Motivational Tips

How to nicely say no to food!

  |  in General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

During the holiday season, food temptations are everywhere. From stuffing and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to eggnog and sugar cookies in December, the seasonal temptations are endless. It can be tough enough to navigate the turkey buffet without having your great aunt force an extra helping of potatoes on your plate or resisting Grandma Dolly’s pleas that you take a second piece of her famous apple pie.
 
Food pushers range from well-intentioned loved ones to total diet saboteurs. Regardless of their motivation, it’s important to stick to your guns. You can always be honest and say that you’re simply trying to eat healthier, but if that response gets ignored (or doesn’t come easily), the following retorts to their food-forcing ways will keep you in control of what goes on your plate and in your mouth!
 
Note: These tips work year-round at birthday parties, family get-togethers and Sunday brunches with friends alike!
 
The Push: “It’s my specialty, you have to try it!”

Your Response: “I will in a bit!”

Why It Works: Stalling is a great tactic with food pushers. Odds are the offender won’t follow you around making sure you actually try the dish. If they catch up with you by the end of the party to ask what you thought, tell them that it slipped your mind but you’ll be sure to try it next time.

 
The Push: “This [insert name of high-calorie dish] is my favorite. You’ll love it!”

Your Response: “I had some already—so delicious!”

Why It Works: A white lie in this situation isn’t going to hurt anybody. You’ll get out of eating food you don’t want or need, and the food pusher will have gotten a compliment on what probably is a delicious dish.

 
The Push: “It’s just once a year!”

Your Response: “But I’ll probably live to celebrate more holidays if I stick with my diet plan!”

Why It Works: People can sometimes see healthy eating as vain—a means to the end result of losing weight and looking better. It’s harder for a food pusher to argue with you if you bring attention to the fact that you eat right and exercise for better health and a longer life. Looking good just happens to be a side effect!

 
The Push: “Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting…”

Your Response: “I wouldn’t say obsessed, but I am conscious of what I eat.”

Why It Works: Words like “food snob” or “obsessed” are pretty harsh when they’re thrown around by food pushers. But don’t let passive-aggressive comments like this bring you down—or make you veer away from your good eating intentions. Acknowledging your willpower and healthy food choices might influence others to be more conscious of what they eat. Sometimes you just have to combat food pushers with a little straightforward kindness.

 
The Push: “If you don’t try my dish, I’m just going to have to force you to eat it!”

Your Response: “Sorry, but I don’t like (or can’t eat) [insert ingredient here].”

Why It Works: It’s hard to argue with someone’s personal food preferences. If someone doesn’t like an ingredient whether its sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or butter, odds are that he or she hasn’t liked it for a very long time. If you’d like to get creative with this one, go into detail about how you got sick on the ingredient as a kid or how your mom says you always threw it across the room as a baby. Who can argue with that?

 
The Push: “You need some meat on your bones.”

Your Response: “Trust me, I’m in no danger of wasting away!”

Why It Works: This food push is definitely on the passive-aggressive side. Using humor to fight back will defuse any tension while making it clear where you stand. 

 
The Push: “One bite isn’t going to kill you.”

Your Response: “I know, but once you pop you can’t stop! And I’m sure it’s so delicious I wouldn’t be able to stop!”

Why It Works: This is another situation where humor will serve to distract the food pusher from his or her mission. It’s a way to say “thanks, but no thanks” while making it clear that you’re not interested in overindulging.

 
The Push: “But it’s your favorite!”

Your Response: “I think I’ve overdosed on it; I just can’t eat it anymore!”

Why It Works: If you have a favorite holiday dish that everyone knows you love, it can be especially tough to escape this push. If a loved one made the dish specifically for you, the guilt can be enough to push you over the edge. But people understand that food preferences change, and most have been in that situation of enjoying a dish so much that they can’t touch it for awhile.

 
The Push: [Someone puts an extra helping on your plate without you asking.]

Your Response: Push it around with your fork like you did as a kid to make it look like you tried it.

Why It Works: While putting food on someone else’s plate can be viewed as passive-aggressive, it was probably done with love. (Let’s hope!) Making it look like you ate a bite or two can be an easy way out of the situation, but you can also just leave it alone and claim that you’ve already had your fill. (After all, you didn’t add that extra helping!)

 
The Push: “Have another drink!”

Your Response: “I have to drive.”

Why It Works: No one will argue with the fact that you want to drive home sober. If they do, you should have no qualms walking away from the conversation, period. If they offer a place for you to stay, you can always get out of the situation by blaming an early morning commitment or the fact that you need to get home to let the dog out. Kids will also get you out of everything.

