Over time, we’ve moved to a life of convenience with more and more meals eaten out or ordered in…and now since Covid-19, food service deliveries have really ramped up. Generally, eating a home-cooked meal is the healthiest option, however with a few intentional strategies, you can still stick to your health goals even when the meal isn’t prepared at home. 

First, remember “portion distortion”…while calories are not created equal, most restaurants provide meals that, calorie-wise, could feed a small army. Fortunately, most restaurants offer calorie counts for their menu items (and if not, a quick search on the web can get your pretty darn close). Try to aim for 600-700 calories or less. And, keep an eye on “add-ons”. But please, don’t let the restaurant dictate what a true “serving” is or the proper balance of protein and veggies. Instead of eating a “multi-serving” meal, try splitting your meal with a dinner partner – or immediately put half of it in a to-go container and save the other half for the next day.

Choose your restaurant wisely. Spend a few minutes looking over restaurants that have healthier options like assorted vegetables (not fried), lower sodium, avoidance of seed oils, and other healthy protein options like fish, nuts, legumes. For your protein, look for food items that are broiled, baked or grilled vs. fried.

Upgrade! If you are eating rice, opt for brown rice if you can. Reduce the carbs as needed. One of my favorite salads comes with brown rice and I ask the restaurant to cut the amount of rice by 2/3 and increase the kale by the same. Can you ask for more veggies? Is there a gluten free bread option? 

Watch liquid sugar. In other words, sip smarter. Soft drinks/juices are not your friend (even if “sugar free”) – but that’s a topic for another day. Water (carbonated or not) or unsweetened tea are better options. There are plenty of ways to add a little flavor — my favorite is half a squeezed lemon, but any kind of fresh or frozen fruit are nice.

While we are on the subject of liquid sugar, we can throw mixed or frozen drinks (alcohol) into this section, too. Our bodies just don’t need excess energy (calories), so what will they do when we bring in more than we need? Store it! And trust me when I tell you, “You cannot out-train a bad diet”! It’s just better to make balanced choices.

Sidesare they really necessary? Can you swap them out with vegetables – or do you even really need them depending on your entree? Much of the time, sides are just more nutrition deficient calories.

Maybe cook a “little”. This is something we often incorporate at home. I’ve found with meal deliveries, vegetables may not fare well or are limited –or maybe the side has cheese or sauce we didn’t want (like one using canola oil). So, we keep a couple zucchinis, spinach, carrots or broccoli around that we can easily sauté or roast seasoned just to our liking. Or, maybe we’ll mash a bit of avocado with Landry’s seasoning. (If you haven’t experienced this delight, TRY IT!!)

My friends, I am right there with you on needing a break from cooking after a long work day, but eating out doesn’t have to derail your health goals. Just become a little more intentional around where you go and the selections you make. And, ENJOY it!

I have a few questions for you…

How is your cholesterol? Your blood pressure? Your breathing? What about your ability to move without breaking into a sweat? Do you find you have no time to workout or prepare healthy meals? How much time do you spend going to the doctor? And how much money is spent on medicines that treat symptoms of disease?

My friends, today IS “some” day. The day you decide to commit to a fit lifestyle.  Just do it.  For yourself, your family, your children, your community.  Because if you live a life with too little sleep combined with continual over-indulgences, ill health WILL creep into your body.  There is simply no way to sugar coat the cost of not committing to making small healthy lifestyle changes.

Often we create our own self sabotage by setting unrealistic goals.  However, you don’t need to run marathons.  I’m a big fan of “every little bit counts” and the “10 minute difference”.   Small steps in a healthy direction, made consistently over time, WILL make a huge difference in your health. These 31 steps (from Bulletproof) are an EXCELLENT place to start. Set small, simple goals and BE KIND to yourself along the way.

And please, go moderately. Walking is a great way to start. Find an activity you enjoy so you are likely to continue doing it. (That is one of my most often asked questions, “Which type of exercise is best?” My reply is, “Whatever workout you are most likely to stick to!”) And if you hate lettuce, don’t eat it!  But don’t set a “10 pound weight loss in two weeks” goal.  Healthy living is a journey that’s about doing your best—and forgetting the rest, one step and one day at a time. 

Here are some things I’ve learned..

