General

How much is too much?

  |  in General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Are you beginning to worry that you’re not getting in enough of one nutrient, and possibly too much of another? Exactly how much should you be taking in?
Based on years of research that examined the relationship between nutrient intake and disease prevention, generally-accepted ranges have been established for carbohydrates, fat and protein intake. These healthy ranges also help to ensure that a person is getting a sufficient intake of other essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The recommendations are:

  • 45% to 65% of calories eaten should come from carbohydrates.
  • 20% to 35% of calories eaten should come from fat.
  • 10% to 35% of calories eaten should come from protein*.

Your intake of carbohydrates, fat and protein may be somewhat higher or lower than the SparkDiet recommendations, due to your taste preferences, cooking style, culture, fitness routine, health conditions and day-to-day changes in diet. Does that mean that your intake is bad or dangerous? No!

The table below converts these percentages into grams needed each day based on calorie intake:

Nutrient

Carbohydrates

Fat

Protein (Women)

Protein (Men)

Healthy Range

45%-65%

20%-35%

10%-35%

10%-35%

1200 calories

135-195 g

27-47 g

*60-105 g

N/A

1500 calories

169-244 g

33-58 g

*60-131 g

*75-131 g

1800 calories

203-293 g

40-70 g

*60-158 g

*75-158 g

2100 calories

236-341 g

47-82 g

*60-184 g

*75-184 g

2400 calories

270-390 g

53-93 g

*60-210 g

*75-210 g

Monitor your diet in these ways:

  • Eat a healthy, nutrient-packed diet.
  • Watch your calories daily and try to keep them in your recommended range.
  • Check your carbohydrate, fat and protein intake based on recommendations. As long as they fall in the healthy range listed on this chart above, you will be meeting your nutrient needs.
  • Choose whole grain carbohydrates like brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, oats, and avoid refined carbohydrates like white rice and white bread.
  • Choose heart-healthy fats and avoid trans fats found in processed foods.
  • Choose high-quality protein sources such as lean meats and plant-based proteins instead of fattier cuts of meat.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=372

 

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10 Ways to Find Time for Exercise

  |  in Exercises, General, Motivational TipsNo Comments

What’s the No. 1 excuse for not working out? Lack of time. Sure, we’re all busy handling multiple priorities and rushing around from here and there every day. However, I promise that no matter how busy you are, someone even busier than you are is working out right now.

 If you look closer, you’ll discover that you do have the time to work out—and you deserve to use that time for yourself. Squeezing in just a few minutes of physical exercise a day has huge benefits on your health, gives you energy and perks up your mood. In fact, a new study published by The Lancet found that if inactive people increased their physical activity by just 15 minutes per day, they could reduce their risk of death by 14% and increase their life expectancy by three years. Also, remember that “working out” doesn’t have to happen in the gym or last for an hour! Short 10-minute bursts of exercise, accumulated over the course of the day, can add up to big fitness and health gains, too. Still not convinced that you have the time to exercise? Here’s how to start fitting fitness into your busy life today!

10 Practical Tips to Fit Fitness into Your Busy Life

1. Wake up earlier. Sleep is definitely important for overall health and weight-loss, but could you hit the sheets just 30 minutes earlier, so that you could get up and work out before your day starts? Working out in the morning has numerous benefits including regulating appetite, boosting energy and—perhaps the biggest benefit of all—an A.M. sweat session ensures that your workout is checked off first thing each day! Because really, how many times have you had the best intentions to exercise in the evening, only to have to work late, help your kids with a project or generally just feel too exhausted to get off the couch? With morning workouts, the time problem is solved!

2. Cut down on media. For just a few days, record how much time you spend surfing the Internet, checking personal email, watching TV and playing video games whether it’s on your computer or your phone. You just might be surprised at how much time you spend on Facebook or playing Angry Birds. Just a few minutes here and there can add up to an hour or more each day. Cut out just some of that screen time and, voila, you suddenly have time to squeeze in at least 10 or 15 minutes of exercise into even the busiest day.

3. Be an active TV watcher. It’s unrealistic to never watch TV or to shun the Internet forever. So when you do, try to incorporate some physical activity. When watching TV, make it a point to do some jumping jacks or push-ups during commercials. Doing a little exercise during the commercial breaks can add up to almost 20 minutes of fitness for every hour of TV you watch. And instead of sitting in a chair when on the computer, try sitting on a stability ball or stack your computer up on some books so that you have a standing desk to surf from. No matter how you do it, try not to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time!

