Monday, November 24, 2014

10 Ways to Survive the Holiday Season

If your holiday season is anything like mine (and I can almost guarantee it is) it can be a challenge to stay on track for the last month of the year.

Potlucks. Dinners. Parties. Baking. Sweet Potato Casserole. Candied Yams. Pumpkin Pie. Pecan Pie. Champagne. Specialty Cocktails. Travel.  House guests.

The list is endless, and the temptations are plenty.  

Use a few of the hints below to help you stay on track this holiday season.

Share your sweets.

Did you get a special delivery from the goody man? Can’t imagine the holidays without baking?

Put 4 or 5 pieces in an airtight container on the counter, freeze half of what’s left and give away the other half. Split your piece of pie with a friend. 

Focus on your food.

Sit down while you eat or use a plate. Don’t grab while standing at a get together or while wrapping your gifts.  

When you are mindful of what you are eating you can keep track and enjoy!

Focus on the texture and the smell – most people often find they don’t, or don’t have to, eat as much when they take time to enjoy what they are eating.

Don’t cut back the week (or days) before so you can splurge.

Many people restrict themselves in the week leading up to a holiday or event, reasoning that this will give them permission to “splurge”.   And then they go overboard and binge.

Don’t deprive yourself in the days leading up to a party, but instead focus on eating healthy.

Eat a small nutrition bar or shake about 45 – 60 minutes before the party.

This will help keep you from overeating by taking the edge off of your appetite.

Alternate each glass of alcohol with a glass of water or club soda with lime. 

It will help shave calories and sugar and might just help you save a little face at the company party.  Remember Dan from last year...what ever happened to him anyways?!
Wear comfortable yet form fitting clothes.

The snug fit will keep you from eating too much. Remember Joey’s “Turkey eating pants” on Friends?  That's what you don't want to wear.

Buy a fabulous new holiday outfit, one that you know makes you look good; solid colors and clean lines are the most flattering – for men and women.

Move your workout time to morning or lunch.

This will give you less time to get caught up in holiday errands and blow off your workout. NO excuses!
Have you heard the saying "Workout in the morning - before your body can figure out what you're doing".  Well, it's kinda good advice, especially during holiday season.

Get your routine down NOW.

That ways it’s about habit, not forcing yourself to workout.  Thanksgiving might be only days away, but if you start new on Monday you have a full 3 weeks to create a new habit.

Start a new family tradition.

Some families play football in the backyard, some go one an early morning hike, some enjoy a bike ride, some run or walk the local Turkey Trot.

Why not start your own annual tradition and get some fresh air and some activity before the football games and eating begin?

Don’t use travel as an excuse.
Long drive ahead? Staying with the in-laws out in the country, with no gym in sight? Pack your tennis shoes and go for a walk.

Take a 10 minute walk on rest stops, get up early and explore a place you’ve never been to or have been missing back home.

Remember, being active doesn’t mean going to the gym, being active means finding a way – no matter where you are.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Cold Weather Running

With temperatures well below normal all over the country (well, maybe not in Arizona!) and the increase in runners around Little Rock in training for the marathon it's time to bust out the tights and dress for the cold weather.

If you are anything like me, running on the treadmill can be categorized as torture.  To maximize your training and train safely it is important to dress appropriately - you don't want to overheat, but you don't want to risk body temperatures dropping too low either.

My standard rule of thumb is: Dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer that it is. If it’s 35 out, I ask myself, “What would I wear to be comfortable in 55 degree weather?” and go from there. Not scientific, but it’s a piece of advice I read when the outdoors first became my gym and it’s really stuck with me.

While there are no definitive standards for when it is considered “too cold for outdoor exercise” (just think about the marathoners in the North and South Poles at -40 or -50 degrees!), the following precautions will also help to make your workout even more enjoyable:

1. Dress in Layered Clothing. Several thin layers are warmer than one heavy layer. Layers are also easier to remove (or add), better regulating your core temperature. The goal is to keep the body warm and minimize shivering.

2. Cover your Head.  As much as 50% of total heat lost exits from the  head and neck; invest in a toboggan designed for activity - they will be lined with moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep you dry while also keeping heat from escaping.

3. Cover your Mouth. This is especially important if breathing cold air causes chest pain or if you are prone to upper respiratory problems.  To warm the air before you breathe it, use a scarf or mask. 

4. Stay Dry. W et, damp clothing, whether from perspiration or precipitation, significantly increases body-heat loss. The same moisture-wicking clothing you used in the summer make a great base layer in the winter.

5. Keep your Feet Dry. Use a fabric that will wick perspiration away from the skin. Polypropylene, wool or other fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin and retain insulating properties keep the body warm when wet.