 
The Push: “We have so many leftovers. Take some!”

Your Response: “That’s OK! Just think, you’ll have your meals for tomorrow taken care of.”

Why It Works: Not every party guest wants to deal with the hassle of taking food with them, and this makes it clear that you’d rather the food stay. If the host is insistent, you can feign worry that they’ll go bad in the car because you’re not going straight home, or it’ll go bad in your fridge because you’ve already been given so many leftovers at other parties recently. Or be polite and take them. You’ll have more control of your food intake away from the party anyway. So whether you don’t eat the leftovers at all or whether you split a piece of pie with your spouse, you’re in control in this situation.

 

These tactics can work wonders in social situations, but honesty is sometimes the best policy. A simple “No, thank you” is hard for a food pusher to beat, especially if it’s repeated emphatically. Remember, too, that it’s okay to have treats in moderation, so don’t deprive yourself of your favorite holiday foods. Just make sure that you’re the one in control of your splurges—not a friend, family member or co-worker who doesn’t know your fitness and health goals!

-sparkpeople.com

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5 Mind Games You Need to Stop Playing

  |  in Blog, General, Motivational Tips, UncategorizedNo Comments

Motivation is like cold hard cash: You can never have too much! And when you’re trying to lose weight (for the umpteenth time for many of us) you know that you need a wealth of motivational strategies you can count on. But, with so many motivational tips and tricks to sift through, why are we so often losing our motivation rather than reaping the rewards?
 
One reason is that some of the most popular motivation strategies people use are mind games—games that don’t really work for the long term. At first glance, they all seem helpful, but most are actually bound to fail. Instead of playing Russian roulette when you’re choosing a weight-loss strategy, read on to find out how you can beat the odds and pick a winner.
 
Mind Game #1:  Going for the Gold
You have your perfect weight and pants size in mind. With a big, bold goal to aspire to, you start biking to work, cooking lighter, packing your lunch, skipping that morning latte, and taking the stairs. Then, three busy, butt-busting weeks later…the scale hasn’t really budged and you’re trying on the same size in the dressing room. Deflated, you start snacking a bit here and slacking a bit there, and your dream of a whittled waistline slowly fades from view.

Motivation Makeover: Going for the gold is a great way to start your weight-loss plan; setting a long-term goal can help you to keep an eye on where you’re headed. But it’s also important to remember that your goal weight is far from the only benefit of incorporating healthy eating and exercise—and it could be a long ways off. Taking note of smaller, more subtle changes (more energy, better sleep, lower cholesterol, better mood, etc.) can help you stay motivated, even if the pounds aren’t coming off as quickly as you’d hoped. Setting some shorter-term goals (1 pound, 5 pounds)—especially ones that aren’t based on the scale (like getting to the gym 5 days a week) can also help you stay on track.

 
Mind Game #2:  Starting Out Super Strong
It’s Sunday evening and you realize that you spent the weekend indulging on brews, barbeques, and binges. A twinge of guilt has you psyched to start speeding down the road to wellness first thing Monday. So you restock your pantry with healthy eats, download a hardcore training app to your phone, and plan out the next month’s food and workouts. You figure that going full throttle is the way to reach your weight-loss goals as quickly as possible. And why not? You’re excited for it! But two weeks into your overhaul, your muscles are so sore you have trouble rolling out of bed, you’re sick of salads and you’re already thinking about throwing in the towel.

Motivation Makeover: Maintaining motivation is like running a marathon. Instead of starting at full speed and running out of steam, it is better to focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other. Set small, achievable goals so that you can build momentum and feel successful in the beginning, and pat yourself on the back when you conquer each one. No matter how long it takes to reach the finish line, you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come.

 
Mind Game #3:  Taking the Road Less Traveled
There will always be a new diet or exercise program that promise fast progress and fantastic results. Reading about the latest food fad or watching a perky personal trainer push sweat-drenched clients through an infomercial workout can definitely spark your motivation. Who wouldn’t want to try an effective 4-minute workout or slim down fast with a celebrity-backed diet supplement? Deep down, we all know the truth: People are getting paid for those advertisements and whatever motivation you’ve mustered up during the commercial break will fade fast if you don’t get those “as seen on TV” results that were so motivating to you. Trying every new fad that comes on the market may leave you broke and brokenhearted.

Motivation Makeover: If you want a plan that works long term, stick with the tried and true. Keep your eating close to the earth with whole fruits, veggies, grains and lean meats. Get up and moving with whatever activity suits your style and schedule. Remind yourself that following through with real nutrition and fitness habits is a process: It takes the proper planning and commitment that can’t be found in a book, a box or a bottle.

