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Archive for the ‘healthy habits’ Category

Happy middle of the week!!! We’re doin’ it–Friday is in sight!

I was just taking a stroll down Memory Lane. Growing up living mostly with my grandparents, we all ate very traditionally, very middle-America. One of the things my grandfather loved was very simple: wide pasta noodles in chicken broth, seasoned with black pepper.

As I reached my weight-loss phase, I realized that this simple dish was “healthy” by the standards we’d set back then: it was low in calories and fat! (It was definitely high sodium, but I didn’t have blood pressure problems, so I was told not to worry about sodium.) So, I treated myself to this homemade noodle bowl a few times a week, because it was good for me.

Of course, I look back at that and shake my head. We called that “healthy”? I’d certainly call it “not too bad”, but now, I don’t give something a “healthy” label unless it contains a reasonable amount of nutrition… which this bowl of noodles does not. (Maybe a tiny bit of protein in the chicken broth? And we weren’t using whole wheat noodles…)

I find it interesting how the definition of “healthy” has changed, in the food industry, in the past 10-15 years. But I think it’s changed in a good way. More of us have been trained to reach for whole foods rather than processed foods, and nutrition labels are changing or the better, as well. (Now, whether or not we choose to read them is a different story…)

So, lest you think I’m totally nutrition-pious and deserve a halo……. I do eat my 5 servings of fruit and veg every day, and I drink a cup of green tea every day. I also get a lot of water. But, I do have something sweet on a daily basis, and it’s not always a healthy sweet (yesterday, I had yogurt sweetened with maple, but other days–look out!). I figure–if you hate everything you eat, what’s the point of living?

One more thing–my friend and fellow instructor Jessica has recently started blogging her experiences with P90X and Insanity. Check it out!

How has your definition of “healthy eating” changed over the past 10 years?

I’m not talking about the alcoholic sort… (though those certainly add up, too!) I’m talking about the luscious, creamy, yummy…… “coffees” that we’ve grown to love.

Come on… we know they’re “coffee drinks” and not coffee… even I, a true-blue black coffee drinker, occasionally get a hankerin’ for something made with caramel, hazelnut, and white chocolate. (Yummmm. That sounds so… dessert-like!)

Are you drinking your calories?

Consider this

According to a Starbucks website, a 16 oz caramel frappuccino contains 440 calories and 18 grams of fat. Wow! How many of us have this as just part of our midday snack?

If you had one of these every workday, that’s almost 2500 extra calories per WEEK!

You don’t have to be spartan

I remember back in my early weight loss days, all the books that said how easy it was… just trade your usual (ooey, gooey, buttery, cheesy) dinner for a poached chicken breast and steamed broccoli. Oh–and you even get to season it with lemon juice! Seriously, did these writers not know their audience? How did we get so overweight in the first place? You can’t make that sharp a transition!

What I’m trying to say is that if you’re downgrading the coffee drink calories, don’t go cold-turkey. Maybe try getting a smaller one for a few weeks, or try getting half the number of syrup pumps, or one without whipped cream… you have many calorie-reducing possibilities! Then once that feels like second-nature, take another reduction step. After a while, you might find you’re quite pleased with a black coffee with a splash of nonfat milk, and maybe a pump of sugar-free syrup–easier on the budget, as well! (But once again, don’t force yourself there immediately if you’re getting triple-whip chocolate bliss.)

But, don’t take forever to downgrade.

So, you’re slowly making progress toward leaner, healthier coffee drinks (or… substitute anything for coffee drinks: appetizers or cocktails with your friends, dessert choices…) by making one change at a time as outlined above. Just don’t take too long at each plateau, or you’ll never see progress. Make goals for yourself: maybe you’ll be drinking only 3 fancy coffees per week, and those being nonfat lattes, in four months. (Not that you can’t drink coffee, but maybe the rest is just plain ol’ coffee!) Be proud of your accomplishments when you reach your goal… just don’t reward yourself with a trenta caramel brulee frappuccino. 😉

Do you guys like fancy coffee drinks? Do you try to make them healthier, or do you just go for it when you get them? Me, I’ve become so budget-conscious that I only drink fancy coffee drinks less than once a month, so I just get whatever I want as a treat!

Happy dyed eggs and bunny ears!

Time for the twice-monthly list of interesting posts and articles I’ve found on the web… all helping YOU get fit physically and mentally!

Fellow Pilates instructor Karin Singleton talks about maintaining a strong foundation in your body even if you’re working out other parts of your body. One of my favorite Pilates metaphors: if the trunk isn’t strong, the branches cannot be supported!

A great post from Melinda’s Fitness Blog on overcoming 10 common workout distractions. We can do it!

I read Janetha’s blog all the time, and this (garbanzo bean turkey bake) is going to be one of the next things I make. It looks so yummy! 🙂

OK, this one isn’t fitness-related, but it’s good for the soul (and the dessert is bite-sized, therefore portion-controlled… kind of…) Have you tried cake balls? They’re like truffles, but with cake inside! Easy to make, too! I made my batch with homemade cake and frosting (because that’s my style) but store-bought works just as well. Great party food! (For spring, you could do a yellow cake with colored white chocolate, flavored with peppermint oil… now I want some!!)

Hope all of you are having a joyous holiday!

Hey, y’all! We’ve had so much wonderful sunshine here… sure hope the weather has been gracious to you!

So,, how have your workouts been going? Have you been doing the same-old, same old workouts, getting the same-old, same-old results? Zzzz. Yawn.

yawning kitty

Maybe I’m not the first person to tell you this, but your body and soul CRAVE change! (And not the kind you get from the vending machine.)