Bodyweight involves more than willpower and biology plays a big role. And, when it comes to willpower, environment matters! (I cannot stress that enough.) Low fat diets blame people when they don’t lose weight—but “fat-free” is not the way to go; it’s damaging and the very nature of that path contributes to failure! Society treats people with a weight problem with more stigma than anything else, sadly.   In a nutshell, a healthy “diet” is one that has REAL food, limits processed foods, and limits sugars.

When it comes to fat, we NEED fat in our diets!  When we leave it out, our bodies goes into starvation mode.  Yes, we can lose weight.. but the body fights back, hunger goes up, metabolism goes down, and the stress hormones secreted erode lean tissue.  The best way is to reverse this recipe for failure is to focus on eliminating processed carbs (which raise insulin and drive fat cells into a feeding frenzy- ugh).  Once fat cells calm down, the calories you eat stay in the blood stream longer, so they are able to nourish your brain, muscles and organs. What happens then? “Health” happens, that’s what.  Hunger decreases, metabolism increases, and…we lose weight.  I wish I could shout this from mountain tops and get the message out—there are so many misconceptions around fat and carbs!

The government quietly lifted the dietary limitations on fats in 2015, but who heard?  That’s because their prior recommendations for “low fat” were erroneous and directed us to look at fat vs sugar. Quite frankly, this direction contributed to the obesity epidemic… along with processed food product quality and convenience–but that’s a blog for another day!  Regardless, those earlier low fat “recommendations” were wrong.

Note: In all fairness, Trans fats (partially hydrogenated soybean oil, for example) are AWFUL & should be avoided at all costs, but fat in general is needed and necessary.   Let’s help get the word out that the low fat message was wrong.

Now back to our healthy living journey!  Starting a new year is a great time to develop a plan, but honestly, I find short term goals work best. I create new lists, look over old lists regularly, and adjust them continually to suit life’s desires.

Here are a couple of ideas for you– but you can create your own “Get Healthy in 2017” list:

  • Pay attention to your sleep and create better bedtime habits 
  • Drink less soda, drink more water
  • Learn something new 
  • Identify a couple accountability partners (the closer in proximity, the better, but virtual works too)
  • Consider incorporating coconut oil into your diet (and research why it’s a good idea)
  • Find a good healthy living/eating/exercise site/book and READ it regularly
  • Eat dark chocolate
  • Find your inner child
  • Learn how intermittent fasting may benefit you
  • Get/play outside
  • De-clutter your life

So make your list, check it regularly, share it with those around you—and make a point to surround yourself with a good supportive network.   #EnvironmentMatters

In the end, we have ONE body. Take care of it so you can live your life more fully. 

Until next time, I wish you the best of HEALTH, happiness & dreams fulfilled.

 

~Lisa

 

CNN’s 2016 Article

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/06/health/fat-is-back-eat-like-a-mediterranean/index.html

 

NY Times 2014 Article

 

Are you a little concerned that your good work to date will get derailed this holiday season? Don’t despair, healthy living does not mean total deprivation. It does, however, require a few strategies to keep you on the right track.  Here are a few ways you can limit temptations over the holidays:
  1. Drink up. (Water…that is!) You’d be surprised at the difference dehydration can make. It’s often mistaken for hunger. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind.  You know how there’s a reason for product placement at the grocery store? Do your own “marketing” at home by removing food or snacks not healthy for your family. Out of sight, out of mind.
  3. Keep a log so you can identify triggers and are realistic about input/output. Most folks overestimate calories burned and underestimate calories consumed. Keep it real.
  4. Know your limit. Can you indulge a little? Or does one bit turn into the entire bag/box? If the latter is the case, then that means no sugar should pass your lips. So be it. Is it difficult to eat out if you see or smell dessert or French fries? If so, skip it for now. Honor thyself. If you CAN indulge a little, go for it. Enjoy it, savor it, and then add some extra workout time. It’s all good.
  5. Good fats help resist the sugar urge. As does protein. Eat up.
  6. Create a bit of crazy. Visualization, that is. If sugar is still tempting you, imagine your sugar free life and the healthy/energetic/lean self you’ll be sporting! SEE it, claim it, then make the choice that aligns with that vision.
  7. Change your habits…or people around you. We talked about this one before. If you eat mindlessly while watching TV, don’t let yourself watch TV unless you are on the elliptical. Or, avoid that “friend” who eats junk food in front of you daily while you nurture your self goals.
  8. Lead the way. Influence your friends and be the change you want to be. Cook healthy, commit to exercise. Healthy habits beget other healthy habits.
  9. Commit publically. With your friends, family, online. Ask to be held accountable. It works!
  10. Take a nap! This is a goal every weekend (for me). It doesn’t always occur, but when it does, it’s soooo sweet! I find I want sugar when I’m tired. Not to mention I get a little bit grumpy when I’m in need of more zzzz’s.
Last, it’s not about being perfect, but choosing to make better decisions, more frequently, and more consistently over time. Becoming healthier is a journey.  And tomorrow always brings a new day.    That’s awesome.  So next time you are faced with that fork in the road, ask yourself, “What have I got to gain?”
image
Until next time, choose fit, be strong. And, laugh often.
~Lisa
 