4. Try an active commute. One of the best ways to fit exercise into your life is by incorporating it into your school or work transportation routine. If you live close enough, consider biking to work. If you take the bus, walk to a bus stop that’s an extra block or two away, or get off the bus a stop sooner than usual and get a few more steps in. And if you drive to work, park as far away as you can—even a few blocks away, if possible.

5. Make it part of your routine. One reason it’s so challenging to fit exercise into a busy schedule is because we’re not used to doing it. Heck, it takes time to brush your teeth in the morning, but you do it, don’t you? You brush your teeth every day because it’s important and because it’s almost second nature to get up and do it. Start making some form of exercise—whether it’s walking the dog, doing 10 minutes of yoga or going for a bike ride after dinner—a daily tradition, just like showering, brushing your teeth or hitting the coffee shop on the way to work. It’s easy to fit in exercise for a few days here or there, but by incorporating it into your daily routine like you would your hygiene, you take the process of working out away from willpower and into habit.

6. Mix socializing with exercising. Do you normally spend time with your family or friends by going to dinner, watching sports on TV or going to movies? Make your social time more active by planning events that get all of you moving. Go for a family hike on a beautiful Saturday morning, play a game of tag football with your buddies during halftime, or make a date with your significant other or best friend on the treadmill. There are so many options for squeezing more activity into your social calendar!

7. Turn chores into exercise. While cleaning might not be the most fun activity, it’s something we all have to do, and it can definitely be a workout if you want it to be. Set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes and see how much of the house you can clean. Try to be as efficient and quick-paced as possible, and I guarantee you’ll work up a sweat. If you’re doing lighter housework that is harder to get your heart rate up (like laundry or organizing), throw in some lunges or push-ups every few minutes to start feeling the burn!

8. Schedule an appointment. If you had scheduled a doctor’s appointment, you wouldn’t miss it would you? How about that important business meeting? Of course not. Working out is actually as important as going to the doctor or any other obligation that you prioritize, because it helps you perform better as a worker, parent, student or volunteer, and keeps you in tip-top shape. So whether it’s scheduling in an hour to go to that group exercise class, investing in personal training sessions or even making a date with yourself to do that workout DVD over your lunch break, write it in pen in your calendar and treat it like any other appointment you can’t miss!

9. Find an activity you love. Think of your favorite hobby or pastime. Do you have trouble finding time to do it? Most likely, you make time for it because you enjoy it so much. It’s the things we don’t enjoy that we put off and don’t feel bad about missing. That’s why it’s best to choose a physical activity that you actually enjoy and look forward to. Not only are you more likely to do it, but it also adds more fun into your life. And we all could use some more fun in our busy lives, right?

10. Say no. If you’ve gone through this entire list of tips and don’t think a single one will work in your life, then it’s time to look at your priorities and responsibilities. Do you really have to bake cookies for that fundraiser? Babysit for your sister? Take on that extra project at work? Attend that wedding shower of your second cousin? Remember that there’s nothing wrong in saying no. Yes, we all have obligations to others, but don’t forget about the obligation you have to yourself to take care of your body and your health! Remember, exercise gives you energy and keeps you healthy to keep going in that busy life of yours! So don’t think of exercise as another to-do to squeeze in on your already busy schedule. Instead, think of it as maintenance for your health and a way to de-stress and do something for you!

 http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1675

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Sodium

  |  in General, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Even if you are not a potato chip and pretzel junkie, you’re probably eating more salt than you realize. Sodium, the main ingredient in table salt, can hide in places you don’t suspect, like in ketchup, frozen dinners, instant hot cereals and some medications.

What’s Harmful About Sodium? High levels of sodium can cause the body to retain too much fluid. This can be harmful to people with high blood pressure or heart, liver or kidney diseases. People with these conditions should be especially careful about sodium intake. But there’s some debate on whether everyone needs to worry about all of this salt talk. We’ll listen to the USDA, who recommends that we need to choose and prepare foods with less sodium. The average American adult consumes about 2,500 to 5,000 milligrams of sodium a day. But we only need 1,100 to 3,300 milligrams, or about 1/2 to 1-1/2 teaspoons. That can be a pretty big difference.

