Nutrition Habits – Dr. Mike’s 6 Pillars of Nutrition

One of the most difficult things that I do as a personal trainer is San Jose is help people change their nutrition habits. I joke with my clients that as much as I think the workouts I design for them kick butt— I absolutely, positively cannot out-train a poor diet. Changing nutrition habits in order to change your physique is huge. Most clients see me 2-3 times per week. How they spend the other 165 hours a week can make or break their results 😉 . Yes–getting lean and feeling great is probably 80% nutrition.

How do personal trainers manage what their clients eat? Well, it’s rather difficult. Old habits die hard. Social pressure to eat and drink to excess is everywhere.

I’ve helped people with their fitness and nutrition programs for over 25 years. I think that different people need different approaches (thus, the “personal” in personal training!). But, two common threads come into play for most people:

1) Changing habits over time

2) Following a written plan

A few months back I read a blog post by Dr. Mike Roussell, a Registered Dietician that I really admire. In his post, Dr. Mike laid out his “6 Pillars of Nutrition”. This list pretty much sums up the habits that I try to drive my clients to over time:

Dr. Mike Roussell’s Four Pillars of Nutrition

1) Multiple meals
• Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack
• Not too big, not too small

2) Reduced processed food
• Minimize added sugar as much as possible. It’s easily the worst thing in your diet
• Minimize refined carbs. They’re empty calories.
• Processed food have more preservatives and sodium

3) Veggies and fruit
• Every meal.
• You can eat a large quantity for fewer calories.
• They’re dense in vitamins and minerals

4) Water
• Increase water and decrease calorie containing beverages

5) Lean proteins
• Eat a little with EVERY meal

6) Be strategic w/starches
• Insert these foods right after exercise or first thing in the morning.
•Your body is able to accept more carbs at these times.

These 6 pillars trump calorie counting. Calories DO count (i.e., quantity counts), but the QUALITY of your calories is paramount.

My belief is that if you live by these 6 pillars AND you eat the proper portions, you will absolutely have a leaner body.

With regard to following a written plan–the best results I’ve seen have come from having a client select a customized meal plan geared toward their food preferences and fitness/weight loss goals. Although I ultimately want my clients to create their own meal plans, giving them a well-balanced, done-for-you portion controlled meal plan at the start teaches them good nutrition and takes all the guess work out of “what should I eat?”. Over time, the meal plan becomes second nature and a part of my client’s lifestyle. At lifeSport Fitness, we use ProDiets web-based meal planning software for our clients. They can choose from dozens of Registered Dietician-designed meal plans all geared toward healthy, balanced eating.

You see, getting healthier is all about changing habits—both your nutrition AND your exercise habits.

In this post, I’ve covered my best advice for how to change nutrition habits over time.

Next week, I’ll be back with my best advice for how to incorporate exercise into your busy life .

Yours in health,

Becky

6 Tips To Improve Your Sleep

A good night’s sleep can be elusive to many people. The bad news is—lack of sleep may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts!

How does poor sleep affect weight loss?

If you are sleep deprived, your metabolism will not function properly (your hormones may be out of whack).

The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat. When you are sleep-deprived, your body excretes more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin OR you are more resistant to it (researchers aren’t sure). High circulating ghrelin plus a lack of (or resistance to) leptin is a recipe for disaster!

To add to the “hormones out of whack” issue, the more sleep-deprived you are, the more your adrenal glands excrete cortisol. Cortisol stokes your appetite :-(.

Hormones aside, when you’re tired, you’re more likely to make food choices based on whatever is easiest and will make you feel better in that moment.

Hormones that are out of whack combined with a tired brain that can’t make good decisions spells disaster for someone trying to eat better!

So, one thing I tell my San Jose personal training clients is that if they want to have better weight loss results, they MUST take note of their sleep–both quality and quantity.

