homemade cookies, fruit cakes, prime rib, turkey and egg nog. Then the rush begins January 1 to undo all the damage of the past two months.

The key is not go insane over the holidays to begin with. It’s a lot easier to enjoy a few select treats and not gain any weight than it is to take off a two month binge. For every pound you put on, you can expect it’s going to take you 1 – 2 weeks to lose it depending on your metabolic rate. So if you put on 5 pounds, you  may need 5 – 10 weeks to take it off. Is it really worth it?

So I propose a few simple steps to enjoying the holidays and not feeling deprived, but also start and end the holiday season in the same jean size.

1. Be choosy and know that less is more. By all means enjoy the goodies that are flowing during December. Whether it’s mom’s homemade cookies or baskets of yumminess in your company’s break room, enjoy it. However, be selective. What are your absolute favorite treats of the holidays? Narrow it down to your top 3. Avoid everything else that isn’t in your top 3 so you’re not wasting precious “splurge calories” on stuff that’s not worth it. Then look at your top 3 and decide how much you typically eat of it. Cut it down to half or a third if you can. For example, my top 3 are egg nog ice cream, my mom’s red velvet cake and my mom’s cookies. If I really want to, I can eat a dozen of her cookies in one sitting. No problem. Instead last night I picked 4 cookies and munched on them slowly during a movie. Granted I still probably put away 300 – 400 calories, but it’s better than 1500. It’s a start.

2. Exercise. This is a great time of year to hit the gym. For one thing, they are typically not crowded. Most people are so busy during the holidays, they tend to skip their workouts. You can get a head start  on a great exercise program before the gym gets to over flowing capacity with the New Year’s Resolution crowd that hits on January 1. Try to get 3 solid workouts in a week. If you can do more, definitely go for it. Also, on the days of the “big meals,” i.e. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, at the very least go for a walk. Get 30 minutes of cardio in on those days. It will help a lot. Many towns have 5Ks and/or family walks on Christmas morning. They typically benefit the hungry or other charities. It’s a great cause, it helps avoid excess weight and best of all, you’re done in less than an hour.

3. Avoid the process. Processed food that is. The holidays are full of processed foods from cheese logs, overly preserved sausages, dips, candies, etc. When you’re cooking for yourself, still make your family favorites, but try some substitutions in the ingredient list that will help cut down on the processed foods. They are loaded with tons of extra sodium and chemicals that don’t help your waistline. Don’t use the Cheez Whiz, instead use real cheese. Yes, it’s still high in fat and calories, but it is a natural product without a lot of harmful extras. Buy products that are labeled lower in sodium. Check labels though when it’s label lower fat as a lot of times that means extra salt and sugar.

4. Have a splurge day. Not a week or a month. It’s what you do everyday that matters, not what you do once in a while. If Christmas dinner is your family’s big meal, then splurge that day and don’t feel guilty. Get a walk or other exercise in and chow down. If you’ve been “good” all month long and have avoided weight gain, chances are you’re going to be okay if you overdo it one day. You may be up a pound or two, but typically that’s salt that goes away. But even if it is permanent, one pound is easy to get rid of, not 5 or 6. Enjoy that one day. Eat the second helping of prime rib and have an extra cookie. But if you’ve been splurging all month long, it’s not good to add to the pile. Consider Christmas Day your big reward for being cautious during the whole month.

I honestly haven’t gained weight over the holidays since I started losing weight and changed my lifestyle. I follow my own advice and pick my favorites to indulge all the while maintaining my exercise program. I splurge on the big day but keep it healthy otherwise aside from an occasional cookie here and there. So when I show up at the gym on January 1, it’s because that’s a normal workout day for me, not a start to undo damage.

Enjoy this wonderful time of year, but practice a little restraint. Your favorite jeans will thank you for it!

3 Squares a Day? Not So Much.

23 Nov

USA Today: Eat What I Want When I Want Trend

I read a very disturbing article in USA Today (linked above) the other day about America’s eating habits. It was only a few weeks ago that I read that if we keep going at our current rate, nearly 50% of America will be obese by 2030. I was having a hard time believing it. Then I read about our snacking culture in USA Today and completely understand why that will be true.

When I started to lose weight, one of the hardest habits I had to break was snacking. I kept munchies in my desk and nibbled all day. It took a few months, but I finally weaned myself off of snacking and got on a healthy track of eating 3 meals a day and an occasional snack if I were super hungry.

The article I read was entirely about how America doesn’t eat 3 meals a day anymore. We snack all day and eat weird food at weird times. The meals that are eaten really aren’t meals, but snacks like popcorn chicken or Special K bars. At McDonald’s, 20% of the cookies and apple pies are sold at breakfast because people use them to snack on. It’s considered completely normal now to skip meals and just eat random (mostly fast food) snacks and junk food all day.

According to the article, only 5% of all consumers eat three square meals a day. I was flabbergasted at this statistic. Do people really eat granola bars, yogurt cups, cookies, and popcorn chicken all day? Apparently so. All marketers for the major fast food corporations are now pushing towards new quick snack products that can be eaten in cars. McDonald’s is going to release McBites next year which is their version of popcorn chicken. IHOP is selling a Cup O’ Pancakes which is pancake batter baked in a paper cup and drizzled with toppings.

