Monday, January 23, 2012

Eat Clean

There seems to be a lot of confusion on the concept of "eating clean". What can you eat? Is this allowed? How do you count calories? Do you write everything you eat down? And so on. I will try my best to clear it up for you. I do not write anything down. I do not count points. I don't count calories. I am a huge fan of The Eat Clean books by Tosca Reno, and Oxygen Magazine. Here is a link to her website. You will find tons of helpful information and videos.
I highly recommend her latest book, Just The Rules

Another source of inspiration is a book by Dr. Oz...You On a Diet.

I have been reading and researching these books for the past year, and I have learned a lot about nutrition. (I wish I could go back to college to become a registered dietician, but I digress. )Here's the gist of the diet.

You try to eat food as close to the way it is provided for us in nature. Eat an apple or an orange instead of drinking the juice. Fruits and veggies are the healthy carbs our diets should include so we can get our full range of vitamins and minerals. I try to limit breads, but when I have a sandwich, it is on whole grain bread. I use whole grain pasta and brown or wild rice instead of white pasta and rice. Oatmeal, as I have mentioned in my post on breakfast foods, gives energy and protein and warms your tummy(sprinkle cinnamon on top, its delicious). No really is poison to your body. Sugar causes insulin surges making it more difficult to lose fat. In fact, belly fat is directly related to sugar intake. I will post soon about sugar. I eat lots of salads, beans, chicken, salmon (I really like those little foil pouches of pink salmon by Chicken of the Sea). I have a steak once a week ,but I no longer put butter and sour cream on baked or sweet potatoes. Instead of craving sugar, I now crave sauteed spinach...must be just what my body is needing. I love Chobani Greek yogurt (one serving has 14 grams of protein). I use olive oil for sauteeing spinach, chicken, and dipping bread occasionally. Avocadoes are a good, healthy fat. Healthy fats are good for your heart and skin, and actually don't make you fat if eaten in moderation...just a drizzle, not a cup full. Almonds and walnuts are a great snack containing healthy fat and protein.
I have learned to read labels. Make sure food is real food. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, don't eat it. Try to choose foods with lower sugars and higher protein, and make sure to eat plenty of fiber rich foods...they keep you feeling full longer. In fact your body needs to be refueled about every 4 hours to function at it's best, so be prepared with healthy snacks when you leave the house, so you won't be tempted to run through fast food or buy a candy bar. The energy you get from the candy bar will fizzle out quickly, leaving you hungrier than ever.

Just remember, God designed our bodies to eat for our fuel. He created all the right foods necessary to our bodies. When men and women of the Bible ate, their foods were natural, whole foods, like nuts, grains, seeds, fish, fruit, vegetables, with an occasional find of some sweet honey from a honeycomb. They did not go through the fast food lane or into a convenience store. I believe our bodies are still meant to eat this way, and will funtion best when we are given the right foods in proper amounts.

All this said, I do have a treat every now and then, but it is more an exception than the rule. This keeps me sane, and I find that I really enjoy that treat more that I don't eat them everyday.

Think about these concepts, and keep it as clean as you can .

Friday, January 20, 2012

You've Got to Move It...Move It

Last Christmas, my parents gave us an elliptical machine for Christmas. We found one we really like at Costco. I try to use it at least 3 times weekly. I promise myself I only have to do it for 15 minutes, but I usually get going and go longer than that. Sometimes I just go outside and walk for 30 minutes. Did you know that for every mile you log in, you burn about 100 calories. You will also boost your resting metabolism, burning more calories even when you are asleep at night. Any type of cardio exercise will also help keep your heart strong, aid circulation, and help with high blood pressure. So just do it, as the Nike ad says, and GET MOVING. Just start slowly or you will be sore.

I downloaded a neat app on my iphone called SportsTracker. It was free, and when you go for an outdoors walk, it will tell you how far you went, and how many calories you have burned. Along the way, it updates your speed, and your distance. Check it out. I just love it. It also allows you to play music on your phone's Ipod at the same time.

Just this week, I joined a local gym. I had a session with a personal trainer yesterday, and he taught me some new exercises, mostly to strengthen my core. I am not really trying to lose pounds now, but I do want to add muscle and strengthen. Weight lifting exercises are important for increasing strength, muscle tone, and improving bone density. Building muscle increases your metabolism dramatically. For each pound of muscle you add, you can burn up to 50 calories more per day . If you add 10 pounds of muscle that adds up to 500 calories daily which means a 1 pound loss of weight per week. So, you can see, that by getting rid of fat and increasing your muscle mass, you could really see a difference in the course of a year.

Once again, I have nothing magical, but if you drink lots of water, eat a good breakfast, and exercise, you will start to see results.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Breakfast of Champions...Stoke Your Fire

Tip #2: Eat a good breakfast

Your Mother probably told you breakfast is the most important meal of the day. She was right. After fasting for about 12 hours your body needs fuel. You need something with protein to sustain your hunger, and some carbs to start the burning process. I like to think of the carbs as small twigs and kindling, and protein as the big logs in a campfire. It takes both to get a roaring fire going, and that's just what I want for my metabolism. I want to become a burning machine. If you limit your calories too low, the "flame" goes out , and your metabolism slows.