Here are my top 6 tips for getting better sleep:

1). Support your body’s natural rhythms
-Be careful of napping too long (stick with about 30 minutes)
-Avoid sleeping in too long on weekends
-Attempt to get to bed at the same time each night

2). Control your exposure to light
-Expose yourself to natural light as soon as you can in the morning
-If you work indoors, try to work near natural light
-If you work indoors, get outdoors a few times a day
-Avoid electronic devices right before bed. The LED light interupts melatonin production
-When it is time to sleep, make sure your room is DARK (watch out for LED clocks!)

3). Get regular exercise
-The more vigorous the exercise, the more sleep promoting it is
-Exercise too close to bedtime can interfere with some people’s sleep

4). Be mindful of what you eat and drink
-Be careful about afternoon caffeine
-Avoid big meals late at night
-Figure out if evening alcohol disrupts your sleep in the middle of the night
-Avoid too many liquids in the hour before you go to bed

5). Improve your sleep environment
-Optimal room temperature is 63-67 degrees
-Dim the lights in the 30 minutes leading up to bed
-Keep noise down
-Experiment with pillows, mattress toppers, etc. to find the best bed/pillow combination

6). Wind down/clear your head
-Create bed-time ritual (yoga, stretching, meditation, reading , aromatherapy)
-Create a to-do list for tomorrow…….and then let all the “head chatter” go

If you can improve your sleep/sleep habits over time, you may just start to see excess pounds drop off just a little bit easier!

“I would argue that sleep is probably the most important thing a person can do if they’re ready to lose weight,” –Michael Breus, PhD, sleep specialist

Image credit: www.flickr.com/table4_9

Halloween Strategies That Support Weight Loss

Halloween Jack 'O LanternSome of my clients mark the beginning of the Holiday Season when pumpkins and Halloween candy arrive. Hot on the heels of my Back-To-School Transformation Challenge, I’m focused on helping my boot campers and personal training clients stay in control these last three months of the year when sensible eating and regular exercise can fly out the window. Here are my tips to getting through the first major holiday this season… Halloween.

1. Give Out Toys Not Candy

Rather than give out bite-sized candy bars consider something different. Halloween Super Stores, dollar and party stores have bins where small and inexpensive items are displayed. Why not give away things like glow in the dark spiders, pumpkin stickers, blow bubbles, etc. Once you start looking for non-food treats you’ll be amazed at the variety.

2. Wait Til The Last Minute

If you can’t imagine not giving out candy on Halloween, then wait til the very last minute. That way you decrease the amount of time you’re tempted to sneak a treat and sabotage your weight loss efforts.

3. One At a Time

When the trick-or-treaters come to your door, open one bag at a time. That way you won’t be tempted to munch thru a bag before the little ones arrive.

3. Get Stuff You Don’t Like

In all fairness this strategy may not work for you. I’ve met clients who say they didn’t meet a candy they didn’t devour when they’re in the clutches of a sugar binge. Perhaps this one will work for you. Another client really dislikes licorice… so she hands out “Good n Plenty.”

4. Remove the Contraband

After all the trick-or-treaters have left, get the candy out of the house. Put it in the trunk of your car or someplace where it’s not easily accessible. Take it to work the next day or give it soup kitchen charity.

5. Reward Yourself with Weight Loss Friendly Prize

The point here is that if you know that Halloween candy will be a problem for you, take action.  Imagine getting through October 31 without plowing through a bag of candy. Think of a non-food reward (e.g., massage, mani/pedi, a month of boot camp;) you can give yourself. That may be all the motivation you need to get through the day.

If you’ve used other strategies to successfully remain on track with weight loss during the Holidays—please post them here!

Have a Happy (and healthy!) Halloween!

 

Image credits:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/randysonofrobert/285431899/

Coconut Milk: A Healthy Alternative

Coconut Milk Now on Supermarket Shelves

Girl_Drinking_Coconut_MilkHave you noticed that the dairy section has exploded with new choices? For years cows milk shared the refrigerated section with it’s lonely companion, soy milk. Now almond and coconut milk has burst onto the scene. If you’re dairy intolerant, this is definitely good news. Many new diets have touted its benefits. Several of my clients have made the switch with great weight loss results. So, I thought I’d share some of the health benefits of coconut milk.