As I read this article, I became more and more horrified. This is what we’re eating? Portable food molded into cups for our cars that is so unbelievably processed you wonder what chemistry experiment you’re truly eating. Yes, I now have no problem believing that half of America will be obese by 2030. Even when I was overweight and I snacked, I still ate two normal meals a day. I tended to skip breakfast or make a Diet Pepsi and the occasional gas station donut breakfast, but I ate a normal lunch and normal dinner.

If they are going to market these snacks, the least they could do is find healthier options than pancakes in a cup or fried chicken. America is in deep trouble and this article made me realize it’s only going to get worse. There are a ton of simple, easy recipes out there that use fresh ingredients and make for great leftovers. Start using your stove top instead of your cup holder. Make your snacks pieces of fruit and nuts to give you energy throughout the day. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, but don’t forget lunch and dinner.

Half of America Obese by 2030?

18 Oct

ABC News: Half of America Obese By 2030?

I read the above article tonight on ABC News and was shocked to find that if we keep going at our current rate, 50% of America will be obese by the year 2030. That’s not just overweight or carrying around some extra pounds, that is obese. According to the article, this will end up costing Americans $66 billion a year in health costs.

I don’t know why, but this shocks me. I cannot believe that our obesity rate is this bad. I don’t know why I can’t believe it given our society. Everywhere I look food is processed, frozen or bought from a take-out chain. A large majority of people I know or am acquainted with don’t exercise regularly. I guess it isn’t that shocking when I really start to look around me and our country, but still, to comprehend that one out of every 2 people will be obese by 2030 is crazy. My family of 3 are all slender. My dad and I work out regularly and watch what we eat. My mother is just one of those lucky folks with sky high metabolism. Yet, according to the statistic, one of my family could be obese in 20 years.

This country needs drastic, severe help to stop this. We’re already in deep economical trouble and our healthcare system is a mess, if we had another $66 billion in healthcare costs every year, we’ll really be in trouble. We’re one of the wealthiest nations in the world and yet our health seems to be among the poorest, even including some third world countries.

Michelle Obama has initiated programs to improve school lunches and her “Let’s Move” exercise campaign, but we need a massive overhaul to fix this situation. Left and right, more and more fast food restaurants are opening up in my town, despite the economy. Yet, in reality, junk food is actually fairly expensive. It’s just faster than cooking your own food. But if people could realize that they could save money by not eating out so much, then maybe they’d be willing to sacrifice some extra time. A thirty minute walk 3 times a week makes a huge difference for a person’s health, yet millions of people claim they have no time to do it. In a week of 168 hours, you really can’t spare 1.5 hours to improve your health?

America has been a leader in so many things around the world both now and in history. We need to be a leader again, in good health, not in obesity. Change your future and start making small changes today. Lao Tzu said, “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” Pack a bag of carrot sticks and head out on a 30 minute walk. Repeat three times a week. That’s making a small change that will deliver a big impact.

Ready for an Overweight President?

30 Sep

Will America Vote for An Overweight President?

Yesterday I saw an article on ABC News about New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s possible run for president in 2012. The article was wondering if America would vote for an overweight man to become president and based on the article’s preliminary information, it sounded like no. Although I was appalled, I guess I can say that I really wasn’t that shocked. Or was I?

The world of politics has gotten more and more corrupt over the years and in the world of 24 hour news, nothing is a secret. Sex scandals, prejudice, faux-pas are all the norm now in politics. Yet those things are overlooked and accepted. Sure Clinton got into some trouble with the ladies and was impeached, but face it, he was an extremely popular president and considered very, very successful. Bush faced controversy by getting us into the Iraq war and the mess that led to, yet he was reelected.

To me, those seem like pretty big issues, but yet the thing America will hold against a potential candidate is their weight. Is it right that someone who could potentially be a fantastic leader of this nation (I know nothing about him or his political views so please take this theoretically) be held back from the position just because he weighs a lot? Are we really that shallow?

The article argues that Americans want a healthy president in office due to the fact it is such a high stress job and being in good health is key to handle it. Yet, one in three Americans is obese and the rate is expected to climb over the years. So isn’t that a little the pot calling the kettle black?

Entertainer Kelly Osbourne said she received far more flack in the press for her weight than she ever did for her numerous trips to rehab to battle drug and alcohol addiction. The first things tabloids point out once a star has had a baby is how fast they are back to their regular body and have lost the baby weight.

For a country with an obesity epidemic as high as ours, we sure are hypocritical to our leaders, entertainers and other public figures in expect rail thin, health freaks when we as a nation can’t seem to accomplish it.

I personally think that when choosing a president, I care more about his views on different global and national issues and whether or not he can help our country over his weight. I do agree that the president should be healthy, but I think all people should strive to be healthy. And I’m certainly not going to base my vote on a candidate’s weight.