Where are we getting so much sodium in our diets? Think about all the times we add salt during cooking or as a seasoning to a prepared meal. Surprisingly, our own salt shaking doesn’t compare to the major sources of “hidden” sodium in our diets found in processed foods and baked products. Some examples include salad dressings, mustard, meat tenderizer, cheeses, instant foods, pickles, canned vegetables and soups, salsa and barbecue sauce. Even common medications such as antacids, laxatives and cough remedies contain sodium compounds.

The keys to watching our sodium levels are to be aware of which foods have a high sodium content and to limit how much of those foods we eat. Practice checking the nutrition facts labels of packaged foods for the exact sodium content per serving.

Some label terms can help our purchase decisions:

Term Means:

sodium free or salt free – less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving

low sodium – 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving

reduced or less sodium – at least 25% less sodium than the food’s standard serving

light sodium – 50% less sodium than the food’s standard serving

unsalted or no salt added – no salt added during processing, but could contain naturally occurring sodium

Steps to Reduce Your Sodium

• Limit your use of the salt shaker. Try a shaker with smaller holes.

• Substitute salt seasoning with other flavorings, such as onion, garlic, lemon, vinegar, black pepper, or parsley.

• Choose fresh, frozen or canned vegetables without added salt.

• Cook fresh or frozen fish, poultry and meat more often than canned or processed forms.

• Compare the amounts of sodium in various brands of frozen dinners, packaged mixes, cereals, cheese, breads, salad dressings, soups and sauces. Sodium content varies widely among different brands.

• Rinse canned beans and vegetables to remove added salt before cooking.

• Choose foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium” or “sodium free.”

• Know how much sodium is in your favorite condiments, especially soy sauce, steak sauce, ketchup and salsa. Limit your intake accordingly.

• Avoid foods with MSG (monosodium glutamate), particularly when dining out. You can ask to have your meal prepared without MSG.

• Try to limit your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams.

One thing that the experts do agree on is that getting a balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables is more important than obsessing over one ingredient, like sodium. So it’s good to be mindful of how much sodium you’re taking in, but concentrate more on an overall nutritious diet.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=166&page=2

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Work Your Core

  |  in Exercises, General, Motivational Tips, Sample WorkoutsNo Comments

Whenever you walk or run, your core muscles are active, keeping you upright, balancing your body as your weight shifts, and absorbing the impact as your feet hit the ground. Your body’s core forms the foundation of all your movement. If your core is weak, you are susceptible to poor posture and injury. Lower back pain is also more likely to occur.

Your core muscles lie deep within your torso and pelvis. They are layered, overlapping and connected to each other.

Unlike weight lifting, a core-strengthening program exercises your whole system at once. You also don’t need any equipment. The strength you use in holding a position, as well as the gravitational pull of your own weight, work out the core muscles. You’ll be surprised at how great an effect a simple routine can have on your daily living activities.

The Core Benefits
The major core muscle is called the transversus abdominis. It is deep in your abdomen and circles your torso. To feel it contract, pull your belly button toward your spine. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat several times. You can do this exercise anytime, anywhere.

Breathing is important while you do core exercises. Practice breathing deeply from your diaphragm before starting core exercises. Sit or stand with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds, expelling as much air from your lungs as you can. Then inhale for 6 counts, feeling your belly and chest expand as your lungs fill with air. Repeat 3 times, then breathe at a more normal pace throughout your exercises.

The following core exercises are simple enough to do on your own. To be safe, you should always check with your doctor before trying any new exercises.

Leg Press
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Raise your right leg off the floor with the knee still bent until your leg forms a 90-degree angle. Rest your right hand on the kneecap. Push against your knee with your right hand while pulling your knee toward your hand with your abdominal muscles. Hold for 3-4 deep breaths. Repeat with the left leg and hand.

Abdominal Crunch
Lie on your back and place your feet on the wall, so that your knees form a 90-degree angle. Cross your arms on your chest. Keep your gaze fixed forward. Using your abdominal muscles—not your neck—lift your chest as far as you can off the floor, even if it is only an inch or two. Hold for 2-3 seconds if you can, then release. Repeat 8 times. Remember to breathe deeply throughout this exercise.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=428&page=2

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Motivational Get Slim Tricks

  |  in General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Take these get slim tricks into consideration.. it couldn’t hurt to try!