Good for the Brain

Kieran Clarke, head of the Cardiac Metabolism Research Group and professor of  physiological biochemistry at Oxford University, believes there’s a connection between coconut oil and improved brain function. Professor Clarke is an expert on the way the body makes and uses energy. As explained in an article about an Alzheimer’s patient, here’s how the connection works:

Most of the time our brains rely on glucose from carbohydrates, but if that isn’t available — because we haven’t eaten anything for a while or because we’re eating almost no carbohydrates — then our brain cells can switch to using the energy from our fat stores.

This energy comes in the form of small molecules called ketones. As Professor Clarke explains: ‘Coconut oil contains a lot of a particular sort of fat that our bodies can use to make more of the ketone “brain food.” It’s known as MCT (medium chain triglycerides) and it’s not found in the fats most of us eat.Coconut tree

Choose Unsweetened Coconut Milk

When buying a coconut milk, look for unsweetened. This is not the same as coconut water, which is also a very popular substitute for sodas or sugary drinks. I advise my boot camp and personal training clients to stay hydrated. I suggest reaching for plain water first.

Coconut milk can be found in the refrigerated section or where other milk alternatives are stocked. There are two major brands — So Delicious and Silk. Even Trader Joe’s has their own version. Check the labels for the calorie content. Many cartons make it easy by putting the number right on front. 45 calories a cup seems to be the lowest available, and most don’t have added cane sugar. There are conflicting reports on the impact on cholesterol. So check with a licensed dietitian or your doctor to figure out what’s best for you.

Other Health Benefits

Here are some other health claims linked to coconut milk and oil:

  • Rich in lauric and caprylic acid which are powerful fatty acids that have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral effects
  • High in medium-change triglycerides which has been linked to burning fat
  • Cooks at a high heat without damaging its healthy properties

How do you use coconut milk in a healthy diet? Let me know if you’re interested in coconut-related recipes!

Committed to your success,

Becky

 

Image Credits:

Girl Drinking Coconut Milk

Coconut Tree

5 Weight Loss Plateau Tips

Weight_Loss_Plateau_TipsMany of us experience a weight loss plateau on our journey to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. You know the story. When those unwanted pounds are dropping off… life is good. You’re motivated. You’re exercising. You’re creating life-long habits that make you feel great. Then you hit a bump and that downhill slide stops.  Life still good? Not so much.

 

 

Here are five tips that have helped my fitness clients bust through stubborn weight loss plateaus.

1. Write It Down

Studies have shown that people who write down what they eat lose more weight and shed it more consistently. In a study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers followed 1,685 overweight Americans aged 25 and older. Participants kept food diaries and were encouraged to eat healthy and exercise regularly. After six months the average weight loss was 13 pounds. So what was the major predictor? You guessed it… writing it down. Those who tracked what they ate every day lost more weight. Using a food journal helps in two ways: accountability and awareness. I suggest finding a system that you can stick with and write down what you eat before you eat it. If you have a smartphone, consider MyFitnessPal for easy tracking. If you use a FitBit, they have a tracking tool as well.

2. Water Anyone?

Most Americans are dehydrated. If you’re thirsty, your body is already depleted. Did you know that water is your body’s principal chemical component? It makes up about 60% of your body weight. If you’re experiencing a weight loss plateau, examine how much H2O you’re actually drinking every day.

According to The Institute of Medicine, they recommend these beverage totals:

  • 3 liters (about 13 cups) for men
  • 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) for women

These totals include all types of beverages like juice and coffee as well as water. Seems like a lot.  The point is we need to drink non-caffeinated beverages to replenish what we lose in our breath, perspiration, and in the restroom.

3. More Veggies, Please

Truth be told, we didn’t gain weight by eating too many veggies :-). Vegetables are typically lower in calories and fill you up with healthyEat_More_Veggies_To_Overcome_A_Weight_Loss_Plateau fiber. Check your food diary to see if you’re getting enough greens in your diet. To bust through that weight loss plateau, may be more broccoli and less brown rice will do the trick.

4. Get More Sleep

When we are chronically tired, we tend to reach for quick-energy foods or items that provide comfort. According to The Mayo Clinic guidelines, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Of course, quality trumps quantity. Your weight loss plateau may just need a few more zzzzzs to loosen its hold.