You’ve all heard the old saying about the definition of insanity, right? The insane person does the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Are you this person in the gym, seeing the same results?

I used to be this person. Running used to be my only form of cardio, with occasional stationary biking if my knees bothered me (but to be honest, I really didn’t like it). I lifted a weight or two because it was good for me. And I was getting nowhere.

But then, I started taking spinning classes at the gym. (Fun! New form of cardio to mix in!) And I started doing step again–am I the only one who started this in the early ’90’s, way back? I fell totally in love with Pilates and made it my life. I was having fun and getting leaner!

Bottom line: Explore your options, and find a variety of forms of exercise. (A gym class, outdoors, gardening, cleaning house–whatever gets you moving!) Attempt to find 2-3 forms of cardio and strength to cross-train your body throughout the week, rather than trudging through the same type of exercise. Even more ideally, the exercise is functional, mimicking our daily activities.

So there’s your task for the week–change up your activity! (I’ve been laid up post-hip-surgery for weeks, and I think I may have permission to add stationary biking to my upper body weight repertoire in the next few days! Hey, it’s an exciting change for me! Read this space for progress…)

meeting our target!

Earlier this week, I had a Facebook chat with a friend and her brother about healthy habits. My friend is big into fitness like I am, and luckily, she’s been rubbing off on her brother: her brother quit smoking about 1 1/2 months ago. I’ve never been a smoker, but from what I’ve heard, it’s a tough habit to kick! I congratulated him on this change.

However, he started berating himself on not getting to the gym often enough. And I told him to stop that nonsense!

Stopping smoking is a big habit change for the better. (So if you’re there, way to go!) Assuming you don’t add another bad habit to compensate, give it a few months to take hold. Then you’re golden with Behavior #1! Once you feel confident with your new-found healthy behavior, you have the mental strength to tackle another–because you’ve done it once!

Little by little, your healthy habits will add up to a new, healthy you! And by adding your new behaviors individually, rather than tackling them all at once, your lifestyle change won’t feel so intimidating at the outset.

My lifestyle change for this month (that I admit I’ve repeated several times, shame) is eating a minimum of 5 fruit and vegetable servings each day. I’ve made it five days so far, successfully! Join me with your goal, and post in the comments below! Together, we can do it!

Ugh. Pressure, sneezing, watery eyes… lots of us are familiar with the first signs of spring. And just when you were getting into your outdoor workout routine for the first time this year, Mother Nature has different plans! Luckily, there are some ways to outsmart her, so we can embrace our walking, running, and hiking.

Drugs Are Good, M’kay?

First, consult with your medical practitioner to see if you’re a candidate for a non-drowsy allergy medication. I remember years ago taking those that would put me to sleep. We don’t have to worry about those side effects anymore!

You Are In Control

Aside from medication considerations, we, as exercisers, can control our environment so that we can still enjoy the sunny outdoors.

Don’t Get Exhausted

For instance, if you live in an urban area, try not to run close to busy streets. You may react to pollutants in the exhaust from cars, as well, and the exhaust may make your allergies worse.

Save It For Later

If you like hiking in parks and on trails, save it for later spring and early summer. Right in the beginning of the season, pollen is the heaviest.

Come Clean

Speaking of pollen, if you are pollen-sensitive, make sure you take a shower right after you work out, because the pollen sticks to your hair. And pollen is most highly concentrated early in the morning, so if you can switch to working out at noontime or in the evening, that’s your best bet.

Walk On Water

If you’re one of the lucky ones who can snag an ocean vacation, or lives near the ocean, pollen counts are lower there. No excuses not to run or walk a few miles on vacation!

Those are my thoughts, as a mild allergy sufferer. I’d love to hear advice from anyone in the trenches!

Oh, and somebody please tell the snow that April Fools’ Day is OVER!!!

Happy Sunnnnnnday! What’s going on?

(I see you, lying there on the couch in your pajamas, trying to muster the motivation to do anything other than hit the button on the remote. And I’m not saying that I don’t have many, many days like that–I’m human, too!)

feeling laaazzzy

So if you’ve hit a Sunday–or any other day–where you’re having a case of the blahs but really want to do a little bit of good for yourself… what to do?

In no particular order…

  • Get outside. Sometimes, just getting some Vitamin D on the skin and feeling the sun’s rays (yeah…. I live in Seattle… we feel rays of overcast) is enough to perk us up. Don’t commit to going for a “30 minute walk” when you set out–just go outside and start walking with no time goal, and see what happens. You may surprise yourself. 🙂
  • Bottoms up. Dehydration can cause fatigue–have you been getting enough water? Often, just a few glasses of water can perk us up.
  • What if it’s icky outside? Yeah, I’ve heard this one a lot. No excuses–we have our ways around this! There are plenty of great online options for gentle, energizing exercise:
    • My favorite is Pilates Anytime, with videos from 10 to 75 minutes long taught at a variety of levels. The instruction is top-notch.
    • Yoga Journal has a 21-Day Challenge consisting of a daily yoga practice of varying length and focus (morning practice, challenging vinyasa flow, shoulder openers, etc etc). You can repeat days in the challenge as many times as you want.
    • And I posted on this a few weeks back, but for a quick pick-me-up, Amber at Epic Self has a 3-minute video involving breath and core muscles to immediately boost our energy. It only takes 3 minutes, folks!

So if you’ve hit a slump, I hope these ideas get you going again! And if you go for your walk or your 3-minute posture break… and you still feel ICK… remember: these times will pass! You will feel like a ROCKSTAR in due time!

What do you guys do when your body feels in a slump? How do you get going again?

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