Good morning friends, I have some good news…and some bad. Shall we hit the bad news first?  OK, here goes: There is no, definitive one-size-fits-all diet, workout, or magic supplement. That’s not too tragic, though, is it? Now for the good news: there are general principles, habits, foods, workouts, and supplements that when performed/eaten/done consistently will yield weight loss, improved health and energy.  In a nutshell, the list condensed below is where “it” is at. (“It” being the recipe for weight loss and improved health success.)
  • MOVE your body. As much as you can, as often as you can, in the manner that suits you most. We talked about sitting being the new “smoking” hazard, so get moving– as often and frequently as possible.
  • Don’t drink your calories. A fifth of what we consume (calorie wise) comes from beverages…and most are loaded with sugar and empty calories. (And yes, I am also talking about alcoholic beverages.)  Cut back! Unless of course, your “beverage” is whey protein shake—which is great post workout or as a meal replacement, in a pinch.
  • Get more sleep. Sounds easy, right? The reality is we trick ourselves into thinking we don’t need more sleep because we can survive on less. We don’t THRIVE on less, however, and performance and mental tests tells us otherwise. Sleep aids recovery, balances hormones, helps with weight loss, improves mood and more.
  • Watch “portion distortion”. Counting calories may not be your thing, but phone apps sure make it easy. What we have learned is that most people underestimate caloric intake and overestimate energy expenditure. Plus, most restaurants provide inflated serving sizes. Split a meal with a friend or take half home. Don’t be fooled by correlating empty, excessive calories as “value”.
  • Cheat foods are ok. Alright, even saying “cheat” or labeling foods as “good” or “bad” is not really a good thing to do. Consider colorful, real foods vs. processed, but instead of striving for perfection, strive for “good enough”. Or, try what I refer to as the “Catholic school girl diet”: eat like an angel 6 days a week and on the 7th day, make the devil blush! In other words, it’s ok to indulge a little. Just don’t let it derail you and keep it as an exception and not the rule. Remember, consistency is king.
  • Go heavy. Lifting weights, that is. Sorry ladies, you will NOT build huge muscles. And regardless of your age, everyone needs to lift heavy and combat muscle decline. Decreasing muscle mass equates to body fat increases AND a slower metabolism. Lift heavy and fire up your metabolically active tissue. NOW.
  • Variety is the spice of life. Mix up your workouts and you’ll get more out of them.
  • Find like-minded peeps. Community is important and like-minded people provide motivation, mentoring and help keep you accountable. I feel so fortunate for the fitness friends I’ve trained & learned from over the years.