5. Increase Physical Activity

What kind of fitness trainer would I be if I didn’t mention increasing physical activity! Varied workouts can keep things interesting… and weight loss friendly. If your exercise program has gotten too “routine”, change it and /or bump it up a notch. Sign up for a boot camp for a more intense calorie burn. Do some interval training so you boost your metabolism. When I work with my personal training and FitCamp clients, I mix things up to work different muscle groups to increase heart rate and stamina.

 

Remember……plateaus happen.  Never, ever EVER give up!  If you’ve recently loss weight, remember that even if you’re currently hitting a plateau, you’re better off than you were a few weeks or months back.  You don’t want to give up and backslide into old habits.  Keep moving toward your goals with some of the tricks I listed above.  Your plateau WILL pass.

Committed to your success,

Becky

*********
Image Credits:

Lego Weight Lifter:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/5268559005/

Fresh Veggies:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/eeko/4684793074/

Belly Fat Culprits: Items to Avoid

Tips_To_Avoid_Belly_FatBelly fat – or those extra inches you can pinch around your middle – has been linked to some serious health issues. If you’re like many of my fitness clients, getting rid of belly fat is on their workout wish list. In a previous post, I shared ideas on what to add to your diet or exercise regimen to target belly fat.

Today, let’s turn that around a bit and zero in on those items to avoid.

Belly Fat Culprits

I often tell my clients not to expect perfection. Even so, if you can minimize these four culprits, you’ll be on your way to a flatter tummy.

1. Overdoing It With Alcohol

In moderation alcohol isn’t bad for you. There are numerous studies citing where a glass of wine can actually contribute to a healthy lifestyle. It’s when you have three plus drinks in a day — even infrequently — you may be adding to your belly fat. Overdoing it with alcohol not only dehydrates you, it is sabotaging your efforts to lose unwanted pounds.  My recommendation is to space out your drinking. I’ve found that limiting consumption to a specific day (like a weekend evening) so you have no more than a glass or two is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.

2. Trans Fat ConsumptionChips_Have_Trans_Fat

Even if you’re watching your calorie consumption, food with trans fat can cause belly fat weight gain. Trans fats are found in processed food like salty snacks. Get into the habit of checking labels. Trans fat is known to hide in unusual places like bran cereals, and reduced or low fat ice creams.

3. Minor Stress

I can hear you now… living in Silicon Valley comes with stress!  Even so, figuring out how to reduce your stress can help release that stubborn belly fat. A University of California San Francisco study found that those eaters who didn’t relax five minutes before they ate actually gained more weight. Whatever you choose to eat, take a few minutes to relax first. Then, practice mindful eating — where you pay attention to your food rather than on electronic gadgets. Most likely you’ll find that you’ll get fuller faster and feel more satisfied.

Another way to reduce your stress is regular exercise. If the idea of walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes sounds boring, it’s probably an indication you need variety in your work outs. Try a boot camp or zumba class. People who exercise regularly have less belly fat and are better able to cope with life’s normal stress levels.

4) Added Sugar

Added sugar is in SO many things like salad dressings, jarred pasta sauce, fruit flavored yogurt, and juices.  Read your labels!  If you eat  packaged foods, you may be eating quite a bit of added sugar.  Studies have shown that added sugar in the American diet is making people fatter.  There’s a reason some researchers now call big waistlines “sugar bellies”.

 

This week as you eat your meals, look at the 4 things to avoid above and see what you can do to minimize some of the “Belly Fat Builders” in your normal eating routine.

Remember, every little thing you do to eat just a little better makes a difference.  Occasional indulgences are fine.  Pig out once in awhile!  It’s the things you do (or don’t do!) on a daily basis that create the body you’re living in today.

 

Photo attributions:

Man on Bench:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4887846284/

Chips and Salsa:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffk/31573766/

 

Weight Loss After The Holidays

The first time you jump on the scale after the holidays, it might be a particularly traumatizing experience. Weight has a way of creeping up on you at this time of the year. You might even be one of those who is afraid to look at the number on the scale. Yes, I know, it’s time for a killer weight loss strategy!