 
Mind Game #4:  Flying Under the Radar
You’re already feeling self-conscious about losing weight, so you certainly don’t want your friends and family making more of a fuss. Besides, you’re confident that you can do this all on your own! So what if your plan to be stealth has you skipping out on lunch with friends and sneaking veggies to parties in your purse? Going it alone may seem like a good idea, but it is actually counterproductive. Soon enough, you’ll be feeling lonely and left out, and that’s no way to maintain success in the long run.

Motivation Makeover: Call in the recruits! Whether it’s a neighbor down the street, a fellow play group parent or a Facebook friend, get someone to join you on your weight-loss journey. Studies in behavior science show that changes that you make in the public eye have a much better chance of sticking in the real world. Plus, sharing your weight-loss goals with friends opens you up for great personal payouts like counsel, camaraderie, and accountability from the people who know you best. SparkPeople Community, anyone?

 
Mind Game #5:  Staring Down the Scale
There’s a scale in your bathroom and one next to your treadmill. You check in twice a day and diligently track your weight on a chart on the fridge. Still, even though you’re eating well and exercising, some days the numbers just don’t show it! Seeing real, objective results can be super motivating but being tethered to the scale often becomes a burden. Even though you know that body weight fluctuates throughout each day and hydration (or lack thereof) is usually responsible, unpredictable digits can be deceiving and downright disheartening. If you find yourself frowning at your feet during morning weigh-ins, then your scale is likely sapping your mojo.

Motivation Makeover: Stick that scale in the closet and find inspiration in other numbers (besides your weight). Track specific behaviors to gauge your progress; how many push-ups you can do in a minute, how many miles you walk or bike each week, how many flights of stairs you take each day at work. Keep tabs on a variety of positive results and you won’t be left wanting for fitness focus.

 
 
Making use of motivational mind games can really boost your fitness morale. But sometimes, techniques that seem perfectly logical can end up leading you astray. Mastering your own motivation doesn’t have to be a crap shoot. Bet on the time-tested strategies above to get your mind right and you’ll be sure to cash in on long-term wellness!

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Article created on:  10/3/2011

–>– By Megan Coatley, Behavior Expert
Source: Spark People, www.sparkpeople.com

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Desktop Dining Guide

  |  in General, Healthy Recipes, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Your workplace may be a bacterial breeding ground—germier than a public restroom! Think about how long that cheese ball sat in the conference room, the number of hands that have reached into the candy jar in the lobby, and the last time you properly washed your coffee mug. YUCK! For the safety of you and your coworkers, adopt these desktop dining guidelines as company policy.

Watch the Clock
If you pack a lunch that includes perishable food items—meat and cheese sandwiches, leftovers, salads, or dairy foods—don’t let more than two hours pass from the time you make your lunch at home to the time you put it in the office refrigerator. The same rule applies if you go out for lunch and bring back fast food, carry out, or doggy bag.

Refrigerator Review
The average office refrigerator is cleaned out only once every six weeks, even though most perishable foods spoil within three to five days! The office refrigerator should be cleaned out weekly, but no one wants to take on the responsibility, right? The solution is to assign each person who uses the refrigerator to a specific week in which they are responsible for pitching and purging. Anything left at closing time Friday is pitched. Post the weekly delegations on the refrigerator door, and if it’s a disaster come Monday morning, everyone will be able to determine who’s to blame.

Kitchen Clean Up
Splattered and scattered for all to see—the spaghetti that exploded in the microwave, the chicken soup that boiled over on the stove, the cream-filled doughnut remains on the counter—kitchen messes like these all spell DANGER. Keep anti-bacterial wipes readily available so team members can wipe up their spills and mishaps as a first line of defense.

But why not wipe up spills with the community dishrag or sponge? These are filled with germs and bacteria, which only spread around when you wipe up a mess. To keep a sponge or dishrag safe, run it through the dishwasher daily, or dampen it with water and microwave it on high for three minutes before using.

Desktop Danger
At the very least, you can keep your own beloved cubicle clean. Your desktop, keyboard, and phone are ideal for bacteria and germ contamination—especially if you eat while using any of these devices. But don’t forget all the other people who touch your desk area or sneeze on your belongings.

The best way to control the spread of germs is to clean your cubicle once daily with an anti-bacterial spray or wipes. Coffee pots are generally safe due to the high temperature, but be careful with your personal coffee mug. Clean it daily with soap and water, but if you use dairy creamers, you should wash it even more often.