1). Swap your to-go order – If you have to eat on the run, choose grilled chicken over fried, or get apple slices instead of chips!

2). Skip the salty isle – Don’t stock up on salty crackers and chips when at the grocery store. That way when you have a craving, they won’t be ready and waiting for you in the cupboard. You would have to drive to get them.. and that is an inconvenience to you – therefore you skip eating them all together!

3). Eat Breakfast – Eating a healthy 300 calorie breakfast each morning will keep you energized and full until lunch time – decreasing your snack consumption. Eat a balanced meal with whole grains and protein.

4).Do a purge – Go through your freezer and cupboards and get rid of any unhealthy snacks that might be in there – ice cream, chips, cookies, candy, etc. That way, they won’t be there when you have a craving. Replace them with healthier snack choices like nuts, fruit, and whole grain products.

5). Nix the night-time eating – Stop eating after 6:30 or 7 pm. That is the time when most sit down to relax and end up munching on junk food. After dinner, put a stop to the eating to let your body digest and settle.

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2 Day Special at InCharge Fitness Center!

  |  in Blog, General, Upcoming EventsNo Comments

The team at InCharge Fitness Center has been very busy the past few months. After knocking down walls, painting, adding more equipment, adding a nutritional shake station and much more we are excited to show off our newly remodeled fitness center. Please join us for our HUGE 2 Day Special on Sept. 12th and Sept 13th from 10 – 7pm. Details below:

  • $75 for 3 month membership
  • Family special: Sign up for a 3 month membership & your teen can work out with you for free!  (Age 13 to 18) One teen per adult.
  • 25% Off all our NOW Brand Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements!
  • Nutritional Shake Samples
  • Free food!
  • Drawings
  • Free shaker cup to first 50 people
  • Free blood pressure checks, BMI and body fat analysis

At InCharge Fitness we offer 24/7 access, insurance reimbursements, affordable rates, guidance and much more!

Hope to see you during our 2 Day Event. Bring a friend! =)

To Happy, Healthy Living,
The InCharge Fitness Team

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Stop Emotional Eating Today

  |  in General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

What is the single, most common problem that most dieters face when trying to lose weight? Will power? Nah. Temptation? Sometimes. Emotional eating? Bingo! That’s why it takes so much more than good intentions and information about nutrition and exercise to be successful. The ability to manage difficult situations and feelings effectively—without turning to food and eating—is a necessary foundation for a successful weight loss plan and healthy lifestyle.

Fortunately, there are many proactive steps you can take to keep functioning on all your mental cylinders during tough times. These steps range widely from basic relaxation techniques to the development of a reliable support network. Other options include:

  • Keeping a food journal to help you identify your emotional eating triggers
  • Cultivating mental and emotional well-being through practices like meditation, mindfulness, massage, and yoga
  • Developing good problem solving skills

But all of these things take time, and there are many instances when you need something you can do right now, to keep yourself grounded, focused and able to make good decisions. After all, you don’t always have time to take a walk, relax in a hot bath or call a friend to talk things over. That’s what we’ll be talking about here—a 3-minute trick for handling stressful situations in the moment.

Minute 1: Stay Grounded
Emotional eating happens when you lose your connection to your grounded self. Stress itself is not what makes you reach for something to eat. In fact, stress is often a good thing and your grounded self knows this! We need the physical stress of exercise to keep our bodies in good shape just as we need the stress of intellectual and emotional challenges to keep our minds healthy.

Nine times out of ten, what really leads to emotional eating is getting caught in a “mind storm” of worst-case scenarios, projections, misinterpretations, and all the emotional overreactions that come with these thoughts. This “storm” turns a manageable challenge into something that makes you feel helpless, overwhelmed, ashamed or afraid—and sends you to the kitchen to find something to stuff those extreme feelings. When you can stay grounded in the moment of stress, you have many more options.