As you may know from reading my blog, I’m NOT a quick weight loss advocate.  I believe in the slow and steady lifestyle approach.  However, I know those holiday pounds on your hips or in your belly don’t feel good.  So let’s talk about a few quick and easy strategies to get the weight loss effort moving in the right direction.

 

For a start, consider limiting or cutting out alcohol until you get back down to your desired weight. Alcohol is just empty calories (and a lot of them) and I’d rather have you concentrate on EATING calories instead DRINKING them. If you really can’t do without your beloved alcohol, consider pouring less of it and having it less often.

After the holidays, it’s common to feel incredibly bloated. Often times this is due to a higher refined carbohydrate intake and/or water retention.  The fix for this? Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and cut back on refined and processed grain products (like bread, cookies, cakes, pies, etc). This will help you drop excess water weight, and you can replace the non-nutritious flour-based products with vegetables and fruits.

One of the reasons for weight gain over holidays is many of us over-indulge on rich treats and we eat larger portions. Now that the holiday is over, it’s time to push the rich treats to the back burner as occasional treats, and go back to normal portions.  Truth be told, I believe that most of us who are struggling with weight issues have probably fallen victim to PORTION issues :-).  If you’re looking for weight loss after the holidays—look to put smaller portions on your plate. Plain and simple!!

Aside from portion control, one of my best weight loss solutions for you is to write down your food intake each day.  Yep.  I know.  It’s tedious.  However, IT WORKS!  You’d be amazed at all the little things that go into your mouth that you forget about when you mentally recall your daily food intake.  When you WRITE DOWN your daily intake—it’s easier to keep track of what goes in your mouth!

Finally, in your effort to get on the weight loss wagon after the holidays, I’d suggest  you start making an appointment with yourself for regular exercise.  I like interval training to spur on faster weight loss, but if you’re  new to exercise, just getting out for a brisk walk, a hike, or some time on cardio machine at your health club is certainly a start.

Weight loss after the holidays doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, if you only gained a few pounds over the holidays, and you employ just one of the strategies I’ve told you and return to your  normal, non-holiday eating patterns, you should be back to normal weight within a couple of weeks.

Get out the the “indulgent” calories, be aware of what you’re eating and your portions, and schedule exercise.  That’s it.  There’s your post-holiday weight loss plan!

For more articles go to http://lifesportfitness.lifestyleezine.com

Four Tips to Look 10 Years Younger

Getting fit and healthy is amazing for your body and self-confidence.  It can also take years off your appearance.  Dropping a few pounds can thin out your entire body, especially your face which is what people usually see first. It can also reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Look 10 years younger by following four simple tips:

1.  Go Shopping
Before you embark on your journey, go shopping! Buy an “inspirational” outfit in the size you are aiming to reach. The excitement of shopping for a smaller size will be very motivating. Hang the outfit where you will see it often, or take a picture of it and post it on your refrigerator so it will be a constant reminder of what weight you want to be. You can also treat yourself to a new workout outfit to inspire you to exercise regularly.

2.  Clean Out Shop
You may have developed some unhealthy habits within the past ten years. Now is the time to let those habits go and forge forward with new ones!

Eliminating unhealthy food and snacks is a good place to start. Throw out sweet and high calorie foods and replace them with fruits and veggies which are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are needed for a productive and youthful body. You may notice your energy level improving as you eat healthier and consume fewer sugary food and drinks. You may get a temporary “spike” of energy because of a sugar fix, but that energy quickly wanes and you are left feeling tired and lethargic.

Switch out your soda or other high calorie drinks for water and unsweetened ice tea. Drink at least 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water everyday. That alone will knock hundreds of calories off your daily intake and help you shed a few pounds. Plus, a hydrated body will improve your skin and make it more elastic while giving you a youthful glow.