The Social Scene
Nearly three out of five Americans work in an office where weekly, food is left out to be shared with others. If the food is perishable, find out how long it has been out before you dig in. If the food has been out for more than two hours, pass on the goodies. If you can’t resist the departmental pitch-in buffet, make sure you get there early, while food is still hot. Once again, foods left out for more than two hours are perfect for bacteria to set up camp.

All Washed Up
Fewer than half of all Americans wash their hands before eating lunch. The rule is to always wash your hands before, during, and after food handling. If you have no time to wash with soap and water, use a hand sanitizer stored in your desk drawer. Mom was right to always say, “Wash your hands before eating.” Now go wash up!

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=531&page=3

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Exercising on a Budget.

  |  in Exercises, General, Motivational TipsNo Comments

What exercises can I do at home? My budget is really tight and I cannot afford to join a gym.

Here are some resistance training exercises that you can do using just your own body weight:

1. Pushups- standard, on knees, feet propped up on a chair, leaning on a wall, upper body propped up on a couch, etc. There are even more variations by changing body placement and hand-width.

2. Crunches- feet on floor, lets bent in air, legs straight in air, bicycle crunch, full sit-ups, oblique crunches, plank.

3. Lunges- walking lunges, stationary lunges, side lunges, reverse or front lunges.

4. Squats- feet together, feet shoulder-width, feet wide, back on wall (holding wall sit), holding extra weight (dumbbells, water jugs, etc), one-legged squats (advanced!)

5. Bridges- lie on your back, legs bent, feet on floor. Lift hips toward ceiling, squeezing glutes the whole time. Challenge yourself by keeping one leg up in the air.

6. Cardio- climbing your stairs, running/walking/jogging outside, hiking, jumping rope (or just jumping period), kickboxing routines, fitness videos, biking, etc.

As you can see, there are SO many options you can choose from, even with the smallest amount of resources. All of the exercise demos in the Fitness Resource Center are exercises you can do at home. Investing a little money in a good resistance band, Swiss ball, and/or pair of hand weights will allow you to do a wide variety of exercises from home.

 

sparkpeople.com

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5 Surprisingly High-Cal Halloween Treats

  |  in General, Healthy Recipes, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Fall is as good a time of year as any to re-evaluate your weight-loss goals and plans. But before you know it, Halloween brings the focus to candy and treats that may be tempting you to fall off the health wagon. One indulgent day of Halloween treats won’t hurt most people’s progress, but considering that Halloween is just the beginning of a two-month season packed with party foods and desserts, try not to get carried away.
 
As you’re looking for ways to enjoy the season without losing sight of your health and fitness goals, pick the smartest treats, but say “Boo!” to the biggest calorie monsters.
 
Here are five Halloween treats that should scare you!
 
1. Fun-Size Candy Bars
At an average of about 100 calories a pop, these popular trick-or-treat goodies may seem innocent—but that’s only the case if you stop at one. It’s pretty easier to eat four or five mini-bars as you take your kids trick-or-treating, and if they’re eyeing you from the reception desk at your office—forget about it! You may be eating one or more every day for weeks leading up to Halloween.

The bars that really pack the most calories are those with peanut butter, coconut, chocolate, caramel, and nuts. Plus, once they’re out of the larger packages, their nutrition facts are nowhere to be found on those individual labels.

Trick: Start reading nutrition labels of fun-size treats before throwing out the package. Figure out the best choice for you and stick with that when you’re having a Halloween treat. Peppermint patties and Twizzlers have about half of the calories than the average candy bar, but that doesn’t mean they are calorie free. Popping in a piece of sugar-free gum can help curb some cravings if you’re feeling tempted after eating just one. Read more: 11 Halloween treats under 100 calories.

 
2. Pumpkin Breads and Muffins
Pumpkin puree delivers vitamin A and fiber along in a deliciously low-calorie package that just screams of fall. But pair it with sugar, cream cheese frosting, shortening and butter, and you have a high-cal treat dressed in a healthy-looking orange costume. Restaurants and bakeries are the biggest villains: Pumpkin scones, muffins, donuts and breads range from 300 to 530 calories per serving, but most portion sizes can be double or triple in size. For a single treat, that’s a lot of damage to your calorie budget.
 

Trick: Bake your pumpkin goods at home, where you can control your recipe and make healthy baking substitutions, like subbing applesauce in place of oil and fat, choosing whole wheat flour over white, and cutting down on the sugar in a recipe. Using a mini muffin tin will help with portions as you bake perfectly-portioned pumpkin goodies. Start with these healthy pumpkin recipes from SparkRecipes for ideas.