Here are some simple ideas to keep you grounded when something (or someone) pushes your buttons and your feelings start to spiral out of control:

  • Take a few deep breaths. (You can also count to 10, if that helps.) If the stressful situation involves someone else, take a timeout and agree to continue the discussion in a few minutes.
  • Remind yourself where you are. Take a look around, noticing and naming the colors and shapes in the space around you.
  • Notice the physical sensations you are experiencing. Whether it’s a sinking feeling, turmoil in your stomach, tension in your hands or jaw, restricted breathing, or heat on the back of your neck, try to name the feelings that go with the sensation. Is that sinking feeling fear, or dread? Is the heat a symptom of anger?

The idea here is to stay in your body and in the moment—with what’s real—instead of going inside your mind where all those unreal scenarios are just waiting to get spun out-of-control.

Minute 2: Reality Check
Once you’re calm enough to start thinking productively, put all those thoughts that are clamoring for attention inside your head through a quick reality check. Here are several very common thought patterns that have no place in reality. Do any of these apply to you?

  • All or nothing thinking
    Example: You go over your calorie limit or eat something on your “forbidden” list, and then decide to keep eating because you’ve already “blown it” for today. Reality: Weight loss is not a one-day event. If you stop overeating now, you’ll gain less and have less to re-lose later. That’s something to feel good about!
  • Reading your own thoughts into someone else’s words
    Example: Someone made a mildly critical or unsupportive remark to you, and you feel completely devastated. Reality: The more bothered you are by such remarks, the more likely it is that you are being overly critical of yourself. When you treat yourself with respect, what others say won’t matter nearly so much.
  • Either-Or thinking
    Example: You make a mistake or have a bad day and feel like a complete and hopeless failure. Reality: No one does well all the time. Mistakes are a necessary and valuable opportunity to learn—if you don’t waste them by getting down on yourself.
  • Taking care of other people’s business
    Example: Something is going badly for someone you care about, and you feel responsible, or pressured to fix it. Reality: People need to learn from their own problems. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by trying to fix things just to make yourself feel better.

Minute 3: Putting Things in Perspective
Most common problems that you face in everyday life are much easier to handle when you keep them in perspective and avoid making mountains out of molehills. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you aren’t in the mountain-making business:

  • How big a deal is this, anyway? If I knew I was going to die in a week, would this be something I would want to spend this minute of my remaining time on?
  • Will any bad things happen if I postpone thinking about this until I have more time to figure things out?
  • Do I have all the information I need to decide how to respond to this? Do I really know what’s going on here, or am I making assumptions? Am I worrying about things that might not even happen? What do I need to check out before taking action?
  • Is there anything I can do right now that will change or help this situation?
  • Am I trying to control something I can’t, like what other people think, say, or do?
  • Have I really thought through this problem, and broken it down into manageable pieces I can handle one-at-a-time?

Use this approach whenever your thoughts or situations begin to feel overwhelming, and you’ll quickly find that the mountains that seem impossible at first can quickly morph into what they really are—manageable hills that you DO have the ability to climb. All it takes is three little minutes of your time.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=596

 

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Find Inspiration within your Temptations

  |  in Exercises, General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Getting motivated–and staying motivated–can be difficult, and when temptations abound, it seems like the world is conspiring to keep you indoors, on the couch and stuck in your unhealthy life.

Instead of viewing temptations as roadblocks, think of them as motivators–the devil on your shoulder, if you will. Their presence in your life should be just what you need to keep you from losing momentum, standing still or taking a break from your healthy journey. If you stop, they’ll get you; if you stay one step ahead, you’ll always come out on top. Temptations are like misunderstood Muses. They give you the chance to be creative while reaching your goals.

Temptation No. 1: Sleeping in or hitting the snooze alarm.

Inspiration: Taking care of your body.

Get your eight hours a night. If you’re consistently sleeping through your alarm or hitting the snooze bar more than twice, consider changing your sleep schedule. Try to head to bed earlier–even just 15 or 30 minutes can make a difference.

To help you stay healthy and manage your weight, you need adequate sleep. Sleep loss affects the levels of certain hormones, which can in turn affect your metabolic processes and adversely affect your health.

Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road.

Sleep loss also can cause a lack of desire to achieve goals because you feel fatigued and “run down.” Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscles – sleep and proper nutrients help rebuild the muscle so that you get stronger.

Temptation No. 2: Grabbing takeout or stopping at a drive-thru.

Inspiration: Making smart choices.