3.  Let Go of Other Bad Habits
You may have vices that help you cope with the daily stress of living, but these vices are aging you far too soon. Drinking alcohol regularly not only packs on the pounds, but it also dehydrates the body which leaves your skin pale and dry, causing wrinkles and dark spots.  Your internal organs (liver and kidneys) have to work overtime to get rid of the toxins of the alcohol.

Smoking will also age you, as well as put you at high risk for cancer. There are thousands of poisons and toxins in a single cigarette which dehydrates the body, and they seep into the skin causing acne and wrinkles. These toxins also affect the cells within the body that assist with oxygen flowing through the blood vessels properly.

Collagen plays a key role in the firmness of the skin and with smokers, the collagen levels are drastically decreased. Lower collagen levels make the skin look pasty and bloated which will add years to your appearance.

4.  Exercise
If you want to be thinner and more healthy, you will have to exercise, especially if you are over 30. Once you hit the age of 30, your metabolism slows down, which means the calories you eat regularly aren’t broken down and burned off nearly as quickly as you were in your 20’s.

We gain weight by eating more calories than we work off or expend, so you will need to revamp your diet plan by eating fewer calories and exercising to burn off the calories that you do take in. For every 3,500 calories that you eat, you will gain one pound of fat if none of those calories are burned off.  Take a boot camp class for maximum burn!

Go online and use a free calorie expenditure calculator to find out how many calories you burn in various workouts. Use your weight and your age to determine how many calories you should be consuming per day. Then find an exercise program that will work off a few hundred of those calories to get the weight loss you are looking for.   Take a San Jose boot camp workout for maximum calorie burn!

For more articles go to http://lifesportfitness.lifestyleezine.com

Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Holiday drinks-go easy on them to avoid holiday weight gain!It is said that the average American gains about 7 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day. We’re smack dab in the middle of  a season of food gifts, cookie exchanges and parties highlighting rich food that can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy lifestyle. Is holiday weight gain and a soaring cholesterol level an inevitable result come January 1st? Absolutely not! With some careful thought and a little planning, you don’t have to celebrate the New Year 7 lbs. heavier.

First of all let’s make it clear that we don’t “get fat” from eating too much on Thanksgiving Day or at our annual holiday dinner. It’s what we do on a day-to-day basis between October 31st and December 31st that is the real test as to what our waistlines will look like on New Year’s Day.

With a little pre-planning and some resolve you can enjoy the holiday season, attend your social gatherings and still fit into your clothes come New Year’s Day. Here’s how:

1). Throw out the diet mentality
Telling yourself you “can’t have something” or that you were “bad” at the last party because you ate something you consider off limits will eventually put you into a state of feeling deprived. Shift your thinking to an “everything in moderation” frame of mind. So, eat the pumpkin pie or Aunt Mary’s famous fudge, just don’t go back for seconds.  Another little mind trick in order to not over-indulge is to tell yourself (or anyone who is trying to force you to indulge) that you’re choosing not to eat a certain food.  Rather than saying “I can’t have that”.  Tell yourself “I choose not to eat that right now”.  When you think this way, you’re getting yourself out of a deprivation mindset.

2). Eat breakfast
Research shows that those who don’t eat breakfast struggle with weight problems more often. I suggest to my clients at our boot camps in San Jose to eat a breakfast that includes not only complex carbohydrates (like whole grain bread or cereal), but also some protein and a little fat to give the breakfast “staying power”. If you’re full when you arrive at work, that box of chocolates might not be so appealing!

3). Plan your workouts ahead of time
If you don’t already do so, start scheduling your workouts in your PDA or calendar. It’s an appointment with yourself, so get it into your schedule! When you’re time crunched due to holiday gatherings, settle for a shorter workout, but increase the intensity.  Need accountability?  Schedule a workout with a friend.  You’ll be less likely to skip the workout if your friend is waiting for you.

4). Don’t skip meals before a feast
I’m all for eating lighter earlier in the day of a big feast, but if you arrive famished because you haven’t eaten all day, you’re more likely to go overboard calorie wise. Instead, eat lighter during the day, and eat a small snack before heading out the door.