 
3. Pumpkin-Flavored Lattes
Many coffee joints will have a special feature on their menu for the harvest season: pumpkin-flavored coffees. A medium pumpkin spice latte with whole milk from Starbucks has 410 calories, and the calories in similar drinks from other chains like Panera Bread and Dunkin Donuts are pretty similar. Think before you sip: Can you really budget 400+ calories into your day for a single drink?
 

Trick: Order the smallest size and lighten the load by requesting fat-free milk and holding the whipped topping. Plain hot chai tea with some added low-fat milk can also give you the warm fuzzy feeling of the season without all the added sweeteners of a pumpkin latte.
4. Candy Corn
Yes, these ever-so-traditional candies are quite small, but for candy corn lovers who wait all year for their favorite seasonal candy, they can be devastating to your healthy eating plan. The quintessential white, orange and yellow triangles have 140 calories for 22 pieces, which is a small handful at most. Have a few, and it’s no sweat, but sit near a candy jar full of candy corn, it can be hard to track just how much you’ve eaten since there is no built-in portion control.
 

Trick: Never eat candy corn from a large jar or straight from the bag. This can lead to mindless overeating and no real sense of calories or serving size. Pre-portion yourself a small serving and stick to it. Then put the bag away and walk away from the jar: out of sight, out of mind. Also try stretching out the sugar by combining a few pieces of candy corn with a trail mix of dried fruit and nuts for an added nutrition boost and more filling power.
5. Candy Apples
Don’t fool yourself: Just because there’s a piece of fruit underneath a thick layer of caramel, and possibly nuts, cookie chunks or even chocolate does NOT mean it’s good for you—or low in calories. If you cover a healthy fruit with sugar it becomes a much less healthful choice. A single apple might only contain around 80-100 calories of nutrition, but when it’s coated in caramel, it can more than triple in calories. Designer or “gourmet” candy apples covered in sprinkles, chocolate candies, nuts and chocolate are even worse.
 

Trick: Enjoy your apples by cutting them into wedges and dipping them into low-fat caramel dip, fat free vanilla yogurt or peanut butter.

 
 
The most important thing to remember during the Halloween season is to see these seasonal treats for what they really are: treats that should be eaten in moderation and in small amounts. Put your label reading skills to work and keep your goals in mind, and you’ll have no trouble avoiding Halloween treat temptation.

— By Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian

 http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1679

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Use Measurements besides the Scale

  |  in General, Motivational TipsNo Comments

Pretend for a minute that gravity doesn’t exist. Everything is weightless, including your aunt Sophie, yet it all manages to stay on the ground. You don’t know how much you weigh because scales have never been invented. How would you define your state of health? After all, you wouldn’t be able to say “I need to lose 10 pounds” or “I weigh 150 pounds, so I must be overweight.”

What would be your benchmark? You might still not like how you look. You might be tired of being tired all the time. You might need to trim down and take care of that blood pressure problem. You might want to avoid diabetes.

In a gravity-free world, those are all still good reasons to create healthy diet and fitness habits. Who knows, you might decide “Hey, I feel all right, I look all right, and I’m healthy. If I can just maintain the habits I have, I should be okay.”

The point is, you can decide for yourself what shape you’re in. You don’t need the scale to tell you. Unfortunately, many times we get down on ourselves simply because something as trivial as gravity tells us we’re out of shape. Some people feel and look fantastic in every respect, but if the number on the scale doesn’t match expectations, they’re miserable. This doesn’t make sense. Gravity should not be able to wield that kind of power.

In this gravity-rich reality we live in, we have a fascination with the scale. While it’s good for giving you a general idea of your health, this can be the most discouraging and frustrating part of a diet. Your weight can fluctuate all the time and reasons why are never completely known. Time of day, temperature, the day’s activities, water level – all can skew the numbers one way or the other. In reality, you could be getting discouraged over something that’s not really accurate.

To stay motivated, try finding other ways to measure your progress instead of stepping on the scale. Try some benchmarks that actually matter. Some may be tougher to measure than others, some are more subjective. But we think you’ll find that these measurements can still be a lot more meaningful and motivating.

Take some of these regular measurements to stay motivated, even if the scale isn’t moving:

Body Measures – dress size, waist, hips, neck, arms, fitting into favorite clothes
Performance – more endurance during exercise, doing them at a higher level, jumping higher, walking longer, running faster, playing a sport better
General Feeling – rate energy level, rate attitude and outlook, track how often you feel very sleepy during the day, rate your confidence level
Health blood pressure, cholesterol level, blood sugar level
Intangibles – how you look, compliments you receive, how others respond to you

 

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=104&page=2

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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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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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