Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What's on your shopping list? Here's what's on mine!

I can rattle off the first 10 items of my shopping list like nobody’s business…they are the items that make their way into my cart week in and week out, no matter what might my crazy schedule might be.  Below, I share the reasons.

1. Bananas –The combination of carbs, iron, potassium and natural sugars give me the perfect fuel before a run or a hard workout.  They can also thicken up a smoothie and travel nicely when you are on the go.  Bonus – they repel mosquitos.  Maybe it’s a banana a day that keeps the doctor away…..

2. Blueberries and strawberries – ahh – the notorious super fruits…there are so many benefits: they may cut the risk of heart-attack by 30%, they can delay or reduce memory loss, are filled with potassium, and they taste good on just about everything!  Great on my morning cereal, as a mid-afternoon snack or tossed in a smoothie.  LOVE.

3. Kashi cereal – If you love your bowl of cereal, whether it’s for breakfast daily, or on the weekend, through in some of those berries I mentioned and grab a box of Kashi. Even if you (or your kids) prefer the chocolate-y O’s or the Cinnamon Crunch the most calories you’ll pack per serving are about 190 calories and 4.5g of fat…just watch those portion sizes!  ¾ cup is all you get!  Keep a measuring spoon in the pantry – I sure do. 

4.  Whole grain bread – For me, the grainier & seedier the better.  This week’s choice is Whole Foods Multigrain.  I have to be careful here, because there are extra calories.  But there is extra taste and extra health benefits from all the grains and nuts in their bread.  I just make sure I have one slice instead of two, or if I have a full sandwich I have a fruit side (perfect place for those berries or melons) or some carrots instead of more processed carbs.

5. Peanut Butter – natural – ie: peanuts are the only ingredient!!  Besides being a yummy, yummy treat, 2 TB of peanut butter a day decreases your chances of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  And 2 fun little facts:  the saturated fat/unsaturated fat ratio is the same as olive oil (score!) and each year American’s consume enough of the stuff to coat the floor of the Grand Canyon.

6.  Naked Juice Green Machine – it might look yucky but it tastes PHENOMENAL.  It does pack in the calories and sugar, though (all from fruit) but I still limit myself to 4 oz. a day.  I use it to wash down my vitamins and get some extra fruit in daily.

7.  Greek Yogurt – besides being packed with protein, full of potassium and friendly to your digestive system it’s versatile…I'll definitely be sharing some recipes with you!

8.  Granola – Protein-packed crunchy deliciousness!  That’s all I can say.  I alternate between Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Flax and Peanut Butter flavors.  I through them in with yogurt or even with dry oats and milk (1/4 cup each) and top with some fruit before an early morning run!

9.  Organic 2% milk with Omega-3s – the best out there.  I truly believe 2% milk is better any day of the week than skim.  Yes there are more calories, but there is also more taste!  Health-wise, though, they both pack the same amount of protein, sugar and carbohydrates.  So choose what works with your palette and go for it.

10.  Dark Chocolate – the more bitter the better!  And I buy the individually wrapped – or else I’d eat the whole bar.  Ghirardelli 86% Midnight Reverie packs just 60 calories in a square and is the perfect sized desert.  Especially when paired with a good red while.  If you don’t like it quite that bitter there is also a 72% Twilight Delight, but to get the health benefits don’t go any lower.  Anything with less than 60 % and you’re missing the health benefit.  Do not, I repeat DO NOT buy the ones filled with mint or raspberry! 

And the things I always have on hand…

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – literally a do-it-all condiment, , drizzle on veggies before you bake. Sprinkle in some rosemary and thyme and voila – bread dip! It’s endless the list.  And good for you.
Vinegar – white, apple cider, champagne, rice, balsamic, flavored balsamic…it can spice up just about anything.  Mix the two above together for a fabulous, healthy salad dressing!
USANA Nurtrimeal powder (www.usana.com)…and first glance a bag may seem pricey but they average less than $5 per shake. But (with water) a 3-scoop serving weighs in at only 220 calories - doesn’t scream meal replacement to me!  However, stop at McDonald’s and buy a kids milk for $1 (drive-thru to avoid the temptation).  You’re up to 370 calories. They travel easily with a shaker and are great for when you are spending long days on the road and don’t have time to sit down for something more nutritious than fast food offers.  Now’s the time to grab that handy banana you bought as item #1.

Love a loaded gym!

Imagine my delight yesterday when I went in to hop on the treadmill yesterday and found a fully stocked weight rack!  

So here's my handy 30-minute hotel workout should you find yourself in a similar situation....I used 3 different weights - a 15lb dumbell for the squats, single-leg deadlifts & side lunges, a 10lb for tricep & bicep moves and 5lbs for the shoulder raises

Squats with single dumbell x25
Single-leg deadlift x10 per leg (w/row)
Single-leg kickback x10 per leg (w/ tricep kickback)
Plie Squat x25 (w/ overhead lateral shoulder raise)
Calf raise x20 (w/ tricep pulse)
Side lunge x15 per (w/ front should raise 1st half)
Stationary lunges x12 per leg (w/ bicep curl)
Walking lunges x10 per leg

REPEAT 3x with 60 rest between sets

Start with a light 5 minute warmup & end qith a good 3-4 minute stretch/cool-down.  