5). Bring healthy food items to potlucks and work events
If you are invited to a gathering to which you must bring food, opt for something healthy and filling.  Consider a veggie tray w/low fat dip or hummus.  Consider a fresh fruit-based dessert.Fruit based desserts are a good choice during the holidays

7). Easy on the alcohol
We tend not to register the calories that we drink as “food”. Some holiday favorites such as Eggnog and Hot Buttered Rum can add a lot of calories to our diet, yet they go uncalculated in our mental food log. Limit yourself to one serving of those high calorie favorites. If you’re a wine drinker, consider adding some club soda to your glass to make a wine spritzer. Another strategy to decrease calories from alcohol is to drink a glass of sparkling water after each alcoholic beverage—it’ll slow down your alcohol intake.

8). Move more
Not only do I suggest you really buckle down and get regular, hot , sweaty workouts each week–but I’m going to suggest you add in more “other” activity as well.  This is the perfect time of year to throw in those other things that simply make you more active during the day:  household chores (cleaning out closets, shampooing the carpet), walking the dog, parking across the street from the mall when you shop, playing a pick up game of tennis or football.  You may be visiting relatives this season, or you may  have relatives visiting you.  Get out and move with them.

 

The bottom line is:  You CAN avoid holiday weight gain this year.  It just depends on whether you set yourself up to be successful.  Focus on what you want, schedule your workouts, plan for indulgences, and move more.  It’s pretty simple—you just need to be aware and plan ahead.

Why not challenge yourself to make this holiday season your healthiest yet?  You may be surprised at how great you look and feel on January 1st .

Do you have a great way to stay lean over the holidays?  Share your idea in the comments section!

 

Committed to your success,

 

Becky

***********

Photo attributes:

Holiday drinks

Fruit-based dessert

Healthy Diet Changes: Little Changes Can Lead to Big Results

A Healthy Snack of Tomatoes and CheeseHave you noticed how hard it is to make healthy diet changes, especially lasting ones? Intellectually you know that if you cut out certain foods, you’ll see a difference the next time you step on a scale. You know that if you make healthier food choices, you can reduce your risk of  conditions like diabetes or heart disease. Yet when that candy bar calls to you from the office vending machine at 3 in the afternoon, sometimes your best intentions fly out the window.

The clients that I see succeed over the long term make small healthy diet changes to habits they already have. They focus on tweaking one habit at a time rather than making drastic changes. Here are a couple examples:

Half & Half to Low Fat Milk in Coffee. If you like this creamy additive in your morning java, you might try whole milk. If you use 2 tablespoons to eachCoffee_can_Be_part_of_a_healthy_diet cuppa joe, you’ll save about 20 calories as well as reduce fat grams. If you drink two mugs a day that adds up to 280 calories a week. That’s the equivalent of a Snickers bar. If you switch to 2% milk, you’ll save even more.

Instant oatmeal to unflavored oats. Those pre-packaged sleeves of oatmeal packs a sugar punch. The Maple & Brown sugar version has 9 grams of sugar, while its slow-cooked alternative has 1 gram. By adding fresh blueberries or ½ a banana, you’ll get the sweet without the same glycemic hit.  You’ll also increase your fiber intake by adding fresh fruit to your oatmeal :-).

Fatty cuts of beef to lean cuts of beef.  There is a lot of saturated fat in regular ground beef and several popular cuts of steak.  You can shave off lots of calories from fat (without losing much in iron or other nutrients in beef)  by switching to leaner steaks (such as flank steak or filet mignon) or to extra lean ground sirloin.

 

Where could you make small changes to your favorite foods in order to decrease your calories (or sodium, fat, sugar)? Don’t be surprised if it takes several months for your taste buds to change. But once they do, you’ll be amazed!  Your taste buds really do change— you’ll be more sensitive to the sugar, salt or fat content of your food once you’ve gotten used to eating foods with less.

My clients have commented that the old foods they used to eat and love just don’t taste as good now. Or, less of it satisfies them. That’s the trick to staying on track with a healthy diet.  Small changes over time reap BIG, long term dividends down the road!

What little changes have YOU made that are paying you big weight loss dividends now?

Share your successes in the comment section!

 

Committed to your success,

 

Becky

 

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