Ideally, you should drive by the drive-thru and cook healthful meals at home every night. However, not all takeout is created equal, and you can find some healthful options at chain restaurants and even your neighborhood deli. See this temptation as a challenge to be creative and bring home a healthful meal when you’re in a hurry.

Plan ahead if you can, build a meal around vegetables and choose small portions to keep your takeout from taking away your self-control. (Find hundreds of tips and strategies to help you make smart, healthy choices when you’re away from home here.)

Follow the same rules at a restaurant that you would at home: Choose whole grains when possible, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and opt for lean cuts of meat and low-calorie preparations.

Baked potatoes, side salads, fruit cups and milk are ubiquitous at fast food restaurants these days. See this as an opportunity to stare French fries in the face–and win!

Temptation No. 3: Grazing on junk food all night long.

Inspiration: Getting to the root of a problem.

Before you start chastising yourself for blowing your calorie budget after a good day of healthy, mindful eating, think about why you are snacking. Mindless munching is usually anything but.

Are you thirsty? Many hunger pangs are actually just thirst in disguise. Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If your hunger subsides, you weren’t really hungry after all.

What did you eat for dinner? If you tried to save calories or reduce your carb intake by having a green salad or just a plate of veggies, it’s no wonder you’re hungry. Your body needs a bit of variety to stay happy. Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep you fuller longer. Toss some grilled chicken chunks, a small can of tuna or a half-cup of beans on your salad tomorrow night to give it some staying power. In the meantime, reach for a small servings of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter. The combo of fat, protein and carbs will tide you over until morning.

Are you stressed or upset about something? Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or the chips, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Eating your feelings leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Go for a walk, get out of the kitchen, remove trigger foods from the house–whatever it takes.

To get a handle on emotional eating, you first need to understand it. Learn more about this common food problem, which is the cause of 75% of overeating, according to experts. Once you know your food weaknesses, you’ll be prepared to confront those evening cravings instead of surrendering to them.

Temptation No. 4: Vegging out on the couch.

Inspiration: Taking time for you.

You get home from work and gaze longingly at the sofa. You had a long day, and a bit of rest sounds much better than socializing or spending time with others. You just want to be alone with your feet up, mind empty and the TV on.

Devote a chunk of time each week or each day to yourself. Maybe it’s 15 minutes, or maybe it’s two hours. Put yourself first as often as you need to.

Instead of punishing yourself for being lazy, use this “me” time in a productive way. Do a crossword puzzle, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend, pick up knitting, or cuddle with your child or partner.

Anticipate this respite from the hustle and bustle of your life and plan for it. Watch your favorite TV show, paint your nails, ask your partner to give you a foot rub. Reward yourself for being motivated, sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan and working out regularly. A bit of time spent doing nothing can help carry you through the rest of your hectic and action-packed life. (Read our Rest & Relaxation articles for more tips.)

Temptation No. 5: Skipping your workout.

Inspiration: Changing up your workout.

You know how great you feel when you finish a workout: refreshed, revived and rejuvenated. You feel strong, confident and happy. So why would you want to skip exercise? Quite often, the reason is boredom.

Does your workout schedule run on repeat? Do you do the same thing at the same time and in the same place every day?

Now that you’ve made fitness a part of your life, try shaking up your routine from time to time. Instead of walking laps around the park in your neighborhood, try taking a new route. If you belong to a gym, trade the Stairmaster for the elliptical or the treadmill for the stationary bike.

Tired of your DVDs? Trade with a friend or head to the library. Take a new class: Zumba, cardio dance, Pilates, yoga or Spinning are fun ones to try. Ask a trainer at your gym or a fit friend for suggestions. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to shake up your workout is to enlist a friend to blast calories with you. You can catch up on each other’s lives while you firm up.

When temptations step in your path, don’t cower. Confront them and enlist them as your allies. Soon you’ll be stronger and more determined and will have traveled a little farther in your healthy living journey.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1356&page=6

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Stop and Chew your Food!

  |  in General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

In this era of fast-paced everything, even the act of eating a meal has become something we can do on the run. Breakfast comes in bars, lunch can be eaten while speeding down the highway, and dinner is merely an accompaniment to the evening news, squeezed in between other pressing activities. Invariably, when eating plays second string to everything else, every meal becomes “fast food,” as in eaten-very-fast food. If you find yourself wolfing down your meals in a hurry, you’re actually shortchanging yourself in more ways than you might think.