Good luck & get moving!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Is the workout you don't want to do actually the most beneficial?

Michael and I were out riding the River Trail loop the other day and really had to talk ourselves into going.  Which then got us talking more...when we have to force ourselves to workout do we actually benefit MORE?

The answer we came up seemed to make the most sense to us:  19.3 miles is 19.3 miles, so the distance and workout are essentially the same whether we felt like going or not.  But the way we FEEL at the end is well worth deciding to step out the door and choose a workout every time.

When we are debating skipping a workout, what are the reasons?  I'm too tired, I'm too cranky, I just don't feel like it, I'm too stressed, I need to spend more time with the family...all actually GREAT reasons to choose to exercise.

Our brain is affected by stress, which in turn impacts the rest of our body (lots of nerve connections up there).  So,really, improving the way our body feels should help improve the way our brain feels!  I like to think of it as a give-and-take relationship, equally reliable on one another to make each person feel their best.
Exercise gets your blood moving around your body and brings fresh oxygen to the brain - making you feel more alert AND improving your mood.  So what happens when we chose to lace up and get moving?..we lose that sluggish, tired, moody feeling that is taking over our being every afternoon.

Family time is sometimes sacrificed through the week - work, sports and other commitments often come 1st - so making time for your family can sometimes be challenging.  So get everyone involved in your new active lifestyle!  Take the hubby and the kids to the park, talk a walk or a bike ride together on the river trail, or if you have Sunday afternoons free why not pack a picnic lunch and go walk the trails at Mt. Nebo or Petit Jean Mountain?  You get the idea.

This does not have to be a 19 mile bike ride or even an hour long workout - it can be as simple as a 10 minute walk outside (or in a conference room) at lunchtime.  You know that commercial "10 minute walk at lunch, no 2:30 feeling later"...ok so maybe that's not EXACTLY it but I'd much rather take a walk than slam down an energy shot.

Another benefit I found when reading recently...Raising your heart rate can actually reverse damage to your brain that is caused by stressful events (forgetfulness, dulled memories) and promotes the production of norepinephriene, which is a neurohormone associated with improved cognitive function, elevated mood and learning.  (1)

So you aren't just improving your mood, you are improving your brain!

(1) The Huffington Post | Meredith Melnick | 05/21/2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's lies I tell you! All lies!

As I did my not very regular weigh in this morning I had to remind myself that the scale is a big fat Debbie Downer!

148lbs...148lbs...148.4lbs?!?!?!?  Yes, it's true.  That is what the scale has been telling me on a regular basis.  When I was 23 and working out 7 days a week -- 145...when I broke my leg, couldn't work out for a year and ballooned up to a size 12?  You guessed it...150!  And now,just this morning, while I'm in my size 4's and after a 5 miles run...you guess it...148.4!

We've all seen the picture above in some form or another.  The law of gravity insists that muscle does not weigh more than fat - 1 pound of feather is the same as 1 pound of lead - but muscle sure does take up a lot less room....and that pound of muscle that has replaced that pound of fat also burns more fat, even at rest. So when you increase muscle mass, you help your body burn more calories.  
--Read:  fat loss, increased metabolism, increase muscle mass--

For a number of years women were afraid of lifting weights - afraid of "bulking up".   I am ashamed to say I was one of them...boy was I wrong! Research, time, and trial and error has shown that strength training is a key component of overall health an fitness for EVERYONE.  

As we age our muscle mass naturally diminishes -- and is replaced by (you guessed it!) fat.  So we have to do something to counteract this cycle, and why not start NOW.   Combining the proper strength training (2-3 days per week, low weight/high reps) and cardiovascular exercise (2-3 day per week, intensity varies by individual) will give you ultimate results for your body.  

We see the health effects of cardiovascular exercise advertised daily - increased heart health, improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels,  and reduced risk of osteoporosis.   What we don't always see is that strength training, in addition to replacing depleting muscle mass, also helps you develop strong bones, control weight, boost stamina and sharpen your focus.  (The Mayo Clinic, April 2013)

When you have a lot of weight to lose, you will experience both a loss of fat and an increase in lean body mass when you are working out & you'll see a change when you step on the scale.  But if you're trying to lose that "last 5 pounds" do NOT continue to get on the scale and let the numbers get you down.  Listen to those pants that are falling off of your hips - and get them to the tailor so you can show off your newly sculpted bod!  

Remember my earlier post about patience? This is where it really comes into play!  It took me 30 years to find the patience to wait until I saw the results and to stop looking at the scale...but boy am I glad I did!

The scale might not always tell me what I want it to, but the mirror and the tags hanging in my closet sure do!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Morning Motivation

Let's face it, getting up at 4:45 (or earlier!) is just plain hard some days.  Especially when you can reason that you have THE REST OF THE DAY to workout.  But studies show morning exercisers are often the most consistent exercisers.  Rarely does something "pop up" before that 5:30 am session with an agenda to sabotage said workout. So for this gal, 4:45 it is.

Then I starting thinking - what can a little dose of motivation hurt? Now my morning starts with an annoying buzz and a friendly reminder that I can never take back what I choose to do in that moment.  So I get up, lace up and head out - even when I'd really rather roll over and snuggle in for another hour and a half.


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