6. Stay Hydrated.  Dehydration affects your body's ability to regulate body heat and increases the risk of frostbite. Fluids, especially water, are as important in cold weather as in the heat. Avoid consuming alcohol or beverages containing caffeine, because these items are dehydrating.

7. Avoid Alcohol.   Yes, you read that correctly.  Alcohol dilates blood vessels and increases heat loss so the odds of experiencing a hypothermic event increase. Alcohol can also impair judgment to the extent that you may not make the best or brightest decisions in a cold weather emergency. It's best to leave the alcohol behind when you head out into the cold.

8. Know your Limits.  Everyone has their own idea of the perfect exercising weather. You might love the summer heat that makes you sweat like you're in a sauna. Your friend might still be wearing shorts when it's 35 degrees outside. When in doubt, do what's best for your body. That way, you can be sure to focus on the exercises, not the weather.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How to Build A Green Smoothie

I am a huge fan of a healthy, protein-packed smoothie - as a meal replacement, as a workout recovery, sometimes even as a snack (fruit and veggies only). I always feel great when I have one, and we often have them for meals when we travel. 
That's right - smoothies aren't just for breakfast anymore!  They are a great "fast food" option for lunch or dinner. Whether I get one on the go or make it myself, it takes less than 5 minutes. 
For 28 days (November 3rd - 30th) I'll be replacing one meal a day with a smoothie. You should try it – for a week, for a month, for 2 days – for however long you’d like. There are many benefits to a smoothie a day, especially when first making the transition to a healthier lifestyle and diet. 

Benefits of Healthy Smoothies
1. More nutrition packed in a smaller package.   We're talking size and calories here.  Research tells us we should be getting up to 2 cups of fruit per day and up to 3 cups of vegetables - but the majority of Americans (more than 65%) are not getting the recommended servings. Most fruits & vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. Adding a smoothie made with 2 cups of vegetables and a handful of green leafy greens tastes good and gives you added nutrients that you need and (probably) are not getting. 
2. More time for family and important-to-you tasks. As I mentioned above, creating a smoothies takes very little time when compared to making a full meal and has relatively little clean up. All you really need is a blender. This frees you up to spend time on other important things without sacrificing your health (and most likely improving it). 
3. Improved digestion. The food has already been broken down, which means less work for your digestive system to do later. Good-bye upset belly, gas and indigestion, hello happy tummy (and happy me!).
4. Increased energy & focus. You'll be giving your body (and brain) the vitamins and minerals that it needs, in the freshest way possible. This will help eliminate the foggy feeling and shoudl eliminate blood sugar spikes that often accompany processed and fast foods that are often filled with sugars, sodium and other fillers. 
5. Weight loss. Because fruits and veggies are lower in calories and higher in dietary fiber than most foods, a smoothie will help keep you fuller, longer and often with less calories.  This may also, in turn, keep you from reaching for that mid-afternoon snack. 
6.  Healthier immune system.  Flu season is here and fruits are packed with Vitamin C, which is essential for the growth and repair of all body tissues. Ditch the supplement and get your vit C the natural way! 

5 steps to a healthy smoothie (in under 5 minutes)
(bulleted points are examples only & my favorites, experiment with what you enjoy! - and share if you find a recipe you like!)
Step 1: Pick your liquid (10 - 12 oz.) - I choose water, but if you'd like something a little denser go for UNSWEETENED:
  • Almond Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Coconut Milk
Step 2: Throw in a handful of greens (I love the pre-package Simple Truth Brand at Kroger)
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Power Green Mix
Step 3: Choose 1-2 cups of fruit (fresh or frozen) .. the combinations and varieties are endless
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Banana (I peel & cut these in 1/4s before freezing)
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
Step 4: Add some extras (as much or as little as you want, but watch the calorie count with these)
  • 1 serving protein powder
  • 1-2 TBSP peanut butter (try the PB2 I mentioned here)
  • 1 TBSP ground flax or chia seeds
  • 2 TBSP avocado (sprinkle the leftover with fresh lemon juice and save the rest to have as a snack or with dinner!)
  • 1 TBSP raw, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP vanilla, peppermint or any other all natural extract (not artificial)
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 TBSP walnuts or almonds
Step 5:  Blend it all together!  You can even add some ice if desired. 
Tip:  When making a smoothie for later, I use a mason jar for easy transport.
If you'd like to add something a little sweet to your smoothie, add an optional Step 6: 
  • 1 packet or tsp Stevia
  • 1 tsp raw honey or raw agave
  • 2-3 medjool dates

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