It turns out there’s a reason food tastes so good. You’re supposed to enjoy it—slow down and savor it, not just get it to your stomach as quickly as possible. Chewing your food thoroughly is actually the first step in the complex process of digestion, and if you glaze over it, just chewing the minimum amount of times necessary to get the food down your esophagus, you’re actually compromising this process. And it’s a mistake many people make.

If you try to imagine swallowing a whole piece of pizza, it’s easy to see why chewing is necessary. But besides breaking up your food into manageable chunks, there’s another good reason to put in the effort and chew. The saliva that coats your food as you chew actually contains digestive enzymes that begin to digest your food before you even swallow it. The enzymes alpha-amylase and lingual lipase begin digesting carbohydrates and fats, reducing the amount of work for which the stomach will be responsible. And it isn’t just a nice gesture. If food fragments are swallowed un-chewed, not only do nutrients remain locked in the fragments, but these fragments create an environment in the colon that is conducive to digestive distress—bacterial overgrowth, gas, and bloating.

For food particles to even leave your stomach though, the “gates” of the stomach, the pyloric sphincter, must open. Conveniently, chewing also aids in this process, signaling this event. And speaking of signals, just seeing your food causes your brain to send signals to the pancreas and stomach to secrete digestive acids and enzymes that are essential to digestion. And the longer your food has contact with your taste and smell receptors—the longer you chew each bite—the stronger these signals become. Strong signals mean more digestive molecules, less indigestion, less acid reflux, and superior nutrient absorption.

Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly has another benefit. It might shrink your waistline—and not just because you’ll have less bloating and indigestion. Eating more slowly gives your body a chance to tell your mind that it’s full, so that you stop eating before you go overboard. In a preliminary study presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity’s Annual Scientific Meeting in 2004, study subjects ate less when they were instructed to eat more slowly.

Here are some practical tips for chewing more thoroughly and eating more slowly:

  • Give yourself enough time to eat—at least 20-30 minutes just to eat the meal, plus additional time to prepare it.
  • Don’t eat amidst distractions, like the TV, computer, or while driving.
  • Be fully present while you eat. Notice the smell, temperature, texture, color, and subtle flavor differences of each food you consume.
  • Take smaller portions, taking a break before refilling.
  • Put your fork down after each bite.
  • Eat mindfully, chewing each bite as many times as necessary to pulverize any texture.
  • If you’re eating in a group, be aware of the speed at which others are eating. Challenge yourself to be the last to finish.

Besides all of the physical benefits, perhaps the most pleasant benefit of all is that, if you allow yourself to slow down and chew, you’ll enjoy your food much more.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=963&page

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Yummy Summer Salsa

  |  in General, Healthy Recipes, Nutrition Tips, UncategorizedNo Comments

Roasted Tomato Salsa with Cilantro

If you cannot find these tiny heirloom yellow tomatoes, any grape or cherry tomatoes will do. The roasting coaxes fresh tomato salsa from bright and acidic into complex, subtle and sweet. If you don’t care for cilantro, try using basil instead, and serve this salsa as a bruschetta topping on toasted gluten-free bread rubbed with a clove of fresh garlic.

Ingredients

2 pints of yellow cherry or heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup corn kernels
2 teaspoons dried or fresh cilantro
Sea salt
Olive oil
White balsamic vinegar

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a roasting pan combine:
2 pints of yellow cherry or heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup corn kernels
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
Sea salt

Drizzle with
Olive oil
White balsamic vinegar

Toss to coat. Roast in a preheated oven until the tomatoes are soft and sweet, about 25 to 30 minutes. I stirred the mix halfway through roasting. Cool before storing. Store covered in the fridge. Just before serving allow the salsa to come to room temperature. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

Serve with Brown Rice Tortilla Chips, corn chips, or triangles of toasted gluten-free garlic bread.

Total Servings: 6

Nutritional Information Per Serving

Calories: 265
Carbohydrates: 53.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Fat:  5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
Fiber:  15.5 g
Sodium:  377 mg
Protein:  11.7 g

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/roasted-yellow-tomato-salsa-with-cilantro

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