IMG_0599

  • Adkins really did have it right. I’m not advocating a specific diet. Honestly, the best plan out there was laid out in the Old Testament. Real food, plain and simple. BUT, if you integrate a practice of carb swapping knocking out pastas and breads, it’s one of the easier ways to help you lose weight as many folks are sensitive to carbs. My fiancé and I are all over cauliflower options in lieu of pasta, potatoes, or bread. (Check out the recipe section of my blog for ideas.)
  • And about that Adkins….eat more fat. Yes, she said that. As much as 35% of your daily calories can be a mix of nuts, avocados, or healthy oils. It’s the TRANS fats you want to avoid like the plague.
  • You really can work out anywhere. Your body can provide great workouts. A jump rope is $10. Squat, climb stairs, step up, jump rope, do jumping jacks or push ups (from knees or feet), etc. A gym is not required.
  • Multi-function exercises work your body better and can aid fat loss. Consider a dumbbell squat to should press. Or, a deadlift to back row.
  • Regarding food, adding solid protein at each meal or snack will help keep you full and keep your metabolism going.
  • Hydrate. Dehydration can make you think you are hungry, impede performance, and affect your mood (plus a whole lot of other things). Water or tea help control your appetite and tea has so many wonderful benefits (see earlier blog). Drink water, drink tea, try some of the drinks I shared in my past blog, but HYDRATE, often.
Last of all, be kind to yourself. YOU are amazing and wonderful. And far from perfect. This is a journey we make together. Laugh at your mistakes and keep trying. YOU are worth it.
 Besides, “what have you got to GAIN”?
IMG_0598IMG_0600
(My earliest health & fitness mentor, Sharon Turrentine, used to ask this Q and it’s a great one. I met her when I was 19 and she was 39 and training for a body building contest. She looked amazing then AND still looks amazing today. A true testament to a healthy living lifestyle. Many thanks, my friend!  You have influenced my life in such a positive way.)
Until next time time, live fit, choose healthy, laugh often.
Lisa

 

On a hot summer day… or, after a good workout…or heck, BEFORE a good workout, you might turn to some form of hydration. After a lot of searching, I’ve landed on a few favorites I thought I’d share.  They are tasty, clean and quite simply, I love them.  So, here they are….#forthecause !
If you are looking for a pre-workout or a little pick me up to slay the day, then try VUKA Energy.  This stuff is the bomb. I tried it first at Lifetime Fitness. If you have been a Red Bull drinker, it’s time to make the ”intelligent energy” drink switch and “go beyond the buzz”. Filled with natural ingredients, no preservatives, and several options to choose from, Vuka Energy has you covered.  My favorite is the zero calorie Berry Lemonade “workout”.  I’ll delve more
vuka
Do you desire a good, clean hydration product with electrolytes and natural sugar (just enough, but not laden with it), and no chemicals, dyes or caffeine? Then checkout Aspire Beverages in several flavors–especially if your kids are into Gatorade (yuck).  Aspire “Storm” is my fave. Make the switch.
th
Kombucha that’s a soda?  Yep, you got that right. If you are a Kombucha drinker like me, you won’t mind a little natural sugar in the form of a fermented tasty soda replacement. Live Soda is based out of Austin, Texas and it’s my favorite post kick-butt workout indulgence. I earned it. It’s got good stuff. Live Soda just added a berry flavor, but Culture Cola is my favorite.
live
Soda without chemicals, nothing nasty…oh and no calories? If that’s your game, then try one of Uve’s sparkling beverage flavors. This company is new to the cleaner-living-soda game and are off to a great start. They offer several flavors and no sugar.
Uve
Enjoy!

 

A recent study of our US dining habits by the American Cancer Society took a look at 12k adults over a 7 year period. According to the study, we eat out an average of 2X a week, taking in an extra 200 calories…and the quality of those calories is more saturate fat, sugar and sodium.

Their lead researcher Binh Nguyen, PhD, said “If you eat out 2 days per week and do not exercise or reduce intake during the day, the additional caloric intake is about 20,000 calories per year, the equivalent of about 6 pounds annually.”

Yikes. Ok, I am an analyst by day, so I immediately  started doing more  scenarios…what if we eat out 3X a week, or 5X a week, or more..? You get the picture. Scary huh? Couple that with significantly more sedentary lifestyles (sitting is the new “smoking”) and it’s no wonder we have the health challenges we do.

Now, you can eat out and still eat healthy, but it will take a little planning in advance. Try these simple strategies:

Before you head out, look up the restaurant’s menu online. Most have calorie counts for better decision making. Just remember, many calorie totals exclude salad dressings and other toppings.
If you can’t get calorie counts, keep an eye out for lower fat options like clear, broth-based soups or spinach salads with the dressing on the side. With entrees, go for grilled, broiled, or steamed vs. fried. You can always ask your waiter for healthier options and most restaurants will work with you on adjustments. (high maintenance ordering as my kids like to tease!)
Remember portion distortion. Most entrees will serve 2-3 people! Split your meal AND save a buck. This works even better with desserts…if you must indulge in the chocolate cake (Lisa), get a spoon for everyone at the table!

 

Be fit, live well, laugh often.