I alternate between 4 breakfast meals so I don't get bored. Here are my favorite breakfasts:

#1:Protein Shake. Everyone asks me how I make my shakes, so here are my directions. I know there are more expensive protein powders on the market, and they might be worth their higher price, but I have found the protein powder off the shelf at my local Wal-Mart has worked just fine for me. I like the taste of the Pure Protein whey powder...this one is vanilla cream, and the frosty chocolate flavor is good, too.I use 8 ounces of skim milk, one scoop of protein powder, and frozen fruit. ( I put a banana in a zip bag when they start to get too ripe to eat, and break it up a bit and store in the freezer.) Sometimes I add a handful of frozen strawberries, blueberries, or mixed fruit I get in the freezer case at the grocery store. There is not really a specific recipe...just experiment and make it to your taste. Throw all in the blender and voila...breakfast. I often add a few drops of almond or vanilla know for variety.

While I am on the subject of blenders, let me plug my Ninja blender. This thing has some power! It has 3 sets of blades, and it gets the job done. It has been used and abused this past year, and it still works great. Bed, Bath, and Beyond has them for about $100.00, but they always accept expired coupons, so you can usually get additional $20.00 off. Not cheap...but so worth it if you need a good blender. Also note the neat milkshake straws I found there. They have a larger diameter , and make it much easier to drink a shake from.

Breakfast #2: Oatmeal is so good for you...Dr. Oz says so...It will also keep you from getting hungry later in the morning. I like the steel cut oats because they are less processed than the kind that is steamed , rolled, and then cut. No time you say? It only take about 5 minutes to cook on the stove top. I add 1/2 cup of blueberries (frozen berries are fine...they will thaw right away when they get stirred into the oatmeal),some cinnamon, a splash of skim milk, and sometimes I add a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey. Slivered almonds on top are good, too.

#3: This quick...go to breakfast is a bowl of cereal in skim milk. I have a large Rubbermaid cereal dispenser, also from Wal-Mart, that I keep a mixture of cereals in. These are the 2 most recent cereals I have purchased. Kashi cereals are delicious, and the Fiber One cereals have tons of fiber in them. I like the Kashi Island Vanilla wheat squares, and Go Lean Crunch or Go Lean Crisp. Just try to pick cereals with lower sugar and higher on the fiber and protein. I always cut up 1/2 banana and throw in a handful of frozen blueberries to my cereal.

#4: If we have a leisurely morning, we will whip up a veggie omelet. We mix up three egg whites and a couple whole eggs (this is for 2 people) and some fresh spinach leaves, chopped onion, bell pepper, and diced tomatoes. I cook in a nonstick skillet sprayed with Pam cooking spray. You could add whatever veggies or lean meat like chicken or turkey that you have on hand . This is good with a little salsa spooned on top. Sometimes I add just a touch of shredded cheese, too.

I have found that eating every 3-4 hours keeps my hunger cravings at bay, and gives me the energy I need to get through the day.

I eat 5-6 times a day, and I try to eat as clean and unprocessed as possible. I try to incorporate protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats into each meal. Think of food as fuel for your body. You wouldn't put Kool-Aid in the gas tank of an expensive sports car, so you can't expect to put junk in your body's fuel tank and expect to "run on all cylinders".

I try to think of eating the way God intended for us to eat. He gave us fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, grains, lean and healthy meats, and veggies. Staying with His plan works so much better for me...funny it works that way, huh? After all , our body is His temple. Confession time...every now and then I have something that's not really on my food list, but I savor it fully, and get right back on track at the next meal.

Sorry this is such a long post, and that there is nothing magical about my plan, but it does work, and even after a year of eating this way, I am not bored.

Healthy eating this week...and eat your breakfast!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Weight Loss Journey...some tips

You all know that I started my weight loss journey last January. It wasn't really a New Year's resolution, but a decision that it was time to get healthy. Over the past year, I have lost 67 pounds,lost 5 dress sizes, have come off blood pressure and cholesterol meds, and cut my bad cholesterol from 134 to 60. Now that some have been asking for my tips and diet info, I will try to make regular blog posts on habits that have helped me along the way. I am no professional nutritionist or physical fitness trainer, but I can share what has worked for me. I have been there , and I know how it can be so hard and frustrating to get the weight off.

As I have mentioned before, I come from a gene pool with high rates of heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. I was so tired of feeling tired and sluggish...not to mention that I hated looking at pictures of myself. It was definitely time to do something about it.So.....

I did. In fact, I was featured in a local health and fitness magazine. Here is the link with a before and after photo. This link takes you to the magazine, and then look at page 16. Much improved, don't you think?

If you can't link to the magazine photo, here is my version of before and after pics.

Tip #1: Drink Your Water

Drinking water is so important to our bodies. In fact our bodies are made up mostly of water. Water is calorie free, it promotes weight loss, helps flush toxins from the body, aids digestion and elimination, helps to increase energy, prevents dehydration,boosts metabolism, and aids in clearer skin. Carry a water bottle with you at all times, and drink a glass as soon as you wake up, with your meals, and in between meals. My Tervis Tumbler glass pictured above goes everywhere with me, and I mean everywhere.

In the upcoming weeks, I will try to post a few more of those helpful tricks I have found along my journey. In the meantime, get moving a little more, and start drinking more water.